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Chapter 1: An End at the Beginning
Disclaimer: The OC’s and fragments of the plot mentioned in this story were created by me. Everything else in this story belongs to J.K Rowling. Thank you for reading.
For Keziah, Cassie and Rachel;
Small drops, reminiscent of the rain that had now disappeared, dropped onto the stone path from the roof above. The noise that should have been as quite as a mouse was echoing loudly in the little alleyway, but was silenced upon the sound of desperate footsteps running; they stopped just below the drips, letting them fall on the girl’s head as she waited.
Her breathing was erratic from her running, and she could hear her own heart beating, louder than anything else she’d ever heard. Before she could even stop it, a small sob escaped her lips. She knew what was going on - at least, to some extent. She was being chased by Death Eaters, and they weren’t going to stop until they got her.
As she noticed the men run past in their black cloaks, she carefully slid down the brick wall and onto the cold, wet stone pathway. She fumbled around in the pocket of her thick cloak for her wand and breathed out quickly when she tightly gripped it in her hands - it was no secret that she always felt safer with her wand in her hand.
With a deep, but still ragged, breath, she began to run from her previous shelter, her large combat boots smashing against the familiar streets of Hogsmeade. If she could make it to the Apparition point without making a big scene, then perhaps she could get away, but that seemed too easy. She doubted they would just leave the Apparition point open - there would be Death Eaters watching it for sure, and so she took yet another hiding place in a little alleyway.
Her blue eyes searched through Hogsmeade for somewhere safe - anywhere. She fought back a small smile at the memory of her friends as her eyes caught the Shrieking Shack, which had been built for one of her closest friends, Remus Lupin. She’d heard so many stories about that shack, but she’d never gone in there - it was the perfect place, and so she set off.
She never would have guessed that they were waiting for her, although she really should have expected it. What was she thinking? That they’d just stay in one place and wait for her? Of course they were going to surround her and cover absolutely every piece of ground in Hogsmeade.
She was Gryffindor though, through and through - she was going stay strong and run until she was safe. With this in mind, she tightened her grip on her wand and ran faster than she ever thought she could. Her feet were pounding on the grass and her legs felt like they were about to drop off, but despite this, she kept running.
The Death Eaters seemed to be getting more and more determined with every spell that crashed down on the ground beside her. She could see the Shrieking Shack come into her line of vision, and so she sped up even more. She was going to make it, she was going to survive - they weren’t going to catch her as long as she kept running as fast as she could.
The curses stopped flying towards her, and she should have known that was the cue that something was wrong, but she had ignored it and kept running full speed ahead. She was so close to the Shrieking Shack now, she could almost smell the old dusty air it had about it, even though it was only a few years old. It was then she noticed the silence of the Death Eaters behind her; it was then she noticed that something was very wrong.
“Move.” She looked back briefly to notice the men had all moved aside, and a man in a hooded black cloak was moving towards her. She turned back around and kept running, knowing what was coming next.
A strangled sob escaped from Coralie Bennett’s lips before she even realised that, behind her, some older lady she’d never met before had placed a hand on her back.
“It was such a pity, wasn’t it, dear?” the old lady whispered to someone beside her. “Emma was such a lovely girl.” Even though Coralie knew the lady wasn’t really talking to her, she could only nod slightly in agreement as another sob escaped her lips.
Only two rows in front of her stood Emma’s parents; Coralie had been watching them through the entire service, and now through the burial. She wanted to go up to them and speak - she’d known them practically her whole life - but Coralie had this guilty feeling inside of her that kept her back.
She understood that even if she had stayed in France with Emma, there were no certainties that she would have survived; in fact, there was little chance. Maybe Coralie was more worried that Mr and Mrs Melot would be disappointed in her for leaving, or for not visiting.
The beautiful white coffin was lowered into the ground, and Mrs Melot dropped a spring of lavender, Emma’s favourite flower, on top. The guests began to shuffle out of the park and back towards the church. Mrs Melot kept her position, and Coralie found herself making her way towards her.
“Mrs Melot?” she whispered. Her best friend’s mother turned on her heel, her face softening at Coralie.
“Oh, Coralie. Come here, my girl.” Coralie walked towards Mrs Melot, who wrapped her arms around Coralie in a matter of seconds. “I am so glad you are ‘ere.” Though Mrs Melot spoke English, for reasons Coralie did not understand at that moment, her thick accent was ever present. It only made Coralie more thankful to be home.
“I am so sorry I left. I wanted to stay in France, but Mother would not let me,” Coralie blubbered; she hadn’t noticed how much her own accent had come back in such a short time. “Mother did not think it safe for me to return - it is a long story -“
“Of course it is, Coralie, but you need not worry about it.” Mrs Melot paused for a moment. “Emma missed you every day, but she understood that you would not leave ‘er behind unless you had to. She forgave you within the ‘our. It is not good for one to live their lives with regret, Coralie.”
“I should have sent letters or something, at least,” Coralie responded, but Mrs Melot shushed her.
“This does not matter anymore,” she smiled. “You ‘ave grown so much during your time in England. You are a beautiful young lady now; you ‘ave a nice English man to take care of you?” Coralie blushed slightly, her mind flickering to Nathaniel.
“Yes. His name is Nathaniel, and he treats me very well. He’s visiting France soon; he’s never been, you see,” Coralie explained, her face brightening at the thought of being able to see her boyfriend after weeks of separation.
“You must bring ‘im to visit; we shall ‘ave tea and biscuits, like they do in England, to make him feel at ‘ome.”
“Of course, Madame.” She smiled softly at the older lady. “I look forward to it.”
“As do I. Now off with you - you are young, and you need to live, for my beautiful Emma,” Mrs Melot exclaimed, rubbing Coralie’s shoulder before tucking a piece of lavender in her hair and heading back to the church, leaving Coralie alone, standing over Emma’s resting place.
“For you,” she whispered, dropping a yellow rose in and heading back to Violet’s.
Violet had found a beautiful two bedroom apartment in the north of Paris, near the Place Vendôme, a little square that dated back to Napoleon’s reign. It was part of an apartment block ; it was only one floor above the lobby and street, and therefore sometimes it could become a little loud at night. The apartment itself was only made out of five relatively small rooms: The living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. Coralie had been spending the last couple of weeks out of the second bedroom, the smaller of the two.
Violet rarely spent any time during the day in her cute little apartment; she was off in the eleventh district of Paris, where most of the art galleries lay, which left Coralie alone to rediscover Paris.
Despite only being gone for no more than roughly two years, Coralie noticed how much little things in Paris had changed. Some of the little boutiques she had spent most of her money on as a teenager were gone, and had been replaced with more cafés, or something of the sort. She’d visited the Eiffel Tower, the ultimate picnic place; the Opéra de Paris, where Coralie had seen many ballets as a child; the Arc de Triomphe, a place which had once been the favourite place for Coralie and her friends to sit around with a coffee in their teenage years; and the Louvre, Violet’s favourite place in the whole world - all within the first two days of being back.
There was just something about each place that held great significance for her; or, rather, the entire city had something that bought out the tourist inside her, even if it was her hometown. Needless to say, Coralie was more than a little excited to be able to show Nathaniel around.
With this, she pushed open Violet’s front door, not bothering to call out, as she knew Violet would be off visiting some art galleries on the other side of town for the rest of the afternoon. With this in mind, she threw the clutch she’d taken to Emma’s funeral on the couch and slipped off her shoes with the intent of getting changed into something more suitable for the day, rather than the all-black look with smeared make-up that she’d be wearing since leaving the house.
She hadn’t exactly told Violet where she was going that morning; in fact, Violet had still been fast asleep when Coralie had left. That was beside the point - she still hadn’t told Violet about Emma’s death, and truth be told, she hadn’t told anyone. She found it kind of funny that Shelena was the only one who knew.
She’d stripped out of her dress and was halfway through shimmying into a flowy chiffon one - something more like what she’d usually wear - when there was a hand on her back, zipping her dress up.
“What the -?” Coralie whispered, turning on her heel to see who was there.
“Surprise,” Nathaniel grinned. Coralie’s face fell for a second before she grinned widely and threw her arms around him.
“What are you doing here?”
Nathaniel chuckled, lifting her slightly off the ground before he responded. “Dad wanted me out of the house, so I thought I’d come and surprise you.”
Coralie beamed up at him. “How’d you get inside?”
“Your sister let me in.” Nathaniel quirked his eyebrow slightly, “At first I was worried that she let me in without asking who I was, but those big knives over there gave me the impression that she’d be able to protect herself if need be.”
“I suppose Vi is stronger than she looks. You should probably remember that - you know, just in case,” Coralie teased, but Nathaniel furrowed his eyebrows slightly.
“Remind me to never get on her bad side,” he said, staring nervously over at the knives in Violet’s kitchen before he glanced back down at Coralie and placed his hands on her hips. “I missed you.” With this, Nathaniel lowered his lips to Coralie’s and placed a soft kiss on them.
“I missed you too,” Coralie said with a sigh, wrapping her arms tightly around Nathaniel.
London was surprisingly warm for the end of July; in fact, it was warm enough that Petunia Evans had decided to sit outside on a deck chair and sunbathe for most of the afternoon. Lily, however, had pledged to herself to remain as far away from her horrible sister as she possibly could until Petunia got married and moved out in two months’ time - though on certain days, time seemed to be dragging too slowly for Lily’s liking.
Petunia had been driving the entire household insane with her wedding plans, which she had all but completely cut Lily out of. In fact, only two days after returning from Hogwarts, Lily was made aware that she was no longer to be a bridesmaid. Petunia’s soon-to-be sister-in-law, Marge, had replaced her.
If Lily was to be honest with herself, she didn’t really care anymore. She knew deep inside that she has lost Petunia the moment she received her letter to Hogwarts, but she’d always tried to hide that away - now she just had to accept it.
However, there was one good thing that came out of no longer being a bridesmaid, and that was that Lily would no longer be forced to wear that disgusting hot pink dress that her sister had picked out.
Petunia's wedding wasn't the only one being planned for later on in the year since finishing at Hogwarts: Frank had proposed to Alice, and the two of them had begun to plan their 'winter wonderland' wedding.
It didn't really come as a surprise for anyone; almost all of the girls had picked that the two lovebirds would be getting married within the year.
Coralie was the only one who didn't know yet - everyone had agreed to keep it a secret until she came back from France. Otherwise, there was no doubt she would coming racing back to help out Alice, without being able to enjoy herself.
Lily had heard from Coralie twice since she left, the first time to tell her that she'd arrived in France - she had attached a picture of the Eiffel Tower - and the second time to say that Nathaniel had shown up a few days early, and that they had been sightseeing for the past few days.
She'd still been in touch with almost all of her friends, with the exception of Mary, who had been too sick to reply or write any letters to anyone for the last couple of weeks; she was apparently too sick to be seen, either.
With a sad smile, Lily turned her attention to the framed picture she had kept beside her bed since graduation. It was a picture of all the girls: Kiki was in the middle, while the other girls surrounded her. It was evident, even in the picture, of the coldness between some of the girls, mainly Kiki and Shelena.
It was really only then that the absurdity of Mary's 'disappearance' began to bother her; not once in all seven years of her knowing Mary had the latter ever gotten sick. It seemed ridiculous, but Mary was always in too high of spirits to get sick. Then again, maybe that had finally caught up with her now.
Brushing the irrational thought out of her mind, Lily picked up one of the trashy romance novels, that her mother had practically showered her with. She turned to the bookmarked page and continued to read on.
Surely she would know if something bad was happening to any of her friends.
"Who is this Madame Melot, anyway?"
Coralie sighed as she applied her rosy lipstick; she plucked her lips once before she turned around and leant against the bathroom cabinet. "She's an old family friend."
Nathaniel furrowed his eyebrows slightly and stared down at his formal dress robes. "Why I am being invited around?" he asked nervously, sitting down on the edge of Coralie's bed while she darted around to try and finish getting herself ready.
"Because I've told her about you, and therefore, she wants to meet you." At this, Nathaniel made a face, and Coralie sighed. "Look, Nate, she's just trying to be nice."
"Which is perfectly fine. It's just - I've only met Angus and, very briefly, Violet. Is this supposed to be the big test before I'm allowed to meet your parents?" Coralie frowned, placing down her perfume bottle before making her way over to Nathaniel and lacing her fingers with his.
"You haven't met my parents yet because my father is only ever around at Christmas, and my mother has been trying to sort things out without Violet gone and Angus heading back to school soon. I promise you'll meet my mother and other siblings later."
"Other siblings?" Nathaniel paled slightly. "I thought it was just the three of you." Coralie raised her eyebrows slightly before she frowned.
"Oh, no, there's five of us. You haven't met Allisyn or Jacob yet."
"And are they younger?" he managed to ask weakly.
“They are both older," Coralie said calmly; she quickly checked her herself over in the mirror again before turning back to Nathaniel, who looked positively green. "You don't need to worry, they'll both like you - I promise."
"And if they don't?"
"Then it doesn't matter," she replied. "Now come on, or we'll be late."
Coralie lead Nathaniel out of the apartment block and into a little cobblestone alleyway, where she grabbed tightly onto his arm as they Apparated away.
After the usual feeling of being squeezed through a tube that was far too small to fit through, Coralie and Nathaniel stood in front of the Melots’ house.
For Coralie, it was like a painful stab in the chest to see the place where she and Emma had spent so many good times together in their childhood and in their younger teenage years - she couldn't stop herself from turning around to glance back at her own childhood home, still looking as deserted as when she had last visited.
Nathaniel, however, who had grown up in central London in a tiny apartment, was dumbfounded by the humongous manor in front of him. The pair of them stood at the edge of the driveway; it was one that curved around into a circle which then led to the front door of the house. But right in the middle was a large and very fancy fountain that was calmly spurting out water.
The house itself was beyond lavish. It looked like it was the size of Nathaniel's entire street, and this was only one house. He could only wonder what it was like inside. This thought, however, lead to him wondering where and how Coralie had grown up - the pair of them hadn't really discussed it.
What would Coralie think of his pathetic little two-bedroom apartment if she'd grown up in a manor that size? He meant to ask her when he turned around, but upon seeing her facing in the opposite direction, the thought was wiped from his head.
"Hey, are you okay?"
She nodded without turning her head at all. It was then that Nathaniel noticed the abandoned manor just a little in the distance. "Whose house is that?"
"Mine," Coralie whispered, turning her attention back to the Melots’ house and making her way up to the front door. Nathaniel's eyes widened as he tried to take in every detail of his girlfriend's old house - it was even more beautiful than the one in front of them, and Nathaniel felt an odd sting in his heart at the blank features of Coralie's face.
Whatever had happened in that house was obviously bringing back bad memories for Coralie, and Nathaniel was sure that she didn't wish to discuss them anytime soon, so he joined her at the front door and knocked loudly for her.
"Coralie, my dear!" The door opened, revealing a middle-aged woman who was clearly Madame Melot. She stepped forward and bought Coralie into a tight embrace. "And you must be Nathaniel - oh, Coralie was so excited to 'ave you visiting 'er 'ere."
"It's lovely to meet you, Madame," Nathaniel responded, kissing her on the cheek when she stepped forward to greet him.
"Now, come in. Tolks - go find Mr Melot, if you could," she whispered to a house elf, who disappeared up some stairs and down a hallway before Coralie or Nathaniel had even made their way through the doors. Madame Melot took both of their coats and led them through the house into a dining room that almost challenged the Great Hall in size, which seemed silly due to the fact that, as far as Nathaniel could tell, it was only Mr and Mrs Melot.
"Your house is amazing," Nathaniel gushed, unable to stop himself from the words that spilled out. He was hoping that he wasn't making too much of a fool of himself, but the bright smile that Coralie sent him told him otherwise.
"You are very kind. Now, Coralie. There is something that I must give you before I forget. Are you all right to stay here, Mr Nathaniel?" Nathaniel nodded as Madame Melot bustled out of the room with Coralie in tow.
Once they both left, Nathaniel made his way around the dining room - he noticed at the furthest end a bouquet of flowers surrounding a picture of a young girl who looked about his age. She was small, with long dark brown hair and a sweet smile. The very same smile as the one Madame Melot wore.
"You must be Coralie's boyfriend." Nathaniel spun around to see who he presumed to be Mr Melot, watching him carefully from the doorway.
"Yes, sir." Nathaniel smiled softly. "If you don't mind me asking - who's the girl in the picture?"
"That was Emma." He paused, a wave of sadness covering his features for a moment, instantly making Nathaniel regret asking the question.
"She was my daughter, a friend of your Coralie's."
"How long ago did she - pass?"
"Only a month or so back. Coralie didn't tell you?" Nathaniel shook his head sadly. "That's very odd indeed - they were best friends, you see."
Authors Note: First things first, Welcome to Secrets and Sorrows- the sequel to Tied Together With a Smile. I hope you all enjoyed that first chapter and that you will continue to read on!
Now, down to business. There are a few things I would like to tell you guys about before we get much further into the story. First of all, this story will come in six parts- by six parts I mean, there will be certain months I will be posting and some months when you might not get anything at all. I realise this is probably a little annoying but I’ve had to work around my schedule to fit it in.
I will inform as to when I will be taking these breaks and such, in fact I will be taking a short break after the first of June to sit my exams- this will be a relatively short break though ones later on may be longer. For now, I will be posting every Friday.
And that is all for this chapter, I hope to see you all in chapter two. Thank you for reading!