Chapter 1 : Miss Grove
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That was the only name I knew this place by. Godric's Hollow. Mum had shown me a few pictures, given me a few maps, shed a few tears for my journey. A journey for truth. The journey should have ended as soon as I read the headline. The headline that announced my worst fears- he was dead. And I was too late.
Quite a few years ago, nearly decades in fact, a handsome young man met a beautiful lady, who instantly fell in love with him. He had dark hair, mysterious eyes, that look which just told you he was a hard case to crack. And my Mum loved puzzles.
They slept together for one night, just one. That was all it took. In the morning he left, and took part of my Mum's heart with him. Soon she found out that she was pregnant. A scandal in her family. Despite her father adding a few thousand galleons to her Gringotts bank every month, and sending us Christmas presents, she no longer had any attachments to her family. Not that they didn't want her anymore- she didn't want them. Her Mum suggested an abortion, or adoption if it was too late. The two 'A' words you should never say to a pregnant and heart broken 21 year old.
I could see it now. The house, faint in the distance. They'd had it rebuilt, soon after the War. The War she fought in, for him.
Tears were slowly streaming down my face, regardless of my silent screams for them to stop. Thin crescents of red appeared on my palms from where I was clutching them too hard. Everything I'd rehearsed, everything I'd dreamed, what if it just...disappeared? What if they slammed the door in my face? What if the words choked in my mouth and I stood there like a gormless fish? What if he, like my Mum, didn't want to be reminded of the past?
I remembered a few months ago, running through the halls of Hogwarts, begging for her to be waiting round the next corner. I didn't recognise any of the rooms, any of the people. Mum had home schooled me- didn't want me to face the reality behind the glimmering walls of Hogwarts. She'd been hurt too much. Then, as I entered another room, exactly the same as the last, I saw her. A puff of golden blonde hair constantly glittering, covering a pale face and ruby lips. That was all I saw until the sheet was pulled over her face and the nurse whisked her off with her wand.
"It's going to be alright honey. I promise you. You're so much stronger than me, you can do this. You need to do this. Not for me, not for him, but for you. You deserve the truth darling." She muttered soothingly, leaving me alone. My fourteenth birthday, and she'd given me a box. Inside was everything that I'd ever need to know about him. About my father. She promised me that she'd be waiting, waiting with open arms, but she wasn't. She'd already left when I'd arrived, and no matter how fast I ran, she slipped out of my fingers. The last words she'd heard from my lips were 'I'll be back soon. No need to worry Mum, everything will work out. I swear.'
That was three years ago.
12 seasons, 36 months, 1096 days.
Not this time. My feet pounded against the hard floor, my tears drying on my face almost instantly. My long black hair swept back, along with the blood red cloak I covered my torso with. To hide the scars the past two years had given me, from fights, from falls, from weakness. Ever since that newspaper found its way into my hands, and all my hope and faith just vanished. My mind was as dark as my name.
My body hit the gate, my chest heaving as I tried to regain balance. This was it. The final resort.
"I'm sorry Miss Grove, but you must leave immediately. You have no rights to this property, even if you and your mother did live here. She left you what she did in her will, and now you've recieved all the keys and codes for that, you must leave."
"But I'm only nineteen. I've had no proper defensive training, and don't have any form of protection, shelter or transport. Where am I meant to go? My Dad's dead, my family are either dead, in another country, have forgotten about us or don't want anything to do with us, and I barely have enough money for a few nights in an inn."
"My greatest apologies but-"
"That's my problem, not yours. You're seriously going to leave an unarmed, vunerable seventeen year old on the streets, just because I'm not old enough to get my own money out?"
"Miss, we are dealing with a lot since the war, and an arrogant teen is the least of our problems. You're clever. You'll work something out."
His voice found it's way into my head, repeating those last four words.
You'll work something out.
Damn right I worked something. Hopefully.
Lifting my hand up to the newly built door, I thought. I hesitated. The tears began again, forcing that painful memory into my brain.
"You alright, Miss?" The bartender asked, his shaggy grey hair drooping over his eyes.
"Fine, thank you." I replied, turning back to my book on Theoretical Transfiguration.
"Oi, Davy, look at this! Barely off the printer!"
An excited young man burst into the bar, waving a newspaper infront of the old man's face. He took one look at it, sighed, and muttered somethign under his breath.
"What was that, Dave?"
"I said, better but those borders up again. Can't believe this- if only they'd listened to Dumbledore in the first place, we wouldn't have been in this mess."
"Yeah, but that Potter kid. Amazing lad. Shame though- seems he just can't escape death."
Death? That perked my ears up.
"What happened?" I called over. The young man leaped over to me, while the bartender saw this as a good chance of an escape.
"Oh, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named has returned, my love. Officially that is."
"Yeah, but what about Harry? You said something about-"
"Oh, awful. Went to the Ministry with a bunch of friends to try and rescue his Godfather, Sirius Black. The murderer."
"Yeah, I know who he is. What happened?"
"Well, it was all a trap. Luckily the Order got there in time, but...it was his cousin Bellatrix."
"Yeah, what about her?" I was getting impatient.
"Well, she killed him. She killed Sirius, right in front of Harry's eyes."
My heart stopped. His voice became a distant hum, his concerned face a blur.
"You alright love?"
I leaned forward with the speed of a Nargle and grabbed the newspaper out of his hands.
"No, no. No, this can't be right. Tell me there's a mistake, please, oh Merlin, please..." My fingers traced the small image on the bottom of the page, of his face. Kind, sweet, cheerful. Dead.
"Miss, do you need me to get some help? Miss, are you alright? Davy, get in here!"
I curled up in a ball, letting my tears cascade down my cheeks. I was too young. Seventeen was much too young. I shouldn't be faced with these sort of things. He was my last chance, my last hope to have a family. Just for once, a proper family. Proper parents. The voices around my faded away, everything clouding over as my tears filled my vision and my head mentally exploded.
Quickly, I snapped out of the chance. Drying my eyes, I realised that I'd knocked. My hand had knocked on the door, and someone was coming.
Just turn around. Just turn around and leave. You're not ready. You're never going to be ready.
The door opened, silencing my mind's desparate pleas for an escape. An easy way out.
"Hello, can I help you? I'm not doing autographs or anything, okay?"
The man infront of me was tall, quite skinny, with messy black hair covering his bright green eyes.
"Miss, are you alright? Is somethign wrong, did someone hurt you?" He asked, seeing my tear streaked face.
"No, no." I croaked. Quickly clearing my throat, I pushed my hair out of my face. Mum always said I looked more like him than I did her.
"Hello. I'm Ebony Grove. I'm nineteen years old, and a complete and utter mess. Three years ago I set out to search for my father, only for him to die in the middle of it. When I returned home nearly two years later, my mother had left for the battle. She died in the battle. All I ever wanted was a proper family, and your my last chance."
"How does this apply to me? I'm sorry for what happened, but I can't go around saving every orphan there is. There's a lot now, you're not the only one-"
"No, you don't understand. I guess I'm sort of...your god-sister."
I saw it. Realisation. He took it in, my hair, my eyes, my nose. All so similiar to the man in the photo's, who I never got to meet.
"You're..." He stopped, begging for me to step in. To confirm it. To...dismiss it.
"Yes. I'm Ebony Black. Harry..." My throat closed in and I gave up. I let the tears flow, the bottled up pain from the years which I hoped would disappear if I let out the occasional cry.
"It's okay, Ebony. Welcome home." He whispered, enveloping me in a hug.
For someone so young, he knew as much pain as I did, and he understood what it felt like to never know your parents. To realise that other people will always know them better, no matter how many memories you hear, no matter how many pictures you see.
He understood, and right now, that was the only family I needed.
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