A/N: (for whole story) Italics in the present are dreams, italics in the past tense are flashbacks. Generally the flashbacks are dated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
You have walked among us a spirit, and your shadow has been a light upon our faces.
Much have we loved you. But speechless was our love, and with veils has it been veiled. Yet now it cries aloud unto you, and would stand revealed before you.
And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.- 'The Prophet', Kahlil Gibran
Catherine deposited her armful of carrots into the large, deep sink. She wiped away the stream of rain from her forehead with the back of her hand. The sky was as dark as slate, the rain had really picked up in the last half an hour. She glanced at the small kitchen clock and wondered what was taking her husband so long. The changeable weather always made his knee seize. A flashing red light on the kitchen dresser caught her eye.
"Hello Mum, I guess you're not there." The soft, melodic voice of a young woman spoke. "I'm – for God's sake put that down, I'm talking to my mother – Sorry… I'm arriving on the ten o'clock train. And Mum, don't worry about Mark, he'll be fine. I'll…" The woman was cut off by the beep.
Catherine pulled the mud encrusted Wellingtons from her warm feet and sank back into the kitchen chair sighing deeply. What had she done to deserve this, her son was separating from his wife and her daughter was co-habiting with a divorced man. These things just did not happen when she was young. When the kitchen of 'Laverly Farm' was filled with people, when the homely scent of Aunt Jose's Beef Wellington greeted her every Sunday after mass.
The sound of the latch on the back door snapped her back from her memories of bread & butter pudding and apple preserves; that would be Charles. She turned to her husband standing in pools of water, his oil skinned jacket weighed down over his shoulders and a drenched brown wool cap sat upon his balding head. Her smile froze on her face when her husband stepped aside ushering a man inside. Though she'd never seen him, she knew instantly he was the stranger spotted aimlessly wandering two nights ago by Elaine. His dirt encrusted black hair was long and tangled. Two small eyes darted frantically about beneath his matted fringe, he resembled a trapped animal. Tracks of rain had streaked down his muddy cheeks. Her beagle, Polly, growled lowly from behind her legs.
The excited buzz of gossip still resonated around the village. It was a starless night; the sky had been illuminated in an emerald glow. The light was so bright it had disturbed livestock and awoken slumbering children. The canines could be heard answering each others mournful howls. Car alarms had rung through the night. Already the story was morphong into one of legend.
Mrs. Asherton had been Catherine's friend for over thirty years, during which time she'd learnt to take what Elaine said with a pinch of salt. Catherine remembered the night to have been starless, but only due to the low cloud cover. The sullen clouds had been there all week; she couldn't hang out her washing for the spitting rain. Robert Asherton, Elaine's son, had for once in his silly life, explained it. He told her it was due to atoms or molecules filtering or something technical she could not understand. He said it was pollution. She'd smiled politely when he resorted back to petitioning for the protection of Red Grouse.
Catherine indicated for her husband to step aside. "Who's this?"
"I couldn't leave him out in the weather like his, he'd die," answered Charles.
"You didn't need to bring him here," she argued. "He could be a murderer for all we know."
"Catherine, don't be dramatic – just for tonight if it makes you feel better."
She knew when she was defeated. "You'd better lock the bedroom door then!"
"I see you forgot the carrots again!" Charles commented pointing to the sink. He turned back to the man and winked and called to his wife. "Could you get our guest a towel?"