Title: A Tragedy In One Act
Characters/Pairings: Septima Vector/Charity Burbage
Word Count: ~800
Prompt: 185: Any pairing. The Veil allows one couple the chance to say goodbye. (by tabitha666)
Notes: HP and all assorted belong to JKR, and are not mine. Thanks to L. for reading.
It had been like living in a fairy tale, one where the prince and the princess had reached their happily ever after. Only, with them, it had been the princess and the princess.
At Hogwarts, they had always felt like nothing could touch them. The castle was like a living being, protecting all its inhabitants, and Dumbledore’s presence was a moat that kept evil at bay.
Dumbledore had known, she was sure of it. He had always cast a twinkling, knowing eye at them when he saw them at the staff table. They had both been careful never to show their relationship in public, but some of the others had figured it out. Minerva knew, but then, most of the staff knew about her and Wilhelmina, and had kept quiet when Umbridge entered their sanctuary.
Hogwarts had been exactly that—a sanctuary. A place where a type of magic Septima had never believed in came true. For one year—one amazing, unbelievable year—she had been in love.
Septima knows she shouldn’t be here. She shouldn’t be so close to the fluttering curtains and rippling surface of the Veil that she can feel coldness coming off it in waves. Ice crystals grow in the pit of her stomach, formed from fear and uncertainty.
But here she is, drawn forward by some strange mental twisting of logic and belief. A belief spurred by the loss of her lover. Before Charity, she had never believed in anything that couldn’t be proved by numbers and tangible evidence.
She’d heard stories of the Veil as a child; her father’s job turned into a bedtime story for his ever curious daughter. The stories had also been intended as a lesson, and she hadn’t believed in such foolishness as life after death. Not as a child, nor as an adult, but now….
Loss changes a person.
Septima learned that at twenty-five, when her father died. His death had been expected, a peaceful giving in after a valiant struggle. Magic couldn’t cure everything, and she had accepted that. She had mourned him and missed him, but she had eventually moved on.
An unexpected loss creates a jagged hole in a person, the edges raw and painful with each thought and memory. No matter what one does or tries, the hole can’t be fixed.
Septima learned that at forty-six, when Charity was murdered. Three summers ago, Charity had disappeared, and not even the Order of the Phoenix had been able to find her. Septima had feared the worst, because of the article Charity had published in the Prophet, but she had held onto the hope of the unknown. No news is good news—a Muggle phrase learned from her lover.
Charity’s fate hadn’t been known until Alecto Carrow turned up in Septima’s classroom in September, a photograph clutched in her fat fist.
“Burbage said your name a few times. ‘Course, I didn’t pay attention to the bitch’s whinging. She never shut up. So annoying. But I saw you this year, and the pieces clicked into place.” Alecto cackled nastily, beady eyes glowing. “I knew you’d want to see this picture I took.”
The photograph had been magical, of course—a Death Eater would never touch a Muggle camera. But Septima hadn’t realized that at first, because the figure in the photograph—Charity—wasn’t moving.
“Charity.” A whisper, a plea, for something … anything.
The wait is interminable. Her heart pounds, the beats increasing by the second, and she counts under her breath. One. Two. Threefour. Fivesixseven. Numbers are the only comfort she has left.
Minutes tick by, and at last, a face imprints the veil. Slowly, features come into focus: a gently sloping nose, a square jaw, round cheeks.
Septima’s heart stops. It’s a face she knows well, a face she has memorized with her fingers and lips. Words escape her normally agile mind, and she stares, eyes drinking in the ethereal form of her lover brought back to her. She had never thought she would see Charity again.
When she tries to speak, her voice cracks. “I need you,” she pleads brokenly, proof of how far she has fallen.
It had always been a matter of pride to Septima, how she never needed anyone in her life. Charity changed that, but now she can’t tell if she actually does need her, or if she is so consumed by her own grief that she doesn’t want to suffer alone.
Charity’s lips, lips that beg to be kissed, form a pout. No. The ghostly figure turns and starts to fade—
—and Septima, in the first impulsive decision of her life (no, the first had been to kiss Charity after too much wine), plunges her hand into the Veil.
Ice coats her fingers, crackles around her wrist. Cold fire roars up her arm, knifing towards her chest, and then she knows no more.