Dissipation of Vows
The day before Bill and Fleur's wedding, Harry was pleasantly surprised to find someone sitting at the breakfast table waiting for him.
'You know, Harry, once this is all over, hopefully we'll actually be able to make plans to spend time together rather than me showing up unannounced – ' Elizabeth, laughing, was interrupted by a crushing hug. 'Good morning to you, too.'
'Where have you been?' Harry asked, too happy to see her to be annoyed at her prolonged absence.
'Oh, you know. Everywhere.' She smiled sadly. 'Errands.'
'For the Order?'
'Naturally. But I think I would have bigger problems if I was to miss a Weasley wedding.'
'Listen. Harry - ' As they spoke, Molly moved in and out of the kitchen.
'Can we talk outside for a moment?'
They wandered into the garden, and Elizabeth waved her wand in a lazy circle around them, encompassing them in a silencing charm.
'We need to talk about a few things before the wedding. First, I need you to burn that paper I gave you in fifth year. I'll teach you how to communicate with your Patronus after your birthday so that you can call me if needed, but for now, that scroll isn't secure.'
'Sure, yeah. I'll do it today.'
'Good. Next, I'm going into hiding, as per the Order's request. I'll be telling no one, but if ever you need me, I'll come running. Deal?'
'Now this last thing –' she dropped her voice, despite the silencing charm ' – I know that Dumbledore asked you to do… something for him.'
'I can't talk about that, Elizabeth – '
'No, no, I don't want to talk about it. We don't need to. As much as I want to help, I know that this is your journey now. I can't help you on this part.' She smiled and hugged him tightly. 'I just wanted to tell you good luck, and if there's anything I can do to help, I'll do it.'
'Thought I was going to interfere?'
'Mrs Weasley has been trying to keep Ron, Hermione and I apart since I got here to stop us planning, actually.'
Elizabeth laughed. 'Of course she has. Don't worry, Arthur and I will deal with her.'
'I dunno which of us has the more dangerous task, then,' Harry replied, the laugh catching.
'We can compare battle wounds when everything's said and done.'
They smiled at each other, embraced once more, and Elizabeth waved away the silencing charm. Grabbing his hand, they moved quietly back to the kitchen.
'I'm very proud of you, Harry,' she said, breaking their silence as they crossed the yard, 'and I know your parents would be, too.'
He smiled down at her, squeezed her hand, and pulled her into one last hug. 'Thanks, Liz. For everything.'
That night, Charlie and Elizabeth stole away from Molly's pre-wedding stresses and walked around the lawn.
'Why not just come to Romania with me, Liz? I've been saying it for years; he's not going to go down there to look for you, he's too focused on England right now.'
'I can't, Charlie. You know why. What if Harry needs me, or – '
'Or Snape?' His tone turned cool.
'What is that supposed to mean?'
'I mean, you're putting everyone but me ahead of yourself, including that greasy git, and I can't handle it anymore. It's driving me crazy, worrying about you and wanting to take care of you but you never let me!'
'No, Elizabeth. Look, my brother's getting married tomorrow regardless of how dangerous it's going to be out there, and how long they might be separated. Why don't we do the same? It's been almost three years since we were engaged; why don't we just get married and have it done with? I mean, they hadn't even met when we were engaged, and now…'
'Have done with it? So, what, this is about wanting to keep up with your brother?'
'No! It isn't, it's just… I can't keep putting off living my life waiting for you to be ready to let Harry go.'
'When you asked me, Charlie, I made it very clear that I was going to be there for Harry in every way I could be, and you said that was ok. You even said you could wait until you returned to England to live.'
'That was before it was so dangerous here. You can work for the Order in Romania just as well as England, if not better since no one will know you there. I can protect you there.'
'I can't leave, Charlie, and you know it.'
'Is it because of him?'
'Of course it is, didn't I just say - ?'
'Not Harry, Elizabeth.'
There was a tense silence.
'What are you saying, Charlie?' Her voice dropped, a tremor of fear discernable from the hush.
'Is. It. Because. Of. Him.' His anger was almost tangible. 'Can you really not stand to be away from him?'
'From who, Charlie?'
'Snape,' he spat, his face close to hers. 'Can you really not stand to be away from Snape that long?'
'This has nothing to do with Sev– ' She moved away from him in an attempt to escape his accusing glare.
'It has everything to do with your precious Severus.' He grabbed her arms and held her firmly.
Tears in her eyes, he felt her fight his grip. 'Charlie, you're hurting –'
'He tried to kill my brother, Elizabeth! Are you really going to protect him?'
At that, she pulled herself roughly away from him and stumbled backwards. They looked at each other, both of them breathing hard. Without breaking eye contact, Elizabeth removed her engagement ring.
'I can't do this, Charlie.'
'Elizabeth – '
She stepped forward and pushed the ring into his hand.
'Elizabeth, stop – '
'Tell everyone I'm sorry for missing it – '
'Please, don't go – '
'Elizabeth - !'And with a burst of light, she was gone.