ficcage!

Jul. 29th, 2007 04:28 am
hazy_reflection: (Dolphin Goddess)
Title: Truths Surfacing
Genre: Genfic? Maybe not...
Characters: Remus, Sirius, Peter, James, later Lily
Rating: completely safe for anything...
Word Count: 2321
Notes: I began a multiple part Lily/James fic over a year ago and I've just now picked it up and started it up again. Please excuse the disjointedness of it; I haven't written much of anything lately. Comments are gladly appreciated, as I never usually have anyone beta my stuff...it's only craptastic fic. =P

Part 8 of ?; 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 4b | 5 | 6 | 7

A couple days later... )
hazy_reflection: (Hourglass)
Title: What Happened Before...
Characters: Aiden and Annaliese Carmichael
Word Count: 364
Notes: complete randomness...have no idea where it came from

You've been warned... )
hazy_reflection: (Unicorns)
Title: Revelations
Characters: Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy
Rating: PG-13 for violence
Word Count: 1672
Notes: a big thanks to the suggestions from [livejournal.com profile] sodapopdolly and [livejournal.com profile] sharpiesmudge; mentioned character deaths

It was right that it finished where it began. )
hazy_reflection: (Hourglass)
Title: No title. Just a little drabble...
Characters: Remus Lupin/Nymphadora Tonks
Rating: PG-13 for language of sorts
Word Count: 100
Notes: a big thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ice_fairy13 for the suggestion! This fic is written on the pretense that stricter and harsher Werewolf Laws have been put into effect.

In a secret place, at a secret hour )
hazy_reflection: (Hourglass)
Title: Who to Trust
Word Count: 1097
Rating: PG
Genre: Ummm...it's just general ficcage, dunno what "genre" that'd be...
Notes: written for the "Unity in Diversity" prompt in [livejournal.com profile] lumos_create. Set sometime after HBP but during what would be Book 7 type...setting...thing... O_o

It was a dark and storm--wait...nevermind... )

L/J cont'd

May. 12th, 2006 11:35 pm
hazy_reflection: (ABF!)
Continued from here because the post got too long...

Part 8: Truths Surfacing )
hazy_reflection: (Ouija)
Unfinished and Untitled Take III
by
Lita Reena
started at 1:27am 03-01-06


Bambino Bello )
hazy_reflection: (Ouija)
That's the Way It Goes
by
Lita Reenā


[[Author's Note: happens a week after this]]

<~~*^*~~>


"Good morning, Eddie."

"Hello, Clarice," Eddie said quietly as he sat down on the plush couch across from the psychiatrist's chair. He leaned back, trying to get comfortable even though he knew he never would. "I like what you've done with the place," he told her with a casual smile, his eyes making a wide sweep of the room. She had mentioned to him before he'd left the week prior that she was going to have the place remodelled, just in case he got there before she did, which did happen from time to time. Both the outer room and the inner room--where she met with all her clients--had been changed from an icy winter theme to a light and springy one. Eddie thought he rather like her previous decor better.

She smiled brightly at him, settling herself into her chair and pulled out her parchment and quill. "I'm glad to see that you can at least pretend to like it," she told him with an amused arched eyebrows. After watching him for a moment, her eyes darted to the clock and then back at him, a move almost unnoticeable if he hadn't been watching her. She smiled again and then began talking to him.

"I see you've decided not to wear your robes today," she commented, scribbling down a note on her parchment without looking down. "That's a bit of a change, isn't it? You've always worn your robes to our sessions. I take it something's happened since our last meeting." She watched him with seemingly caring eyes, watched as Eddie just shrugged and smiled at her, his memories from the past week putting him into a mood where he didn't really feel like talking so much. He sighed, more as a noise to fill the silence than anything else. After glancing around the room, he looked back at her and then fidgetted slightly. He was paying her for this after all, so perhaps he should at least say something.

"Alex is back," he said simply, as though it hadn't been one of the happiest moments of his life.

Clarice just raised an eyebrow at that information and jotted some more notes down on her parchment. She glanced down at it and then let her glasses fall to the tip of her nose, looking over them at Eddie as he sat there on the couch.

"Alex is back..." Clarice echoed, showing no emotion on her face whatsoever. "How do you feel about that?" she asked, obviously trying to get Eddie to say more about what happened.

Eddie shifted uncomfortably in his spot on the couch. He hadn't really wanted to talk about this; he had hoped that somehow she wouldn't be able to get to it, that they would talk about something else. Apparently his hope had been misguided, because she had managed to hit the nail directly on the head.

"Well, I'm happy she's back. She's a good friend...and I missed her," he said, though his voice was a bit too forceful, as though he were trying to persuade Clarice that his reasons were healthy and honest.

"I'm sure you did miss her Eddie, but we've been trying to get you to develop an independence from her. You're doing so well." She pushed her glasses back up onto the bridge of her nose and then looked at him gently. "I'll be honest with you, this isn't the best time for you to see her again. You're still in a developmental stage and are vulnerable to anything right now." She sat watching him, trying to gauge his reaction to the things she said. Eddie didn't disappoint.

"I can handle it!" he told her, a look of desperation beginning to grow in his eyes. "We, we had a wonderful time the night she came back! We talked and..." he hesitated and then decided to leave out the part about them sleeping together, "and we read some Shakespeare and it was just like old times."

Clarice pursed her lips and looked at him, reading him like a book. "Eddie, this is not a healthy relationship. It never was. You need to be able to stand on your own before you try to support someone else! 'Just like old times' isn't going to help you. And if you sleep with her again, I honestly don't know what I'm going to do."

Eddie's jaw dropped.

"I'm a shrink. Edward, you've been coming to me for how long, now? Besides, you're positively glowing and it's been, what, a week since she came back? Something big had to have happened. It's too easy not to know."

Eddie finally closed his mouth, the reality of it hitting him hard. He gulped and sighed and then sank deeper into the couch cushion behind him.

"I guess...I didn't realise," he said quietly, trying to bring back the happy mood he'd been in just moments before. "It's just, I love her so much. And well, things just happened."

"Yes, Eddie, that's the way it often goes in that kind of situation. But you really need to start growing and developing your individuality and independence. You really do." Clarice thought for a moment, sucking on the end of her quill before speaking again. "Have you ever thought of moving off the Estate?"

"Off the Estate," Eddie repeated, slightly confused. "But...why? The Estate is my home..." he started, and then stopped, recognising where she was going with this. "You're talking about supporting myself...right?"

"That's right, Eddie," she responded with a nod. "I think it might do you some good. And it's not as though you can't go back. It's just getting away for a little while. Maybe you can find a way to get the Ministry to send you away for a short time; perhaps you can find an assignment in France?"

'France,' Eddie thought to himself. 'France is where Alex went away to...' Alex. It seemed she was the only thing on his mind nowadays. No. If he was going to go away he needed to go somewhere where he wouldn't be reminded of her. Perhaps Spain, or Germany. Italy! He could visit Italy. There had been talk around the office of a possible assignment in Italy. He'd always wanted to visit Rome.

"Maybe..." Eddie started, "It would be a good idea," he said, a small smile beginning to form on his face. He stood up, thoughts beginning to fly through his head as ideas for this trip began to form. "I've got things to go research then," he told Clarice as he began toward the door.

"Eddie!" she started, causing him to turn around and look at her with a confused look on his face. "You haven't finished your hour?" she said, more of a question than a statement.

"Don't worry, Clarice," he said, his grin still widening as he kept going toward the door. He opened it and then turned back to her, his eyes shining, "You'll still get full payment," he said as he shut the door, leaving her with an expression of astonishment on her face.
hazy_reflection: (Ouija)
Just a couple short...blurbs...written over the past week while at work...

Remember... )

To be continued... )
hazy_reflection: (Unicorns)
He stood at the end of the walkway, his broad shoulders straight and stiff as he stared up at the grand house in front of him. How it had still been standing, he didn't know, but here he was, and here it stood, and now it was his. Part of him was wishing that he didn't have to enter the building again. While his first ten years had been all right, the following three hadn't exactly been very memorable. They had abandoned him, and when Hogwarts let out for summer breaks he was resigned to go visit the local orphanage, for there had been no family that would take him in. His parents weren't exactly known for being the most trustworthy and honest, how could anyone think different of their son?

A sigh escaped his dry, cracked lips, and he let thin eyelids fall over dark blue eyes, remembering back to the day when he'd received the letter. He had feared the rest of his house finding out, wondering if they would laugh at him and ostracise him for not having a family unit anymore. To his amazement, they--well, the three girls--had taken him in and made him feel welcome in their circle after that. Though, at first it didn't seem like it, because they had always teased him and used every opportunity to laugh at him, but later he had found that they were doing it because they thought he was cute. And it wasn't that girly crush type of cute that they saw in him, but the adorable youthfulness of a cute little boy, even though he had been thirteen. Still, it had given him a sense of family again, and he developed a certain loyalty to them all.

His main loyalty, however, had been to the boy who was now no longer alive. There had been rumours that he had been killed shortly after failing to kill Albus Dumbledore, though somehow the old coot had ended up dead anyway. He honestly couldn't care less. At first, he had rejoiced with the rest of the Slytherins, his apparent alignment with the Darkest Wizard of them all causing the bond between them all to strengthen. But then things started falling apart. All the girls had disappeared, and he had been left alone, until the boy he'd been loyal to all along came around, telling him that it wasn't safe, that he would die unless he hid. And so he did, watching the war from a secluded spot in the country, untouched and unmarred by it all. Draco Malfoy had saved his life.

The war ended quicker than most though it would have. People he had known and loved were now dead. Others were missing. His parents had been killed for turning traitor. After all the boasting and dark deeds they had admitted to doing, they had turned tail and run for it in the end. And they had paid dearly for it. Still, he hadn't wanted to deal with any of it, and so he had gone abroad, spending time in America, where people had still been affected by the war, but not been touched by it so closely as those across the sea.

It had been ten long years that he had stayed there, and then he had received a letter. There had been no will from his parents, and so the house and the small fortune they hadn't squandered was his. Having spent ten years away, it now called to him, calling him back to the life he had walked away from. And so, he found himself at the foot of the path, looking up at the great house he used to call home. It felt good. Graham Pritchard was home.
hazy_reflection: (Dolphin Goddess)
Continued from...

~~*^*~~


It was harder than anticipated, even though they all knew that new beginnings usually are. There were still days when tempers flared and harsh words were spoken. There were times when tension was so thick, Hagrid's Cauldron Cakes would have been more welcome. But as many times as there were bad, the good ones held a much higher count. Eddie and Alex began to reacquaint themselves with each other, sinking into Shakespeare by candlelight in the middle of the night or causing Bridget to throw pillow after pillow at them in the Sitting Room when they would both manage to tune her out as they talked about the old times and how much fun they had all had back during their years at Hogwarts. And then there were the weekends when they would all walk down into the town of Hogsmeade, remembering what the village used to be like when they were younger. Zonko's had long ago gone out of business, happily replaced by the special humour that only Fred and George Weasley could provide. Madam Rosmerta was still at the Three Broomsticks looking as good as ever, serving ale to all who arrived. Other shops had come and gone, but there was one small shop that had stood vacant for years, never replaced, though never completely vacated.

It was an overcast Saturday when they all walked down into the village of Hogsmeade yet again, an event that seemed to occur more often as the weeks passed. They walked, arm in arm in arm, down over the dirt path that led through the village, looking in through all the windows, and then stopping in front of one window in particular. The window always looked the same, bracelets, necklaces, a few amulets, a few pairs of earrings and other small accessories that stood, looking forlorn and abandoned in the small window display. If they hadn't known any better, they would have been surprised that the door to the store was locked, even though the display looked as though someone had always been keeping it clean and presentable. Alex couldn't help but sniffle every time they stopped, and every time she did, both Bridget and Eddie would squeeze one of her shoulders to comfort her. It never lasted long, though. She would look up at each of them and smile weakly, motioning that they should move on and continue their walk through the village. It was always a quiet affair, though one that seemed to strengthen their regrown friendship.

It wasn't until a few months later that things really began to change.

It had taken some time for the village to spring back to life again. Buildings were demolished and reconstructed, the roads were improved and beautified, and new shops began taking the places of the old ones that had closed down during the war. They were on their way down before Alex took off at a run, her path obvious to her two best friends.

"Alex! Don't!" Bridget cried, reaching out to try and stop the blonde before she got too far away. It was for naught, though, because Alex just brushed her off and kept going. Eddie gave Bridget a funny look before taking off after Alex, stopping just behind her when she fell to her knees in front of a small shop.

"Bramble's Baubles?!" she cried, her hands wrapping into small fists that fell to her sides. Eddie walked up and knelt beside her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and helping her to her feet.

"Alex, maybe we should--"

"I want to go home." It wasn't a request, it wasn't even a plea. It was a command. It wouldn't have made a difference if she had said "Take me home, NOW." Eddie could only look back at Bridget before he held tightly onto Alex and Disapparated, taking her back to the Estate in the quickest way possible.

Bridget stood there in the street, alone, and sighed as she looked up at the new shop that now stood where Ailerny Accessories used to stand. She stared at the new shop sign for what seemed like an hour and then began the walk back to the Estate. 'Maybe now would be a good time to find an apartment of my own,' she thought to herself.

Back at the Estate, Alex was in a bit of a funk.

"How--no, why...it couldn't have--it wouldn't have...there's no way!" she stammered out as she paced back and forth in front of the library fireplace. "Someone had to have sold--" Alex stopped herself midsentence, the realisation of what she was about to say striking hard. She raised both hands to cover her open mouth, the astonishment obvious on her fave. "Did you know about this?" she asked, turning to look at Eddie, here eyes wide, waiting for the answer she really didn't want to hear.

"He had nothing to do with it, Alex," Bridget said quietly as she closed the door to the library. It clicked loudly, echoing around the room as Bridget walked toward her friend, closing the gap between her and Alex.

"How could you?" Alex whispered, her voice cracking as she fought the sobs that were threatening to take over her body. "That was my mother's shop, you had no right--"

"I had every right! You asked me to take care of it, to make sure it didn't fall apart while you ignored it!" Bridget was quiet, but forceful as she spoke to Alex. "You couldn't even bear to look at it until Eddie came back! You didn't want it anymore. You didn't want the shop or anything in the apartment, so I did what any sensible person would do and I sold it. It wasn't until just recently that they decided to finally do something with it." She stared pointedly at Alex.

"That was my home, Bridge," Alex said quietly, staring up at the ceiling and then turning her back on the other girl with a quick turn. "This isn't happening," she said with a sigh, not wanting to look back at Bridget.

"Well it is happening, and you need to face it," Bridget said angrily at Alex's back. "I had to face the truth, to face the fact that that place was only dragging you down. You've had a good thing going here, but every time you see that place you digress back into the little girl that you turned into back when your mum first disappeared. I risked everything for you back then! I've only done what I thought was right! Why can't you see that?" Alex could only stand with her back to her friend, her mind starting to grow hazy and confused. Eddie took that moment of silence to jump into the conversation.

"Maybe...this isn't the time," he started.

"Now is the time!" Bridget snapped.

"Don't snap at him," Alex whispered quietly.

"Fine. I'll snap at you. Where's the fire you used to have? Where's the spunky attitude, the optimistic outlook on life?" Bridget was practically pleading with Alex now.

"There's no room for fire and spunk in times of war," Alex muttered quietly. She turned to walk away.

"You see?" Bridget told Eddie, "She's always running away now. She's become as soft as a Hufflepuff." Eddie could see Alex's shoulders stiffen at that comment, but the blonde didn't say or do anything. She just kept walking.

"I don't know what to do anymore," Bridget told Eddie, "but I know I've got to stop taking care of her. I'm going to stay at the Three Broomsticks for a few days. Maybe we need some time apart. Sorry to put you in the middle of all this, Eddie." She didn't wait to hear Eddie's response. Instead, she turned on her heels and hurried out of the library.

Eddie collapsed onto the couch. Both of the girls were justified in their arguments, but there had to be some other solution than for Bridget to move out. He needed to find some way to snap Alex out of her funk. He decided to use the next few days to plot out his idea.

~~*^*~~


The house seemed oddly quiet with Bridget gone. Eddie almost missed the clicking of heels around the halls. Still, it gave him the time that he needed to be alone with Alex without the distractions that Bridget brought. It was true; Alex had lost some of the old fire that Eddie had first been attracted to when they had met during their years at Hogwarts. Alex used to be so lighthearted and warm, full of a life that he couldn't remember seeing in any other person he had met. His plan was to bring that life back into her. He wasn't sure exactly how he was going to go about doing that but he did have a few ideas. During the first couple of days Bridget was away, Eddie mainly kept to himself, watching Alex from a distance and using his time to formulate his plan. It was simple enough to put into words: wake Alex from this mind-numbing trance. Her depression only seemed to be worsening with Bridget's absence. It was becoming clearer to Eddie that one thing Alex needed, now more than ever, was someone to interact with. It was easy to recall how bubbly and bright the bouncy-haired blonde had been during their years at Hogwarts, even as talk of Voldemort and war grew more and more audible in the halls. Still, she had been happy and Eddie knew what the first part of his plan was going to be.

~~*^*~~


"Will you stop pacing? You're making me nauseous," Bridget snapped impatiently at Eddie as she placed a flower arrangement on the foyer table. "I've made sure everything is in order for this evening." She raised a knowing eyebrow at him and smiled,” Alex will be thrilled." Eddie inhaled deeply, rubbing his sweaty palms on the legs of his trousers.

"It's only been two weeks, Bridge," Eddie grinned nervously, "do you think that's enough time?" Bridget walked up to him and put each of her hands on his shoulders, looking him straight in the face. Eddie hadn't realised she was only a few inches shorter than he.

"Edward, it's been ten years. If that isn't time enough then I don't know what is," she said, the serious expression on her face not hiding the twinkle in her eye. She took her hands off his shoulders and straightened the knot in his tie. "Now, dinner reservations are at six and it's already five forty so go make sure our little darling is ready," she added, sending him down the hall with a light push on the back. "And remember, she's not allowed to skive off this time!" she called after him, giving him that knowing look when he turned around to look at her. As Eddie continued down the hall, he shook his head and smiled. No, Alex was definitely not allowed to avoid tonight's dinner out. Tonight was going to be special.

~~*^*~~


"Oh Eddie, dinner was just wonderful!" Alex gushed, linking her arm through his as they walked out of the restaurant. She was glowing, almost bouncing off the ground with each step. "It's such a pity that Bridget was called away on an emergency work assignment, though," she mused quietly, resting her head on Eddie's shoulder as they walked under a starless sky. "She enjoys fancy dinners like this," she added quietly, prodding him questinably with her free hand. "I'm just as comfortable eating dinner at the manor..."

"Still a cuurious Ravenclaw," Eddie said with a smile.

"You an hardly blame me!" Alex replied with a laugh. "Expensive dinner for no reason? You'll have to forgive me Mister Carmichael but I was not born yesterday," she giggled, pulling gently away from her companion. "There must be a reason for it all," she murmured lightly, twirling around in circles, causing her skirt to flare out. "Because if I remember correctly, you never used to spend money just to spend it. There was always a reason."

Eddie couldn't help but smile at his friend's enthusiasm. It was almost infectious; Alex was truly alive. Seeing her like this made Eddie feel guilty at having left the girls alone for so long. It made him wonder if whathe had planned for the rest of the evening was even necessary. No matter. It was too late to change plans now.

"M'lady," Eddie said with a smile, "it wounds me that you would suggest such villainy of me."

"Oh Eddie," Alex said with a happy sigh, "it almost feels as though we're back at Hogwarts and this was just a visit to Hogsmeade." She moved back toward him and wrapped her arms around him in a thankful embrace. "This was wonderful. Let's go home," she whispered. Eddie leaned down and kissed the top of Alex's head, held her close and together they Disapparated, disapearing from the street and reappearing in the Carmichael Manor foyer. Eddie gave Alex one last squeeze before loosening his embrace. "I've got an idea," he told her as he let his hand slide down her arm, coming to a rest once it met her hand. "Why don't we go up to the library and relax with a good book in front of the fire?"

"That sounds lovely," Alex breathed, squeezing Eddie's hand and leading him up the stairs. As soon as blonde tresses appeared above the top stair, though, the two were met with a thundering explosion of "SURPRISE!" Alex dropped Eddie's hand as she raised both of hers to cover her mouth in shock.

"Eddie..." she mumbled through her fingers, "who are all these people?"

"Like you have to ask?" asked a familiar voice over the roar. Soon after, the owner of said voice appeared, causing Alex to start bouncing on the balls of her feet.

"Luna!" she squealed loudly, throwing her arms around the other girl in a tight hug.

"And how could you forget us??"

Alex started to turn around when more familiar faces swarmed around her.

"Ellie! Stephen...Ernie! Awww, Lavender, your hair looks so lovely! Padma, Parvati, how are you?" Stepping further in to the crowd, Alex was greeted by more friendly faces. "Ginnny, it's so good to see you again! Terry, Kevin, as dashing as always!" Ssoon, Eddie had lost Alex in the sea of people. He didn't mind i though. She looked like she was happy and having a good time and that was all that mattered. He was about to turn to leave when a hand rested on his shoulder to stop him.

"You're not just going to leave her in the middle of all that, are you?" Bridget asked him, a small smile on her face.

"Has she seen you yet?" Eddie asked, easily avoiding the question.

"No," Bridget answered, one eyebrow raised at him as she continued, "but I'll go see her once things have calmed down. There's no point wasting energy trying to push my way through that crowd." She moved away toward the wall and sat down in one of the chairs there. "No matter. She has a lot of catching up to do." With a snap of her fingers, a wine goblet appeared in her hand and she took a sip. "When is she getting the other part?"

Eddie leaned against the wall, his gaze drifting out over the sea of people.

"When she's ready."

~~*^*~~


It was almost five in the morning by the time the last guest left. Bridget had bowed out halfway through the party, claiming that an early work hour called for an early "to bed" hour. Eddie had stuck around, mingling with some of the guests and then slipping out literally unseen at about four am. Not seeing either of her friends, Alex went off in search of them. Eddie was usually the more difficult to find, so Alex made her way to Bridget's room on the first floor. Upon reaching the correct door, she settled her hand on the latch, wondering if she should let her best friend sleep the last hour before rising for work. With giddiness spilling over from the party, Alex smiled to herself and threw the door open.

"Wake up sleepyhead!" she cried, dashing toward the bed and leaping onto it like a child at Christmas. She landed lightly next to the groggy figure that was Bridget Dunstan. "You've slept long enough, I need someone to talk to!" Bridget shifted lightly, murmuring something about being too early to Alex before turning away and pulling the bedspread over her head. Alex giggled and leaned over, kissing her friend on the top of her head before sliding off the bed and practically prancing out of the room. She took a moment in the hall, smiling to herself before dashing down the hallway toward the stairwell. Eddie had taken to rooming in the Black Room upstairs, so Alex's first thought was to check there for him.

"Eddie?" she whispered, poking her head through the door. One look at the smooth bed covers and Alex knew that finding Eddie was going to be a bit of a chore. Of course, it would be if Alex didn't have a map of the manor. She set off for Eddie's secret study, positive the map would tell her where Eddie was hiding. She walked down the hallway, running her hand along the wall, remembering back to the first time she and Eddie had ventured to his secret study.
Insert RP here *sigh*

'Thirteen different entrances and I always come back to this one,' she thought to herself. As she stepped smoothly through the glamoured wall, Alex's gaze went immediately to the chair that was Eddie's usual resting spot in the study.

"Not here either," she murmured to herself as she quickly crossed the room to the bookshelf. "Whoever thought up this entrance wasn't being very creative," she muttered as she nudged a book from it's place. "I mean, really? A bookshelf that leads to a library? Of all the silly things..." She kept talking to herself as she made her way through the dark corridor, then out through another bookcase in the library. A smile crept across her lips as she surveyed the room. There he was, sitting cross-legged at the edge of the couch, one hand petting the sleeping form of an obsidian-coloured feline resting in his lap, the other holding a worn copy of The Taming of the Shrew in the other, held up in front of his face as he read. It didn't look as though he had noticed her yet, so Alex crept slowly and as quietly as she could across the floor toward the couch.

"Your stealthy approach would function much better if you weren't also trying to suppress a giggle while doing it," Eddie said quietly from the couch, the hand holding the book not having budged a millimetre. Alex couldn't help but let out the giggle as she quickly covered the gap between them and pounced on the spot next to Eddie. She made herself comfortable, fidgeting until she maneuvered one leg under her body and settling her gaze on his figure.

"Is there something I can help you with, Miss Bradford?" he asked, still not moving, though the corner of his mouth was twisting into a smirk.

"Why you--!"

Alex's mouth dropped into an "O" of surprise, the sparkle in her eyes dancing with laughter. "You, sir, are being a very poor host this morning!" she exclaimed lightly, ruffling his hair and resting her head on his shoulder.

"And you, madam, have been residing in this home for the duration of my absence, thereby having no need of a morning host," Eddie stated matter-of-factly, still reading from the book. Alex made a face, thinking for a moment before reaching quickly for Eddie's book. Her swift movement jostled him, waking the black ball of fur in Eddie's lap. The feline didn't enjoy being woken in such a manner, jumping down from her sleeping spot and stretching her legs as she opened her mouth in a wide yawn.

"Oh, Musetta darling, I am sorry," Alex apologised with a smile to the elderly cat.

"Now look what you've done," Eddie said in mock disappointment. Alex just giggled and threw her arms around him in a warm hug, snuggling up against him.

"Last night was so wonderful, Eddie," she breathed, her eyes fluttering closed. "It felt so amazing to see everyone together again, like we used to be before the war." Eddie smiled and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

"I'm glad you enjoyed it," he told her, happy that, for the moment, his plan seemed to be working.

"I'm glad I did too," Alex whispered. "Mmm, Eddie?" she asked.

"Yes sweets?" he responded, calling her by her old nickname.

"I'm going to fall asleep now," she murmured quietly, straightening her legs out on the couch and resting her head in his lap. Eddie couldn't help but smile, adjusting his body ever so slightly so as not to disturb Alex, but so that he could sleep comfortably as well. It had been a long night, and Eddie suspected that Alex's newfound energy would not be in short supply after last night. In fact, he was counting on it.

~~*^*~~


The next weeks were a whirlwind of activity. Eddie and Alex were constantly out of the house, and Bridget was only too happy to find comfort in the silence of the estate. She knew what Eddie was planning, and she only hoped that it would help more than hinder. She could remember their younger years when Eddie's ideas weren't always safe for everyone involved, but she knew the connection between the two and decided that he would never do anything that would harm Alex in any way.
Eddie was optimistic. He didn't have much of a plan, it was all basically just get Alex out of the house and her mind off Hogsmeade. He took her to London for a few days, one weekend they apparated to Rome, another weekend they were in Greece. It was a blur of mini-vacations and Eddie was only too happy to keep Alex entertained. Of course, they weren't just visitting random places. Each place they went to was to visit specific people. London, of course, was where Alex was reacquainted with many of her school chums. She enjoyed spending time with Orla Quirk and Luna Lovegood, among many others. They even took Bridget along to spend time with her extended family in Paris.

Time passed quickly as they travelled through Europe. Alex even managed to convince Eddie to take her to Iceland, and though she asked if they might visit the states, Eddie didn't think it would be a good idea. She let it pass with little questioning, and finally they were settled back at the Estate for a short break from their travelling. It wasn't until a sunny afternoon in the gardens that Alex finally let Eddie know what was on her mind.

"Eddie," she asked him quietly, watching his face as he stared off into the distance, "I've been having such a wonderful time, visitting all of our friends and seeing all of these magnificent places, but," she paused a moment, hoping that the words she chose wouldn't hurt his feelings, "but I get the feeling you're hiding something from me." She watched his eyes close and open, felt the swell of his chest as he took a deep breath. He was silent for a while; Alex could almost see the cogs spinning in his head as he searched out the words to speak.

"I'm not hiding anything, sweets," he started, squinting at the setting sun and then glancing down at the ground. He could feel Alex's inquisitive stare and it was making him just slightly nervous. "It's just, I put you and Bridget through a lot leaving the way I did, and I want to make it up to you. I know things will never be the same, war does that to people, but I was hoping to at least try to make up for it. There's so little that I remember and so much I don't know. I remember you and Briget as teenage girls, Alex. You've since grown up into beautiful, strong, successful women. It's almost like you're two completely different people." Eddie stopped walking at that point, turning to look at Alex, taking her hands in his and holding them between their bodies. "I want to get to know you again, perhaps even bring back a little of the past."

"Oh Eddie," Alex smiled, the pale golden light of the dwindling sunset reflecting gently off her soft curly locks, "we can't live in the past. These past few weeks have been amazing, and we have been getting to know each other again. But there's something behind it all. I almost get the feeling that you're afraid to tell me something." Eddie grinned at that, turning again to continue the walk back toward the house.

"It's not fear," he told her slowly, "more like, trying to time things right," he added with a charming smile.

"Timing?" The blonde blinked, confusion spreading across her face. "But what--?"

"Alex," Eddie interrupted quickly, "Just...trust me? Please?" She nodded silently, letting him lead her back to the house. Her instinctive curiousity was getting the better of her, but at that moment she thought better of it.
~~*^*~~


After a few days of rest, Eddie was ready to pack up and head out again, but Alex stopped him before he had the trunks shrunk.

"Eddie, I know you've probably spent a good amount of time planning these mini-holidays, but is it possible to stay at home for a little while longer?
He paused mid wand wave and looked inquisitively at her. "Are you sure?" he asked, wondering how he was going to stick to his plans with this sudden change.

"Quite. Please, I love travelling, but it's nice to just be home for a while, especially now with you around. And besides, I've been thinking that I want to go back to work and it will take me a while to send correspondence around, see who might be seeking apprentices." She shook her head thoughtfully, "Bridget was quite right in saying that I've spent far too much time here, letting depression rule my life. I'm grateful that you've been so patient with me, but I think I need to try to stand on my own two feet again." Eddie nodded and put his wand away, smiling at Alex as he reached out for her hands.

"If you want to find work, I think that's wonderful," he told her, kissing the backs of both of her hands and then kissing her on the cheek. "How about this, we'll make one last trip, you wanted to visit the states, we'll spend some time there and then when we get back I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to send out your letters." He watched her pensively, hoping that she would agree.

She smiled, throwing her arms around his neck and squealing with delight. "Oh Eddie! That sounds wonderful." Alex took out her own wand, casting the shrinking spell on the trunks herself. "Shall we then?"

~~*^*~~
hazy_reflection: (Default)
The Darkness of Tragedy
by
Lita Reenā
begun
20 July 2005 @ 3:40am
Current Word Count: 13348


[[Author's Note: The characters within belong to JKR and Cass. Personalities belong to Cass, Heather, and me...so, if either of you has an issue with me writing them, please let me know and I'll delete the story. I was just going through some old writings in my document files and I found the beginning of this one, so I decided that I wanted to finish it. I haven't gotten very far, though I'm not sure what I want to do with it. Again, if you'd like me to delete just let me know and I will.]]

It was a warm night, well, warm for a late July night at the edge of Hogsmeade. A lone figure made its way from the train station at the edge of the lake and up the path in the middle of town and out to the large, illuminated building on the outskirts of the village. It would have been easier to simply Apparate into his home, but now that Eddie was back in his home country he wanted to soak in all the good memories that had come flooding back into his mind. They were short-lived though, because it was a quick little journey, as Eddie Carmichael had made it numerous times before. Upon reaching the front door he sighed contently and then pulled out the key. Now that the war was over, there was hardly any need to use magical locks and safeties on the grounds, and Eddie smiled to himself as he heard the familiar click of the key in the lock.

'It's good to be home...' he thought to himself as he walked into the foyer and dumped his bags on the ground.

The thud of his luggage echoed through the halls and into the Sitting Room on the other side of the Grand Fireplace. He stared around the room with a new sense of awe. It had been years since he had last looked at the room; he'd almost forgotten how intense it was. He walked around the Fireplace, still staring in awe at the old but familiar surroundings when he was startled by an old but familiar voice.

“I almost thought you’d forgotten how to get to your own house,” a mocking voice said from the settee in the far corner. It was dark, but Eddie recognised the voice, a voice that brought up memories from long ago. He stood staring into the darkness, silence having overtaken him. A snicker broke the silence, and then there was a new voice, just as familiar as the first.

“Why, I think you’ve robbed the Ravenclaw of his words,” a sweet voice stated with just a hint of mischief. Eddie could hear a scuffling of shoes on the hard floor, and then the soft sound of fabric brushing fabric. Another sound, and then a face finally came into view as the owner of one of the voices stepped forward out of the darkness. It was difficult to see in the little amount of moonlight that shone through the few windows. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped at the image set before him. It took a few minutes for it to register, but when it did Eddie seemed to lose the feeling in his legs, and then the darkness overtook him.

~~*^*~~


He awoke later to hear soft whispers coming from…hang on, where were they coming from? He was laying down, and so he pushed himself up on his elbows and looked around, his eyes still trying to adjust to the dimness that surrounded him.

“Careful there,” a voice cooed from the shadows. Eddie shook his head, squeezed his eyes shut, and then opened them slowly, hoping that maybe his eyes would have an easier time adjusting. Hope failed, however, and he still had just as difficult a time trying to find the owner of the voice in the darkness.

“Can you believe, he hasn’t figured it out yet!” the second voice said quietly. It was a much more disciplined tone, quite a contrast to the bubbly soft voice that he had first heard upon entering his home. He tried to pull himself up into a sitting position, but was forced back down onto the bed as he felt a slight pressure on his chest.

“I don’t think so!” came a voice again, seemingly from out of nowhere. It was the second voice. “You’re not going anywhere, not until we get some answers.”

“Please, please, do you have to be so brash about it, Bridge?” chimed the first, softer voice, pleading with the second voice.

“Oh now you’ve done it,” exclaimed the second voice loudly. “You never did learn how to keep a secret did you? It’s been how many years? Surely I must’ve been able to break you of that habit!” Eddie could hear the clicking of heels, making their way away from him and across the floor to the corner of the room.

“It’s not like it’s going to hurt anything!” said the second voice softly. “Besides, he’s a right to know who’s been keeping him captive in his own home!” the voice added brightly, bringing with it a lighter tone to the whole situation. He had been silent throughout this exchange when suddenly, something clicked. He reached out a hand toward where he thought he had heard the second voice coming from and called out softly, “Alex?”

A squeak emitted from the direction he had reached out to, and suddenly Eddie could feel warm hands enveloping his. “Oh Bridge, come on now, he knows!”

Eddie could hear something that sounded like a snort coming from the corner where the heels had clicked off to, and then he heard a spell uttered. His spell!! Rather, the counter to his spell. It had to be them. And it was. As soon as the words had been spoken, the two girls came into view, though no longer the girls he once knew, but the women he had never known. He lay there wide-eyed and drop-jawed, staring at the girls he had left behind so many years ago.

“Sweet Merlin, Alex. I can’t imagine how you ever found him attractive. Just look at him, can’t even gawk correctly,” Bridget said haughtily. Eddie promptly shut his mouth and let his eyes slide back into their sockets, allowing his hand fall away from Alex’s as he pulled himself up to a sitting position on the bed, for that was what he was lying on. He sat there, rubbing lightly at his chest while looking back and forth between the two girls.

“Alex…Bridget…what’re you doing here?” he asked quietly, finally letting his eyes rest on Alex, as if waiting for her to answer him.

“We heard you were coming back,” Bridget interjected quickly, rising from her chair and walking over to the bed, poking her wand at his chest. “We had to hear it from Cho Chang, Cho Chang of all people. You couldn’t have sent word to us?!” She was livid. She pulled the point of her wand away and started pacing up and down the bedside. “We were worried sick about you! And you couldn’t even save us the worry by sending us a single owl!” She turned to glare at him, tears beginning to form in the corner of her eyes. She sniffed once and then whirled, her robes flying behind her as she rushed back over to the chair, falling down into it and crossing her arms defiantly over her chest. “You’re selfish and deceitful and I wish you’d never come back!” she cried, staring him down, her dark eyes squinting at him.

Eddie turned to Alex with a confused look, pleading silently with her for an explanation of why Bridget was so angry with him. The blonde—whose curls seem to have tamed since he’d seen her last—smiled apologetically at him and sighed, though still smiling.

“Bridget’s still bitter that you left without even saying good bye,” she said gently. “You left us alone in the middle of a war. You can’t expect her, or me, to be able to forgive you very easily, you know.” She rose from the bedside, her empty hands falling to her sides as she looked down at him. For the first time that night, Eddie realised that the twinkle her eyes had once held was no longer there, replaced by the dull shine of the heartache and pain that war brings. Her step no longer held its youthful and vivacious bounce, and Eddie could feel a twinge in his chest as he realised that he would never be able to get back the years he had missed with her, with either of them. He had run away, when they had stayed to fight; yet he was the one who was lacking because of it.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered to her back, letting his head hang in shame. Another sound of disbelief came from the corner, and Eddie could hear heels clicking over toward the door, and then the door closing behind them as they left him sitting there, alone on the bed.

~~*^*~~


Eddie woke the next morning, his eyes stinging slightly from crying himself to sleep the night before. He hadn’t expected a greeting on his homecoming. He half hadn’t expected to come home at all. The girls couldn’t have known why he’d had to leave so quickly, why he had to leave without even saying good-bye. He had hoped that by fleeing the country, he could make it all go away, could quite possibly keep them safe. He had never thought on it, but when he thought on it now, Eddie would never be able to tell them that he had fled because his own father was trying to kill him.

They had known that the year after Eddie left Hogwarts, his father had disappeared. What Bridget and Alex never found out, though, was that Aiden Carmichael had been introduced to the world of the Death Eaters, finally letting his grief overtake him and letting their silken lies of betrayal and revenge eat into him. Eddie hadn’t found out about it until late in December, when the anniversary of his mother’s death had come around again. That year had been different, and Aiden Carmichael had left the Estate, never to return again. Only later when Eddie had gone through his father’s room did he find a black cloak with a white mask stashed deep in a secret compartment in the passageway that connected Aiden’s room with his private study. Eddie had been devastated, trying to figure out where his father had disappeared to. The following February, Aiden had come back, but only to do away with the piece of scum that had been the product of his union with a Muggleborn wife. Aiden had come back to kill Eddie. And so Eddie had fled the country, not even stopping to say goodbye to anyone. For the first time in his life, Eddie was glad that his father had been so distant through his years at Hogwarts. There was no way Aiden Carmichael would know of the two girls whom Eddie had come to befriend, or the things Eddie had taught himself while studying there.

Eddie thought back on all of this as he walked through the halls of the manor. Upon waking, he had sent out owls to the people who he knew would have kept track of his home. In his last year before leaving Hogwarts, Eddie had made a few close friends, friends he knew would’ve been able to survive in the dark days to come, and the people he had randomly owled while staying away for the duration of the war. It was Harry Potter himself who sent an owl back, telling Eddie that, sadly, soon after Eddie had fled the country, Aiden had been killed for failing the assignment that would have been his initiation into the Death Eater circle. Eddie dropped to the ground, his mind making the connection.

If I hadn’t left…he would have killed me, and he would still be alive…‘ The thought tumbled over and over in his mind. Part of him was overcome with grief at being the cause of his father’s death, the other part of him being furious with his father for letting himself be conned into joining Voldemort. His father had been weak, and that was the end of it. But the girls, they had managed to survive!

He jumped up from the floor, making his way through the halls until he heard hushed whispering coming out of the library. Of course, they were Ravenclaws. He wasn’t surprised that he found them there. He slowed to a stop and then slowly made his way through the open doors. The whispering stopped immediately when the dark haired girl spotted him walking towards them. She stiffened slightly, her arm around the shoulders of the blonde sitting next to her, and then raised her chin defiantly at him.

“So, you’ve finally come back, have you?” she spat at him, her grip on Alex’s shoulder tightening slightly.

“Ouch! Bridge, come on now, I’m sure Eddie’s got a good explanation for why he had to leave,” she said quietly, the hurt in her voice making it obvious that she didn’t expect one. Eddie only stood there quietly, wondering how much he should tell them. Here he was, almost thirty years old, and he was afraid to tell two women why he couldn’t have communicated with them for practically ten years. Why it had been so long, though, he didn’t know, and that was mainly why he didn’t want to tell them. Bridget gave him one of her “Well what are you waiting for?” looks, and Eddie sighed as he dropped into a chair opposite them.

“You two haven’t changed a bit…” he said quietly, his mind straining to find a way to start into his story. He let himself fall into his memories for a moment, remembering how oddly protective of Alex Bridget had always been. In everything, schoolwork, boys, magic, life, Bridget had always seemed the stronger of the two. She had also been the one Eddie had been more afraid of. The three of them had certainly formed an odd triangle of friendship. Eddie could remember missing them the most after he had left. Of course, they had been one of the main reason Eddie had fled the country, trying to keep them safe, keep his father from finding out about them.

“Eddie?” Alex’s voice cut through his memories and he looked back at the two girls sitting across from him. He sat there staring at her for a moment, and then she broke the silence again. “Why?” she asked quietly, a single tear falling from her eye and rolling slowly down her cheek. At that moment, there was nothing more that he wanted to do than to reach across and hold her in his arms, to comfort her, to apologise for causing her so much pain. He sighed and let his gaze fall to his lap. He didn’t know where to start.

“It’s been ten years Edward Carmichael! You owe us something!!” Bridget shouted furiously. She released her arm from around Alex’s shoulders and jumped up, her wand out and her eyes wild with anger, “Why did Harry Potter of all people tell me so many years ago not to contact you?? Why did you just disappear like that! Everyone said you were dead!” A small sob escaped from Alex, still sitting on the couch with her arms wrapped around herself. Bridget gestured in the direction of the blonde. “Look at what you’ve done to her!”

Eddie couldn’t bear it anymore. There was no way he could tell them, and there was no way he could sit there any longer and watch Alex cry. No. It wasn’t the right time. He stood quickly, planning on rushing out of the library when suddenly he was frozen, stopped in his tracks. He couldn’t understand it. Suddenly, he was facing the two girls again, forced to watch as Alex continued to cry silently. Bridget advanced on him, her wand out and her face angry.

“You’ve forgotten already, haven’t you? Your last year at Hogwarts, the year Professor Dumbledore died? Professor Snape was instructing us all in nonverbal casting. Took a liking to it. Helped immensely during the war the next year. Of course, you wouldn’t know that would you?” she said bitterly, her wand hand dropping to her side. She shook her head and sat back down next to Alex.

Eddie fell forward suddenly, and Bridget laughed bitterly. “You’re such a selfish bastard, you know that?” she told him. “You had so much here, and then you ran. You ran like the coward that you--” She gasped loudly as a hand connected with her cheek, leaving a slight pink imprint.

“Bridget Dunstan you stop that right this instant!” Alex cried out. Her eyes burned with passion for a moment before she gasped and buried her face in her hands. “Oh Bridge, I’m so sorry.” The blonde looked up at her friend, fighting back tears as she apologised, “I didn’t mean it really, you just, you shouldn’t say that about Eddie. I’m sure there was a good reason for…well, I’m sure he had a good reason.” She sniffed lightly and dropped her hands into her lap. “I’m sorry,” she whispered again, unable to look either of the other two in the eye.

The darker haired woman reached out to console Alex, but the blonde pulled away, horrified that she’d actually slapped her best friend. In the end, Eddie found himself walking silently over to her, wrapping an arm around her silently and holding her gently, letting her turn into his embrace. He could feel her as she shook, silently sobbing as she beat weakly at his chest.

“You never even said goodbye,” she whimpered, “You never even said goodbye.”

Eddie sighed quietly and gave Alex a gentle squeeze. For the longest time, he sat there holding her in silence; the only sound to be heard was the barely audible click of Bridget’s heels as she shifted her weight from foot to foot. Finally, Eddie couldn’t stand the silent shaking of Alex’s body as she continued to cry. He gently began running his hand through her near-straightened hair, whispering to her, “Please, please don’t cry Alex. Don’t cry now, not now. I’m here. I’m here now; there’s no need to cry.” He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to fight his own tears from coming. He had never wanted to hurt her.

Eventually, Bridget left the library, rolling her eyes at the two figures sitting entwined on the couch. Eddie sighed and then tried to pull Alex away so he could look at her, but her sobbing had long since ended and she was now slumped lightly against him, having fallen into a gentle slumber. He wanted to call out to Bridget to bring her back, but instead decided against it, not wanting to wake Alex. Instead, he called quietly for Lixy, his old house elf, hoping that maybe she could prepare a bed for the woman in his arms. He waited silently, and then frowned. It wasn’t like Lixy to be late when he called. He was surprised to see Bridget walking back into the library with a tray of tea and toast.

“After the war ended, the Ministry passed a bill that freed the house elves,” she told him quietly, though the scowl on her face was evident. “I would have thought dear old Harry Potter would have owled you and let you know. Still, Lixy’s around here somewhere. She didn’t want her master to come home and not have help around the house. She didn’t believe that you were dead, even though it was Harry Potter himself who had told her.” She set the tray down on the end table by the couch and gently tugged Alex away from Eddie. “Come on, you, wake up. You’re not doing this again, not tonight.” When Eddie gave her a funny look for saying that, she sighed and rolled her eyes at him for the second time that night.

“She’s depressed. Sleeping at odd times and all. Not right for her to be asleep at 6pm now is it?” Bridget grabbed each of Alex’s shoulders and shook her, just enough to cause her head to flop around like a rag doll’s. “Alex!” she cried, “Wake up, dammit! I’ve got half a mind to slap her when she gets like this,” Bridget told Eddie matter-of-factly.

“Why don’t we just…let her sleep?” Eddie suggested quietly to Bridget, watching with a small frown as the brunette kept shaking the fragile blonde.

“Because she’s slept too much today already. She had only just woken up about an hour before you came around,” Bridget muttered, finally letting Alex slump back against Eddie, who shook his head and then picked Alex up in one swift, smooth motion.

“It’s all right. We can let her sleep for just a little while more,” Eddie said quietly as he began to walk slowly out of the library. He turned just enough to look back at Bridget and ask, “Are you coming?” She stared at him for a moment before sighing and picking up the tray again, quickly catching up to walk beside him as he led the way down the hall and into the nearest room.

“Are you ever going to tell us why you left?” she asked him curtly as he gently laid Alex down on the bed. He sighed at her and they sat down in the two chairs in the corner of the room. It was definitely going to be a long night.

~~*^*~~


Eddie woke the next morning facedown in a pillow. He sniffed loudly, blinking a few times before finally looking at his surroundings and then realised that he was lying on the bed. Next to Alex. With his arm draped over her stomach. What had happened? He gave a silent thanks for the fact that they at least were still fully clothed and then slid slowly off the bed, trying not to wake the blonde. She murmured something, shifting slightly before turning away from Eddie and sighing in her sleep. He breathed a sigh of relief and stepped away silently toward the door.

“Please don’t leave.”

Eddie turned quickly, having thought that Alex was still asleep. He stepped quickly back over to the bed and leaned over her as she smiled up at him.

“I thought you were asleep still, I didn’t want to wake you,” he told her quietly, smiling back at her.

“It’s all right,” Alex said quietly, the smile still on her face. “Bridget says I sleep too much anyway.” She sighed and dropped her gaze to her lap, “Maybe she was right.” Eddie reached a hand underneath her chin and lifted her face so that she was looking into his eyes again.

“Hey now, no more being depressed, all right?” he told her firmly, flashing a toothy grin before bringing his hand away and then offering it to her to help her off the bed. “Life is going to be different from now on, all right? I’m here, and I’m not going to let you be depressed anymore.” Alex smiled meekly at him and then grabbed his hand, hoisting herself off the bed in one smooth move. Eddie made a mental note of it.

She would’ve fallen flat on her face if she had tried that ten years ago,’ he thought to himself. ‘I’ve missed too much by staying away.’ He sighed quietly and then offered his arm, walking her out to the Sitting Room at the center of the house. Once arriving there, Eddie’s eyes swept the room and saw as Bridget looked up from behind her book and raised an eyebrow at them.

“Finally out of bed, I see,” Bridget said softly, reaching for the cup of tea from the table in front of her. The chaise she was stretched out on was draped elegantly in her navy blue robes, and she watched with mild interest as Eddie helped Alex into a nearby chair, poured her a cup of tea and then offered it to her with the youthful energy he would have done it with ten years ago.

“Your eyes are as good as ever, then,” Eddie said with a wink and a smile as he poured a cup of tea for himself. “Alex decided that she had slept enough, though I daresay neither of you need any beauty rest.” Bridget just rolled her eyes at him and sipped her tea quietly. She looked at Alex questioningly, wanting to ask her if anything had happened that morning before she and Eddie had arrived in the Sitting Room. Knowing what her best friend must be thinking, Alex shook her head lightly, in indication that nothing had happened.

Eddie, having noticed the looks the two girls were giving each other, simply smiled to himself, glad that the two women of his life had been able to remain such close friends over the years. Thinking of the past that he had missed out on, Eddie sighed and closed his eyes, dropping his non-seeing gaze to his lap as he tried to suppress the emptiness that was creeping up on him. When he opened his eyes, he jumped and pressed into the back of his chair; Alex and Bridget had vacated their own seats and come to stand over his, watching him with waiting eyes.

“I suppose you want an explanation?” he asked quietly after calming himself from the initial shock of having them standing over him. They had each pulled chairs up closer to his, nodding at him as they sipped their tea.

“I certainly think we deserve it,” Alex said after a moment, staring at Eddie with sad eyes. Bridget snorted loudly into her tea. Eddie took a deep breath before setting his tea down on the table and then leaning back into his chair.

“I’m certain you remember my father, Aiden Carmichael?” he began, watching them both for reactions. They nodded again, synchronous movement. “If you remember, he was pretty much a recluse. The Runes Professor, of course, enthusiastic about his subject, urging his students to learn the subject as best they could. Everyone, except for me. For whatever reason, he could never manage to teach me the way he taught everyone else. He never did tell me why, but eventually I found out anyway. You remember, don’t you? The year Dumbledore died. You reminded me yourself, Bridget,” Eddie said with a weak wink and a light smile. “Well, he never showed up at the funeral. Apparently, he’d been conversing with the Death Eaters for a while. I was going to ask Professor Dumbledore about it…but, well, I guess I waited too long.” He closed his eyes and gave a heavy sigh.

“You probably also didn’t know, that I’m related to one of those wackos,” Eddie growled lightly. “Rodolphus Lestrange, he’s some weird third cousin or whatever, never could get those distant relations correctly. Either way, he’s the one who had been sending my dad owls, telling him that the muggles were the reason mum was dead. He poisoned dad’s mind…I wanted revenge, so I tried to go after him. It wasn’t any use though. I had no idea where those bastards disappeared to. I was out scouring the countryside one night in early February, when I ran into Harry. I don’t know what he was doing, but Hermione and Ron were with him. We talked for a while, and then we all came back here, to Hogsmeade. I was going to come back and let you know where I was, but Harry said it was too dangerous. We were only staying in Hogsmeade for a day anyway. Later that night we left and travelled down to London, and then we were attacked. I don’t even know how it happened. But it was my dad.” At that point Eddie squeezed his eyes shut, his breath coming faster.

“My dad was trying to kill me.” Bridget’s mouth dropped open slightly and she raised a hand to cover it. Alex muffled a cry of surprised with both hands, her eyes wide and shining with the beginnings of tears. Eddie shook his head lightly and sighed again, trying to even his breathing. “He didn’t succeed though. I can remember it though, he kept screaming that I—that I was Muggle filth and that I wasn’t worth it, that I needed to be destroyed in order to preserve the family line. I tried to stop him…but I couldn’t. Harry stunned him, but I begged him not to kill my dad. He took pity on my dad, and on me, and we arranged it so that it looked like he had killed me instead of my father. Father was furious, left before Harry had a chance to stop him. He performed some kind of spell then; he said it was for my safety. And then I left the country for a spot that Harry had already arranged for me. I don’t know what happened afterward, except that I couldn’t tell you where I’d gone, because I didn’t even know where I had gone to. Harry came by later to tell me that my father had been killed for his failure. I was shocked. He said I could stay there if I wanted to. Stay there until the war was over. He’d come get me later. I fled again, wandering in an unknown place. For nine years I wandered, because I was unplottable, and Harry couldn’t owl me to let me know the war had ended.” Eddie hung his head, “I only heard until just a few months ago that I had been declared dead. Someone must have found my will. I had almost forgotten that I had written one. And then one day I found my way back here, back to the castle. Professor McGonagall took me in, owled Harry and the enchantments he had placed on me were lifted. I wasn’t sure where you were, but apparently Cho’s been working in the Ministry, and she was informed that I was alive. I guess that’s when she contacted you and told you about me.”

Eddie fell silent, letting them soak it all in. Alex was sobbing softly, gazing at him with gentle eyes. Bridget, on the other hand, was staring hard at him, as though trying to figure if he was telling the truth or not. She finally stood, reaching out to Alex and then helping her up from the chair, staring pointedly at Eddie before leading Alex away back toward the bedroom.

“Come on Alex…that’s enough for today,” she said quietly, staring back once more at Eddie before the two of them disappeared into the hallway.

~~*^*~~


Morning came quickly for Eddie, as he had gone back to his old room after Bridget and Alex had left him the morning before. He didn’t know what to do anymore. Alex’s reaction wasn’t what he had expected, but what did he expect from a person he had spent the last ten years apart from? He sat silently in his bed, his head resting on a soft pillow encased in a smooth cotton pillowcase. He frowned lightly. ‘These used to be silk…’ he thought to himself. As he pulled himself out of bed, he shivered from the lack of warmth in the room. A quick glance over at the fireplace told him the fire he had lit during the night had died, and without a house elf to keep it going, it had dwindled and disappeared long before Eddie had awoken. He quickly dressed in some a pair of warm pants, a comfortable shirt, and threw on a thick pair of robes to keep himself warm. He’d forgotten how cold the Manor could get sometimes. Still a bit chilly, and feeling somewhat lonely, Eddie picked up the pillow from the bed and clutched it lightly to his chest, using it to try and help himself keep warm as well as for a small bit of comfort.

His footsteps echoed quietly in the large hallway as he walked, making his way to the secret study that he had always used to disappear to during the summers between his years at Hogwarts. It was his favourite place to go to, and he remembered always feeling better when in its confines. With one arm still wrapped around the pillow, he used his other to reach out to the wall, running his fingertips lightly across the rough texture, feeling until it had smoothed completely. He smiled and then walked into the wall, making his way through the short passageway and then arriving at the door at the end. He pushed it open with his free hand, stepping out of the grandfather clock in the corner of the room and then sighing.

“Finally,” he whispered to himself as he took a long glance around the room. A loud squeak, followed by a loud thud, reverberated through the small room, and then Alexandra Bradford poked her head over the back of the plush chair near the center of the room, her eyes wide with surprise.

“Eddie!” she whispered loudly into the chair, “What’re you doing here?” It was a quiet question, though muffled by the cushions, but Eddie had managed to get the gist of what she had asked anyway.

“Well, I did live here for about 18 years of my life,” he said, trying to hide his smirk along with the subsequent surprise that he had felt at seeing her in his secret study. “I, of course, could ask you the same thing,” he added with a raised eyebrow.

“I, erm, that is, I’ve been rather fond of this room, ever since you showed it to me that first time. Remember? And, well, it’s rather comforting,” she responded quietly. “And, it reminded me of you, so secret and so detached from everyone and everything. Bridget can’t seem to let me out of her sight anymore. She felt so horrible for letting her parents keep her from going back to Hogwarts that year. She felt horrible for leaving me, she said. Nowadays, she can’t seem to let me out of her sight, so I promised her I wouldn’t leave the house without her. But in here I can be alone without breaking my promise. She still gets worried, but I feel so much better when I’m in here. I can’t explain it, really.” She had been avoiding his eyes the entire time, and her voice was low and soft.

“Why did you stay away for so long?” she asked softly, her voice breaking as she looked up at him, her normally dark green eyes sparkling like emeralds. The tears in her eyes shone brightly, the light from the small fire nearby reflecting brilliantly from them. Her gaze dropped again before she sat back down in the chair, her voice folding around and travelling across the room to him.

“You went away. And you were gone for so long…I knew you couldn’t be dead. I could feel it. I knew Harry was lying. I don’t know how, but I just knew it. But you left me…and then momma left me. And then she never came back. I had to close the shop…I was never as good at Charms as she was. Bridget came as soon as she found out. She was so angry at both of you.” At that Alex let out a soft laugh, and then began to sniff as she continued, “She seemed to think that I couldn’t take care of myself. She probably still thinks I can’t…” Alex stopped talking and gave a heavy sigh before closing her eyes to take a few breaths, trying to calm herself.

Eddie was silent. He didn’t know what to say to that. He had felt awful for leaving Alex like that. He felt awful now for making her feel so horrible, for making her feel so…alone. Without another thought, he crossed the room and knelt in front of the chair she was sitting in, taking in the sight before him. She was sitting on the chair, but she had pulled her legs up so that she was sitting on them. Her thick blonde tresses were pressed against the plush velvet backing and her eyes were closed, the lashes glistening from the moisture of her tears. A small droplet had formed at the corner of each of her closed eyes and her chest heaved quietly before she sighed quietly and then let the tears slide gracefully down the curve of her cheek. Her left arm had slid down to wrap around her stomach with her hand resting on her waist, while her right had rested on the arm of the chair, her hand gripping the cloth tightly, as though holding onto something and never wanting to let go. Eddie slowly raised his left hand to the arm of the chair, letting it rest lightly on hers, trying to pry it away so that he could hold it in his own. She squeezed her eyes tighter together, causing a few more drops to fall from them and follow the trail the ones before them had travelled. Eddie suddenly let go of the pillow and lifted his right hand to catch one of them as it fell from her cheek, watching as the small drop of liquid slid down the cracks of his hand, running over his wrist and then twisting down and around his arm, finally coming to a stop just before the tip of his elbow. It stayed there for a time, and then it dropped to the carpet, lonely and forgotten.

Looking up from the spot on the floor, Eddie lifted his right hand again, brushing a stray hair from Alex’s face and then tucking it back behind her ear before cupping her cheek gently.

“I should never have left without telling you what was going on. It was selfish of me—“ he started to say, but before he could get any further Alex suddenly leapt forward from the chair, throwing herself at Eddie and curling against his chest.

“Please, just tell me that you’ll never leave me again. Tell me that momma will come back and that I won’t have to be alone ever again!” She started sobbing, her tears flowing freely and leaking down onto his chest and soaking into his robes. He inhaled sharply, squeezing his eyes shut and searching for something to say, anything except the truth. With one arm wrapped tightly around her, he pushed the both of them together up off the ground and then lifted her gently into his arms, stepping over to the couch across from the chair she’d been sitting in and then sat down on it with her cradled in his lap, as though she were a small child. It was slightly awkward, but at that moment in time all Eddie wanted to do was to hold Alex and tell her that everything was going to be okay.

But everything’s not going to be okay,’ he told himself harshly. ‘Her mother isn’t going to come home and life is never going to be the way it was.’ It was a harsh reality, and one that Eddie had learned on his own, but he couldn’t bear to say those things to Alex. Here she was, this girl who had always seemed so bright and optimistic, crying like a small child who had lost her way. How could he tell her that her mother had died for a cause, and that she should be proud of her? How could he tell her that she was lucky her parent hadn’t chosen Voldemort, or that she was lucky because her parent hadn’t tried to kill her? No, he couldn’t bear to say those things to her, and so they sat there, holding each other on the couch.

Eddie had sat there consoling Alex as best he could, sitting and listening as the grandfather clock in the corner had called out when each hour had passed, though never really paying attention to the time. It wasn’t until fives chimes and a loud POP later that Eddie realised how late it was. The pop, of course, had been Lixy, the house elf who had been Eddie’s closest companion as a boy.

“Master Eddie!” the small creature squeaked, an odd sort of sad smile crossing her face as she bowed low to her former master. “Miss Bridget is looking for you and Miss Alex and she sure is angry!” Eddie nodded and gave the elf a tired smile of thanks.

“Thank you Lixy. Please let Bridget know that Alex and I will join her in the Dining Room for an early dinner.”

The house elf nodded and disappeared without a trace. Eddie looked down at the woman who had fallen asleep on his lap. He could remember a time back in the day when Bridget would have been furious with him for letting Alex sleep right through lunch. Had they been in the common room, she also would have lectured them on how inappropriate and indecent it was to be sleeping together on the couch. Ahh, the good old days, when the only thing to worry about was getting past the resident prefects. How he missed their school days.

Slowly and gently, he shook Alex in an attempt to wake her. She shifted and muttered something, moaning quietly before falling silent again. Eddie stared in wonder at her for a moment before trying again. This time her head rose sleepily from his shoulder as she blinked a few times.

“Oh goodness, you haven’t let me fall asleep again have you? Hellfire! Bridget’s going to skin us alive!” She scrambled out of Eddie’s lap and then conjured a mirror so that she could straighten herself up. “I look a fright! Bridget’s going to think the worst; oh, Eddie why am I such a mess!” She straightened her hair a bit and then squirted some water on her face before taking a glance at the clock and then turning to him with a forced smile. “I suppose it’s too early for dinner, then?” she asked him.

“On the contrary,” Eddie replied, offering his arm to her and then walking them to the passageway that would lead them quickest to the dining room, “I’ve already arranged an early dinner with Bridget. Lixy says she’s rather angry with us.”

“Oh no!” Alex moaned softly as they walked through the tapestry. Dinner was definitely going to be an interesting event.

~~*^*~~


Dinner had been somewhat of an adventure—even if dead silent--as Eddie and Alex were both trying to avoid Bridget’s eyes, while Bridget was staring each of them down, her eyes burning into theirs whenever they had the misfortune of connecting with hers. The only sounds throughout the entire ordeal had been the scraping of forks and knives on plates and even then the sounds were so quiet one might assume they had imagined them. Suddenly, Bridget squeezed her eyes shut. After she opened them, she stood quickly, her chair scraping the marble floor loudly as it was pushed back, and she walked quickly from the room in the direction of the Sitting Room without giving Eddie or Alex a sideways glance. Alex mouthed an “I’m sorry” to Eddie and then quietly stood from her chair, following her friend into the other room.

Bridget had plopped down onto the couch furthest from the door, the couch which happened to be in front of the fireplace, and Alex walked silently over to her, settling herself on the opposite side of the couch and staring at the dark-haired girl for a moment.

“Bridge…are you dreadfully angry with me?” she asked meekly, her eyes large and scared.

“Oh Alex…I’m not angry with you. Frustrated, yes, but not angry,” Bridget said with a sigh. She gave the blonde a weak smile, which Alex took as a sort of truce and flung herself toward the other girl in a hug.

“Oh Bridget thank you! I don’t know what I would’ve done if you were angry with me!” Alex cried as she held tightly to her friend, as though clinging to her so would keep the girl from having negative thoughts. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to disappoint you or frustrate you or make you be angry with me. I don’t know what I would do if you…” She couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence.

“I’m not going to leave you Alex. I’m your best friend, and I will always be here for you.” Her voice was soft, but firm, and sounded as though it was a declaration she had made before, but one that she would always hold to. Her smile was caring, though, and Bridget finally hugged Alex back. “I would never want to leave you Alex. You would’ve done the same for me.” The two sat in silence, holding each other close, not notising the third figure that had joined the room.

Eddie stood watching the girls from the shadows, a feeling of déjà vu sweeping over him as he recalled a similar occurrence from their years at Hogwarts when they had first met. Circumstances were quite different now, though, as it was because of him that the girls were hugging, and not because of the oncoming war. The war was over. The only problem in this house seemed to be him. He pondered leaving for a moment, and then actually turned to walk out the door, when Bridget’s voice rang out across the room.

“Don’t you dare leave Edward Carmichael.” It was a quiet, but forceful command, and Eddie couldn’t help but turn back and walk toward them. Bridget looked at Eddie, her gaze hard, but not cold and not unfriendly. She was peering at him oddly, as though trying to read him, and for a moment Eddie felt lost in his own mind. Bridget sighed and shook her head, “Eddie, I don’t know why you felt you needed to stay away. Alex doesn’t know why either. But you came back. That’s really what matters. But eventually, we’d like to know why had felt you had to stay away for so long. It’s only fair.” Her gaze had softened as her hand repeatedly ran through Alex's hair, combing through the soft strands of blonde.

Eddie sighed and sat down on the chair next to them, calling to Lixy and asking her to prepare some tea and some snacks for them as it was going to be a long while.

He sat quietly, trying to gather his faculties and figure out just how he was going to tell them why he had done things the way he had. After a moment more, he breathed deeply and closed his eyes; it would be better to simply get it out in the open, let them hate him if they wanted to. He opened his eyes, a sad expression now covering his face.

“To put it in a word, I was a coward. Ashamed.” His eyes moved to Alex’s small frame and he sighed, “Unworthy.” He forced himself to look away from her and continued talking, “She…you, deserved better. Someone who had family that would accept you. Someone who was…not me.” He dropped his gaze to his lap, hands gripping the arms of the chair he was sitting in as he quickly talked himself into continuing with the story. “So I asked Harry to stage my death. I wrote up a will that would leave everything for the two of you. It was the least I could do; you both had done so much for me during that year. After the issue with my father, I couldn’t bear to come back. What if, what if something else happened, what if they used you to get to me? So I left, went to the States, as far away as I dared. I had never planned on coming back.” He shifted his weight uncomfortably in his chair, avoiding their stares as they waited for him to continue.

“Somehow I managed to survive there, wandering from town to town, living…as a muggle.” He leaned his head back against the back of the chair, staring at the ceiling, afraid to tell the girls the things that had happened next. He let his head fall back to a normal position and pressed on.

“That was when I met Regina.”

Eddie didn’t want to look at them. He didn’t want to see the disappointment that he was expecting to see on their faces, didn’t want to see Alex burst into tears. But he did anyway, and he immediately wished he hadn’t. Alex was sitting there wide-eyed and pale, Bridget was gripping the arm of her chair so hard her knuckles were turning white. He didn’t want to continue, but something in Bridget’s eyes was telling him that he had to finish; something in Alex’s face told him that she deserved to know why he had stayed away for so long. So he cleared his throat and continued his story.

“Regina took me in when no one else would. She fed me and gave me shelter when no one else would. I had fallen ill, and she nursed me back to health. She had a little girl, four years old, who came in to sit by me during the day. I can remember her bright green eyes; I remember they reminded me of you,” he said, looking up at Alex. “After that, she offered to let me stay with them, so long as I could get a job and help her with the rent. She was a teacher, but even with her salary she could hardly afford to live in the small apartment she shared with her daughter. So I stayed. I got a part time job in a local store, a repair store. We repaired everything from electronics to furniture. I had told myself I wasn’t going to use magic, but it was so easy to just point the wand and say ‘Reparo!’ The store owner was impressed with my apparent talent,” his words were bitter as he relayed this part of his life, “so he offered me a full time job. I accepted it, and then I worked there for the next few years, staying with Regina and helping take care of Katelyn, her daughter.” He stopped with his story, looking at the girls to see how they were reacting so far. Bridget looked like she’d kill him if he stopped again, so he kept going, making a mental note not to stop until the story was finished.

“By that time, little Katie had started calling me ‘papa’. I couldn’t bear to leave her.” He pulled his wallet out of his pocket and retrieved some pictures from it. After setting them on the table, he went on with his story. “So I stayed. I helped Regina raise Katie and Regina named me Katie’s godfather. And that was where I’ve been all this time. It wasn’t until I saw an article in the papers that you were putting the Estate up for sale that I had to come back.” He dropped his gaze to his lap and fought back the anger and frustration that he could feel growing. “I didn’t give you this house just for you to sell it,” he said quietly, though there was an obvious fierceness in the statement. “And I didn’t mean to stay away for so long. But I was afraid…afraid of the change. Afraid you would think me a coward for running.” He stood suddenly, muttering something about never coming back.

“EDWARD ANTHONY CARMICHAEL WILL YOU SIT DOWN!” Bridget bellowed from her chair, having stood up as soon as he did. Eddie promptly fell back into his chair, his eyes wide in surprise. He knew that Bridget could have a bit of a temper, but he didn’t recall ever hearing her raise her voice that loudly before. At that moment, he wanted to curl in on himself in his chair. Bridget sat back down in hers, her head falling forward into one hand, her elbow resting on her knee.

“Eddie…” Alex began quietly. She was unsure of what to say, really. “I…” she started again, but Bridget cut her off.

“You are a coward Edward Carmichael. Afraid of change?” she scoffed, standing again and then walking around the chair, pacing behind it. “Change happens everyday. It’s inevitable. You knew it would happen and you knew that you would have to come back. You’re insuff—“ Now it was Alex’s turn to cut Bridget off.

“Bridge! Stop that right now!” she cried shrilly, turning a desperate face to her best friend. “That’s enough for tonight,” the blonde said quietly, a single finger tugging randomly on one of her loose curls. She stood from her chair and collected Bridget before going to leave the room. Before leaving the room entirely, she turned back and looked at Eddie, her green eyes warm and shining brilliantly with the beginnings of tears in them. She smiled, and then nodded at him, before turning back and walking with Bridget out into the hallway.

~~*^*~~


Eddie didn’t see the girls again until three days later. He was on his way out to the gardens, planning to go through the Sitting Room to the Dining Room and then out the side door from there. He wasn’t sure if he should call it a mistake, but upon entering the Sitting Room he met with Bridget and Alex in a heated discussion. As soon as she eyed him, Bridget gave Alex one of her famous Looks and then stood quickly, leaving in quite a huff. Alex could only smile apologetically at Eddie as she stood and walked quietly over to him.

“She’s quite frustrated with you,” she told him as she took his arm. “She doesn’t understand you like I do,” she added, leading him out of the Sitting Room and into the Dining Room, heading toward the side door that would lead out into the gardens.

“How did you know I was coming out here?” he asked her with a short sigh.

“Because I know you,” she replied, her voice quiet and focused. “I still haven’t told Bridget about your mother, you know.”

Eddie didn’t know what to say to that. Alex had found out years ago—just months before he had left, actually--about what had happened to his mother. They had connected on levels that Eddie would never understand on the day she had found out.

It had been over the winter holidays the year after he had left Hogwarts: Alex’s seventh year. His annual trip into Hogsmeade had once again taken him into her mother’s store, Ailerny’s Accessories, and he had bought yet another trinket for his mother’s grave. She had been there, just like the year before, and they talked about mundane things like the weather and how Alex’s last year was going. He remember leaving the store, feeling just a tad bit better, going up the hill and dropping to his knees in front of her grave. The box had been wrapped in a powdery blue ribbon, contrasting sharply with the onyx headstone that had been set for Evelyn’s grave. A single tear had fallen from his eyes and then…her voice cut through the silence.

“Eddie…Eddie what are you doing here?” she had asked, stepping up to his side and then dropping to her own knees beside him. He hadn’t answered her, but she didn’t have to ask twice. The grave marker read ‘Evelyn Carmichael: Loving Wife and Mother, May she rest in peace’

Alex had gasped and put a hand to her mouth, her eyes wide in understanding. “Oh, Eddie! Why didn’t you ever tell me?” she had asked, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. And for the first time since he could really remember, he cried. He had dug his face into the crook of her neck and he had sobbed, his entire body heaving, crying desperately and asking Alex why everyone he loved had to leave him. She had been quiet the entire time, running her hand through his hair and murmuring gentle reassurances to him all the while.

She had walked him home later, hugging him tightly before telling him that he wouldn’t ever have to be alone again, that she would be there for him no matter what. He had kissed her, not a lustful kiss, or even one filled with desperation, but a kiss full of longing and passion, yet as gentle as a light breeze on a warm, summer day.


Eddie brought himself back to the future, back to the grown woman who had draped her arm through his.

“Alex…I’m sorry,” he said, finally, opening the door and leading the curly-haired blonde out into the colourful gardens. “I never meant to hurt you, and I never meant for any of this to happen. It just…did.” He sighed, leading her out to the small swing that sat under a white gazebo covered with decorative vines.

“I know that, Eddie. And I think I even understand why you felt you had to stay. It does hurt a bit, knowing that you felt like I wouldn’t accept you back with open arms, but at least now I know the reasoning behind it. I’m glad that you can be honest with me. But I’m not the only one who deserves to know, you know. That’s why Bridget is so hostile with you. She doesn’t understand, and she won’t until she knows the entire story. It’s not my story to tell, though, so she won’t be hearing it from me.” She sat on the swing and then patted the seat next to her, a signal for him to join her. He did, wrapping his arm around her and sighing quietly.

“I just…don’t feel like she’d understand as well as you did, though,” he murmured, leaning his head over hers and inhaling her scent to comfort himself.

“You underestimate her, you know,” Alex told him after letting out a short sigh. “She will understand if you just tell her. She’s not the raging tyrant you think she is; it’s been hard for her, too. After the war, she managed to obtain a job in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. She started in the International Magical Office of Law and then worked her way up. She’s now the Head of the Department. You know how hectic a job at the Ministry can be. She’s just having a rough time at work and you’ve caught the brunt of it. Just give her time; she’ll come around.” Alex nudged him in the side, causing him to raise his head off of hers, and reached a hand up to his cheek as she smiled at him, her green eyes soft as they stared into his dark brown ones.

“I love you. I told you almost eleven years ago that I would never leave you, and I never have. You have always been in my heart. I don’t care what’s happened in the past. People change. I understand that. I know that you’ve been through a lot, first your mum and now your dad. You’ve faced an evil that not many people will ever have to in their lifetime. You’ve been shattered, but you managed to pick yourself up and put yourself together. Yes, you had help, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be just as strong as you were before.” She kissed him softly and then leaned in so that her head was resting on his chest. “I’m only sorry that I couldn’t be there to help you.”

Eddie didn’t know what to say. Over the first few years that he had been away he had longed for her companionship, yearned for it with every fibre of his being. Even without it, though, he had managed with the help of Regina and her young daughter Katie, who had reminded him so much of Alex; the little girl had such a bubbly personality that he couldn’t help but be reminded of Alex when she was around. After a while, though, the longing had subsided, and he had found peace in the two people he had called family for so long. But the nagging in his heart was still there. Every once in a while he found himself lying awake into the night, staring at the ceiling as Regina slept beside him. They had never done anything together, simply slept in the same bed, as Regina had no couch and she wouldn’t hear of making Eddie sleep on the floor. Katie slept in the small cushioned chair in the living Room. He had felt ashamed at first, sleeping in the same bed as her. Eventually, he had come to accept it and it had become the norm. He knew he couldn’t ever tell that to Alex, though, and so he sighed, his eyes closing slowly. This was going to be as difficult an adjustment as getting situated with Regina was.

“I love you too, Alex,” he said finally, opening his eyes and staring deeply into hers, wondering if his own mirrored the shame he was feeling at that exact moment. She didn’t say anything, maybe because she saw whatever it was in his eyes that kept him from saying anything else. She fell silent as well, and there they both sat, staring up into the cloud-filled sky, almost as though the sky could feel the confusion in both of their hearts.

~~*^*~~


Dinner that night was a silent affair.

Bridget had come home in a rage, complaining about Bulgarians and how they were still grieving over the loss of the once-famous Viktor Krum. Alex could only smile sadly and shake her curly-haired head. Eddie sat stiffly in the Sitting Room, a black volume with elegant gold in-laid letters swirling over the cover and binding. Lixy popped into the room to alert them that dinner was ready.

They all filed quietly into the Dining Room, the tension hanging thick and unsettled in the air. As they each stared at their plates, their food appeared in front of them. A large round bowl, filled to the brim with a creamy, tomato soup, steaming and smelling deliciously, replaced Eddie’s plate. Alex was surprised by it, though she said nothing and poked at her chicken, wondering if she could change her mind. Bridget took practically no notice of either of them, cutting into her filet mignon and then lifting the piece up to her mouth. Alex finally broke the silence.

“Will work be like this for much longer?”

Bridget gave her one of those “Are you kidding?” looks as she took another bite of her meat.

“Until the Bulgarians stop mourning the loss of their hero,” she said, raising a single eyebrow at her friend. “They blame us for it, though we hardly had any control over his actions. As if we could make him go up against Voldemort.” Eddie flinched, not having heard the name in so long.

“Oh, grow up Carmichael,” Bridget snapped, pushing back a wisp of hair. She sighed and looked down at her plate, using her fork to push a pair of peas around until they became stuck in the mashed potatoes. She sighed, looking up at him with apologetic eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she told him firmly. “I know I’ve been hard on you. It’s not your fault, really, it isn’t, and I’m sorry that I’ve lost my temper with you so many times.” There it was. She had said it. Now it was his turn. But it was neither the time, nor the place, to go into a story about his past, to show her the darkness of his tragedy.

“You needn’t apologise,” Eddie said quietly, looking up from his soup and giving her a weak smile. “I’m quite sure I deserved it. I haven’t treated either of you respectfully at all since I’ve arrived back.” Alex opened her mouth to say something and then promptly closed it, causing Bridget to raise her eyebrow at her. “It’s the truth and you know it,” Eddie continued, raising his own eyebrow in a comical sort of way at Alex. That, at least, seemed to give Bridget cause to smirk, and for the first time since returning home, Eddie felt that things would be all right again.

"Well, what happens next?" Alex asked quietly, a hint of a smile pulling at the corner of her mouth.

"We start over," Eddie responded, a kind and gentle look on his face as he looked from one girl to the other. "That is, if you ladies would like to," he added, a playful smirk reminiscent of long ago sneaking onto his face. The look on Alex's face told him that she did, in fact, want to start over, to make it all right. Bridget simply nodded, a look of truce in her eyes as her head bobbed silently.

Continued here...

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