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Chapter 7 : Rubies
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I needed Lily.
I couldn’t get to her.
I didn’t know what to do.
I’d spent Christmas day wrapped tightly in bed, crying. My parents and Heidi had each come into my room several times to try and talk to me, but I couldn’t even bear to look at them. The abrasive melody of constant arguing and Heidi occasionally screaming had been wafting into my room since my ‘surprise’ on Christmas Eve.
The morning of the twenty-seventh spelled my escape. I wrapped Inverno’s cage with my quidditch robes and packed up my tiny suitcase. I was at least glad that I’d travelled light, because I couldn’t see myself leaving if I had much more to carry. I was of course still sharing a room with Heidi so I had to go about all this virtually silently, so not to wake her.
About to leave, I paused at the door and looked down at my faux-little-sister’s bed. She was curled up with her teddy; her golden locks flowing around her little head. How could such a tiny, angelic creature have turned my world so upside down?
I had this morning all planned out. I was going to go to the nearest muggle post office and send Lily a letter by express post. I would have sent Inverno but I couldn’t bear to be without her. I’d written Lily the following:
It’s me. I need to see you. Badly. Can you meet me just outside the apothecary at Diagon Alley tomorrow at noon? Don’t bother replying if you can make it; just be there.
After that I was going to go the bank and withdraw my savings. I had a fair amount saved up from birthday presents, summer jobs and a couple of academic prizes from back before my Hogwarts days. With that I was going to buy a one way rail ticket back to London.
Though, before I did any of this I decided I should probably inform the ‘family’ of my departure. I was still seething over my betrayal enough to write a one sentence note:
‘See you at summer… maybe.’
I was really due for a stroke of luck so welcomed it when I got to London safe and sound to find an empty room at the Leaky Cauldron. I unpacked and then went for a cheer-up ice-cream at Florean’s. I ordered the ‘Break-up Buster’ but only because it would give me an excuse if I bumped into someone I knew and they asked me why I looked so awful. It also had a cheering charm cast on it and was laden with chocolate.
That night went for ages. My mind was working overtime wondering what was happening back in Germany. All I could do now was wait; wait for Lily. I had too many feelings bottled up that I just couldn’t process alone. It seemed so crazy now but I remember a couple of times in my past, I’d actually wished for this to happen; for me to have been adopted.
This certainly wasn’t the way I’d pictured it. You always hear about how unwanted people feel when they get news like this but I’d always just thought it was a bit dramatic. My parents’ change when Heidi turned up seemed a lot more obvious now. But what could I do now? I had to be determined to see the brighter side somehow…
I’d taken up residence on a bench across the way from the apothecary since eleven. I’d spent an anxious hour tapping my toes and compulsively checking my watch. Finally the clock struck twelve; midday at last. It didn’t seem to change things though as I found myself stuck on the bench for another half hour before resigning to the fact my luck had probably run dry.
She probably hadn’t got my letter in time. Or maybe she’d been busy… I didn’t get to mull it over for long though. In an instant I felt a pair of long, skinny arms thread around my neck and wrap me into a tight hug.
“I’m so sorry I’m late! You’ll never guess what happened!”
We strolled along the alley as Lily avidly recounted how there had been a scuffle In the leaky cauldron involving one of those rotten Death Eaters. Well he might not have been a Death Eater but that’s what the man he was fighting with had said, and by the sounds of what he did to his opponent I don’t really doubt it. The dark arts were on the rise these days and it just added a new dimension of worry to my mind. Eventually we made it back into the leak cauldron for afternoon tea, hoping things had settled down in there now.
Lily had been so caught up in telling me about her Christmas and also in the pleasure of reuniting again that she’d forgotten that I’d been the one that asked her to come here. I must’ve covered up well, because Lily didn’t even notice how awful I looked. I didn’t mind that she kept talking. I loved to see Lily happy; it made me happy, and I can’t say quite how much I wanted to feel happy again.
She did eventually notice though, “Ooh what’ve you been up to?! Those dark circles definitely spell a few late nights! You’ve been partying without me you traitor!” She giggled for a moment before realising I wasn’t giggling with her or dishing out my late night exploits.
I’d been almost avoiding this because it was just so fresh and I didn’t know I was ready to rehash the minor details yet. I couldn’t hold it in anymore though. I stared down blankly at my tea and couldn’t help big, salty tear drops welling up at the corner of my eyes and spilling down onto the table. Lily was shocked and dashed around to my side of the table. She wrapped her arms around me and I decided it was time.
“I need to tell you something, Lily. Something important. Can we go up to my room?”
I told Lily everything in excruciating detail. What the trip had been like before the revelation, how it had happened, what I did afterwards. It was hard but I did it.
When I looked up at Lily, she was crying too. I smiled a little, thankful for what a good friend I had in her.
We had talked through the night and Lily had sent an owl to her parents saying she was going to stay the night. For dinner we had four slabs of Honeyduke’s finest chocolate. Going to sleep that night was a lot easier than the night before.
I woke up the next morning to a pleasant sight. Lily had magically packed all my things and was waiting for me to wake up with a giant tray of breakfast.
“I asked for them to put two meals on one plate,” she beamed at me, clearly thinking she’d hit the nail on the head with cheering up ideas.
And she had, I couldn’t help smiling, “You’re the best, Lily.” And I meant it. She really was.
Slipping into bed next to me, she snagged a bit of toast and decided to tell me about her plans for the day.
“So first off, you and I are going to top up all our school supplies then I thought you might like a couple of hours alone. We will then come back here and meet up with Florence, Alice and Amelia! I owled them all last night when I let my parents know I was staying. And don’t worry I told them you didn’t want to talk about things yet, and that you just wanted to have a bit of fun for the day. We’re then going to pick some new robes for several clearly very important occasions… namely my birthday! After that I’ve booked us all tickets to the muggle theatre, which don’t you forget will be hilarious with Alice around. We can also get dinner somewhere swanky! We’ll come here for tonight but then tomorrow you’re coming back home with me. No excuses! You need to be with me for now.”
“That actually sounds perfect. Thank you so much for everything.”
We hugged again before Lily told me to hurry up and eat, which believe me I needed no prompting to do.
We stocked up on quills and ink at Scribbulus Writing Implements and Lily demanding picking up an early copy of ‘Advanced Potion Making’ so she could hope to get some tips for our OWLs. We also slipped into the apothecary to restock our potions supplies. Lily also insisted that we pick up some specialty quills from Amanuensis Quills that were intended to write you out study questions and then correct them when you’d answered. Lily was starting to get more serious about OWLs and she had a point. I picked up some owl treats from Eeylops as well for Inverno.
Lily was being particularly organised and decided we should go drop off our supplies before I headed out for my alone time. She always became strangely maternal in crisis situations. As a testament to this she kissed me on the forehead before I went on my way, Inverno on my shoulder.
Lily said I wasn’t to leave Diagon Alley so my little owl and I traipsed up the street to a secluded spot near the flower vendors. It was kind of nice to just lounge around and take in the scent of the flowers. It almost felt peaceful, but I felt there was still a lot of unfinished business to deal with.
I knew Lily had said not to leave the Alley, and I knew it was dangerous but I couldn’t help it. I had to go back to my old house to pick up some of my things. I sincerely hoped that Gilda and Bernard hadn’t returned home early. I had taken to calling my ‘parents’ by their real names now, as mother and father no longer held the same meaning for me.
I didn’t have much time so I decided to get a cab over to Notting Hill. It wasn’t all too far, but it did take a healthy sum out of my wallet. I guess I would start having to be a little more conservative. I’d never had to worry about money before now.
I emptied out my room of everything sentimental and sped back to the Leaky Cauldron. It was almost time to meet the girls. I must have arrived just before Lils hit panic mode because I could see she was frowning a lot. Her fretting was quickly drowned out as Flo, Alice and Amelia made the biggest commotion to see me. I really did have the best friends ever.
We followed Lily’s plans to a T. We had lunch and then popped into Twilfitt and Tatting’s for a bit of higher end shopping. I was only able to afford a pretty pair of white kitten heels, but surreptitiously eyed up several more pieces.
We went back up to my room to get made up for the theatre tonight. We were right in guessing that Alice was particularly excited to see what muggle entertainment would be like. We all got on our muggle best and in the spirit of the occasion decided to do our hair and make up the muggle way.
Florence, unfortunately, ended up looking like a bit of a drag queen so we had to help her out. Subtlety had never been her forte.
Dinner was probably the thing that kick started my positivity. And no, I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t even for the food this time! Upon our arrival at my restaurant of choice there was a crowd of people waiting to meet us.
James, Remus, Sirius and Peter were all dressed to the nines and waiting for us at our table. Judging from their jovial nature Lily hadn’t let them in on my news, and I was grateful. They had probably only dressed up this much because Lily had gone out of her way to specify a dress code to James, who assured Lily that he would rigidly enforce it.
We had a three course feast and just after we’d all scoffed down dessert, Lily had another surprise for me. She shooed the boys on to the theatre and challenged them to try and secure us a glass of wine each which decided would be sufficient enough time for us girls to get a few moments alone.
“We were all going to save you these for when we got back to school but we thought you might like them more now.”
As Lily said this, everyone pulled out an assortment of beautifully wrapped presents. I felt a little overwhelmed… All the gifts I’d got them had been left behind in Germany. Luckily I was saved from unearthing this awkward fact when Amelia assured me that none of them would accept a gift from me as I needed all the money I had now.
The first gift I opened was from Florence,
“I had got you something else but I saw you shamelessly ogling this in Twilfitt and Tatting’s today!”
I let the silky, glowing fabric flow through my hands. It was beautiful, light and reminded me of the moon. Before I could say anything Flo piped up again,
“I know, it’s beautiful! Only condition is you can’t wear it without telling me first. I don’t want you to upstage me!”
I smiled at her and gave her a hug. The next gift that was thrust upon me was from Amelia,
“Flo Alice and I co-ordinated. This one’s from Alice and I,” she explained as Alice passed a tiny box towards me.
I opened it to find a beautiful set of earrings and a necklace. They were a striking silver embedded with tiny droplet moonstones. I felt particularly guilty now about not getting them anything.
“Thank you so much. All three of you.”
Lily slid me my last gift along the table.
“Mine’s not much compared to all this but I just got together a few things I thought you could use!”
This box was huge, and I’d wondered how Lils had managed to get it here so discretely. Opening it I was transfixed.
“Lily, this is the sweetest thing ever. Thank-you. Thank-you so, so much.”
Inside was a collection of my favourite things; my favourite books, sweets and beauty potions. But on top of all of this was a tiny album. There was a photo on every other page and a quote next to each. The last page said, “I’ll always be here for you, Milla.”
My worries of the last few days had somewhat dissipated as I realised that I really, truly did have a family at Hogwarts. As we were leaving the restaurant Lily whispered in my ear,
“By the way, I meant what was written in the back of that book. If you ever need me and I’m not there, just write my name on the last page and I’ll know.”
“Lily that’s amazing! But how does it work?”
“See this?” She showed me a pendant she’d taken to wearing, “It’ll change colour when you need me.”
I smiled at her and we hugged again for the millionth time that day.
The boys hadn’t quite succeeded in getting our wine, but we decided to go in anyway and take our seats. We were seeing The Rocky Horror Show. Lily had already seen it and assured us that it was a must-see.
She was right too. It was absolutely hilarious, and even set Remus into fits of giggles which was an unusual sight. I think Lily must have warned the boys to give me a bit of space and I was also thankful for that. I don’t think I could quite maintain composure with them all just yet.
The rest of the night went by without a hitch and the boys even escorted us back to the Leaky Cauldron. Everyone else floo’d home and Lily and I popped back up to my room. I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about how much I loved my friends but I really did.
Before going to sleep Lily and I looked through the photos in the album she gave me. Seeing the photos of us over the years was hilarious and cheered me up even more. I really was feeling much better thanks to Lily.
The next morning I had a lovely wake-up call from Lily again. We packed all our things up and went downstairs to leave. I realised at the last minute that I’d left my travelling cloak in the room so I gave Lily my wallet to pay for the room while I dashed upstairs to grab it. Upon my return Lily was awkwardly waiting at the bottom of the stairs, looking shifty.
“Lils, what’s up?”
She looked around anxiously before hissing in my ear, “How much money are you carrying around in here! You can’t just be carrying all your money around with you!”
She had a point. I hadn’t even thought about how silly I was to be carrying my life savings around with me. I blushed and Lily took this as a cue to do something about it,
“Come on! We’re setting you up a Gringotts account before we leave!”
Neither Lily nor I had an account, so this was quite the process for both of us. Everyone knew that Goblin’s weren’t exactly the sweetest of creatures so I did feel a little frazzled when filling out the application form. I had to present my wand for weighing and inspection before I could submit the form. The good thing about Goblins was that they were extremely efficient. Lily and I had only been waiting a few minutes when the Goblin handling my application called us back to his counter.
There was another goblin with him this time and they were looking at us critically.
“I am afraid,” the first goblin said in a rough voice, “we cannot process this request.”
The second goblin continued, “Gringotts rules specifically state that as an individual without a business account you can only open one account for yourself and be part of no more than two family accounts. Your request here is for an individual vault but our records show that there is already an account open In your name.”
I looked around at Lily, shocked. There must be another Milla Klein.
“I’m afraid that’s impossible. I’ve only ever come here to exchange muggle money! I’m muggle-born you see…”
And then it dawned on me. I had no idea what I was born of anymore. Could it be that I wasn’t magical by coincidence?
It seemed like Lily had realised the same thing. We looked at each other, caution laced in my features.
The goblins clearly thought proceedings were being drawn out and cut in,
“This account was established sixteen years ago and is in a much securer section than the one you applied for. Would you like me to escort you to your new account?”
“But I don’t even have a key. How am I meant to get in?”
“The instructions on the account say that we are request to see a ‘ruby pendant’ that you should have in your possession.”
How did they know? That was a gift from Gilda and Bernard on my eleventh birthday. I was still wearing it. I unlatched it from my neck and handed it over,
“Yes, I think so.” The goblin nimbly worked his fingers over the necklace and all of a sudden it was changing in his hands. It grew to twice its original size and now seemed to resemble a large teardrop. On the back I noticed that the letter ‘Y’ had formed, etched into the silver that the stone was set in.
The first goblin spoke to us again, “Okay, we can now grant you your key and take you to your vault.”
We were speechless. My vault must have been miles beneath the ground because we were sailing along the rickety tracks for ages. It was kind of terrifying. We got to my vault eventually. The goblin took my key back and opened the door for me.
Lily and I took a step forward. But only one step, the moment we could see the inside of the vault, our feet became rooted to the ground. I was surrounded by stacks of glimmering gold, taller than myself…
How could all this be mine?
A/N: So my plot bunny finally got out of its cage and is running free! I hope you like what you see :) Let me know what you guys think! And thank you for those of you who have been reviewing! It means a lot!
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