The Sneak

It was nearly half past midnight. The unseasonably warm evening had approached so gradually that it couldn’t have been predicted. Marietta lay wide awake, staring at the ceiling of her room. The glow-in-the-dark star stickers that she had placed there nearly eight years ago had not lost any of their luster. She laid there, hoping that she could absorb even the tiniest morsel of hope that she had felt when she put them up. This was the third time this week that she had found herself in this position, woken up by a nightmare in a cold sweat. She had been plagued by terrible dreams for months now. The ever increasing mysteries that seemed to litter the Daily Prophet did nothing to relieve her mind of its anxieties. Turning to her side, she gripped her ears, unable to rid them of this constant ringing sound. What was I dreaming about? The dream seemed to Disapparate from her mind. She couldn’t remember anything except…Laughter. In her dreams, the laughter had become so loud, so overbearing that it completely eclipsed any rational thought that she tried to pull forth.

Tossing once more, she became frustrated with herself. “Might as well clean my ruddy room, since I can’t sleep.” She thought to herself.

With an outstretched hand, she grasped at her wand, which had rolled a few centimeters past her fingertips on her bed. She tugged at the quilt with more force than necessary, which sent her wand in the opposite direction. It landed with a sickening thud that caused Marietta to lunge forward, going head first off the bed. A yelp turned to stifled laughter, her wand lying next to her in perfect condition. She glanced at the door, expecting her mum to have appeared, bleary-eyed in the doorway. Luckily, it seemed as if the prescribed sleeping draught had worked. Marietta didn’t want to disturb her. Sitting up, she reached for a nearby scrunchie and tied up the mass of reddish-blonde curls that had been sticking to the sides of her face.

From this angle, she was able to see the remnants of her depression. The floor was cluttered with cups, bowls, and plates. Several outfits and shoes were scattered, dropped after only one use. And her Hogwarts trunk lay in the corner, overflowing with books, cloaks, quills, and parchment. She rose solemnly, marching towards it. The trunk had grown quite dusty. It had been sitting this way for almost a year now, abandoned in the corner of her room since leaving Hogwarts.

Her finishing ceremony had been a glum one, the more formal celebration forgone since the passing of Dumbledore was still fresh on everyone’s minds. Many parents had taken their children and fled shortly after paying their respects, which Marietta found strange because where, if any place, was safe? The students that had stayed behind received their certificates of completion with little fanfare and returned home to a brand new wizarding world. A world where even the most powerful and respected wizards were no longer able to contain the threat of the Dark Lord’s uprising.  

Grabbing the nearest t-shirt, she began wiping the trunk gingerly. The dust clung to the shirt without much hesitation and Marietta began organizing the contents of the trunk. First, she took out the cloaks, shaking them slightly and placing them to the side to be hanged. Next, the books. She gathered them by subject matter and walked them over to her book shelf. For a moment she hesitated on whether to line them by height or color. The work moved quickly and she realized that a sense of lightness had filled her as she could now see more of the floor. She gathered her hangers from her closet and eagerly began to hang the various cloaks and jumpers that were now in a pile in the middle of the floor.

In search of more work, Marietta eagerly scanned the room until her eyes landed on a stack of mail that had been neatly laid on her dresser. She had stopped opening them after receiving nearly two months worth of rejection letters. At every interview she had attended since leaving Hogwarts, she saw the way people took in her overall appearance. Their eyes would fall on the scar that had been painfully seared into her face, the word “sneak.” The word had made her untrustworthy to any and every new person  she came in contact with. She had taken to wearing a balaclava but even in the wizarding world, the accessory seemed out of place. For a fleeting moment, she thought bitterly of Hermione Granger and the other members of Dumbledore’s Army.

An envelope in the shade of a very pale pastel pink stood out amongst all the letters. Quickly, she grabbed it, ripping it open, hoping for good news. A piece of parchment in the same shade of pink slid out of the envelope. At first glance, Marietta was distracted by the enchanted kittens playing with a ball of yarn along the bottom of the sheet as she unfolded the letter. She soon regained focus and began to read.

Dear Miss Edgecombe,

It has been brought to my attention that you are currently seeking a position within the Ministry of Magic’s Research Committee. I regret to inform you that at the moment, we do not have an opening within that department. The position has been filled.  However, if you would like to join me, I am in need of an office assistant, as I am back in my position as the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic. The position is yours pending the results of both yours and your father’s trial before the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. I see that there are some questions regarding your father’s parentage.

Signed,

Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic

Though dated nearly three months ago, Marietta felt her throat constrict. Tears blurred her vision and her breathing was shallow. Another threat to her family. Not only had Professor Umbridge alienated her from those that she had cared about at Hogwarts, she seemed to get a sort of twisted pleasure from reminding Marietta that she was now alone.

This wasn’t the first time that Umbridge had used the post to send seemingly non-threatening letters to her. Marietta had embarrassed her, and embarrassing Umbridge had put a target on her back. Near the beginning of last term, Umbridge had sent a letter to her parents, praising them for the way they had “brought up such a lovely and smart young lady,” but who had unfortunately been seen hanging around with some undesirables. The news had sent shockwaves through her parents. They had explicitly told her to keep her head down and her nose clean. Sticking to Umbridge’s good side were her marching orders and Marietta, ever the good daughter, stuck to them.

Times had changed dramatically since those long ago months at Hogwarts. Her parents had gone from being happy Ministry employees to frightened worker bees. Unknown to them, Marietta had overheard them speaking in hushed tones about the change of environment in the Ministry. Mr. Edgecombe, a short and stumpy man with greying red-blonde hair, had started to lose the rosiness of his cheeks. His eyes were now dark and framed by heavy bags underneath. And he had sunken in cheeks from the significant amount of weight he had lost since receiving a letter on official parchment nearly one month prior.

“I don’t know what I am going to do, Marjorie,” he said, frightened, “ I don’t know much about my mum and da. I was left at St. Catherine’s…”

“I know, darling. I know. Surely there’s something we can do.” Mrs. Edgecombe whispered, slightly squeezing her husband’s hand, “We have worked for the Ministry for decades now. It has to count for something.”

The moment was quickly cut short. A floor board had groaned loudly as Marietta shifted her position in the hall, alerting her parents that they were no longer speaking in private. Acting quickly, she had strolled into the kitchen, eying her father as he quickly stashed the letter into the pocket of his cloak. They ate breakfast in silence. Neither parent had asked about her plans or about any upcoming job interviews that morning, or tried to boost her confidence.  

Blinking back her tears, Marietta pulled herself from the memory. It left just as quickly as it had arrived. She decided it was best to push down the upset feeling that had made itself known in the pit of her stomach. The idea of never again seeing her father was painful and she would not subject herself to it if it wasn’t necessary. Father had spent the majority of the last few weeks trying to find information on his family to no avail. The nuns at St. Catherine’s had only been able to repeat the same story that he had heard all of his life. Edwin Edgecombe had been abandoned on the church steps on a warm summer evening in July. He seemed to be mere days old, swaddled and placed in a basket, sleeping ever so peacefully. There was a note containing only his name and a smeared “sorry.” This was not nearly enough for the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. Edwin had been arrested and taken to some unknown place that they presumed to be Azkaban. Her mum had returned home with soaked clothes, having walked home alone in the rain without her umbrella, tears streaming down her face. With Mr. Edgecombe gone, she’d grown increasingly clingy and jumpy, losing many nights of sleep counting down to Marietta’s fast approaching trial.

Marietta sighed. Glancing towards the wardrobe and catching her eyes in the mirror, she turned her face away. She had become a pro at avoiding her own reflection. A warm sensation began to radiate from the middle of her hand and out towards her fingertips. She jumped, staring down at the carpeted floor of her bedroom. Where her hand had just been lay a small golden coin. She picked it up, holding it high and examining the surface of it. It dawned on her slowly, it was her Dumbledore’s Army galleon!

Quick as a flash, Marietta was on her feet. What did this all mean? Was somebody in trouble?

Stumbling, she grabbed her trousers and began pacing the room. The faces of all of the D.A. members raced through her mind. Luna, Neville, Dean, Cho…Cho? They hadn’t spoken in months. Cho had reached out a few times but, Marietta, hunkered down in depression, had ignored her friend’s attempts. The last she had heard, Cho had gone on holiday in Paris.

Marietta, picked up the coin and, holding it high in the air, examined it once more. It was still radiating heat. She had half hoped that it was her imagination. A warm yellow light outlined the small dragon emblem on the surface of the coin and slowly dimmed. There was nothing to do now but to answer the call. But, who exactly was calling?

Hogwarts! I’ve got to get to Hogwarts. It was the only option. Everything happens at Hogwarts. It had been that way since her second year.

An overwhelming sense of duty flooded through Marietta’s mind. Her father, her upcoming trial, the news in the Daily Prophet, people needed help. This wasn’t the time to sit back, there were things worth fighting for. She had knowingly signed up to be able to defend her family and her friends back at Hogwarts, partially out of teenage rebellion but mostly out of fear. The writing had been on the wall in fifth year when Harry showed up at the end of the Triwizard Tournament holding Cedric’s body.

In a flash, Marietta had pulled on her trousers, a jumper, and tied her trainers extra tight. She was panting from both fear and excitement. She approached her dresser, looking for a scarf to tie around her face and head. Her hands were shaking so much that the scarf felt impossible to get on. In pure frustration, she ripped it off and tossed it aside.

“If I’m going to die tonight, I’ll will face them fully,” she said aloud to herself, thinking of the Death Eaters.

The words hit her like a brick. She could possibly die tonight. Puffing out her chest, she scrawled a note, a goodbye letter to her mother. She placed the note on her dresser with great care and took one last look at her bedroom. It was now spotless and she noticed a photo of her and her friends cheering on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team on her bulletin board. Smiling sadly, she closed the room door and headed towards the family room. With a swish of the wrist, she cast Muffliato, reached into the pot over the mantle, and tossed Floo powder into the fireplace. Green sparks shot up and turned into great flames, She cast one more doubting look around the room and stepped inside.

“Hogsmeade!” she said boldly and disappeared from view.

“Who’s there?!” cried a frightened voice in the darkness.

Marietta had landed with a large thud in an unknown dark room. Why didn’t I think of a specific shop? She thought as she filled with panic. Rolling out of view, she gripped her wand at her side and placed her back against a solid structure. Struggling with all of her might, she held her breath.

Lumos,” said the frightened voice. “I know you’re in here. I heard you!”

The light moved, casting shadows onto the surrounding walls. The dim lighting revealed a big room filled with tables and chairs. The footsteps grew closer and Marietta’s heart beat hard in her chest.

Lumos Maxima!” she roared, stepping out into the open.

Madam Rosmerta yelped, covering her eyes. She stood there for a moment, trembling in her dressing gown, deep emerald robes and satin bonnet. Marietta took notice of her fear and lowered her wand.

Nox,” she said after a moment’s hesitation.

Nox,” repeated Rosmerta. Her wand extinguished. “Who are you? What do you want?” her voice trembled.

“My name is Marietta Edgecombe. I used to go to Hogwarts and I have a feeling that I’m needed here tonight.” Marietta said bravely, thinking of the warm coin in her left hand.

“Is that so?” Rosmerta snorted, wand still pointed dangerously at Marietta. “Well it seems as if there is a rough lot around here tonight. You wouldn’t happen to be here with them?” She said squinting.

“No, I’m not,” Marietta said, gripping her wand tightly again.

“Very well then,” Rosmerta said suddenly dropping her wand. “Looks like we’ll need a drink then.”

She crossed the room and strolled behind the bar. With a flick of the wand two mugs slowly lowered from the shelf to the counter. Rosmerta walked to a nearby sink and rinsed them. Summoning a towel, she dried them by hand and set them before Marietta.

“You like firewhisky?” she said searching the shelves.

“Uhhh...”

“Good. Me too,” she chuckled.

With two very generous helpings served, she said, “Cheers!” and downed the glass.

Marietta stared at the mug and winced. She hesitantly took as sip and immediately began sputtering. The whiskey burned from the moment it touched her lips and a warming sensation was lodged in her chest. She needed more time to think. Where would the other D.A. members meet? They had never planned on being out of Hogwarts when the attack happened.

“Atta girl!” said Rosmerta laughing and pouring herself another mug.

“So, what happened here?” said Marietta looking around distractedly. The Three Broomsticks, once lively and warm, had an overwhelming feeling of sadness.

“I closed down last year, wasn’t really any reason to keep this place running,” Rosmerta said, staring off into space, “Not after everyone found out that I was responsible for Dumbledore’s death.”

“But. You didn’t—” started Marietta.

“I did enough!” Rosmerta cut in. “One of the most brilliant wizards of our time, Dumbledore was.”

They drank in silence once more. Unfortunately to Marietta, the next sip was just as horrible as the first. She pushed away the glass. A slight crack outside the pub turned their attention. They jumped up from their positions and pointed the wands in the direction of the noise. Hushed whispers could be heard from outside. Marietta moved quickly, pressing herself against the walls, she made her way to the curtained window near the door.  From her vantage point she was able to make out a group of about three people, running in a serpentine pattern, ducking in an out of the shadows. Marietta stared, squinting into the darkness to try to make out who they were.

Marietta waited with bated breath as the trio moved silently down the road. The smallest of the group stumbled slightly, betraying herself in the glow of a nearby torch.

“Cho,” gasped Marietta.

As quickly as she had appeared, Cho was back in the shadows, racing in the direction of Hogwarts. Without thinking, Marietta Apparated into the next alley. They slammed into one another, causing Marietta to land roughly onto the cobbled street. Regaining focus, she noticed not one but three wands pointed in her direction. Dean Thomas, Luna Lovegood, and Cho Chang stood above her, wands aimed at her chest.

“M-Mari?!” Cho sputtered.

“Hi,” Marietta said weakly as she rose to her feet.

Cho quickly embraced her. “What are you doing here?” she said in a hushed whisper.

“The coin,” Marietta said, pulling the galleon from her pocket. “I knew that it had to be Hogwarts. We trained all that time. They took my dad.”

The words felt fragmented and suddenly Marietta became aware of who she was talking to. What if they didn’t accept her? What if they thought that she was working for the other side? She thought of the branded “sneak,” on her face. Why would they believe her for even one second?

As if reading her mind, Dean smirked knowingly. “Come on, Sneaks, we’ve got work to do”

3 Weeks Later…..

“Where is it? Where is it?” Marietta said, frantically running around her house.

She had scrubbed the house from top to bottom and spent more time than necessary fluffing the pillows on the couch. There were flowers, balloons, and cards covering every flat surface in the living room and kitchen. Her father was coming home today. After the Battle of Hogwarts, it had taken about a week for the Ministry to find him and the other missing wizards that had not been successful in their meeting with the Muggle-Born Registration Commission.

The unfortunate wizards had been found in the dungeons of Azkaban, locked away with less than the necessary amount of space. They were hungry and dehydrated but, thankfully, still alive. Edwin had been whisked away to St. Mungos with the severely injured, having been subjected to a few beatings for standing up to their Death Eater guards.

The kettle screamed loudly as Marietta had taken to searching the coat closet. Her father’s favorite throw blanket had been put away as warmer weather prevailed but she could not for the life of her figure out where her mom had put it.

“Ha!” She screamed in victory as the blanket toppled onto her head from the top shelf.

Racing to the kitchen to remove the kettle from the stove top, she sighed. Everything looked great and her parents would be home very soon. She went about setting plates full of her father’s favorite things. It would be a lovely brunch. Veggie frittata, sausages, fresh squeezed orange juice, and giant slices of banana bread, fresh from the oven. She was so excited that she almost missed the sound of the doorbell and two large knocks that echoed throughout the hallway.

She ran, skidding to a halt at the door. “Mom you’re back so soon, I can’t belie—” she stopped midway as she opened the door.

The smile faded from her face, a feeling of disdain  taking over.

“Umm…hello,” said a very unsure looking Hermione Granger with a weak wave.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” Marietta roared. She slammed the door with so much force that it seemed as if the glass would break.

Frantic muttering could be heard as she had stormed back into her living room. Mrs. Weatherby, annoying neighbor and gossip extraordinaire, suddenly popped into her mind. Marietta could envision her looking out her window at this moment and seeing Hermione Granger flailing around on her doorstep. It was at the precise moment of this thought that Hermione began to annoyingly ring the doorbell and knock louder than was necessary.

“MARIETTA! PLEASE, I JUST WANT TO TALK!” she yelled from the porch.

Rolling her eyes, Marietta pivoted and started once again toward the front door. She swung it open to reveal a very red-faced Hermione, who had been so busy ringing the doorbell that she hadn’t noticed the open door.

“You have five minutes.” Marietta said warningly. She opened the door wider to let Hermione slip in.

Taking her place across the table from Hermione, Marietta slid over a cup of tea. Hermione had been sitting, anxiously looking around the room.

“Your home is lovely,” she started.

“Is that what you came here to talk about?” Marietta said with raised eyebrows as she sipped her tea.

“No.” Hermione sighed. She reached for her own cup, taking a sip and choking slightly.

“Sorry, my dad likes a bit of dragon’s breath chili in his tea,” Marietta smirked, taking another sip.

Hermione grabbed the nearest napkin and began dabbing her eyes. “I have been trying to get in contact with you,” she said.

“Mmmm… well?”

“Listen, I know that we didn’t get off on the right foot—”

Marietta snorted.

“—but, it has been absolutely my fault. “ Hermione finished.

Marietta was so stunned she didn’t really know what to say.

“We were all doing what we thought was best and…I treated you unfairly. I should’ve told you, told all of you, what you were getting into by signing up for the D.A. I had convinced myself that it was for the best. It was for the safety of all of us. I should’ve been more straightforward and I’m sorry.”

More silence.

“And you showed up to Hogwarts—”

“That wasn’t for you!” Marietta snapped.

“Of- Of course not” Hermione said, looking down at her hands in embarrassment. “Anyway, I really came here because I think I figured out a way to get that off of your face,” she said, indicating towards the marks.

“Excuse me?” Marietta said confused. She had tried several remedies and none had had any effect, and now Hermione was offering a cure?

“I’m sorry that it took so long, busy year,” Hermione said with a slight chuckle. She reached in her bag and pulled out a small pot of cream. “May I?”

Marietta gave a slight nod, Hermione opened the jar and spread a small amount of the substance over Marietta’s scars. There was a warming, then cooling sensation. As she looked across the table, Hermione burst into a smile.

“See?” she said, handing a small compact mirror to her.

Marietta stared back at her reflection, unable to believe her eyes. She slammed down the compact and ran into the hallway. Hermione rushed after her, almost falling as she slammed into the now frozen Marietta in front of the mirror. The scars had almost completely vanished.

“You may need to do it one more time to get them off thoroughly,” Hermione said sheepishly.

As Marietta stared in shock at her reflection, Hermione quietly gathered her belongings and started to head for the door. As she reached it, Marietta called out.

“Hermione, wait.”

Hermione turned around with a slight grimace.

“Thank you.” Marietta said softly. “You didn’t have to do this.”

“Yes, I did,” Hermione said.

Suddenly, Marietta was struck with an idea.“Can you do something else for me before you go?” she asked.

A cab rolled slowly to the front gate of the Edgecombe home. Mr. and Mrs. Edgecombe slowly, with the help of the driver, began to exit as Hermione and Marietta walked onto the porch.

“Thank you. Again,” said Marietta as she stuck her hand out to Hermione.

On her forearm was a delicate tattoo in the shape of a wand. As she and Hermione shook hands, sparks flew from the tip of the wand and the words “Dumbledore’s Army Est.1995” formed above it. They disappeared and another spark formed the word “Sneaks.”

“I’ll be seeing you then.” Hermione said as she walked down the path.

“See you,” Marietta said with a wave.