Episode 14: Where the Heart Is

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Written and Directed by Humaira K and Gill P

Guest starring
Eliza Dushku as Faith Lehane
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Genevieve Gaunt as Pansy Parkinson
Mia Maestro as Nadia Santos
Helen Mirren as Constance
Devon Murray as Seamus Finnigan
Lena Olin as Irina Derevko
Monica Potter as Otrere Sanders

“I’m sorry your trip couldn’t have been more enjoyable,” said Buffy as she and Otrere made their way from Hogwarts to the train station in Hogsmeade.

Otrere grinned, “On the contrary. Seeing you all was a great tonic. I think Sienna had more fun with all the magic around.”

The two women walked ahead of the large group that was seeing Otrere, Sienna, Nadia, Tonks and Lupin off.

“I’m sorry about Xander,” said Buffy sincerely.

“It’s OK,” Otrere waved off the comment, “I think we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Sienna was deep in conversation with Sydney when Otrere looked back at the group. Sydney had reluctantly left the hospital to say good bye to Otrere and Nadia. Otrere smiled as she looked fondly at her sister. Sienna had really blossomed here but New Orleans was home now. Professor Dumbledore had arranged for Sienna to have an interview at the local magic school to test her abilities. Otrere was grateful for the kind old man’s help.

“So no developments in your love life?” asked Otrere eyeing Buffy.

Buffy shrugged and then smiled, “I’m still in the baking process. Besides, I’m happy being single. It’s been the first time in seven years I get to explore what I like to do. And teaching is just one of those things.”

“I feel the same way. Of course, I didn’t have seven years. I had centuries.” Otrere paused. “Angel was right. Bounty hunting was the way to go. I’ve met so many great people, saved so many lives, and I even have my own New Orleans Scoobies to depend on for everything. They’ll never replace you or anyone else here though.” She squeezed Buffy’s hand. “I’m glad it was you who released me into this world. I never fit in when it was my time.”

“Oh, I think the lady did protest too much/She wouldn’t take the flower from my hand/She only saw the shadow of my circumstance/Perception can describe what makes a man.”

They finally made it to the train station and after an emotional goodbye they waved to friends old and new as they started towards home.

“So, it’s goodbye again,” said Nadia with a weak smile.

“Only au revoir,” said Sydney trying to stay strong.

“I talked to Professor Dumbledore. He says I can send you letters so at least that’s something,” said Nadia hopefully.

“Yes that is. Look Nadia, when this is over and neither your parents are out to kill you I promise we’ll get to know each other with all the time in the world,” said Sydney trying to think of the future.

Au revoir,” said Nadia as she hugged her sister tightly and then held onto Tonks as they Apparated with a crack to Grimmauld Place.

* * *

Faith knocked on Wesley’s door wondering what the hell she was doing here. What had happened at Christmas had left her feeling confused about him. She’d managed to avoid him till now, but she had to talk to him to find out where she stood.

“Come in,” said his choked voice. Faith warily stepped inside to find Wesley rocking back and forth with a letter in his hands, sobbing.

“Wesley! Are you OK?” she asked worriedly as she rushed to comfort him.

“She’s gone, she’s gone,” he said between sobs. His eyes were red and his voice was heavy due to crying.

“Who’s gone?” she asked gently.

“Fred, she’s gone.”

“You know that Wesley,” said Faith confused.

“Look!” he said thrusting the letter to her.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt your stride/But a rose was all I had to give/Sometimes beauty isn’t recognised/When it contrasts with what you feel inside.”

Faith quickly read Angel’s familiar handwriting and then said gently, “I’m sorry Wesley.”

Wesley just nodded and Faith saw the broken man in front of her. She hugged him tightly and tried to comfort him.

“Is there no way there can bring her back? She’s really dead?” asked Faith trying to feel out the situation.

Wesley pulled away from her and said hoarsely, “She’s gone. Forever. Illyria’s completely taken over her body.”

“I’m so sorry Wesley,” said Faith sincerely.

Wesley nodded once again and went back to staring at the letter. Willing the words to change themselves. It couldn’t be true. His research had proved fruitless. But, if he’d had more time then maybe he could have changed her fate.

Faith got up and left him to grieve in peace.

* * *

As soon as Nadia left, Sydney made her way to St. Mungo’s. She managed to arrive in time for another healing session, this time with Constance, the same woman who had helped Sydney.

“Who’s to say the darkened clouds must lead to rain/Who’s to say the problems should just go away/Who’s to point a finger at what’s not understood.”

“Close your eyes. I want you to focus on this sound, Severus,” Constance was saying. She gave Sydney a tight-lipped smile, and Sydney quietly took a seat. Constance had turned on a metronome. Its methodical noise began to make hum. Sydney thought of the piano lessons she had taken as a child. Her teacher had brought a metronome to every lesson, forcing her to keep the beat. It surprised Sydney that something like that had reminded her of her childhood when most of it was a blur.

“Okay,” Severus said dubiously.

“Now, I want you to imagine a hallway,” Constance explained. Her voice was calm, unwavering. “There are lots of doors. Each of those doors will lead you to a moment in your past. Are you still with me?”

“Yes,” Severus replied.

“As you walk down the hall, you decide to open one of those doors. You can choose any one you’d like.”

“All right.”

“Did you open the door?”

“Yes.”

“Tell me what you see.”

“I see… dark robes. No faces though. It’s very scary here. I’m scared,” Severus whimpered.

“It”s okay, Severus. These are only memories. Your memories can’t hurt you.”

“I’m scared,” he whined. His body snapped, as though someone had whipped him. “Oh GOD!” he screamed, his eyes flying open. “I saw someone die! I killed her! With my wand! No, no, no!!” Severus leapt up and bolted for the door.

Sydney and Constance watched him run. Constance smiled at Sydney sadly. “Some of the more able-bodied Healers will get him back. He can’t go very far.” She left without another word, probably to rustle up the Healers who would track down Severus.

Sydney tried to hold back tears. She couldn’t stay another minute in the hospital, so she took off for the entrance to the Muggle world. She walked and people watched, as the Muggles went back and forth around her, rushing towards the underground, in their cars, on foot, on bikes. She imagined what they must be going through, if their lives were normal. If there was such a thing as normal in their world – or hers – anymore.

She got the overwhelming feeling she was being watched. ‘Once a spy, always a spy,’ she thought angrily. Would her life had been different if she hadn’t said yes to SD-6 all those years ago? Would Danny still be alive? If fate had dealt her a better set of cards, would her mother still be around? Would she have had the lonely childhood she had? Would Nadia be her full-blooded sister, and not Sloane’s daughter?

She had walked into a quiet park, beneath a lamplight, buzzing with bugs. “What do you want with me?” she screamed suddenly. “Kill me now. I don’t care anymore.”

“Of course you do sweetheart,” said the achingly familiar voice behind her. “You care more than you want to admit to yourself.”

Sydney turned around, and fought back more tears.

“Mom?”

* * *

Meliza stepped off the train hand in hand with Seamus. It had been a good holiday, a chance to laugh with her father when laughter was sorely needed and to finally see her busy older brother, Oliver. The family had enjoyed a hearty Christmas dinner and chatted about their year. Oliver was a big shot who worked in publishing, or at least that’s what he said. She never saw his name in any Muggle publications. Gabriel wowed them with his interpretation of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy with a dead-on Brooklyn accent.

She had also pondered her strange alliance with Pansy and the reluctant truce she and Sofia had made. It seemed the world of high politics started at Hogwarts and Meliza was playing with fire unless she made a decision about what to do with Sofia’s letters. For now she kept them under strict lock and key, but she knew the time would come when she’d have to tell Draco the truth.

“Because, we’re all mad in our own way/Colours fade the grey away/Different people all the same/Each reveals the meaning/We’re all mad in our own way/Fill the sky with different shades/Read the story on each page/Each reveals the meaning.”

Coming back to the present from her ponderings Meliza was delighted to see her best friend waving to her, Anastasia was wearing the gold pendant that Harry had given her for Christmas and she was beaming with happiness. A rare thing to see, so Meliza went over to join her.

Harry extricated himself from his girlfriend, and made his way over to Seamus who was thoughtfully staring at Meliza.

“Knut for them?” asked Harry softly coming into Seamus’s awareness.

“What?” asked Seamus coming out of his stupor.

“What’s up?”

“What? Yeah I’m fine, it’s just…” Seamus hesitated, fearing that if he put his thoughts into words he’d have no choice but to act on them. Heaving a heavy sigh he said, “I don’t think me and Meliza are gonna last.”

Harry blinked at him, surprised at his sudden announcement. “Why?” he whispered, leading Seamus away from the noisy Hogwarts crowd.

“It’s…It’s just a feeling. Sometimes when we’re together I don’t feel like she’s really there with me. Here and now. And when I try to ask her about it she either tells me I’m being silly, or gets angry and storms off! I can’t win, and I can’t keep going like this,” he said sadly.

Harry stayed silent, lost in thought. What Seamus had just said made him think of Anastasia, she’d been happy throughout the holiday but also a little distracted like Meliza. Like she was somewhere else with someone else and the present seemed like a pleasant way to pass the time until she got to wherever she was.

“Just talk to her. Don’t break it off until you’ve explained how you’re feeling. It could be she’s worried about exams or something. Don’t do anything until you’re sure Seamus,” said Harry squeezing his friend’s shoulder in support.

“Thanks Harry,” said Seamus brightening up a little as the girls came to join them.

* * *

Before Sydney could say another word, Irina engulfed her in a hug,squeezing tightly and protectively. A random snow storm had engulfed the busy metropolis with a blanket of white snow.

“Mom, what? I don’t understand,” Sydney spluttered through her tears.There was so much on her mind, and to have her mother reappear like this was just too much.

“Sydney,” Irina said gently, smoothing her daughter’s hair as they pulled away. “I missed you.”

“What do you want?” Sydney said flatly.

“Nothing. I just wanted to see you. I have no ulterior motives, sweetheart. I just want to know what you’re doing with your life.”

Sydney stared at her warily. She had been betrayed by her mother so many times before, but the look on Irina’s face made it easy for her to love without question. There was a strength and a passion in them, and Sydney sometimes wondered if she inherited her eyes from her mother.

“The man I love…” Sydney began.

Irina looped an arm around her waist and led her to a nearby bench. “Michael?”

“Sometimes I think I over analyse/As if I can’t control the time andplace/Life isn’t something you try on for size/You can’t love without the give and take.”

“What, Vaughn? No, I… we left each other on good terms, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Sydney said, tucking into her mother’s shoulder like she had done so many times as a child. “No, I have a new man. A good man with a past that is taking over his present. He’s been through so much, Mom…” She sighed, suddenly unwilling to reveal anymore. Not that it would make a difference. Her mother couldn’t run a background check on a man who didn’t exist in the Muggle world.

“I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not going to give you any motherly advice, sweetheart. You’ve gotten by without my influence. I know you wouldn’t listen to me anyways. You never have.”

“I needed you to prove yourself to me, and you did. And you’re going to say your piece either way, so just say it.”

“If anyone can help this man it’s you. You’ve been through so much, and you’ve accomplished so much more.” Irina broke off to let Sydney chew on that thought for awhile. “You’re still wearing my earrings.”

“Is that how you found me?” she chuckled. “I feel naked without them.”

“Would you pass them on to your sister? I’d like her to have them.”

“My sister?” Sydney said incredulously, hoping she sounded like she didn’t know.

“Sydney, I know you know about your little sister. I had an unfortunate indiscretion with Arvin, and in order to keep her, I had to destroy the Laura Bristow identity.”

“So Nadia is an ‘indiscretion’ to you?” Sydney said pulling away.

“That’s not what I said. You’re putting words in my mouth.”

Sydney glared at her mother for a moment, before feeling another wave of tears come on. “This is too much for me right now…” she said getting up to stumble away.

“Sydney!” Irina said. Sydney turned around. “Just think about the earrings. I’d like you to pass them on to her.”

Sydney nodded and walked away without looking back.

* * *

“How you holding up?” asked Faith as she went into Wesley’s room. Wesley didn’t reply he seemed to not see her or even hear her. Like he was wrapped in his own little world. “Wesley?” she said coming closer to him.

He looked up as if recognising her and then fell back into his stupor. Faith sighed and then said angrily, “OK, this is getting ridiculous. Everyone else can tiptoe around you but I’m not going to. Enough’s enough! B’s handling all your classes on her own, Sydney’s got her own crap to deal with and she needs a friend to lean on and… I’lI miss you Wesley.”

At her last sentence he seemed to look at her clearly, “What?” His voice was thick from not speaking for days and his eyes were red from crying. He didn’t look like he’d washed for a few days either.

“I know you’re hurting about Fred, but lying here feeling miserable isn’t gonna bring her back. And it isn’t gonna make the pain any easier. I want you to get up, go have a shower and then come back out here again and have some lunch with me. I’m not leaving till you do,” she said folding her arms and looking at him fiercely.

Wesley sighed and closed his eyes, “You’re so different from her.”

Faith looked confused, “What do you mean?”

“Who’s to say the darkened clouds must lead to rain/Who’s to say the problems should just go away/Who’s to point a finger at what’s not understood.”

“Christmas. It was Christmas and we were caught up in all the festivities and for a moment when I kissed you I thought you were her, that just by kissing her I could bring her back. And when I opened my eyes, it was you,” he opened his eyes wearily. “And I realise Faith I can’t keep doing that to you. I can’t keep pretending you’re her. I have feelings for you. I feel so guilty, but like you said. She’s gone. And I feel like I”d be betraying her memory if I-”

“I’m not her Wesley,” Faith interrupted coming closer to him and kneeling on the floor, next to the couch he was lying on, “I never will be. I can’t be her and I don’t want to be. I’m Faith and I come with a lot of emotional baggage, and right now I don’t think either of us can handle that.

“So, for as long as you’ll let me, I’ll be your friend. I’ll make sure you hear the truth, and you get to dish it right back. But this wallowing isn’t doing Fred’s memory any good. We should have a memorial service, like y’all did for Cordy. That way we can all say goodbye.”

Wesley nodded and heaved himself up with Faith’s help. Looking down at his worn clothes he wrinkled his nose, “I’ve really let myself go haven’t I?”

“Nothing a shower and clean clothes won’t fix. I’ll be right out here. Then we’ll go book our ticket to LA to say goodbye to Fred.”

Wesley looked astonished, “You’re coming with me?”

Faith shrugged, “That’s what friends are for. I can’t let you go alone, someone has to make sure you don’t do anything stupid.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Because if it was you who died, I know I would.”

* * *

Meliza was preoccupied about her drama with Sofia, but she wasn’t stupid. Something was up with Anastasia. Ever since classes had begun, there was something different about her. She couldn’t quite place it either. She wasn’t sure what she should say, so she went to the next best thing.

“Harry,” she said quietly, catching his attention as they left Potions.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Promise not to threaten me again, like last year?”

Meliza smiled. “I promise. It’s about Anastasia.”

Harry’s face darkened immediately. “Meet me at the Astronomy Tower tonight after dinner.”

As promised, Meliza showed up. She had kept her eye on Harry throughout dinner from the Ravenclaw table, but she didn’t want to look too obvious. She begged off a game of wizard chess with some other Ravenclaws to make her way as quietly as she could to the tower. She got there a little early, and simply paced back and forth. Strangely enough there weren’t a lot of people around, a few of the more moony couples and some kids actually doing their Astronomy homework. She was sure they could have a private conversation.

Harry feigned an upset stomach to get away from another one of Hermione’s N.E.W.T. study session. Anastasia had followed him upstairs to his dorm.

“I can get Madam Pomfrey to bring something up, if your stomach’s bothering you Harry,” she offered.

“No, really, I don’t want to keep you away from Hermione. She’ll get angry if I keep you away too long,” Harry lied. He had settled himself into his bed, and tucked the covers over himself. Neville was already asleep. Seamus and Dean were studying with Hermione. “It’s probably nothing. I’ll just sleep it off.”

She leaned over and touched his head affectionately. “All right. I’ll check on you in half an hour.”

“Thanks Ana,” he said, flopping over and pretending to sleep.

“Because, we’re all mad in our own way/Colours fade the grey away/Different people all the same/Each reveals the meaning/We’re all mad in our own way/Fill the sky with different shades/Read the story on each page/Each reveals the meaning.”

When he was sure enough time had passed after she had shut the door, he gathered up his father’s Invisibility Cloak and quietly snuck out of Gryffindor Tower.

“Meliza?” he whispered, as he came upon her, her face wrinkled with worry. He whipped the cloak off.

“Oh thank Merlin. I thought you wouldn’t show. Look, we can sit over there,” Meliza said leading the way and sitting down. “Nobody’s too close to hear.”

Harry spoke first. “I’m worried about her.”

“I know. That’s why I wanted to talk to you, to make sure I wasn’t imagining things.”

“You’re not. I mean, since Bellatrix’s last attack, she’s just been… I don’t know.”

“Darker? Meaner? More hell-bent on revenge?” supplied Meliza.

“All three.”

“Have you been noticed she’s sneaking off some nights, when she thinks we’re not looking?” Meliza added.

“Come to think of it, yeah. She sometimes does.”

“Not sometimes, a lot of times. I followed her once. I saw her going into the Forbidden Forest with Professor Lehane.”

“Why?” asked Harry.

“I don’t know. Filch caught me before I could go any further. Said Ana had a ‘special pass’ to be roaming around with the professor that late at night.”

“We have to do something,” Harry said.

“What do you propose, Harry James Potter? She’s been extremely touchy, on top of everything else,” Meliza replied. “She gives me this look like she wants to bite my head off when I ask questions.”

“I don’t know. Look, I have to get back,” Harry said, gathering up his cloak. “Ana promised to check in on me. I told her I had an upset stomach so I could sneak away.”

“Let’s meet again in a couple of days,” Meliza suggested. “I want to brainstorm with you. Two heads are better than one, and maybe we can come up with a way to help Ana.”

“Okay, see you.”

“Good night Harry.”

* * *

“Are you quite sure about this Sydney?” asked Albus in a concerned voice, gazing at her over his half moon glasses.

Sydney tucked a piece of stray hair behind her ears as she replied, “Absolutely Headmaster. I’m not doing Severus any good by coming back here to teach. I talked to Dixon, and my flight’s booked for tomorrow morning. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I can’t find Sark and Lucius with the limited resources I have. I need the CIA to do that Albus.”

Albus sighed before giving her a smile, “Well, then I wish you all the best my dear. You and Severus. I hope you find what you’re looking for, even if it’s not what you expect.”

As Sydney made her way away from the Headmaster’s office her thoughts kept returning to his cryptic message. What could it mean? With this in mind, she didn’t look where she was going where she was going and bumped into someone.

“We’re all mad in our own way/Colours fade the grey away/Different people all the same/Each reveals the meaning/We’re all mad in our own way/Fill the sky with different shades/Read the story on each page/Each reveals the meaning.”

“I’m sorry,” she said before realizing who it was, “Meliza?”

Meliza looked up with red eyes at her favourite professor.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” asked Sydney leading her away from the main corridor and into an empty classroom.

“Seamus dumped me!” bawled Meliza as fresh tears sprung out of her eyes.

“What?! I’m so sorry sweetie,” said Sydney giving her a hug.

“It came totally out of the blue. First he asks me why I’ve been distracted and I told him it’s because of Anastasia, but he didn’t seem convinced. Then he told me he really liked me, but till I sorted out my priorities he couldn’t go out with me!” sobbed Meliza into Sydney’s arms.

“Oh sweetie, I wish there was something I could do, but I’m leaving tomorrow. But I’ll owl you from LA.”

“You’re leaving?” asked Meliza incredulously, her own drama forgotten.

“I feel I can help Severus better from LA. Find the people who did this to him,” said Sydney choosing her words carefully.

“I’ll miss you,” said Meliza giving her former teacher a hug.

“I’ll miss you too,” said Sydney.

After Meliza had calmed down and assured Sydney she needed to walk to clear her head, she found herself wandering over to the Slytherin corridors. She didn’t know why she did it, but it seemed to soothe her. It was as if the essence of Draco might help her to figure out what she wanted to do.

“We’re all mad in our own way/Colours fade the grey away/Different people all the same/Each reveals the meaning/We’re all mad in our own way/Fill the sky with different shades/Read the story on each page/Each reveals the meaning.”

From out of nowhere someone attacked her with a hex. Before she could respond, they jumped onto her, stuffing something into her robes before giving her a kicking in the ribs, but not hard enough to do any damage. Some of the spectators cheered as the assailant looked at Meliza and said, “Stay away from Slytherin Mudblood.”

Meliza could only make out Pansy’s steely eyes before she blacked out.

Fade out

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