fifty-three

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"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" asked Mary Macdonald.

That was clear sign as any that Regulus wasn't here yet. She suspected that had Mary discovered that her dead friend was alive, she'd be something close to tears, and that was not the case.

"Could we come inside to talk?" Celestia replied instead.

For the first time, Mary scrutinised the boys beside her, clearly trying to determine who their parents were from looks alone. A huff left her when she saw Draco's white-blond hair which easily gave away his surname.

In turn, Celestia allowed herself to scrutinise her. The Black woman looked nearly the same as the pictures Regulus had gifted her, albeit a bit older. And . . . tired? That seemed to the best word to describe that haunted look in her eyes.

"Malfoy," she decided, and then spent a little more time when it came to Theo. "A Nott, I presume? Yeah, fat chance I'm letting three Death Eaters into my house."

Yet, she didn't slam the door. That was something. Celestia hadn't thought about how she'd convince her to let them in. A fault in her plan, clearly. And Regulus had not told her how to act.

"Just give us a chance to talk. Please. We'll hand over our wands," she offered.

Both of the boys' gazes seared through her. They had not talked about this at all. Without sliding their minds together, or even talking, she knew what they were asking: Do you trust her that much? No, she didn't. But she trusted Regulus.

Perhaps a small part of her had hoped the offer would be enough, because when Mary said, "Okay. Hand them over, then. Handle facing me," she did so begrudgingly.

The boys followed her lead just as reluctantly, and her heart swelled at the act. They were putting their trust in her. Obviously, on an intellectual level, she knew they trusted her but giving over their wands because of her? Yeah, that hit her like an arrow through the chest.

The woman's gaze then moved to look at the sword on Celestia's back and the one on his Theo's hip. "Leave those at the door too." In a mutter, she added, "Though I don't know why the hell you're wearing them."

There were a few things Celestia knew about Mary from the scarce conversations she'd had with Regulus. He had told her that Mary was loyal, opiniated, and sweet; but she never hesitated to fight for what is right, and that certainly is nothing that's aligned with the interests of Death Eaters.

It was clear, that she was not getting the sweet, loyal Mary. She didn't mind, though. She'd like to see Mary's claws before they became allies — if they became allies.

Neither Theo nor Celestia fought against disarming themselves of their swords. They both had enough weapons hidden upon their body to sustain an army.

"I'm only letting you in as a courtesy to your mother," prefaced Mary.

Maybe the comment had been made to sting, but she was only here because of Regulus so she couldn't really be offended. They followed her into the house.

Mary led them into her living room, and Celestia couldn't help but ogle the house, as little as she could see. It was clearly the house she'd been living in for the past twenty years, and it was clearly more than a house — it was a home.

It was silly that Celestia made a distinction between the two. Most simply considered them to be one of the same. But the distinction had always been painfully obvious to her.

When she saw a picture of her mother hanging on the wall, she averted her gaze and stopped looking at the house. Sitting on the sofa, the boys flanked either side of her and she harrumphed quietly.

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