A/N: The following differs somewhat from the original “Interwoven”,
which was posted in 2002. That story was my first fanfic – definitely a
“learning curve” experience. As time went on, I found myself really wanting
to revisit it, not so much to change the plot, but to polish up the writing,
clarify some character motivations, correct some embarrassing gaffes, and
incorporate a few tidbits from OotP. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all
the thoughtful reviewers and betas who have helped me with this story, both
then and now. I hope you enjoy the results!
“Now, please turn a fraction to your left…yes, now back a bit to your
right…yes…there, there, and there. Done!”
She circled the pedestal one last time, scanning for any loose threads.
Locating an errant few, she clipped and tied them with a brisk wand wave.
Her customer shifted in impatience, of which she seemed blithely unaware.
If he had been more cooperative, they could have had this over and done with
thirty minutes ago. But unfortunately for the manager of Gladrags
Wizardwear in Hogsmeade, the more time she spent currying favour with Draco
Malfoy, the better her purposes would ultimately be served. Drat.
“You’ve made an excellent choice, Mr. Malfoy,” she said cheerily, eying the
hem of the fine black robes. “The sheen of this fabric is unparalleled, and
I dare say the young witches of Hogwarts will find them rather pleasant,
The young man looked down at her, annoyance in his pale eyes. “I didn’t ask
your opinion,” he snapped.
“Of course, Mr. Malfoy. My apologies,” she replied evenly, removing the
robes from his shoulders and turning to place them in the embossed Gladrags
box that hovered behind her. Draco had already made it quite clear that he
preferred Madam Malkin’s workmanship and was only patronizing her shop out
of absolute necessity. Yet despite his rudeness, she noticed that he did
look about the shop to gauge whether other patrons had noticed the
compliment from a pretty witch twice his age.
After conjuring up a length of glossy gold cord, which twirled in mid-air to
tie the parcel shut, she turned to the young man once more.
“May I ask, Mr. Malfoy, why you and your associates – ” she glanced at the
bulky figures of Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, who were edging each
other for space on a nearby chaise lounge, “ – are in Hogsmeade today? I
understood the students wouldn’t be visiting until later this month.”
Draco puffed his chest out slightly, the corners of his thin mouth twisting
into a delighted sneer. “It’s not a Hogsmeade weekend for every
student. I received special permission from Professor Snape to come, as I
had personal affairs to see to in town.” He looked down at his robes, then
over to a pile of parcels waiting near Crabbe and Goyle. “Potter and his
mangy lot are probably sitting back at the school, wondering what to do with
their pathetic lives,” he added under his breath. “This will show Krum
who’s worth keeping company with at Hogwarts.”
She raised her eyebrows, nodding her head as if to acknowledge the great
goodness of Professor Snape, yet wondering all the while if a swift elbow
would be sufficient to knock Draco off the pedestal. Stifling the urge, she
concluded that the pedestal was probably not high to do any significant
This will not do…patience, patience. You may have to deal with his
To distract herself from the unpleasantness of Draco’s company, she gathered
up the entirety of his Gladrags purchases and began to carry them to the
front counter. He had frequented the shop a few times during the previous
school year, but had always been helped by another assistant. Today, he had
requested – no, demanded
– that the head seamstress accommodate him.
“I’ll just place these aside, shall I? Please allow me a moment to make a
note of your measurements.”
Draco shrugged, not even looking at her.
When she returned, he was still standing on the pedestal, appraising his
reflection in the floor-to-ceiling mirror. When he finished preening his
sleek, silver-blond hair, she spoke again.
“If I may, Mr. Malfoy, I’d like to show you a new selection of clasps we’ve
just received from our Paris shop.” She paused slightly, before continuing
on. “They’re not kept in the general display case, but in the back showroom
that we reserve for our finer clientele.” She placing a delicate, yet
deliberate emphasis on the final words.
Draco certainly seemed interested now. He looked back at his companions,
who seemed to be engrossed in their shoelaces. “Crabbe. Goyle. Wait.”
He stepped off the pedestal and passed through the black curtain that she
drew aside. Crabbe and Goyle grunted in unison, and then shifted their eyes
to gawp at the photos of Gladrags spokeswitches that decorated the shop
walls. Celestina Warbeck did not seem to appreciate the attention, as she
quickly darted behind her gleaming frame.
Entering the back showroom, she pulled a burnished wood box down from a
shelf and opened it on the table before her. Draco leaned greedily over the
display. Nestled in the box’s rich, velvet interior were several ornate
robe clasps, each obviously very expensive. She took in his reaction with
He looks as though he’s in Honeydukes, buying the sweets the other
students can’t afford, yet which he doesn’t even really want.
Draco fingers ran over the clasps. He paused over an elegant platinum piece
formed into the monogram “W.”
“No need for that initial,” he murmured. “I’ll be a Hufflepuff the day that
ratty, overgrown, Muggle-loving family manages to have more than two
Galleons to its name.”
Her previous urge to elbow him had passed, but it resurfaced again in a
desire to kick him in the shin. She had been a member of Hufflepuff House
many years ago. And she was quite fond of Arthur and Molly Weasley’s family,
no doubt the intended recipient of his slight. Still, she continued to
smile pleasantly, her expression unruffled. She contented herself instead
by imagining the box crashing shut on the pale fingers that were now
fingering a silver serpent. The creature’s diamond eyes glinted as Draco
turned the clasp back and forth in the lamplight.
“That piece is magnificently cast, is it not?” she noted. “Several of our
distinguished families have purchased this artisan’s work. His clasps make
wonderful heirlooms for those who honor Slytherin house. The purity of the
silver accounts for their beauty and value.”
Draco apparently agreed, as he set the serpent aside. He scanned the
display again, choosing an emerald-studded letter “M.” She repented briefly
of her previous violent impulses when he selected a beautifully carved
mother-of-pearl piece, presumably for his mother.
If his gaze softened while choosing the final clasp, it soon returned to its
usual state of overall disdain. “That will be all. You may prepare my
How very kind of you, Master Malfoy.
Her eyebrows rose slightly at Draco’s condescension, but she nodded her head
and closed the box, all without bodily harm to her customer. Without
another word, she followed him back through the curtain and into the main
After wrapping the clasps in velvet squares and placing them in individual
polished cases (across which the words “Compliments of Gladrags Wizardwear”
scrolled in continuous gold script), she procured a narrow piece of
parchment and a peacock quill from under the counter and began to tally his
The total ended up to be quite a tidy sum with the clasps, yet Draco did not
seem to notice. Nor did his moneybag seem much lighter after he tossed
(You might have just handed them to me, Draco!)
a good number of gold
Galleons onto the counter. After stooping to retrieve two coins that had
rolled onto the floor, she handed Draco his change.
“Keep it,” he said shortly. “I don’t bother with Sickles and Knuts.”
She willed herself to beam at his pale, angular face, acknowledging his
magnanimity. “Enjoy your purchases, Mr. Malfoy, and please visit us again.”
Draco looked up from his moneybag and met her eye.
Moving across the showroom and shoving the door aside, he strode out of
Gladrags. The door swung briskly shut behind him, rattling a small brass
plaque that read, “Abigail Loomis, General Manager.” After only two steps
he stopped, swore in exasperation, and rapped sharply on the windowpane.
Abby ducked her head to stifle a giggle.
Crabbe and Goyle had missed their cue to leave, having been engrossed in a
photograph of Quidditch star Meaghan McCormack (or her foot, rather – all
that she had allowed them to see). Knocking heads more than once, they
hurriedly gathered Draco’s parcels and lumbered from the showroom, their
arms laden with the day’s shopping.
Abby watched the odd trio head down the High Street and leave her view
before she dared a breath of mixed frustration and relief. She had dealt
with all sorts of customers over the last eighteen years, and she usually
managed to present a good-natured face, but Draco Malfoy certainly did test
one’s patience. She must keep herself in better check, she thought – one
day soon, she hoped to meet the elder Mr. Malfoy.
Yes, dear Draco, do come again. And please, tell your father about the
properly deferential Gladrags witch and her appreciation for pureblood
The late October evening had a brisk chill. Abby pulled her wrap more
tightly about her shoulders and quickened her steps. She had just locked up
the shop, and she relished the thought of a warm butterbeer before the walk
home. Besides that, she had been so occupied with the fall merchandise
displays that she had not had a proper moment to speak with Madam Rosmerta
for weeks. The crowd that had descended on Hogsmeade for the Triwizard
Tournament was keeping all shopkeepers busier than usual. Raucous laughter
from inside The Three Broomsticks told her Rosmerta might well be occupied
tonight, but she thought she would try all the same.
Abby slipped through the pub door and wove her way through the boisterous
crowd to the end of the bar. Gathering up the skirts of her well-made
burgundy robes, she lit on a barstool and watched with admiration as her
friend went about her duties. With seeming ease, Rosmerta was managing to
see to seven full, levitating tankards and one noticeably soused bloke, whom
she nudged out the pub door with a burst of red wand sparks. Rosmerta caught
Abby’s eye and winked merrily. After delivering the tankards, she made her
way down to Abby.
“All right there, Miss Loomis? A butterbeer for you tonight?”
“Yes, please. I had one of those sorts of days today.” She laughed,
pausing to look around at the crowd that Rosmerta dealt with daily. “I’m
sure there’s not much reason for you to commiserate with me, though.”
Rosmerta smiled, giving her left earring an absentminded tug. Abby nodded
imperceptibly, taking in the signal.
My fire – nine tonight.
She laughed again, twisting the gold bracelet on her left wrist. “Well, we
do what we can, don’t we? The joys of business…”
Rosmerta chuckled and placed an open, froth-topped bottle before Abby.
“Drink up, dear – you’ve got another day of it tomorrow. I’ll send
something home with you from the kitchen.” She swished off, gaily humming a
wizard folksong while levitating a madly spinning bottle of Ogden’s Old
Firewhisky in the air above her.
Abby was truly enjoying her butterbeer when a loutish voice from a nearby
table interrupted what little reverie she could find in the pub.
“You gents see that Gladrags witch over there? There, at th’end of the bar?
Reckon she’d like a bit o’ company?”
Bugger. Not again.
The speaker pushed back his chair and swaggered over from his table –
whether the swagger came from bravado or inebriation, she could not tell –
and perched himself on the neighboring stool.
“Evenin’, miss!” he greeted her. She smiled wanly in return, belied only by
her tight clutch on the bottle of butterbeer.
“Not the chatty type, are yeh? S’okay, miss.” He leaned in closer, the
stench of his breath making her stomach turn. Definitely inebriation. He
grinned back at his companions. “Maybe we can have us a talk, you and me,
‘bout some alterations
I'll be needin’…”
Abby kept her face impassive, but inwardly, she seethed with anger and
revulsion. This had happened before, more times than she cared to count.
I’ll help you in the shop, but I’m not bloody well about to cater to any
other need you might have, you nasty –
Biting her tongue, she kept her gaze on her drink and found herself
desperately wanting, for the second time today, to injure another person.
She might have to settle for a vicious Pinprick Hex. It started to become a
losing battle, and she sighed in relief when the bright red silk of
Rosmerta’s robes came into view again.
“Might I suggest you leave the lady be, Lawson? She’s a valued customer,
unlike yourself, and I’d like her to enjoy her drink in peace. All right
now, off with you…” Rosmerta fixed her gaze on the offender and smiled
broadly, her gold bracelets rattling as she made slight shooing motions with
her hand. Lawson, struck dumb by the undiluted effect of the landlady’s
charms, managed a lop-sided grin before he turned around and staggered back
to his rowdy chums. Rosmerta watched his retreat with amusement.
“’Tis sad, all that a woman can do just by smiling at the poor chaps,” she
said. “He shouldn’t bother you anymore, dearie. He’d better not, not
unless he fancies a drop of Loo-Lingering Liquid in his next drink.”
Abby swallowed quickly, to avoid spraying Rosmerta’s clean counter with a
mouthful of butterbeer. She lifted an eyebrow.
Rosmerta’s bright eyes twinkled. “Trust me, you’d rather not know. It’s
something those Weasley lads brought by.”
Ah yes, the Weasley twins. Abby snickered. She had never known their
brother Percy well, but Bill and Charlie had come by Gladrags often enough
during their Hogwarts days. Even their antics, impressive as they had been,
paled next to the sheer magnitude of misbehavior generated by Fred and
George. The twins had even owled her earlier in the week, asking if she
knew how to make robes fire-repellent. She did, but felt certain that the
Hogwarts faculty would not care for the boys to possess that information.
Rosmerta continued talking, her eyes scanning The Three Broomsticks’ many
booths and tables for empty glasses. “It looks rather nasty, but it does
wonders for ridding the room of the belligerent ones…” Her voice trailed
off as a booming growl from across the room called for several more pints of
Abby gave an appreciative nod, and the landlady left once more. Rosmerta
had been a good friend over the years, and moreover, she had passed on a few
tricks any woman working in trade ought to know – ways of charming customers
with wide-eyed, attentive smiles; methods of gleaning information from the
slightest clues in speech, manner and appearance; and yes, modes of
inflicting revenge (mostly harmless revenge, of course)
occasional difficult customer.
Downing the last of her butterbeer, Abby chuckled as she recalled the
Waistline Charm she had once placed on Gilderoy Lockhart’s beloved lilac
robes. After a particularly long fitting and its accompanying prattle, her
nerves had frayed. Apparently her robemaking, while very fine, could not
compare to the exquisite tailoring he had learned “after rescuing the
Clothier of Copenhagen from certain death”.
Lockhart had left the shop none the wiser, but from that day on, his robes
began to shrink half a centimetre with each self-serving remark he made.
The effects had been quite amusing, until Abby realized that the charm only
sent him back to Gladrags for more alterations. Between the weekly visits
and frequent demands for color consultations, Abby was amazed that she made
it through the school year with her sanity intact.
Er…perhaps that’s not the best choice of words.
Poor Gilderoy. At least the hospital gowns at St. Mungo’s were tolerable –
available in several hues, they sported a rather spiffing Closure Charm at
Bursts of raucous laughter broke through Abby’s train of thought. The crowd
was still particularly lively, and she did not want to chance another scene.
She swiveled on her stool to leave and glanced back at Lawson’s table,
where his drinking partners were thumping him on the back. Their slurred
words carried back to her easily.
“You don’t want a bit of stuff like her anyway, mate. Heard she couldn’t
even pass them O.W.L.s up at Hogwarts…”
Her eyes hardened as she continued her exit.
Well, you’re right there, mate. I didn’t pass my O.W.L.s, but only
because Albus Dumbledore asked me not to.
Abby paused in the doorway and gave a small wave goodbye to Madam Rosmerta,
who levitated over a packet of food in return. Clutching her wrap once
more, Abby stepped out of the pub and continued her walk home, deep in
Abigail Loomis had been a happy Hufflepuff in her Hogwarts days. A hapless
Hufflepuff, if you were to ask a Slytherin, but no matter. Despite the
implications, she loved her house and all it stood for. Her childhood home
had always been full of books and learning, and she had eagerly awaited the
day when she could attend Hogwarts and study magic in its fullest.
A deep, hidden corner of her mind always feared what Headmaster Dumbledore
might say in the conversation that she knew would someday come. Snippets of
overheard conversations between her parents and grandmother made it quite
clear that Dumbledore knew more about her family than even most of their
closest acquaintances. But she had always suppressed the increasing worry,
even throughout most of her fifth year, when letters from her mother had
become less and less frequent. So many things begged her to stay in the
present, rather than fret about the future. Right now, she had her studies,
her friendships…and Will, the first tender, all-consuming love of a fifteen
A fellow Hufflepuff, William Lowby had been in her life since her first
year. She had seen his brown hair and shy smile over countless Potions
cauldrons, study tables, and dinners in the Great Hall. And while she had
never given him much of a second thought, she and most all other female
Hufflepuffs certainly noticed when Will returned from the holidays after
fourth year looking much, much differently. His shoulders were broader, his
voice was deeper… Occasionally, Abby saw his still-shy glance in her
direction, and she desperately wished that she might look much, much
differently to him, too.
One evening, about a month into the school year, Will had approached her
near the common room fire. A button had come off his Quidditch robes, he
explained, and he wondered if she might be able to sew it back in place. He
had tried himself, he said, but with little luck.
Abby’s first thought had been to ask Will if he knew about the mending
station that the house-elves ran in a room to the left of the castle
laundry. But then, as he sat beside her on the sofa, she decided that she
did not care to disclose that particular piece of information just yet.
When he gave her the robes, touching her hand for two and a half seconds
longer than necessary, she decided the house-elves could run for Muggle
Parliament for all she cared.
As they were in the same house and year, Abby and Will already shared many
classes together. After a certain post-Quidditch match celebration
(Hufflepuff had beat Slytherin, a rare and momentous occasion), they also
shared visits to Hogsmeade, Sunday afternoon walks around the lake, and
furtive kisses in the quiet of Hufflepuff Turret.
That setting had offered a beautiful view of the forest, but the décor was
sparse and the stone walls held little heat. Fortunately, Abby excelled at
Cushioning Charms, and Will had a talent for, erm, Heating Spells. With a
myriad of other, more comfortable rooms to choose from, few other students
sought out the turret.
Abby remembered well the giddy feeling of tapping six times the stone head
of “Helga”. The statue of the house’s badger mascot would slide aside,
allowing her and Will to slip past and climb the narrow stairs leading to
their haunt. There in the stillness, Will would tell her of his hopes and
plans for the future. He wanted to work in the top levels of the Ministry
of Magic, and he was willing to work hard toward that end. Although he
never said so implicitly, he wanted Abby with him. The both of them
understood that much.
On too many occasions, Abby had come very close to telling Will her own most
deeply guarded secret. Mum and Grandmother had never explicitly told her
not to tell anyone, but their images and voices always halted her lips
before she spoke the words –
“Will, have you ever seen an Invisibility Cloak?”
In April of that school year, Professor Sprout kept Abby back after a Friday
Herbology lesson to inform her that Professor Dumbledore wished to see her.
She provided a map to the headmaster’s office, hastily drawn on a Grozupp
Foliage Food bag, and advised Abby not to inquire further about the password
of “Noxious Nougat.”
Abby remembered well the shaking of her hands as she knocked on Dumbledore’s
door. He had rarely spoken to her during her five years at Hogwarts, but
the occasional direct look the headmaster gave her in the Great Hall
conveyed more than words might. He knew what she was meant to do in the
wizarding world, and he meant to prepare her for it. And while Abby was not
exactly certain of the words he would say now, the pit of her stomach felt
very certain of what those words would concern.
Dumbledore had been alone in his office, reclining behind an ancient wooden
desk. His half-moon spectacles glinted in the firelight, and in his mouth
was what looked to be, Abby noted with mild disgust, an eagle feather quill.
She had toyed with quill nibbling as a youngster, but a colleague of her
father’s had put a quick end to that habit by Transfiguring the quill into a
live, squawking chicken the moment the it had entered her mouth.
Dumbledore rose to his feet as she entered the room, and beckoned her to be
seated in the brocade armchair across from him.
“You wished to see me, sir?” she asked. Her timid voice seemed to echo
throughout the space.
“Ah yes, I did, Miss Loomis.” The quill, still lingering in his mouth,
muffled his words. He smiled and held out a similar quill to Abby, which
she accepted quizzically.
“Please, do give it a try,” Dumbledore urged. “The Sookers were kind enough
to send a large box up. It might have been larger, but I shall not
Abby’s brow furrowed in mild confusion. The only Sookers of whom she knew
of ran the Honeydukes Sweetshop. Perhaps the quills were a “thank you” for
the business Dumbledore gave them by way of allowing Hogsmeade visits. He
was the headmaster, after all, and writing implements would
Well, one can always use another quill, I suppose.
Pulling parchment and ink from her bag, Abby readied her hand to test the
quill. She wondered if she had misinterpreted his reasons for meeting.
Surely Dumbledore was not interested in her penmanship, but his methods
never really had been what one might call conventional. After an incident
at the last Christmas dinner, in which he reputedly led the group in
something called “the limbo”, a few cheeky seventh years even began
referring to him as a “barmy old codger”.
Dumbledore chuckled gently. He reached across the desk to stop her at the
precise moment when the nib would have met ink. “This is a sugar
quill, my dear – meant to be eaten. They are Rose Sooker’s latest
concoction, and quite a delightful one, at that.”
Flushing with embarrassment, Abby turned her head and focused her attention
on the tapestries hanging from the room’s circular walls. They were
beautifully constructed, she could not help but notice, and seemed rather
Glancing back, she saw that the headmaster was watching her expectantly.
She felt a bit silly, but his words had not been patronizing. After
hesitating for a moment, she touched the tip of the quill to her tongue and
tasted at once the strong flavour of blackberry syrup. It seemed to coat
her entire mouth in seconds. Delighted, she met Dumbledore’s eye with a
“Tasty, are they not? And they come with none of the dreadful guesswork
that accompany other sweets,” he said. “I find myself rather partial to the
A moment passed while they sat quietly, savouring their quills. At length,
“Is there anything that might set you apart from other students here at
Hogwarts, Miss Loomis? Any ability, any skill in your family line?” he
His question caused Abby to let out a small gasp. Perhaps he really did not
know. She did have a knack with needle and thread, but that might not
necessarily mean much. There might be a chance. Perhaps she could dissuade
him. Dumbledore sat silently, awaiting her answer.
“Well, my mum is…well, she’s a Weaver,” Abby began. It seemed so strange
to say the words out loud. “She makes Invisibility Cloaks. My grandmother
and her mum were also Weavers, I know.” The next words tumbled out in an
unconvincing rush. “I might be really awful at it, though. I might not
even have the gift at all. I’ve only had a few summer holidays’ worth of
The headmaster leaned forward, resting the legs of his chair on the floor.
He peered at Abby over his gleaming spectacles. His gaze was kind, but his
voice was frank. “Miss Loomis, you and I both know that you are a
Weaver…one of the last we have in England, as a matter of fact.”
Abby stared at her shoes, ashamed. She had not meant to be fully
duplicitous with the headmaster; she was just fifteen and a little scared of
whatever he might ask of her.
At this point, Dumbledore’s face took on an uncharacteristically somber
cast. “Miss Loomis, I must ask also you if you have noticed any changes
recently in your mother.”
The question startled her, and her mind began to race.
Well yes, her mum had acted a bit odd over the Christmas holidays.
Absentminded, perhaps a little distant. But it had been a busy time, and
she had been preoccupied. She was preparing for the finishing of an
Invisibility Cloak, one destined for Alastor Moody, the aforementioned
Ministry chum of Abby’s father. She had been working on that cloak for as
long as Abby could remember.
“She hasn’t written me much lately, but I know she’s had things to do.
She’s not unwell, is she?” Abby asked.
Lightly stroking the length of his beard, Dumbledore continued his
“Have your Muggle Studies courses acquainted you with a medical condition
known as ‘Alzheimer’s Disease’?”
“Well, yes…we covered diseases last term. I believe it’s called Hesternus
Syndrome among wizards. Sir? Why – why do you ask? Oh…” Abby fell silent
as the unwelcome realization sunk upon her. Her mind and heart had been
suppressing this very possibility for months, and she was no more willing to
acknowledge it now. Yet here, in Albus Dumbledore’s office, she knew that
she had no choice.
“Your father did not wish to burden you with this hardship quite yet,”
Dumbledore went on. “He wished for you to happily enjoy your studies and
friends here at Hogwarts. Your mother was able to finish her last cloak,
but the disease set upon her rapidly and her mind now lives primarily in the
past, child. Your father plans to hire a carewitch to help see to her at
home, yet the possibility exists that in time, she may need to relocate to
St. Mungo’s Hesternus Research Facility.”
Abby kept her head bowed and tried to control the shaking of her shoulders.
She could not meet Dumbledore’s eye, and so she focused instead at the moist
spots gathering on her robes and the brocade arm of her chair.
Not Mum, not Mum…
The refrain circled over and over in her head, even while her mind told her
it was true. The headmaster’s voice remained calm, but it carried an
undercurrent of intensity as he continued speaking.
“Alas, Abigail, you know the world in which we now live. Voldemort gathers
allies daily in his quest to ‘purify’” – he said that word with the most
harshness Abby had ever heard from his mouth – “the wizarding people. He
has made several attempts in recent years to discern the identities of our
Weavers, as he would like to exploit any good and noble skill to further his
purposes. He has already threatened the Demiguise population – imagine the
result if Invisibility Cloaks were made available to his Death Eater
“Sir,” Abby said, her voice quavering as she finally raised her head, “Sir,
surely he doesn’t know about my mother. Nothing has ever happened to my
family. We live outside the city, in a quiet area. We – we keep chickens.”
Her eyes implored him for one last hope.
The headmaster gave a tender half-smile. “Miss Loomis, is Alastor Moody not
a friend of your father’s? Is he not often in your home?”
Tears spilled onto her cheeks as she bobbed her head. Dumbledore fixed his
eyes on her.
“What is his profession, dear?”
“He’s an Auror,” she whispered.
“Yes, he is,” Dumbledore replied pointedly. “One of our best. There are
reasons other than friendship that keep him close to your family.”
Abby stared at the tapestries again as the enormity of this newfound
knowledge overtook her. Tears stung her eyes, and her heart thudded dully
until she dared to turn and face the headmaster once more. His face
softened, and Abby thought for a moment that not only his glasses were
“I have something to ask of you, Miss Loomis,” he said. “Something
difficult, I must say, but I believe that the ruse will keep you and your
magical calling safe from harm. Have you visited the Gladrags Wizardwear
establishment on your trips to Hogsmeade?”
She nodded her head slowly. Of course, any fifth-year girl would have been
“Madame Bussell, a great friend, has agreed to take you on as an apprentice.
You will work there during the day, spending your remaining hours
developing your skills as a Weaver. Unfortunately, you will not have the
benefits of your mother’s instruction or any written materials. The ancient
originators of this magic, in some flight of fancy, decided that any written
descriptions of the cloak making would become invisible themselves. In such
a way, their Weaver secrets could not be corrupted or exploited. A bit of
ingenious thinking, yes, but rather inconvenient for you.”
Her mouth began to parch as she breathed in and out, her eyes hurting too
badly to focus. Was he asking her to leave Hogwarts? To work at
“Professor Dumbledore? What about – How will I – My studies, sir?” she
“My dear, I think you will find that the greater lessons of life are not
always learned at Hogwarts. I shall arrange for advanced study materials
to be sent to you on a regular basis, but I am afraid our Hogwarts staff
will not be able to assist you much beyond that. You will be largely
responsible for your own learning. I have no worries on this point,
however. There was a reason you were made a Hufflepuff, Miss Loomis.”
“But…” she faltered, unable to continue. Dumbledore spoke instead,
answering her silent question.
“Mr. Lowby is a fine young man, Miss Loomis. I fear, though, that he is not
ready to understand the demands – and yes, the sacrifices – your gift may
require. The time will come when he, too, may be ready for this knowledge.
He will finish his own education in only a few short years. Until then, I
must ask you to wait.”
A distinct numbness settled over Abby. Finally, she voiced the only
articulate thought she could gather:
“Sir, am I expelled?”
He shook his head softly, his long, white beard swaying back and forth, and
let out a heavy sigh.
“You must understand that I cannot compel you in this matter, my dear. I
will, however, ask it of you all the same.” Dumbledore paused. “Are you
familiar with a certain tree on the Hogwarts grounds by the name of the
And so it happened. After her tears had tapered off, Dumbledore explained
his plan for Abby’s departure from Hogwarts. Close and dangerous encounters
between students and the Whomping Willow were becoming more commonplace;
another “accident” would come as no surprise. (Abby wanted to ask why he did
not just magically relocate the tree to, oh, Finland
, but she did not
dare.) The headmaster allowed her a few days’ time to think, but her father
was too distraught to offer much additional guidance, and in the end, seeing
little alternative, she consented to Dumbledore’s proposal.
It was her O.W.L.s preparation parchments that would blow away one windy day
and entangle themselves in the Willow’s lower branches. Abby rushed to the
tree – without thinking, apparently – and scrambled to retrieve her papers.
A study mate, Davey Gudgeon, was rushing to her aid when a particularly
brutal limb struck them both. Davey would have lost his eye, had it not
been for the enchantments Dumbledore had placed on the tree the day before.
Abby ended up with only a mild headache, but guilt over Davey’s injury and
the pain in her own heart helped her feign a much worse affliction.
At first she complained of headaches, then of trouble in concentrating, then
of the inability to cast what had once been simple spells. By the time the
O.W.L.s approached, rumours that the head blow had left Abby permanently
addled were in full force. Exam results were not customarily released until
after the fifth years had left for the summer holidays, but after a few
carefully placed words with some loose-lipped students, all of Hogwarts soon
knew of her predicament. Abigail Loomis had not received passing marks on
her O.W.L.s, and she would not be coming back.
Will had been so tender and caring after the accident, yet when she became
increasingly sullen and uncommunicative, he had not quite known what to do.
The gossip escalated, acting like a weed pushing its way between two
cobblestones. By the time the carriages arrived to take the students to
Hogsmeade Station, Abby knew she had little right to ask if Will would still
visit her over the holidays. He kept his lanky form angled towards the
window for the duration of the ride, offering no conversation except for a
few halfhearted comments about the weather and the state of the road.
Finally, on the platform, she swallowed her scant remaining pride and asked.
For a moment, a trace of the sweet, funny boy whom Abby loved flickered
across Will’s face. But then he looked at his feet, explaining that his
cousin Patrick had asked him for a visit. They had already made numerous
plans, and he did not know if he would have time left for anything else.
Abby looked at her own feet, trying to choke back the sob in her throat.
Will then gave her hand a fleeting touch, but by the time she had lifted her
head, he was gone.
Abby had hoped that he only needed to time and space in which to sort things
out, and that at the end of his stay with the McKinnons, they might have a
chance to talk. Perhaps Dumbledore would even let her confide in Will as
soon as that. In the end, she never got the chance to ask. The Death Eater
attack on the McKinnon farm was in the papers before she even had time to
send an owl. Years later, Abby felt an odd sense of gratitude that
Dumbledore had asked to leave Hogwarts when she did. She doubted that she
would have wanted to return anyway; even now, the sight of her and Will’s
old haunts caused her a heart a sad, dull pang.
The Hogsmeade villagers had already known of her tragedies by the time she
arrived in town. In awkward sympathy, most people skirted around her with
delicate silence, creating an unforeseen blessing – Abby had been able to
settle into her new surroundings and occupation with little interruption or
interrogation. She heard the whispers, of course, but at that point, even
the thoughtless gossip could not cut through the depth of her hurt.
Though they never fully departed, the feelings had ebbed in time, and Abby
began to find interest in life again. And although progress in her
self-directed Weaver training had been slow in the beginning, she did have
thrilling moments in which real breakthroughs were made. An Invisibility
Cloak took fifteen to twenty years to make, her mother had told her, and
that far-off goal helped Abby to detach herself from her present heartbreak.
Taffeta Bussell had been a kind friend and mentor. While not a Weaver
herself, she had knowledge of and respect for the practice. When she retired
five years ago to breed enchanted silkworms, she entrusted the running of
Gladrags to Abby. Madam Rosmerta, as Dumbledore’s chief Hogsmeade
intelligence liaison, had also become a confidante. Abby often imagined how
the pub patrons would fall off their barstools if they had an inkling of the
secrets that Rosmerta kept.
Abby herself still wondered if Walter and Rose Sooker, the proprietors of
Honeydukes, were part of Dumbledore’s network. She had seen the countless
stacks of edible candy boxes in his office. There was no use asking
Rosmerta on that point, however. She always met alone with Abby and never
discussed any other meetings, which was just as it should be. As far the
rest of Hogsmeade knew, Abigail Loomis was no more than a pleasant witch, if
not a slightly dim one, who wielded a good needle. (She also had to concede
that Dumbledore was just as likely doing product testing for Honeydukes.)
A gust of chilling wind then brought Abby back to the present, causing a
violent shiver. She cursed herself for not bringing her winter cloak, but
it would only be a minute or two before she reached the end of the High
Street and entered the lane that ended at her small cottage. As she
increased her pace, she started at the abrupt sight of a large black
crouching in the space that separated her home from that of
her neighbors, the Boormans. A fearful moment passed as Abby peered sharply
into the darkness.
Oh, it’s only that dog.
She had seen the shaggy, lumbering beast at play with the Boorman’s children
before. Letting out the breath she had been holding, she picked up her feet
and arrived shortly at her welcome front door.
It was a lovely night, Abby thought as she laid out her things on the stone
bench and set into dinner. She found herself particularly thankful for the
No-Chill Charm Dumbledore had placed on her back garden at the end of last
year, in gratitude for her Christmas gift. A few words, and the blustery
October cold gave way to pleasant warmth.
He must have really liked those socks.
Abby knew she stood a good chance of mussing up her robes, but she was
hungry and Rosmerta’s chicken was quite good. Besides, she had already
treated the robes with Stain-Away Solution, a recent collaboration between
herself and Madam Malkin. (It was a wonderful discovery, but one they had
mutually agreed to keep it under wraps at present, recognizing it could hurt
business if made available to the general public.) A copy of the Daily
was spread before her, acting both as reading material and a
As Abby skimmed the advertisements, a rustling sound drew her eyes away from
the paper and to the garden’s cast-iron gate. As she focused on the black
outline, she recognized again the same stray dog. For such a hulking thing,
he seemed to have a lovable demeanor. He tolerated the poking and prodding
of the Boorman children, no easy feat. Abby wondered if he was cold,
despite the thickness of his coat.
“Hullo there!” she called out. “I do see you, you know.”
The dog moved from vision, but the sound of his low breathing gave away his
With a quick wand wave, Abby magicked the gate completely open.
“Here, would you like some chicken? By way of introduction and such.”
The dog padded tentatively into the garden, looking around in animal
confusion as he took in the temperature change.
“It’s nice isn’t it? Find yourself some knitting needles and a nice
Scottish wool, and Professor Dumbledore might cast an enchantment on your
coat, as well.”
The dog advanced further, and Abby laughed as he seemed to peer over the low
wall into the Boorman’s garden. “You’re not worried that those horrid
children will see you here and drag you back home, are you?” she asked.
“Don’t worry, they can’t see in. Dumbledore took care of that, too.”
The dog wagged his tail happily. Abby placed a chicken wing on the ground
before him, which he bit into with unfeigned enthusiasm.
“Now, do you have a name? An owner?” She looked around the dog’s neck as
best she could, but she could not discern a collar in the dense mat of fur.
“Right, then – I shall have to name you. Let me think…how about Spot?” The
dog growled playfully, wagging his tail. “Rover? No? Let me try something
more interesting.” She looked upwards. “Hmmm…Midnight? Comet?”
He growled again, causing her to laugh.
“That’s fine, boy. I gather you’d like a name of greater depth and
sophistication. Well, I can’t fault you there. Let me have another try at
it – my marks in Astronomy weren’t all that bad…”
She cocked her head and looked upwards once more.
Her eyes alit on a certain patch of the night sky.
“Sir – ” she began, her gaze on Canis Major and one star in particular. Her
mind inadvertently drew up the image of a tall, confident boy she had once
watched at Hogwarts. She did not notice that the dog had ceased growling
and was staying motionless at her feet.
“No, that name’s been taken, I’m afraid.” She blinked her eyes rapidly,
pulling herself out of her wandering thoughts. A name, a name. The memory
of her childhood Puffskein came suddenly to mind.
“Snuffles?” she then proposed, giggling. The dog snorted, as if in
laughter, covering Abby’s shoes with a good amount of drool. Her Puffskein
had done that on occasion, too – perhaps this was a sign.
“Decided, then – Snuffles it is!” she cried delightedly. She reached
forward her hand, and the dog allowed her to pat his head.
She smiled, remembering her former pet. “I certainly hope you don’t share
any more Puffskein habits, or I may have to end this acquaintance right
The dog wagged his tail again and gave a longing whine, looking at the
“You are direct, I’ll give you that.” She tore off a chicken leg. “Here
you are, Snuffles
The pair sat for a space of time, enjoying the warmth and the chicken, until
Abby interrupted the silence with a sharp gasp. Her eyes darted to her
watch. Rosmerta would be in her fire in two minutes for a debriefing.
Without another word to the canine in her company, she snatched her wand
from the bench and turned to leave, managing to stub her toe soundly in the
process. The dog stared as Abby hopped and howled her way back to the
When she returned later to retrieve her things, her newspaper and the rest
of the chicken were gone.
A/N: Say “Sooker, Rose” ten times quickly. ;)
Will Lowby was originally intended to be much less nice to Abby after her
accident, hence his name (think Jane Austen). But then he spoke up and told
me that he really was a decent fellow, thank you very much. He was just
My sincere appreciation goes to Catherine for her encouragement, to
Lallybroch for her initial guidance, and to Alanna Granger for
her numerous insights. I’m also very grateful to Arabella and
Ciircee for allowing me to reference their ideas of Hufflepuff house
from “Before the
Beginning” and “To Be