AUTHOR'S NOTE: IF YOU HAVE NOT READ HIDDEN HEIR, PLEASE GO DO THAT. Otherwise, this story will not make any sense and you will be very confused. This is a sequel to my Half-Blood Prince story, The Hidden Heir. As always, these characters and themes are not fully mine. They are property of JK Rowling and I just tinker in it.
Dark Magic, Dark Thoughts.
My Mistake by Gabrielle Aplin
Everything I wanted by Billie Eilish
When Elara came to Hermione's home in Hampstead to spend the summer, she was beside herself with nerves. When Hermione had suggested she stay with her, Elara had initially thought she had lost her mind. She would be putting her entire family in danger to help Elara hide, and although she was excited to learn what it was like, she couldn't fathom how living alongside muggles would be. Harry had agreed it would be best, that it would give them time to convince the Order members to accept Elara.
She had a feeling acceptance was still far away.
The first week at the Granger's home, Elara kept to herself. She slept, mostly. Her mind had finally found some quiet, away from all the suffocating emotions of others, and she was in need of rest to heal. Both mentally and physically. Hermione kept her distance, and Elara was thankful that her friend understood she needed space to unpack her own emotions. She needed the quiet time to sort through her thoughts and face everything that she had done, everything she had tried to stop.
She needed time to wallow in her own misery, to come to terms with the ache in her heart from watching her brother walk into the forest, choosing his path to the Death Eater's clutches. She had to process that when she had the chance to bring her father to his knees, to make him stay where he was to put him back in Azkaban, where he should have been, she made the choice to let him leave. She forced him to walk away and let him escape from the grounds.
She found the guilt to be consuming. The longer she thought on the events that had transpired over the last term, the worst she felt. She had been so sure of everything she was doing. She thought she had been smart, been clever. She thought she had things figured out when she finally made decisions.
And now? Now she felt like she had no idea who she was or what she wanted.
She knew she loved Harry, Hermione and Ron. Harry had a strange hold over her heart that was confusing and exciting and she felt like she was counting down the seconds until she saw him again. The way he stood up for her to the Order in the hospital wing- the way he forgave her. She didn't deserve that forgiveness, she was certain of that, but she was glad to have it. She loved him. And while loving him was baffling and scary, she knew it was love.
Ron and Hermione, she loved in a different way. Hermione had been there for her from the start. She had taken her side, kept Harry off her back, and her friendship had grown into a bond she was proud to share. She genuinely enjoyed Hermione's company. She liked studying and talking with her. She liked that Hermione was inquisitive and opinionated. Hermione had a seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge and she challenged Elara to look deeper into subjects, and Elara appreciated that. Ron, on the other hand, was the furthest thing from clever and inquisitive. But he was funny and sweet and he cared about the people in his life in a way that Elara couldn't. Once he decided you were worth his friendship, he went to bat for you. He had proved that to her the night Dumbledore died.
But often, her thoughts trailed away from her friends, and they landed in a much darker space. She found it nearly impossible to keep her mind away from the Manor. She obsessed over what Draco would be doing, if he would be in the midst of being tortured or worse—torturing someone else. She longed to see her father's face, to see if his hollowed cheeks had filled, to see if he was still in the emotional agony he had been in before. To see if he was still proud to call Voldemort his Lord, if he had come to regret it. She yearned to hear her mother's songs, to listen to her voice hum her to sleep and fuss over her posture. To see if she had been able to pick herself up from the floor of the Manor and hold any dignity.
Her stomach stayed in knots, the worry for her parents, for her brother eating into her brain, infecting her psyche like a parasite. Leeching her ability to think clearly about anything else. She could only see them, only think of them. Her mind was so burdened with their wellbeing, she struggled to do much else.
It was her eighth night at the Granger's where she finally emerged from her room.
It was dark, the moon had illuminated the room through the open window with a soft silver glow. She looked at the clock on the wall and blinked heavily. It was after ten at night, and she had woken from yet another nap that day. She found herself exhausted all the time, sleeping her fears and guilt away. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and scrunched her toes into the soft grey carpet beneath her feet.
She crept out of the room and down to the kitchen, she hadn't eaten that day and although Mrs. Granger had made a habit of leaving meals by her door, she had refused them all. She felt her stomach clench in a pang of hunger.
She opened the refrigerator and stared into the harshly lit, cold box. There was plenty of ingredients inside of it, but she had barely an idea of how to make anything with them without magic. She sighed and settled on a green apple, at least that could be eaten without preparation.
"If you'd like, I can make you some hot chocolate. Hermione always likes that when she's had a rough go of it."
The feminine voice startled Elara and she whipped around, clumsily dropping the apple to the ground and stumbling backward into the refrigerator.
"I didn't mean to startle you, dear." Mrs. Granger said. She was sat at the table, a stack of paper in front of her and her reading glasses low on her nose. There was a soft light glowing above her and Elara wondered how she had even missed the woman sitting there.
"I'm sorry." Elara whispered. "I didn't mean to-
"You've hardly eaten anything since you've been here. I'd be more worried if you hadn't come down at some point to sneak something." Her voice was kind, and warm. She stood from her chair and moved toward Elara, turning to a cabinet and pulling out a pot. "Have a seat, darling."
Elara nodded and took a spot at the table, staring down at the apple she had picked up off the floor. Her attention was brought back to the woman moving in the kitchen, pouring milk into a pot. Mrs. Granger looked so like Hermione, that if she had seen her with her back turned, she would have sworn it was. Her hair was the same soft mahogany brown, wild curls hanging down her back.
"I have to admit," Mrs. Granger said, as she pulled a knife from a drawer. "I was apprehensive when Hermione explained why you would be here."
"I appreciate your hospitality." Elara said, quickly. Her Pureblood upbringing pushing her manners forward.
Mrs. Granger chuckled. "I wasn't sure what to expect. She had said your family was dangerous, and that you needed a safe space to spend the summer. Hermione has never asked to bring anyone from Hogwarts to our home."
She watched with interest as Mrs. Granger chopped some chocolate into smaller pieces and placed it into the pot, stirring it together. She reached to a rack sat on the countertop, pulling a glass container off of it and shaking a bit of the contents into the mix.
"Cinnamon." She said. "The secret to a good hot chocolate."
She poured the contents into two mugs and walked back to the table, setting one of the mugs in front of Elara and wrapping her slender fingers around her own, taking in a long, deep breath, before sipping.
"You don't have to talk about it, if you don't want to." Mrs. Granger said. "God knows, Hermione doesn't tell us everything that happens at that school. But should you feel the need to confide in someone, my ears are available."
Elara sniffled, feeling a hot tear pool behind her lashes before sliding down her cheek. "Thank you." She whispered.
She wanted to talk. She wanted to tell her everything, to feel the comforting words only a mother was capable of saying. She wanted to spill her heartache onto the table, bare and bleeding, for the wonderful muggle woman to see. She wanted to cry about her family. She wanted to explain how she had let her father walk away, how she worried for her mother. She wanted to sob into the warm arms of Mrs. Granger, and cry her worries for Draco into her night robe.
Instead, she bit back the tears that threatened to follow the one that escaped and wiped it hastily from her cheek with the back of her hand. She took a sip of the hot chocolate and sighed. "This is very good."
Mrs. Granger smiled. "I may not have magical blood, but there is magic in hot chocolate and what it can do for the soul."
They sat in silence for a while, sipping the hot chocolate. Mrs. Granger sifted through the papers and marked at them with the strangest quill Elara had ever seen.
"Mrs. Granger?" She asked, watching the woman's hand make notes.
"What is that?" She asked. "In your hand?"
Mrs. Granger chuckled and held it up. "It's a ball point pen, dear."
"And it has ink within it?"
She nodded. "Here, in this chamber." She unscrewed the pieces of the pen and pulled out a small, blackened tube. "The ink is here, in this tube. The ball on the point disperses it as you write, gravity pulls it into the tip." She put the pen back together and slid a piece of paper to Elara, handing her the pen.
"Write your name." She suggested.
The pen was thicker than a quill, and much sturdier. She gripped it and signed her name on the page. "Wow." She chuckled, signing her name over and over. "Muggles really think of everything! This is outstanding!"
Mrs. Granger laughed. "Much easier than using a quill and inkpot, in my opinion."
"It really is!" Elara agreed, drawing small stars and other shapes on the paper. "I can't count how many broken quills are in my trunk right now. Draco used to have a terrible time with getting the stopper off his ink pot! He'd be covered in ink and mum would be so…" She trailed off, biting her lip as she thought of her family.
"It's okay to talk about them, Elara." Mrs. Granger said, her voice soft.
Elara sighed. "I miss them." She admitted. "And it's wrong, and I know that and-
"It is not wrong to long for your family."
"When your family has done what mine has, it is." She said, a deadpanned look on her face as she met Mrs. Granger's amber eyes.
"You're scared for them." She said.
Elara nodded. "They've done terrible things. They've made really awful choices."
"You can't change that." Mrs. Granger's hand rested on top Elara's. It was warm, and soft. "But you can be the good you wish to see in them."
She rolled the words around her head. Be the good. She had been trying to be the good, and it hadn't gotten her very far! She was without a family, without a home, Marked as a Death Eater with a cupboard full of lies and betrayals she had committed, nearly bursting at the seams!
"What if…" Elara began, withdrawing her hand from Mrs. Granger's, and placing them in her lap. She looked down at them, watching as she twisted her fingers together. "What if I'm no good at being good? What if I can't be what I want to see in them?"
"I have come to learn that sometimes all we can do is try. When you stop trying, that's when you fail." Mrs. Granger said. "You haven't failed them yet, have you?"
Elara pulled her eyes from her lap, slowly meeting Mrs. Granger's deep gaze. She was inquisitive, yet calm. A very distinct mix of emotion that Elara had only become familiar with through Hermione. The question was not rhetorical, the edge to her curiosity demanded an answer.
"I- I don't know." Elara admitted.
A soft smile tugged Mrs. Granger's lips up at the corners, her eyes wrinkling slightly. "Then I guess you need to find out."
Elara went back to bed that night with a new question running through her mind. As she sifted through the pain, sadness, confusion, loss, relief, and fear; she began to wonder what it meant to be good. She laid awake, staring up at the ceiling as the passing lights came and went from the occasional vehicle lights as it travelled down the street. Good felt subjective to her.
It seemed to be more than just good versus bad. Light and dark. Black and white. Death Eaters and The Order of the Phoenix… She had always lived with the belief that no one was inherently good or bad. That their choices made them who they were… But then, she had made some terrible choices. Did that make her bad? If her intentions were good, if she thought at the time, she was doing the right thing and it all went belly up, did that make her bad?
The more time she spent thinking about everything that had happened, the way she had handled everything, she didn't feel good. She looked down at her left forearm and unclasped her emerald bracelet. She was thankful that the last thing Draco did for her, was give her the gift of the small dragon amulet that provided her with a very strong glamour charm. As the glamour shimmered and faded away, she stared in disgust at the inky black twisted serpent coming out of the mouth of a skull that was forever embedded in her skin.
She hated it.
She hated the mark, she hated everything it stood for. She hated the way looking at it made her feel, how disgusted and angry she was at herself. She should have rejected it. She should have let the fever boil her from the inside, liquefying all of her organs and turned her into a puddle.
She deserved it.
She had tried to forgive herself the way Harry had forgiven her. She had tried to reason with herself, to be kind to herself and look at all the good things she had done. But there didn't seem to be many. She had spent so long in her year at Hogwarts, fighting between what she thought she had to do and what she wanted to do, that she became incredibly nearsighted. She allowed fear to consume her and poison her brain, rotting her image of herself and twisting it into maniacal nightmares that plagued her.
It was the culpability she felt, that warped her idea of herself so greatly. She knew it was irrational to feel single handedly responsible for everything that had happened, but she couldn't convince herself that it wasn't her fault. If she had tried harder to convince Draco to walk away, instead of leaving him on his own, maybe he would have quit working on the task. If she had made Lucius stay, instead of forcing him to follow the others to the apparition point, maybe he would be back in Azkaban, but he would be safe from the Dark Lord. If she would have stayed at the Manor, instead of starting at Hogwarts, her mother wouldn't have been alone; reduced to tonics to stay sane.
If she would have just done what Voldemort told her to do, forced Dolohov to feel pain, maybe she wouldn't have been forced to take the Mark. Maybe he would have showed her mercy. Showed her family mercy. She was sure that they would be suffering at the hands of her betrayal.
She ran her fingers over the Mark, she could almost feel the static of dark magic under the pads of her finger as she traced the brand. It made her skin crawl, like a thousand beetles creeping beneath her flesh. She had to find a way to rid herself of the Mark, of the dark magic. She had to find a way to rid herself of the malevolence Voldemort had forced into her. She had to try.
a/n: It's here! I have decided to post song recommendations for the chapter at the beginning, like a normal person. So, there's that. Our girl got kind of dark here, let me know how you feel about that!
Next chapter will be coming soon! Please review and remember to favorite/follow so you get the chapter updates!