Christmas morning arrived with a blanket of snow on the ground and misery in Ellie’s heart. She couldn’t believe that her father had been willing to sacrifice all those lives to save their own. It was beyond cowardly. It was behavior that would have made Godric Gryffindor roll over in his grave.
But no matter how horrible her father’s actions were, it was nothing compared to the guilt and shame Ellie felt. All these years she had thought of her father as a type of hero. Where others would shrink and cower, her father had always bravely stood for what was right. It hadn’t always been easy. When he had written an opinion piece calling for a fair trial for a suspected Death Eater a year ago, her father had been accosted on the street by angry citizens. When he had written in defense of muggle-borns last summer, they had woken one morning to find their pet cats dead in the garden, their throats slashed. No, it hadn’t always been easy for them, but her father had an obligation to defend those who needed it. While Ellie had been of the opinion that the accused Death Eater should rot in Azkaban for the rest of his life, her father had seen it as a gross violation of the man’s civil rights.
But now everything had changed. Her father was no longer a hero in her eyes. In fact, he was no better than the Death Eaters in Ellie’s opinion.
And so she was thinking when she and her family sat down to an early breakfast. She had gotten up early, having not slept much that night, and helped her mother make breakfast as best she could. After burning the eggs, she had been assigned to setting the table.
She barely followed the conversation and could hardly bring herself to eat the food her mother had made, no matter how good the French toast and bacon was. It weighed heavily on her tongue and felt as if it were trying to choke her as it went down her throat. The absolute guilt that she felt was all consuming. She still couldn’t believe the choice she had made.
Blinky refilled her cup of tea for her, adding two sugars just like Ellie liked it. The House-Elf had always been able to tell when Ellie was disturbed by something. Rather than trying to get her to talk about it though, she made sure that everyone else’s attention was on Quinn and the baby, allowing Ellie some much needed time to try and begin to work her feelings out. Blinky could be a lifesaver sometimes.
But, all good things had to come to an end. . . and for Ellie, that end came in the form of a ringing doorbell. Blinky got to her feet and, with many admonishments for the Misses Swifts to eat their food, she left the room to answer the door.
She felt sick. Even looking at her breakfast was making her feel nauseous. Maybe it was shame or maybe it was the guilt at what was to come. She would never be entirely sure, though she did know that the life she had once loved was gone forever.
The entire family fell silent as Blinky re-entered the room, followed closely by a band of Aurors, each with their wands drawn. “Isaac Swift,” said a short woman with a heart-shaped face and chestnut hair. She was looking directly at her father.
“Yes Alice?” he asked, surprise written on his face. Ellie could have hit herself for not recognizing her. The woman had helped her and Lily find their way to the tower their very first night at Hogwarts. “Is there something I can help you with?”
She nodded to two of the other Aurors and they stepped forward. “You are being placed under arrest pending an investigation of aiding suspected terrorists,” she said bluntly as they lifted him from his seat and bound his hands. “You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defense if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you say may be given as evidence.”
“What?” Arabella exclaimed. She clutched Isabella closer to her chest. “What are you talking about? What treason?”
“Your husband has been accused of passing information to Death Eaters,” Alice stated.
“That’s ridiculous,” she shot back. “Isaac would never do that. He’s been defending the rights of muggle-borns for years!”
“Be that as it may,” Alice replied calmly, “our orders are to take him into custody. He will be held in Azkaban Prison until his trial.”
“Azkaban?” Quinn asked as he clung to his mother’s arm. “That’s where those Dementors are from right?”
No one answered him. The Aurors began to file out of the room with Ellie’s father in the middle of the group. “Isaac!” her mother exclaimed.
“Take care of the children,” he answered, seconds before they left the room. The door shut loudly behind them, echoing more loudly in the now silent room.
Ellie was miserable. Completely and utterly miserable. She had betrayed her father and broken the second rule. . . but he was going to send Death Eaters after Lily’s family. If she hadn’t sent that list to the Longbottoms last night, Lily and her family might have been dead already. She had had no choice but to inform them!
But did she really have no choice? Thinking about it, Lily wasn’t blood-related and her parents had never taught her anything about defending people outside the family, especially if you were defending them against your own family. In doing so, she had broken one of the two rules she had always lived by. She had betrayed her own father. How could she have done that?
“I need a drink,” her mother announced, handing the baby to Ellie before leaving the room.
“What’s going on?” Quinn asked. “Why did they take dad away?”
“Sit down and finish your breakfast please,” Ellie requested as she held Isabella tightly.
Quinn glared at her and crossed his arms over his chest. “I want to know why they took dad,” he stated stubbornly. She looked at him angrily, taking note of the pouting lip and frightened eyes. It was a look of a scared child, no doubt about it.
“They took dad because they think he did something bad,” she explained patiently. “Will you sit down and finish your food now?”
Quinn stomped over to his seat and sat down, but refused to eat anything. “What do they think dad did?” he asked. She gave him a pointed look. Quinn glared at her and refused to move for his fork. “I’m not eating until you tell me what’s happening.”
Ellie sighed. She really didn’t want to be having this conversation with anyone, especially with her always moody nine year-old brother. But to be honest, the sooner she told him what he wanted to know, the sooner she could go and sulk somewhere in private. “They think that dad might have given some bad people the names of some good people,” she said as simply as she could.
“So, is dad a bad guy?” he asked. His face was crumpled with confusion.
“No,” Ellie assured him quickly. “No. . . at least, not really. You see, these bad people are trying to hurt the good people,” she said earnestly. “The bad people probably threatened dad to make him do it.”
Quinn looked rather thoughtful as he looked, not at Ellie, but out the window at the snowy landscape. “A good guy would have said no,” he finally said. He turned to look at his sister solemnly. “In the stories mum always read when I was little, the good guy would always refuse to help the bad guys, no matter what they said.”
“But that’s the thing Quinn,” Ellie said seriously, “these bad people aren’t like the ones in your stories. These bad people don’t always threaten to hurt the person they want help from. Sometimes,” she hesitated a moment. How much did he really need to know? “Sometimes, they threaten to do other things."
She fixed him with a long look. His eyes were bright with unshed tears. He looked calm enough to Ellie. She opened her mouth to tell him, when a little voice in the back of her head spoke up. “He’s only nine,” the voice reprimanded her. “What good would come from telling him everything?”
“Like they’d force-feed him Broccoli,” she finally said. “Like I’ll do to you if you don’t finish your breakfast.”
He fixed her with a dark look, but seemed to take her threat seriously since he began to eat more of his food. She sat, watching him silently, and as soon as he was done she sent him up to his room to play, even promising to let him play with her Wizards Chess set to get him to go willingly and quietly.
“Does Miss Ellie need anything?” Blinky asked.
“Yes,” Ellie said calmly. “Can you please go and check on my mother? Make sure she’s comfortable. She isn’t to be disturbed otherwise.”
“Yes Miss Ellie,” Blinky said, bowing so low that her ears nearly touched the floor. She turned and left the room. The flour sack she wore dragged on the floor behind her. Ellie felt a momentary jolt of pain as she watched her walk away. Blinky was practically family, yet she still dressed like that. To be fair though, her mother had tried to convince her to wear actual clothes a few years back with no success. Blinky had fallen into a sobbing fight and it had only been later that Ellie had learned that she had thought the family wanted her to leave. After that, no mention of dressing Blinky in clothes had been made, though they did make her take Sundays off to relax, which for Blinky meant keeping Quinn occupied with games and stories.
As the door swung shut, Ellie closed her eyes and began to rock back and forth silently. What had she done? What on earth had she done? She had saved her best friend’s life, but at what cost to her family?
Three days full of sympathetic family and unwelcome guests had passed. Ellie, with help from Blinky, had managed to keep the household running. While the House-Elf handled most of the cooking and cleaning, Ellie had taken it upon herself to take care of Quinn and Isabella. She got them up in the morning, made sure they ate right, got Quinn to bathe, washed Isabella, and taught Quinn his lessons. Occasionally, she found the time to get cooking and cleaning hints from Blinky and, even rarer, she found the opportunity to hide in the attic for an hour and look at old family photographs in solitude.
Her mother had barricaded herself into the master bedroom on Christmas day and hadn’t reappeared the entire time. Ellie and Blinky had done their best to get her to come down; they had coaxed, yelled, begged, and threatened all to no avail. The woman refused to leave the room. And so, Ellie made do by sending Blinky upstairs with a tray of food at meal times. After an entire day of the food coming back untouched, her mother had given in and finally eaten something.
On the third day, Ellie left Quinn and Isabella in the den with Blinky and ventured upstairs to the master bedroom. Gently, she knocked on the door and waited a few moments to enter. When she got no reply, she sighed, opened, the door, and stepped in. The room was dark. The curtains had been pulled over the windows and the candles had not been lit. Ellie waved her wand and swept the curtains open.
“Leave them!” She turned with a start towards the bed. Her mother emerged from a tangle of sheets and blankets, her dark hair a mess and her eyes rimmed red. It took Ellie a moment to realize that the ground and table were littered with liquor bottles. “The light hurts my eyes.”
“I expect they would,” she said angrily. “Drinking yourself into a coma can do that.” Her mother didn’t reply, but flopped down onto the bed once more. Ellie stomped angrily over to the bed and waved her wand once more, sending the blankets and covers flying across the room.
“Eleanor!” her mother said outraged. “What on earth do you think you are doing young lady?”
“What you should be doing yourself!” she spat back. “This is no way for you to be acting mother, especially with two young children in the house!”
“How would you understand?” Arabella asked moodily. “Your father is in jail Eleanor! Allow me to rest in peace.”
“No,” Ellie answered stubbornly. “There are two children in this house that need you mother. Blinky and I have been running things well enough, but they need you.”
“If things are going so smoothly,” she replied angrily, “then why did you feel the need to wake me up?”
“Because you are their mother,” Ellie nearly shouted. “Quinn is terrified right now! He has no idea what is going on. He’s been having such bad nightmares about the Dementors hurting dad that he has to sleep in my bed at night!”
“He’s perfectly capable of taking care of himself.”
“He’s a nine year-old boy who needs his mother to comfort him,” Ellie said, livid at her mother’s behavior.
Arabella laid a hand on her forehead and groaned. “Why won’t you leave me alone?” she sobbed. Ellie sneered at her.
“You don’t have the luxury of wallowing in your despair,” she snapped. “You have children to take care of and the way you are acting is completely disgusting. I’m ashamed to call you my mother.”
Arabella flew out of the bed and, before Ellie could react, landed a stinging blow across Ellie’s cheek. “How dare you!” she bellowed. “How dare you speak to your mother that way!”
“What mother?” Ellie yelled back, refusing to place a comforting hand to her cheek. “Whenever something horrible happens, you disappear and I’m the one who has to make everything better!”
“That’s not tr-”
“When Grandma Monticello got sick five years ago, I was the one who was making her soup and washing her, not you! When we thought Quinn had gotten lost in the woods when he was four, I was the one out searching for him, while you curled up into a ball and cried,” Ellie shouted mercilessly. “When dad got dragon pox and nearly died, it was me who sent for the Healer and kept the house running. You have never been there for me when I’ve needed you most!”
“I am not well!” her mother shouted back. “I have always had a delicate constitution! I can’t help it if I’m not well!”
“That’s no excuse!” Ellie snapped back. “A mother needs to be there for her children, no matter what happens. Anything less than your best is simply unacceptable.”
For a moment, Ellie thought she was about to hit her again. She tensed slightly, only to relax when Arabella sank onto the bed. “Am I really a bad mother?” she asked in a small voice.
“Not always,” Ellie said fairly. “When things are going well you’re a wonderful mother. It’s just when things go bad and we really need you that you disappear. That’s not fair to any of us mom!” She took a deep breath and looked around the room. It was a complete mess. Waving her wand, she levitated the empty bottles into a trash bin and folded the blankets on the floor. “We’re going to see dad today,” she continued as she worked. “You are more than welcome to come with us.”
“I don’t know,” Arabella sighed. “I don’t know if I’m up to it.”
“Then stay here and sulk all day,” Ellie spat spitefully. “I’ll just tell dad that you couldn’t make it to his trial because you were too busy crying and not honoring his request that you take care of us while he’s gone. I’m sure he’ll understand.”
She left the room without waiting for her answer, slamming the door on her way out. She was so angry, she could have screamed. . . but Isabella was still sleeping down the hall, so she contented herself with simply hitting the wall with her fist a few times. Sure, her knuckles felt broken, but it made her feel a lot better. . .
“Is mum coming?” Quinn asked. Ellie had just finished bundling him up in his winter clothes and had turned to grab some Floo Powder when Quinn had spoken.
“I don’t think so,” she said bluntly. She threw the powder into the fireplace and stepped back as the green flames burst into life. “The two of us will go together,” she said. The fireplace was big enough to hold two people and she didn’t want to risk anyone getting lost.
“Why isn’t mum coming?”
“Because she doesn’t feel well Quinn,” she answered tiredly. “Will you please stop asking questions and just get into the fireplace?”
He stuck his tongue out at her, but did as she asked. She stepped into the flames next to him, placing his hand firmly on her arm. Just as she opened her mouth to say the address, her mother appeared. Her hair wasn’t quite right and her socks didn’t match, but she was there nonetheless.
“Change your mind?” Ellie asked.
Arabella nodded. “If you don’t mind the extra company,” she said.
Ellie nodded. “Right, Quinn why don’t you go with mum?” she asked as she gently nudged him towards their mother. Maybe giving her some responsibility would help keep her focused. “The directions said to state we need to go to the holding area within the Ministry. And remember to speak clearly mum.”
“You talk like I have no clue what I’m doing,” her mother said, rolling her eyes. Ellie felt a grin tugging at the corners of her mouth, but she refused to smile. Today wasn’t a smiling day and she was still angry at her mother’s absence. Instead, she spoke the address in a loud and clear voice.
Several seconds passed during which Ellie felt like cursing the person who came up with the idea of travelling through fireplaces. Finally, the spinning stopped and Ellie stumbled out of the fireplace. She coughed a few times and brushed the soot off her clothes as she looked around. The room she was in wasn’t very large, but it had several large windows that appeared to look out over a busy street. In reality, they were actually several stories underground. It was one of the many ways the Ministry had to try and prevent prisoners from escaping while awaiting trial.
She turned around as she heard a noise and caught sight of her mother and Quinn spinning into view. Quinn stepped out of the fireplace with a nauseous look on his face. “I hate the Floo network,” he gasped. Arabella removed her wand and gently siphoned the soot off his clothes.
Ellie turned and walked towards a window at the far side of the room. “Hello?” she asked uncertainly. She had never visited the Ministry before and really had no idea what she was supposed to be doing. She looked around the room briefly, before turning back towards the window.
Ellie jumped and stepped away from the window. A face was forming from the glass, a rather bored looking face if she was correct. “Name?” a voice asked loudly. She assumed it came from the glass face, but it startled her nonetheless.
“Swift,” she replied. “Ellie, Arabella, and Quinn.”
“What is your business at the Ministry today?”
“Isaac Swift’s trial,” she said in a clear voice. A second later, a piece of the glass fell away and three buttons fell out onto the counter. Ellie picked one up, saw that it had her brother’s name on it, and handed it to him. When they each had their designated pin, she turned back to the window. The face had disappeared.
“What now?” she asked. A second later, the floor dropped out from beneath them and they plummeted through the floor. Ellie shrieked once in shock, then clamped her mouth shut and closed her eyes. It was only a few seconds later that Ellie hit the floor. Luckily, whoever had come up with the idea to allow people to enter the Ministry that way had thought enough to have cushions and charms placed to break their fall. Still, Ellie found herself wishing them a slow and painful death as she climbed unsteadily to her feet.
There was a large and imposing looking door at the other side of the room. A group of guards stood outside it and, Ellie assumed, that more stood within the room. Slowly, she made her way over to them. “We’re here to see my father,” she said nervously. “His name is Isaac Swift.”
“Present your wands,” one of the guards ordered. Ellie handed her’s over as her mother did the same. “We’ll be keeping these while you’re in the room.” Ellie nodded, not liking the fact that her wand wouldn’t be close at hand. “Please do not touch the accused. Stay on your side of the table at all times and speak in a clear voice. Any violation of these rules will result in immediate expulsion from the holding area. You will have half an hour.”
Before she knew what was happening, they were in the room and the door was shut behind them. Ellie blinked. The room was small, bare, and chilly. She pulled her cloak tighter around her body, glad that she had decided against bringing Isabella. This room was no place for an infant. A few moments passed in silence as they each took seats at the table. Finally, the door opposite them opened and two guards escorted her father in. As soon as he was seated, the guards withdrew, leaving the family alone.
“Hello,” Isaac said cheerfully. “How are you all?”
“Never mind us,” Arabella said, “how are you? Are they treating you alright?”
“No worse than any of the other prisoners,” he said calmly. “I get treated like everyone else.”
“Well, at least they aren’t being cruel,” her mother said gently. “Although, wrongfully accusing and imprisoning you is cruel enough.”
“I know my dear,” Isaac said as he leaned forward. The chains wrapped around his wrists clanged together obnoxiously at the movement. “But I’ll be out of here soon, as I should be.” He sighed deeply and turned to his children. “Have you two been good for your mother?”
“Yes,” Quinn said dutifully. Ellie remained silent. “Isabella has been as good as a stupid baby can be.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Isaac said, ignoring that last part about the baby. “You’re the man of the house Quinn. I expect you to watch after your mother and the girls until I get home. And I’ll need all of your help in clearing my good name once I’m out.”
Ellie couldn’t help but snort. She hadn’t meant to be rude, but really, the idea of her father being innocent and getting out soon was enough to make it happen.
“Eleanor,” her mother began sternly.
“You honestly believe this crap?” she interrupted her mother.
“I really don’t care about my language at the moment,” she interrupted once more. “You really believe all of this crap about him being innocent?”
“And you don’t?”
“How could I given the evidence?” she asked incredulously.
“What evidence?” her father asked suspiciously. His eyes were narrowed as he gazed at her. “Eleanor?”
“I overheard the Lestranges threatening you at the ball,” she snapped before she could stop herself. “I overheard them threatening to kill us and I overheard you taking the note from them! My God dad,” she said, pulling her mahogany hair with both hands, “I even found that goddamn list you wrote for them!”
“What are you saying?” her father asked, his voice rising slightly. Whether it was from panic or anger, Ellie couldn’t tell. “Are you saying you informed on me?”
“Yes, I am,” she stated. She pushed the feeling of guilt away. She would deal with that later. “How could you dad?”
“I had to protect my family,” he protested. “I had to do what was necessary to protect you all!”
“At what cost dad?” she asked. “At the cost of all those lives? At the cost of my best friend’s life?”
“I did what was nece-”
“You did what was easy,” she spat out venomously. “You could have gone to the Ministry for help, but you didn’t. They would have protected us!”
“You don’t know the things I do Eleanor,” he said heatedly. “I hear things at the Prophet. People the Ministry is protecting have gone missing and turned up dead recently!”
“Better to be dead than a traitor!” she snarled.
Silence fell upon the pair. Ellie was breathing heavily in her rage. Her father’s face had gone a pasty shade of white. “And what does that make you Eleanor?” he asked quietly. “You’ve betrayed your father. After all these years of working to give you the very best and worrying over your future and this is what I get for thanks? How on earth did you turn out to be such a spoiled and self-centered brat?”
“Don’t!” Ellie and her father both turned. Arabella was gripping the table top so hard that her knuckles were white. “Don’t you dare call my daughter a brat!” she growled.
“Bella?” Isaac asked in confusion.
“Eleanor is no brat. I for one am proud of her,” she said, holding her head a little higher.
“So turning on her father is appropriate behavior now?” Isaac asked furiously.
“It is when the father is wrong!”
That stopped him cold. She had called him many things over the course of their marriage, but wrong had never been one of them. “Why don’t you give me and dad some time to talk,” Ellie said suddenly. “It’d be better for him to just get everything out of his system before the trial.”
Arabella’s nostrils flared and she shot a very untrusting look at her husband, but she withdrew towards the door with Quinn. “And don’t call me Bella,” she snarled at Isaac. “I’ll never be your Bella again.” Two knocks and a few seconds later, they had disappeared into the hallway and Ellie was left alone with her father.
“So I’m guessing you won’t be helping me out of this mess.”
Ellie turned an outraged look onto her father. “You honestly expect me to help a traitor out of prison?” she asked.
“When that person is your father,” he replied, “yes. I do.”
Various thoughts swirled through Ellie’s mind. The first of these thoughts, which was to hex him into next week, she pushed to the back of her mind since she didn’t have her wand. Her second thought was to use physical force, but that would do no good because she was so much smaller than he was. Her third, and most appealing thought, was to give him a verbal lashing that he would never forget.
But something stopped her. When she looked into his eyes, she couldn’t help but notice that they looked very similar to her own. He was her father. Without him, she wouldn’t be the person she was today, let alone alive. He had worked tirelessly the past seventeen years to insure that she had the best life he could offer her. . . and now here she was, the reason why they were glaring at one another.
But he would have seen Lily and the Evans murdered. He would have signed away their lives and many others just to save the lives of a few. Sure, they were important lives to Ellie, but what were four lives compared to twenty in the grand scheme of things?
“I would never help you,” she said calmly, choking back the immediate rush of horror and guilt that she felt at herself.
Her father breathed heavily and raised his head to look at her once more. “So you won’t help me then?” he asked baldly. “My own daughter would refuse to help me when I need her most, would turn her back on her own family.”
“Loyalty to family and blind obedience are two very different things dad,” Ellie said in a quiet voice. “I won’t help you because you don’t deserve it. You forfeited that right the second you made that list.”
“And you just forfeited your right, and the right of your children, as my heirs,” he snapped, slamming his hands against the table. He looked very much like a five year-old having a tantrum. “No daughter of mine would side against her family!”
“A daughter who knows right from wrong would,” she declared. “Then again, you haven’t been entirely clear on what is right and wrong for the past year.”
He shot her a curious look, which he quickly masked behind a look of boredom. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about your marriage,” she said, not bothering to skirt around the issue. If he were going to threaten to disown her, she would threaten right back. “I’m talking about the affair you’ve been having.”
As soon as she saw the color drain from her father’s face, she felt a guilt more profound than any she had felt before. Regardless of what he had done, he was still her father. “How do you know about that?” he asked breathlessly.
“Isabella was ill one night,” she said. “Your office door was open a bit and I overheard a conversation you were having while I was getting her medicine from the kitchen. Who were you talking with?”
“And why is that any of your business?”
Ellie took a deep breath. It was now or never. “Because if you don’t agree to plead guilty to all charges and keep me as your heir, then I’ll tell mum,” she said bluntly.
Silence fell over the pair. She chanced a look at his face. It was blank of any emotion. “What did I do to deserve such a treacherous daughter?” he asked no one in particular. “You haven’t told her?”
“She has no clue,” she replied. “I thought I’d give you a chance to either tell her yourself or to stop your behavior.”
He looked thoughtful for a moment. Ellie assumed he was looking for a way to get out of agreeing to her deal. When he turned a stormy look onto her, Ellie knew she had won. “Fine,” he practically spat at her. “I’ll do what you ask.”
“Good,” she said as she stood up. Her hands were shaking as she smoothed her cloak. “Who were you having the affair with?”
“Why should I tell you?” he snarled at her.
“Because I know your secret,” she answered. “And I’m curious.”
He shot her a darker, if possible, glare. “Livia.”
Ellie froze. “Greengrass?” she asked in an appalled voice as he nodded. “She’s only six years older than me dad!” He shrugged and refused to meet her accusing gaze. “She’s young enough to be your daughter!”
“And how I wish every single day that my daughter was as loyal and obedient as she is,” he commented.
The remark stung, but she turned her head a bit to hide that from him. “I hope she’s as loyal as you claim,” she said as she reached for the doorknob. “Otherwise, you’ll have no one visiting you as you rot in Azkaban the rest of your life.” And with that, she opened the door and hurried out, ignoring her father’s last pitiful cry as she walked out of his life. . .
“Have some more tea.”
Ellie complied with her aunt’s request numbly. She still couldn’t believe she had said all those things to her father, let alone agreeing to testify against him during his trial. She could still see the room perfectly; the benches filled with reporters, Council members, and interested citizens. She had listened silently as her father had defended himself against the charges in complete disregard for her wishes. She had watched in silence as a few other witnesses were called to the stand, before she herself stood and walked over. She had seen the look of utter betrayal that had flashed across her father’s face. It was Ellie’s opinion that you would be hard pressed to find a worse daughter than she was.
“This is not your fault.”
She had heard many people say that to her over the past day, but somehow she did feel a little better hearing it from Rosaline. She turned her attention to her aunt. Her hair was still as thick and golden as ever, but there were dark circles beneath her eyes and she looked older than the last time Ellie had seen her.
“Did you hear me Ellie?” she asked. When she nodded, Rosaline said, “Good. I don’t like to repeat myself.” Ellie snorted quietly. That was entirely like her aunt. “Are you alright?”
This question was more difficult to answer. . . mainly, because it required Ellie to speak and she wasn’t entirely sure her voice was calm enough for that. “As well as can be expected,” she finally said, staring down at the cup.
“Well, you can’t stay shut up in this house forever,” Rosaline said. “Honestly, I can’t keep coming over here to check up on you all. I’m worried that if I leave Sal and Blake at the house alone for too long that they’ll change the wards to keep me out.”
She had a good point. Knowing what she did about her uncle and cousin, Ellie wouldn’t have been too surprised if they pulled something like that. She looked around the kitchen. It was almost lunch time and the younger kids would be expecting food shortly.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” she said in a shaky voice. “Mum has completely shut herself off in her room and I’m leaving for school in a few days. How am I supposed to take care of two kids and an entire house while I’m at school?”
Rosaline stirred her tea thoughtfully. “Don’t worry about your mother,” she said. “I’ll be whipping her back into shape soon enough. And once that’s done, she’ll be able to handle all the rest.” She tossed her hair over one shoulder and shot Ellie a serious look. “I’ll stop by occasionally to make sure she’s doing alright. Just make sure you give Blinky strict instructions on what to do in case something goes wrong.”
Ellie nodded. Blinky would be able to handle anything that happened. Anything she needed help with she could talk to Rosaline about. Ellie sat back in her chair and took a long sip of tea. With Rosaline and Blinky around, maybe things would turn out alright after all. . .
A/N: I know it's a day or two earlier than I said I would post, but you guys have been so patient with me that I thought I'd be nice and put it up a bit early. I hope you all enjoyed this Chapter!
- Anders -
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