Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of J.K. Rowling's other characters, locations, etc. I also don't own the song 'Goodnight My Angel' (that will make sense once you've read the chapter).
A/N: This is it everyone! 'Tis sad, I know, but I'm going to do the sequel, so there's a little happy right? Yeah I know, it just isn't the same! But you'll live. And this chapter won't be very long because it's just wrapping everything up into a pretty little package for you (yeah that was a bad metaphor – but you want me to save those creative juices for writing the actual story, right? So bad metaphors can be overlooked)! I just want to say thanks to all my reviewers – especially the ones that stuck with me all through this story (or at least for most of the chapters). I love you guys! Happy Reading!
Chapter Sixteen: A Homecoming Aria
"At the hospital… Did they happen to have… a-a locket?" I ask. Her brow furrows as she tries to remember, but then her eyes light up.
"Hold on." She disappears down the hall to her bedroom, and my father looks down at me in confusion.
"Is this it?" she asks, holding out the locket I've nearly forgotten about until now. I grab it and clutch it to me.
"Yes," I murmur. I hold the locket close and suddenly it grows warm in my hand, and I hear the faintest click.
I don't say anything about the locket as my father (it still feels weird to think about him like that) takes my arm.
"Ready?" he asks, looking down at me. I look up at Grandma and attempt to smile at her. She just looks at me sadly.
"Ready," I answer. His grip on my arm tightens and the now almost-familiar sensation of apparating surrounds me. A second later we're standing in his – I guess now our – living room.
"Do you want to see your room?" he asks. "It's nothing special, but I'm sure we can fix it up," he adds.
"Sure," I reply as he releases my arm. I follow him up the same staircase I saw Sean disappear up this morning – was it really only this morning? I'm half expecting it to be a bit like the Burrow – several different landings with only a couple doors on each – but it's not. The staircase leads up to a large open area – kind of like a really large landing but not quite. There's a miniature library set up in the middle of the area, and four doors leading off of it, and then another staircase.
"This way," he says, leading me toward the stairs. I follow him, dragging my heavy trunk behind me with one hand and clutching the locket with the other hand. I don't dare look at it to see if I can actually open it until I'm by myself.
This staircase is short, and leads up to another large open area with four doors leading off. This house is bigger than I thought it was. Two of the four doors are open slightly. I can hear low voices coming from one of them. The other is a bathroom – a fairly large bathroom at that.
"Over here." I follow my father to one of the closed doors. He turns the knob and swings it open for me. The room is pretty good-sized, but rather plain. There's a bed, not that different from my bed at Hogwarts, and a bookshelf without any books on it. There's a wardrobe in one corner, and a comfy-looking armchair set up near the bookshelf. Under the large west-facing window is a desk and chair.
"Nice," I say when I notice him looking at me expectantly. He smiles ruefully.
"I'm sure I can get Keira to help you fix it up. We'll get new bedding and a rug maybe?" he looks around the room to see what else I'll need. "Definitely new curtains," he says distastefully. I look at the window to see old yellowing curtains with ugly little flowers on them.
"Who picked out those?" I ask, thinking I probably know the answer already. He looks at me sheepishly.
"They were fine when I bought them. I guess the sun discolored them," he says, and I feel a smile tugging at my lips.
"Well, I'll leave you alone to settle in," he says uncertainly, backing out of the room. "If you need anything I'm just downstairs."
The door closes and I look around the room again. Those curtains really are ugly. But I look past them and settle onto the bed carefully, kicking off my shoes and sitting cross-legged on top of the dusty old comforter.
I look down at the locket still clutched in my hand. The picture on the front hasn't changed since the last time I saw it, but the locket itself is slightly damaged from the car accident. Taking a deep breath I turn it on its side and look at the latch. It doesn't look any different than it did at the end of school.
I insert my fingernail into the crack and try to pry the locket open, bracing myself for disappointment. The latch gives easily and the locket falls open in my hand. Immediately a soft melody – an aria if you will – begins to play quietly. The tune is familiar, but I haven't heard it in years. I feel tears well up in my eyes once again as very quietly, words sung by my mum start to accompany the melody.
Goodnight, my angel, now it's time to sleep
And save these questions for another day.
I think I know what you've been asking me,
I think you know what I've been trying to say.
I promised I would never leave you,
And you should always know,
Wherever you may go,
No matter where you are,
You always will be part of me.
Goodnight, my angel, time close your eyes,
And still so many things I want to say.
Remember all the songs you sang for me,
When we went sailing on an emerald bay.
And like a boat upon the ocean,
I'm rocking you to sleep,
The water's dark and deep,
Inside this ancient heart,
You always will be part of me.
Goodnight, my angel now it's time to dream,
And dream how wonderful your life will be.
Someday your child may cry, and if you sing this lullaby,
Then in your heart, there will always be a part of me.
Someday we'll all be gone, but lullabies go on and on,
They never die, that's how you and I will be.
The words fade, but the lullaby's melody keeps playing as tears fall, and quiet sobs make their way out of my throat.
After a minute or so, I wipe away my tears as the melody slowly fades, and see if there's anything in the locket I missed. What I see makes tears spring back into my eyes.
There are two pictures inside. On the right is a picture of Mum and me from two summers ago when we went to Eva's parents' lake house. In the picture, we're sitting on the boat, our hair flying behind us, smiling and waving at the camera. Mum's arms are around my waist and she's hugging me tight against her. I smile sadly at the memory of that day. We were so happy.
The other picture makes a knot form in my stomach. It's a picture of Mum and my father. It was obviously taken a long time ago – before I was born. Only their faces are in the picture, and a bit of their necks, so I can't see where they are, but they look so happy just to be near each other. It's hard to believe Mum would just pick up and leave everything. How could she be so scared that my father wouldn't love her anymore that she just left without a word of good-bye to anyone? How could she have honestly thought he wouldn't love her anymore? I hardly even know him and I could tell he cared for her even then at Christmas. Why was she so afraid?
It occurs to me that she might have been ashamed of me, and that's why she ran away, but I don't think that's it. I'm pretty sure that what everyone else has told me is true – she left because she was afraid. A coward more like. A bubble of resentment forms inside of me, but I squash it quickly. It might have been her fault that I never knew about my father, but I don't have to hate her for it. She did it because she loved me.
I wipe away the tears again and close the locket quietly. I look around my new room – soon to be redecorated of course – and I take a big, shuddering breath. Everything has changed so much in the last year.
I stand in the kitchen, looking out over the front lawn of our home with a cup of coffee in my hand. Abby and Jake are swinging on the big wooden tree swing Dad hung for Abby two years ago. Well, Abby is swinging, and Jake is pushing her somewhat reluctantly. Sean and Henry are sitting on the grass together, but Sean's ignoring his brother, reading a book – since when does Sean read? Henry is playing with some toy or another.
I feel a pang in my chest when I realize that Aria hasn't exactly been invited to join them outside on such a nice day. But she probably doesn't want to hang out with people and act normal just now. I don't really either. I think of her holed up in her room like she has been for the last two hours, and I sigh. She has a lot of adjusting to do.
Turning my back to the window, I lean against the counter and stare around our kitchen. Nothing has changed, unless you count the new hand on our clock. I turn to look at it.
I look at Aria's hand, and I feel a jolt in my stomach – a good jolt, not a bad one – when I notice that her hand is pointing in the same direction as Keira's, Henry's, Abby's, Sean's, Jake's, and mine. It's pointing to Home.
A/N: That's all folks! Aw, isn't this sad? The story's finally over. But it was good, right? By the way, the lullaby 'Goodnight My Angel' by Billy Joel, is one of my favorite lullabies – my mom used to sing it to me when I was little. I just want to say thanks to all of my reviewers and readers – you're all amazing! Cheers!