Chapter 6 : Beginnings and Endings
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“I don’t know. Your dad was adamant you finish Hogwarts first—”
“You talked to my dad?”
“Well, I had to ask his permission, didn’t I? Especially considering he doesn’t like me.”
“And he gave it?”
“So, timing,” she continued, returning to something that made sense. “The day after I finish Hogwarts?”
“Well, it’s up to you—”
“Good. So, day after I finish, then. Glad we’ve got that sorted.”
“Yes, absolutely.” He seemed to still be struggling to believe she had actually said yes. She didn’t blame him. She was struggling to believe it herself. Seventeen.
“So how many people knew before me?” Athena asked conversationally.
“Uh, me. Your dad. Nathaniel.”
“It would be a lot easier if you had a best girl friend,” he continued. “He wasn’t much help when it came to choosing the ring. Though he did tell me your favourite colour was blue.”
“You asked him for help?”
“Who else would I ask?” he asked defensively. “Your sister? The whole wizarding world would know before you did.”
“She wouldn’t be much help anyway,” she conceded. “By that I mean less help than Nathaniel. So what happens now?”
“We go back to the wedding. Between here and the Burrow, we decide whether we want to steal the happy couple’s thunder by announcing it, or systematically go around telling family. Mine doesn’t know, by the way. Not even Evelina.”
“Tempting as it is to steal their thunder,” Athena began regretfully, “Most of the people at that wedding don’t know or care about us. I’ll track down Mum as soon as we get back.”
“Let the fun begin.”
“So I’m getting married,” Athena declared casually, slinging an arm around Lucinda’s shoulders.
“Getting married,” she repeated, waggling her fingers and showing off the ring.
“I’m aware of that, strangely enough.”
“You can’t get married at seventeen!”
“I won’t be, I’ll be eighteen.”
“Eighteen!” Lucinda repeated in disbelief, her eagle eyes zeroing in on Cassian several metres away, trying to act casual. “You!”
“Stop lurking and get over here, young man!”
Eyes firmly fixated on the grass, Cassian scuttled forward.
“He’s terrified,” Lucinda whispered to Athena with a definite hint of glee in her voice. “I’ve always wanted to do this.”
“You want to marry my daughter?” she asked him sternly.
“I think it’s worth noting she wants to marry me too.”
Ten points to Slytherin…
“You don’t think you’re too young?” she asked pointedly. “Here’s a hint: I do.”
“Go back a hundred years and ours was the standard age to get married. Go back two or three hundred years and we would have been old. Unless we’ve become more immature over the generations, the question of age is entirely irrelevant.”
Twenty points to Slytherin…
“Society has changed.”
“Touche,” Lucinda said at last. “You argue your point well. I’ll have intelligent grandchildren.”
“Right…well…Glad we’ve…cleared that up…we should go to my parents’…” Cassian made his escape, Athena following close behind.
“Wait. I need to tell my sister.”
“Right. Of course.”
Athena peered through the gloom of the darkening evening, looking for Artemis’ distinctive waist-length blonde hair. There she was, in a corner—attached by the face to Perseus Samuels.
“Artemis. Aaaartemiiiiiis. Artemis Rachel Ismene Selwyyyyyn.”
“What?” Artemis finally barked.
“Just thought I’d let you know that a) you’re in public, and b)—” She held up her hand.
“What? What am I looking at? Is that a—OHMERLINYOU’REKIDDING!” she shrieked, bounding over and seizing Athena’s hand.
“Ow!” she protested. “That’s attached.”
Artemis ignored her, inspecting the ring. “It’s so pretty and sparkly and shiny and pretty oh Merlin are you serious are you actually like you know?”
“You haven’t answered my question!”
“That wasn't in any way an intelligent question but we’re engaged, yes.”
“Eeeeeee!” Artemis shrieked again, hugging Athena. “That’s so exciting! And cute and adorable and romantic and can I be bridesmaid pretty pretty please?”
“If you get off me first.”
She leapt back. “So when is it?”
“Day after I finish Hogwarts.”
“Oh, that’s ages away!”
“Yes. And you have to take me shopping for your dress and you have to—”
“All right,” Athena said, cutting her off. “We’re going to go to Cassian’s now, have…fun.”
“You’re back early,” Rhiannon greeted them. “And you brought Athena back with you.”
“We have news.”
“News?” Rhiannon’s eyes narrowed. “What kind of news?”
“We’ll tell you when Dad and Evelina are here.”
They made their way into the sitting room, Cassian and Athena hovering in the middle of the room while the rest of the family was located and seated.
“So, what’s this about then?” Rhiannon asked.
“I proposed,” Cassian said matter-of-factly. “She said yes.”
Evelina’s shriek was, if possible, louder than Artemis’ as she leapt from her seat and engulfed the pair of them in a bear hug.
Rhiannon, normally cool and composed, was brushing a tear from her eye as she stepped forward to embrace Cassian.
“I’m so proud of you,” she managed. “And Athena, I couldn’t think of anyone better.”
“Good for you, son,” Labdacus said with a nod, clapping Cassian on the back before striding out of the room.
“Men,” Rhiannon said with a roll of her eyes, quickly trotting after him.
They had been at Rutherford Manor twenty minutes when a large silvery mare appeared through the wall and galloped into the centre of the room.
“Come home now,” Lucinda’s voice said urgently. “Don’t go to the Burrow. Come home immediately.”
“You’re not in trouble are you, love?” Rhiannon asked, looking concerned.
“No. There’s something wrong, something’s happened—” Fighting her sense of panic, Athena strode briskly out the door of Rutherford Manor and down the long driveway, leaving Cassian scrambling to catch up.
“I’ll owl you,” she told him as she pulled open the gate. “As soon as I get the chance.”' Before he had a chance to reply she had Disapparated, leaving behind only the unnerving worry in her voice.
It was always going to be like this, he realised. He was detached from the war; as detached as one could be under the circumstances. She, on the other hand, was in the thick of it, and his very being raged against the concept of letting her risk her life. It was meant to be the other way around. History told him it was the other way around. He should be fighting to keep her safe; instead, it was she who fought Death Eaters when they invaded Hogwarts, and he who was left to drag her, unconscious, away from the battle. It was she who went on an unknown mission for the Order, and all he could do was brew her a potion and hope for the best.
Every time she left, he found himself asking whether he would ever see her again. He never wanted her to leave.
Just in case.
“What’s going on?” Athena asked.
She was met with silence. Her father was seated on an armchair beside the window, staring intently at the clasped hands in his lap. Lucinda, who had been pacing back and forth with one hand covering her mouth, stopped abruptly, realised who it was and resumed her pacing.
It was Carcius who answered. “Artemis is missing.”
“The Ministry has fallen,” Lucinda said finally, her voice wavering. “The Death Eaters came. They attacked us. We were fighting—we couldn’t Apparate her out. We don’t know where she is.”
Tears were falling down her face, a sight that alarmed Athena more than her words ever would. Lucinda was like her; infinitely in control, never, ever showing emotion. In her seventeen years, Athena had never seen her cry.
“She might be at the Samuels’,” she suggested.
Lucinda shook her head resolutely. “She was there with Perseus, and he’s only fifteen, he can’t Apparate.”
“The Weasleys?” she asked.
“We’ve already contacted them.”
“Tell me what happened.”
“We had about thirty seconds warning,” Carcius began. “Kingsley Shacklebolt sent his Patronus warning us the Ministry had fallen, Scrimgeour was dead—”
“Dead,” Carcius confirmed. “The Death Eaters arrived shortly afterward, throwing curses everywhere, turning the place upside down. They were looking for Harry. They didn’t find him, but they interrogated us all. And somewhere in the midst of that, we lost Artemis.”
“Lost,” Lucinda echoed.
“Honey, she’ll turn up.”
“You don’t know that!” she wailed, getting up from the seat she had temporarily taken and resuming her pacing. “We don’t know where she is or who she’s with—”
“She could be with the Lovegoods,” Athena suggested. “It makes sense. They live near the Burrow, don’t they?”
“It’s possible,” Carcius agreed.
There was a loud thud against the window and Athena let the family owl, Socrates, into the house, taking the roll of parchment from his leg.
“I was right,” she reported. “Artemis is at the Lovegoods’. Luna says she’s welcome to stay for dinner but if you want her home now, go to their house and get her because their Floo’s closed off.”
It was Socrates who woke Athena two days later, by once again smacking into the kitchen window. Hogwarts letters, she realised as she let him in. What would Hogwarts be like, with the Death Eaters in control of the Ministry? She took the parchments from Socrates, carelessly throwing away Artemis’ book list and scanning her own.
Dark Arts was listed as a subject. A compulsory one. She felt a shiver run down her spine, quickly turning her attention away from the list and onto the small note tucked in behind it.
You have been nominated and selected as Head Girl of Hogwarts for the 1997-1998 school year. You and the Head Boy will attend a meeting with me in the Prefects’ Carriage prior to departure on the Hogwarts Express on September 1.
Professor Severus Snape, Headmaster.
“Da-ad!” she called, bolting into the study. Carcius looked up in alarm.
“Snape’s Headmaster,” she said, sliding the parchment across his desk. “He’s Headmaster, and he knows the identity of every single member of the Order. Including me. And I’m going to be at Hogwarts this year.”
“Don’t go,” Carcius said immediately, taking the parchment and in turn handing her the latest edition of the Daily Prophet. A large portion of the second page was dedicated to Hogwarts notices, including, Athena noted with sinking heart—Attendance of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is compulsory for ALL witches and wizards of a suitable age; that being between the ages of eleven and seventeen as of 1 September 1997. All incidences of non-attendance will be thoroughly investigated by Ministry officials.
“We can make excuses for you,” Carcius said. “So long as Snape hasn’t told the whole Ministry of your involvement, we can put you on an exchange programme to another school—I was thinking Beauxbatons—and get you out of the country—”
“I’m Head Girl,” Athena said flatly.
Carcius was silent.
“He’s trapped you.”
Athena stared at the carpet, unwilling to see the distress on her father’s face. They had always been close, much closer than Athena and Lucinda had ever been. Carcius had dedicated his life to keeping her safe, and it killed him that the one time he wasn’t around, the night at Hogwarts when the Death Eaters invaded, Athena had been wounded in battle and nearly died. She would have, if it wasn’t for Cassian, and despite Carcius’ intrinsic desire to distrust that Slytherin boy, he knew she was only alive now because of him.
And now, he was facing losing her for real, because of Severus Snape.
“Damn that man,” he said in a low voice. “Damn him to hell and back.”
A/N: I have exams this month. Very important exams. So this will be my last update of this story until at least the end of November. Please leave a review, and I apologise for the lack of updates from now.
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