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6th June last year by Merope
Chapter 20 : The Riddle and the Key
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2


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A/N Everything you recognise belongs to J. K. Rowling--everything you don't, belongs to me. Enjoy! :)




~Change of tense~

The lime green dressed figures were rushing frantically about, going in and out of different rooms to aid different patients. There were several red and green envelopes flying overhead in different direction as Anna Rider was making her way hastily towards the elevators. Once on the last floor, not even the Dementor aura emerging from the patients made her feel weaker, as if the small bump sticking out of her green jumper was giving her strengths that battled any dark magic.

Only when she arrived in front of room 1787 she slightly hesitated before going in, as if preparing herself for what she would face inside, or perhaps trying to imagine her father next to her like the last time she had been there. But then her small hand turned the metal doorknob while looking behind her just to check if anyone was looking suspiciously, and she disappeared inside.

~Change of tense~


It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the blinding darkness inside Jack’s room and the smell of emptiness hit my nose trills every time I visited him making my vital signs decelerate. I placed my hands in front of me and tried to feel my way through the darkness towards the metal edge of the bed, avoiding to trip over the bed cover edges on the floor. I did not want to use my wand, just in case I startled him—he couldn’t be startled, but there was still a part of me that refused to believe the absence of his soul. I managed to make my way all the way to the windows and pull the curtains as a blast of light conquered the room. Now Jack could stare at the grey sky and the falling rain.

He was sitting in bed, on one side, staring with his empty grey eyes at the ceiling. He took no notice of my presence there and as much as I tried to get accustomed to the fact that he did not respond to me, it still hurt me. So I went and sat down on the edge of the bed, stroking his hair and kissing his cheek once. “Hello Jack.” I whispered looking at him and imagining he smiled at me. But he didn’t.

Coming to St Mungos’ was perhaps a foolish mistake that I had made. I could have been followed by a Death Eater or seen by one of their supporters. There might have even been some of the Dark Lord’s supporters infiltrated within the hospital—after all they were in every business owned by the Ministry, just so they can control pretty much everything. But I had to take this risk. I had to take it because if I was about to start wandering the country for Edwin, I didn’t know when I would see my twin again. However dangerous it may have been...I just couldn’t go without saying goodbye.

“I’m going to go away for a while”. I said looking out the window as the rain became more furious, whipping the windows with the direction of the wind. Jack sat up in bed—perhaps I had sat on his cover and he found it uncomfortable that he couldn’t take it from under me—but apart from that he didn’t say or do anything. He just stared at the wall in front of him. “Jack...I don’t know if I will come back. If I find Edwin it might be too dangerous for us to come back for a while.” I said and refused to let the tears fall. Now I had to be strong...I had to be strong for my baby.

Jack stood up and went towards the window, staring blankly at the rain. It was probably just his legs going numb for staying too much in bed. “Jack...dad died.”I said and looked down, contracting my muscles so that the tears don’t escape. “It was another Death Eater raid...not too sure who was behind it, but Vo—Voldemort was the head.” I said my voice shaking slightly as the name came out.

An awkward silence followed. Jack was standing motionless in front of the window, staring at nothing, as I was sitting on the bed looking at his inert figure and longing for his response. It was as if my brother had been replaced with a Jack I did not know. Jack’s voice was ringing in my head as he was laughing a long time ago, and no matter how hard I tried to place the voice in the slim silhouette in front of me, I couldn’t. Terror overwhelmed me as I realized that I was losing him forever. This boy was not my brother any more, for each day he grew more and more distant into nothingness. I pictured him 60 years from now, old and frail in his St Mungos’ cell, the same blank expression as before, the marks on his neck more prominent and his eyes colourless.
He was never going to get married—never going to have kids. Never going to enjoy emotions...he was gone. I lifted my head from my hands as Jack sat down next to me, a small hunch on his back as if he had been carrying a lifelong load.

“I’m pregnant.” I said, imagining that his face lit up in shock and then a small smile. But his face was blank and I couldn’t hold the tears in any more. They fell on my cheeks in vast numbers, before I wiped them away with my green sleeve. “Look.” I said desperate for a reaction. I took his hand and placed it over my belly, hoping that the baby would kick. Jack did not respond to this little manoeuvre of mine and I was about to give up when the same, small butterfly wings spread in my belly followed by a small kick.

Jack’s hand twitched as his eyes widened. I looked at him in disbelief as he sustained his own hand on my belly, even after I let go. His face was still blank, but there was something that resembled surprise in his eyes. I waited hopeful for another kick, and the baby growing inside of me did not let me down—for there followed another one, this one harder. Jack’s hand twitched again, at the strange feeling. “Your nephew...or nice.” I said smiling at him, but Jack’s hand fell from my belly and he returned to his old self. My eyes saddened, as my dreams of his recovery went down the slope. I didn’t understand his reaction...maybe it was just a feeling his biological body did not encounter before. Maybe it was nothing more than a mere reflex observation skill imposed by his brain. But there was still a small part of me that hoped, in vain, that there was still a small part of Jack’s soul hidden deep inside, which responded to the little life growing inside of me. I placed my palm on his cheek and drew him in an involuntary hug, from which he didn’t struggle, but didn’t respond to either. When I let go of him, he lay down on the bed, next to me and stared at the ceiling. I looked at him, so small...so vulnerable...so gone away from everything and I was unable to do anything to change this. I searched for the pillow to put under his head, behind me with my right hand, however my fingers ran on the smooth surface of something which resembled parchment. Intrigued, I broke my look from Jack and placed my eyes on a yellowing envelope beneath Jack’s pillow with my name on it. I skipped a heartbeat.

The terror that the note may be a Death Eater threat overwhelmed me and I did not open it straight away. I didn’t even attempt to pick it up. I looked back at Jack for a moment and then back at the letter. There was absolutely no way he could have written it...no way. Writing a letter meant he had to think...to feel. A person kissed by a Dementor could not have emotions—Dumbledore did not doubt that so why should I? But then my Gryffindor curiosity stepped in as I looked back at the envelope and with shaking hands, I opened it.


Anna,

Run as far away from London as possible. You are not safe. The Dark Lord knows of your relationship with Harry Potter—you are a prime target. Find what you are searching for and stay there—you are more aware than anyone that there is more than one life in this game and if he gets to you, he gets to all of us.

Start where it all began and look further where the sea meets the land and the grass grows yellow. Find the number you have feared forever and look for the house with the green door. There you will find what you are looking for.

Albus Dumbledore


He knew. He knew I had been with him. He had read Harry’s mind and saw my face in it. I was no longer a potential target down the list because my mother refused to be a Death Eater and had joined the Order instead. I was a prime target for the sole reason that I knew Harry’s weaknesses. Killing my father had not been enough. Now they were after me. Pieces of short term memories were gaining a brighter shape as I tried to sharpen the meaning. Surely Lucius Malfoy had not been at the Leaky Cauldron by coincidence. And who was the woman they abducted? Horror overwhelmed me once more as I considered the idea that she might be in serious trouble—if not dead because of me. If only I knew who she was...

These thoughts blurred my vision and it was only when I focalised my eyes on the arty handwriting that I looked at the riddle. Where the land meets the sea? That must be the coast. Dumbledore wanted me to go somewhere on the coast. But the number I have always feared? The house with the green door? Where it all began? Where did what begin? I was baffled even though it was not a particularly hard riddle. My mind was torn between solving it and going away from Jack. But I had to move on. I had set this task before myself and I had to keep going. I took one last look at my damaged twin, placed my hand on his cheek to make it blush—the usual lie that he wasn’t emotionless--and then I kissed him goodbye on his forehead, but this time I did not promise I will return. I didn’t think I was going to return too soon...maybe for a very long time. Jack—or what was left of Jack was
safer with me as far away from him as possible. Everyone was. And so I stood up, closed the curtains with the tip of my wand, and the room was engulfed in darkness as I went out of the door trying not to leave with Jack’s emotionless face in my head.





I did not spend another night in the Leaky Cauldron. I didn’t even go to take my spare clothes which I had left there. Running into Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange and not being noticed once was just pure luck. The second time it would mean tragedy. Dumbledore’s letter was securely placed in my jacket pocket. He had always known that I was going to leave Lily’s house and he knew that I would go to visit Jack before I did anything too drastic. He was a genius. He gave me a riddle to try and find Edwin and he didn’t go against my will of not obeying the Order. Sometimes I believed Dumbledore was a tiny bit insane—now I was convinced. No other Order member would have let me get away and endanger everyone’s life...and even more give me instructions. As I got lost between the crowds of people in Diagon Alley, I smiled to myself at how much Dumbledore trusted me in finding Edwin and a good hiding place. Maybe he trusted me blindly, which I was not so sure was a good thing.

I was not too sure about what I was to do next...all I knew was that I was supposed to apparate as far away from London as I could, find a good place to hide and solve the riddle. I walked further down into the heart of Diagon Alley, getting lost into the wave of wizards looking terrified that someone might attack them in the middle of the day. I walked past Ollivanders’ wand shop and Flourish and Bolts,
remembering how seven years ago I was a mere eleven year old kid, who befriended Harry Potter on the Hogwarts Express and then ran into him with in Diagon Alley, where I helped him find his Hogwarts stuff—and now, 7 years later, that innocent friendship ended up complicating my life beyond comprehension. But no matter how things ended up between Harry and me, I never regretted the years I had spent by his side. Yet my thoughts were interrupted by a wave of frizzy hair, dark robes, a small red bag and just like that I fell down on the floor.

“Anna!” squeaked Hermione Granger, and then covered her mouth with her hand, looking around to see if anyone noticed the little incident. But everyone kept walking as if too afraid to notice anything out of the ordinary in case something happens to their families. Nothing was safe anymore. Hermione handed me her hand, which I too without
hesitation, as she helped me to my feet. “Thank Merlin you’re okay!” she hugged me hard as if she had not seen me in years. I was baffled.

“What are you doing out of Hogwarts?” I asked and placed my bag over my belly as a reflex action.

Hermione looked nervously around and then dragged me into a little dark corner.

“Haven’t you heard?” She gave me a worried look and then looked down.

“Heard what?”

“Dumbledore’s dead.”

“W-what?” I asked, eyes wide, mouth hanging open. This was a
joke. “What do you mean he’s dead?”

“Oh, Anna, it’s all over the Daily Prophet...it’s horrible...they all think
Harry had something to do with it.” Hermione’s eyes filled with tears. “Of course it’s not true” she added when she saw my vacant expression. “It was Draco...and Snape in the Astronomy tower...Draco started it but he couldn’t finish it and...and Snape cast the spell. Harry was there...they had been looking for Horcruxes...we had to leave Hogwarts—there are Death Eaters everywhere—Snape’s running the school!”

“No.” I said refusing to believe. This was not possible. Dumbledore could not be dead...he had just given me a letter....he couldn’t be dead. It couldn’t be true...and Snape wasn’t bad, was he? He was supposed to be good...Dumbledore trusted Snape. “Dumbledore trusted Snape!” I wheeled and my eyes filled with tears. We were all doomed if Dumbledore was dead. How could the greatest wizard of all times be dead? Dumbledore was Dumbledore—it was just impossible. “Where’s Harry?”

“Under the cloak.” She said and lifted the cloak to reveal his feet.

“Oh, Harry!” I whispered and hugged him, while Hermione stood in front of us to cover the strange sight. “I’m so sorry!” I cried.

“Where were you?” Said Harry in a hoarse voice. “Are you okay?”

“Dumbledore told me to stay hidden—I’ve...heard that I am a potential target. But I’m fine. And Jack’s fine too.” I added trying to see through the invisibility cloak.

“I’m so sorry.” He said and I knew just how bad he felt for putting me in danger.

“Don’t worry Harry...everyone that sees you seem to be a target these days.” I added trying to make him feel better. “What are you two going to do?” I asked looking back at Hermione who was hugging the red, tiny bag. She looked around and urged me to go along a dark and empty alleyway.

“We’re looking for you know what.” She said in a mere whisper.

“What!? But that’s dangerous....how are you going to find them. Do you even know where to look? What if he finds out?”

“Dumbledore helped us....he left us some things in his will.” Said Hermione, stroking the red bag.

“Someone’s got to stop him. Hermione can’t stay at Hogwarts any more...she’s muggle born.” said Harry from behind the invisibility cloak. “We’ll be okay—I think.”

“He’s left something for you too, Anna.” Said Hermione looking at me with sad eyes. I could see the sleepless nights in her face and the terror that their main protector of the wizardry world was not—gone.
“He’s left something for me?” I asked shock washing over my face. “Why? What?” I asked baffled.

Hermione looked nervously around yet again. “Not here.” She said and motioned for me to grab her hand. And just like that I was sucked by a mass of low pressure which stuck my lungs to my spine. When I opened my eyes again, London was gone.

We were standing in the middle of an old forest, autumn leaves covering the floor and crows spying on us from above. Harry jumped out from under the cloak and started chanting protective spells—
“Protegro—Muffilato—Salvio Hexa...”

“Where are we?” I asked, once again placing my bag over my belly. We were definitely up north somewhere, because the chilly weather was starting to bite through my flesh.

“Triwizard Tournament field.” She mumbled while taking out form her tiny red bag, something which resembled a...tent. And the tent seemed to be adjusting itself up. But I wasn’t surprised. Nothing could have surprised me then...I still could not get Dumbledore’s death out of my head. The letter in my left pocket was a constant reminder that he was alive. Ever since I had seen him in the sorting ceremony when I was 11, I thought that nothing could ever destroy him. He was indestructible to me...and now that Snape—Snape—Snape,
killed him...my entire sense of security was gone. I didn’t know what to believe...Snape killed him and that was certain because Harry had seen him. But Snape—the father of Edwin—Lily’s first husband—the grandfather of my future child could not have done that. It was not real! I refused to believe it. Snape was good. Wasn’t he?

“Anna!” Hermione’s voice made me come back to reality. I realised where I was and that I was standing in the middle of the forest, rain dripping over me, while Harry’s arm was around my shoulders, trying to get me into the tent.

“I’m fine.” I said mechanically and walked inside, collapsing on the nearest armchair and placing my head—which was beginning to throb with pain—into my hands. “I’m fine.” I repeated when Hermione approached me.

“I know it’s hard to believe.” She said softly, running a drying spell over me.

“Is everyone else okay?” I asked suddenly remembering Ginny...Luna, Neville, Seamus, Dean.

“They’re fine...stuck in Hogwarts, but they’re all right.” Said Harry, sitting on a bunk and rubbing his scar.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Fine.” Replied Harry.

“He keeps having visions.” Added Hermione.

Harry gave her a cold glare as her face lit up with a small smile.

“I’m fine now.” He said and looked at me, emphasising a totally different meaning to his words. I gave him a reassuring smile and then looked away. An awkward silence followed in which everyone looked at their hands. I looked up from my nails, only to be met by green orbs. I gasped. He looked so much like Edwin. I looked down again, feeling a weight in my soul, dragging me down.

“You’ve said Dumbledore left me something?” I asked rather nervous.

“Yes.” said Hermione reaching for her red bag and starting rummaging through it. It should be ...ouch!” she cried and withdrew her bleeding finger violently from the bag putting it in her mouth and flicking her other hand in the air.

“What exactly have you got in that bag?” I asked slightly bemused.

“Lots of things...including a Mandrake.” She said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I’ve got quite a few potion ingredients here...just in case...but none of them are this violent.” She added and then started searching through the bag again. “There it is!” her arm was now down that bag up to her elbow and I wondered how many Engorgio charms she placed on it. When she withdrew it, she was holding a tiny golden key, with the initials ES engraved in green.

“What does ES stand for?” asked Harry, standing up from the bed and coming towards me and Hermione.

“I have no idea.” I lied and took the small key and placed it safely in my pocket. He was a genius. He must have known—somehow—that I would end up running into Harry and Hermione and he left me a key that had something to do with Edwin. And it was then that I started panicking. Ever since I had run away from Lily’s house I had thought of
Edwin as a human being...walking the earth and I thought that if I was lucky enough I would run into him too. But Edwin was in a painting. He was trapped in a painting which could be anywhere on the coast. Where to start?

“Do you think Dumbledore left you that so that you can help us locate horcruxes?” asked Hermione hopeful, placing her red bag beside her
bed. “But what could we do with a key? Surely it must unlock something...but...what?” she asked looking at me as if I knew the answer.

“I don’t know.” Was all I managed to say. I could not just say that –
oh, the key is actually going to lead to a locked door which contains Harry’s half brother.”—I had to wait a little and see what I was supposed to do.

“Yeah...he left you as much help as he left us. And it all makes so much sense...” said Harry sarcastically, knocking out an empty cup on the floor. It rolled until it reached the entrance of the tent, as if placed there to warn us against some future threat.

“Harry!” snapped Hermione. “You know well enough that Dumbledore couldn’t just have left you a list of instructions on how to find them.
He knew the Ministry would interfere with his will and ceck everything...he had to make us figure it out somehow!”

“We’ve been trying to figure it out for a week, Hermione and all we came to was that Voldemort—“

“Don’t say his name!” snapped Hermione looking around terrified as if he was about to pop into the tent from thin air.

“Fine!” snapped Harry. “All we came to was that You-Know-Who probably hid one in Hogwarts. But if it had been in Hogwarts all this time, then why didn’t Dumbledore do something about it?”

“Harry, you’re being irrational!” said Hermione and disappeared into the small kitchen, only to return a few minutes with a cup of tea.

“Maybe he didn’t for a reason.” I said trying to restore peace in the room. “He must have know something we don’t.”

“It seems to me that he knew many things we don’t know. He didn’t even tell me...he didn’t even tell me he had relatives in Godric Hollow. Relatives buried a few places from my mum and dad.” Said Harry in a sad voice, looking towards the entrance of the tent.

I felt a bump of air inside my lungs which I couldn’t let out. Harry had visited the empty tomb of his mother...he had cried over that stone and touched it believing he was closer to Lily. But Lily was alive...and the closer he ever got to her in the past 7 years had been through knowing me.

“I’ll watch tonight.” Said Harry and stormed out of the tent, to look for potential danger.

“You’re staying here for a while aren’t you, Anna.” Said Hermione coming closer to me, as if she could talk better with Harry out of the
tent.

“Yeah...if that’s okay with you.”

“Where have you been?”

“An aunt.” I lied. “I had to go. Didn’t want to endanger her. And maybe I could help you for a while.” I said and mentally slapped myself as soon as the words came out. I had forgotten for the course of a few seconds...that I was pregnant and supposed to be looking for Edwin. But where would I go? Where would I start? Staying with Harry and Hermione for a while was not such a bad thing, as long as I kept away from Harry. And hid the fact that I was pregnant. And that I knew anything about anything. At least that’s what I thought then. If only I was to know how fast things could deteriorate, maybe I would have made a different “accommodation arrangement.”





A/N Hope you liked the little twist and association with the Deathly Hallows. But don't worry, Anna won't be replacing Ron like in the book...this is just a temporary shift. It will change again. Anyway, I hope you liked this chapter and I would love you all forever and ever if you could leave me a review. Thanks for reading!!

Merope :)


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