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Chapter 23 : The Crossroads
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Finally pulling away and looking at Harry, she added, “And your laugh. I remembered it --- when I was hurting --- I could hear it, like you were leading me through it – through the pain.” She hugged her dad tight and whispered in his ear, “Your eyes… I saw your eyes when I was locked in that room. Could you see me?”
Harry took in a rattled breath between the tears and whispered back, “No --- but I was looking for you every moment.”
“I know,” Nyah said, laughing sweetly, “I told them you would find me --- and I was right.”
Chapter 23 – The Crossroads
“Daddy, I’m fine,” Roxanne said, rolling her eyes. She looked to her mother, exasperated as she wiggled out of George’s arms. “Please tell him to quit hugging me,” she said, plopping down on the window seat.
Angelina smiled and sat on the bed near George’s feet. “Your dad is just happy to see you,” Angelina said, as he gave her a small wink.
“So when are you busting me out?” George asked, leaning up to give his wife a kiss.
Roxanne scrunched up her nose and turned her back to her parents. “Ugh! You know that’s gross, right? And embarrassing!” she cried.
“Of course!” George said, teasing Roxanne. “Why else would we do it?” He looked at Angelina and gently touched her face. “Thanks for staying close by,” he whispered. “I think -- I think I got lost somehow. It was like I was asleep and just couldn’t wake up.”
Angelina pulled him close, resting a moment in his arms as physical exhaustion and emotional relief took over. With a heavy sigh, she said, “I’m just glad you came back to us.”
Clearing his throat to announce his arrival, a Healer-In-Training said, “Excuse me, Mr. Weasley, I just need you to sign here and we’ll get you and your family on their way.” He unrolled the parchment and handed George the quill.
“Well, it’s about bloody time, too!” George exclaimed dramatically, a wide smile affixed on his face. “I can’t waste another minute here… the room service is terrible!”
Shaking her head as George passed the parchment back to the Healer-In-Training, she scolded, “You were only here a week. Besides, you spent most of your time sleeping, eating, or down the hall with Nyah.” The smile faded from her face as Angelina looked towards the door, “I hope they’ll release her soon -- I don’t think Ginny’s been home for more than an hour since they came in.”
Hopping from the bed, George clapped his hands, and once again grabbed Roxanne into another hug. “Why don’t we go down and check on them before we go, eh?”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“James, is there something you want to say to your sister?” Ginny said in her ‘Mum’ voice.
James rolled his eyes at his mum, and walked over to Nyah’s bed where she sat playing with Lily. Looking at everything except Nyah, James finally said, “Sorry I took your silly old owl. It was just a joke.”
“Thanks, James,” Nyah said softly, her face turning red. It was quite awkward to find out the boy who irritated her terribly turned out to be her brother. Nyah reached to her bedside table and gently picked up Hedwig and held her close. Aside from some smudges of something that looked like jam, and obvious dirt, the little owl had made it safely back to Nyah’s arms.
James ventured a look at his sister and as their eyes met, he smiled. Taking a deep breath, he asked “So, what’s your favorite treat from Honeydukes?”
Nyah’s brow furrowed, and she asked, “What’s a Honeydukes?”
Albus jumped up on the bed next to Lily and Nyah with his eyes wide and started rambling, “You’ve never been to Honeydukes? It’s the most fantastic place in Hogsmeade. I can’t believe Aunt Hermione didn’t take you there! I always get the chocolate frogs, but they have all kinds of candy and fudge and sugar quills and …”
Ginny stood back and watched the scene, committing it to memory as the children chatted and laughed. Nyah’s face was full of color and her eyes were bright. Nearly all of her strength had returned and she was doing quite well according to the Healers. She was still having nightmares, and frequently called out for her Mum and Dad in her dreams. Harry and Ginny, with help from Molly, had taken to staying with Nyah at night and on most occasions slept holding her hand just to be nearby.
Concerned about introducing the siblings, Harry and Ginny had brought them in one at a time, starting with their youngest. Lily instantly loved her big sister and clung to Nyah whenever they were together. Nyah soaked up the attention, and eagerly sought out time with Lily. The girls drew pictures, played peek-a-boo, and Lily had taken many a nap on Nyah’s bed curled up close to her big sister.
Albus and James took the news differently. James shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly, accepting the announcement with indifference while Albus, the constant worrier, asked innumerable questions such as ‘Where will she sleep?’ and ‘Are you sure she’s our sister?’ or ‘What if she doesn’t like me?’
“Grammy Molly!” Lilly squealed, wiggling off the bed and running towards the door. She clamped her little arms around Molly’s leg as Arthur squeezed around the other side, making his way to the boys for a quick hug.
The room exploded with conversation and laughter as the younger children hugged their grandparents and talked nonstop. Nyah stood by the bed, still lingering away from the group. There was strong familiarity in watching the family interact, but Nyah was filled with uncertainty and fear. She longed to run into her grandmothers arms like Lily or have her grandfather talk to her like no one else was in the room; much like he was with James. Looking towards the floor, she took a deep breath as she heard someone call her name.
Molly encircled her with a warm, comforting hug. “Nyah, dear,” she said, looking deep into her brown eyes. “I think she gets prettier every time I see her,” Molly said to Ginny, still holding Nyah’s cheeks in her hands.
“How are you feeling today?” Arthur asked, taking his turn to trade a hug with Nyah.
“Good,” Nyah said, smiling at her grandfather. “I am, really.”
Ginny tucked Lily’s stuffed dog into her little bag and handed it to James. “Carry this for your sister,” she said with a small kiss to his cheek. “Be good and don’t fight with your brother.”
James rolled his eyes and went to stand by the door, ready to leave.
“Albus,” Ginny said, pulling the young boy into a hug, “You and Lily help Grandma and I don’t want to hear about any fussing like you did last night at Uncle Ron’s.”
“They’ll be just fine, dear,” Molly said, patting Albus on the back.
Ginny gave Lily one more hug goodbye as she ran for the door, grabbing Arthur’s hand.
“Oh, Nyah, I just finished this before we came,” Molly said, pulling an enormous blanket from her bag. “I hope you like it. I wasn’t sure about the color, but your father insisted.”
Nyah gasped and pulled the blanket close to her. “It’s perfect,” she whispered, small tears tracking down her smiling face. She buried her face in the soft yellow yarn, catching a whiff of cinnamon and vanilla. “It smells like The Burrow. Thank you Mrs. …” Nyah said, stopping short. “I mean Grandma…”
Throwing aside any hesitation, Nyah wrapped her arms around her grandmother once again and whispered, “It really is beautiful. Thank you.”
Molly rubbed Nyah’s back, just as she had done with Ginny at that age, savoring this moment with her granddaughter. “Oh, Nyah,” she whispered back, tears intruding on any more words.
“Molly, dear,” Arthur called from near the door, as George and Angelina came into the room. “Roxanne’s going to come for the sleepover as well.”
“Well,” Molly sighed, trying to tame Nyah’s hair with her hands, “You and Mum get some rest tonight and hopefully soon, you can come for a sleepover – whenever you’re ready.”
Nyah nodded and smiled. She wrapped the blanket around her shoulders, and climbed back into the bed, soothed by the familiar scent of the Burrow.
“So,” Ginny teased as George waved goodbye to the children, “they finally kicked you out.”
“I think they got tired of feeding him,” laughed Angelina, patting George on the stomach. She leaned in a bit towards Ginny and whispered, “Nyah looks good. How are the nightmares coming along?”
“Better,” smiled Ginny, nodding a bit. “Of course, I stay here every night. Honestly, I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed soon,” she said quietly.
“Any further news from the ferret?” George asked, nicking a banana from Ginny’s bag.
Frowning, Ginny answered slowly, “Yes, we met with Draco and his wife last evening.” She moved to sit at the small table in the corner of the room.
“What did they say? More about Nyah?” asked Angelina, taking a seat.
“There had been so many questions, but I think we have all the answers we are ever going to get,” Ginny said, glancing again at Nyah who was pouring over a copy of “Hogwarts, A History”. She lowered her voice to a whisper and explained, “Nyah was simply a tool – a pawn to get back at Harry.” Her face fell as the conversation with Draco resounded in her head...
“I don’t know why you’re here,” Draco had said, getting up from his hospital bed and sitting casually next to Astoria on a lush sofa, obviously brought in for Draco’s comfort. “I told Granger what she needed to know.”
Harry had laughed sarcastically and shook his head while conjuring two armchairs for he and Ginny. Sitting directly across from Draco, he said calmly, “You may have told Hermione what she needed to hear, but there’s a lot more to be discussed -- namely the original plan for my daughter. What was it?” Harry leaned up, looking directly at Draco and waited.
Draco sighed, obviously bored with the idea of talking to the Potter’s. “The plan… well, it was simple, but flawed,” Draco had said, looking between Harry and Ginny, prepared for a hostile response. When none came, he slowly continued, “Originally, Voldemort wanted ideas -- ideas to capture you – to hurt you – to kill you. At one point, there was talk of kidnapping a child, preferably your own, to raise in the Dark Arts but Voldemort laughed at the idea of you living long enough to have children. The Dark Lord’s final fall came soon after and nothing more was said… until Father found the wand.”
He stared into air, lost in the memories of his father’s obsession. After a moment, still looking to no one in particular, Draco had explained, “The wand – the portrait… he spent nearly all his time… talking – whispering to them. Hours – days really – were spent on thoughts of revenge.” He looked directly at Harry as his eyes narrowed slightly. “Revenge against you… for taking away his Master. Nothing else mattered.”
Ginny drew in a deep breath and asked softly, “The family – the family in London… what did you know about them? We were told that someone resembling Lucius, along with a red-haired woman left her there.”
“Polyjuice Potion,” Draco said, looking intently at Ginny as her brow furrowed in concentration. “It was easy – Father brewed the potion and I took the hair of someone the child would recognize so she wouldn’t cause such a fuss,” he explained with a laugh.
“Whose hair did you use?” Harry asked, unsure if he truly wanted to know.
Draco raised an eyebrow and continued to stare at Ginny, “Isn’t it obvious?”
“Mine?” Ginny growled, as her hand moved near her wand. “You used my hair to make her think…” Ginny gasped as tears sprang to her eyes, “… to make her think I gave her away – to those people! She thought I didn’t want her – because of you!”
Draco shook his head and glanced towards the ceiling before looking again at Ginny. “She knew,” he said, as Harry took Ginny’s hand. “She knew it wasn’t you.”
Pausing for a drink, Draco savored the anticipation and irritation building between Harry and Ginny. Sensing a breaking point, he said, “Father was arrested and sent to Azkaban for crimes against Muggles in, um, mid-November I think -- just a few months after your daughter had been placed with the Stewart family. He wrote me from prison and demanded that I continue with his original objective.”
Draco glanced at Astoria, who had been listening intently, and went on, “Astoria and I had married almost immediately after Father was imprisoned, and his plan was the last thing on my mind at the time.” Astoria blushed and turned away, a playful smile still sitting on her face.
“So, you were supposed to do what?” Harry demanded, irritated at Draco’s stalling. “While my daughter was beaten and abused, you just – just go about your life? That was the bloody plan?”
Ginny quietly begged him to calm down, pulling his face to look at hers. “Harry, please.”
Draco bit his bottom lip as he contemplated his answer, but Harry had gone well beyond patient and stood to draw his wand, “Tell me the plan -- now,” he growled, pointing his wand directly at Draco.
“Sit down, Potter,” Draco spat, growing weary of the questioning. He watched as Harry tucked away his wand and sat down hard in the seat. “Like I told Granger, the child was only supposed to stay out of sight long enough for the news of your daughter’s death to quiet down. At that point, she was to be retrieved, and instructed in the Dark Arts.” Draco paused, wishing the next part of the plan never had to be revealed. “When she was of age, she would be sent on her first and final mission…” he said quietly.
“Which was?” asked Harry, clenching his jaw.
“To kill you,” Draco said, failing miserably at his attempt to lessen the blow.
Ginny gasped, and Harry stood once more -- not to draw his wand, but in an attempt to comprehend what he had just heard.
“Why?” Ginny asked softly, “Why would they send our own daughter to kill Harry?”
“Because it would hurt more -- the knowledge that you were going to die by your child’s hand,” Draco answered, his voice cold and angry as thoughts of Lucius sprang to the forefront of his mind. “They knew Harry would never raise his wand against her.”
“But you said there was a flaw,” Harry said, his voice distant. “What was the flaw?”
With a deep breath, Draco said simply, “Astoria.”
“Me?” Astoria said with disbelief in her voice. “How was I the flaw?”
“Because you refused to take part in it… Not long after we were married, I told you about an orphaned child. Do you remember?” Draco asked, looking more towards the floor than at his wife.
Slow realization crossed Astoria’s face, as she simply nodded in agreement.
“You said you would never raise a child that wasn’t your own.” he said flatly, leaning back into the sofa cushion, barely glancing towards Astoria.
“Their daughter?” she cried angrily, pointing to Harry and Ginny, “It was their daughter you asked me to raise? Draco, I was pregnant with Scorpius and you asked me to take on another child. What did you expect me to say?”
Leaving his wife’s question unanswered, he looked to Ginny and said, “So you see, Astoria became the flaw in the plan -- my way out, so to speak. The plan, well, it was simply dropped and I never mentioned it again. I realize your daughter had a terrible childhood, but the alternative would have been far worse -- believe me, I have lived it.”
“Why didn’t you come to us?” Ginny had asked, her head resting in her hands. “Why didn’t you tell us so that we could….”
She was interrupted as Draco growled, “So you could what -- turn me in? Let me spend the rest of my life in Azkaban, going mental like my father did?” He stared harshly at Harry and then to Ginny, who was shaking her head. “He was a complete nutter, you know, when he finally got out -- talking to that bloody painting for hours and hours every day, and whispering to that blasted wand,” Draco said, throwing his hands in the air. “No, thank you,” he spat, slowly pulling himself from the seat and limping away, his back to his guests. “I believe we’re done.”
Harry quietly offered Ginny his hand, helping her from the seat. Pausing near the door, Ginny said, “Wait.” Her voice carried through the silence of the room and Draco turned to look at her. “Lucius said something about Voldemort’s heir… that instead of Nyah, Lucius had chosen your son. Is that true? Was Lucius grooming your son to take over?”
Anger and bitterness swelled within Draco as he answered curtly, “My son is my heir, and this conversation is finished…”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Ginny heard the small voice, but it seemed so far away. She was lost in her own thoughts, reliving the conversation with Draco over and over in her mind.
“Mum,” Nyah called again, gently tapping Ginny on the arm. “Healer Sabinski,” she whispered, pointing towards the door.
With a somewhat terse smile that reminded Nyah of the Headmistress, Healer Sabinski greeted the room and then turned towards Nyah. “Ah, Miss Potter,” she chirped, “I see you are up and about. Feeling better?”
Nyah nodded and smiled, as the Healer handed Ginny a roll of parchment. “These are the latest results, Mrs. Potter,” she said pointing to the scrawl about mid-page. Glancing at Nyah, she lowered her voice and whispered, “It’s still inconclusive, and while we cannot detect the presence of magic… we also cannot detect the absence.”
Furrowing her brow, Ginny looked up from the parchment and asked, “What exactly does that mean – you can’t detect the absence? Shouldn’t magic be obvious?”
The Healer smiled brightly and said, “In most cases, it would seem to be clear cut – magical or nonmagical – Wizard or Squib… or Muggle. Nyah is most definitely not a Muggle, nor is she a Squib.”
“But how do you know I’m not a Squib?” Nyah asked softly, her eyes begging for a miracle.
The Healer pulled a spare wand from her pocket and handed it to Nyah. For a moment, the young girl’s face was expectant but suspicious. She glanced from Ginny to the wand, with her eyebrows raised. Slowly, a smile landed on her face and her eyes grew wide.
“Mum,” Nyah breathed, tears forming in her eyes, “I feel it! I really feel it!” She hopped in a circle, squealing.
“Feel what, Nyah?” Ginny asked, watching her daughter with concern and amusement.
“Magic… I can feel magic,” Nyah whispered, hugging the wand to her chest. “It tingles just a bit -- here,” she said, wiggling her fingers.
Healer Sabinski nodded, and pointed again to the parchment. “If you’ll just sign here, Mrs. Potter, you and Miss Potter can be on your way.”
“I can go?” Nyah asked, handing the wand back to the Healer. “Really?”
“So if she can feel it when she holds that wand,” Ginny began, “why is that you can’t detect the magical qualities?”
Glancing towards Nyah, Healer Sabinski sighed, “We believe at this point, that your daughter may possess only a fraction of what would be considered a ‘normal’ amount of magical ability. We don’t yet fully understand the impact a second-generation spell like the one performed by Mr. Malfoy in place of his father. While the genetic quality was indeed there, the quantity was not, and therefore may not have restored Nyah’s magic to its original capacity. Time will tell and we will monitor her progress.” The Healer patted Ginny’s arm sympathetically, and left the room.
Only a fraction of magic, Ginny thought, her heart hurting for Nyah in a way the young girl couldn’t understand. She watched as Nyah danced about the room gathering her things to go home. Home… it’s been seven years… and she’s finally going home.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Dad,” whined Nyah, pulling on his arm as they made their way through the busy streets of Diagon Alley. “Come on! We have to finish getting my books -- oh, and my wand!”
She ducked into Flourish & Blotts, her eyes searching the aisles for Ginny. James and Albus were giggling over a Muggle comic book they had found in a small section near the Transfiguration book for First Years. “James,” Nyah scolded in her most Ginny-like voice, “Mum said no touching, now put that back.”
James rolled his eyes and tossed the magazine on the shelf, as Albus ran on ahead, grabbing Nyah’s hand as she continued her search for Ginny.
“Mum!” Albus called, catching sight of Ginny and Lily near the counter.
Nyah smiled and weaved her way through the line of students and parents, all waiting to pay for their books, Albus still clinging to her hand.
“I found Dad… he was doddering along near the Quidditch supply store,” she said, rolling her eyes. Lily put her arms up towards her sister, silently asking Nyah to pick her up.
Ginny smiled and shook her head, instantly reminded of Hermione as Nyah chattered on about everything… and nothing.
The last few weeks had been a blur with Nyah finally settled at home. They had quickly remodeled the tower room with Nyah’s favorite things, replacing ghosts and memories for a giggling girl who delighted in the simplest of tasks as long as she was close to Harry or Ginny. The nightmares were nearly gone, and life had become strangely comfortable.
“So can we?” Nyah asked, catching Ginny off guard.
“I’m sorry… do what dear?” Ginny asked, lost in the conversation of the ladies next to her.
With a sigh, Nyah said, “Dad – can Dad take me to Ollivander’s? Please?”
Ginny smiled and nodded. “Just be sure to keep Albus with you,” Ginny said as she took Lily from Nyah’s arms. With Albus in hand, Nyah snaked through the crowd, heading for the door.
A short time later, Nyah stepped into the quiet entryway of Ollivander’s Wand Shoppe, instantly amazed at her surroundings. She took in a deep breath, intoxicated by the smell of the shoppe. The small bell on the door rang, announcing the arrival of Albus and Harry as they crossed the threshold to join Nyah.
“Dad,” Nyah whispered quietly, standing close to him, “what do I do?”
Harry just smiled and said, “Take a step up to the counter… and just wait.”
Nyah tiptoed to the old wooden counter, nearly holding her breath. This is it, she thought, my wand. I wonder what kind it will be? Elm, mahogany, cedar…
From behind the counter, a small friendly face popped up. Nyah jumped back and gasped, her hand quickly covering her mouth. “Mrs. Cleary?” Nyah asked, her eyes wide. "What are you doing here?"
“Nyah dear,” Mrs. Cleary said, rounding the counter and gathering the young girl in her arms tightly. “Oh, I had been hoping you’d find your way into the shoppe!” She took Nyah face in her hands and smiled, “Just look at you! You’ve gone and grown up on me.”
“Mrs. Cleary,” giggled Nyah, walking towards Harry and Albus, “I want you to meet my dad and my brother! They’re my real family – I have so much to tell you!”
Harry gently shook the woman’s hand and said, “Nyah’s told us so much about you – it’s a pleasure. I’m Harry and this is my son, Albus.”
“Mum is just down at the bookshop with James and Lily,” Nyah rambled, “Those are my other brother and little sister. She’s completely adorable – you’ll love her.”
Mrs. Cleary whispered, “What a lovely family you have, Nyah. And starting Hogwarts, you’ll need a wand.” She reached to the counter and rang a small, delicate bell. “Mr. Ollivander will be up in just a moment. I’ll just chat with your father while your wand is chosen, all right dearie?”
Nyah nodded her head, still reluctant to move from the woman’s familiar arms. “Yes,” she whispered, “but you’ll be here, right?”
“Of course,” the woman whispered back, “go on now – he’s waiting.”
Nyah turned – her eyes falling on a frail, old man whose hair was as wild as her own, and white as hers was dark. He stood quietly, waiting for Nyah to approach the counter. “Ah, Miss Potter, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you,” he said softly. Motioning to the stool near him, Nyah sat gingerly, wondering how he would find one wand for just her.
Making no notes, but mumbling to himself, Mr. Ollivander looked closely at Nyah’s eyes and hands. He then began scurrying about the shop, very quick for a man of his age, pulling box after box from the shelves that lined nearly ever inch of the store.
Nyah timidly reached to touch the brown, aged box when Harry cleared his throat from near the door. Venturing a look in his direction, he simply shook his head and Nyah pulled her hand back, waiting for the funny little man to return.
Finally adding three additional boxes to the ever-growing pile, he looked at Nyah and simply said, “Relax.”
Wand after wand was handed to the young girl, and despite intense concentration, Nyah could produce no magic.
With the tenth wand exhausted, Nyah began feeling a bit panicky, and tears sprinkled her cheeks. It’s not working, she growled to herself, wiping her eyes as Mr. Ollivander returned with more boxes. After no response from the next dozen or so wands, Mr. Ollivander stood back, eyeing Nyah closely.
“Let’s try something a bit different,” he whispered, taking Nyah’s small hand within his own.
They stepped between the shelves and Nyah’s eyes widened, taking in the hundreds of wands held in one aisle. Mr. Ollivander took her right hand and placed it, palm side towards the boxes and walked her slowly up and down each aisle.
In the far corner of the store, they continued the pattern. The boxes here seemed older and were in much worse shape, but Mr. Ollivander walked slowly through the short aisle, offering a comforting smile.
Suddenly, Nyah gasped and pulled her hand back, electricity shooting through her hand. She looked at the small man next to her and whispered, “Did you feel that?”
He clapped his hands in excitement and gently took Nyah a step back. “Again,” he said, encouraging her to bring her hand towards the boxes. “Let’s find out which one is calling to you, shall we?”
Nyah smiled, the energy still traveling through her. She took a deep breath and reached her hand to the dark corner filled with tattered, old boxes. Mr. Ollivander pointed towards the floor, and Nyah reached down low with no results. He then motioned to a stepstool and Nyah climbed up, reaching her hand towards the ceiling. A small, pale box shook gently as her hand neared the top of an adjacent shelf.
“Bring it down, dear,” he whispered, “but with your left hand – yes, left.”
Nyah held the box delicately in her left hand as they made their way to the front of the store. Ginny, James, and Lily had made their way to the store and were waiting with the others. Nyah offered a small wave as she took a seat on the stool once more, shaking with anticipation.
Mr. Ollivander opened the small box, as a smile crossed his face. “Ah, yes,” he whispered, “I remember this wand – very nice choice, Miss Potter. Oak, 13.5 inches, and very springy. Unicorn hair at its core.”
Nyah took a deep breath and took the wand that he offered her. It was a smooth, warm honey-colored wand that fit perfectly in her hand. Just beyond the handle, a small carved vine wrapped around the wand’s surface.
“Oak is known as the tree of endurance and triumph,” Mr. Ollivander said as Harry and Ginny approached. “Only a witch of great power would have been chosen by such a wand.”
With tears in her eyes, Nyah whispered, “Thank you, Mr. Ollivander.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nyah rambled throughout dinner to her brothers and sister, while Harry and Ginny got to know Mrs. Cleary better. They were treated to story after story about Nyah’s upbringing and had soaked it all in.
“How is Anna?” Nyah asked tentatively, watching Mrs. Cleary’s face.
Taking a sip of coffee, the elderly woman nodded and said, “Oh, the children are fine. She and Alexander are now away at school in Ireland.”
“Ireland? When did that happen?” Nyah asked, shock traveling across her face.
“Well,” Mrs. Cleary said calmly, “a while back some strange things began occuring, and out of love and concern for the children, Mr. Stewart felt they would do best away from home.” She managed a tense smile and nervously stirred her coffee.
“So Father – I mean Mr. Stewart… he’s doing all right then?” Nyah asked, pushing the food about her plate absent-mindedly.
Mrs. Cleary nodded, taking another sip of her coffee.
“And her… you know,” Nyah whispered, dropping her voice, “Catherine.”
Mrs. Cleary looked about the dining area, avoiding Nyah’s stare. With a heavy sigh, she said, “Nyah dear, there’s a lot about your -- about Mrs. Stewart that no one knew until recently. It seems that – well – she was actually born into a wizarding family, but when it was learned as a child that she herself had no magic…”
“A Squib?” Ginny exclaimed.
“Yes, a Squib -- she was banished – rejected,” explained Mrs. Cleary. “She was sent to live with Muggle relatives and never saw her family again. When you started showing magical skills at such an early age, she was enraged. She wanted nothing to do with magic.”
“Did she go to Ireland with Anna and Alexander?” Nyah asked as dessert was delivered, still glancing at Mrs. Cleary.
Stalling a bit, Mrs. Cleary mumbled, “Um, not exactly. No one is sure where she went, but don’t worry dear, she’ll turn up.”
Nyah nodded and turned to talk to Lily, as Harry took the opportunity to speak to the Stewarts’ former housekeeper.
“What aren’t you telling her?” Harry asked, nodding to Nyah.
Twisting the napkin in her lap, Mrs. Cleary leaned forward, hoping only Harry and Ginny would overhear. “Catherine’s life simply crumbled. It was as though a veil was lifted from Mr. Stewart’s eyes – and the children… the children refused to be near her. Even Alexander shunned her,” the elderly lady explained. “Mr. Stewart filed for divorce and took custody of both children, immediately ushering them off to Ireland to keep them away from their mother until he could transfer to be with them. He reunited with his first wife as soon as possible, claiming he still loved her, and Catherine – she went crazy. That’s when she let it slip… about her wizarding family.”
“Do you know who they are?” Ginny asked, a small concern swelling in her.
Shaking her head, Mrs. Clearly said, “No. She refused to tell me, but she did say they were all deceased… and then… she was gone.” The woman sighed, looking about the table and added, “It’s getting a bit late and I should be going. Thank you for a lovely dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Potter. Nyah, you make sure and do your best at Hogwarts… I’ll be watching.”
“Why don’t I see you home, Mrs. Cleary?” Harry offered, stepping from the table.
Mrs. Cleary waved her hand in the air and said, “No, no, Mr. Potter. I may be old, but I can make my way down the street just fine.” She winked and gave Harry a small hug goodbye and then turned to Nyah.
Nyah stood and hugged Mrs. Cleary tightly, promising to visit on holiday. She watched the elderly lady leave The Leaky Cauldron before turning back to the table, plopping down hard onto the bench seat next to James.
“This has been the best day,” Nyah said, digging in to the last of her ice cream.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The lanterns danced in the night, as Mrs. Cleary made her way back towards the wand shoppe. She stopped for a moment to fuss over the kittens in the window at Magical Menagerie before turning back to the near-empty street.
From the alleyway, a cloaked figure stepped in her path. “Oh, pardon me,” Mrs. Cleary said, stepping nearer to the building, attempting to move on.
The path became blocked again, as the lanterns fluttered in the evening breeze. Dropping the hood, the stranger came face-to-face with Mrs. Cleary.
“Catherine!” gasped Mrs. Clearly, her hand covering her mouth.
A rush of wind and an eerie green light surrounding the elderly woman as she fell to the walkway, fear etched forever in her face.
“Next,” whispered Catherine as she stepped away from the old woman’s body. A dark figure stepped from the shadows, tucking his wand back into his cloak. The pair disappeared into the night as thoughts of revenge hung on the night air.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Mum?” Nyah asked, rearranging the robes and books in her suitcase as she packed for Hogwarts. “Where did my name come from?”
Ginny sighed and sat on Nyah’s bed, thinking back to the day her first child was born. Taking a deep breath, Ginny said, “Family means everything to your father. He didn’t have his parents or grandparents as he grew up, so when you were born, we decided to bring in names from both sides of his family. The name Nina came from your great-grandmother Potter, and Rose came from your great-grandmother Evans… thus Nina Rose Potter.”
Wiping the tears with the back of her hand, Ginny continued, “When we thought – well, that you had died, it was like losing his entire family again.” Ginny paused, allowing the tears to taper. She reached for Nyah’s hand and said, “When Hermione and Ron had their daughter, they asked if they could name her in honor of you… did you know that?”
“No,” whispered Nyah, tears falling from her eyes as her mother spoke.
“Harry was so proud, and if you listened, he would say her name a lot. He was thinking of you when he said it,” Ginny said, staring out the tower window.
“Nina Rose Potter,” sighed Nyah, biting her lip. “It’s going take a long time to get used to that.” Thinking for a moment, she added, “So how did I get ‘Nyah’ from ‘Nina’?”
Ginny laughed and pulled her wand from her pocket. She aimed for the door and called, “Accio picture!” A small snapshot came sailing through Nyah’s open bedroom door and landed in Ginny’s hand. “I think your dad and I figured that out,” she said, sliding a picture in front of Nyah.
The small square reflected a much younger version of Harry and Ginny holding a squirming child in their arms. Standing near a road sign, the trio smiled and waved.
“It’s the crossroad near our first home,” Harry explained, walking through the doorway with Lily in his arms “the home you were born in.”
Nyah pulled the picture closer, studying every aspect. She laughed as the road sign became clear… ‘Nyah Lane’ stood out from the image and she looked to her parents. “A road? You named me after a road?” she asked, her cheeks growing red in embarrassment.
“We didn’t name you for a road – you did,” Ginny answered, raising her eyebrows to her daughter.
“Why?” Nyah asked, confusion setting in.
Harry smiled, taking the picture from her, as Lily climbed on her sister’s lap. “Well, I think Malfoy took the memories he thought were important, but inside you – somewhere deep – you always knew the road home.”
Author’s Notes ~
Wow… here we are at the end of this long road home. What started last year as a few thoughts on paper quickly turned into the story before you. It has been an amazing journey and as sad as I feel, clicking the ‘completed’ button, I know there are more stories waiting in the wings.
I want to thank all of you who have encouraged me, challenged me, and guided me. I could never have gotten this far without each of you – especially my eHPf friends – bless you all! Also, a huge thank you goes out to Megan for being a fantastic Beta on this chapter and to celticbard for her amazing help throughout every chapter!
I look forward to your thoughts and questions on not only this final chapter, but the story as a whole. If you have other questions or thoughts you'd like to share, please click the “Click here to meet Harry_Potter_Mom and ask about aspects of their writing” on my home page. That will take you to my Author’s Page and you can post your questions and/or comments there as well. I would love to hear from you!
Again, thank you!
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