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It had only been a few days since Evelyn had awoken with an earnest, panicked, confused Harry leaning over her, pleading with her to share her dream with him. He had kept his distance since then, but Hermione had made apologies on his behalf. Evelyn hadn’t asked Hermione what she had told Harry, or how the other girl had known that she didn’t recall the dream or the phrase or any useful details that Harry might have wanted.

It was as if Hermione was her ally suddenly, and Evelyn didn’t question the shift towards friendship that had occurred in their otherwise straightforward acquaintance.

Late on Monday, after her homework had been completed, Evelyn thanked Hermione again for her actions on Sunday morning. The girl smiled, a mixture of sadness and empathy in her eyes, and told her that she needn’t be thanked.

“I don’t know what Harry might have done if he didn’t believe me,” Evelyn whispered in the hopes the other girls wouldn’t hear. Most of them had already closed their curtains, and were seemingly asleep.

“He wouldn’t have hurt you,” Hermione said evenly, her face open and honest.

“I know, but,” The words died in her throat, and she tried a small smile.

Hermione nodded with understanding. She had seen the way desperation played across Harry’s face in the dying firelight. Hermione hadn’t told him what she hypothesized, only that she had a theory she was hoping to prove that would explain why Evelyn wouldn’t possibly be able to recall the details he was asking for, but that hadn’t been enough to sooth him. He had been moody since she hadn’t confined in him and, while steering clear of Evelyn generally, was also keeping some distance between him and her as well. She was irritated with his behavior, but she couldn’t tell him her theory yet.

“I’m sorry if this has caused an issue between the two of you. I know you’re friends.” Evelyn continued, the small smile still there.

“We are best friends,” Hermione admitted, “And Harry will come around. He’s rather driven by curiosity.”

“And he’s curious about me?” Evelyn’s brows arched somewhat.

“He’s curious about what you know, yes,” Hermione nodded, her tone matter-of-fact. “I know you don’t remember, but you said a few things in your sleep that Harry thinks may be related to… To things he’s experiencing.” Just as Hermione didn’t want to give too much away about Evelyn to Harry, she didn’t want to give too much away about Harry to Evelyn. She chose her words carefully. “I’m sure you’d be curious, too, if the situation was reversed.”

Evelyn nodded along from her bed, only adding, “The problem seems to be that I don’t know anything.”

Hermione only smiled, scooting back onto her bed and bringing her feet under the covers. She had a meeting with Professor McGonagall early the next morning that she was very much looking forward to.

*

Evelyn was surprised to learn that interest in Halloween had ebbed and flowed over the years at Hogwarts. Some years, her peers had been content to attend a headless hunt—of which she could only somewhat comprehend from the varying descriptions—and other years they had done almost nothing.

“I’m surprised there isn’t a party,” Evelyn said to Hermione as they descended the girls’ staircase, books in arms. Hermione had been spending the last few days with Evelyn as they had most of the same classes. She had even been eating meals with her, and—if Evelyn didn’t know any better—seemed to take a general liking to her. Harry was still avoiding both of them, discontinuing his dueling practice with Evelyn and giving Hermione monosyllabic answers whenever she tried to talk to him.

Ron, too, seemed to be narrowing his eyes at Hermione when she passed, though both girls knew it was only because he was supporting Harry. After a few days of their antics and one particularly surly interaction, Hermione had exclaimed you are both daft, shortsighted boys across the common room. It was that particular outburst that had made Evelyn recognizing her growing fondness for Hermione.

“I’m sure if Ron’s older brothers were still here there might have been a party, but typically we only celebrate after a Quidditch victory. The only other exceptions were during the TriWizard Tournament.”

“Really?” Evelyn raised a brow, “We partied almost every weekend at the Academy. We often had no reason at all.”

“Perhaps Lee Jordan or someone will pull something together? If Harry and Ron weren’t being such gits right now, I’d suggest it to them—but,” Hermione exhaled.

“But they’re being gits,” Evelyn supplied, the British slang rolling off her American tongue awkwardly. Both girls chuckled.

The conversation died away and was ultimately forgotten after a particularly grueling Potions class. Evelyn had always been incredibly average at Potions, which had been fine by her, as she really did prefer to devote her energy to spellwork.

Slughorn did not seem overly impressed with her work in the classroom, though he did appreciate her surname and often stopped near her cauldron to have a chat. He had been somewhat put off by her happiness in the beginning weeks of the semester, but as she herself felt a little more even-keeled she noticed that he now took to her more often. In this particular class, he spoke with her so long that her cauldron over boiled. She was annoyed with him, but attempted patience with a smile as he waved his wand to clean up the mess and then continued on with his story. To her dismay, she left class fifteen minutes after the rest of the Gryffindors because he felt she needed to know the end of the story—and she had humored him.

As she quickly made her way through the dungeons towards the Great Hall, where Hermione had said she would save her a seat at lunch, she came upon two students in hushed conversation. She recognized the pair immediately.

Draco Malfoy leaned over her sister, his hand flat against the wall over her shoulder. He was less than a head taller than Elizabeth, but the positioning of their bodies made him look taller. Elizabeth was casually slouched against the wall, looking up at him. Her face was blank, her lips drawn in a straight line and her eyes looking up at his with boredom. Evelyn had seen that look before whenever Elizabeth had been asked to do a chore.

“Elizabeth?” Evelyn said her sister’s name softly, wanting to make sure she was okay. The pair looked up at her, their conversation ceasing instantly.

“Evelyn.” Her sister gave a curt nod, eying her but not asking her to stop.

So, Evelyn continued to move down the corridor, past them, without question. Only when her foot had hit the first stair and she had begun to ascend that she heard Draco pick the conversation up again. His voice was quiet, but Evelyn could make out tonight then.

*

There were two identical men standing in the common room surrounded by a small group, including Harry, Ron, and Ginny, when Hermione and Evelyn entered the room after lunch. Hermione had waited with Evelyn, who took longer to eat because of her delay. She had briefly recounted the exchange she had witnessed to Hermione, again asking if there were any parties or festivities happening in the castle that evening. Hermione, who insisted she hadn’t heard of anything, looked somewhat nervous and explained that Draco Malfoy wasn’t someone she particularly trusted.

Though they had stayed close to one another in the first few weeks of school, Evelyn and Elizabeth had never been particularly close since adolescence set in and, once they had adjusted to their houses, had begun to move away from one another. It hadn’t surprised Evelyn or even really concerned her; they had had completely different friend groups at the Academy and, despite their parents’ constant intercession, they hadn’t been particularly close. There was fondness, Evelyn thought, but not closeness. When Hermione asked why Evelyn hadn’t asked her sister if she was alright, she had replied, we’re not close like that… We haven’t been since we were little. There’s just always been something too different about us.

The sentence hung about Evelyn’s head, rolling over and over again as they entered the common room. It was a piss poor excuse, she knew, but she also knew it would have been strange from her to insert herself into Elizabeth’s life when it was so clearly evident she wasn’t wanted.

“Speak of the devil!” Hermione said, smiling as she walked up to the two identical men. Evelyn followed her over, smiling brightly at the two and ignoring the look of skepticism that washed over Harry as she came to stand with the others. “What might you lot be up to tonight?”

“We thought we’d come and peddle some new products to the lovely students of Gryffindor Tower,” one of them said.

The other added, “And what better holiday than All Hallow’s Eve?”

“And what of the loot of spirits you’ve brought with you?” Ginny said, smiling.

“Also for sale!” The first one replied, smiling broadly at Ginny, who Evelyn had deduced with evidently his sister. They had the same color and same eyes.

“So this has nothing to do with providing additional oversight as this is my first Halloween with a boyfriend?” Ginny chided, crossing her arms.

“That may have been an additional factor!” Supplied the second, “We knew Ron wasn’t tough enough to handle the job.” Ron blushed furiously, but didn’t retort fast enough as Hermione was quickly interjecting.

“I was explaining to Evelyn this morning that we don’t typically have parties unless Quidditch is involved, but that you might have played a factor in that if you were still here—and now here you are!” Hermione motioned to Evelyn, who quickly introduced herself to the first one—Fred—and the second—George—of Weasley fame. She immediately took a shining to the twins, who fueled one another. Their humorous volley made her laugh, and she liked the way they easily wrapped her into the conversation.

Evelyn and Hermione didn’t have afternoon classes, but they both agreed it would be nice to wrap up some homework they had started the previous night before they joined the festivities. This meant rejecting sips from a flask that Fred had produced from an inside pocket on his vest, but he promised to offer again later that night.

The girls disappeared to the library for a few hours, and when they returned shortly after dinner—assignments complete and sights on a festive evening—the common room had been rearranged. Furniture was pushed against the walls to allow wallflowers to seat themselves. The study tables had been arranged to accommodate the various different bottles and products that the twins had brought with them. Steamers hung across the ceiling in colorful disarray, and music came from a gramophone. The fire crackled happily.

A few people had seated themselves on the couches, and a few more were browsing the twins’ products. Otherwise the room was empty as most people were either finishing dinner or changing out of their school robes.

Hermione and Evelyn stopped at the table briefly to check in with Fred and George, who were already quite happy with their sales. They were hurried away by the twins, who insisted Hermione should find an outfit to “show some leg for once,” which made Hermione blush as they ascended the stairs together.

While they dressed, Hermione told Evelyn of the summers she had stayed at the Burrow with Ron’s family and of the twins’ dramatic exit at the end of the year. Some of the tales she told made Evelyn giggle while others made her eyes round out in shock. She was surprised to hear how much the trio had been through together. She had heard news of some of the things that happened at Hogwarts, but it was always unclear how reliable the American papers were as they were evidently biased—particularly since the return of the Dark Lord.

When they returned to the common room, there were many more people filling the space. Ginny was dancing with Dean Thomas amongst a few other couples. Her brothers each seemed to have one eye on her, and one eye on whomever they were talking to. Many people were crowded onto the couches, talking with drinks in their hands or without. It was a casual atmosphere. Though not necessarily what Evelyn had expected in regard to a Halloween event, she felt it was a good opportunity for her to better experience her house and her housemates. She hadn’t really taken advantage of many social events, and now was her chance.

*

“You are standing very close to me.”

“It’s not safe here.” He eyed her. They stood in a clearing of the Forbidden Forest just beyond the school grounds, waiting for the arrival of their port key. His aunt’s letter had given them specific directions to follow, including the location of this clearing and a description of the white porcelain chipped teacup with a small red fleur de lis pattern around the rim that would appear in the clearing around eleven. It would disappear after ten minutes if it were not used.

“It’s safer standing close to you… My stalker…” Elizabeth murmured, crossing her arms over her chest. The sleeves pushed up on her black robe, revealing her white, slender wrists.

“I have not been stalking you!” Draco snapped, narrowing his eyes and shifting his weight onto the foot furthest from her. “I’ve been tasked with observing you.”

“You have a more important task from what I hear.”

“You know about the task?” He looked alarmed now. “You haven’t even been marked yet.”

“I know more than I should,” She smirked, tilting her chin up towards him and shifting her weight so that they were closer again.

The teacup appeared before he could reply.

Shortly after they landed outside the Lestrange manor, Draco said, “What are you getting at? What do you know?”

“Just that you might need some help,” She pulled her hood over her head, tucking her long hair into the cloak. “And that I’m not alone in that opinion.”

“Are you offering? Or are you just looking to be a part of the glory.”

“Murder isn’t glory,” She said quickly. “Revenge is.”

They approached the door and Draco traced his finger along the wooden panel just as Bellatrix had instructed him in their letter. There was a dull throbbing at the base of her skull, but she didn’t want him to know. The aching was becoming a familiar feeling, and she wondered briefly is Evelyn felt it, too. Dismissive, distant Evelyn who had moved away from her as soon as she had found an opening in her new house—no different than at home Evelyn. The thought alone caused the throb to increase, and she found herself hoping that Evelyn could feel it.

Bellatrix approached them in the entrance hall, fussing over Elizabeth in an almost maternal way that Draco had never witnessed before. She took down Elizabeth’s hood, fluffy her curls so they lay attractively across the black fabric. The entire ceremony had been detailed in her letter, but she took a few moments to remind Elizabeth of the steps. She nodded, her expression blank as she committed each piece to memory.

Just before beckoning them onward, Bellatrix added, “He’ll be marking you himself.”

The sentence made Draco start, but Elizabeth didn’t react. She’d had a feeling he would want to, given everything she’d learned thus far.

“That’s unprecedented,” Draco said, but his mouth snapped shut immediately when his aunt looked at him with disgust. They were silent as they continued down the hall, entering a darkened dining hall where a handful of people had already gathered. Most were masked. Elizabeth didn’t look at them. She kept her eyes at the man standing near the head of the group, a large snake lounging around his ankles. His red eyes followed her intently, concentrating on her. She could feel him attempting to work his way into her mind, but she felt inclined to refuse him. As she did, he smiled—or attempted to smile, as the way his lips curled upward on wither side was more like a snarl.

The ceremony was straightforward enough. She followed Bellatrix’s advice, kneeled when she knew she should kneel, responded when she knew she should respond. She devoted herself to him verbally and, when that was over, signed a contract he had formed using dark magic. Bellatrix had told her of this document as well.

When the time came to sign it, the Dark Lord said, “You sign in blood.” His voice filled the hall. There was a knife and a quill on a platter beside the prie dieu she knelt on.

Without hesitation, she took up the knife and passed it across her left palm. With her uninjured hand, she picked up the quill and quickly dipped it into the slit. Then, with large loops and swift curves, Elizabeth signed her name. In the yellow torchlight that illuminated the hall, Ellie saw her name shine gold. Then, the contract ignited itself. The flames licked every inch of the parchment, but the paper did not burn.

“Your alliance has been tested and proven.” The Dark Lord declared, a sense of greediness in his tone that Elizabeth liked. She looked into his eyes from the prie dieu and smiled as he asked for her arm.

It wasn’t until Draco had returned them to the clearing just beyond the school grounds that the throbbing in her head overtook her. She collapsed there, her fingers still locked with his, thinking only of the way her forearm burned with the Dark Mark.

 







 

Author's Note: I apologize for the delay! I was hoping to get this out last weekend, but had an event to attend and was away from my computer much of the weekend. But, here it is, alas! The long chapter I've been alluding to... and I can promise it will be followed by another long one, soon.

I'm also working on a long one that will come a little bit later. (I think you might be able to guess why it's long!) It's definitely been a bit rough to come at, since the original version of the story allowed for something quite different that wouldn't work in this revision. But it's definitely coming along and I'm excited to see what ya'll think of the next few chapters... There's a lot of important plot moments ahead! I encourage reviews!

Credits: Chapter image and all original characters by me. Canon characters and setting by J.K. Rowling.

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