A/N: I will try to get
the next chapters up in a reasonable amount of time, but in the next seventeen
days I have nine Ultra-Important-Crucial-To-The-Rest-Of-My-Life exams (or at
least crucial to my university entrance), so I’m not sure how much time I’ll be
spending on the computer. :P
fingers that the formatting will work first time round*
An hour or
so before dawn, Theo landed in a patch of forest near Cambridge. It was getting
light rapidly, and it was still going to take him couple of hours to get to
Anne’s. The flight had been long, and he’d jumped at every shadow. He knew that
no one would be after him — yet — but if his aunt had gone to his room and
found the note – he’d had to leave one, he couldn’t vanish without a trace –
but no, she wouldn’t be up until at least seven. It was only six. He had a
couple of hours grace, and then they had the country to search for him. He was
safe for the moment. But he was cold, hungry, tired, and wanted nothing more
than tea — or better yet, coffee — and bed. He heard a Muggle bus rumble past
on the nearby road. A car. Or a bus. Now that would be wonderful…
like smacking himself on the head. The Knight Bus. Why hadn’t he thought of it?
Of course he couldn’t have taken it straight from home…but once he was a couple
of hours away…
again, arriving at Anne’s at midnight probably wouldn’t have been a good idea.
And he could still catch it now, and arrive there in time for breakfast. Maybe
he could catch a bite to eat. Maybe Dumbledore had already sent a note and had
somewhere for him to go.
Anne’s optimism was too bloody infectious when, for all he knew, the Death
Eaters were already on his trail, but for the moment it was far preferable to
his still enchanted trunk to the road, Theo stuck out his wand hand. The loud
bang of the bus as it appeared seconds later was enough to make him smile.
never been a morning person, but birdsong and her youngest sister had hauled
her out of bed sometime around half-past six, so she’d given in to Nicola and
arisen. Her sister didn’t really want her to be up for a purpose, she just
wanted her up, so Anne was left in relative peace to shower and dress. That had
been two hours ago, and she was now sitting in the kitchen with sunlight
streaming across the table contemplating the latest attack splashed all over
the front page of the Daily Prophet. It made for grim reading. A
Muggle-born wizard due to start at Hogwarts in September and his entire family
had been found dead in their Suffolk home. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his
Death Eaters were warning the world that even being a Muggle-born was enough to
make you the enemy. Being an eleven-year-old child who had received his
Hogwarts letter not three weeks ago hadn’t saved Jared Anderson, not when the
Death Eaters had come calling.
shivered and looked out the window. The wards surrounding their house were
invisible, but gave her a lot of comfort. It had been rather amusing to see her
brother’s friends unable to enter the door until Eddie had realised the issue
and hastily welcomed them into the house.
wondered, idly, what Theo was doing. He came of age just a week after they
returned to school, and it had been worrying him even back in July. He wanted
to avoid being a Death Eater, at all costs; but making the final break with his
family was also the last thing he wanted to do. Whenever Anne looked at her
parents now, she couldn’t help thinking how lucky she was. She would never have
to make that choice between her family and her conscience. If it even was
Theo’s conscience. She suspected it was more to do with his desire to not be
forced to kill, than moral convictions. Or at least he thought so. Anne wasn't
quite so certain that Theo was as disinterested as he claimed to be, but then,
she wasn't a mind-reader.
second-youngest sister entered the kitchen, yawning. "Morning, Anne."
Terry," Anne said absently, turning a page of the paper. "The Prophet’s pretty
it always, now?" asked Terry, opening the fridge. "Where’s the
used it on my cereal."
No fair! Now someone has to go and get some from the shop! And you know Mum and Dad’ll be
annoyed if they don’t get their tea."
thing Dad’s already gone to work then, isn’t it? I’ll nip down in a minute,
"Al-right. But don’t be
ages, I’m hungry."
with a sigh. "I’m going, I’m going. Is there anything in the change
looked in the jar on the top of the bench. "Nope. Eddie cleaned it out
yesterday. Just use your own money, you can get it back later."
rolled her eyes and left the kitchen, tugging her sister’s pigtail on the way
out. "The things I do for you…"
batted her hand away. "Yeah, yeah, I love you for it. Hurry up."
grinned as she jogged up the stairs to get her wallet.
rapped smartly on the door, praying he'd got the right house, praying the Death
Eaters weren't a step behind him. It didn't seem very different from a
wizarding house. Outwardly, anyway. There were a few minor differences - the
total lack of anything involving magic in sight - but it seemed the same. That
was strange. And almost disappointing. He'd expected a Muggle house to be more…well,
different. Interestingly so.
opened to reveal someone who was not Anne, but Theo had been prepared for that.
With six people in her family, there was every chance it wouldn't be her - and
this woman did look a little like her. She was about Anne's height, with
greying ash blonde hair in a bun at the base of her neck, and Terry's wide
brown eyes. She was also dressed in Muggle clothing - a blouse and skirt - and
that was a difference. Theo felt oddly relieved.
she said inquiringly.
at the right house for Anne Fairleigh?"
woman's eyes narrowed. "Why do you want to know that?"
recalled that he was dressed in wizarding robes, and Anne's mother - if she was
Anne's mother - was a Muggle, and one of the only reasons a wizard would turn
up unannounced at a Muggle-born's house in these times was not a good one.
Nott, very smooth. He racked his brains for something identifying.
know it's a little early, but if she's up, could you tell her that Theodore
Nott needs to have a word with her, and -" Anne would get this, and know
it was him "- he's quite curious about how the second half of the
sarabande is going."
anything, the woman looked even more suspicious, and she'd withdrawn a few
inches from the door. Theo shifted his foot ever so slightly forward and ran
into a solid wall. So those wards Anne had mentioned were up. Good.
"Forgive me if that name isn't comforting. I read the wizarding paper as
well as the Muggle ones, but I suppose now you'll tell me it's no
you're talking about the Eric Nott who escaped from Azkaban last summer,
actually, that would be my father. That's…partly why I need to talk to Anne. Is she home?"
afraid you've yet to give me a good reason why you need to talk to her."
down hard on his surge of impatience. The woman was being obstructive, and
suspicious, and she was a Muggle, but she had every reason to
be all of those things. She was Anne's mother. He was not going to be impolite.
itch between his shoulder blades that had sat there for the last twelve hours
had not gone away, and he couldn't help a nervous glance behind him.
Mrs. Fairleigh, please tell Anne I need a word with her. That's all. I promise
-" it wouldn't work, but saying it couldn't hurt "- the last thing I
am trying to do is bring Death Eaters down on your home. The very last thing. I just
think Anne may have a message I've been expecting."
would that be?"
wasn't working, but he had nothing else left to try. He really wanted to just
stride in and find Anne - even Terry would do in a pinch - but the wards
prevented him from doing that.
small voice was reminding him that it generally did to make a good first
impression with your girlfriend's mother.
right now there are about three people I really trust, and she's one of
them." He locked eyes with Mrs. Fairleigh, a difficult feat given that she
was close on a foot shorter than he was.
impasse was broken by a small blonde-headed blur. Theo got the impression of
Terry in a white shirt with very short sleeves and blue trousers of some sort
before she hit him at about fifty miles an hour.
staggered back a step as Terry gave him an enthusiastic hug and let go again,
almost jumping up and down in sheer exuberance.
you didn't say you were coming to visit! I haven't seen you for ages! Come in, Anne's
gone to get some milk, but she'll be back soon. How did you get here? Are you
okay? Do your aunt and uncle know where you are? I hope they don't, they're
Death Eaters aren't they? Why aren't you coming in?"
Terry, you might want to breathe before you collapse from oxygen
deprivation," Theo replied. He'd had enough time to gather himself.
Fairleigh sighed in a resigned fashion. "Terry, what's the use of all
those wards if you go and bystep them?"
standing in the doorway by her mother, wrinkled her nose. "It's only Theo,
Mum, he's a friend. Oh, wait, you haven't met him, have you?"
I have now," her mother told her, "but I'm quite curious about why I
Theo a significant look.
it a character flaw, but I was putting off being disowned from my family as
long as I could, and being seen speaking to a Muggle-b- to the wrong people would
have been the quickest way to accomplish it." Theo shrugged. He knew that
guilt was going to set in later, and pain, and maybe even second thoughts, but
for now he was still running on fear and adrenaline. "My father…well, yes,
you probably have some idea about that."
are you doing, running away from home?" Mrs. Fairleigh raised an eyebrow.
of the sort, yes," Theo replied blandly.
her forehead. "I don't know. It's only nine o'clock, and things are
already getting complicated. Well, if you are running away from your family,
would you like to come in and have a cup of tea while Anne gets back? I've just
put the kettle on."
you can see our piano, 'cause it's way better than the school one, and I can
tell you how the television works 'cause I looked it up in a book and I do know now, and
grinned at Terry. "Ah, but have you found out how real photographs
proudly. "Yes, and I took some and developed them all by myself. I'll show
you. Come on!"
him by the hand and pulled him into the house. Her mother followed them, still
she's been brewing up all sorts of dreadful things in the kitchen these
holidays. I'm almost afraid to go in there sometimes."
would be proud of you," Theo told Terry.
he wouldn't. He'd say I'd been doing dangerous things unsupervised and was
lucky to have not blown anything up," she said dismissively.
from Snape means that you pulled off some very tricky potions without any help
and are to be congratulated," Theo reminded her.
walking down a hallway, presumably to the kitchen. Theo couldn't help looking
around in amazement. This was different. There was a funny wooden bat thing lying
on the hall table beside a very small red ball and a thing with buttons Theo
dimly recognised as similar to the tele-whatsit at the entry to the Ministry of
Magic. He looked up to see not candles but something that looked like a lamp
with a round glass thing in the middle dangling from the ceiling. Set into the
wall above the skirting were rectangular patches of something shiny with a
pattern of slits and a switch in them. Terry took a left into a room at the
back of the house, and Theo was completely lost when he followed her in. He recognised
it as a kitchen - he could see pots, and the pantry, and someone's empty bowl
on the table in the middle - but there were all sorts of box things. One might
be an oven. He couldn't see a kettle anywhere, though. It was all utterly
strange. Could this really be England?
look like Alice in Wonderland," came Mrs. Fairleigh's amused voice from
behind him. "Have you never been to a house without magic? Are wizarding
houses really that different?"
didn't know the reference, but he caught her meaning. He turned to look at her.
"It's just so - I mean - what do all these things do?"
at the bench, pouring some sort of cereal into a bowl. She looked over her
shoulder, grinning. "See, this is what a normal house looks like."
I hope you can recognise these, at least." Mrs. Fairleigh reached up to
fetch two mugs from a cupboard above the bench. "Oh, dear, I just
remembered. Anne's getting the milk. Never mind, she'll probably be back before
the jug boils. Fill it up, please, Terry?"
Terry picked up a white shiny jug off the bench - where was the kettle? - and
carried it over to the sink, where she filled it up with water.
that a Muggle kettle?" asked Theo, fascinated.
jug," Terry said, "not a kettle. It's electric." She put it back
on the bench and pushed some sort of cord into the back. A light on the top of
the jug came on. How could people see all this and think it was a dreadful
threat to the wizarding world? How could you look at this and not be curious?
head poked around the edge of the door.
there's no shampoo in the bathroom."
got some yesterday, it's in the cupboard." Mrs. Fairleigh said without
speaker - apparently a brown-haired boy taller than everyone in the room except
Theo - abruptly focussed on him.
is Theodore Nott, he's a friend of your sisters'," replied his mother, who
was now rummaging in a drawer looking for something. "Theodore, this is my
him a nod. Edmund just stared. "Which sister?"
and Anne," said Terry airily, now spooning some brown powder into a mug.
"He's from school."
a wizard?" Edmund's tone was an odd mix of accusation and envy.
Edmund gave him one final stare, then removed his head from around the door.
pull up a chair," said Mrs. Fairleigh, having apparently found what she
was looking for in the drawer. Terry was tapping the jug impatiently.
down carefully. The chairs were different from what he was used to; thin metal
bars with a seat and back covered with some shiny, smooth…stuff. Not like the
wooden ones of home at all.
I seem to remember that you play music with Anne, is that right?" asked
nodded, leaning his elbows on the table. The adrenaline was wearing off, and
tiredness was creeping in. "Yeah. Yes, Mrs. Fairleigh." He yawned,
covering his mouth with his hand. "Mmm.. ***extra
period here Excuse me. I bumped into her in the corridor one day, and she had her
flute with her, and there aren't too many other people at Hogwarts who play
music, so…I decided to talk to her."
make it sound like a sacrifice," Anne's mother replied dryly.
flushed. "Well - I mean - she's Muggle-born, and I didn't think - it's hard
to learn that what everyone's always told you is wrong. I'm a bit surprised she
even talked back, now. I was quite…ah…well, quite rude to her, actually."
you were to me?" said Terry.
her a look. "That was different. You just barged in."
just didn't like me because I was in Gryffindor."
and it's a prejudice I reserve the right to bring up at any time I
poked her tongue out at him. She could be very childish.
Houses don't like each other very much, do they?" said Mrs. Fairleigh, now
leaning back against the bench waiting for the jug to boil.
because Gryffindors are fatally impetuous -" began Theo
Slytherins are all just nasty," finished Terry.
hurt," Theo told her.
shrugged. "You're a Slytherin."
not very nice," her mother admonished.
smirked, but he was distracted at that moment by a startled exclamation from
the hell are you doing here?"
his head to see Anne standing in the kitchen doorway, a blue box that he
presumed to be the milk in her hand. She looked positively poleaxed.
to see you again, too," Theo told her. It was. It was stupid. Merely
seeing someone walk in could not possibly cheer him up this much. And
he wasn't grinning. He wasn't. He wasn't.
I mean, it's great you're here, but - you - oh, no." Anne's eyes flickered
towards her mother. "What we talked about at the end of the term -"
a vengeance." Theo yawned again, covering his mouth reflexively. He wanted to go over to her, but aside from the fact
that her mother was watching him closely, he wasn’t sure he would be able to
been a 'click!' from the direction of the jug - kettle - thing, and Terry was
snapping her fingers imperiously. "Anne, the milk!"
- oh, yes." Anne waved it in her sister's direction, then collapsed onto
one of the chairs. "Are you all right?"
considered his reply. "Ah…for a given value of all right, yes."
did you get here?"
nodded. Not guiltily. Absolutely not.
her head. "You must be exhausted. Was it that urgent?"
checked his watch. Was it really only ten past nine?
I'm supposed to be…swearing oaths I'd really rather not in about twelve hours,
so yes, it was fairly important that I left."
Fairleigh handed Theo a mug of tea, and he gave her a grateful smile. It was
hot and sweet and helped stop his descent into sleep, which was the most
assumed you took sugar," she said, taking a seat. "Most of my son's
friends do - well, the ones that drink tea."
sipped it cautiously. "Thank you very much, Mrs. Fairleigh."
it away. "Anne, do you want a cup?"
Oh, no thanks Mum." Anne hooked one leg up over the other, the way Theo
had seen her do so many times at Hogwarts. It meant she was getting ready for a
you get to say goodbye?" she asked quietly. Over by the bench, Terry was
stirring her cup of - brown powder stuff and adding milk.
looked down at his mug. He hadn't, properly. He couldn't, he rationalised
hastily. Of course he couldn't have said goodbye properly because then they'd
know he was going and where would he be?
left a note."
Fairleigh seemed to find this amusing, but Anne just nodded. "How long do
you think you've got before they find it?"
hour, maybe two, but my trail should have gone cold by then. Unless someone saw
me - and it was night - they can't track me; I don't care how many contacts
they have in the Ministry, I didn't Floo or Apparate, so they have no way of
knowing where I went."
I establish something?" Mrs. Fairleigh interjected, setting her mug down
on the table. "You flew on a broomstick, all last night, from…"
Anne and Theo chimed. "North Wales," Theo added for the sake of
North Wales." Mrs. Fairleigh looked incredulous. Theo had no idea why; it
wasn't a very long flight. Not compared to, say, the Atlantic crossing.
"Wasn't there an easier way?"
that was the easy way," Theo said. "I can't Apparate, I couldn't use
the Floo Network, so how else was I supposed to leave?"
Fairleigh just sighed. "Never mind. We poor Muggles just have other ways
of doing things."
course you do," Theo shrugged. Mrs. Fairleigh wasn't at all what he'd
expected of a Muggle, even for Anne's mother. She was so…normal.
there anyone you could send a message to?" Anne prompted.
Theo took another sip of tea. "I'm presuming he has an interest in the
welfare of his students, so hopefully he can help me. Otherwise…"
weeks is starting to seem like a long time, isn't it?" agreed Anne, biting
her lip. "Well. It's funny, two years ago if you'd told me I'd get this
involved in the war - that there'd be a war -"
we all feel that way."
two are so depressing," complained Terry from her current perch on the
windowsill. "It can't be all that bad. Stuff like that doesn't happen to
almost choked on his tea. "I assure you, Terry, stuff like that most
certainly can happen to us. There were a lot of people who thought the same way
you do, but not any more."
aren't around to do so," Anne said grimly.
Fairleigh set her mug down on the table loudly. "All right. At this point
I am very confused, so would you two mind starting from the beginning and
explaining why Theodore is here and what, precisely, it has to do with this
war? I'm getting the general outline but the details are escaping me."
folded her hands in her lap, looking penitent. That was a new one; Theo had
seen meek, quiet, and even frightened, but not penitent. "Sorry, Mum. I
keep forgetting that you don't really know about…all this." Her gesture
took in Theo and the whole war.
why don't I?" her mother said.
Anne, why haven't you talked to Mum about it?" echoed Terry from the
windowsill. Theo shot her a quelling look. It was behaviour he'd seen from
Lucas and Celia over the summer; one sibling moving in for the kill when
another was in their parents' bad books.
appeared to think the same. "Be quiet, Terry. Because…ah…" she
couldn't quite meet her mother's eyes. "It wasn't really your business up
until now, it was nobody's business except Theo's, and what you didn't
mother's eyebrows lifted. Theo winced for Anne. "I see. What we didn't
know wouldn't hurt us?"
a half-shrug. "Umm…yeah. I mean, you knew about the war, because of the
Martins, so it wasn't like you weren't forewarned, just…um. Yes."
why don't we start from the beginning then?" said Mrs. Fairleigh.
exchanged glances with Anne. He was willing to explain, he just sensed this had
the potential for huge embarrassment.
Especially with Terry in the
thing Anne had noticed about Theo, once she'd got over the shock of him being
there at all, was the weariness that seemed to hover around him like a cloud.
It made her want to yawn, and she was well awake. That, and the confusion. He
looked like someone skating on ice in complete fog - no real idea where he was
going, or if he'd get there, just painfully aware of how thin the ice under him
they stumbled through an explanation to Anne's mother as to why, precisely,
Theo had turned up on the Fairleighs' doorstep. Theo kept yawning; Anne caught
herself holding his hand and dropped it hastily before her mother noticed.
Terry had sat on her windowsill and been…provoking, but she'd kept her mouth
shut about the important things.
conversation had been cut off when Theo had fallen soundly asleep with his head
on the table. Anne had looked around at Terry, and when she looked back Theo
was dead to the world.
was tired, wasn't he?" commented her mother. "Poor boy. It sounds
like he was lucky not to fall asleep on the way here." She stood and began
to collect the mugs.
slumped on the table, fringe hanging half over his face. Anne sat on her hands.
The sun had moved while they'd been talking; it was streaming in through
Terry's window, sparking glints in Theo's dark hair. He looked young, Anne
thought absent-mindedly. Did she look that young when she slept? Was it
possible that either of them could be that young anymore? Sixteen
wasn't very old, in the Muggle world. Not very old at all.
Mum," she said. "I mean - for listening, and all that. I know this
must be a bit strange."
a little," agreed Mary Fairleigh, who was now stacking the cups in the
dishwasher. "Terry, can you go and get your brother? He hasn't finished
emptying the dishwasher."
Terry slipped with a thump onto the floor and breezed out of the room.
Anne, do you think we can manage to move Theodore onto the couch? I don't think
he's going to be very comfortable if he sleeps like that."
No. No, probably not," Anne said. This was…weird. She was prepared for
sharp looks and sharper questions, but calm practicality was unsettling.
Anne and her mother they got Theo on his feet and moving towards the living
room. Anne didn't think he was conscious, precisely, but he was walking. Sort
of. As soon as she guided him onto the couch he flopped down like a rag doll.
Anne propped his legs up onto the couch. Behind her she heard her mother's
footsteps tapping out of the room, so she took the opportunity to push Theo's
hair out of his face. And if her hand maybe lingered, there wasn't anyone to
notice. Theo looked so out of place on their old couch. It had been white once,
before they had moved to Essex - before her parents had had children - but now
it was faded ivory, and it sat comfortingly against the wall next to the bay
window. One window was open, and the breeze Anne had noticed on her way to the
shops was curling in, making the curtains shiver.
didn't look comfortable, Anne thought, or a faded shade of pale, like the
furniture. Theo was all too odd lying their on the couch with his dark robes
and slightly-too-long dark hair and shaded circles under his eyes. Anne let her
hand drift down his cheek. For five years she'd had two worlds. The world of
magic, and the world of Muggles. Theo was magic brought home and lying asleep
on her couch. Seeing him again was worth the strangeness, but - that didn't
brought a blanket," came her mother's voice from behind her. "Looks
like being quite a warm day, but you never know."
jumped about a foot in the air. Only the sight of Theo prevented her from
letting out an exclamation, too. She whirled around defensively.
Mum. I didn't hear you." Theo seemed well asleep, but she kept her voice
low. Her mother was…dammit, she was smirking, and Anne tried her
best not to blush. "Here, let me." She spread the blanket over Theo
carefully - not too carefully, not with her mother watching - and followed her
out of the room. She clearly wanted a word.
in the kitchen, emptying the dishwasher and singing along to the radio he'd
switched on, so Anne followed her mother on down the hall. They stopped in
front of the small laundry-cum-broom closet.
Mary Fairleigh tilted her head to regard her daughter. Anne felt herself
squaring her shoulders, and fixed her eyes on a flaking crack in the paint of
the door. "What are you going to do about this, Anne?"
friend, her responsibility. It was a better start than she'd expected.
needs to wait here until he gets a reply from Dumbledore," Anne began.
"He'll know what to do, I hope; it shouldn't take very long. Owls are much
faster than Muggle post. We'll be safe. We should be. No one knows he's
been another area they'd avoided; safety. Theo had tried to plough bluntly into
it but Anne had skirted the area. She wanted Theo here, and safe, and that
wasn't likely if Mary Fairleigh decided her family was endangered by him.
much danger is he really in?" her mother asked.
you remember what they did to the Martins?" Anne replied, fiddling with
the pocket of her jeans. "Because comparatively, that would be
Her mother sounded as tired as Theo had looked. "I know the wizards are at
war, but…why have you been dragged into it? Why our neighbours?"
Muggle-born." Had she been this naēve? Probably. "That's like
saying…Mum, why did your dad get killed in World War II? Why was your mum a
refugee? It was about them being Jewish, not what they did. "
folded her arms. "Anne."
looked up to meet her eyes.
Fairleigh stared right back. “I know who your Theodore is, and why he's here,
and why he can't be anywhere else. And it all sounds wildly strange and
improbable, and I would much rather it wasn't happening, but I do trust your
judgement about your own friends. I just want you to answer three questions for
god. Here we go.
What do you think is going to happen next?"
will know somewhere safe," Anne replied readily. Their headmaster seemed
to be omniscient; hopefully it was not an illusion. "He'll want to keep a
student safe, and school starts again in a week and a half."
Her mother nodded. "Theodore seems to be a nice young man. So, two. How
safe are we?"
ready for that one, too. "Pretty safe." She couldn't hedge now.
"I don't…Theo flew here, so I don't think he could have been followed, and
nobody except us knows he's here. If the worst came to the worst, we've got
that Portkey. And I think if…they…were going to come, they'd be here by
now." At the beginning of the summer every Muggle-born family had been
quietly issued with a Portkey that took them to Hogwarts. It could only be used
by family members. Anne didn't know if the mysterious Order of the Phoenix was
behind it or the Ministry, but either way it was a lifeline. (Rumours had
leaked out in the Prophet about the Order, and Theo had told her what he knew;
apparently, they were the people who had believed Dumbledore the year before.
The ones who had rescued Harry Potter and his friends at the Ministry of Magic
a year ago.)
on her mother's forehead grew more shallow. "I just hope this Portkey
thing works, if we need it. Now, three."
Anne knew what the question
would be, and she tried to keep her gaze steady. The fact that she ended up
examining one of her mother's earrings was beside the point.
you going out with him?"
feel herself going red. She coughed. "Er…wellll…um, no, I wouldn't call it
that, exactly, I mean, it's not like we're going on dates or anything, you
laughed. "Is that a yes?"
muttered something that could be taken for affirmation, if closely examined.
She hadn't realised the carpet was so worn down this end of the hall. It must
be because of the back door.
goodness' sake, there's nothing wrong with it." Her mother
sounded very amused. "We knew you'd be getting a boyfriend sometime. Have
you been seeing him very long?"
door was getting a bit flaky, too. It needed painting. "Yes. No. Not
really. I mean, I've been friends with him for ages - well, a year and a half -
but we've only been…um…yeah…for a little while. And it's not like anyone knows.
Really. Apart from Terry. And some people in…well, a few people, but no one in
my class. Or Theo's. I s'pose that'll be different, this year. Theo's blown his
cover a bit."
it's all right, really." She looked at her mother again, and was relieved
to see only a gentle smile. "If you discount all this business with the
war, he seems like a very polite boy. Although he did seem a bit surprised by
That was explicable.
Anne shrugged. "Oh, that's just because you're the first Muggle he's met,
and he's spent his whole life being told Muggles aren't proper people, and of
course you are, really, so he was surprised."
that why he commented that I was just like a witch?"
never been embarrassed by Theo before - embarrassed for him, that was - but
that had come close. "Yes."
shook her head. "Stop looking so nervous, I wasn't angry about it."
Her gaze grew thoughtful. "We're proper people?"
reviewed what she'd said. "I meant - oh, Mum, I didn't mean it like that -
but I'm not a Muggle, and -"
know." Her mother put a hand on her shoulder. "I know you and Terry
are different from us, dear, but it's just hard to deal with sometimes."
nearly threw herself at her mother. "Mum, I don't want to be different to
you and Dad. I never did. It just…happened."
patted her on the back, holding her tightly. "I know. We're proud of you
both. Even if you do bring home a boyfriend with homicidal relatives -"