Beta: forever_dreaming
Story Summary: There are forty-two words written about Emmeline Vance. This is a tale about her.

Emmeline needed a moment to escape. She stepped into the large room beside Nicolas Flamel’s laboratory. The place stood as a dancing school once upon a time, and the wooden floors felt nice underfoot. It stayed outside the sister city of Dover, Calais, a shipping port which thrived with life and did not always reek of fish, despite popular opinion, for a mariner’s soul lived here. People either fled to or from England or France at this point.

She wrapped her blonde hair in a loose hairstyle and fingered the comfortable, light fabric of her blue dress. Muggle clothing suited her because it felt less constricting than wizard’s robes, and allowed her to fit into the crowd. Emmeline went down this road a handful of times, for she went through her sixth pregnancy in eight years. She placed her hand on a bar, wondering why Nicolas left this as the last room to renovate. He lived a quiet life in Dover across the way, though this didn’t mean he no longer lived. Emmeline placed one foot behind the other, remembering her steps, not conscious of the mirrored wall. The alchemist owned properties, a lot of them, going with the fact he possessed infinite life and wealth.

She jumped, surprised when the tall, old familar man placed a hand on her back, and took a proper stance. She had a Paris childhood, a privileged upbringing. Albus Dumbledore was never her teacher in the strictest sense; he had always been first and foremost a family friend. Although there was no music in the room, he began guiding her through the motions of a simple dance. He wore midnight blue robes, smiling at her as they fell into a repetitive motion: step, side, close, and again, step, side, close.

“You’ve probably never had a dance partner like this,” she said, turning in a wide circle, doing the wrong steps in the dance.

“Your grandmother. She found this helpful with Alexander, and Louis … and Alice, I believe.” Inclining his head slightly, Dumbledore spun her around and smiled when she laughed a little. He placed his hand on her waist again. He’d been friends with Jacqueline Luc Marceau, Emmeline’s maternal grandmother, since the start of the twentieth century. He considered Jacqueline his other half; he handed Nicolas a homeless girl as an apprentice. The two weren't romantically involved, of course; they loved each other like brother and sister. Emmeline nodded, guessing was why Nicolas kept the old atmosphere of the large room.

Dumbledore spoke with a little concern in his tone. “How are you feeling?”

“Really, really pregnant,” said Emmeline, sighing when he continued the waltz.

.She went with the truth and wondered if Gideon felt the same way. As a negotiator, he took any and all assignments in Spain, France, and the United Kingdom. He left at the drop of a conical hat. The midwife said last week; it was supposed to come last week, but the fetus took its time. She wanted the thing and she’d come to dread the phrase “any day now” because this parasite sucked the life out of her.

“This isn't about me.” Jacqueline lay in a bed in one of the nearby bedrooms and circled the drain. Emmeline’s apron was tossed on the floor when she stormed away from Nicolas. At six hundred fifty-something, the renowned alchemist wasn't the kindest of men, and he’d reduced her to tears over a shattered alembic. “I can't work with him.”

“Jacqueline had six children, and Nicolas has no time for feelings.” The professor lowered her hand and suggested they get some fresh air. Emmeline jerked her head towards the open door. “She’s still here.”

They stepped out of the building. Albus Dumbledore often got mistaken as her grandfather by strangers and passersby, especially Muggles, and he took it in stride as they strode into the fish market. He shrugged off his traveling cloak and draped it over her shoulders because she like an alchemical furnace. Funnily enough, people went out of their way for pregnant women. A fisherman’s wife, waved her over and offered them a basket of croissants. Emmeline offered her money, seven Sickles, and got waved away for the fisherman’s wife took no money. Emmeline left the money and purchased a jar of raspberry jam from another vendor.

Professor Dumbledore waved at a young man who caught a large fish from a fishmonger. As the fish practically devoured him, he couldn't return the gesture. Emmeline waited for the boy to fall down, but he didn't, and the people nearby clapped. The boy rushed down the street as fast as his feet could carry him to deliver his catch.

“I have never actually seen that,” said Dumbledore, grabbing a wicker basket and thanking her for the jam.

“It’s New Year’s Day, too, so he got a pretty penny.” Emmeline inquired after the strawberries because they obviously weren't in season and went with some slightly bruised apples instead.

“You haggle like a local.” Dumbledore, impressed, bought two baguettes, careful to listen to the bread, and some olive oil. He’d learned the bread trick from Jacqueline. Emmeline grabbed orange juice and said she jumped the Channel all the time. They found Gideon, a stocky man with reddish brown hair, dressed in jeans and a Bastille t-shirt by the produce. They exchanged greetings. “Remind your wife she’s from Paris.”

“Snooty Paris where the women walk around like this.” Gideon adopted a funny gait and held his nose in the air. He told her this all the time, though she grew up between Marseille and the capital. He stocked up on homemade hazelnut chocolate spread and tucked these away in Dumbledore’s basket with coffee beans. “A summer and a winter home doesn't make you down to earth, it makes you a Marceau. Ouch.”

Emmeline punched him in the arm for his cheek. “You can't be bothered to show up on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve…Christmas Day. No Mass for you.”

Gideon shrugged this off. “I’m not Catholic?”

“Christmas Day. Papa wouldn't shut up.”

Emmeline frowned when Gideon suggested her grandfather, Gabriel Marceau. a department head at the Department of International Magical Cooperation FR, ought to have spent the holiday actually on holiday or away on assignment, except he lived to serve his frail wife these days. Gabriel had married Jacqueline when she, Jacqueline, was a young woman at the tender age of sixteen, and he had been nineteen; they were married for seventy years and and learned to love each other. Jacqueline wished to die at home or attend an expensive gala in Paris? She got it. Emmeline gestured at herself in her condition and rolled her eyes when Gideon promised her the baby would come whenever she pleased.

Emmeline disagreed with Gideon. “If it kept on schedule, Papa wouldn't have wasted two days.”

Gideon, completely ateasekissed her on the cheek and said he got three contracts and a bonus. Emmeline, stir crazy with her best rest orders, asked after the money, and he told her thousands. Emmeline raised her eyebrows, although these bids often went one way or the other, and they hadn’t taken advantage of because Gideon knew how to turn the stakes in his favor. They slowed down, discussing the midwife’s incessant bans. no traveling, especially no Apparition .They bent this rule a little. Dumbledore went ahead and Disapparated.

“Papa’s fine,” said Emmeline, looping her arm through Gideon’s when he asked after her grandfather. Despite the fact he was her grandfather, and she was Alice’s daughter, she called him Papa because age stayed a touchy subject with Gabriel Marceau. “Is it bad that I want to force potions down her throat to end it?”

“No.” Gideon got updates throughout the day by owl. Jacqueline no longer took food or water. He confessed he had wanted to place a pillow over her face the other night when he popped by. “It’s too painful to witness her withering away.”

“Nicolas called me a whore.” She nodded when Gideon gaped at her. “I broke an instrument … and Jacqueline warned me he had no filter.”

“And you’re really not yourself.” Jumping in impatiently with his opinion, Gideon shrugged half-heartedly when she shot him a look. He lowered his voice and Emmeline noticed his used one of his calm demeanor tactics to give bad news with a positive spin. Have you seen yourself? You cried when you burnt toast. By the way, who burns toast? I need to steal one of those Muggle appliances from Arthur and cast Charms on it or something. It’s sad when you’re drafting a contract and worrying over your pregnant wife starving herself, right? Oh, goodness, this means you’re going to starve my child, too.”

“You try acting as interpreter among thirty delegates while trying to eat. You’ve never sat with Gabriel Marceau, Anita Carlos-Flores, and whoever represents your band of misfits in a conference room during the Iberian Summit and worked as a mouthpiece.” Emmeline scoffed when he gave her the name of Caradoc Dearborn. “Yeah, him.”

Gideon threw up his hands. “He’s in the Order.”

“Thirty people. All the time. Oh, the summer session when seventy-five of you decided to stay at each other’s throats? That was fun. Let’s play again.” Emmeline clapped her hands and beamed at him. “Funny how I’m not supposed to be under stress. How’s that working out for us, monsieur?”

“Yeah. Nobody planned that,” Gideon conceded that and claimed responsibility for her early leave and bed rest orders. Gideon spent money as quickly as he earned it, and he burned through it like wildfire. He’d landed himself as the only breadwinner and ran a marathon to stay at the top as the best negotiator. “You look pretty?”

“Is that a question or a statement? If the midwife gives me one more restriction, I swear I’m going to lose my mind. She wants me to recline three hours a day,” said Emmeline, hating her whiny tone. Emmeline never got past seven months before and stupidly raised the alarm and alerted the wrong people two weeks ago, which led to her increased, unreasonable restrictions. “Oh. And on top of no coffee? No chocolate.”

“You’re raving. Like a child.”

“I hate you? You want my grandfather to tell you to get out?”

“No. Let's not anger Gabriel because he hates me enough at the moment as it is.” Gideon tiptoed around the Marceau family these days.

Emmmeline scoffed, crossing her arms. “Who’s side are you on?”

Gideon held up a finger, telling her to wait a moment, and went to chase down a vendor. He came back with three large chocolate bars. “Two of these are dark chocolate, which logically means one cancels out the other. I’m lying. We don’t like that woman.”

“See? Gideon,” said Emmeline, calming down when she took a bite and speaking in a softer tone. She had more time than she needed to think, which meant she sat around and worried herself to death. She read through contracts and edited negotiations. As she was a relay agent, getting a message to one person to another, she shut off her brain and held no cards in this game. She broke off a piece and handed it to him.

“We’re headed towards a war.” The chocolate snapped, and she handed him a piece of it. “I feel it in my bones.”

Gideon nibbled on his chocolate and raised his hand. “Who’s been saying this for six years? Your grandfather won’t listen to me.”

“I know.” Emmeline saw her old grandfather as an obstacle. Gideon worked as a slave as he pleased two demanding masters. She took another chunk of chocolate and grinned when he purchased two coffees. “You’re my favorite.”

“Damn straight.”

Gideon waved at a little girl and tore chocolate off the other end of the bar before he handed it to her. He spoke rapid French, a Parisian dialect, and she answered shyly, surprised that this intimidating, pale, red-haired Englishman spoke her tongue. Gideon stood out as an exceptional uncle because he loved children; they were his weakness. Telling her to close her eyes beforehand, Gideon conjured a bouquet of yellow roses for the Muggle girl and clapped her on the shoulder as he stowed his wand away. She tugged at her mother’s skirt, distracting her from a jewelry vendor. Gideon winked at her and placed a finger to his lips after wishing her a Happy New Year, and Emmeline played the stupid, clueless wife.

“You’ve got to stop doing these things. The Statute of Secrecy? People hope to slap your wrist because you’re you.” Emmeline kissed him back when he pressed his lips to hers.

“Can we have a little girl? You want a girl? Cuteness and fluffy stuffed animals holding tea parties?”

“You didn’t care. You have a gang of nephews.” Emmeline, detached, tried not to imagine such things because then she imagined a face and a voice. And hope was a dangerous thing.

“Yeah, but…” Gideon spun her around and pulled a pouty face with an adopted little boy’s voice. The Muggle girl bent down and tied her red trainers and twirled in her white dress with red poppies on it. “Little French girl. My little French girl.”

“She’ll be called Marceau. You’re hopeless.” Emmeline stuck to her fetus theory and distanced herself from getting attached because it never ended well. There was no way to determine the gender of a child by magical means, and even if there was, Emmeline really would not have wished to know the secret. Gideon nodded, completely wrapped up in some strange euphoria and grinned like an idiot. “Don’t get excited. We’re talking about me, so don’t be surprised if this child comes out with three arms or … or something. The fetus is probably dead.”

“Maman’s not usually this mean. She loves you.” Gideon switched to upbeat, conversational French and knelt in the middle of the crowded square to talk to someone who wasn't even there. He chatted with her belly as if he expected a response. He took her hand and placed it on top of his other one. “You feel that? Of course you do. I think she recognizes my voice.”

“It’s not a she. Get up.” Emmeline, embarrassed, tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and nodded like some hapless idiot. Gideon got up and continued on like this happened all the time. He said Fabian, his twin brother, was arriving tomorrow. She groaned. “I told you not to make a thing out of this.”

“He wants to say goodbye to Jacqueline.” Gideon offered nothing about the baby. Emmeline said Fabian better hurry.

“Emmeline, it’s fine. We’ll be fine without her … you’ve got me, Fabian, and Gabriel, your aunts and uncles, and Molly.” Gideon sighed when he unintentionally made her cry. She shook her head, not hearing him or listening to him. He hugged her, stashing away the chocolate, and shushed her in a calming and reassuring tone.

“No, no … it won’t. I want Jacqueline.” Emmeline leaned into Gideon when he pulled her onto a side street as the fish vender passed them. Gideon took a deep steadying breath. Although they'd see this coming down the road, Emmeline clung to desperation in the last moment. Emmeline kept her emotions in check, mainly for Nicolas, but she let it go in a sudden release. “She’s leaving me… and I’m not ready.”

“You’ll never be ready.” Gideon patted her hair and muttered about the no stress thing flying straight out the window. He nodded when she insisted she needed Jacqueline. His voice broke, a rare thing, and he struggled, too. “I need you … I understand, but I need you to please come back to me. I love her, too.”

Emmeline stood there for a moment and eventually gathered herself. Jacqueline wasn't yet gone, but Emmeline had sat on the sidelines waiting. Gideon suggested they go home because Professor Dumbledore was there and Gabriel would be there soon; it wasn't their place but Nicholas’s home away from home. Gideon tossed their stuff in a wastebasket, took her by the arm, twisted his heel and prepared to Disapparate.

Something went wrong. For a second, Emmeline imagined something wrong with the baby, but that wasn't it. Frightened, she let go for a fraction of a second, redoubled her grip, and snatched nothing but air. Gideon spun away from her, and she crashed onto the pavement. She smelled blood, and gulped, horrified, when she saw her leg lying a short distance from her body. Muggles poured into Calais all the time. A large, bulky man picked her up, grabbed the leg, and ignored her feeble protests. She identified him as the fisherman and wondered how she’d explain this away to him. They Disapparated and she faded away.

Hours, maybe days, passed in a blur. She kept going in and out of consciousness. Emmeline remembered lying in a bed in a room. Some time later, she recalled flashes of pain followed by relief. She’d asked her captor, the fisherman who only gave the name of David, why he snatched a pregnant woman. He gave no answer. A day must have passed before it dawned on her that this stranger would be her only hope. Dazed, she watched the sun came up, and took her baby in her arms.

“They won’t have heard you screaming with my protective charms and enchantments.” The man walked with a slight limp and struck her back when she slapped him because of the pains. He hissed at the child. “Shut her up.”

“Someone will have heard me,” she said, feeding the child and taking stock of the place. There were no childcare things except when he’d dashed off to the shop. “Like this? I seriously doubt it.”

“What would you want with some country woman?”

“You’re from Marseille,” he said, stepping out and returning minutes later. He clearly hadn't expected to have a second charge on his hands. He sounded English, and Emmeline couldn't recall actually speaking to him in Calais. They were somewhere in Paris now based on the hints the man dropped here and there: the third story apartment, Norte, Dame, and people everywhere.

“I need clothes.”

David spoke up here. “Why? So you can run for it again? Kind of stupid to run with a baby coming, eh? I should’ve left you in the stairwell.”

Someone, an unexpected visitor, knocked on the door, and David swore under his breath. He left. Emmeline held the screaming child close and debated whether or not she should scream. She decided no, but as she sat there waiting, Emmeline changed her mind. Emmeline startled the newborn and called out in French. Minutes later, David stormed back into the room with a ginger-haired, dodgy character with bandy legs. This fellow smoked a pipe and grunted through a cloud of green smoke. . David had learned from his previous mistake and magically locked the door from the inside. He’d been kind enough to reattach her leg, but he kept her wand on his person.

“It ain’t right, David Wilkes, you’ve gone too far,” said the man. He shrugged when David told him to shut up. David strode over and struck Emmeline hard in the face. David threatened to take the baby and get rid of it. Emmeline, scared for more than the first time, got back into bed after going to the bathroom.The other man offered her the baby and muttered incoherently when Mr. Wilkes went out to get stuff. “Don’t try anything.”

“*Gardez votre distance, vous êtes drunkard.” Emmeline took the baby and could smell the alcohol off who she guessed was a homeless man. She could tell he couldn't speak French and decided to lower her guard, although she didn’t know why. She shushed the baby, comforting herself at the same time, or at least attempting to do so. An interpreter, not a lawyer, she weaved together nonsense with whatever nonsense she understood and lined a defense.

The man blocked the door and kept his eyes on the knob. He took out a sheaf of parchment, cleared his throat and gave his name as Mundungus Fletcher before he read the note like a small child. “I ain’t saying this right. Butchering it probably. ‘Vous êtes en sécurité avec cest home. Il est avec me, Emmeline. Two n'es pass soul. Got your name right. Hopefully you got that?”

Who used to tell her she was never, ever, alone when all seemed lost?

Emmeline nodded, wondering how in the world Albus Dumbledore stumbled upon this man and pieced this together so quickly. Not everyone within the professor’s circle knew each other, and she suspected he did this on purpose. She approached him, still cautious, and offered him her hand. “I don't like small children because they cry and shit everywhere, but yours looks okay.”

“Thank you?” She took a step back and chose to not point out those who married themselves to the bottle shared similar behaviors. He asked her to call him Dung, and for whatever reason, this didn’t lighten the mood. Emmeline seriously questioned some half-baked plan here and doubted Professor Dumbledore’s abilities for the first time in her life.

“He said feed you some ridiculous equation, but I don’t do maths past the practical stuff so …” Mundungus shrugged and offered her a plain silver cigarette lighter from inside his grubby coat. He stared, aghast, when Emmeline struck it, expecting to see a flame like her grandmother’s. The light from the nearby lamp on the beside table zoomed into it like an orb. Mundungus said he should’ve nicked the instrument. “He’ll be wanting that back.”

“He taught me calculus,” she said slowly in an offhand way, studying the lighter with interest.

Mundungus said he had no idea what she said, but she should take a peek outside the window. Emmeline, merely curious, clicked the lighter again and released the light back into the lamp. She spotted two sturdy men, Gideon and Fabian, she guessed. They coneredDavid Wilkes and shouted at him. The man decided to run, and Fabian, an Auror, took chase. There was a flash of green light and Wilkes dropped dead on the pavement. Emmeline, shocked, shielded the baby and asked Mundungus to draw his wand.

“Why?” Mundungus acted like he needed incentive to do anything.

“I haven’t … here.” Emmeline took off her silver inlaid diamond watch, a gift from Nicolas Flamel, shifted the baby awkwardly, and tossed it to him. Mundungus asked if it was real as he examined it.

“I’m just asking.” Mundungus stowed it away with his pipe before he drew his wand. Next moment, Gideon asked him to open the door. He called him Dung. Mundungus undid the latch and let them in after he asked a few questions.

“Are you alright?” Gideon examined Emmeline’s face closely and didn't turn away until Mundungus said he wanted compensation for finding a Death Eater. Gideon waved him down, showing them he knew of the request, and scooped up his daughter. He checked her fingers and toes, every minute detail, and kissed her small foot.

Mundungus grumbled when Fabian snatched the watch and said it was unkind to take things that didn't belong to him. “She gave it to me.”

“She would’ve given you her wedding band, too. You want that?” Fabian sighed when Mundungus said yes. “Dumbledore got you off on that Class C Untradeable charge, but you’re gonna need a lawyer for this.”

“I ain’t done nothing!” Mundungus waved an arm at Emmeline, hoping for an ally. “I ain’t done nothing to you.”

“You need a lawyer to help clear your name, and hearsay doesn't matter, because this is international law you’re toying with here,” Gideon spoke patiently and held up a hand to silence the informant. “She’s an interpreter, okay? And she’s the adopted daughter and biological granddaughter of Monsieur Marceau. You give a statement, you walk away.”

Mundungus probably thought he had been advantage of here. “It ain’t enough. I want in the Order.”

Emmeline, breathing easily for the first time since she’d disappeared from Calais, took a moment to weigh what he said. “The Order? Why would anyone want a petty thief in a secret organization?”

“I ain’t no thief! And you’re welcome.” Mundungus, a little hot under the collar, turned towards Emmeline as he tossed her a rucksack he’d magicked out of thin air. Inside, Emmeline found a red polka dotted dress and other things. He shrugged when Gideon shook his head. “I ain’t. I just, you know, borrow stuff without the intention of giving it back, you know? I got a little business on the side, too.”

“Okay, Dung. Sorry to do this to you, mate, but this isn’t on me.” He turned towards her to give her a confession. “The copper cuff links I said I lost last year for our seventh anniversary? And the personalized pennies? The Muggle money you gave me? He nicked them.”

“Personalized pennies? Seriously?” Emmeline prided herself on this idea because Gideon collected foreign currency. She’d gone through a Muggle friend to get these crafted. She rounded on Mundungus and answered him with a hand gesture.

Fabian clapped his hands, saying he’d missed her.

Emmeline smiled,touched, thinking she won him over until he commented on returning an owl every so often so he could know she was alive. Gideon grumbled he had a point.

“I am your only brother. Brother-in-law. Except Arthur. But you like me.” Fabian raised his hands in mock surrender when Emmeline scoffed. She liked Arthur and his old Muggle loving quirks, too.

Emmeline went to shower and change. She hurried, wishing to get out of this place as soon as possible. She brushed the wrinkles out and ignored the bulge, for she hardly cared about her appearance. “You, Mr. Fletcher, Give me my pennies and my cuff links back. Both of them were personalized. What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I dunno where they are.” Mundungus told he’d look around.

“Emmeline,” said Gideon, not caring about some old gift in the slightest. “Those are trinkets, and they mean nothing. We have each other. That’s … that’s all that matters. Let’s go home.”

Emmeline swore she picked up something in Gideon’s voice when he suggested Mundungus talk to Professor Dumbledore about joining the Order as they had no sway in this decision.

Gideon, no longer concerned with the thief’s requests, changed his first nappy, pulling it off flawlessly like he’d been doing it for years because he’d had a lot of practice with Molly’s children. He passed the baby off to Emmeline, calling her Sophie, and kissed her forehead.

“Sophie.” Emmeline touched the baby's nose and smiled at the sound of the name. Fabian gave the full name, Sophie Jacqueline Charlotte Marceau, something he had in his back trouser pocket a long time ago. “Charlotte. That’s the fourth generation to carry that name.”

“Uh huh.” Fabian swung the rucksack over his shoulder and invited Mundungus to leave first.

Fabian swept the room, careful not to touch anything because the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He winked at Emmeline, saying he needed time with this favorite niece. (She was his only one.) Fabian lived for the single life of a bachelor and strayed away from commitment like the plague or dragon pox, so he went with seasonal attractions when it came to women. He didn't date anyone at the Ministry or the Order of the Phoenix on principle, because this added unnecessary melodrama to his life, and chances were, someone would end up dead.

“Marriage isn't end of the world.” Emmeline took Gideon’s hand and hoped she never got stranded in the Paris ghetto again. Fabian, walking backwards, turned to Gideon like he needed a translation to get filled in on the conversation. Emmeline took her wand when he offered it to her. She got the joke. “Oh, you’re hilarious, Mr. Prewett. It was in English, thank you very much.”

“It was funny.” Gideon, the responsible and eldest one, sounded tired. They stopped by the hospital to get the baby checked out. Emmeline zoned out when the officers from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement questioned her. Gideon snapped his fingers under her nose and advised someone, any Healer, to run a rape kit. Emmeline declined this as a pointless step, but she did it anyway after she gave her statement. They asked thrice to catch things or holes in her story. “Fabian’s got to file a report.”

“No.” Emmeline silently cursed herself as tears spilled into her hair. Why had she showered before thinking of this procedure? There was nothing to gather, of course, yet any lawyer with half a brain would ask why. Gideon sat at her head and ran his fingers through her hair. “Time needs to slow down for a few nights. Please.”

Gideon turned his head and spoke to Fabian on the other side of the curtain.

“Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll stay.” Fabian cursed when Gideon told him not to hang around France simply to get buried underneath a mountain of paperwork, parchment, and assignment. “What did I say, Monsieur Negotiator?”

“He’s staying in Paris,” said Gideon brightly, rubbing his hands together. Fabian tacked on an insult at the end. “I’m supposed to be in Madrid and then Seville in three hours.”

“That’s not happening,” laughed Emmeline, shaking her head and putting her clothes back on. After they double checked everything, she left the hospital gown on the bed and signed a birth certificate with Gideon. “You’ve got a sidekick.”

Fabian purchased an old-fashioned black pram from a nearby shop, got a date with the proprietor, and came back to get them ready to head back home.

“Do you want to go to Calais?” Fabian threw out an option.

Gideon said no. They went into the small house and got situated. Emmeline nearly crawled out her skin when she backtracked and saw Albus Dumbledore sitting in the dark sitting room; none of them caught this on the first turn. He sat with his fingertips together and buried his face in his weathered hands.

“I took your papa’s key,” he said, placing it on the table. He studied Emmeline’s face.

“She’s dead,” Emmeline said emotionlessly, in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Are you all right?” Dumbledore sounded uncharacteristically tired.

“No.” Emmeline nodded, mentally drained over this chos. “Yes. Yes and no? I don't know.”

“What do you need?” Seeming to understand her confusion, Dumbledore stayed put and set her on track; he caught the Deluminator with a quick hand when she tossed it in the air.

“There’s a funeral? Notre Dame. I think … she devoted her research to the University of Paris. There’s a eulogy … I can’t … I can’t.”

“Gabriel asked to take that responsibility.” Dumbledore waited for permission. Emmeline hated that she wasn't there to say goodbye, and he coaxed this out of her. He got up and embraced her. “Look at me. No, sweet girl, she knew. You were there. She wasn't … she left the other day.”

Emmeline asked how he knew this.

“She called me Nicolas and asked me to read the next chapter. There was no book.” Dumbledore reached in his robes and handed her a Rosary, Jacqueline’s Rosary, and an ordinary silver cigarette lighter. His eyes twinkled when Gideon handed him a wrapped bundle. “This is the new Mademoiselle Marceau? She’s beautiful. Hello.”

Sophie, of course, said nothing, though her small arm had wringed out of the blanket, and Dumbledore kissed her hand before he went to sit back down. While Fabian went to drop his things in the bedroom, Gideon sat beside Emmeline on the couch as the professor shared a story about a homeless girl called Jacqueline. Emmeline flicked the lighter absentmindedly and played with the illuminating blue flame. Professor Dumbledore paused, thinking as he replaced his half-moon spectacles on his crooked nose, and smiled when Emmeline suggested he start at the beginning.

*”Keep your distance, you drunkard.”

*”You are safe with this man. He’s with me, Emmeline. You’re not alone.”, a broken translation

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