Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Reading the Will
She sighed and lowered her hood, knowing that the darkness would hide her face as she started down the pavement, pausing to glance in the windows of the now closed shops. She stood in front of the apothecary for several minutes without realizing the footfalls she had heard on the pavement had stopped at the same time as her own. Cursing herself for letting her defences down she waited for the stranger to make himself known.
"Mrs Wilkes, may I have a moment?" Kingsley's low voice spoke behind her.
She raised her eyes to his in the window's reflection and smirked. "It's been a long time Shacks, a long, long time."
"You need to push up your sleeves Mrs Wilkes. It wouldn't do if I said that you not only got away, but also hexed me in the process," his chuckle sounded warm and genuine to her ears.
"Ah, don't you trust me Shacks?" She lifted her arms and held her hands palms up to him, allowing him to push up her sleeves and remove her wand.
"Yes," she said flatly. "If I had two do you think I would tell you? Tell me Shacks, what else did you expect to find? A tattoo perhaps? Some sort of mark?"
"No," he said seriously, "I think you would not only tell me about a second wand but give it to me if I asked."
"And the tattoo?"
"Mrs… Angelica, I was not looking for that. I am sorry if you thought it."
"My, a Ministry lackey with a heart. Tell me Shacks, how did you know I was here?"
"You know I won't tell you that, yet. Enough to say that whoever it was chose to tell me personally, in his own way. A friend perhaps, or an old Order member. It should be enough for you to know you are watched."
"Only two knows I am in town, and I don't think either one would have floo-ed you, so let's cut the shite and tell me what you really want."
"I need to know what you want here."
"Oh, I thought I would stop by and toss out a few curses. You know a few unforgivables for old time's sake, to bring some excitement to the town."
He crossed his arms high on his chest and brought down his chin to lie on his chest, looking at her from under his brows.
"Good Merlin Shacks, can't a witch do a little window shopping?"
"If that is all you are doing."
"Yeah, right," she muttered and began to walk away from him.
"Mrs Wilkes," Kingsley called to her back. "You need to talk to me."
"No, don't think I do Shacks," she called over her shoulder. "Keep the wand, I have another."
His long strides brought him up alongside her quickly. He grabbed her arm and yanked her back, spinning her around and then pushed her back against the building.
"You didn't hear me. I said, you need to talk to me." His grin had disappeared as he glowered down at her.
"Should we start with old times? Remember the time we …"
"Do not make the mistake to think I still consider you a friend."
"That hurt Shacks. Why I would think you…"
"Shacklebolt, or Kingsley."
She tried to look away from him before he could see her tears that she felt sting her eyes. Unable to breathe evenly, she shrugged as she felt her chin start to shake.
"Let me go," she whispered, finally able to turn her head away from his gaze.
"I can't do that."
"Why? What do you think I have done? You killed my husband, isn't that enough?"
"There are still those that think you were with them."
"And you Shacks? What do you believe?" she turned back to lock her eyes on his.
"That you had already left him. That it was you that gave up his location. If I am right then I can help you."
"Then let me go," she admitted the truth. "You know if they find out I am dead."
"How do I know you tell the truth?"
"It was a barn owl that brought the message. I wrote on the back of a Flourish and Blotts receipt. Good enough?"
"Sounds right. Why did you never come forward?"
"Sure, you'd all just trip over yourselves to believe me. No Shacks, it was better the way it was. Now just go get yourself a pint and let me walk away."
"I can't do that. I made a promise." He reached into his robes and pulled out a red journal. "I made a promise to him that you would be safe. It was the only thing that seemed to worry him at the end."
She swallowed hard and shook her head as her eyes became riveted to the book he held in his hands.
"I don't think even he thought you would burn down your home."
She jerked her head up and saw him smile at her. "He wanted me to reset the wards. Imagine my surprise when I found nothing left to ward."
"That bastard!" she hissed. "He left me, he knew he wouldn't make it, but he went anyway. He just went anyway. I didn't even get to say goodbye."
She felt hot tears slide down her face and a hand squeeze her chest so hard that she hurt. She put the heels of her hands to her eyes and swore.
"How did you find me? Really."
"The book. He charmed it to change colour when you were near. It was blue until about an hour ago. So, when I told you someone told me you were here, it was him."
"You knew? That I was… that …"
"He gave me the journal and asked me to give it to you and to reset the wards. Until that time, you were a complete secret. One I am at a loss of what to do with now."
"Just leave me," she wiped her eyes on her sleeve.
He reached for her right hand with his left and pressed the journal into it. "I will be honest. I tried to read what he has written, but he must have put a spell on it, for your eyes only."
She pulled the journal away from him and clasped it to her chest. Lowering her head, she rested her chin on the sharp edge of the binding and smelled the scent of leather. Her breath hitched as she began to sob and turned her back on Kingsley, resting her forehead against the brick building.
"I will not leave you like this," he said kindly. "We owe him at least this."
"No," she spoke softly into the wall. "You owe him nothing. Nothing do you hear me? He wanted nothing and that's what he got. Nothing. No-one ever asked him what he wanted, so he wanted only what he had. He never dreamed he could have more."
"NO!" She spun back to him enraged. "He died for those arseholes. He died and they still laugh at him. Only now, they all want to pretend that they knew him. That damnable paper runs stories about him, making things up and poking around. They even buried him at that school that they had forced on him. That old man that made him oath his life away, that's the only reason he stayed there. He hated it. He hated it I tell you. Now he lays there in the ground, alone, and he hates it."
"Angelica, he is not there, only the shell…"
"Oh my gods, don't do that. Don't talk in platitudes. Don't belittle him."
"No," she raised her chin and tried to smile. "It's over. He left me everything I need. Enough money to start over. He had it put in my vault. That's all I want, all I need."
"Your business here is done?"
"Yes, you can ask an Arthur Weasley for some journals that he wanted sent to the Ministry. He should have got them by now, even with a slow owl. I just need one more night here, then I am leaving."
"May I ask where?"
"You can ask anything you want. I stopped giving people what they want a long time ago, so don't expect an answer."
"Then have your night. If you change your mind send me a message, I still owe him that."
"Sure Shacks," her voice trembled. "I'll send you a journal. One that everyone can write in about what they should have done, what they almost did. Then we can dig a hole and throw it in. We can bury it like they buried him and forget everything that really happened and make up fairy tales about him."
She apparated to the grounds near his grave and for the last time walked slowly to sit near him and talk into the morning. She told him that the last of his journals had been delivered. She told him of Neville and of Andromeda, and about how grown up Draco looked. She said goodbye and knew she would never come here again. Then she remembered the journal Kingsley had given her.
She pulled her wand and cast a soft Lumos to light its tip to be able to read. She rifled through the pages and frowned at seeing nothing written, but then found a short message on the last page.
You have asked only one thing from me that I have until now been unable to give you. I give it to you now freely, and without reservation. I give you my promise that I love you, now and for always.
Angelica laid her hand on the cold ground, closed her eyes and smiled through her tears.
"Arse," she said aloud. "Always getting the last word."
Thanks for all the kind reviews and interest expressed in this once short piece. I just wanted to make a couple of comments.
Since Snape did not live to see the end of the battle his perspective of things would be a lot different from what we know of cannon. He did not see Draco's parents and their resolve to save their son. Nor was he privy to all the information of Remus' and Tonks' life.
It may seem a little out of character for him to write to Petunia, but he was eleven or twelve years old at the time and as such had not reached his adult persona. I do not find it strange at all that a child that age would want to stay connected to the only life he had known and he may have felt Petunia would write to him because of their shared bond with Lily. When the other students received mail by owl he, an eleven year old boy, away from home for the first time, would have wanted something to be sent to him.
Petunia would not have seen the cruelty in what she was doing. Many people abuse children thinking it for their own good and she thought Harry, unlike her sister, would harm himself if left alone.
Also even abused children love their parents. They may be angry, they may not 'like' them, but they do love them, and Petunia was his mother in all ways expect biological.