A/N: You've reached Part III of my Fred Weasley/Juliet Christie story. I've been writing this story for nearly five years now, so I was quite young when I started. My writing has improved immensely since I first began writing Strange Things Come in Threes and I applaud everyone for sticking with me through all of this time. I can't stand to even look at Strange Things now, as I feel the writing is terrible in comparison to Part II (And the Plot Thickens). I hope I'll continue to grow and improve as a writer.
I hope any new readers will cut me some slack with the first part of my story, as it was my first try at writing…
AND I hope all of you "old" readers left me a review on the last chapter of And the Plot Thickens before you came looking for this.
Thanks for all the support everyone!
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my character and my plotline. Everything you recognize, including characters, plot developments, settings, and certain scenes and lines from the Harry Potter series, belong to JK Rowling.
--- PROLOGUE ---
I don't know how I made it through that summer. I was frightened…I was sad…and worst of all, I was alone. Not a night passed by where I didn't ponder about the death of Cedric Diggory, and although I was past the stage of sobbing myself to sleep, there were still nights when I woke up from nightmares of running to catch him on the way to the Triwizard Cup. On those mornings I was covered in cold sweat, and the terrors of that horrid day echoed within me with each hour that passed for the remainder of the day.
I didn't see anyone that summer, aside from my parents. Fred and George seemed to have fallen off of the face of the earth. I sent them a few letters, but when they wrote back it was always with a few friendly words and some bizarre mention about how they weren't at the Burrow. I tried asking Mum about it, but she seemed keen on keeping me out of the loop. It was frustrating.
Katie Bell wrote to me on several occasions. I asked her about Fred and George, hoping she knew where they were staying…if they weren't at the Burrow that meant I couldn't visit. Unfortunately, she hadn't had any idea what they were talking about either. That was at least mildly comforting, as I wasn't the only one being left out.
None of us heard from Alicia that summer, which we all found a bit odd. Katie wrote saying she hadn't heard a word from her in weeks, and strangely, neither had George. I found that extraordinarily strange. They were dating, and it wasn't like Alicia to fail to contact any of her friends…let alone George.
Thus, I wasn't really certain about what was going on with the others, despite the letters. Fred and George kept referring to some secret the adults were keeping from them. I was curious, but every time I asked they told me it wasn't safe, and I'd have to wait to speak to them in person. I was confused and frustrated, but no amount of persuasion could force them into giving me any more information in their letters.
Fortunately, I stumbled across the answer myself without needing to so much as leave my home.
On one particularly dark and cold night—one of those nights when nightmares about the day of Cedric's death kept me wide awake and frightened—I tip-toed down the stairs of my house to get a glass of water. My mouth was swollen and dry, and my hands were shaking from the nightmares. I was feeling a little light-headed and opted to go down and try to make myself well again. I hoped I wouldn't wake my parents, but by the time I had reached the bottom of the stairs I realized they were already awake.
They were in the kitchen bickering. I lingered in the hallway to eavesdrop.
"Margaret, there's no need to get so worked up about this!" My father was saying. "Dumbledore is brilliant. He knows what he's doing. There's no sense in waiting around here for You-Know-Who to come back to power. We might as well be doing something useful."
"But joining the Order?" my mother said, and I scrunched up my face in confusion. The Order? "Kirk, do you really think we should be jumping in to something like that? We don't even know for sure—"
"Don't know for sure?!" Dad's voice was disbelieving. "Marge, Juliet was there! Your daughter saw those boys get taken. You-Know-Who was behind it, you must know that!"
"I'm just being realistic," Mum defended. "We can't possibly know for sure what happened, because we weren't there."
"You don't believe your own daughter?" Dad asked.
I stared dumbly at the wall in front of me, uncertain of how to feel. They were arguing over me. They were fighting about the day You-Know-Who returned…the day Cedric died. I felt my hands shaking harder as my mind replayed my nightmare in my head.
I pushed it back and tried to listen.
"She wasn't there either," Mum said. "She didn't see what happened to those boys."
I felt my mouth drop open. My mother…my own bloody mother didn't believe me. I had told them what I saw happen the very day I returned home from Hogwarts. Mum had taken me into my arms to consol me…and yet, she hadn't believed a word of it! She thought I was lying! My hands were trembling again, but this time in anger and hurt.
"What else could have happened, Marge?!" Dad asked. "You think Harry Potter planted the Portkey and killed that poor Cedric all on his own, do you?"
"That's not what I'm saying—"
"Then what are you saying?!" Dad roared. "Dumbledore wouldn't just jump to a conclusion without evidence, Margaret. He knows You-Know-Who's back. You think this is all just some stupid joke? Then what happened to Cedric Diggory, tell me."
"I don't know, Kirk!" Mum screeched. "Maybe it was an accident. Maybe poor Harry didn't want to face the fact that he caused the poor boy's death…maybe he made the whole thing up!"
"He must have an excellent imagination, then," Dad said sarcastically. "And Juliet? She's in on the lie too, is she?"
I felt my breath catch in my throat and I fought back the fury and resentment building up inside of me. How could Mum doubt me like that? How could she think for even a second that I would lie about Cedric's death? The thought was infuriating. Had she not known how important Cedric Diggory had been to me? I nearly launched myself into the kitchen to join the argument right then, but I held myself back, intent on hearing what else was going to be said.
"Have you taken a look at her lately?" Mum asked. "She's torn apart, Kirk. She's broken. A person like that…they'd do anything to ease the pain of what happened. Juliet thinks of Harry as a brother. If she didn't want to believe he caused this, she'd think up another explanation…go along with—"
"Would you listen to yourself?!" Dad yelled. "You honestly think Juliet is capable of that? Our own daughter? She loved that boy, Margaret. She wouldn't lie about his death! If it had been Harry, she would have said so!"
"Oh really? You think she wouldn't lie to cover for her friends, Kirk? What about Fred Weasley? What if he had killed Cedric? Do you think she wouldn't have lied for him?"
My dad scoffed, and I felt my mouth dropping open in shock and horror.
"Not our daughter. She would never do that," he said, his voice angry and quiet now. "The fact that you can even think such a thing shows just how little you know about her."
"You don't think I know my own daughter?" Mum asked, offended.
"If you honestly believe the rubbish you're spouting now, then no, you don't know her," Dad said.
I heard the clatter of dishes and the angry footsteps of my mother coming my way, and I quickly dodged her, hiding in the darkness behind the kitchen door. She hurried past me with a scowl on her face without taking any notice of me cowering there in the corner.
I listened to her footsteps fade away, heading up the stairs, followed by the slamming of her bedroom door.
I took a deep breath, and without thinking, stepped into the kitchen.
My dad was there, staring out the kitchen window, clutching angrily at the ledge in front of him. I couldn't see his face, but I could tell he was absolutely rigid with anger. I had never seen him in such a state before in my life. It was quite terrifying, but at the same time, it was encouraging.
I knew the world didn't believe Harry Potter. I knew the newspapers were saying awful things about him and his claim about the return of You-Know-Who. I knew the Ministry were trying to play it off like Harry was some kind of attention-seeking prat just out to cause mischief. And although my name was never publicly used—no one officially knew that I had been involved in the disaster in any way—anyone who doubted Harry also doubted me.
My mother doubted me, it seemed, but my father…he believed me.
"Dad?" I said quietly, watching him for any sign of a reaction.
He didn't stir. I wondered if he had even heard me.
"What are you doing up?" he asked. He didn't sound angry, but he couldn't fool me. I knew it was there, underneath the false sense of surprise playing on his voice.
"What is the Order?" I asked.
He turned toward me then, knowing immediately I had heard the entire thing.
There was a moment that passed between us where my father seemed to make up his mind about a question that had been plaguing him for Merlin knows how long. His features turned down into one of determination, and when he spoke, his voice was firm and final.
"That's where we're headed," he told me, pausing to study my face. "Go pack your things. Don't wake your mother."