3. The New Normal
Title: Past, Present, Future Tense
Disclaimer: JKR owns all, I own Banning
Summary: In all of the confusion and death of the final battle, new lives are created.
A/N: Just another little shout out that this is set in an AU OotP
world. It was originally plotted out before HBP came out. And it is remaining that way. Past, Present, Future Tense
3. The New Normal
Millicent kept her head down as she waddled into the small room that connected to her own. Three months had passed since her escape from Hogwarts, and the awful war had finally ended. They would be safe now.
Hannah had often spoke of going home to her family, but for Millicent this was it. A tiny flat she didn’t own smack in the heart of Muggle London. Her father had lost the family estate along with his life nearly two years ago. Her mother’d been dead since Millicent’s second year at Hogwarts. Home had been the Slytherin dungeons and begging off at both Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson’s homes over the holidays.
Millicent frowned as she glanced around the room. She’d become domestic over the last three months - but how were they? Were her friends safe? Had they been in the last battle? Had they been hurt or killed? She knew Draco’s fate, as his face had been plastered as liberally across the papers as Potter’s had been.
The flat was eerily quiet tonight, what with Hannah‘s absence. As there was no longer really a need for their location to be kept secret, Millicent had told Hannah the flat’s precise location. She stayed with Millie in the flat during the week and went home on the weekend. Hannah had told her as much about the Muggle world as she could retain. When the baby was born and Hannah’s apprenticeship started in another three months, Millicent would have to find some way of supporting her family. She might not even have this flat - it most likely belonged to one of the Hogwarts staff.
Millicent didn’t want to think on that just yet. She’d already sent on an owl to Madame Pomfrey about perhaps purchasing it from the current owner. She had a little savings left over in the family coffers. A larger inheritance was to be held in trust for her from her Grandmother Banningtide’s estate. Her Muggle grandmother. She’d died when Millicent was seven, and she could fondly remember Grandmother Banningtide holding her own with Grandmother Bulstrode. The two women hated each other. But then, Grandmother Bulstrode had been a poor, bigoted witch and Grandmother Banningtide had been wealthy and Muggle.
“You know,” Millicent murmured to the bulge that had begun to kick impatiently. “If you turn out to be a girl, I’m definitely naming you after her.”
“Naming the baby after who?” Hannah said brightly, sweeping into the room with an armful of packages.
“My gran. She was another Millicent,” Millicent smiled, rubbing her stomach. “I thought you were goin’ home this weekend?”
“That’ll be awfully confusing, having two Millicents around,” Hannah puffed out a breath.
“I hadn’t thought of that. Perhaps I’ll use her last name,” Millicent shook her head at Hannah’s avoidance.
“Bulstrode?” Hannah frowned as she began pulling baby clothes from one of the smaller packages.
“That’s a bit of a mouthful.”
“I’d lop off the end. Banning is a good name.”
“Banning Ma- er, Bulstrode,” Hannah coughed. “Has a good ring to it.”
“Yes. Now, what did you buy now? I’d swear it was you havin’ this baby. You nest ten times worse than I do.”
“I’ve got four younger siblings. The last one just turned five. My mum is ecstatic that I know people who need these things. The house is crammed with all this kit.”
“She thinks you’re knocked up, doesn’t she?” Millicent shook her head.
“Yes. I had to assure her five times that it’s my flat mate who’s expecting not me,” Hannah frowned. “Then she asked if I was seeing my flat mate.”
“You’re not my type, love,” Millicent chuckled, enjoying the moment.
“And you’re not mine,” Hannah smiled back. “I prefer leggy blondes.”
“You know you don’t have to stay, Han,” Millicent rubbed her stomach again. “I’ll be fine on my own.”
“I just told you I have four younger siblings at home,” Hannah blinked at her. “Why in Merlin’s name would I want to go home to that?” ~*~
Nott was dead. Finally. Mercifully. Draco looked away from the pale form of his school friend. The hex had been lingering, and Theo had hung on for as long as he possibly could. Draco himself had barely been able to get to his side to say goodbye. It didn’t seem fair that they’d gone through hell and still couldn’t find peace.
Pansy sobbed quietly against Blaise’s shoulder. No one else had been at Theo’s side in the end. Three of his four friends. Where was -
“Where’s Milli?” Draco’s voice rasped as he blinked at the hot tears forming in his eyes.
“Haven’t got the foggiest,” Blaise said roughly. “Haven’t seen her in three months.”
“She was one of those evacuated before the last battle,” Pansy hiccupped, raising her head from Blaise’s shoulder.
“Because she was half-blood. Dumbledore got as many Muggleborns and half-bloods well clear of the Castle in preparation for the battle,” Blaise ground out, angry with Draco for some reason.
“See if you can pass the news on to her,” Draco snapped, leaving his friends behind. He was cold, far colder than he had been when he’d entered the sick room hours earlier. Merlin, he needed a drink. ~*~
There was a knock on the window pane that interrupted their dinner. Millicent recognized it as the familiar signal of the Secret Keeper’s owl. It had been nearly two weeks since she’d heard anything from Him. Hannah quietly rose and opened the window to the unfamiliar owl. It was always a different one. The dark owl made a beeline for Millicent, shaking it’s foot at her impatiently. She scanned the missive quickly and glanced up at Hannah.
“Should I pop round to the shops and get us a new gossip rag?” Hannah cleared her throat.
“In about an hour,” Millicent nodded.
“Good. Maybe I’ll get a Cornetto,” Hannah grinned, breaking off a piece of bread for the owl.
“You’re evil,” Millicent laughed, penning a quick reply on the missive. ~*~
Percy ran a hand through his short hair. He didn’t like being the bearer of bad news, but he knew she would want to hear this. She needed
to hear this before it hit the papers. They’d hidden the tragedy from her for long enough, fearing her exposure and that of her child. The other girl - the Hufflepuff - would make herself scarce from the flat. That worried him immensely. Delivering bad news, however, seemed to be his specialty these days. ~*~
She shouldn’t be so excited to see him, but Merlin knew, she was starting to go stir crazy in the flat. In a few more months, she’d be able to go out and interact with everybody like Hannah did now. It seemed prudent to wait until after the baby was born. Safer. But right now, she had two things to look forward to: Hannah’s daily, bubbly excitement over everything and seeing him
. She didn’t want to say his name, feeling like she was betraying her secret keeper by naming him. But he was another person to talk to, to interact with and it beat her talking to herself any day of the week.
There was a soft pop in the parlor and Millicent turned in her seat to face him. He seemed - off
. And distraught. Shit.
“What’s wrong?” Millicent asked quietly.
“You asked after the flat -”
“That’s not why you’re all flustered,” Millicent’s throat constricted. “What’s wrong?”
“Nott,” he sighed.
“Theo -” Millicent rose to her feet, which seemed to fluster him more. “What’s wrong with Theo.”
“He died today.”
Millicent’s knees shook at the news. Theo? Serious, snarky Theo? Dead? He wasn’t even eighteen. No, he must be talking about -
“Damn it, Millicent, don’t you faint on me,” he muttered, grabbing her by the shoulders.
“How?” Millicent demanded, staring up at him. “How is that possible?”
“Nott was injured during the last battle.”
“Why didn’t you tell me
?” Millicent’s voice shook. “Why wasn’t I told?”
“I didn’t have time to inform you -”
“Bullshit. Why wasn’t I informed that my friend - whom I have pestered you about constantly - was critically injured?” Millicent glared up at him.
“To keep you and your unborn child safe.”
Millicent looked away from him, stared at something on the fireplace. A glass bird in green and gold. He helped her back into her seat and crouched in front of her.
“Was it quick?”
“I’m sorry to say it wasn’t. He’d been lingering in agony for nearly two weeks.”
“And no one put him out of his misery?” Millicent shook her head.
“They tried to save him. He was a young man -”
“Didn’t even ask him, did they?” Millicent laughed hoarsely, her voice cracking as she tried to rein her own pain in.
“Do no harm,” he said quietly.
“Doing no harm would be letting him go,” Millicent felt the tears slipping over her cheeks. “Was he alone?”
“No. Parkinson and Zabini had been at his side, begging for them to let him go since the battle.”
“Then why didn’t they listen?” she asked, glancing away from the glass bird and focusing on him again.
“Malfoy’s decision to make,” he shrugged. “He was listed as next of kin and was the only one who could sign off on it.”
“Draco,” Millicent shut her eyes at the news. “He fought to save him, didn’t he?”
They sat like that for several moments, her dark head lowered and nearly touching his ginger one as both seemed to mourn the lost boy. The noise of Hannah’s return startled them out of their thoughts. It was the unwritten rule - Hannah didn’t get to know who he was, and he never was here when she was. It had kept them safe.
He awkwardly rose to his feet and stepped away from her, breaking the spell they both had been under. He reached into his pocket and set a few envelopes in her lap. Millicent frowned at him.
“What are these?”
“The deed to the flat, letters from Parkinson and a few other things,” he stepped farther back into the small room. “I should go.”
“Thank you, Percy,” Millicent said quietly, startling him into looking into her eyes. “For everything. For telling me about Theo.”
“I can’t say you’re welcome for my bringing you bad news,” Percy flushed a bit.
“Thank you anyway.”
He nodded, cleared his throat and apparated out of the flat. Millicent took a shaky breath as Hannah burst into the parlor, a bag full of snacks and glossy magazines on her wrist.
“Millie? Oh, God, what happened?” Hannah cried, taking one look at her face.
told you that on your own!” Hannah snapped. “Idiot man!”
“Don’t shoot the messenger. He didn’t make the decision to not tell me,” Millicent shook her head. “Draco - let him suffer trying to save him.”
“I need you to promise me something, Han -”
“Millicent, you’re pregnant not dying -”
“If I’m suffering, let me go. Don’t hang on for whatever reason. Promise?”
“I can’t -”
“Do no harm. Please,” Millicent snapped her eyes shut, trying to stem the tears. “Please, promise me.”
“Of course. But it’s not going to come to that, Millie. I won’t let it,” Hannah wrapped her arms around Millicent and together they mourned a boy that had died too soon.