The cloaked figure drew towards me. I could see his face in the pale candlelight. My arms started to shake, my hands clammed up, and my mouth became suddenly dry and choked off all oxygen.
The cloaked man drew down his hood, the candlelight shone brilliantly onto his face... Revealing an aged face. His face draught and pale looking, the skin stretching tightly across his cheekbones, revealing a much thinner face that the one I remembered. His twinkling aqua eyes stood out from everything, still as kind and calm as I remembered. His once greying raven hair, now a shining silver beacon, whipped round the edges of his just drawn hood, and a beard that ran to his stomach.
Stretching out his bony fine fingered hands, towards me, soft and gentle looking as they drew ever closer.
I still stood rooted to the spot not daring to move even an inch, in his direction, nor in any other direction, not even towards the front door to make my lucky escape.
“Du-Du Dumbledore,” I managed to choke out.”What are you doing here?”
His wrinkled pale lips, wrinkled into the same friendly smile, the wrinkles dancing round the corners of his mouth. This smile was the smile that penetrated my dreams, keeping me awake, the only sane thing that I had once known, the only reassurance which I had gotten in those long months, was this smile that kept me going.
“Evelyn Orchard.” He said, as if observing a long lost friend who he hadn’t seen in centuries. His turquoise eyes glittered magnificently on the last syllable.
I stood their stunned for a few seconds, not daring to open my lips or even to think. My eyes just expanded like saucers to the sight which was in front of me, Dumbledore-here in my living room, after I swore on my own life that I would never see or hear from anyone in that life ever again, he’s standing their next to my two sisters.
How can this be happening?
“I think me and Annie will go now.” Ivy murmured, pushing Annabelle out of the room. The door shut with a little snap, and the door knob creaked round and back into place, we stood their standing still at completely other ends of the spectrum standing there, with two completely different expressions on our faces.
“You have not changed since the last time I saw you” He declared in an affectionate tone, making the whole room feel a few degrees warmer. His brilliant blue eyes making the room aglow with warmth and tenderness.
“You’ve hardly changed since...” I manage.
“Ahh” he said fondly. “Just a bit greyer and my age has certainly changed.”
His smile grew. I laughed feeling more at ease; if there was one thing about Dumbledore it was always that he could always make people feel suddenly better and more comfortable.
I gestured for him to sit down, he went towards the large comfortable leather armchair, which he had many a time sat in many times, just 3 years ago bringing out horrible truths, truths which changed the future and destroyed it too.
It was almost like time had been reversed, I became suddenly happy, like I had been the worries and cares of all other things shut out-shut out of the 4 walls which barricaded us inside, locked out for once for the first time in years, it was oddly nice, homely, inviting- it was amazing what this old man could do.
“Would you like a drink?” I asked remembering what my mother would always say. To be a good hostess to whoever was in the house. I was sure we had some brandy somewhere...
“No thank you” Dumbledore said shaking his head kindly.
I could immediately tell he wasn’t staying long. A quick check-up is all. This made my spirits drop considerably.
“As you can probably tell, this isn’t a social visit. I haven’t given you warning, I am sorry for not giving you time to prepare yourself.” He told me his eyes turning greyer.
I stared at him blankly, not knowing what to think, my spirits deteriating even faster... I think if he had the least bit of incentive to inform me, I would have fled, instead of staying to hear what this man said.
“I know I am asking a lot especially after everything you have been through Evelyn.” he said his icy pools boring into my chocolate ones.
I began to shake no, no- not this I thought frantically.
“I know you never want to see, or hear from anyone in the magical world again and I respect that. I know I should have seen what I was asking of you before. I can never apologise enough. I know I didn’t look after you or listen to you not in the way that I should of. I am sorry that I didn’t see how it was affecting you, i didn’t see the signs, and I could see you were exhausted but that was to be expected, the tiredness and exhaustion... the way you were treated and I’m sorry, you can never know how sorry I am. I don’t expect complete forgiveness from you. I should not.”
I sat there still staring at Albus Dumbledore as if my life depended on it. My mouth gaped open I probably looked like a fish- a very confused fish
I just managed to stutter a few confused, wary syllables out. Dumbledore just smiled.
“I need you to help me. To help us.” his eyes turned sharp entrancing me further. They shined with hope. “Could you help the Order of the Phoenix?”
I gaped at him in shock.
I let out one long steady breath.
“So it definitely wasn’t a social call” I replied a steely tone changing my voice turning icy to the only man I have ever completely trusted and respected. One of the men I had once lay down my life for...
“Why are you asking me?” I asked shaking.
“The Order and I we need you, we need your help.” He stated his eyes boring into mine.
“I can’t do that again”. I replied coldly.
His eyes faded. They were duller now all signs of the hope that had once lit them were gone, only to be replaced with sadness.
“We need you Evelyn.” He stated adding my name for emphasis but when he said it it made me shake with dread at what he was to say next.
“What are you saying?-We-we” I asked uncomprehending still.
“The Order and I-“
“No-No I am not helping them- That-Those-“ I couldn’t go on.
What if they get hurt?
What if it’s-
“I know what this maybe doing to you but Evelyn please think about it, not just for me and the order, but for the rest of the world, not just the wizarding world. We all need you.” He whispered.“Times are getting harder...he’s on the rise...I don’t know what else we can do.”
They wanted me desperately... they needed me desperately...
Did I want them desperately? Did I need them desperately?
The answer to those questions that were blurring everything around in my head was no. I had gotten on fine by myself with my family before and why did I need them now?
But maybe they needed me...
It made me laugh. After all these years, they needed me-me of all people. The person who they had banished- ignored- abused- and they needed me- I almost felt sorry for them. Not quite but almost.
Realising that Dumbledore’s desperate gaze was still on me I cleared my mind of all of those...distracting thoughts.
“They don’t matter to me anymore” I said sharply letting all the words fall to the right effect, icy, cold, and hateful completely guilt free. “They’re not part of my life and I’m not part of theirs... what should it matter to me?”
Dumbledore’s disappointment shone on his face.
“It should matter to you...They are part of you, down to your last cell. You should care, if not there is no hope for any of us.”
I stood their shocked at the meaning of what he had said.
He stood to leave, his silver cloak billowing about his ankles. He stepped towards me, making it apparent that he was going to leave, I gestured for him to follow me to the front door.
Opening the door Dumbledore turned to me.
“It was nice seeing you again, you have done a lovely job with your sisters, your parents would be very proud. I am sorry I was not there to help you, when you needed me most. Forgive me?” he asked sincerely.
He stepped out onto the other side of the door and turned back, smiling; he took his hand out, an offering. Without thinking much more, I grasped his hand and shook it roughly.
“I am sorry professor but- I can’t- I am sorry. I wish I could-believe me!” I begged fearing that this wonderful old man would not forgive my selfishness.
“There is nothing to forgive, Evelyn. It was your decision and I respect that.”
I was extremely glad that he wasn’t angry, but it still didn’t stop me from feeling guilty. I smiled tentatively at him.
He reached out touching my face.
“If you need anything you know where I am” he said, his eyes glimmering sadly.
“Thank you and same to you professor” I said without thinking of all the hidden meanings of what I had said.
Turning around he walked quickly and soundlessly down the stone steps.
“Bye Evelyn” he called turning down the path and into the moonlit street.
“Bye Dumbledore” I said quietly, knowing that he couldn’t hear me.
Turning back into the house and locking the door to shut out all of the bad omens Dumbledore had brought with him. I sank to the floor kneeling against the wooden door frame.