Author's Note: A huge thank you to all you lovely people who have been reading this story from the get go. I am so glad you are all enjoying it as much as I enjoy writing it. Also, a huge shout out to those of my skype writing group, you guys are fabulous!
Elsa Yaxley - Rachel Leigh Cook
Damon Avery - Marc Blucas
Sirius Black - Jared Padalecki
Remus Lupin - Jensen Ackles
James Potter - Gespard Ulliel
The Egyptian - Oded Fehr
(chapter image by Jeanie @ TDA)
As much as Elsa had wanted to go to her father's funeral, she knew she couldn't. All of her father's friends were Death Eaters and if just one of them called the Dark Lord, she would be as good as dead. Instead, Dumbledore had arranged for a private viewing for her and her friends to say goodbye to Evander while safely at Hogwarts.
The following week saw Elsa spending as much time as she could with Cordelia and Remus going over the things she had missed while cooped up in the Hospital Wing. When she wasn't with them, Elsa sat with Damon for a few hours. While he still wasn't walking, Damon kept faith that he would. He could wiggle his toes the last she had seen him. And that was an improvement. Soon, Elsa knew Damon would be up and walking around.
Once he found out that she suspected Dominic and Gareth for causing her father's death and her being branded a traitor, she wasn't sure what Damon would do. She and Sirius had agreed that until Damon was able to walk they were going to keep that little bit of information from him. It was never easy lying to someone she cared about, but she had managed to go a week without him suspecting anything.
By the middle of March, Damon finally emerged victorious from his battle with paralysis. He came sauntering into the Great Hall one morning, to find Elsa sitting with Cordelia and her friends at the Ravenclaw table. Upon seeing him walking, Elsa's eyes lit up. She could barely contain her happiness as he made his way across the Great Hall and over to her.
Standing, Elsa ran the last few steps and threw her arms around him. It had been the happiest day since the death of her father. Her lips found his, and in front of the whole school, she kissed him. It had been the first time she had openly declared her decision to date Damon over Sirius, but in that moment, she didn't care who saw or knew.
“That was unexpected,” Damon said with a laugh, and looked over her shoulder at Sirius who was, like the rest of the school, watching. “He doesn't look surprised.”
Elsa lifted her left hand and placed it on his chest, “he's known since the accident.”
“What made you change your mind?”
“Nearly dying makes you consider what is important in your life. I realized that I wasn't being fair to either of you. When I thought I had lost you, I felt this emptiness inside. I wanted to die.” Elsa explained. “I don't want to miss out on living any more. I don't want to be afraid or timid. I want to experience life as it is meant to be lived. And I want you by my side to do it.”
Tears flecked her eyes, and she knew she was being sappy. She knew that declaring that she loved him in the middle of the Great Hall wasn't exactly the normal teenage thing to do, but she didn't care.
“Do you have plans for Hogsmeade?” Damon asked, ignoring the hundreds of eyes on the two of them.
“No, she doesn't,” Cordelia said with a laugh.
“Apparently, I don't.”
“Good.” Damon let go of her and walked over to the Slytherin table.
Elsa stood there watching him for a moment as he took his seat next to Dominic. Afraid that her brother would do something stupid, she shot him a cold glare before taking her seat next to Cordelia. Having plans with Damon was weird. While she had known she was going to choose Damon over Sirius, now that she had had made it official, she felt odd.
Glancing over at Sirius, he gave her a curt, friendly nod and turned back to his conversation with James. But just looking over at him made her stomach tense and those familiar butterflies emerged. How was it possible to love two boys at once? Elsa still couldn't answer the question. She simply knew that her heart belonged to both of them. She loved them both.
A look over her shoulder told her that Damon hadn't taken his eyes off her. The same sensation was there when she looked at Damon. Not stronger or weaker, exactly the same. If only she could have both of them, her problems would be solved so easily. Though she had made a conscious choice, she still felt like she was losing something. Even as she grasped for it, she knew it was slipping through her fingers like sand. A single tear slipped down her cheek and she quickly wiped it away before any one could notice.
“Are you happy?” Cordelia asked, her voice a soft whisper.
“Of course I am.” Elsa looked at her friend, shocked that she would ask something like that.
“Just making sure.”
After breakfast the students filed out of the Great Hall. First and second year students headed to various places in Hogwarts. The rest waiting anxiously with their friends. It was the first weekend back to Hogsmeade. None of the students had seen the finished product. All the hard work the sixth and seventh years had put in had paid off, but even they hadn't seen Hogsmeade finished. Elsa wondered just how much of the old Hogsmeade had survived into this new refurbished Hogsmeade. She was as anxious as the rest of the student body.
Damon stood on one side of her, his hand in hers, while Sirius stood on the other. While neither boy had said anything to each other, it was a silent reminder that they had promised to keep her safe. Even though no one thought anything was going to happen, neither of them were going to take that chance.
It promised to be a beautiful day. The sun was shining. White fluffy clouds filled the bright blue sky. The air was crisp and cold, but it did nothing to deter the students from their excited, boisterous chatter. Hogsmeade was the one place students looked forward to go on the weekends. It had always been considered a safe place, and when Death Eaters struck, the students had mourned the loss as if the village were a living, breathing person.
They set out behind the teachers, snow crunching beneath their feet. Hogsmeade appeared slowly over the horizon. Buildings popped up along the walk. New stores that had come to the village after it's destruction. The new wards around the village offered a safe haven for witches and wizards who wanted to avoid the war.
Magic prickled along Elsa's skin as they stepped inside the wards. She had never felt it before. Not like this. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I helped place some of them, she thought to herself and gave Damon's hand a gentle squeeze. Damon didn't seem the least bit phased by the magic that now surrounded them. He seemed content and happy.
A sideways glance and a smile the lit his face, told Elsa everything she needed to know about Damon's mood. This was the first date they'd had since before Christmas. While she figured she should have been nervous about it, she wasn't. Their near death experience had brought them closer together. There was a new connection between them, one Elsa had never thought existed. She had always known she loved him, but this was different. The way she felt about him now left her feeling elated. He had risked his life for her. She owed him for saving her life. But Elsa never expected to love him more.
The group of students stopped in front of Hogsmeade. All their old stores were there waiting for them. Honeydukes and The Hogs Head. The Three Broomsticks and more. They all stood with a fresh coat of paint and new signs. It was as if someone had given Hogsmeade a much needed facelift instead of rebuilding her.
Giddy laughter filled the air as the students rush forward and began their usual assault on the village.
“See you later?” Sirius questioned.
When Elsa nodded, he and his friends took off to enjoy the beautiful day in Hogsmeade, leaving her and Damon to stand there and watch. Elsa liked watching the students of Hogwarts. She learned new things about her fellow students. She watched as Cordelia and Remus walked through the busy street hand in hand until they reached Honeydukes. James, as per usual, was trying to get Lily to talk to him. While Sirius and Peter had disappeared completely into the crowd. Tabitha and Vera waved towards them, and Elsa waved back energetically.
Tugging Damon along, Elsa went into every shop imaginable. She stopped and looked through a large glass window, into a small antiques shop. Crystal figurines glittered in the sunlight. Old grandfather clocks stood tall and strong in a corner. Paintings and tapestries hung from the walls. A glass case sat in the middle of the room, but the reflection from the sun blocked out any view she had of the contents within.
With a smile that reached his eyes, Damon held the door open for Elsa. She hadn't asked to go inside, but he had seen the look on her face and knew they had to. Once inside, Elsa made straight for the glass case, curious to find out what treasures were held within.
A beautiful wooden music box was nestled between priceless jewellery. Elsa quickly glanced at the glittery jewellery before turning back to the music box. It was simply gorgeous. An ornate leafy design had been etched around a tiny picture of a fairy on the lid. Vines seemed to grow out of the design and spread down around the box. It was simply stunning.
As much as Elsa wanted the box, she knew there was no way she could afford it. Her inheritance from her father wouldn't be hers for another few weeks. Once she turned seventeen then she could return and purchase it. Until then, she would have to wait.
Elsa left the store and started to walk towards another when she realized Damon wasn't with her. When she turned around several times on the spot, she still couldn't find him. He had been with her when they left the store. They had promised they would meet up with her friends for drinks after they had finished exploring.
Damon had purposely hung back while Elsa left the antiques shop. He had seen the look on her face and knew she wanted the music box. With her birthday only a few weeks away, this was the perfect time to purchase her present.
The bell above the door chimed, and Damon turned to look and see who had entered. He wanted Elsa's gift to be a surprise, and if she had returned looking for him, it wouldn't have been a surprise at all. Instead, he found a tall dark haired man, with a dark golden complexion staring at him. The look in the man's dark eyes sent a chill down Damon's spine. This was not going to be good.
“My boss wishes to speak with you, Mr. Avery.” The fact that the man knew his name was disconcerting. Reaching for his wand would bring nothing but more destruction to the villagers, and that was the last thing Damon wanted to do. “Don't do anything brave, Mr. Avery. We have people watching Miss Yaxley. Should you decide to play the hero, she will die.”
Knowing Elsa was in danger put things into perspective a little. Damon left his wand in his pocket, hoping that Sirius would see one of the men watching Elsa. If he could keep her safe, that was all that mattered. Collecting his parcel, he left with the man. It wasn't the smartest idea, but it was the only one he had.
The two walked out of Hogsmeade and into the Forbidden Forest until they were cloaked in shadows. Damon could still hear the laughter of the other students, but knew none of them would be able to see him. Glancing over his shoulder, the forest seemed to close in around them, blocking the village from view. At least they were away from the other students and Elsa.
“Mr. Avery.” That voice sent a chill down Damon's back. He'd had numerous nightmares where the owner of that voice had killed Elsa. Now he was positive, those nightmares were coming true. Except, Elsa would be safe and he would not. “I gave you a simple task the last time we met and you failed to provide me with what I desire.”
“You nearly killed my girlfriend, why would I give you what you wanted?” Damon snarled. It probably wasn't one of his brightest ideas, but what had happened in December was still a sore spot between him and Elsa.
“You broke our agreement, Mr. Avery, be thankful she was still alive in the first place.” The Egyptian's voice was cold and calm, like he expected Damon's reaction. “I am going to offer you a chance to redeem yourself. It will be the last time I make such an offer. Should you fail to acquire what your brother stole from me, I will be forced to send a far more drastic message to your family.”
Damon gulped down a lump of fear that had settled in his throat. He could only imagine what the man could mean. There were only so many ways of sending drastic messages, one of which left him cold inside: death. Even if he didn't want to agree, he had no choice. It was his life or stealing back what was stolen. But how was he supposed to steal something back from the Dark Lord? No one stole from You-Know-Who.
“The Dark Lord will have whatever my brother stole from you. It is madness to even consider stealing something from him. I won't even get an audience with him, let alone a chance to. I'm at school. We don't exactly get weekends with the family, you know.”
“Mr. Avery, I am quite positive that if you want to, you'll find a way. You have one month to acquire what was stolen. On the last Hogsmeade trip of April you will bring me what is mine or you will die.”
“A month and a half? Are you bloody mental? There is no way I'll be able to get this done in that amount of time. You have to give me more time to work with here.”
“I do not have to do anything, Mr. Avery. You will succeed or you will die. There is no in between. But, I will promise you this: Miss Yaxley will not be harmed. She will remain untouched even if you fail. Killing her will not have the desired effect I am after, except if it were to spur you onward.”
“Don't you bloody touch her!” Damon yelled at the man. Damon was not going to let a damn thing happen to Elsa. “You go anywhere near her and I'll kill you!”
“Temper, temper, Mr. Avery. Do not give me any more reason to kill the two of you. I will not lose any sleep over killing you or her.”
Damon's anger was only building towards the men who were not giving him much of an option. He had no way of getting out of this. There was nothing he could do but agree. Nodding, Damon looked down at the ground and sighed. This was not going to go over well with Elsa. Once she found out, she would try and stop him from doing something stupid. The whole idea of stealing from The Dark Lord was stupid. But with no way out, he knew he had to agree.
“Good. Now, off you go before your friends come looking for you. Mohammad will be in Hogsmeade to keep an eye on you. If you try to run, he will find you and kill you. If you tell Professor Dumbledore, he will kill your Elsa while you watch and then you.” The Egyptian waved his hand and the man named Mohammad grabbed Damon by the arm and pulled him back towards Hogsmeade.
Shrugging off Mohammad's hand, Damon glared back towards the man who was going to ruin his life. All he wanted was to have a lovely day with Elsa and that had been spoiled. He had been gone too long. He knew Elsa would be panicking. She would have gone to Sirius and his friends, who would have gone to the teachers, and everyone would more than likely be looking for him. How long had he really been gone?
The walk back was a quiet one. Mohammad said nothing, but his presence said everything. The man was never going to let him walk away from this if he failed again. How the hell had he and Elsa gotten mixed up in all of this? Just because Damon was related to Gareth didn't mean he had any pull where it mattered. The object, whatever it was, was long gone. Why couldn't the Egyptian realize that? Going up against You-Know-Who scared Damon more than he would ever let on.
Elsa stood with Sirius and James by the doorway into the Three Broomsticks quietly talking to them. But Damon could see the fear in her eyes. He had never wanted to worry her. She would never understand what had happened just now. How was he going to keep this from her? Lying came naturally to him, but he had never kept anything from Elsa. She meant too much to him for lies. Now though, he really had to consider which was going to hurt her more?
She looked up and caught his eye. Pushing past Sirius and James, Elsa ran towards Damon and threw her arms around him. He couldn't have been gone that long, could he have?
“Where have you been?” Elsa cried into his chest. “I've been worried sick!”
“I'm sorry,” Damon answered and wrapped his arms around her. Mohammad was nowhere to be seen. He couldn't have Apparated without that distinct popping sound. So where could he have gone? One quick look around Hogsmeade told Damon what he needed to know: Mohammad would never be very far away. The man casually leaned against Honeydukes with the Daily Prophet in his hands.
“I...” Elsa looked up at him with terror filled eyes. “I saw him. The man from Egypt.”
“When we couldn't find you anywhere in Hogsmeade, Elsa panicked. We were about to go to the teachers when you came back,” Sirius said.
“I would have expected you to have gone sooner,” Damon muttered. Maybe if they had of, he wouldn't be stuck in the situation he was in now. “Did the man from Egypt approach you? Did he try to hurt you again?” He had to try and seem concerned when he knew for a fact that Elsa had been safe.
“No, but...when I saw him and couldn't find you...I thought we were going to find you dead.” Elsa's concern was flattering, Damon would give her that, but he was still worried.
“I doubt he would do anything so stupid. Not today at least. Hogsmeade just reopened. The death of a student would be a very bad thing. They'd close down Hogsmeade.” Damon was trying to be reassuring, but what he said sounded contrived even to him.
Sirius gave Damon an odd look, like he didn't believe a word Damon said. Mentally shrugging, Damon looked down at Elsa. The fact that she was trembling in his arms told him everything he needed to know: she was scared half to death that he had suddenly gone missing. That was unacceptable. He'd never let her feel that way again. He would complete the task that the Egyptian gave him some way some how. And then he would concentrate on Elsa.
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