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Harry Potter and the Mark of a Mother's Love by canhuffnpuff
Chapter 24 : Shackles of Freedom
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 21


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Ariel hadn’t been able to breathe properly for at least 20 minutes because Neville kept her locked in his arms. She was lucky that Dipali was walking beside her instead of in her arms like she had been earlier, for Neville would have crushed the little one to get to his wife. Ron had just made it in time to grab Dylan before Neville got to her. Now, Mindy held Dipali in her arms as they both, along with Fred, George, and Lupin watched Neville switching for hugging his wife, to kissing her, to repeating the same phrases over and over again, though he had received the same answer to every question. “Are you alright?” “They didn’t hurt you, did they?” “I love you, Ev!” “Are you sure you’re alright?” “Sweetie, never leave me again.” “I’ve missed you so much!”

Through the embrace of the happily reunited couple, the Aurors had returned, and they and Tonks were now searching the house for all the women involved and any causalities in the battle. One unconscious casualty was being carried down the stairs in her husband’s arms. Cho looked as if she was simply sleeping in Harry’s arms as she rested her head on his chest, her forehead neatly tucked in his neck. Harry, however, had been in daze since he had watched Natasha disappear, and heard the footsteps coming up the stairs behind him. As he approached his group of friends and family, and a proud Dobby, his eyes finally focused.

“Where’s Ron…and Dylan?” asked Harry, nervous that something had happened to his best friend and godson.

Neville pulled his lips away from his wife for a moment to let Harry know that Ron had left immediately after getting his son, and apparated to St. Mungo’s where Terry was presently waiting for him, and the rest of them. “And by the looks of it, Harry, we need to get Cho there quickly! Both of them!” Neville suggested, then patted his wife’s flat tummy, quirking a tiny smile at her.

Ariel put her hand on her husband’s hand that rested on her stomach. She narrowed her eyes in mock anger and tried hard to suppress the smile that spreading across her lips. “Thanks a lot, Monroe,” she said to her best friend, though she was looking into her husband’s eyes.

Mindy giggled behind her and put Dipali down. “Hey man, if I hadn’t told them, all that red hair hanging passed your butt right now would have giving you away, don’t you think? Anyway, don’t make me sound like the bad guy here. I’m very good at keeping secrets.”

Ariel snorted loudly at her best friend. “Since when?”

“Since, shut up,” retorted Mindy, and the friends giggled. “Well now that that’s all said and done, may we get the hell out of here please?”

“Yes, please…oh wait,” said Ariel, looking toward the ceiling suddenly, and falling silent.

Everyone else looked up as well, wondering if she was just listening to the sound of the Aurors stomping about the house, collecting bodies and criminals. “What is it, Evans?” asked Harry, glancing upward too, holding his unconscious wife.

“I…have…just hang on, everyone, I have to go get something from my…the room, I stayed in,” said Ariel already pulling out of Neville’s grasp.

Neville held his wife’s hand when she tried to walk away. “I’m coming with you, Ev.”

Ariel turned to him. “No, Babe, I’ll be fine. There are Aurors all over the house now, I just need to grab something. It will take me…”

“Yeah, and there are still some conscious kidnappers around here that might be prone to make you their way out!” Harry added. “Fred, would you mind holding Cho? I’m going up with…”

“NO!” Ariel scolded everyone, and stopped Harry from passing his wife to the Weasley twin. “I’ll be fine and I’m going ALONE! That is THAT!”

Mindy stood closer to her friend. “At’s-whay oing-gay on? Hy-way are ou-yay eing-bay all ecretive-say?” Mindy asked in Pig-Latin.

“Othing-nay, on-May. Ust-jay omething-say…I need to…et-gay...alone. Ool-cay?” Ariel replied, hoping her best friend would understand.

Mindy considered her best friend for a moment with her matching green eyes. “Alright, Evans. If you’re not back down in 2 minutes, you won’t have to worry about Potter or Longbottom coming after you, if you catch my drift?” she warned.

Ariel nodded at her friend. “Thanks, Monroe. I’ll be back in a second.” With that, Ariel started to walk down the hall. Suddenly, she felt a tiny hand grab hers.

“Godmummy?” called Dipali, peering up at her worriedly.

Ariel smiled at her goddaughter. “You want to come with me, Sweetheart? Keep me safe?” she asked. The little girl nodded, her bushy hair moving only slightly behind her. Ariel bent down and picked up the 5 year old. “I think that would alright. Besides, I need my clever girl to get me out of any jams in case we run into one again!” she said kissing the little girl’s brown, smiling cheek.

The two made it upstairs without incident; only needing to step out of the way of the Aurors taking bound women down the stairs. “Where are they taking them, Godmummy?” asked Dipali. “They were all my friends.”

Ariel wasn’t sure how to answer that as they walked down the hall. “Um, well, sometimes friends…do bad things, Pali. And regardless of how much we…like them, they need to be…sent away to think about…the bad things they’ve done…until someone says they have…thought about it enough.”

Dipali cocked her head to the side, and narrowed Dean’s eyes at Ariel in confusion. “You mean like ‘time-out’, Godmummy?” asked the perceptive girl.

Ariel smiled and nodded. “Exactly, my dear! Such a clever girl. You’re taking more and more after your godmother everyday! Can’t wait to rub it in your father’s face!” Ariel laughed. “He’ll just say that your mother was a Ravenclaw, and that’s why you’re so smart. But I think it’s because you godmother is having a great influence on you! What do you think?” Ariel asked her as they entered what was once their bedroom.

“I think it’s both!” smiled Dipali.

Ariel shook her head and snorted. “See, my clever, clever girl. Good answer,” she said, putting the girl down.

The bedroom was quiet, and undisturbed like Millicent had just walked Ariel and Dipali there for the night. The only thing different from normal was the shattered glass of the terrace door. But it was blown out so completely, that it looked like the doors were just fully opened.

Dipali went crawling under the bed for one of her toys and the clothes she had arrived to the Manor in, and quickly began to pull them on, discarding the gown. Ariel was on the other side of the bed, feeling under the pillows for what she came back for. Panicking only slightly when she didn’t feel it right away, her nerves calmed when she found the black leather bound book that once belong to Draco. She glanced at her nearly redressed godchild, and decided to search for her own clothing. Quickly she dressed because the door was off it’s hinges and people were walking by, and besides that, she knew Mindy would be screaming bloody murder down the halls if she didn’t hurry and get back down stairs.

“Evans, there you are!” Ariel jumped a foot in the air as the voice startled her as she pulled down her shirt. Tonks entered the room with mousy brown hair. “What are you doing back up here?”

“I…uh…came to get something…my uh…clothes…see,” Ariel lied and was glad Harry was not there to tell Tonks otherwise. Quickly, Ariel wrapped Draco’s journal in her nightgown and shoved it under her arm.

Tonks didn’t seem to think much of it as she sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “Well here, anyway. We…found your wand.” The Auror handed Ariel her wand. It warmed instantly in her hand, happy to be back with its owner. Ariel sighed, happy to be reunited with what a magical person would consider their third hand.

Ariel finally looked up into the face of the Auror. “Thanks, Tonks. By the way,” she said, and nodded up at her Tonks hair, “are you alright?”

Tonks touched her head. “Oh…yeah. I’ll…be fine. Just odd…collecting my Aunt’s bod…anyway, it’s not like we were really a family. But Mum…will be sad…when she finds out, won’t she? It’s hard…to lose family, regardless…Oh sorry, Dipali,” Tonks said, turning red as she instantly looked to the little girl at her last words.

Both Dipali and Ariel looked at Tonks in confusion. Dipali dragged her stuffed monkey, a gift from Narcissa, over to Ariel. Ariel picked up her goddaughter, and they both continued their confused stare at Tonks. “Why did you say sorry to Dipali, Tonks?” asked Ariel.

Tonks’ eyes widen in fear, then closed in comprehension. “Nothing,” she said shaking her brown mane. “Let’s get you two out of here then.”

“No, what is it?” Ariel insisted, and then at that moment she wished she hadn’t. A sick feeling washed over her and she remembered the dream she had where Dean walked into a white curtain, and Draco walked out. “Only mom’s can see the mark…and not daddy’s…” she said remembering what the children had told her in the playroom, and now figuring out why. “No…no, Tonks…was it…Dean? Please…say ‘no’, Tonks! Please?” Ariel pleaded quietly. Tonks simply looked at Ariel sympathetically.

Dipali began trembling in Ariel’s arms. “What is it, Godmummy? What happened to Daddy? What happened?” the little girl nearly yelled before tightening her grip around Ariel’s neck and crying on her shoulder. The clever little girl had figured it out.

When the Auror looked away from Ariel, wiping a silent tear from her cheek, Ariel shut her green eyes tightly. But no matter how tightly they were shut, the tears found their way out. She was now trembling as much as her now wailing goddaughter was. Feeling her knees weakening, Ariel sat down on the edge of her unnaturally soft bed, and cried into her goddaughter’s hair.

Ariel and Dipali were crying so hard, that they didn’t notice Tonks leaving. “Tonks?” yelled Mindy, followed by Neville, as they made it down the hall of Ariel’s floor. “Have you seen, Evans? I’ve come to kick her butt for not…hold up…is that her…crying?” asked Mindy craning her head to see the door Tonks had just walked from moments before.

Neville didn’t wait for an answer; he rushed passed Tonks, heading for the door and his crying wife. But Tonks stopped him. “No, Neville, give them a moment. They’ve…just found out about…Dean.”

“But she…needs me,” said Neville, quietly but painfully. Mindy nodded, feeling the same way.

“And she will, Neville, Mindy, but both of you should just give them a second. It’s hard enough having gone through this, but losing someone too?” Tonks said, consolingly. “She’ll come out when she’s ready.”

Mindy sniffed hard, trying to hold back the tears of having watched Dean die. Neville put his arm around her shoulder comfortingly. “Well,” she sniffed again, “someone better go warn Potter. He’ll know something’s wrong with her from those freakin’ bracelet thingies, however they work. And he’ll be up here with his wife over his shoulder, and his wand, hand, butt ready to shoot curses out at anyone he thinks is harming her!”

Tonks nodded, smiling briefly. “You’re right. I’ll go then. You two, please, stay out here and let her have this time. Promise?”

Neville and Mindy nodded, and Tonks went to head off Harry that could be heard shouting up the stairs for his sister. Ariel’s husband and best friend stood outside the door, waiting for her to have the strength to face the world again having lost another friend.
**************************************************************
By the end of August, the summer was still going strong, with its nice weather and children playing in the streets of Britain. But the children were no longer playing freely and carelessly on their last days before school. Many magical children were being heavily watched by parents, older siblings and relatives as they played in the parks, walked to the stores, or rode their bikes.

There had been no further kidnappings in the magical world since the children had been returned to their parents. The scars that were branded on their lower bellies were impossible to remove, though many scientific and medical witches and wizards tried. Instead, this mark, shaped like a mother holding a baby, would be worn by these young children for the rest of their lives. Many saw it as just a symbol of the experience, remembering the nice women who took care of them. Others, who had their memories wiped before being returned, only saw it as the time they were gone when they lost their fathers. No child, regardless of age, had been informed that the marks they bore had caused their father’s death. Only few people knew that that was the case, and had no intentions of letting that bit of information out, scarring those children further then they already were.

One person who knew, beat herself up for allowing her goddaughter to touch her mark. Ariel had been informed about the magical connection with the marks and the fathers, not by her family or friends, but by research. Originally she thought that the reason only adult women and children could see it, was because a kidnapping meant a father’s death. But looking into the spell, she realized there was more too it than just separation.

Wearing the vial everyday, she had to know if there was some alternative way of bringing Draco back. Searching through many Dark Magic books, Ariel found the spell Narcissa was attempting to use. It was then that she read the lines about “a bit of soul taken from a child in laughter withdrawing the soul from the father by the child’s touch ending his life will need collecting…” She gasped and dropped the book on the floor when she read that line in Harry’s kitchen one night over the summer. Harry, as if on cue, had just walked into the kitchen when he caught sight of his sister crying in her folded arms.

Now on the last day of the 8th month, the Burrow was bustling with life. Ginny and Terry introduced twin boys into the world a few weeks prior, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley insisted on having a celebration at their home, as they did for every new Weasley child. Colin and Alexander were just a week earlier than plan, and Ginny was grateful to expel the heavy boys from her body. It was struggle to name the twins for the Boots, because they had already decided on Colin, but Pavarti was upset when Ginny wanted to name the second boy Dean. Given that Pavarti and Seamus delivered their son two days before Ginny’s twins, Dean Finnegan became what would have been his godfather’s namesake.

But Dean, Colin, and Alexander weren’t the only names up for discussion that summer. Dylan Harry Weasley, soon became Harry Dylan Weasley not one day after his rescue by his godfather. Ron and Hermione didn’t think twice about changing the name, and hoped they’d have a girl next, now that Hermione was pregnant again (“Sod the 6 week wait!” said Ron.) so that they could name her Harrietta. Everyone had predicted that Ron and Hermione would be the first to have a set of Irish twins, and they were right.

Now the new twins, Colin and Alexander, were presently being held by the Potter twins. Ariel, now 3 months pregnant, and doing fine, was happily expecting another girl. Her and her own twin had a vicious game of rock-paper-scissors to see who should be the first to use Lily, since neither of them used it on their first daughters. Ariel won, and little Lily would soon be Harry’s niece. Harry was fine with that when he and Cho, who was also doing fine, decided to let Terry tell them the sex of their forthcoming child. Ariel had protested, saying she could have told them for free months ago, but was to told “shut it!” by her brother. Now Lily, being named after her grandmother, would have a cousin a few months older than her named after her grandfather.

“Which one of us do you reckon will have twins first?” Harry asked Ariel as they played with newborns.

Ariel huffed at her brother. “You know, I had a dream about it already?”

Harry looked to his twin and nodded his head as if asking her to proceed. When she didn’t, he probed, “And…”

Ariel looked into the eyes that matched her own. “Hmm, I remember someone telling me to ‘shut it’ when I wanted to tell them the sex of their child. Wonder who that dorkboy could be…” she said, rolling her eyes toward the ceiling as if in deep thought.

Harry narrowed his eyes at his twin. “Oh, so now you listen to me?”

“There’s a first time for everything, Stubby! But, uh…don’t get use to it!” she added.

Harry shook his head as Colin fell asleep in his arms. “So, are you going to take that job at SIMS or not? I’ve seen you up every night with those Dark Arts books…studying…”

Ariel hadn’t told Harry or anyone that the reason she was going through those old books was to find an alternative way to bring Draco back without the deadlier parts of Narcissa’s spell. Everyone just thought she was interested in the spell to see how it worked, and that her continued use of those books was just for studying up on her favorite subject. She let them believe whatever, never responding much when asked about them, and making sure not lie to Harry. However, Ariel had gone through every book she could get her hands on in England. She even sent for some books back home in America since she had decided to spend the entire summer in Britain. But her Uncle Martin hadn’t sent one book in particular. One book Ariel kept hidden even from Neville. And that one book may have the answers she needed. She had never taken the vial off since she put it on in Malfoy Manor, and she vowed not too until she had a reason too.

“No,” Ariel answered after kissing Alexander on the forehead. “I’m not taking it. Babe would love it if I did, and I’m sure you would too, but I’ve decided to stay with the kids. I just bought the daycare, and now…I’m thinking of opening up some…new ones…here for one…” she said, smiling down at the infant.

“What?” Harry exclaimed, causing Colin’s eyes to shoot open at the sudden noise. “You’re…you’re…serious?”

Ariel smiled up at the brother. “No, that’s Sirius,” she joked and pointed to her little godbrother running behind the mischievous Olivia and Jackson.

“Ha ha, very funny. You know what I mean!” Harry retorted.

The redhead snorted. “Yes, little brother, I’m very serious. George Weasley’s helping me scout out locations. I think…there should be more in the different magical communities around the world. Particularly here…for obvious reasons. BUT, don’t get your hopes up. I’m not going to be living here, running it. I’ll still be in Massachusetts, but I’ll own one here and…”

“And you’ll have more a reason to come visit too!” said Harry, happily.

Ariel smiled but rolled her eyes in mock exasperation. “As if I don’t have a million reasons to come visit, Potter. There’s Mrs. Longbottom and her need to spoil my child…and the future one. There’s the fact that my husband is from here, my godfather lives here. Then, there’s you who I can’t seem to get rid of with a crowbar and hand grenade if I tried!”

“I love you too, sis,” Harry said, sucking his teeth.

His twin snorted. “And there’s my new godson…Dean,” she added with a hint of sadness in her voice. “And my goddaughter…”

“Godmummy?” said Dipali coming up to Ariel with her mother Padma.

Ariel turned to the child and smiled. “Yes, Sweetie?”

“May I stay with you the last night before you go back to America?” the little girl asked, desperation in her eyes.

“Pali, you and Kendall go back to school tomorrow,” said Padma, reaching for Alexander out of Ariel’s arms. “You two can’t be up having fun on a school night.”

“It’s okay with me, Patil, if it’s okay with you. I’ll take her and Kendall to school that next day,” said Ariel, desperation in her green eyes as well.

Since Ariel and Dipali had been rescued from Malfoy Manor, the two found it difficult to stay apart for too long. Ariel, as the adult understood why that was, but still woke up in the middle of the night sometimes calling for Dipali when she didn’t feel the little girl next to her. Dipali, being the child, but a clever one, understood as well, but was having a difficult time of choosing between wanting to stay with her mother, whom she missed, and wanting to be with Ariel because of their experience.

Padma, understanding both ends of the spectrum, and also not wanting to be alone in her house after her loss, spent many nights at the Potters. After spending several weeks at the Finnegan’s, and the Potters, LeRose moved into the guest bedroom of the Thomas home to look after his brother’s wife and daughter.

Though Neville protested heavily against it, Ariel received a truly heartfelt apology from Blaise. But the former Slytherin didn’t just do it for his former girlfriend; he did it for his fallen brother, his living brother and his niece. Blaise, after much convincing particularly to Seamus, was allowed highly supervised visits with Dipali. Highly supervised, meaning the two were watched closely by LeRose, Seamus, Neville, Harry, and Ariel. It proved to be beneficial however, as Dipali, though sad that she lost her father, found a new uncle that she loved and who loved her back immensely.

“Well if you’re sure, and it’s alright with Harry…” said Padma.

“Of course, Padma,” Harry said. “It’s fine with me. I’ll make sure the girls get to bed.”

“No, I’LL make sure the girls get to bed,” Ariel corrected. Dipali cheered and ran to tell her best friend and godsister. Padma walked away with the Boots twin, humming softly to the child. “YOU will have school the next day too, young man! As a matter of fact, you should be getting home now; it’s a school night after all!” Ariel joked.

Harry couldn’t help but smile.

September 1st, Harry was to start Auror training. He had officially quit Quidditch to the disappointment of the entire league, and his many fans. Unfortunately, Harry couldn’t tell if Matthew Terrance was upset about his leaving the team, because the often jovial man was heartbroken when his fiancé left him suddenly with nothing more than Dear John letter. Having no intentions of telling Matthew the truth about Natasha, Harry bid the man good luck, and promise that he would always be in the stands.

But Harry had a new path to take and as he told the Prophet, “It’s been a great run, and wonderful opportunity. But being an Auror is something I know I was…destined to be…” He thought it best not to make mention of his powers, or soon-to-be powers, besides Kingsley advised him not too. The Minister was also beside himself with joy knowing he finally had Harry coming to the Academy. But it wasn’t just Harry he was excited about having at the Academy on September 1st, and Harry was just as excited as well.

“Doesn’t matter if I’m up late,” began Harry, still grinning, but deviously now. “I’m sleeping with the teacher, aren’t I?”

Cho, now 6 months pregnant, agreed to take a teaching position at the Academy until 3 months after their son would be born. Harry couldn’t be anymore happier. Granted, she was teaching Dark Arts Defense, which would cause her to be moving and dueling with future Aurors, but Harry knew that was as good as it was going to get.

“Mmmhmm,” began Ariel, narrowing her eyes and smiling knowingly, “try actually getting some sleep tonight, would you? You two have been making up for like 2 months!”

“I am holding a baby here, Evans! Watch what you say!” Harry said in mock indignation.

Ariel huffed. “He’s an infant, Potter. He doesn’t understand what I’m saying!” she retorted.

“Yeah, but I do!” said voice near by. The twins looked up to see mother of the twin Harry was holding. “For goodness sakes, Evans, their impressionable even at this early stage!” Ginny joked.

Ariel went as red as her and Ginny’s hair. “Oops…uh…WHAT’S THAT MONROE?” Ariel suddenly said to no one in particular. “Excuse me, she was…uh…calling…uh…me…yeah…best friend…duties…all that…yeah, BYE!” she said while getting up and ignoring Harry holding his chest in pain from her lying.

Mindy had no idea that she had called her best friend. Presently, the pretty American was wrapped tightly in the arms of her Englishman in the kitchen, locked in a passionate kiss. “Okay Miss Monroe, one more kiss like that, and we’re leaving,” warned George after their kiss. “And I guarantee you, you’ll be late for your apparition time back to Massachusetts tomorrow morning.”

Mindy smiled and kissed him lightly on the chin. “Won’t really matter if I’m late tomorrow, I’ll just tell Daddy it’s all your fault.”

George smirked. “Yeah, and you’re going to tell the Ambassador why and in detail too, I suppose?”

“No, but he’ll get the picture because your coming with me,” she stated to his surprise.

The Weasley twin narrowed his eyes. “I…am? I’ve got a meeting in Sydney in two days, Love, I…”

Mindy pulled out of his grasp, and stepped back. “You’ll make your meeting, G. But you have to come home with me first.”

“Why?” Without giving him an answer, Mindy pulled George by the hand to the kitchen table. She motioned for him to sit down, and with a confused look on his face he did. “What’s going on, M?” he asked, watching her eyes change from burgundy to her natural reddish-brown. But what worried George, was the look of worry on his girlfriend’s face which was very uncharacteristic of her usual smooth, cool demeanor. The fact that she was hiding it behind a smile didn’t fool him either. “M…”

“I…” she interrupted him, “have to ask you something. But I don’t know…how…or…” Mindy said, her eyes darting around for an answer she seemed to be looking for. “Oh forget it! I’m going in for the kill anyway!” she answered herself, and straddled him in the chair.

George couldn’t help but giggle and grab hold of his girlfriend in his lap. “You know my parents are in the next room, right?”

Mindy nodded indifferently. “Yeah, saw them during dinner, figured they stick around since they live here. So what? Anyway,” she smiled as he tickled her after her snide remark, “listen to me for a moment, okay?” George nodded slowly and unsurely. Mindy seemed intent on watching his shirt collar as she sat quietly for a moment on his lap, but then finally met his eyes. “I love you, George Weasley.”

“I love you too, Mindy Monroe,” he replied, and shrugged his shoulders at the obviousness of it.

Mindy nodded. “I know you do. And…I know…you…uh…Look okay, it’s like this…um…well…DAMN IT, HERE!” she said, and pulled a tiny box out her jean jacket pocket, and shoved to his throat.

George, taken off guard from the sudden movement, just grabbed the box in time before it took out his voice box temporarily. The red velvet box seemed tiny in his hand, but when he opened it, his hand dropped down between them. The shine from the platinum, diamond encrusted band nearly blinded him when the light caught it. Slowly, he pulled the ring out the box and looked at it, then at the nervous woman on his lap.

“Um…so…” began Mindy, “will you…marry me, G?”

George’s gaping mouth opened and closed, then opened again as he looked from the ring to his woman. “I…uh…” he began, “I’d…love too, Monroe,” he finally said, and Mindy sighed in relief. She opened her arms to throw them around his neck but he put his up to stop her. “BUT,” he interrupted her, and her smile disappeared, “I don’t know if I can. See,” he began earnestly, “my career is just getting going, and…I don’t want a hoard of children ruining my girlish figure!” he said, then smiled at his joke.

Mindy, however, didn’t smile at his obvious joke. Instead, she took to watching his collar once more. “I…see. Well, I don’t think you have to worry about ruining your girlish figure, Weasley, seeing as in 7 months you’ll have completely destroyed mine,” she explained to his collar still.

George laughed, waiting for Mindy to laugh as well. She didn’t. “Very…uh…funny, Monroe. You…got me back…for my…joke…right?” he asked in desperation.

Mindy looked into this eyes; no humor evident inside hers. “I…uh, think we reconciled…a little too…hard a few months ago, G. G! GEORGE!” she yelled when his eyes rolled back his head.

In an instant the kitchen was full of Weasleys and company. Harry was the first to get through, besides Terry. And he couldn’t help but laugh. “Let me guess?” he began. “You’re pregnant and he passed out when you told him?” Mindy nodded as she began slapping George in the face to wake him, much to Terry’s protest. “SEE,” Harry nearly yelled to his family and friends behind him, “you lot made fun of me for passing out! It’s a shock to the system, that is!”
*******************
That night, Ariel fell asleep locked in Neville’s arms. But a distant sound of music woke her from her slumber. The redhead snuck out of her bed and walked to one of her bay windows. The sky was cloudy as if it were set to storm at any moment, but it was the source of the music that made her sit in her window and look out. She knew it was outside, but she couldn’t figure out where, and she wondered why it hadn’t woken Neville up.

“Hello, Love,” said a voice that nearly made her jump off the window seat. Ariel turned to see Draco walking past the sleeping Neville before taking a seat next to her in the window.

“Malfoy?” she said to his extremely faded figure. “What are you doing here? This isn’t our usual set up…oh wait, it’s not a visiting dream…it’s a regular dream,” she said sadly.

Draco reached out and touched her cheek. Ariel could feel the coldness of his presence, and it made her even sadder. “It’s not a regular dream, Love. I am visiting you. You’ve…chosen the location; I don’t have any control over that.”

Ariel placed on her hand on his that rested on her cheek. The coldness of him chilled her insides. “Oh. But why are you so…faded still, so cold? Your…mom…didn’t succeed….”

Draco’s warm gray eyes lowered in sadness. “I know she…didn’t.”

“Is she…where you…are?” Ariel asked tentatively, and sighed when he shook his head. “I’m so sorry, Malfoy,” she said and hugged his cold presence.

“It’s…all…it’s what it is, Love. Don’t feel sorry for me. Mum…made her choices in life. Some loves…are just to hard to get over,” he explained over her shoulder.

Ariel tightened her grip around him at his words, not to feel flesh and bone having given up that need long ago, but mostly because she hoped if she squeezed hard enough he would be warm again. When it didn’t work, she let him go. “I wish you were…warm again. Why are you still…so cold?” she asked more to herself then him.

She watched his hand move to her chest. He lifted the vial of his essence off her nightgown. “As long as this…mixture…exists, I’m…going to stay this way,” he explained. “I…stand out quite a bit…up there. And I feel soo…torn between two worlds…but I can’t enjoy either fully…in this state…”

Ariel gently took the vial out of his cold hand. “But…it’s the last thing I have…of you…besides your journal…and what if I could find some way…to bring you back?” she rambled, looking at the vial. “I…wanna keep it…until…I figure…something out…I mean…all these ingredients…can’t go to waste…” Ariel was interrupted when a loud clap of thunder rolled in the distance, but her shoulders didn’t jump. The light from the flash lit up Draco’s gray eyes, and her heart ached. “I wanna…keep it…you…with me,” she said, feeling tears well up in her eyes.

Draco smiled and a tear escaped her eye. She could feel his coldness lift the tear away from her cheek, then his coldness wrap around her again in a hug. “I understand. If you want to keep it, please do. Whatever makes you happy, Love.” Draco pulled away from their hug and held her cheek. His warm gray eyes looked intently into her emerald gaze. “I’d sacrifice anything for you. I love you, Ariel,” he said and kissed her forehead gently.

With another flash of lightening and clap of thunder, Draco was gone.

Ariel opened her eyes in her bed in Harry’s home. Neville’s arm was locked around her waist, but she felt a lingering coolness on her forehead. There was the distinctive sound of rain beating against the window. Ariel angled her head over her husband to see one of her bay windows streaking with water. A rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance as well.

Ariel slid out of bed. “Ev?” Neville said muffled by his pillow. “You…where are you…are you all…” he asked groggily.

“I’m…fine, Babe. Go back to sleep. I forgot…my potion. I’ll be back,” she whispered, heading toward the bedroom door.

After she heard a groggy consent from her husband, the redhead slipped out into the hallway. She paused for a moment, not because of the sound of clap of thunder, but to touch her forehead. One spot felt cooler than any other part of her forehead, and Ariel, like in her dream, could feel the tears welling in her eyes.

She walked quietly down the stairs, her mind replaying the dream, and every other dream she had of Draco, all the while clutching to the vial around her neck. It took her moment to realize that she had just walked through the kitchen and was standing at the glass doors leading to the rain drenched patio. But as the rain streaked the patio doors, so the did the tears to her cheeks.

The grip she had on the vial was now making an indentation in her hand. She slid open the patio doors, and walked out into the rain. As Ariel descended to the final step, the rain itself couldn’t keep up with the speed in which her tears were falling. The redhead sat down on the last step, in the dark, in the rain, and cried. Thinking of the book back home, thinking of her husband upstairs, thinking of the friend she lost so many years ago, Ariel slid the silver chain over her head…

-THE END-

A/N: Thanks to all of you that read my Harry and Ariel series! Especially for all your support and reviews and everything, you guys rock! Hope you enjoyed them, and Ariel, she was fun to write! I maybe revamping Shackles of Freedom in the near future, so if you want to reread that when it’s done, come and check it out. I’ve promised myself I’ll get a beta reader for all three of these stories so they won’t suck with the grammar issues and misspellings. So maybe one day they will all be nice and polished!LOL
Thank you all again for reading my stories, I really appreciate it!
Can


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Harry Potter and the Mark of a Mother's Love: Shackles of Freedom

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