And don't ever hold me down
-Life in Technicolor II, by Coldplay
“But he was a very handsome little b-boy… always very handsome… and he was g-going to be married!”
Even as my insides turned to ice, heat rose to my face. How could she guess that the sight of my fiancé’s distorted face made me sick to my stomach? Before, he had been a relief to look at, with a face that wasn’t as much of an eyesore as most. Now… now he was worse, so much worse. A different kind of sickness washed over me, a guilt that I was so horrified about his face when really, I should have felt lucky that he was still alive at all.
Could I still do this? I scrutinized Bill’s face closely, trying to remember what it had looked like before the attack. With a sinking heart, I realized I couldn’t. The damage was there, and nothing would fix that.
I owed him more than this, though. After all, his looks weren’t the reason I had agreed to marry him. They made it easier, certainly, but my love for him went deeper than that. For his sake, I had to believe my love went deeper than that….
Today is already not going all that well. The first thing I discover when I wake up is that Harry, Ron, Hermione, and that nasty little goblin Griphook are gone. I’m not sorry for the goblin’s departure -- he’s far from polite, not to mention far uglier than I can stand to ignore -- but as for the other three… they were safe here. Seventeen years old, and they willingly left their safety for the sake of fighting the Dark Arts with no one to protect them.
I close my eyes, trying to keep my thoughts from traveling in the direction I know they want to take. Dean and Luna are both fit enough to leave whenever they want to. Ollivander, on the other hand, still needs care. If Dean and Luna decide to go to Muriel’s to be with Ginny and the other Weasleys, it will be me, Bill, and Ollivander. Bill, with the scars on his face that stand out like a beacon. Ollivander, whose eccentric appearance is enough to frighten someone who doesn’t have Veela blood.
It’s been nice having more people in the house, people without hideous blemishes… That’s not to say that the children are free of large flaws, but it’s not quite the same. They have perfectly common flaws, aside from Harry’s scar, but most of the time its hidden beneath his unruly hair.
Luna saunters into the room, eyes wide as though she’s been awake for hours. I like Luna. Her personality is enough to distract me from even thinking about looks while she’s talking.
“The others are gone,” she comments dreamily before I can say anything. “I thought they might be up to something. They’ve been spending a lot of time alone together, talking.”
It’s a shame. The girl is very observant, and could probably be a very brilliant witch if she wasn’t always mentioning the weird fantasies her father dreamed up. I suppose she is quite clever underneath it all. Bill says she’s a Ravenclaw, which according to him is the house known for intelligence.
She hums a little as she helps herself to some of yesterday’s leftover pancakes, doing a heating charm in a sing-song voice as though the spell is part of her tune. She really pushes my willpower at times. It is extremely difficult not to raise one’s eyebrows at her behavior. I have to let it slip through somehow, though, so I settle for a small smile.
“They’ll be all right, you know,” Luna says, cutting off her own hum. I eye her quizzically. “Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I could tell you were worried about them.”
Again, she seems to notice things written in my expression that most people wouldn’t pick up on even if I was trying to make them see. It’s an eerie but oddly comforting realization to know how difficult it is to hide something from that girl. Even I don’t quite understand my affection for her, but somehow I find myself wanting her to stay for less selfish reasons than wanting her protection.
I haven’t eaten yet, and I don’t plan on it this morning. There’s an unsettled feeling in my stomach that I can’t shake off, a feeling of dread. I can’t help but think that today is going to end much worse than it started. I’ll have to take extra care not to let Luna see. The only way I can think of doing this is by pushing the thought out of my own mind, so I busy myself instead with happier thoughts.
I’m living, if not quite the one I’ve always dreamed of, a fairly good life. If I close my eyes, I can forget the war and lose myself in the rush of the sea outside. When I was young, I never considered leaving France. In fact, it wasn’t until the Triwizard tournament, and my encounter with Bill Weasley, that England began to look like a prospective home.
Even despite the struggles that come with marrying a human man, it’s not too hard to be happy with him. I can concentrate on his eyes and everything feels all right. I lose myself in him to make the rest of the world disappear for those fleeting moments.
“I am not worried,” I tell Luna firmly, trying to make myself believe it as well as her. “I know they can take care of themselves. Goodness knows they have had practice!” I laugh and toss my hair back, turning away so she can no longer read what I truly think.
Bill is the next to wake up, strolling into the kitchen with a yawn and kissing me on the cheek. It used to bother me that he doesn’t kiss me on the lips in the morning, until finally he explained that he’s trying to save me from his morning breath. I haven’t complained since, because I’m guessing that gesture is much sweeter than his breath would be.
He looks around the kitchen, frowning slightly. “Where are Harry, Ron, and Hermione?” he asks, peering out the window as though he expects to see them sitting out on the rocks overlooking the sea. “Their beds are all empty.”
“They are gone.” I don’t bother trying to ease the blow; is there any good way to tell your husband that his brother and his brother’s friends have run off into danger again? “They left before any of us were awake this morning.”
Bill blinks, and it seems to take forever for his eyes to reopen. He shakes his head, gripping the counter tightly with his hands. “I knew they would do this,” he mutters bitterly, resignedly. “I knew they would take off running when we weren’t looking. And Griphook? His bed was empty as well. Has he gone with them?”
“He is gone, certainly, but who knows if it was with them or not!”
He groans quietly, a sound that would suggest immense pain of some sort. “They’ve made a deal with him, I know it,” he sighs. “I tried to make Harry see sense about goblins, but I don’t know if he took it to heart. The thing is, I don’t know what they’ve asked Griphook to do for them. If it’s anything to do with Gringotts…”
“Surely they would not be foolish enough to try something at Gringotts!” I burst out. The very thought is laughable. The only thing I can imagine they might do at Gringotts that requires a goblin’s help would be breaking in… but even those three aren’t that delusional.
“Wouldn’t they?” Bill asks grimly. “And what else could they possibly need Griphook for? There must be something there that they need… a secret weapon against You-Know-Who, maybe. Even with Griphook’s help, though, they’ve got no chance! There’s a reason the bank has a warning on its door. You can’t possibly break in, and it’d be suicide to try. They’re going to be killed.”
My heart wrenches at the emotionally wounded look on his physically wounded face. He expects his brother to die today. There’s nothing I can say that will help; every time a few words of comfort rise to my lips, I realize they would be a lie. I can’t bring myself to lie to him. Is it better, I wonder, to give false comfort or to let someone go on with their rightful misery? I believe the latter. All I do, in the end, is rub his back gently in a way that I hope expresses how sorry I am.
I can’t tell by the slightly deadened look in his eyes whether he understands or not.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is property of J K Rowling, who I can say with certainty is not me. The very first line of this chapter also belongs to J K Rowling and is taken from page 622 of the Half-Blood Prince, USA edition.
I didn't get the chapter up quite as quickly as I had hoped, but after a couple of quick edits, here it is! I would love to know what you think about it. :) Thanks for reading!
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