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A Desperate Decision
Years later, a deep rose blush would spread across her cheeks when her aunt reminded her of this moment. It was true adolescent stubbornness born out of myoptic vision and desperation. But, right then, Minerva said nothing. Evelyn continued, flushing next to her sister, "Why can't you allow us to make this decision?"
"An unknown feeling rose in her gut and she rolled onto her back, shifting her gaze to the ceiling. When she tried to connect her mind to this feeling in her gut, there was only murkiness. The rosy glow of her memories became shadowy, like a dark fog rolled across her mindscape."
Observers and Observations
“No, it wasn’t Hermione. No, he told me—” Evelyn inhaled sharply and suddenly, her sentence ending. Her hand shot to her side, and her face screwed up.
Minerva and Demeter
Today, however, the girls didn’t even seem to notice the arrival of their other aunt—let along much else. They seemed to be missing something; there simply wasn’t any other way to summarize the differences she was seeing in her nieces. She could tell, even from this distance, that there had been something extinguished in them.
“Today, we will be practicing dueling. You will use the defensive spells we have recently learned, and attempt to demonstrate mastery,” Professor Snape paused, looking at the Gryffindor and Slytherian students, his eyes briefly settling on Harry Potter before adding, “Or at the very least proficiency.”
Something Wasn't Right
Looking back from the staircase, Harry could see her staring into the firelight—the delight from her eyes subsided. She looked tired from that distance. She was aloof again.
“He’s restless, they all are. He wants your allegiance.” Draco swallowed, holding out the quill for her to take. “His followers have proposed that the rest of your family meets a similar end if you aren’t marked soon, and He seems somewhat inclined to do so.”
The longer he waited, the more desperate he became. This last week in particular, he could practically feel the Dark Lord breathing down his neck, waiting eagerly for that moment in which Elizabeth Castell would confirm or deny Him so that He could respond, He could act. His followers were waiting and, like coiled springs, they were constantly contracting, eager to burst forth.
“Born under Gemini,” she muttered, body tensing more and more under the blanket. It was the first time she had gotten close to an actual sentence. Harry pulled his hand back to himself, staring at her, waiting for more. It came, mumbled—or choked on, “Neither can live.”
All Hallow's Eve
Evelyn continued to move down the corridor, past them, without question. Only when her foot had hit the first stair and she had begun to ascend that she heard Draco pick the conversation up again. His voice was quiet, but Evelyn could make out tonight then.
Evelyn’s teeth chomped against one another three times, and Harry’s eyes focused on her keenly. It was the same noise she had made the other night when she was sleeping. His brow furrowed, and he shot Hermione a look filled with suspicion and annoyance. Perhaps if she had told me what she suspected, I could be more useful, he thought bitterly.
The look on her professor’s face had told her she was right before the older woman could vocalize it. It had been a mystery, and Hermione had solved it—no different than discovering the basilisk or Professor Lupin’s secret. What she did now was less certain, and more difficult to navigate.
Hera met Elizabeth’s eyes, and she could see it there—the emotion almost like adoration, the knowledge that they were apart of something so much bigger than themselves. That Elizabeth had a purpose. She soaked in her friend’s admiration with greed.
Curt nods were exchanged, and an acknowledgment of the hour. Though everyone seemed ready to retire, they each hesitated. After a few moments of silence, Hermione asked the question that the two older women had hoped she wouldn’t, “What happens if it doesn’t work? Or… If it doesn’t go to plan?”
Unforeseen Side Effects
“Few side effects of the amnesia charm are known. Healers across the wizarding world are constantly researching this charm, among others, but discoveries in medical spell work are rare. I must warn you,” Dumbledore paused, reclining in his chair. “The effects that are known are extremely unpleasant."
Evelyn felt more alone in this grief than she had the first time she’d experienced it. She knew the memories were closing in and that it wouldn’t be much longer, and she knew that if this was any indication of her waking mind that she hadn’t been driven to insanity. She almost had to thank her sister… It was the revelation of her crime that allowed Evelyn to focus on escaping this torment. She couldn’t confront her if she didn’t make it out; she couldn’t get justice if she lost her mind.
Curious and New
“She knows, Draco. She knows everything.”
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 thing like brushing her teeth or inspecting a blemish.
“Got something on your mind?” He took another sip of his drink, and set it down on his side table. She liked the way he held the glass. He seemed to breathe sophistication, and she looked at him standing there across from her with a hungry glint in his eyes. She wondered how long he would look at her like that; from what Hera had told her, Draco wasn’t one for yearning endlessly after a girl.
The physical exertion of dueling helped. And, so did Harry’s company.
Hermione had taken out her wand, attempting a few spells to no avail. Harry had broken from the group, disappearing down the path to find help. Ron and Christian moved forward, trying to reach Katie’s feet and bring her down. Nothing seemed to be working. Evelyn watched on, a nauseous feeling washing over her. She felt completely powerless.
“Your mother and your father weren’t going to baptize you girls, you know. They weren’t going to choose godparents. Our mother, your grandmother, was furious. But, Athena thought the right person would step up to the plate if anything happened to her. And your father wasn’t religious at all, so he felt it was just easier that way. It wasn’t until Lily and James—Harry’s parents—were killed that they changed their mind."
She liked having that connection with someone; without Elizabeth, she wasn’t sure whom she could turn to with memories of her parents. She knew her aunts would understand and that Hermione or Serenity would be sympathetic, but this was a different emotion hanging between her and Harry—something beyond understanding, more akin to vested interest or even nostalgia.
The Wild Hunt
His face was solemn, and she believed Him. She believed every word, and her heart hardened with determination to serve Him and pride of place. She wondered still why it had been her, but she didn’t ask. Instead she trusted. He would tell her when the time came. He would guide her. He would care for her.
“The teachers use to call you ‘rebel without a cause,’” Theo said pointedly.
She was moving, but it wasn’t her legs or her arms. Her body felt heavy, and she was trying to focus but she couldn’t. All of her joints felt stiff, and her head throbbed. This was familiar pain, she knew, this was remembering.
He grinned toothily, spinning her away from him and then bringing her back to his chest. After a moment of silence, he said, “You’re a lucky bird, you know that?”
A Million Pieces
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.
Her aunts looked gobsmacked, but Dumbledore smiled in his aloof way. “You sound like your friends—Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, Mr. Weasley. They want to fight; they want to support the Order. I believe that you do, Miss Castell, but I caution you to study the prophecy first, and come to terms with it, before you run into battle.”
Failure Means a Drowning Death
“I know exactly what I’m doing. Every move. I have thought through every step: the plans, the parts, the people. Don’t stand there and lecture me. You weren’t here when this began. You don’t know. You don’t know anything, Elizabeth.”
Helen and Clytemnestra
She ached with uncertainty at times. Her biggest fear, she realized, was that she might be Helen. Not the treacherous Helen of some tales, but the pathetic Helen—the bystander, the victim. Each time this fear came up inside of her, she remembered the way it felt to watch Katie Bell float above her. Helpless, she thought, am I doomed to be helpless?
"Did you prefer Elizabeth Malfoy?" She asked, turning. He was closer to her than she had thought, an arm's length away. His eyes were flashing again, but his color had returned to normal. He looked somewhat less angry then, and she assumed he must have realized she'd been teasing him.
"I think you know the answer to that question, Ellie."
Like an apparition or an omen, Ginny appeared just then, hanging off of Harry's arm and laughing at something he must have been saying. Her cheeks were glowing, and there were a few flakes of snow in her hair. She looked enchanting—and Harry looked enchanted.
Hermione nodded again. Then, she turned and began to walk the remaining length of the corridor. Harry watched her come, a stony expression on his face. His eyes broke from Hermione for only a moment, casting that same stonelike gaze on Evelyn. He looked hollow in that moment, and Evelyn could feel her heart shake in her chest.
“Think they’ll be okay?” Serenity asked after Hermione reached Harry, and they disappeared through the hospital wing doors together.
“I think they’re known for being okay.”
I Know Why
Ginny loved Harry. Completely. Evelyn could see it in her movements, and in the small ways she gave up her defenses.
"Albus, tell us it doesn't mean what it sounds like. Or tell me how I can stop it. I'll do anything. After-after everything we've been through: First Mary and Marlene, then Lily and James, then Peter—and Sirius, you mine as well count him too—then Frank and Alice. We aren't allowed to visit Harry, Augusta's shut up with Neville, and Cassandra is barely keeping it together for Serenity. Everything still feels so upside down from the war... For Merlin's sake, I'll do anything to get it right side up for the girls. Tell me what to do."
"You're okay, Harry, you're okay. It was an accident. You didn't know." She whispered as she pushed his wet hair from his forehead and wiped water from his glasses. She repeated the mantra again and a third time until he seemed to stop his shaking. His hands were holding her wrists, like a parent worried that a child might disappear in a crowd, but his eyes never left Malfoy.
Evelyn finished her own glass, and vanished it as well. Standing up, she moved to walk away from him. For a moment, she thought she'd keep her reply to herself, but she was trying to be more herself—so she added over her shoulder, just as she would have to Bobby or Devon or anyone else, "I would have gone with handsome. Rugged even."
“We fixed it, Draco. Together.” She reiterated, leaning into him and planting a small, reassuring kiss on his cheek. She kept close to his body, familiar with it now in a way she’d never thought she’d be. Her head dipped against his chest, she added, “We can do the next part, too. Together. We can kill Dumbledore.”
Ron shot Evelyn a grim smile, adding tersely, "Welcome to Dumbledore's Army."
There were other Order members cast about, many wearing the resolved mask of grief. A few seemed to carry bitterness about them, and the emotion seemed to sit tightly at the base of their neck like a strained muscle. The betrayal still sat unsteadily with many of them, as they'd come to believe the headmaster and had trusted in his trust of Severus Snape. The only one unmarked by betrayal was Harry. He had known; he had always known.
The officiant announced the new couple with a smile and, in response the nearby tables erupted with applause as Remus took his bride into his arms and kissed her in the firelight. Evelyn herself clapped heartily as a man nearby dropped a few coins in a jukebox that sprung to life with a joyful tune and people throughout the crowd raised their glasses to honor the newlyweds.
The doubts that she’d dismissed in the Room of Requirement as they stood in front of the completed cabinet seemed to flare up again. She questioned whether Draco had strength enough for her—in flashes it was there, it was brilliant, but at other times it waned, and she feared his inconsistency.
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