The gleaming mahogany chest sat on the dresser. Hannah Abbott Longbottom ran her fingers over the smooth surface, admiring the inlaid wooden design on the top before carefully opening it. She lifted the top and fingered the heart shaped, gold locket that hung on a hook there. She pulled it out and gently polished it with a cloth. Her mind flashed back to when she was a little girl and watching her mother do the same thing.
“Can I wear it, Mum?” the little girl with the white, blonde hair asked.
“Not tonight, love. Your dad is taking me out to dinner. Gram is going to come and stay with you. But one day you’ll get to wear this necklace, too. My mum gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday, and her mum gave it to her on her sixteenth birthday. When you turn sixteen, you’ll get it too, love.”
The little girl watched as her mum fastened the clasp behind her neck with nimble fingers, her nails a shiny red. She looked down at her own fingernails. Mum had painted them a pretty pink shade when she did her own this afternoon. No one could ever be prettier than her mum. Her dark blonde hair was flowing freely over her shoulders in soft waves, and her makeup had been deftly applied with a brush enchanted with a wave of her mother’s wand. The midnight blue velvet robes she was wearing brought out the blue in her eyes. Her mother turned and smiled at her.
“I used to watch my mum get ready for an evening out as well.” She reached out and fingered a curly pigtail on her daughter’s head. “Only she never used a wand,” she said with a wink as she picked hers up and flicked it toward the cosmetics on the counter and they quickly put themselves away in the cabinet.
“What was it like being a Muggle?” the little girl asked again. She never tired of hearing about all the things that Muggles had to do for themselves.
Her mother laughed. It was her favourite sound in the world. It sounded like tinkling glass, or fairy bells, and it made her feel safe and loved. “Very similar to what your life is like, darling. I played and laughed, and had to clean my room by hand, just like you.” She bent down and kissed her daughter on the top of her head.
“Eve? Are you ready, love?” She heard her father call up the stairs.
“Just about. Well, Hannah, dear, how do I look?”
“Like a princess, Mummy,” she said with a smile.
“Well, then, I think I must be ready. Be a good girl for Grams. I’ll see you in the morning.” Hannah watched as her mother left the room after kissing her one more time.
The sound of something crashing brought Hannah out of her reverie. She walked into the other room to see Neville muttering under his breath and waving his wand to pick up the pieces of the vase that he’d knocked off the table.
”Is everything all right, dear?” she said with a slight smirk.
“Who put this table here?”
“You did, love, when we moved in years ago.” She bent down to pick up the picture frame that had also been knocked off the table by the overly large box he’d been levitating into the room. She smiled as she looked at the face of their daughter laughing back at her. Her daughter’s laugh was so like her mother’s. She loved to make her laugh. Every time she heard it she felt her mother’s presence nearby embracing her. She felt something small and cool in her hand and looked down to see that she still held the locket in her hand.
“It’s yours now, love. Happy Birthday!” Hannah had opened the black velvet box knowing what was inside of it. She’d been waiting for her sixteenth birthday her whole life just so she could finally have the locket. She opened it up to see a small, still photo of her mother as an infant looking out at her on one side, and a small moving photograph of herself as an infant on the other. The only real way to distinguish the difference between the two infants was that one was a Muggle photo. She had lost track of how many times people had commented on how much she looked like her mother. She felt so pleased to be compared to her, though she didn’t think she’d ever be so beautiful.
“Thank you, Mum. I’ve waited my whole life for this.” She closed the locket again, and saw the engraved rose on the front, accented by the tiny diamond chips. She knew it wasn’t a truly valuable piece of jewellery. Not monetarily at least, but the history and love with which it came were priceless.
“Wear it well, my dear. And if you should be blessed with a daughter, then you can pass it on to her when she turns sixteen.” Her mother had beamed at her; her eyes glistening with unshed tears. She reached up and touched her daughter’s cheek. “I can’t wait to see you with your own children.”
Hannah wiped a tear surreptitiously, but not before Neville noticed.
“What’s wrong, love?” he asked, closing the gap between them.
“Nothing. I’m just remembering my mum,” she responded holding up the locket to show him. “She would have loved being a grand mum to Evelyn and Jordan. I’m sorry she didn’t have the chance to meet them.”
Neville wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. “I’m sure she’s watching over them.”
Hannah looked up and kissed him before going back into the bedroom. She walked over to a bookshelf that was against the wall and pulled down a photo album. She flipped through the pages until she found the one she was looking for. It was a favourite photo of their daughter as a baby, just learning to sit by herself with a huge toothless grin on her face. She picked her wand up and pointed it at the photograph. “Geminio,” she whispered, and an exact replica appeared. She then waved her wand at the replica and shrank it down so that it would fit inside the locket.
Opening the locket, she carefully removed her mother’s infant photo and replaced it with her daughter’s. She gently placed the locket in the same black velvet box that she had opened on her sixteenth birthday, only a month before her mother had been killed. Then she wrapped it in brightly patterned paper. She pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill and sat down at the desk in their room. She paused trying to decide on the right words to say. She looked across the room and saw her reflection in the mirror. She looked so much like her own mum. She was now a year older than her mother had been when she was killed.
She closed her eyes, remembering that horrible day. She’d only been back at Hogwarts for two weeks when Professor Sprout had summoned her out of Transfiguration class and escorted her to the Headmaster’s office. She’d never before been up the spiral staircase that moved them of its own accord ever upward to the door that led to the inner sanctum of Professor Dumbledore.
“Ah, Miss Abbott, please, sit down,” Professor Dumbledore had said as he waved his good hand toward an empty chair opposite his desk. Most of the students had noticed that the Headmaster’s hand had been badly injured and there were many speculations as to how, but she hadn’t seen it up close before now. She quickly looked away. She looked around the office at the strange objects that cluttered the room. A cabinet to the side was giving off an eerie glow. The walls that surrounded her had the portraits of previous headmasters all gazing at her with sad looks in their eyes.
She didn’t remember Professor Dumbledore ever speaking to her directly before. What could she possibly have done to be called into the Headmaster’s office? She hadn’t done well on her Charms exam the day before, but surely that wasn’t reason enough to be summoned here. She nervously sat down in the chair and with a shaking hand straightened her robes and then grasped them firmly together to try to hide how uncomfortable she felt being here.
With a nod from Professor Sprout who had come to stand behind her she looked at Professor Dumbledore and waited for him to speak. His eyes were kind, but didn’t have the usual twinkle in them. He peered at her over the top of his half-moon spectacles. Then he reached for a bowl that was on his desk and offered it to her.
“Lemon drop?” he offered. She tried to open her mouth to decline, but it wouldn’t cooperate so she simply shook her head. He set the bowl back down on his desk, took a long breath and looked at her again. “Miss Abbott, I’m afraid it is my sad duty to inform you that your mother was killed last night by Death Eaters.”
Hannah knew Professor Sprout put her hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze, but she didn’t feel it. She looked at Professor Dumbledore, but did not see him; the sound of the large phoenix shuffling on his perch did nothing to stop the ringing in her ears. “Your mother was killed last night by Death Eaters…Death Eaters…Death…Eaters.”
Professor Sprout came around and sat in a chair next to her and took her hand in hers. Hannah turned unseeing eyes toward her Head of House. “Hannah, dear, we’ve arranged a Portkey to send you directly to your home. We’ve been informed that Aurors are on the scene to offer protection to you and your father.” She reached up and put her hand under Hannah’s chin tilting her face so that she could see into her eyes. “Is there anything I can do for you, dear?”
Hannah blinked then. She saw a tear escape Professor Sprout’s eye and watched as it slowly made its way down to her chin. She reached up to her own cheek and wondered where her own tears were. Surely she should be crying. Why wasn’t she crying? Why wasn’t she screaming obscenities? Her heart felt as if a serpent was coiled around it, squeezing tighter and tighter. If it squeezed anymore then surely her heart would stop beating altogether.
“Miss Abbott, the Portkey will leave in thirty minutes. Professor Sprout will help you to pack,” Professor Dumbledore said in his quiet manner. “I’m truly sorry for your loss. I remember your mother when she was a student here. This is a tragedy. If there’s anything I, or the other staff here, can do for you, please let us know.”
Hannah simply nodded at the Headmaster, not trusting herself to speak. Professor Sprout led her down the spiral staircase and back down the corridors and staircases to the Hufflepuff dormitories.
“Do you need any help packing your things, dear?”
“No…no thank you,” Hannah said, her voice cracking as she spoke for the first time. Numbly she walked up the stairs to the room she shared with the other sixth year girls. She opened the door and saw Susan sitting on her bed, the blue curtains pulled back to let the light from the lamps in. She had her Transfiguration book open on the bed in front of her.
Susan glanced up when Hannah came in, and was startled to see the look on her best friend’s face. She jumped up and ran to her, grasping Hannah’s cold hands in her own and leading her to her own bed.
“Hannah! What’s wrong? Why did Professor Sprout call you out of class?”
Hannah looked at her friend and saw the love and worry in her eyes. It was then that her own eyes began to sting. She felt the prickles of tears beginning to form, the lump in her throat was growing larger by the second, and surely by now the serpent around her heart was ready to end her torture as it squeezed ever tighter. She hoped for the relief of her heart giving up the fight to continue beating despite being constricted so.
“My mum… Death Eaters… gone.” It was all she managed to get out before collapsing into her friend’s arms.
Hannah felt the tears fall onto her hands where they rested on the blank parchment. She waved her wand and a handkerchief flew across the room and she used it to dry her face and to wipe the blots on the parchment. It had been a while since she had cried over her mother’s death. Time had eased the pain, as it usually does. There were still times, however, 25 years later when it all came rushing back at her; when the grief was too much. She looked over at the photograph of her wedding day that was in an engraved silver frame on her dresser. It was not a photograph of her and Neville, though. She had a formal portrait of the two of them hanging in a frame on the wall of the sitting room. This one was a candid shot taken by Susan of Hannah with her father. It was her favourite photo of the two of them. She watched as her father fastened the clasp of the golden locket around her neck and beamed at his daughter, with all the love he felt for her obvious in his gaze. As she watched the scene replay itself over and over, she could still hear his words of encouragement.
“You look beautiful, darling,” he said as he came into the room after she was dressed. Susan had helped to put her hair up in a careful twist. Using her wand to softly curl the tendrils left around her face. She looked up into her father’s eyes and saw the unshed tears glistening there. “So much like your mother, you are,” he whispered.
She gave him a watery smile, “Don’t make me cry, Daddy. It’ll mess up my face.”
“Impossible! Nothing could mess up that beautiful face. Neville is a lucky man.”
“I think I’m the lucky one,” she’d replied, glancing down at the modest sapphire ring on her left hand. Despite the certainty she felt in her decision to marry Neville, she noticed the shaking in her hand and picking up the locket had handed it to her father. “Would you put this on for me? I’m not sure I can at the moment.”
“I’d love to.” Her father struggled slightly, trying to fasten the small clasp with his large fingers. He could have used his wand, but real magic would have ruined the already magical moment he was sharing with his little girl. “Your mother wore this necklace on our wedding day. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen… until now.”
He leaned down and kissed her on the top of head. “She’d be so proud of you, love. Don’t ever forget that.”
Hannah looked at the wrapped box and then at the blank parchment and began to write.
My darling Evie,
It’s hard to believe that it’s been sixteen years since I first held you in my arms. You were so beautiful, all eyes and cheeks. I’d never seen anything so perfect as you. I’ve never told you this before, but the day you were born, I was so scared. The thought of another person’s life being completely in my care was so daunting, and I didn’t have my own mother to help me through it. The second you were placed in my arms though, I felt such peace, and I knew then, my mum was there with me. I could feel her. I know it sounds superstitious, but knowing that Mum was watching over us, that she wasn’t going to miss the important moments in your life, was a great comfort to me. My grandmother gave my mother this locket on her sixteenth birthday. Mum gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday, just a month before she died. And now, dear, it is your turn. I’ve watched you learn to crawl, walk, run, and even to fly. Very soon, you will be on your own, but for now, you are still my little girl. I hope that someday you will be blessed with a daughter of your own and will pass this locket on to her.
Have a wonderful birthday, darling.
All my love,
Hannah wiped yet another tear as she folded the letter, picked up the wax stick and melted it a bit with her wand and then, using the seal with the badger and lion entwined together, sealed it shut. She turned it over, and in her smooth, swirling script wrote on the front: Evelyn Alice Longbottom, Hogwarts.
Despite the fact that Neville would be going to Hogwarts in the morning for his classes, Hannah took the small package and the letter, and tied them firmly to the leg of their owl, Persephone. She opened the window, handed the owl a treat and whispered quietly, “Take this to our girl.” She watched as the wide, brown wings spread and gracefully took to the sky, taking the heart locket with it, knowing that her heart had been given away sixteen years ago already. As she watched, she saw a star shoot past just beyond Persephone. She smiled, nodded and whispered, “I love you too, Mum.”
***A/N ~ According to the Lexicon, Hannah Abbott’s mother died around September 14, 1996. Her birthday is not listed, but in honour of my dear friend Em’s (aka emz on HPFF) 16th birthday, which is August 15, that is now Hannah’s birthday in my story. Happy Birthday, Em dear, your Sweet 16 helped inspire the path this story took.
A big thank you to momotwins for beta’ing this story. She rocks! Also, another huge thank you to NevillesSoulmate for the beautiful chapter image. I’m truly awed by the other chapters in this story. The members of eHPF are all truly talented writers. I’m honoured to be able to call them friends and to be a part of this collaboration. If you’ve liked our chapters, please feel free to stop by our individual author pages to see what else we’ve written.
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