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Tempting Fate by FadingAntigone
Chapter 24 : Yuletide
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 3


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When Minerva and Evelyn stepped out of the fireplace at Grimmauld Place on December 23rd, Molly Weasley greeted them, and immediately took some of the packages from their arms and dusted off their shoulders. A fire crackled happily in the hearth behind them, and the house looked warmer than it had over the summer.

Molly seemed surprised but pleased by Evelyn, who gave her a brief hug before allowing herself to be shooed out of the kitchen. She could now remember being an unpleasant houseguest over the summer, particularly towards Molly whom she had resented for constantly trying to feed her. Now, she hoped to right any of the misconceptions there had been established by her bad behavior. She knew it was what her parents would have wanted her to do. These were their friends, my aunts’ friends, she had thought when she was getting ready that morning for the journey to London.

Perhaps more importantly, they were members of the Order of the Phoenix.

Her aunt had decided to leave on the 23rd rather than the 24th because there was an Order meeting scheduled for that evening. Evelyn knew that the news of her sister was weighing heavily on her aunt, and that she would take the opportunity of the meeting to share the recent revelation. Paired with Elizabeth’s departure from Hogwarts and her apparent stay with the Malfoy family, Minerva was assuming the worst—despite Demeter’s optimism.

Evelyn could feel the dread seeping off of her aunt. She tried not to think on it. Whatever the Order decided, she had her own plans.


She moved from the kitchen and into the nearby sitting room. The house felt distantly familiar to her, and she was pleased to find Harry sitting there reading The Daily Prophet. She was sure Ron and Hermione must be nearby.

“Hey stranger,” she said softly, leaning against the doorframe.

He peaked around the paper, smiling at her. “Hey, you’re here.”

“Looks like it.”

“Break been treating you well?”

“So far—I wish time would slow down though.”

“Really? I thought you’d be desperate to get away to the States.” He dropped his paper entirely, and sat up in the chair, his body language inviting her into the room. She entered, taking a seat in a chair near his.

“I’m looking forward to it. Nervous though,” she bit her lip briefly, leaning onto the arm of the chair and looking around the room. “I’m just feeling happy here, and I’m glad that I’ll have the holiday here—I finally feel settled. Does that make sense?”

Harry’s jaw was set, and his gaze was intent. It was difficult to read his expression. “It does.”

“I’m worried going there will make things unsettled.” This sentence was quieter than the others.

Harry was about to reply when Ron and Hermione entered, bickering needlessly. Hermione ended her sentence prematurely, however, and instead exclaimed, “Evie! You’re here!”

“Appears to be so!” She said cheerfully, and Harry thought her tone sounded a bit forced. “When did you arrive?”

“Only last night,” Hermione said, taking a seat. Her parents had given her permission to travel with Evelyn, and she proceeded to go through a few items that she had packed that she was skeptical about but had felt they may be necessary. On more than one occasion, Ron rolled his eyes.

*

Later that evening, Harry knocked on the bedroom door of the room Evelyn was staying in. He had been sent by Mrs. Weasley to inform her dinner was ready, and to encourage her to come down. Mrs. Weasley had said this last part gently, as if she assumed Evelyn would need reassurance.

Harry had been first at school and then with the Dursleys when Evelyn and her sister had come to Grimmauld Place, so he hadn’t been there to experience how dismissive and horrible she had been—which Ron had told him his mother had told him and which had been shared only after Hermione had refused to tell Harry her suspicions, and he had began to inquire into the Order’s understanding of Evelyn. Knowing what he knew now, her dismissiveness and petulance made sense. In fact, it seemed comparable to how he had acted after Cedric’s death. He cringed a little, thinking back on the time and how much more difficult it would have been if he had been simultaneously removed from his friends.

It was moments like these that made him feel as though Evelyn’s experiences were akin to his own, and he felt a deep empathy for her, which had grown over the last month. Paired with his respect for her dueling skills and his appreciation for her wit, he couldn’t help but want to know her more. He had been hoping that they might be able to get away from Grimmauld Place and the Order for awhile over the holiday—he had imagined them going off, maybe walking through Diagon Alley together and finding a warm corner in the Leaky Cauldron to talk over tea.

Something gnawed at him when he thought that she would be leaving in a few days and, when the words of those three guys from America, sprawled across the card she had received their last day in the Great Hall, came unbidden into his mind, he couldn’t decide if the feeling that gnawed was disappointment or jealousy.

“Come in,” her voice came through the heavy door. He hadn’t even realized he’d knocked.

“Mrs. Weasley sent me,” he paused, taking in the scene. She was stretched across the bed, the boots she’d been wearing earlier abandoned nearby and her toes, covered in some type of black tights, in the air. She was lying on her stomach reading, and the blue dress she wore had scooted up, the excess fabric wrinkling around her waist. She looked away from her book, smiling at him. He wanted to do more than talk to her in a warm corner over tea. Instead, he choked out, “Dinner.”

She swung around, taking a moment to pull on her boots and grab a patterned sweater that was flung over a nearby chair. “Is it always so cold in here?” She asked casually as she moved to put on the sweater. She kept missing the arm, and Harry leant forward to hold it up for her. Her back turned towards him and, as her curls tickled his nose, he inhaled and said nothing. She smelled like treacle tart.

“Thanks,” she said softly, turning back towards him.

He smiled brusquely, and motioned for her to move out into the hallway ahead of him. As they moved down the hall together, the voices of Ron and Hermione carried up to them. They were bickering again. Evelyn paused at the top of the stairwell, looking over the banister to the couple below.

“I think Ron’s upset about her leaving with you.” Harry said softly, leaning onto the banister alongside Evelyn.

“Really? But, what about Lavender?” She whispered back, crinkling her brow.

Harry rolled his eyes. “That’s a long story.”

“Hermione’s been furious about the whole thing, you know.”

“I know,” he exhaled. He wondered if he would be too obvious if he let his arm rest against hers on the banister.

“A galleon they kiss?” Evelyn said after a few minutes of listening to Hermione berate Ron for being selfish.

“You’re on—I’ve been waiting for them to snog since our second year. That was when the bickering truly began.” Harry chuckled softly, eyeing his friends below. She met his chuckle with a light giggle, and Harry smiled thinking again about how much he would have liked to get away with her, if only for a day. He tried to push the thought away, because he knew if he let it linger there it would quickly evolve from images of them talking to images of him kissing her to images of her kissing him back. He felt immediately that he wasn’t being realistic; it didn’t seem likely that she was interested in him beyond friendship and dueling, and it didn’t seem smart to enter into anything right then. His meetings with Dumbledore had shown him that things were only going to get more complicated moving forward. He knew—he knew they both had issues they were working through, and he knew that having to deal with another person, having to worry about another person would only complicate their lives—and yet the images kept coming back.

He allowed himself to be distracted by Hermione and Ron, the latter ending the argument by throwing up his hands and walking into the kitchen, saying, “You’re impossible! If you’re going to continue on like this, can you at least do it while I eat?”

Harry knocked his elbow against Evelyn’s, turning towards her. “Looks like you’re a galleon poorer this time around, Evie.” He pushed himself back from the banister, moving towards the stairs to begin the descent down.

“Pity,” she huffed behind him, “I think they’d both be better off if they just went for it.”

“Maybe,” Harry paused, thinking it over, “It’s hard to tell. So much is undecided.”

“But if he would rather be with her than anyone else?” She crinkled her nose, “Why wait? Especially when so much is undecided—we have no idea what might happen these days.”

“Is it that simple?” Harry could feel himself getting a little defensive.

“Isn’t it? I hate to be this way, but we could all be dead tomorrow. Hermione’s thinking about it too much, I think.”

“Well there’s a lot to think about.”

“And a lot to do—there always is.” She smiled, reaching out to touch his shoulder as she steadied herself coming around the bend and towards the kitchen. “That’s not an excuse to hold back.”

“They’re not holding back!” He was more defensive than he meant to be, and he knew why. It felt like she was talking directly to him. Perhaps, if she’d shown the slightest interest in him, he would have stopped her there and kissed her in the hall. He wouldn’t have waited another moment. But something seized up inside of him, unsure and hesitant.

Evelyn looked slightly surprised, but conceded as they came through the door with a light, “If you say so,” before moving from his side towards the open seat next to Hermione.

Harry spent most of dinner scowling.

*

Christmas at Grimmauld Place was a quiet affair, though many Order members, including Remus, Tonks, Alastor Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Professor Dumbledore, and Evelyn’s aunts, joined them. Mrs. Weasley made a special dinner, and she seemed pleased to have almost all of her children under one roof—plus so many other people to fuss over. Evelyn loved watching her fuss over Harry, who was bashful about the attention.

After they finished eating, there was a small exchange of gifts in the living room and the Order members happily fell into conversation, exchanging old stories.

Remus began with stories of Evelyn’s and Harry’s parents, who Evelyn had known to be friends only from her recent conversation with her aunt, but who Harry was surprised to learn knew one another. Remus noted that they had all been friends—himself, Sirius, James, Peter, and Ian, and the girls, Lily, Athena, Paris Savior (who Remus explained was, indeed, Serenity’s mother), and Marlene McKinnon.

Evelyn had heard some of these stories before, as Remus had come to America to visit a few years ago and had ended up staying for almost a year, working at the embassy with her mother until he was let go. It was then that he decided to return to England and Evelyn had heard he taught at Hogwarts for the following year. Remus was Evelyn’s godfather.

She relished the old stories, which seemed to have more details now that her mother wasn’t there to chide him. Interspersed were her Aunt Minnie’s perception of the same events or moments from her own studies at Hogwarts as well as stories from Demeter and Tonks, whose shenanigans seemed to rival the Marauders, as Remus fondly referred to his friends.

As the stories grew more outlandish, Evelyn felt herself drawn towards Harry, who had settled into the sofa next to her. Her eyes often caught his when their parents were mentioned, as if there was a secret part that only they could know. Perhaps, if their parents had lived, it would have been true. She liked having that connection with someone; without Elizabeth, she wasn’t sure whom she could turn to with memories of her parents. She knew her aunts would understand and that Hermione or Serenity would be sympathetic, but this was a different emotion hanging between her and Harry—something beyond understanding, more akin to vested interest or even nostalgia.

During one particularly engaging story, Evelyn realized her hand had come to rest on Harry’s. She tried to catch his eye, but he was looking at Remus. He hadn’t pulled away, and he didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he seemed to have raised his fingers up in between hers, interlocking them.

It was curious, to realize this had happened but to not remember how or when it had happened—as if it had just occurred like a habitual motion. Perhaps what was more curious was how natural it felt to sit there, surrounded by friends and family, and hold Harry’s hand. She felt somewhat self-conscious about it, but she tried to ignore it, which became harder once she realized that Hermione had noticed as well.

The party broke apart slowly, with Moody and Dumbledore leaving early, and Kingsley dragging Tonks away, citing an early workday the following day. Aunt Minnie had already gone to bed by the time Tonks reluctantly agreed to leave. Remus, who was also staying at the house, eventually moved into the kitchen with Demeter to open the bottle of Firewhiskey she had brought with her and to keep reminiscing. Fred, George, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione remained for a while with Harry and Evelyn, telling their own stories and reflecting on the ones that had been shared. Eventually though, the twins departed for their apartment, above the shop, and Ginny asked Hermione to help her with taking the gifts upstairs before they went to bed. Ron went in search of a snack, scowling when Hermione insisted he should feel inclined to help his sister. (They were still sore with one another.)

These slow departures eventually left Evelyn and Harry alone. The fire was warm, and they could each feel the butterbeer they’d consumed throughout the evening warming their cheeks. Evelyn, who had risen to hug the twins goodbye earlier but who had settled back into her seat in the couch realized that she was comfortably squished next to Harry, though the couch no longer demanded that close proximity. He wasn’t holding her hand anymore, and she wondered if he had noticed it had been happened in the first place.

“Did you know about our parents? Being friends?” Harry asked, leaning towards her. The fire was still roaring heartily, and the light danced across his glasses.

“Aunt Minnie told me just a week or so ago, actually. She was talking about something else, and mentioned your parents. My mother hadn’t really ever talked about them.”

“They say that thing about the world being small, and I guess it’s so,” he mused.

She chuckled, nodding in agreement. “I guess so—I wonder if we met as babies, our mothers getting together to see one another and bringing us along?”

The idea seemed to shock him a bit, and wonder settled on his face.

“Did I look familiar when you first saw me?” She asked coyly, turning her head purposefully to the left and then the right. “They say babies have excellent memories.”

They chuckled again, Harry saying softly, “If that’s true, then we must have never met as babies. I would have remembered that face.”

She paused in her movements, her eyes trained on him. They weren’t too far apart on the couch, occupying each other’s intimate space as it were. She could feel his breath, hot on her cheek, and she tried to ignore the sudden sensation that felt like her stomach was upside down. He held her gaze for what seemed like an eternity, his body leaning towards hers.

For a moment, she was sure he was going to kiss her and she realized quite abruptly that she felt no desire to stop him. The feeling in her stomach couldn’t be ignored.

“Mate, are you two—“ Ron was coming back through the doorway, loud and sudden.

Harry and Evelyn snapped back to reality, moving apart. The feeling in her stomach seemed to expand, and she could feel her cheeks heat up more than they already had. She was blushing. Oh Merlin, she thought. She looked at Ron, trying to find the words to make this whole thing seem nonchalant and she noticed that his ears were already bright red.

“Oh! Sorry about—” He cut himself off, walking backwards through the door. They heard his hurried feet up the staircase.

She looked back at Harry, whose eyes were dancing and they laughed a bit, breaking the awkward tension that had worked its way between them. She smiled, mentally noting how lovely his green eyes were in the warm firelight. She didn’t want to, but she stood, feeling the cold floorboards soak through her socks and head straight for her brain, which was oddly sobering.

“Another time, I suppose,” was all she could manage before she left the room, her own feet making the same hurried noises up the staircase a moment later.


When Harry wandered up after her a few minutes later, he found Ron in his bedroom looking sheepish and mildly surprised.

“You alright?” He asked.

Harry shrugged his shoulders, avoiding Ron’s gaze.

“I didn’t know you fancied her.”

He ran a hand through his hair, trying to decide how to respond. He knew it was foolish to allow himself to fancy anyone at the moment. He was preparing for battle. Getting involved wasn’t an option, was it?

*

Down the hall, Evelyn couldn’t sleep. She wondered briefly if Hermione was still awake, and if she might be able to help her think through this. Harry had almost kissed her. She was fairly certain she hadn’t imagined it, that if Ron hadn’t arrived it would have happened, and that, perhaps more importantly, she would have enjoyed it. (Unless he was a terrible kisser, which she felt certain couldn’t be true. His lips were too nice to be bad, she mused.)

She felt too warm in her bed to venture out, just to risk having to wake Hermione. They were leaving early the following morning; it could wait, she assumed.

She tried briefly to conjure up Hermione in her head, and tried to think of what her friend would say to her. If she expressed her fears that her relationship with Harry may be like her relationship with Theo, Hermione would have dismissed her. She could imagine her saying I haven’t met Theo of course but from what you’ve told me, I can tell they’re quite different. I don’t think you would have to worry about that.

She thought that was a good impression of Hermione.

Nevertheless, she continued in her thinking, Theo had left messy footprints behind that she couldn’t ignore, and, since leaving Maryland, things had only gotten messier. Was it even the right time for something like this?

I’m not sure. Logically, no, it’s a terrible time. But is that a good enough reason? Hermione-in-her-head responded.

Evelyn flipped onto her stomach, trying to get comfortable and shove these thoughts from her mind. She thought about their conversation about Hermione and Ron, and how easy it had been to be open-minded about another couple coming together at this time. She thought about how guarded and defensive he’d been, which didn’t surprise her as much now as it had then. These thoughts churned, keeping her up well into the night, and each time coming back to the same conclusion.

She couldn’t help herself. She wished she had kissed him.

 




 

Author's Note: I'm currently writing chapters thirty-four and thirty-five of this story, and it's refreshing to be posting these initial chapters to see where Evelyn was and to know where she is going. I'm trying to balance the drama and action with these more lighthearted chapters, especially as the feelings between Evelyn and Harry grow, and I would love to know what you think of the balance! You'll have to let me know what you think of the balance.

The next chapter is dedicated entirely to Elizabeth, who is having quite the time at Malfoy Manor. Can't wait to share it with you all! In the meantime, happy holidays.

Always, Antigone


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