Chapter 3 : A Past Preserved
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Chapter 3: A Past Preserved
Anneliese sat and wrung her hands together on a rock overlooking the ocean. She stared out at the waves, carefully digesting the news her mother had shared over the past hour. Hermione had finally fallen quiet. She looked to be in a world of memories, several emotions showing themselves plainly on her face.
Suddenly, Anneliese could no longer take the silence. “Mum. You said you were a witch. Does that mean… am I…” she trailed off, looking at her mother desperately for answers. Hermione sighed. She had known this question would come up eventually, though she was surprised it was the first Annie would ask. “Technically, yes, you are a witch. However, when your magic started to express itself – well, it was evident you were powerful, so I placed a very carefully thought-through containment charm on it for the time being. I was not certain it would work, but it appears that it has held for over thirteen years.”
“Not really. I mean, it mostly has, but…” Anneliese looked at her mother, “things happen to me sometimes, things that scare me. I thought I was a freak. I didn’t tell anyone.”
“Oh, Annie… You poor dear, you should have come to me, I am your mother! I am so sorry!” Hermione looked at her daughter with shame written on her features. Annie shrugged, “its not important now, is it? You can just stop, um, containing it and teach me how to use it. I mean, if I can do magic, won’t our lives be easier?”
Hermione smiled at how naïve Annie still was. “Dear, it is not something I will be able to show you how to control. I mean, not on my own. You will need proper training, a proper wizarding education. I will look into my contacts and see if I might be able to get you in to the Salem Academy next term. Of course, we will need to come up with a reason you are such a late starter. I suppose we could just say I was homeschooling you…” Hermione trailed off, lost in her thoughts.
“No.” Hermione looked up, surprised. “Mum, you said your school was called Hogwarts. That is where I want to go. I need to know more about who I am, who you are. I – I want to feel as though I belong somewhere. Please,” Anneliese beseeched her mother, her steel eyes full of determination.
Hermione’s eyes misted over as she looked at Annie. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I cannot go back there. I am not a part of that world anymore. That place – it killed your father. It killed your grandparents. It left me shattered, broken beyond repair. I lost so many people I loved, I am so sorry. My answer is no. I will not return to England. We will find suitable training for you here, in the States.”
Anneliese glared at her mother. “Mum, I think I should have a say in my future, especially after finding out my entire life thus far has been based on a lie.”
“Anneliese Jane Hobart, don’t you use that tone with me. I may have messed up on this, but I am still your mother! I raised you with better manners, young lady. Now, lets go into this house before we catch our deaths. A storm is coming.” With that, Hermione stood from the bench and walked toward the small stone cottage overlooking the ocean, and Annie had no choice but to follow.
Once inside, Hermione pulled a familiar wooden stick from a hidden pocket in her slacks. “My wand,” she explained when Annie eyed it curiously. “We will have to send for one of Olivander’s for you as well. They say the wand chooses the wizard; we cannot choose one in person, but his are the best and you will have the best.”
Hermione flicked her wrist and several small lamps filled with light. She turned to the small kitchen in front of them and with her wand ignited the gas on the stove and placed an old kettle on it to boil.
“This house – is it still yours? Ours? Why does it look like someone lives here? I mean, there is not even a speck of dust!” Annie exclaimed, looking around the joint living-dining area. It was true – the place, while it smelled a bit musty, was immaculate. The front door opened to a small sitting area, with a yellow-flowered couch, a small coffee table and two bookshelves lined with leather-bound volumes. Beyond the small living room was a tiny kitchen, big enough to hold a refrigerator, stove, a small cupboard and sink, as well as a square dining table that seated two against the far wall. To the right of the front door was a closet, and some stairs. The walls were painted a sunshiny buttercup, though all the furniture as well as the kitchen cabinet was a dark, somber mahogany.
“It is amazing what a few well-placed cleaning charms can do,” Hermione smiled with satisfaction in her voice. “Yes, the house is still ours. Upstairs, there are two tiny bedrooms and a small bath. Mine is the one on the right. Yours was a nursery, but we will remedy that shortly. First, I must call the school – we will have been missed by now, and I will have to make our excuses. I think family emergency out to cover it, don’t you? I will request an extended leave of absence for us both. That will give us some time to get settled in, and I will transfer our belongings from the flat here tomorrow. I never did feel comfortable in the Valley, you know. I won’t miss it.”
Anneliese just stared at her mother. She was not used to the assertiveness Hermione was displaying – her mother had always seemed so quiet, understated, boring. Sure she was a fantastic English teacher for over 12 years, and now a very organized and professional high school principal – but never before had Anneliese seen that take-charge, confident sparkle in her mother’s brown eyes. It both scared her and made her proud. She turned to climb the black iron spiral staircase, suddenly eager to see the room she had inhabited as a baby.
Once at the top of the stairs, she found herself on a small landing, with a door to the left and one to the right. Directly in front of her was a mahogany end table with a vase of fresh lilies on it, and a painting of a green dragon in flight above. Odd, she thought as she looked at the painting. Shrugging her shoulders, thinking that everything about today had been a bit odd after all, Anneliese opened the door on the left.
It was as though she had stepped into a cotton-candy cloud, there was so much pink everywhere. Ruffles, lace – no matter where she looked, from the crib to the changing table to the wicker rocking chair to the ballet slippers painted on the walls – all of it was pink. She grimaced and could not suppress an “ugh.” A giggle came from behind her. Hermione smiled at her daughter, “I know, I know, what was I thinking? You were my princess, and I went overboard. Pink was my least favorite color as a child, and suddenly it seemed like a fresh start for me to use it here on you. My friend Ginny would think me barmy for it.”
“I can NOT stay in here any longer, Mum. Please, if you can – do something!” Hermione laughed at her daughter’s annoyance and waved her wand, muttering spells under her breath. The pink peeled from the walls, leaving a sensible sage green in its place. The crib became a full-sized four poster bed in deepest cherry wood with sage-green and pale lavender velvet hangings, the changing table following suit to become a desk with shelves above it. The rocking chair became a bedside table, and a lamp with a shade in the shape of a crown sat on it.
Anneliese eyed the lamp with a hint of disdain, glancing at her mother. “What? You are still my sweet princess,” Hermione said placing a kiss on her daughter’s cheek as she moved to step out of the room. Anneliese smiled. This was more like it.
Hermione barely heard the whispered question as she softly closed the door behind her. "Mum? My dad — what was his name?"
Hermine sighed and closed her eyes briefly, stepping back into the room to sit beside her daughter on the bed. It was going to be a long night.
*** Meanwhile, Half a World Away… ***
As the sun rose over the British Ministry of Magic, and all the fireplaces in the lobby sprang to life with green flames as the workday began, all was not well in the Head Auror’s office.
A red-headed man was pacing furiously in front of the charmed windows, muttering things that sounded like, “bloody git” under his breath. The minister was bent over the fireplace, placing a confidential call to St. Mungo’s requesting the presence of a Healer, and the man in highly-decorated Auror’s robes was rubbing a faded scar on his forehead while attempting to revive the impeccably-dressed blonde-haired man sprawled on the office floor.
“Move, young man! Let me see my patient!” A voice behind Harry demanded. Harry turned to look at the frazzled medi-witch who was crossing quickly through his fireplace. She gasped as she caught sight of his face, “Mr. Potter! Forgive me, I did not know it was you…” she trailed off, glaring at the Minister as though he should have informed her of who was present.
Harry sighed, gave a tight-lipped smile at the display of awe that he never seemed able to shake, and directed the apologetic woman’s attention to the man on the floor. “Erm, right – Mr. Malfoy, he fainted and a standard ennervate did not work…” he began in his firm, quiet manner.
“Oh! Malfoy, you say? Well, let me take a look,” she stated, immediately kneeling at the prone man’s side and pulling out her wand. She muttered a string of spells under her breath and then suddenly Draco groaned, sat up and locked eyes with the elderly witch. “Who the bloody hell are you?!” His eyes glanced at her official Healer’s robes and he frowned, “Did Weasley finally grow a pair and poison me?” He heard snickering coming from the direction of the windows.
“Mr. Malfoy! Lie back down, young man! You fainted and the Minister summoned me. It took quite a hefty bit of spell-work to revive you, I must say” the Healer stated while struggling to get Draco to lie down. She conjured a large, plush pillow and attempted to position it behind his head. Draco pushed her hands away and sprang to his feet, leaving the medi-witch sputtering about “ungrateful young wizards” as she too stood and headed to the fireplace, where she flooed away without another word.
“Malfoy. Do you remember why you are here? We were discussing how the aurors seem to have lost track of Hermione —” he froze, falling into his chair and sighing as he realized what he had let slip.
Draco turned to Harry, his silver-blue eyes sparking with rage. “What do you mean, you lost her? You assured me that she is under bloody round-the-clock watch, for Merlin’s sake! Are your men really that incompetent?”
Harry prepared mentally for the onslaught of insults he expected to follow, but was surprised when Draco merely breathed deeply, seemingly calming himself as he sat back down in his abandoned chair while rubbing his temple. What was even more surprising was what Draco uttered next.
“Fine. I will do it. I will rejoin your merry band of misfits. But, under one condition, Potter,” at this Draco looked up and locked eyes with Harry, “I demand to lead the search for her.” And with that, he stood from his chair and strode to the door. “And while you're at it, Potter, I was always partial to Weasley’s office.”
As the door closed swiftly behind him, Draco donned a satisfactory smirk as he heard the Weasel exclaim, “I will NOT give that ruddy bloke my office!”
* A/N: Hope you liked it! Till next time. ☺
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