Chapter 24

Every summer that Ines had experienced before were quite strange. When she wasn't locked up in her home, she was sneaking into the town, both the magic and muggle one. The summer before she had met a boy named Dmitri, their romance - if you could even call it that - was fleeting as he moved closer to Durmstrang. He had no idea who she was, who her family was, and what she was risking by meeting him. His uncle Igor had taken him to the area so he could visit Hogwarts for reasons that Ines never found out, mostly due to the fact that she and Dmitri spent very little time talking and more time in his bed. He had taken up residence at the finest Inn and stayed for almost the entire summer. It was quite freeing, he knew her as Ines and Ines only. Not Ines Avery, Oberon's Gryffindor sister, or the blood traitor. Ines would often wonder if Oberon would every cover for her if she were to get caught coming back in the middle of the night. She found that the easiest way was through the outdoor house elf entrance to the kitchen, up to the back stairwells, through the hidden door in the second-floor library, and up into her bedroom. So, she never gave him the chance to try.

The summers before she ever went to Hogwarts were some of the greatest she ever had. It is easy to forget now, how effervescent and free she felt in those summers. Ines and Oberon didn't have any friends in the area, their parents didn't like any of the pureblood families they lived near. But it didn't matter to them, because they had each other. Their home had been beautiful at first, summer brought its full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigor of the year; all things were glad and flourishing.

They spent most of their time on the ivy-covered hillside in the backyard. They were warlocks and mermaids and goblins and that was their reality. If someone said, 'Isn't it cute, look at them playing,' they would have smiled back, humoring them, but it wasn't playing. It was a transformation. It was their own world. Their own rules. The confidence that Ines had now was completely nonexistent at the time, she was an entirely different girl. She was glued to her older brothers side, their hands always intertwined. She feared anything and everything and believed her brother would protect her from them. It was so fatally easy to make young children believe that they are horrible, and Oberon protected her from that.

But now she was protected only by the walls in her bedroom at the Potters. Her bottom lip trembled. She got up from her seat on the bed, walked to the window to look outside, staring at the darkness, not really seeing anything but the years falling away, stripping away the cool, confident woman she was now, revealing the scared little girl she once was. She'd vowed to never go back to that place, to never revisit those feelings again, yet here she stood. Ines wanted to grab her brother's hand and run back through time, losing years like coats falling from their shoulders. She's safer than she had been in days, surrounded by the people she loved most, and yet she never wanted to cry more. For them, she holds her years back, and curl inward to bleed alone, inside, where nobody else could see. When the dawn light was coursing through the slats in the shutters at last, making thin stripes on the floor, she decided that for every human soul there must surely be a possible childhood worth living, but once it slips by, there isn't any reclaiming it or revising it.

The majority of her summer days were spent in her room, she hardly spoke the boys. She sent many letters to all her friends, the majority being to Lily. After a month they could hardly stand the distance and Lily invited her to her house, it was quite far from the Potters, all the way in Cokeworth but she didn't mind. When the day finally arrived, she made an unusual appearance to the Potters kitchen to tell Euphemia. She was quite surprised to see her there. Ines hadn't ignored her by any means, they spoke occasionally, but she never ventured out of her bedroom for long for them to have any more conversations. James and Sirius were in the living room, watching her as she spoke to Euphemia from down the hall. Ines ignored their persistent gazes and continued to walk through the kitchen to Euphemia. "Ines, dear," Euphemia cooed, "How are you?". "I'm well, I was wondering if I could go and visit my friend, Lily, in Cokeworth, tomorrow afternoon.". Euphemia smiled and leaned in, whispering into her ear "The girl that James always speaks of?". Ines leaned back and laughed, "Yes, her. She's a wonderful girl. I've got it all figured out, there's a wizarding tavern not far from her home with an open Floo Network, so if possible, could I borrow some Floo powder and use your fireplace?". Euphemia was handed a pouch of powder from James' house elf as he had been listening and Euphemia passed it on to Ines. "Of course, are the boys not invited.". "No," Ines snapped, faster and firmer than she would have liked "No, Lily's asked for just me.".

Euphemia pursed her lips, "The boys are your best friends, I know you care for them deeply. But as great of a friend they can be, they can be colossal idiots. We are all mistaken sometimes; sometimes we do wrong things, things that have bad consequences. But it does not mean we are evil, or that we cannot be trusted ever afterward. Please don't hold a grudge against them. Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on. A broken friendship, a broken romance, that is mended through forgiveness can be even stronger than it once was.". At the mention of romance Ines straightened up, she wondered what Mrs. Potter knew, or thought she knew. Euphemia noticed her sudden rigid stance and held an arm out and gripped her shoulder. "Learn to love someone when they least deserve it because that is when they need your love most.". She let go and walked further into the kitchen towards the pot that was being cleaned by itself.

Ines turned on her heel, to the boy's surprise, she walked into the living room to where they sat. They were sat on the couch playing wizarding chess but had been listening to Ines conversation with Euphemia more than anything else. She stood behind them, leaning over the back of the couch, and moved Sirius' knight to the perfect position to take out James rook. "I'm visiting Lily tomorrow, I'll send her your love," she said this as casually as she possibly could. It was very difficult. The boys knew she wasn't absolutely furious with them, but she definitely wasn't happy. The silence was it's on kind of tension, and the room was filled with it. Just as Ines was to turn on her heel Sirius spoke, "You look nice today, Ines.". She wore cream-colored trousers, a navy blue top, and her hair fell over her left shoulder. "Thank you," she whispered, before walking back down the hall, up to the stairs, and into her room where she fully allowed herself to blush. He wasn't saying it with any ill intent, to get into her pants, or get her to forgive him. But because she truly believed it.