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by: Lucy Winslow
December 24, 2009

A hooded figure clothed in black ran across a field and came to a stop at a set of mazed hedges. Silently, she paused, making sure a smaller body was secured in the harness before she let go, grabbing her wand and whispering, "Lumos," as she stepped inside the maze before she went on to say, "Show me the way out." She watched as the large hedges began to shift to form a single pathway, and she took a quick breath, holding it. This was it. This was really it, wasn't it? She glanced over her shoulder at the buildings that comprised Tutaminis Manor. Her eyes shifted momentarily to the window of her and Sam's room. She blinked to keep back tears as she began to walk, her hand going to her sleepy toddler's head. "It's ok," she said to her daughter, giving her a kiss on her forehead. "It's going to be fine." And with that she took off, her legs carrying her as fast as she dared go.

December 26, 2009

It had taken her two nights to decide to come here, two long days with Bella in a noisy, crowded shelter when she wished they could be going between grandparents for Christmas. For her second Christmas, Bella still hadn't had a proper meal around a table full of people who loved her, and this time, she had spent it clinging to her mother's arm or leg or neck. This had been, of course, a fact Lucy was relieved about. She had worried Bella would want to play with the other children, and that would have been difficult for the mother to do. But none of that mattered now. For once, Bella would get to experience being in a home, not a place where people were hiding out. For once, people who loved her and weren't going to fight would be surrounding her. Of course, first the three adults had to get past the initial greetings, which could vary and were out of her control. Her parents hadn't seen her since a few days after Bella had been born. Now it was a year and a half later.

Lucy took a deep breath before raising her hand and knocking firmly on the door three times. Her hand slowly dropped to her side as she kept her eyes on her parents' front door as she waited. It seemed like an eternity before her mother opened her door, but rather than warmly smile and invite her in, her mother stared at her for a few moments in what Lucy could only guess was shock before stammering, "L-l-lucy?" questioningly, her eyes watering, and Lucy couldn't help but tear slightly herself as she nodded and stepped forward to give her a mother a hug or at least as much of one as she could give with a body between them. "And Isabella?" her mother asked, and again, Lucy nodded. "Where's Sam?" she asked, stepping back to let Lucy in.

"He's still with the others," Lucy answered as she stepped past her mother and into the living room, beginning to take off her jacket and shoes and then the carrier Isabella was in once she had set her daughter down.

"Oh, will he be coming later, dear?" Elisabeth asked, helping her daughter put away her coat and shoes in the nearby coat closet before bending over to try to get to her granddaughter, who shook her head and fussed.

"No, he won't be," Lucy answered simply before looking at Bella and smiling. "What's the matter, sweetie? That's your grams!" she said, picking up Bella and offering her to her mother, who reached out. Bella looked at her mum before back to Elisabeth and hesitantly went to her, keeping her eye on her at all time, causing both women to laugh lightly.

However, after a little fussing over Bella, Lucy's tactic to use the baby to distract her mother from the Sam issue proved ill-fated as Elisabeth placed her granddaughter down to play with her toy. "Why won't he be joining us?" she queried, a hint of concern in her eyes as she met her daughter's.

Lucy quickly averted her eyes and shrugged before sighing heavily and glancing at her daughter. "Sam's the reason I haven't seen you for over a year. Can't let his precious, grown, capable wife out to visit her parents because a big, bad Death Eater might get her." She looked at her mother momentarily before looking around the place. "I like the new couches," she told her mother, giving her a forced smile and hoping her mother would let the subject drop. She felt it was clear enough that they were having problems.

No such luck. "Have you two div--?"

"No, mum, but we probably would have had we been anywhere near civilization and I had had my way," she replied. She knew how her mother felt about that issue, but who cared? It was her life, and at least she was being honest. She wasn't going to lie to save face. And just as predicted, her mum gave her that look, and that feeling she'd had as an adolescent came back. She suddenly was the girl who had to explain herself to her parents. "Mum, when your husband treats you like you're a child and doesn't let you make any decisions for yourself, it doesn't matter if he's protecting you or not. It's emotional abuse to keep someone down, to constantly guilt someone into doing what you want them to do. I won't stand for it, and I would hope you'd be proud of me for making a decision that's best for my daughter and me. Bella deserves a father who's going to be involved in her life."

Elisabeth simply looked at her daughter for a few moments before speaking. "Does he know you left?"

Lucy looked off to the side, rolling her eyes, her hands crossing in front of her. She felt like a child again. For Bella. This was all for Bella. She could put up with it. "By now he does, mum."

"But you didn't tell him?"

"Not face-to-face, no, but I left a note on my pillow for him..."

"What did you say?"

"I explained everything and told him not to come after me or his daughter until he's ready to step up and be the loving, sweet, amazing husband and father he used to be rather than the dictator I've come to know him as. I also told him I didn't guarantee we'd be waiting for him if he took too long." At her mother's look, she scoffed. "What? Mum, it's my life, my decision! I've been through a year and a half of a hellish marriage, and I don't have to put up with that crap! I don't have to put up with it!" And as her mum raised her voice, Bella began to fuss, throwing her toy and bringing her hands to her ears. Lucy looked at her mum and shook her head. "Now you've done it!"

She leaned over and picked up her daughter, cooing, "It's ok, sweetie. It's ok." She bounced lightly, trying to calm her daughter, who had her arms around her neck and her head resting on her shoulder as she fussed. "Mummy and grams were just discussing something. I know, I know... Shh...." Thankfully, Elisabeth did little more than tell her where she could go lay down with her daughter and tell her she was making some tea if she wanted some before disappearing to the kitchen.

Lucy went down the long, narrow hallway before reaching her old room and getting into her old bed once the door was shut. She made sure her daughter was covered before resting atop the covers herself, gently stroking her daughter's cheek the way she knew would calm her, and sure enough, she was over halfway to dreamland, but the former Hufflepuff stayed there, watching her daughter sleep for a few moments. This had to happen this way. It was all there was to it, but the tears began to fall, and she tried to wipe them away before giving in and forcing herself up, sobbing as quietly as she could before kissing her daughter's forehead. "Mummy will be back. She promises."


May 20, 2010
Present day
12:00 p.m.
Location: Warren Manor

It had taken months for Lucy to decide to give up entirely on the Order, but each day it got easier to give into her doubts towards the capabilities of the other members as the ache in her heart to see her daughter again grew. And once she'd left, it had taken what seemed like days for Lucy to enter the wizarding world. Security was certainly tight, though there were a few small areas where one could simply sneak in. The one she had found was just a large field, one that the Death Eaters probably thought would only be verged by simple muggles who could be repelled by a simple confundus charm. Unfortunately for them, she was far from a simple muggle as, despite her roots, she had magical blood running through her veins whether they recognized it as valid or not.

It was a stupid idea to enter the wizarding world without paperwork claiming she was of a legal blood type to possess a wand. Even Lucy was savvy to that fact. However, at this point she didn't care. Damien had been taken nearly six months ago, and nothing had been done about it. They were getting nowhere constantly badgering that Nadia girl. Something had to be done, and if she could figure out a plan of some sort (Yes, she was winging it. So, sue her.), she would be the one to do it. Right now, however, she was going to make her way the rest of the way across this field. She could see a home somewhere in the distance that was rather large and definitely gated, but what did she care? It was probably some pureblood who felt the need to show off the magnificence of his family. She'd simply steer clear, and she would hopefully manage, right?

Or maybe....but could she really be that bad? And what if she wasn't evenly matched? Lucy paused in uncertainty and stared at the mansion before taking out her wand and gripping the familiar handle firmly. This could be suicide. What if this belonged to a Slytherin who had been in her year and known her and her blood status? She'd be a slave in no time--if she couldn't outdo the person or persons.... Or what if it belonged to Trevor himself? She had several things she would willingly do to him, especially after news that had reached them from their errand runners that Evie had been murdered. She was more than willing to believe that Trevor had done it himself and was getting away with it scott free. Maybe she'd overstayed her welcome or overstepped a boundary. Either way, it didn't matter. She had to win this duel that would come eventually. She knew it was the only way to get in, and what better place to go to try to do this than a place that was distanced from its neighbors?

Yes, this all was incredibly stupid, but who had ever said that Lucy was smart when she was mad and felt backed into a corner? She certainly had never claimed such a thing except when arguing with Sam, but what did that matter? Sam was just Sam, her stupid soon-to-be-ex. Naturally, this lovely pep talk she gave herself lacked the effect on her everyone might hope for it to have. She took a deep breath, rolled her shoulders back, squared them, and then headed forward, her wand put away for sake of seeming less of a threat for the moment. It took forever, but soon she reached the gate, looking for some way to get it to open. Sneaking in might not be her best idea, but standing here parched and starving in the heat of the day surely was even less.
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