Prologue: Three Generations in One Room
Title: Past, Present, Future Tense
Disclaimer: I’m not J.K. - wish I had her money though. I own Banning, and like all of my kid!fic kids, I fiercely protect them with a metal paper towel holder.
Summary: She lived a life of other people’s labels, when all she wanted to be was accepted for who she was.
A/N: I wrote a few drabbles in this AU!OotP ‘verse a few years or so back, and the original opening chapter to this sat on my flash drive for a really long time, even though the story’s outline (I know, what a shocker - me using an outline) and major plot points had already been set out. Then I wrote it off - never gonna finish it, pfft, just post the damn drabbles.
And yet, I still wanted to tell her
story. Well, not really her story, because that
ends far too fast. Past, Present, Future Tense
Prologue: Three Generations in One Room
Her life had always been measured by someone else’s standards. In her youth, she’d been judged by her family’s wealth and blood purity. Her first years at Hogwarts had been judged by the Slytherin emblem on her chest, and the last years by the lack of the Dark Mark on her forearm. In her brief stint as a grown-up, she’d been labeled as someone’s mother and someone else’s lover.
Labels that clung to her skin, her soul, her very being even after all those painful and happy memories had passed. Those same labels had blocked out the true person underneath it all even from those who should have seen it. A sad smile crossed her lips, a useless tear trickled down her cheek as she looked at herself in the mirror of this stranger’s home.
Long dark hair that had seen better days. Sad brown eyes that had seen too much in such a short time. A crooked smile that had at one time frightened her classmates and at another comforted her crying child. Her body hadn’t changed much since her schooldays, slimmed a bit in some places and thickened a bit in others.
She looked almost nothing like the woman standing behind her in the mirror. Shoulder length chocolate colored hair, gray eyes that shone with contentment and joy, a slim figure that she must have gotten from her father, and a bulging belly that she’d gotten from her husband. There were no shadows in her daughter’s eyes, no fear. There was love, there was hope, and there were all the things she’d hoped her daughter could have. She was label free.
“Mummy?” Her daughter Banning spoke softly, not sure if she was imagining her mother being there or actually seeing her.
“Hello, my precious girl,” Millicent Bulstrode brushed away the tears in her eyes as she smiled at Banning. “You are positively glowing. I’d thought that was just an old witch's tale, but here I stand in the glowing truth.”
“That’s all you can say to me? I’m glowing?” Banning’s lip quivered, a trait Millicent was sure her daughter hadn’t inherited from her or her father. “You’ve been - gone -”
“Your father’s raised you right. He did a fine job raising you,” It ached, the reminder that she
hadn’t been there for her daughter.
“That’s no thanks to Dad, Mum did all the work,” Banning snorted. Her eyes widened in realization of what she said, whom
she‘d said it to, and she started stammering, “What - what I mean is Auntie -”
“It’s okay, I know he married her. She’s a damn fine woman. We were friends when you were little.” Where had her happy daughter ever picked up that stammering? Most likely her ‘uncle’. He always did stammer. “They all did a good job raising you, all your uncles and aunties, and your Dad and Mum.”
“But you were there first, all by yourself. And then you -” Banning sniffled. “I really needed you. And I couldn’t have you because -”
“Shh, there’s no need to speak the words. I really did want to be there, too,” Millicent gave her a smile, one she hoped her daughter remembered from those early days. “You are so lovely and grown, Banning. I could not be prouder of you, my girl. You were the greatest joy in my life.”
“I can’t linger long now, love, but I had to come and see you, and have you see me back,” Millicent would not cry - not now, in front of her girl. “Just remember, it’s never as bad as it seems.”
“Mummy - please don’t go!
” Tears spilled over her cheeks as her fingers slipped through Millicent’s hand.
It tore at her, hearing those words leaving her daughter’s lips. Begging for the impossible, just as her father had once begged for his own mother’s life. And while her daughter had not had to know the blood and loss of war that Millicent and her father had, she had known her own measure of loss.
“I can’t stay, as much as I wish. How I loved you, little one. Never forget that?”
Banning Potter cried as the ghost of her mother disappeared before her. She’d come to see her daughter, and the child she carried. Millicent knew that Banning had often questioned why some ghosts stayed with the living, while others moved on. It had been her father-in-law, Harry, who’d supplied the answer. The ones who stayed were scared - and Millicent Bulstrode had been the fearless Slytherin girl who’d braved a battlefield to save the injured during the last battle with Voldemort.
“I knew you would be safe,
” The words whispered across Banning’s ears. “I had unwittingly gathered to me three of the fiercest protectors for you. A dreaming Ravenclaw, a loyal Hufflepuff, and one of the bravest Gryffindors I ever knew. I knew they would make
him see you and help him recover. He deserved it.”
“And what did you deserve?”
“I got what I deserved. I got to have you, and even if it was for the shortest of times - they were the
very best, love
James Sirius Potter stretched his arm across the mattress, reaching for his wife. The sheets were cool to the touch, and that had him jerking upright in his bed. Banning slept like the dead, and she was never
up before him. Reaching for his wand, a thousand fears racing through his head, James hurried to the door of their room. She’d been complaining earlier of feeling off, and with her so far gone into the pregnancy his fear wasn’t exactly irrational.
“Ban? You in there, love?” James called, stepping forward into the glow of the front sitting room. “Babe?”
“I’m over here,” her voice sounded reed-thin, and as hollow.
James raced over to where she sat stiffly, a throw pulled haphazardly over her shoulders and tearstains in dried tracks down her cheeks. He reached up, cupping her face and lifting it to the light.
“What happened? You feel ill? Is it -”
“No,” Banning sucked in a deep breath, her shoulders shaking. “I saw my mother, Jimmy.”
“What? Why’s your Mum comin’ over at this time of -”
“Not my Mum
, James,” Banning scowled at him, wearing a look that reminded him frighteningly of her Dad. Draco Malfoy was one eerie bastard, and he hated
seeing that look on his wife’s face. “My real