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People of the Goddess by Meadowsweet

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Chapter Notes: So sorry for the long delay! I can only cite midterms. I can promise the next update will be soon. Again I own nothing this is all J.K. Rowlings, only Theophany is mine. Also more song lyrics! The brief quote is from 'Wannabe' by the Spice Girls released 1996.

Falling into a street in...Edinburgh? She believed she was somewhere south of Morningside, but it wasn’t the nicest spot. There were a lot of tired-looking buildings housing identical flats. No one much was about. A bus came roaring around the corner, and Theophany instinctively jumped back but much too late. It ripped through her and continued obliviously on its way. Theophany tried to slow her heart and reminded herself that everything here was vapor. Including the witch striding so purposely towards her. Did she always walk so assertively? Did she always look so serious? Self esteem isn’t the point here, Theophany reminded herself and followed her Pensieve self into one of the resident buildings. There was a grimy cement courtyard, surrounded by flats that looked more like a barracks. The stained steps took them to number 472, and Theophany watched herself unlock the door and then quickly step to one side as about a dozen protective charms blew up simultaneously. A quick suppression spell stopped the conflagration. Through the smoke a curly haired figure could be seen, huddled on the peeling linoleum with one shaking hand pointing a wand.

“The effect is a little ruined when you’re hiding your face like that,” Theophany said.

The watching Theophany jumped. That’s what I was thinking, but is that because I already thought it? But I don’t remember that. So are my responses predictable?

“You got my letter?” Jethro was saying. “Did the Holts send you? Is that why&mdah;”

“Firstly, The Mill is protected by the Fidelius Charm, as well you know, so no, nobody has come looking for you. No owls, Howlers, official inquiries—”

“Why would you assume there’s an official inquiry—” Jethro squeaked indignantly.

Secondly” Theophany continued, “I’m here to not become an accessory after the fact by learning whatever it is you did, but I am here to haul you home.”

“Now hold on! I’ve got work, I can’t just drop everything and leave!”

“Work? Really? I’m guessing your employer isn’t the sort who will report your absence to the officials.”

Jethro stood up and sulkily dusted himself off.

“There’s rent due.”

“Ugh. So much for this so-called employment. Pack a bag. I’ll see the landlord.”

With a last contemptuous glance she left the room. The real Theophany hurried after her. Oh no, you didn’t! He’s going to run the moment you —

With a hollar and a whoop Jethro ran from the flat and leapt from the balcony. Both Theophanys ran to the concrete edge in time to see him fly safely to the balcony opposite, do a cheeky dance, and Disapparate. The memory faded, to be replaced by a scene in a grimy office. An elderly woman was fussing with a key.

“I don’t normally turn over my tenants’ mail, but since you’re a relative…”

“Thank you for your understanding.”

Theophany watched her past self tear through the bills, raising an eyebrow at receipts for odd materials, and finally pausing on a letter from someone named Burlip. The return address was marked 31b Haven Alley, Reading. The office faded away and Theophany sat up.

The Pensieve was again empty mist. Jacka hadn’t moved. He sat chin on chest. His eyes flicked a question, and she tried to smile reassuringly. Theophany fumbled in her pack and found vial two, written in blurred ink. The Pensieve swirled and changed to a scene of fire. With a shorter hesitation than before, Theophany plunged in.

Haven Alley was burning. This attack was only hours old. She watched herself fly down the street, landing just short of the Hag’s Ankle. The dead were everywhere. Theophany kept her eyes on her own figure, picking through the rubble, shoulders taut and defensive. Suddenly she froze, then began walking again. What am I doing? 31b was right there, she was passing it. Theophany saw her other self turn down the next block and then slowly circle back. What had warned her? Had she heard something?

They approached the apothecary from the other direction, creeping low against the wall. Theophany found herself sneaking quietly along by instinct. Someone was standing outside the shop. A wizard. She must have heard him behind her. A Death Eater? He stooped down. She couldn’t see. Oh for heaven’s sake I’m not really here!

Theophany left her past self and ran towards the wizard. He was bending over the remains of a man. No, not the remains, Theophany realized sickly, he was still just alive. The poor man coughed blood and struggled weakly. The wizard drew his wand and Theophany tensed.

“Hush, be still. Dormias.”

WIth a soft sigh the tortured man fell asleep. Theophany bent, but the stranger stood up swiftly and regarded the shop. It was too dark to get a good look at his face. Pretty distinctive profile though. She watched his cautious entry into the shop and the slow search of the ground floor. Oh yeah, what was I doing all this time? Oh, pretty much what I’m doing now. The past Theophany was a safer distance away, watching through narrowed eyes. Eventually she rose and entered the shop as well, wand at the ready. Following the light she descended into the cellar and through the revealed doorway into a work space of some kind. The stranger was pocketing something.

“Are you looking for someone or just looting?”

Allsop was right. I really am too abrupt, Theophany thought. The stranger turned slowly, almost insolently slowly. Damn, that is a distinctive face. Do I know him? Theophany watched their exchange in confusion. Wait, he thinks I’m a Death Eater because I flew? So he’s only acting like a Death Eater? She flinched as she watched herself lifted into the air, her arm checked for the mark. So he is a Death Eater! But what’s a Death Eater doing casting mercy sleep on victims in the street? Wait —

Theophany ducked as the cabinet exploded, even though the debris went through her. What was I thinking?

She saw the wizard dive to one side. Damn it, he should have got the worst of it. How did I block this?

Theophany watched dumbfounded as the Death Eater rolled onto his shoulder and cast a Shield Charm. She saw her own shock mirrored on her past face. The following conversation was equally surreal. The memory faded and she sat back on her heels, staring at the Pensieve. Okay. So he had saved her from her own spell. That’s not an excuse for her to be that friendly. How could she trust him so readily? What had she been thinking? Not a Death Eater, then, but he really wanted that sword. So she exchanged it for information. Had it worked?

“Do you need to take a break?”

Theophany jumped. She’d forgotten Jacka.

“No, no absolutely not.” She tore open the satchel. “Come on number three...aha!”

It was a phone booth. Was she still in Reading? She was leaning against the phone, waiting. It rang.

“Hello? Otho?” There was a pause for the security question before Theophany gave the password. “Conmaicne of Connacht.”

The observing Theophany tried to press closer to the receiver but could only catch the muttered voice of Otho Aubuchon.

“You’re kidding. It was Pinstick? You’re certain?” Theophany bit her nail. “Yes, yes, anonymous so we can’t — I know. Listen, I’ve got to go.”

She hung up and pulled the drawing of the sword from her pocket. In it were wrapped three rubies. Theophany checked her watch; it was a quarter past nine.

“Okay, Jethro, let’s see how good you are.”

The memory changed. She was behind the bar of some seedy pub. The barman was scrupulously looking the other way, probably heavily tipped, while Jethro and Theophany argued behind the barrels on tap.

“Do you have any idea what time it is?” Jethro was hissing. “I’d have to work all night, what’s left of it, and even then I might not make it.”

“Yes, I know what time it is, which makes me wonder why this pub is still open. You’re going to make good on this promise.”

“On a promise you made! Why should I? And how did you find me?”

“Your bills, Jethro. I’ve spent all night going to the nasty places you owe money until I hit the right place. You do this, I pay off your current debt. Right?”

Jethro squinted.

“You said he’s paying.”

“Yes, so you’ll be ahead of the game…for about a week,” Theophany finished sarcastically.

“I’ll show you…”

Theophany’s memory took her through a long night. Eventually Jethro was so absorbed in his work she had allowed herself to sleep. He was as good as he said.

The fourth vial found her in the Spiny Serpent, and she felt no other memory could be harder to watch. She was jerked from her chair by Jugson and Crowe, and no one made a move to help her. Knocked down, searched, and blindfolded. Theophany had experienced the Cruciatus Curse only once before, and she was glad she had no memory of this second time.

She paced in the shed, not quite able to watch the torture, thankful she didn’t remember this. By the time she was rescued, it was obvious she could barely hold her head up. She was covered in burns and cuts. Theophany watched the hook-nosed stranger heal her as best he could, efficiently but gently. Surely not a Death Eater? He could have claimed the sword without helping me. It was stupid, but I had to enchant that sword, I have to know what he’s up to, how he knew about Pinstick. But he could have risked it — just taken it.

The journey to Gringotts was physically grueling and hardly illuminating. Theophany nearly had a heart attack when she saw who was waiting and, from the look of it, her other self had barely hidden her horror. Bellatrix Lestrange. It was a wonder she hadn’t turned and ran.

She had heard only snatches of their conversation and had no answers. Why give a dummy sword to Bellatrix Lestrange? Wasn’t that tantamount to palming it off on You-Know-Who himself?

Theophany was so intent on what was happening she almost missed her own collapse. A little ahead in the street the Pensieve Theophany stumbled and her legs seemed to give out. She stumbled drunkenly to the corner and waited. The not-Death-Eater wizard came alongside her shortly, and they made their painful way back to the Spiny Serpent. Through the Floo Theophany chased the dark wizard and her bleeding self. The memory was growing dim, indicative of her deteriorating physical state. When the Floo dumped them at the chintzy hotel, her vision was hazy around the edges, and when they Apparated, everything went black.

“Miss Knapp, can you hear me? Knapp?” He lifted her head and sharply tapped her face. “Theophany, wasn’t it? Theophany, wake up.”

The memory swam into focus as Theophany regained consciousness. The real Theophany winced as the Death Eater who didn’t seem to be a Death Eater peeled bloody sleeves back from her arms.

“Why didn’t you just tell them what little you knew?”

“I couldn’t,” she whispered. “This is deep magic, ancient. When you believe, no amount of pain can make it untrue.”

I must have been really dazed to speak so freely.

“...They can only kill this body.”

Whoa. I must have hit my head. Why? Why do I keep talking?

After treating all her visible wounds and mending her ribs, he placed an old screen—it had a faded design of white blossoms on black lacquer—around the sofa. He dosed her, while the observing Theophany screamed at herself not to drink it.

“The other night when you said your family had been flying for generations, what did you mean exactly?”

“Well, we don’t exactly use it to fetch the milk, but it’s been a family trait passed down for years.”

Shut up, Chatty!

“...My family follows the Tuatha De Danann.”

Merlin’s underpants. Just serve yourself up on a silver platter. You idiot! You didn’t even try and fight when he took your wand!

Proving a perfect gentleman, the Death Eater left the library while she treated her own wounds. Theophany watched herself partially disrobe and daub dittany over circular wand burns and the now closed cuts. She was relieved to see she had at least tried to investigate a little. But other than an impressive collection of books the room was quite bare, and Theophany was hardly capable of walking. After a brief search of the desk, and nearly passing out, she made her careful way back to the couch just a minute before he knocked.

He brought a glass of water? And a blanket and a hot water bottle? How...shockingly domestic.

“...The foolhardy and extreme danger of flying needs to be impressed upon you. Not only can it get you mistaken for a Death Eater, itself an unpleasant prospect as the misunderstanding would be revealed in a matter of seconds, but it is a Dark Art. There is always a price for using such — ”

Is that why I got goose flesh about flying? Because I promised? How could I still remember that?

“You give out promises too easily.”

“It’s the least I can do after such hospitality.” She carefully lowered herself prone onto the couch. “And I owe you a bottle of dittany.”

So that’s why she had had dittany in her pocket when she came to on Phiny’s Peak. Theophany watched herself fall asleep and the library fade, to be replaced by the same room in the light of morning. The wizard was sitting in a chair by the last embers of the fire, breathing deeply and steadily. Theophany saw herself rise quietly and approach him. It was too risky to recover her wand, what was she doing? She just stood there. For about two minutes she had watched him sleep. Then she’d folded the blanket, scribbled a quick note, and weighed it down with the water bottle.

Outside the winter dawn was grey, but she had a feeling this street never looked cheerful even in the rosiest summer light. The brick houses on either side looked empty, but so did the residence she’d just left. To her left was a dead end, so she turned right and walked to the main road. On the corner was a sign: Spinner’s End was the street.

This main thoroughfare was unmarked but had a few sad shops, not yet open. Theophany followed herself and they walked slowly to the edge of the village street where a slushy trickle ran through a frozen streambed filled with old cars, bedsteads, and other junk. An abandoned stone building loomed over the stream, as if about to slide into it. Its sign in rusty iron letters proclaimed it once ‘Cokeworth Mill’. Theophany Disapparated, and the memory changed to the much pleasanter view from Maevan’s cottage. After speaking with Maevan the memory was complete and she was once again in the chamber with Jacka. Theophany stood up slowly; her legs were cramped and cold.

“Is that all?”

She looked around at Jacka quickly.

“N-no. I just need a minute.”

A slow pace carried her about the circumference of the chamber in a few minutes. She did two more circuits before settling down at the basin again. Too many connotations and consequences to consider. If this wizard was truly on their side but appearing as a Death Eater...and how was he operating alone? Theophany unstopped the last bottle. Please, she thought, have answers for me.

The conversation with Otho was illuminating but provided only further complications. Had she discovered nothing? Theophany followed the memory into the offices of the Daily Prophet. Her frustration was growing. What was she trying to prove?

Severus Snape.

That much is progress, at least. I knew I’d seen his face before. At last she saw herself meet the Pointdexters and the Honeysetts. It was reassuring to discover that while the Hughes’ house was under observation, the Honeysetts themselves had not been discovered. Theophany witnessed her last desperate memory stash and the mist turned dark. Theophany knelt, holding her head.

Why was the sword necessary?

If he really was working alone, how had he known about Arthur Pinstick?

Was he the anonymous intelligence source Otho investigated? Was that the assumption she had made?

If she’d been aware he intended to use the Memory Charm on her, why did she trust him? Or had she not been aware he would wipe her memory?

If he was the anonymous source, why should that make her trust him?

Why did she trust him still?

Theophany jumped when Jacka touched her shoulder.

“What’s wrong?”

“Jacka, I know what but I don’t know why I did what I—”

Jacka squeezed her shoulder.

“Shh. You don’t owe me any explanation. What do you need?”

She wiped her face with her sleeve. The chamber was cold, but a clammy sweat made her robes stick.

“I need to see this again, I need to try and understand what I was thinking — what I felt.”

Jacka pulled her to her feet and led her away from the pool.

“First, eat something and have some tea. You’ve been at this for hours.”

Lavinia had even packed a blanket. Jacka draped it over Theophany’s shoulders while she ate.

“Nice woman, that Lavinia. They’re going to be okay. Nobody found them; it was me they were after.”

“That’s good and bad news,” Jacka said carefully.

“All good news. She has a little boy and they’re both safe. Me, I’ll be fine. As long as I’m protecting the valley and everyone in it, I’ll always be in danger. I just need to figure out why I went looking for it this time. How do I revisit a memory?”

“Place your wand in the basin and call it to mind.”

She insisted Jacka keep the blanket and walked back to the basin. Prodding the mist with her wand tip, she concentrated on the house at Spinner's End. The library swam into view and Theophany lowered her face into the mist.

“...Theophany, wake up.”

She watched him settle her on the sofa. Severus Snape. I feel like there’s something I know about you but I can’t remember… No, don’t watch him. She was the puzzle here. Theophany turned her back on Snape to watch her own face. It slid from painful grimace, to patient pain, to crooked smile. How could her own face be so hard to read? It was obvious she trusted him; that wasn’t an act. She’d even been hurt when he hadn’t returned that trust and taken her wand. That was clear from her telltale, ironic smile. She went through it all twice more without further enlightenment. Frustrated, Theophany retraced her steps to the moment she first opened her eyes in the library. Her face had been blank, confused, and then tight with pain.

“What are you thinking?” Theophany asked aloud. “Is it just because he saved you? Is it because he’s kind? How could you not still be suspicious of him?”

She watched her face clear as the pain eased, the amused smile that quirked her mouth while Snape was bent over the cuts on her hands.

“What is it? What are you thinking? What do you see— oh! Idiot! I need to see what you see!”

She had been looking at the wrong person. All being vapor, Theophany couldn’t actually lie on the sofa but she could inhabit the same space. She tried again from the beginning, sitting on the floor with her hands clasping her knees. From this vantage point she could see his face as he shook her awake. He was concerned but impatient, exasperated. He kept glancing at the clock.

“...Theophany, wake up.”

Was this concern for her? Or was she only a liability? If he was worried about wasting time, why not leave her with someone else? Unless there was no one he could trust. Theophany watched him frown ferociously or meet her with a sarcastic sneer. But sometimes he would glance up, almost interested, then his face would be empty again. Always wary. But mostly...Theophany held her breath. He was, Theophany realized, incredibly sad.

She walked through the memory again. Saw that he chose every word, censured every movement. Always guarded. She watched him sleep while the library fire burned down and the weak morning light woke the sleeping Theophany. She saw herself bend over him, study him carefully. He slept the heavy sleep of the exhausted.

How and why she had decided to trust him she might never know, never remember. She could feel the space it had occupied, like a missing tooth. Theophany and her past self seemed to agree that here was a person greatly burdened. The memory of herself prepared to leave, but Theophany stood a minute longer by the chair until the memory began to melt away. She stood up. The Pensieve swirled at her feet, empty.

“Theophany? Theophany, you’re crying.”

Surprised, Theophany wiped her face. Sweet Jacka, always so concerned for everyone else. She smiled up at him. Jacka looked a little alarmed.

“That’s enough. I shouldn’t have let you stay so long.”

“No. I needed to. Thank you for letting me — letting me see that I — damn...”

The tears welled up again. Jacka wrapped the blanket around her, clucking gently.

“Ah now, it can’t be that bad. No one’s hurt, everyone’s still safe. Yes? You always keep us safe.”

Theophany nodded tearfully.

“It’s fine, I’m okay. It’s — It’s fine. We should get back, I’ve kept you long enough.”

Jacka helped her recall her memories from the Pensieve and reseal them. He insisted she keep the blanket as they walked back. It was after midnight by Jacka’s watch, and he kept it scrupulously wound. They were neither of them surprised to see Lavinia still awake. Col sat with her at the kitchen table over tea and buttered toast.

“Felix insisted on waiting up but fell asleep an hour ago,” Lavinia whispered, nodding to the chair by the fire. Felix was curled like a cat under his mother’s cloak.

“You should be able to sleep soundly too; neither of you are in danger.”

Lavinia leaned forward.

“Then who attacked you and why?”

“That’s a different matter entirely. The Hughes probably let it be known they were hiring a new shop assistant, and Heathers had them watched. Probably to check the registration papers of whomever they hired. We’re a small village, not very exciting for the local enforcement. They can be overzealous.”

“What happens to them now?” Col asked.

“And what about the Hughes?” Lavinia added.

“There was another family we moved the same day as you. We had to divide them up. Now we’ll put one of them with the Hughes so it looks like they were expected all along. As for you, I’ll have to find another place.”

“It’s not that you’re not welcome —” Col broke in hurriedly.

“— But it isn’t possible,” Jacka finished quietly. He smiled at his son. “Nice as it’s been, in’it?”

Lavinia spread her hands on the table. Her whisper sharpened.

“We’re safe here. And we’d love to stay. Moreover you have limited places to hide people, and there will be only more like us, I’m afraid.”

Jacka bent forward.

“Listen, it’s not possible —”

“— To stay here, I know. Mr. Jacka, I noticed you have a tent in the attic. Felix found it. It’s quite charming inside, reminds me of my parents’ cottage.”

Theophany liked the look of total stupification on Jacka’s face.

“So you’re going to camp out then?” she asked Lavinia.

“Yes, I’m sure we aren’t the first to disappear from society entirely. No fake identities needed. No need to endanger a host family. This forest is already protected from Muggles; we’ll ward our campsite, and if trouble comes, we can always run to Jacka and Col.”

Jacka was wagging his head.

“Absolutely not. There’s no safety net for this plan if something goes wrong—”


“If we were discovered, we’d run,” Lavinia pointed out. “Isn’t that what we would do anyway, if we were discovered at the Hughes'?”

Col looked hopefully at his father. Despite their differences in age he seemed to enjoy Felix’s company. Theophany shifted in her seat.

“Jacka —”

“I don’t think —”

“Jacka! They’ve lost everything, but still they are happy here with you and Col. If this is what she wants, if being here makes her happiest, then—then why can’t you let her…”

Theophany pressed a hand over her mouth. It wasn’t up to her to save all the lonely people of the world. Col looked embarrassed. Lavinia was peering at her in the firelight.

“Are you alright?”

“Y-Yes.” Theophany prayed she wouldn’t start hiccoughing. She stood up. “Since you’ve withdrawn your request for asylum and prefer to find your own place, this is no longer my business. You will have to settle it between yourselves.”

Fight hard. She wanted to yell. Don’t let him push you away!

Col offered to see her home, but Theophany brushed it aside.

“This is your decision too, Col. You’ll share responsibility for them.”

She wanted to walk — no she needed to run. Theophany picked her way down the steps from the cottage, but as soon as she had crossed the meadow out of sight, she began to run. Until she reached the edge of the wood, until her heart was hammering so hard she couldn’t breathe and she felt her blood pulse in each fingertip. On the path to The Mill she walked slowly to catch her breath. Ahead she saw the front door standing open, a square beacon, and put on a reassuring smile.

“Theophany?”

“I’m fine, Dad. I — I don’t know everything but I have what’s important.”

“Oh my God!”

Silyn stood in the door behind their father with Merryn and Boniface just behind. Silyn pushed his way past and grabbed Theophany by the shoulders.

“What’s wrong?”

“N-Nothing! I just said—”

“Don’t you lie to me! I can see it! There’s a shadow on you and your aura is — is bright, it’s way too bright, like it’s burning up.”

“Whoa, what?” Boniface yelled.

They crowded around her. It was unusual for Silyn to speak of auras or other phenomena. He hated the terminology of popular Divination; dismissing it as invented by hacks and frauds. Mr. Knapp managed to get a word in.

“Keeping her out here in the cold isn’t going to fix anything!” His sons subsided. “Now, dear. Do you need anything? Is there something we can do?”

Theophany shook her head.

“Then, go to bed. I can’t see your aura but I can see you, and you look exhausted.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Theophany said sincerely.

Silyn looked mutinous for a minute. Left to himself he would probably have cross-examined her then and there. Instead he pulled Theophany into a tight hug. Theophany felt a little claustrophobic, but fortunately she started hiccoughing and everyone started exclaiming she should be in bed. By the time she crawled between the sheets, her hiccoughs were regular and loud. Pressing her face into the pillow, she cursed Severus Snape and ever meeting him.

Why did she feel so sorry for him? It wasn’t her responsibility, but she lay awake anyway, wondering and worrying.

She must have slept because suddenly the ceiling was bright with morning sunlight. Theophany let herself stay a little longer after Ike rang the bell for morning chores. Dad was a heavy sleeper. He’d grumbled that a Muggle alarm clock was good enough for him, but any model he bought went haywire around his magical offspring. After the last one started belting Gilbert and Sullivan numbers at odd hours, he appointed Ike the role of back up alarm, much to the house-elf’s delight.

Theophany felt as if she’d been taken apart and rearranged. Was an emotional response common to Pensieve use? She supposed this was better than last night’s tears. She cringed with embarrassment. Poor Jacka. Theophany wasn’t even sure what had upset her, but in the Pensieve she had felt overwhelmed with sorrow and betrayal. Well, she couldn’t start wallowing in her feelings.

By ten o’clock she’d made breakfast for the twins, it being a school holiday, answered the post, brewed three potion orders and was halfway through cleaning the workshop. When she reentered the house to grab a can of Godeby’s Degreaser and Cauldon Polish, she could hear the radio playing upstairs. The ceiling thumped to excitedly dancing feet.

“...tell you what I want what I really really want—”

“You two!” Theophany hollered. “More cleaning, less dancing! I expect both of your rooms to be pristine when I check.”

The thumping stopped and the volume lowered. Merryn poked his head from the study. He was going over accounts while Dad was with the livestock.

“Congratulations, your ability to divine when they’re goofing off has reached parental levels.”

Theophany muttered something.

“We really need to talk. All of us. Are you considering eating at some point today?”

She paused at the door. She really couldn’t resent it, much as she dreaded it.

“At lunch. Bring Lissy and the girls over. We can all talk then.”

Hopefully with Merryn’s wife Lissy and their two girls it would be more of a family conference and less of an interrogation. Not that they wouldn’t handle her with kid gloves, Theophany reflected as she scoured the bottom of the five-gallon cauldron; that almost made it worse. She did owe them some explanation. A ringing rap on the outside of the cauldron made her drop her cloth and cover her ears.

“What?”

An owl was perched on the upturned cauldron. As Theophany watched, it impatiently banged the brass edge with its beak.

“Okay, okay!” She untied the letter. “Hey, at least wait for an answer!”

The owl stopped trying to flutter away and hopped onto her work desk to peck a cork to pieces. It was a brief note from Jacka. Theophany read that Lavinia and Felix would indeed be camping in Dagda Wood.

Further down the page Jacka wrote,“...This worries me to no end. I’m thankful you delivered such an amount of Wolfsbane, it is reassuring to have it at hand, but myself and Col have never been exposed to others while under its influence. I don’t doubt your brewing capabilities, but is it enough? If she ran to us for help at the full moon, would she be in danger? Could we even help her?”

Theophany grabbed a spare piece of parchment. Scraps of recipes and notes fluttered onto the freshly scrubbed floor, but she ignored them. How could Jacka not remember? He had helped her at the full moon, once. In that first year she had not been cautious enough; she had never been around werewolves. She wasn’t used to following the cycle of the moon when visiting Jacka.

In her defense, she had been seventeen, but it was carelessness to get lost and even stupider to knock on Jacka’s door. Theophany paused, her quill dripping. She would never forget what she saw that night. The door had swung open at her touch, and the room had been dark and cold but full of something that breathed raggedly, that unfolded itself from the corner and kept growing larger. It had advanced on her, its rangy frame stooping under the low rafters, its eyes picking up the moonlight. She hadn’t been able to move, and if Jacka hadn’t been taking his potion she would never have moved again. Would Lavinia manage an encounter like that? Theophany didn’t mention her terror, only reminded Jacka that she had once been perfectly safe with them, ten years ago.

As for Lavinia’s reaction,“We can only wait and see,” she wrote. “Until the time comes, none of us knows what we are capable of.”

The bell rang for lunch. It was a relic from their childhood days when Mum had to call them in from wandering in Dagda wood or throwing dirt clods at the Squirting Inky Caps in the lower field. Theophany felt a familiar pang. Not a day passed she didn’t want to speak to her mother, but today she would have given anything for her advice. Theophany gave the owl her reply and sent it on its way. She bent to pick up the scattered papers from the floor. Under her notebook was the copy from the Prophet.

Theophany held it to the light and studied the face. Snape’s lip curled, he twitched and shifted. Impatient and dismissive. Cold. Nothing like what she’d seen in the Pensieve. What was the word? Harrowed. Haunted, even. So which was the mask? She placed the photo deliberately on the table and pinned it down with an inkwell. If only its subject could be so easily pinned down. Theophany took a deep breath. She had to relocate the Poindexters, she had to warn her family that information was leaking into the Dagda resistance and that had got her memories wiped, and Silyn needed her tonight. If the Dagda needed an extra witch, Theophany couldn’t afford to be distracted if it came to dueling.
Chapter Endnotes:

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