|atdelphi (atdelphi) wrote in hp_beholder,|
@ 2014-04-29 15:46:00
|Entry tags:||amelia bones, amelia bones/emmeline vance, beholder 2014, emmeline vance, femslash, fic, rated:pg|
FIC: "Twists of Fate" for dexstarr
Title: Twists of Fate
Pairing: Emmeline Vance/Amelia Bones
Word Count: 8800
Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *canon character deaths*
Summary: The tale of two brilliant and passionate women, caught in the turbulence of history.
Author's/Artist's Notes: Many thanks to my #1 Beta, and extra special hugs to eleventh hour edits from K and T, I took all your advice deeply seriously and only ignored it when I had to. Blessing to our intrepid fest mods this year, and all who made and consumed fanwork for this classic HP fest. Live long and Love the Beholder!
JULY 6, 1996
MINISTRY OF MAGIC, GRAND ASSEMBLY HALL
“My heart is moved to see all of you here today, but my sorrow at the reason for our gathering is immeasurable. For two of our dearest friends and most stalwart warriors for the Light are gone, struck down in the service of the Order, in service of peace and justice for all of Wizard- and Muggle kind.”
Albus Dumbledore looked out at the assembly before him, all of the members of the Order of the Phoenix, many Ministry folk and their families, students current and former. He steepled his fingers, not bothering to disguise his blackened right hand. Half-glasses sliding further down his nose, his pose quite prayerful, Albus paused a breath too long before continuing.
“You all know the unfortunate facts of the untimely deaths of Amelia Bones, Secretary for Magical Law Enforcement, and her partner of twenty-four years, Emmeline Vance, Wizarding Liaison to the Prime Minister and a founding member of the Order of the Phoenix.”
He gestured to the two portraits, one to either side of him, enlarged for the occasion. One portrayed a stately woman with steel gray hair and large eyes, wearing legal robes, her head crowned with the imposing hat of her profession. The other looked out of the frame as if startled, her head just turned to the photographer, a smile just beginning to form. Her features were long but refined, high cheekbones, hazel-green eyes and shining brown hair.
“Let us spend our time today celebrating their lives, and give no heed to the evil that stole them from us too soon. There will be time enough for that, tomorrow, I assure you.
“Here to share the eulogy with you is my dear 6th year Hufflepuff, Susan Amelia Bones.”
A petite witch with long walnut brown hair ascended the dais, and Albus conjured a riser so she could see over the podium. The formal robes and sober expression she wore were serious beyond her years. Susan bore an uncanny resemblance to her aunt, whose portrait hung beside her.
“Thank you, Headmaster.
“My Aunt Amelia and her companion died as they lived: working for cooperation among Wizard and Muggle governments. Both of them were career public servants.”
Susan looked up, clear-eyed and purposeful, then spoke without notes for the remainder of her talk.
“In fact, it was my Aunt Amelia who inspired and encouraged Emmeline to work within Ministry Law as well as activism, to enhance the chances that their work would have optimum impact. Because of this commitment, they could not openly live together for years, for fear it would limit their chances to pursue their work in government. Fortunately, the times we live in yield a bit more tolerance.
“During her brief 57 years my Aunt saw first her parents, then her brother cut down by the Dark forces that menace our world. And now it seems the Dark Lord himself saw fit to murder her and her lover in the plain light of day, sending a clear message to Wizards and Muggles alike.
“My message to you is: we will not forget, Aunt Amelia. We will not allow your work, nor your sacrifice, to go unfulfilled.”
Although it was quite thoroughly inappropriate, applause broke out across the auditorium. Dumbledore hurried to her side and escorted Susan off the podium, gesturing to Minerva to take his place.
MINISTRY OF MAGIC, DIVISION OF MAGICAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
“Get this approved by Under-Secretary Fudge and have it back on my desk no later than tomorrow morning.”
“Yesss, Sir, er, Ma’am, uh, sorry!””
Amelia Bones sighed as she watched the spotty-faced intern grow pale and tremble, tripping over his feet as he retreated. They were all so … raw, so fragile, these new recruits. It worried at her, day and night, what could be done to truly prepare these young newcomers to Magical Law Enforcement for what lay ahead in this challenging work?
Amelia couldn’t say with certainty, not with the magic-infused arrogance of the seer, but she knew, knew in her eponymous bones that trouble was brewing, and it was going to be dark and bitter.
She couldn’t tell you how she knew, exactly. Some was based on intelligence that crossed her desk in the daily tasks of her job, newly promoted to Executive Assistant to the Under-Secretary of Magical Law Enforcement. The Division actually did rely on plenty of good old-fashioned Muggle police work, and unbeknownst to many wizards, there was quite a bit of cooperation among the Division, SIS and the Yard.
Much of her instinct came from her family, the august house of Bones, with their centuries of service to the Ministries of Magic. She had grown at her father’s knee knowing her path would take her into Magical Law. She had read all the necessary tomes in the Bones library long before arriving at Hogwarts.
But Amelia was cautious about the signals she sent, quite circumspect. She had good judgment about this from childhood on, never flaunting her knowledge. It was much more powerful to remain unnoticed, be the watcher. Amelia Bones was a keen observer.
Which is how she came to notice one Emmeline Vance amid a group of Hogwarts seventh years touring the Ministry one October day. The group of students was exclaiming and pointing, their attention bouncing like erratic rays of light all over the great hall, muddying the magical signatures and wreaking minor havoc with the messaging system. Amid this chaos there stood a tall young woman in well-tailored robes, taking in every detail. Amelia could tell she was absorbing new information, but unlike her classmates she wasn’t gawping and pointing.
Amelia caught herself staring. Not seemly, she chuckled, moving on, hoping to learn whom the young beauty was. She thought she knew the entire senior class at Hogwarts. The usual Blacks and Croziers and Potters and Weasleys. She would have to schedule a presentation up there, interview some possible interns.
IN THE MAIN HALL
Emmeline swept her gaze about the soaring halls of the Ministry of Magic. This was grand, exactly what she had been hoping for - proof that the Wizarding world was every bit as powerful and well organized as the Muggle halls of power from which her ancestors hailed. She wanted to roll her eyes at her classmates, so immature and clueless; they were acting more like chimpanzees than potential employees.
Emmeline wanted to work at the Ministry more than anything in the world: she hoped to rise in leadership to whatever was comparable to Parliament and show her family that the Ministry of Magic was as ancient and noble (more so, in fact) than its Muggle counterpart.
That night while riding the overnight train back to school, Emmeline lay dreaming in her bunk, watching the stars over the hills and enjoying the rocking of the train, the music of the wheels. Earlier her cabin mate, Marlene, came in all flushed and breathless.
“Emme, get up and come on down to the club car! We’ve got a party going on, girl! The Prewett boys have some fire whiskey and they’ll share it if you ask nicely, or show them some pretty magic!”
Marlene twirled, her long chestnut hair fanning out, and she waved her wand, illuminating her hair with multicolored fireflies.
“That’s truly lovely, Marlene, but I’m really knackered after today, and I think I’ll just get some sleep while it’s quiet.”
“Okay, see ya!”
Marlene bounced out into the corridor and failed to push the cabin door fully closed. Emmeline hopped down from her perch on the top bunk and closed it firmly, then sat on Marlene’s lower bunk with a sigh.
She knew her schoolmates found her dull and wondered what they gossiped about her. She assumed they thought she was shy, or arrogant. She was aware that a Muggle-born might never be accepted fully into Wizarding society. She had no help from her family; they were politely enthused about her education, but Emmeline knew they worried about her taking up with a ‘strange cult,’ as she overheard her brother call it. Her mother’s worried frown was forever burned into her memory.
She might be able to talk to Father. Edward Vance was an even-tempered and accomplished legal scholar who had been recruited by Downing Street to smooth the roiling waters of government. What he really did was somewhat under wraps, but Emmeline knew it involved keeping state secrets and maintaining a veil between the public face of government and the dark doings of SIS.
She fervently wished she could tell her father her very own secret. But she dared not. And she was certain it must remain secret forever, if she were to build the career she really envisioned for herself. She would find a way.
Although she had survived six out of seven years at Hogwarts, Emmeline Vance had not the slightest interest in boys, wizard or Muggle. She was known among the witches to have a great sense of style, and the younger girls came to her for beauty advice, which she patiently dispensed, her hands often lingering in their hair.
She was best friends and dorm mates with Marlene MacKinnon, who, Emmeline was relieved, did not suffer from that freckles-and-ginger complexion, but had warm brown hair that curled about her shoulders and skin like peaches in the sun. Her laugh was better than birdsong, and watching Marlene dress in the morning light was a gift she gave thanks for daily. With complete and utter discretion.
Emmeline patted Marlene’s pillow fondly, then crawled back into the upper bunk and snuggled in and allowed the rocking rhythm of the train to soothe her, while she dreamed of cuddling close with Marlene.
MAY 19, 1972
Spring in London was a joy and a wonder, Emmeline smiled to herself, as she strode purposefully along Marylebone Road in the sweet sunshine, appreciating the flowering trees as well as the women in skirts and hats, no bulky winter coats to hide their shape. One of the benefits of being a skilled observer, she mused, was the lovely scenery.
Now in the employ of the Wizengamot administrative section, Emmeline labored over dreary court records, deep in the labyrinthine bowels of the Ministry of Magic. It was tedious, but it was all part of her mission. Emmeline Vance was nothing if not her father’s daughter, and although she could not share with him everything she was up to, she knew he would be proud of her.
So while she didn’t relish leaving the shining morning sun for the dark halls below, Emmeline had a Plan, and she was terribly pleased and excited about a new project. Some fresh grads from Hogwarts had approached her about creating a coalition of wizard folk and aware Muggles to work together to prevent conflict between their worlds. Apparently my reputation lives on, she mused, delighted.
It was a beautiful vision, to foresee a day when the two societies could be publically aware of and tolerant of one another. Their fledgling group was accumulating a strong base of committed activists, and it seemed quite timely, since magical crimes against Muggles were on the rise. A peculiar character calling himself Lord Voldemort was gaining popularity with a hateful separatist message. Claiming to speak for all Wizard kind, this ‘Voldemort’ was inspiring followers with a message of Wizarding superiority, calling for attacks on Muggles. This was no more acceptable than Muggles burning witches and wizards.
Emmeline’s life work was to bring everyone into the light, in peace and tolerance. This dream kept her focused, helped her work hard and spend her free time recruiting others to work with her. She was encouraged by this new enthusiasm for organizing she saw in young people, Wizarding and Muggle. She kept herself sane during her tedious work by strategizing and planning for the next event, the next moves.
MINISTRY OF MAGIC, DIVISION OF MAGICAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
Amelia didn’t look up from her work until the subject was seated; in fact she’d been trained to wait even a bit longer, to make them uncomfortable. It aided in revealing clues in their expressions and magical signature. In truth, she was also exasperated by the form in front of her, the newly charmed one that stubbornly refused to accept her authorized MLE signature.
So when she looked up she was surprised to see that striking young woman she remembered from three years before, calmly examining her. She made a show of raising her wand to cast the Oath of Sincerity over them, using the time-honoured ritual to compose herself.
“Please recite the following with me:”
Amelia didn’t need the prompter, which wrote the familiar words shimmering in the air, but Emmeline Vance read them carefully and precisely, ending with:
...And I shall speak the truth of the matter with integrity and sincerity, under penalty of Ministry Order 57,7309.”
“Thank you, Miss Vance. Do you know why you were summoned here today?”
She watched Emmeline carefully, looking for subtle signs of distress.
“I’m sorry, Madam Under-Secretary. I do not know why I am here.”
The young lady did not lower her gaze or show any deference, but was also not haughty or challenging. Amelia picked up a subtle thread of deep concern and followed it, untangling the skein of magical energies radiating from the girl.
“Yet there is something that worries you, is there not, Ms. Vance?”
Emmeline tightened her lips. </i>Not ready to reveal whatever it is,</i> Amelia noted.
“I see from your record that you are an exemplary employee and have risen quickly from intern to a position of some responsibility with the Wizengamot. Therefore it behooves us in the MLE administration to take great care of our potential Aurors and Jurists, to insure they are without blemish and incorruptible. Wouldn’t you say that was important, Ms Vance?”
Now the girl dipped her head slightly and twisted her hands in her lap.
“Yes, Ms. Bones.”
Amelia leant back in her great leather chair, straightening her spine to appear as tall as possible.
“Are you aware, Ms. Vance, that the Ministry frowns upon vigilante groups taking Wizarding Law into their own hands?”
This caused Emmeline to sit bolt upright, whereupon it was obvious she was a good bit taller than Amelia. She looked shocked.
“I would never… I …”
Amelia watched the gears turning in her bright mind; letting her dangle on the hook a bit longer, she looked through her notes.
“This Order of the Phoenix you’re a part of, what can you tell me about them? Who’s behind this ‘Order’?”
Emmeline sat, tight-lipped but uncertain.
“You must know that we are experiencing an unusual upswing in hate crimes against Muggles, and attacks on Muggle-born wizards and their families. There are certain factions of Purebloods organizing and calling for strict partitions, in fact for banning the Muggle-born from our schools, and thus our society.
“We cannot have political groups organizing without official sanction at this time. If there were such a group as the Order of the Phoenix, it would need to register for Ministry approval and regulation. I am sure you understand.”
Emmeline nodded, and her face cleared of its confusion, a bright fierceness coming over her face. ,She is quite beautiful, Amelia thought, trying not to stare. ,Talk about inappropriate behavior! she scolded herself.
“Well, Ms. Vance, in deference to your sterling record as a student and employee I am going to rule in your favor this time. I am sure this was all a mistake, and so I will state here that you were coincidentally in the same pub as these Order vigilantes on the night they were assembling illegally.”
Bones watched the young woman try mightily to disguise her relief.
“But if you are found in their proximity again, Ms. Vance, I shall have no alternative but to enter a judgement against you. And it may cost you your job. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Madam Under-Secretary.”
Obviously anxious, Emmeline Vance stood before she was given leave to go. Amelia stood calmly, smiled and extended her hand. They shook hands, and if Emmeline was startled to find a tiny note pressed into her palm, she didn’t reveal it at all.
A FLAT ON GOWER ST., LONDON
The floorboard nearest the window squeaked each time she stepped near it, pacing the room. It annoyed her and no doubt the downstairs flat all the more, but she couldn’t stop pacing. What if this had all been a big misunderstanding?
When Emmeline left the ministry she walked a while along Regent Street before she unfurled the scrap of paper (fine rice paper, pale lavender, scented with same) that Under-Secretary Bones had pressed into her palm. On it she found a string of numbers that she recognized as a Muggle phone number. Puzzled, she felt a little scared and strangely excited. Why would a high-ranking Ministry officer give her a Muggle phone number? Whose number was it? Someone who could help the Order?
Emmeline realized she was late to the Order meeting and shoved the mysterious number deep into her coat pocket. She stepped up her pace, silently casting a Behind-Sight spell to make sure she’d know if she were followed.
It was much later when she got home to her flat and remembered the number and her peculiar meeting with Amelia Bones. She had neglected to mention the meeting to the Order, instead issuing a vague warning about ‘intelligence showing that the Ministry was cracking down on unofficial political gatherings’ but avoided the specific details. As she opened her door, she recalled the slip of paper in her pocket.
Emmeline’s stepmother insisted she keep a Muggle phone, so arriving home she pulled it out of the closet and plugged it in, and nervously dialed the number, feeling the heavy disc resist her finger, listening while it spun back with a whirr. Why not an owl, she wondered. Who was she calling?
It seemed an interminable moment of quiet before the buzzing ring began on the line; a two-beat hum she remembered from her childhood. Holding the heavy phone receiver Emme remembered using the phone with her father’s help, speaking to her mother so far away. “Why can’t you come home, Mummy?” And so Emmeline was far away, lost in reverie when the voice answered.
“Hello?” she was startled to hear a man’s voice, somewhat gruff and uncultured.
“Uh, I think I must have a wrong number, sorry,” she said, flustered.
“No, I don’t think so, Miss. I was told to expect ya. My name is Thomas Doorknocker, a friend of Minerva McGonagall.”
“How do I know you are who you claim to be, Mr. Doorknocker?” Emmeline felt she must make an effort at security procedures.
“Yes, of course, Miss. I am a half-blood who has chosen to live as a Muggle. I married one, you see, and well, it’s the life we want, for now. I attended your school, Hogwarts, in the 1940s. I’m with a group who want to help your lot, your Order that is, prevent this Tom Riddle character from launching his crazy pureblood ideas. He was at school, you see, same time as Minerva, and me and he was trouble then. Me Granddad remembers the purge back in the Great War when the magical folk was all burned or run off, and we don’t need to see that again. Some of me grandkids will no doubt be going to Hogwarts, I kin tell.”
Emmeline gratefully took down the man’s information and agreed to meet him for coffee at the Leaky Cauldron the following evening. She was grateful for any and all volunteers, and especially for organizers with ties to Wizard-friendly Muggles. If this were to work, there had to be a revolution, she firmly believed. There had to be an end to the old ways where wizards and witches were kept in Muggle fairy tales. That’s what made crackpots like Riddle so afraid – and if wizards were seen as human beings just like anyone else, there could be laws, rules and social structures to prevent discrimination. Ideally.
But truth be told, when Emmeline got off the phone and disconnected it, while she wound its cords carefully around the handset and cradle and placed it back in her closet under the blanket, she was really disappointed not to have spoken with the enigmatic Under-Secretary Bones. That’s what she had been expecting. That was what she really wanted.
Emmeline had walked out of the ministry that afternoon with a strange floating excitement. During her walk home, she had finally remembered where she had met the woman before. In her seventh year, Under-Secretary Bones had come to Hogwarts and presented to her Advances in Wizarding Law class. Once she had called upon Emmeline, putting her on the spot with a difficult question of case law. Emmeline remembered being flustered, angry, but then proud when she readily deflected the challenge with several instances that refuted Bones’ claim, which earned her applause from the class, and a nod of appreciation from Madam Bones. It had given her shivers then, and again now, remembering.
What was going on with this woman? Who was she? Emmeline went to her library and summoned Argyll’s Exhaustive Who’s Who in Wizarding Britain. Dust rained down as the book floated into her hands. She looked up the Bones family, and found many entries, generations of service to Wizard kind. Amelia was mentioned only as one of Edgar Sr.’s two children, but this was a 1965 edition.
Emmeline swished her wand and cast “Updatimous!” to bring the old book up-to-date and was shocked to watch the pages fill in substantially, showing that brother Edgar was an activist for modernization and end to Wizarding secrecy, which had led to his being fired from a ministry position. He was someone she needed to know, that was certain.
And while she watched, the book was inscribing itself with the deaths of Edgar, Sr. and Mrs. Susannah Bones, of St. James Square, London, by masked wizards calling themselves Death Eaters, who left their hollowed-out corpses in the main Hall at the Ministry from which Sir Edgar had so recently retired. The event had occurred on… the date was today’s date!
She dropped the book and hurried to the fireplace, not sure she could make a Floo connection uninvited, but Emmeline wasn’t thinking, she just threw the green powder into the flames and spoke loudly, “Under-Secretary for Law Enforcement Amelia Bones!”
DORSET SQUARE, LONDON, NW1
She found herself tumbling onto the hearth rug of a lovely paneled room, lined with books, where a very surprised Amelia sat with a goblet of pomegranate juice, staring.
“Ms. Vance. What…?”
At that moment an elf popped into the room and simultaneously the door burst open and a tall man in boots and a long waistcoat burst in and they were all talking at once and Amelia stood up and looked around at the chaos around her and shouted:
“Stop! One at a time. Edgar, you first.”
He looked at her, face ashen, features grim. “It’s mum and da, they’re, they’ve been killed.”
Amelia slowly sank down as if to sit, but since there was no chair behind her, Emmeline caught her, gently steering her onto the settee. Amelia’s face drained of colour, yes, but most alarming was the strange lack of focus that Emmeline watched come over her. She had seen Amelia but a few times, but she had always been fiercely composed and incisive in her intelligence. It was heartbreaking to see her like this.
“And just who are you?” Edgar turned to her, his tone somewhat hostile. He stepped past the house elf, who stood, pigeon-toed and wringing her hands with distress, obviously bursting with… something.
Amelia had enough presence to wave her hand at her brother, a dismissive gesture.
“She’s with me.”
That was all the eloquence Amelia could muster, but it was enough to mollify Edgar, and Emmeline’s sense of panic vanished. She sat close by Amelia’s side and took her hand.
Amelia turned to the elf. “Yes, Binky?”
“Yes, Miz B, I mean, Mistress Meele, I have the bad news too, that the great lady, her ladyship Bones did not appear for her evening tea, and her lady’s elf, Primpy went to her and found them at the Ministry and they are indeed deceased, the poor loves, all dead!”
And the elf commenced to wail piteously, until Edgar cast a rather vicious Silencio, which left the poor creature still flailing in grief, but mercifully soundless.
Amelia freed the poor elf from Edgar’s spell and asked her to bring tea and brandy. Binky scurried off gratefully. The she and her brother conferred, Edgar agreeing to make arrangements for the remains and safeguarding the estate, while Amelia would contact family and friends with the news.
Summoning quill and ink, Amelia prepared at least a dozen messages, and the family owls appeared, lining up on the windowsills, waiting to deliver their messages. Without a lot of conversation she and Emmeline worked together, Emmeline rolling and sealing the messages, Amelia tying them onto the proper owl.
In the course of the evening, Emmeline recognized the owls of Professor McGonagall, Headmaster Dumbledore, as well as the Longbottoms and other members of the fledgling Order. She was reassured that Amelia Bones meant her no harm, but the mystery of her interest in Emmeline deepened. What could she possibly want with me?
It was a long night, and Emmeline was glad she could be there to help get all the notes and Floo calls taken care of, because Amelia was clearly distressed and weary.
“I don’t know how you knew, dear girl, but I am so grateful to have you here at a time like this.”
“Dear Under-Secretary Bones, I just happened to learn about your parents the moment it happened and …”
“Stop, please, call me Amelia. And, how did you possible know so quickly?”
Amelia looked concerned, and Emmeline feared that she would grew suspicious. But clearly there would be no secrets from this woman, not with her hawk-like perception.
“I, uh… well, after making that phone call to Mr. Doorknocker, I was looking you up in Argyle’s Who’s Who, and the tome needed an update, which I hadn’t done since third year or something, and so I was reading as the news came in. When I realized it had only just happened, I didn’t think, I just reacted. I had to warn you in case you were next!”
Tears filled her eyes and her lower lip was trembling, and she stared into Amelia’s face and realized she deeply cared what this elegant and wise older witch thought of her, and that her heart felt hanging in the balance, and she wasn’t breathing.
Amelia reached up, touching Emmeline’s cheek, letting the tears spring free. She caught some on her fingers, and traced Emmeline’s trembling lip, looking into her face with a great soulfulness.
“Those are the instincts of a fine Auror, my dear.”
Amelia whispered softly, tracing the curve of that lip, never breaking contact with Emmeline’s eyes. And Emmeline leaned forward into that touch, making it obvious that she wanted more.
Amelia’s eyes widened and just a tiny hint of a smile curled her mouth, and her hand curved around Emme’s cheek, sliding into a smooth caress, her fingers parting to slip within her hair, and she moved forward into a kiss.
Just a soft meeting of lips at first, then a tender pressure, warmth, and the oh of breath moving close together. At that Emmeline responded eagerly, moving in to devour and possess Amelia’s open mouth.
Amelia pulled back. “Wow.” She smiled, looking years younger, a hungry glint in her eye.
Emmeline was suddenly self-conscious. She ran her hands through her hair, hiding her face.
Amelia’s hand caught her chin, and turned her face, seeking eye contact again.
“Oh, no you don’t. That was no mistake, Miss Vance. I know the difference. “
Emmeline smiled shyly but nodded, and Amelia released Emmeline with a gentle pat on the cheek. Emmeline stood up and brushed her skirt back into place. Amelia straightened up on the velvet settee, attempting to return some order to her hair.
“Shall we have some tea? I’d like to ask you if you could help me for the next few days. The arrangements are going to be… challenging for me.”
Grateful for a mundane ritual, Emmeline found her manners.
“Of course, Ms. Bones, tea would be lovely.”
She looked at the intriguing woman before her. She was putting a monocle to her right eye and studying a recently arrived owl post. What am I getting myself into?
“And I shall be delighted to help in any way I can.”
Amelia was a generous hostess. Emmeline was shown to a beautifully appointed room and tended to by several house elves, given everything she needed including clothing, magically fitted for her on the spot. She found herself falling exhausted into the most comfortable bed she had ever known, and slept with the peace of a child.
Over the next few days, Emmeline was drawn into a whirlwind of funeral preparations for what she learned was a large and very old Wizarding family. Everyone of importance in the Ministry and from multiple continents would be in attendance, and protocol and details of procedure, manners and observance were of utmost importance. Emmeline was grateful for her upbringing around important politicians whom her father had connections with; it gave her grounding in what was required and what was at stake.
On the eve of the funeral, once she had readied for sleep, and was admiring her dressing gown of ivory brocade, a rap at the door revealed Amelia, also in bedroom attire.
“Might I come in?” She smiled, looking pale and tired, but pleased. Her hair was brushed out and seemed longer and fuller, and she wasn’t wearing her monocle.
“Of course!” Emmeline turned and the full skirt of the dressing gown swirled along with her hair in the candlelight and she felt beautiful, as if she were seeing herself through Amelia’s eyes. Her heart fluttered.
Taking her hands, Amelia, slightly less tall, gazed up into Emmeline’s face as if memorizing it.
“You are so kind to stay with me through all this, Emmeline. I cannot thank you enough.”
Emmeline felt as if Amelia’ eyes bored into her; not in a hostile way, but as if opening her, revealing her heart, calling her out to play. She wanted to fall into those eyes, and it seems she did, for she was leaning forward to take a kiss, a soft brush of lips that moved into more with seamless flowing energy, and there were hands stroking her face, twining in her hair, following her shoulders down…
Her thighs touched the bed, and she melted against it as Amelia’s soft hands traveled under her robe and slipped the luxurious fabric from her arms, stroking her skin until it felt like satin velvet silk. Amelia’s mouth was tasting her neck now, and Emmeline found herself feeling delicious but somewhat helpless: her mouth unoccupied, her hands unsure. Experimentally she placed them on Amelia’s waist and followed the curve of her hips, then found herself wanting to seize the curve or her arse and grind against her. Oh, she had dreamed of having a woman in her arms, but never in such a setting! The beautiful room, the sumptuous fabrics, the honey warm light: it was so dreamlike, she felt dizzy.
Amelia had buried her face in Emme’s cleavage now, and was kissing, inhaling the warm air, and had wrapped her arms around Emmeline and was holding her tight. She began to tremble, and Emmeline realized she was beginning to sob, and pulled her close, tenderly, kissing the top of her head. She buried her nose in Amelia’s soft dark hair, inhaling her scent, and sighed.
“It’s all right, love, I’m here, dear one. I’m here.”
Emmeline helped Amelia climb all the way onto the bed and held her in her lap, letting her cry, and they were that way for a while. Emmeline leant back onto the pile of wonderful pillows, stroking her back until Amelia grew peaceful Thinking she might be sleeping, Emmeline was a bit surprised to hear her speak.
“I’ve never done this before.”
Really? She assumed the older witch was more sexually experienced than her!
“I’ve never lain my head in someone’s lap before. It’s… it’s quite lovely. Thank you, Emmeline, thank you so much for your sweet kindness.”
Emmeline bent forward and kissed Amelia on the lips.
“Don’t be silly, dear. And please, call me Emme.” She smiled, a smile that seemed to pull all the way up from her heart, as she looked into the face of the woman in her lap, who was smiling back.
“Emme it shall be. And now I must try to get some sleep. Tomorrow is a big day, and so much for me to deal with. Will you stay with me?”
“Of course I will! Now it’s the weekend, and I have one meeting tomorrow that I can send an owl about. I’m here for you, Amelia.”
Standing up and smoothing her dressing gown, Amelia took Emme’s hand and kissed it, which caused Emmeline to blush, then laugh a musical little laugh.
“ Sweet Dreams, Emme.” With the swish of silk robes Amelia left the room, closing the large oak door without a sound.
It was along while before Emmeline actually could get to sleep.
DORSET SQUARE, LONDON, NW1
“I’m sure you understand, Emmeline dear, I need to return to work, to my regular routines, and I need you to go home now. Having you with me through this nightmare has been of inestimable value, I cannot tell you.”
Amelia held Emmeline’s hand in both of hers and looked firmly into her eyes with unwavering sincerity. Emmeline smiled and welled up, breaking the intense gaze and stepping back and looking down.
“Of course, Amelia,” she said, reclaiming her hands and curling her fingers nervously. ,Why did she feel nervous?
“I’ll just get my things organized.” She fled up the staircase.
A FLAT ON GOWER ST., LONDON
After flooing home and reviving her cold and empty flat, Emmeline sat at her desk to sort through a drift of owl post from friends and letters from family, increasingly concerned at her silence for the past week. As she sorted the stack and prepared to open them, a whoosh came from the fireplace and Marlene stepped through the floo.
“There you are! Thank Merlin you’re safe, Emme. For Circe’s sake, girl, you cant just disappear like that and have us be all right with it, not these days! I eventually heard you’d shacked up with Bones, but did you have to dump us all in the process?”
Emmeline was startled; she’d seen a few Order members at work and at the memorial, passed the word of her urgent occupation, caring for Madam Bones. She thought that her absence was handled.
“What! Marlene, you cant be serious! Are you implying…?”
“Oh, come on, Emme, drop the big act. I know about you, and besides, it’s written all over your face. I saw pictures from the funeral, the way you look at her and take her hand. You’re smitten.”
Emmeline stared at her, gob-smacked.
“You didn’t think this was still a secret, did you? After all, if anyone should recognize the signs, it would be me.” Marlene smirked.
Emmeline blushed and dropped her gaze, awash with shame and horror. Marlene knew? For how long? When? Oh, my word. Her mind failed her as her feelings ran amuck.
Marlene touched her hand gently.
“Honey, it’s okay, really it is. I’ve been your bestie forever, dear, no matter what you are. I don’t care if you sleep with sheep, Emme, I still love you. Not that I’ll ever bed ya, but you know what I mean. I want me a handsome wizard, but I love my best girl.”
Unable to stop, Emmeline just let the tears burst forth, and soon Marlene was comforting her while she wept, and it felt like she’d been holding back the tide for years, and it was so very good to let go.
Emmeline had to get back to work, and although it was excruciating not to hear anything from Amelia, she heeded Marlene’s advice and kept her silence. Her best friend was quite certain that Amelia really was attracted to Emmeline, not just using her at a difficult time, and would come around after a little while, once she adjusted to the idea and figured out how to make it work.
Emmeline was somewhat inclined to agree with her, when she wasn’t panicking. It was dangerous to let on that you weren’t ‘the marrying kind’ around the Ministry. Wizarding society was terribly traditional, and there was a lingering concern that Wizard folk were in danger of dying out. Large families and new babes were celebrated with great fanfare.
It was only a matter of days before there was an owl waiting for her one afternoon when she arrived home. Emmeline recognized the bird and scared it half to death by seizing it in an enthusiastic hug, she was so relieved.
“My dearest Emme,” it read. “I miss you terribly and wish that conditions permitted our seeing each other more openly. I hope you will agree to visit this Friday night at eight o’clock in the evening, for supper and conversation. Rigby shall await your reply. He appreciates a treat, as well. Fondly yours, Amelia.”
With great relief Emmeline scrawled her RSVP and found a bit of cheese for the owl, who then imperiously extended his leg for the note to be affixed.
“Good speed, my feathered friend.”
SEPTEMBER 6, 1976
BONES ESTATE, HAMPSTEAD
Emmeline lay awake in the four poster bed, awash in moonlight, listening to her lover breathe deeply and peacefully beside her. She was bone tired and relaxed from their enjoyable dinner and leisurely lovemaking, she really should be able to turn off her mind, but nothing was working tonight.
There was too much to process, all the livelong day. Since getting involved with the amazing Amelia Bones, Emmeline had found her place in life, she was sure of it. Whether or not she was truly able ride this dragon was yet to be determined.
She had been promoted to help handle the increase in Magical offenders to process, and she found herself working with unsavory types on both sides of the law. Voldemort and his 'Death Eaters’ were gaining a real foothold in terrorizing Muggles and recruiting wizard to their cause, and the Ministry responded with a severity that rivaled the cruelty of the terrorists. It was more and more difficult to feel as if they had the moral high ground.
Amelia seemed to have no doubts about the correctness of the Law, but it was her life, it was in her blood. If Emmeline didn’t love her, she might have reason to question her lover’s values. She knew Amelia despise d her boss and couldn’t wait to succeed him. Its just that the Bones clan had always worked from the inside. Emme supposed that if she were working at Whitehall, she might feel the same.
But now, the Order was gaining steam as well. They had a movement, an energy. She was lighting up with a revolutionary fervor, and it suited her. This was her calling, this was how Emmeline Vance could change both the Wizarding and Muggle worlds, could lead them out of turmoil. But that was a massive quest.
Something had to give. Her job had become intolerable, and the Order demanded more and more of her time. Amelia had to distance herself at the Ministry, and that made her grind her teeth at night. Emmeline had decided to quit her job, and become a full time activist. The Order really needed her. She was sure that Amelia would approve, and would find a way to help fund her. Maybe then she could move in here.
Don’t kid yourself, Emme. She spoke to herself bitterly. You know that work is more important to Amelia than you are. She sighed, punched her pillow and turned her back to the sleeping woman beside her. Staring out the big double window onto the moonlit grounds, she thought she saw something moving across the lawn. She blinked and watched quietly for a while, sure that she was just hallucinating from exhaustion.
No, there it was again. There was a figure crossing the garden, and she could see the dark form as it passed between breaks in the hedgerow. Emmeline knew that security wards at the Bones Estate were the best that could be, so it was unlikely that this was something dangerous, but she was on high alert all the time these days. Such terrible things were happening, and the air of distrust had spread over everyone, Wizard and Muggle. Unless she was dealing with a member of the Order, or of course, Amelia, Emmeline couldn’t really speak openly about her views or her work.
As much as she hated their secret relationship, Emmeline understood the reasons for it. This were dire times, and enemies were not so clearly delineated. The Ministry, particularly Law Enforcement, had become so harsh in its treatment of suspected ‘Death Eaters’ that it no longer could claim the moral high ground, as far as Emmeline was concerned. Interrogation was brutal, and sentences were unduly long or harsh, and rumors were circulating that Dementors were being used on prisoners. It was time to get out.
She was so very tired. She didn’t want to worry about shadows in the garden. For goodness sake, there was a whole staff here, not to mention Edgar Bones, to make sure the Estate was secure. Emmeline cast a simple peace ward about the bedchamber and closed her eyes.
“Oh, Amelia, why can’t we just LIVE like this?”
“Darling, look around you! We do, mostly.” Amelia adjusted her sunshade and sipped the iced pumpkin juice.
Scowling, Emmeline kept after her.
“You know what I mean. Together, in the same house. All the time. It’s been nearly ten years, love, and I’m tired of my mother still trying to fix me up with a nice man from the House of Commons!”
Amelia sighed. She knew that Emmeline had heard all the reasons before, about her career, about her any-time-now appointment to head of Magical Law Enforcement, about what damage a ‘scandal’ could do to the effort to defeat the Death Eaters, after so many years of solid intelligence, when they were literally inches away from nabbing the bastard Riddle. She wasn’t going to go through it all again.
“It’s only a little while longer, dear. I promise you, when I’m Secretary…”
Emmeline sighed, and refusing to stomp, she strolled purposefully, but sullenly, down the path to the lower gardens by the sea. Something had to change.
JULY 11, 1996
MINISTRY OF MAGIC, GRAND ASSEMBLY HALL
“Thank you, Susan. I can only imagine your grief at this terrible time. Our hearts are with you.
“As Head of Gryffindor House, I now have the privilege to introduce you to one of my own 6th year students, Herbology Apprentice Neville Longbottom, who will share some words of appreciation.”
Neville stepped up to the podium and gazed out at the crowd before him. Despite a little shaking, he stood tall and spoke out with a strong tenor voice.
“Thank you, Professor McGonagall. Um, ah…
“I know, you all know, ah… Aww, heck. Listen, Aunt Emme and Aunt Amelia were like aunts to me. Secretary Bones went to school with my Mum and Dad. Without them I would never have had any knowledge of my parents as lively, active people. You probably know, I grew up with my Gran, because my parents were, ah, disabled when I was just a babe, back when Harry first defeated Voldemort.”
There was a quiet but audible gasp from the assembled. People hated that word, but Neville was not afraid to say it. Harry, sitting in the front row between Ron and Hermione, nodded to Neville, his eyes brimming.
“I loved being at their house, it was brilliant! The gardens, the animals, the books - and the people I met! Someone was always visiting who knew so much, and almost always, they knew my folks.
“I want to say Auntie Emme was the sweetest, and most beautiful witch. When I was just a little boy she’d let me brush her long hair and show me little charms to make fireflies and fluttery stars of light in the air. I used to curl up with her while she read to me from these amazing storybooks with folded pictures that came alive, with characters running through the pages…
“Secretary Bones, she was… well, I was afraid of her when I was little. She was always so serious, and she taught me rules about things. She was never mean, just particular. Don’t leave a book out of place, or let the kneazles have the run of the house.
“She was the one who took me to see my mother and father at St. Mungos. She taught me not to be afraid of them, however strange or still they might be, but to talk to them as if they were really there, like in all the stories I knew. She gave me back my mum and dad.”
Neville was beginning to tear up, and he paused to collect himself. Swallowing, he carried on.
“It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood, both about her job and how hard it was, and also how difficult it was for her and Auntie Emme– when they couldn’t really be together. They were always together. How could anyone not get that? And how could that be wrong?”
He was crying now.
Professor McGonagall had appeared by his side and put her hand on his shoulder.
“Thank you Neville, for that beautiful tribute.”
She led him to the steps where Hermione took his hand, helping him down and leading him to her seat next to Harry.
Minerva cleared her throat and adjuster her spectacles.
“I was a new Professor at Hogwarts when I met Amelia Bones, Ravenclaw, in her 5th year. She was every bit as brilliant and disciplined then as she was throughout her life of service. I have never met anyone so calm and clear-eyed, and yet so loving, as Secretary Bones. She upheld the Law of our culture with a great devotion to order and justice, and she was scrupulously fair. And as a friend you could find no one more steadfast. She was always helpful and a great comfort in hard times.
“I know that for many years in Wizardkind was not gentle on those who chose not marry and procreate. That is one tradition I am personally more than happy to let die away. I am deeply sorry that Emmeline and Amelia could not have enjoyed more of their years together, actually living together, for they loved each other from the moment they met.
“They worked well together, too. During those difficult years during the first war there was a creeping shadow across our world that many refused to see, much as we recently experienced again, I’m afraid.”
Minerva surveyed the crowd and smiled sadly. So many gone, yet the bright faces of brave, loyal, determined and clever students, colleagues and families beamed their love at her, it felt bright and blinding. How could they fail, when such love bound them together?
“Both Emmeline and Amelia worked very hard to uphold the code of Law and organize for resistance to the Darkness. It was not easy to balance this work; Amelia believed in the Rule of Law, and Emmeline worked for a higher ideal. She loathed wielders of power who abused their authority. But they trusted each other, and they shared what was important. I want you all to know, all of you are a credit to their work, they went to their deaths working for what they believed in, and did not die in vain.”
Every eye was shining as Minerva gestured to the choir and descended the dais. And no one cared any longer that it was inappropriate to applaud at a funeral.
DORSET SQUARE, LONDON, NW1
“Merlin’s ghost, Emmeline, can we please spend the weekend together? I have hardly seen a hair on your beautiful head for the past three months, and the summer is almost over.”
Emmeline looked up from her heap of paperwork and smiled, brushing a strand of graying hair from her forehead.
“My dear Amelia, I am so pleased I have lived long enough to hear you scold me for working too hard. I am remembering all those years that you could not compromise your professional standards.”
She was teasing, her eyes laughing, but it was true, there had been many long years when Emmeline had longed to get Amelia away from her job, to just have the woman all to herself.
But that was over a decade ago. All those difficult years when they couldn’t bee seen as a couple, when Amelia was working her way up the Ministry hierarchy, and could not afford so much as a smudge on her reputation. That was before The Boy Who Lived, before Amelia Bones succeeded Barty Crouch and became the Secretary of Magical Law Enforcement. Before they could finally live together openly.
“I have had so much to manage, between this new Liaison position and all the business of the Order, well, a witches work is never done, is it?”
“Tell me about it!” Amelia yawned and summoned a tumbler of fire whiskey. “I had one surprise in today’s tedium. None other than Harry Potter in my courtroom, charged with Underage Magic. Which no doubt he was guilty of, the dear boy. But fortunately Albus arrived and found a way for us all to get out of that debacle unscathed.”
Emmeline was scribbling furiously on a stack of forms, which she then charmed to roll themselves into scrolls labeled for Owl Post. She spoke without looking up.
“Harry? Really? I shall have to speak to my people, they should be taking better care of that boy. After all, we can thank him for the last dozen years of domestic bliss, if you think about it.”
Amelia smiled, and looked at the mantelpiece, crowded with photographs of children and friends, waving and smiling. Neville from a pudgy boy to a tall teen shared space with Susan Bones, and a variety Vance cousins. Their active colorful portraits shared the space with older stills of Amelia, Edgar, Emmeline at various ages. The elder Bones smiled down from their portrait over the mantle, clearly pleased with their offspring.
“We have had a lovely life, of late, my dear. I think back to those early years, when I feared I might lose you.”
Emmeline rose from her desk and draped herself over the arm of Amelia’s well-worn leather chair and looked down into her lover’s face. Her smile curled into a blush and a grin that crinkled her eyes, and she was hardly surprised to be pulled off balance and fall into her lover’s lap. She fell back and looked up into Amelia’s face, taking stock of the lines of years written there.
“I believe you have me at your advantage, madam.”
“Hmmm, yes,” Amelia replied in a soft whiskey voice. “Just where I want you.”
Their lips met, softly at first and then exploring with more passion, tasting, hungry now as Emmeline pulled Amelia ’s head toward her, throwing her arms around her.
She captured Amelia’s mouth with firm intent, leaving no doubt she wished to possess and devour. Amelia’s near hand was slipping under Emmeline’s silk shirt, slipping between silk and skin, curling her fingers below the waist of her trousers, searching for a soft hidden place.
“Mmmmm I think we should take this upstairs, love,” Amelia murmured, her lips still brushing her lover’s mouth. Emmeline appeared to agree, as she slid off Amelia’s lap and rose gracefully, offering a hand.
Emmeline gave one more glance at her work, feeling the pull of so many things to do.
“Dance with me, pretty lady.”
Amelia smiled and reached out to her. Emmeline took her hand, and with a spring in their step, they headed up the staircase.