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When Trees Fall Down by ANP
Chapter 3: He Used to be Good
Night descended like a blanket on the house, where I miss you like a limb
He used to get the grades, even if he had a habit of skipping class. He used to draw pictures of nature and hold the doors open for people. He was never really a part of society, but he had always been good. Now he was on the run, sleeping who knows where and all Brook could think about as she listened to the man in the radio talk about how dangerous the fugitive was, was that winter spent in his arms.
It seemed so long ago now. The world had changed and on days like today, it seemed for the worse. It had been easy to learn to love him, he was so typical of the heroes in the romances she read, it had been exhilarating. Heck he even had a tattoo on his shoulder of a dragon. He was moody and so intense. But unlike the fairy tales, she at such a young age, she didn’t know how to feel what he felt. She couldn’t relate to his past, to his view of the world, she broke his heart.
At twenty three, she hadn’t accomplished much, she still held the same secretarial job at the Auror office that James had gotten her when he started his training. Unlike her, James embraced standing in the shadow of his father and had managed to become a respected Auror in the office. He was bound to get a promotion any week now, no one even whispered about it having to do with his connections. She was proud, but it was hard not to compare their lives.
Brook shook her head of bitter thoughts and scrubbed the pot she was washing a little harder. Washing the dishes without magic had become Brook’s favourite chore, especially when she was stressed. If she could scrub away the filth from past meals, maybe she could scrub away her memories. It hadn’t worked yet, but Brook had hope.
“Hey Brooky! You doing the dishes again? I brought home a pizza I’m starved. Next time they ask me to pull a double I’m saying no!” Oli said as he dropped his bag on the floor and placed a pizza box on the table.
Brook smiled, washing her hands, “Oli, you know you’re an intern right, if you want to get the job again next summer after school, you’ll have to make an impression.”
“But I don’t even get paid for it. When am I supposed to see my friends, play a little Quidditch with dad?” He whined, stuffing his face.
“I thought the whole reason why you wanted to stay with me this summer was to avoid Dad. When are you guys going to get over this row anyway?”
“We’re not in a row.”
“Swallow your food first please.”
Oli glared as he swallowed, “We’re not in a row, I just refuse to live at home until he accepts that neither of his kids are going to go into professional Quidditch and that I want to be a Lawyer.”
“Yeah, he still blames me for that little choice.”
“Stop moping and eat some pizza. Hey, so I think you should come out with me tonight.”
“What happened to being tired.”
“I said I wouldn’t pull a double, not that I was tired. Come on, when was the last time you talked to anyone other than James and don’t think I haven’t noticed you hunkering around like an inferius.” He pointed his nose down at her. “Now, stop deflecting, and say you’ll come out tonight.”
Brook turned around and started to scrub a pot. Oli started whimpering behind her. Brook smiled as she stared out the window into the woods behind the cottage. “Okay.”
“Yess!” Oli said enthusiastically, “Now eat some pizza and magic the dishes.”
Brook was seated at the bar in the old pub in the village. It was as crowded as it ever got which by any standards wasn’t actually that busy. It was a great little hole in the wall, literally, and was a favourite hangout for students and young adults, particularly on the weekend. Brook preferred coming here on the week when she could sip on a gin and tonic while listening to the old fisherman go on about their battles out on sea with the mystical creatures she knew to exist.
But it was indeed the weekend and she was at this moment watching her cute, innocent little brother have a chugging contest with some of the lads he ran with. She shook her head in a matronly way, fondly remembering when they had been first years marveling at the stair cases. Now all she could think of was what a mess her brother would be and how she’d be up all night comforting him while he was sick.
“Oh to be young and stupid again.” The man who, Brook assumed had just sat down next to her, commented nodding towards her brother.
Brook laughed, leaning closer towards his ear so he would here, “I like to think of myself as young and stupid.”
The man laughed nodding, he held his drink out saying, “I’ll drink to that!”
Brook met his glass and they both took a long draught.
He held his hand out, “Josh Hardgrave, pleased to meet you..” he trailed off awaiting her reply.
Brook met his hand and said, “Brook Wood, and that particular young and stupid character over there is my brother.”
“The one winning?” Josh chuckled, taking another swig of his own.
Brook rolled her eyes, “Yeah, the one winning.” They watched them for a while, and Brook, mostly because of the liquid courage, allowed herself to look at the man quite openly. He had thick black hair and high, strong cheek bones. He had thick eyebrows, and from what she could tell, likely a toned body under the shirt. Over all he was average height, and would be considered attractive by any means. Brook decided to bask in the attention, at least for tonight, Oli would at least get off her back, and she’d have something to gossip about this week with Amanda.
“So uh, Wood eh? You wouldn’t happen to be related to Oliver Wood?”
It was a arduous question that Brook had grown used to. “Yes, Oliver Wood, the Quidditch extraordinaire turned coach married to the gorgeous and equally talented Chantal Wood. Led the Chudley Canons to their first victory in a couple hundred years, I could write a book about it. He’s my father.”
“You don’t like Quidditch?” Josh asked tentatively.
“I love Quidditch, but if you know anything about my father, Quidditch is much, much more than a game to him.” She glanced over and he nodded, finishing his drink. She knew she ought to change the subject. “What brings you out tonight?”
“Friday night, good as any I think.” He said, trying to get the bartender’s attention for another.
Brook smiled, tucked some loose strands behind her ear and glanced at the bar. There was a copy of the paper close to her elbow. She pulled it over and skimmed the front page. Of course, there was Knox, a tall fearsome drawing with bold lettering “Wanted” underneath. This was of course followed by all of the crimes he had completed since leaving Hogwarts, Brook was disturbed every time by the length of the list.
Josh saw her looking and said, “I hope they catch that guy, what a menace. You know I think I remember seeing him around school, always a weird guy. Do you by chance know what house he was in? Must have been Slytherin.”
Before Brook could reply, her brother staggered towards her, “Bwoooook, I think I need to go home” Oli said using her body to support himself, burping in her face.
Brook smiled apologetically at Josh, but felt relieved to have an excuse to leave. She started the long walk home with Oli knowing that she couldn’t Apparate with him, unless she wanted to ensure getting puked on as an outcome to the night.
“So Oli? Have you learned your lesson about drinking?” Brook asked slipping his arm over her shoulders to make carrying his frame a little easier. They were roughly the same size, and he was still a skinny teenager so she could manage, though using muscles that she had stopped toning long ago.
“I love you sis, I’ll always have you to take care of me!” he said grinning at her, she almost had a chance to enjoy the drunk moment before he followed it up with a proper beer belch. Brook resisted the urge to puke and tried to walk a little faster.
Once they had both collapsed onto her couch with Oli’s head resting on her lap drifting in and out of sleep, Brook ran her fingers through his hair absent mindedly, thinking about when he would leave.
He rolled onto his back and stared up at his big sister. Through his sleepy eyes he could see how much more tired she looked. “Are you going to sleep tonight?”
She laughed a little, “Yeah I might, not until you do though.”
“Hmmm, I think I should be the one taking care of you.”
“Too bad you’re drunk as a skunk.”
“Brooky, are you going to be okay when I go back to school?” Oli said, his eyes now closed.
Brook hesitated before answering, “Probably not.” All she got back was soft snoring. Brook shifted a little and dozed off into oblivion. But she couldn’t escape him especially in her dreams.
A tall man with wild blonde hair sat on a log crouched close to the fire in the thick of a forest somewhere in England hunching his shoulders to keep out the wind. He vaguely remembered a time when he had welcomed the chill. Now he only longed for a warm bed and a quiet job. Maybe in coffee shop. He chuckled at the thought of such monotonous job. Had that really become heaven? Was this really what his life was?
He had never expected to amount to much, but it seemed that he was worthless, he had not merely amounted to nothing, he had become part of the grime and scum in the dark alleys of the Wizarding world. While he would never admit it out loud, and he tried to keep his mind away from such thoughts, he wanted to be caught, and done away with. In this way, maybe he was the hero of the story, he wanted the world to be a better place, surely being got rid of would do the world some good.
He leaned back and scratched the wild scruff on his tired skin and sighed audibly. He stared up into the sky through the trees and noticed the full moon. He pulled his cloak closer to him subconsciously and closed his eyes. All he could hold of her now were her eyes. They weren’t anything spectacular in truth, but through him, they were the most amazing eyes that anyone could have seen. When they had known each other, he could see right through her eyes, but he had learned his lesson and had never looked at them again. He didn’t look at anyone any more.
“Well now Knox, fancy running into you here,” a foul voice lurched him from his reverie.
“How did you find me Henry.” Knox opened his eyes and glared at the man sitting across from him, he could sense his cronies lurking nearby behind the trees.
Henry only smirked and began picking his teeth. He sat in a relaxed manner with his leg cooly crossed over the other. He had short brown hair cut cleanly close to his scalp. He wore a Muggle suit that oozed wealth. Knox went to great efforts to avoid looking into Henry’s sly eyes.
“Listen Knox, it seems you’ve managed to make yourself quite famous, I don’t understand why you neglect your fans by hiding away in woods.”
“Henry,” Knox growled.
Henry sighed, “Always so impatient.” He stood up throwing some sticks into the fire, casually placing his hand into his pocket. “You can’t just walk away from me, from us. We’re willing to forgive you, I’ll even ensure you’re freedom. You know I can. Alexandra misses you.” He said the last line staring hard at Knox.
Knox needed to leave. But he wasn’t sure how. He didn’t know how many thugs were surrounding them. “I told you, I want out, I told you that night. And now all you’ve done is managed to find a way to make sure I can’t do anything else. I don’t believe in the ‘cause’ and I never did.” Knox yelled heatedly, fingering his wand in his pocket.
Before he could Apparate as planned, Henry had pulled out his wand and was now driving it hard into his chest, knocking him to the ground. There were now a motley crew of about six surrounding them, from what Knox could see at least.
“You are one of us. You were born one of us. We will never let you go until we have completed our mission. Don’t you want to avenge your mother?” Henry spat into his face through clenched teeth, pressing ever harder.
Knox roared up knocking Henry back nearly into the fire, “Don’t you bring that up, that was never supposed to go past you and Alex!” He ran at Henry out for death, though he was immediately grabbed by four thugs forced back onto the ground. Knox fought back, yelling in such a rage that every nearby creature cowered into the dark.
Henry got up and swaggered to where Knox was being held swiping at the blood dripping from his nose. I am certain Alexandra won’t mind if I bring you back a little bloody.” He sneered, pushing back his sleeves.
Knox struggled against his captors just enough to reach his wand, he closed his eyes and gained enough energy to throw them off and quickly managed to Apparate to yet another forest on the outskirts of humanity.
So I hope there isn't any confusion about the time periods? I'm going to be switching around a bit throughout the story but I will keep every chapter dated just to keep things clear. Let me know what you think :)