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The wind blew in hard from the west the first morning of 1997. As the front door opened, Evelyn could hear the wind whistling down the hallway from her seat in the front room. She was trying to focus on the Transfiguration book in her lap, and had been relatively successful until she heard the approach of voices and quick feet. In the doorway appeared the two people she was least interested in seeing just then: Harry and Ginny. Ginny stepped into the room first, snow drifting off of her shoulders and melting on the crown of her head. She was flushed and smiling, almost glowing as she stood there, casting a look back at Harry.

 

Harry, however, was looking at Evelyn, who eyed them only for a moment before forcing herself to look back at her book. She didn’t greet them, and was happy to hear Ginny say softly, “I wonder where Hermione might be. Let’s find her, Harry. I want to hear about her trip.”

 

She kept her eyes focused on her book as she heard feet retreating. She didn’t feel compelled to call out to them to tell them that Hermione had left to spend a few days with her parents before term started.

 

When she heard a door snap shut upstairs and felt relatively certain that they wouldn’t be returning, she looked up from her book, which had been useless for distracting her. She couldn’t keep her mind on any of the sentences. She allowed her eyes to lock onto the flames dancing in the fireplace, letting her mind wander. She was tired, and felt somewhat hungover from the previous night.

 

As she let her mind go, the image of Ginny kissing Harry came back to her unsolicited. Evelyn didn’t know why she felt so upset about it. It wasn’t as if Harry had promised her anything. She felt mostly that she had been disappointed. She had spent more time than she was willing to admit imagining herself kissing Harry. He was one of the first people she had felt comfortable with after her memories had returned, and she had allowed those feelings to ease into friendship and then attraction. She had built up these ideas of them together: kissing at New Year’s when the opportunity finally presented itself and she couldn’t make any more excuses; spending the last few days of break escaping from Grimmauld Place to walk hand-in-hand in a city and country that was finally starting to feel like home to her; and going back to school, where they could sit in the common room with Hermione and Ron, practice dueling, and steal kisses between classes.

 

As all those daydreams moved across her mind, she realized how much she had actually invested in these feelings. She worried that she had allowed herself to be misled. She was forced to confront the possibility that he had never once considered kissing her, holding her hand, or any of those things. He had simply been nice to her. He was friendly.

 

The realization made her feel sad and her stomach sank, thinking that he was, in fact, interested in Ginny. A deep, envious feeling spread across her stomach, and she hated this new feeling immediately. Harry and Ginny were together now, she knew, and would return to school as a couple. She would be his priority. Worse, she would be around all the time. Evelyn knew she’d have to accept it as a fact; there was no way around it. She would have to push away these feelings—steel herself.

 

She sighed, staring deeper into the fire. She knew school would be distracting to her, and she longed for it. She could spend time with Serenity and Christian—as much time as possible—and go to the library with Hermione. She could play endless hours of wizarding chess with Ron. She would fill her time, distract herself with little projects, until she was simply desensitized to the fact of the couple. Until she could move on, and forget this disappointment.

 

She wondered briefly about Theo. Was he the great love of her life? Did she believe in soul mates? She had thought so only a year ago, and could remember that feeling vividly—although it felt a world away now. They’d had a great drama that had unfolded itself endlessly with variation and romance. He had been her first crush, her first hand to hold, her first boyfriend, her first kiss. There were still a few firsts she was looking to have, but would they come back to Theo?

 

She still felt strongly that she would never see him again, but she wondered if he would welcome a letter from her. After their kiss, there hadn’t been much time for conversation. There had only been goodbyes. The door felt firmly closed to her; he felt past tense, at least as a love interest. Writing could potentially open that door back up, over time, but that wasn’t why she wanted to write. She wanted to write to get his opinion, to know if it could be possible for her to have been so off base when it came to reading signals and feeling vibes. Perhaps she was. Perhaps she’d used up all her wiles and insights with Theo, and there was nothing left.

 

She leant down over the side of the chair, fishing two pieces of parchment from her bag. Instead of writing Theo, she wrote Lacey first and then Hermione. She didn’t want to give too much away by letter to Hermione; as Harry and Ginny’s mutual friend, it was unclear where Hermione would stand on a situation like this. She would need to feel her out in person first. So, rather than giving away her secrets and her frustrations, she found a casual way to share the news:

 

Dear Hermione,

 

I know it’s only been a few hours since you’ve left, but after spending nearly every second together this last week it’s felt like forever—so I hope you don’t mind the letter. Most of the Order has been away from the house for the day, and it’s been difficult to nurse my hangover without Mrs. Weasley here to help. (I already feel spoiled by that woman.)

 

At least I think it’s a hangover. It might be exhaustion honestly. How are you feeling? Exhausted, hungover, or both? If it’s just the former, perhaps that means you had less to drink than I did and you can tell me a bit about the evening. I haven’t heard too much from George, so I’m assuming I was unbearably drunk, but I do remember a few key moments. And, yes, that does include my Macarena. Unfortunately.

 

Perhaps this piece of paper should have been used to issue an apology to the Weasley twins, who I am sure are spending most of the day tidying their flat and resenting their guests.

 

By the way—did George call me a bird last night? Is that British slang for something I should be upset about? I have a memory of him calling me that, while we were dancing, and Fred was behind him flapping his arms like wings and eying me viciously while you laughed and I tried to keep up the conversation with George. I think this was later in the night—or early in the morning, I suppose… Though to be honest, I wouldn’t put this past myself as a dream. Before the memories, I use to have the strangest dreams, and this would fit right into that canon.

 

Did we spend the whole evening with those two? I mostly remember that we had fun. Or, I had fun. I hope it was both of us.

 

Come back soon, but write me sooner—

Evelyn

 

She read it through a couple times, and felt confident that it carried the casual tone she wanted it to. She folded it carefully, stamping it closed with a dab of wax and laying it by the way so that she could turn her attention to the second sheet of paper.

 

Dear Theo,

 

Is it odd for me to write, particularly so soon after departing and after so many months of silence? I’m sure you know I’ve directed most of my letters to Lacey, with only a few exceptions to May and Bobbie. (And don’t think this is my attempt to blame you for not writing—I’m sure neither of us wanted to write, and I wouldn’t have been a good correspondent anyway. You know the story now, and I’m sure you’d agree.)

 

Now, I’m going to cut to it. Even if it’s weird, I couldn’t think of anyone else I would rather bring this issue to. You know me so well… On occasion, you’ve demonstrated that you know me better than I know myself. I know you agree. Remember that Bronte quote I use to have hanging in my locker? “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” That’s what we felt like, right?

 

Maybe it’s just me, but I think you felt the same. Perhaps not this past week… Things are different now, but in some ways they are the same, and I wanted to bring this to you because you know me. In a way Lacey or May or Hermione doesn’t. In a way my aunts don’t. You know me from the inside. You were my best friend all those years we were together. That doesn’t just disappear, right?

 

I’m sorry to lose myself in a tangent like that. But, I felt like I had to remind us of all of that before I wrote the next part because I didn’t want it to feel like it was coming from nowhere. And I didn’t want to hurt you. I don’t think it will; I think you knew what I knew after that kiss—it was a goodbye kiss. It’s done now, don’t you think? All those other times, when we were at the Academy, none of the breakups or goodbye kisses felt like that. None of them felt as permanent. That one did, though, didn’t it? Like we might never see each other again? It’s weird to think about, and even weirder to write. (Please, tell me if you disagree! Tell me if you feel differently!)

 

So, with that goodbye kiss on our record and our friendship left, I think I can tell you about Harry. And how much I liked Harry—and how much I thought Harry liked me—and how much it hurt when I watched him kiss someone else on New Year’s.

 

I think I can tell you… But I feel like I should wait to hear confirmation. Write me, okay? You know I always have an ear for you.

 

Yours,

Evelyn

 

She read this one through as well, wishing that she hadn’t been so courteous and had just assumed she could dump her emotions into this letter without Theo’s consent. Though that had originally been her intention, she had changed her mind as she wrote—wanting instead to know that Theo was where she was with all of this. (Perhaps this too was apart of her misreading.) She felt uncertain of herself, but folded the letter just the same and sealed it.

 

They were off with an owl a few moments later, and a decision sprung to her mind as she watched the bird disappear over the row of houses across the street. As soon as her aunt returned, she would ask to leave. They could go to Demeter’s or they could back to school; she didn’t care. She only wanted to go, knowing that Hermione and Theo’s replies would find her no matter where she went.

 

With that decision made and her letters on the way to their recipients, she eased back into the chair with her book—the words less confusing and cluttered on the page as she began to read again.

 


 

Elizabeth was sitting alone in the library, a teacup hovering beside her while she ran her finger down a dusty page. For the past week or so, she had been refining her nonverbal spellwork. She had been able to cast nonverbally for a few years and, while it didn’t seem necessary to be able to levitate a teacup while she considered a list of tasteless and odorless poisons, she wanted to be able to perform spells while concentrating on other tasks—and this was a good place to start. She paused to read the ingredients of one particular poison, and the teacup remained, without so much as a teeter. She was pleased to note that she was getting relatively good at multitasking.  

 

The door to the library opened, and she allowed her eyes to leave the page. The teacup stayed where it was, and she thought briefly of plucking it from the air as Draco entered the library. She had tried to be mindful of his feelings since she had thrown him out of her bedroom on the night of the hunt. She had given him the space he seemed to require, had practiced her sensational magic in her room, and had taken a few meetings outside of the manor. She didn’t want to hurt him anymore than she already had—just the fact that she could levitate the cup while reading felt injurious to him, as if she was boasting her position, her mentors, or her power.

 

All of these worries seemed to dissolve though when he didn’t make eye contact or address her. He had gotten quite good at acting as if she didn’t exist, though she noticed that a sour expression always came to his face whenever they were in the same room alone together.

 

He had sported the same expression each time their paths crossed over the last week, which had only been a few times as he had generally avoided her as much as possible. On multiple occasions, he had taken his meals in his room, claiming he was in the middle of important work necessary to his task, and had gone out on errands alone. She wasn’t sure if he was going out to work on the vanishing cabinet or if he was just avoiding her. Both seemed likely, but she was hopeful it was the former. It was where his attention should be, she knew.

 

She watched him, keeping her face expressionless. She wished she could say something that would make him better understand the position she was in, and the decision she had made. It seemed so clear to her: though she might have been developing feelings for Draco, she could no longer indulge them. Her position had shifted. There were new expectations set for her, and she wouldn’t allow herself to disappoint Him. He was more important.

 

She had tried in the days following to smooth over the tension with Draco, but he had repeatedly dismissed her. She could empathize with his position, but she felt that he must know that her decision was the right one to make and that she made it with both of them in mind. In fact, she felt as though that must have been what angered him the most—knowing that she was right. He knew that she couldn’t promise him anything other than support in the task, and that he would be forced to accept her support.

 

She thought all of this while she watched him use his wand to remove a few books from the shelves, and direct them into the arms of a house elf that stood quietly by the door. He too used nonverbal spells, ensuring that the room was absolutely silent.

 

She wondered how much longer she would get this treatment from him, but knew it wasn’t sustainable. They would have to discuss the task soon. She had been focusing her attention on the back-up plans that they had discussed at the beginning of break, and she felt that she was close to deciding which poison to use to taint the mead that they planned to give to Madame Rosmerta. She didn’t feel as though she needed his approval to move forward with this small piece on her own, but she did want to tell him about.

 

In fact, there were many things she wanted to tell him about and she was eager to get back to school to assuage the tension that had erupted between the two of them. He was almost a friend—a good enough replacement for Hera when they were apart—and his icy treatment in the last week had been difficult to navigate, especially as she was staying at his family home.

 

She knew she had only to mention this behavior to Bella, and he would receive a scathing letter demanding he adjust his attitude and welcome Elizabeth back into his confidence. She hadn’t been moved to write yet, and had been hoping that it wouldn’t come to that. It would be easier if he got over himself and began to act more like an adult. But, with each passing moment in the library, her hope for that mature resolution flickered. Resentment was emanating from him.

 

His palpable bitterness was starting to chip away at her cool exterior, and she turned her attention to him fully, allowing herself to stare at him openly. She knew he could feel her eyes on him. She knew he was doing everything to ignore her. She could feel anger swelling in her as he continued to ignore her.

 

The tipping point came when, without word or ceremony, he left, gesturing wordlessly at the elf and clicking the door shut behind him—the way someone might exit an empty room.

 

The only noise that followed was the teacup, crashing against the door. She hadn’t realized she’d decided to throw it until it was in a million pieces.
 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Note: First, I should apologize for the delay—though I suppose I have good reason! I was finishing my LAST major project at work, because I’ll be starting a new job next week. (I'm really excited about it!) I have taken a few days off though, and wanted to dedicate some time to writing and posting. So perhaps we’ll see another chapter up soon…. This one and the next one are on the short side for me, so it only seems fair to get it posted for you guys, doesn’t it?

As always, let me know what you think. You know I love hearing from you, even when the chapters are a bit on the quieter side like this one. Though, I’d love to know what you think about the self-reflection and the emotion here. Does it come across well? Is it too descriptive? Should there be more action? All things I’m wondering lately…

Credits: The line quoted in Evelyn’s letter to Theo is from Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights.

 

 

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