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Veela by witch_in_training
Chapter 5 : Silver
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 6

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Past the point of no return
No going back now
-The Point of No Return, from The Phantom of the Opera

The tunnel between the Hog’s Head and Hogwarts is both long and filthy; I can’t decide which description applies more. Most of the time it’s a blind walk, the few flickering torches set crookedly into the wall providing light for minimal space. I keep one hand secured to the crook of Bill’s elbow, the only way to know that he is here and I am not walking alone.

I have always hated the dark. Hated, not feared. Other children ran to the light because they were afraid of what might lurk in the shadows. I ran with them, but for decidedly different reasons. There is little beauty in the world; none exists in darkness.

It hides that which should shine. Maybe, in moments of extreme Veelality (not vanity, never vanity) I was more upset that others could not see me than that I could not see anything else.

My heel catches on something, and I stumble with a slight shriek. It seems silly, shrieking at a small inconvenience like losing gracefulness for a single moment when on the other side of this tunnel, the fate of the world is being decided by a boy three years my junior, but for some reason I suddenly find myself trying not to sob. Bill’s arm slides around my waist, and I search in the dark until my lips find his long hair, tied up in a ponytail that is beginning to come loose. I kiss the side of his head, and remind myself to kiss him properly later if we both happen to survive the prospective war. For now I lace my hand in his and squeeze it tight.

Finally, when my feet are aching and it becomes so tempting to ask Bill if he will carry me the rest of the way like a child, I hear Arthur’s voice up ahead, calling, “I think this is the end!”

Within seconds, his words are followed by a sudden light, one that seems so bright after the long, unlit walk, appearing in the shape of a doorway mere yards ahead. The pain doesn’t matter anymore. I hurry as fast as possible without running to get to the source of the light. I can see Bill’s face beside me now, and I am unsurprised to see a familiar grin erupt, accompanied by the winking of the silver fang in his ear.

We are welcomed with open arms by faces I haven’t seen in a long time, faces I haven’t seen at all, faces I’d rather never see again, and not only because of a misplaced freckle. There are people here I’ve met whom I have no desire to speak with again since our last encounter. Whether they have changed since I saw them three years ago is something I doubt there will be time to judge.

People think I have no capacity to hate. Perhaps I don’t. But I do have a talent for judging, and also a capacity to at the very least form a negative opinion. I will never forget Roger Davies and the way he fell so easily to my Veela looks and charm. At the time, it was almost flattering; now it’s sickening.

It is there that my love for Bill is founded. With no one else has it ever been real, and at times it is as if my heart might burst at the thought that someone in this world sees beyond what the eye alone can behold.

“Harry’s already gone,” a sandy-haired boy I know I’ve seen but fail to recognize explains patiently to Arthur, who appears to age by the minute under all the stress and tension. “He went with Luna.”

Arthur looks ready to collapse or throw something, I’m not sure which. “Something like what?” he asks in an irritable voice I’ve never heard him use before.

The boy shrugs apologetically. “Said he was looking for something that Ravenclaw lost. Luna took him to the common room, I think.”

“And Ron and Hermione?”

At this, Ginny, who along with the twins is still being thoroughly berated by Molly for their recklessness, pipes up with her own input. Bill finally lets go of my hand and goes to rescue Ginny, Fred, and George from their mother’s wrath. “They said something about a bathroom. You can look for them if you like, but I wouldn’t go popping in unannounced, you never know just what you might be interrupting.”

The twins burst out laughing. Molly scowls disapprovingly. Arthur sighs.

“Thank you, Seamus, Ginny,” he says wearily, and turns to Kingsley beside him. “We’re going to need to contact the rest of the Order, and anyone we know who might help. If Harry’s really here, and Voldemort’s really coming, it can only mean war, unless he’s really so arrogant as to believe he can take on the whole of Hogwarts on his own. We’re going to need everyone here. Not everyone available; everyone.”

Kingsley nods. “This could be our chance. Tonight could mean the end of the war. Whether that’s good for us… well, I suppose we’ll know soon enough,” he finishes gravely.

This room is a very strange place. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see things vanish or appear out of nowhere. A desk, complete with rolls of parchment, bottles of ink, and elegant eagle quills, is suddenly right where a smaller table with a wizard’s chessboard was a moment ago. This is magic as I have never seen it before, but nobody else so much as blinks.

Kingsley is busy charming his silvery lynx Patronus to seek out the individual Order members and deliver news of war. Arthur is doing the same with his customary weasel. I’ve always liked that particular spell. Patroni are some of the most beautiful creatures I’ve seen, regardless of being magical and temporary. Silver is the color or elegance and beauty; it’s rich and delicate and everything a color should be, and it shines like none other. It’s always been my favorite. I may not be a master of the Patronus Charm, but I have cast it before, and I would stare for hours at my beautiful silver mare if I only had the chance.

While the adults are taking the matter seriously, tiredly talking over strategies and estimating our numbers versus those of the Death Eaters, the students who, from what I’ve heard, have spent anywhere from weeks to months cooped up in this mysterious room than I have a suspicion might be what they call the Room of Requirement, are excitedly chattering about the prospect of battle, some boasting about how many Death Eaters they can take down.

The ones who are slightly more down-to-earth are comparing spells with each other, wondering aloud what would be considered unethical and what spells are too minor to even bother with in the midst of war. Dean is sitting with his back against the wall with a book in hand, muttering the incantations to hexes and curses every once in a while. The sandy-haired boy, Seamus, has his arm around a little blonde girl, one of the few who looks frightened. I think privately that she’s the one who has it right, and though I can hardly fault the others for being optimistic, there comes a point where the line between optimism and naivety has to be drawn, and they’re bordering on that line.

I try, but fail, not to notice the bruises and cuts that all these children have in common. It looks so much worse to me than anyone else, but surely I’m not the only one who can see that this is horrific? The monsters that did this deserve to pay, and they deserve to pay dearly. How could anyone choose to ruin something that is already so fragile and flawed?

Remus has pulled Tonks to the side and appears to be arguing with her, but their voices are too low for me to catch any of it. Her stubborn look and his increasingly furrowed brow suggests she’s probably winning. She still has the slightly plump look of a woman who has recently given birth to a child. I wonder if perhaps the argument is about the newborn Teddy Lupin in some way. Perhaps Remus feels the same way I do; the mother of such a young infant should not fight in such a dangerous battle.

Before long, more people step out of the portrait on the wall; Hestia Jones, Elphias Doge, Augusta Longbottom, Sturgis Podmore, Emmeline Vance, Charlie Weasley, a very disgruntled Mundungus Fletcher, and several people whom I am fairly sure are not Order members. Some bear resemblance to children in the room -- parents, I suppose, who weren’t able to convince their children to stay out of the fight and have resigned themselves to joining instead. Aberforth from the Hog’s Head is the last to step out, looking unsure that this is where he wants to be.

Everyone is relieved to see the influx of fighters. Arthur, Remus, and Kingsley immediately step up to shake hands with the new arrivals, clapping some of them on the back and hugging old friends.

“Dedalus is coming,” Hestia calls to Arthur while Kingsley engages her in an embrace that I’m not entirely convinced is platonic. “He’s explaining to the Dursleys what’s going on. We’ve been staying with them for nine months and, frankly, I still don’t think they understand the whole wizarding war business.” She rolls her eyes.

“Oh, you must tell me what it’s been like to live with Muggles!” Arthur says excitedly, bounding over to her like a puppy that’s just been offered a treat.

Bill appears suddenly at my side again. “Xeno never ceases to amaze me,” he says, shaking his head. I remember Xenophilius Lovegood from our wedding, and I would have to agree -- that man’s ideas are eccentric. I have to wonder if even he believes the nonsense he spews.

“What is he saying now?” I ask, searching for him in the throng of people loitering near the portrait. His white hair reflects the light, so he isn’t difficult to find.

Bill shakes his head in wonder. “No idea. Something about some nonexistent magical creature that would win this war for us in a heartbeat if we had it on our side. Honestly, I tuned out most of it.”

I laugh -- the laugh I despise for how fake it always sounds, no matter how genuine a reaction it is.

There’s a strange silence that falls after everyone has finished their greetings and idle chat. As one they seem to have remembered that this is not a social gathering, but rather a war against the most dangerous Dark wizard the world has ever seen.

“We all know why we’re here,” Kingsley says quietly, but I’m almost positive everyone can hear him anyway. The blonde girl who was in Seamus’s arms earlier is sobbing softly, tears gathering around her eyes, either clinging to the lashes or spilling down her cheek and disappearing under the collar of her robe. “This will be the last time many of us see each other. Look into the faces of those you love, because it might be your last chance.”

Obeying his words, I look straight into Bill’s face unflinchingly, taking in every scar, every misplaced freckle, every line. Most of all, I memorize the glint of his honey eyes, assuring myself that if I have to die, I can picture them at the last moment and die with a smile on my lips.

“Some of us in this room are strangers who will never have the chance to meet. Some might have children at home, too young to understand, or families who aren’t magical and can only guess what will be taking place tonight. But all of us have something in common.” This is why Kingsley is the right man to lead us in this dark time; even now he stands tall, seeming above all of us, delivering his speech with such passion and truth. “None of us want to live in a world where Voldemort is in control.” For once, no one flinches. “And all of us are willing to give our lives to make sure that doesn’t happen!”

Fred and George’s bellows of agreement set off the cheers, and then the crowd begins to thin. Kingsley and Arthur are delivering the orders on who goes where. I don’t know how many Death Eaters are already in the castle, or whether He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has arrived yet.

One thing I do know with certainty; the end of the war is upon us.

The battle for Hogwarts has begun.

Believe me when I say I'm sorry for the wait! And somehow the action has been once again postponed for the next chapter. But it's actually going to happen next chapter, I promise, I've already begun mentally! Please leave a review if you get the chance! :) I love feedback, and I'll take it in all forms!

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