Neville couldn't make the lift work. He'd pressed the relevant button going up, but it wouldn't move. The button to take him back to the lobby worked, however, so he returned to it and then made for the stairs. The door into the well stuck fast. He tried a spell; it didn't work. Annoyed, he made his way to the door of every stairwell he could find and found that they wouldn't budge, either, so he returned to the lift—which had just come down several flights to open at the lobby again—and proceeded to jab all the buttons until the entire panel glowed at him.
"Damn it! Why won't you work for me?"
"Harry Potter is saying that the Hermione is thinking that you is not needing to see Bellatrix Lestrange, Neville Longbottom," Dobby, materialising before him, said.
Neville groaned. Merlin save me from interfering house elves!
"Dobby is sorry, but—"
"I'm not here for her, Dobby. I'm here for my parents."
"Your parents is being in the same ward as Bellatrix Lestrange?"
"Would Neville Longbottom give Dobby his wand to hold?"
"This is nothing to do with you—or Harry! And hell, no, you can't have my wand!"
"Then Dobby is sorry, but he cannot be helping you."
"—couldn't help it, Bea, she's creepy as hell. Have you seen her eyes? They . . . they kind of go all red and glassy."
"Idiot. That's the ward-light reflecting off them. She's a right nutter, to be sure, but harmless under the circumstances."
"Right. If that's what you think, than you can check on her next. I'm not going back in there."
Kingsley and Spurlock, each still sitting stiffly in chairs outside of Lestrange's room, shared a mutual grimace in response to the Healers' chatter.
"Idiots," Spurlock murmured, removing his robes and throwing them over his chair back before rolling up his sleeves
"It's not every day the angel of death-eating doom arrives. At least their gossip's scared off the gawkers."
"Why hasn't Albus done something?"
"He's no doubt busy doing several things. You don't have to wait, you know."
"And you do? Surely you could call for relief. You head your own unit."
"And if I don't want to be reassigned to Creatures, I'll have to stay here. I'm not giving you the opportunity to 'persuade' a junior Auror into letting you visit Lestrange."
Spurlock drew himself up. "I am the Master of the—"
"You're a right pain in my arse, is what you are, old man. Go back to the Guild. That locket stays where it is."
"I'm sure that we all thank you for your diligent service to the community, Auror Shacklebolt, but who else knows how to destroy it?"
"Not you, and not that I believe you'd actually do it, either."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Your lot would study it, right?"
Spellen flushed. "I don't see the harm in—"
"That's exactly my point," Kingsley interrupted, turning at the sound of the lift doors opening. "Fuck. Greene, relieve Bailey and have him take my place," he said, rising, "and you just stay where you are, Spurlock."
He'd made a point of not allowing any of them be alone with Lestrange for long, open door or no, and he'd given his people in the lobby specific instructions to alert him if the man emerging from the lift turned up.
But I expect I'd be determined, as well, in his place. "Mr Longbottom. A word?"
"Look, I'm not interested in seeing her. I'm just here to—"
"See your parents, and that's fine—but I'd like to request that you surrender your wand."
"I can't do that."
"I've already surrendered my damned wand."
"Neville Longbottom speaks truthfully. Dobby is having his wand."
Well done you, Kingsley thought of Potter, pleased to find that the Auror was continuing to do his duty. "In that case, forgive me for interrupting your visit."
Neville said nothing as he walked around the Healers' station—the side farthest away from the room currently under guard, Kingsley was relieved to note; he didn't want Lestrange to take on again at the sight of him—and then he heard Spriggs' voice. The Chief Healer emerged from the stairwell with another man, whom Kingsley didn't recognise, and completed his apparent lecturing of the man before sending him about his duties.
"Evening, Auror Shacklebolt."
"Healer Spriggs. Problem?"
"With the heat, yes, but we'll have that fixed shortly, won't we?" Spriggs called, raising his voice to throw it at the unknown employee, who gave Spriggs two fingers the moment the Healer's back was turned.
Kingsley didn't smile. He understood the lad's sentiment, even if it was was blasted hot.
"Well, I've made my report," Spriggs continued, removing a flask from his robes and offering it to Kingsley—who refused it—before taking a long swig. "Insane. Unfit to stand trial. Not that it will matter, of course."
"You don't feel sorry for that bi—the 'patient', do you?"
"Not at all," Spriggs replied, pocketing his flask. "I just meant that you should be able to remove her to Azkaban shortly. I'll have one last check on her, and then I'm for the Leaky. It's been a long fucking day."
Kingsley smiled. It was late, but if he could get Lestrange into a prison cell by midnight, he'd be able to make it to the Three Broomsticks in time to help Rosie close up. He didn't doubt that some of her patrons wouldn't be disposed to quit celebrating the news of Lestrange's capture, and Rosie would be sure to appreciate his assistance in sending them on their way.
And then give me a proper thanking for my service.
He definitely had it in him to stay up for that.
The last thing he remembered was making to throw Malfoy down the stairs near the hospital wing at Hogwarts. They'd been fighting—casting some pretty serious hexes—and then everything had come over all . . . jellied. Yeah, it had been like moving through jelly. Harry had felt his limbs grow heavier and then . . . .
"Where the hell am I?" Harry asked, sitting up in the darkness.
"You is being at Hogwarts, in the Elf Room."
As Harry's eyes adjusted to the moonlight filtering into the room from little screened holes ringing the edge of the ceiling—which was high above his head—he could just make out tens of pairs of luminous eyes that seemed to float about the massive, round room at different heights.
"There's an Elf Room?"
Harry started to realise that he hadn't asked the question alone. "Malfoy?"
"This is your fault, you berk."
"Says the bastard who helped hide my—"
"The fighting wizards is being quiet now!" a house elf admonished.
"I'd listen to her, Potter."
"Dobby. Dobby, are you here?" Harry called, hoping that his own house elf might come free him.
"That is not being quiet."
Oh, crap. That's right. He's gone after Nev for me.
"The Poppy is saying that fighting in the school is not allowed. The Poppy is angry with the fighting wizards. You is to be staying here until you apologise and promise not to be hexing each other," the house elf said, to the squeaking delight of what sounded like children. She continued speaking, but not to Harry and Draco. "A good house elf is respectful of wizards."
Malfoy groaned. "Oh, that's just fabulous. We've been banished to a nursery."
"What are you talking about?"
"This is obviously where the house elves keep their children. Now that's a sobering thought."
"That house elves have babies?" Harry asked, carefully working himself out of the tiny bunk into which he'd been crammed.
"No, you git—that our servants can dampen our magic and treat us like infants even when they're children."
Harry wasn't sure he believed it was a nursery that they were in, given the size of the beds, which would be huge for house elves. But there was no time to think about that. "Do you still have your wand?"
"I can't do anything with it."
"Belt up! You can't cast any spells, either, I'd imagine."
Harry tried, with his wand and without it, but Malfoy was right; frustrated, he returned to the argument they'd been having before ending up in the Elf Room. "Why the fuck didn't you tell me about Aries? I saved your arse repeatedly after the sodding war. I listened to you whinge endlessly about Pansy hating you. I—"
Malfoy's sigh was dramatic, prolonged, and exasperated. Harry stopped talking as several pairs of eyes opened and glowed at him.
"Is you thinking of being bad again?" came a high-pitched voice.
At the same time that Malfoy answered, "Yes," Harry replied, "No."
"That is being called lying," the speaker announced.
Malfoy snorted. "That's true. Listen to your sister elf."
"Don't encourage them!"
"A good house elf never lies," continued the same house elf, and what sounded like a rule to Harry was subsequently repeated by all the others.
"I suppose we don't make the rules here, or we could order the kids to let us go."
"Got it in one, Potter. Look, I tried to tell you before that there was no way I could have told you about Aries, not given . . . his special—do you know about your son? What he can do, I mean?"
"You mean his," Harry started to say, but he couldn't finish the thought. "I didn't while leading your protection detail, but I do now, and—"
"And what do Aurors do with children like yours?"
"I would never harm a kid."
"And I was supposed to know that how? You're an Auror. I had no way of knowing that you wouldn't kill him outright. We had to go carefully, or Aunt Bellatrix might have killed him. You won't believe me, but Aries is my cousin. He's family. Nothing is more important to me than family, Potter. I was trying to protect him."
"Coming from you, I don't find that particularly reassuring."
"I suppose you wouldn't. It doesn't change anything. I love Aries, and when I find Morgan, I'm going to kill him."
"Easy what you say, Malfoy."
"What, you're not thinking about doing the same?"
"I try not to think about killing anyone," Harry said, feeling suddenly drained. It was fucking weird, talking to Malfoy as he was, listening to Draco fucking Malfoy tell him that he loved his son. When all Aries really is to me at the moment is an innocent in need of protection.
It wasn't how he'd thought he'd ever feel about any child of his.
After a moment, Malfoy said, "There's a window seat over here, stone, but it's better than these cots."
"Flirting your way towards an apology from me isn't going to work."
"Do stop being an arse. I only want to stop shouting across the blasted room."
Harry sighed. "Fine. I don't suppose that Severus would mind under the circumstances."
"You're not married yet."
"Actually . . . ."
Malfoy budged over as Harry sat down next to him. "No Courtship Ritual ever moves that quickly. What do you mean?"
"Er, Severus and I sort of skipped—"
Harry wasn't sure that he should have said anything, but it was too late to lie about it. "Yeah, we did. Got a problem with that?"
"I thought so. More mixing blood that shouldn't go together, yeah?"
"Oh, for fuck's sake. I only said that to wind you up. Well, mostly—but now that you've done it, Severus won't be able to deal appropriately with—"
"You haven't had the news, then," Harry interrupted, explaining about the arrests to Malfoy.
"The Peers won't like it, and Parkinson's arrest won't help Pansy's gran if he gets his hands on a wand."
"Oh, fuck! Evessa. We have to get out of here."
"You started this! And now Pans is alone in the hospital wing."
"Madam Pomfrey's with her. She'll be fine."
"I should be with her, damn it!"
"Did you know what she'd been doing?" Harry asked, suddenly suspicious again.
"All I knew was that Aunt Bellatrix had been—you know, that's really not your concern."
"How can you say that? Do you know—"
"Do you know what's she's been through? Do you know how long I've waited for an opportunity to save her from my utterly insane monster of an aunt? It's not always about you, you prat!"
Malfoy sounded near tears. Over Pansy. He really loves her, Harry thought, frowning. He didn't know why, but something moved him to say, "I think I know something about what's happened to her, yeah."
In the resultant silence, a clock—a large one, by the sound of it, which told Harry that they were in one of the towers—began to strike midnight.
Where is he? Evessa wondered, sitting in a large, lumpy, uncomfortable chair under a smelly quilt and clasping tightly the neck of her Bottomless Bag.
The gnomes hadn't liked the idea of being hidden in any bag, but after what they'd heard of Snape Manor, they'd reluctantly agreed to Evessa's plan. She was glad of it because she wasn't certain that she could perform a shrinking spell to hold so many gnomes without harming them, and the advantage of her bag, which had been designed by rather wickedly clever thieves, was that Lucius wouldn't be able to detect what it contained. A proper, delayed Sticking Charm, on the other hand, Evessa knew how to employ, and one was on the slightly open door even now. Once Lucius was in the hut and had closed the door, all she'd need do was open her bag. The gnomes would manage the rest.
And then it will fall to me to deal with Lupin.
"I is sorry, little master, but your father is being busy. He is coming soon, and you is to be sleeping, now."
"He's always too busy for me," master Aries said, sinking back down into his pillows.
"You isn't ever playing with your father?"
"He isn't—he doesn't like playing with me. He always wants me to be quiet. . . . I don't like him very much, Tippy, is that bad?"
Tippy's ears quivered. "Tippy is thinking it is being all right for master Aries to be sad about the no playing."
"Why did Morgan take me away? Did Greer get in trouble when I left? Does Mum know where I am? And Cousin Draco? And Aunt Cissa?"
"That is being a lot of questions," Tippy said, distressed not to know how to answer any of them. "The Greer is being safe, and . . . and Tippy is teaching you a game now."
"What are you playing at, Albus? Where are you?"
Evessa had always been good at mimicry, something her nanny had taught her, and she gave thanks for Jocelyn as she said, "Close the door and come in, Remus. We've much to discuss."
"That's too easy!" Aries exclaimed, delighted by the snap of the cards.
"You is being very good at this game," Tippy said approvingly.
"—had me completely fooled," Harry said.
Draco groaned. "That fills me with confidence in you as an Auror."
"You're the one who was in all the papers on a different bloke's arm every week. How'd you fool them?"
"There are still a lot of people who enjoy the attention being with a Malfoy brings. It wasn't hard."
"You didn't, er, that is—"
"Don't be so squeamish, Potter. No, I didn't shag any of them. Let's just say that there are a lot of gay wizards wondering for just whom I'm pining to the extent that I can't face a second or third date with someone who isn't that man."
"How are you going to explain that to Pansy?"
"I don't think she'll care."
"Look, I'm sorry about . . . about what happened to her."
Draco's first instinct was to doubt Potter's sincerity, but knowing as he did how Aries had been conceived, he couldn't. "I don't think she'll ever forgive me for just leaving her like I did." It felt odd to admit such a thing to Potter, but Draco was tired. And I expect his feeling sorry for me might help move things along.
He needed to return to Pansy, and that meant that he and Potter had to apologise to each other. Under the circumstances, a little manipulation was acceptable.
"You didn't leave her. She made her own choice. I remember that from the papers. It was Pansy's family that wouldn't allow her to marry you after you surrendered your wand. I doubt that . . . oh, fuck."
"That anything could have persuaded her not to marry me had she loved me?"
"I shouldn't have said that."
"You didn't, did you? But you're not wrong. Aunt Bellatrix hadn't got her hooks into Pans that deeply at that point. She could have insisted. Of course, it wouldn't have been safe for her to. I'm . . . I'm not angry with her for protecting herself as best she could. I didn't insist, either."
"Aren't there rules about that sort of thing?"
"Sometimes following the rules can get one killed."
"So because of Aries . . . ."
"Because of a lot of people—Aries, Pansy, and Mother included. And not that you'll care, but it's not like Pans could have refused her father's wishes that she become a Death Eater. Hell, my father almost killed me when I tried to put it off. Imagine my shock when Mother told me he'd changed his mind about placing me under Dumbledore's protection."
"I used to envy you."
"Your family seemed . . . so close."
"Oh, but we are, Potter."
"Yeah, just not, I mean—"
"Enough. It's almost unbearable, speaking with you in this civil manner. I imagine that you feel the same."
"Actually, I'm glad we have."
"Because now I know that Aries has spent time with at least one person who's not a completely horrible person."
"You know that Mother's—"
"I know nothing about your mother, Draco."
Draco sat straight up at Potter's use of his given name. It was more progress than he'd hoped for in so short a time and made him further hope that he might just get to see Aries again—but he found himself made uneasy by just how easy it had been to speak to Potter about so much that was private. They didn't even like each other.
I don't need to like you. I don't want to be your friend, not anymore, he thought, his conscience pricking at him.
Being honest with himself, he knew that he'd always wanted to be Potter's friend, and Potter's rejection—his very public rejection—of his offer of friendship had stung. What was so much worse, of course, was that over the years he'd come to feel unworthy of Potter's friendship. It was something for which he'd never been able to forgive himself.
A Malfoy relies only upon himself.
"Look," Harry said, "I don't know what to say about . . . your situation, our situation. I know you've looked after my, after Aries. I appreciate that. And I can appreciate how difficult things have been for you, so I'm sorry for what I said. I don't really believe that you stole Aries from me."
For half a second, Draco found himself annoyed at Potter for behaving so decently, so reasonably, especially considering what his aunt had done to him, and it was hard to know how to react.
"Tell me about my son? I don't . . . I'm afraid that he won't . . . like me."
More forcefully than he'd intended, Draco replied, "Merlin, Harry! I can't imagine anyone not liking you."
Harry laughed because it was better than worrying about meeting Aries, and he wasn't about to break down in front of Malfoy, no matter how much of a berk it turned out he wasn't. "Sure you're not a poof?"
"You absolute arse!"
"Is we going to stop this fighting?" the young female house elf asked her elder sister, who'd earlier admonished the wizards from fighting.
They were levitating above the fighting wizards and monitoring their progress, but Dilly had never been responsible for such a pair before. Even obeying the Poppy, she still felt uncomfortable about having locked the wizards away and needed guidance from her elderling.
"No, they is being like nest mates together now. It is being a good thing."
"It is being strange."
"A good house elf obeys orders without question."
"Dilly is always being a good house elf!"
"Dilly," Lissy replied, cuffing her youngling, "is being a noisy house elf."
"If you'd stop speaking and permit me to explain," Albus said, leading Narcissa to a chair, "I would tell you."
"He doesn't want to see me now, is that it?"
"He had an altercation with Harry in the hospital wing—that led outside of it—and Poppy felt it best to secure the boys until they'd got things out of their systems. She set the house elves on them."
Narcissa covered her mouth, but Albus could see that she was laughing.
His screams abruptly went silent as the unwelcome essence was pulled from his body, but Evessa was there to catch Remus as he fell; she had to revive him and explain matters before Narcissa missed him, and she had no idea in what state he'd be when he returned to himself.
"Thank you, gentlemen," she said to the gnomes. "You needn't return to the Bottomless Bag just yet, but you must remain in the hut."
"It will . . . it will be as agreed, witch friend of our wizard friend!"
Gnoash looked at his clansmen in alarm and gestured for them to huddle together as he answered the witch. The deal had been struck; Gnourl had said that it was so, and he didn't want to lose his clan's new home-hole before ever any of them had seen it because of a little sharp air.
Our women would not understand.
Oh, yes, it was his clanswomen whom Gnoash feared more than Gnourl; they were very unhappy about the loss of Gnoander to the murderous goat and eager to move on. Around him, his clansmen appeared equally concerned as they burped up traces of wizard air and watched them swirl like little tendrils of smoke to the ceiling. Belching had never before been part of any Taking in which Gnoash had participated.
But this air felt sharp, stronger than usual. "Who took the air?"
"That air was sharp."
"But you took it?"
"I took it," each of his clansmen said, in turn.
Gnoash turned his attention to the ceiling; the "smoke" had dissipated.
"I don't see any wizard air, and I took the air. You took the air, and the air is gone. Our deal is good. Do you agree?"
"The deal was to take wizard air. We took it," Gnoric said. "We took it, even though it was sharp."
"My belly is sour with it," Gnoash said.
"As is mine," Gnoric agreed. "But our deal is good."
Gnoash looked to each of his clansmen, who shook their heads in agreement and said, as one, "Our deal is good."
Having never taken the air of a wizard whose air was lodged in the body of another wizard, but having yet felt that air being taken into himself, Gnoash decided that it was fine to have belched up just a little sharp air since he still felt full. That air cut itself, but we did take it. It is blunt air that remains now if any does. Yes, our deal is good, and Gnourl will be pleased.
As would be their clanswomen.
Young female house elves were, Harry discovered, highly impressionable, and they were now punching the shoulders of their sisters and squealing happily.
He and Draco shared an astonished glance as they stopped their own punching match.
"Where are the male house elves?"
"That is not being a question for you to be asking," an older female house elf, whose voice Harry recognised as being the one in charge of them, said. "You is both to be saying 'I'm sorry', and then Lissy is taking you back to the Poppy. You is a bad influence on the babies."
"Don't!" Harry insisted, as Lissy made to bang her head on the floor. "You're right. We is, I mean, we are being a bad influence. I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry, as well," said Draco.
And that appeared to be good enough for Lissy, who sent them back to the hospital wing in a manner that left Harry and Draco both dizzy when they arrived there.
"Damn. Remind me never to upset a house elf again," Draco said, pushing himself away from Harry and falling silent as his eyes flew in the direction of the shouting.
"No! I won't! I won't see anyone! Go away!"
"But Mary, I saved you. I just want—"
"Take her away! Get out! All of you, OUT!"
"Come on, dear," Poppy said, alarmed but reassured by her patient's sudden strength.
She'd been opposed to magical transfusion, but it seemed that Albus had been right.
"Well," she said, as she led Pansy back to her cot, "are you two prepared to behave yourselves now?"
"Draco, I need—Mary won't see me," Pansy said, falling into his arms.
Poppy sighed. "A side-effect of magical transfusion is that the patient feels . . . not herself. Someone else's magic inside one is something of a jarring experience."
"I didn't even know that was possible," Harry said, considering that his experience with Severus' magic had been altogether different.
"That's because you're a—"
"Pans, don't . . . exercise yourself," Draco said, looking over her head at Harry apologetically.
Poppy took all of this in and sighed more strongly to see how readily Pansy obeyed Draco. Given what had happened to the girl, she didn't like that. Of course, she didn't like Pansy, who was, she'd always thought, a perfectly dreadful girl.
But that doesn't mean I shouldn't see to it she gets to a Mind Healer as soon as may be. "I'll be with you directly, Mr Malfoy," she said, turning to Harry. "Mr Potter, follow me."
Harry swallowed, his gaze straying to the curtained-off area in which Mary was lying, sobbing bitterly, and he felt rather useless.
"Sorry," he said, following Madam Pomfrey. "Will she be okay?"
"Oh, she'll get used to it, and I feel much better about her prognosis now, in spite of her physical condition. Albus tells me that you knew the lady before you knew that she wasn't the lady?"
"Er, yeah, but you're right."
"About what? I haven't said anything."
"You're going to tell me that I'm a stranger to Mrs Millblossom and not to bother her."
"Well, yes, that is exactly what I was going to say. I'm glad that you understand. That poor woman has had an awful time of it, and it's best that we keep her calm. She needs to rest."
"I understand, and I'm sorry, for before."
"I don't understand half of what I've seen and heard today, Harry, but then, I don't need to. You take yourself home and rest, nurse's orders."
Remus stared at the woman in horror, the Soul-Holder he'd Summoned from his rooms now in his hands. "No, no, he couldn't have. No."
"You ended up in your own box, I'm afraid, and that left Narcissa to Lucius' devices—a fact which she Must. Never. Know. Do you understand?"
"But is she all right?"
"Of course she is, man. It's only the ni—the tenth, now. He'd have kept her well enough for a few days more."
"Oh, gods. Until the full moon."
Evessa drew back as Lupin began to laugh. Damnation! He's taken leave of his senses! "Are you quite well, Mr Lupin?"
She surreptitiously reached for her wand as he continued his outburst.
"Not . . . not a . . . werewolf, any . . . any longer."
"What?" Evessa demanded, sure now that Lupin had been damaged.
"Please, that's not . . . necessary," he said, straightening and composing himself. "Albus will vouch for me. I've been cured for weeks—properly applied Homorphus Charm."
"I see. That is news. Why hasn't it been in the papers?"
"I'm only the first experiment, er, test subject, ma'am."
"Well, hadn't you best tell Narcissa?"
Lupin's expression suddenly turned grim, and Evessa thought she understood why.
"She doesn't know, and she's fine. More than that, she's happy."
"It's all a blank. I don't know what he . . . said to her while I was . . . or what she said to me."
"Yes, that is potentially problematic," Evessa agreed tactfully, thinking that it was more likely that Lupin was disturbed by Narcissa and Lucius' other possible intercourse. "You'll simply have to be clever about things, won't you? You might apply to Dumbledore. He's had much to discuss with Narcissa of late."
"I couldn't possibly . . . ."
"In that case, Mr Lupin, might I suggest a stupid accident?"
"What are you doing?" Evessa demanded, looking over Lupin's shoulder.
As she expected, he turned to see at what she was looking, which gave her the perfect opportunity to strike him from behind with one of the rocks that were sitting on the nearby table on, of all incredible things, a meat platter, but then, Evessa didn't care how half-giants decorated, did she? She had work to do.
Getting Lupin to the library was made much easier for the assistance of the gnomes.
"That's disgusting," Pansy said, as she and Draco overheard his mother and Remus Lupin's conversation some few cots away.
"Shh, I'm trying to listen."
"You should be over there telling her how shamefully she's behaving!"
Pansy snatched away her hand from Draco and said, her voice dripping with disdain, "Do go away. I'm suddenly rather tired," before turning her back on him.
His stomach clenching, Draco did as he was told, not mentioning to Pansy that he'd known about his mother's relationship with Lupin for months. Luis Faberge had mentioned it in a letter, a letter suggesting that he and Draco might become "better acquainted." It had been difficult to find reasons to keep away from the blackmailing bastard for as long as he had. And while he understood why Pansy had reacted to the news the way she had, Draco couldn't share her disgust. Even though he'd thought his mother had been taking a frightful risk in encouraging Lupin's attentions, he'd also been pleased to see her happy for once—that was all he'd wanted for himself, after all.
And how stupid of me to assume that it would be so easy.
Oh, he'd known that it would take Pansy some time to recover. He'd known that regaining her affection and trust wouldn't be accomplished without difficulty. Part of him, however, had truly believed that Pansy had never stopped loving him, and he'd hoped that this would help smooth things over between them.
But if she truly can't stand the thought of Lupin in Mother's life, she'll never accept Aries—or Harry.
No matter his nascent rapprochement with Harry, he wasn't so foolish as to believe he'd ever see his nephew outside of his father's presence again. Returning to his room, he told himself that it was just the shock of being free that had caused Pansy's reaction. He was too tired to see sense.
"No, I don't see that. How could he have lost his memory? Evessa says that he didn't fall far," Narcissa said to Madam Pomfrey, who was looking rather run-down and out of sorts to Remus.
"It happens sometimes. I'm sure in a few days everything will come back to him."
"Thank you, Poppy," Remus said, before Narcissa could say anything. "I'll be fine—oh, but would it help, you think, if I were to have my memory jogged?"
"How do you mean?"
"Well," Remus said, speaking to Poppy but looking at Narcissa, "what if someone in a position to know were to tell me exactly what I've been doing for the past few days?"
"Merlin save me from being a part of your flirtation," Poppy replied, taking herself off.
"She's fond of you, I think."
"I was in here enough as a boy."
"I suppose you must have been."
"Let's try my idea, shall we?"
"Not in the hospital wing. You're insatiable of late, aren't you?"
Remus refused to allow his smile to falter until he'd pulled Narcissa down to lie next to him. "I can't . . . remember if I told you. I've been meaning to, you know, but—"
"Told me what?"
"About the Homorphus Charm," Remus said, hoping "his" plan would work and resolving to avoid Severus' sister as much as possible in future. "I'll tell you all about it as soon as you tell me everything we've discussed these past few days. I hate the thought of having forgotten anything you've told me."
Neville watched his parents sleeping in their separate beds for as long as he could stand it. Asleep or awake, they never remembered him.
No, that's not true, he chided himself, as he saw the Drooble's Best Blowing Gum wrappers on his mother's night table.
Summoning one, he rubbed it between two fingers and sighed. Things had been going so well between himself and Laura that he'd begun to think it might be time to propose. True, they'd only known each other for about a year, but . . . .
Neville pitched forward a bit in his chair, allowing his head to hang down between his knees; the sweat beading on his forehead dripped down it to his nose and then began falling to the floor.
But I've made a right mess of things, haven't I? "I don't think she'll forgive me," he murmured.
"Sorry, sorry, sorry, say you're sorry."
"Mum?" asked Neville, sitting up quickly to find his mother pressed against her headboard and staring wildly. "Oh, Mum, I didn't mean to wake you, I am sorry."
His mother shook her head violently from side to side.
"Sorry, sorry, sorry, say you're SORRY!"
Even though it had become uncomfortably hot, a chill ran down Neville's spine as he heard someone say behind him, "Yes, so you should, you sorry blood traitor."
Before he could react, darkness rose—as did a voice frantically calling for "the Creatures Unit."