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The Grey Heart by Phoenix_Flames
Chapter 1 : The Grey Heart
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 21

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Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, except for Edmund. The others were created by JK Rowling.

This was beta'ed by Violet Gryffindor. Thank you so much, Susan!

Helena Ravenclaw slipped her wand into the bosom of her dress and tied the ivory cape around her shoulders. The edges were lined with gold ribbons with intricate borders. She pulled the hood over her head to hide her face.

The hour was late. If she was caught, she would be doomed and stripped of her reputation. Her mother would make sure of that. She was lucky the Head of Houses’ chambers were a recent installment to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The school had been alive for a few years now, and Helena had been just young enough to enter the school. The castle was massive, but the number of students was small. However, it was ever growing, and it had a marvelous destiny to live up to.

In the Ravenclaw common room, the fire wasn't even crackling in the hearth. That normal, eerie, cool feeling washed over Helena as she slipped out of the common room and into the corridor.

She knew the halls well. She didn't need the light, but the occasional moonlight spilling in from a window gave the corridor a nice illumination. Her shoes made a soft padding noise beneath her feet, and her dress rustled against the stone ground as she fled. Her breathing was rattled from her anxiety, and she pulled at the lacings of her dress and corset to loosen her chest. She inhaled sharply at the sudden air that rushed through her lungs.

She rounded the corner, careful to take in all sights and sounds. Helena pulled up her deep blue gown and continued to run. She raced up the many flights of stairs and reached the winding stairs of the tower.

Helena had promised him she would meet him there as soon as the sun had been set for five hours. She had kept track of the hours diligently in her head before fleeing from the common room and to the Astronomy tower. She reached the deck of the tower and stopped at the landing.

Her pale, graceful head inclined with her smile, her hand poised on the rail of the stairs. The deck of the Astronomy tower extended out into the moonlight, and he stood there, leaning against the rail, waiting for her presence.

She smiled, and her heart throbbed. She glided forward and slipped her hand around the back of his cape and around his neck, turning his fair face towards hers. The moonlight graced his cheek. He needed to shave, but Helena kind of liked the tickle it gave her cheek.

He turned towards her, let the moonlight wash over her face, and illuminate her beauty. Her teeth appeared between her smile, her thin, pink lips tugging up with their delight. Her brown hair was down and tumbled to her waist in her curls. She hadn't even bothered to clip it back. It hung about her eyes, framing her face perfectly. Her eyes were alive with his presence and the thrill she held for him.

He spoke with passion and responsibility. "You're early."

"Of course." Helena let her voice sigh in pleasure, the heat of him before her sent her heart pulsing wildly. "Time with you is a gift. Anything to be with you longer."

"You don't look like you have any intention to stay," he presumed.

Helena quickly drew her head back, her lips pursed and her eyebrows pulled together. "What makes you say such a thing?"

"You are still wearing your day's gown. Normally you come to see me in your night gown."

She flushed. "Can I not look beautiful for you?"

"You look beautiful for me no matter what you are wearing," he breathed against her neck. Helena melted against him and sighed. "Oh, Edmund."

"My lady," he agreed. Then he was kissing her, doing what he was meant to do. She wrapped delicately around him. Her lips melted against his. They felt like a smooth, enticing fire, drawing her in. He slowly snaked around her so he held her back against his chest. He fumbled with the loose strings of her dress before sliding his hands into her dress at the back and letting them slither to the smooth plane of her stomach.

His hand traced patters into her skin. His lips left a burning feel on her neck, and he gave a push with his hands. Then she was there before him, bare and her dress nothing more than a heap of beautiful satin on the ground. Edmund smiled at her beauty and drew her into his arms.

They lay on the cool wood of the deck to the Astronomy tower, glancing up at the stars, Helena's cape draped over their bare bodies. She rolled onto her stomach and played with her fingers, tucking her crazed curls behind her ears. Edmund turned on his side and looked at the perfect curve of her back. He lent in to kiss the cool skin, his excuse for a beard tickling her skin. He asked as he drew away. "What did your mother have to say today?"

Helena grimaced and turned her face from his entrancing gaze. Edmund had a narrow face, his jaw set with high cheek bones. His nose was long, and his eye brows thick with cool, yet loving blue eyes beneath them. His dark blond hair was long and curled randomly, hanging down into his face.

He gave her a persuasive look, but Helena refused. "It was nothing. I would rather not talk about it."

"You tell me everything," he cooed, his arm linking around her waist and pulling her against his chest. Helena stood her ground. "Maybe so, but you don't want to hear what she had to tell me."

Edmund shook his head, and Helena finally gave in. She murmured down to her hands. "I am not able to persuade her. She is set hard on this marriage. I am to be married to the Baron in two months time. I can't imagine giving myself to that wretched man."

Edmund pursed his lips, tears swimming in his eyes. He squeezed her body and pressed in a hard tone. "You cannot marry him! You are mine. I’ve…You’re not…You've touched me, and I you!"

"My mother doesn't know that," Helena hissed. She calmed herself and slithered out from his arms. She sat up on the deck and gazed up at the stars, her cape draped only over her thighs. "Besides, Edmund, you promised. We both promised that nothing would become of our love making. You swore to me you wouldn't love me, and if you did, we would end it."

"I never said I loved you," Edmund whispered lightly into the wind. Helena turned her head towards him. Her eyebrows creased with her accusation. "You didn't need to say it. I can hear it in your voice, hear it in your heart, and feel it when you kiss me. I know you love me, Edmund."

"Fine," Edmund said in a determined voice. He crawled towards her and stared her down, until she had to look away from his hard, penetrating gaze. "I love you, you understand? I do. I - can't - help - it! I'm pulled to you, and I know I promised, but I just couldn't admit it to myself! You're Rowena's daughter! What we're doing could ruin us and our families. It could ruin your reputation and status."

"Believe that I know those things," Helena said in a cool voice. She rose and snatched her gown from the deck, beginning to step into it. Edmund jumped up and stopped her. He cupped her cheek, pressing his body against hers. He gave her a smile full of longing, and he let his voice echo. "Don't leave just yet. Lie down with me."

Helena sighed and let Edmund tug the dress off her once more. He maneuvered her to the ground, and he enveloped her into his warm embrace. She struggled to gain a little wiggle and breathing room. She sighed, her mind fading into her inner thoughts. "What is love? Love doesn't exist. It belongs in myths about the Gods, not with humans on earth."

Edmund stopped her and drew her to his lap. He grasped her wrists and held her gaze strongly. "You shall stop this now. Love isn't only found in books and stories. I have it. Right here in my very grasp. I love you, Lady Helena, no matter what you say."

"Despite what love you say you may hold for me, I cannot love you. I am betrothed to the Baron of Cornwall. My mother watches everything like an eagle in the sky! I cannot risk losing my head. It is treason, Edmund!" Helena pleaded.

"Your own mother," Edmund began. He couldn't believe she would consider it, "would never behead you."

"Then she would gladly take yours in exchange!" Helena accused. She struggled once more, but Edmund pushed her down and pressed his body against hers. He had her pinned to the ground, holding her tightly between the cool floor and his body. Edmund panted as he held her down. He clipped her wrists and caught her gaze. He knew her weak spot. She couldn't hold eye contact without letting her guard down. Soon enough, her trembling and thrashing faded, until she was lying still beneath him. Her arms went back around his neck, and he whispered, kissing her forehead. "If you had not wished to face the consequences of our affair, then you would never have met me here at the beginning of the year. We would not have held our affair for so long. You would not have let me fall in love with you."

"You cannot love me, Edmund," Helena struggled. Her lips trembled, and he kissed her to subdue her cries. She wept beneath him. She couldn't remember the last time she cried. It wasn't like her. She was a strong woman who could uphold her exterior, but suddenly, here with Edmund, she was at loss. Her whole life she had lived in her mother's shadow, doing her best to impress those around her and keep the reputation her mother had set for her. She had obeyed her mother and accepted the announcement of the betrothal when she was told at eleven years of age.

It hadn't ever bothered her. That was just the way things went. Girls were traded like cattle among men, given against their will so men could be followed by their own successors. She hadn't minded until now, until she was lying beneath Edmund of Strathclyde, a commoner, facing the truth. She loved him.

Her cries faded and she looked at Edmund in a new light. Her tears glistened, and the moonlight illuminated his face in her view. She blinked, and Edmund sighed in realization. "You love me, Lady Helena Ravenclaw."

"Perhaps," Helena admitted. She continued to speak even though Edmund's lips had come down on hers in pure joy. "But it cannot be. It mustn’t be."

"And why not, my beautiful lady?" Edmund pressed.

"I am betrothed!" Helena pressed once more.

"You don't have to be." He was speaking in a rush, speaking before he could even consider his words. "Leave with me. We can leave tonight. No one would ever have to know, Lady. It would just be you and me forever."

"And leave everything that has been set out for me behind? Lose my position as my mother's successor? Leave Hogwarts?" Her face was of pure horror, and her voice was distraught, but it held the correct sequence to make her happy ending with Edmund.

"No one could ever find us! We could leave," Edmund said.

Helena pushed him off of her body, and this time she was able to snatch her dress with success. She fumbled with the deep, ocean blue satin embellished with green and gold designs. Helena loved her gowns. They were always the most beautiful, intricate, and expensive. Her mother was, after all, Rowena Ravenclaw. She stepped into it and requested Edmund to lace her up.

He sighed and took a few reluctant steps towards her. "Why would I ever want to do such a thing? Your beauty is hidden beneath your gowns and jewels. You do not need them." Despite his statements, he began to fumble with the laces of her dress. "What say you about my proposition?"

"I think..." Her voice faded with her confidence, and Edmund paused with his work until she spoke again. "I think it would be foolish of us to abandon everything."

"Acting out of love is not foolish," Edmund scolded. As he finished lacing her gown, he turned her body to face him. "Running away from love, that would be foolish."

"Edmund, I - "

"Helena," Edmund said quickly. Helena felt her heart flutter at hearing him say her name alone. Those moments were rare. If he was heard calling her simply that in the presence of anyone else, they would easily be found. It wasn't the custom of women to allow men to call them by their name alone. It was always more official. But here by themselves, two people in love, the name felt right. "Listen to my voice. I can no longer go on like this. I love you, and I will not let you escape from me. Leave with me."

She was quiet for many moments. Her hair billowed in the wind as it rushed towards them, whistling in their ears. Edmund's heart beat faster, and he bit his lip to keep his calm. He was awaiting her answer, hoping she would make the right choice. It felt like an eternity when she finally nodded.

"How shall we leave?"

"Well," Edmund was relieved, but the night was already fading. There was no time to lose. They had to be gone before sunrise without a trace. "Hogwarts is protected with apparating barriers, and I would rather you keep the extra arm, leg, or eye. Horseback."

"Where shall we go?" Helena asked as Edmund pulled on his clothes. He stumbled into them, and Helena watched him struggle with a fit of giggles. He pulled on his Hufflepuff robes with a hasty smile and ran to her once more, giving her a kiss full of longing. He stuttered a thousand thank yous into her mouth before answering her question. "Wherever you want, my love, but somewhere where we will never be found."

"I've always wanted to live in exile, with nothing but the nature. The flowers, the trees, the birds, and the sky. Surrounded by nothing. It seems peaceful," Helena smiled.

"Then we will go there!" Edmund exclaimed. "I will find you your cottage and build it for you. Away from everything? Can you manage that, my sweet? Away from your jewels and gowns?"

Helena scoffed. "I may be spoiled by my mother, but I do not rely on my attire completely."

Edmund chuckled at her reply and kissed her once more. It took him awhile to find the will to pull away. He reminded himself he now had an eternity to kiss her, to love her, and be with her. "Albania," he suddenly proclaimed. "Ti's scarcely touched by people. In the forest we could make our home."

"Agreed," Helena smiled and pulled him in for another kiss. When they stop, their lips lingered on the others skin, yearning to feel each other. "But my mother. She sees everything, she knows. It's that diadem that makes her even more powerful."

Edmund breathed heavily and thought hard for a few moments, all the while, running his hands through Helena's curls. Finally, he muttered, "Steal it."

"Steal it?" Helena was horrified.

"You just said yourself the diadem is powerful enough for her to locate us anywhere. It has to be out of her possession. You must steal it," Edmund pressed. He gave her another kiss to force that one last ounce of persuasion.

Helena stumbled back and did her best to hold her balance. Her eyes suddenly flashed, illuminated with her jealousy and determination. "Yes, I must steal it. She has always been too powerful."

"Lady, don't be jealous," Edmund reminded. He grasped her shoulders. "You are perfect as you are. You don't need a diadem to make you any wiser."

She muttered a thank you before replacing her cape across her shoulders, and draping the cool fabric over her hair line. She lifted her face to Edmund. It looked dark and demonic in the moonlight, but Edmund blinked and smiled. "I will meet you at the gates in one hour's time. Pack your things and steal the diadem. I will be waiting for you."

He kissed her forehead before his cloak rippled in the wind, and he was fleeing down the stairs, nothing more but a trail in the wind. Her trail to happiness.

Helena's heart fluttered and she smiled. She knew what she was about to do could cost her her life, but for what it was worth, she didn't care. Her body pulsed with excitement and anxiety. She couldn't stop her smile, her rapidly beating heart, and her determination.

She ran to the edge of the Astronomy tower and placed her hands on the cool rail. She looked down the long ways and felt the wind gush at every inch of her soul. Her eyes fluttered and she whispered, "Goodbye, Hogwarts," letting her voice float to every end of the castle, which had touched her heart so dearly.

Then, like Edmund, she became nothing more than a shadow in the dark as she raced to Ravenclaw tower. Her feet were soft, fast, and quiet. Her flowing gown rustled against the stone as she ran. She reached the tower quick enough and muttered the password to the portrait of a raven. The portrait slid aside and she slipped in, the portrait closing in on her.

The blue and gold common room was dark and musty, no traces of movement. Helena snatched the front of her gown and pulled it up to race up the steps to Ravenclaw tower where the girls slept. In the tower, her fellow classmates were sound asleep. Helena cast a silencing charm over her movements and began to rip her many gowns out from her wardrobe. She shrank them and tossed them into one of her pocket purses. She did the same with her jewels. She knew, once she had settled safely in Albania, these jewels would mean nothing to her. But they could certainly mean something to a wizarding jeweler. She figured she could sell them. Her name held much more importance to the wizarding world than it did to herself.

Soon enough, her belongings were shrunk and stuffed into her bag. There was one thing left for her to pack. She reached beneath her bed and pulled out a long, leather sheath. She placed it on the sheets of her bed and fingered it gently. Lifting it, she grabbed for the jeweled handle and pulled. The sword made a beautiful, sharp sound against the sword's casing.

Helena eyed it longingly. The sword had been her father's. She had never known the man, but had known the sword was kept with the few number of things he had left with her mother. Helena had stolen it years previously, a token to try and create the father she had always wanted. Helena knew the road before her and Edmund would be a dangerous one. She assumed a sword could come in handy. Edmund had his own, and Helena had not been practiced in the art of sword craft, but she assumed Edmund could teach her. She knew, at some point on their long journey together, a sword might become necessary.

She replaced the sword in its sheath and tied the leather strap to her waist. With her bag in hand, she swooped from the tower with not even a sound. She had one task left to do, this one the most important. This one she could not fail.

Helena walked swiftly to her mother's chambers. Her chambers were marked with large oak doors and the Ravenclaw emblem hanging from two tapestries on either side of the door. Two torches lit the way to her chamber. Helena gave them uneasy looks before she pushed through the doors. They creaked noisily, and she begged for them to silence.

Helena didn't dare near her mother's bedside. Rowena Ravenclaw was an easy sleeper and could wake at the slightest noise. Helena knew Rowena kept her diadem on a velvet cushion next to her jewels. Her jewels were in Rowena's dressing room, behind a set of doors off to the left of the entrance room, a room decorated with chairs, books, and other antiques to history.

Helena leaped towards the doors and slipped inside them. In the room, a wash tub sat in the middle with bottles of scented water next to it. Cloths for dying lay on a golden rack against the stone wall. Stained windows let the moon's light pour in and show Helena her way. Beneath the largest stained window, a painted picture of Rowena herself, sat a wooden armoire filled with Rowena's prized jewels.

Helena's eyes swam with the confidence of success and she ran towards it. The shining diadem was sitting on a red velvet cushion next to the armoire. Every few seconds, a blue light would reflect an orb swimming about the diadem. Helena knew this charm well. The diadem was protected by a charm her mother had created. The charm allowed only a blood Ravenclaw to penetrate the barrier around the diadem. With this charm, Helena knew she would be giving herself away. As the only two blood Ravenclaws left in the world, Helena could be the only option.

Helena drew in a sharp breath, bringing her hand towards her chest. She glanced around anxiously, thinking about everything she’d be giving up the second she reached for that diadem, the second she would flee from the castle with Edmund, the second she had agreed to go away with him.

She was throwing away many things, yet freeing herself of others. She was throwing away her reputation, her status. These she would miss. She would miss being the daughter of the famous Rowena Ravenclaw, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, she would not miss being the perfect little girl because of who she was. She was tired of obeying rules, doing her mother's bidding. Helena reminded herself that every girl still lived under that circumstance, though. She wouldn't have to live with the Baron of Cornwall's wretched, drooling, demonic stare anymore. She wouldn't have to face a life of his cruel bidding, being his toy. She wouldn't miss being everyone's pet, being under the watchful eye of her mother.

But most of all, she would not miss that Baron. He was old and disgusting. He was evil, selfish, and cruel. Helena did not even understand why her mother would arrange for such a marriage in the first place. Helena could have married a much better man under her mother's orders, but now she would never have to face that order. That thought put a smile to Helena's face as she reached for the diadem.

She would have a long, happy life with Edmund in the forest of Albania. Maybe they could get married, have children of their own. Her heart pulsed with happiness at the thought as her fingers wrapped around the cool silver. She placed it atop her head and turned towards the large pane of glass upon which you could see your reflection.

She smiled at herself. Helena knew she was beautiful. She had acquired her mother's beauty, but someone else's startling brunette curls. Her hair flowed down to her waist, and her skin was pale, her face round. Her cheeks had a perfect red flush about them, full of life and wisdom. Helena now saw the love reflecting in her own eyes. Helena pulled the cape over her head, covering the diadem, and turned from the glass, a cruel smile on her face.

Helena had never worn the diadem before, but she now understood how her mother had been so powerful. Without it, Rowena Ravenclaw still possessed an extreme amount of talent and brains, but the diadem had enhanced it and enhanced other matters of the human mind as well. Helena now understood how her mother seemed to know everything whilst wearing the diadem. She could hear more of her surroundings. She could hear her mother's light breathing from the wing next to the dressing room. She could hear the silence of the corridors, the crackling of the torches next to the door.

Helena let a cruel laugh escape her lips, the feeling of power washing over her. Her task complete, she swooped from the room and down the hall. Helena assumed an hour had passed. She raced down the many sets of stairs and through the entrance hall. She came to the large front door, and she pulled out her wand, muttering. "Alohomora!"

The thousands of bolts clicked and the door swung open for her. Hogwarts was a school of little worry. It wasn't necessary to have the most extreme levels of protection. It was easy for her to slip through them and reseal the door before running across the grounds at full speed, towards the gate and towards her new life. She gave her wand a quick wave and the large, wooden gate swung forward like parting waters.

She stepped through and turned to reseal the gate. She ran down the cobbled road and turned a corner, keeping her eyes and ears open to any sound or movement. She could hear the neighing of horses, and she followed their travel. At the edge of the tiny settlement of Hogsmeade, Helena found Edmund atop his horse, the reigns for the second in his grasp.

Helena approached the unknown horse, her hand out, stretching to gently stroke the horse's nose. The horse turned his large head into her palm, nudging it gently. She giggled, "I knew you were paying a man to keep your horse, but I did not think you had two."

"I don't," Edmund snickered. His black mare trotted back and forth impatiently, tossing it's head and mane. "I stole this one."

"You stole it?"

"Yes," Edmund replied. He hopped down from his horse and cupped the bottom of Helena's foot to heave her upon her own horse. She did not sit side-saddle like other women. She raised her dress so her legs could be on either side of the horse's back. Edmund said proudly. "Very good posture, Helena. Riding like a true woman, you are."

Helena titled her head to Edmund in a gracious thank you. He heaved himself onto his horse with ease and asked her gently before kicking his heels into the horse. "Where is the diadem?"

Helena pointed towards her head, and Edmund noted how the hood of her cape curved upwards to a point, higher than her head actually raised. Edmund nodded in satisfaction. He caught sight of a leather sheath beneath Helena's cape. He pointed towards it and asked curiously. "What is that?"

"A sword," Helena replied absently. She tossed her cape back to expose the long sheath and jeweled handle. "My father's."

"And what is a woman like you doing with a sword?" His dark blond eyebrows curved in at a disapproving angle.

Helena scoffed and said with a snooty tone, "A woman like me can handle a sword, thank you very much, my lord. It could be useful on our journey."

"Are you skilled with a sword, Helena, love?" His voice was softer now. The horse trotted back and forth, becoming impatient. He circled Helen's content horse. Helena shook her head. "No, my lord, but you are. You could easily train me."

"Very well," Edmund agreed and kicked his heels in. His horse rose on its back legs, let out a loud neigh before bolting forward.

Helena did the same, drawing her heels up into the horse's belly and giving a push. She shouted as the horse raced forward, "Ha!"

Her horse bolted forward, running at full speed. The wind lashed back her curls, and the cool wind kissed her cheeks. She felt oddly free as she glanced back at the gloomy castle. That evil cackle rose in her throat again as her rose caught of up to Edmund's. Helena asked, her horse's jolting causing her voice to break oddly. "What will we do with our lives now?"

"Whatever you want, my lady," Edmund's voice just as shaky from his racing horse. They reached the end of Hogsmeade, and the cobbled stone ground turned into grass, and they were off, running over hills of endless grass. "Perhaps, with the Baron no longer your betrothed, you shall be my wife, and we shall have children of our own."

"Children disgust me," Helena found herself confessing. Edmund gave her an odd sideways glance. That was a fact he had not known about Helena Ravenclaw. He wrinkled his nose and made his attempts to persuade her. "Children should not disgust anyone. Children are not vile or cruel. They are the meaning of life and the exact example of love, Helena. Children are joyous and adventurous. I have always wanted to be a father. Are you telling me now that I will not get my wish?"

"No. I'm not telling you that," Helena sighed.

"Perhaps you will think differently when it is your own child and my own," Edmund suggested.

Helena kept quiet and thought. It wasn't exactly the child that disgusted her. It was the thought of bearing them. But maybe it was the thought of bearing the Baron's children. Ever since her birth, she had been the Baron's betrothed. The thought of conceiving with the Baron was a disgusting one. He was old...wrinkled...cruel and dishonest. She hadn't ever wanted someone with any relation to the Baron to be growing inside of her. As she thought on, the thought of Edmund's child growing inside her made her heart thump. A little piece of Edmund within her very body.

She sighed. "Perhaps."

Their journey was a long and desolate one. They accepted food and shelter from strangers, camped in the wilderness with nothing but their horses, wands, and each other, but they didn't mind. They were facing the journey of a lifetime and came into contact with more than just harsh weather. The trek was long, but in the end, it was worth it. At night, around the fire, they spent their time doing what lovers did and also working hard to survive. Their magic was helpful, but with their goal being to leave as little a trace as possible, magic became difficult to use. Edmund also trained Helena with a sword until she became as skilled as any man. She was fierce and impenetrable.

Helena used the diadem to her advantage. She watched her mother's every move, even as Rowena desolately continued to monitor Hogwarts, distraught that her only daughter was missing. Watching her mother's day to day actions through the diadem caused Helena great pain, but it also kept her well alert. Rowena was a jumble of mixed emotions. Rowena knew Helena had stolen the diadem, and Rowena was angry with her for that, but Rowena had also sent the Baron of Cornwall - after her a month into their journey - to retrieve her. The Baron was lost amongst the land of Spain, searching every inch for Helena with ferocity and rage. With the diadem, Helena knew they remained out of harm's way.

They traveled for two months, one week, and four days. It was during those four days that they roamed through the many forests of Albania until they came across an open, beautiful clearing, the sun shining down right through the gap in the trees.

Edmund dismounted his horse and reached to help down Helena. She stumbled slightly, and he up-righted her with ease. He gave her lips a quick kiss and suggested. "We won't be able to find much better. Can you see your little cottage here? There's a creek down there, where we could easily fetch fresh water and wash our garments. I could build our house here, and can you imagine yourself playing with our children there?"

Helena smiled and blinked rapidly. She envisioned the sight to which Edmund was speaking. She liked it, uneasy about the children part, but longing to live it. She nodded in consent. "Yes, it's lovely."

With that simple sentence, Edmund smiled and grasped her hand. He gave it a swift kiss. From within his cape, he pulled out a bracelet made of vines. He kissed her hand again before slipping the bracelet onto her wrist and speaking. "My lady, you have traveled a long journey with me. We ran away for love, and now we will have our home together. We have nothing more to do but share the love you so embarrassingly admitted to me. Be my wife, Lady Helena."

Time went by faster in the forest of Albania. It was easy to watch the days roll into months, into years. Edmund and Helena had made a fine living out of themselves. Helena had long ago since abandoned the diadem, hidden it within their home. Edmund had built their cottage with wood and magic. It was small from the outside, but it was enchanted, so once you crossed the threshold to the house, it was much larger in. The meadow in which they lived was overflowing with flowers of all kinds. Birds chirped wherever they pleased, and the sun always gave the meadow a cozy feeling.

Helena raced from the cottage, holding the front of her dress. She had matured over the years. Her face held many memories full of joyous laughter and love. Her skin was now brown from all the time she spent playing beneath the sun. She twirled about happily before snatching a young boy into her arms. He giggled and writhed, squirming in her arms. "Mother! Mother!"

Helena laughed as she raised the boy to the sun. His hair was of his father's, his grey eyes young and curious. He had a laugh full of life, his face round and youthful. Helena set him down and let him run his circles, his arms stretched bird-like.

Helena lowered herself into the grass with her genuine smile as a small girl came tumbling out of the cottage. Her cheeks were chubby, her belly round, and her tiny hands were clenching for her mother. A red spring dress flowed about her childish legs as she padded to her mother and plopped in her lap. Helena giggled as she spread her own green gown and allowed her daughter to toy with her brown locks.

The lisp on the girl’s mouth was adorable and laughable. "Mother, can you make me my flower crown today?"

"Well, of course, Adelaide, my child," Helena cooed. She smoothed back the girl's blond hair. Recently, Helena had taken to entwining flowers and their vines to form crowns for herself and her daughter. She had fashioned her son a fake sword, and they would entertain themselves by playing around, playing the part of the princess and the prince.

Helena loved her children. They were blossoming with life, living in the shadows of their mother and father. They had lived, truthfully, a most perfect and flawless life for the past five years. No harm had come to them, and nor did Helena see any harm in the foreseeable future.

Edmund was off fetching logs for firewood, and Helena was left to watch over her children. She dashed across the meadow excitedly as her son chased after her with his wooden sword. "Mother! I am a knight! A famous knight! Let me dub you Queen of Beauty."

Helena giggled and knelt for her son. Her son tossed his sword on either side of her shoulders, saying in his high-pitched childish voice, "I dub thee, Helena Strathclyde, Queen of all Beauty and the most beautiful in the land!"

Helena rose from her knees and curtsied to her son in a playful manner. The boy bowed back. "Why thank you, kind knight, most noble Elian of Strathclyde."

"Me next, me next," Adelaide yelled. She pounced to her mother and brother, dropping to her knees before him. Elian dubbed his sister, "And I dub you, Adeliade Strathclyde, most beautiful princess in all the land!"

"It is time the Queen of all Beauty returns to her throne," a cool and cracked voice erupted. The children dropped their play toys, their happiness flooded from their faces at the curious stranger. Helena shoved her children behind the skirt of her dress. After five years, she never thought she would have to hear his voice again. From the darkness of the forest's edge, a man stepped forward. He was old, his black hair and beard graying. His eyebrows were creased with years full of hate and anguish. It was Gideon Maximus, the Baron of Cornwall.

Helena shuddered. She swallowed, her voice cool and powerful, remembering the tone she always used to address those at Hogwarts. "My throne is here. A Queen does not govern without her King, and I have my King. He is not you, my lord."

"Mother..." Elian tugged on his mother's dress. Helena shoved him away and towards the cottage. She whispered in a fast voice. "Elian, take your sister. Into the cottage. Now."

Elian snatched his young sister into his arms and quickly trotted inside the house and out of view.

The Baron's clothing was worn and dirty. He looked as if he were caked in mud, and he stank of filth. Helena quivered. The Baron took a step forward, exposing himself to the sunlight. He said, inspecting her land. "I see you have made yourself a decent home, but why would you run away from everything? Your mother is torn between her sorrow with your absence and her anguish with your thievery. Come back with me, and all will be forgiven."

"I will not come back with you. I have made my life here. I have loved here, and I am loved in return here. I have my children. There is nothing for me in Britain or Hogwarts," Helena said gravely. She was trembling on the stop, from her head to her very toes. She ordered. "You shall leave this place."

"I will not leave without you accompanying me back to Britain. I swore to your mother that I would not return without your presence."

"You will have to break your vow, my lord," Helena said sharply. She rounded on the spot, stalking off towards her home.

Gideon made a growl and then he was suddenly at her back, an arm wrapped menacingly around her neck. He hissed crudely. "You and your pretty face will come with me."

"I will not!" She spat. She broke free of his grasp and bolted for their stock of retrieved water. She reached for the sword hidden in the midst of wooden barrels. With drawing it from its sheath, she tried to recall all the past training she had received from Edmund. Her training was faint in her memory, but she was desperate for it to return to her with a vengeance. Helena held the sword, a threat, pointed at the Baron's heart, with a cool hiss. "I am staying here."

The Baron reached into the pocket of his trousers. He pulled out his wand and gave it a fast wave. Ropes raced from the tip of the holly wood and bound Helena. The sword fell to the grassy floor with a clump. She tumbled to the ground, thrashing like a fish out of water. Her wand was inside, hidden from her children, but she still shouted, remembering the power she hadn't used for years. "Reducto!"

The rope whipped off her, releasing her. She jumped to her feet and snatched the sword. In one quick, fluid movement, she chopped the Baron's wand in two. His eyes widened in surprise, but he pulled at the sword on his belt to keep himself in the running. He let his sword clink against Helena's, and he said with a growl. "You think I will fight you, my lady?"

"Fight me," Helena retorted. Her grey eyes had narrowed into nothing more than snake's slit eyes. "I am as well trained as you. I am equal to any man."

"Very well," Gideon agreed before slashing his sword once.

Suddenly, it came to her. Helena stepped back with her left foot, followed by her right foot, and she swung her sword towards Gideon's. They met with harsh squeals, the clash of their swords burning their impression into the forest. She fought like the man she deemed herself equal to. She panicked, despite how well she was faring in her battle.

When she was beginning to tire, and the Baron was gaining for her, her mind raced. She couldn't win. She shouted loudly. "Edmund!"

"I knew it was that bloody Edmund Scathclyde! He disappeared the same day as you. I convinced your mother for years you had committed treason with that man!" the Baron hissed, his anger ever growing. He fought back harder. Helena stumbled, tripping over her dress in her back steps as she went. She screamed and raised the sword above her. She scrambled to her feet, still fighting.

She screamed again. "Edmund!"

She looked over her shoulder to look for her husband. That was her fatal mistake. The Baron, with the sound of Helena's voice shouting out her loved one's name, had anger vibrating through every inch of his skin. He shuddered and sent his sword slicing through her back.

It peeked through her front.

Helena felt pain, unimaginable pain, but it didn't matter. She was dying, yes, but what about her children? What about Edmund?

She collapsed to the ground as the Baron began trembling, clutching his tainted with murder hand, dropping his sword, covered in proof. She choked out, "Edmund..."

He came with a roaring effort. Edmund's face was contorted in a way in which Helena had never seen it. It was anger, anger beyond imagination. Emerging from the forest on the other side of the clearing, Edmund came into view. He dropped his armful of wood and reached for the sword around his belt. He ran forward, with it pointing in the air like a beacon. He shouted, screaming his fury at the top of his lungs.

Before Edmund could reach his opponent, the target he had to reach with every last ounce of his will, Edmund was flung back by a simple flick of the Baron's hand. His sword flew from his hand. Edmund panted from the force of the impact and crawled towards his Helena, clutching her body in her defeat on the red, moist ground. She was coughing horribly, shaking, quaking. Edmund grabbed her, pulling her into his arms with his tears.

Her shaking hand reached for his cheek, and Edmund embraced it lovingly. He let his tear drip onto her cheek. She blinked and asked him with her strength. "Are you afraid of death?"

"N-No," Edmund stuttered. He clutched his wife to his body. He glanced furiously at the Baron, who was staring at his actions with horror. Gideon Maximus had stumbled back, fallen next to his abandoned sword. Edmund turned back to Helena. He had to stay strong for his wife, even if he was afraid of death. "I'm not, and don't you be either."

"I am," Helena admitted with a croak. She wasn't crying, she wasn't screaming, she was ignoring the pain best she could. She was with her love, what mattered most. "I'm only afraid because I won't be with you."

"Don't say that," Edmund chided. He knew the myths, and he reminded his love of them. "Fear death, and you shall be dead forever."

Helena shuddered. She croaked. It was only her and Edmund in the whole entire world. "The diadem. Enchant it, submerge it with a rock, and sink it in the creek."

"I will," Edmund agreed. He nodded, his lips lingering on her forehead.

Helena croaked once more. "Tell Adelaide and Elian I love them."

"I will," Edmund cried out again. He pressed his lips to hers. He wanted to breath her in, remember the feel of her cool, perfect lips against his forever. He pleaded into her parted, gasping lips, "Tell me you love me."

He kissed her again, harder, and with an undying passion. She kissed back, if only for a mere minute, and then her lips stopped. They slowly melted with their power to kiss him, and a gush of warm air left her lips. Her chest fell, her arms dropped to her side, her head rolling back.

Quivering, Edmund pried his lips away from her body, giving her lips kisses to last a lifetime. He pushed back her rich hair to gaze at her empty face. His heart was breaking, his voice breaking with his cries, his face contorting with uncontrollable sobs. Edmund rocked forward and backward, Helena's body seeping further and further into the ground. He sobbed into her hair and moaned.

With a passion like fury, Edmund raised his demented eyes. He gazed at the Baron and hissed like a snake. He rose from the ground, twitching as he heard Helena's form thump to the ground. "You..."

But Edmund had no need. The Baron's eyes were shaking in their sockets, he was screaming, his arms flying about. He was already driving his sword through his very own flesh.

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