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Lily spent a week of the summer holidays at Meg Valance's manor house, riding Hippogriffs, feeding the herd of Thestrals on large, dripping, greying chunks of meat (a terrifying experience, since she couldn't see the creatures that were snatching the meat out of her hands), being stared at by haughty old Valances in the portrait gallery, and being very apologetic to the butler whenever he fetched her something.

They didn't have a House Elf, because of a long-standing family fear of 'inferior magical creatures'. But, apparently – and to Lily's relief – muggles were not included in this category, because they tolerated Silversmith, the muggle butler, with a kind of upper-class indifference that almost amounted to politeness.

He was a difficult man to be polite to, in any case. He never spoke, if it could possibly be avoided, and he looked bulky and out-of-place, standing in the corner of the room with his shaved head, too-tight robes and constant smile. There was something slightly... indecent... about that smile, especially when his pale, milky-blue eyes were turned on Lily. Fortunately, Meg's family seemed to be immune to social awkwardness, and were therefore serenely unaffected by his presence.

Meg herself was green-eyed, square-jawed and sporty. She had dark blonde hair, always pulled back into a serviceable ponytail, and possessed boundless energy and a very loud voice. She seemed to bounce everywhere, as though she had got on the wrong end of a Springing Charm when she was younger.

She was the only child of a very old wizarding family. As her father (after marrying seven times and even experimenting with dangerous Fertility Charms) had abandoned hope of producing a male heir, he devoted his time to instilling the manly virtues of chivalry and courage in his daughter. He could bear the loss of the name, but not the character, of his family. The Valances had been great warriors, distinguished Generals in the quashing of several goblin rebellions (as such, it had become a proverbial expression amongst the goblins that, while you could never trust a wizard, you deserved to have your tongue nailed to a dragon's back-side if you trusted a Valance).

The Valances had been in Gryffindor from time immemorial, (there were even rumours that Meg's great-uncle Haricot had had his daughter killed because the Sorting Hat had placed her in Ravenclaw). In fact, if Meg Valance had been the sort of girl to worry, she would have been quite anxious as she approached the stool with the Sorting Hat on it in her first year. Fortunately, she was not, and therefore bounded up to it, as she bounded up to everything in life (she never, ever bounded away).

She was merry, confident and utterly devoid of sentimentality. She had a tendency to talk over people, not because she wasn't interested in what they were saying, but because she had been raised to command, and not to listen. Her father had told her that people would try to tell her what to do from time to time, but that their advice was not to be heeded because they were not Valances.

"What if they are?" she had responded.

"They won't be. You and I are the only ones left. And once I have taught you to listen to the promptings of your noble blood, you may disregard any command I give you which conflicts with it."

Meg, being quick on the uptake and not at all afraid to speak her mind, had spotted the flaw in this argument.

"What if my noble blood is telling me that I've learned to listen to it before you've decided I have?"

Maximus Valance's noble blood had obviously prompted him to ignore this, and he had proceeded to tell her that her great, great grandfather had ridden into battle on a Hippogriff, therefore she would be learning to ride one. She had been six at the time. She still had the scars.

The advantageous thing about her upbringing was that she had not been taught to regard muggles or muggle-borns as inferior creatures, because her father had been careful to point out that every creature was equally inferior to a Valance.

On the third day of Lily's holiday at the Valance House, Meg dragged her down to a vaulted cellar with the mysterious declaration: "There's something you have to see, if you're ever going to understand the Valances."

Meg led her past wine-racks, wine-presses and barrels of ancient brandy, explaining that some relative or another had died at sea and been pickled in one of the barrels, but they had never found out which one.

"Dad says he'll have dissolved by now," Meg explained. "So they're probably safe to drink. In fact, dad's been threatening to make me drink them for years, 'cause he reckons I'll absorb Captain Valance's battle spirit if I drink his corpse."

Lily made a face, and hoped she wasn't revealing her cultural ignorance of the wizard world. "I think you should refuse to do that."

"Don't worry, he only talks about it if I get a mark below an 'O' in Defence Against the Dark Arts, and - ," she grinned, "needless to say, that doesn't happen very much."

They wandered on in silence for a while, until Meg piped up with: "D'you think Sirius is handsome?"

You had to get used to abrupt subject-changes, when you were talking to Meg Valance.  

Lily took her time thinking over the response. She had to be careful here, because she was talking to Sirius Black's on-again, off-again girlfriend. And, technically, he was handsome, it was just hard to find somebody handsome when they were laughing at dejected outsiders and hexing first-years...

"Yeah, I guess so." She shrugged. "Everyone says he's handsome."

Meg seemed to come to herself. She grinned with all her old exuberance and said. "Yeah, he's a charmer alright. But that's not enough for you, is it? You need someone more… cerebral."

Lily laughed at the word. "Exactly. Couldn't have put it better myself. Cerebral."

"Mary says you don't confide in people very much," Meg went on, looking at her, as though for the first time.

Lily smiled playfully. "What is it you and Mary would like to hear? That I'm having an affair with a teacher? That I'm a member of a militant Muggle Supremacy group, working to bring down the Magical world from within?"

Meg laughed. "She also said you'd start making jokes if I tried to find out about you."

Lily looked disconcerted at this, but recovered almost immediately. "I just meant that I don't have anything to confide," she replied, with a shrug.

When Meg raised her eyebrows, Lily threw up her hands, torn between exasperation and amusement. "All right. What do you want to know?" she asked. Her smile had gone, but there was still a playful glimmer in her eyes.

Meg shrugged. "For starters, do you really like Roger Davies?" she asked bluntly. "Is he cerebral enough for you?"  

Lily didn't know why, but this question was very unwelcome. She thought for a minute, before replying. "Of course I like him. He's a good person. He's got a social conscience. I admire him."

Meg looked pained. "'Good person'… 'social conscience'… 'admire'! Lily, that's awful!"

Lily blushed. "What's so awful about it?" she asked angrily.

"You can't go out with someone just because you endorse their politics!"

Lily felt definitely annoyed now. "It's not just because I… he's gentle and… he's not angry or cruel or interested in Dark Magic - ," she stopped, horrified with herself. Why had she said that? Why was it important that he wasn't interested in Dark Magic? Surely – surely she wasn't going out with Roger Davies just because he was the exact opposite of Severus Snape?  

Meg saw that she was painfully confused and replied, a little more gently, "come on, Lily. We're in the same boat, you and me. Nobody's good enough for us. All the boys we know are idiots. But we don't want to be alone. Everyone you go out with is going to be beneath you in one way or another, because, as I say, boys are thoughtless, insensitive idiots - ,"

In spite of herself, Lily gave a little laugh. It was quite funny to hear Meg Valance criticising people for being thoughtless and insensitive.

"But you just have to make sure that the thoughtless, insensitive idiot you end up with is one that you care about," Meg added, "because stupid as they are, it's unkind to them to lead them on."     

Lily managed a shadow of her previous smile. "I'm surprised you think he's beneath me. I'm not a Valance. I'm about as far from a Valance as it's possible to be."

Meg slapped her on the back heartily. "You're Valance-like in character, my little muggle-born! Only you're a bit too polite – which is fine, in general, it's just, you know, when you're so polite that you start going out with someone you don't fancy, it's probably time to call it a day."

It transpired that the thing she had to see in order to properly understand the Valances was an enormous, barricaded set of doors. One half was hanging off its hinges. The other half had deep welts in the woodwork, as though it had been struck repeatedly with a battering ram.

"What's this?" Lily asked, running a finger over the splintered, tortured wood.

"This," said Meg, "is the library. I thought you'd like that bit," she added, seeing Lily's eyes light up. "But you might not like the rest. Come on in. Don't touch the left door."

Lily edged past the half-door which was hanging off its hinges, and found herself standing in the library of her dreams, although it seemed to have been the venue for a nightmare. On the one hand, it was a surprisingly dry and comfortable vaulted cellar, filled with ornately carved archways. The walls were set with bookshelves that extended far up into the gloomy shadows of the ceiling. On the other hand, Lily was disturbed to find that pictograms and symbols had been chalked haphazardly all over the floor; there was even the outline of a hand that had been chalked around. Lily bent down in the gloom to look at it; it had a finger missing.

There were also books lying, half-open, on the floor, with pages torn out of them. To Lily, this was like seeing a floor littered with desecrated corpses.

"What happened here?" she said.

Meg elaborated, with a certain amount of enthusiasm. Her formidable great aunt Guillotine Valance had once barricaded herself in here for six months, she said, while hoping to evade Ministry Law Enforcement Officers, who had come to arrest her for cannibalism. The siege of the Valance library was a horror story still ritualistically told to new recruits at the Department for Magical Law Enforcement.

"Cannibalism?" Lily demanded. "Who did she eat? She wasn't really guilty, was she?"

"Well, put it this way," Meg said airily, "she survived for six months down here, and they never found her children."

Lily wondered how many children you would have to eat in order to stay alive for six months, but decided not to enquire. Another question, though potentially as unwholesome as the first, occurred to her.

"Why did they call her Guillotine Valance?"

"Because of her sharp wit. And teeth."

Lily said nothing. She had never seen so many beautiful books in one place, but she didn't want to touch any of them, in case she discovered the whereabouts of that missing finger.

"Anyway, here it is," Meg said, "the site of Guillotine Valance's last stand." She spread her arms wide and looked around her. "Dad always said that when we Valances are shut indoors, and prevented from going to war, we go a bit crazy."

"Well, in that case, we'd better get you outside," Lily said with a smile, screwing up her courage and grabbing the nearest promising-looking book (Magical Creatures in Poisons and Antidotes) and thinking, with a pang, how much Severus would love this place.

All of a sudden, in the disconsolately draughty library, she missed him. It was like a sudden, bitter chill, creeping down her arms and legs, pricking her skin with little stabs of loss, and making her eyes sting with tears. All her anger at him – at herself – fused into this icy sadness, and all she could think, over and over, was that they could never rifle through this book together.

She had to get outside; things would seem clearer in the sunshine.

"You don't mind?" Meg asked, hurrying to catch up with her. "About me being related to a cannibal?"

"You can't help what your relatives did."

"It's just..." she twisted her fingers, uncharacteristically sheepish. "Well, everything's about who you're related to in the wizard world. And, if you can inherit glory, why can't you inherit guilt?"

Lily hesitated. She had never seen Meg like this. She never worried about whether she had done something wrong. And the idea that her relatives could have done something wrong was tantamount to heresy. But, Lily supposed, there weren't many ways you could justify the killing and eating of children.

"I guess you can't inherit glory or guilt," she said slowly. "I mean, it's not like red hair or freckles. It's not something that's encoded in your genes, is it?"

"I dunno," said Meg. "Madness might be."

Lily patted her on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Meg. Anyone who thinks that Bellatrix Black is an idiot definitely has their head screwed on the right way."

That night, Lily had nightmares about Guillotine Valance, whom she imagined as a cackling woman in a powdered wig with brown, broken teeth. At first she had been doing nothing more threatening than brandishing a letter from Hogwarts, which informed Lily that she had failed all her OWLs, but then the dream settled into a more familiar shape. It turned into the recurring nightmare that had troubled Lily from the age of twelve, in which she was being burned at the stake for witchcraft.

She was buffeted by palpable waves of dry heat; fumbling, clammy hands shoved her forward. Her own hands were tied behind her back, and she was wearing a loose white dress, plastered with ash and heaving with her short, panicky breaths. The crowd beneath her bristled with mutters and pitch-forks. She could hear the spitting and cracking of the fire, could see faces in the crowd below, made ruddy with the reflected firelight.

And then Guillotine Valance was tying her to the stake, leaning close, jeering at her. Her breath was hot and foul, and she had Silversmith's milky blue eyes.  

Lily woke herself by crying out. Since she had the entire west wing to herself, she didn't startle anybody, but she tried to quiet herself all the same and lay back down, panting softly, determined to stay awake for a while so that she wouldn't sink into the same nightmare.

Dawn light was starting to appear now, dyeing the room blue. She rolled over to peer at her watch on the bedside table and saw that it was five thirty. She had woken up too early for Meg, who believed in hearty sleep and hearty breakfasts, so she decided to try and find Guillotine Valance in the portrait gallery.

She wanted to reason away her fears, or even be sure what they were, because her skin was still prickling with inexplicable suspense. It was this place, she thought – who could be reasonable in this dilapidated gothic castle, awash with eerie blue dawn-light, in which everything looked as if it were underwater?

She could still feel Guillotine Valance's clammy breath on her neck.

So she shook herself, pulled a dressing-gown over her pyjamas, and shuffled along the stone-flagged corridors, feeling the wonderful coolness of the stone against her bare feet.  

Meg's house was a sprawling gothic castle gone slightly to seed. It had the same grey stone walls and stone-flagged floors as Hogwarts, with the same torches burning in brackets in little alcoves, and an impressive variety of weaponry mounted on the walls. A lot of these swords and axes appeared to be goblin-made; there were plaques underneath them with inscriptions such as 'Torn from the hands of Gornak the Unlikely by Roderick Valance at the Battle of Castlehaven, 1692'.

The cavernous entrance hall was the height of the entire house, criss-crossed with beams and oak stairwells. Lily tiptoed across it, anxious not to wake Silversmith.

She got the feeling this house hadn't been designed to be inhabited. It was more like a military museum. Where rugs softened the flagstone floor, it was for ostentation and not for comfort. They were either embroidered with the Valance coat of arms, or depicted dragons and Hippogriffs, mad-eyed and rearing, being ridden by armoured wizards brandishing swords. Lily amused herself for some moments by watching these little embroidered figures move. Their most probable action would have been to fall off their incensed steeds, but they defied expectation as well as gravity by staying put.

The house was very impressive, but a thick layer of greasy dust was over everything, and many parts of the castle, she soon learned, were derelict and boarded-up. It seemed that the Valances, with no spoils of war to enrich them, were finding that bravery and honour were not as profitable as they had once been.    

Guillotine Valance actually proved to be very beautiful, though with a cruel, pointed mouth rather like Andromeda Black's. (Lily supposed it was not impossible that they were related, since all the pure-blood wizard families had inter-married).

She was strangely colourless, with her white-blonde hair only a fraction darker than her porcelain skin. Her dress was also white – a complicated arrangement of silk, lace and taffeta, in varying shades of milk-white, ice-white, parchment-white, porridge-white. Her eyes, by contrast, were very dark brown and glittered with sardonic amusement.

As she noticed Lily, Guillotine Valance gave a wink and snapped her sharp little teeth playfully.

Lily understood that she was probably something of a tourist attraction in the Valance house, and liked to play up to her reputation. Before she knew it – and against her better judgement – she was smiling back.

Guillotine Valance had a black velvet choker, from which hung a silver pendant – a bright green eye mounted in a silver triangle. It had been painted with bewitching clarity. She wouldn't have been surprised if it had blinked.

"Oh, little girl, little girl," she heard Guillotine Valance murmur, in a tone of chilling tenderness, "If I only had your eyes, I could make a set of matching earrings."

Lily coloured slightly, but still suspected that this remark was playful. It was probable that Guillotine Valance frequently entertained herself, and others, by being as dastardly as possible.

She gazed defiantly back, and even thought that the corners of Guillotine Valance's pointed mouth turned upwards slightly, but this was all she had time to think because the next instant she was jolted back to her senses by the sound of a breathless voice at her elbow.          

"She was innercent, y'know."

It was Silversmith. He was standing very close to her, breathing hard and looking unaccountably triumphant.

Meg was floors away and she wasn't allowed to do magic.

She realised suddenly (because in the grip of extreme emotions Lily often became detached and analytical) what his jerky, irregular movements reminded her of: the way a spider moved. Like a spider, he was always lurking around the skirting-boards, motionless, but dreadfully conspicuous, and then scuttling sharply, suddenly into view. In fact, she felt the same fascinated revulsion towards him that she felt for spiders.   

"Oh, what would you know?" Guillotine Valance muttered disdainfully. "Skulking around the house of my ancestors, not even dusting properly. You disgust me."

Silversmith ignored her. "They never found 'er children because they was took from 'er. Ent that right, madam?"

Guillotine Valance turned her head disdainfully, and said nothing.

Lily's curiosity was battling with her fear. Part of her was casting around for an excuse to leave immediately, to get out of Silversmith's disquieting presence and have a lie down, and the rest was wondering about Guillotine Valance. Eventually, she said: "did you know her?"

"When I was young," he said. "Came with 'er 'usband, didn't I? We was both muggles."

"I didn't know that," she said, casting an apologetic glance at Guillotine Valance.

"Her children was took," Silversmith insisted. "It was a plot ter get rid of the Valances."

She wondered why Silversmith was telling her all this. She could see that he was enjoying himself; his words were gleefully dramatic and his eyes were… well, they were too creamy to shine exactly, but they certainly had a greasy sheen that Lily had never seen there before. Perhaps he was rarely listened-to amongst the Valances, and was dying for an audience.

Lily exerted herself to be kind. "And who would want to get rid of the Valances?" she asked.

"Oh, really," Guillotine Valance interrupted, "bad enough I have to hang up here, as an object of ghoulish curiosity for every passer-by of indifferent pedigree, without having my family name besmirched by a glorified janitor."

Lily, despite hearing herself referred to as a 'passer-by of indifferent pedigree' couldn't help liking Guillotine Valance. She sounded a lot like Meg.

"We'd better not talk about this any more," she said matter-of-factly. "It's upsetting her. And this is her house, after all. Thank you for confiding in me, Mr Silversmith, but I really think it would be disrespectful for you to say any more. I think I'm going to go and find Meg," she added, hoping that he wouldn't offer to assist her.

And, miraculously, wonderfully, he turned his eyes away, shrugging. Lily seized her opportunity – with a respectful nod to Guillotine Valance, which could not quite conceal her elation – she hurried from the room.
This is the first proper chapter that I've written (as opposed to little character sketches and arguments) and I hope it a) makes sense and b) is not too boring. It takes place in the summer holidays after Snape has lost Lily's friendship by calling her a 'Mudblood'. I'm going to make Guillotine Valance into a recurring character, (even though she is dead), so I hope you like her.

EDIT (2011) Title changed from 'The Wisher'. This chapter has been cut down a lot, and combined with some material in the chapter entitled 'Meg Valance'.
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DietCoke6587 Featured By Owner May 11, 2016
Veronika-Art Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2015
This was a very dark, in the dark chapter. I was a bit disconnect from Lily-Sev, and well I really did find Guillotine eating her children too dark for words, specially the hand without the finger... which I think gave me nightmares or children being eaten little by little... must it be so????? 
evyheartway Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010
ĎSans peurí ahah..a bit of french ;-) :heart :

Delightfull story of guillotine Valance!!

perhaps it was because of her cheerful persistence in the face of her lack of Quidditch skills. :heart:

well there are so many passages I love so !iím not going to quote them all! going to carry on reading your story instead! (This chapter was really amazing and interesting, know I want to read more and more ..)

ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010
Yay! :heart: I'm so happy you're reading! This chapter is so long, that I fear it's usually the one that puts new readers off, so it's a relief to hear that you enjoyed it! There's not much French, I fear (for the simple reason that I don't know much! ;)) But I thought 'sans peur' suited the Valances! Much better than the snooty House of Black with their 'Toujours Purs'. :giggle:
evyheartway Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010
:-) :hug: yes it suits them perfectly well! it reminded me of "sans peur et sans reproche" (without fear and beyond reproach): the motto of the Chevalier de Bayard :-) [link] whose fierce character is close to the Valance's
Anyway, if you ever wish to write anything in french, please ask me, it'd be a pleasure for me to help.
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010
Yay! You can be my French correspondent! :hug: Thanks for the link about the Chevalier de Bayard - you're right, he fits perfectly with the Valances, as the epitome of chivalry and honour! Maybe the Valances are distantly related to him! ;)
evyheartway Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010
:nod: agreed! :hug:
:laughing: sure they must be! they dropped half of the motto because it was too long ;-)

there is still your so kind email that I want to reply. I habe been thinking about what you said concerning corrected phrases being less stricking than the non corrected ones. how I would have said them in french . Maybe there are other ways which would express the images better and work in English...You see know why I am so long with editing..I am a bit fastidious with finding the right words ;-)

ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010
It's good to be fastidious with words! :) :hug:

It's very difficult, because artistic writing shouldn't really be constrained by what makes sense. If we don't have a particular phrase in English, but it perfectly fits the image you're trying to describe, then it should really be left in, but I was woried that your English readers might find the foreign-sounding phrases confusing. Writers always have to make a compromise between being inventive and being understood. But then, there is always the argument that phrases which stand out to the reader are likely to make more of an impression on them, so a phrase which isn't normally used in English might startle the reader into paying more attention at that particular point in the story. It's a complicated issue. I would never want to be a translator of literature - that must be such a hard job! :phew:
evyheartway Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2010
:giggle: :tighthug: (I always fear not to convey what I intend to, that's the main reason why I think...)

Writers always have to make a compromise between being inventive and being understood
Yes indeed, I’ve noticed that too. And this isn't specific to writing in a foreign language :-)

You were very right in correcting the french-sounding sentences to make them sound English. That’s what I expect a beta to do ! (in addition to correcting grammatical errors ;-)).
I believe it’s better to catch the reader’s attention through good writing and proper use of a language than through haphazard weirdness due to a lack of mastery of the language:-)

Oh yes! that must be so hard!! but I'm sort of fascinated with comparing languages. I find English is better to express certain things, and french for some me switching from one language to another is a bit like watching a scene through different binoculars
northangel27 Featured By Owner May 16, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
“You shouldn’t be afraid of Dark Magic,” George had said, “you should respect it; you should know what it can do; but fear is the principle under which these curses operate. That fever wanted me to feel alone, alienated, paralysed. Have you ever wondered why Dark Magic always involves grisly things like skulls, blood, shrunken heads, dead bodies? It’s because these are the things that people fear. And fear is a powerful basis for magic. If you can govern your fear, I don’t say you’ll be immune to Dark Magic..."

Ahhh... So you get this too. I am utterly convinced that you are a witch now ;-). I do so love to see this articulated in stories. It is an important concept for people to grasp. Dark magic is based on fear and Light magic on love. The opposite of love, is not hate, afterall, but fear, so it makes sense. Thanks again for your wonderful insights!

“The Sorting Hat might have put you in Gryffindor,” Snape had said slowly, “but that’s not who you really are.” When she’d scowled at him, he had spread his hands innocently and added, “That’s not an insult. There isn’t a House for people like you, that’s all. It‘s an insult to put you in any of them.”

Truer words were never spoken. There are those who have a little of every house in them in perfect balance. They fit into all the houses, and yet into none. Very perceptive.

In the movie "Shadowlands" there is a scene in which C.S. Lewis is speaking to one of his students, a young, poor man who skips classes and instead stays in his room reading. He will buy books rather than eat. Reading is his life, and when Lewis asks him why he says - "We read to know we are not alone". I love that. I think that as voracious readers we immerse ourselves in the world of books in the hopes of understanding ourselves better, of seeing our souls reflected back to us through the words of another. We hope to discover that there are others out there like us. When I read your story I feel that I am not alone, and I thank you for that.
ls269 Featured By Owner May 16, 2008
That's just what I think! There's love and fear but there isn't good and evil. Good and evil is so final, but everybody is made up of love and fear, in different quantities. And loving means letting go of fear for a while, just as being frightened involves letting go of love for a while. I'm glad there's someone else who thinks the same. That's why I love Deviant Art - everyone is so supportive and you're much more likely to find like-minded people and sympathetic listeners than in the non-digital world!
And I always hated the Sorting. Having your personality judged when you're eleven years old? Unless there's a house for people who want to be just like everyone else, that would never work! Thanks again for all your kind words about my stories, it really means a lot to me!
northangel27 Featured By Owner May 16, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You are very welcome. Your stories deserve them. :-)
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