November has always been Horace Slughorn's least favourite month.

It's grey and cold, with barely three hours of sunshine. It's her least favourite month, she prefers the sunshine and warmth of September. She always has, seeking out light in the most unlikely of places, starting from her home.

It's also the month she dies, wasted away and pale skin and sharp cheekbones jutting out through her skin.

The funeral is grey as well, the coffins lowered to the ground, rain drizzling (she would have hated it, being entombed like that), her son crying into his friend's shoulder, him awkwardly moving side to side, his eyes only for the intricately carved wood of her coffin.

And he watches the wreath of roses and the lilacs left over her grave by her son (her favourite flowers), and he remembers the very same flowers in a garland around her pink hat.

She's walking inside his home in Budleigh Babberton, looking incredibly guilty, I've given Evan the slip, Horace, I can't stay for long, and he marvels at this girl he's managed to impress, with just a few jokes.

He met her at the local pub, The Babberton Arms, a slim, veiled figure, drunken and laughing at something some tramp had told her, when he sees the oddness of her clothes, the casual elegance with which she holds her glass, and the small wand holder and his total astonishment while thinking, Merlin, she's a witch.

He starts up a conversation, but he can't remember what, try as he may, what exactly he had said that had made her take off her veil and watch him boldly out of eyes that are neither brown nor hazel.

She's interested, interested in this sandy blond, plump, porky boy, and that's all he is then, a boy, a boy to her crazy, out of control woman.

He buys her a drink, and then she decides to go with him to his house, because, well, why not? It was more fun. She was searching for trouble, she didn't have to be careful, eighteen years old, and just out of Hogwarts.

She disappears then, for sometime, running away with a traveling circus, and when she comes back, she's immediately engaged, her parents done with trying to control her.

She's inside his house for Christmas, sashaying over, hips swaying under her skirts, firewhiskey in her breath and throwing her arms around his neck as if she's an actress in one of the plays she's always dragging him off to watch. She's given her brother the slip so that she can meet him, and he asks her again why they must be so careful, he's pureblood, after all, if that's what her family is worried about. It's not that, she says, her hair (already grey, grey is her natural colour), curls bouncing around her shoulders, it's that she's already betrothed to another, someone, someone, but Horace Slughorn no longer remembers.

She's wearing that abysmal hat again, pink, wreathed with roses and lilacs, too big for her head, shadows marring her too-sharp face, turning it into something crueller, more... colder, something more like her mother's.

"That's a very big hat." He tells her, trying to mask the disapproval. She scowls, already bad tempered, You don't tell me what to do, Horace, mind your own business.

He does what he's told. He minds his own business and focuses his energies on polishing off the box of crystallised pineapple.

He recollects the taste of the crystallised pineapple, but he can't tell you what dress she wore when she told him to mind his own business.

He tells his parents about her and they're worried too, about their darling boy throwing away his life on a girl from a family known for being blood supremacists, a girl betrothed to another.

Two months later, she's asking him to ask her hand for marriage, she won't, can't, wait anymore, that Rowle has already propositioned her, she's turned him down, telling him she needs time and that Horace had to come immediately, to ask her parents.

He says no.

He says no, not because he doesn't love her, not because he doesn't want her in his life, but because he's scared. Scared that he wouldn't be enough for her, scared that after she took the step, after she married him, she would regret it bitterly.

Because deep down, Horace knows he's not enough for Effie. He knows he doesn't burn as bright as her, that she needs someone who's more interesting, more good looking, than bumbling Horace Slughorn.

He's right.

She's an angry tornado, screaming at him that he wasn't brave enough for anything, he wouldn't even do this for her. She leaves him, with the parting words, you're a coward, Horace.

She runs away with a boy, another boy, pureblood, yes, but he's from a family of blood traitors. She cuts off all her ties with her family.

He goes for her wedding, and there's a dull, bitter sensation in his chest when he watches her laughing and joking with her tousle haired husband, equally good looking, who's eyes are shining with admiration.

She approaches him, years later, much older, time mellowing her, asking- begging, really, for a potion that will enable her to have a child.

He sends her back, telling her there's no such thing. She sweeps away for the last time, a hint of the old fire in her, you wouldn't do it even for me, would you?

And now he sits in a rocking train compartment, trying to find strands of grey in Harry James Potter's hair over the food laden table- discreetly, of course- the same way he tried to find the strands in James Fleamont Potter's head, for a small resemblance- anything, really, for an indicator that this boy was her grandson.

He passes Harry a small silver knife- under the ruse of cutting his meat, of course, wondering if Harry notices the engraved name on the hilt of it.

Euphemia Rosier