The attic was always closed off, for as long as the three kids could remember. Kate had been up there only once and even that was a vague memory.
When Kate got home the house was filled with excited chatter from the kitchen. Max and Kate hurried over and saw Madelyn talking excitedly with Ron and Hermione.
"He hired me!" she said, sounding as though she were at the end of the explanation. "I mean, he obviously knew the potential I had." She flicked her hair back and turned to Kate with a wink.
"Oh, Madelyn, I'm so proud of you!" Hermione exclaimed, coming over and hugging her tightly. She kissed her cheek. "I think we need some champagne!"
"Yes, please," Madelyn said excitedly. "And," she added, turning to Kate with a wide smile. "I'm not the only one who has good news. Kate, tell them."
There was a long silence that followed Madelyn's words. Kate felt her cheeks flush a brilliant red as she looked at her parents who were in turn staring at her expectedly.
"Kate?" Ron asked after a moment.
"Oh, I…er, I applied for early admissions into Auror training for next summer," Kate mumbled, wanting desperately to turn to her brother. She honestly did not what else to say. The words tumbled from her lips before she could stop them. She couldn't think about anything else without the fear Madelyn would say something that differed that. "I had an interview with Tonks today…"
"And she got it!" Madelyn finished for her.
Hermione let out a shriek and wrapped Kate into a firm hug, crushing her ribs beneath her iron grip.
"That is so wonderful, Kate!" Hermione cried, looking close to tears. Ron kissed the top of her head and smiled down proudly at her, causing Kate to avert her eyes guiltily. She swallowed with some difficulty and accepted the glass of champagne that was handed to her.
They're going to find out I lied, Kate thought to herself. All mum has to do is say something to Tonks…
"To my beautiful daughters," Hermione said holding up her glass of champagne and locking eyes with Ron briefly before clinking hers together with the others and taking a deep, reassuring gulp. She clenched the glass tightly as she suddenly got a vision of Ginny standing in front of her.
"What's the matter, mum?" Max asked, staring at his mother who had gone incredibly pale. She shook her head furiously and turned to Max with a giant smile.
"My girls are just growing up, that's all," Hermione offered, feeling Ron's eyes digging into her painfully.
They continued to go back and forth about what to do. If Ron wanted to tell them, Hermione wanted nothing more than to keep it quiet and if Ron wanted to keep quiet Hermione would feel overwhelming guilt and want to tell.
As of now Ron wanted to tell and Hermione wanted to keep it quiet. She turned to Ron and gave him a defiant look before announcing, "I'll make pancakes and bacon!"
"I'll help," Ron said, following Hermione across the room. "Why don't you kids go set the table and bring out some juice and leftover muffins?"
"Alright, daddy," Madelyn said, feeling a wave of relief crash over her. She couldn't help smiling smugly at Max as she passed. For once her mother said that she was proud of her. She had finally managed to make her mother proud of her.
Sure, she hadn't gotten a Ministry job, which would have been Hermione's first choice, but at least she wasn't a back-up dancer! She had gotten something in the middle; something secure and reliable but at the same time managing to be part of Madelyn's dream job.
"Why did you have to tell mum and dad?" Kate hissed furiously, slamming the cloth napkins onto the table and glaring over at Madelyn. She raised her eyebrows in surprise.
"I thought you wanted them to know," she responded with a shrug. "What's the big deal, anyways?"
"Because!" Kate replied, unable to supply a more suitable answer.
"It wasn't yours to tell," Max said after a seconds thought.
Madelyn turned and eyed him briefly before shrugging again, looking a little hurt. "I just thought we were sharing good news-"
"Well we weren't!" Kate snarled. There was silence from Madelyn, who busied herself with setting the plates around the table. "You need to mind your own business, Maddie!"
"I said I was sorry-"
"Just from now own keep out of everyone's business," Max said, giving her a reproving look and setting silver-wear onto napkins.
Madelyn eyed her siblings in turn. She hated when they did this. The two of them were constantly ganging up against her, tag-teaming her. Usually it was when she and Max were fighting and Kate would instantly come to Max's rescue and back him up despite what he was saying or doing. Max was the same.
Madelyn dearly wished her parents had had just one more child that she could team up with. Then at least when she was having a discussion with someone she wouldn't have to worry about being over-whelmed by two angry Weasley's.
"I don't believe either of us asked for opinion," Madelyn hurled at Max. He didn't even look up when he replied, "And I don't believe anyone asked for you to blab to mum and dad about where Kate and I were this morning and you did."
"I don't understand what the big deal is!" Madelyn cried in frustration. "I'm sorry I spilled your secret, alright? Now will you two stop picking on me?"
"Oh, yes, let's all stop picking on poor, dear Madelyn," Max said mockingly. "You surely can dish it out but you can't take it?"
"I didn't dish anything out!" Madelyn cried. "I just-"
"Stuck your nose where it didn't belong," Kate responded her voice cutting through the room like a knife.
"If memory serves correct, Kate, you told mum the news. I didn't force it out of you. You could have made something up."
"Well, unlike you, I'm not a pathological liar and lies don't come as easy to me like they do for you."
Madelyn could feel tears begin to prick her eyes and she threw back her shoulders prepared to fight this out to the death.
"I just thought you might like to share your good news with my good news-"
"Right, because your little job is such a big deal," Kate scoffed, folding a napkin and throwing it onto the plate across the table. "Congratulations you managed to get a job, big deal! It's called growing up. Mum and dad are only happy because they can't wait for you to leave." Kate could feel Madelyn's gaze as though it were pressing down upon her. A little voice in her head was telling her to stop it and leave it alone but before she could comply she said, "At least the rest of us can get jobs without unbuttoning our shirts and showing off our cleavage-"
"Pancakes!" Hermione called, coming through the swinging door, Ron behind her with a sizzling plate of bacon.
"I'm not hungry," Madelyn snapped, stomping out of the room and heading towards the stairs. She ignored Hermione's bewildered look and her cry of, "But, Maddie-!"
Ron looked at his other children to see them looking guiltily down at their hands and knew there had been a fight about something.
"What was that about?" Hermione asked Max, who looked up at her. She frowned at his guilty look and turned to Kate who was wearing an identical expression. "Kate?"
"We were…we had a little fight," she said quietly. Hermione clucked her tongue. Overhead Madelyn's door slammed and a picture on the wall next to them shook slightly.
"A little fight, huh?" she narrowed her eyes at her Kate, who knew it was like a death sentence. "About what?"
"Just…sister stuff," Kate answered, averting her gaze. She couldn't tell her parents why she was mad at Madelyn. Even more she was too ashamed to repeat what she had said to Madelyn.
"Right." Hermione's word hung in the air, allowing Max and Kate to feel the full brunt of her suspicion. "Let's eat. I'll bring some up to her when we're done."
Ron eyed Kate as she sat down. She didn't look him in the eye when he offered her the orange juice. From the time she was a baby Ron had managed to find little mannerisms that she did when she had done something wrong. She had a clump of hair behind her left ear that she tugged on until it was standing completely straight, then wrapped her index finger around it, signaling that she had done something wrong.
"Kate your father and I want to tell you again how proud we are that you're acting so maturely about your future. I can't tell you how happy I am that you got early admissions into the Auror program. Not many seventeen year old girls can say they've gotten that chance!"
Kate's hand flew to her hair as she gave a nervous giggle and responded, "Yes." She took a deep gulp of her orange juice.
Ron watched her silently. The guilt seemed to be radiating off of her at the mere mention of Auror training. If being a father for twenty years taught him anything it was how to pick up when his children were lying to them and his alarm bells were going off with every tug of her hair.
Madelyn flew into her room, slamming the door over as hard as she could. She flopped onto her bed and screamed into her pillow, tears streaming down her face. She rolled over onto her back, staring up at the ceiling which was covered with family photos.
Gazing quietly at the one of the family in Paris she fixed her gaze upon her brother and sister and felt another wave of anger wash over her.
She wondered what had provoked her sister's outburst and why Max had felt the need to (once again) leap to Kate's defense. She watched with a fresh start of bitterness as Max's arm went around Kate and they smiled down at her as though mocking her.
Madelyn rolled onto her side and dragged her security pillow into a crushing hug. Many children had security blankets that had been bestowed upon them as babies, but Madelyn had a small, worn pillow with fading pink silk with her name weaved across it in fraying gold strands. Madelyn had gotten this the day she was born.
She rubbed her face into the pillow and silently fumed that no one had come to get here or at the very least to see if she wanted some bacon.
Of course they wouldn't, Madelyn thought to herself angrily. They love it when you're not there.
She wondered if they were all making fun of her right now. She wondered if Max was mimicking her and if Kate was retelling the little jab she had made about Madelyn's cleavage.
The shock of it stung Madelyn worse than any curse Kate could have hurled at her. She expected comments like that to come from Max and Max alone but never Kate. Kate never talked to her like that and never insulted her integrity as she had downstairs. Madelyn wondered what could have gotten into her little sister.
Madelyn hugged the pillow tighter and let out a small sob before she stifled it and brushed her hair back from her face.
At that moment she hated the lot of them. She hated her brother for being such an insufferable prick with his I-Know-Better attitude that infuriated Madelyn and the way he talked to her, as if she were the family dog.
She hated Kate for being so damn…perfect. Kate could do no wrong in Ron and Hermione's eyes. She was everything they wished Madelyn would be and everything Madelyn could never be. Kate did what her parents wanted without having to be asked. She had secretly gone and gotten herself a Hermione-approved job that could not have made her parents any prouder. And just as Madelyn had suspected Hermione had nearly hit the roof with joy when Kate told her. Madelyn would have thought Kate would have been pleased. If Madelyn came home with a ministry job she would have been excited to tell Ron and Hermione.
Ron and Hermione… Madelyn sighed and closed her eyes, conjuring up a happy image of her parents. They put too much pressure on her, trying to make her something that she wasn't. Madelyn always felt that she was letting them down just by being herself. They never pressured Max like this, though he was their only boy. They sure as hell don't pressure Kate. True, they didn't have to, but still. It was an ever-increasing weight that sat upon Madelyn's shoulders. When she was doing something right, it wasn't right enough and when she was doing something wrong it couldn't be more wrong.
Madelyn sighed heavily, and opened her eyes. She locked eyes on the only good picture of the family. It had been taken just before Ginny's suicide.
The entire family stood in front of the Burrow. It had been taken by a muggle camera and no one had bothered to place the charm on it that would make it move. She let her eyes scan over the familiar faces of her grandparents, aunts and uncles. Max was the oldest Weasley cousin. He was one years old and sitting proudly on Ron's hip. Madelyn smiled as she looked down at Hermione's bulging stomach which was clearly her.
Ron and Hermione didn't know she had this picture. She had found it in the attic one day when Ron and Hermione had taken Kate out to lunch and Max had been doing Merlin knew what with his girlfriend in his bedroom. She had crept silently up the stairs, picked the lock and looked for Hermione's old essays.
She was going to be damned if she was going write an essay on such a wonderful day, especially when she had planned to sneak out and go into the city with her friends. Perhaps that old bat of a professor wouldn't notice she had simply changed the name on the essay. Surely he couldn't think nearly fifteen years back?
There was a dusty box in the corner and when she looked inside of it she saw the picture sitting on top of a dusty pile of old photos and papers. If she had not heard the front door open she would have seen the remaining contents from Ginny's room sitting inside that box.
"Madelyn?" There was a brief knock on the door before her mother entered, a plate of pancakes and bacon in her hand. Madelyn quickly slid the picture under her pillow as Hermione tripped over a shoe. Hermione looked at her tear stained face and pout and set the plate on the bedside table, opening her arms for Madelyn to fall into. She sat down on the bed and let Madelyn's head rest against her shoulder.
"You're really proud, right mum?"
"Of course, darling," Hermione murmured softly into Madelyn's hair. "You always make me proud." Madelyn sniffled. "And no matter what your brother and sister said, you will always make us proud." She nodded against her mother's shoulder.
Hermione kissed the top of her head and smoothed down her hair. Madelyn had the prettiest hair Hermione had ever seen. It was long and sleek and the prettiest shade of red that a person could ever think of.
"Come down in a little while," Hermione instructed as she closed the door over, feeling better when Madelyn nodded assuring at her.
Madelyn turned to the picture and smiled at it, thinking of how young her mother looked and how happy the entire family seemed to be even though the War was still raging on around them.
She placed the picture back on the edge of her bedside table and watched it for a second before grabbing her plate and rolling a pancake around a slice of bacon. She bit into it, her attention still on the picture. She loved seeing her parents when they were young as it reminded Madelyn that they were like her when they were younger…though, not so much Hermione.
Madelyn set her plate down and reached for the orange juice, her arm knocking into the picture, which fell to the floor with a crash.
"Shit!" she hissed, bending down and picking the back of the frame up, the picture and glass staying on the floor. She frowned.
The picture had been folded over at the end. She picked it up and flipped it around and unfolded the worn picture. Her frown deepened as she revealed Harry Potter standing with a broad smile, his arm thrown around Ginny, who had her hand on Bill's shoulder who was crouched in front of her, nearly blocking her from view.
"What the…" she said in confusion. Just then there was another knock on the door and she turned to it sharply. "Who is it?" She turned back to the mess on the floor and looked around for her wand. A small nagging part of her brain was telling her that her parents might not want to know she had this.
"Go away," Madelyn replied instantly, picking up a shirt and looking underneath it in search of her wand. "I don't want to talk to you. I'm too busy stuffing my bra for my first day tomorrow. Come back later."
"Please, Maddie," Kate pleaded through the door. Madelyn turned to it huffily as she heard the door handle turn. Kate entered looking sheepish. "I brought you this." She extended her hands to show three fresh chocolate cookies still steaming from the oven. Despite her anger Madelyn found her mouth water in defiance of her mind. She shifted her weight and moved her hand too far to the left and let out a small cry as her finger was sliced open by a piece of glass.
"Are you alright?" Kate asked, placing the plate of cookies on the bed and bending down to see Madelyn's hand.
"I'm fine," she replied moodily, sucking her finger into her hand. She spotted her wand by the door and got up to get it. She turned back and saw Kate pick up the picture and silently pull back the bent area, revealing Harry.
"Maddie…" Kate said softly. "Where did you get this?"
"I don't know," Madelyn replied, "the attic maybe? I can't really remember. Why?" She noticed the sudden change in her sister's mood and despite her anger she was curious. "Hello? Earth to Kate!"
"The attic? When did you get into the attic?"
"Like, I don't know, three years ago?" Madelyn replied, waving her wand and silently removing the glass from the floor. "Again, why?"
"How did you get in there? Mum's got that sealed shut." The attic had been Hermione's office for a while until she got tired of the creaky stairs and drafty winters. However, most of her old files were still locked up inside of the room.
"I just picked the lock," Madelyn replied with a small shrug. "It didn't stop me from going up there. I think-Hey!" she cried as Kate shoved past her and opened the door, glancing around quickly to insure her mother was not roaming the hallway. "Where are you-?"
"Quiet," Kate hissed softly, stepping onto the hardwood floor as silently as she could. Madelyn watched the back of her sister's head with a growing sense of irritation. She had come up to her room and instead of apologizing she had been far more interested in a moldy old picture.
"What are you doing?"
"Shh," Kate replied, turning to Madelyn with a glare. "Just be quiet!" She walked down the hallway to the banister overlooking the main hall and part of the living room and kitchen. She peered over it, catching a glimpse of her mother's bushy hair as she methodically went around the room tidying it up.
"Alright," Kate said, coming back and eying Madelyn silently. "Can you do me a favor?"
"No," Madelyn replied immediately. "I don't know what you're going on about and my big boobs didn't like your lack of an apology."
"Oh, Maddie! You know I'm sorry!" Kate snapped.
"It wouldn't hurt you to say so," Madelyn replied moodily. She folded her arms and waited for Kate to do so.
"I'm sorry, Madelyn," she replied. "I shouldn't have said anything like that about you. It was completely uncalled for."
"Thank you," Madelyn replied satisfied and unfolded her arms, her body language changing drastically. "What do you need me to do?"
Ron was just sitting down to spend a relaxing afternoon reading the paper, studying the Quidditch scores from rival teams and sipping butterbeer by the crate. However when the sudden, house-shaking bang sounded through the house, causing pictures on the wall to fall to the ground with a smash, his plans for a relaxing afternoon were dashed.
"What the hell was that?" Hermione cried, running into the living room, gazing at her husband as though he were the one that did it. "It's coming from the basement…"
"Great…" Ron muttered, throwing down the paper and leading the way towards the basement which was currently hemorrhagingsmoke. Ron held out his wand as Hermione clutched his arm painfully hard.
They heard faint coughs coming from within the smoke. Ron inched forward, Hermione holding onto him as tightly as possible, causing Ron to toss her an annoyed look. She instantly let go and slipped her wand out from her back pocket.
"Who's down there?" Hermione called. Ron raised his eyebrows at her. "What?"
"Just let them know we're coming, why don't you," he muttered.
"As if they wouldn't know," Hermione snapped. "You'd have to be in a coma to ignore that explosion."
Ron went down only one stair when two red heads came running up the stairs each holding their hands over their mouths. Ron looked at his eldest children questioningly as they tried desperately to get the smoke out of their lungs.
"Explain. Now." His voice was firm and commanding, causing Max to miss a beat in breathing.
"Madelyn can't concoct a potion to save her arse, that's what happened," he said, still coughing. "I was trying to test out the cauldron's we picked up in that old warehouse and I asked her to make a potion in it and…" He gestured at the smoke coming out of the basement.
"What were you trying to make?" Hermione asked, fanning the smoke away from her face. She was bewildered that Max had asked for Madelyn's help and even more surprised she accepted. Also, Madelyn with a cauldron was never exactly a reassuring sight unless she was putting it away.
"I don't know, really," Madelyn replied with a careless shrug. "I just thought if I could add anything to the water then-"
"You put water in the cauldron?" Hermione asked.
"Wasn't I supposed to?" Madelyn tried to hide her smile as her parents continued to look from their children to the basement in dismay.
It had been quite easy to come up with a plan of "attack" as Kate called it. Madelyn went down to Max's room and gave him the very cryptic message of, "Kate needs to do something about the thing and she wants you and me to cause a distraction." Max obviously knew what she was talking about because after only a minute of thought he grabbed her hand and they crept downstairs into the basement.
"Add the frog's toe when I say to," Max had instructed, looking at the book swiftly. "Ok, now." As he had hoped the potion went from the correct blue to a ghastly shade of orange. "Now, put the…No! Not that! We don't want to blow the house up."
Madelyn wasn't fond of potion making. In a perfect world she could just throw random things into the cauldron and it would come out perfect. Also in a perfect world she would be blonde with blue eyes, bigger boobs and smaller thighs. Oh, and she would be engaged to Dugan Mulroy.
"What about this?" Madelyn asked, poised to drop it into the cauldron. Max eyed it quickly before saying, "Yeah, alright. Just a pinch, though." Madelyn put a pinch in, though much of it stuck to her finger, so she added another pinch which was really just a few specs, so she added another pinch and the potion imploded with smoke.
"Madelyn, what did you add?" Max bellowed, trying to find the book through all the smoke that was currently spilling out of the potion.
"What you told me to!" she cried, coughing heavily. "Ugh, I can't breathe in here! How much longer?"
"I don't know. We needed to make a distraction…not a cancerous environment. Hand me the ladle so I can-"
Madelyn's hand knocked into a vial, which dropped into the potion with a small 'plink!' It was a full second before Max said, "What was that?" and the potion exploded with a bang. Madelyn threw her hands up and felt herself fly back, landing with a painful thud against a bookshelf. Her back seared with pain.
"Way to go, chief!" Max called a minute later. "You're lucky you didn't kill us, you idiot!"
"You said make a distraction!" Madelyn snarled, heaving herself up and coughing uncontrollably. "I'm sure mum and dad-"
"Who's down there?" Hermione's voice radiated through the smoke and met Madelyn's ears. Max could almost feel her smirk across the room.
"Shut up," he hissed, coughing into his hand. "Let's get out of here…quickly." Together they ran up the stairs until they could see the sunlight streaming in from the kitchen windows. Max knocked into Ron's shoulder in his haste to get away from the smoke invading his lungs.
They explained to their parents what had happened downstairs. Hermione looked quite horrified when Max admitted he had let Madelyn even look at a cauldron.
"I'm so sorry," Madelyn said, still coughing. She turned to her mother with an award-worthy look, big, fat tears threatening to spill over her eyes onto her cheeks. Hermione pursed her lips and looked at Ron as though for help.
He looked at the ceiling and shook his head as though to ask, "What am I going to do with these kids?" before giving Hermione a smile that clearly said, "Lucky us, huh?"
She rolled her eyes. "It's alright, you didn't mean too, right?" Madelyn nodded a slight flush coming to her cheeks. "There then. No worries. Ron, help me…"
They went down the stairs and cleared the smoke out as quickly as possible. Once done Hermione glanced around the room to make sure no major damage had been done. She started when she saw that the top windows had been blown out. A giant scorch mark covered the wall to her left.
"I can't even imagine what the neighbors must be thinking," Hermione said to Ron, waving her wand and repairing the windows. Ron was by the wall attempting to get the scorch mark out. He eyed it and then shook his head. "I hope the fire department isn't called again," Hermione said, referring to the numerous times a potion or spell had signaled the neighbors to call the police or fire department. To add to that the nearest neighbor was all the way down the path, almost a half mile away.
Hermione turned towards the stairs, something nagging almost painfully on her brain. She looked around wondering if she had missed something. She frowned and picked up a fallen book. The books from the bookshelf lay on the floor. With a wave of her wand they were back in their rightful place.
Suddenly, it came to her.
Kate hadn't come down when she heard the explosion.
"Ron, where's Kate?"
"I don't know," he replied, frowning in frustration at the muck that wouldn't come off the walls. "What kind of potion was this?" he muttered to himself. "Only Madelyn…"
"She didn't come down when the potion exploded," Hermione said, her voice rising to gain her husband's attention. He turned to her.
"So," Hermione snarled, "that explosion rocked the entire house! Surely she had felt it. Why wouldn't she come down to see what have happened?"
"Unless she was taking advantage of the distraction…"
Hermione nodded and rushed towards the stairs, hearing Ron right behind her. They got to the top of the stairs and glanced around for her eldest children, who were standing by the counter looking at the basement door.
"Where are you-?" Madelyn asked as they rushed past them.
"Shit," Max muttered softly and raised his wand, tapping the little gold coin in his hand. He silently prayed that Kate would feel it.
Kate knew better than to wait for the distraction to go up into the attic. Even if it was as bad as she hoped it was Hermione could have it fixed within minutes. So, as soon as she heard her siblings go downstairs she walked down the silent hall to the attic door. It was closed, as it always was. In all of her memories it had been only opened once.
It was only a vague recollection but she could still feel the carpet beneath her bare feet and the dampness of her hair fresh from the shower. She couldn't have been any older than five. As she went up the stairs she heard low voices talking and immediately recognized her mother and father. They turned towards her as soon as she reached the last step, Hermione's eyes filled with startled fear. Ron had come and scooped Kate into his arms and carried her over his shoulder until they reached the second floor.
"Remember what mummy and I talked to you about?" he whispered. Kate could remember that his breath smelt faintly of Sugarquills, his secret obsession. "You're not supposed to come up here. Be a good girl and go downstairs with your brother. He'll read you a story if you ask him." Ron smiled at her and she was comforted.
Kate had nodded obediently and walked down the hall. She turned at the beginning of the stairs to look at her father. His smile was gone from his face.
Now, nearly twelve years later, Kate crouched down at the door and peered inside the key hole. She could just barely make out the first steps, some light on the very last one she could see.
Kate reached into her back pocket and took out the small hair pin and bent it into a more usable shape. She stuck it into the lock and stuck her tongue out slightly, squinting her eyes closed in concentration.
After a frustrating moment something clicked. Kate glanced at the door handle hopefully and turned it. It turned all the way and when she pulled on it the door opened with a loud creak. She winced and looked over her shoulder before hurrying up the stairs.
The room gave her the creeps. She hurried up the stairs and glanced around quickly. She wished there was a box labeled, 'Incriminating evidence' or 'Here, Kate, look no further' but there wasn't. She timidly opened a drawer to the old desk finding nothing but broken quills. On the desk top was an empty inkwell and old parchment along with an assortment of folders jam-packed with papers. Kate opened one and glanced at the top paper to see it written in a different language. She frowned and closed the folder and peered around the room.
In the corner, like Madelyn said, sat an old looking box that seemed to be sagging at the edges as though the weight of it's contents were overwhelming. Kate hurried towards it and bent down in front of it, her hands flying to the top of the box and opening the flaps to the side.
Whatever she had been expecting, it wasn't this. She thought perhaps there would be a box filled with various birth certificates or pictures of Ginny with a baby. Kate sifted through the box quickly.
She jumped considerably when the floor vibrated and alerted her to the fact that Madelyn and Max had made a distraction. She hurried up. The clock has just started and she gave herself no more than five more minutes before Hermione and Ron were done. Though they may not know she was in here she didn't want the chance that they would see her coming out of the room.
Just as Kate was about to stop going through the box her hand grazed something leathery. She stuck her hand in further and yanked out an old, worn journal with a leather cover on the front. She frowned and opened it silently.
A picture slid out of it and onto Kate's lap. She looked down at it and felt herself gasp. There was a picture of the four of them. Ginny had her head resting on Harry's shoulder, while he laughed at something. Ginny was beaming into the camera, her smile radiating through the barrier. Next to them were Ron and Hermione. They weren't as affectionate as Ron and Hermione, but Kate couldn't mistake that Hermione was not looking at Ron with anything other than love, which he seemed to reciprocate. This picture too hadn't been magicked and Kate found herself wondering when it had been taken. She flipped it over to see a small scrawling signature towards the bottom.
Bill and Fleur's Wedding. August, 1997.
Kate ran her fingers over her mother's face, so young and not yet riddled with the guilt that Ginny would place on them. Kate found herself frowning.
Ginny and Harry looked unbelievably happy with each other. What could have made Ginny give up her child?
Coming back to her senses Kate looked down at the journal in her hand and opened it. The pages were old and worn and despite this Kate found herself flipping through them eagerly. They were filled with black writing and seemed to be never ending.
She closed the book and set it on her lap as she placed her hand back into the box in search of something else. She realized that this must have been the last of Ginny's belongings. She wondered briefly why Ron and Hermione had them and then she got it. They obviously thought that one day they would have to confess to their daughter and they wanted to have something to show her, whoever it may be.
The coin in Kate's pocket burned and she jumped and started, glancing around to make sure that everything was in order. The placed everything back into the box and sprinted to the stairs and running down them quickly. She got into the hallway and closed the door over, sticking the pin into the lock and moving it around.
"Come on!" she growled. She heard her parents hurrying down the hall towards the stairs. Finally it gave a reassuring click and she turned, unsure of what to do. Surely her parents thought she had been where she had been and she couldn't very well get caught.
Kate sprinted into her room and closed the door over. Opening her third drawer she shoved the journal and picture under some clothes and glanced around the room frantically. There was a knock on the door just as Kate spotted a pink towel lying in the corner. She quickly bent down and picked it up, wrapping it up in her hair just as she called, "Come in!"
The door opened slowly and to reveal her parents staring at her as though they expected her to burst into an apology.
"What was that bang?" she asked, hoping her face wasn't flushed and that the tremor she thought she heard in her voice wasn't there. "I was in the shower and I thought I felt the ground shake and got out and got dressed…I was washing my hair and had to get the rest of the shampoo out." There. That was a viable excuse.
There was silence. Hermione was watching her daughter's face looking for any sign that she was fibbing. Ron said, "Your brother and sister cocked up a potion."
"Ron, language!" Hermione snapped, getting distracted. She gave Ron a glare and turned back to Kate. "We just wanted to make sure you were alright."
Kate knew she was lying. She knew Hermione was hoping to catch her in the attic rifling away through a box. For her part, Hermione seemed quite relieved that Kate didn't tread into the attic.
"I'm fine." Luckily, her hair was tied tight in the towel or her hand would have shot to the one patch of hair.
"Ok." Ron watched her closely. She didn't seem to be lying, though he couldn't tell with her anymore. "We'll leave you alone, then."
Ron and Hermione waited for her door to close over before Hermione said, "I think she's lying."
"Me too," Ron replied.
They went towards the bathroom as though expecting an answer to their suspicions, though as they got closer they saw the steam streaming from the room.
"Oh," they said dumbly. Kate wouldn't have had enough time to steam the shower and get back to her room before Hermione and Ron got upstairs.
"I guess she wasn't lying," Hermione said slowly with a small shrug. Ron was incredibly relieved. He didn't want Kate finding anything in the attic that would lead her to ask questions.
"Still," Ron said but Hermione had already read his mind and raised her wand and cast a spell on the door. "You read my mind."
"I know," Hermione said, smiling happily at him. "Let's go for a walk."
"Alright," Ron said, taking her hand and leading her down the stairs. As he went he turned towards the attic door with a frown. He thought there was something he missed but Hermione tugged him along and within ten minutes it was forgotten.
Luckily for Kate he didn't see the hairpin sticking out from the lock.
A/N: Nothing really happening, happening in this chapter but much more to come! We are steadily reaching the climactic confrontation between Kate and her parents.