“If you like him so much, then you can marry him, instead!” bellowed Ron Weasley from the doorway of the Leaky Cauldron. “Oh, right. You can't, because he's dead. Well, you're stuck with me, then. Better get used to it!”
On that note, he slammed out of the tavern, leaving his humiliated fiancée and startled best friend behind. Furious, he tapped at the bricks that would allow him access to Diagon Alley, bursting without looking through the opening, straight into—nothing.
A very tired-looking owl struggled into the tower, collapsing onto the table beside Clotho. Slowing her spinning only slightly, she gently detached the parchment from its leg with one hand before giving it a treat from the drawer.
“Oh, bugger!” Lachesis and Atropos glanced up to see what had occasioned her angry outburst. “Our sisters in wizarding Britain have become distracted again, and some idiot has gone and got himself killed before his time. This time we’ll have to step in.”
“Well,” reasoned Atropos, “if Shivvy would just stop staring at Lucius Malfoy all the time, things wouldn't be such a mess. People living who should be dead. People dying who should be alive. Britain’s tapestry is a right mess, and it's all because of her weakness for pretty blonds. Maybe we should—”
“We are not taking Lucius Malfoy on,” interrupted Lachesis. “You'll be just as bad as Shivvy is, and you know it. She’s constantly making Slog measure him so she can watch whatever he’s doing and whoever he’s doing it with. We'll end up in as much trouble as Tonic, Slog, and Shivvy are in now.”
“Well,” said Clotho, who wanted nothing to do with Lucius Malfoy’s thread, “at the very least, we can threaten to take him away. We’ve got to do something to get everyone’s lives back on course. Otherwise, the mess will just get messier.”
So saying, she pulled a parchment from the drawer and began to craft an ultimatum to her British sisters.
“Where am I?” Ron wondered aloud as he landed (quite painfully) on his bum in the middle of the tower room.
Three gorgeous women turned to glare at him as a Howler shrieked, “Fix this NOW!” and exploded in a shower of red confetti.
“You’re not supposed to be here!” expostulated the pretty one with light brown hair and freckles.
The dark-haired beauty said, “It’s one of the Weasleys, I think. Ronald, maybe...?” At his nod, she pulled a book off the shelf behind her and began riffling frantically through the pages.
The third, a stunning redhead, looked furious. “What the bloody hell were you thinking? You just leapt through without looking, didn’t you? Everything they ever taught you in Auror training—shite, everything they taught you in D.A. training—and you lost your temper and got yourself killed.” She waved an enormous pair of scissors. “You just jumped in front of these. I couldn’t help but cut your thread. I didn't see you coming!”
“Wait a minute,” protested Ron. “I’m not dead. I can’t be dead. You’re just going to have to send me back.”
“Well, we're in the toilet now,” the one who reminded him of Hermione said mournfully as if he hadn’t spoken. “They put us on warning after the Battle of Hogwarts, said we needed to get through the rest of this generation cleanly. I was so hoping to get promoted to Seattle.” She peered over the dark-haired woman’s shoulder worriedly. “How far are we off, Slog?”
Slog sighed. “Only ninety-five years. He was supposed to get married. On Saturday?” She glanced at Ron for confirmation. “And they were going to be together for the next ninety years, Tonic. Happily, more often than not. This buggers up the next generation, too, as they were supposed to have two children named—”
“Let me guess,” Ron interrupted. “Rose and Hugo.”
“All right; now I know you’re insane. Because those are names I thought up as a joke. When Hermione was mooning over having children... well, I wanted to impress upon her the horror of it all. So I told her that I had always dreamed of having a girl and a boy. Rose and Hugo. A load of crap, really. Send me back.”
“We can't send you back,” the unnamed redhead said irritably. “It's not allowed.”
“Of course it's allowed! You sent Harry back, didn't you?”
“He was a special case,” Slog declared. “We’re on probation. We don’t have any leeway at all after the disaster with the Lupins and Snape.”
“Well, I’m a special case, too. I’m getting married.”
“You were getting married. Now you’re dead. And we’re in serious trouble.”
Shivvy waved him to silence and picked up one of the threads stretched across the table. Ron noted that it was quite pretty: the colour of Hermione’s eyes, in fact. The redhead squinted at it and Slog turned to another page in the book while Tonic picked up the spindle the thread was attached to, working it furiously for a moment. The redhead stepped back and spoke at the same time as Slog.
“This can be fixed.”
“She still has the same fate.”
“See? Just send me back and it’ll all be fine.”
“Not you,” snarled the redhead.
“Someone else, Shivvy?” Slog asked. “It can’t be the Potter boy; he’s destined for this one’s sister, and what a waste that is.”
“No,” Shivvy said, extending a silk-clad leg and contemplating her scarlet suede shoe with rhinestones studding the four-inch heels. “It’ll have to be one of the danglers from the Battle. They’re all at loose ends, since they’re supposed to be dead.” She turned to a small table beside the fireplace, lifting a handful of threads and separating them carefully.
“Lavender Brown... no, can't have a female because of the children. Gregory Goyle... no, he was on the wrong side.” She lifted a pure black thread from the small cluster, holding it up to the light. “Tonic, come here a second, and bring Granger’s thread with you.”
Taking the warm brown thread from her sister’s hand, she held it against the black. Tonic worked both spindles for a moment while Shivvy stared intently at whatever the threads told her.
Finally, she looked up, a smile Ron could only describe as evil lighting her features.
“Ladies...” She looked significantly at each of her sisters. “And gentleman...” She nodded towards Ron, who felt himself paling. “I have a Plan.”
Notes: The Three Fates of Greek mythology are Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. According to the myth, Clotho spins the thread of life, which Lachesis measures and Atropos cuts when the time comes. Their British sisters are pure inventions of the author. Any resemblance to the moderators of the SSHG Exchange is merely an amazing coincidence.
Many thanks to the bevy of wonderful women who hold my hand while I write, among whom are ariadne, dicky, ferporcel, machshefa, mia, mis t, somigliana, and subversa.
This story is dedicated to Blue Artemis, a lovely fangirl whose reviews over the years have brought joy to countless authors. She has recently begun writing, and her stories are wonderful fun!