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Chapter 1 : 1. Pieces of Me
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Chapter 1: Pieces of Me
She had never planned on returning there, not after graduation, after being totally, and utterly free.
But yet she did.
Anna Parker stared at the wretched house. With one last sigh, she walked slowly up the stairs and on the porch - it squeaked under her shoes - and Anna raised her fist, knocking gently on the door.
It had been three months since graduation, and she hadn't seen her dad since that unfortunate day at King's Cross station. She had watched him walk away, and Anna had done nothing to stop him. Why would she?
Anna had stayed at Godric's Hollow with James and Lily. She had tried to squirm out of their offer, but the newlywed couple had insisted. James had pointed out that Anna would have the house all by herself for an entire month as they went on their honeymoon. Anna was positively pleased to see how small and private the wedding reception had been. Just the closest friends gathered in their backyard.
Which Anna hadn't expected was the hollow feeling she felt being alone in the mansion. She was alone most of the time, but people stopped by whenever they could take a break from their lives; Cat was running from tryouts to tryouts, Remus was trying to fit his schedule so that he didn't accidentally run into Cat while visiting the Potter mansion, and Peter found it enormously awkward to be alone with Anna and always seemed to find an excuse to not show up. Sirius, on the other hand, was not even bothering to come up with an excuse - he simply didn't come.
So most of the time, it was either Anna all alone, or just Anna and Alex - which reminded Anna of the offer Alex had given her, still lingering in the air whenever they were alone.
Three months ago...
It happened in the rain.
"Anna," Alex started excitedly, as the rain made its way down his handsome face. "Will you marry me?"
Anna felt her world crumble, as she stared with wide eyes at the handsome boy - who was now proposing to her, just like a man would propose to a woman. How had she missed his transformation? Alex had always been such a beautiful, beautiful boy - when did he become a man?
"W-what?" she stammered. "Alex... we... we are still young, we... we have our lives ahead of us!" Anna stumbled over her own words.
The warm smile faltered a little on Alex's face, slowly letting go of her hands. Anna let them fall limply to her sides, as she continued to stare at him. "You are my life, my future... Anna, I want to be with you forever, I want to marry you, fall asleep with you, wake up with you by my side, and fight through the troubles in our life - with you, Anna - no one else," he said, as if he hadn't made his point pretty clear by now.
Anna was aware of how people probably stared at them, but right now, she felt more trapped than ever. Was she ready to marry Alex - or get married in general? God, she hadn't even met his family yet, and he knew nothing about hers!
"But I..." she said quietly, running her hand through her dark hair. "I haven't met your parents!"
"That could easily be arranged, love," he assured her.
"But my dad..." Anna whispered quickly, biting her lip.
"Oh, yeah," Alex said, and scratched his jaw. "You want me to do this the old fashioned way, huh? Ask his permission for your hand?"
"What?" Anna said, frowning at the mental image of beautiful Alex asking for her hand while her dad watched some old sports event from the telly, while sipping his beer. "No, that's not it, I just--"
"You don't want to marry me," Alex said slowly. "I understand."
Anna felt horrible. She loved him, she really did, but marriage? She wasn't ready for that kind of thing yet. Hell, she hadn't even seen where he lived, and here he was proposing to her. They were still so young, so unsure about their future.
"Someday," Anna said, and tried to smile. "I promise you, Alex - someday."
"Someday," he repeated, before pulling her closer. "I'll hold you on to that promise, then..."
Anna smiled faintly, before Alex's soft lips crushed against hers. She pulled away before he could talk her over with his velvet voice, and embraced him.
End of flashback
The door opened, and Anna jumped back to reality. She had expected to see her dad - looking moody and a little intimidating - but instead she found herself face to face with a young woman, probably forty at the most.
"Hello," the woman said, frowning at Anna as her green eyes swept over her. "Can I help you, dear?"
"Um," Anna said, looking over her shoulder to check that this was the right house. "Yeah, I'm here to see my dad - Frank Parker?"
"Oh," the woman said, her frown slowly disappearing. She pushed a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear, and held the door open for Anna to enter. "Come in, dear..."
Anna entered carefully, her eyes half-expecting to meet the dirty hall, and clothes sprawled all over the stairs to where the bedrooms where. To her great surprise, it looked like a normal hall, very clean, and nicely decorated. There were family pictures hanging on the wall of the blonde woman, and Anna's dad together somewhere in the south - Hawaii, maybe? Anna stood rooted in the hall, not knowing where to go from there. Who was this woman, anyway?
"I'm Patricia," the woman said, and gestured for Anna to follow into the living room, wher her dad had spent most of his time, in front of the telly. "I'm Frank's fiancé."
Anna blinked, as Patricia gestured her to sit down on the sofa. She slowly sat down, her eyes taking in the fluffy flower pillows on it. She shifted her hazel eyes to the smiling woman in front of her, still not sure if this was the right house.
"So you're Anna," Patricia said warmly, and smiled. "Frank talks about you all the time!"
"Does he?" Anna asked stiffly, having a hard time believing it. Last time she had talked to him, he had yelled at her to go back to her room, or she would regret it. After that Anna had refused to follow his obey, he had dragged her up there, almost caused her a few broken bones as he dragged her up like a ragdoll.
"Yes!" she said, and tilted her head to the side. "He said you were beautiful... but I never thought you would be so dazzling."
"Huh," Anna said quietly, and shifted nervously on the sofa, taking in the rather different looking living room.
The curtains weren't dark and dirty - they were pink - and the walls were a faint peach. The telly was in the corner, and next to it was a small table with a picture on it. Anna peered at it, and realized it was another picture of her dad and Patricia. In this one, Patricia wore a white summer dress, as Anna's dad wore a casual looking tux. She had never seen him look that formal, so handsome - not since her mum's 'death'.
The thought of Cassandra Fenwick made shivers run down her spine, as she realized how much this new house reminded her of the way her mum used to decorate the house. It creeped her out.
The door opened, and Patricia was up on her feet, already rushing towards the hall.
"Hi, honey!" came a male voice, and Patricia rushed to meet him.
Anna heard their talk in hushed tones, followed by a loud thud, which made Anna automatically jump on her feet, and clutch the wand in her back pocket. She stared intently to the doorway, only to see Frank Parker appear into the room.
He looked so different. Even if she had seen him three months ago, it still amazed her how dashing he looked. He looked so much better, with flesh on his bones. His face was clean shaven, and it even looked like he had lost some of that fat the beer had given him. For the first time Anna could see him as a normal human being, instead of the monstrous man he had been so long ago. Their equally dark eyes were wide with surprise and shock, and Patricia shuffled her way around Frank, fidgeting nervously when no one said nothing. Frank stared back at Anna, who had her hand reached behind her back - just in case.
"Anna..." Frank said, and Anna flinched at the gentle tone. He hadn't spoken like that - with that tone - since the day Benjy had arrived to their doorstep, sweeping Anna with him on the biggest adventure of her life.
Come back as my Anna... Come back to me as my daughter...
"Hi, daddy," Anna whispered, her eyes watering up against her own will. "It's nice to see you."
"I missed you, Nana," Frank said with a deep voice, as if he was holding back tears fo his own. Anna felt her heart make a weird jolt at the childhood nickname her dad had given her so long time ago - she hadn't heard it in ages, and it seemed almost unfamiliar now.
"You look great," he said quietly, taking an unsure step forward. "Just like your... your..."
"Is there somewhere we can talk?" Anna asked quickly, and threw the smiling Patricia a quick glance.
"Upstairs," Patricia volunteered, before Frank could utter another word. "I'll make some tea," she said, and rushed into the kitchen.
Anna followed Frank upstairs, and let him lead her to her old bedroom. She expected it to be empty, since her dad had packed all of her things last Christmas, but to her great surprise, it was decorated as a normal teenage boy's room. Anna froze at the door, before walking inside, her eyes roaming around the room.
"Sorry about Christmas," Frank apologized, and Anna looked at his face, which was filled with shame and self-loathing. "I... I never wanted to throw you out the way I did. I hope you haven't slept on the street, have you?"
"No, not at all," Anna said quickly, and sat down on the chair, as Frank sat on the bed. "I am capable of making friends, dad."
Frank smiled, and gazed at her with warm, hazel eyes - the same eyes Anna had. "How are your friends?"
Anna smiled a little, and looked down at her hands. "Lily got married to James Potter, who's pretty much like a brother to me," Anna said proudly, and shrugged. "Cat is running between tryouts--" she went on, as confusion flickered on Frank's face. "Quidditch tryouts - it's a... a wizard sport..." she mumbled the last part.
"Interesting," Frank said, and looked genuinely happy for them.
Everything was so weird; here she was, sitting in her old room that was re-decorated, chatting with her dad she had been scared of for most of her life, about Quidditch and her friends, out of all the things in the world.
"And I got proposed to, daddy," Anna whispered, and Frank stared at her blankly.
"By whom?" he demanded at once.
"A boy," Anna said and shrugged again. "His name is Alexei Volchok."
Frank stared at her, and sighed. "But you're only seventeen, Anna."
"I turned eighteen two months ago," she reminded him quietly. "Besides, seventeen is considered as an adult in the wizarding world - I can do whatever I want now, in both worlds, I mean..."
Frank continued staring at her, as if he couldn't believe he had missed all of his daughter's life. He hadn't even met the bloke who had proposed to her, and here she sat, looking more grown up than anyone else in her age.
"Don't worry, dad," Anna assured him. "I said no."
"You did? Why?" he asked, looking worried.
Anna sighed. Well, the situation her dad was in was pretty troubling; the stress of dealing with a boy in his only daughter's life, and on the other hand fearing that she would end up like an old maid with eight cats.
"It was too soon," Anna stated. "Besides, we haven't been dating that long... just about four months, I suppose."
"Excellent decision," he agreed, and Anna smiled.
"But someday I might get married," she said. "And I promise I'll introduce him to you... if that's okay?"
"I would love that," Frank said, and puffed out his chest slightly, but enough for Anna to feel butterflies in her stomach - she had a dad who actually wanted to have a part in her life now.
"So," Anna said, avoiding the awkward silence. "Whose room is this now?"
"Oh!" Frank said, and waved his hand. "It's Rob's - Patricia's son from her first marriage. He's about your age, a nice bloke, really..."
"I would like to meet him," Anna said truthfully. Most people would've thrown a fit over a situation like this, but not Anna. If this was what kept Frank sober and reasonable, then that was the price Anna was willing to pay - even if it included stepmothers- and brothers. The more the merrier, right?
"You will," he assured her. "Are you staying for lunch?"
"Actually, I have an appointment..." Anna said, and fell silent while she bit her lip. "But maybe another time. I just wanted to talk to you."
"Yeah," she said. "I... dad, I saw you. At the station, three months ago," Anna whispered.
Frank nodded, and sighed. "I'm sorry I didn't stay. I'm so sorry... and I know it's not enough, and you have all the right to hate me for the rest of your life - I am thankful of this visit, and I just... Anna, I didn't know what to expect when I went to the station. I wanted to see you, and talk to you, even, but when I saw you, I... I got scared. You looked so small, so fragile, just like... just like the little girl I asked to come back to me, but who never had the father around she would've needed. You deserved so much better."
"Oh, dad," Anna whispered, and shook her head. "You should have come over and talked to me... I would have liked to hear all of that then."
"It's all thanks to you," Frank said sincerely. "I got your letter - the one you wrote me sometime around Christmas. It didn't arrive until New Year's Eve, though..." Anna blinked, as Frank slowly pulled a neatly folded letter from his pocket. It looked like it had been through hell and back, almost like a worn out teddy bear which had been loved too much. He unfolded the letter, and let his eyes run through it, a faint smile playing on his lips. "Your letter opened my eyes... you saved me, Anna. You made me realize that you're not your mother. You're Anna Bea, my beautiful daughter, who I am so proud of."
Anna took the letter when Frank handed it to her, and she read through it, even if she knew the letter by heart.
I know you expect better of me. I know, daddy... but I am not like mum, and I never will be. You have to realize that. After mum's death, you were never there for me. It was like losing both parents, and in a way, that was exactly what happened. A part of you died with mum, and I see that now. When the one you love is hurt, it hurts you, too. It hurts me to see you suffer so much, and I know I can't make things better. I'm not angry at you for not being there - I forgive you. But I can't watch you like that anymore - I can't, I'm sorry. Like I said, it hurts to see the one you love hurt, and I can't stand see you in so much pain. I will always be your daughter, whether you liked it or not, but I will remember you as the person you were before mum's death, not the person you turned into. This is my goodbye, dad; take care, and I hope we meet again - maybe I'll pass you on the street, but you won't probably recognize me, because I'm not mum. I'm not, and I'm sorry.
With all my love,
Your daughter, Anna
Anna bit her lip, and looked up at Frank. "How did this--"
"I know you didn't know the truth at that time," Frank said. "But you must realize how I felt when I read it. It made me realize that you are not your mother - you are Anna Bea," he said gently.
"How did you--" Anna started weakly, and her eyes widened. "You mean... you knew about mum, about Benjy, about... everything? And you never told me?"
"I'm so sorry, Anna," Frank said, as Anna clutched the letter in her hands. "I was... I was so angry by your mother's betrayal... I... I couldn't think straight, and all I could think of was you, and if you would turn into your mother. You reminded me of her in so many ways, and I thought I made the right choice..."
"You didn't want to let me close," Anna finished his sentence with a whisper. "You didn't want to get hurt - betrayed - all over again."
"That's when I realized I had to change," Frank said. "That was the day I went to my first AA-meeting, and met Patricia."
"Oh, dad..." Anna whispered.
"You're my girl, Nana," Frank said and smiled a little.
Without a second thought, she reached for his hand, and squeezed it gently. He looked at her with a surprised look in his eyes, as if he hadn't expected it. He slowly turned his palm up, and squeezed her hand back.
"Love you, dad," she whispered
"More than I deserve, I suppose," he grunted.
Anna smiled widely, and glanced at the watch around her dad's wrist. "Oh, I really should be going now..."
"Oh..." he said, and looked disappointed. "Will you come back soon?"
"Soon," Anna promised.
They walked downstairs, where Patricia waited for them in the hall, carrying a silver plate with tea served on. She gave Anna a warm smile, before looking at Frank. "How did it go?" she asked gently.
"Fine," they chorused, and exchanged quick glances.
"Going already?" Patricia asked, as Anna walked past her towards the door.
"Yes, I'm afraid so," she apologized, and smiled. "I really need to get back, and... well, another time, then."
"Yes," Patricia said, and nodded. "Next time you can even meet Rob!" she said with a bright smile. "Wouldn't that be lovely, Frank?"
"Indeed it would," he agreed, and nodded excitedly.
"Next time, then," Anna said, and couldn't help but grin at the couple.
"If not earlier, you are more than welcome to our wedding - it's nothing formal, just something between our closest friends and family."
"I would love to," Anna said. "When is it?"
"A month from now, on September 5th," Frank said. "We decided to keep the ceremony in our backyard."
"That sounds great," Anna commented, and brushed her hair from her face. "Can I bring a date?" she asked sheepishly.
Frank was about to say something overly fatherly, but Patricia cut in. "Of course, dear!" she said, and gave Frank a quick glance.
"Well, I see you then - if not sooner," Anna said, sensing how weird the moment was getting. "Bye!" she said and waved as she opened the door.
"Bye, honey!" Frank called after her, as they followed her out on the porch.
Anna didn't know if Patricia knew about her being a witch, so she walked calmly down the street, until she was out of their sight, and Apparated to Godric's Hollow.
"I'm home," she called, and listened to an answer.
Lily came bounding down the stairs, her face filled with eager. "How did it go?" she asked at once.
Anna smiled to herself, not really sure where to start.
"Ah, you know," she said, and shrugged. "Just... perfect."
A/N: Finally; the sequel to Untouchable is finally here! I had something like this in my head ever since she started writing the letter in Untouchable: Chapter 27, hehe. And if you REALLY want to thank someone for this to be up so, so, so fast, thank my baby boy who wanted to come out on New Year's Eve, almost two weeks early - Jasper Jonathan :)
- Lily xxx
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