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James didn’t know why, but he felt exhausted after his conversation with his father. Feeling drained and slightly defeated, James had parted Harry for the evening with a protracted and impassioned hug.

James returned home to his apartment and slumped into the kitchen, devoid of energy. He grabbed a beer from the fridge before dropping into a chair at the kitchen table. He took a few deep gulps before setting the glass down. At the sound of footsteps, he turned to look at the entrance into the kitchen, where Norah was slowly padding into view, her arms wrapped tightly around herself and the ties of her robe hanging loose by her sides. She rubbed her eyes sleepily. She had clearly already climbed into bed for the night after trying unsuccessfully to wait up for James to come home.

“You’re home,” she said in a grateful voice.

“I’m home,” he agreed simply with a smile.

Norah dropped into his lap when she reached him and wrapped her arms comfortingly around him. She didn’t want him to linger on any fears or worries, but by his demeanor, she could tell he was troubled. As the days grew closer to the final attack on Parker, he seemed to grow quieter and more troubled as each day passed. So she asked quietly, “How are you feeling?”

James shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t know how to feel or think.”

“How can I help you?” asked Norah desperately. She hated seeing him like this. For someone who was overtly emotional, it was strange to see him not lashing out in anger or frustration in this situation. He was always one to voice—even over-voice and over-react—to stressful or irritating things. His short fuse and attitude was what had put an initial strain on their relationship in the first place. Yet now, here he was, internalizing everything so deeply to the point that Norah nearly couldn’t read him. She didn’t understand the drastic change; all she did know, though, was that he must be truly terrified to be so petrified into silence.

James looked down and continued to shake his head as Norah continued to hold him tightly and rub his back affectionately. James didn’t know how to express anything in that moment; he didn’t how know to label what he was thinking. All he felt was a significant burden. So much of their plan for the following day rode on his success with Clancy. So much of this was in his hands. In more ways than one.

And he couldn’t fail them. He couldn’t fail the Aurors or his family. He couldn’t fail Norah. He couldn’t fail Albus. If they didn’t succeed tomorrow, then Parker would continue to wreak havoc on his loved ones.

He looked up to Norah then at that thought. He remembered what it was like to lose Albus, and as he looked up into her eyes, he suddenly felt an immense fear of losing her, too. And that couldn’t happen. He was grateful that both Harry and James had sat down with Norah yesterday to tell her she couldn’t come along on the mission tomorrow. There was too much paperwork involved, and the Ministry couldn’t be held liable for the potential harm of more people than was necessary. So Norah would have to stay behind, which she hadn’t been happy about but had seemed to understand enough. At least she wouldn’t be in danger during the mission tomorrow, but if James and the others didn’t succeed in taking down Parker tomorrow, then Norah would be in danger every day thereafter.

And with that painful thought, he reached out a hand to stroke her cheek. He pulled her to him for a kiss full of desperate yearning. She responded in kind, seemingly understanding that she had asked how she could help him, and perhaps this was how. She turned in his lap so she was straddling him, and she held his face in her hands, feeling the stubble on his jawline graze her palms.

The need to feel every inch of her continued to grow even as she wrapped herself around him. He moved further into her, kissing her harder and holding his arms against her back. Norah seemed to understand his actions, how he desperately moved into her every crevice to be against her, how his kiss deepened, and how even his breathing seemed to say he needed her.

She broke their kiss to hold him tighter and press her forehead against his. Panting, she reassured him, “I’m here.” She ran her fingers through his hair and pulled him to her to hold his head against the crevice of her neck. “I’m right here.”

As his head came to rest against her neck, something seemed to break inside of him. Something uncontrollable suddenly overwhelmed him, and he found himself letting out a pained, choked cry. He buried his face into the crook of her neck as he tried to stifle his cries, embarrassed by his abrupt breakdown.

“Shh,” encouraged Norah as she felt the skin of her neck dampen with his tears. Pained by the anguish of his cries, she tightened her hold on him and willed herself to be whatever comfort he needed. “It’s okay. I’m here.”

With an apprehensive farewell to the rest of the family, Harry and James, along with Ginny and Norah, arrived at the Ministry the following day well before the established meeting time with the Aurors. They arrived with enough time to get situated in the meeting room and make sure all of their necessary items were accounted for. Over the next hour, the Aurors slowly began to trickle in, the room maintaining a somber aura. Harry would go to greet them and make sure they were all prepared for the mission at hand, but James and Norah remained in a corner of the room, their hands tightly clasped and their eyes almost never drifting from the other. Ginny leaned against a wall near them, trying to stay positive and hopeful just like the rest of them.

James looked to their hands clasped before them. He squeezed her palms, running his fingers over the lines of her hand, feeling the crevice between her fingers, and memorizing the feel of her small hands in his. He swallowed uneasily before pulling her hands to his lips and placing a gentle kiss against her soft skin. James was acutely aware of his mother watching their every interaction; out the corner of his eye, he could see her watching them, but all James could focus on in that moment was Norah.

“This will all be over soon,” she encouraged him, thinking back to their previous intimate and emotional night together.

Although not in so many words, many emotions and feelings had been shared, making it the most intimate night they had shared together in a long while. It was through their tears, their kisses, and their embraces in which they had expressed their love for one another, their fear for what the day would hold, and their implicit understanding that their future was only meant to be shared together. Together, they were both at their weakest and their strongest.

Still holding Norah’s hands to his lips, he whispered against them. “I know. Norah, for this to work…To get Clancy to do what we need her to do, I may have to…”

Norah shook her head quickly and pulled her hands from his. She lowered her gaze from his eyes and instead fidgeted with the long, maroon scarf wrapped around James’ neck. “I know. I don’t care, Jamie. I don’t care and I don’t want to know.”

“But–” he interjected quickly.

She cut him off again, though. “No,” she said firmly while trying to hold back a wince. She fully understood and knew what James may have to do, but she also understood his actions were critical to their success. Although the idea pained her, primarily because she knew James had slept with this woman before, she knew he would do what he must for the sake of his family. She also knew that his heart belonged to her irrevocably. “Please. I don’t want to know. Just come home to me.”

“I will always come back to you,” he promised softly.

He pulled her against his frame for a soft kiss but was abruptly cut off by Harry from across the room. “James,” he said firmly. “We’re ready for you.”

James nodded to his father before turning back to Norah and placing one last kiss against her cheek. “I love you.”

Norah gingerly adjusted the scarf around James’ neck, mustering a weak smile for him. “I love you, too.”

James let go of her and went to quickly embrace his mother and kiss her cheek before moving to join his father and the Aurors.

Harry asked him with a reassuring tone in his voice, “You ready for this?”

James nodded, and Harry dove into it. “Okay. From what we’ve learned through you watching them, we know Clancy will leave within the next 10-ish minutes. I think it’s time to start watching.”

James nodded again. With the Aurors standing around him expectantly, James slowly exhaled and closed his eyes. He retreated once more into the deepest parts of himself until the black faded into a new scene.

He was looking through Parker’s eyes and standing in front of Clancy. His hands moved over her, brushing her hair from the shoulder of the coat she wore.

“I don’t like this. I wish I could go with you,” James felt himself say, but the words were Parker’s and it was Parker’s voice.

Clancy smiled and moved to stand on her tip toes and wrap her arms around Parker. “I know you don’t. But this was your idea, remember? You can’t risk being seen.”

“I know that,” groaned Parker with an exasperated sigh, “but it’s your first appointment for our child! I’m the father. I should be there.”

“I know,” chimed Clancy. “I’ll tell you all about it when I’m back, though.”

“Everything,” urged Parker. “I want to hear everything.”

She grinned and pulled herself up higher on her toes to kiss his nose. “Everything. I promise.”

James continued to watch carefully as they shared their goodbyes and Parker doted on her safety. He reiterated the doctor’s office location so he would know where to find her in case she wasn’t back within a reasonable amount of time. Then, Parker removed all Apparation barriers so she could successfully leave for her appointment.

James actually felt a physical pain surge through him as he watched Parker remove the barriers. If only they had successfully learned the location of the safehouse, then they wouldn’t have had to create this elaborate plan. They would have been able to pounce on Parker and the house at that very moment, and all of this nonsense James would have to endure with Clancy wouldn’t have to happen.

But it was too late for that now.

With a final goodbye, James watched as Clancy apparated away for her appointment. Even after she was gone, James lingered in Parker for a few moments to see what he would do. He shifted awkwardly on his feet for a few moments, biting his lip, before spinning around and walking into a nearby sitting room. The room was quiet and empty, with the curtains closed just enough to cast a yellow haze throughout the room. Parker dropped into an arm chair and kicked up his feet on an ottoman. He settled in and closed his eyes with a smile.

James retreated from Parker. He opened his eyes to find himself standing at the Ministry again, surrounded by the Aurors with Harry close in front of him and looking on in anticipation.

“Clancy has left for her appointment. The Apparation barriers have been lifted, and Parker is resting in a room near the front of the house.”

“Sounds like that’s your next cue,” said Harry.

James nodded and uneasily swallowed a lump in his throat. “Yeah,” he agreed quietly.

“Remember: Keep in touch if anything unexpected happens. We’ll be ready and waiting,” coached Harry.

James took a deep breath and nodded repeatedly. Seeing the stress in James’ eyes, Harry moved forward and grabbed James by the back of the neck. “Hey. Deep breath,” he encouraged. “You’ve got this. I know you do.”

“Sure,” he breathed uneasily. “Thanks, Dad.”

Harry released him and took a step back.

James sucked in one more deep breath and gave him a reassuring nod. Then, he turned to look to his mother and to Norah one more time. He mustered a smile for them, and then, clinging to his scarf, he disapparated.

He arrived outside the building he knew housed Clancy’s doctor. Knowing that she was inside the building at her appointment, James parked himself near the main entrance and leaned against the wall. He folded his arms across his chest to keep warm in the cool of November, and he affixed his eyes on the building’s entrance. And waited.

He knew it would be quite some time before Clancy would appear, but he wouldn’t dare take his eyes off of the door for a single moment. His anxiety made the time seem to pass even slower, but it gave him more time to think about what he would say. But pass it did, and finally, Clancy emerged.

She briskly walked out of the building, nuzzling her chin into her jacket and hiding a smile.

James jumped up from against the wall and ran toward her. “Clancy!” he blurted quickly and desperately.

She stopped in her tracks, her smile falling from her face in a single moment. “J–James,” she stuttered, looking frantic. She quickly looked around to see if James had brought anyone else with him, if he somehow had Harry and the rest of the Aurors on his tail to get to Parker. “What are you doing here?”

“I want to help you,” he said quickly, reaching out to grasp her shoulder. She seemed to jump slightly at his touch, but when his hand gently moved over her shoulder and stroked with his thumb, she seemed to relax and move into his touch. “Please, Clancy. Let me help you.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she stuttered. “I don’t need your help. I don’t need anyone’s help.”

“Please,” he begged. “I don’t have much time, but come with me. You don’t have to go back to him. Come with me, and I’ll make sure you’re safe. You and…And the baby.”

Clancy blanched, and she took a step back so James’ hands fell away from her shoulders. She shook her head in shock at him. “H–How did you…How did you know?!”

“It doesn’t matter how I know,” he said dismissively, approaching her again and reaching for her hand. “You don’t have to stay with him, Clancy. I know you have your doubts about this. About Parker. Listen to those doubts. Don’t stay with him.”

Clancy’s eyes shifted to James’ hand, which had gently clasped her wrist. His fingers moved delicately across her wrist, and as she looked to his large hand, she found herself moving her hand into his. Her fingers traced along his palm, then she laced their fingers. She sucked in a trembling breath as they clasped hands and she raised her gaze to his.

“I can’t leave him,” she choked out. “He…He needs me. Without me, he...I can’t. Besides, where would I go?”

“You could come with me,” he said again.

“With you…,” she muttered, stroking the back of his hand with her thumb. Her throat clenched as she caught herself wanting to feel his touch and savor it. Feeling his skin again ignited feelings and memories she thought she had forced herself to forget. “W–With you in what way…?”

James swallowed uneasily as he looked to their hands. This felt wrong, and deep in his heart, he knew it was wrong. He was with Norah; he was with her in every way, and it was his intention for things to stay that way until his dying breath.

But he also knew what was at stake. He knew this was their chance to end things with Parker. It was their chance to get rid of him for good, and Clancy was the key to that. Through Clancy, James had to get to Parker. It was up to him—no matter how he did it. He would do what he had to.

“A–Any way you want,” he stuttered. He mustered the courage to squeeze her hand.

He inwardly asked for Norah’s forgiveness as he cupped Clancy’s cheek with his free hand and pulled her close to him. He felt her tremble in his arms, and her breath quivered with want. Slowly, James pressed his lips to hers in a kiss.

Clancy seemed to melt against him then. She pulled their clasped hands up to her chest and held their laced fingers against her heart, and she wrapped her other arm around his neck. They kissed for several moments, deeply molding against each other.

But then something changed, and Clancy abruptly pulled away, leaping out of James’ arms.

“No!” she gasped, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. “I won’t fall for that.”

“What do you mean?!” blurted James quickly, trying to think on his feet to maintain his cover.

“Don’t take me for an idiot,” she declared in a hurt and desperate voice. “I know you’re in love with Norah. You always will be. You wouldn’t ever pick me over her. So, that can only mean one thing: this isn’t real; none of this is sincere. You don’t want to be with me. Not in the way you’re trying to make me believe.”

“That’s not true,” he tried to convince her, knowing all the while that she could see through the pretense.

“You’re lying,” she scoffed through a near-laugh. “I’m not stupid, James. I won’t go with you. I do love Parker. Despite what you think. And I’m done having this conversation.”

She turned on her heels and stalked off.

Desperate, James ran forward and reached out for her wrist again, grabbing hold. “Please! If you won’t come with me, then at least help me! Help me and my family!”

“Not after that,” she whispered furiously, biting her lip in anger. “Not after you take me for a fool and try to trick me like that.”

He yanked on her wrist, forcing her to turn and look at him.

“You’ve kept my secret!” he blurted suddenly. He hadn’t expected to remind Clancy at all of the horcrux inside him. That fact was their secret weapon, and if it wasn’t still at the forefront of Clancy’s mind, then he would rather let her forget about it. But apparently, in the spur of the moment, it slipped out. “You know about me. And you’ve kept my secret from him. If you’ve kept it this long, that must mean something.

“Maybe it means I made a mistake,” she snapped fiercely.

“You don’t mean that,” said James, shaking his head in disbelief.

“I told you I was done with this conversation. Now let me go!” she demanded.

She yanked her arm free of his grasp, and she spun around again to disapparate. Knowing it was his only chance, James lunged forward and grabbed hold of her again. He caught hold of her elbow just as she began to disappear from view. He felt that familiar pull in his gut and he knew he had caught her in time.

Clancy could feel that James had grabbed her, and so they became a mess of fighting limbs as Clancy tried to force him off of her as they both felt as if they were being sucked down a small tube.

In the next moment, though, before Clancy could shake him off or change her destination, they fell to the ground in a heap in the middle of an open field.

James landed on his back, gasping for air and blinking up at the open sky. He tried to move, find his feet, or gather his bearings, but there was a splintering pain along his side and he suddenly felt numb.

He lay there on the grass gasping for air and trying to fathom what had happened to him. He was aware of Clancy by his side scrambling to her feet while wiping dirt off of her pants and swearing under her breath.

He willed himself to move and was grateful when his hands obeyed him. He willed his hands to move along the length of his stomach and side to determine what had happened. Then his fingers slipped into a gash along the side of his rib cage, and he choked out in pain.

He knew what had happened to him then. He had been splinched in his apparating struggle with Clancy.

He swallowed at the searing pain but clamped his hand along his side in order to subdue the bleeding.

Clancy spun around as she righted herself, still cursing at James for his tricks. “Damn you, James! This was your plan all along, wasn’t it?! You were just using me to get to Parker! To get here! You—Oh no. James!”

She shouted in horror as her eyes finally landed on him still on the ground, gasping for air and now covered in his own blood. She collapsed to her knees next to him and pressed her hand to the large gash as well. She found herself reprimanding him even as she panicked inwardly. “You idiot.”

“W–Wand,” he coughed, a desperate plea. “A wand.”

Frantically, Clancy shook her head. “I don’t know any incantations to help you!”

“I do,” stuttered James. “Get my wand. P–Please.”

Clancy tugged on his body and shoved her hands into his pockets, fishing around for his wand. She tried not to think about the squishing noises the ground made as she pressed her knee into a pool of James’ blood. The ground was growing redder and redder beneath them as James bled out. She finally found his wand in one of his pockets and pressed it into his bloodied palms.

James tried to sit up and turn on his side, and quickly Clancy moved behind James so he could lean against her. His back fell weakly against her and he grunted in pain. As he moved and pulled is hand away from his side, his blood quickly began to flow from his wounds.

His fingers, red and wet from the blood, fumbled with his wand as he tried to sustain it in his grasp. When he had a firm grip, he pointed it at his side and choked out. “Vulnera Sanentur,” he coughed, and the blood flowing from the wound began to slow.

Clancy encouragingly grasped his shoulder as James sucked in another breath to repeat the incantation. He was lucky he remembered the incantation at all. He likely wouldn’t have even remembered that it existed if he hadn’t come across it written down in a few books in the Department of Mysteries just over the past few weeks. From what he had read and understood of the incantation, it had to be repeated multiple times for the wound to continue healing. Only after a minimum of three repeats would the wound begin to stich itself back together.

And James’ wound was deep. He didn’t know how deep the gash in his side ran, but his entire abdomen had gone numb from the pain.

James didn’t have time to heal the wound in its entirety, though. He had to act quickly. After he had healed himself, what would Clancy do then? Would she return to her angry state before James had been splinched? Would she lash out in anger that he had managed to come with her? Would he lose his chance to reveal Parker’s location to the others?

He didn’t know the answer to any of those questions. All he did know was that he had to do his part.

So he muttered the incantation one more time to stop the blood flow and allow the wounds to begin to heal. After he had said it a second time, he immediately felt better. The sensation to his stomach returned. He could feel again. And while it was a horrendous, deep, and aching pain inside him, he was grateful to feel.

He let out one sigh of relief before he rolled out of Clancy’s embrace and clambered to his feet. She seemed startled by his quick actions, but James wasted no time. Limping and still pressing a hand to the large open wound in his side, he righted himself and finally took in his surroundings—the secluded home and fine gardens. He didn’t know where exactly they were, but this would do. With his free hand, he yanked his scarf from around his neck and held it outstretched.

Sucking in a deep breath to bear the pain, he pulled his other hand away from his wound and pointed his wand at the scarf. He concentrated hard on the sight before him, on the house, the open space, the green grass and the turning of the leaves. He was aware of Clancy watching him in confusion, but she did nothing. Then he spoke in a determined voice, “Portus.

That was when Clancy reacted. She jumped to her feet and ran for James, her eyes wild and a look of betrayal spread across her face. “No!!” she begged, reaching out for him. “Don’t! James, no!”

“I’m sorry, Clancy,” he said simply, even though not a single fiber of his being was sorry. He spun sharply out of Clancy’s reach as she leapt from him, trying to steal the scarf he had just turned into a portkey.

She was unsuccessful, though. Her fingers closed over nothing as James abruptly jumped away from her, pulling his scarf against his chest. He winced with each movement and was desperate to grab onto his side, but he couldn’t do anything that would slow himself down. Clancy continued to try to take the scarf from him, her fingers pulling at his shirt when she missed with each reach. She bit her lip and began to swear at him.

James turned, fumbling with his pockets for the two-way mirror George had given them in preparation for this. He held it up to his face even as he still fought Clancy off, and in the mirror, he saw his father waiting just as he said he would be.

“Take it!” blurted James quickly. “Take it, Dad! It’s done!”

Harry said nothing. He just nodded and then disappeared from the mirror. James looked down, and in the next moment, the scarf disappeared from his hand. Feeling triumphant, James looked to Clancy then, who stopped her attempts to steal the scarf and whose expression turned to one of fury.

She raised her hands and turned them into fists before beating at James’ chest. “You bastard!”

He groaned from the blow, unable to tolerate the pain with the debilitating wound still in his side. He dropped the mirror as his hands fought to catch hers before she could hit him again. The grass crunched beneath his feet as he moved forward, latching onto her wrists and pulling them into his chest to cease her beatings. “Stop!” he demanded desperately. “Stop, all right?! It’s no use now. It’s done. The Aurors will be here any moment.”

“Damn you, James!” she cried out, balling her fists and shaking in James’ grasp.

“Don’t you see?! This is your chance to leave! Leave him! Get away from here and get somewhere safe. This is ending. Now, Clancy. Some way. Some how. Either Parker is going down today. Or I am. This has to end, and this is your chance to run. Please! Just run,” he begged.

She stopped fighting then. She grew still in his grasp, and her angered expression fell away. She went white as a sheet as she seemed to truly think about James’ plea.

James took that opportunity to further beg for her safety. “You can go back to your old life before any of this ever happened. You can forget about all of this. I know you think you love Parker, but you have to ask yourself: Would you ever truly be safe with him? Would you ever have the life you really deserve?”

“And what if I leave? What if I leave and you lose? What if, at the end of all this, you die anyway and Parker lives? If Parker lives through this and I’m gone, he’ll hunt me down. What do you think he’ll do to me then?” Clancy tested him.

“You’re carrying his child!” burst James. “He wouldn’t dare hurt you! Not while you’re pregnant.”

“I don’t know that for sure,” said Clancy uneasily as she shook her head.

“Then even better reason to leave! Now! Please, Clancy,” asked James.

Clancy looked down to their hands still clasped against his chest, and James noticed the golden chain around Clancy’s neck. That was when James remembered his final task in all this; he had to get the locket. And destroy it.

He only knew of one way to get the locket from her, so he acted quickly, knowing his father and the Aurors would be arriving any minute.

With their hands still tightly clasped, he kissed her. She seemed reluctant at first, as if she wouldn’t allow herself to fall for his trick again, but she was already giving into him. Her lips moved against his in welcome response, and he released one of her hands slowly so it didn’t seem obvious. As he untwined their fingers, he traced his index finger along her wrist and then up the length of her arm, trying to let his touch seem as if it were a part of their kiss. When his hand traced over her collar bone, his fingers sought purchase around the gold chain of the locket holding Parker’s soul.

He had just lifted the chain from her skin and began to wrap his fingers around the thin metal when several thuds sounded from around them. That was when Clancy noticed where his hand had moved to and that the necklace had started to lift from her skin.

She jumped away from him, breaking their kiss and shoving harshly at his chest. Her hands jumped to the locket, still hanging around her neck, and she cradled it in her hands. She glowered at him, panting heavily both from the kiss and from her anger at James for trying to trick her yet again.

“No! I know what you want!” she snarled. “I don’t know how you knew, but you can’t have him.”

“Clancy,” hissed James in passionate protest as she continued to back away from him.

They both looked around, as they had both heard the thuds while they were kissing. It was Harry and a few of the Aurors. They had landed in a heap, all clinging to the scarf James had turned into a portkey. Although the scarf had been relatively long, not many Aurors had been able to grab hold before being whisked to wherever they were. Only seven, including Harry, had managed to grab hold. There were still thirteen others they needed to ferry from the Ministry and to Parker’s hideout.

Harry jumped to his feet and wiped his palms on his jeans. He immediately sprang into action, pointing to whichever Auror he must have delegated to return the portkey to the others. The Auror bounced up from the ground and reached out for the scarf, grabbing hold and disappearing into nothing.

Clancy shook her head at all of them, and then her eyes landed on James. “I can’t believe you.”

“I’m sorry,” James breathed quickly again, but again, his apology was less than sincere. In the next moment, he was raising his wand in retaliation. “Acci–

He didn’t get a chance to finish, as Clancy suddenly vanished with a loud crack.

“Fuck!” swore James furiously.

Harry ran over to them then as the next batch of Aurors landed with a thud amongst them. Once again, the designated Auror snatched the scarf again and disappeared for the final round of Aurors. “You didn’t get it?” asked Harry expectantly.

James swore again, kicking a rock in frustration. “No! I tried. I really tried, Dad. Fuck!”

“I–It’s okay,” Harry said reassuringly, trying to convince himself the same. Without the other horcrux, he didn’t know how they were supposed to defeat Parker for good. But one way or another, they would.

With Ginny by her side, Norah shuffled from foot to foot and bit her lip as she stood in the same chamber she had said goodbye to James in only a half hour ago. One by one, she had watched the Aurors disappear from view as they grabbed hold of the scarf-turned-portkey. Harry had led the first wave, and then one Auror had returned with the scarf until finally on the last six Aurors needed transportation.

She hated that they had made her stay behind. She had just as much right as James to go with them; James wasn’t an Auror and yet he had gone, although she did understand that he was critical to taking Parker down. But why couldn’t she help them, too? Besides, if anything were to happen to James and she wasn’t there to help him, she would never be able to live with herself.

The Auror returned to ferry the final batch of Aurors to the hideout by appearing on the floor in a heap. He clambered to his feet and held out the scarf, ushering to the others to quickly grab hold. “Come on! Quickly!” he urged. The remaining six ran forward and latched on.

And then Norah did the most reckless thing she had ever done. She burst forward with her hand outstretched.

She didn’t know what had come over her, but she refused to let James do this without her. Over the years, she had become a Potter just as much as she was a Longbottom. Albus had been her lover and then like a brother to her. She had lost loved ones and been hurt by Parker just as the rest of the Potters had. She had to go and see this through. And she had every right to do so—Ministry paperwork and regulations be damned.

“Norah!!” Ginny cried out in protest as Norah ran forward. Ginny sprang forward to try and grab Norah before she reached the scarf, but she was all too slow. Still clasping the scarf and waiting for the portkey to pull them away in the next moment, the Aurors looked over at the sound of Ginny’s outburst to see Norah reaching out for the portkey.

Norah’s fingers grasped the scarf before Ginny could reach her or before the Aurors could react, and in the next moment, she felt the familiar pull beyond her navel and she knew she had succeeded. It was too late now for anyone to stop her. They were on their way to Parker to end this once and for all.

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