No more broken hearts
We're better off apart, let's give it a try Little Lies – Fleetwood Mac
And so, Gideon and Araminta started avoiding each other once again. They had probably spent more time ignoring each other than they had actually talking to each other in the past few weeks, Gideon thought wryly.
At least she’d managed to do most of his paperwork before dropping her bombshell, he considered at the end of a very quiet morning in his cubicle.
This time, Araminta hadn’t opted to spend her day with Fabian on patrols, or even with Sirius in his cubicle up the corridor. Gideon was at least glad of this; he thought that would probably push him over the edge.
Instead, she was in the training room, helping out with the apprentices. Scrimgeour’s team had been a member down since Marlene had died, and Moody had clearly decided she could be trusted enough to work without a mentor. Either that, or he trusted that Scrimgeour’s presence would be enough to keep her in line.
Of course, Arieda was also in the training room. Gideon wasn’t sure why, but somehow she already knew about Araminta. And not only that, but she seemed fine with it. In fact, the two seemed to have become thick as thieves. This was perhaps the thing that pissed him off the most about the whole debacle and as a result, he had been steadfastly ignoring Arieda for most of the week too.
No. Nothing could quite top the fact that he had trusted Araminta – and he rarely trusted anyone these days – and she had thrown it back in his face. He couldn’t quite believe that he’d been so stupid, that he hadn’t noticed something was amiss ... and he felt foolish. When he thought of everything he’d said to her, the way he’d told her that he was there for her, while all along she’d been spying on him ... she must have been laughing behind his back the whole time. He’d been entirely ridiculous.
He scowled, and glared at his quill so intensely that it burst into flames on his desk. He jumped and hurriedly put out the fire with his wand. Wordlessly, he Vanished the ashes, now even more annoyed than before.
He needed to buy a new quill now. And that had been his favourite.
“Thanks a bunch, Gamp,” he muttered angrily.
On Sunday, he was forced to see Arieda again. An impromptu Order meeting had been called, and she cornered him while they were waiting for Dumbledore to arrive.
“You can’t ignore me forever, you know.”
“I can bloody well try,” he replied, glaring at her.
“It won’t benefit you,” she shrugged. “And besides, be mad at her, sure, but you don’t need to take it out on me. I told her that telling you was a bad idea...”
“You told her not to tell me?” His eyes widened.
“Yeah. I mean, what did it gain? You didn’t need to know, did you? You were perfectly content not knowing-”
“Of course I needed to know!” he snapped.
She smirked, and he realised that he’d fallen hook, line and sinker into her trap.
“Then you shouldn’t be mad at her,” she said simply. “She’s done all she could-”
“But she’s a Death Eater!”
“Keep your voice down, idiot,” she hissed, glancing furtively around them. “She was a Death Eater. And even then, she never did any of this front-line fighting stuff; she’s always been a spy. She says she hasn’t killed, and I believe her. She says she was forced to go to Marlene’s parents’ house, that she had no idea it was happening, and that they tried to make her kill Marlene but she couldn’t...”
And that moment replayed in Gideon’s mind once more.
“But that doesn’t change the fact that she joined him-”
“She thought the Order killed her parents! What would you do in those circumstances? Not to mention, she believed the blood supremacy argument at the time. She didn’t have a choice-”
“People always have choices.”
“She didn’t have a realistic choice. Why should she join the people she thought killed her parents? Especially when she thought that her parents wanted her to join Voldemort. The moment she found out the truth, she acted. You can’t have an issue with anything she’s done-”
“But she lied, Ari,” he insisted. “I trusted her, and it was misplaced-”
“Again, she had no choice. It may have been misplaced trust at the time, but now it’s not. It was hardly as though she could make sure you didn’t trust her, was it? And I promise you, she’s loyal as anything now. Do you really think I’d trust her otherwise?”
“So, she’s loyal. You trust her. Great. That still doesn’t make everything better...”
And then he remembered how he had kissed her, and how she’d kissed him back ... it was a memory that he’d replayed over and over again, trying to work out how it had happened, what it had meant ... and now it had become even more complicated.
Dumbledore arrived before Arieda could reply. They followed the rest of the Order into the kitchen and took their seats around the large table.
“Is everyone here?” Dumbledore said. He looked slightly saddened; the glint in his eye, that was so often present even in these dark times, was gone.
“Everyone but Dorcas.” Lily glanced round the table and did a quick head count.
Dumbledore looked at her sadly, and the reason for the meeting became clear.
“Dorcas has long been a target of Voldemort’s,” he said slowly. “Unfortunately, last night he caught up with her.”
Gasps and groans echoed round the table. Gideon himself felt a pang of sorrow for the older woman, whom he had gotten on well with at times, and who had been one of the Order’s best and most loyal servants.
“She had been placed under the highest protection possible, but Voldemort managed to get to her regardless.”
Dumbledore didn’t say it outright, but Gideon could tell what he was hinting at.
Someone had given away Dorcas’ location to Voldemort.
He looked pointedly across the table at Arieda. He could tell, from the resigned expression on her face, that she understood his expression.
There was no chance of him trusting Araminta.
He stayed at the house for a long time after the meeting had finished. He didn’t want to return to his flat. It didn’t feel like home. He hadn’t lived anywhere that had felt like home since his and Louisa’s marital home, which he’d been forced to leave not long after her death. The old Potter house, still furnished as it had been when they had lived here, felt far more homely, even if it had no full-time residents.
To his relief, Arieda had left once the meeting finished. He wasn’t sure where she’d gone, but he didn’t care; it meant he didn’t have to talk to her, which he was grateful for.
He sat with Fabian, Lily and James. Their conversation entirely avoided the present, all of them needing some time when they didn’t have to confront the outside world. Instead, they reminisced about their days at Hogwarts. Most of their stories involved Louisa and Marlene.
And oddly, it didn’t hurt. When Louisa had died, Gideon had tried not to think of her. He’d assumed that doing so would have hurt more. But now, talking about her and Marlene helped. It was helping him to heal. It was something he needed.
He was the last to leave. He’d stayed behind to clear up the tankards they’d used, opting to do so the Muggle way so as to take longer.
Just as he was about to Disapparate, he heard quiet voices in the hallway. He frowned, crossing the kitchen to the door, but it opened before he reached it.
He stopped in his tracks as his eyes fell on Dumbledore – and behind him, Arieda and Araminta.
“Gideon.” There was a slight note of surprise in Dumbledore’s voice. “Is anybody else here?”
“No, I’m the last,” he said, trying his hardest not to look at Araminta.
“Good, good,” Dumbledore said. He didn’t question whether Gideon knew about Araminta; he evidently already knew. He turned to look at her. “You may come here whenever you like, but I suggest you only do so if you need to. This house is under the best protective spells I can offer, so you’ll be safe from Voldemort here, but I cannot promise there won’t be Order members here, so it’s best to avoid it if possible, if we want to keep your role quiet. Unless you have any more questions, I’ll be leaving now. It is getting late, and the House Elves have saved me some of the roast beef they served earlier.”
Despite his mood, Gideon couldn’t prevent a smile teasing the corners of his mouth on seeing Arieda’s facial expression as she thought of the Hogwarts roast beef.
Dumbledore left, and the three of them remained in an awkward silence.
Arieda was the first to break it.
“So, I’ll be going now...” she said uneasily. “If you need me, you know where to find me.”
Araminta nodded, looking as though she wanted her to leave about as much as Gideon did – which was not at all – and Arieda too left.
Araminta turned back to Gideon and opened her mouth to speak, but he cut in.
“Don’t bother, I don’t want to hear a word you have to say,” he said bitterly.
“Gideon, please...” She took a step forwards. “Please, hear me out-”
“What? You’re going to tell me all about how you didn’t mean to deceive me?” His eyes flashed with anger. “Every single word you said to me was a lie, why should I believe this is any different?”
“I never lied to you,” she said quietly, her voice shaking.
“How can you have the audacity to say you never lied to me, after you’ve been caught spying for Voldemort?”
She shuddered at her master’s name, but continued nevertheless.
“I may have withheld the truth,” she said, her eyes fixed on his, “but I never lied to you.”
His lip curled.
“I don’t care if you lied or not, Travers-”
“It’s Gamp,” she interrupted fiercely. “I didn’t take his name-”
“I don’t care, you still married the bastard.” He paused. “All I’ve been living for, for the past two years, is to avenge my wife’s death. Your scum husband was the one who killed her. And you had to take the crown for yourself. You won’t even let me avenge her death properly.” His glare intensified. “I don’t know why you’re bothering. Dumbledore may believe you’ve changed allegiances, but I can’t forgive what you did. I still don’t think you have changed sides-”
“Do you think I’d lie to Dumbledore?” She crossed her arms defiantly. “I lied to the Dark Lord for you. I held your address back for as long as was possible for me, and when I finally had to tell him, I made sure Dumbledore found out you were in danger so you could move house. And you think I don’t have it in me to change sides?”
“If you’re looking for gratitude-”
“Trust me, if I were looking for gratitude from you I’d be a fool.”
There was another pause.
“So why have you changed sides then?” He raised an eyebrow. “Don’t get me wrong, you seem like the kind of person to change sides on a whim, but that would be to join the winning side, and I wouldn’t say we’re winning right now.”
She ignored the snub.
“I changed sides when I found out the truth about my parents,” she said quietly. “I used to think they wanted me to join the Dark Lord’s followers, and I thought the Order had killed them. Now I know that they never intended for me to become a Death Eater, that it was Travers who killed them-”
“So let’s get this straight. You join Voldemort to get revenge on the Order for the deaths of your parents, but then you discover that it was Voldemort’s supporters who killed your parents, so you switch sides to join the Order to get revenge on the Death Eaters. So you don’t believe in any of what we’re fighting for here, you just want revenge-”
“Isn’t that what you want?” Araminta shot back at him.
“I’m different. I’ve always been against the pureblood supremacy theory, I’ve always fought for the Order, I’ve just got more motivation to do it now. You switch sides depending on who you need to get back at-”
“Doesn’t everyone need a reason to fight?” she reasoned. “Besides, who says I’m not against the pureblood supremacy theory too? Okay, so I may have believed in it, but I can see now that it was a load of nonsense-”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“If I believed it, I wouldn’t even look at Arieda if I didn’t have to,” she said in clipped tones.
“And this is supposed to make up for you betraying me?”
“I didn’t betray you and I didn’t give up Marlene!” she said furiously.
“So who else did then?” His voice was nearly a shout.
“I don’t know!” she replied, as loudly as he. “You’ve got a traitor in your ranks, you all know that, right? It must have been them. I didn’t know where her parents lived, I never even learned where she lived-”
“But if you did you’d have handed the address over-”
“My mission was to provide information about the Auror Department, and to hand you over to the Dark Lord.” Her voice was suddenly calm and quiet again. “I kept your address from him for weeks. I only told him when they were getting suspicious about my apparent lack of information. I made sure you were safe. I would never have given Marlene’s address over if I’d found it out. Everything I did, everything I’m doing now, it’s all for you. If you can’t believe that ... then maybe I need to try harder to prove it.”
His face was unemotional.
“Don’t waste your time on that,” he said after a moment. “It’s no good you acting now, after Marlene’s died. It won’t bring her back. If you really meant to help us, you would have told us you were Voldemort’s spy the minute you realised you weren’t cut out for following him, not left it for us to find out-”
“And how was I meant to tell you that?” She paused, her eyes pleading with him to believe her. “You wouldn’t have listened to me; you’d have handed me over in a heartbeat.”
“Do you really think that?”
“I know that,” she said furiously. “Because to you, there is nothing worse than being a Death Eater. To you, once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater. Even now you can’t recognise that I’ve switched-”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, I’ve clearly not given you enough credit. You should obviously be rewarded for joining Voldemort, for taking the easy option; after all, Louisa and Marlene giving their lives in the fight against him is nothing in comparison-”
“All you Order members, you’re all the same!” She was shaking with frustration. “You, Moody, Arieda, you all think you’ve got the moral high ground because you chose to fight against the Dark Lord from the start. Do you have any idea how hard it is for someone to admit they were wrong, and switch sides, to the underdog? No, you clearly don’t, because you always make the right decisions in life, don’t you? What do I have to do to make you see that I’ve genuinely joined the Order? Save your life again? Die for you? What?”
She drew in a shuddering breath.
Gideon stared at her for a moment, his eyes emotionless.
“Just ... just leave me. You’ve done more than enough. Just leave me to mourn in peace.”