To give me a sign you’re okay
-Memories, by Within Temptation
I try not to get too annoyed by the Wizarding Wireless that has been playing constantly in the kitchen today. I know Bill is waiting for news about the deaths of the three kids who attempted to break into Gringotts, but at the same time I have to wonder if there will be any news. It’s not as if the official press cares about letting the wizarding world know what’s happening, and I can’t imagine how Potterwatch could get a hold of the information, at least not so soon.
I don’t tell Bill my doubts. He’s a down-to-earth person, and I know it, but this is different. I could probably make him see reason if I put any effort into it at all, but I feel like it will only hurt him more. This brings about a new philosophy, I suppose. Better to let someone go on waiting for something when you know it won’t come, or convince them that they’re wasting their time? I can’t help but do the former, even when I know the latter might be kinder in the end. I’m glad Luna went off to do who-knows-what in her room. She would be much blunter about the situation.
Dean is awake now, and he too is sitting by the Wireless, listening for any news that he might be able to learn about his friends. He seems a bit less expectant than Bill. I think he shares my secret doubts. I’ve considered that maybe Bill does as well, that maybe he is only pushing them aside in the hopes that he’s wrong.
Suddenly he darts out a hand and turns the volume up from an irritating background noise to just a bit louder than average conversation. “Fleur, I think this is it!” he gasps, and the look on his face is mingled anticipation and dread. No matter what he hears on the radio, he’s going to be disappointed.
“…recently broken into by a witch and two wizards, believed to be led by Harry Potter himself,” says a familiar voice. Bill must have the Wireless tuned to Potterwatch, because I will swear on everything I hold dear that the disembodied voice filling my kitchen belongs to Lee Jordan. “If that’s true, then we can only assume that the other two were Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Way to show some enthusiasm for the cause, Harry. And now if I ever want to indulge myself with someone else‘s gold, I know exactly who to ask for help!”
I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime while Lee was talking, my heart nestled uncomfortably into a spot in my throat. It might not bother me as much as much if it wasn’t pounding furiously as well. Lee is making it sound as if… as if Harry, Ron, and Hermione are still alive. There is no trace of sorrow in his voice at all, nothing to suggest that this is a less than happy news report.
“As if breaking into Gringotts wasn’t spectacular enough on its own, I’ve heard they escaped on the back of a dragon,” Lee continues, and my beliefs are confirmed. They’re all still alive. I smile slightly, knowing for a fact that a dragon won’t pose much of a problem to Harry. I watched him battle a Hungarian Horntail when he was fourteen; I feel positive he won’t have any trouble with one now, especially with Ron and Hermione to assist him. “Of course, we all knew Harry had a fondness for flashy battles and escapes, but he’s really outdone himself this time…”
Bill leans over and turns off the radio. Wordlessly I reach out to hug, letting myself fall into him and him into me, not sure whether to laugh or cry from relief. I start doing a little bit of both, and once I’ve started it’s hard to stop. It creates a very unattractive noise, but for once, I can hardly be bothered to care about that. Only one thought permeates my mind. They’re alive. It’s so much more than I dared to hope for.
I open my eyes, which I had squeezed shut in an effort to stop the tears, and peer through Bill’s hair. Dean is leaning against the counter now, looking as relieved as I feel but awkward as well, like he doesn’t want to intrude on a family moment. I beckon him slightly with my head. He cautiously edges toward us, and I put my arm around him.
“I’ve known Harry, Ron, and Hermione for years,” he says. “It would have killed me if something happened to them.”
From what I know of Dean, he’s never been part of the inner circle surrounding Harry Potter and his closest friends. They’ve shared a dorm and lots of laughs with each other, but Dean seems to be more of an afterthought. The friend whose company you enjoy but don’t seek out. I can also see that it doesn’t bother him. He knows where his closest relationships lie, and yet he would still react to the deaths of Harry, Ron, or Hermione like any good friend would. It’s that very characteristic that makes me thankful he’s here right now. He’s not intruding on a family moment; he’s part of one.
There’s a long moment of silence. No one moves; we just stay frozen in place, Bill’s arms wrapped tightly around my waist, my head buried in his shoulder, and my arm encircling Dean’s back because his shoulders are too high to reach from a sitting position. The only sounds are our breathing, which in my case is still slightly heavy from the lump in my throat, and the waves crashing against the rocks outside. When we first moved here, it was irritating, the constant noise from the lake. Now I’m glad that no matter how alone I am, there will almost always be the faint noise of water lapping against stone, and I will never have to endure a silence so complete it might deafen me.
Dean, the awkward look back in place but accompanied with an air of surprise, is the one to recall us to reality. “Hang on… my pocket’s gone warm… Could it be…?”
He digs around in the pocket of the jeans we lent him, eyebrows furrowed in concentration until he pulls out a closed fist. He opens it expectantly, and sitting in the center of his palm is a galleon. I stare at it blankly, wondering how in the name of Merlin a galleon could have called attention to itself by means of heat. Dean, however, seems to have learned something by looking at it and lets out an odd little noise. My own examinations are fruitless.
“Look,” he says, his voice trembling with barely suppressed excitement, “I’m really grateful that you let us stay here after we were rescued, but Luna and I are leaving.”
There’s a pause. “Leaving?” I echo, briefly holding on to the hope that there is a different meaning to the word that I just haven’t learned yet. “To go where?”
“Hogwarts,” he says brightly. I can’t help but cry out, but no one takes any notice, for at the same time, Luna appears at the bottom of the stairs, also holding a galleon. What is with all the galleons? “I take it you got the message, Luna?”
“Oh, yes!” she chirps. I wince. I can’t help but feel a little left out. Bill looks like he’s keeping up with this strange occurrence with a lot less difficulty than I am. Between galleons, running off to Hogwarts, and a definite excitement in the younger witch and wizard, I don’t know what to think. Dean and Luna don’t appear to care enough to remedy my bewilderment, however.
I sweep my hair to one side out of habit and give them both the sternest look I can muster. “And why exactly are you running off to Hogwarts? You are safe here! Why would you want to leave?” The words are almost an echo of what I told Harry, and it is immediately clear that they would have the same effect, or lack thereof, on Dean and Luna.
“That’s why we have to leave,” Dean explains, shifting his weight to one side and looking very much like he would like to get going rather than sit and explain it to me. Still, it would be quite unlike him to run off without an explanation like Harry and the others did, and his patient nature wins out on his urgency. “These galleons are a way for members of a club at school to communicate. Neville’s just said that Harry, Ron, and Hermione have turned up in the Room of Requirement. That can only mean that there’s going to be a fight. Luna and I have to join them.”
I don’t know what the Room of Requirement is, but I don’t have to for the rest of it to make sense. “But it is too dangerous!” I exclaim, glowering at Bill to support me. “I could not stop the others from going, but I will not let you go too! You cannot safely Apparate onto Hogwarts’ grounds--”
“Not on the grounds, but the bartender in the Hog’s Head lets us--”
“--You are far too young to be part of this war--”
“We already are a part of it--”
“--And I will not let you rush off to your deaths!”
Forget my comparison of this conversation and the one I had with Harry; if it was Harry standing there, I have a feeling he wouldn’t take it nearly as well as Dean. Dean doesn’t so much as glare at me. Instead he murmurs quietly, “I’d rather die than live in a world ruled by You-Know-Who.”
He touches Luna’s elbow lightly and together they stride to the door. As Dean pulls it open, I open my mouth to call out, but Bill puts his hand on my shoulder. “Let them go,” he whispers, gently running his fingers through my hair. “They know what they’re doing.”
I scowl, trying to hide my concern, but Dean and Luna took the opportunity to escape during my momentary distraction. My body begins to shake of its own accord, and I lean against Bill for support. I can truly appreciate now how Bill feels knowing that everyone he loves is active and in danger in this war. It seems unfair that while my family is safe in our old house in France, his have to check their wards every day to ensure Death Eaters can’t break in.
And suddenly, even though I hadn’t really been considering any options, or that I have options, my mind is made up for me. “Bill,” I say, standing straight and looking him in the eye. Studying the scars that mar the rest of his face, my resolve is strengthened a hundredfold. “I could not stop them from going… but we must go, too.”
A grin spreads slowly until it lights up every single one of his features. He takes my head in his hands and plants a kiss in the very center of my forehead. “Somehow you make me love you more every day,” he declares. I smile back, hold tight to his arm, and together, Bill guiding the way, we Disapparate.
Sorry it's been so long since an update. First there was NaNoWriMo, and then I just plain had doubts about this chapter. But I've decided to just go with it. Hope you enjoyed it!
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