October 5th, 2007, 8:22 pm
Crimson is rated 15+, according to the HPFF guidelines, although the rating may go up due to later chapters.
The warnings for Crimson include (also by HPFF guidelines) : Mild Language, Sensitive Topic/Theme/Issue, Strong Violence, and Substance Use/Abuse.
I began writing Crimson before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, so there are some discrepancies in canon.
And so the tale begins...
A Dark Veil hangs over the former prison Azkaban, and Dumbledore's Army has been assembled once again - all the members dealing with demons from their pasts. But a mysterious woman arrives, bloodied and mangled, who may be able to change everything.
Chapters Posted So Far :
Chapter One - Run
In which: Aberforth cleans a glass; Harry is guilty; a diamond brooch is lost and a light is found; Neville becomes tender; and it all begins.
Chapter Two - The Manor
In which: soft light is seen; the understatement of the century is made; Harry is slapped; it is not like that; Dobby sings; and she speaks.
Chapter Three - Neville's Dream
In which: Ron recognizes a bad dream when he sees one; Neville remembers; Luna finds some interesting cracks in the wall; Evy's arm is strangely heavy; Dobby explains the importance of "I"; and Harry is confused.
Chapter Four - Crash
In which: He draws his wand on instinct; Georges is not that stupid; Harry declares himself; Evy is not impressed; Hermione is frustrated; and Ron makes a joke.
Chapter Five - What Evy Feared
In which: Evy examines her nightgown and discovers some moth-eaten robes; Sooner or later, something will come; The prognosis is determined as good; Dobby's talk wants to become a walk; She finally receives her wand; The green-and-silver hallway is discovered; and It is himself.
Chapter Six - The Silver Stallion
In which : In which : What can possibly be humorous about Harry Potter?; Harry is confident; The Rift begins; Harry weeps; The diadem is found; Voldemort is defeated; and Harry does not deserve her kindness.
Chapter Seven - Legacy
In which : Evy Cole bursts the doors open; the Legacy is passed on and the brooch received; he laughs at last; they can't protect her forever; the importance of Le Lyon; it is deserted; and Evy meets the brothers Delaroche.
Chapter Eight - Plimpy Perfection
In which : If Ron can do it, so can Harry; crimson is just her color; the former English wizarding prison is mentioned; her place lies in waiting; and Evy has a job well done.
New chapter titles and summaries will be added on as the story progresses.
October 5th, 2007, 8:26 pm
Aberforth Dumbledore stood behind the bar at his pub, The Hog’s Head. It had been a long night, and he was just now getting a chance to polish some mugs with a rag that didn’t look much cleaner than the glassware he was supposed to be cleaning.
He looked warily at the door, setting down a grimy glass. It was raining, and heavily, but that it was really just the sort of night that attracted the customers that frequented his pub. They were normally people who didn’t want a lot of attention, or didn’t want to be asked any questions, and this sort of weather usually suited their moods exactly.
In the back room, however, something very different was going on. Aberforth allowed himself a small grin at the thought of it. Dumbledore’s Army, a group that hadn’t met for – was it really eight years now? – was sitting around a table, talking in quiet but urgent tones about the rumors that had been rushing around the British wizarding world for the past few months, rumors of disappearances, and of a Dark Veil hanging over what used to be Azkaban Prison.
It was the first time they had all seen each other in a very long time, and Harry, in fact, had been doubtful that the coins would still work. He was still as tall as he had been at seventeen, but less gangly. His black hair was no less unruly, but it seemed to suit him now, and his face and body had filled out, giving Harry an aura of masculinity that he had never retained in his school days. No one was quite sure what he did for a living; after he had defeated Voldemort, Harry had retreated into himself, rarely keeping in contact with even Ron and Hermione.
Those two sat across from him, close together, a worried expression on Hermione’s face and a stoic expression on Ron’s. Ron had almost lost Hermione when they where destroying the fifth Horcrux – Nagini had been harder to kill then they had ever imagined. She had bitten Hermione, and the poison had almost killed her. Ron had wanted – had needed – to get her out of there, but Harry was determined to finish the job. The rift had begun to tear them apart right there.
On Hermione’s right side, a couple of feet away, sat Neville Longbottom. As Harry had become more muscular, Neville had lost his extra fat, and was almost painfully thin to look at now. His cheekbones stuck out of his face, and his elbows created a right angle to his body as he crossed his arms in front of him. His expression contained traces of his devotion to Harry Potter, but he was now wary. Everyone, it seemed, had lost something in the Final Battle, and Neville Longbottom had lost his innocence. Killing Bellatrix Black had taken much more determination than Neville had ever thought it would. He could remember a brief feeling of anger, and then something deeper… hatred. Pure, unadulterated hatred for the woman who had tortured his parents into insanity made Neville Longbottom into a killer, and he was not unaware of this fact.
There were a few empty spaces at the table as well. Ginny Weasley’s space was vacant – she had been murdered by Voldemort himself. It was as Harry had predicted; the Dark Lord had gone after those he had been closest to. The fact that he had not reconciled with Ginny before she was taken… but Harry had not let himself think about it, really. It was one of the reasons that he wouldn’t talk to anybody after it was all over. After he had seen the marks of torture on her delicate body… nothing could be said to redeem himself. Perhaps, he had thought, if she had been with him, it wouldn’t have happened. If she had come with them, for the Horcrux hunt, she would still be alive, and he would be holding her now, just as Ron was holding Hermione tightly across the table.
But it was not worth thinking about.
Two more spaces – Padma Patil. Cho Chang. The names rang in Harry’s head, echoing over and over again in harsh, chastising tones. Harry shifted his eyes over and nodded slightly at Parvati, who nodded back. She had been devastated at her twin’s death, and would not leave the body, but she was here now.
Luna Lovegood was patting Parvati’s shoulder, as if she knew that Parvati was again thinking of the final battle. Harry smiled slightly. Luna was now pursuing her lifelong dream of going after her impossible creatures. She seemed to be the only one unchanged. There had been a week after the Final Battle where she descended into a dark depression, talking to no one, and wearing all black. But then… it was as if nothing had happened. Luna had redonned her radish earrings and begun talking about Flibbing-Footed Babcocks again, as if she hadn’t just taken part in the most bloody battle in wizarding history.
That was all of them. There were more that had fought, of course, but these were the only people that had responding to the coin’s call, yet again. The rest were too busy spending their rewards, for the Ministry of Magic had given each of the DA one million galleons, an enormous sum, for fighting against Voldemort. As far as Harry knew, those of the Order that had survived had got nothing. But that was for thinking about at another time…
Harry spoke now, his voice slightly trembling. He wasn’t quite sure if he was ready to step in this role again. “I don’t know if you’ve heard what’s been going on,” he began, “but there have been movements… strange movements around what used to be Azkaban.”
“What d’you mean, ‘movements?’” Neville asked, placing one of his arms on the table and leaning in.
Hermione answered. “There was a party of sight-seers, last month. They wanted to see where the prison was, but they weren’t able to find it. They followed the directions, exactly, directions given to them by the Ministry. They used maps, they thought they were standing straight on top of it… but it wasn’t there,” Hermione looked diagonally over into the crook of Ron’s elbow. “The whole Azkaban prison was gone.”
“That’s impossible,” Parvati exclaimed. “When they moved all the prisoners, they put enchantments on the place just so that sort of thing wouldn’t be able to happen!” Everyone looked toward her, and she added, “My uncle worked in the committee that helped to hide it. No other party should be able to make that place Unplottable, or invisible, or… or any other of that type of spell!”
“I’ve rather learned,” Luna said in her soft voice, “that ‘impossible’ isn’t really as impossible as it seems.”
Harry stared at her for a moment. “What we need to figure out, though… is what they’re doing.”
Ron spoke for the first time, “And who they are.”
The two men stared at each other for a few seconds, and then turned their eyes away.
She is running through rain and trees. She is barefoot, and the sticks on the ground are puncturing her feet, and scratching her legs, but she doesn’t care, it isn’t painful.
She has made a huge mistake.
Her blue dress catches on the branches, and she can feel it rip and tear, and there is growling, and there are jets of light rushing past her, and there is shouting, but all she can do was run. Sprint for life, move for freedom, run. Run!
The wind is making her hair whip around her face; it is falling out of the elegant bun she has so carefully placed it in. She feels the diamond brooch she held it with scratch her back as it falls to the ground, the priceless heirloom her grandmother had given her, and she actually thinks for a second about stopping to pick it up, but a red jet of light grazes her cheek and she runs on.
So tired… her legs are aching, the muscles crying out for rest, the rain keeps falling, cold piercing bullets of ice that mingle with her frustrated tears. She dodges tree after tree, this forest is endless, she will have to stop soon, she will have to give in soon, it is not fair, there are so many of them and only one of her, why was she so stupid?
But then: hope. She makes out a light in the distance, and with one last burst of energy her legs pump and she is moving faster, faster toward the light, and the shouts are angry now, they cannot follow her here, she is sure. The trees are thinning, and there is the light, it is coming closer, or is she getting closer? She can no longer tell, she needs to breathe, she needs oxygen. She stares at the light, and cries out as it grows dimmer… and dimmer… and the light goes out.
Aberforth Dumbledore was polishing his last glass, and was extremely annoyed that the little “meeting” was taking so long. It might have been a mistake to help the young ruffians back when You-Know-Who was in power, Aberforth thought, after all, my dear old brother had just kicked the bucket, one might have mistaken it for sentimentality. But no… Aberforth, old chap, you’re one of self-reliance. You’ve got to make that quite clear the next time they come calling for a hand-out. None of this namby-pamby “seeing the good in people,” people might mistake you for addle-brained Albus.
Aberforth was just finishing this thought, a self-satisfied grin on his face, when he set down the glass with a little “thump.” He was very surprised, then, when it was echoed with an even larger “thump” against his doorway. Experimentally, Aberforth picked up the glass and set it down again, but did not hear the echo this time. He looked curiously at the polished glass. Aberforth scratched his head with a long fingernail.
He did not have to wait long, though, for a confused-looking Neville to come bursting through the doorway to the back room. “Dumbledore, did you hear something?”
Aberforth winced at the name. That’s what people called his brother, and he resented being related to the old coot extremely. “I was just polishing my glass, nothing to worry about,” he gestured to the mug and reset it on the bar, repeating the “thump.”
“It was quite a bit louder than that,” Neville began, when Harry pushed past him and went straight to the door of The Hog’s Head, unlocking it. Harry raised his eyebrows at both Neville and Aberforth. Neville flushed a deep scarlet and Aberforth said absentmindedly, “Well. That would make sense then.”
Harry rolled his eyes and opened the door, stepping back immediately at the shock. There was a woman there, crumpled in a heap. Her blue dress was soaked to her skin, and there were bloody scratches all over her legs, arms, and chest. Harry gasped at the sight, and instinctively kneeled to the floor, pressing his fingers to her neck to check for a pulse.
“She’s alive,” he croaked, and took his fingers away. They were tainted red from a gash on her neck. He sat there, staring at his fingers, his mind whirling.
“Come on, Harry!” Harry faintly heard Neville’s voice, as if it came from far away, and felt Neville push him aside. Neville was picking up the woman, under her knees and armpits, and she lay inert there. “Clean off the bar, come on, hurry up!” Neville shouted.
It took a moment for Harry to comply. This sudden jolt back into the world of blood, and injury – not to mention the shock of hearing Neville giving orders, made him hesitate, and Neville gave a sort of growl before using his elbow to sweep all the glasses of the bar, causing them to crash to the floor. Aberforth gave an indignant shout, but Neville sent him a look of such anger that he quickly shut his mouth again.
Neville then gently lay the woman on the bar, placing her arms at her sides and carefully arranging her dress so that she was covered. Harry had never seen him so… tender. He suddenly came to his senses, still sitting on the floor by the doorway, and shouted, “Hermione, Ron, Luna, Parvati! We need you out here!!”
The four quickly came out of the back room, and Parvati rushed forward. “My God… look at her feet.”
Harry, who had now stood up, walked over to the end of the bar and glanced at the woman’s feet, then quickly turned away. They were a raw, mottled red, so bloody… Harry felt as if he were going to vomit. He chastised himself. He was supposed to be used to this kind of thing, wasn’t he? He was the war hero, the Man-Who-Lived! This was not supposed to make him want to run away and start crying!
A new voice made Harry turn back around. “…Run…! …no… can’t stop…. Light.” The woman was attempting to sit up, her eyes were rolling wildly, and Hermione and Luna were on either side of her, each having a gentle but firm grip on an arm.
“Shush, shush, it’s all right, you’re among friends, we’re taking care of you. Please, calm down, you’re awfully hurt, we’re going to help you,” Hermione was keeping up a steady stream of soothing words as the woman tried to move her arms.
The woman stopped speaking for a moment; the gentleness seemed to shock her. “Maxim…” She said it longingly, wearily, and lovingly, all at once. Was it a cry for help, or a condemnation? Harry wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he wanted to know what a “maxim” was.
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October 5th, 2007, 8:31 pm
She opens her eyes – slowly, carefully, to observe her surroundings. She groans. There seems to be a thousand – no, a make that a million, cuts on her body, and each one of them is screaming painfully in a different way. Yet, they feel muffled somehow, and she tentatively brings her hand into her line of sight, moaning at the pain it brings her. Her eyes widen as she observes the linen bandages that encase her hand so tightly that she is unable to move her fingers.
She lowers her hand to her chest and notices with the undamaged tips of her fingers that her silk dress is gone, and has been replaced with a smooth material that she can’t name, at least, not off the top of her head. Slowly, she moves the cloth between two of her fingertips, feeling the lovely clean material. She smiles slightly, and closes her eyes, noticing the dim lighting of the room through her eyelids. It must be a single candelabrum, or maybe an oil lantern or two, for certainly no electricity is found here. That makes her relieved – she has not been found by Muggles.
Suddenly, she hears quick, light footsteps approaching her bedside.
“Dobby is sorry, Miss, but Dobby must change Miss’ bandages now,” the tiny house-elf spoke in his squeaky voice as Harry helped him up onto the bed.
“She can’t hear you, Dobby, it’s no use talking,” Harry said impatiently. “She’s been out for nearly ten hours now…”
Dobby turned his head around on his skinny neck, and focused his huge green eyes on Harry. “Yes, Harry Potter sir, Dobby knows this, sir. But Dobby thought… perhaps even if Miss was still sleeping, sir, Miss might hear Dobby.”
Harry sighed, and walked out of the bedroom, allowing Dobby to commence changing the bandages of the woman who had collapsed at The Hog’s Head the night before.
He began to walk through the labyrinthine maze of corridors that led to the main living room where the rest of them where resting, eating, reading… where he had left them all. For some reason, Harry had wanted to come with Dobby to see the woman again. They had left her there, with only the house-elf for company, and Dobby had just Apparated to the living room to get him to let him know that she was still asleep. Harry had wanted to see for himself.
After a few moments of primary inspection, Parvati, who was a Healer now, made the announcement that they needed to move her to a more stable environment, and they needed to do it quickly. Harry had sighed – and then volunteered his home. They had withheld gasps, and Hermione had looked at the floor, then carefully looked at Harry, forming her words with great caution, “Where should we Apparate to, then?”
It took a moment for Harry to get it out. This was going to sound very bad to them all…
“Malfoy Manor.” He then Apparated immediately away.
Of course they all knew where Malfoy Manor was. Of course they did. It was, after all, in and around the Manor’s grounds where the final battle had taken place.
Luna arrived first, with the “popping” noise that always accompanied Apparation. She spoke softly as she walked up to Harry’s hunched form. “It might take a minute or two. They’re all very angry.” She then looked up at the huge mansion, which had once been a symbol of Dark Wizards, Purebloods, and the one who headed it all… Lord Voldemort. “You’ve certainly fixed the place up a bit.”
Luna had made the understatement of the century. Malfoy Manor had been all but destroyed by the wayward spells of the final battle; the top floors had collapsed into the bottom, and the grounds had been ruined with litter, bodies, blood, wands, falling debris, and of course, Voldemort’s corpse. Harry had done a huge overhaul of the place, presumably with his reward from the Ministry. Malfoy Manor, once a foreboding black, was now a somber grey, and now longer reached on and on toward the sky, but settled nicely at four levels. It looked somewhat like a cross between Buckingham Palace and a Victorian house, and the grounds were well taken care of: bursting with flowers of all kinds and sporting a lawn as green and smooth as the Dursley’s could have ever wished for.
“Dobby helped a lot,” Harry said shortly. “He came to work for me… after… after it happened. He thought I needed help.” He said this last word rather bitterly.
“Don’t you?” Luna said.
Harry was about to say something, especially something regarding her use of the present instead of the past tense, but there were two more pops – Parvati, and Hermione.
Hermione walked straight up to Harry, and slapped him smartly across the cheek. “How could you?” she said harshly, and then stared up at the house before her. “How could you?” she repeated, softer this time, shaking her head. It was clear that she was not talking only about the house.
“I’m to prepare a room,” Parvati said crisply. “Then I’m going to go back, and Side-Along Apparate with Ron and Neville and… Her. We thought you wouldn’t mind dropping social pretense here,” she said, referring to the fact that it was incredibly rude to Apparate straight into a wizard’s house. “So if you’ll lead me in.”
Harry, who was nursing his cheek and staring at Hermione as if she were mad, nodded slightly, and began to walk up the grey-stoned path to the front door. He pulled out his wand, and pointed it to the door, preparing to say a charm in a soft voice.
“So we’re going to be locked in, is that it?” Hermione said sharply.
Harry stared at her.
“We don’t know those wards. I have a feeling they’re a far sight more complicated than Alohomora.”
“Actually, it just is Alohomora. I learned once that the hardest thing to find is the thing that’s most often right under your nose,” Harry shut his mouth right up when he realized he was shouting by the end of his proclamation. Nobody had to ask where he had learnt this – not after Godric Gryffindor’s sword had turned out to be the last Horcrux they had found. Being reminded of that – how Dumbledore had been so very wrong about that – made Harry want to cry.
Instead, he turned his face fiercely to the door again, and said, so everyone could hear him, “Alohomora!”
He held the door open as Parvati and a very red-faced Hermione swept past.
Harry remembered the shock on Hermione’s face now, as he made his way back to the living room where they were all sitting. Ron and Neville hadn’t been too impressed when they arrived, either, and they had promptly laid the woman down, as per Parvati’s instructions, in one of the many spare bedrooms that the new Malfoy Manor had. Then all the men had left the room, and Dobby and the women had carefully stripped off the blue dress, chucking it out the door, and bandaged the woman carefully.
Harry remembered picking up the still sopping dress after it landed out in the hallway. It was a pathetic thing: it looked so rejected and unwanted. He had held it up almost ridiculously against himself, leaving wet imprints on his clothing. He could sort of see how the dress would have worked when it was whole – a ragged hem, just past the knee, a wide strap, a square bodice. Something a woman of class would have worn. There was something hard inside the left side of the skirt – Harry reached up underneath and found a sort of sewn pocket that hid a long stick of wood… a wand?
Experimentally, Harry waved the stick around, and muttered “Floris!” Sure enough, a bouquet of red roses came out the end of the (now that he was certain that that was what it was) wand, and his not-forgotten Seeker instincts made his other arm shoot out and catch them.
So she was a witch. It was a good thing to know, Harry thought. He draped the dress over his arm, and held the bouquet of roses in his fist, and began to make his way back to the living room, when Dobby seemed to appear out of nowhere.
He looked at the roses and dress warily. “If Harry Potter will allow Dobby to say…”
“Sure Dobby, go at it!” Harry suddenly felt very cheerful, and smiled down at his friend, his only real friend in the world, he thought.
“Dobby has seen many, many Misses go in and out of this house, Harry Potter sir, and Dobby has not said anything, sir. But Dobby thinks it would be very wise if Harry Potter would let the other friends help this one, sir,” Dobby cringed slightly, as if expecting to be chastised.
“Dobby! What the divil do you mean?”
Dobby reached his long fingers out to the dress, and with a quick snap, the dress was no longer hanging over Harry’s shoulder, but hanging from Dobby’s two forefingers. “If Dobby may ask, sir, what is the young Miss wearing at the moment?”
Harry’s brow furrowed. “Dobby…?” Then it registered. “Dobby! It’s not like that! Good God, Dobby, it’s not like that.”
“Dobby knows, sir. But… Harry Potter sir… for many times, sir, it has been like that. Dobby must go now, sir,” and Dobby disappeared.
Harry stared after his friend for a moment, puzzled. Sure, he had had a few girls in, now and then… every so often… after Ginny. Damnit! Who could blame him? Girls were hanging off of his every word, he was the bloody Man-Who-Lived, wasn’t he?! Why couldn’t he enjoy some of the perks… some of the time? It’s not like he ever expected anything long term out of it!
The house-elf, Dobby, is helping her now, as far as she can tell. He is surprisingly gentle; he sings softly to her in his high voice, nonsense about centaurs and thestrals who go to a pond in the middle of a wood… she can’t catch it all. But it is pleasant, in a very, very odd sort of way. He handles each limb, one at a time, and chatters inanely while examining the wounds underneath. “Oh, look, Miss, this one is getting better, Dobby thinks, yes, it is not scarring at all, no, look at that, Miss, Dobby is very happy Miss is healing so well, Mistress Parvati said Miss was not going to but Miss is proving them wrong, oh yes Miss, Dobby knew Miss would…” Dobby goes on and on…
“Dobby just wishes Dobby knew Miss’ name, yes Dobby does, yes, yes Dobby does,” and then he goes back to his singing. And now he is looking at the gash on her neck and clucking in a motherly way. “Tsk tsk, Miss, that is a narrow escape, Miss, yes that is… hmm Miss might have a slight scar there but nothing to worry Miss, Miss is still very pretty.” She cannot help but smile – he is such a change from the frowning and the grumbling and the worrying, and she just might allow herself to speak, she wouldn’t mind with Dobby. She laughs to herself, she thinks just exactly like Dobby sounds… isn’t that funny…?
Isn’t that funny…?
“…but there is nothing to worry about, Miss, Miss is still very pretty.”
She spoke! Dobby tried to hide his surprise and keep up the chatter. “Yes, Miss?”
“Dobby, thank you.”
“Miss, it is no trouble, no trouble for Dobby at all.”
“Dobby, I think I would like to tell you my name.”
“That would be lovely, Miss.”
“It’s Evangeline. Cole. Evangeline Cole. Am I talking too much?” She seemed very earnest not to do so, to want to please Dobby, to not want to put him out.
“No, Mistress Evangeline. Mistress Evangeline is talking just the right amount.”
“Yes, Mistress Evangeline?”
“Please call me Evy.”
“All right, Evy.”
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October 5th, 2007, 8:35 pm
Neville Longbottom awoke suddenly from his slumber, running a hand through his sweaty hair. His other hand gripped the fine material of the couch he was laying on, and it took him a moment to realize where, exactly, he was. Then he remembered, and he sat up, feeling himself sink into a crack between the cushions.
He was here… at Malfoy Manor.
He never thought he would be here again – voluntarily, at least.
Nervously, Neville looked around the room. Ron and Hermione were sharing another couch across the room: Ron was sitting upright, trying to stay awake by holding his head up with his right hand while watching over a sleeping Hermione whose upper body was snuggled into his lap. Parvati and Luna were playing a listless game of Exploding Snap over by the fireplace, not even reacting to the occasional minor explosion that the cards gave.
Neville could see the bags under Parvati’s eyes: she had been relentlessly attending to the still-nameless woman for the past ten hours, and it was only now that her condition had gone into a fairly stable state that she was allowing Dobby to change her dressing.
Even Luna seemed less cheerful than usual. She laid her cards down with a sort of enforced zest that made it seem as if she was trying to be energetic – and Neville knew that Luna never had to try at that sort of thing.
Neville was interrupted in his thought process by Ron’s voice.
“Bad dream, mate?”
Quickly, Neville turned his head and narrowed his eyes.
“No need to be worried, Nev. I have some sort of idea as to what they look like,” Ron jerked his head toward the door that Harry had walked out of about ten minutes before, and Neville nodded in understanding, then laid his head in his hands, remembering…
Neville looked around him desperately as he ducked to dodge a curse. It seemed as if the Death Eaters were winning. Many of the Order and the number of Dumbledore’s Army who had answered the coin’s call for the battle were laying inert on the ground, Stunned, or dead. It was hard to tell the difference. Luna Lovegood was battling ferociously against a heavy set Death Eater, both shooting spells out of their wands, jets of light shooting out of the ends of their wand as they moved in a macabre dance for live and death.
“Oooh, Mr. Longbottom, shall you go quickly, or shall I play with you a bit, like I did with your parents?” Bellatrix Lestrange straightened, pointing her wand downward toward the dirt.
No answer came, not in words anyway, just a loud grunt as a bolt of red light shot from Neville’s wand. Bellatrix moved to the left just in time. A streak of blood appeared on her cheek; she ran the back of her hand over it and looked at it incredulously. “What’s this, little Longbottom, some Unforgiveable coming out of that pathetic brain of yours?” She licked the back of her hand and opened her mouth to continue, her tongue and lips now stained red, “Your parents weren’t much good at it, either, no need to worry, no need to even try…” She brought her wand back up into position.
“AVADA KEDAVRA!!” Neville’s voice shouted, and a green light shone through the graveyard briefly, like so many others had, hitting Bellatrix full in the chest. She fell backward, a somewhat surprised expression on her face apparent as she hit the ground.
Harry made his way around the tombstone, forcing Neville to the ground as a stray spell came their way. Neville had been standing, his wand out in front of him, his mouth still forming the last syllable of the curse.
“I… I killed her Harry,” Neville’s face crumpled. “I m-murdered her.”
Harry wanted to congratulate him, but did you really congratulate someone on killing someone else? Perhaps in battle you did… Harry settled for awkwardly patting Neville on the back. Neville saw Harry’s hand, scratched and bloody, pale on the back of his black cloak, and he glanced down at his own hand, to his wand… the wand that had just taken the life of a living, breathing, human thing.
“Ron!” Neville heard Hermione yell from the other side of the graveyard. “I need a little help over here!” He looked over the tombstone to see her shooting spells madly at a couple of Death Eaters, one of whom had lost his mask in the process. Neville snarled – Lucius Malfoy.
Swinging a leg over the gravestone, Neville ran to aid Hermione as well, leaving Harry behind, when everything seemed to go in slow motion. Lucius had turned, and it was like Neville could see the expressions on his face shift each millisecond – from scowling, to wrinkling his nose, to his lips setting in a firm line, to finally a mocking smile.
“So you did it, boy,” Lucius hissed. “Well done. Didn’t think you had it in you.” Neville was very confused, he gazed up into the face of this man, wasn’t he supposed to be on the other side?
Lucius seemed to know what he was thinking. “Don’t think, boy. Just do. What do you want to do, boy? eh? You don’t want to be here, you don’t want to be fighting me… just like you didn’t want to be fighting her…” his long blonde hair moved around his head silkily as he nodded toward Bellatrix’s dead body. Then Lucius slyly looked at Neville out of the corner of his eye. “You won’t be getting any glory for it, boy. You know who will,” they both, at the same moment, looked toward Harry, who was valiantly fighting off a Death Eater. Neville felt the sick feeling of jealousy move through the pit of his stomach. Then Lucius took hold of his chin, and stared into his eyes. “The rest of you… maybe some House Points?” Lucius Malfoy snickered. “Go… Apparate away. You aren’t needed, and you most certainly aren’t appreciated. You know it.”
Slowly, Neville nodded. Slowly, Lucius smiled.
Everything sped up again, people were rushing past them, spells everywhere, it was mass chaos… and Neville looked toward Lucius one last time, before he Disapparated away from Malfoy Manor, and appeared at the Atrium in the Ministry, where the wounded were being kept and those who tended over them were more than happy to have another pair of hands to help them.
Neville looked up again; staring at Ron, whose attempts to stay awake had failed. Parvati had fallen asleep over her hand of cards, and Luna, it seemed, had left the room. Quietly, he stood up and went over to the sideboard and picked out a glass. He poured a liberal about of firewhisky into it, and downed the drink quickly. He grimaced at the taste, but poured himself another.
“Don’t, Nev,” came a soft voice from the corner.
Instinctively, Neville hid the glass behind his back and looked in the direction of the voice. It was Luna.
“I was looking at the wall,” she said by way of explanation. “There were some interesting patterns in the cracks.” She didn’t seem to find anything peculiar in this statement, and so kept walking toward Neville, who felt a deep flush begin in his neck. He was rather thankful that he had worn a collared shirt.
Luna came very close to Neville, and then reached around behind him and took the glass, then stared at it as if it might contain some sought-after secret. “I wonder why people drink heavily?” It was more of a general question, sort of a statement more than something directed specifically at Neville.
“Perhaps they’ve got something to be ashamed of,” he said, bitterly, and sat heavily in an armchair that was beside the sideboard.
“No, I don’t think that’s it,” Luna said in the same light tone.
“Oh don’t you?” Neville was getting the tiniest bit angry. “Then tell me why, oh wise Ravenclaw, people drink heavily?”
Luna looked at him with wide eyes, as if the sarcasm was totally uncalled for. She paused for a moment, setting the glass back down on the sideboard, cleaning it with a swift, “Scourgify!” and then said, “People do it to escape.”
There was a silence. Neville opened his mouth, but Luna beat him to it.
Her airy voice permeated his mind, “Isn’t that why you drink heavily, Neville?”
“Dobby… that’s such a funny name,” Evy said lazily. She was laying in the four-poster still, all her bandages off, and her arm was raised above her head. Evy thought that it was strange how much her arm seemed to weigh, and she was looking at the way her hand seemed to twist and turn, and the strange angles that created in the shadows on the ceiling of the four-poster.
“With all due respect, ‘Evy’ is rather a funny name as well, Miss,” Dobby said, smiling wryly. He was sitting on the edge of her bed, near the head, watching the gash in her neck closely. She had tried to sit up a couple of times, but had been so dizzy that she had laid back down immediately – it was like no spell Dobby had seen before. With a Crucio gash, it just swelled up and was painful for a week or so, but this… well it seemed to have made Evy sleepy.
No – sleepy was in the incorrect word, Dobby thought. “Drugged,” “incoherent,” “bloody incomprehensible,” were some words that would work in this instance. Dobby gave a half-smile at the language that had been coming out of Evy’s mouth. “Moauhflwitz” had been his favorite contribution to the English language so far.
“Hmmm,” Evy now said, as if this was a great thought to be shared with the world, and she attempted to prop herself
up on her elbow. It took a few tries, but she finally made it. “You don’t talk funny any more Dobby. Whyzat?”
“Perhaps because you don’t expect me to?” Dobby sighed. “House-elf dialect is something that has been holding our species down for years now. Really – talking in the third person, as if we don’t understand the most valuable pronoun of them all – the pronoun ‘I.’ ‘I’ gives us individuality, personality, a sense of self…” Dobby would have gone on, but he sensed a flagging interest in Evy, whose hand was now slipping from her cheek to her forehead.
“No. No… I’m listening, Dobby. The pronoun, ‘I.’ Please continue…” She gave a lion’s roar of a yawn, though, and Dobby smiled.
“Nonsense, you don’t want to here the yammerings-on of a rebel House-Elf now. They all think it, they just don’t want to admit to it… it’s a scary thing, realizing that one is really something completely alone… when a House-Elf is free, when they say ‘I am’ instead of, well ‘Dobby is,’ for example, they’re admitting they’re not necessarily a part of a huge group, that they just might be alone in this world – it’s a terrifying thought. It scared me almost to death, but thankfully… good old Harry was good enough to take me in,” Dobby smiled fondly. “It’s just that, well… I’m not overly fond of being ‘taken in’ here.” Dobby knew that Evy hardly understood a word he was saying, even if she could go past the effects of the spell. But it was something that he needed to say anyway, just to get it out.
“Why here, Dobby?”
And, she always knew the right questions to ask.
“Because the first family I served used to live here.”
“Yes, them,” it was clear that Dobby wasn’t going to speak about that subject anymore at that moment.
Evy opened her mouth to inquire more, hoping to inveigle more information out of the old house-elf, when a knock came at the door. Before Dobby could do anything, Evy called out, “’Oozere?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“That’s an even funnier name than yours, ol’ Dobbers. ‘Ibeg Ur Pardon,’” Evy remarked to Dobby, who slapped his face with his hands, and then ran them over his ears. “Wouldn’t you want to get that changed?” Evy yelled back through the door.
“What?” Came back, even more curtly.
“Well, I mean there are some very weird names out there, but that’s one of the best,” Evy was laughing now.
There were some indistinguishable noises from the other side of the
door, and then silence. Then: “Say, who exactly’s in there, anyway?”
Dobby finally stepped in. “Just Dobby, sir, it’s just Dobby, and the Miss. She’s…” Dobby rolled his eyes, “woken up, Harry Potter sir.”
“Yes, that’s kind of… apparent. Can I come in?”
Dobby looked at Evy, who was silently shaking with mirth. Well, she wasn’t going to be any help… but… Dobby smiled. It was certainly put Harry off of any of that, now wouldn’t it?
So Dobby went and let Harry into Evy’s room.
Comments? The feedback thread (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?p=4801323#post4801323) is just such a place as to leave your ponderings. :D
October 5th, 2007, 8:39 pm
The waves crashed against the grey-black rock gloomily, creating, for a moment, white surf that tumbled up against the island before crumbling back down into submission, back into the sea.
There was a man standing on the very edge of one the craggy cliffs, staring out into the chaotic ocean as if he was waiting for something. He was a tall, fairly skinny man. He had the clammy, almost wet look of someone who had spent far too much time away from the sun about him. He shielded his eyes as he looked into oncoming breeze, squinting as the salt spray met his face.
His dark eyes narrowed and he pushed his slightly longish dark hair out of his face. His vocal chords began to quiver as they rubbed against each other, straining to form a word – but then he shut his mouth. This was not the time, he decided.
Rather luckily, too. For there were two “pop”s that sounded twenty yards behind him, and the man turned swiftly, his left hand moving in an automatic gesture toward his right sleeve and pulled something long and slim from confinement – a wand.
“You’re late,” he said softly, his voice oozing confidence.
One of the two stepped forward, taking his cap from his head and twisting it nervously around in his hands. The button on the top popped off as he spoke. “There was a… a bit o’ a problem.”
“I can see that. If everything had been fine, you would not be one short, would you?” the first man answered icily.
The man with the cap dipped a couple of times, and then backed away a few steps. The other strode forward, his posture erect.
“It was unforeseen, of course. Egglesworth decided that the instructions were not to be taken as seriously as we impressed they were needed to be.” This speaker was loud, confident, and stood tall as he delivered his news.
“Idiot,” the pale man hissed.
“Indeed,” the confident man nodded. “He will be taken care of.” The man with the cap cringed, and slumped down toward the rocks. The other two men were now talking as if he were not there at all. The other man continued, “But that does not help us with what has been lost.”
“I would hope, Georges, that you have some idea of where you lost her. For your sake, of course.”
Georges smiled jovially. “We both know I’m not that stupid. I took note of the place before we had to get the hell out of there…” with great pomp and circumstance, Georges produced a slip of paper from a pocket, and with a Lumos from the tip of his wand, began to read it. “The Hog’s Head pub, in Hogsmeade. Just by Hogwarts. Well, isn’t that lovely. It’s about time we made a visit, eh?”
Evy was holding her hand to her stomach, trying to support her strained muscles when Harry strode into the room. She looked up at him, eyes giddy with laughter, and he glared indignantly down at her. Dobby rushed to close the door behind Harry.
“What the hell is going on in here?” he spat, looking distastefully at Evy, who was sitting up against the headboard, one arm thrown back against her head, her hand and fingers intertwining with her curls.
Dobby stood up to his full height on the floor and looked between the two of them. In low tones, he said to Harry, “She’s not in her right mind, sir. There’s some sort of spell, just there, on the right side of her neck,” Dobby pointed. “She’s been acting strange ever since she woke up. It’s been difficult to deal with her,” Dobby trailed off, realizing that Harry was looking at him vacantly. Dobby had forgotten to talk – as he normally would have … he had left out all the “Mistresses” and “Dobby thinks,” and “Harry Potter sirs…” Good God. Talking with Evy as he had always wanted to – as himself – had really thrown Dobby for a loop. Dobby gulped, and turned his tennis-ball sized eyes on his master.
“Harry Potter? S-Sir?”
“Did she do that to you?” Harry asked, kneeling down to Dobby’s height and putting a and on either of his shoulders. “Did she put a spell on you, Dobby? You must tell me if she did, you must. Even if you are free, you’ve got to tell me that!”
Dobby shook his head.
“Oh please. It’s the house-elf dialect that’s been holding him back,” Evy said from her spot on the bed. “You Pureblood wizards in your rotting houses with your sodding rules and your bloody decorum… it’s no wonder that Dobby was keen to have a real talk with somebody.”
Harry glanced up at her. She seemed to have sobered up quite quickly, now that he had come in the room, and was staring at him with dark eyes from her position, watching his every movement quite warily.
“For your information,” Harry began, his voice low, “I’m not a Pureblood.”
She stared pointedly at Dobby, the house-elf, who was even now, gripped between Harry’s hands, and Harry suddenly let go of Dobby.
“I don’t care if you’re Albus bloody Dumbledore, no one’s got the right to keep…”
“I’m Harry Potter!” Harry shouted, interrupting her growing tirade, and lifted his hand to his carefully groomed bangs to lift the hair there, in order to show her his lightning-bolt shaped scar. He made it to the edge of the bed in a manner of seconds, and was looming over her.
She closed her mouth for a second, and then narrowed her eyes, and shot out acidly, “Are you?” She propped herself up slowly, and came forward until she was level with Harry’s face, looking directly into his eyes. Her gaze was fierce, Harry noticed, and determined, and there was no fright there. She was an inch away from his nose – no, less than that. He could see her eyes shift slightly as they inspected his own.
Then Evy put her weight on her calves, and spat, “You may be Harry Potter, but you’re a damned hypocrite – you’re living exactly like the people you defeated used to. House elf… and all.”
Dobby turned his head away from the words, and covered his ears. Harry drew the house-elf to him and patted him comfortingly a few times. It was clear that he was trying desperately to control his anger – his lips were trembling slightly and there was a vein on his temple which was pulsing with his heartbeat. His jawline stood out like a dangerous weapon as he opened his mouth to speak.
“I don’t know what gives you the nerve to say these things, Miss…?”
“Right. Miss Cole. We took you in when you were injured and unconscious. It’s clear you’ve got no sense of gratitude whatsoever. It’s also clear that the moment you’re fit to travel, you’ll be out of this house. I’m not going to keep you here when there are other and definitely bigger things on my mind.”
“Of course. I certainly don’t want to inconvenience the great Harry Potter. Pack me up and ship me out whenever you’re ready,” she settled herself back down on the bed, and pulled the covers up over her shoulders.
Hermione snuffled in an unladylike manner as she was jolted awake. Bad dream. Again. It had been eight years, but the night they had gone after the Horcrux Nagini would never fade with time. Not for her, and not for Ron.
She gave a half-smile now, wondering exactly how she and Ron had got into these positions on the couch. Ron was at least in a sitting position, but his feet were splayed on an ottoman in front of them, and his head was simply plopped on the cushion behind him. His mouth was wide open, and he was snoring slightly. Hermione brushed her forefinger lightly against his cheek and down his chin, and he moved slightly in his sleep, his lips forming into a smile, and his arms tightening around her instinctively, and protectively.
She lay her head back down on his upper arm and stretched her legs and back in a catlike manner, loving the feeling she got as her body moved against her husband’s. She pushed her feet against the arm at the far end of the couch, and closed her eyes contentedly.
“I know you’re awake, ‘Mione,” Ron said softly.
She shifted slightly so that she was looking straight up, and Ron was looking down into her face. He began to play with a piece of her hair – her wild, frizzy hair that she had so hated in her school years had become much tamer as she grew, settling into long curls that Ron loved to wrap his fingers in.
“Yeah, I’m awake,” she agreed.
“So, what d’you reckon?”
This was one of the things that she loved most about Ron – how he allowed her to just think. He knew how she needed to, and he knew when she needed to. Now, Hermione raised herself so that she was across Ron’s legs and placed her head in the hollow of his neck and shoulder.
“I… I don’t really know. He seems very changed.”
Ron nodded, causing Hermione’s head to move with him.
“And the woman… I dunno about her. I haven’t felt that rush of urgency in years. Like… like we needed to get out of there. Get her out of there. Not just for her sake, either. And Azkaban… it just disappearing. Have they actually moved it? Is it hidden? Either way, that’s got to be a massive amount of power behind the charms that are meant to do the job. Could you imagine it? I don’t know if even Harry, alone…”
“But the three of us, together?” Ron prompted.
“We might be able to do it. It depends… we’re all above average, when it comes to power distribution…” it helped Hermione to be logical whenever something distressed her.
“But I just have no idea what they could have used…!” She came back to this after a bit of thought. “Azkaban’s so huge, Ron! So big…! I’ve always been able to figure these things out, but this is… I just…”
Ron brought a hand around the back of Hermione’s head and placed it solidly on top of her hair. “Hermione, if it’s all as difficult as you’re saying, then it’s no wonder everything’s giving you a bit of trouble. Someone had to catch up to you, sometime.” He planted a soft kiss on her forehead and she buried her nose in his chest.
“I should be able to get this,” she said softly, one last time, and Ron again ran his fingers through her hair.
Gently, he lay down on the couch, outlining her form, once again playing the solid knight to Hermione’s distress.
Feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?p=4801323#post4801323), good or bad, is always appreciated!
October 5th, 2007, 8:45 pm
The bedroom in which Evy Cole was staying, she soon found, was a rather large, stately one. The drapes hanging from her bed were of a dark umber shade, with rich gold tassel hanging off the ends, although they were not designed to come to hang completely closed, engulfing her in full umber-ic darkness, Evy discovered.
Slowly, carefully, after Harry Potter left her room with a slight slam of the door, Dobby trotting dejectedly after him, Evy eased her legs over the bedside. The room was dim, just had she had forseen it to be through her closed eyes. There was a fireplace across it, and on top sat a golden candelabrum, gleaming richly with the shine of something just polished. Nine candles shone, flickering every so often. Evy couldn’t really think as to why; there was no breeze in the room. Shivering somewhat, she glanced quickly to the door without turning her head, making sure it was indeed shut tight.
Evy let herself slide down the side of the bed slightly until her right foot met the floor met the floor of the bedroom. It was hard wood, again, just polished, it seemed. Her right foot recoiled slightly at the cold touch, but her lips settled into a grim line, and her foot again met the floor, this time resolutely. The left foot soon followed, and then Evy stood upright, wobbling a little. She looked down at herself. It seemed that she was wearing a sort of white nightdress. For a moment, Evy’s mind brought up a mental image of the man who had just been occupying a rather large part of her room, and a slight tinge of a blush began to creep up her neck. Surely… but she brushed the thought out of her mind, trying to begin to think logically.
The first thing she needed to do, she thought, was to find her wand. Although… where the hell would it be?
Slowly, carefully, Evy walked over to the fireplace to lean against it, looking down into the ashes. Her nightgown fluttered around her feet; the sleeves of it came down to came down to her elbows, ending with lace cuffs, and the white fabric gave her a scooped bodice, overlayed with lace up to her collar bone. Evy snorted at her reflection in the mirror that lay over the mantelpiece. She looked exactly like one of them – one of the Purebloods – widely known to treat “their” women with extreme delicacy and care, more than likely oppressing them into obedience. Evy lifter her hands to the lace collar of her nightgown, prepared to rip off the excess… fluffery, then thought better of it.
Instead, she took one of the candles out of the golden, polished candelabrum and stuck it into the fireplace, hoping to bring a little more light and warmth into the room. She knelt to the floor, persuading the soft glow of the candle flame by blowing onto it softly. She was hoping to manage a roaring fire; something that, with her wand, she would have been able to manage immediately, but unfortunately, all she could bring up was a soft glow. Still kneeling, Evy placed her hands near the flickering flames to warm them. The nightgown, as elegant as it was, was rather a thin one, and she shivered slightly. She tightened her sleeves around her arms, and the skirt of the nightgown around her knees.
Settling the main of her weight down onto her bottom now, Evy apprehensively ran her hand up over the slightly raised piece of rough skin on her neck that she knew to be the scar from the spell Georges had fired off. She rubbed it vaguely, unconsciously, with her forefinger, and then moved her hand under the lace overlay that covered her upper chest, finding cuts and wounds that had, it seemed, long since healed over. She vaguely remembered Dobby saying something about her having been in this place for a day or so…
Evy continued to caress the skin on her chest. The different textures of the healed wounds felt like playing some sort of an exotic instrument under her fingertips – she stroked slowly, one finger after another, half-expecting some ethereal notes to come eerily soaring out of her body.
She sat there, facing into the already-dwindling fire, the candelabrum now at her side on the floor. Evy was again reminded of her need to find her wand, and she much resignedly stood up, using the mantel as support, and then leaning back down to pick up the nine-candle candelabrum.
Holding it in front of her, its rays of light extending further in a pool on the floor and casting new shadows around the room, Evy discovered a wardrobe in the far corner of the room, on the same wall as the fireplace, catty-corner to the bed. She approached it cautiously, and her hand came to settle on the wardrobe’s knob. Then, with a swift turn of determination, Evy opened it, half expecting to send a pack of bats flying out her way, or at least some moths.
There was hardly anything inside the wardrobe – just a few old, musty black robes. Evy could tell they were old; not only were they moth eaten in a few places, but there was a sort of out-dated look to them, a sort of not-quite-yet-vintage look about them. However, this was not the time to be choosy about fashion, and so Evy pulled one of the robes off its hanger, and pulled it around herself. It was a little small, and she found its insides sewn with a rich color of red. There was a hood, which she carefully placed so that it would outline her own face. This, also, was inlaid with a red fabric. As Evy worked to fasten the robe, she noticed a small crest on the right breast – it had a red and gold background, and a lion, preparing to pounce, in its foreground.
Evy debated ripping the crest off for a moment, but decided against it. After all, there were some sorts of etiquette that a guest must follow, and she didn’t think that destroying her host’s clothes (old or otherwise) would be under this particular protocol.
Again, Evy went to the mirror over the mantelpiece. The arms of the robe ended a great just before her wrists, and the hem played along her mid-calf. At least, Evy thought, the horrible nightgown was covered.
A bit more rummaging in the wardrobe produced a pair of faded red slippers, which Evy stuffed her feet into, feeling her toes curl downward at the end. Still; it was better than going barefoot. For the time being, anyway.
In the too-small slippers and robe, now, Evy made her way to the door of her room, cautiously, on the balls of her feet. She lay her hand tentatively on the doorknob – almost as if she was expecting something to be on the other side, something that would burst in before she had a chance to back away. This great Something was vague in Evy’s mind, but It caused the small hairs on the back of her neck to stick up in apprehension.
With sudden resolve, Evy turned the knob, and the door swung inward. Her eyes met a long hallway – lanterns lining the walls every few feet, wallpapered in a dark maroon pattern with gold running through it. Keeping her goal in her mind – her wand – Evy stepped into the hall and deftly shut the door to her bedroom behind her.
The hallway seemed infinite stretching before her, with dark wooden doors every so often. From where she stood, Evy could just see a place to turn to the left – further on, to the right.
She would be hopelessly lost in a matter of minutes. And so she stood there, pressing her black-cloaked back against the doorway to her room. She wasn’t sure what she was waiting for. Just…something. Something that would get her out of this predicament. She was always lucky enough, something always came around when she needed it, if she was patient, and cool-headed, and waited long enough. That was the trick with these sort of things, sneaking about, or doing things you weren’t supposed to be doing. You just had to wait.
Sooner or later, something would come.
Neville was stalking about the living room like a wild animal in a cage. He would settle here, on a couch, then there, on a table’s edge. He refused to meet Luna’s eye, and when Harry came back into the room, Neville made great precautions to stay out of his way as well.
In fact, everyone seemed to be making sure to stay out of Harry’s way.
Parvati sighed, and spoke eventually, “Harry, what is the prognosis? I cannot remain indefinitely.” It had been revealed during their stay in the living room that Parvati had become quite the opposite of her self at Hogwarts: she was now a person who talked concisely, using precise words with many syllables, using a brisk tone. Rather like a Healer would, Neville silently observed.
Harry let out something that sounded like a snort, or would have, if it had been allowed fuller volume. “She’s awake, if that’s what you mean.”
“Well, that’s good then,” Luna nodded contentedly.
“Has she spoken of… of how she came to be...?” Hermione trailed off.
“Severely and in all other ways bloody messed up?” Ron finished for her.
“Nothing about that,” Harry said a bit too quickly. Neville got the feeling that the woman had, in fact, spoken about other things, things that Harry wasn’t so keen on sharing with the rest of them, but he kept his mouth shut.
“Good. Good,” Parvati nodded. “I must be off, St. Mungo’s will be needing me,” she stood up, and brushed her sari off, then rearranged the fabric around her neck. “Please do let me know if you need me,” she said with the detached interest of a physician, and with that, she Apparated out of the room.
The crack of it made Neville wince a bit. It was too sudden and loud for him, and he supposed that after the calm of the past day or so, the noise had just jolted his brain a bit. It was scary, the things you would do once your brain had been jolted…
“Harry,” Neville slowly began, “I’d like to see her… to… talk… to her.” Neville took a deep breath in after his pronouncement, and suddenly looked up into Harry’s face to judge his reaction.
Harry inhaled quickly. “I… I think she’s still sleeping,” he said, all in a rush.
“You just said she was awake, and talking. I want to see her,” Neville said, with a bit more determination in his voice.
“Yes, Harry, I’d like to see her too,” Hermione spoke up. “Maybe she can tell us something about why she was so hurt.”
“Something you’re keeping from us, Harry?” Ron framed the question casually, and was careful to keep his tone of voice calm, but his blue eyes rose up to meet Harry’s, almost a challenge, but not quite, and the implication could not be ignored.
“No. No, of course not,” Harry said loudly. “Well, come on then, you all know where she’s staying, just follow me,” and he turned straight around and back into the hallway, trying to keep his sudden feeling of annoyance from crossing his face.
Luna sat on the couch where the Weasleys had previously been sitting. She had taken out her wand, and was practicing some charms with it.
“Expecto Patronum!” she exclaimed in her soft, lilting voice, and a silvery hare leapt about the room, dissolving into grey streaks of vapor as it met the closing doorway behind the four who were off to see Evy.
Dobby the House-Elf wasn’t sure he’d experienced anything like this before in his long life. In fact, he was quite sure he hadn’t.
No one had ever spoken like that before in front of him. Like it was somehow lesser to be a servant, like there was something wrong with him.
Of course, Dobby knew that there was something innately strange about House-Elves in general. All the groveling, and wiping of boots, and “What can I do for you sirs” was definitely, in Dobby’s opinion, not what Nature had intended for their species when it had been created.
And of course, just a half hour ago, he had communicated these thoughts to Evy.
Self-consciously, Dobby wound his tea-towel hat around his hands. Wasn’t it just the slightest bit hypocritical that he could stand to say these things himself, but he went to pieces the moment someone else mentioned them? “All talk and no walk,” the senior Malfoys would use to say about Death Eaters who weren’t fully “committed” to the cause – usually the fresh meat just out of Hogwarts, filled with the dream of purifying the wizarding world. “But put them up against an enemy, ask them to Crucio one damned Mudblood,” Dobby could recall Lucius saying, “and it’s like you’ve asked them to take out their own mothers. Not that we won’t ask them to do that later…” This was often followed by a self-satisfied smirk and wink to Draco, Elder Son Heir Extraordinaire, who would inevitably answer with a snort and a dirty gesture.
Dobby was just beginning to realize what that phrase was supposed to mean. “All talk and no walk…” He turned the phrase over in his mind.
“All brain and no bother,” he said, experimentally. “All attitude and no action.” He liked the sound of the words in his mouth, and so he said them again.
And then he remembered Evy – “You may be Harry Potter, but you’re a damned hypocrite – you’re living exactly like the people you defeated used to. House Elf – and all.”
Memories flashed through Dobby’s brain – memories of serving coffee at Malfoy family breakfasts and having it being spilled on him, boiling hot, memories of shutting his nose in an oven door, or ironing his fingers when he’d spoken out of turn. Memories of general abuse and disuse, of serving and fetching and carrying and going and toing and froing – and not one single bit of appreciation out of it all.
And Dobby realized that what he needed was walk, and bother, and action.
And so he made his way over to Evy’s room.
Evy had been sitting quite still, her head leaning up against the doorway to her room, her knees crossed in front of her, for quite some time now. Perhaps this time, a voice niggled at the back of her brain, Something’s not going to come along. And you’re going to be stuck here, Evangeline Cole, you’re going to be stuck here until they come and find you. And they will, you know. They will. Do you really think that they’d just let you run off like that, do you really think that Georges Delaroché is really going to let you go? And not just Georges, do you really think that dear old Maxie is going to let you off the hook?
Evy passed the pack of her hand over her forehead, then rubbed it on the set of black robes that covered her nightgown. It was a cold sweat – the kind she got when she was frightened, or nervous, or worried. Again, she brought her hand up to her forehead, but this time, kept it there as a sort of anchor, she supposed. A sort of anchor that weighed her down to this dark hallway, this wooden door, this silly lacy nightgown, this too-small set of robes, and these wooly slippers that really did need a wash.
Her other hand supported her on the floor. It was this coincidence that allowed her to sense, through the wooden floorboards, a heavy tromping of footsteps that were undoubtedly coming her way.
Instinctively, Evy rose to her feet and reached inside the robes for where her wand would have been, had she been in possession of it. “Damn and blast it all,” she hissed, remembering the absence of the most precious possession of a wizard.
The four figures slowly came into a silhouette against the lanterns in the hallway. She could make out Harry Potter’s – his shadow was quite distinctive: tall, broad, and of course, when he turned his head to the side to converse with the other three, the shadow of the wire rim of his glasses played against the wall.
There were two more men, and a woman, it seemed. One of the men was extremely tall; his hair ginger, shaggy, and just past his collar. He walked with a sloping kind of awkward grace that made Evy feel immediately comfortable with him. The other man was slightly shorter, and thin – almost painfully thin to look at. His shadow was all angles and lines, and a sensible, cropped haircut brushed the tops of his ears as he edged closer to Evy.
The woman was, again, altogether different. Dressed in a calf-length skirt and light weight sweater, she wore an expression that was between calm acceptance and apprehensive nervousness. Her brown eyes were not of the type that twinkled – rather, they seemed to glow rather faintly out of her face. The woman tucked her hair behind her ears – rather self-consciously, Evy noticed – and arranged her mouth into what would pass for a warm, approachable smile, if it had not been for the hint of fear that lurked behind her features.
Harry spoke first, giving up his words like a miser did his gold, “Neville. Ron. Hermione,” he pointed to each person as he named them.
Evy nodded at each one. “Evy,” she said softly.
Next, the woman, Hermione spoke. “Evy.” She seemed to be confirming. “Do you remember what happened to you?”
Evy would have to tread carefully here, she decided, and so she spoke in a tangle of half-truths and whole truths, the best method for telling a full lie. “I remember… running. Away from something – or someone. It was very dark, and very frightening. I’m sorry, that’s all I can say. I do remember very clearly losing my brooch – something very dear to me. If it has been recovered – if anyone has seen it… it would be of great value…” here, Evy trailed off.
The brooch her grandmother had given her was probably hopelessly lost in the forest; there was a need to pursue closer and more probable matters of retrieval at the moment.
“… and my wand. I would like to have my wand back. I feel rather… well, rather naked without it,” Evy glanced down at herself, oddly clad as she was. “I just want to be able to… to protect myself. In case… in case it happens again.”
Hermione nodded. “That seems very reasonable, Evy. All wizards feel rather… naked… without their wands,” it was difficult for Hermione to use Evy’s particular word choice, but she did so in an attempt to make her feel more comfortable. “I think Harry was the last one to have it, actually. Harry?” Hermione looked expectantly toward him.
“Ah, erm, yes. Well, do you think that we might wait until you’re fully recovered before giving it back?” Harry spoke slowly. He knew the idea would not be well received, if not least of all by Evy herself. Frankly, he didn’t really give a flobberworm’s *** what Evy thought at the moment, but… he felt better knowing that she was wandless.
“Are you completely crazy?” Neville burst out. Everyone abruptly turned to stare at him. “Everyone, bar none… everyone should be armed right now. We’ve got absolutely no idea what’s going to come down upon us, and you’re suggesting that a fully grown witch remain unarmed?”
Ron was nodding vigorously, although he did not seem to want to speak. Finally, he said softly, “Harry, if you do not give this woman her wand, I’m afraid I will have to do so.”
The mood of the hallway changed immediately.
“Are you threatening me, Ron?” Harry whispered incredulously.
“I don’t believe I ever said I was threatening you. I believe I said that if you do not give this woman her wand, I will do it for you.” Ron’s eyes lit up dangerously at the last few words, and Harry took a few steps backward, stunned.
“Ron. Ron, what are you thinking? What are you doing? It’s me, it’s Harry, for Christ’s sake!”
Hermione stepped between the two men. “What’s your worry here, Harry?” She spoke as if she was trying to calm down Grawp.
“I’ve got no… she’s just… we don’t know her…!” Harry finished lamely.
Ron took a step forward, placing his hand on his wife’s shoulder. Hermione placed her hand on top of his, muttering something to him, and Ron traced his steps backward again.
“Harry, give Evy her wand,” Hermione said slowly, confidently, carefully.
After a moment or two, Harry drew the wooden stick out of an inner pocket of his robes and handed it over to Evy, handle first. He said nothing as she took it and tucked it inside her own robes.
“Thank you,” she said softly.
And then she took off at a run.
Evangeline Cole raced through the manor, looking for an exit, anywhere, a window, a door, a dumbwaiter, anyplace that would lead to another place that might possibly lead to outside. She would deal with the wards when she got to them. After all, she was a reasonably accomplished witch. No, more than reasonably accomplished – wasn’t why she was bloody mixed up in all this in the first place?!
She had to get out of here – there were no options left.
She had recognized him – of course she had recognized him! How could she not, with all the portraits and carvings and entries about the Founders hanging around the place.
She just had to get out of there before he recognized her.
Evy ran down the corridor, hearing the shouts behind her, feeling again the sensation of spells whizzing past. But this time, she had her wand. This time, her shield charms were sent back and the spells were uselessly spiraling and running into walls, disappearing in shades of lavender or red or green…
She turned the first corner she came to, and came face to face with an identical hallway. Evy let out a frustrated scream, and, hearing the pounding footsteps continue to run after her, she ran until the corridors end, where there were two paths to take. The first; more of the same. The second…
Dark green material wallpapered the walls, met midway to the floor with a rich silver inlay. There were tables and pouf chairs, silver candelabra and elegant floor-to-ceiling windows draped in hunter green material, held up by a coiled snake on each end. The hall was spotless.
Evy ran down it.
She ignored the first and second doors, she ignored the French doors that led into a dining room. She sprinted to the end of the hallway, and then quietly took the door on the left, shutting it with as little noise as possible.
The room was practically empty – there was a cot in one corner, with the remains of a silver bedstead rising from either end, and a large trunk in the other.
The trunk… was rattling.
Evy came closer to it, and found that it was unlocked, but before she could open it, it opened of its own accord.
“Oh yes, give her her wand, nothing bad will happen!!” Harry shouted back at the remaining three as they sprinted down the hallway where they had last caught a glimpse of Evy.
“Shut up Harry!” Ron and Hermione said in unison, their wands out and providing a bright circle of light directly in front of them with a well-done Lumos.
Neville said nothing. He understood why Evy had run. She had just needed to get out of there… out of all the people asking questions… out of all the turmoil and rehashing and going over it yet again. Yes, Neville understood why Evy had run.
The four of them soon came to the end of a hallway, and the only choice was to go right, or left.
“All right, we’ll split up,” Harry announced. “You three take that way, and I’ll take this,” he gestured down the green and silver hallway.
“That seems a bit unequal to me,” Neville interjected. “I’ll come with you.”
But it turned out there was no need to split up after all, as the screams from the end of the green and silver corridor sent them into an adrenaline-induced run once again.
Harry was the first at the door – his hand was shaking as it met the handle. “I’ll go in first, all right? You three, cover me.”
Ron opened his mouth, but Hermione gently prodded him in the shoulder. “He needs to be the hero now, love. Let him be the hero again,” and Ron nodded slowly.
“Bombsbardium!” Harry shouted, and the door quite literally blew off its hinges. Debris went flying everywhere – Neville instinctively went to the floor, and, once he had covered Hermione, Ron did the same.
Harry, however, stood tall in the doorway, looking at the scene within.
“R-r-r-iddikulus!!” sobbed Evy. She was kneeling on the floor, her wand pointing upward toward one of the strangest things Harry had ever seen in his life.
It was himself.
Like most authors, I live on feedback. (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?p=4801323#post4801323) :D
October 5th, 2007, 8:51 pm
“Ri-ri-ri…!” Evy screamed in panic, but there seemed to be no point in it anymore. The form in front of her stood tall, and really, what could she do to make herself laugh at this? What was possibly a solution to making Harry Potter funny?!
The Harry-boggart smirked, showing some of its side teeth, then lifted a hand to readjust its round wire-rimmed glasses more centrally on its face. “You really think that’s going to work, then?” It inquired, as if commenting on the weather. “You’re more stupid than I thought.”
The Harry-boggart spoke as if its vocal chords were a thousand people, whispering all at once, and Evy had to strain to hear its words. In a moment of sheer terror, she glanced toward the doorway as a possible route of escape. If she just ran, maybe it would turn back into whatever a boggart was when it wasn’t scaring anyone. There was a slight chance, wasn’t there? Evy’s thoughts ran like lightning bolts, like the lightning bolt scar on the forehead of the Harry-boggart.
Like the lightning bolt scar on the forehead of the man who was standing in the doorway, his mouth gaping open at the sight within the room.
The boggart, it appeared, had noticed the man in the doorway as well. Its emerald green eyes widened with excitement and anticipation, and it took a step toward Harry. Its eyebrows drew together in concentration.
Evy suddenly felt as if a hand had released her heart, and she took a deep breath in, tasting the air like fresh water. Her mind was clear again; she was no longer afraid; she shakily stood up from the floor…
And the boggart began to change. Spinning wildly, images flashing for moments and then disappearing, the boggart seemed to be making up its mind – but Evy couldn’t understand. It was closer to her! She almost felt a sense of injustice – the boggart was going against the rules, something was again giving up the way of what it was supposed to be for the precious Harry Potter!!
At the door, Harry’s face took on a firm, determined expression. He seems to know what’s coming, Evy thought in wonder. I only knew just before it turned what it would be…
In fact, Harry already had his wand out in front of him in a certain position; his mouth was already open once the boggart had settled into its chosen form – a dementor.
Evy suppressed a shriek and felt herself slide back down into a sort of chilled paranoia. She was glad Harry knew what he was doing…
Harry Potter felt the familiar cold sensation that dementors always brought creep over him as he brought his wand into position for the Patronus charm. He cast his mind around for a happy memory on which the Patronus could feed. The dementor-boggart was nearing, and Harry’s mind was racing – what was there to use for his memory? He reached out, searching for tendrils of a happy memory that could produce his familiar silver stag, but the dementor-boggart was nearing, and Harry had not yet found something on which to concentrate. Harry felt himself gasping for air, the coldness of the dementor-boggart taking him over, just as it had when he was thirteen years old…
”Harry, are you completely asinine?! We have to leave. Now!” The familiar voice of his best friend washed over Harry, raised in anger and frustration. “She could die, Harry, or is that what you want? How many more people have to lose their lives in order for you to do this… this insane misson!”
“It doesn’t matter,” Harry heard himself say, his voice cold and emotionless. “Don’t you see, it doesn’t matter, as long as I destroy…”
“Bollocks it doesn’t matter! This is Hermione. Hermione, Harry. We wouldn’t have even found the stupid snake if it weren’t for her! If that hasn’t registered on your miniscule brain yet…”
“Go, if one life is more important to you than the whole of the Wizarding World, Ronald.”
They stared at each other, Ron’s mouth moving furiously. But there was nothing more to say – Ron took the copiously bleeding Hermione by the arm and they both disappeared.
He stared down at the frail body that lay on the Weasley’s kitchen table, sitting silently in a single chair pulled up next to her right side. He was alone; he felt alone. The rest of the family were sleeping, but he had crept out of bed to come see her for himself.
Ginny’s closed eyes gave her a false sense of peace, and her flaming red hair was combed neatly around her face, settling on her shoulders.
Her fair skin was discolored with purple and green bruises, cuts that had just scarred adorned her arms, legs, even her face. That beautiful face that once had been laughing, teasing, joking… was now still and silent.
He remembered holding her hand, walking happily through the halls of Hogwarts, sitting together under the great tree by the lake. He remembered the weight of her hand in his, the feeling of her hair brushing his skin, the miraculous notion that this beautiful creature could love him.
Harry laid his head in her hair, resting his chin on her right shoulder. And he wept.
He stood over the pale blond man, whose face had just become more angled and pointed with age. Draco Malfoy’s lips were pressed together, white with anger.
His pale face was stained with crimson blood, running from his right nostril, and a gash above his left eyebrow. “Go ahead, Potter. Keep punching. Keep kicking. It’s not going to do any good,” he smirked up at Harry, some of the blood from his nose falling into his open mouth. Draco spat sideways, and the floor of the Room of Requirement was stained with his red saliva.
“Just like a Muggle, can’t even fight with your wand,” he mocked.
“I don’t really think you’re in the position to be speaking about the way I fight, Malfoy, seeing as how you’re the one on the floor. Now where. Is it.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Potter.”
A smacking noise rang throughout the room as Harry slapped Draco again, opening the cut above his eyebrow even wider.
“The diadem, you prat. You’ve been in this room enough last year, you know where everything is. I want the diadem, and you’re going to show me where it is.”
“And you think that a couple of dirty Muggle moves are going to do anything? You disappoint me, Potter.”
“You’re right, Malfoy. Maybe this will loosen your tongue.”
Draco Malfoy’s screams echoed throughout the Hidden Room of Requirement as his body was wracked with the painful torture of the Cruciatus Curse.
“So we meet at last, Harry Potter,” that voice which had haunted his dreams spoke, softly, slowly, placing equal emphasis on each syllable. “It seems you are luckier than you appear – apparently you have destroyed our Horcruxes. We don’t doubt that the late Albus Dumbledore was instrumental in your discoveries; surely you can’t be that intelligent or cunning.”
Death Eaters stood in a circle around the pair – Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Lord Voldemort, some muttering softly amongst themselves. Harry stood before the tall, pale figure silently, his body stiff, his wand held in a fist at his side.
“It’s laughable that you think you could, how do you put it, ‘take us on,” Voldemort continued, his voice lowering even further into a hiss, “but the Dark Lord is merciful, Harry Potter. As your friends shall learn. But you, I’m afraid,” Voldemort let a high-pitched laugh escape his thin lips, “shall have to deal with the consequences of your actions. But we shall give you a running chance, Harry Potter, even though we know you will fail.”
Gritting his teeth, Harry rose his wand into the beginning position of a formal duel. He refused to speak.
“You see, Harry Potter, your great fault is that you lack the power to kill us. You have to mean it, you know. You have to feel hatred in your heart. It’s too bad that your headmaster only taught you about love, Harry; it will be of no help to you here.”
“You’re wrong,” Harry hissed through his teeth.
“Are we?” Voldemort laughed again. “Pray, let us see what happens when love and kindness come face to face with sheer, raw power.” At this, Voldemort brought his wand to his left side, and then he, too, raised his right arm and extended his left, his wand arm, toward Harry.
“On three, then,” Voldemort shouted, loud enough for the Death Eaters to silence themselves, loud enough for the battle raging around them to seem to come to a screeching halt.
For Ginny, Harry thought, the image of her dead body laying inert on Weasley’s kitchen table, conjuring up feelings of rage and hate toward the person – the thing that was responsible for it.
For Sirius, Harry recalled the body of his godfather falling through the veil in the Department of Mysteries, his mouth open in surprise, his arms flailing, reaching for something to hold on to.
“For my parents, you *******!!” Harry screamed, then added, almost as an afterthought, “Avada Kedavra.” He said the deadly curse in a hateful whisper, feeling all the anger and pure rage seething through his body, straight into his arm and hand, surging out of the end of his wand. The force of the green light made him step back slightly, and he had to grip onto his wand with both hands.
The light cleared – and there was Voldemort – Tom Riddle, lying crumpled on the ground, his mouth curled into a snarl that would adorn his face forevermore…
The Death Eaters slowly backed away, and Harry felt suddenly felt himself fill with a completely different feeling – one of loss, and hopelessness…
This was not how Dumbledore wanted it to be done, he felt it down in the marrow of his bones. He was just as bad, now. He was equal to the one he had defeated. Harry sank to his knees, clutching at his hair in frustration.
“Expecto Patronum!" Through his half-dazed state of consciousness, Harry heard a voice call out the charm, and he was dragged out of the horrible barrage of memories…
Harry felt himself slumped against the wall, supporting himself weakly with his right arm, his wand pressed against the floor. Sweat dripped from his brow and soaked through his shirt; he felt the collar of it icy cold and wet.
He looked up to see a brilliant silver light streaming toward him, and slowly raised a weak arm to shield his eyes. He felt the effects of the dementor-boggart leave him, and the silver light dimmed as it went away from him, toward the trunk in the corner of the room. He could see it outlined in the shadows of the room; long, spindly legs, a thick body and strong neck lined with hair that was wildly flinging from side to side… a horse – the name of the animal vaguely flickered in Harry’s mind, and suddenly both horse and boggart had disappeared, leaving the room in darkness.
There were a few moments of silence, and Harry thought about the memories he had just been forced to relive. Guilt surged through his body, and he curled up as much as his body let him. He looked up briefly at his rescuer – the woman who was still kneeling on the floor, her wand outstretched, its tip still glowing slightly silver.
“You… you…” he panted. The image of himself as a boggart flashed through his mind. “Why?” He didn’t deserve such kindness, he deserved to be left to the effects of a dementor, he deserved to be left to relive his worst moments, over and over again. Why had she intervened?
But before anything else could be said, Ron, Hermione, and Neville burst, seemingly as one, into the room. They stood, blocking the doorway, and Hermione went to kneel beside the woman on the floor. Evangeline – Harry’s confused mind recalled. Evangeline Cole. The name brought with it a taste of bitterness and guilt, and he turned his gaze away from the scene of one woman tending to the other. Harry looked up at Neville and Ron, and breathed, “What happened?”
“I’m not really sure,” Ron began, his gaze fixed on the trunk in the corner of the room. “No. I’ve got no bloody idea.”
Harry could hear Hermione speaking softly to Evangeline in the corner of the room. “It’s alright, alright,” he heard snatches of their conversation.
“But I…” Evangeline protested.
“It’s alright,” Hermione repeated. “Let’s get you into some different clothing, and get you something to eat.”
“I can’t… I’ve got to…”
“It’s. Alright,” Hermione said once more, an air of finality finally entering into her tone.
There was no answering response from Evangeline, and Harry sat up a little straighter so he could see the look on her face. He started; Harry recognized the expression. Evangeline looked like a caged bird, desperate to get out, to be free, to run again….
Which made it all the more appropriate that they were keeping her here, even under the pretense that they were concerned about her health. Harry settled his head against the wall, questions filling his mind about the woman he had been so willing to cast out, questions about Evangeline Cole.
October 5th, 2007, 8:55 pm
The first caretaker Evy Cole had ever known for herself was her grandmother : Augusta Porte. She was an ancient, leather-skinned woman who had tried to instill her beliefs and habits on Evy from a very young age – trying to mold her grand-daughter, one might say, into what she hoped would be a miniature version of herself.
Therefore, when Evy turned out to have a rebellious streak (“As wide as the day is long,” Augusta would lovingly complain to her friends) Grandmother Augusta would frown slightly at the tiny figure that was most often found barreling across the floors of the Porte manor, and proclaim that this particular aspect of Evy had come from the men in the family : Grandfather Geoffrey Porte, and Evy’s father, Jack Cole.
It was an odd thing, to Evy, that she was more curious about her grandfather than she was of her father – a man Evy had no memory of. Grandfather Geoffrey was known only to Evy in the capacity of slinking around the manor and spending most of his time taking refuge in his study.
Geoffrey himself was a self-reserved man, or at least he had been, then. Grandmother Augusta had told a wide-eyed Evy about a man who was outspoken, outgoing, and upfront. But, she sighed matter-of-factly, the old man had only two loves in his life – his wife, and his daughter. When the news arrived of a strange green constellation hovering over the small cottage that Jack and Gwen Cole and chose to reside in, Augusta would explain to the quicksilver-lightning slip of a child that he had found it impossible to open his heart a third time, for more possible injury.
Then Augusta herself would reflect on the day of her only child’s death, and remember that the only reason Evy had survived was because she had come to the house to take her on an outing, and let the couple have a bit of a lie-in, and some time alone from their days old baby girl.
Evy would try to reconcile this version of Grandfather Geoffrey to the one that she was told about by the house-elves who were servants in the Porte household, a Grandfather that was strong and courageous. Geoffrey, they told her in bits and pieces, had thought himself immune to death, or at least immune to the effects of death when his daughter and son-in-law were murdered. After all, Geoffrey had lived with effects of a previous War – his father, Gregory Porte, had fought valiantly against the Dark Wizard Grindlewald himself. Family legend had placed him right beside the great wizard Albus Dumbledore at the time of Grindlewald’s defeat, but this was questionable.
Geoffrey, in turn, had decided on a career of an Auror even on his first train-ride to Hogwarts, even before he was inevitably Sorted into Gryffindor. His forefathers had all been Aurors, and Geoffrey was determined to follow them. He had seen the preliminary attacks on Muggle houses, and had taken his turn in the great Porte legacy of fighting against evil with courage, coupled with a keen sense of impulse that had allowed many attacks to be stopped even before they started.
He had, the house-elves told Evy, retired gracefully from the field around the age of sixty, to see his daughter Gwen grown up, out of Hogwarts, and married to the young and equally determined Jack Cole. It had all happened before Geoffrey had a chance to blink, it seemed – but he had been endlessly proud of his daughter, watching her come into her own Porte legacy, fighting against the new Dark Wizard alongside her husband for three years before she bore a baby girl, Evangeline, just in time to be murdered.
Then he had become a ghost of his former self – a wiry-haired, wild-eyed ghost that Evy only ever caught a glimpse of at erratic times. He reminded the small child of some kind of fierce beast gone tame, and Evy learned, on her own, that the man known as Geoffrey Porte was something to be pitied, yet respected.
Occasionally, Evy would find herself staring at the portrait made of her Grandfather and Grandmother in their prime. Augusta sat in a red chair, its rims golden, her dark brown hair haphazardly pulled up into a sort of bun, with curls spilling out onto her shoulders. Geoffrey stood behind her, one hand on her shoulder, with golden-brown hair that reached his shoulders. The Augusta in the painting often reached up with one hand to place it on top of her husband’s, and Evy would watch, entranced, as Geoffrey would look down at her, love and pride evident in his hazel eyes. Sometimes Geoffrey would even laugh – Evy would wake in the middle of the night to hear the golden sound of his laughter pealing through the corridors before it was silenced by a slam of a door and a low, masculine voice.
Evy often wished Grandfather Geoffrey would laugh like that sometimes beyond the portrait, but she heard neither laughter nor whisper from him.
At the age of five, Evy showed her first sign of magic. She had been sitting cross-legged, leaning on the wall across the way from her Grandfather’s study, staring at the closed double doors with an intensity that Augusta, who had come to retrieve the child for her dinner, had never seen before.
“Evy dear?” She whispered down at her grandchild. “I’ve had the elves make your favorite tonight, come on now, child…”
But Evy just sat, staring at the doors, until the pair of them began to hear a cracking, breaking noise, and the doors began to tremble violently.
“Evy?” Augusta spoke hesitantly, straightening to watch the doors as well. She glanced down at Evy, and began to kneel again in surprise, seeing a single tear make its way down Evy’s cheek.
The double doors burst open and came off their hinges, and hurled themselves to the floor.
Inside, a man with dirty gray hair stared with wonder out at the hallway. His eyes widened when he spotted Evy sitting on the rich carpeting, and he rose quickly, forcing the chair out from the dark wood desk that he had been sitting at.
“Grandfather!” Evy rose to her feet and ran at the man, throwing her arms around his middle, and he stepped back at the impact, still looking toward his wife for some sort of help. Augusta, smiling slightly, shook her head, and looked pointedly at the small child who was attached to Geoffrey. His arms tentatively went to Evy, and he carefully placed a hand on each of her shoulders, gently pushing her away from him.
“Grand-daughter,” Geoffrey spoke, and then stopped. He crashed to the floor onto his knees, looking her straight in the face. “Evangeline,” he then said, staring his hazel eyes into her brown ones.
“Grandfather, please – you won’t get hurt by loving me, I promise. I promise you won’t. Just please try, I promise nothing bad will happen, I promise.”
The hope on the child’s face was too much for Geoffrey to hold against, and he brought her to his chest and wrapped his arms around her fiercely.
It wasn’t until she was ten, a year before her start at Hogwarts, that they told her who she was. They told her the significance of her being, they told her how important it was that she stay safe. Grandfather spoke about a need for secrecy, and Grandmother nodded her head fervently. Lack of secrecy, too many tongues wagging, too many people knowing; they were sure this was the reason that they had not died before their child. They would be sure to not make the same mistake with Evangeline.
On May 15, her eleventh birthday, Augusta Porte gave Evangeline a present that she said had been the possession of all of the women of her family, tracing up to the very first wife.
“Your mother and I were the first to have daughters instead of sons, Evangeline. The name will die with you, but you must be certain the legacy does not,” Augusta said urgently before letting Evy open the square box. Evy felt a weight settle on her shoulders, and she looked into her grandmother’s eyes with a new gravity.
“Never,” she whispered, then slowly opened the red velvet box in front of her. Inside lay an ornate brooch; rubies, outlined with gold.
On her first day at Hogwarts, Evy received an owl from her grandparents. One of her dorm-mates a firey red-headed girl named Ginny Weasley, stared at the owl with admiration.
“We are so proud of you, Grand-Daughter,” the letter read. “A true Gryffindor in all ways, at last.” It was all written in her grandmother’s loopy script, all except a post-script at the bottom, where the quill had obviously switched hands, and blocky penmanship stated, “Laughing with joy and love.”
At fourteen, her grandparents argued whether or not to send her back for her fourth year.
“If it’s true, Augusta, then we can’t let her go, it’s as simple as that,” Geoffrey’s voice rang throughout the manor, and Evy heard him clearly even from her room.
“So what if it’s true, Geoff? She’s got to grow up sometime, she’s got to face it sometime.”
“Face what? Face possible elimination? Can you ask your flesh and blood to do that, Augusta? Can you?!”
Then, quietly. “It is nothing more than you asked of yourself, Geoffrey, and nothing more than you asked of Gwen.”
“This is not about Gwen!!” Geoffrey roared. “She knew fully what she was getting into, she did it willingly. She was of age, overage. She was grown up!!”
“We can’t protect her forever, my darling. Please, think. We can’t, and we shouldn’t. What will she do when we are gone, if we shelter her? She will be helpless. Hogwarts is not only safe, but she will learn how to defend herself there. Things we cannot teach her.”
A long pause. Then, “I can’t lose her, Augusta. Not another. I’d die before I lose her…”
Evy had never heard her grandfather speak in such a despairing tone. She nestled closer to her door; pressed her ear even harder against the keyhole. But she heard no more of the conversation.
The next day, her grandmother told her she would be going back to Hogwarts.
Evy Cole waited for her grandparents to show up and meet her on the train from Hogwarts, at Christmas holiday in her fifth year. She had even rehearsed a mock-offended speech to say to Grandfather when they came.
After forty-five minutes, Evy asked a porter if there was a nearby fireplace she could Floo home with.
“Le Lyon,” Augusta told Evy across the table. “Repeat after me, Evy. ‘Le Lyon.’”
“Le Lyon? What is that?”
“If there is ever trouble, if there is the slightest chance that we are not able to help you, that is the name you must remember. If there’s ever a time when we don’t come when we should, or one of us disappears, that is the name you must say in order to get away.”
“I couldn’t just leave, Grandmother! I would want to help…”
“Le Lyon. Floo there, don’t look back. Don’t come back. If it was an accident or a mistake, we will come find you. You must not try to find us. If there ever comes a time for you to use that name, Evy, then it is very probably one or the other, or perhaps both, of us have been found by the wrong sort.”
“Do you understand me?”
Evy meekly looked at the floor, and nodded. “I understand.”
At the Platform, Evy stepped into the green fire. Her heart ached to call out “Porte Manor,” but she steeled herself from shouting it out. Knowing she would be leaving everything she knew, Evy cried, “Le Lyon!” as ashes filled her mouth and the bottom of the fireplace seemed to fall out.
Evy didn’t know how long she had been falling, nor how much longer she would be, when suddenly the back of the fireplace seemed to push forward and force her out. Tumbling, Evy fell outward, instinctively pushing her hands in front of her to help break the fall.
She felt the heel of her right hand scrape against the carpet of the floor she was now lying facedown on. Slowly she raised herself up to a stand, and looked carefully about her. She was standing in a large room, and the windows looked out onto a dreary grey sky. Evy shivered, and began to walk around.
The room’s furniture was draped with white sheets, but Evy could tell by the pieces in the middle – one long, rectangular shape with twelve smaller but taller shapes surrounding it that she had landed in the dining room.
Augusta had given Evy the distinct impression that “Le Lyon” would be a place where help would reside, but this house had been deserted for months, if not years. Silently, Evy pulled one of the sheets off one of the dining chairs, and sat down in it. Still in her Hogwarts uniform, the precious brooch pinning her hair up, Evy draped the sheet around her shoulders and arranged another over her legs, pondering her situation. She didn’t dare go home; she wasn’t sure if she should stay here.
A voice from the doorway made up her mind for her. “Oi, Max! Come see what we’ve got here!”
Evy’s head whipped to the doorway. The boy who shouted looked to be around her age, and he was dressed in blue robes, a crest of two wands crossed, both shooting out some sort of spell, on his right breast.
“Hallo, who are you then?” he asked, and Evy instinctively drew the sheet tighter around her.
“You a frog? Kes ker… no, that’s not it. Erm, kell ess two?”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying,” Evy was prompted to say, “but if you’re trying to speak French, you’re doing a job of it.”
“Oh good. Hate that language. All those letters hanging off the ends of words, I’ve got no idea what you’re supposed to pronounce and what you aren’t. Max!” the boy shouted again. “What’s your surname?” he asked, facing Evy again.
“I’m… I’m Evy Cole. I go to Hogwarts.”
“Whatchoo doing here, then?” It was a reasonable question.
“I dunno,” Evy answered dumbly, then a ray of hope entered her mind. “Are you a… a… Lyon? Do you live here?”
“Lyon? They’ve been gone for months, didn’t you know that? No, I’m a Delaroché. Proud mixed-blood stock, we Delarochés are. Lot of Pureblood ****, them Lyons. And Cole… I don’t recognize that one, you’re bound to be Muggleborn or Half. I don’t know of any Purebloods called Cole. Do you, Max?”
Evy turned her head suddenly to look at the other boy who had entered the room. “No, no Pureblood Coles,” he said in a soft voice. He had dark, longish hair and very pale skin, and his eyes were the grey of a cloudy twilight.
“Well then, I reckon you can stick with us. If you’re here you’ve not got another place to go. D’you reckon, Max?”
“Sure. She can stay with us. It’s Evy?”
“Good. I’m not one for nicknames, personally. Max is what Georges calls me, he’s my brother, he can get away with it. I’d prefer if you’d call me by my full name, though.”
It seemed an odd sort of request, but Evy agreed. “What do I call you then?”
The boy stepped closer to her, and stuck out his hand. “Name’s Maxim.”
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November 8th, 2007, 5:31 am
Harry Potter looked sullenly at his plate of food. Containing a mysterious mixture of something Luna called “Plimpy Perfection,” the stew in front of him looked not a little unappetizing, made even more so by the fact that a surly Ron was now sitting across small kitchen table from him, looking suspiciously at the same confection. He was used to eating somewhat better than this – while Dobby no doubt had extreme talents in the tidying department, his cooking skills often left something to be desired.
But at least with Dobby cooking, Harry thought, there was some conversation at the table. Briefly, Harry lifted his head from his plate and sneaked a glance at the red-head sitting across from him, Ron’s freckled hand hesitantly dipping a spoon into the mixture.
Harry opened his mouth for a moment, than shut it again. In their days at Hogwarts, food like this would have been looked at with a tilted head, sniffed at with an upturned nose, and then decidedly placed at the end of the long House table. But it would have been done with much joking between the two best friends, with much egging each other on to just see what that strange bright orange thing was, with a toss of a head from Hermione, deigning to lift her head out of a course book and tell them to go ahead and either eat it or leave it alone, not play with it like some kind of specimen from Care of Magical Creatures.
Now, Harry turned his head to the left to look at the happily humming Luna who was stirring the Plimpy Perfection at the stove. He rolled his eyes, and then decided he might as well tuck in. If Ron could handle it, he decided, gritting his teeth, than so could he.
“No, those are a bit too small for you, try this?” Hermione’s clear, crisp voice cut through Evy’s foggy thoughts of events long past. Looking down, she realized that the pair of trousers she was trying to maneuver up over her hips were stuck, regardless of the unconscious tugging her hands were doing.
Evy shook her head for a moment, reminding herself to stay in the present. It was important, she knew, to keep up some semblance of normalcy in front of these people. After all, the only time they had seen her awake was when she had been crouching, terrified, before a Harry-boggart. Inwardly, Evy winced. That had been very unfortunate…
“Come on, try this,” Hermione’s persistent voice was followed by the shoving of a dark crimson skirt at Evy. She stepped in to the skirt, and felt the same reluctant tug at her hips as the skirt tried to pass over them.
“No worries, here, I’ll just let it out a bit,” Hermione said cheerfully, pointing her wand at the skirt. She watched with satisfaction as it slid over Evy’s hips and landed comfortably at her waistline, the fabric rearranging itself to this new shape.
“That’s just your color, Evy, it looks gorgeous on you,” Hermione said admiringly. She sighed, then handed over a sweater that was just a shade lighter than the skirt, performing the same alteration spell on it as Evy put it on. Next, Hermione handed over a pair of black kitten heels, the hose already in place. Finally, she reached into her small enchanted bag and pulled out a spare set of black robes to put over the top of it all. Evy slipped her wand into the inside pocket of the robes, and then stood straight.
“Thank you for all this,” she said quietly, looking down at her nails. “For not asking…”
“It’s not a problem, really, all I had to do was pop down to the Burrow and throw some things in a bag, then pop straight back. It does suit you much better than that moldy old nightgown, anyhow,” Hermione grinned, deliberately misunderstanding Evy’s trail of thought, and Evy looked up suddenly, a sort of smile turning her lips upward.
“Now, you must be hungry, it’s just lunchtime, though I bet it feels days away from… well…” Hermione stumbled over her words.
“… from my installment here?” Now Evy smiled truly, and even let out a giggle. “I don’t suppose there’s any chance of getting out early for good behavior.”
It was Hermione’s turn to laugh. “No, no chance,” she agreed. “Parvati told us to keep a strict eye on you for a while, and I think… well… all awkwardness aside, that we intend to. Although I must say that it’ll be nice having another brain working on these strange rumors we’ve been hearing. I don’t suppose…? No, you probably haven’t heard anything. Harry let on that it was sort of privileged information before you made your grand entrance. Come on, shall we go eat then?” Hermione linked her arm through Evy’s.
“Sure…” Evy said, her curiosity peaked. “What do you mean, exactly, about having another brain around to work on…?”
They were walking amicably down the hall together, arm in arm, coming to the first hallway that Evy had turned down on her mad rush to get out of the manor, although, Evy supposed, the eclectic group gathered here didn’t really know that that was what it was.
“Well, there’s been this problem around the English wizarding prison, or what used to be the English wizarding prison. It’s not…” but Hermione stopped talking, feeling a tug at her elbow.
Evy had stopped in her tracks, and the color was slowly fading from her face. “Azka.. Azkaban?” she stuttered, her free arm trailing up her torso to hold her throat in her hand.
“Yes!” Hermione exclaimed. “Oh, I’m so glad you know it. Then you know how its dimensions, its structure, and of course you must know its location.” She looked back for confirmation.
“Location?! I don’t know its location, I’ve never been there!” Evy said very quickly, unlinking her arm from Hermione’s as her other hand descended from her regal neck. In a quick motion, she latched both hands together at her midriff, her fingers working furiously against each other.
“Well, of course you’ve never been there, silly, not unless you were a criminal, which I very much doubt,” Hermione said almost flippantly, beginning to walk down the hallway again. When she didn’t hear the corresponding clicks of Evy’s heels on the wood floor, she glanced back again. “Evy?”
“I’m… I’m really exhausted, Hermione. I’m not really… you see…” Evy stammered.
“Nonsense,” Hermione responded, taking Evy’s arm again with a slight pull as Evy’s fingers let go of each other. She took it with a hint of force, her eyes narrowed. Something was distantly wrong with the woman whose arm she now pulled close to her side. “You’re coming with me.” Hermione paused, then added, “Besides, you haven’t met Luna yet, you’ll like her,” lifting her voice again in an effort to regain the careless mood that had seemed to vacate the now nearly white-skinned woman.
Evy began to walk stiffly with Hermione again, woodenly, as if she might be going to her death. “Luna,” she said, in order to get rid of the hideous nervous tic in her voice. “Right. Luna. Let’s go then.”
The pair walked silently for a while, until they came to a pair of swinging doors, which Evy presumed was the kitchen. She stuck her arm out to push one forward, when Hermione stopped her.
Forcing herself to breathe slowly, Evy turned around to face the brown-haired woman. “Yes, Hermione?”
Hermione spoke very slowly. “Did I… tell you the name of the prison? It’s just that, I wondered how you knew. You didn’t recognize any shop names, from Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, I thought you must have gone to school abroad not to know those. But you knew…?”
Evy’s widened almost imperceptibly, not enough for Hermione to catch. Then she turned sharply around and pushed open a door, saying, “You know, I’m suddenly quite hungry? I must not have realized it, going without food for so long…” and she was through the door and into the kitchen before Hermione could say anything else.
Dobby stood on a tall wooden stool, absentmindedly stirring Luna’s concoction while he looked out across the kitchen table. There were Harry and Ron, sitting across from each other, Neville, to Harry’s left, and Luna presiding at the head of the table, an empty spot between Ron and herself, where it was presumed Hermione would be sitting. That left one spot, at the other end of the table. Everyone seemed to be glancing at the empty seat across from Luna every so often, knowing who would be sitting there in a matter of minutes.
Casting a spell on the wooden spoon so it would continue slowly stirring by itself, Dobby looked determinedly at the set of swinging doors that separated the kitchen and other servant’s quarters from the manor proper. He had jumped down from the stool, and was setting plates of stew at each empty seat when the object of his thoughts came bursting through the door.
“…going without food for so long.” The bright, exuberant voice that came out of Evy Cole made everyone look up and stare at her, and she stopped midstep, flushing, until the swinging door came back, bringing Hermione with it, at hit her in the back. “Ow!” Evy cried, turning round and rubbing her backside.
“Evy…?” Hermione began, but Evy looked desperately around the room before beginning to speak again. “Oh good, Dobby, thank you so much, I’m simply starved,” she said while walking to the end of the table and smoothing her skirt beneath her as she sat.
Hermione silently took her place beside Ron, seeming to be about to speak. Instead, she turned to Ron and asked in the same sort of bright voice, lowered to a stage whisper, “Is it good then?” If Evy was being this cheerful, Hermione reasoned, she wouldn’t be the one to bring down the mood, especially with this group of people who needed an infusion of happiness.
Harry began a sound in the back of his throat, but looked at Luna, who was smiling dreamily as she put spoon after spoon of the “Plimpy Perfection” in her mouth, and swallowed his intended snort, turning it instead into an inquiry.
“So you’re feeling better then?” He jerked his head toward Evy.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Potter, are you talking to me?” Evy said innocently.
Harry felt his teeth begin to grit when he felt a sharp stab in the shin from a woman’s heeled foot. He looked briefly at Hermione, who was looking at him innocently, then replied, “Yes, Miss Cole, I was talking to you. Are you feeling more at ease now, then?” His words were laced with sarcasm, only some of which was part of Harry’s unconscious defense mechanism.
“Mr. Potter, I am feeling much better. I’ve heard that conjuring a Patronus often gives the caster a sense of contentment, however, so it may be just a fleeting thing.”
Harry now raised his head, outright staring at Evy with his mouth open, while Ron choked on his mouthful of stew and had to thump his chest several times with his fist to stop coughing. It was quite clear that his coughing fit was serving a dual purpose : to cover up his laughter.
“Or should I call you Harry, after all that we’ve been through together?” Evy continued innocently.
“Been through together?” Luna asked.
“Oh yes, you weren’t there, I’ve forgotten. You’re Luna then, hallo, I’m Evy. You probably saw me when I was unconscious. Do I look much better?”
“Yes, you do. You’ve got lots of color in your cheeks, and there’s no bleeding now, and…”
Evy interrupted. “Then I suppose it’s official, Harry, I am better. Thank you so much for asking.”
Harry stared on, his mouth still open. Evy, seemingly done with her report, leant over slightly and shut it for him.
Silence settled over the table, except for the occasional slurp of Plimpy Perfection.
Well done Evy, Hermione thought, nodding in approval. Well done.
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