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28 July 2013 @ 04:50 am
Lost and Found — For Ellie  
Title: Lost and Found
Characters/Pairings: Tracey Davis, Willa Davis (OC), Spoilery canon characters
Rating: 3rd/5th Years
Warnings: Mentions of character death; mentions of assault
Author’s Note: I would like to say I have a good excuse for this being late, but they're really just excuses. This was my fourth attempt to write something before I settled on an idea. Here's hoping it's better than the slushpile. :)



Tracey Davis looked around sadly at the large room she had known since childhood. The room was now bare, save for faded wallpaper outlining where posters of the Weird Sisters and attractive Quidditch players used to be. The furniture had already been shifted out into the hallway, so all that remained were two trunks containing all of her worldly belongings. At least, the ones she got to keep.

The rest had been sold, just like the house, to pay for the massive debt her father had accrued due to the war. What they had left from the sale had been enough to pay a few months’ rent for a cramped flat in an area with far too many Muggles for any of their tastes. However, little could be done about it. They simply weren’t rich people anymore and probably wouldn’t be again anytime soon.

The Davis Shipping Venture floundered and failed when nearly all of its investors abandoned ship the very day Gareth Davis was tried and convicted of conspiring with Death Eaters. Oh, Gareth never raised a wand in the war, but he took money from the wrong people and looked the other way too many times when it came to his clients.

They had until Monday to vacate the estate, a sprawling Victorian manor sitting on a large tract of land in Hampshire that had been sold for barely half its value. It had been in the family for generations, and it would’ve been Tracey’s to inherit it wasn’t for her father.

A sigh of irritation escaped her lips as she slapped the last label on the last trunk, a vivid pink sticker that said ‘Tracey Bedroom’. The label, however, was a kinder way to look at the situation they were facing. Tracey was going to be sharing the flat’s only bedroom with her mother, Willa, while her ten-year-old brother, Joe, slept on the sofa in the living room. She had begged to get the sofa instead, but Joe’s loud protest at the idea of sharing a room with his mother drowned out any argument Tracey had. All she could hope for was that the month until Joe started Hogwarts (his birthday being exactly 1st September) would pass a little quicker than the snail’s pace of the rest of the summer had while they’d awaited Gareth’s trial.

Bringing herself back to the present, Tracey swished her wand and levitated the first trunk out into the hallway. Joe almost certainly would need help packing, and that was only if he had even put away his Chocolate Frog Cards long enough to get started at all. In a couple of minutes, the room was completely bereft of her personal belongings. For the most part, at least.

Moving to a corner where her wardrobe had once sat, Tracey knelt and traced a circle with the tip of her wand, placing her hand in the centre of its invisible boundaries. The sound of tumblers clicking was followed by hinges materialising on the floorboards. Tracey pressed on the spot and was rewarded when the little trap door sprang open. Inside lay a plain-looking leather-bound book, full of her deepest and most profound personal confessions. She opened it to a random page, which was dated for the beginning of her second year, and began reading.

Dear diary,

I still like him. It’s so stupid, because he cost us the House Cup, but he’s so nice to me when I see him. My housemates are gits and I hate them all. But really, of all people, why did it have to be Neville Longbottom?

Tracey chuckled. Every girl had a crush on Longbottom now that he was a battle hero, but she had tried to block it from her mind that she’d pined for him back when he was a bumbling little nobody who spent far too much time talking to plants like they were people. Vaguely amused by this venture, she flipped to a later page. However, this entry caught her off guard.

Dear diary,

I don’t know what to do. The new professors we got this year are horrible. If they were just bad at teaching, that’s one thing, but they want us to hurt people. I don’t know if I can do that, even though they said we have to. I just wish someone could tell me what to do.

That decision, she remembered, had lasting repercussions. While she had refused to take a side, she had also refused to maliciously torture any of her fellow schoolmates, especially the younger ones. It had cost her detention and her good marks, but at least she could sleep at night.

The next entry, however, resonated keenly.

Carrow called me into his office, and he tried to I can’t even say it. Snape walked in just in time, but I feel so dirty that I nearly burnt my skin in the shower. I want to go home.

Her stomach churned at these words she distinctly recalled writing. Amycus Carrow was going to force himself on her that day, and it was merely by random chance that it didn’t happen. She’d been so torn between crying and storming off to join Neville Longbottom’s merry little band of misfit soldiers. She’d almost done it, but good sense had reasserted itself. The Battle had started and ended without Tracey Davis.

“No way I’m letting some stranger find this,” she murmured aloud as she tucked the book to her chest. Mentally, she reminded herself to look for an adequate hiding place for her journal while Willa was out looking for work. These were things that no mother should ever know. Ever.

With a last glance around, Tracey took a heavy breath and exited, shutting the door on the first eighteen years of her life and hoping the next chapter had more to offer than an empty room and not a small amount of resentment.


* * *


The flat had looked small when it was empty, but that was nothing compared to the looming claustrophobia of being packed to the brim with the last of their belongings. Tracey tried to write off her growing nausea as a result of poorly executed Apparition and not a feeling of ever-growing despair. Joe was doing enough complaining for all of them, and their mother didn’t need to hear it from Tracey, as well.

The next week passed in a blur of boxes and mounting frustration over lack of storage space, but Tracey managed to unpack the majority of their possessions. She’d had to retrofit one of the larger trunks with small shelves, Permanent Sticking Charms, and a lot of hope, as all but one of their wardrobes had been sold. Tracey had left the wardrobe for Willa, as she was far less accustomed to living out of a trunk.

Nothing could be done about the kitchen. Tracey hoped that they would, at some point, be able to afford having magical fixtures installed. She simply couldn’t believe Muggles used explosive gases to cook with and wondered how more of them didn’t die horrifically as a result. Nor could she believe that this building was primarily inhabited by wizards and the heating elements were still Muggle. For the time being, however, she gingerly navigated the range to keep them all from starving.

Willa had found a job after only two days of searching, which was a blessing considering how many people had lost everything during the war and after. She did not last the day, however. Washing dishes was ‘house elf work’ and beneath a woman who had grown up barely lifting a finger to do anything for herself.

Tracey supposed she might’ve felt the same way a year before, but after spending most of that time at Hogwarts hoping she wasn’t called upon in lessons to commit some unspeakable act of violence, dishpan hands seemed a lesser evil in comparison. If Willa’s search for employment continued on this track, Tracey had the feeling she would get a chance to test this theory.

At the end of the day, Tracey collapsed on her bed and hoped that unconsciousness wasn’t far behind. Her day, just like every day before that, had been filled with housework, Joe loudly complaining of boredom, housework, Willa’s excuses as to why she ‘couldn’t possibly work there’, housework, a splitting headache induced by the neighbours’ dog barking at obscene volume, and some more housework on top of that. She could only hope that at least one of them would learn to cope before too long.

Glancing over at Willa to make sure she was asleep, Tracey pulled her journal out from under her pillow. She hadn’t written an entry in it for nearly four months, but the urge to do so right then was staggering. There was no one who would listen to her complain about working herself to exhaustion turning this miniscule flat into a liveable space, so she might as well whine to some future part of herself who would look back on this and laugh.

Quietly, Tracey slipped out of the room and to the kitchen — the only room she could have to herself at this time of night. By wandlight, she scribbled an account of her day. Nothing more, nothing less. As soon as the ink dried, she crept back to bed and stashed the journal in a pile of dirty laundry, where she was certain her mother would never find it.

An unexpected feeling of catharsis settled over her, relief over having told someone (even a book) that she was doing her best to make this situation work. With a great yawn, she quickly settled into sleep.



Joe glared balefully at his plate. “I don’t want beans on toast again.”

Not even bothering to glance up from her dinner, Tracey snapped, “Shut up and eat. It’s all we’ve got, so deal with it.”

Usually, that would’ve been the end to his complaining, but it was not promising to be one of those days. “I don’t have to shut up! When Mummy gets home, she’ll make me some real food, and you can sit over there with your beans on toast and sod off!”

“Joseph Wyatt Davis, you do not use that sort of language in this house!” Willa, who was still carrying a dripping umbrella, angrily jabbed it in Joe’s direction. “Apologise to your sister, and I don’t want to hear another word out of you.”

He opened his mouth to protest, but Willa cut him off. “Now!”

Joe’s jaw snapped shut, and Tracey could feel his discomfort from across the table. She didn’t want his apology; she wanted real food just as badly as he did. Her brother was just saying what she was feeling yet knew better than to let slip. When she’d been that age, she had little doubt that her complaints would have been of equal measure.

“Sorry, Tracey,” Joe mumbled as he sawed off a chunk of toast and ate it with what might’ve been the most pathetic expression Tracey could remember seeing on his face. Instantly, she felt ashamed on his behalf for Willa telling him off. As a gesture of good faith, she gave him a tight smile and a nod.

Later, when Willa was in the shower, Tracey sat on the sofa next to Joe and said, “I know this seems bad, but once you get to Hogwarts, you can eat all the food you want and have a lot more fun. Just a couple more weeks.”

He leant into her, his face buried in her shoulder, and asked the question she’d been dreading. “When’s Dad coming home?”

“Not for a long time,” she replied truthfully. “He broke a lot of laws, and he’s got to answer for that.”

She pretended not to hear the snotty sniff Joe let out, or to feel the soggy patch spreading on her sleeve. Truthfully, she felt like doing the same right along with him sometimes. But she had her journal and the mindless oblivion of drudge work to keep her mind clear, and suddenly, she felt far less resentful that Willa got to leave the house or that Joe spent his days playing Exploding Snap.

Soon, Joe began to softly snore, so Tracey gently settled him down on his side and pulled a blanket over him before heading off to get herself ready for bed. Willa would likely have turned in for the night already, leaving Tracey with some much-needed quiet time.

In her pyjamas, Tracey sat at the kitchen table and pulled out her journal. She began jotting down her activities for the day, but as she meandered through the seemingly endless stream of ‘dishes’, ‘laundry’, ‘dusting’, and ‘unpacking’, her quill stopped mid-stroke. Instead, she skipped a couple of lines and started fresh.

Joe isn’t dealing well, and neither is Mum. We fought at tea. I don’t think I’m dealing well, either. I don’t know what to do.

With little else to say, Tracey carefully blew on the ink to help it dry and tucked the book into her housecoat pocket. She crept to bed, and as she lay waiting for sleep to come, she realised that she would have to find a new hidey hole soon. Her journal was personal again.



It was Saturday, and Willa offered to take them all to the park. Joe was giddy at the chance to escape the flat, but Tracey asked to stay behind to ‘catch up on sleep’. She couldn’t bear to tell her mother that she just wanted to be away from both of them for a few hours.

Almost the second the door closed behind them, Tracey began a systematic search of the bedroom for any place she could hide her journal. A loose floorboard, an old grate, heating register . . . anything. After an hour of fruitless searching, Tracey was about to give up, but that was when she found it — the perfect place. It was, quite literally, right where her arm hung from her side of her bed, ready to hold her secrets at a moment’s notice.

Tracey never would’ve noticed it had she not been specifically looking for something that couldn’t be found. It was a spring-release trapdoor in the side of the wall. When she pressed in just the right plot, the latch sprang open with a soft little click. Kneeling down in front of it, Tracey looked at the hinges curiously. It looked like a Muggle mechanism, which employed springs and small magnets, and was, she thought, rather clever.

Triumphantly, she poked her wand into the space and practically sang, “Perpurgo!” A little puff of dust shot out of the hole before falling to the floor, leaving the inside free of grime. Tracey squatted to inspect the space, but as she gazed into it, she bit her lip in curiosity.

It seems that someone else had already beaten her to the idea.

Inside sat a book, not unlike the journal she had, but older. The cover was peeling from lack of care, and the pages around the edges were yellowed. Now deeply intrigued, Tracey carefully pulled the book from the cabinet. On the bottom right of the front were two gilded letters in calligraphy: DM.

Gingerly opening the cover, Tracey turned pages until she found what she was looking for. “This journal is the property of Dorcas Meadowes,” she read aloud. “If found, please return and, for the love of everything decent, don’t read it.” That elicited a small chuckle before Tracey summarily ignored the warning and kept skimming through the pages. The dates started in 1974 and stopped in 1980, presumably when Dorcas ceased being a resident in the flat.

Tracey wondered whether Dorcas, whoever that was, had accidentally left her journal behind. The decent thing to do would be to look for her and not read on, but curiosity more than anything made Tracey want to know the kind of person who built secret compartments inside walls to hide journals she didn’t continue writing.

With that, she flipped to the first entry.

12 September 1974

So, here I am in fifth year, and I feel like a complete dunce for writing in this thing. I don’t even know why people do this, write in journals. I don’t think I’m a journal person, but I know Gran spent enough on it that I should at least try it out. Nothing to report, really. I’m going for seven OWLs, even though Mum thought I should do nine. But she’s insane, so seven it is.

Anyway . . . bye for now!

Dorcas

Smiling at the spirited babble, Tracey felt for the girl who wrote this passage, right down to the initial hesitance to write out entries. Tracey didn’t think she’d be a journal person, but it had turned out to be her saviour during the Year of Hell at Hogwarts. Her journal would never turn her in for being disgusted by the anti-Muggle diatribes in Muggle Studies or the horror of seeing Unforgivables cast in Dark Arts. But it did, and she had needed that silent companion.

Tracey climbed off the floor and settled onto her bed, snuggling beneath the covers. She had some reading to do.



It had been three days since she found Dorcas’s journal. Tracey read when she could and had made it up to early 1977. Most of Dorcas’s entries were rather inane — OWL stress, being rubbish at Runes, melting a cauldron in Potions, wondering why any sane person took Care of Magical Creatures, jitters about NEWTs. However, that was when the tone of the entries took a surprising turn.

9 April 1977

Something weird happened today. I was at Diagon Alley, picking up a few things for Easter, and a man approached me. I wouldn’t say he was shady-looking, but he pulled me into an alley. Oh, God, I was so scared. You can imagine what I thought was going to happen.

But it wasn’t like that. He just . . . talked to me. I think he was a Death Eater. He was talking about purpose and fighting for something and ‘what it all means’. It really caught me off guard, but I don’t know who to talk to about it, since he didn’t very well introduce himself.

Everything is changing. The world is changing, and I don’t know if it’s going to be for the better. Last night, Mum and Dad were talking about a war coming when they thought I’d gone to bed, and they were worried that You-Know-Who might actually be able to win with enough support. If YKW builds support by having his agents approach potential followers like the bloke in the alley did today, I think they might be right.

Dorcas

Tracey shivered when she closed the journal. That entry hit home on an uncomfortable level. She had been approached by some of her classmates more than once, asking if she intended to join one side or the other. Tracey couldn’t believe they had even asked; they’d all just been school children, not soldiers. But in the end, they hadn’t seemed to care about that, because school children had fought and died at the Battle of Hogwarts on both sides. She had found it insidious how determined both sides had been in making sure you were on the ‘right’ team — or at least theirs.

It was a decision Tracey had faced and eventually made, and she had chosen neither side. Yes, war was coming and did come to a head, but she was barely old enough to Apparate and didn’t think it fair to risk her life for a cause that would see her as just another fallen pawn if she died for it. It was twisted.

More than that, though, it made Tracey wonder if Willa had been approached in a similar fashion. After all, Willa had only been a couple of years older than Dorcas, so it’s possible they had even known one another. At some point, Tracey would have to look for an opportunity to ask.

That opportunity, however, came more quickly than Tracey had anticipated. The morning’s Daily Prophet had an article, mentioning that there were plans to build a memorial to the fallen soldiers from both the First and Second Wizarding Wars. Grateful that Joe was still asleep in the other room, Tracey waited until she was casually buttering her toast before bringing up the subject. “Looks like they’re building a memorial for both wars. They’re asking for information about the people who died.” The latter was a bit of stretched truth. The paper only mentioned that interviews would be conducted, but not a cry to the public for volunteers. “Was there anyone you knew?”

Willa, who had been mid-sip, spat her coffee back into the cup and gaped at Tracey. “Of course there were people I knew! Those heartless wretches liked to recruit the young ones, the idealists. And most of those young idealists ended up dead.”

Not expecting that impassioned outburst, Tracey stared at Willa, whose hands had started to shake. “Mum?”

The coffee cup rattled as Willa set it back on its saucer. She took a deep breath and worried her lower lip. “Tracey, it’s time I told you something, but I want you to promise you’ll let me finish before you get angry at me. Okay?”

Blinking in surprise, Tracey merely nodded in acknowledgement and waited for Willa to begin.

“Every day I’m out, I said I was looking for a job. I never told you that I found one.” Willa looked up nervously, as if she were waiting for Tracey to snap at her.

However, Tracey was far more confused than anything. “I don’t understand,” she admitted bluntly.

“No, I don’t suppose you would,” Willa said sadly. “There is so much — there are a lot of things you don’t know about me. Things I don’t talk about because I can’t bear to think about them.” She squeezed her eyes shut and rubbed her temples. Tracey could almost see the battle being waged in her mother’s mind, but just when Tracey was going to ask if Willa was all right, the latter huffed resolvedly and continued. “I’ve never told you about Emmy.”

Tracey scoured her memory for any mention or trace of someone named Emmy, but she couldn’t think of anything. “Who’s Emmy?” she asked hesitantly.

“She was my older sister,” Willa croaked. “She made some friends who got her into some things, and now she’s dead because of it.” Both of them were quiet for an uncomfortable stretch of time, but Willa seemed to voice the thought that had been banging on the door in Tracey’s mind since Willa had started talking about Emmy. “Emmy died two years ago.”

Gasping, Tracey dared to ask, “She wasn’t, you know, a

“No!” Willa snapped. “Emmy was most certainly not a Death Eater. In fact, she was the exact opposite. She ended up joining the Order of the Phoenix during the First War to fight against them. I begged her not to, but like most big sisters, she never did care to listen to what I had to say. So she fought a whole war and miraculously managed to survive.

“But then he came back and started it all over again. A brand new war, as if the first one hadn’t been bad enough. Emmy would’ve been the first to volunteer to fight him again, and she probably would’ve been one of the first people Dumbledore called to start the Order back up.” Willa practically spat out Dumbledore’s name like it was a curse.

“Mum, I — I don’t know what to say,” Tracey stammered, completely ambushed by the news that she’d had an aunt for most of her life. “But how did I not know I had an aunt for sixteen years?”

Shaking her head, Willa said, “Because my parents disowned her. They had expressly forbidden either of us from getting tangled in the war, but Emmy told them that it was her ‘duty as a human being’ to fight for the rights of Muggles and Muggle-borns. She thought everyone should be equal.” By this point, Willa seemed to be struggling to breathe properly, and Tracey didn’t blame her at all.

Backing away from that landmine of a discussion, Tracey kept from expressing her own opinions on the matter and looked at her mother expectantly. “So she joined the Order anyway, and they pretended she didn’t exist.” When Willa nodded, Tracey bit her lip and asked, “What did you do?”

Willa took a full minute to regain her composure, even though Tracey had no idea where she found it. It was the first time in recent memory that she recalled her mother seeming to be strong. “She was my sister, so naturally, I kept in touch for a while. And then our parents found out that I was still talking to her. My father m-made the h-house elf-f beat me w-with a wooden sp-spoon until I —”

Tracey blinked because she didn’t know what else to do. “Oh, Mum,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry. That’s horrible.” Her grandfather had always been rather cold, but she’d never pictured him as an abuser. “I suppose he threatened you, too.”

Willa nodded as she palmed tears off her cheeks with shaking hands. “He said he would ruin me, your father, and both of you if you did. He wanted absolutely nothing tying him to either side, and he was willing to lose both his daughters to do it. So I shut my mouth and stayed away from Emmy. It’s a decision I regret every minute of every day.”

Pursing her lips, Tracey debated telling Willa about her own experiences with the war, but she finally decided against it. The last thing Willa needed was the thought of her daughter being assaulted in the one place she was supposed to have been safe.

“Anyway,” Willa said, her voice surprisingly even, “what I meant to tell you was that I’ve been working with the Ministry on the new memorial. I thought I owed it to Emmy. I just didn’t want to say anything because I’m not getting paid. Not exactly. In return, the Ministry is going to pay Joe’s Hogwarts tuition.”

Tracey pushed out of her chair and engulfed her mother in a vice-like hug. “I don’t care if you get paid. When Joe goes to Hogwarts, I’ll go and find a job. I think what you’re doing is brilliant, and I wouldn’t want you to stop on my account.”

Willa sighed as if relieved, and they stayed there like that until a muss-haired Joe stumbled in and rolled his eyes. But one pervasive thought for Tracey was that she would finally have something good to write about.



It had been three days since Tracey and Willa had had their impromptu confessional, which had spurred Tracey to read Dorcas’s journal even faster. Dorcas, unlike Tracey and Willa, had chosen a side. Late in her seventh year, Dorcas was approached during a Hogsmeade visit by a former student, Lucius Malfoy, who had been Head Boy during her fourth year. Tracey had met Lucius a couple of times at school through Draco and didn’t particularly like him or his son.

Dorcas had felt much the same when Lucius suggested that a witch of her talent could serve the Dark Lord well. She’d hexed him and told him to ‘copulate with his own person’, as she had written it. Dorcas was, Tracey could readily see, a fighter.

Therefore, it didn’t surprise Tracey to note that Dorcas eventually joined the Order of the Phoenix to fight against Death Eaters. Tracey found herself smiling as she read a particular entry about a young recruit named Sirius Black, who as it turns was one of the greatest patriots in the history of the Order.

2 November 1977

Sirius is such an idiot. James and Lily are dating now, but Lily still wants nothing to do with Sirius. But he insisted that the surest way to her heart was to challenge her to a practice duel. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of hexing someone’s buttocks together, but I don’t envy Sirius the task of figuring out how to answer nature’s call with that one. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen Dumbledore laugh until he wept, either. Not to mention, I won my first duel against Gideon Prewett. I suppose today was a day of firsts.

Dorcas

It was the one right after, however, that nearly made her heart stop.

24 November 1977

I finally got my combat training assignment. I’ll be working with a witch named Emmeline Vance. She’s only about ten years older than me, but Merlin, she can fight! She took down Frank Longbottom in a duel, and she’s going to teach me. I can’t wait.

Dorcas

Her heart pounding by the end of the entry, Tracey couldn’t help but reread the passage several times before it sunk in. The odds of it were too ridiculous to calculate, but this random person whose journal she’d found knew Tracey’s own aunt personally. Her interest piqued, Tracey found herself ploughing through the rest of the pages.

War, violence, mischief, and even a love story all bled from the haphazard handwriting, but what Tracey most wanted was to know her aunt. And she did, from Dorcas’s eyes. Journal entries were littered with mentions of Emmeline ‘teaching this’ or ‘showing that’ or ‘defeating such and such number of Death Eaters with one hand tied behind her back’. Emmeline had even nicknamed Dorcas ‘Sunshine’. Not a single unkind word cropped up, and with that realisation, Tracey felt a rush of pride in the aunt she was only beginning to comprehend. She felt a pang of regret that she would never get to have a conversation with this woman. And when Dorcas’s journal entries stopped, it was far too soon.

That was when Tracey decided that she needed to find Dorcas Meadowes.



The public records office was still a shambolic mess — or at least, that’s what the clerk said. Dolores Umbridge’s minions had gone through and re-classified hundreds of witches and wizards from ‘Muggle-borns’ to ‘Mudblood’ or ‘Muggles’ or ‘Thieves of Magic’, so finding particular names without knowing blood status was a challenge.

Tracey figured that, for a Death Eater to approach her, Dorcas was at least a half-blood, so she started there. Dorcas also finished Hogwarts in 1977, which meant she was likely born in 1959 and would be turning forty very soon. However, after searching both the half-bloods and the pure-bloods, Dorcas was nowhere to be found.

When she approached the clerk about where else she could find the information, he suggested, “Have you tried searching the deceased?”

Flinching at that last word, Tracey frowned. She hadn’t considered that Dorcas might have been dead. Someone like her seemed almost too wilful to die, but she might have said the same about the Emmeline she met in the journal. She was most certainly dead.

Her steps were heavy as she moved across the room to the opposite wall of filing cabinets. Those records hadn’t been touched by Umbridge’s toadies and remained in alphabetical order. Dorcas’s records only took a minute to find.

Tracey hadn’t been expecting a picture, but there was a snapshot of a short, thin girl who barely looked like she was old enough to ride a broom. Dorcas was grinning and waving, even blowing the occasional kiss. Tracey felt something catch in her throat, watching this tiny photograph play through over and over. It captivated her to the point where she nearly forgot to open the file.

Tracey skimmed over much of the biographical information, as she knew most of it from the journal. Finally, what she was looking for was at the bottom of the page.

Time of death: 2 July 1980, 2314h
Cause of Death: Excessive Exposure to Cruciatus Curse

Vomit bubbled in Tracey’s throat. She had seen what she thought had been excessive use of the Cruciatus Curse, and no one had died from it. Her wildest imaginings couldn’t fathom how much it would have taken to actually kill a person, let alone the type of person who would even do that. Amycus Carrow would, she thought darkly.

It was with a small level of dejection that Tracey went home. All she could think about all day was that tiny woman in the portrait not being alive because of Death Eaters — Death Eaters she had been too afraid to fight at the Battle of Hogwarts. Instead, she’d just waited at The Hog’s Head and waited for news. She could barely muster up the stomach to cook dinner, but she couldn’t fathom eating it.

Even Joe noticed her sour demeanour. “Tracey, if you’re still cross about me complaining, I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s fine,” she murmured as she stared into her teacup. “I’m just not feeling well.”

Willa looked at her strangely, but it wasn’t until Joe was put to bed and they were both turning in for the night that she addressed Tracey. “Are you going to tell me what that was all about, or do I have to guess?”

Tracey stole a glance at the hidden cabinet, where she kept both hers and Dorcas’s journals, before deciding that the events earlier in the day weren’t going to erase themselves from her mind. “Mum, I need to tell you some things, and please promise me that, before you get angry or start shouting, that you’ll hear me out. Okay?” When Willa nodded, she began.

“Hogwarts last year was the worst thing that ever happened to me.” Sitting on her bed, Tracey gazed fixedly at her hands. “The Carrows, two Death Eaters who were put there to be professors, were horrible. The guy, Amycus, was the Dark Arts professor, and he — he made us learn Unforgivables. And we had to use them against each other.”

Willa gasped, and Tracey had to take a fortifying breath before she could continue. “I wouldn’t torture anyone, so my marks were bad. They got worse as the year went on, and finally, I was called into his office to talk about my situation. He was d-disgusted by my weakness, but he said there was another way to set my marks straight. He pulled up my robes, and he tried,” Tracey sniffled loudly, “he tried to —”

At Willa’s garbled shriek of horror, Tracey hurriedly added, “Snape stopped him in time. He never got to —” Tracey didn’t get a chance to finish the sentence before her mother caught her in a fierce embrace. “Oh, my poor baby,” Willa murmured into Tracey’s hair. “Oh, my God.”

Rocking them both back and forth, Willa cradled Tracey to her breast and stroked her hair like a small child, but Tracey didn’t care. As much as she wished her mother had been there to nurse her through what had happened at the time, the fact that she was there at the moment so she could talk through it was good enough.

It took several minutes before Tracey felt her ability to speak return to her. “I wasn’t going to tell you because I didn’t want to worry you, especially with everything that was happening with Dad, but I — I met someone who inspired me to stand up for myself.”

At Willa’s questioning look, which looked so out of place on her tear-stained face, Tracey reached down and opened the secret compartment, pulling out Dorcas’s journal. “I found this when we moved in, and I think you should read it.”

Tracey watched as Willa examined the book. “DM,” she muttered as she flipped open the cover and read the title page and the first few entries.

“You can probably skip to November of ’77,” Tracey chimed. “You’ll see why when you get there.”

Willa raised a brow but complied. Tracey watched her mother mouth the words on the page, sometimes with a sad smile and others in utter devastation. Hugging Willa’s arm, Tracey said softly, “I just thought you should know why she left. Why she got disowned.”

“Forgive me, Emmy. I’m so sorry I left you out,” Willa whispered over and over.

Tracey suddenly found herself struck by the image of Dorcas, enthusiastically waving at anyone who looked at her picture. That girl, barely older than Tracey was right then, was why Emmeline had chosen the path she did. In fact, they all had made their choices — every one of them different from the other.

Yet Emmeline and Dorcas choosing to fight didn’t make Tracey feel like a coward for not staying to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts. It was a reaffirmation that some must fight their own battles before they can take on the world’s.

“Mum?” Tracey asked as she rested her head on Willa’s shoulder. “Tell me about Aunt Emmy.”

Almost able to feel Willa grinning, Tracey closed her eyes and let the stories sweep her away.