A/N: Lee Jordan is one of JKR’s minor characters who needed to have his story told. So here it is! A warning: Lee and friends are of age in this story. There are references to drinking and sexual activity – although I think those scenes are relatively mild compared to other fan fiction stories out there. I will give fair warning about individual chapters should the need arise.
A huge thanks to Julu who has been the best writing buddy ever. And another huge thanks to wokka42 who is the editor of The Journal of Magical Physics. He talked me through a lot of the “science of magic.” His e-mails have been invaluable sources of information and encouragement. And my undying gratitude to betas Jo Wickaninnish and Sherry for patiently fixing the same mistakes I make over and over again.
The bright blue September sky was a dazzling contrast to the white marble façade of the Gate Gallery for Magical Art. High above the imposing columned structure, statues of the nine muses sang, danced and recited for the crowd below.
George Weasley was watching them with a frown. “Explain to me again, why we are spending a perfectly fine Sunday afternoon in this queue?”
“We’re here to see this dream woman of Lee’s, remember?” Fred turned to Lee. “She’s the goddess of the gift shop – right?”
Lee tore his gaze away from the smiling muse, Thalia, his favorite. “Her name is Amy Smith. And she’s no dream – we’ve been going out for two months now. And I want you to meet her.”
“Why can’t you just bring her ‘round the shop sometime?” George asked impatiently, standing on his tiptoes to see over the crowd to the entrance. “Why do we have to go to this kind of trouble?”
“All women are worth some trouble,” Lee answered dreamily. He rarely saw Amy except for late nights after being out with their respective friends or during their lunch breaks. Lucky for him, the Quidditch Museum, where he tour-guided, was right across the street from the gallery.
“Is that the fateful fountain?” Fred asked, pointing to the round fountain in the middle of the small square between the museums and the music hall.
“Where I met Amy,” Lee affirmed. “She was eating a peach. And the juice kept dripping off of her lips –”
“So you offered to lick it off,” George continued. “Very sporting of you, Lee.”
“– And altruistic, since you don’t like peaches,” Fred added.
“I like peaches just fine – and you don’t have to make it sound tawdry.”
“I like tawdry – it’s better than sappy and sentimental –”
“Soon you will reach the Lockhartian heights of believing your own story.”
“I’m telling you,” Lee said impatiently. “It was love at first sight.”
“Lee, you always think you’re in love. It never lasts. Remember the Beauxbatons’ girls?”
“First it was Michelle –”
“Then Antoinette –”
“Right,” Fred said frowning in concentration. “I remember her – was she before or after Charlotte?”
Lee smiled, remembering his wonderful sixth year. “She was after Marie.”
“Ah,” Fred and George said in unison.
“What?” Lee asked, trying to be annoyed but not succeeding. There was no denying that he had been in and out of love a lot that year.
“Just be a git like the rest of us and admit you’re attracted to her.”
George shook his head. “And if the attraction is mutual – well, you’re a lucky dog, Lee.”
“This is different….” Lee trailed off. The attraction certainly was mutual. But since he wasn’t about to describe the intense physical nature of this romance, he realized that there wasn’t much left to tell about his relationship with Amy.
He frowned. Sometimes he wished that he and Amy did more together besides going to her flat in the dead of night. It was almost like she didn’t want to be seen with him. He quickly pushed that thought away. He was going to meet her parents tonight. He had been invited to their home for dinner. Today he was going to put the Amy part of his life together with the Fred and George part. They were his oldest friends – his mates, he thought fondly, and he wanted all of his important people to know each other.
The crowd moved forward and now they were on the first of the many steps leading to the double-door entrance.
“So, why are all these other people here?” George asked. “Lee’s love life might be interesting to us –”
“But not to all of London.”
“Oh! There’s a showing of Gervase’s paintings. They brought his famous painting, Out of Depths, from Paris for the first time in fifty years.”
Fred and George stared at him.
“Don’t you remember from History of Magic? Dumbledore’s battle with Grindelwald?”
“Lee, we don’t have your super powers with women or the ability to stay awake in the most boring class ever invented.”
Lee groaned. “History is all about stories – important ones. If we had had a decent teacher –”
“Save it, Lee.” George waved him away. “We left Hogwarts months ago.”
Fred narrowed his eyes. “So, how do you know this painting is here?”
Lee shifted uncomfortably. “I had to take the tour last week, remember? Mr. Mann wanted me to learn proper guiding etiquette so he sent me over here for the tour.”
“Mann still getting you down?” George asked with a smile.
“Don’t laugh,” Lee said, the cold chill starting to spread in his stomach whenever he thought of his boss at the Quidditch museum. “I’m on probation.”
“Probation!” Fred eyes opened in alarm. “What did you do?”
Lee kicked against the edge of the next step and didn’t look up. “I sort of argued with a patron about brooms.”
“Brooms.” He could hear the amusement in Fred’s voice.
“Yeah – I ended up telling him that a Shooting Star was the best for planetary expeditions.” He looked up and grinned. “Like Uranus.”
Fred and George roared. “Did the git even understand what you were saying?”
Lee laughed – he couldn’t help it – it had felt so good to tell that smug, overdressed wizard off. “Not at first. It was only when his children started to giggle that he noticed.”
“You basically told a patron to stick it in front of his children?” George chortled. “Why weren’t you sacked on the spot?”
“His mother-in-law, a lovely lady by the way, stuck up for me.”
“Saved by the patented Jordan charm.” George shook his head admiringly. “What is it with you anyway, Lee? Why do all the ladies – young and old – like you?”
“George always thought it was the hair, but now that you had to shave it off for your job –”
“We can’t explain it –”
“I know,” Fred said, batting his eyelashes, “it’s the dark, exotic eyes.”
“No, it’s the smile,” George said, clutching his heart. “The dazzling white smile that says, ‘there is no one for me but you.’”
“Except for –”
“That’s enough,” Lee said, laughing.
“East meets west in Lee Jordan,” Fred said, “You’d be a perfect specimen if you just had freckles, Lee.”
“Please,” George said, looking stricken, “you can’t do that to the female population – since Lee has only managed to be ‘in love’ with one at a time.”
“True.” Fred nodded.
“Enough! Look, even if everything you say is true,” Lee began.
Fred and George continued to swoon, whispering in high voices, “It is true.”
“It doesn’t help me at work does it?” He sighed. Lee acknowledged that he could talk his way out of a lot, yet that ability didn’t do him a bit of good with his boss. Mr. Mann, like Lee’s father, was serious about his work – but Mr. Mann, unlike his father, didn’t like Lee one bit. This job wasn’t turning out the way he thought it would.
“Cheer up, Lee. Soon you’ll see the goddess herself.”
“And a bunch of boring paintings.”
They were now close enough to be in the deep shadow cast by the building. The air was noticeably chilly in the shade. Autumn was truly on its way.
“You won’t find them boring,” Lee promised. “They’re not like Hogwarts portraits where everyone is wearing robes.”
“I should hope The Fat Lady is wearing robes,” Fred said with a shudder. “She’s not here is she?”
“Maybe a younger version,” Lee said, laughing again. It was good to be talking about Hogwarts – hanging around with Fred and George. They had been so busy with their business lately that Lee had had hardly seen them all summer. Lee had a feeling there were other things going on their lives but he knew better than to ask. Fred and George would let him know when they were ready. Somehow Lee thought it had something to do with Dumbledore and the war going on now.
He sighed again without realizing it. When had he left Hogwarts and that hag Umbridge behind, he had thought all of his worries were over. All he had to do was report to work each day and party with his mates at night. Nothing had been further from the truth. He mentally shook himself – no use wishing things were different. “So, how is my original dream girl?”
“Angelina is training hard for Quidditch trials. She has one this week with the Kenmore Kestrals and next week with the Holyrod Harpies,” Fred answered.
“What’s Alicia going to do for a roommate if Angelina is on the road with a Quidditch team?” Lee asked.
“Holly’s back, didn’t you know, Lee?” George piped up. “She’s the third roommate.”
“Holly Kirke?” Lee was incredulous. Andrew, her younger brother, hadn’t told him that Holly was planning on returning to England after her art course was completed at Beauxbatons.
“Yeah,” George shrugged. “She’s going to work at St. Mungo’s.”
Lee frowned. “Why would someone with an art course work at St. Mungo’s?”
“Something about art therapy with children. It fits, doesn’t it? You know how she was always trying to analyze you.”
“Lee Jordan,” Fred said, lightly punching him in the arm, “Holly’s first mental patient. I think she needs to work on your delusions of being in love.”
Lee shoved him back. “I don’t need to be cured. Love isn’t an affliction you know.”
“Sure it is – symptoms are a swollen –”
“I’m not listening!” Lee cut him off.
“I talked to Holly on the Floo. France was good to Holly, it was,” George said, thoughtfully. “Maybe I’ll ask her out.”
“And maybe the Cannons will take the cup,” Fred scoffed. “Besides, she always liked Lee.”
“All the girls liked Lee,” George said, rolling his eyes.
“Look, she was my alphabetical order friend,” Lee said, “Lee Jordan and then Holly Kirke. At first we were always paired up in class and then it became a habit.”
Fred and George were wearing identical smirks.
“We’re just friends,” Lee said. “Holly usually disapproved of me, don’t you remember?”
“Sometimes – but you were the only who could make her laugh – really laugh. She thought we were too cruel in our practical jokes,” Fred reminded him. He turned to George. “What was the phrase again?”
“Malicious, exhibitionist behavior bordering on the sadistic.”
“Right.” Fred turned back to Lee. “What did she always say about you?”
“An exhibitionist with latent narcissistic tendencies,” George answered before Lee could open his mouth. Then he added helpfully, “I think that means you were a prat like the rest of us in fifth year.”
Lee bristled. “See what I mean? She didn’t like me.”
“But she did – you were friends despite your ‘tendencies.’”
It was true, Lee realized. Holly had been a great partner in the classroom, and in her quiet way, a friend. But she had left Hogwarts after taking her OWLs. Lee hadn’t had much of a chance to miss her his sixth year, since that was the year of the Triwizard Tournament when all the Beauxbatons girls had arrived and he discovered that he liked girls as much as they liked him….
“Finally! At the door,” George observed.
“Who’s paying?” Fred asked, looking at the ticket window through the open doors.
“Free passes.” Lee held up the tickets. “And you didn’t think any perks came with my job.”
Fred raised his eyebrows. “Impressive – I can’t wait until you can get us in to the Chamber music concert.”
“Catch up on my sleep,” George added.
Lee could tell they were relieved about not paying. Fred and George were never cheap, so it made him wonder how well the shop was doing. Then he dismissed that thought. Fred and George were probably cash-short at the moment. Sometimes supplies cost more than they anticipated, and it often took a while for them to recoup their initial investment on a new invention.
“Lee,” Fred asked in a would-be-casual voice, “do you reckon you could come by the shop tomorrow evening? We found an entrance to the London Underground in the basement of the shop. And we like to –”
“You know – explore,” George cut in. “But we don’t want to get lost down there and since you know it so well, we thought you could help us find our magical waste bin.”
“Sure,” Lee said, nodding. “Did you Vanish something you can’t get back?”
“Sort of. We saw some of the bins down there, but the numbers didn’t correspond to the address. We didn’t see ninety-three.”
Lee grinned. “Probably because Dad uses Arithmancy to assign numbers to all of the bins. You probably have a twelve in your number since nine and three add up to twelve. But beyond that it’s anyone’s guess.”
“I reckon anyone in Vanishing Management has to find ways to make it exciting.”
“It is exciting,” Lee replied, thinking of the days he had spent with his father reducing magical waste far under the streets of magical and Muggle London. “The animals that roam around there aren’t the friendliest – and then you have to watch out for Dark Magic residue. Plus if you ever got lost or strayed off the path – down the abyss you go.”
“Mind your step,” George recited.
They were inside the vestibule of the gallery now. Through a glass partition they could see the gift shop everyone had to pass through on their way out. The small shop was jammed with t-shirts depicting various reproductions of famous paintings, glossy art books, and the usual mugs, magnets, and postcards every museum tried to sell.
“There she is!” Lee said excitedly.
Amy was in profile, her silvery-blonde hair gleaming in the artificial light, her voluptuous figure enhanced by the clinging pink robes she was wearing. Lee watched as she languidly waved her wand over a pile of merchandise for a harassed wizard with two children hanging on each arm.
“The goddess,” George said in a matter-of-fact voice.
“What do you think?” Lee asked, surprising himself. He had never asked his friends their opinion of a girl before.
“Lovely as a picture,” George said heartily.
“And just as lively,” Fred said under his breath.
“What do you mean?” Lee turned sharply to confront him.
“Nothing,” George answered hastily. Lee didn’t miss the sharp glance George threw at Fred.
They didn’t like her – at first glance they didn’t like her. Lee knew that as well as he knew his own name. Suddenly, he felt a tremor of fear. Amy was not going to like Fred and George, either. But it was too late to back out. They were wearing the thin metal badges that proved they had purchased a ticket and they were being assigned to a tour guide, nattily dressed in navy blue with a crisp flag that said group A.
Fred and George dawdled in the back of the group, not paying attention to the guide at all. Lee was trying to listen to see if this guide was sticking to the script that Lee had heard last week, but Fred and George’s impatient sighs and the dirty looks from the tour guide were too distracting.
As the group moved out of the first room full of ornate vases, cauldrons, wands and apothecary jars, Lee nudged Fred and indicated another exit. They sidled over to the side door and found themselves in a long hallway full of armor.
“Do you know your way out?” George asked in relief.
“Of course Lee knows his way out – he’s never got us lost yet.”
“Nose of a bloodhound, our Lee.”
“I want to see the Gervase painting, and then we’ll go,” Lee answered, leading them through an arched passageway lined with tapestries commemorating wizards and their familiars. The cats, dogs, snakes and birds all hissed and barked and hooted as they sped by.
They skidded on the highly polished floor to hide from another group. “Just like school,” George said, looking the happiest he had all afternoon, as he peeked around a corner.
“Here it is,” Lee announced, pointing to a dark, paneled door. “We’ll just try to blend in with what ever group is in there.” Then he glanced at the Weasley’s bright red hair and laughed.
“That’s us – totally inconspicuous.” Fred grinned.
Lee felt his spirits rising. This is what he had missed – the clowning around and petty rule breaking that they had taken for granted all during their years at Hogwarts. He slowly pulled the long brass door handle down so that the mechanism released the latch silently.
The Gervase painting dominated one wall in shades of black, white and gray-green. Luckily the room was empty except for a witch in soft green robes staring at the painting. Her back was to them, but Lee would know that fluffy light-brown hair that ended at the nape of her neck, and that quizzical slant of her head anywhere. “Holly?”
Holly whirled around and stared with round eyes. “Lee?” she asked weakly. Then she glanced behind him. “And Fred and George.” She looked back at Lee. “You’re in an art gallery.”
“And they say Ravenclaws are the smart ones,” Fred said, rushing forward to give her an exuberant bear hug.
Smiling, she hugged him back and then asked George, “You’re not putting mustaches on all of the portraits or anything are you?”
“Holly, you haven’t seen us in the flesh in two years and the first thing you do is accuse us of juvenile pranks,” Fred reproached her.
“Oh, I see,” she said. “You’ve graduated to adult pranks. What’s on today’s agenda – cat burglary?”
“I don’t know why they always said you were the quiet and sweet one,” George commented, “when it’s really Lee here who is shy and retiring.” George had doubled-back to propel Lee forward from the middle of the room where he had stopped in surprise at seeing Holly again.
“Lee.” Holly folded her arms in front of herself.
Lee didn’t make a move to hug her. It didn’t feel right for some reason. Probably since he had never hugged her in the five years he had known her – not even after Gryffindor had won the Quidditch cup their fifth year.
“You changed your hair,” she finally said after looking him over.
“Do you like it, Holly?” Fred asked, standing on tiptoe to rub Lee’s head. “They scalped him for his job at the Quidditch Museum. After we dried our eyes, we pasted a lock in our scrapbook.”
She took her time answering, while she regarded him seriously. “You’ve lost that look of…whimsy,” she said, almost to herself.
Fred and George were laughing maniacally. Holly blushed at their teasing. “No, I mean you look so much older,” she said in an apologetic tone. “Like you’re in the army or something.”
“Lee’s a lover, not a fighter,” George said gleefully.
“George – ” Lee started to protest.
“I remember,” Holly said flatly, a curiously closed expression on her face. She stopped looking at Lee. “So what are you blokes doing here?”
“Lee is obsessed with the girl in the gift shop,” Fred answered.
For some reason, Lee didn’t want to talk about Amy to Holly. It was worlds colliding and it didn’t feel right.
“So, what do you know about this painting? Did you study it at Beauxbatons?” Lee asked, all in a rush.
She cocked her head and regarded him a moment before answering, as if she was determining if he really was serious about the painting. This was something she used to do often, Lee remembered. She was always so cautious about answering a serious question from him – but then she would eventually forget herself and start talking. Lee could never understand why she did that.
“We didn’t study it at Beauxbatons – it was too controversial.”
Lee nodded. “I remember – Professor Binns said it was because of the mystery surrounding Grindelwald’s defeat and the secrecy of the painter.”
“Professor Binns? Did you take NEWT level History of Magic?”
“I did. There were only three of us by the end.”
She grinned, showing her almost-dimples.. “Three live ones?”
He had forgotten about those quirky dimples. “Two live ones, I stand corrected.”
Fred and George were getting restless. “Holly, this painting makes no sense. It looks like a bunch of squares and triangles with heads stuck in them.”
“And some only have one eye and their arms and legs are all wonky – like they were splinched or something.”
“And why is there a spear at the top?”
“And why are there silver fish?”
Holly laughed. “This is the cubist style of painting, so the artist is interested in the geometry of shapes behind the natural forms.”
Fred looked disgruntled at this explanation. “Pictures should look like what they’re supposed to be.”
Her eyes danced, but she answered his objections seriously, “The painting is highly symbolic and isn’t meant to just represent the actual event of Dumbledore defeating Grindelwald. It’s called Out of the Depths to remind us of the battles of good and evil going on inside of each of us.”
“Oh, no – a moral to the story,” George groaned.
“That patch of white,” she said, pointing her wand to the upper left corner, “represents Albus Dumbledore. White standing for Albus and for good.”
”Where’s Grindelwald, then? There’s black all over.”
“If you back up and squint, you can see the shape of a huge monster – obviously Grindelwald was a man, but his darkness was pretty pervasive.”
“Why does it look like it is underwater?”
“That’s the rumor,” Lee piped up before Holly could say anything. “That the battle was underwater – but not just any water, the water that lies under the London Underground.”
“There’s no water under the London Underground – is there, Lee?”
“Could be – Dad’s never descended that far – but there are shafts and passageways that go farther down than he thinks is safe.”
“Wow, that’s why we need you, Lee.”
“The spear,” Holly continued, “is how Gervase signed his paintings, since that is what his name means.
“But there’s a rumor that the spear has other meanings,” Lee added, staring at the faces contorted in agony and the disembodied arms flapping feebly.
“Right,” Holly said. “Same with the fish. They’re Ramora, as near as we can tell.”
“Ramora?” George asked, his voice alive with interest. “Do you think there are Ramora in the London Underground?”
Holly frowned at him. “It’s thought to be symbolic. And I wouldn’t bring your fishing pole – they are a protected species by International Statue.”
“The Ramora,” Fred said, looking longingly at the silver fish swimming in the bottom right of the painting. “The things we could do with their magical properties,” he murmured.
“Get that out of your heads, you lot,” Holly said warningly, glaring at all of them.
“Now, Holly, don’t lump Lee in with us. He has his own fish to fry, so to speak,” Fred said with a wink. He nudged George and the two of them went closer to the painting, leaving Lee and Holly to talk alone.
Holly turned to Lee. “You don’t help them with the shop?”
Lee shrugged. “They started before I left Hogwarts. Surely your brother wrote you about their historic exit?”
Holly laughed. “Andrew thought it was cool. Angelina was fit to be tied. Raged on and on that they had ruined their futures. Although I don’t think she was as angry as the time they got themselves banned from Quidditch.”
“That wasn’t their fault, you know!” Lee said angrily. “That Umbridge hag –”
“I know!” Holly said quickly. “I didn’t mean to sound like that – you all had a terrible year.”
“It was the worst,” Lee said quietly. Holly was watching him with sympathetic eyes. “I didn’t realize how evil people could be.” He looked at the black and gray painting again and thought with a chill how it captured the atmosphere of despair at Hogwarts his last year. The claustrophobic session in Umbridge’s office when she had made him write lines until his hand bled was seared somewhere in his psyche. He wondered how people ever put that sort of abuse behind them….
But there had been some bright shiny moments, he thought as the flickering silver of the Ramoras caught his eye.
He shook himself and forced a smile. “But Gryffindor won the Quidditch cup – without Harry and without Fred and George – your brother was over the moon.”
Holly smiled. “He was – especially since he had done so poorly in the other matches. I still don’t know if he’s lived down the humiliation of that Hufflepuff knocking him off of his broom.”
“He did all right since he was only a third year,” Lee said. “Look at Ron, he had a hard time having the confidence to play Keeper and he was in his fifth year.
“I don’t know if confidence was Andrew’s problem as much as distraction.”
“What distracted him – the crowd?”
Holly laughed. “Ginny Weasley. Andrew fancied her – you know, the exciting older woman.”
“He fancied Ginny?” Lee laughed too. Poor kid. “Well, he’s going to have to pine some more this year because Fred and George told me that she’s going out with Harry now.”
“She is?” Holly’s eyes glowed. “Oh, that’s really nice. I never thought of putting them together – I mean they were just kids when I left Hogwarts. But I’m glad – I heard about all the things they were doing to Harry in the papers and everything.”
“Yeah.” Lee could feel again the hot indignation of reading the Daily Prophet and knowing it was all lies. How people could believe such rubbish –
“If you would step over here, Ladies and Gentlemen.” The loud voice of a tour guide cut into Lee’s thoughts. “You will see some early sketches Gervase did of the Merpeople whilst researching his masterpiece.”
Holly froze and stared at Lee. “Another group,” she whispered.
Lee looked around. “Where are Fred and George?”
“Probably rearranging the placards or something,” Holly said. “We’re going to be in trouble for straying from our groups.”
“That’s right,” Lee said, heading for the door opposite the voice. “You’re doing a little rule-breaking of your own.”
Holly hurried to keep up with his long strides. “I wanted a bit more time to study the painting.”
They were in a long, dim corridor with many closed doors. “I know where we are,” Lee said.
“You do? I always get turned around in buildings like this.”
“I remember.” Lee couldn’t count the times he had shown her how to reach the astronomy tower without going down the wrong corridor.
They found Fred and George in a circular room lined with paintings of the Greek gods and goddesses. Aphrodite was in her famous half shell, but today she was dressed in a red sequined g-string with matching pasties.
“What did you do to that painting?” Holly asked, shocked.
Fred glanced at her flushed face, unconcerned. “Don’t women know that a bit of mystery is more appealing than showing it all?”
Aphrodite was giggling and trying to rotate the tassels on her pasties.
Holly’s mouth dropped open in horror at this sacrilege. Then she covered her eyes with her hand. “The point of that painting is not to seduce the viewer, but to celebrate the birth of beauty,” she muttered.
“I’m officially seduced,” George declared, watching Aphrodite’s gyrations.
“Do something, Lee,” Holly said in a tight voice, as if she had a headache.
Lee laughed and with a flick of his wand, removed the red sequins, so that Aphrodite was again clothed in the pastel foam of the ocean. The painting looked down and sighed.
“Most fun than she’s had in a few hundred years,” Fred protested.
“Come on,” Holly said, going out the wrong door.
“This way,” Lee called.
They made their way through several centuries of art, having all the more fun since Fred and George kept them amused with their version of the tour. As they minced and pointed and made up long, convoluted explanations, Holly gave up trying to correct them – even though Lee wanted to hear what she had to say about some of the pieces the tour guide had glossed over during his previous visit.
“Hello, what is this?” Fred said when they encountered a large white statue of a nude man and woman embracing and kissing passionately.
“I think it’s self-explanatory, son,” George said. “It’s obviously this artist’s version of The Talk.”
“But they’re not talking,” Fred said innocently.
George stepped closer and looked between the writhing pair. “They might as well be talking. They don’t have any naughty bits.”
The male statue broke off the kiss and said, “Do you mind?”
“Tough luck, mate,” George said with a grin.
“Holly,” Fred said with mock seriousness, “why don’t they have any naughty bits?”
“Yeah,” George chimed in, “inquiring minds want to know.”
Lee wondered how Holly was going to handle this. Two years ago she would have blushed and flounced off in confusion.
“Structural integrity,” Holly answered. While her cheeks were pink, she didn’t seem flustered at all. “See – there is more support in the middle of the piece to allow the lines of their legs.” She traced the limbs with her wands.
“Oh – I thought it was another lesson in good and evil,” Fred said with a grin.
“Well, it’s called Paolo and Francesca and the story goes that they were overcome with passion after reading a book.”
“What happened to them?”
“Her husband killed them both,” Holly said cheerfully.
George nodded in approval. “Now there is a cautionary tale.”
The torches flickered and then dimmed.
“Is it six o’clock already?” Lee exclaimed in horror. He was due at Amy’s parent’s house in a half an hour.
“Looks like the gallery is closing up,” Fred remarked, lighting his wand. “We’d better get out of here before they let the three-headed dog loose.”
“Or the security trolls.”
“Which way, Lee?”
Lee led them quickly to the front entrance, which was shut tight. The gift shop was dark and shuttered as well. Amy had left before he had a chance to introduce her to his friends. But in a way he was relieved, too.
“Think we’ll set anything off if we try to leave through the doors?”
“Probably,” George answered, flicking his badge from the tour group at the doors. It bounced back.
“Looks like we’re Apparating then,” Fred said briskly. “Should we meet at the Apparition point in the square?”
“Sounds good,” said Lee.
“Um –” Holly began.
“I’m not really sure.” She clasped her hands tightly. “I mean, I just passed my Apparition test at the Ministry – but I don’t have a very good sense of direction and I’ve never been to this Apparition point before, so I can’t picture it in my mind.”
“Sure you can,” George said. “It’s just down the front stairs on the other side of the fountain. There’s a fancy iron pole with a white sign that has a big black A on it.”
Holly looked at Lee nervously. He knew that look. It was the same ‘help me’ expression she got whenever she had to cut up a frog in Potions or prune a crying plant in Herbology. Lee smiled. His ‘help me’ look came when Professor Vector would call on him in Arithmancy and Holly would feed him the answers.
“How about I go first?” Lee said to her. “You picture what George just told you and then you picture me there. You don’t have to know how to get someplace to Apparate – just where you want to end up.”
“You want to end up right on Lee’s feet, Holly,” Fred advised.
“Okay,” Holly said.
Lee Disapparated without further ado. He didn’t have long to wait before he heard a pop and then Holly appeared right in front of him, treading on his foot. For a brief moment her soft hair tickled his nose.
“I did it!” she said with a broad smile. Then she leaped back when she realized she was stepping on his foot. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay – you don’t weigh that much,” he said, smiling back. “Let’s get out of the Apparition area – Fred and George aren’t that accurate.
They heard identical cracks and then the twins joined them. “I suppose we should walk you to your flat, Holly,” George said.
“That would be nice, since I Floo’d here, and I’m not quite sure how to get home from here.”
“I know,” Fred said. “Let’s see if Angelina and Alicia want to go to The Club tonight. There’s no entry fee on Sundays.”
“The Club?” Holly asked, looking interested.
“It’s a dance club – there’s The Club and The Other Club. The Other Club is a bit more posh though.”
“That’s the name – The Club?”
“Yup – how ‘bout it?”
“Oh, that sounds like fun,” Holly answered to Lee’s surprise. “I love to dance.”
Lee loved to dance too – and he didn’t know that about Holly. She must have danced a lot at Beauxbatons. All the Beauxbatons girls who visited Hogwarts had been fantastic dancers.
“Great – let’s do it,” Fred said. “Lee, are you coming too?”
Holly was watching him expectantly, like she wanted him to come along. “I can’t,” he replied reluctantly. “I have that dinner thing to go to tonight.”
“Right,” Fred said. “After you meet the in-laws – bring the goddess along – we’ll be at The Club for a while.”
“I’ll see,” Lee said, knowing Amy would never agree to an outing with his friends –especially if it was at The Club. She once said that she only went to The Other Club.
Holly was starting to wander away with George.
“Right – see you lot later,” Lee said jauntily.
“Tomorrow after work, Lee,” Fred reminded him.
“Right. Er – bye, Holly. It was good to see you again.”
She didn’t turn around but she answered, “Bye, Lee.”
He watched them walk into the shadows and then reappear when they reached the next street lamp. Holly’s hair shone gold under the soft gaslight. He had dozens of questions he wanted to ask her – about her new job, how her mother was, how she liked Beauxbatons compared to Hogwarts.
Sighing, he turned toward the Apparition point, wondering why he suddenly felt so…. He searched his mind for the right word. ‘Bereft’ wasn’t right. Neither was ‘depressed.’ ‘Shaken’ – that was it. His grin was rueful as he listened to the echoing sound of his own footsteps on the pavement. No wonder he felt shaken – his worlds had indeed collided today.
Now that he had put a word to the emotion, he found it easy to thrust it away. He squared his shoulders and focused his mind on Disapparating. He had a dinner party to attend.