Boxing Day arrived quietly, students slept soundly in their beds tired but happy from the night before. Chelsea woke to the gentle tapping of glass. In a sleepy daze, she shuffled to the window, allowing the Long-Eared owl to enter. Tied to its leg in an elegant Christmas bow were a parcel and letter. Frost latticed the window, revealing snow-covered hills and an iced-over lake.
“Hi Barnstable, here boy.” Chelsea handed the owl a treat before removing the letter from its ankle. Her mother’s owl was a graceful creature with a sweet temperament. The large owl cocked his head side to side before snatching the treat with a greedy satisfaction whilst shaking residual snow off its wings. Fingal purred softly before snuggling the large bird. Barnstable made no protest to the feline affection. A protesting moan sounded from the other side of the room as Elisabeth burrowed deeper into her covers. The sound of ruffling sheets could be heard from the other side of the door.
Under the dim morning light, the letter damp from the snow flurry it traveled through but was not ruined. In neat, small letters, it was her mother’s response. With bated breath, Chelsea read on.
For the past week, Chelsea and many other Hogwarts students had put off their school work since the holidays began. Knowing not much else could be done until she went home that evening, Chelsea found herself trying to focus on something else as going back to bed was no longer an option. Barnstable had flown home, and Fingal had dozed back off into a slight slumber in the discarded bed.
Wrapped in one of Oliver’s former Gryffindor jumpers, Chelsea made her way to the Astronomy tower; she always found she did her work better there than anyway else in the school, plus many students avoided the Astronomy tower as it was cold in the winter weather. Despite the current absurdity of her life and its discomfort, the air always seemed fresher from there.
When it was time to meet McGonagall, Chelsea had finished nearly all of her work except for her Alchemy assignment and had not seen any of her friends that day. She basked in the loneliness, the past few weeks she had been constantly surrounded by friends and drama. Harry was still stressed about the tournament, Fred’s confession, everything with Charles, and now the mystery of her parental origins. The time alone gave her the quietness she needed to clear her mind
Chelsea snuck through the halls to meet the professor, avoiding everyone along the way. Her walk fast-paced and determined, her eyes starring straight ahead.
Minerva McGonagall looked quite tired when Chelsea entered her office. She was sitting in a large, high backed chair with a tartan thrown over her lap with a book in her hands. Her graying brown hair in a loose braid, cascading down her shoulder.
A large, mantled fireplace took up much of one wall, the Quidditch cup stationed atop the shelf. Many other tartans hung from the walls, and a tin of half-eaten biscuits sat on her desk with discarded tea. She had one photo in the entire room, it looked to be a younger version of her and a boy with a striking resemblance; both in Gryffindor Quidditch robes and smiling from ear to ear.
“Good evening, Professor McGonagall.” Chelsea greeted as she brought the elder professor back to reality. Minerva smiled softly as she brought herself to a standing position, leaving the book discarded.
“Good Evening, Miss Wood. I got the message from your mother, and I am happy to help her out. She was a charming student when she was here and a good friend. Go now, no need for idle discussion. My network will remain open or you can take the train back at the start of the new term.” Chelsea nodded before grasping a handful for Floo powder.
“Wood House!” Chelsea pronounced clearly as she was engulfed in green flames. When the flames vanished, covered in layers of soot, Chelsea stepped into her childhood living room.
Floating candles decorated the small living-room, casting warms glows and long shadows in far corners.
“Hi Cheli, I am in the kitchen!” Mum yelled.
Her Dad slept soundly on the couch while the radio played softly. He did not stir when Chelsea began to make her way through the house. Around her were photos of her childhood, pictures of her, and gap-toothed Oliver. Their arms wrapped around each other, both wearing over-sized Appleby Arrows jerseys. Their Mum smiling proudly at her two kids.
Sitting on the breakfast nook with a cup of steaming tea was Chelsea’s Mum. She stared out the window, gazing upon the wintered fields. She too wore one of Oliver’s old jumpers; Mum a small woman with short brown hair and honey eyes. Lines lightly etched her face.
“Well, look at us! Dressed like twins.” She smiled softly yet the smile did not reach her eyes. She hugged her Mum and brought her to the kitchen table. Her Mum poured fresh tea and handed it to her daughter, her hand brushing against her daughter’s smaller hand.
“I think we have something to discuss, Mum. And as much as I love the pleasantries, I don’t want to beat around the bush. I am so awfully confused and I want answers!” Chelsea nearly begged her Mum, looking directly into clear honey eyes, only to see her own reflecting. Sadness swirled deep in those bright eyes.
“Let me get Daddy, he wanted to be a part of this conversation... Elijah! Elijah dear! It’s time, my love!” Her Mum called into the other room.
Within minutes, a sleepy Elijah Wood walked into his kitchen to see his wife and daughter sitting in silence; Delaria starring at her daughter, and Chelsea looking at her hands. Elijah smiled softly.
“Hi darling,” Elijah Wood made his way over to his daughter and pulled her close to his chest. Her thin arms wrapped around his body into a tight hug, “Your Mum and I wanted to wait to have this conversation until you were older because this is not an easy one... I want to start by telling you a story about how I met your Mum.”
Chelsea only nodded, fumbling with her cup of tea.
“Your Mum, then Delaria Lovelace, was a known Potions and Charms expert. For many years, especially when we had both gotten out of Hogwarts, before the rise of Voldemort, your mum worked in the Ministry of Magic working as a Poison and Hex specialist. When Voldemort began to rise to power and was becoming a larger threat, I saw less and less of your mom. I was only a junior Auror at the time, but even then we were on high alert.” Delaria grabbed Elijah’s hand and decided to join in the conversation.
“My skill set was valuable to both sides. I knew all the cures and fixes as well as all the bad spells. I wasn’t happy with my life then, I was feeling dissatisfied. During my years are Hogwarts, I had befriended a young man by the name of Regulus Black. Regulus was more than just a friend, and in many ways, he was most likely the love of my life before your dad. Regulus and much of the Black family were entangled in the Dark Lord’s plans. Through my connection with Regulus, I was recruited by Voldemort. Retrospectively, I am ashamed to admit this, but I was a Death Eater.” Delaria Wood breathed deeply, collecting herself. She pulled up the sleeve of her jumper, and murmured a quiet spell; a dark mark developed out of thin air.
Chelsea’s throat tightened.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say I enjoyed the power the Dark Lord gave me. I had never been happier, I was high on the power. But I also never thought I would have to hurt someone, just brew a few potions here and there and not know where they ended up or who would take them. I never thought my decision through. Not long after that, Regulus disappeared, and I never saw him again. Heartbroken and desperate, I turned to the next person I was closest to. At the time, it was only those who were in Voldemort’s circle. I knew everyone, but the next person in my life was Augustus Rookwood.” She paused, letting everything sink in.
Chelsea opened her mouth to say something, but her mother’s eye pleaded with her to wait, as there was more to this story. Chelsea closed her mouth.
“Even before the death of the Potters, Rookwood was ruthless. But he was also incredibly loyal and absurdly attractive. Augustus worked with me in the ministry. I would pass him secrets I was told by Peter Pettigrew and those within the Order of the Phoenix, and he would relay them to Voldemort. It was because of him and because of me that Voldemort knew the movement of the Ministry and the Potters after Pettigrew was named Secret Keeper. Augustus worked in the Department of Mysteries. Chelsea, I am not proud of this time, but still, listen.” Elijah nodded before encouraging his wife to continue. He held his daughter’s shaking hand.
“Augustus and I worked so closely together, so intimately, that we... became intimate... We became a pair that the Dark Lord loved to use. We were his spiders, his flies on whatever wall he needed. But it was not long before I found out that I was pregnant, with you. My darling, your biological father is the biggest regret of my life. When I realized I had you, I knew needed to get away from that life. I tried to confide in Augustus because he knew about you. He was eager to bring a pureblood heir into this world and wanted to tell the Dark Lord. I wouldn’t let him, begged him not to tell the Dark Lord said he would not care for a child. It angered him, and that alone scared me. He threatened to obliterate my memories of you and take you from me. Whilst all this was happening, Elijah had been promoted to full status Auror and assigned a case that connected him to Rookwood. Pregnant and desperate, I ran to Elijah. I knew if you were born into that world, your life would be miserable, you would be raised by the vilest beings on this bloody sodding earth; I wouldn’t be worthy to be your mom, so I had to try to save you. You were the only thing to make me realize what I was doing was wrong. You were worth saving, my dear.”
Elijah stepped in, giving Delaria a break, she had started crying, “Your mother reached out to me, and the department worked to help her escape the Dark Lord as long as she gave us information. The plan didn’t go as planned; you were born early and Rookwood found out what your mother planned and nearly killed you and her. It was not long after that, that I caught him and Rookwood was imprisoned for trading secrets. Voldemort sent many others after your mother, Rookwood had told him about your birth. So your mother spent many months living with me and young Oliver. In the time we spent together, with you, I knew I wanted to protect you both for the rest of my life. I had lost Oliver’s real Mum to a muggle disease that they call Cancer when he was four. The Healers at St. Mungo’s had done everything they could for her, but she never came home. And Oliver needed a Mum. So we changed your name and all of your birth certificate information to protect you both because I wanted my girls to have my name and be a big family. Most of all, I wanted you safe.”
Chelsea sat silent for many minutes, not knowing how long for. Numb and broken could be words to describe how she felt in the moment, her world unraveling. “What is my real name?” The foreign sentence heavy on her tongue.
“Aurelia Elona Marion Rookwood.”
Chelsea got up suddenly from her seat in her childhood home, nothing felt comforting anymore. Couches, cushions, candles, and books spun about her. She ran for the fireplace, her parents calling after her but she kept running. Her heart pounding in her ears as she yelled for Hogwarts.
She found herself in McGonagall’s personal study again, collapsing in the fireplace sobbing. Her cries echoed throughout the room.
Minerva rushed from her small bed chambers when the Floo roared to life at an obscene hour of the morning, but she knew why.
“Miss Wood, come here.” The elder woman held out her arms, dropping her strict demeanor to comfort the poor girl. Chelsea sobbed into her chest.
“I don’t even know who I am anymore...”
“You are Chelsea Wood, daughter of Delaria and Elijah Wood. Sister to Oliver Wood. You are an excellent Potions master, like your mother. Just because you know who your biological father is doesn’t make Elijah any less your father. You are not a Rookwood, you are not evil. And you are safe here.” McGonagall whispered.
“Is that why you had me get my housing assignment in your office when I came here?”
“Yes, dear. I have known about your true identity for many years and knew if I had you housed with the first years, there was a chance the hat would blurt out your real name. Your mother kept this secret for a long time to protect you. Many have, but it seems you knew.”
“I have been receiving letters... I thought nothing of it until I had a run-in with Mr. Malfoy.”
Minerva sucked in a quick breath, keeping the shock from reaching her eyes. “Ms. Wood, off to bed with you. Do not worry about the letters, I will let the appropriate authorities know.”
By the time Chelsea arrived back at Ravenclaw dormitory, everyone was fast asleep. But sleep did not seem viable for her, not now. Chelsea sat on her bed exhausted though from the day she had that she did not notice the letter on her bed until she heard it crinkle.
It was from him.
Chelsea found herself stuck sitting reading the letter over and over again. Unsure of what to do, or who to consult, Chelsea knew if she wanted more information, she would have to do what he said. Especially if it meant keeping her friends alive. Chelsea fell asleep clutching the letter as the sun began to poke over the rolling white hills. Chelsea had no idea what her future entailed, but she had to protect her friends, even if it meant something worse than death.