I picked up a newspaper and sighed, reading the headline:
BABY DEFEATS HE-WHO-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED
I felt my forehead scrunch together as I pieced it all together in my mind. Lily and James were dead. But somehow, their son had lived and defeated the dark wizard who’d killed his parents. And somehow, in all this commotion, Sirius had become a traitor and killed Peter. I couldn’t even imagine how horrible Camilla and Elsie must have been feeling.
I walked to the nearest fireplace and flooed immediately over to Elsie’s flat. The place looked dark, something that confused me very much. Elsie was the brightest, most optimistic person I’d ever met. The curtains that were covering the windows, the lack of light in the entire room—it wasn’t Elsie. I walked around the large sofa and picked up a few glasses, some still full of liquid. “Else?” I called.
I flicked my wand quickly and all of the dishes around the room floated over to the sink, where the faucet turned on and the sponge began to scrub. I opened the curtains and folded a blanket to put over the back of the sofa, just attempting to tidy it up a bit. I heard a shuffle from the back and walked over. Elsie’s room was on the right, and I leaned against the door for a moment. I heard sobs and muffled noises. Poor Elsie, I thought.
I rapped on the door, calling, “Elsie?”
No response. The sobs stopped. I opened the door and was greeted with a strange sight.
“Camilla?” I asked.
Sure enough, Camilla was sitting in pajamas on Elsie’s bed, with Elsie beside her. They were surrounded by blankets and pillows and tissues, lots and lots of tissues. Camilla had her dark brown hair pulled back, with her nose all red and her eye makeup running.
“Mute,” She smiled sadly, fondly. I nodded and raised my eyebrows and the two of them. My best friends. “I’m sorry about Remus. I heard that he is off somewhere trying to get over—“
“Mil,” Elsie stopped her, shaking her head. It was an effort to protect me, but really, it was I who needed the least of the comforting.
“How are you?” I asked Elsie. She smiled up at me, shaking her head.
“Oh, Mute,” she breathed. “He was such a good guy. So…brave.” I never would have described Peter as brave, but if that’s how Elsie wanted to remember him, I didn’t see need to correct her. “And this is ghastly. Truly, it’s horrible!”
I heard it in her voice—she was about to cry again. I handed her a tissue and Camilla rubbed her back. It was strange to see them both so close. I’d been away too long, I reasoned. They’ve formed ties and bonds that I couldn’t intrude upon even if I attempted to. I caught Elsie’s eye and she laughed.
“It took three deaths and a disappearance for you to come home!” She sounded almost proud by it. I laughed too, apologetically. “Where’ve you been?”
“Ireland, with my family. I traveled around Dublin and then I went straight to where I grew up. It was nice, but I’ve been gone too long,” I sighed and reached down, touching my fingertips to the gold mink blanket that Elsie had got just before sixth year. It was a fond memory of mine, to curl up on it after long days. She never knew it, of course, because I didn’t want to creep her out—‘hey I’ve been taking naps in your bed’, yeah, that’s not creepy…
“Oh, Lily always talked about going up to Dublin,” Elsie smiled.
“I can’t imagine life without—“
“I know! This is awful,” Camilla interjected.
“Ghastly, simply ghastly,” Elsie adjusted the pillows behind her. I stared at the two of them. Together despite of everything we’d been through.
My thoughts somehow were spoken aloud, “After the bet, I didn’t think that life was worth living without Remus. But you guys were there. But now Lily and James were murdered. And Sirius decided the whole situation wasn’t completely fucked up enough, so he goes barmy and gets all crazy on Peter. And we’re here. Together. Alive and well.”
"Sirius wouldn't..." Camilla sobbed. Elsie rubbed her back, crying harder than before. I stared at them, thinking about how strange it was--Camilla's love murdering Elsie's. None of this would have ever happened without the stupid bet. But I couldn't blame Camilla. Not when she was up to her hair in tears and had dried snot around her nostrils. Elsie weaved a hand through Camilla's dark hair. I'd never seen her look so grown up before.
"It's going to be all right," I told them. And with the tone in my voice, after hearing me say such a thing, I believed it.
“Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say that we’re all peaches and good,” Camilla laughed bitterly. She ran a hand through her hair.
“No,” Elsie agreed. But she reached an arm over and pulled both of us into a hug. “But we will be.”
Wow, guys. This is it. I know it was short, but I just wanted to get a bit of closure without completely saying THE END. Just in case.
Thank you so much to every single person who has reviewed. It means a lot to me!
It's been just over a year since I started this story. It's been a nice journey!