I know I left you guys with a bit of a cliff-hanger, so I won't leave you here for too long; I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for the great response from the last chapter and that I hope you like how this chapter continues the story. Also please note that there will be a chapter of Audrey Potter's Prelude updated next week, in lieu of a chapter here...it's an important one you don't want to miss!
Chapter 84 – The Gambit
They were gone. Those stupid Gryffindors had left me to fend for myself as the Death Eaters were attacking; they had left to go on their hunt and who knew if they would be back for me – no, not who knew, I knew. I knew they wouldn't be back for me. They couldn't consider coming back now that the Burrow had been discovered as the safe house, now that all of the protections had been dropped. As much as I wanted to blame them for something that haven't yet done – as much as I wanted to blame them for that false hope I had, I knew that there was no point to it...now. Not during the battle. Not when I could see the exact reason why they wouldn't come back. Then again, if they hadn't left me this wouldn't be a bloody issue. Those hypocrites said that we would do this together, that we could only do it together...and now look at how apart we really were.
Something tugged me more harshly, pulling me back from where I had raged while I watched my best chance at escape disappear. I looked up to see that it was Fred who had held me back – the bastard – and he was now shouting out spells, trying to keep the Death Eaters at bay. I realized suddenly that I was being absolutely no help to him; I had been completely shell-shocked and was acting stupidly reckless by throwing myself toward the one person the Death Eaters had obviously come for. I blinked furiously, trying to right my brain, trying to make everything stop screaming about how devastated I was that I had been abandoned. Again.
Abandoned again – that's twice in nearly as many months that someone had run and left me to fend for myself. That's twice that I've been left now – first my boyfriend, now my brother. What the fuck does that say about me?
I looked around wildly at the reminder of what being left for the Death Eaters and what being left because of the Death Eaters could possibly mean...What were the chances that Draco could be here? We were being attacked by the same people he had run away from me with. We were being attacked by Death Eaters who were on the hunt for me and apparently, at one point, he had wanted to keep me safe from that. Could he be here, looking for me, either to keep me safe or to hunt me down?
And on that note, who else could have been in the crowd of hunters? Could it be Theodore, Blaise, Lillian, Snape? Could he be here to finish off the job that he had begun last spring? After all, he had killed the headmaster in cold blood...no, no Audrey, stop dissolving like this. You know that Snape had some twisted reasoning behind what he'd done – he had said he'd never been a murderer and had never wanted to be; he had even begged you to forgive him...possibly. So something else had to fuel him to take Dumbledore's life...just like he had taken Circe's. Like he had murdered my kneazle and left her in the corridor I was patrolling, just so I could see his fine work.
Probably not the most encouraging of thoughts.
"We need to get you out of here!" Fred yelled over the chaos. His words nearly sounded blurred thanks to my own thoughts disrupting everything else my mind could comprehend. "Do you know where they went?"
"Of course not," I grumbled out, slipping my wand properly back between my fingers. "That would have been logical."
"Either way you can't stay here," he yelled again.
"I can't just leave without anywhere to go! Besides, you all need another wand to help."
"Do you really think now is the time to try to prove the sorting hat wrong?" Fred demanded with as much humour as he could pour into his words during a time like this. He turned to me and glared while I shot at someone who had noticed his turned back. "Get out of here!"
"If you're trying to be funny it's not worki-" I stopped as over Fred's shoulder I noticed someone who had set the long silvery train of Fleur's dress alight just a few meters away. The Death Eater stalked ever closer as she panicked and tried to put out the fire that would soon lick at her legs. "Crucio!"
Amazingly, the spell hit its mark, sending the man to the ground as he howled to match with Fleur's cries for help. I moved around Fred quickly, moving to help extinguish the tatters of her train. She was in tears, her hands shaking and losing grip on her wand while she tried to calm herself down. Her wedding had been ruined; the memory charred like the back bits of her dress.
"WHERE ARE THE POTTERS?"
Alright, maybe it was time to go.
After I knew she was not going to start burning up again, I turned to the Death Eater that was still rolling on the ground behind me. After kicking away his wand I tried hard to distinguish who was behind that stupid mask and that ridiculous hood – I didn't seem to recognize him; which may have been to both his benefit and his detriment. At least if I knew him he'd have the possibility to run, as I might feel too guilty to put him under the curse again...but because I didn't know him, I had few grudges held and would feel very little guilt...
But I wasn't going to let anyone run away from me like that ever again.
"What are you looking for?" I demanded, bending down at an awkward angle in this ridiculous skirt so that I could stick the tip of my wand to his neck. "So you're here for Potter, then? Because he's long gone!"
The Death Eater looked at me, panting heavily from the curse while his eyes raked over me. It seemed like he was taking a mental inventory of the new woman that was in front of him – and suddenly, his eyes sparked to life. That probably wasn't good.
"Not him, no," the Death Eater ground out, "for you."
This stupid dress came to the rescue again as he shoved me back with his hand, a good hit to the stomach that knocked the wind out of me and made me fall because I couldn't move my legs. I fell flat on my back from the surprise of it – it hadn't really hurt, but it'd definitely caught me by surprise. I heard him calling out to the other Death Eaters; something about having found her.
It was impossible for him to know it was me; Fleur's cousin looked nothing like me and I doubt someone I didn't know would be able to pick up on my mannerisms like Looney Lovegood had. This could mean that it was something much, much worse. The Death Eater stuck his wand in my face, coming toward me and grabbing a bit of my hair, shoving it in my face. Before my eyes I could see the silvery blonde hair that resembled Fleur's darkening into my usual bloody red. As I watched, realizing that it must have been an hour since my last dose of Polyjuice potion, the Death Eater yanked at the hair he was showing me, throwing my head back and emitting a grunt of pain. The sensation brought tears to my eyes, but I refused to cry out because of him.
"She's 'ere, I got 'er!" He called out while clenching his hand in my hair more triumphantly and rattling me around like some toy he wanted to show off. Well, that wasn't lasting for long. Even if my wand had been taken away from me, these Death Eaters had another thing to learn about who they were dealing with...they really didn't learn. I grabbed the wrist that was holding onto my hair, feeling the palms tingling with anticipation as my skin began to sear against his own. The Death Eater didn't seem to be expecting the attack and yelped while he dove away from me to nurse his injured wrist.
I jumped for my wand. I could immediately feel that the potion was wearing off because I had gotten so used to the extra length of my body during the day that it felt like it took forever as I crawled towards the white ash stick that now seemed so far away. I heard the Death Eater swearing under his breath and knew that he had recovered from the initial pain and shock – I grabbed onto my wand, turning onto my back so that I could get a good aim at his face...
Nothing. Nothing even remotely happened as I aimed my wand for the man. I could tell by the way he froze that he was readying himself for the pain, that he was readying himself to try and keep his composure as I pushed him through the pain again – but nothing happened.
"Well, well, well," he grinned, pulling off his mask. I was right, I hadn't seen him before. He was older and darkly featured with a very heavy jaw. "I 'eard you were no good at magic – thought it was a lie after that last curse. Guess you're not so bad after all, are y' Potter?"
"Stupefy!" The spell rang out from somewhere behind me and the man who'd had a hold of me was blasted away from me less than a blink later. I pushed myself up quickly, not knowing whether or not the spell had hit him intentionally or not – it could have been an enemy. But in front of me, running to my side, was my godfather. He breathed a sigh of relief when he noticed I was unscathed.
"She don't have to be," Sirius hissed after the man who had landed meters away. He grabbed hold of my arm to give me another look over to make sure I was fine. "We need to get you out of here."
He tugged me to be standing right next to him, pretty much forcing me to look at the battle that was all around us. Fred and George were fighting three Death Eaters ten meters away, Ginny was fighting too many Death Eaters with Charlie, Bill and Fleur were back to back and it looked like he was trying to calm her down...we couldn't just leave. We couldn't just leave them to fight this – I didn't necessarily want to fight as me, but I definitely didn't want to leave them to fend for themselves...
"But everyone's fighting, we can't j-"
It was too late, in the second of hesitation I'd taken to look for my friends, Sirius had already had a hold of my arm and apparently knew that I wouldn't give in without a fight because he spun on his own heel and let the world squeeze us right out of the situation. We landed somewhere warm and sandy; the shoes that I had worn for the wedding instantly filled and made me uncomfortable.
There was a house here; small and quaint...slightly shambled and worn. It needed work done to it: a fresh coat of paint, some new shingles and it could be as good as new. The garden around it was overgrown, but the view to the water was beautiful.
"Where are we?"
"Bill and Fleur's new home," Sirius answered, still breathing heavily. "Shell Cottage."
"I didn't know they had a home to come back to," I looked around a little closer, noticing the sunset and that we were on the ocean, not a lake. The water was far too dark and choppy to be from a lake.
"It was a surprise for Fleur," he answered tightly. "Was that you, casting Unforgivables back there?"
"Now is not the time for moral ambiguity, Sirius," I said vaguely, turning back to him with a stern look. "We need to go back. If not for everyone else then for all the things I left there – there are potions and plans and notes...things that the Death Eaters cannot find."
"There are more important things right now," Sirius argued.
"Not really," I argued, my voice rising a little. "We need to get everyone out and while we're at it, we need to make sure that they don't find things that can kill us later!"
I turned to spin on my heel, only to hear Sirius make a sound of complaint before his wand was pointed at me. As I spun to Apparate, I felt like I had spun right into a brick wall and thanks to spinning with such force, it actually knocked me flat onto the sand. Sirius came to immediately help me up, even though I refused to take his hand.
"What in Salazar's name did you do?"
"You can't just go back there, Drea," Sirius sighed, retracting the hand that I wouldn't take. "Those Death Eaters are after you."
"They're after Harry and he's gone – you know that I'm the one that can do the most damage," I argued, even though there was a part of me that knew I was wrong. That Death Eater had said they were there for me...though why they would be after me when they knew Harry would be present didn't make a lot of sense.
"No," he countered just as quickly. "You're good in close combat because of your Magnuse, otherwise you aren't the best – lets be blunt, here. You're the one who can't defend yourself as well and if someone starts attacking from farther away, Audrey – I can't just let you walk in there so that they can capture you like they'd planned last spring."
"There are people there," I growled, trying to turn again and feeling myself topple to the ground once more. "Let me go – we can't just leave everyone there! There were more Death Eaters fighting then Order members-"
"Is it really the Order you're nervous for, or the Death Eaters that might be fighting them?" Sirius asked brusquely, stopping me in my tracks. There was no denying that it was a good question – was I so nervous about the battle that was waging because I knew someone like Fred was still there...or was it because I knew someone like Draco might be? I wouldn't put it past Voldemort to send Draco in, to try and manipulate me into feeling the way I felt now – had any of those Death Eaters I'd hexed been Draco, or Theodore, or Snape? Would I have been able to hex them like that if I had known they were?
I bet that's exactly what Voldemort was counting on; that weakness that I had shown just two months ago. He had probably sent them in specifically because he was trying to get that reaction out of me, that hesitation that would give them time to do something horrible like run away again...
"We still need to go back," I gritted out, standing again. "Take this charm off me, Sirius, or so help me-"
"What kind of godfather would I be if I let you walk right back into that fight, Audrey?" he asked me just as strongly. "You're completely blinded by your emotions."
"I am not!"
"Of course you are, constantly hoping that Malfoy will reform or that you'll be able to rip him away from the path he chose. I understand that he didn't have as many choices as some of us," Sirius added quickly when he saw that I was about to argue. "But you forget that I still made the opposite choice. I fought against my upbringing, the same upbringing he had – if Malfoy had really planned to do that, he would have done it sooner."
"He didn't have friends like you did!" I reminded him, a bubble in my chest flaring up when he accused my friends the way he did. He didn't understand, he couldn't understand what my friends were going through if he was still arguing against them like this. "You don't know how lucky you are things worked out the way they did because Draco didn't have people like my Dad to guide him to make the right decisions, Sirius."
"He had you." Sirius told me firmly, trying to make that his final point – but that wasn't even close. It wasn't even close if he thought that I could have saved him alone...because I couldn't. I'd tried and I couldn't.
"How could I have helped him make the right decision when I didn't know what it was?" I hissed. "You're just as selfish as he is if you're going to leave your friends, our friends to fight for themselves – I could go and shut the entire fight down, you know I could – just let me-"
"So you want me to let you what?" Sirius hissed, officially finished his act of playing nice. "Let you go and get yourself captured, let you go and finally realize that Draco isn't everything you hope he is? That Snape isn't who you want him to be? That Theodore gave in, just like all the others did? You want to be there for your closure, Drea. You want to see that there really is no good left in them but what you don't realize is the moment it's proven to you, you aren't protected anymore! There is something more powerful than you, Audrey its fear and that's exactly how Voldemort runs his armies. If you go back for them you will not have the opportunity to come back...and I can't let that happen."
"Well what about Fred and George and Lupin and Tonks? What about Ginny, then? She can't even legally use magic, she's still got the Trace!" I shouted at him, feeling the sand shift under my feet as my patience – and Magnuse – began to slip beyond their surprisingly patient limits. "You're just going to leave them to the Death Eaters that you believe areso ruthless? If you think that they're fighting against and for lost causes like the Death Eaters-"
"They aren't fighting for lost causes, Audrey," Sirius said sternly. "They're fighting for you."
I set my jaw, wanting to argue just how much of a lost cause I was. I didn't understand how this had degraded as quickly as it had; I needed to get there to make sure that Death Eaters and Order members alike weren't getting hurt simply to fight someone else's battle. I should be there because this was my battle to fight, it was Harry's battle to fight, it was Voldemort's battle to fight – we shouldn't be sending in pawns to do our own jobs. They weren't expendable...people like Draco and Daphne and Theodore and Fred and George and Ginny should not be so expendable. Not to either side.
"I'm not supposed to just sit here," I growled, turning on the spot not to Apparate, but so he wouldn't be able to see just how much my emotions were running away from me. If he thought that I was already being overruled by some irrational emotions, him seeing me feeling so overwhelmed would not help my case. "I'm supposed to be with Harry, Ron and Hermione. If I can't be with them, I might as well be fighting with the lot of you."
"You're not a fighter and you know it," Sirius said softly.
"Really?" I bit out bitterly. I didn't even bother spinning around, I'm sure he could hear the disdain drip from my words on their own. "I feel like a fighter – I'm smart, but I've got no idea what to do here, Sirius. All I have is my Magnuse and now that those stupid bloody Gryffindors have left me..."
How was I supposed to tell him how hopeless it all was now? How was I to tell him that Harry was meant to find the Horcruxes and I was meant to destroy them when I wasn't allowed to mention the idea of the Horcruxes in the first place? How was I supposed to tell him that my part in this entire operation was to fight and now that my brother was gone and I wasn't allowed to side with my friends, I had no cause to fight for? Because that's exactly what it felt like; it felt like everyone I had put my faith in had run away from me and I was left to pick up the pieces of their stupid plans and broken promises...promises of new worlds and safe havens that would never exist until I somehow got the job done...on my own.
It's how I feared I would always be at this rate...entirely on my own.
"They haven't left you, I'm sure they'll be back the moment it's safe to be." I could hear the grains of sand shift and crunch softly under his shoes as he tried to walk toward me to comfort me. I didn't want his comfort. I didn't want anyone's comfort. I didn't want to sit quietly and be coddled – I wanted to rage, to go out and kill Voldemort piece by piece until he was so broken that he couldn't hold himself together anymore. I wanted to take that last Horcrux and crush it between my hands as I watched him shatter at my feet...
I looked over my shoulder, my eyes cold. "You don't really believe that, do you?"
"They wouldn't just leave you here," Sirius almost looked as if I had insulted him instead of my brother. "Harry will come back for you, Audrey. He always comes back for you – I don't know why you have so little faith in him..."
"Of course you wouldn't, Sirius," I sneered, saying his name in the same condescending way he had said mine as I took another step from him. "You were never around when Harry wasn't the lord and saviour that you expect him to be. You weren't around each time he let me down – not Ron or Hermione or you or any other bloody Gryffindor he finds worthy of his time – you've never seen how he betrays me."
Sirius gave me a worried glance.
"He won't come back," I assured my godfather. "He'll wait for me to go to him because it's not in his best interest to come find me. Besides, whether my brother is a Slytherin or not, he knows better than to get himself killed by coming back...whether that happens thanks to Voldemort or by me."
Sirius must have realized that it was better not to judge or question me right now: it was a good decision. I was not in the mood to let him boss me around or tell me what the right way to feel was or – as he'd already tried – to tell me that I was feeling too much. Alright, maybe a part of him was right: I was definitely too emotional right now. Then again, maybe I wouldn't have to be if my brother hadn't just run away from me in the same way my boyfriend had only months before. I didn't need to be reminded just how pointless my being here was; I was starting to catch on to the idea without anyone helping me figure it out.
"We'll wait for word from the others," Sirius said quietly after the long silence that followed my threat. "Then I'll go find Harry."
"Of course you will," I seethed, moving farther away from him so that I could perch myself on a large rock on the sandy, isolated side of Bill's property so I could better watch the waves tumble over the shore. At least the ocean seemed to be enjoying itself. I wondered how far away we were from Ottery St Catchpole considering the weather seemed to be as nice here as it had been during the wedding. The wedding; it was strange to think that it was under an hour ago I had been sitting there, complaining to Fred and trying to skirt around the idea of dancing with him. Now all I could wonder was if someone – someone like Draco or Theodore or Snape – would have enough of a conscience to dance with the idea to keep people like Fred alive.
And if he wasn't I would blame myself. He had been perfect to me this entire week, after the job to get Harry and I had made George not-so-identical to him. He had been kind every time I had shoved him aside and every time I had openly talked about my feelings for someone I knew he hated. Everyone here hated Draco...even Sirius seemed to.
That was a surprise. I hadn't really expected Sirius to rake Draco over the coals as he was. Sirius knew the extra weight the Slytherins had to bear when it came to these kinds of decisions – what with his brother having gone through the same thing and dying for realizing he'd made the wrong decision. I didn't want Draco to live through that, or die through it. I had thought Sirius had understood more; maybe not necessarily accepted, but understood. I was starting to wonder if I was the only one that did.
I was just so at odds with everyone that was here. Fred, George and I got along just because we liked to keep ourselves happy, even if it was at the misfortune of others and even while I enjoyed having fun with them, to think that they understood me would have meant that it was in the vaguest sense. Sirius, though possibly more open minded than most, did not really understand me either: he was still lost in the days of my parents and though I couldn't blame him – considering he'd been incarcerated for the twelve years following – I wasn't confident he'd caught up with us yet. No one else, really, cared enough to try to get to know me well. Ginny and Bill could be nice and generally understanding – but it's not like I could really connect with them on the same level, especially now: Bill was married and on his way to fight for his bride and Ginny would be forced back to Hogwarts...and there was no way I could follow her. The thought barely had entered my mind before I dismissed it. I would be killed in my bed by Parkinson or Bulstrode, or any other Slytherin that wanted favour with the Riddler. Harry did have a small point: while the Gryffindors weren't generally drafted for the Death Eaters, the Slytherins were – he just had no idea why.
Just like last year, if I went back to school one of my house mates – or worse, one of my friends – would have their lives or their family's lives threatened by Voldemort until he had my head. I couldn't risk that for myself, or for this stupid mission, or for my classmates – I didn't want to put them through what Draco went through, so it was safer to stay out of sight until this whole war was over.
I hoped that was the right decision, making life easier for everyone it did – or rather didn't – involve. Maybe the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws would be too scared to jinx Lillian and Tracey in the corridors on reason that we were friends. Maybe Blaise would finally admit how much he fancied Tracey and keep her safe – he was a Pureblood after all and now that the Death Eaters had taken over, Slytherin Halfbloods like Tracey were much bigger targets. Daphne had already informed me that she was safe and I doubted that Voldemort would really want someone like her, considering her ineptitude for curses and the fact she was a woman. Besides Bellatrix Lestrange, I couldn't think of Voldemort having any female soldiers; followers, perhaps, but not soldiers. Greengrass had already warned me that Theodore was under a microscope, so I knew there was no chance of getting any word to him safely – I wasn't about to get him killed just because I was feeling lonely.
I was cut off from everyone who understood me and those who were trying seemed to keep disappearing. There was no chance of seeing my friends again, who knew if it would be safe to see the Weasleys on whim, and I wasn't necessarily certain I cared to see my brother...this was a whole different war waging: the war I was fighting to do the right thing and to not be selfish.
This went against everything I'd learned in the last six years at Hogwarts.
Right as the stars were starting to peak through the clouds that were scraping the sky, there was a moment I thought we were being attacked. I jumped from my perch, hand up and wand drawn only to realize that the quick and silvery light had stopped in the space between Sirius and me. It wasn't the beam of a spell, but rather the silver embodiment of a weasel: Mr Weasley's patronus.
"Family safe. Do not reply, we are being watched."
As soon as Mr Weasley's tenor was heard, the weasel dissipated on the salty wind and left us in the dark again. I briefly wondered whether or not he had known Sirius would bring me here or if those handy little patronus tricks could be sent after people to find them wherever they were. Considering I had never been able to cast a patronus it didn't really intrigue me enough to ask – I had more important things on my mind.
Like relief, for one. I was relieved that the Weasleys were okay and that it had been safe enough, in theory, to send the patronus in the first place. They were being watched, yes, but that could mean a myriad of things: perhaps they were tailing them, perhaps they watched their home, or perhaps the Death Eaters were hidden out of sight...even if not out of mind. The Death Eaters would wait for that moment I had contemplated – that moment of weakness and selfishness. They would wait to see if Harry, Ron, Hermione or I would fold over on ourselves and come back to the safety of the group.
My decision had been made for me. There was no going back.
"Let's get inside," Sirius whispered. "We shouldn't have been in the open as it was. We'll make a fire, stay inside, and wait for them."
"I thought you were going after Harry?" I asked, not really feeling an urge to look at him. Now that I was a few hours removed from the sting of the betrayal, I realized that I had probably been more aggressive than I had needed to be – and I felt ashamed of the fact I didn't regret it. He had deserved my words...I just hoped he wouldn't take them to badly considering we would now have to be in such close quarters for who knew how long.
Sirius didn't answer me and instead moved into the little house. It was quaint. It was as cozy as the Burrow but perfectly fitted for the two people that would be staying here – unlike the Burrow which always felt like it had fewer rooms than the owners had children. While Sirius went to charm a fire, I examined the walls around me...it would be a nice little place to decide my next course of action. Not necessarily my style of home, but something that anyone would have felt comfort in. I, for one, felt safe.
"Drea," Sirius called from the doorway. I jumped from the loud interruption and twirled around, as if to attack and he held his hands up defensively. "I wanted to know if you wanted anything to eat."
"Not really hungry," I told him honestly. He frowned a little.
"Then you should get some rest. There's a guest bedroom upstairs, if I remember right."
"Er...sure," I sighed, knowing that there was very little way out now that he had charmed me from being able to leave. "Oh, Sirius?"
He turned around to look at me again. "When all of this overbearing-protective Godfather routine is out of the way, do you think you can teach me that charm to stop people from Disapparating? Might come in handy later on."
Sirius smirked to himself. "Of course."
"Right," I said simply. "What about turning into an Animagus?"
"Let's make sure this is a safe place to sleep before we figure on going back to classes, shall we?" He asked with a smile. I rolled my eyes and moved my way up the worn wooden stairs. The guest room was small, but the mattress sank in a way that it enveloped you and felt like you were wrapped in warmth. It would have been wonderful to sleep on if I wouldn't have been able to sleep at all. Sirius came to check on me a number of times and each time I would steady my breathing and turn away from him so he wouldn't know the trouble I was facing within my own mind. With all the thoughts rummaging through my head I was sure that I hadn't fallen asleep until the early hours of the morning and because of just how long I'd been awake, I slept just as long afterwards.
It was a long wait for news.
Even though Sirius and I had waited outside the first day of our arrival, he decided that it would be safer if we didn't go outside again. This was particularly painful: being in the same house as him but not being able to really confide why I was so upset – Horcruxes seemed too complicated to tell someone so overprotective anyway. His little crippling charm was still on me – I knew this considering I was on my fourteenth time of trying to Apparate and being knocked back on my arse...and we had not heard more from anyone.
That continued for the first day.
And the second day.
By the third day – while I was beating Sirius in chess again – I nearly peed myself when I realized we had visitors. A group of them: a redhead, a blonde, someone who was quickly going gray, and someone with very bright pink hair. I was nearly devastated to see the twins had not appeared with the rest of the them.
"You're safe," I still breathed, knocking over our chess game and hearing the pieces groan as they fell and scattered across the floor. I was too preoccupied running toward the door, only to have Bill put his hand out to hold me back.
"We could have been followed to the door, just in case the enchantments don't hold stay away from it," he said simply. I sighed and refused to look at Sirius who had been chirping the same warning since we'd gotten here.
"Can I have some explanations please? It's been a few days now and I haven't heard anything besides that you were safe...three days ago. It was highly inconvenient."
"Let's all sit down," Lupin suggested, his face rather red.
"I will make us tea," Fleur suggested, moving around the group of us to put the kettle on. The water was already hot, considering Sirius and I had just each had a mug-full, so I knew it wouldn't be long before she joined us.
"Audrey," Lupin grabbed my attention as everyone was sitting down. "I was asked to give this to you."
He handed over a piece of parchment that had obviously been crumpled for a lot longer than someone had been trying to smooth it out again. The ink that addressed the letter 'to Padfoot' was faded and slightly warped from water damage.
"This is Sirius' not mine," I said simply, handing it over to Sirius as I sat beside him. My godfather looked at the writing for a long moment, even though he seemed not to read it before he handed it over to me. I was terrified to see that his eyes were watering.
"No, I think this is for you." I frowned, knowing that my nickname was not, nor would never be Padfoot and turned to the ink again.
Thank you, thank you, for Harry and Audrey's birthday presents! One year old and Harry's already zooming along on a toy broomstick, he looked so pleased with himself. Audrey can't leave the little kitten alone – I can't tell which of those girls likes the other more. I'm enclosing a picture so you can see. You know Harry's broomstick only rises about two feet off the ground but he's nearly killed Audrey's cat and he smashed a horrible vase Petunia sent me for Christmas (no complaints there). Of course James thought it was so funny, says he's going to be a great Quidditch player but we've had to pack away all the ornaments and make sure we don't take our eyes off him when he gets going. Audrey's quite supportive of him – James doesn't know it, but I've let her on the broom as well. She nearly killed herself by running into the fireplace so I've decided to keep it a secret until the next disaster.
We had a very quiet birthday tea, just us and old Bathilda who has always been sweet to us and who dotes on the twins. We were so sorry you couldn't come, but the Order's got to come first, and they aren't old enough to know it's their birthday anyway! James is getting a bit frustrated shut up here, he tries not to show it but I can tell – also Dumbledore's still got his Invisibility Cloak, so no chance of little excursions. If you could visit, it would cheer him up so much. Wormy was here last weekend. I thought he seemed down, but that was probably the news about the McKinnons; I cried all evening when I heard.
Bathilda drops in most days, she's a fascinating old thing with the most amazing stories about Dumbledore. I'm not sure he'd be pleased if he knew! I don't know how much to believe, actually because it seems incredible that Dumbledore
My eyes shot up as I looked to all the faces that I hadn't known were watching me. I reread the letter again, turning the page over to find it blank.
"It's your mothers, yes," Sirius answered, his own voice thick. He turned his eyes to Lupin. "Do you have the-"
"Just this," he interrupted him, pulling something else out of his pocket and handing it to me. It wasn't the second part of the letter as I had hoped, but something that was even more impactful. It was a photograph; small and square with drained colours, but moving and carefree. In the photograph was a young baby with messy black hair that was flying around and giggling on a toy broomstick, just like the letter had said. Behind the broom, not looking at all afraid but who was laughing and looking very awed by the scene was a little girl. She barely had any hair at all and it was so fair that it looked transparent. In her chubby little arms was a black kitten that looked terrified of the wild, giggling boy. Even farther back was a pair of legs that seemed to be chasing the little boy around – I bet that was my father and that giggling little boy was my brother and that little girl who looked so happy...that was me.
"Why haven't I seen this before?" I asked, clearing my throat as I tried to make my voice sound stronger. I looked up at both my godfather and the werewolf to my side, they looked very solemn as they looked from the picture and back to me. Tonks sat beside her husband, Bill across from her and at the other end of the table across from me was Fleur, who at some point had given me a cup of tea that I wasn't in the mood to drink.
"I just got it from Grimmauld place," Lupin said slowly, his eyes skirting to Sirius' for a moment before catching my glance again. "Your brother wanted you to see it."
Ah, so he'd gone to Grimmauld Place – a juvenile move, but one I should have expected from him. Still...I'd expected more from Hermione, though.
"The Death Eaters have to know about it by now," I said simply. I could feel that my face had dropped and that I was denying all the emotion that was trying to seep through the cracks – it was so hard to believe, to see the picture and know that my brother had sent Lupin to give it to me – as a peace offering, of all things. "You told him to get out, didn't you?"
"He wants to wait," Lupin explained. "To see if you want to go back to join him or to find out his next course of action."
"Right," I said simply, the anger in my voice stung even me. "Let's hear the rest of this update before we get on to the more upsetting subjects, yeah?"
Lupin sighed, though for a moment he looked miffed. "I went there this morning and was...well, rudely thrown out."
"Imagine my surprise," I drawled.
"Harry refuses to let me in on his secret and knowing that you are even more secretive, I've decided to accept that whatever it is you're doing is the right thing: for Dumbledore, at least. But that doesn't mean you have to be alone to do it. Harry agreed – he agreed that you shouldn't be alone and should go back to them."
"Funny," I gritted my teeth. "I seem to recall they were the ones who thought I should be alone."
Bill heaved a dramatic sigh. "There were Death Eaters after us all, Audrey."
"I'm very aware of that, thank you." I hissed out. "I'm not asking about my brother, I'm asking about what happened after he decided to abandon us like the coward he always accuses me of being. When you get to this morning we can talk about the traitor again."
Sirius and Lupin looked at each other nervously, but Sirius gave the werewolf a curt nod as if to explain that I did deserve some kind of explanation, so Lupin continued on with his story.
"The Ministry has truly fallen in every sense of the word. There is hardly a difference between Ministry members and the Death Eaters now; they are all puppets for Voldemort's greed. There were about a dozen of them that came to the wedding, but they weren't sure you were there until they saw you, Audrey. They also have no definitive proof that Harry was there – though it's easily assumed considering no one would have guessed you two would be apart. Arthur heard a rumor that they tried to torture your whereabouts out of Scrimgeour before they killed him; if it's true, he didn't give you away. It was why they kept searching after seeing you. The only people who saw you leave said that they saw someone garb you who had very dark hair..."
"They think Sirius was Harry," I realized slowly. Lupin nodded.
"Exactly. No one would have expected anyone else." Excluding me, but that was hardly the issue at hand. "The Death Eaters searched the Burrow from top to bottom and found Ron's ghoul, but didn't dare to get too close. After that they interrogated those of us who remained for hours. They were trying to get information on where you two had gone, but even when some of us select members were put under the Imperius curse, we honestly didn't know."
"They're putting you under the Imperius curse now?" I asked, my eyebrows high in intrigue. "With no pretenses or secrecy?"
"Why would they have to?" Sirius asked with a derisive scoff. "The Ministry and the Death Eaters are one in the same; they no longer have to justify their actions or make excuses – they do what they want without any repercussions. It's all Voldemort has ever dreamed."
"Indeed," Lupin sighed. "And while they were interrogating us, others were forcing their way into every Order-connected house in the country. There weren't any deaths to speak of, but they were rough with their raids. They burned down Dedalus Diggle's house, but as you know he wasn't there, and they used the Cruciarus Curse on Tonks's family. Again, trying to find out where you two had gone – that was Harry's safe house you see."
I turned my eyes to Tonks, whose hair did not suit the surrounding tension that built as we talked about her parents being tortured. "Are they alright?"
"They're fine; though my mum can't stop complaining about how if Dumbledore were here the charms would have held. Now that the Death Eaters can do whatever they want, they can also break spells no matter the cost or how Dark the magic is – it's going to make things a little bit complicated, to put it lightly."
"What about the other people at the wedding, the ones who didn't know where we were?" I asked, leaning across the table a bit more and jumping back when I heard the parchment crumple beneath my ribs. I looked down at the letter, the letter with Lily Potter's writing...I needed to keep my mind focused – I was hearing about who had and had not been tortured. Now was not the time to get distracted by things like a letter.
"They told the guests that you were wanted by the Ministry for interrogation," Lupin said slowly, his eyes looking around the table nervously. Bill, Fleur and Tonks all looked as nervous as he did.
"Show her," Bill said firmly. "She has a right to know."
From a deep pocket within his traveling cloak, Lupin pulled out a copy of the Daily Prophet and laid it in front of Sirius and I. On the front page was a large spliced picture of us: the Potter twice. The picture of Harry from when he put the article in the Quibbler was oddly cut and edited together to fit with a picture of me smirking after the boggart prank I had pulled on the Slytherin girls. I didn't get pictures taken often, nevertheless pictures with my brother – neither of these pictures made us look very innocent...nor did the charges printed boldly beneath them.
WANTED FOR QUESTIONING ABOUT THE DEATH OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE.
CONVICTED OF MURDER IN THE DEATH OF THUBAN NOTT.
"What?" Sirius raged, standing up as he read the caption. "This is ridiculous, no one is going to believe this! This is low of them, even for the Death Eaters, trying to scare her friends into-"
"What did you expect to happen, Sirius?" I asked flatly, blinking at the page and watching my proud portrait smirk back at me – I had been so smug then; that was before anything had happened to either Nott or Dumbledore in the first place. "They're going to do anything they can to flush us out and making people hate me is much easier than making them turn against the name 'Potter'. They won't turn against Harry easily, not when everyone thinks – and knows – that he's the one who needs to defeat Voldemort; but to hate me? I'm a Slytherin, I'm a Potter, and the only positive things they've heard about me is from the time around the tournament when they were all sure I was in love with Draco...which ended up being true, which everyone knows. It's a smart move, coupling the facts like that. Enough people know they aren't lying to keep it convincing."
"Well, have they been putting up more posters about Bellatrix Lestrange? She cast that curse that killed him, after all." Sirius fumed, still sweetly furious for me. I shook my head.
"Let's stop the pretenses like they have been: I killed Thuban Nott, it was my Magnuse that did it. It was only a matter of time before it was used against me and I'm lucky that it wasn't earlier." I turned to Lupin who looked kindly sombre. "Who's Minister now?"
"Pius Thicknesse; he's under the Imperius Curse and basically uses the Dark Lord's words verbatim." Bill took over. "The general public doesn't know that Scrimgeour's even dead, most have only heard he's resigned. They'll start asking questions soon with everything that's changing, but for now the infiltration has been quiet."
"It eez muggleborns that are een trouble," Fleur agreed. To help her point, Lupin took the paper that still had the glaring picture of me and turned the page. On the second page was a simple headline that told exactly what the Ministry changes were.
"A Muggle-born Registry, this will split the masses – smart move." I grumbled lowly, making Lupin hum in agreement. I looked down to the article more properly, reading aloud so that Sirius could be as informed as I was. "'Recent research undertaken by the Department of Mysteries reveals that magic can only be passed from person to person when Wizards reproduce. Where no proven Wizarding ancestry exists, therefore, the so-called Muggle-born is likely to have obtained magical power by theft or force'. The more radical Purebloods will get a great sense of satisfaction from this and the Death Eaters have to know that others will be too nervous to argue back like Harry could always manage during school."
"I have a feeling that there won't be any more school uprisings, even if there will be more students. School is compulsory for every underage witch and wizard," Lupin told me seriously. "That was announced yesterday."
"It wasn't before?"
"No, most went anyway, but their parents had the right to teach them at home or send them abroad if they preferred. This way, Voldemort will have the whole Wizarding population under his eye from a young age in case there are any stand-outs."
"Or Muggleborns," I interrupted, shaking my head and clenching my jaw against the repulsive realizations of what my own friends were about to go through. My thoughts drifted to Tracey – strong, powerful, halfblooded Tracey... "What about the Halfbloods?"
"They obviously can't be accused of stealing magic, since one or both of their parents must have magical parentage – but I'm sure that the Purebloods will be getting special perks that the Halfbloods will have to seriously work for." Bill shrugged. Lupin looked at me carefully.
"Harry was much more furious than you are."
"I'm resigned," I informed him. "The Ministry's fallen: this was inevitable."
"Either way, they don't have you or Harry yet and the longer we see your pictures in the paper, the more we'll know that you're safe when you've gone off with him." Lupin explained, giving me a heavy and emphasizing look. I didn't understand why – we were still avoiding the subject of even speaking about Harry...he thought that things would just be fine again? "Voldemort will want to paint the messages high in the skies if he finally kills you and he'll want your heads to prove it."
"And people still haven't caught on that we were separated," I stated, ignoring the morbidity of his last thought.
"No, it was a good thing it was Sirius that took you away: he looked enough like Harry in the heat of the moment that whoever saw you believed it was you and Harry who Disapparated together." It seemed that they all saw something on my face that they didn't like to see, because it was immediately as if they were all walking on egg shells.
"Audrey," Bill said cautiously. "You know that Harry didn't want to leave you, don't you? I understand that you're angry, but you realize that when you go back you c-"
"Oh, I won't be going back with Harry," I said simply. The looks on their faces was more than priceless and I felt a smile curl to my lips as the uproar began.
"Of course you are!"
"You can't just leave them alone, Audrey – you're the only one with any sense of self..."
"What, you're just going to abandon them? What will you do instead?"
"Where will you go?"
"I thought you had a mission!"
"Harry isn't that bad to you," Sirius told me firmly, giving me a stern look. "His leaving was a mistake, he knows this or else he wouldn't have told you where to find him. Whatever rivalry you hold between the two of you cannot be worth risking whatever it is you're up to..."
"I'm helping what he's up to," I informed them haughtily. I hate how they always just assumed the worst of me – I was smarter than that and I had definitely earned my dues for all the shite I'd had to put up with. "You said so yourself: people think the two of us are together. I can help him a lot more by keeping them away from him than if I go with him."
"What are you talking about?" Sirius was obviously flustered.
"Think about it: Death Eaters chased after me and questioned you about where we were," I said closely as if I were speaking to someone that was hard of hearing. They think we're together which means if they see me, they'll think Harry's close by."
"You want to use yourself as a distraction," Lupin sighed, finally understanding that this was about far more than a grudge – though there was no denying that bitterness was more than present. I shrugged my shoulders.
"I've done worse things for him so using myself as a distraction wouldn't be the out of the ordinary," I smirked down at the picture on the table, watching as baby Harry swooped around the room – as James scrambled after him – and there I was...watching him, waiting to see what he would do...wanting to help him. Maybe this instinct that always got me into trouble was something I'd always had. "Besides, it'll be more fun than what he's doing."
"But he might need your help-"
"He has Hermione and Ron with him; they'll be more help than I will be. Sirius, you were right when we talked on the beach: I only have my Magnuse and my wandwork isn't worthy of a hair charm, nevertheless defending my brother from someone like Voldemort." I told him. Everyone looked about ready to argue – though argue what I wasn't sure – so I put up my hand to silence them. "I am better close-combat or for strategy, we all know it. So here it is: my strategy is to buy him as much time and space as he needs to get the job done, or until he really needs me."
"What if he's captured and he needs you then?" Sirius bristled. "What then?"
"If you want to help him so much, you go join him – it's not you they're after anymore," I sneered, my voice coming out a lot more vicious than I had intended it to. I backed off a bit; Sirius really had tried to be kind after our row on the beach and considering what I now had planned, I didn't need to be making enemies with the people I would be using as valuable resources. "Or if you're really so upset, we'll find a way to communicate. For now I'm staying right in the thick of it: they want to play games? Fine, but they don't realize the player I am."
"And this isn't because you were left behind?" Lupin asked, an eyebrow raised high.
"Let's not lie to ourselves and say that it isn't," I muttered bitterly. "But that's not really what it all comes down to. Yes, I'm angry and yes, it's true I wouldn't have thought of this if my brother hadn't been such a git, but this is bigger than my ultimate revenge on him – which I still will have."
Bill gave a loud snort and was hit in the shoulder by his wife.
"I'm sick of being left alone," I told them firmly. Bill immediately sobered, his eyes lowering to the table out of some form of humility I didn't understand – as far as I knew he'd been pretty loyal to me...I never understood how Gryffindors could so often feel bad for things they hadn't done. "I'm sick of it, but I'm more sick of people having to make the decision to do it in the first place. People have to leave me behind because we've been torn onto sides that have no level footing either direction. I am unstable enough on my own two feet, nevertheless when I have to support other people's stupidity on top of my own muck ups. So they leave me...and that's it," I tried to fight against the bubble of betrayal that still burnt in my chest like some sort of angry venom. "That's all there is to it – they left me and now I have a hand up: they don't know Harry isn't with me. I'm the perfect distraction. I'm the perfect tool to put those Death Eaters exactly where we want them."
"Audrey," Sirius told me strongly, his voice so full of pity it made me sneer. "You aren't bait."
"No, I'm a strategy." I corrected. "So let's start making them play by our rules."
Ta-da! What did you think? I know that a lot of you were excited to see what would happen after Harry left and now you finally can see how Audrey's going to leave and rough it on her own. I know it wasn't the most exciting, necessarily, but hopefully you got some answers you were looking for! For the wonderful reviewers of the last chapter:
Elekat: I'm glad you like the story and hope you enjoyed this chapter just as much, thanks for reviewing!
Guest: Yes, they had to run from the Death Eaters or risk getting caught...I don't think Audrey will take seeing him again very well. Hopefully you liked the twist of her choosing not to meet up with them again – thanks for the review.
accio-logic: Yeah, poor Audrey just can't catch a break! I'm cruel, I know. I'm glad you liked the last cliff-hanger and hope you liked this newest chapter.
flamegirl100: I'm glad that there was still some surprise factor to Audrey not leaving with the trio. I wasn't going to let Audrey get taken by the Death Eaters, but I promise that there will be many encounters with them in the chapters to come. Thank you for reading and reviewing, I hope you liked it!
muchfanficaboutnothing: I adore Fred too, but I am also all for Draco and Audrey. They fit each other much better; but Draco isn't there and now that Audrey's sticking around, Fred will be...so things might get a little messy. As for whether she'll see Draco, she will definitely see him at some point, but I make no promises over how it will go. Anyway, I hope you liked this chapter and thanks for reviewing.
sarahmichellegellarfan1: I'm sorry, I just love cliff-hangers! I didn't even know how much I loved them until I started writing, but clearly I'm obsessed. Audrey is definitely better suited for Draco, but Draco didn't fight for her and Fred was pretty good about protecting her – little things add up. Let's just hope Draco got enough points before they were separated! I will be doing a small Draco POV chapter later on about this time, but the upcoming APP chapter is from someone else's perception. Hope you liked it!
xXMizz Alec VolturiXx: Thank you :) Audrey isn't going to focus on catching up with them now, but I promise that I'll try to keep things as interesting as I can. Fred will be around and she will, at some point, get to see Draco but who knows what can happen in the meantime! I hope you liked this new chapter and thank you, as always, for reviewing!
siriusloverofpadfoot: Don't worry about not reviewing the one chapter, it's sweet that you took the time to review at all – I appreciate it immensely! I will definitely be continuing (you can't get rid of me, nevertheless Audrey that easily) and promise that there will be twists and turns all throughout the upcoming chapters. I'm hoping that it's going to be a really fun ride for everyone. Audrey isn't ready to forgive Draco yet, but she's going to have a tough time being mad at him in the next few chapters; so it will be an interesting turn of events. As for Fred, he's going to keep fighting – those Gryffindors are pretty brave, after all. I hope you liked this new chapter and thank you for reviewing :)
dracomalfoyswife1998: I'm glad I could surprise you with it! Draco will show up every now and again, but sadly they just aren't on the same page right now. I hope you liked the chapter and thanks for taking the time to review.
excusemeimalittleawkward: Draco and Audrey are better suited than Fred and Audrey, it's true – but Draco is absent and Fred is pretty determined, so we'll have to wait and see if absence really does make the heart grow fonder for someone like our heroine. I'm glad that you like the story so much, thank you for the kind review – I hope this chapter was exciting!
quickreader93: Thank you, I hope you liked the chapter!
Lynn D. Mariza: Thank you, I actually knew the French spelling, but I think the spell-check corrected it; either way I appreciate you letting me know :) I hope that it was a nice twist that she's not going to go with them, but don't worry – we'll be seeing all our favourite characters again (including Fred, Draco, Harry and the others)...I'm just going to make you wait before it happens! Haha, thanks for reviewing.
Dwarfsun: I'm glad I could surprise you, it means I've still got some tricks up my sleeves! I hope this was a quick enough update and that it was exciting enough to stop you from hanging off the page, haha. Thanks for the review.
momorocks101ful: A few people suspected that they might be separated but I'm really glad that I could cause such surprise by how I did it. Audrey isn't going to take her first meeting with Harry well, but at least it will leave for a nice, dramatic chapter in the future. She will have periods alone and with friends, but I cannot say more than that – thank you for reviewing and I hope you liked the chapter.
19irene96: Thank you, I'm glad it came as a surprise! Hope you liked the chapter :)
CaptainAmericanna: Yes, a different version of the story is going to be fun to write, even if I have fear I'll mess it up, haha. I'll try my best, though. Thank you for reviewing!
LoveableAmethyst129: Ha, hopefully you calmed enough to read the chapter and hopefully it made you feel a bit better!
That-Crazy-Psycho: Wow, you read this all in a day? Bravo; I've been going through it again myself and it's taking me forever! Sirius is going to have to stay undercover for the majority of the story, as he has in the last, considering he is still an outlaw...but I think they want Audrey much more than they want him; so they can be on the run from the law together. I won't say who Audrey will end up with, whether it be Fred or Draco, but I can say that it's going to be an interesting clash of emotions now that Draco is gone and Fred is going to be there with her – poor Audrey isn't going to know what to do with herself. I haven't decided if I'm going to include the Death Eater meeting from the first chapter, but we will be seeing some of the Death Eater movement later on in Audrey Potter's Prelude :) I hope you liked the chapter and thanks for reviewing!
Beckah Godric-Northman: Thank you, I'm glad you liked it and could be surprised. I hope you liked this chapter and thanks for taking the time to review.
TheInflictedFinger: I try to make it as believable as I can, I hope it can continue to be that way for you. Poor Audrey is just so jaded she only sees the worst of them...hopefully she won't be so bitter that she's blinded during the battle. Thanks for reviewing!
Spottedjay: Yes, Audrey definitely just got screwed over in the grand scheme of things...but I think she'll do better on her own than with the others. If there's anything Audrey knows how to do, she knows how to start trouble and grab the attention of people around her – and that's when she's hardly trying. I figure she'll be a force to be reckoned with when she's actually trying to cause trouble for all the Death Eaters. Should be fun, haha. I really do appreciate all of your words, I'm very proud of this story and what it's become – I honestly didn't expect this when I started writing it, it still catches me off guard sometimes. Don't think that I was trying to be rude or dismissive, I love writing this story and I also love when people like you say you like reading it :)
Bloody-Asphode11: Audrey killing Harry is a definite possibility, especially if he doesn't start begging forgiveness now. At the beginning I never really said there was a dagger, but there have been a few daggers mentioned throughout the story, so who knows? Thanks for the review.
S38: It was shocking even when the idea came to me, I agree. Thanks for reviewing!
cup'o'tea: Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! Draco and Audrey definitely understand each other better than Fred and Audrey do, but there is something to be said for the fact Fred is there when Draco isn't...
Guest: Thank you, I can't believe the story ended up being this long! I'm very happy with it so far and I'm glad that you are as well – I hope you liked this chapter!
Takara Matsudaira: Sorry, I didn't mean to get it wrong, I must have just had a finger slip on the keys. I'll focus harder not to do it again. As for the story, I'm glad that you suspected that Audrey wouldn't be going with the trio; a few people thought she wouldn't but most people didn't catch on to how it would happen.
Audrey knows exactly where they are but isn't in a rush to go to them...I don't blame her. I'd be more than pissed off were I her. I don't think that Molly will have much say in what Audrey does now that she's officially on the run and they are all being watched – Audrey really has to watch her steps now that she's endangering everyone she comes into contact with on a legal and waging-war basis.
You're right, Fred and Audrey aren't as great of a match as she and Draco; but Fred will be around much more than Draco thanks to him...you know, being free and all that.
Sirius will be playing an important part in the last section of the story and I wanted Audrey to be more effected by OOTP than Harry was. Harry had to go through that change because Sirius died – but to have Sirius died would have had a completely different effect on Audrey...so she became a murderer as a trade. This does not mean Sirius is saved for the entire story; it just means I have plans for him later :)
Guest: Keeping people surprised and tense is the name of the game and I happen to be pretty obsessed with playing it, haha. She might not be as "on her own" as some people are thinking, but she will not be with the Trio and she will not always be aided by the Order – she gets to be on her own side, once again. We will get to see Draco and Theo and possibly even Snape in this section of the story, but I doubt it will be the meetings that you are expecting ;) Thanks for the review.
Guest: Audrey didn't get captured, but she's going to end up meeting Draco again, I promise. Thanks for reviewing!
Guest: Thank you, I'm glad you like it! Hopefully this next chapter was almost as exciting as the last :)
Sian D: Everyone's going to have to come up with some other way to work out the issues with the Horcruxes now that they're apart, but they'll work it out – the boys have Hermione and I'd like to think Audrey's clever enough to come up with her own solution. I'm glad that you like the story and the odd imbalance between the Potter twins, hopefully I'll be able to be nice to her soon. She is going to finally start getting revenge and causing chaos like she's always wanted...it will be a nice time to help cheer her. You can't tell from all the apologies and thanks? Ha, sorry, bad stereotyping: I'm actually Canadian. I've had multiple friends move to and from the UK, was raised on their television and have gotten to visit there, though :) Thanks for reviewing!
Kimimela: Thank you, I'm glad you like it! Sometimes I wish that I already had all the chapters written, but honestly I'm afraid for when this story ends – I don't know what I'll do without it! It is really crazy that we're already this far through the series; I wonder how far I would be if I had actually started in book one. But then it would have been torturous to wait for the moment when Draco and Audrey would have kissed, haha! Thanks for reviewing and following on Twitter!
katie93319: That's alright, I'm just glad that you've reviewed this one! It is kind of sad that she won't get to be with the trio during their adventures, but I don't think angry-Audrey would have been a good person to have constantly traveling with them. I don't think they would have made it to the end of the mission, haha. Hopefully this chapter answered your questions and was exciting enough; thanks!
draccmalfoy: Yes, it will be interesting to write what I think happened behind the scenes of the Trio's seventh year – it will also be nice to have Audrey there manipulating some of it so it goes her way. I thoguht about making it so that Audrey would have been captured by the Death Eaters...but there were certain people in that crowd that would never have let it happen and for all we know, they really did help her, she just didn't notice... Thanks for reviewing!
Shiningheart of ThunderClan: I know, I can be so cruel...but don't tell me it didn't pull at your heartstrings and make you want to keep reading, haha! I'm glad that you liked the chapter and the role reversal of the Gryffindors being too afraid to help – thanks for the review!
Isabella: Thank you, I'm glad I was able to surprise you and really get your gears moving to figure out what will happen next. I know that this wasn't the most exciting chapter, but hopefully it answered a few of your questions!
Ahsilaa: I'm sorry, hopefully this chapter made up for it!
WORMoverBOOK: Thank you! I never thought it'd make 1,000,000 words – nevertheless make it this far and still be able to shock people...I won't deny, I'm proud. It was a nice little change of pace that they ran while Audrey stayed to fight the Death Eaters – who are her friends and she's always defending – just so they would stop shouting spells at them. But I like that Audrey's going to stay: she doesn't really belong in such close quarters with the Gryffindors anyway. Anyway, thank you for reviewing and I hope you liked this new chapter!
xXFangirlingBookwormXx: Thanks for doing the joint review, I love hearing what people think of the story – especially exciting chapters like the last one.
I'm a lover of both Fred and Draco as well, but there really is only one proper choice for Audrey...the problem is, Draco is never really there for her whereas we're going to be seeing quite a bit of our favourite redheads. This will clearly mess up Audrey's delicate emotions. I wish that she would get to see more of the Slytherins, but it would be too dangerous for not only herself, but for them if she were to make an appearance right now.
As for the Gryffindors leaving her, I'm glad that it caused the shock that it did! Hopefully I can continue to throw some twists in the story to keep you on your toes :) Thanks for reviewing!
vmockingjay12: Thank you for taking the time to review now, I really appreciate it. I'm sorry for the cliff-hanger (alright, I'm not actually, I adore writing them) but I hope this chapter makes up for the tension of the last ending!
PaulaWaula: Yes, Audrey's kind of a background performer in Harry's story, even though without her the story would be quite different (as we see between the original and this). Moments like last chapter definitely make her bitterness a bit more warranted, but hopefully she'll be able to get past it (or, perhaps use it) so she can work around this new plan of hers. Yes, poor Fred really doesn't understand that Audrey's in love with Draco...but he isn't around and Fred is, so you never know what can happen in close quarters...
Miss Laufeyson: Thanks, I hope you like this new chapter!
LyraBlack22: Yes, it seems like Harry and Audrey will always be at odds...but don't worry, Audrey will have more fun on her own than if she was stuck with the Gryffindors the whole time. It's the only way I could think of making up for how cruel this move was. I'm glad that you've liked the past few chapters and hope that you enjoyed this one as well, thanks for the review!
1GirlWhoWaited: I agree that this is one of Harry's better moments, no? Haha.
IrregularClara: Yeah, I loved Karen Gillan in Oculus (I'm a scary-movie junkie) and I have yet to get into Doctor Who. I've watched a bit and I always mean to continue on, it's just such a large commitment and I haven't found the time for it yet. I've watched some of Sherlock and love Orphan Black though.
It'd be nice if Audrey could come to forgive Draco sooner rather than later, but Audrey is wonderful with grudges so it depends on how he decides to pursue the next few chapters. As for Fred, I agree that they are loyal to her when others haven't necessarily been. So we'll see what wins out: love or safety. Audrey craves both, but I think she only really needs one. As for the cliff-hanger, I hope that this chapter smoothed the pain and avenged your spirit, as you put it, haha. Thanks for reviewing!
Little Messers: Ha, thanks, I'm pretty proud of the word count. As for being proud about ripping out your beating heart and serving it on a plate...well, at least it's still beating? It was pretty emotional that they ended up leaving her and it was surprisingly easy to continue the anguish onto this chapter; hopefully it came out properly. Audrey will definitely have her hand in on some of the things we hear about in passing during the original novel, but you'll have to wait and see what those things are! Thanks for reviewing :)
Arabella Ella: It was pretty upsetting that she had to get left behind like that, but at least it will free her up to do the things she feels is best – which obviously translates to a lot of havoc. Fred will be making quite a few appearances in the upcoming chapters, but we will be getting a few glimpses into Draco's life as well – I can't help myself, haha. I'm glad you liked the last chapter and I hope you liked this newest one! Thank you.
Angeena: I have it as an epub on my computer, but sadly I don't know how I would easily make that available to other people. Hopefully you make it all the way to catching up and you like the ride it takes to get here; thank you for taking the time to read and review!
GrossEwww: I'm glad it was a surprise! As for what this might mean for later, you'll have to wait and see. I hope you liked this chapter and thanks for reviewing!
Anna Katharyn: Ha, sorry. Oh and I already called dibs on whoever Audrey doesn't take ;)
LoonyAsLuna: That's how I felt when I wrote it – I'm glad you're so attached! Thanks for reviewing :)
Geri: Yeah, it's not necessarily the best emotional situation for Audrey, but it should make for some interesting plot points if I can pull it off. I'm glad that I can still bring some surprise to the story; I'll be trying many more times to get this kind of reaction.
As for the epilogue...it will not be even close to the epilogue in the original novel. The alternate ending (and epilogue) that I plan on posting will also be quite different.
Fred will be a nice presence in the next few chapters, especially as Audrey battles with her emotions and figuring out what to do past this point. Now that Audrey isn't actually looking for Horcruxes (as Dumbledore made sure Harry's job was to find them) she will have to find something else to occupy her time; including figuring out what the skean is for, how to make her mark with the Death Eaters, and how to destroy the Horcruxes.
Thank you, I'm glad Audrey seems life-like. I really appreciate it; she's kind of my pride and glory – only second place to my real-life puppy, haha. Thanks for reviewing!
Lycoris1305: Thank you for this review, I love how in-depth it was. Audrey never read the letters during the summer from 5th-6th year; but I do plan on writing them all down as one of the one-shots for Audrey Potter's Prelude.
Audrey is trying really hard not to think about Snape, but she won't be able to live in that kind of naivety for very long. Audrey also considered the possibility of who might be with the Death Eaters during the raid, but it would have been too simple for her to see them like that. Besides, we're soon going to find out that Draco wasn't actually there at all...
I hope that you liked the chapter around as much as you liked the last one; thank you for reviewing!
nannan: Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! I might do that scene later on in Audrey Potter's Prelude, but first I am planning on writing a different scene next week. I'm also nervous to end this story, it feels like it could go on forever...but I have an end in sight and I'm working toward it chapter by chapter. Thanks for the review :)
Nicky-Maree: Thank you! You are constantly so sweet that I get a giddy sugar-high from reading your reviews. Audrey was definitely not a fan of being one of Fleur's cousins in the last scene and it didn't work out as well as she might have hoped this scene. I'm delighted to say that we will get to see many more Polyjuice transformations and some good ol' fashion Audrey-mischief now that she's decided to take this new path. It was really exciting to hit one million words – now I get to look forward to hitting one million words that doesn't include the review responses...It's crazy to think about what a monster this story is (only a little pun intended).
Yes, I kind of wanted Fred and Audrey to kiss in the wedding scene too, but Audrey was already too bristled and I feel like if I would have made it happen it would have ended in a slap rather than confusion and if it does happen, I want her to be confused by it. Fred's death still catches my breath every time I think about it, so to now think of what I have the power to do in this story makes me antsy. I don't want to be cheesy and save him just because I love him, whereas I don't want him to die because I love him and there would be loose ends with Audrey's emotions...so I'm at a strange crossroads on the reality of the upcoming final battle.
In the original first draft, I had Harry fighting for her a little harder before they had to run and also have Audrey tell them to...but realistically, as I wrote it, Audrey wouldn't tell them to leave her behind. She was ready to plow through all those Death Eaters to get to them so she wouldn't have just said "nah, I'll meet you there" and this is what became of that change in perception. I swear, people always think I'm joking, but I've had more chapters than I can count where I say "I want this to happen" and as I'm writing it's as if Audrey says "No. Not acceptable" and changes the entire chapter on me – this might be a sign of early onset dementia or the fact that this character is an alternate personality, but I've accepted the pressures of Audrey Potter, haha.
Hopefully you aren't too upset that she will not be going back to Hogwarts for her final year. It just wasn't realistic and I tried to outline it in this chapter; she really would be killed in her bed or used at bait in a way that she has no control over...and she would never put herself at risk like that. Not even to watch over her friends. Besides, she knows she's better help to them stirring up trouble.
Anyway, I hope you liked this new chapter and thank you, as always, for the marvelous review!
Fusion Palace: Oh yeah, Audrey isn't going to take it well when she sees them again. It will be a fun scene to write, haha. Audrey and Fred are going to have a lot of time to continue speaking, but it was very important to get this chapter and keep it all about fact. Originally I was going to put Fred in it; but then it would have been off balanced between what I wanted to happen between Audrey and Fred and what we needed to know about the new plan of action. As for the epilogue of this story, it will be very different from what the original...but hopefully it will be just as impactful :) Thanks for reviewing!
mrsdansmith: Don't worry about it, thanks for taking the time to review this last chapter! Yes, she was left behind – it will definitely keep things interesting, considering we'll be seeing the war from a very different point of view. I also didn't think that she belonged with the trio; after all, there was a chance she would have killed them when she got too annoyed...on the third day, haha.
emmamaysie: Thank you, I'm glad you like it! Sorry that you have to wait for updates now; I wish I could write more quickly (and at the same time I'm terrified to finish this story). I hope you liked this new chapter, even if neither Draco nor Fred were really featured. I hope you didn't go through too much withdrawal!
applecandykiss: I'm obsessed with cliff-hangers, so if you were anxious from that one you might feel the same over the others I plan on writing in upcoming chapters, haha. As you said, Audrey plans to go and stir up trouble around the wizarding world, but she will not be a Hogwarts student this year. I agree that Fred is a sweetheart, it's really fun writing the different kinds of relationships between the two boys – Draco is all about intent and the things he doesn't necessarily do, whereas Fred is more traditional and romantic in his flirtations. Ha, it would be crazy if I ever saw someone write something about Audrey! It'd also be interesting to see what other people think goes on in her head, haha. I hope you liked this new chapter and thank you for the great review!
Miss Evangeline: Aw, thanks for reading it all the way through and stopping to review. I don't mind that you didn't review as you made your way here, this one was wonderful enough! I'm glad you like the story (and Audrey) so much, hopefully your feelings towards Harry aren't too serious – I wouldn't want to upset the original story.
Audrey, currently, can't cast a Patronus charm. She has never been able to, up to this point. I can't tell you what will happen to Fred, or even what will happen between Fred and Audrey, but I promise to keep it as interesting as I can. I really appreciated your review and thanks again!
ThalicoRules5678: You finished this story in two hours? That's incredible! Wow, I'm genuinely impressed! I'm glad you've liked this story enough to go through it like you did and hope that you liked this chapter as much as the others :)
TCP4ever: Aw, thank you! I'm glad that you like the story so much, even if I end some of the chapters with very abrupt cliff-hangers, haha. Thanks for reviewing and hope you liked the new installment!
Phoenix Erika: I know that you responded for chapter 26 and it might be some time before you make it to this chapter (and who knows if you'll even see your name) but thank you for taking the time to review. I hope you find Audrey as interesting now as you did when you left your review and thank you so much for letting people know about the story – honestly, I'm honoured! Thanks again :)
downfallsofbeingawallflower: I may as well have been raised by a sailor considering how foul my mouth is, so there's no need to apologize for swearing – especially if you're complimenting me while doing it, haha! As for my grocery lists, I promise they aren't as interesting...struggling with healthy living rarely is ;)
I'm really glad that you've gotten so into the story, especially that Audrey could pull those emotions out of you. I hope that she can continue to do that, the upcoming chapters might be a bit of a rollercoaster if it all goes as planned. Harry and Audrey won't be seeing each other for a while, but because of this she'll get to see some other characters he doesn't get to see until much, much later. I hope you liked this newest chapter and thank you so much for this review!
Guest: Thank you! I'm sorry that you now have to wait for updates, but hopefully I can make them worth it.
theeejupiter: I'm happy to hear it! I really like writing Snape's POV, so that's not the last you'll be hearing of it. Sadly the next chapter won't be from him, but I promise that we will be reading it a little later on. Thank you for telling other people about this story, I'm honoured that you think it's worth mentioning. Thanks again!
Ferocious Mouse: Oh, even though Audrey didn't catch up with the trio in this chapter I can assure you that she'll make them regret leaving her in the first place. I hope that this chapter lived up to your expectations!
DarkTendncies: Thank you! One million words: it's pretty unbelievable. It doesn't really feel like it's been that long, at least. I'm glad that the last chapter was able to surprise you so much, I hope that you'll have a few more moments like that before this story ends! Thanks for reviewing.
waywardlottie: I'm sorry that I've taken away your sleep, but I'm glad that you think it was worth it! Thank you for all your compliments, they're really sweet. I totally agree that Draco and Fred are both wonderful in their own ways – they're very different but I still love them both. Crazy. I hope you liked the new chapter and thank you for taking the time to review :)
Lil Obsessed: I'm doing wonderfully, thank you. How are you? Congratulations on making it to the end; I know it's quite a bit to undertake when you decide to read it – I'm going through it all right now and it's taking me forever, haha. I hope that your exams went well and that the stress has started to dissipate. I couldn't prove Sirius' innocence, even if he was working for the Order in the Department of Mysteries, because Wormtail still wasn't there to prove that he had not murdered him. If he was, there may have been a chance, but other Death Eaters like Snape have also switched sides, but that doesn't mean Sirius didn't (try to) murder Pettigrew in the first place. Ah, a Franki-reader! Ha, thank you – she's my second favourite character I've written next to Audrey; it's always nice to hear someone liked her as well. Thanks so much for reviewing!
Dark Rose Princess: Thank you, I'm glad you liked the last chapter so much. You'll have to wait and see how Audrey goes about forgiving (or not forgiving) Draco, so hopefully you can stick around until he finally has the chance to defend himself!
lovesashowewearein: Ha, I hope you liked that scene, it was so fun to write! If you make it all the way to this chapter thank you for reading the story and I hope you've enjoyed it :)
PLEASE NOTE THERE WILL BE A CHAPTER OF AUDREY POTTER'S PRELUDE UPDATED NEXT, WHICH WILL DELAY AN UPDATE FOR THIS STORY. It should be an exciting one! As for this chapter, Audrey now has a new path to follow and she is actually going to be separated from Harry...at least for a while. I know this wasn't the most exciting chapter, but there was a lot of explaining to be done here. I hope you liked what you read and hope that you will tell me what you thought about it.
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