A/N You know this by now...but I think I have to say it anyway. Everything you recognise, except for Anna, the plot and a few other characters belongs to J. K. Rowling.
His face was pale and his green eyes were looking at me with that intensity you only read about in romance books. His dark hair was almost pitch black and sticking in every direction as if it had a mind of its own. He smiled at me and his entire face lit up with a sea of emotion, making the bells attached to my spine ring in different pitches, sending signals to my heart to beat faster. I smiled back.
My hands were resting over my belly as sun rays were making their way through the half drawn curtains of the bedroom, and playing on our skin. I felt happy. Irrationally happy and for once in my life I was not afraid of tomorrow. I had found him and he was safe...real and healthy. He came closer to me and kissed my lips softly, our tongues entangling into a complicated waltz as my eye lashes were fluttering like birds about to take off into the mysterious field of love. He broke the kiss and looked into my eyes, with half open lids as if he had just embraced morning.
“Jack”. He said softly. “We’ll name him Jack.”
I woke up abruptly, met by darkness and snoring. I was disoriented, lost in a different world and it took me a while to feel my surroundings. I was sleeping on something soft, but it was not a bed...maybe a couch and beneath my head was someone’s jacket. The sound of falling rain outside was making me feel cold as I was searching without success for my wand. I found it, eventually, somewhere on the floor, picked it up and chanted a mumble which resembled “lumos”. The light emitted by my wand engulfed the tent, making Harry stir in his sleep on the floor and making Hermione turn on the other side and stop snoring. Memories of the previous day engulfed my mind and soon I remembered...rain...Dumbledore’s dead....E.S...Start where the sea meets the land...the number you have feared the most....pregnant. Jack.
I placed my hand over my bump and stood up, heading for the tent entrance and staring at the rain. It was refreshing and the cold wind washed my face, making my cheeks go pink. I stood there for a while and wondered what the hell I was doing. I felt slightly ashamed...and stupid. After all I had promised Lily and Dumbledore to stay away from Harry. How was it that I ended up in the same tent with him? Was I a sort of magnet for trouble? Snape would think so. Snape...I closed my eyes just to make sure I don’t end up with a headache. Snape had killed Dumbledore. The father of Edwin had killed the most powerful wizard I knew. My child’s grandfather. How could have I been so blind? Snape never trusted Dumbledore. Snape trusted only the Dark Lord. I felt anger rise in me and I wanted to throw something at someone in sheer frustration. I trusted Snape. I tried to protect his secret from the eyes of the world. I once felt sorry for Snape...how could someone like Lily have married him? Bore him a child? Loved him.
He had been in my house. He had tried to protect me. Me out of all people. Why didn’t he just take me to the Dark Lord then and there? And Edwin...was Edwin really who he said he was. Was he really Snape’s son?
I sat down on a little stool by the entrance, where Harry had watched for potential danger the night before. I placed my head in my hands and tried to find reason. Lily would not lie about Edwin. Edwin wouldn’t deceive me, and Edwin hated his father. I had to find him. I had to find him fast, before Snape would hurt him too. I was entangled in a giant spider web, stickier and bigger than the Order’s and I just didn’t know what to believe any more. My brain was having a civil war with my heart and I did not know which side to cheer for. My brain was shouting at me that Snape was a murderer who had worked for the Dark Lord all this time and could never be capable of love. My heart didn’t believe it. With every beat it took, the doubt rose. Snape was not a murdered...there was a puzzle piece which was missing. A puzzle piece which I knew I had, somewhere, in all the secrets that had been thrown at me. But it was like finding a needle in a straw bag. I was confused, I was scared, I was angry and I was pregnant. But most of all I was a secret keeper. Both Snape and Lily had made me their secret keeper without knowing.
But I didn’t want to be one. It weighted on my shoulders, each day getting heavier. I turned my head around to see Harry sleeping on the floor—he had given up the couch for me—and every time I saw that lightning bolt scar and his green eyes full of pain I wanted to shout it in his face that Lily was alive. That he had a half brother. That Lily and Snape had been married. But I couldn’t. Because if I did, I would put him in danger. If I did, I would have to tell him I was carrying his brother’s child. And I didn’t know which would hurt him more.
And so with each day that I spent with Harry and Hermione, they made it harder for me to leave. We would apparate to different locations, in hope of finding some new clues, but each time we faced disappointment. Hermione tried without success to solve the mystery that Dumbledore had left behind and Harry was growing more and more frustrated which each page he flicked off The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. He would study the snitch, his eyes widening when he thought he discovered something, only to end up throwing it on the bed in anger and disappointment. Hermione had read the Tales of Beedle the Bard a million times only to face the same paradox. And the more I stayed with them, the more suspicious they became. Pretending I did not know why Dumbledore left me a key with the initials ES on it, was getting slightly annoying. I did know. I had to find Edwin. I knew Hermione doubted everything I said and soon enough she started doubting the real reason why I left. I would see her, each morning when I was trying to quickly put my enlarged jumper on, staring at my once flat belly and wondering how in the name of Merlin I could have gained so much weight in one particular area of my body when we lived off mushrooms and old beans. And so another two months passed without me moving away from Harry and Hermione, the fact that I was pregnant becoming increasingly hard to hide. My jumpers looked deformed, due to the number of enlarging and illusion spells I had placed on them and soon enough, I started looking like an over baked tart.
One rainy evening, when Harry was keeping the watch again, Hermione sat down next to me on the couch as I was pretending to try to decipher the secret of my key. I was so caught up in my daydreams and memories of Edwin, that I jumped slightly when she placed her hand on my shoulder.
“Are you okay?” she asked startled, her bushy hair in different directions as the wind from outside was trying to find residence in the tent with us.
“Yes.” I said and automatically placed my hands on my bump. Then I mentally slapped myself, as Hermione’s eyes followed my actions and her eyes widened for a moment, and then went back to their normal size as she pretended to not have noticed anything.
“I was just thinking....maybe Harry is right.” She said staring at the small key in my hand.
“Maybe there’s one in Hogwarts. Maybe your key unlocks a secret door. In any case, I think if we plan properly, we might be able to get in without Snape noticing.” She said and behind her skull, I could hear her brain starting to work.
“I don’t think there’s one in Hogwarts.” I said automatically. Hogwarts was the last place I wanted to go to. If they caught Harry, everything would finish. All hope would die.
“But Anna, we’ve been searching for months. There’s nothing in Godric’s Hollow, Riddle’s old orphanage is not there any more...Hogwarts just makes sense.” She lowered her voice and looked towards Harry just to make sure he was not listening. Then she turned to face me again. “And they’re alike. In a way.” She whispered in a tormented voice as if afraid to admit it. “They’ve both had horrible childhoods where they had no idea they were wizards...Hogwarts was the first place Harry called home. He understands Riddle. Maybe he’s right about another Horcrux being there.” She said and once again her eyes ran to my belly.
“What?” I asked playing stupid, looking at my belly too. I was only three months and a half pregnant and it was already showing. I felt stupid.
“Nothing.” She said and forced her eyes off me. “I like your jumper.” Her voice was lame, as if she knew that I knew that she knew, yet I could not confide in her. In fact, her voice was slightly accusing. She was right.
“Oh my God!” she whispered and looked at me again. “Are you...?”
“Yes.” I looked down and felt as if I were in Lily’s kitchen again.
“Oh my God!” she repeated and looked at me as if I had just confessed I wasn’t human.
Before Hermione could say anything else, Harry walked in, rain dripping from his hair, green eyes wide as he was looking at a bunch of green mushrooms in his hand. “Lunch!” he said slightly bemused at Hermione’s expression. Then his eyes lingered on me for a moment and I felt like I was looking at Edwin...that night in the Dark Lake as water droplets were falling from his dark hair into his long eyelashes. I tried to force myself to look away but it did not work. “You look different.” He said studying my face as if he had not seen me in years.
Hermione’s eyes ran from me to him, to me again and then down to my belly, her eyes widened and her mouth adopted an O shape. I kicked her leg. Harry looked confused. I wanted to run and hide.
“Okay.” He said awkwardly. “I’ll...yeah.” he said and moved out of the tent, but not before giving me another intense look.
“Does he know?” she asked looking towards the tent entrance.
“No.” I said.
“Will you tell him?”
“But, he’s got to know.” She said in a tortured voice, looking at me as if I were a small child who did not understand something important. “You ought to tell him—“
“It’s not his.” I said in a bare whisper.
“What!?” her face could have been funny if you’d take the entire situation away. Her eyes were wide and her eyebrows down as if she was trying to figure out something. She seemed frustrated that she didn’t understand. I smiled. She gave me a murderous glare and just like that I remembered where I was and I wasn’t smiling any more.
“I don’t understand.” She said and her voice did not hide the fact that she felt annoyed that she could not figure the problem out.
“It’s a long story.” I said and looked towards the tent entrance. “Hermione...I...I can’t stay here much longer. I’m looking for someone. Dumbledore knew.” I added when she seemed to be making assumptions. “And the key is not going to help you find a Horcrux.” I suddenly felt very bad. Maybe it had been wrong to pry on them for so long, pretending to be helping them, yet I had nowhere else to go. “I’m so sorry I stayed here for so long. Please don’t tell Harry. I wish I could tell you everything, but it’s not my secret to tell. When the war is over, maybe it will all make sense. It doesn’t make much sense to me either at the moment.” I added when she opened her mouth to say something. “That’s why I need to go. I need to put the puzzle pieces together.”
A long silence followed. I thought she was going to stand up and go as far away from me as she could, but she slowly placed her hand on my shoulder, as if to tell me, without words, that I could rely on her. “Thank you.” I whispered. She smiled a bit and casted her eyes over my belly.
“Wow...”she said. “A baby.”
“Yeah.” I said, yet the sentence coming out of her mouth like that made me feel uneasy. I don’t think I truly acknowledged that I was pregnant yet. That there was a fragile human being growing inside of me.
“Do you know what it is?” she asked, a tone of excitement in her voice.
“No.” I said. “I try not to think much about it in case—“
“In case something goes wrong.” She finished in a grave voice. “You have to be careful. Stay hidden...poly juice potion—I can give you some, I’ve got plenty of hair from muggles—“
“No. You guys need it more. I’ll be okay.” The tone of my voice was strong and for once in her life Hermione didn’t argue with me. I sounded as if I had a plan. As if I knew where I was heading and how I was going to fight. But I didn’t. I had no clue which direction I will go when I left Harry and Hermione. I thought about Lily all the way back in her cottage and couldn’t help to not feel guilty. I had left her there, with a bare note saying I will be okay. I felt terrible for making her worry and making her angry with me. I wondered if she knew Dumbledore had...had died. Surely someone must have told her. But with Dumbledore gone, how was she to be safe? No one knew his plan better than himself and now the Order had no one to lead it. And was Dumbledore’s plan even good? He had trusted Snape and yet that led him to his own death. The old man should have known better. But every time I thought of Snape a knife stabbed my back. I just didn’t seem to be able to fore myself to believe that he had betrayed Dumbledore. I closed my eyes.
Harry didn’t know I was to live the next morning. It was better like that...easier for him and easier for me since I wouldn’t have to explain, or lie to him even more than I had already. I still loved Harry, in the same intense way. I still closed my eyes at night when I wasn’t near him wondering if he was okay. Wondering if he was alive. But it wasn’t the same love as before. I didn’t dream of caressing his face and kissing his lips and feeling his touch. I wondered if that was how feelings for someone disappeared: packing their bags in the middle of the night, and leaving, without a goodbye or a note. And the next morning when you wake up, the pain of losing him is no longer there. Your heart doesn’t beat as fast any more when you think of his name and the way he made you feel a long time ago. Sometimes it disappeared completely. At other times...well...at other times it’s replaced with a sibling like friendship. I still cared about Harry...but without noticing, my love for him faded when I was too busy trying to find my way in life.
The plan was to go into a small muggle town and spend the next two days there, trying to figure out Dumbledore’s riddle and see if there were any hidden meanings to the key. And then I would start searching again, maybe the next time I would be luckier. Of course I never got to that, because the last night I planned to spend with Hermione and Harry turned into a mere nightmare.
Hermione had cooked baked beans and green Irish wizard mushrooms that seemed to have colonised that part of our forest. It was a particularly chilly evening and the wind would send frosty arrows throughout the tent, stabbing each and every one of us repeatedly. Ever since Hermione realized I was pregnant, she took extra care of me. There would always be an extra two or three mushrooms on my plate and that particular evening she placed a small blanket over my shoulders, under Harry’s protuberant green eyes which grew more and more confused. And suspicious.
“Are you not hungry Anna?” asked Hermione looking at my half eaten dinner.
“Not really.” I said and tried to take a few more bites out of respect for the work she put in cooking that. There was an uneasy feeling in the air, as if we resided with a hippogriff and every bite I took was like a solid rock going down my throat. I felt nervous and I didn’t know why. But I was not the only one who seemed to be feeling strange. Harry too, was looking towards the tent entrance every now and then as if expecting someone to come through.
“You should be eating.” She said matter of factly. Hermione seemed relaxed and didn’t notice the tension that was hanging in the air. Harry looked at her and raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“You behave like you’re her mother.” He looked from me to Hermione and then back to me again. His eyes lingered for a moment, with longing and I looked away.
“You would too.” Said Hermione in an annoyed voice. “She’s...” I eyes Hermione horror struck and ready to jump on her and close her mouth with my napkin, when she continued her sentence and looked away: “She’s ill.”
“Ill? What’s wrong?” asked Harry in a concerned voice and I wanted to roll my eyes and slap my forehead. “I’m catching a cold.” I said and stood up abruptly. “I need some fresh air.” I took big steps towards the tent entrance as if the room was having air deficiency.
“Do you want me to come with you?” asked Harry already putting his fork down. I wondered if he really wanted to come with me or he too, wanted freedom from the baked beans and green mushrooms. “No thanks. I’d rather be alone.” I said and went out of the tent before he could say anything else.
The evening was chilly, but the cold inside my bones made me wake up from a sort of comatose state of mind that I had been in since staying with Harry and Hermione. I could feel the small key Dumbledore had left me inside my trousers pocket and that was a constant reminder that Edwin depended on me to free him. He depended on me to be loved and to live. And I depended on him. I depended on him more than he possibly thought. But then my thinking about Edwin was slaughtered by a loud laugh in the distance. The voice echoed through the forest and hit the trees, and combined with the swishing wind, it seemed louder. Less human.
I looked into the distance, trying, in vain, to see something or someone. I had already drawn my wand and was prepared to hex whoever came to threaten us, but the night was pitch black and clouds were covering the moon. There was no light. There followed another cracking mad laugh, this one closer to where I was standing. I started retreating back towards the tent—I had not realized I had walked so far away from it—but I tripped over a rock and fell on my backside. “Damn!” I cursed under my breath but before I could pick myself up, that chilling sensation which made me have goose bumps on my arms engulfed me. I looked up at the sky and there it was. The same skull and snake going through its mouth that always told me without words that something really, really, really bad was going to happen. I froze.
“MUUUUMMMM!” I screamed as her eyes were open, lifeless, motionless. She was sprawled on the floor. Lucius was holding my hair. I couldn’t move. I gagged for air. I needed air. I was having an asthma attack. Lucius dragged me to the living room. I felt despair. My mum’s eyes.
It was dark. The room was engulfed by Dementors. They were everywhere. I wailed. I tried to break free. Lucius was too strong. He wasn’t laughing any more. I needed air. He threw me on the floor. A Dementor came over me. I could feel every happy memory draining. And it was cold. It was so cold. I needed air. My head fell to one side. Jack was standing. Just standing. His wand was broken in half. He was staring through me, as if I wasn’t there. I held a hand towards him...”Jack...help.....Jack.” I couldn’t hear my own voice. I needed air. I looked up. The Dementor was hovering over me, a black hole in its head draining me. I raised my hand towards Jack, my vision was blurring. A cold hand held me in place.
I looked the other way. Dad was sprawled on the floor...masses of blood around him. My eyes were closing. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t find my voice. My eyes fell on the fallen calendar. The 6th June. I needed air.
And then it stopped. I don’t know how. It just stopped. There was a mass of white light...it resembled a doe. A Patronomus. The hooded figure let go of my arm. It flew away. Lucius disapparated. White death eater masks disappeared like mist before my eyes. I saw someone in the doorway. Someone with a long white beard. I couldn’t remember who he was. I needed air. Someone ran to Jack. Someone ran to mum’s dead body. Someone ran to stop dad bleeding. I closed my eyes. When I opened them, Severus Snape was hovering over me. Then it all went black.
“Anna!” Harry’s voice screamed from inside the tent. He was running towards me. He picked me up.
“They know!” I wailed in despair. They tracked us down.
“Quick.” Harry dragged me towards the tent, where Hermione was waiting with her wand ready and her red bag around her shoulder. “We need to get out of here. Hold on tight.” I grabbed Harry’s arm but then there was a huge wind like force and I let go of Harry. I closed my eyes. We disapparated. We had escaped.
“Annaaaa! Someone shouted my name. I opened my eyes. We hadn’t disapparated. Panic washed over me as Harry was lying on the floor, trying to fight the silver ropes that were strangulating his body. Hermione was running towards him, but a white jinx hit her in the chest as she fell back, right next to Harry.
“Potter! It’s Potter. Call the Dark Lord!” the sick madness in her voice was entangled with some kind of excitement. Bellatrix Lestrange. I felt a knot form in my throat. My baby kicked. I felt helpless.
“We ought to wait!”said another recognisable voice. Ron. I started breathing hard. We were surrounded by Death Eaters. Ron. Ron. Ron.
“Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in.” I felt someone’s eyes directed at me. Measuring me. Biting into my flesh. It was only then that I realised that Bellatrix had sent a jinx just when we were about the disapparate. The spell had backfired, throwing me hard against a nearby tree...speared from their sight for a few moments before my breathing gave me away.
I drew my knees to my chest...just like when dad came towards me when he was drunk...saying it was my fault mum had died. I was afraid. Ron was coming towards me and he was...bigger and taller than the last time I had seen him. He was scarier. In the light emitted from the sky by the Dark Mark, I could see several scars over his left eyebrow. He grabbed my hair. Pulled me to my feet as I was hissing in pain. He made me walk forward, until the same ropes that entangled Harry and Hermione entangled me too. He threw me on the floor. My baby kicked. I wonder if we were ever to see daylight again.
Ron didn’t motion one word. He seemed brainwashed, but there was a sign of recognition across his face. He knew us. He was doing all this voluntarily. He wasn’t under the Imperius curse.
Bellatrix bent down next to me. She caressed my cheek with her yellowing fingernail. I moved my head away. She slapped my face. “Annie dear, didn’t mommy every tell you be nice. One might say you have forgotten your manners. I know what! I will re-teach you some things.” She slapped me again, this time harder. She walked towards Harry, totally ignoring Hermione, but not failing to step on her hair. Hermione hissed, but Bellatrix just raised her high hill and stepped on Hermione’s face. Then there was blood. Hermione was screaming. I looked at her to see her cheek burning in red. “Your blood is not worth to wash my heels, YOU FILTHY MUDBLOOD!” screamed Bellatrix.
“LEAVE HER ALONE!” screamed Harry, but Bellatrix just bent near him and caught his hair, pulling his head backwards. “Don’t worry Potter. You’ll soon me with mommy and daddy".
I looked at Ron. He was smiling. “YOU FOOL!” I screamed, but that only made him kick my ribs. I cried in pain. My baby kicked.
“Tut, tut, tut.” Said Bellatrix straightening herself up. “Let’s take them to Riddle Manor. I’ll send Lucius and Narcissa a message. Then we’ll call The Dark Lord. Oh such honour...when Harry Potter will be handed to him by me. All these years, all the other Death Eaters have deceived him. But not me. I was always loyal. He always trusted me. And now that the old hag is dead...there’s nothing to stop him!” She started laughing like mad, as Ron came towards us. He linked arms with Bellatrix and they each held on to our ropes. And the my lungs were transgressed, my eyes were watering and before I knew it, we were falling from the sky into the same graveyard Harry had seen Voldemort’s resurrection when he was only fourteen.
I felt the ropes separate, and soon enough I was dragged to my feet by my hair. Ron started walking with me as Bellatrix levitated Harry and Hermione who seemed to be unconscious.
“Ron listen to me...”
“Close your mouth!” his voice was hard and strong. He wasn’t Ron. He just couldn’t be.
“Ron...” I started again, but he grabbed my upper arm, made me face him and slapped me across the face so hard that my cheek tore on my skin and I spat blood. My eyes watered but I wasn’t crying. Not this time. I looked him in the eye, trying to find a weakness, trying to find the old Ron. “You’ll never be one of them.” I spat the words out like a stubborn child who did not care about the consequences. Ron’s eyes flushed, first with shock then with anger. He threw me on the ground, hard and before I had time to turn my head around, a thousand knives stabbed me. I wailed and cried in pain. There was only one phrase going through my head: My baby. Stupid, stupid, stupid Anna! My baby.”
He lifted the Cruciatus curse off my body. My muscles were tense. My head filled with that feeling of disbelief you hate so much. I had never expected Ron to use an unforgivable curse on me. Never. I didn’t look at him anymore. My eyes were cast on the grass that was painted red with the blood coming out of my mouth.
“That’s my boy.” Said Bellatrix in an amused voice. I felt my scalp being pulled off my head as he dragged me to my feet my hair. We started marching towards the dark mansion, a few crows flying off the cemetery stones, as if we had disturbed their sleep. I wished I had stayed at Lily’s house. But I had been stupid. I had acted upon my idiotic impulse. And my impulse signed my death certificate. Ron raised his wand and the door of the house opened. It was dark inside. He lifted me effortlessly over the steps as my legs were too tightly binded together to permit me to climb stairs. Once we were all inside, the door closed and we were engulfed in darkness. This darkness, I thought, will be the last one. I felt the bile rise in my throat and before I could help myself I vomited on the floor. Someone hit my head and I fell. Before my eye lids closed, I heard Harry shout my name. And then I didn’t remember any more. It was over.
A/NHi guys, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post yet another chapter, but I just finished my A-Levels and I finally freeeee!!! Anyways, please let me know what you think of this chapter. I hope it wasn't too boring at the beginning and if you though it was, I hope that the ending made up for it. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing so far. Love you all xxx