Evelyn stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom connected to her dorm room, wet hair hanging down her back and toothbrush in hand. She had finished her morning shower and had been going through her routine when she was struck by her reflection. She went through the same essential routine every morning, but for whatever reason—whether it was the way the light caught her reflection that morning or the nondescript way in which she moved past the counter—her reflection had made her pause, and the minutes scuttled away while she looked at herself.
Since June, she seemed to have lost a noticeable amount of weight. Her hair was several inches longer than she remembered it, and had outgrown its haircut a bit. Anemic circles hung under her eyes. She could remember that over the last few months she had slept much less than had been her habit and had—on some days—stopped eating entirely, but she couldn’t remember having noticed the effects of those behaviors. She just hadn’t felt tired or hungry; abruptly she thought that in reality she simply hadn’t felt.
She ran her finger along her cheekbone, feeling its prominence. She thought she looked older, and she wondered if she looked haunted. Am I haunted? It was a dramatic thought, but she felt returned to herself and lavished in this opportunity for self-criticism that had once been an ordinary part of her adolescence—akin to brushing her teeth or inspecting a blemish.
A soft knock interrupted her thoughts, and she looked to the door, where she could see a shadow at the foot of the door. She could hear Hermione shift her weight from her left foot to her right foot on the other side. She knew it was Hermione because all the other girls had left for breakfast when she’d entered the bathroom; Hermione had been the only one left, working on an outline of an essay that had been assigned to them the afternoon before.
“Coming!” She called out, looking back at her reflection. She muttered a few glamor charms quickly, trying to bring some warmth to her cheeks and hiding the bags under her eyes. Her hair was already air-drying in its natural waves, and she simply cast an anti-frizz spell to help it along. She threw on her robes, and hoped—prayed—that she didn’t look haunted.
Since returning from her stay at the Hospital Wing, there had been a few murmurs here and there. Evelyn could see students’ eyes follow her as she walked past, could feel their curiosity. Hermione explained that the student body had already been interested in her when she’d transferred, and she probably just hadn’t noticed.
Evelyn agreed. It was like the whole school had been veiled to her before, and that the return of her memories had swept that veil away. She didn’t share that bit with Hermione, who already seemed to keep a close watch on her. Her new friend didn’t feel overbearing, but Evelyn could feel how protective she was—so much more so than either Harry or Ron.
Whenever the looks of their fellow classmates got a little too intense or the murmurs began to bother her, Hermione would shoot glares at the instigators or loudly dismiss them with a snapping retort. And, for that, Evelyn was thankful. She could now remember the hours she had spent in June and July, locked in her room at Grimmauld Place and refusing to answer the door or return overseas owls, spending hours thinking only of what her life had been and what lay ahead of her. When she tried to sleep, she saw her mother’s face, and—in the rare event she could make it past—she dreamt of her parents’ funeral. Those sleepless, confined days still felt close, making her feel anxious when she let them linger over her.
She couldn’t yet remember who had persuaded her to unlock the door, but she knew that at the beginning of August they had been moved to their aunt’s quarters at Hogwarts for the final month of summer, which had introduced her to the library and to the possibility of the amnesia charm.
Now, feeling Hermione bristle next to her when a pair of Hufflepuffs pointed in her direction and looked at each other wide-eyed as they exchanged comments in hushed tones, she realized she’d been dramatic in thinking that friendships were beyond her then. The rest of her grief was valid, but that one kernel—the egging voice in the back of her head that had suggested there was no one left in the world to love her, to be a friend to her—that had been a lie. The realization allowed her to relax into herself, and she smiled as Hermione scolded them, letting her friend handle it.
Evelyn had spent a few evenings, after completing her homework with Hermione or allowing Ron to best her at Wizarding Chess, lying on her bed with the curtains drawn. She wasn’t necessarily pretending to sleep or avoiding anyone. She was simply trying to carve out time for her mind to work through the memories that had come back to her. More dreams seemed to trickle in each night, and she tried to set aside time to allow her mind to massage the returning pieces into place. It was almost like meditation, and she felt that even if it wasn’t actually helping her, that she was experiencing a placebo effect. She felt more in control of her mind.
While that in itself was empowering, there were pieces that had come back to her that she knew couldn’t be wrestled into place. In most instances, these weren’t her memories at all—meaning there was no original place for them to fit back into. They were Elizabeth’s memories and new space, adjacent to her perception of the event, had to be carved out for them. These new memories were the most difficult to mediate in these moments alone. The memories had come at random, spanning their entire life, and each slowly painted a picture of how much Elizabeth resented Evelyn for events that were painful and loomed large in their formative years, like the summer that Evelyn had traveled to England without her because her father had said that if Elizabeth couldn’t get a handle on her grades she couldn’t come for a visit, and for more pedantic moments, like the Christmas where their mother had made blueberry muffins for breakfast and had failed to remember that Elizabeth hated blueberries (which had happened on multiple occasions as their mother had loved them herself, and which always seemed to be such a small transgression that Evelyn never took notice before).
Evelyn wished she could have gone about blindly, distanced from her sister like she had been for years without truly knowing why they couldn’t overcome the hurdle that had been erected between them, and never known what Ellie had felt or done. The idea that her sister had played a role in the death of their parents hurt Evelyn. It hurt her like nothing ever had before. Not getting in trouble for smoking in high school, not kissing Evie’s middle school boyfriend, not popping the heads off her dolls when Evie had refused to share—none of these things that Ellie had done had hurt the way these new memories hurt. Ellie had been the secret keeper for their father, and, whether she had been fed false information and manipulated to confess or she had volunteered the information, it didn’t matter. She couldn’t take it back. Their parents were gone, and she had a hand in it.
She began to tossed blame. It was her initial instinct to take it all for herself, feeling that it must have been the distance she’d laid between Elizabeth and her that had led her to do the things she had done. In her mind, Evelyn was sure there was a way these things could have never happened—that at least her father could have been saved. If she had only done one thing differently, perhaps the world wouldn’t be the way it was now.
Angry tears boiled at the corners of her eyes as she stared at the hangings around her. If she had been alone, she might have screamed or thrashed about, but she didn’t want to draw attention to herself. The other girls hadn’t returned to the room yet, but she expected them soon. So, instead, she pulled these feelings back into herself and tried to continue her meditation, shoving the ends of her sleeves across the corners of her eyes to erase the tears. She felt that if there was a space for these memories to file into, then perhaps she could relax. She could work on acceptance, and get a hold on her grief.
Another part of her reared up, though, insisting she wouldn’t even be able to begin that work until she confronted Elizabeth. She wanted her sister to look at her, and tell her that she had done this thing. Evelyn wanted to know why. She wanted one last truth from Elizabeth—didn’t she owe her this? Then Evelyn could look her in the eye and tell Elizabeth that she was dead to her. Then she could come back to her grief and her meditation, continuing this other work.
Evelyn hadn’t seen her sister outside of class since she had left the Hospital Wing, and she oscillated between fearing crossing paths with her and wishing for it. If she were to confront her sister, she knew she would lose Elizabeth forever. There would be no chance of reconciliation, no finding their way back to one another after adolescence—as her mother had often insisted would be the case when Evelyn would come home from school frustrated with her sister. Her heart ached at the thought of losing another family member, but that other part of her stormed up again, insisting that this other family member had been lost long ago. There is no chance left; it’s just a matter of acceptance now, that bitter other part of her insisted.
These two parts of her warred back and forth until all of the other girls had returned, readied for bed, and turned out the lights. She wasn’t sure how long she spent staring out into the darkness before she fell asleep.
Though she hadn’t come to a decision about how to handle her feelings towards Elizabeth, she didn’t have to wait long to see what would happen. Leaving Potions class later that week with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, Evelyn found her sister near the classroom, presumably close to the Slytherian common room, walking towards her with Hera Manos and Rhett Addington. Her sister’s two friends seemed to recognize Evelyn before Elizabeth did, reaching instinctively into their robes and pulling out their wands. Evelyn watched her sister intently, following her eyes, as Elizabeth looked first at the newly drawn wands and then at Evelyn. Her mouth dropped into a straight line. She looked put off, which immediately made Evelyn indignant and defensive.
They had already passed one another when Evelyn stopped, dropping back from her friends and turning to call out in the direction of her sister’s retreating form.
“No. I need to talk to you. Now.”
“It can wait.” Elizabeth’s voice was cold, and she said this without fully turning around to address her. She was flippant and proud, and Evelyn’s anger grew.
“It can’t wait. Not anymore.” Evelyn growled, reaching for her own wand.
Elizabeth turned fully, her brown eyes meeting Evelyn’s with untarnished hatred. Evelyn was startled, dread and anger stirring in her stomach. Such despise had rarely been passed between them at Hogwarts. After their initial closeness, induced by the amnesia charm, had faded, they had moved towards simply ignoring one another except for rare occasions. She could remember now the way Elizabeth had hung beside her in their aunt’s quarters, hollow in the chair and looking away as Evelyn insisted she needed the amnesia charm to be cast to be herself again, to survive. She had been right to think that Elizabeth had wanted to use the charm to distance herself from her family—a family it was now clear she had long been ready to disown. The look Elizabeth sent her was familiar, however, from their prior life when it had often been sent across the halls of the Academy. The charm had repressed it, but it hadn’t erased it.
With just that look, Evelyn realized she should have suspected the betrayal. From the beginning of the previous school year, Elizabeth had been deceptive, rude, and aloof. On more than one occasion, their mother had caught her sneaking in early in the morning. She’d been suspended from school for fighting. She’d ended all communication with their father. She was self-destructive, neglectful, and denied every iota of blame. She may have been an easy target, and she may even recognize that she was manipulated—but did she regret it?
“Alone.” Evelyn added; it wasn’t a question, but her sister treated it as such.
“No. Whatever you have to say can be said here.”
Evelyn looked at her friends, each wearing different shades of discomfort. Manos and Addington seemed less surprised by the sisters, and watched Evelyn with bored eyes. She suddenly felt bare.
“They know—don’t they?” She gestured towards the two Slytherians flanking her sister. She could feel her neck getting red and her eyes stung a bit. “Did you brag about it, is that it? Spreading the news across the common room like it’s a triumph—like it’s something you should be proud of. Makes you pretty important among those disgusting purists.” Her tone was descending into bitterness, and she impulsively tightened her grip on her wand.
Through all the nights she’d spent meditating behind her curtains, she had never once considered attacking her sister. Everything felt different now, upended and unclear.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes, “You’ve always been so self-righteous, Evie. Just like our father. I don’t have time for this.”
She moved her body as if to turn and go, but Evelyn leveled her wand at her sister. “Don’t you dare mention him.” Her voice shook, but her arm didn’t.
“What’ll you do, then? Attack me? Because I mentioned a good-for-nothing father who left our mother because he couldn’t control her? Or, what if I mention our mother who was too weak to get over him? Who made a spectacle of herself everywhere we went?” She scoffed, narrowing her eyes. “Don’t worry, Evie. I won’t mention them again—I don’t want anything to do with them. They did nothing for us. We’re better off without them.”
Evelyn’s arm had begun to shake by the time Elizabeth’s mouth snapped shut. Tears blurred her eyes, and she knew she couldn’t cast—she was too emotional, and it wouldn’t be safe. Elizabeth took advantage of the moment, looking at Hera and then letting out a breathy laugh that sent Evelyn over the edge.
She began charging down the hallway to the Slytherians’ surprise, yelling, “WE’RE THROUGH, YOU AND ME!” Her voice grew louder with every step, but before she could even close half the distance between them she felt arms wrap around her middle and lift her feet from the ground. Elizabeth laughed again, turning with Hera and Rhett, but Evelyn continued to yell, struggling against the arms around her, “YOU MIGHT AS WELL HAVE DIED WITH THEM! IT’S DONE. WE’RE DONE!”
Elizabeth rounded a corner and disappeared as Evelyn’s shouts rang around them echoing until the only sound left was her sporadic breathing and her sobs, muffled by Harry’s shoulder once he finally set her down and she caved into his chest.
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