Hours later, a persistent nudging to
her arm stirred Abby from a very deep sleep. She fought against it, slapping at
the offending pokes with her hand; she was so warm and cozy, she had no desire
to move. She did move, however, when she finally opened her eyes and saw exactly
why she had been so comfortable. She looked down in sudden worry and then
breathed a quick sigh of relief. No, thank Merlin, she had not drooled on Sirius
Black's robes. She looked up quickly and saw him regarding her with drowsy
"Shall we go to bed?" he asked.
Though groggy and
disoriented, Abby managed to raise an eyebrow.
"I mean, would you
like to go upstairs, to your own bed?" he stammered. "You – you'll have to be up
early for work."
"It's Sunday," she replied, yawning. "Shop's closed."
Sirius slowly stood up from the sofa and stretched out his long arms
above him. Abby tumbled over into the warm, empty spot he had left, curled
herself up, and closed her eyes. Sirius began to laugh, pulling at her arm.
"Come on, Abby – it's only a few steps. You'll sleep better upstairs.
And someone has to make my breakfast tomorrow," he added with a smirk.
"I'm fine thank you go away goodnight," she mumbled into the sofa. She
had just drifted off again when large drops of water began to pepper her face.
She shielded herself with one arm and flailed about tiredly with the other.
Awake at last, she cracked open an eye grumpily. Sirius stood by the sofa,
dipping his fingers into a glass of water that she had left in the cellar. Abby
hurriedly pushed herself up before the next onslaught began.
awake! I'm awake!" she growled. "And don't count on breakfast, you big git. You
should remember that I'm the one with a wand, and I'm not afraid to use it."
"It's your raisins I'm afraid of," he laughed, taking her by the hands
and pulling her from the sofa. "Now steady, steady."
Abby had risen too
quickly, causing the world before her to spin into blackness. Sirius grasped her
arm as she tottered back and forth for a few moments, and he kept his hold as
they began walking over to the hearthrug.
"Not that I doubt you," he
explained, "but I don't want to be held responsible for any injuries you might
"Oh, shut it," she said tipsily, her leg coming precariously
close to the edge of a worktable. "I can walk just…just fine."
stood on the hearthrug together, and though it took her three tries for Abby to
get the spell off her uncooperative tongue, they eventually rose into the
cottage above. Once there, Sirius went directly to the sofa, where he sprawled
his limbs out eagerly.
"So you Weavers aren't all old crones with
magical knitting needles?" The question was punctuated with a wide yawn.
Abby smiled. "No, some of us work in the distinguished field of
wizarding fashion. Good night." She was halfway to her room before his voice
"The Third Task is in just a few days. I need to be near
With teetering feet, she retraced her steps, pausing to clutch
the back of the sofa for support. She peered over at Sirius, whose eyes were
I understand. You have to go.
robes are in the back of that cupboard by the door…I am going to burn those
rags, you know…someday, when you're not looking…"
Sirius nodded slightly
and then reached out to blindly grab a cushion, which he wadded under his head.
"I hate those robes…" his voice drifted off. Feeling unexpectedly alert,
Abby tightened her grip on the back of the sofa.
If he hates those
nasty tatters, then why –
"I didn't want…" he said, nestling further
into the cushion, "I didn't want anyone to trace the new ones to you…in case I
Her mouth opened, but Sirius had left the conscious world,
and so Abby tucked his words away for later perusal. The weight of secrets
shared, discoveries made, and trust given was already overwhelming. Deep thought
would come later – right now she wanted only to unburden her mind with a few
more hours of slumber. After a quiet giggle at the way Sirius' mouth hung open
when he slept, Abby trudged back to her room and immediately collapsed upon her
The living room was vacant when Abby came to her
bedroom doorway the next morning, but she had expected as much. Her legs stiff
and heavy, she plodded over to the sofa, where the robes Sirius had worn earlier
lay folded. Scanning the room furtively to ensure that it truly was
empty, she lifted the garment to her face and closed her eyes, smiling drowsily.
Hopefully, the Third Task would soon pass without incident, and then Sirius
could come back. She was anxious to give him the completed cloak, but she had no
great desire to trek out into the woods after him to do so.
robes with her, Abby went over to the kitchen and began making a cup of mint
tea. She actually felt a bit of relief that Sirius had already left – she would
not have known quite what to say after the night before, or how to remove
herself for the entire day to sort out what was, for her, an earth-shattering
revelation. She almost spilled her tea as she imagined what her father would say
to her news.
'Hello, Dad? You'll never guess who's supposed to
receive the cloak. Remember that Sirius Black fellow? Yes, the one from the
papers? The dangerous convict? The mass murderer? Well, he's actually rather
nice, and he did save my life. Oh, and he's been living with me from time to
Perhaps it was best that her father not know of this just
yet, Abby thought, mopping up a few drops of tea from the table. All in the
interests of wizarding secrecy, of course. She ran her hand over Sirius' robes,
remembering how nicely they had offset his eyes last night. She took another
sip, wondering in how many other ways might she have misjudged him.
It's not as though there's a tag with my name on it, but I suppose
the M.L.E.S. might question how someone like him came to be so finely
Even after she had eaten and dressed for the day, the
feeling of resolution still made Abby lightheaded. She almost did not know where
to begin. The road ahead of her seemed strangely unencumbered, with the
exception of the Whisper Weave project. With the guesswork of potions and spells
in the making of Invisibility Cloaks now eliminated, she might be able to shave
a few years off the making of her next one, and perhaps even more time off the
making of the one after that. And the one after that, for the rest of her life.
I just hope it doesn't require a near-death experience each time.
As she made her way to the hearthrug, intent on hunting down a
much-needed spellbook from the weaving room, a sudden thought caused Abby to
catch her breath. Dumbledore. The rift with him had bothered her more than she
had cared to admit. He had made no attempts at communication since their last
meeting, when she had rudely walked out on him. For that reason, she dreaded the
thought of seeing him again, although any harbored resentment had passed with
last night's epiphany.
Dumbledore's not one you just thumb your nose
at… What was I thinking?
Changing course, Abby walked to the front
door instead. Dumbledore needed to know of her discovery, and she was encouraged
by the thought that he might share in her elation. If nothing else, he
would not be terribly shocked at the notion that she wanted to give the cloak to
a wanted felon.
She opened the door and stepped out into the early
morning sunlight, ready to make amends. But as she turned to close the door,
Abby stopped in confusion. There, on the usually clean surface, was a big, muddy
paw print. She burst into peals of laughter as the meaning of it dawned on her.
I did ask for a note next time, didn't I?
set off for Hogwarts, her heart light and happy.
glistened with perspiration by the time she finished the walk to the school. In
her exuberance, she had almost skipped along the path. If only there was a way
that she could magically transport herself from the front doors to Dumbledore's
office; she did not care to have any of the students see her in such a state.
But as she crossed the grounds, she glimpsed the flutter of brilliant sapphire
robes and a long white beard heading in the direction of…the Quidditch
pitch? Or at least, the area where the Quidditch pitch had once been. It now
looked like a Herbology project run amok. Brambly hedges towered into the air,
covering almost the entire area. Shaking her head in disbelief, Abby picked up
her skirts and ran after the unmistakable figure of Albus Dumbledore.
The headmaster had already climbed into the stands by the time she
reached the pitch and staggered up the stairs. She found him sitting down, his
arms crossed in front of him, one hand running thoughtfully over his beard. Abby
opened her mouth to speak, but as she suddenly felt as though she might keel
over onto the grass below, she grasped onto a nearby railing instead. Dumbledore
waiting patiently as she gathered her breath, a slight look of surprise on his
"Sir, I've got it. I think I've got it," Abby finally gasped,
clutching at her side with her other hand. "Oh, and I'm terribly sorry for
running out on you."
Dumbledore gave a wide smile, waving a long hand
dismissively. "Oh tosh, Abigail! We all deserve to have those moments now and
again. You deserve them more than most, I dare say. Now sit down, dear, and tell
me what has you so animated this morning."
"Thank you, but I – I think
I'll stand until have my breath back," she panted. She gazed out onto the pitch,
which she now saw resembled some sort of a maze. "I'm glad to find you here,
sir. I'd have had no idea which sweet to guess for your password. What is
that on the Quidditch pitch?"
"It is for the Third Task – impressive, is
it not?" Dumbledore said. "Professor Sprout has outdone herself, although I dare
say I shall breathe a long sigh of relief when this tournament is over. I now
remember why they are held only every five years – it is enough to drive one
Abby nodded and then glanced back at the pitch, which
was being approached loudly by two strange figures. The second figure was
definitely Hagrid, but he was being towed in the wake of a large creature with a
thick, sleek shell, a curved sting… Abby squinted her eyes again. That was a
very familiar creature.
"Jus' makin' certain he feels a' home in
the place, Professor Dumbledore!" Hagrid hollered out, waving wildly. For a man
of his size, he jumped aside quite nimbly as a blast of fire skimmed his boots.
Somehow, he managed to steer the beast into the entrance of the labyrinth.
Abby looked at Dumbledore, her mouth slightly agape. "He didn't have
that thing when it was a baby, did he? Using the term 'baby' very loosely, of
The headmaster laughed. "Yes, he did, and I believe I may have
to have a word with him about his affinity for hazardous course subjects. The
Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures has been quite
persistent with their owls. Why do you ask?"
"I had a run-in with a
smaller version of that thing, late last year. Goodness, doesn't Hagrid believe
in restraining devices for his monsters?"
Dumbledore bobbed his head,
thinking. "Ah yes, I remember that. No, I am afraid Hagrid has a much different
criteria for what constitutes a 'monster'. I did add some extra spells to the
skrewt cages after that incident, however."
Her brow creased, Abby sat
down on the bench. "But…how did you know about that? I didn't tell you, did I?"
He shook his head. "No, you did not, but Sirius let me know as much. I
am very grateful that he happened upon you that evening."
her mouth, feeling slightly flummoxed, and wondered again as to the extent of
Sirius' communication with the headmaster. While the circumstances following
Snuffles' rescue had happened innocently enough, she certainly did not want the
greatest wizard of her time to know that she had, among other things, once
thrown a criminal Animagus into her bathtub.
"Sir, exactly what do
you…how much do you…" Abby shifted her gaze downward, trying to occupy her
anxiously fidgeting hands.
Dumbledore did not make her finish the
question. "I know that you gave him food, shelter, and friendship. I cannot tell
you how surprised I was when you first told me of your new 'pet'. But upon
further reflection, it seemed very much like something our Sirius would do. He
does have the tendency to act first from emotion, and later with his mind."
He paused, speaking in a softer tone.
"You have a kind and
trusting heart, Abigail, something I am sure Sirius did not expect to find, but
something which he surely needed. These last months have been difficult for him
– his worries for Harry have consumed him almost entirely."
that I never intended for this to happen, sir," Abby said quietly. "I don't make
a habit of housing convicts."
"We rarely do intend these things,"
Dumbledore replied, eyes twinkling. "But they happen all the same. Sherbert
He had reached into his robes and pulled forth a small tin
bearing the Honeydukes label. Abby happily accepted the proffered sweet.
Dumbledore popped one in his own mouth, then looked away. Though garbled
slightly from the sherbet lemon, his voice became contemplative, almost wistful.
"I have questioned myself many times over the years, wondering if was
right to go to such great extremes to conceal your gift, to ask you to give up
so much," he began slowly. "I have considered numerous other options, but try as
I might to find a way to give you a life of some normalcy, I felt each time that
this was the necessary direction. You may not know, dear, but you are the last
Weaver in our land. Lord Voldemort's followers would dearly love to control such
Just as Dad said.
"I believe you, sir, but why
would the they go to so much trouble for something I can only complete every
eighteen years or so?"
Dumbledore kept his gaze trained on the twisting
hedges, but he raised his eyebrows knowingly.
"But Abigail, you are
proving right now that your weaving can be adapted to other powerful uses. And I
must tell you that many of our magical skills and arts have either died out or
been corrupted by Dark forces over the years, simply because their bearers did
not guard them carefully enough or care to continue them. The singularity of
your gift makes you unique among our kind at present."
Abby looked down
at her robes and smiled wryly. "Well, I'd do my best to turn out a brood of
little Weavers, but I fear the chances of that are growing increasingly
"Do not forsake all hope, my dear," Dumbledore replied,
stroking his beard. "You may yet be surprised. I would never have imagined that
Honeydukes would put strawberry mousse into their Chocoballs – they were really
quite dull with just empty air inside – but they did, and I have been delighted
Abby bit her lip, trying not to giggle.
corresponding with our friends abroad," he continued, "I have also begun to
wonder recently if more Weavers might actually exist among us. Though the gift
is most often found in families, perhaps it is not always a magical inheritance,
just as young witches and wizards are often born to Muggle parents. Perhaps
there are those in whom the gift lies latent. You might be just the person to
"Would that call for another holiday?" Abby asked, her eyes
brightening at the prospect.
"Perhaps," Dumbledore replied laughingly,
popping another sherbert lemon into his mouth. "For your sake, I hope so."
"What about looms, though? Are any other magical looms available
"I have an idea as to where a few might be found. I believe
we might even have one tucked away here at Hogwarts, although I cannot for the
life of me remember where."
The two sat in silence for a moment,
savouring their sweets and watching as clouds of smoke, mingled with a few manly
yelps, rose from the hedges. Abby mopped the remaining perspiration off her face
and let out a sigh of ease. She had missed Dumbledore's company –
eccentricities, mysteries, and all.
"Now Abigail," he said at length,
once they had depleted the tin of sherbert lemons. "I am most curious to know
how you plan to finish the Invisibility Cloak. I gather you have discovered the
She nodded solemnly. "I have. It's…well, it's
gratitude, for lack of a better phrase."
Dumbledore pulled a
handkerchief out of his robes and began to wipe off his sugared fingers. "That
must be a tremendous weight off your shoulders."
"It is!" she blurted
out. "I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. But it will repay my portion of a
"And who will the Invisibility Cloak now claim as its
Abby squirmed slightly at the question. After all they had just
discussed, she did not want Dumbledore to think that she might have had more
personal motives for giving Sirius the cloak. But while she had made the
connection only the evening before, the cloak's ownership had been decided
months ago, when a loyal animal had come to her much-needed aid on a cold forest
night. This was the right course. Abby took a deep breath and met the
"Sirius. The cloak is for Sirius."
agonizing pause ensued, during which Abby felt her confidence begin to waver.
Just as she was about to avert her eyes, Dumbledore broke into a delighted
"Brilliant," he whispered, clasping Abby's hand. "Brilliant. I
confess it was with a great deal of consternation that I asked Sirius to leave
your company last December. However, I strongly believed that the sooner you
were able to focus on your weaving, the sooner the answers would come and you
would feel at peace. I need not tell you that Sirius is not a typical
houseguest. Though much of the din has died down, the Ministry is still actively
searching for him. I did not want either of you to come into harm's way. But
perhaps I should have trusted you more, dear child."
"Perhaps you should
have," she replied quietly. "Although, that's always easy to say in hindsight.
Either way, I was sorely tempted to owl you a shipment of – "
"Invisi-Pins?" Dumbledore finished the phrase, his eyes twinkling at her
look of shock. "Yes, I do know of the methods that you and Taffeta used to
employ with your poorly behaved clientele." He let out a sigh. "Abigail, you are
a delight. Now, if I am not mistaken, you have a bit of work to do."
Abby grinned in reply, hoping that Dumbledore did not know too much
about her and Madame Bussell's exploits with Chafing Charms. "I do. It shouldn't
be much, though, not if my calculations are correct."
"Will you be
joining the village for the Third Task?"
She nodded. "We're gathering at
The Three Broomsticks. The few who've been cleared by the Ministry to attend
will be sending down play-by-play owls."
Dumbledore stood up, brushing
off the powdery dusting of sugar that coated his blue robes.
It should be a night to remember. Now, if you will excuse me," – he bowed
slightly – "I had best go and retrieve Hagrid before he and his friend burn down
our maze entirely."
Abby stood up and threw her arms around the
headmaster's neck, a move that surprised her just as much as it did him. Before
he could react, she turned on her heels and ran back to the stairs. Pausing at
the top, she turned and gave a quick wave goodbye.
"Thank you, sir!"
She tumbled down the stairs as fast as she trusted her feet to go,
feeling that the world was a good and wonderful place. She had never been so
anxious to weave, nor so eager to see Sirius Black's face again.
Later that day, Abby let out a cry of both triumph and pain as she
crawled out from underneath her bed. After combing the house for most of the
early afternoon, she had finally found the missing spellbook. That accounted for
the triumph. The pain came from bumping her skull against a rail as she seized
upon the volume. Rubbing the top of her head, she sat on the edge of the bed and
wiped the dust off the book's cover, coughing as she accidentally inhaled some
of the airborne particles.
Spells of Reciprocity, by Rhonda Bout,
it read. Abby nodded in satisfaction. This should have just the information she
With a tremor of excitement, she journeyed down to the weaving
room to begin the finishing process of her Invisibility Cloak. She had planned
to first move to the sofa and read through the book, plotting the sequence of
spells, but her feet moved almost of their own accord to the finishing frame.
Abby ran a hand over the gleaming cloth, feeling a slight pang at the
realization that it would soon no longer be there. But she was certain that this
was the right thing to do. She traced her hand down it again, admiring the
evenness and beauty of the weave…the warp and weft, the warp and weft, the warp
and – Her hand stopped abruptly, and her thoughts began to race.
It can't be.
It was almost too rich, too ridiculous. And she could
not be entirely sure – self-taught in many aspects of her weaving, her mind did
not always go to the proper terms for things. But as much as she wanted to
dismiss the silly notion, Abby recalled too clearly the crisp voice of
Grandmother Connelly giving an early weaving lesson. She raised her wand toward
a sagging bookshelf in a back corner of the room.
smirked as a thin volume soared through the air and landed in her hand. At least
she knew this book's location. She quickly thumbed through its pages of weaving
terminology, her finger coming to rest upon a page at the end. She mumbled the
passage half out loud.
'Weft', from the Old English 'to weave',
refers to the threads running crosswise in a woven fabric. Also known as…the
Abby lowered the book, her mouth round in surprise. She gave
a short, incredulous laugh, which expanded and grew until she was holding her
sides with mirth. When the shock passed, she wiped her eyes with the back of her
hand and looked back at the page again.
The 'woof'. Well, if I were
to ever need a sign of cosmic confirmation, this would be it. The fates must
With a giddy smile, she moved to the sofa and settled down
for a long read.
A few days later, in the hours before the
Triwizard Tournament's Third Task, Abby stood in her weaving room, endeavoring
to keep herself from fainting. The moment had come. She was ready to cast the
final, completing spells on her Invisibility Cloak. Clenching her wand, she took
a few calming breaths, which still did not do much to help her racing heart.
Postponing the moment for a few more seconds, she looked down at the
sight before her. The Demiguise fabric had been loosed from the finishing frame
and now draped over the wooden rectangle, awaiting its fate. Abby shuffled her
feet and then stood firm, steeling herself. The gouges and lines impressed on
her wand were reassuring in an odd, yet fitting way. In the most even voice she
could muster, she opened her mouth and uttered the first incantation –
"Adiunctus Sirius Black!"
The words seemed to echo
throughout the room in the dreadful moment of silence that followed. Abby
frantically played the phrase over in her head, praying her Latin had not failed
Bound to…belonging to…Sirius Black.
A burst of
sparkling, glowing brightness erupted before her, startling her backward a few
paces. The cloth was rising slowly from the finishing frame, rippling as though
held in the wind – it crept upward until it hovered near the ceiling in a cloud
of light. Abby covered her open mouth with her hand, her eyes widening. She had
never been witness to this event before.
A pulse of energy coursed
through the room, causing Abby to tremble and shake. She watched in awe as a
cloak piece separated itself cleanly from the length of cloth, as though cut out
with a razor of light, and floated to the side. A bewildered smile crept across
her face as the cloth fluidly reshaped itself into a gleaming whole. Though
slightly smaller in size, it still looked beautifully untouched, its threads
gleaming and intact.
Another pulse, and then another… Abby continued to
look on, barely breathing, until finally, one last piece remained of the
original cloth. It twisted in the air above her, forming itself into a hood.
Then, as one, the shimmering pieces all glided over to rest directly in front of
Abby. They lingered in the air, as though waiting for her command. She felt as
if a force outside her was raising her arm, lifting her wand to the silvery
forms and compelling her voice to speak.
"Suturo!" she cried,
almost in a gasp.
In one swift movement, the pieces joined themselves
together into a finished garment, glistening beads of silver whisking up the
seams, closing them shut. There was one more burst of energy, one more flash of
light, and then the room became eerily quiet. Abby stared dumbstruck as her
first Invisibility Cloak, sized perfectly for Sirius Black, fell completed into
Still somewhat dazed, Abby made her way to The
Three Broomsticks that evening to enjoy the Third Task with the rest of the
Hogsmeade villagers. Her feet felt far from sure as she walked up the High
Street, and she had to apologize more than once for bumping distractedly into
fellow pedestrians, but tonight, she did not mind the clumsiness. Eighteen years
of weaving, potions brewing, and spell casting had finally come to fruition –
reason enough to feel a little giddy.
Abby did not need to worry about
her footing as she got caught up in the throng entering the pub – the crush of
people kept her easily upright. Liberally applying a few elbows, she twisted
herself out of the crowd and wove her way to the furthermost corner of the room,
exchanging a few waves to familiar faces as she stepped over boots and wriggled
around the tightly packed tables. She stopped once as Rosemary Cleaves, the
grocer's wife, passed a few custard tarts to her, and a second time as Jasper
Zonko gave her some Ruckus Raisers – his newest noisemaker – to celebrate what
he felt would be a certain Hogwarts victory. Abby grinned and thanked him,
knowing that she would never use the devices; several of the pub's patrons
already had violet lips, and a few others were just returning to their normal
selves after being transformed into guinea fowl. She took another moment to say
"hello" to Priscilla Puddifoot, who was still looking miffed that the event was
not being held in her establishment.
Finally, Abby reached a small table
in the back and sunk gratefully into the wooden chair behind it. She had just
started to empty her arms of their load when a splash of green gillywater fell
in the middle of one of the tarts. Abby looked up to see her former classmate,
Gil Barlow, grinning cheekily at her.
"Well hullo, Miss Abigail," he
drawled, taking a sip from his glass and looking her over brazenly. "You look
like you could do with a bit of company this evening."
sweetly. "I'd love for you to join me, Gil, but there is a chance that I might
tip your drink over in all the excitement that's to come."
rapidly left Gil's face as he pondered Abby's words. "Well, that's a very good
point, love…say, is that Clive Grubb at the bar? Must be off – enjoy yourself,
He exited quickly, gripping his gillywater protectively to his
chest, and Abby let out a sound of wholehearted relief. She was not in the mood
for companionship tonight. The gentleman she most wished to see was probably
barking at squirrels right now, not downing a pint at the pub.
just begun to imagine how Sirius might react to the cloak when a large bottle of
butterbeer thudded on the table in front of her. Glancing around in surprise,
she saw Madam Rosmerta waving cheerily from the bar. Abby's eyes followed as the
landlady nodded her head toward the dismissed Gil and laughed. Abby raised her
butterbeer in return, mouthing her thanks with a wide smile, and Rosmerta went
back to her task of directing her staff of barkeeps. The pub continued to fill
with people, their excited talk spilling out its doors and on to the street.
Feeling a sudden pang of hunger, Abby had consumed half of a custard
tart before she noticed its unusual shape. She lowered the remaining portion
from her mouth and, after turning it around in several different directions,
realized she had eaten half of a badger paw. She giggled. How fitting – Mrs.
Cleaves had been a Hufflepuff. She must be pulling for the Diggory boy to win
tonight, Abby thought, and by all counts, he very well might. He and Harry
Potter were tied for first place, but young Cedric had the benefits of
additional age and magical experience on his side. The evening promised to be
Just as she popped the last delicious morsel into her
mouth, a sharp whistle resounded from the front of the room. Rosmerta was
standing high above the bar, presumably on some sort of crate, calling the room
"Ladies and gents," she began cheerily, "I welcome you to
The Three Broomsticks – until you start causing too much damage to the place,
that is – to mark the final task of the Triwizard Tournament! We have two lads
from Hogwarts in the competition tonight – let's wish them all the best, shall
we? To Hogwarts!"
She lifted a glass of red currant wine into the air,
and the remainder of the pub followed suit, loudly hollering, "To Hogwarts!"
Rosmerta brought two fingers to her mouth and whistled again to bring their
attention back to her.
"And…" she continued with a sly wink, "should one
of our boys win, there'll be a round on the house for all of you!" A chorus of
appreciative shouts met the announcement. Rosmerta wagged a finger at the
villagers, raising her voice to be heard over the clamor.
"But I warn
you," she called out, "I know all your names and faces, and I'll keep you
to just the one drink!" The crowd groaned, and a few of the men pounded their
mugs on the table in mock protest. Abby marveled at Rosmerta's command of the
room. She certainly had a flair for her work. Abby could handle a shopful of
customers fairly well, but a group of this nature would trample over her in
"Now pipe down, pipe down," Rosmerta went on, glancing at the
clock on the wall. "We should be receiving our first owl soon."
As if on
cue, a tawny screech owl glided through the door, alighting on an empty
barstool. The person nearest it untied the parchment from the bird's leg and
handed it to Rosmerta, who scanned the message eagerly.
"The Third Task
has begun!" she cried out. "Potter and Diggory have entered the maze first,
followed by Viktor Krum and Fleur Delacour."
The pub patrons stomped
their boots. Shouts of "C'mon Diggory!" and "Show 'em, Potter!" resounded
throughout the room. Abby took a long drink of her butterbeer and went back to
her musings. The Invisibility Cloak was back in the cottage, tucked in the far
reaches of a cupboard, waiting for Sirius. Surely he would come by after the
tournament had ended. She leaned back in her chair and bit into another tart as
Rosmerta read two more owls in quick succession.
"Bursts of smoke are
coming from the maze, but no red sparks yet. The champions seem to be doing
well. No one has got near the Triwizard Cup yet."
Abby finished the last
of her butterbeer in one long gulp, wondering how Sirius might be observing the
task. A dog as large as Padfoot was hardly inconspicuous. She tapped her fingers
on the tabletop, wishing for the task to pass more quickly. There were other
things she would really rather be doing. She had just begun to shift impatiently
in her chair when another owl soared through the open pub door. Rosmerta
unrolled the parchment hastily, her eyes bright with anticipation, but she let
out a small cry as she read the note. The talk in the room dwindled to a hush as
the crowd took in the landlady's unexpected reaction.
pulled Fleur Delacour from the maze…" Rosmerta slowly said, still staring at the
parchment. "She's not moving…she looks to be Stunned."
butterbeer bottle that Abby had been twirling about fell to the table as her
hand froze. A knot began to form in the pit of her stomach. Sirius had been
right. He did need to be near Harry tonight. From what the village had heard,
all sorts of magical beasts and enchantments had awaited the champions inside
the thick, twisty labyrinth of hedges, but nothing capable of wielding a wand
should have been there. As Rosmerta's shaky voice read out the next few owls and
the conversation in the pub came to a dead standstill, Abby had the sickening
feeling that something in the Third Task was going terribly, terribly awry.
The dark interior of Gladrags was strangely calm, despite the
shadowy figures and hurried footsteps that passed outside the shop windows. Abby
sat motionless on the chaise lounge, knees pulled up to her chest, eyes staring
forward. Rosmerta's final phrases played over and over in her head, becoming
more ominous and horrific with each repetition:
"They heard shrieking
from inside…more red sparks…rumours of…of Unforgivable Curses."
Krum was just taken out of the maze…he, too, looked Stunned."
and Diggory have reached the Cup at the same time! But they – they what? This
says they've disappeared. They've disappeared."
And then, after what
had seemed an agonizing wait:
"The boys have returned. Cedric – Oh!
Lord help us! Cedric Diggory is…is dead."
Noise had returned to the
pub at that moment – the sounds of chairs scraping the floor and turning over,
muffled screams, and scattered pops as villagers Disapparated to the Hogwarts
gates in search of more information. Not knowing what to do, Abby had sat at her
table for over an hour, mute, until she could no longer bear to hear the
speculation of those who had remained.
Now she sat locked in the
relative stillness of Gladrags, staring at the front windows. From time to time
she would glance back to the far corner of the room, to where the image of a
tall and handsome boy waiting patiently while his robes were altered came all
too easily to mind. She saw the self-assured way in which he carried himself,
the ease with which he moved across the room. She saw the smile that flashed
across his face as he looked at the pretty young woman with him. She heard the
giggles, barely stifled, of the girls who stood nearby and watched. But Cedric
was dead. The pride of Hufflepuff House was dead. Janet Diggory's son was dead.
Abby found a scrap of solace in the fact that Harry, at least, had lived
through the encounter that took Cedric's life, but she doubted he could have
escaped it entirely unscathed. She hugged her knees more tightly to her, feeling
too young and uncertain to deal with this changed world. As she had run up the
High Street to Gladrags, she had met some of the men and women returning from
Hogwarts. Their faces white, they had shared with her the report that was
snaking through the frantic, hysterical crowd at the school: the Dark Lord had
returned. Abby had shut herself in the shop before she could hear more. Here, in
the darkness, she could almost pretend that she had no part in the things
happening outside. She could feel safe, even as now, hours later, worried voices
carried in from outside. Gladrags was soothing, sheltering.
The word echoed inside her. Gladrags was
sheltering. In fact, she had been sheltered there for the last eighteen years.
With the exception of Will's death, and then the infrequent conversations she
had overheard from suspected wizards, her direct exposure to the evil in the
wizarding world had been extremely limited. Her small part in the battle had
been conducted with open ears in Gladrags, and with a shuttle and loom in the
comfort of her own home. That should change. That would change, Abby
determined, as she rose swiftly from her seat. Moving through the back rooms of
the shop, she paused in front of the Gladrags owl, Hubert. Without a second
thought, she unlocked his cage, opened the back door, and set him out into the
Abby shivered as she stepped outside. The air of the June night
seemed uncommonly cold. Gathering her skirts in one hand, she began running
towards home. Hubert would be at the cottage by the time she arrived, and
security precautions could be hexed for all she cared tonight. She was going to
write to her father and tell him all that had happened. In the tumult of the
evening, she doubted whether much attention would be paid to her one owl.
She picked up her feet as she grew nearer to the cottage, reaching the
door at last with heavy breath and unsteady legs. Her hands trembled as she
fumbled in her pockets for her wand, and she stamped her feet with impatience.
She wanted inside at once – to contact her father, to mull over ideas for any
help that she might give Dumbledore. All thoughts of the Invisibility Cloak had
left her mind in the last few hours, until now…
Abby whirled around.
Over her shoulder, she had heard the noise of something approaching, certainly
not a witch or wizard by the thudding sounds it left on the ground. Narrowing
her eyes into the dark, she saw a large, black animal barreling down the path,
heading directly for her.
Feeling as though she moved in slow motion,
Abby reached inside her robes, and this time, she grasped her wand with a sure
hand. In one smooth motion, she unlocked the door, threw it open and pulled
Padfoot inside. She quickly secured the wards and then spun around with wild
eyes, desperate to ask what he had had seen, what he knew. But before she could
open her mouth, her voice and breath were pushed forcefully out of her. Sirius
was pressed against her fully, pinning her tightly to the door.
Sirius?" Abby gasped.
Unable to catch her breath, Abby stood against the
door, barely moving. If this was an embrace, it was certainly an odd one, and a
painful one, at that. A nerve in her shoulder cried out in sudden
displeasure, causing her to squirm uncomfortably, but Sirius continued to lean
into her, his face buried in the crook of her neck, his hands clutching her
robes at the sides.
She tried again. "Wha – what are you – "
choked, tearless sob interrupted before she got any further. Sirius' entire body
was quaking. His knees faltered. Grasping ever more tightly at Abby, he slumped
downward, taking her with him, until they came to rest at the foot of the door.
He let out another shaking sob, the anguish in his voice sending a stab of pain
through her. Without thinking, she pulled her arms free and wrapped them around
his shoulders, cradling his head against her. She lowered her face and whispered
into his hair as Sirius began to speak in muffled words and broken fragments
that she could not understand.
When his voice finally trailed off, they
continued to lean against the door, neither paying any heed to the unaccustomed
closeness. Abby closed her eyes and rested her head against his, feeling his
breath brush her neck. Her heart had finally slowed down from the run home, and
the warmth of Sirius near her was infinitely comforting. She hated to do
anything – anything at all – to disrupt the moment, but she had to know –
"They're saying that Voldemort is back," she said quietly.
is," Sirius replied with a dull voice, lifting his face slightly. "He hurt
Harry, tortured him. But Harry got away. He lived, but the things he saw! I – I
can't – James would have known what to do for him – "
"I'm glad Harry
has you," Abby murmured reassuringly, the fingers of one hand twining around the
ends of his hair. "You'll look after him."
For the first time that
evening, Sirius took his face off her shoulder and looked up. His eyes,
painfully hollow, did not quite meet hers.
"I have to go," he said
flatly. "Dumbledore has things for me to do. I'm to go to Remus tonight."
Abby's hand stopped moving.
"I'll get you some food," she said
lamely, taking her arms from around him with wrenching reluctance. "Just let me
get to the kitchen."
Sirius slowly pulled away from her and got to his
feet. His body was slumped, his eyes bloodshot and empty. Abby tried to maneuver
her legs around to stand up herself, but with little luck. After bearing so much
of Sirius' weight on them, she was not sure if they would move at all.
"Help me up?" she asked in embarrassment, flushing at the thought of the
disheveled mess she must make there on the floor.
Sirius looked down,
and a faint trace of the old grin played around his mouth as he realized that
her immobility was greatly his doing. He straightened his body and then reached
down to pull her up. He held her hands for a few seconds longer as she found her
Abby smiled faintly, wishing he were not so
far away. The few feet between them now seemed like such a distance.
She turned for the kitchen and began to gather whatever was
readily available for Sirius. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him cross
the room and stand, waiting, at the back door. She continued to gather bread,
fruit, and other food, lastly emptying the remaining ginger biscuits into the
bag. With a heavy heart, she walked over to Sirius. Wordlessly, he took the
parcel from her.
"I have to go," he said again, his eyes on the floor.
She nodded slowly and had just reached for the door handle when a
frantic thought stopped her.
"Oh! Oh! You can't leave yet! Please, just
Leaving a rather mystified Sirius in the open doorway, Abby ran
to the cupboard and began to throw boots and cloaks onto the floor in a mad
haste to reach what was hidden in the back. Finally, her hands seized on the
Invisibility Cloak. Her hands shook as she pulled it from the cupboard. With
breathless timidity, she walked back to Sirius and placed the iridescent folds
across his bony shoulder.
"Since we're in dispute as to whether you
saved my life, I won't bother with saving yours," she began. "I will, however,
give you something that someday may."
Sirius stared at the gift, his
expression dazed. He fingered the shining material for a long, bewildered
moment. Pulling himself from his thoughts, he looked up at her quizzically.
"This is the cloak you had in the cellar?"
"I can't take it."
"I'm sorry," Abby said, a bit of amusement
creeping into her voice. "Magically binding contracts being what they are, I'm
afraid you have to."
"I'm not certain that I can," he stammered, still
stunned. "I – I've done very little for you, Abby."
She placed a hand
hesitantly on his forearm. "That's debatable. But please, take it. It belongs to
Sirius's eyes went back to the cloak, which he turned over and
over in the light, caressing its gleaming surface. When he spoke, his voice was
hushed and wistful. "It looks so much like James' cloak."
again, as tears came to her eyes. "Family resemblance, I suppose."
"It's not a bottomless biscuit tin, I know," she
Sirius gave an involuntary laugh and then looked up from
the cloth, his eyes deepening.
"I have to go."
Abby felt her
heart give a bittersweet twist. It seemed so unjust just that he should have to
leave now, but she knew she could not stop him. If Voldemort and his evils were
once more in the world, Harry Potter would need the fierce devotion and
protection of his godfather. She only hoped Sirius might find some happiness. He
had seen precious little joy for the last portion of his life, but a time might
come when he could rest. Hopefully, they all would rest.
"Go," she said,
smiling sadly. "You can't stay a kept man forever."
Sirius locked his
grey eyes on hers. "I haven't minded," he said softly.
caught in her throat. "Neither have I," she replied in a whisper.
moment was oddly still, despite the muffled outcries and racing footsteps that
still carried down the lane. Sirius turned to leave, but Abby, acting on
instinct, was quicker. Moving forward, she reached out her hands – one around
the far side of his face, one to his shoulder – and before he could turn
further, she rose up and pressed her mouth against his cheek. Rough stubble
stung her lips as she felt the pressure of his face leaning back against hers. A
shaky exhale blew through her hair, and Abby heard the bag and cloak fall to the
ground as seconds later, Sirius' arms wrapped around her tightly.
continued to stare for a long while after the dog had disappeared into the inky
blackness. "God speed, Padfoot," she murmured to the night, before stepping back
inside and shutting the cottage door.
A/N: To begin with, I must state that I DID NOT make up the woof pun.
That's an actual weaving term, and crazily enough, I didn't even discover it
until after I'd started writing the story.
Also, while there was a
dearth of kissing and other romantic resolution in the story, I ask that you
don't give up hope for these two. Read the stories that follow! (hint, hint)
Dumbledore's use of "Oh, tosh!" was inspired by soupytwist, who
was the greatest British beta I could have ever asked for.
Again, I owe
a huge amount of thanks to anyone who has ever beta-read, advised on, or
reviewed this endeavor, especially the women of the SQ Workshop, who
deserve Honeydukes chocolate and Gladrags gift cheques for their troubles.
You've all made it so much better than it otherwise would have been!
now, as I didn't want to disrupt the ending, here is the Epilogue, which
takes place four weeks later:
"You're tearing apart my
kitchen, man! What in Merlin's name are you trying to do?"
up, Moony, and show me where you keep the spices."