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A/N: Aaaaand I have officially finished this story. You have no idea how many times I've re-wrote the ending to this story... about three times in case you were wondering! And now I've stuck with an ending that I'm happy with. There will be two more chapters after this one and then I'll be finished!! And also, I lied in the previous chapter about James being back in full-force because he will be but... in the next chapter *ducks behind a table* I'm sorry! He will be back though!

Disclaimer: I only own my OCs and the plot but everything you recognise from the Harry Potter world does not belong to me but the talented J.K. Rowling.




 

“So… how did the talk with Ginny go?” Char pounced on me as soon as I walked in the front door after spending the majority of the day at said person’s place. Char had taken to coming round to Dad’s house more often, knowing that’s where I was staying, and I could tell Dad was enjoying it more now that his eldest daughter was around more frequently than before. I hung my jacket up on the coat rack and walked into the living room, falling onto the couch beside her with a heavy sigh.


“Do you want the list?” I suddenly asked and she became confused for a few seconds, “Ginny; can understand why we did it-ish. She’s more pissed at James than me which is a bit unfair considering we both did but... Harry; I don’t really know to be honest, he kind of just sat there without saying much. And he was kind of expressionless so it was a little hard to read how he was feeling about the whole thing,” I rambled as I thought back to the most uncomfortable few hours of my life, “Al; he sort of suspected something was wrong from the beginning, especially when he met me at that club before it was even announced that we had been together. Molly; unbelievably pissed that I kept it a secret from her for so long but she said that now that she thought about it, it made sense. Lily; not talking to me at this current moment in time and I understand that. Dom; I’ve not really spoken to her since I left but Molly tells me she’s pissed off too.” I ended with a big sigh after counting the people on my fingers. She leant her head against my shoulder as we both sat there in silence.


“Well at least they’re not super pissed that they hate you.” Char tried to reassure me but I was way past reassurance. I knew they had every right to be pissed at me and so I wasn’t offended or annoyed at them for it.


“I guess… it’s better than nothing.” I mumbled, my hand running through my hair in relief at being back at the house. We lapsed back into silence until Char shifted in her seat, picking up the piece of paper that we had been mulling over all morning before I went to the Potters’ house.


“When are you going to start packing?” She asked conversationally, reading over the printed email that I had received back from the rehab centre to say that I had been offered a place for my course to start tomorrow.


“Tomorrow probably.” I shrugged, reading it over her shoulder.


“But you’re leaving tomorrow?” She looked up at me incredulously, smacking me over the shoulder as I giggled.


“I know, I’m going to leave it until the last minute because I can’t be bothered packing today… I’m too tired.” I closed my eyes as I let my head rest against the back of the couch thinking about their faces when I started to explain to them.

 

A few hours earlier…
I rang the doorbell nervously, waiting for someone to come to the door and tell me I’d got the wrong house. But with my luck, Ginny Potter answered the door with an unreadable expression on her face. Kind of like she wanted to slap me yet hug me at the same time.



“Hello,” she nervously greeted me, stepping aside so I could enter the house, “Come in… we’re in the living room.” I hesitantly stepped past her and walked in the vague direction of where I thought the living room was. The first and only time I was here was weeks ago so I couldn’t exactly remember where everything was.



“Okay.” I replied quietly, waiting until Ginny pushed the door open first before following in after her. Sat in the living room from what I could see were Albus, Harry, Molly, and now, Ginny and I. A massive wave of relief crashed over me at having realised James was not here and I wouldn’t have to see him. But I knew deep down I’d have to eventually, especially if I was going away for a while.



“So… I’m guessing everyone here has a lot of questions they’d like to ask…” Harry spoke up as all their heads swivelled to me when they noticed me in the room, causing my face to burn pink. Ginny nodded her head in answer to Harry’s question, her gaze never leaving my face and I realised that I never wanted to see Ginny properly mad. I would hate to be her child and do something wrong. My eyes glanced between them all as if they were waiting for me to start spilling the beans but I just looked down at the ground, my fingers twisting in my lap.



“I wouldn’t know where to start…” I whispered quietly, my eyes still downcast and a little voice in my head told me to keep it that way in case I got a right telling off.



“How about with how did you actually meet James?” Ginny piped up finally and I started picking the skin around my nails again.



“Erm… it was after that night I went out with Molly and Dom,” I explained gently and heard Molly gasp from beside me, “I stayed over at Molly’s that night and when he came to speak to her in the morning, he met me… but it was only briefly, like a small hello and stuff.” I finished quickly, stealing a small glance at them all. Al was giving me a questioning stare, Harry’s face looked unreadable, and both Ginny and Molly looked shocked.



“B-but that’s the day he proposed to you! In front of everyone!” Molly exclaimed, the shock evident in her voice.



“He came to see me at work later on that day and he came up with the proposition,” I answered, surprised that they were all staying silent enough to hear the story. I was expecting them to be up off their seats, yelling and shouting between themselves, “He walked me to the bank, then we walked around the park just talking about it, and eventually I agreed.”



“What were the terms of the deal?” Harry spoke up from beside Ginny.



“I’d pretend to be his girlfriend so that he could get his family off his back about Courtney,” I shivered at the name, remembering how much of a heinous bitch she was, “And in return, he’d give me anything I needed… within reason, you know like a car or a set amount of money or revenge on someone,” Harry nodded his head in understanding and I continued, wanting them to see things from my point of view, “I only ended up agreeing because he said he’d give me money so that I could finally get on my Healer course… that was the only reason, I swear.” I held my hands up defensively as they all exchanged looks between themselves.



“Okay, we believe you.” Harry nodded again and I felt my shoulders slump slightly in relief.



“Thank you!” I breathed out, allowing a small smile to escape on my face but it was short lived.



“But that doesn’t mean that we’re all in the clear,” Ginny inputted and I lowered my head again, “It was still a shady thing to do behind our backs. If you’d have just told us what was going on in the beginning-.”



I cut her off, “But that would have defeated the whole purpose of it. He was fed up of everyone always thinking he was going to go back to Courtney all the time so he wanted you guys to think he was over her,” I explained but then lowered my voice a little, “But obviously he wasn’t.”



“What?” Both Harry and Ginny leaned forward. I stole a glance at Molly out the corner of my eye as she hadn’t said anything for a while to see her still sat there with a shocked expression on her face.



“I, uh, I saw him kiss her when he was out on his stag-do…” I could feel my cheeks burning again and so I looked anywhere but at the four faces staring at me, “T-that’s why I kind of ran away the next day… I guessed the deal was off because he was just using me to get back with her.” I lied, my shoulders visibly slumped down at that and Ginny’s eyes narrowed towards me.



“So it was fake?”



“Yes.” I lied.



“You weren’t in a real relationship?”



“No.” I lied.



“You had no actual feelings for each other at all?”



“No.” I lied, this time finding it harder to look her in the eyes.



“Okay.” She stared at me with a quizzical expression on her face but I was too afraid to look at her.



“I’m really sorry about the money you spent on the wedding as well,” I blurted out, “If it helps, I’ll pay it all back.” Ginny’s eyes definitely did narrow at that and I shrunk in my seat.



“No need,” she retorted, “We’d never ask you to pay us back for that stuff. Plus James has paid it all back already.” I tried so hard not to let my jaw drop at that but I failed, and it hung open widely.



“Oh, right…” I muttered, closing my mouth quickly so I didn’t look like an idiot. I kept my head low as we sat in the living room in silence. No-one was speaking and I was certainly not going to talk lest I say something wrong.



“I can’t believe you kept this a secret from me,” Molly spoke up finally but it was only a whisper, “Like I understand why you did it but… I’m your best friend, I could have helped you with it.” I looked up at her to see her watching me with something akin to betrayal on her face. And I wanted the ground to swallow me up.



“I know,” I replied because my brain couldn’t come up with a reason why I
didn’t tell Molly, “I know, I should have told you… but I couldn’t… I didn’t want to come across as desperate,” she came to sit next to me on the couch and wrapped her arms around me once she saw that my eyes were glistening, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” I looked up from her shoulder with a couple of tears rolling down my face to all the people sat around the room, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell any of you. I didn’t mean to hurt any of you like I have done and for that I’m truly sorry. I didn’t realise how attached I would get to you all, especially you,” I looked at Ginny in the eyes and saw her eyes glistening too, “I thought I’d be to do this with no problems, without getting attached, without having to talk to anyone about my life… but then you suggested actually getting married and I knew I was stuck. And I really am sorry for making you waste money on the wedding and for you wasting time on me. As soon as you suggested about getting married I should have called off the deal and told you all about it… but I couldn’t for my own selfish reasons,” tears were streaming down Ginny’s face at this point as I tried desperately to keep mine at bay. Molly still had her arms wrapped around me but was listening intently to what I was saying, no longer crying, “I guess all I can really say is I’m sorry, and I hope that you’ll forgive me eventually because I don’t want to lose you… you’ve become like a second family to me.” I finished up, waiting for what felt like an eternity before Ginny finally stood up and pulled me towards her fiercely, sobbing into my shoulder as I did the same. I kept apologising as she ‘ssssh’d’ me, stroking my hair until eventually Harry, Molly, and Al all joined in with the hug.


“You’ve not lost us!” she said when she’s pulled away, cupping my face in her hands as she sniffled, “You’ll never lose us! You can come round whenever you want, we can go out for lunch together! We can go out shopping together, go on nights out together! Our door will always be open for you!” She exclaimed as I chuckled, pulling her in for a hug this time round.



“Maybe not for a while though….” I replied sheepishly as Al and Harry left the room after saying their goodbyes to me. It was the most I’d ever hugged Harry or Al in the whole time I’d known them.



“How come?” Molly piped up and I sat down between the two on the couch.



“Well, I’m going away for a bit by myself… get some help for my addiction,” I gulped at admitting it out loud to the two of them, “I don’t know how long I’ll be gone but I think I need to do it. Dad helped me fill in the application form and I’m leaving tomorrow… so that’s why I thought about coming round today to get everything out in the open before I leave. I don’t want to go with things still unresolved,” Ginny and Molly both nodded their heads as I told them all about the place I was going and they listened, “Is Lily here by the way?” I suddenly asked once I’d finished.



Ginny gave me a nervous glance before saying, “Yes… but she doesn’t really want to see you at the moment. I think she’s still in shock.”



“Oh okay, that’s okay… I would be too,” I let out a nervous chuckle before standing up, “Well, I think I should get going… I’ve still got a few things to do before tomorrow. 
Ginny and Molly followed me to the front door, as Molly was leaving too, and I gave her another massive hug to which she placed a motherly kiss on my forehead.


“Remember, door is always open.” Ginny looked down at me with a smile and I returned it, nodding my head. Molly and I walked further down the road to the apparition zone in silence.



“A-are we okay?” I asked tentatively as we both stopped on the spot, ready to apparate to different locations.



“I don’t know… I’m still pissed at you for not telling me…” She admitted.



“That’s okay, I understand,” I replied with a strained smile and she hugged me tightly in return, “Maybe we can catch up after I come back?”



“Oh Merlin! I wouldn’t be able to survive for that long!” she whined and I laughed, “You’ll have to give me the address for the place so I can send you letters!”



“I will do but it’s a Muggle place so you’ll have to send it the Muggle way.” I pointed out and she rolled her eyes.



“I’ll just ask Uncle Harry how to do it then,” she shrugged, giving me one last hug, “I’ll see you soon, yeah?”



“You will.” I smiled happily, watching her apparate away before apparating myself.


 

Present Day…
“What are you doing the rest of the today then?” Char pulled me out of my thoughts and I looked over at her.


“Dad’s taking me into town so I can hand in my resignation and just explain to them why I’m leaving,” I explained tiredly, not really looking forward to that conversation either, “And then he said he’s going to take me to Mum’s grave because he wants to lay new flowers down.” I whispered the last part and Char whipped her head towards me.


“Bu-!”


“Yeah it’ll be my first time going, I know,” I pulled the words right out of her mouth, “I think he’s trying to make amends with me after he helped me fill in my application form.”


“I think that’ll be nice for the two of you,” she whispered back, “Maybe you’ll be able to bond a bit whilst you’re there. And actually talk to each other properly.”


“Maybe.” I shrugged, leaning back against the couch again as we slipped back into content silence whilst waiting for our Dad to get home so I could finally quit my job. He strolled in loudly about twenty minutes later, greeted the both of us before walking straight into the kitchen.


“Are you ready to go, Elle?” He asked when he’d finished scoffing down his food and making light conversation with Char.


“Yeah.” I nodded my head, stood up then got my resignation letter so I could put it in my bag.


“Good luck and I’ll see you later on!” Charity called from the living room as we both left.


“See you later!” We called back and closed the door behind us. We walked down towards the bus stop at the end of the road so we could catch a bus into the town centre. It had been a while since we’d caught a bus together and the journey was awkward so I was very thankful when we arrived at the café. Dad wandered to a florist further down the road to pick out a nice bunch of flowers for my Mother’s grave as I walked through the front door of the café.


“Elle! Hey!” Michelle smiled brightly when she saw me, “How was your break?! You must have gone somewhere nice, you’re all tanned!” She started blurting out whilst serving the customer’s food beside her. Once she was finished, she beckoned me towards the back room and I followed tentatively, “So… how are you?”


“I’m alright,” I replied, not really wanting to get into how I was really feeling at the moment, “Thank you for letting me have a break.” I said honestly with a smile in her direction.


“It’s okay, I could tell you needed it!” she replied sincerely and I felt guilty. She’d been a good boss for the couple of years I had worked here so I felt horrible for suddenly flaking on her, “Where did you go?”


“Spain,” I said and stole a glance at her as my hands began to sweat nervously. That’s when I remembered why I was here, “Michelle, the reason I came today was to give you this. It might seem sudden but I hope it explains everything to you.” I handed over the letter with my hand shaking slightly and watched her read it slowly, all the while her eyebrows knitting together.


“Why didn’t you tell me this when you first started? We could have helped.” She looked up at me after finishing reading the letter and I let out a sigh of relief. She wasn’t mad, thank God.


“I didn’t think you’d give me the job if I told you, to be honest,” I answered, “Plus, I really needed the money.” My cheeks blushed pink in embarrassment.


“I know but that’s the whole point of having an open relationship with your boss… you can tell them these sorts of things so they can see if there’s anything they could do to help,” she replied, setting the letter down on the table between us, “For example, we could have shared an apartment if you had nowhere to stay.” I looked up at her with wide eyes as she chuckled.


“Seriously?!” My mouth dropped open in shock.


“If you don’t tell me things, how do you expect me to help? It’s the same with any other member of staff here. It’s my job as a boss to listen to their problems and it’s my job as a friends to help as much as possible,” I genuinely smiled at that and she did the same, “That being said, I kind of knew you’d want to leave after spending so much time off. But I’m gutted that you’re leaving although I understand the reasons behind it. I hope you get the help you need and you find something you enjoy doing. Thanks so much for all your help here!” She came round the front of the desk to offer me a small hug and I did so with a happy smile on my face.


“Thanks for hiring me,” we both chuckled, “I suppose I should get going.” I stated and she looked at me incredulously.


“Do you not want to say goodbye to anyone else?” She asked me in shock.


I shook my head, “I’ve been saying goodbye to people all day today. I just want to leave quietly, if that’s okay with you?”


“Okay, I won’t make a big deal about it.” She promised me and I gave her one last hug before leaving the café as quietly as promised. My Dad stayed silent as we got onto another bus, clutching the newly bought flowers and headed towards the cemetery.


“Those flowers are beautiful.” I complimented when we reached the entrance gates.


“They were your Mother’s favourite.” He smiled lightly back at me whilst he pushed open the gate, leaving it open for me to follow after him. We walked through multiple rows of graves until we reached midway through the last quarter at the bottom of the cemetery. With it being my first time visiting the grave, my hands began to shake uncontrollably and I could feel my tear starting to form in my eyes. And then I saw it.

 

In loving memory of
Kathleen Marie Underwood
A Mother, A Wife, A Daughter
An Amazing Woman
1976-2026


 

Dad gently lay the new flowers down in front of the grave, next to a picture of her from a few years before the accident and I just stood there and stared at it. I wasn’t all that sure what to say or what to do because I had so many emotions just running through me that I stayed quiet. As if understanding what I was going through, my Dad reached out to grab my hand once he’d stood back up and we stood there, staring at the grave for a couple of minutes.


“I’m sorry I didn’t let you come and see her.” He whispered quietly, gently squeezing my hand. His voice cracked a little bit so I glanced out the corner of my eye to see a few stray tears fall onto his wrinkled face.


“Thank you for letting me see her now,” I replied just as quietly. I had no idea what to say in response to that, “Thank you for coming with me.” And I squeezed his hand in return and we fell back into silence. In my head I was hoping with all my might she’d be able to hear me as I apologised to her again and again and again. Eventually, Dad looked over his shoulder and tapped mine,


“I’ll leave you alone with her,” he said kindly, “Stay as long as you want and I’ll see you later at home, okay?”


“Okay,” I nodded as he squeezed my hand once last time and walked off behind me. I turned back round to my Mum’s grave and immediately sat down on the grass, “I’ve not been the best daughter, have I?” I started speaking like she was actually there and we were just catching up over a cup of tea, “I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of… and I’m sure if you were here you’d probably give me a right good smack for being so stupid,” I chuckled to myself, staring at the picture in the frame and trying to ingrain it into my memory forever, “Norah’s awake and she’s coping as best as she can. I know she’s struggling though… I just hope she doesn’t do anything stupid like I did. I don’t want anyone else making my mistakes,” the wind picked up a little as I sniffled and wrapped my jacket tight around me, “I dyed my hair back ginger! I don’t know why I didn’t listen to you when I first dyed it blonde,” by now the tears had freely started to fall as I updated her on everyone, “Ruari and Gabby are so full of life. They really are little characters! You’d love Gabby, Mum, she’s a right madam. Char is still the same as ever, still a fantastic Mum… like you were,” I wiped away the tears roughly on the back of my hand, “Dad and I sat down last night, he helped me fill out an application form for a Rehab Centre and I leave tomorrow… it’s taken me almost four years, but I’ve finally admitted to myself that I have a problem and I need to solve it,” my jaw clenched as I tried to keep the next lot of tears in my eyes, “I hope you’re still watching over me up there and… I hope you’re still as proud of me as you were four years ago.” I finished, placing my hand on the grave as I bowed my head whilst scrunching up my eyes. I stayed in that position for a good few minutes before deciding that I should probably head home as tomorrow was going to be a very busy day. Slowly, and carefully so I didn’t knock anything over, I stood up and starting walking past the other graves so I was back on the main pathway. Once I was there, I looked up and came up short as I saw him stood no more than a couple of metres away from me.


“W-what are you doing here?” I stuttered, my eyes widened in shock as he stepped a little closer but hesitated, as if gauging my reaction.


“Your sister told me you’d be here,” James answered carefully, running a hand through his jet black, messy hair.

 

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