Chapter 11 : Too Much Love Will Kill You
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Too much love will kill you
If you can't make up your mind
Torn between a lover and the love you leave behind
Too Much Love Will Kill You - Queen
Gideon was abruptly woken early on Saturday morning by Marlene.
“What is it?” he asked groggily.
“Get out of bed, quick!” She tugged the covers off him.
He rolled over and looked at the time on his watch.
“Marls, it’s half two...”
“You think Voldemort gives a damn what time he kills someone?” She pulled at his arm. “Come on!”
At the mention of Voldemort, he snapped into action.
“Who’s getting killed?” he asked sharply.
“You, if you don’t get up! He’s found out your address, he could be here at any moment, come on!”
“What?” He jumped out of bed and grabbed some clothes. “Since when? How do you know?”
“Dorcas got a message from Dumbledore a couple of minutes ago. It said we had to get you out and to be prepared for them to turn up while we’re here.” She started packing up his belongings. “We need to go straight to Headquarters. Dumbledore’s finding you somewhere else to stay as we speak.”
Once dressed, Gideon took up his wand and helped her pack the rest of his belongings up into the trunks she had procured.
“What about the furniture? My bed, and-”
“Not important, now come on!”
She chivvied him into the living room. Fabian, Sirius, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew and Emmeline Vance were all gathered there, and seemed to have packed everything apart from the large furniture.
“We’re taking a Portkey,” Emmeline said, gesturing towards the large book that sat on the table in front of them. “Can everyone reach it? Make sure you’ve all got a hold of everything.”
Gideon edged forwards and planted a finger on the spine of the book; that would be enough. His other hand gripped his trunk tightly. At either side of him, Marlene and Remus each had a firm palm on the book.
“Ready?” Emmeline said. “Okay, let’s go.”
She tapped the book three times with her wand. It activated immediately, emitting a blue glow. Gideon braced himself for the unpleasant experience of travelling by Portkey. He wasn’t at all fond of this mode of transportation.
They landed in the hallway of the large house in Godric’s Hollow. As usual, Gideon landed on his rear end. Marlene, who had seemingly been blessed with magnificent balance, laughed as she helped him to his feet.
“Your sympathy overwhelms me.” He pulled a face.
“Oh, shush. You need more practice, Gid!”
She followed Fabian into the kitchen, and Gideon followed her, leaving his trunk in the hall with the rest of his things. It was only now that the situation began to dawn on him; Voldemort had found out where he lived. He’d had to leave his home. He’d not been there long, admittedly, and the place hardly held any fond memories, but even so it was an unsettling thought, especially as he had nowhere else to go.
Arieda was already in the kitchen, ladling out soup from a large saucepan into bowls. She placed one of them in front of him as he sat down.
“Thanks, Ari,” he said feebly, attempting a smile.
“Did you get out okay?” she asked concernedly.
“We had to leave the bigger things,” Marlene said. “I’m loath to go back for them; the Death Eaters could turn up at any time. But we’ve got all of the important things, at least.”
“The question is, how did You-Know-Who find out where he lived?”
Emmeline asked the question that nobody else had wanted to say out loud.
Gideon glanced around the table, at his fellow Order members. He knew the Order suspected a traitor and that that was one way Voldemort could have found out where he lived , but he didn’t want to believe that any of the people sitting eating soup with him could possibly have turned him in...
“That’s not important right now,” Marlene said quietly. “What is important is that Gideon got out safety. Now, we just need to hope that Dumbledore can find him somewhere else and make it safe.”
“Is he doing that now?” Arieda asked.
“Moody and Dorcas are helping him.”
The conversation soon swung round to Fabian and Marlene’s wedding. Gideon ate his soup quietly and didn’t join in. Once he’d finished, he took the bowl to the sink to wash it. Arieda joined him there.
“Can I have a word?” she asked quietly.
He followed her out of the kitchen, and across the hall into the empty living room. He shut the door behind them as she sat down gingerly in one of the armchairs.
“How – how did things go with Araminta?” She sounded nervous.
He shrugged and a scowl crossed his face at the thought of her.
“I’m sorry,” she said hurriedly. “I didn’t mean to tell her – I mean, I thought she already knew about Wheeza. I thought you’d have told her-”
“Why would I have told her?” he said shortly.
“Because it’s clearly still playing on your mind!” She sighed with irritation. “I knew you were struggling to deal with it all, but I didn’t realise it was this bad...” She reached out and took his hand in hers. “Gid, we all miss her, we really do. But she wouldn’t want you to mope around like this, you know that, don’t you? Imagine if the tables were turned? Would you want her to just give up, if it was you who had died?”
He didn’t answer, knowing that it would only prove her right.
“You’d want her to carry on living her life, to carry on fighting,” Arieda continued. “That’s what I’m trying to do, what Fabe and Marly are trying to do, and it’s what you need to do too-”
“But it’s easier for you guys than it is for me!” Gideon said in frustration. “Fabian and Marlene, they have each other, and you ... you’ve been at Hogwarts, with your mates, you’ve been sheltered from it-”
“I’d hardly say that,” she said sharply. “I may not have been fighting with you guys, but I’ve still been well aware of everything that’s been going on, I’ve still had to worry about you guys, risking your lives all the time ... I wouldn’t say it’s been an easy ride. But the fact remains, I’ve not let Louisa’s death completely derail me in the way that you have-”
“You weren’t there, Ari,” he choked out, blinking away the tears that welled in his eyes. “You didn’t have to see her body, didn’t have to hear them crow about it, you don’t have to play it back in your head all the time, don’t have to deal with the guilt-”
“Don’t be daft, it wasn’t your fault.” She reached out to take his other hand. “Nobody blames you, you know. She knew she was risking her life; she considered it to be worth the risk. She was willing to lay down her life if it meant that there was a chance of Voldemort being defeated, a chance to end this discrimination against Muggle-borns... she was willing to lay her life down for you, Gideon. And at the moment you’re not really paying her memory much respect...”
“Araminta said that,” Gideon frowned, staring at the floor.
“Did she?” Arieda sounded surprised. “That sounds very ... in-depth...”
“She comes out with surprising stuff sometimes,” he said wryly. “It’s just ... it’s easy for you to say all this, but it’s a lot harder for me to just do it, you know? It doesn’t change the fact that she’s dead, and at the moment there’s not much to be happy about...”
“Well, then, maybe we’ll have to find things to be happy about?” She reached up and tilted his chin up so she could look into his eyes. “You know you can always come to me if you need to talk about something. Always.”
“I’m not sure your boyfriend would like that...” he began, pulling a face.
“Oh, stop it, he’s not my boyfriend and you know it!” She swatted at his arm light-heartedly.
“I don’t think he knows-”
His ribbing was interrupted by loud voices from next door. Heading back to the kitchen, they found Dorcas Meadowes seated at the table and Moody hovering in the doorway.
“Ah, Prewett!” Moody said gruffly as Gideon and Arieda joined them. “We’ve found you another place. Not too far from where you were before. We’ve put all the wards in place, so it should be safe for you to move all your things there. We can take you now-”
“We can go in the morning,” Dorcas interrupted in her quiet, measured voice. “Right now, we should all get some sleep. Besides, Gideon can hardly sleep on the floor, can he? There are rooms upstairs we can crash in.”
“Very well.” Moody nodded. “Well, I’ll be off then. Thanks for the help, Meadowes. Good to see you’re okay, Prewett.” And with that, he was gone with a quiet pop.
“Always one for socialising, is Mad-Eye.” Dorcas shook her head slightly. “Good soup, Arieda. Hope we’ve signed you up as the full-time chef.”
Arieda took the comment in the humorous way in which it was intended.
“Part-time chef, part-time hostess. I made a few beds up earlier, if anyone is planning on staying here...”
“I’ll take you up on that offer. Means I’m here in the morning. Thanks very much.”
“No problem.” Arieda smiled, and glanced round the room at the others – Marlene, Fabian and Sirius. Remus and Peter had clearly already left. “Will you guys be staying?”
All three made noises of assent.
“I’ll head up now, actually,” Marlene said. “See you all in the morning. Coming, Fabe?”
He nodded and followed his wife out of the kitchen. She ruffled Gideon’s hair fondly as she passed him, and Fabian shot him a wink – their way of saying that they were glad that he was still alive.
“First floor, on the left!” Arieda called out after them.
“Thanks!” Marlene replied.
Gideon stayed in the kitchen a while longer, but when Dorcas departed for bed he decided to follow, not wanting to stay downstairs with Sirius – even if Arieda was there, and shooting a pleading glance at him as he said goodnight.
Lying in bed, he could hear Arieda and Sirius’ murmured voices from the kitchen below. He sighed to himself, hating that she got on with the younger man so well, hating that the Death Eaters had managed to drive such a wedge between him and Sirius, hating that they’d allowed them to do so. But, no matter how much Marlene, or Arieda, or even Lily, begged, he couldn’t give in; he couldn’t swallow his pride and approach Sirius to try to resolve their issue. Too much had happened since then and it was no longer as simple as it might have been. Besides, Sirius clearly loathed him for what he had done, and that wasn’t likely to change. Perhaps it was all best left alone...
Those unpleasant thoughts about tragic moments past kept him awake, long after the voices had ceased and the lights had all gone off outside his door.
He is so angry that he doesn’t summon her to their usual meeting place. Instead, he turns up at her house, Apparating inside instead of affording her respect by knocking at the front door. But then, when has he ever shown her respect?
“Who did you tell?” he growls. “Which bastard did you tell?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about...” she says.
“Yes you do!” he spits in her face. “Who did you tell about the address, you little wench?”
“I ... didn’t tell anyone...”
“I don’t believe you,” he growls.
“Prove it,” she hisses.
He glares at her, curling his lip. She knows that with no proof to hand, he cannot pin the blame on her.
But he doesn’t need proof to use his fists – or, more importantly, to cause a different type of pain.
Even after he has left, leaving her broken and bruised once more, she does not let a single tear fall. She refuses to let him make her cry again.
Marlene slunk into Gideon’s cubicle on Tuesday morning, before Araminta arrived.
“They raided your old place last night, apparently,” she murmured. “It seems as though they ... took your absence badly.”
“What do you mean?” He frowned.
She placed her hands on the edge of his desk to steady herself.
“It’s horrible,” she said, disgusted, “really horrible...”
“What happened, Marlene?” he said urgently. His stomach contracted.
“They ... you know the family who lived next to you? That Muggle family?”
“The couple with two young boys? They always bring me a slice of cake or a bit of whatever it is they’ve baked. Well, I guess they won’t anymore...”
“No,” she said, “no, they won’t...”
Gideon hoped against hope that the conclusion he’d come to was wrong.
“I wish I could say that it was quick, and that they didn’t suffer...”
He felt as though his breakfast was about to come back up.
“Don’t,” he interrupted. “I ... don’t say it...”
“I’m so sorry...”
She reached out and squeezed his hand lightly. As she turned to leave, he looked up and saw Araminta standing behind her, looking horrified. She’d clearly heard most or all of the conversation.
“Morning, Araminta,” Marlene said flatly, attempting a smile, before she left for her own cubicle.
“How old were the boys?” Araminta asked quietly, as she sat down in her chair.
“Two and four,” he said dully. He lowered his head into his hand and looked down at his desk.
“That ... that’s awful...”
“And it’s my fault.”
“No, it isn’t-”
“If I hadn’t been their neighbour, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said fiercely, snapping his head up to glare at her, as though she’d caused the damage. “It’s because of me that they’re ... they’re...”
He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.
“You really have a blame syndrome, don’t you?” she said quietly. “You need to stop thinking that everything is your fault.”
He opened his mouth to respond, but the sight of a bruise on her neck, which even the high neck of her clothing couldn’t hide, distracted him.
“What happened?” he said sharply.
“I – what?” Apparently unconsciously, her hand found the bruise. “Oh – nothing, just Auror stuff-”
“I don’t believe you,” he challenged her.
“Well, that’s your problem, not mine-”
“It’s your problem if you won’t tell me what’s going on!” he demanded in a low voice, reaching over to take her hand in his. “Look, if someone’s hurting you, you have to let me know. I don’t want to see you being hurt-”
“You can’t help,” she said curtly, tugging her hand away.
“So there is someone.” He sat back in his chair triumphantly.
“And how do you jump to that conclusion, pray tell?”
“Because otherwise, you wouldn’t tell me that I can’t help.”
She held his gaze for a few moments, before looking down, her face impassive.
“We’re not talking about this-”
“Until lunch time,” he finished.
She opened her mouth to argue, but closed it again, seeming to give in.
She said nothing else all morning, getting through the paperwork that had become her responsibility in silence. She didn’t even react when the Hit Wizard Secretary, Ivy, paid them a visit. Ivy herself seemed quieter than normal, but then again, the whole department seemed sombre today, after the horrific news of what had happened overnight to his Muggle neighbours.
The moment that lunchtime ticked around, Gideon rose to his feet and set down his quill. Araminta continued writing. She seemed to be trying to ignore him.
“We can go somewhere more private if you want,” he said quietly, “but we are having this conversation-”
“There’s no conversation to have,” she said in a dull tone.
“So help me, Gamp, I will remove you from this bloody cubicle by force if I have to, but you are going to come with me and you are going to give me some answers-”
“I can’t!” she said firmly. Her eyes were still firmly glued to her parchment, though she had stopped writing.
He reached down and removed the quill from her grasp, throwing it down on the desk, and grabbed her wrist; she hissed and drew it away from his touch.
“Fine,” she said furiously, standing up abruptly. “We’ll have this confrontation somewhere else, because I sure as hell don’t want to cause a scene, but you still won’t bloody well get anywhere.”
She stormed out of the cubicle ahead of him. He sighed furiously, before following her through the corridors of Level Two to the lifts. They made their way to the Atrium in silence; there were too many people there for him to say anything, and she was remaining firmly tight-lipped. He nearly lost her in the crowd in the Atrium as she headed to the fireplaces, but just managed to catch a glimpse of her as one of them whisked her away. He followed her into it, to find her waiting for him at the other end.
“Where are we going this time, O Nosy One?” She scowled and held out her arm.
He didn’t respond. Instead, he took her arm and Disapparated.
As he’d planned, they Apparated into the living room of his new flat. She blinked, looking surprised.
“For a start, I’m not nosy, I’m concerned-”
“And yet, when I pressed you for answers last week, you were adamant that I had no business poking my nose in where it clearly wasn’t wanted. Hypocrite much-”
“But you got your bloody answers, and now I want mine-”
“And you can’t have them!” she screamed at him, breathing heavily.
The outburst took him slightly by surprise, and he did not reply. She glanced at her surroundings.
“I was just making an observation-”
“Trying to change the topic of conversation, more like, and it won’t work.” He stepped closer to her. She responded by taking a few hurried steps backwards. “Look, I assure you, I’m not being nosy. I’m just worried. For weeks now, almost since the moment you started working with me, I’ve had to Conceal these bruises you turn up at work with, and I’ve not prodded until now-”
She let out a hollow laugh.
“Well, not that much. But the point is you can’t keep it a secret. Someone’s doing this to you, and you can’t just continue letting them do it. You can tell me; I promise I won’t do anything if you don’t want me to, but I just want to help. I don’t want to see you hurt...”
She shook her head, her eyes welling up with tears. He advanced again, and this time she retreated until her back was pressed against the wall behind her. She let out an odd squeaking noise.
“I can’t.” Her voice was nothing more than a whisper.
“But why? Please, Araminta, all I want to do is to help you. Look, if you’re worried about your safety then I can protect you, I promise, but you have to trust me...”
A stray tear ran down her cheek. He raised a hand to her face and stroked it away gently with his thumb. She shuddered slightly at the contact, a reaction which only served to fuel him further.
“Please, let me help you...”
“I can’t tell you,” she breathed, squeezing her eyes tight shut. This caused several tears to escape, leaving tracks down her cheeks. He wiped them away softly and brought his other hand up to cup her face. She inhaled sharply, her eyes still closed.
His face was mere inches from hers. He could see the tears clinging to her eyelashes, feel her soft breath on his face. Before he knew what he was doing, his brain several steps behind his actions, he tipped her head up, closed the gap fully, and his lips found hers.
She let out a quiet noise of surprise, before responding, kissing him back, raising a shaking hand to his shoulder, the other then joining it round his neck, pulling him closer; he stepped towards her, pressing her against the wall, his hands falling from her face, finding her waist-
She broke away suddenly, her hands finding his shoulders again, this time to push him away; he stumbled backwards in surprise. She was breathing heavily and she looked frantic. Her hands gripped her hair and more tears spilled over her eyelids-
“I can’t,” she said once more, her voice shaking. “I can’t, I can’t-”
He tried to approach her again, hoping to calm her down.
“Don’t touch me!” she said shrilly. She tried to back away from him, but found the wall once more. “Don’t ... just don’t...”
She took a couple of deep, calming breaths, before she Disapparated with a loud POP.
He stared at the spot where she had stood just moments before, his hand subconsciously finding his mouth. Then his legs finally gave out and he fell into the armchair behind him.
“Merlin’s beard,” he muttered to himself, once he had regained the capacity to speak. He closed his eyes and rested his head in his hands, trying to rid himself of the image of Araminta looking so distressed, so tortured...
But that image was replaced by the image of him kissing her, of her kissing him back – except in his head the scene continued; she pulled him closer, running her hands through his hair, and his lips left hers, finding her neck, his hand brushed a blonde tendril away...
He sat bolt upright, and stared again at the spot where he and Araminta had kissed moments before.
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