Chapter 23 : Home, Part Deux
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Chapter 23: Home, part Deux
I have a boyfriend. Had I mentioned that? Well, I highly doubt that he is my boyfriend anymore. For all I know I’m not his girlfriend, but I suppose that he might think differently. His name is Allen. And the idiot is really bugging me right now.
“I mean, you left,” he is saying as we stand in line to board the bus, me holding my wand inside my jacket pocket and deciding whether to give him a tail or not, “And I have needs, baby.”
I suddenly stop, realizing that I wasn’t really paying attention.
“What are you saying?” I ask.
“Well, baby, you weren’t here,” he says, “and Helen was.”
My brain takes a while to process this. I haven’t thought of Allen as my boyfriend in over a year, and still he has been chasing after me around school for the past month and half saying things like these. ‘I was lonely, you know?’, ‘You were gone’, ‘You can’t really blame me.’ I don’t think it was until now that I really understood the meaning of all these little speeches.
“You cheated on me with Helen?” I ask. Though who am I really to complain? I even got engaged to some other guy, for crying out loud. Somewhere around us I think I hear a loud crack.
“Well, she was here,” Allen says unable to take on any blame.
“You are unbelievable, Allen!” I shriek at him and board the bus.
I’m not mad at him for cheating on me. Again, I cheated on him quite a lot back at Hogwarts, but still! Helen? Bloody Helen?
“But baby!” he complains, “She was begging for it!”
“Oh my God, Allen!” I shriek, “I don’t care if she is naked and covered in jell-o, you just don’t cheat on someone with her friends!”
“But it wasn’t jell-o!”
“Oh my God,” I say turning away from him and finding a seat by the window.
I know that Helen and I are not really close, but still! She hangs out with my little group of friends… does that not make her my friend? Sort of?
Surprisingly, Allen sits next to me.
“Come on, baby,” he says, “We can still go back to where we were before you left!”
Suddenly my mind makes the connection regarding the loud crack I heard before. My hand flies immediately back to my pocket and I finger my wand. I know that crack well enough.
“Did you hear something?” I ask.
“I heard that you might have met someone in Rumania,” Allen says, “Helen told me.”
“What?” I ask in confusion standing up. “No, Allen. Did you hear something now?”
“Just the sound of your lovely voice,” he says.
“Oh God, Allen, just give it a rest,” I say jumping over his legs until I am standing in the narrow hallway of the bus.
“I need Georgiana Quested!” I hear a voice yell at the driver.
“Look, dude,” the driver, some guy who can’t be over twenty-two and refers to everyone, even my mom, as ‘dude’, answers, “No fare, no ride, okay?”
“I just need a word with her!” the voice yells.
I take a step forward and the yelling stops. The person boarding the bus looks over at me and stares.
“Oh God,” I manage to gasp.
I can’t quite get used to apparating, but hey, I just got my permit last summer. My head is spinning madly and I need desperately to catch my breath. Once I decide it’s safe to open my eyes I take in my surroundings. I am lying down with my legs bent oddly and my arms outstretched in a large patch of grass. I sit up without getting dizzy and look all around me. Off to my right I see a sign. Lewisham.
For a second I lie back down and try to remember why I even came here. This usually happens to me when I apparate. I need a minute to feel better; another to take in my surroundings; and one final minute to remember why the hell I am where I am. Then, suddenly, it all comes back to me. I stand up and break into a mad run, not knowing where the hell I’m going.
I love her now. That much I know. She must have loved me. She really must have loved me. All that hating I did while watching the memories was just me trying to protect myself from more pain. All that complaining about her not trying hard enough is pure bullshit. She risked everything for me. The only reason she is back here in bloody Lewisham is because she never really stopped trying. She kept fighting for me until she made sure I was safe. How can I not love her now? How can I not love the sole reason I actually tried to come back from that cemetery to this now-God-awful life? How can I not love the girl who tried to save me for so many months? Who in vain tried to protect us both by not falling in love with me? How can I live without my life?
“Excuse me,” I ask as calmly as I can to a police officer.
“Son,” he says, “Shouldn’t you be at school?”
I cover the badger in my vest with my hand.
“I need to find the Questeds,” I pant.
“The Questeds?” he asks, “Why?”
I know I look far too suspicious. I reach into the pocket of my pants and retrieve the letter.
“I need to give them this letter,” I say, “It is an emergency.”
“What kind of emergency?” he asks.
Oh, for crying out loud!
“Health,” I pant. “I’m their cousin, and our grandmother is terribly ill.”
The police officer considers all my lies for a second and seemingly decides that I must be telling the truth.
“They live in Wellington Road,” he says pointing to our right.
“Thank you!” I call back already running as fast as I can.
After a few minutes I make it to Wellington Road and then stop dead in my tracks. I don’t know which house is theirs, but I can bloody well guess. Standing under a streetlamp is the man to whom I owe my broken ribs and permanent damage. Lucius Malfoy doesn’t see me, but just the sight of him tells me that what Dumbledore said in his office was the truth. Georgie isn’t safe anywhere in our world. And now I guess that she isn’t safe in her world either. Only I can keep her safe, is all that I know. I feel it in my bones.
I back away trying hard not to catch Malfoy’s attention and am just starting to turn the corner when I hear someone honk his car’s horn. Malfoy turns, but I already disappeared beyond the corner.
“Dude, did you get lost on your way to the Comic Con?” a guy in a car asks me and roars with laughter. The one sitting next to him, however is staring pointedly at my chest, at the badger. I quickly put my wand away.
“I’m looking for someone,” I say trying to walk away. Suddenly the other guy steps out of the car, rounds it, and puts a hand on my arm.
“Are you – ” he asks with crazy wide eyes, “Are you Cedric Diggory?” he concludes in a whisper.
How the hell does he know?
“Are you – are you looking for her?” he asks.
He’s Michael. She told me about him once, in one of the minor memories that I gave to Snape.
“Michael?” I ask him, matching his crazy wide eyes.
Michael takes a step back and punches me suddenly. I fall hard on the ground feeling blood coming from my nose.
“What the fuck took you so long?” he practically roars at me.
“Fuck!” I whisper angrily, “I fucking didn’t remember her!”
Speaking of which…
I stand up and he looks at me like I just insulted his honour.
“I need to find her,” I tell him frantically.
“I’m not letting you near her!” he says outraged.
I sneak a glance around the corner and see Malfoy is still standing there.
“You see that man over there?” I ask him, “Your sister knows everything that is useful to that man. And I’ve got several other people on my tracks who also want to find her because your sister knows everything that is useful to them.”
He gapes at me.
“I promise you, here and now, that I am the only bloody person in this bloody world that your sister is safe with. And either you help me find her or one of these other people will.”
“She’s at school,” Michael says without any hesitation. I smile at him and clutch my wand harder. In a second I’m gone.
It doesn’t take me quite so long to gather my surroundings this time around. I had only to think ‘Lewisham School’ and I was here. There is a red bus parked in front of the main entrance, with quite a large queue of students waiting to get on. I look around frantically. I need to find her now. Suddenly there is a parting in the crowds and I see her, her hand in her pocket, her gaze lost, a boy talking to her. She was beautiful in the memories, but, to me, right now I hardly think I could put her properly into words. Her hair is longer than it was in the memories and she’s wearing it straight. Her white coat is wrapped tightly around her, making her look paler than she actually is. Under the hem of the coat I can see the lower part of her skirt, as well as her legs. I sigh heavily.
She turns in outrage to say something to the boy and then disappears into the interior of the bus. I launch myself forward moving people aside until I find myself at the door of the bus.
“Your fare?” the driver asks.
I look in my pockets but all I can find is a couple of sickles.
“I just need to see someone,” I say defensively.
“Your fare?” he asks again.
“I need Georgiana Quested!” I yell at the driver.
“Look, dude, no fare, no ride, okay?”
“I just need a word with her!” I yell again.
I turn my head frantically to try and spot her and suddenly see her standing in front of me.
“Oh God,” she gasps.
I take one step inside and numbly put my couple of sickles in the guy’s palm. He stares at them like an idiot.
“Cedric?” she asks.
My shoulders fall in utter relief.
“Georgiana,” I say, savouring every syllable.
“What are you doing here?” she asks venturing a step forward before stopping suddenly.
“I came here to find you,” I mutter.
“Cedric, it’s been four months,” she says. It hurts me that she is being so defensive.
“I didn’t remember you,” I whisper softly, trying to lower her defences.
She closes her eyes in pain, like a memory just hit her. When she opens them I see that she is fighting the urge to cry.
“That’s right,” she says.
I venture a step forward. Everyone in the bus is looking at us. She looks up at me.
“I’m sorry I left,” she says relaxing her posture.
“I know you are,” I say.
A couple of tears run down her cheek and she cleans them with her hand.
“Look, if you’re here to yell at me or something, just please don’t, okay?” she says.
“Why would I be here to yell at you?” I ask genuinely confused.
She smiles ironically and looks up at me.
“How did you remember me, then?” she asks.
“Snape kept my memories for me,” I say in a very soft voice, so that no one might hear.
“Ah,” she says with renewed irony, “And so you saw that I lied to you for almost a year and then abandoned you, right?”
I furrow my eyebrows and nod.
“Quite the bitch I must look to you,” she says.
“Well, yeah,” I blurt out.
She looks at me in shock. Uh, what did I just say?
“No!” I correct, “I didn’t mean it like that.”
She smiles sadly. The smile breaks my heart.
“How did you mean it, then?” she asks.
I think carefully of my words before answering.
“Look,” I finally say. I take a step forward and she takes a step backward, “At first I did think that you were a bitch. But then I got thinking. You – you risked everything for me. You genuinely loved me.”
She nods and cleans her tears again.
“I wouldn’t forgive myself, Ced,” she says. She begins to turn away to regain her place but I stop her by taking her hand.
“I hated you,” I burst out, “I hated you because you are everything that is good about me. The moment you left was the moment all the kindness that once lived in me plain went away. I’m broken, Georgiana. They broke me down, and the single little piece that kept my kindness and my soul together left with you. I couldn’t love you because you took all love with you. Then, in all my bitterness and misguided hatred I somehow convinced myself that the only reason you loved me was not because of me, but because of all the other reasons that girls like me. That maybe you didn’t mind lying to me because you never really felt a thing.”
“How could I love you then?” I ask, “How could I love the girl that I honestly thought had torn me apart?”
I make a small pause and she swallows back her tears.
“And then I bloody read your letter and I just sort of knew. And then it didn’t matter that you had lied, because you had lied to protect me. And it didn’t matter because you loved me for me just as much as I love you now for you.”
Her shoulders have fallen in defeat.
“I – there’s this memory,” I resume, “that I don’t know why I kept of you. You’re just sitting in the library writing in a parchment and you’re you. And by watching just that one memory I discovered that maybe I don’t feel the way I used to feel about that other Georgiana. But this Cedric, the one that’s been tortured and broken, loves this Georgiana. This Cedric loves you.”
She gives me a sad little smile and turns fully toward me.
“This Georgiana loves you too,” she says with a wide grin.
I smile and then become serious.
“All that is good in me, Georgie,” I say frowning, “All that is good in me they have killed. I love you now, but I don’t – I don’t know of how much love I am actually capable. I feel like my life has been sucked out of me and only just start to feel it with you.”
She places a hand on my cheek.
“I do know,” she says, “Even if you are broken I do know.”
He looks different from how he looked four months ago in the Hospital Wing. His body has healed, as far as I am concerned, even if that scar in the cheek is still very visible. But I suppose that not only your body can be broken. He looks hardened in a way that he never did when I spent time with him back at Hogwarts. Not even after the cemetery, when we spent our last night together in the Hospital Wing did he look this destroyed. I doubt that what he said was true, though – the part about all his kindness and love being removed from him. I know I am very much to blame about this last part, but I know that it is still there. I know that I can still find it behind those now hard eyes.
I place a hand on his cheek.
“I do know,” I say, “Even if you are broken I do know.”
He smiles at me and ventures a step closer. The hand that I had resting on his cheek falls to the side of my leg. I take the other one out of my pocket and let it fall limply too.
“I just need to try one thing,” he says.
Even in all my confusion and Cedric-induced dreamy state I notice that the noise of the bus has drowned all around us. I’m not one to like public displays of affection, let me tell you, but my body (and my mind) plain can’t find a way to refuse right now.
Slower than ever he leans a little forward and cups my face with his hands. My heart is beating faster than ever and I swear that I can feel it banging against my ribs.
He gives me a reassuring smile before gently touching my lips with his. I wince a little and let him kiss me softly. This time it is different because we are different. I tried to remember all the other kisses we ever had and they felt too far away, like they had happened to two different people. This kiss, however, is ours. Like it’s our first. It doesn’t feel passionate like the one we had a year ago inside the tent or any of the ones that followed. This one isn’t the result of relief or passion. This one is plainly the result of two people who want to love and need to be loved finding each other. I stand on tiptoes and rest my hands in the crook of his elbows. The kiss lasts perhaps five seconds and is really nothing more than his lips grazing mine, being careful not to injure each other’s hearts any more.
I turn around to the place from where the voice came and see Allen standing up gazing angrily at us.
“Yes?” asks Cedric.
“Excuse me,” Allen says, “But that is my girl you’re snogging!”
I raise an eyebrow at Allen and give him a disbelieving look.
“Are you?” Cedric asks looking back at me, without letting go of my face.
I smile at him and shake my head so slow I’m not sure he actually saw.
“Excuse me,” Cedric says looking up at Allen again, “But this is my girl I’m snogging.”
Allen is about to respond when I hear a loud crack outside the bus. I look rapidly at Cedric and see my confusion reflected in him.
“Bollocks,” he says.
He looks frantically all around him and apparently spots something just outside the window.
“Get your bag and take my hand,” he says.
“Excuse me, I’m not done with you!” Allen says angrily.
“Allen, please,” I say as I lean forward to get my bag, “You really don’t want to do this right now.”
Cedric is looking intently at the front of the bus, as if expecting someone to burst through the doors and kill us. I incorporate and take his hand as hard as I can. With the other he reaches into his pocket.
“Ced, they’re muggles,” I whisper urgently and he stops taking out his wand.
“We have to run,” he whispers urgently back at me and in a split second starts moving.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Allen one last time, as well as Pauline and my other friends, who are looking at us in confusion. We burst out the doors of the bus and out to the street.
“There he is!” I hear a loud squeaky voice scream. I turn around for a second and only just manage to see a tiny woman dressed in pink running after us with a couple of taller men trailing after her.
“Run, Georgiana!” Cedric screams and we break hand in hand into a wild run. As we turn the corner I hear him say an address under his breath. He takes out the wand from his pocket and we’re gone.
It was harder this time. I’m lying flat on my back trying hard to catch my breath and can barely see Cedric standing a little way from me casting spells around us. I swear, I will never get the hang of this disapparating thing.
“Where are we?” I ask once I catch my breath and manage to sit up. He doesn’t even need to answer. The place where we landed is my backyard.
“Georgiana!” my mum screams bursting through the back door. Cedric raises his wand at her.
“Ced, she’s my mum!” I tell him urgently and run to my mother’s arms. My dad bursts through the door a second later followed by Michael.
“Georgiana, there’s a man inside,” my mother whispers and Cedric raises his wand again, directing it at the door.
“Stand behind me!” he roars at Michael and my dad. They do as he says and suddenly the whole family is huddled together behind Cedric.
“I don’t think that is necessary, Cedric,” a voice comes from the house and I feel my knees weaken. A second later Dumbledore walks calmly out the door. Cedric doesn’t lower his wand.
Dumbledore raises his hands.
“If you please,” he says with a little smile, “I need a little word with Miss Quested and yourself, my boy.”
Dumbledore steps aside to let Cedric and me into the house. My mum tries to make me stop but I give her a reassuring smile.
“It’s fine, mum,” I say, “He’s fine.”
I step in a little after Dumbledore and Cedric and once in the living room see them examine our photographs with curiosity.
“Perhaps we might take this to your room, Miss Quested,” Dumbledore says, “I do remember rather liking it.”
Cedric turns to me for approval and I nod. They let me pass before them and I guide them up the stairs and into my room. Once in, Dumbledore shuts the door and casts protective spells all around us.
“I am not giving her up,” Cedric says immediately.
“I had figured out that much, Mr. Diggory,” Dumbledore says walking over to sit on my bed. I take a step back and find myself cowering a little behind Cedric; his arm outstretched in front of me to protect me.
Dumbledore reaches into his pocket to take out his wand and Cedric raises his. Outstretching his fingers, Dumbledore takes out the wand and puts it on top of my pillow, well away from him.
“Might as well get comfortable, Miss Quested,” he says.
I reach for Cedric’s arm and make him lower his wand. I take off my coat. Dumbledore waits for me to resume my position behind Cedric and then starts talking.
“I am not going to ask you again to give her up, Cedric,” he says.
“Even if you did, I wouldn’t,” Cedric says defiantly.
“I don’t doubt it,” he says, “But there are other reasons for which I won’t.”
“What do you mean?” I ask, finally finding my voice.
“I do believe, Miss Quested, that you are aware of the men watching over your house and your family.”
“I am,” I say.
Dumbledore stands up.
“You are not safe, Miss Quested,” he says and I see Cedric wince, “You are not safe here or even in our world.”
“What do you mean?” Cedric asks.
Dumbledore shoots me a mischievous look and then sneaks a glance at the bookshelf in the corner.
“Shall I, Miss Quested?” he asks, “Or do you want to do the honours?”
Cedric looks back at me.
I glance with a little frustration at Dumbledore. It is my turn to tell Cedric the truth.
“I know how it all ends, Cedric,” I say, “I know everything that will happen to the day when Harry fights Voldemort.”
Cedric’s eyes widen.
“How do you know?” he asks.
“I read about it in some books,” I say in all honesty.
“I don’t understand,” he says.
“Let us just say, Mr. Diggory,” Dumbledore says, “That hers is a different kind of magic.”
“I don’t want to lie anymore,” I say angrily at Dumbledore peering over Cedric’s shoulder.
“And you haven’t,” Dumbledore says. I purse my lips.
“What both of you must understand,” Dumbledore continues and Cedric turns once more to face him, “Is that what Miss Quested knows is of extreme benefit and use to Voldemort.”
Cedric winces with the mention of his name and I place a hand on the lowest part of his back, where Dumbledore won’t see.
“And,” Dumbledore resumes, “Extremely dangerous to the Ministry.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Miss Quested,” he says, “If you remember correctly, the Ministry does not want to admit that Voldemort is back and is intent on denying that which both Mr. Diggory here, and Harry say.”
“I remember,” I say.
“Miss Quested,” Dumbledore takes a step closer and looks deeply into my eyes over Cedric’s shoulder, “You are an extremely powerful weapon. You know it all. You know what happened and what will happen, to the Ministry and to Harry and Voldemort.”
I think I am beginning to understand and Cedric, apparently, has understood too, for a defeated look clouds his face and he stretches an arm behind him to press me closer to his body.
“Should any of them gain possession of you, and your knowledge,” Dumbledore says, “They could change everything.”
“That is impossible,” I say, “What is written is what will happen.”
Dumbledore smiles at me.
“I think that the presence of Mr. Diggory proves your point wrong.”
I flinch a little and Cedric’s grip on me tightens.
“But –” I stammer, “But thousands of muggles know! Millions!”
“Yes,” Dumbledore says, “But they are only aware of you.”
I feel the tears begin to roll down my cheeks and I lean my forehead on Cedric’s back.
“The only safe place for you, Miss Quested,” Dumbledore finishes his speech, “Is Hogwarts.”
Cedric shakes his head.
“Umbridge is at Hogwarts,” he says. Umbridge?
“Dolores cannot act upon her, Cedric, while I am headmaster,” Dumbledore reassures him.
“Yes,” I say, “But you won’t be headmaster for long, will you?”
Dumbledore smiles widely.
“I still have benefits, Miss Quested,” he says.
“So,” says Dumbledore clapping his hands once, “Shall we get you ready to go?”
“What, now?” I ask.
“Again, Miss Quested,” he says with a tiny smile, “Have you not noticed the presence of Lucius Malfoy outside your door?”
I wince and nod as I feel the tears rolling down my cheeks.
Dumbledore asks me to stand aside and he picks up the school bag I took with me this morning. Cedric and I move close to the door and in one swift movement all that is in my room, including all my books, clothes, and portraits on the walls shrink to diminutive sizes and plunge inside the bag, as well as the trunk that still contains all the things I used last year at Hogwarts. The only things left standing when Dumbledore is done are my bed, without any covers, and the dresser. My room now looks like a guest room.
“Your coat, Miss Quested,” Dumbledore hands me my coat and I put it on. Then he opens my door and we march down the stairs.
I’m leaning on the front door. This has all been a little too much to process. Somehow, I do not really understand how, Georgiana knows everything that will happen until the moment Voldemort and Harry fight to see which one dies and which one doesn’t. Somehow this is extremely dangerous for her, since should that information fall on the wrong hands it would signify absolute chaos – and, most likely, her death. For all I know, Lucius Malfoy could burst into the house this very minute, kill us all and take her to Voldemort. Or Dolores Umbridge could also burst in, take her to the Ministry, and torture every bit of knowledge out of her. My God. She looks so frail.
“Are you ready, Miss Quested?” Dumbledore asks emerging from the living room where he just explained to her parents and brother what is going to happen now.
Georgiana nods and walks into the living room. I can tell that she is trying very hard not to cry.
“Georgiana!” her mom shrieks when she walks in, “How can I let them take you away?”
“It will be fine, Mum,” Georgiana says with a fake little smile, “You will hardly notice that I am gone.”
“Perhaps there is another way!” her brother says walking over to Georgiana and their mother.
“There isn’t, Michael,” she says shaking her head, “If I don’t leave, you will all be in grave danger.”
“Love,” her father begs, “We can take care of each other! We can take care of you!”
“You can’t, daddy,” she says throwing herself at his arms, “Not this time, you can’t.”
Her father begins to sob into her hair and in a heartbeat the whole family is huddled together holding their girl for the last time. I can still see her through the tangled arms and notice a hard look in her eyes that I can only relate to mine. She isn’t crying.
“It won’t be long, I swear,” she lies to protect her family, “You won’t notice the three years.”
Her mother breaks into hysterical crying as Georgiana disentangles herself from them. Her father rushes to hold her crying mother and Michael stands a little aloof. She gives them one last long look, as if trying to record them into her brain and with one last smile, turns to me.
She walks over to where I am standing but stops a little away from me, looking at Dumbledore.
“Let’s go,” she says in a hard tone.
“There’s one last thing, Miss Quested,” Dumbledore says taking out his wand.
He begins to walk again into the living room and Georgiana puts a hand on his arm to stop him.
“What are you doing?” she asks hysterically.
“What needs to be done,” Dumbledore says, “For their safety.”
I understand and rush over to them, if only to try and stop him – to tell him there are other ways. Dumbledore, however, raises a hand and I stop.
“You cannot do this to her!” I hiss at him.
“She understands that it is the only way,” he answers me.
I look into Georgiana’s face and see that she has completely frozen. Her mouth is slightly open and she is looking at her crying family, breathing heavily. Dumbledore takes a step away from us and I walk closer to her.
We both see as Dumbledore raises his wand and Georgiana closes her eyes. I place an arm around her to pull her closer to me.
“Don’t look,” I whisper into her hair as her head crashes into my chest. I don’t want her to see the moment her family forgets that she belongs to them. She begins to breathe heavily into my chest and claws my shirt. My grip on her tightens.
“You have no daughter,” Dumbledore says flicking his wand.
Georgiana screams into my chest with what I recognize is pure pain.
Dumbledore walks over to us and takes me by the arm.
“Don’t let go of her, Cedric,” he says.
“Sir?” a shy little voice comes from the living room. I look up and see Georgiana’s mother standing up, looking a little confused, “Why is that girl crying?”
Georgiana, sure enough, breaks into sobs that are drowned by my chest. I hold her closer still and Dumbledore’s grip on me tightens. Then we vanish.
Well, I certainly hope you enjoyed it. There's only the epilogue left now. *Sigh* I don't really remember quoting anything in this chapter, so I'll just say that everything that does not belong to me belongs to our much loved J.K Rowling. That said, I'll try to post the next one sooner. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, please rate and comment, and I'll see you next time.
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