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Chapter 5 : The Final Clue
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I didn’t tell Ashleigh about the letters, I wasn’t telling her much about our search if I was honest. I didn’t want to get her hopes up. Honestly finding Noah was like searching for a snitch that hadn’t even been released yet. It was proving to be impossible.
The wedding plans were fully on their way. I was going out with Ashleigh and her Mother today to taste cakes. And yes I offered to come on this one. I mean who wouldn’t? Cake after Cake. I doubted my opinion would matter much, but I got to eat shit loads of cake so I didn’t really care.
“Are you ready?” Ashleigh called from the bathroom, the door slightly ajar. I groaned back. I’d been ready for the past hour; I was just waiting for her. She came in supporting a short lilac dress and white heels.
“What are you doing?” she complained, I was lying on the settee. “You’re going to get all wrinkly” she said as she chucked my shoes at me. I rolled off the settee, while simultaneously picking them up.
“What time is your mother getting here?” I asked.
“Any second now” she said having a finally check of her appearance in the mirror. She puffed up her blonde hair and pouted. I rolled my eyes, girls I thought.
There was a sharp rasping at the door, one that could only belong to Mrs Lightwood. I’m surprised really, that she didn’t just barge in. She usually does.
“Come on” Ashleigh said smacking my feet “You know she hates to be kept waiting!” Are you kidding me? I was the one waiting for them two! Eurgh. I got up begrudgingly. I swear if it wasn’t for the cake I’d tell them both to stuff it.
Walking to the front door, I plastered on a fake smile. Ashleigh opened the front door and hugged her mother. There were some utterances, and a lot of squeals. I blocked it out mostly, if I’m entirely honest. I found the little peeling wallpaper in the top right hand corner more interesting.
“James?” Ashleigh snapped. It was apparent, that wasn’t the first time she had tried to call me. I really should work on my zoning out.
“Yep?” I replied, straightening up. I walked over to them, the same fake smile reappearing on my face.
“Ready to go?” she asked in a much sweeter tone. I nodded. And like that we were off to the cake shop.
Chocolate, raspberry, vanilla, fruit cake – I tried them all. My favourite? Chocolate and raspberry it was delicious and I even asked for a second piece. The baker Miss Gold – could only agree, I mean it’s not like she’s not going to give one extra bit of cake to the first born of the saviour or the wizarding world is it?
Apparently Miss Gold, was the best in the business. Nobody made cake like her. I probably shouldn’t call it cake. Mrs Lightwood has scolded me enough for it. Wedding Cake is the more appropriate term.
Ashleigh wasn’t too sure on her preference. I would make the comment that she took the most tiniest bites, it was hard to believe that she even tried them at all. I made up for it though. What she didn’t eat, I scoffed down without hesitation. Mrs Lightwood didn’t let her distaste on my behaviour go unnoticed either, in a joking tone she’d call me a pig. But the warning look in her eyes told me she wasn’t joking.
But I’m twenty-six now and like hell am I going to be ordered around, even if the woman does scare me to living death… I kind of have to congratulate Noah for running away from this woman – ok pretend I didn’t say that, she would have my head of a spike if that ever got out.
“So which one?” Mrs Lightwood asked Ashleigh. I could tell the one Mrs Lightwood preferred, it was the one she had three spoonfuls of, compared to her measly bites from the others. She wanted us to have the almond and honey cake. It was nice, but nothing spectacular. It didn’t feel like sex in my mouth, like the chocolate did.
Ashleigh bit her lip; she looked at the almost empty plates in front of us. I could see her eyes slowly judging each piece. “I like the chocolate” she said. I held my hand waiting for a high five; she looked at it and laughed before meeting my hand with hers.
“You can’t have chocolate at a wedding!” Mrs Lightwood said sounding appalled.
“It’s not your wedding” I mumbled. Despite it not being loud enough for Mrs Lightwood to hear it, Ashleigh did. She kicked me from under the table. I swore under my breath.
“Mum,” Ashleigh droned. “Everybody likes chocolate”. It’s true and if you say you don’t you’re lying.
“That’s a reason not to have it!” Mrs Lightwood argued back, I don’t know what was fuelling her justification, but she’s off her bloody head. Does she want us to get a cake nobody will ever want to eat? I’m sure that would be memorable… I can imagine the papers now: Mr and Mrs Potter poor choice of cake. Ok not my best, but you get the idea.
The baker came around, she was younger than I expected. I smiled at her. “Is there anything I can do for you?” she asked politely.
I nodded eagerly. “Is there any chance, I could have like a large chocolate cake?” I saw Ashleigh shake her head in amusement next to me. Mrs Lightwood looked like she was about to collapse from embarrassed. The baker only laughed. “Like a whole cake to myself, I’ll pay double” I told her honestly. As soon as I said double, her eyes lit up. She was already the best cake maker in the wizarding world.
I mean I don’t even know why Mrs Lightwood was making such a big deal out of the base of the cake. That wasn’t going to be what was on show, the whole idea of a wizarding cake was to make it as animated as possible, there were endless possibilities to what she could do to it. Nobody would care if it was bloody chocolate underneath it all.
“Yeah, I can have it done in twenty minutes if that’s ok?” she asked.
I nodded. And she went straight to work, leaving us more time to discuss the actual wedding cake.
“I can’t believe you just did that,” Ashleigh said laughing.
“Well if that’s your attitude” I said clearing my throat “You can’t have any” he mouth dropped open in protest. See I knew she would want some.
“Please Ashleigh” her Mother begged “rethink it”. Rethink what, me as a husband or just the cake?
“Mum” Ashleigh groaned, she ran her hand through her blonde hair. “It doesn’t matter what’s on the inside, everybody is going to be too busy looking on the outside. And at least that way when they do it, it’ll be nice. Nobody will be complaining about fruit cake”. She said it slowly, reasoning with her Mum. It was the most I’d seen her ever stand up to her, it was refreshing actually. Maybe I was a good influence on her after all.
Defeated her mother nodded. Chocolate was the real winner here.
We got back to my apartment; I checked my answering machine on the home phone. One message from Al, clicking the button I let the message play out.
“Got the letter, at Rose’s come by as soon as you can,” how cryptic I thought amused. I told Ashleigh that I was going out; she nodded as she turned on the TV. I already predicted how she was going to spend the rest of her night, with a bottle of wine in front of the telly. She better not have any of my chocolate cake…
I apparated straight to Roses’, unlike the rest of us Rose actually owned a house. She shared it with her husband Scorpius, he’s not as a bad as he used to be. They too were engaged, but they were waiting until their careers really started off before getting married or anything. Rose was a healer, who also studied at a muggle university during her spare time – learning science and muggle medicine. She said she wanted to combine the two. In her house she had her own office, that’s where I presumed her and Al would be.
I knocked on the door, not wanting to barge straight in. Scorpius was the one who answered. I nodded at him as he opened the door up for me “They’re upstairs in her office” he said as he continued on his way to the kitchen. I nodded, one of the best things about Scorpius was he was a man of few words. He and Al were best friends, partly because of that, they were both quiet – well compared to us lot.
I stomped up the stairs. And walked into her office the door was already open. I saw rose over some equipment, concentrating. Al was at the side flipping through a book. I read the title. “Everything You Need to Know about Parchment Paper”. How exciting.
“What’s with the meeting?” I asked.
Al jumped up slightly, unaware of my presence. I laughed.
Rose looked up from what she was doing; she gave me one quick glance and went back to work. She truly was in her element when she had a job to do. Due to the fact Rose wouldn’t answer my question – Al did.
“We’re trying to work out where the paper’s from. Rose is looking for characteristics, and I’m looking at where they’re from. We’ve got in chiselled down to ten different parchment makers” that’s actually surprisingly clever. I realised what they were doing. If they could work out where the paper was from, there was chance they could work out where it was sent from – that way we could find Noah.
As long as you know… she hadn’t changed her location from six months ago…
I sat at the end of the settee and just sat and watched as Rose called out different characteristics as Al ticked them off during the book. One by one each brand got checked off until we left with two…
Parchemin Parfait, or Carta di qualità.
So do you know what that means?
Noah… the mysterious Noah… we were on step closer to finding her. The only question was, was she in France or Italy – or… was she still there at all?
We got in touch with both the French and Italian wizarding embassy. We had all of aurors in both the respective countries looking for her. It had been one full week, since our discovery and it still felt that we were no closer to finding her.
Al, Freddie and I, were currently sitting in Al’s apartment with a Chinese takeaway. We were staring at the board dumbstruck. Once in a while one of us would come up with an idea, each time it would be vetoed. There were no good ideas left. We had done everything, we could. It was a waiting game now, and we still had no idea how long it was going to take - or whether we’d find her at all.
“I just don’t understand” Freddie exclaimed. He stood up and walked over to the board; he picked up the photo of her and stared at it. We looked at him quizzically. Unaware of what he was even going on about, in all honest neither of us understood any of this.
“She was on her own, six years ago. She was 18 just out of Hogwarts, she disowned her multi-billion dollar family. She left without any money. How do you survive for that long, with nothing?”
“She must of got a job,” Al shrugged it off like it was nothing.
“But what about a place to live?” Freddie raised the point. “She wouldn’t have enough money to buy anything, to stay anywhere. So what did she do?”
“Stayed with someone?” I suggested. Freddie nodded eagerly.
“But who?” Al asked. He looked like he too was believing Freddie’s theory, or at least to some extent. He walked over to the board. “She didn’t have many friends, at all really”. He looked through the profiles of her friends. “And none of these, have heard from her either”. He pulled down their pictures and angrily threw them in the bin. I could see he too was getting flustered with all of this. Al liked getting his way, I knew he wouldn’t stop this until he found Noah – like me he was determined.
“What about family?” Freddie asked “We’ve only spoken to direct family, what about cousins? Aunts? Uncles? Anybody she could trust?” he asked, I knew what he was doing; he was putting himself in her position. If anything were to happen to any of this, we had at least one person in the family we could completely trust. So like Freddie suggested, did she?
“Her Mother is an only child – no aunties or uncles. Her Dad has a half-sister?” Al started looking through the paper work.
“What do we have on the half-sister?” I asked, a slight tint of hope in my voice.
“Not a lot. She’s a squib. Mr Lightwood doesn’t have much to do with her. There are some transactions, though he gives her money monthly” he carried on looking through the information we held.
“Where does she live?” Freddie asked.
“Getting to it” Al said as carried on skimming through the work. His eyes lit up “France!” he shouted. “She lives in France!”
“You’re serious?” I asked. “Are you fucking serious?” I didn’t know what to do. Freddie was smiling smugly. I just stood there flabbergasted.
“That doesn’t mean she’s there though” Al reasoned. I pushed his head out the way for being a pessimist. She may not be there, but it was better than anything else we had to go on.
“Where in France?” Freddie asked, he sounded more like he was about to book a holiday destination, than find a missing girl. I couldn’t help but smile – still excited about finding Noah.
“Aquitaine” Al announced. And like that we had our next destination.
I went to quidditch practise the next day. I was off my game completely; all my thoughts were consumed by Noah. I couldn’t help but feel hopeful. Al had told us not to get our hopes up, that Noah might not even be there now. But I couldn’t help it. I had a feeling; something told me she was going to be there. And tomorrow we would be finding out.
We ended up using the flue network, to go to Fleur’s house in France and from there we apparated to small rural area. Before I opened my eyes, my other senses took charge, we were by the seaside. I could smell the ocean waves; hear the crashing against the rocks. I opened my eyes and smiled, this place was truly beautiful. I could understand completely why she would run off to here.
We ended up walking to the address we had; it wasn’t too far from where we had apparated – about a mile walk, give or take. Freddie complained the whole way there. But that was a given. The whole way through school, quidditch practise Freddie complained, he didn’t like doing unnecessary exercising. He didn’t see the point.
“It’s just up here” Al said looking at his map. We were walking up a country path, there wasn’t a house insight. I had my doubts. My one thought was, what if the address was made up? Panic flooded through my veins. We were so close. I didn’t want to believe it.
Trees surrounded us. Al walked ahead determined, he was grinning as he came through an ivory archway and through there was the most adorable, cottage I had ever seen. It reminded me of a mix between the burrow and shell cottage. It was sweet, mismatched and innocent. Ivory covered most of the white walls. Old white pained windows.
I didn’t realise I was standing still, until Freddie called me over. I couldn’t explain it but something felt good about this place. I knew we were onto the right track.
I followed them up the hobbled path, watching my step against the muddy terrain. Without hesitating Al knocked on the white wooden door. I looked at the mailbox; it was empty which was a good sign debatably.
The door opened and the woman herself stood there.
No not Noah. Her aunt Madeline, she was older than any of the photos we had of her. She had short grey hair, her fringe hanged low in her eyes. An uneasy smile on her face – something told me she didn’t get many visitors up here. it was remote, isolated almost.
“Can I help you?” she asked sweetly. I looked down at what she was wearing, she was covered in paint. She wore battered old jeans, a vest top and a long blue shirt.
“Are you Madeline Lightwood?” Al asked. He already knew this was her, but there was nothing wrong with confirming it.
“I used to be” she said fingering the wedding ring on her left hand. Al smiled at her. “Can I ask what this about?” she inquired.
“We’re looking for Noah Lightwood” Al said. Madeline’s face showed no emotion what so ever.
“Haven’t heard from her in years” she said changing her tone completely. The nice woman we met earlier was gone. She was instead replaced by a stony exterior.
“Please” I begged, something – a deep instinct told me she was lying. “I’m James” I announced, I could see Freddie giving me a look like what the hell would that matter? But I was going with the same tactic I used with Ashleigh’s Dad. My only hope was that Madeline also had a soft spot for Ashleigh too.
“I’m about to marry Ashleigh” I told her, I looked her in the eyes and again there was no sign of emotion but I continued. “It’s been six years… she misses her, they all do. Ashleigh wants Noah at the wedding; it’s the only thing she wants. If you know where she is, or know how we could get in touch with her, please could you help?” I begged.
Somehow I got through. She sighed closing her eyes. “I think it’s best you come in”. We all glanced at each other and nodded. I was grinning from ear to ear, she was going to help.
We walked through the hall; the walls were a pale green, pictures and paintings of family. I saw a photo of Ashleigh and Noah when they were little – no older than six. Both almost unrecognisable now, well at least Ashleigh does, who knows what Noah looks like now.
She walked us into the kitchen – like the rest of the house it was old fashioned, homely.
“Do you want a drink?” she asked us as she began to open the fridge. Al and I said no – Freddie nodded eagerly. Seriously there was no taking him anywhere. We sat there in silence awkwardly as Freddie slurped his ice cold lemonade.
“Do you know where she is?” I asked, my voice sounding tired. I just wanted to get to the bottom of it, I was sick of endless trails. Going from one person to the next, it was making it harder for us.
“No” she said but even with her strict tone, I heard a moment of hesitation. She was either lying or she knew something else. Al’s eye swarmed around the kitchen. He didn’t believe her either, but he had a look about him. He knew something.
“How old are you?” he asked Madeline. She looked a bit startled at the question. Hell I was surprised, how the hell is that relevant?
“You shouldn’t ask a woman her age,” she told Al sternly. Freddie let out a low chuckle even I had to hide my grin.
“Humour me” Al suggested. His auror side was coming through – the authority in his voice was unmistakeable. Even Madeline let out a small laugh.
“I’m fifty-six” she said.
“How long have you been fifty-six?” Al asked. Madeline grew quiet, she studied Al, before answering his question.
“Three weeks,” she said uncertain. I have to admit, she did look good for fifty-six. Al stood up suddenly a smile plastered across his face, he walked over to the right side of the room, he picked up a photo frame and Madeline watched his every move and sighed. “Clever” she stated. I felt like an outsider, I had no idea what they were talking about. Al placed the photo down in front of us.
Freddie gasped dramatically; even I had to hide my shock. Madeline stood there a huge badge on her chest with the number: 56. Next to her stood a girl, a huge goofy grin plastered across her care free face. She looked angelic and innocent, her brown eyes dancing with life. She wasn’t a teenager anymore, she was twenty-four. In the photo, next to Madeline was Noah…
If the silence before was awkward, it was nothing to what it is now. You could cut the tension with a spoon it was that bad. We knew Madeline was lying, we knew she had been in contact with her recently, and for one thing we knew, she knew exactly where Noah was. Her face gave everything away.
“Please for Ashleigh?” I asked desperately, I refused to have another dead end.
“Ashleigh is no concern of mine” Madeline said brushing it off like her second niece – well technically first being as how Ashleigh was the older sibling. But I doubted Madeline’s favourite niece went through the first come basis. “But Noah is…” she said softly. She drummed her fingers on her chin a pensive look about her. She was deep in thought, weighing up whether or not she should tell us.
“Shouldn’t the decision be up to Noah?” Freddie asked her, he said it compassionately like he knew what she was going through. I had to admit I didn’t think Freddie had any compassion in him, but he surprised me yet again. Madeline nodded.
“She would regret it” she announced. She put her hands down on the table and closed her eyes. Breathing in she stood up. “If I give you her address, you can’t badger her about it. You ask her and you take her answer, if she says no let that be her decision. And please do not go spreading around where she lives, all she wants to do is live a peaceful life, she’s already had enough trouble”. I internally whooped, I knew I had a good feeling about this place. Finally our search was coming to a close.
“We won’t” we said in union. Madeline nodded and walked over to her desk in the corner, she pulled out a scrap piece of parchment and a ball point pen, she scribbled down the address:
It was a bar called L'arche de Noé. She gave us the directions; it was a town called: Lacanau. Still in Aquitaine, it appeared Freddie was right; she did stay close to someone she knew - but still far enough away to have her own independence. I had to respect her for that.
We said our goodbyes, and Freddie downed the rest of his drink. We thanked Madeline for her help, she still seemed unsure about her decision though. Using the directions she had given us, we apparated straight there. Our adventure was coming to an end.
AN: I don't own anything that you recognise!!
This was originally two seperate chapters but with a special request from Nextgenerationlover I decided to start making the chapters longer! so you can be expecting these types of sizes in the future! If not longer :)
Anyway tell me what you think! Good bad?
Ashleigh and James, are you seeing any cracks in their relationship?Are they good together?
Is Al a genius or what? How about our little snippet of Rose??
What did you guys think of aunty Madeline?
ARE YOU EXCITED TO FINALLY MEET NOAH? she'll be here next chapter!!
So ok, thank you reading! (and hopefully reviewing)
lot's of love, Aimee :))
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