The fading sunlight spilt through the green leaves of the willow tree, falling in dappled patterns across white pebbles, sparkling clear water and glimmering crystal.
Fleur lifted the silver chain over her head, placing the little silver acorn and the gold band with its dark stone upon the tomb’s clear, hard stone. ‘Gabby and I tried again now she’s with me at Les Inconnus.’ She pulled Harry’s wand from her sleeve and a fist of emotion clamped itself about her throat. ‘But we failed again.’
A faint smile hovered beneath the crystal.
She rolled the wand between her fingers, listening to the echo of Harry’s magic within it. ‘Britain is still changing. The Ministry of old is all but gone, washed away in the wake of war, and a new country is rising. You’re a hero again.’ A brief laugh burst from her lips. ‘You’d’ve hated how they talk about you now. When Gabby and I succeed, we can laugh about it together, mon Cœur.’
No matter how long it takes.
Fleur clutched the wand to her chest and closed her eyes, burying herself in the soft murmur within it. ‘Why did you have to die?’ she whispered.
A soft hoot drifted down from the branches above.
An owl? Fleur’s eyes snapped up. How did it get through my wards?
A ball of grey-tinged, moulting, bedraggled feathers fluttered down upon the crystal tomb and a pale, knotted wand dropped to bounce across the tomb’s top.
Fleur caught it as it rolled off the edge. ‘The Elder Wand…’
Glazed, dazed amber eyes peered from beneath rotting plumage.
‘Hedwig,’ Fleur murmured. ‘You look awful.’
Hedwig let out a low hiss and dragged herself forward. Fleur snatched Harry’s wand and her necklace back out of the way as a raw, hoarse, rasp rattled from Hedwig’s beak. Tendrils of dark mist curled off her mouldering feathers as she flopped into the pebbles at Fleur’s feet.
Shadows coalesced above the tomb; shapeless, faceless dark.
Fleur’s breath caught and she clutched Harry’s wand to her heart. Don’t hope. She tried to crush the swell of it beneath the hammering of her heart. Don’t wish.
The shadow faded like morning mist before the sun and a soft breeze whispered through the willow’s leaves, rustling in the grass. Fish darted beneath the ripples of the river and gentle birdsong chorused from the trees and wildflower fields.
Fleur sucked in a gulp of air and let her heart sink, squeezing her eyes shut until tears trickled down her cheeks. ‘That’s why we don’t wish, Fleur, because wishes never come true.’
A slim crack snaked along the clear crystal, splitting Harry’s faint smile in half