“Pardon me, but is this seat taken?” a dreamy voice asked me. “I hesitate to interrupt such deep thought.”
Startled, I pulled my mind away from the twinking, golden lights shimmering from the ceiling. The wedding of Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley was taking place in a large tent in the five acre garden behind Bill and Fleur Weasley’s home. My eyes met a woman who was brighter than the orbs above us. She wore dress robes of shocking yellow with golden sequins. Her blonde hair was curled to her hips with marigolds woven sporadically into her locks.
“Er--no, no. No one’s sitting here,” I stammered, gesturing to the chair next to me.
Her grey eyes sparkled. “Lovely.” She placed her winter cloak on the back of the chair before sitting down. “I’m Luna Scamander. I noticed you’re here with Neville and Hannah, and they’re both good friends of mine.”
Luna’s gaze went over to the Longbottoms, who were currently standing across the wedding aisle, catching up with some old students. I was sitting next to their reserved chairs, waiting patiently for the ceremony to start. The Potters had already dispersed into the scene, having last minute obligations to complete. James had promised he’d find me again at the earliest opportunity after the wedding.
“I’m Amelia Fortescue,” I said, taking Luna’s warm hand. My eyes were getting used to her shades of yellow, and she looked quite beautiful.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Luna told me thoughtfully.
I retreated my extended hand back into my lap. Had she heard about my parents’ visit only a few days prior? James had told me that he had given strict orders to everyone in his family to not mention that--but Luna wasn’t technically his family.
“Neville and Hannah told me how interested you are in Runes and magical history.”
It hit me then: this witch was Luna Lovegood, a hero of the Second Wizarding War, a magical naturalist extraordinaire, and-- “Oh, you’re an editor of The Quibbler,” I said aloud, finally connecting the dots. “Yeah, they’ve mentioned you to me, too. I love trying to translate the Runes section of your magazine.”
Luna beamed. “My father’s always insisted on having a few Rune puzzles for our readers. He says it keeps the mind sharp.” She placed a forest green bag onto her lap and pulled out the latest edition of The Quibbler. Thumbing to the Runes section, she explained, “My dad knew your grandfather, Florean. It was their friendship that inspired this Runes section.”
“Seriously?” I gasped, leaning over to get a better look. It was like trying to catch a glimpse into a moment gone by: two men sitting in a sunlit library, passing Rune translations to each other and smoking pipes while drinking tea. At least, that was how I’d imagined it to be. I had discarded my most recent copy once I had solved the Runes section on the train back home for the holidays. “Did they study Ancient Runes together?”
“Not at Hogwarts. Florean was several years ahead of my dad, but they were both in Ravenclaw. They both used to wager about what happened to Rowena Ravenclaw’s lost diadem. Dad always reminisces about how wonderful a colleague Florean was. I’m sorry you never had a chance to meet him.”
I shrugged. “I hear lots of stories about him from those who did.”
Luna nodded and then stared above us, craning her neck to the side. “This is a mesmerizing ceiling. I can see how your thoughts can be lost amongst the twinkling lights. It’s a good spot for nargles, too.”
Before I could ask what on earth nargles were, the Longbottoms came back to their seats, delighted to see Luna. They greeted each other as good friends do, and I could almost see the inseparable link between them as fighters, as survivors of the Second Wizarding War.
There wasn’t much time before the start of the ceremony, when Teddy, with a streak of turquoise in his sandy hair, walked arm in arm with his grandmother, Andromeda Tonks, who wore a shiny emerald gown. James had told me about her, a Slytherin, a cousin of his middle namesake, Sirius Black. She had lost her siblings and parents when she was disowned for marrying a Muggleborn. She then had lost her husband and only daughter in the War. Yet, she was here today for her grandson’s wedding. There was an austere fierceness about her as she walked past us down the aisle, something in the way she wore her hair in an elegant bun and in the way she held her shoulders. I both admired and feared her.
I was so enraptured by Andromeda, I nearly missed seeing Arthur and Molly Weasley stroll down the aisle, followed by the wedding party: Louis Weasley with a Delacour cousin and Dominique Weasley with James, who winked at me as he walked past. A breathless hush filled the room as Bill and Fleur accompanied the bride, Victoire, whose silver dress, it was said, was her mother’s on her wedding day back during the War. It radiated around her, glorifying everyone and everything within its orbit.
There were many tears from the audience as the ceremony continued with a Ministry witch officiating. She spoke of Teddy and Victoire’s childhood as the foundation of their strong relationship, how they had to overcome to turmoils of adolescence and the media’s keen interest in their love lives, and how now they were on the course to be successfully and happily bonded for life.
The last wedding I had been to was Neville and Hannah’s, when I was eight, the night I had seen Cassius Vaisey lurking in the shadows away from the party. That was also the night I had met James, who tonight was standing next to Teddy, beaming at this joyous occasion.
I felt like I was floating as the evening progressed into the night. Teddy and Victoire officially became husband and wife, and the celebration started immediately after. James and I gravitated toward each other.
“Brace yourself,” James smirked at me. “Let me introduce you to the rest of my family.”
He grabbed us both a glass of champagne before he led us through the crowd. “Gran, Granddad, let me introduce you to my brilliant girlfriend, Amelia Fortescue…”
To his Uncles George and Charlie, he said, “This is Amelia Fortescue, my girlfriend who actually does exist.”
“I’ve heard an earful about you, Amelia,” said George Weasley jovially with a devilish glint in his eyes, “which is probably why one of my ears fell off...”
To Hermione Granger-Weasley and Ronald Weasley, James said, “Aunt Hermione, Uncle Ron, let me introduce to you my incandescent girlfriend, Amelia Fortescue.”
“Knew you always had it in you, Jimbo,” boomed Ron as he slapped his nephew on the back. Hermione took a gentler approach.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you. James has mentioned how much you enjoy Hogwarts, A History...”
After a few minutes of small talk, James and I walked away from his aunt and uncle.
“Careful,” I murmured, squeezing his hand. “You’ll run out of adjectives for me, Jimbo.”
James laughed and kissed the side of my head. “Never, Lia.”
The street is empty, and I remind myself that’s a good thing. Litter is strewn sporadically along the pavement and the parked automopiles. Automobiles? I wonder to myself. My head pounds in response to my off-task curiosity. Apparating here has used most of my adrenaline from tonight’s events.
I stagger to the brick building to my left. Most of the windows are dark with mismatched curtains or broken blinds. This is definitely not her style, and her parents would definitely not approve, so this whole scene would make it more alluring for her. I hope she’s here.
This has to be the right address, but I don’t know the precise flat number. In the dim light, I read through the directory of last names. I breathe a sigh of relief once I see the name for which I’m looking.
It’s about a quarter to five in the morning. Should I ring? Or should I use magic? I lean my forehead against the door, allowing the cool glass to slightly calm my headache.
Magic is probably better at this hour. Silently, I unlock the door to the flats, and I make my way inside. There’s a lift, but I’ve never used a Muggle one before. Now is not the time to get trapped in one, so I begin my ascent to the third floor on the stairs.
By the time I reach my destination, I lean against the wall for support. My head throbs and spins, and a tall glass of water is in the front of my mind. So much for being alone in the big, bad world by myself. I can’t even keep hydrated…
I knock on door number 304. There’s silence, so I knock again, this time, a little louder.
I hear shuffling from the other side of the door.
“Who’s there?” grumbles a deep voice from the other side of the door.
I had been hoping she would answer, but then again, this isn’t her flat.
“Amelia Fortescue, Victoria’s friend,” I respond, leaning my hand against the doorframe.
The door opens a crack, and Gaius Finnigan’s wand points at me.
“What the hell are you doing here? And at this time in the bloody morning?” he asks in a thick Irish accent.
“Can I come in? I need to speak to Victoria,” I answer, squinting up at him. His blue eyes appear like dark clouds in the dim lighting.
“She’s not here. She spent the night at her own flat,” he says grumpily. My stomach drops, and I try to keep the panic at bay. “Now if you don’t mind--”
“Wait.” My hand attempts to stop the door from closing in my face. “I… I can’t go to her flat. She needs to come here now.”
I shake my head, trying to get rid of the pounding. Whatever I have been drugged with tonight is really sinking its ugly teeth into me. I can barely think straight. “She should stay here for a while. It’s safer.”
“What the fuck is going on?” Gaius says promptly as he opens his front door. I stagger inside, ignoring his wand, which is pointing directly at me. “Is Victoria in danger?”
“She should stay here for a while,” I repeat. Despite the shaggy appearance of the complex, Gaius’ flat is tidy. I glance into the living space and see a sofa. Without taking off my shoes, I go over and sit down.
The room doesn’t spin as much.
Gaius turns on a light, which makes my eyes water at its sudden brightness. “Amelia, what’s going on?”
“Victoria needs to be here now,” I say. “I need to talk to her…” I focus on a photograph of a seaside cliff. It’s probably somewhere in Ireland. I imagine standing at the edge of the cliff, feeling the cool ocean breeze blowing through my hair and catching in my throat. Would I feel at peace? Or would it numb everything?
I look back towards Gaius, slightly surprised that he is still here.
“Are you all right?” Gaius wonders as he kneels down in front of me, frowning. “You’re pale, and your pupils are pinpoints and eyes are bloodshot… Are you high? Drunk?”
“Get Victoria here, and I’ll answer,” I tell him.
Gaius sighs. “She’s sleeping, you know. She probably wouldn’t get my owl until she wakes up. She does have an exam in the--”
“Is your father Seamus?”
He opens his mouth, clearly at a loss with my logic. “Er, yeah…”
“Then you should know how to communicate with people discreetly and quickly. Dumbledore’s Army used Galleons. The Order used Patronuses--”
“Couldn’t you use a Patronus now?” he asks.
I stare at him. “No. I haven’t been able to cast one since…” A pile of Quidditch magazines captures my attention as I trail off in my thoughts.
From his wand, a silver ram appears in the middle of the living space. “Come now. Amelia’s here and needs your help. Hurry.” The Patronus disappears, and a wave of relief goes through me. Hopefully, she’ll be here soon.
Gaius then gives me a check up as we wait. “You’re very dehydrated,” he tells me as he hands me a glass of water. “Drink slowly.”
I listen to his orders as he stands in front of me, frowning deeper. His disheveled hair falls into his eyes, which makes it hard to read him.
“What’s going on, Amelia? You’re drugged up on something, and you come here at this godless hour, wanting to talk to my girlfriend... Are you in trouble? Is someone after you? Should I alert the Ministry?”
“No.” I shake my aching head. “Only Victoria… I need to tell her…”
There’s a knock on the door, and Gaius lets in a panicked Victoria, who’s still in her night dress.
“Holy fucking shit, Amelia. Are you okay?” she tells me as I try to stand up from the sofa. She forces me back down as she sits next to me. Her black hair is pulled out of her pale face, and her icy blue eyes flash as she studies me over.
“Probably not the best way to talk to your patients,” I say weakly. “Gaius is way better at it.”
“Gaius is further ahead of me in Healer training; I haven’t had bedside manner lessons yet.” She turns towards him. “Get her more water.” Victoria waves Gaius into the kitchen. She then focuses her attention back to me. “Now what’s going on?”
I can’t tell her the whole truth about The Cause nor how I’ve left my aunt and uncle. “It’s not safe for you to go back to your flat. Stay here with Gaius for a while,” I tell her.
“Why? What’s happened? Are you in danger?”
“Promise me, please…”
“I promise. But Amelia…” She kneels down in front of me, clutching onto my forearms. “You’re scaring me. Is someone after you? Is it your mother or the NeoWalds or the Ministry?”
I shake my head. As far as I know, no one is after me. I’m after them. But I can’t let them get to Victoria. She’s the only person who doesn’t hate me yet, especially after alienating myself from the Corners. And she’ll be the one to pull everything together in case I crash.
“Okay, okay… “ Victoria tucks a loose strand of hair behind my ear. Gaius returns with another glass of water. “What are you going to do? Do you have work today?”
“Yeah, I have a shift at Ollivander’s,” I answer before taking a drink. My water intake has really helped my pounding headache, and now all I really want is sleep. I don’t tell Victoria that I’m not going to work today.
“Right,” she breathes as she stands up. She and Gaius exchange worried glances. “Do you want to stay here until your shift? Or are you going to go home?”
Home. Have Uncle Michael and Aunt Susan gotten out of their ropes by now? Have they contacted anyone in the Ministry yet? Surely they won’t think to look here, and Victoria is safely away from her place.
“Can I use the shower?” I ask, staring at Gaius.
“Of course,” Victoria answers for him, and I can see the slight annoyance in his gaze towards her. “I think that will do you much good. I think you’ve got dirt in your hair…”
She leads me through the bedroom and into the bathroom. “Do you have a change of clothes?”
I hold up my satchel. “In here.”
She frowns but nods before leaving me. I glance at my watch. It’s almost half five. I might as well shower. Merlin knows when I’ll have another opportunity.
As the water warms up in the shower, I poke around the bathroom for anything that belongs to Victoria. She had mentioned how serious things were getting between her and Gaius, so I hope that she has some things here.
“Aha.” There’s a makeup bag behind the medicine cabinet. I pull out my envelope from my satchel. This, in addition to warning Victoria about not going back to her apartment, is why I’m here. This hiding place will do nicely, since she probably won’t find it until I’m gone. Carefully, I fold the envelope into the box before I peel off my clothes and jump into the hot shower.
My time here is running out. Soon, I will have to make myself easier to find--and I hope the right people find me.
As I change into a fresh set of clothes, I notice how pale I still look. Hopefully more water and some food will remedy that. My head continues to pulsate pain, but to a lesser degree than before. I long for a pillow and a blanket.
Once I’m tidied away in the bathroom, I step into Gaius’ bedroom, and I hear them arguing in the living space.
“--waltzes in here at five in the bloody morning. No explanation of what’s just occurred, though it’s clear she’s on something. That’s a bit sketchy, Victoria.”
“I am not reporting her to the Ministry, Gaius!” Victoria says fervently.
“But look at what’s she’s done! She solved my grandparents’ murders with those stupid Runes when you were at Hogwarts; she got into that bloody duel at her NeoWald father’s funeral--I mean, her parents are NeoWalds, and her ex-boyfriend is supposed to be one, too--”
“Listen, Gaius, don’t believe what you’ve read about her in the papers. They’ve got it wrong--”
“Oh, so do you know what’s she’s really up to?” demands Gaius scathingly. “Does she keep you in the loop?”
There’s a pause as my stomach sinks. I can feel the doubt starting to take root in Victoria. I hear a murmured reply as I steathily make my way over to the window. There’s a fire escape next to it. Frowning, I glance back at the bedroom door. They’re probably expecting me to emerge soon from my shower.
“I’m sorry, Victoria,” I whisper as I cast a charm to open the window silently.
I perch on the window sill, taking a deep breath. Though it’s only the third floor, the stairs are slick with rain droplets. I step onto the slippery platform. With one last glance inside, my heart pangs for my friend, for her support and understanding. That will probably be gone after this stunt. And after whatever I’m about to get myself into. We’ve had a good run, at least.
Sighing, I begin my descent. Once my feet are safely back onto the ground, I look up at the window. “I love you,” I mutter before mustering the energy to jog towards the street.
I wonder if love will ever be enough.
I was alone at the wedding. James was off being best man after the speeches and the opening dance, so I took to the opportunity to explore more of the wedding venue.
There was a corner of candles and photographs, a memorial to those who could not be here. Quietly, I read their names and study their faces. I’d grown up hearing some of their names. Others, I was a little ashamed to admit, I hadn’t heard of before then. Ted Tonks, groom’s grandfather. Remus Lupin, groom’s father. Nymphadora Tonks Lupin, groom’s mother. Fred Weasley, bride’s uncle. Fabian and Gideon Prewett, bride’s great-uncles. All casualties of the First and Second Wizarding Wars against Voldemort. All echoes of the past. All loved. All lost.
“Nice o’ th’ families ter have this,” sniffed a voice from above me.
Looking up, I saw Hagrid take out a handkerchief and dab away pearl-sized tears. It wasn’t only the families who missed these lost ones. There were others, like Hagrid, who had known them.
“I think it’s brilliant,” I told him gently, patting his elbow. “For all of us to remember. And to celebrate.”
Hagrid hiccuped a sob and took a drink out his tankard. “Beautifully put, Amelia,” he said thickly. “Yeh know, I watched th’ lot o’ them grow up… One o’ the many joys o’ working at Hogwarts.”
“You’re a staple at Hogwarts. I can’t imagine the place without you, Hagrid.”
Hagrid stared down at me with shiny, dark eyes. “Tha’ means a lot ter hear. Yeh know, I used ter say th’ same thing about Dumbledore… Then he was killed righ’ before th’ end o’ th’ war. We coulda used him a’ th’ Battle o’ Hogwarts. Might’ve prevented some o’ th’ deaths…” He trailed off, staring at the pictures in the corner.
Alarm whistles went off inside my mind. What else did Hagrid know about the Battle of Hogwarts? I had to keep him talking.
“It must’ve been difficult, fighting in the Battle--and going through all of the events before… and after.”
Hagrid sniffed. “Bloody righ’, it was! It was sheer chaos during th’ Battle, but when Harry…” He hiccuped again. “Harry sacrificed himself for ev’ryone. I never felt as hopeless as I did then.”
“But Harry didn’t die,” I assured him. “After all, he dueled and defeated Lord Voldemort. He won.”
Hagrid shook his head. “Yeh kids nowadays have no problem sayin’ his name, do yeh?” He gave a shuddering sigh. “But yer right. Harry won. He survived an’ won fer all o’ us.”
“I can only imagine what…” I trailed off, resting my palm on my chin. I felt Hagrid’s gaze on the side of my face, but I kept my head still and stared ahead at the flickering candles.
“Imagine wha’?” wondered Hagrid.
I took a deep breath, knowing full well that I had him hooked. “What… what the aftermath of the Battle was like,” I answered timidly. “I mean… historical accounts go into great depth about what happened to during--and even before-- the Battle. But there’s little on what happened afterwards. I mean… having to arrange the clean up and reconstruction of Hogwarts, finding lost things and having to return them to their owners, preparing for all of the funerals--”
Hagrid noisily blew his nose into his handkerchief. I knew that his action had gotten the attention of some people lingering nearby, and I worried that we would be interrupted.
“It was awful,” Hagrid told me. “Utterly heartbreakin’. Never attended so many funerals in me entire life. Look at th’ pictures here! Poor Teddy, an orphan overnigh’, like Harry. And Fred’s funeral… I spen’ half me life chasin’ him and his twin, George, outta th’ Forbidden Forest, didya know?”
Chills traveled down my spine at the mention of the Forbidden Forest. I opened my mouth to reply, but Hagrid then told me something that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.
“But th’ absolute wors’ one was when we reburied Dumbledore. It brough’ back ev’rythin’ from th’ time o’ his death durin’ th’ sting o’ th’ Battle’s losses.”
I furrowed my brow. “Hagrid, why did you rebury Dumbledore?” My mind raced for any inkling, any crumb, of why that would have needed to have happened. I couldn’t recall anything from the various historical accounts I’d read nor from the many stories of my aunt and uncle and their friends who had survived.
Hagrid sniffed. “You-Know-Who, tha’s ruddy why! He ransacked Dumbledore’s tomb when he was in power. But me an’ Harry, Ron, an’ Hermione made sure ter make ev’rythin’ was set righ’.” A few more pearl-sized tears ran down his beard. “I’ll never forget closin’ th’ tomb tha’ final time… What a great man, Dumbledore.” With that, Hagrid finished his tankard in one, large gulp.
“I’m sure he was,” I reassured him. “It must have been an honor to have known him.” Mind reeling, I discreetly wiped my clammy palms on the sides of my dress.
“An honor an’ a privilege!” wept Hagrid into his handkerchief.
“Hagrid, what’s the matter?” asked a concerned voice behind us. My breath caught in my throat as Hermione joined us. She gazed caringly up at the gamekeeper before turning her brown eyes onto me.
“Dumbledore,” Hagrid managed to say between sniffles.
Hermione nodded understandingly, patting his arm. Before anyone could say anything else, Albus appeared at my elbow, rosy cheeked and out of breath. “There you are! We’re going to miss it!” he cried, pulling me away from the corner.
“Miss what?” I wondered. I could feel Hermione’s eyes on the back of my neck as Albus led me onto the crowded dance floor. My mind was still spinning from the conversation I had with Hagrid, and I knew that I needed to calm down, so perhaps mingling with my peers would level my thoughts… and draw away any of Hermione’s probable suspicion. Once I paid attention to the music, I knew why Albus had dragged me over. It was DJ Unicorn’s “Magic Blood” remix. “Seriously, Al?”
“Yeah, c’mon! It’s tradition!” exclaimed Scorpius enthusiastically behind me.
“Let’s dance!” Albus made sure the three of us were facing each other. Legend had it that this song was played in our common room on the night the first Muggle-born was Sorted into Slytherin in 2001 or 2002. They said that it helped bridge the gap between purebloods and everyone else, and since then, Slytherins have invited all of the new Slytherin first years to dance to “Magic Blood” after the welcoming feast. It was a secret from the other Houses, so I was self-conscious as the boys attempted to pull off what they must have considered sauve dance moves.
I groaned, reluctantly joining in and rolling my eyes. “No one’s going to understand.”
“That’s precisely the reason… the reason why we’re doing this,” Scorpius stammered as he threw a friendly arm around my shoulder and swayed us to the music. Albus took a swig from a flask and handed it to his best friend, who happily obliged.
I raised my eyebrows. It was all starting to make sense now. “How much have you had?” I inquired, but someone else diverted the boys’ attention away from me.
“What idiots!” laughed Rose Weasley as she crossed her arms over her beaded red bodice and watched us dance. I noticed some other wedding guests watching us from the corner of their eyes, too.
“You wish you were this cool!” slurred Scorpius as he spun around. “Dance with us?”
Rose scrunched her nose. “Um, ew, no.” She then looked at me. “No offense, Amelia.”
I shook my head. “None taken.”
“I don’t expect a Gryffingorer… a Gryffindor to get how fly these moves are!” Albus said, demonstrating a poorly executed turn, which nearly caused me to get hit in the face.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe we’re related,” Rose moaned before retreating away from us in utter embarrassment.
“Wow, isn’t she a total spitfire?” sighed Scorpius longingly as he stopped dancing to stare after her figure disappearing into a crowd of blonde Delacour cousins. “She’s so pretty.”
“You know, Scorpius,” I said, “if you wanted to dance with her, maybe you should ask her to dance with only you and not with the collective group.”
He gazed over at me, cheeks flushed and eyes sparkling with hope. “Really? You think so?”
Albus made a gagging motion, which caused him to get a sharp jab from his best friend. “C’mon, song’s over. Let’s find more supplies,” he suggested. They high fived again and waved goodbye to me as they danced their way over to the bar.
“They’re going to have major regrets in the morning,” I muttered. I was about to find sanctuary at an empty table at the side of the tent when James wrapped his arms around my waist.
“There you are,” he said, relieved. “I was looking everywhere except the dancefloor for you! I couldn’t believe Rose when she said that you were dancing with my brother and Malfoy, because that would be impossible, since you haven’t danced with me yet, so…”
Biting down a grin, I let him lead me back to the middle of the dancing crowd. “Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but your cousin was telling the truth,” I teased. I placed my right hand over the silky fabric of his groomsmen’s vest on his shoulder and my left hand in his.
James feigned complete heartbreak. “Do mine ears deceive me?” he gasped. He pulled me closer to him, resting his other hand in the small of my back. His touch’s warmth pulsed waves through the soft fabric of my dress. “How did my brother get the very fine honor of dancing with you first? I’m greatly affronted. I shall have to challenge him to a duel.”
I chuckled. “Don’t be so chivalrous--”
“Do you know how much I don’t want to be?” James interjected, lightly tracing the end of my zipper, which sent butterflies swarming in my stomach.
“Anyway,” I pressed on as I pushed down my giddiness, at which he smirked as he caught a glimpse of it, “it was a harmless dance with my fellow Housemates. It’s kind of a Slytherin tradition.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Hmm. Never pinned my brother to be someone with party rituals. There’s hope for him after all.”
“I think he has more party rituals in mind,” I said dryly before he spun me around. Albus and Scorpius had probably scored more alcohol by now. “How was catching up with your many family members?”
“Exhausting, but the wedding party has a break until midnight, when we’re supposed to lead the first New Year’s toast to the happily married couple,” James said. “Being best man is a lot of work.”
“Any more cringe-worthy jokes?” I wondered, referencing his speech from earlier.
He huffed. “My jokes weren’t cringe-worthy! And besides, Dom’s already written the toast, and if I stray from my lines, I’ll probably be decapitated by all Delacour-Weasley family members, except probably Uncle Bill, though he would leave me at their mercy.”
The song ended, and we eagerly awaited what would play next. It was a Celestina Warbeck song. James slowed us down to match the new tempo.
“Oh! This is Gran’s favorite. See! She’s dancing with my granddad over there.” James nodded near the back corner of the dance floor, where Arthur and Molly Weasley swayed together, gazing tenderly into each other’s eyes. “They all really like you, you know.”
“When I was doing my best man greeting thing, everyone mentioned how enchanting you are,” James explained. His grin grew wider. “I’m sure they’d fight over who’d get to take you home. I’d suggest dividing you up into pieces, but that would be like Voldemort, so--”
I blanched at the mention of Voldemort, and I became dizzy. How could I have set aside Hagrid’s vital piece of information so easily? I was a little buzzed after the couple glasses of champagne, true, and I found myself having an amazing time, so could I have really blamed myself for this? James saw my inner turmoil displayed on my pained facial expression.
“Whoa, sorry, Amelia, I… I didn’t mean to call you Voldemort. It was only a joke,” James said hurriedly.
I shook my head. “No, no, it wasn’t your joke… as lame as it was.”
“Oi! All of my jokes are funny,” James protested. I could tell that he was trying to lighten the situation, that he was worried that he was responsible for suddenly pulling me into a dark mood.
“James,” I whispered, leaning closer to him. I was about to try to explain everything. But then his musky cinnamon cologne wafted into my nostrils, and at that moment, I believed that I would be okay. For him, I needed to come back to the present. James was here now, with me, and I--we--could figure this all out later. “You’d be the only one I’d let take me home,” I told him, swallowing down my worries.
James held me closer to him, and we continued to dance downtempo together even after the slow song ended.
But even as we continued to sway to our own music, my mind still went back to Hagrid’s conversation. What could have been buried with Dumbledore that Voldemort would have wanted? Certainly not a Horcrux, especially since I couldn’t imagine Dumbledore wanting to be buried with something that could help Harry Potter defeat the Dark Lord...
...Unless he was buried with that something with the purpose of being discovered.
One of the first things James had told me about Voldemort’s defeat was the use of a certain Hallow.
It makes sense, I told myself.
Grindelwald was after it, and Dumbledore had defeated him. It’s only fitting that he was buried with it… and that it was used to defeat Voldemort, especially if he had stolen it from Dumbledore. Harry Potter would be noble enough to return it after his victory.
Am I just looking for the Elder Wand in places where it could fit? I asked myself as I rested my head on James’ shoulder.
But it fit. The Elder Wand had to have been buried with Dumbledore--and returned to his tomb after the Battle of Hogwarts. It had to still be there.
“...Miss, miss. Library’s closing. You must wake up now.”
Groggily, I open my eyes and try to blink away the glaring light above me. A Muggle librarian stands over my armchair with crossed arms and a slight frown.
“What? ...Oh, sorry. Couldn’t keep my eyes open with this one,” I say, holding up a copy of some wizard fantasy. In all honesty, I had come to this library after finding a diner, where I had tried toast and a cappuccino. I’ve slept most of the day here, and I feel loads better now that I’ve had some rest.
But that doesn’t necessarily help me with what’s waiting for me out there. I’m sure the Corners, and maybe even Victoria and Gaius, might have alerted the Ministry about my abrupt departures. And The Cause…
“Yeah, not my favorite magical novel, either,” the librarian says. “But imagine if it was real.”
I blink. “What’s real?”
“Magic! It would be cool to be a witch, don’t you agree?”
I stand up, staring her up and down. Her statement is either made out of ignorance from being a Muggle or she’s a witch trying to entice me. I decide the former.
“No. What’s making things fly and spin around compared to acts of extreme violence and torture?” I sneer before I hand the book to her.
Startled, she stares after me as I storm away. Overreaction, I know, but I can’t help it.
Night has fallen as I enter the damp chill. If The Cause doesn’t find me, I’ll have to spend the night on the streets. The hair on the back of my neck stands at that thought. I’ve been thinking all day where they might be able to find me--and where the Ministry won’t. Diagon Alley? No. Knockturn Alley? No.
I maneuver my way through the Muggle Tube. The way the underground train moves makes me sick to my stomach, but that could also be the thought of my uncertain future.
Finally, I think I’m at the right stop. I make my way up back to the streets. It doesn’t take me long to find the alley where I woke up last night. If The Cause dumped me here, then maybe this is where they’ll find me.
I wait. And wait. And wait.
Nothing. No one except a few shady characters eyeing me suspiciously as they go past.
“Goddamn it!” I curse, kicking the side of the brick building. I rest my head against the rough surface and swallow the lump in my throat.
Suddenly, there’s a loud bang coming from the street. Several people yell and run past the alley. However, something catches the corner of my eye in the other direction, and then I see her.
It takes a moment for my eyes to get used to the depth of the shadows, but I instantly know it’s her.
She lifts a hand, beckoning me over. Obediently, I tread towards her.
I stop about a meter away from her. Her grey eyes reflect the street light behind me at the entrance of the alley.
“I see you’ve gotten the message,” she says.
“I see you’ve gotten my reply,” I answer. Magic pulsates around us, and I know that she’s trying to detect deceit. I hold up my hands. “No wand.”
She raises her eyebrows. “That’s a dangerous bet, my dear.”
“I’ve very little to lose… and everything to gain.”
We fall into a tense silence as uncertainty builds between us. Finally, my mother extends her hand to me.
It takes everything within me to keep my hand steady as I reach out to her. She clasps her cold hand around mine, and we disappear together from the alley.
A/N: Anything you recognize belongs to JKR.
Wow! This chapter was intimidating to write! I’ve incorporated some very canon characters, and I hope I’ve done them justice, no matter the size of their role here. The past storyline is full of Amelia’s observations, especially since this is the opportunity where my OC interacts with many of JKR’s prominent characters.
Thoughts on the wedding? On what you think is in the envelope Amelia leaves for Victoria? About her thoughts on the Elder Wand? On where she’s going with her mother? Please leave a review. Thank you all for your wonderful support!
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