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In Her Absence by luvinpadfoot
Chapter 2: Where's Dad?
The fireplace burned a vibrant green as a newcomer entered, coughing heavily. “Lily!” Ginny shouted. She dropped the dish she was scrubbing in the kitchen and ran to the living room.
She stopped short when she realized it wasn’t her daughter after all. It was a different red head entirely.
“Oh James, thank Merlin you’re here,” she said, pulling him into a hug.
James allowed his mother to hug him, but his face was set in a scowl. “Have you heard anything more about Lily? Aunt Hermione came by to tell me. She said you and Dad were frantic and had called the hit wizards?” When Ginny nodded yes to James’ question he scowled even harder. “What’s going on?”
“Lily didn’t come home last night!” She cried, pulling James into another tight hug. “The hit wizards came over and they’re searching for her, but I don’t know what to do here. They kept asking about boyfriends and running away and-”
Ginny cut herself off to compose herself. She knew she sounded hysterical, but every moment that went by without Lily coming home it got harder and harder to control her inner panic.
She began her to take deep breaths, trying to stay calm for her son. She didn’t want any of her children to be worried and Harry wasn’t helping any. She had to be the calm one.
“Do you want tea?” James asked. He knew it was stupid to ask, but that was what Ginny always did when people were upset.
“I just want to know where Lily is,” she said sadly.
James glanced around, realizing for the first time that there was no one else around. “Where’s Dad? And Al? Shouldn’t they be here with you?”
Ginny shook her head. “Al’s been locked in his room since the hit wizards left. He’s taking this whole ordeal really hard. If you could try to get through to him that would be wonderful.”
“I think he really just needs his older brother. You two were always so close when you were children. If you talked to him-”
“Mum, enough!” James said loudly and then promptly covered his mouth when Ginny looked hurt. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but what about you, Mum? How are you holding up?”
“Me? I’m fine. It’s your brother-”
“Just shut up about Al for a minute, please!” Ginny turned away from him and went back to scrubbing dishes in the kitchen. James sighed and then followed her. “Just talk to me for a few minutes and I promise I’ll go make sure Al’s alright.”
“Your father’s having a real tough time,” Ginny said as she sponged the bowl. “He blames himself for this, you know.”
James sighed, realizing that he wasn’t going to get his mother to talk about herself. “I know, Mum.”
“And I don’t know what Al thinks of this whole thing. Lily’s his baby sister. He’d do anything for her. I don’t think anything worse could have happened to him.” Ginny scrubbed the bowl even harder, not even bothering to clean the whole dish. She remained scrubbing the one small spot.
“You know you could do that with magic,” James said as he pulled out his wand.
Ginny shook her head. “It’s better this way. I need something to take my mind off- you know.” James pocketed his wand and watched his mother continue to work with a concerned look on his face.
“Mum?” He asked cautiously. He’d never quite seen her like this. Ginny had always been one to confront the things that were wrong. He couldn’t ever remember her pretending everything was fine when it wasn’t. “Where’s Dad?”
“At the Ministry. He wanted to talk the Minister into replacing the hit wizards with Aurors.” Ginny scrubbed the bowl even harder in the sink. “Your father doesn’t have much faith in the ability of Stilman White and his team.”
There was a distinct crash and when she lifted the bowl out of the sink she was only holding a small piece. The rest of it had shattered from the force of her cleaning. “Damn it,” she muttered, throwing the extra piece back into the soapy water. She wiped her eyes with her arm and stared at her son in horror. “I’m sorry, James. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay, Mum. I can fix the bowl. Why don’t you go sit down in the living room? I’ll be there in a minute.” Ginny nodded and left the kitchen.
Once she was out of sight James ran a hand down his face in frustration. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do. Where was the great Harry Potter when you needed him? He always seemed to be around to play hero for the rest of the world.
He pulled out his wand and waved it at the broken pieces of the dish. “Reparo,” he muttered angrily.
James knew he wouldn’t be able to help his mother. She’d always been the strong one, the one who was there when his father was out saving the rest of the world. He’d never seen her quite so fragile.
“Mum?” He asked when he entered the living room. She had closed her eyes and was leaning back against a large arm chair. “Why don’t you lie down in your room? Rest for a while, you know.”
Ginny nodded and he watched her head up the stairs. When the door clicked shut to her room James knew it was safe to follow. The light in her room was out as he crept past it down the hallway to his younger brother’s room. He knocked on the door gently, but there was no answer. “Al?” He called softly. “You in there?”
The door opened and James rolled his eyes at his younger brother. “Honestly, Al. Lying in bed all day isn’t going to help anything.”
“Then why’d you suggest Mum do it?” Al replied in his flat, emotionless tone.
James stared at him. “How’d you hear our conversation? Did you create more of your little eavesdropping spells?” Al didn’t respond, but James wasn’t looking for an answer. “Merlin, Al! You need to stop hiding in your room and do something to help find Lily.”
“That hit wizard isn’t going to find her,” he said sullenly.
“He what? Oh never mind. Dad’s getting the Ministry to send over Aurors, but they’ll need you to help them, alright?” James opened the window and threw a pair of robes at Al. “Get your clothes on and get downstairs, now.”
There was no movement from the bed for a long period of time and James was just about to raise his wand to dump a bucket of water on his brother when he sat up. “You’re in denial,” Al said. “I was in denial briefly too. You should make it last as long as possible.”
“I’m not in denial,” James retorted. “I’m just looking at the facts and trying to get everyone in this family to act like the adults they are- don’t you shrug your shoulders at me!”
Al continued with the shrug anyway and James through his hands in the air. “Fine! Fine! I’ll leave if you think I’m being a pain in the arse. Merlin, this family.” He shook his head in disgust. “I’ll leave you to your self-pity and misery. When you’re feeling better do try and make sure Mum actually eats something. I don’t think she’s had a meal since yesterday.”
James slammed Al’s bedroom door shut behind him and stormed down the stairs. “Where are you going?” Al called from the top of the steps.
“Home,” James replied. “Clearly I’m not needed here.”
He disappeared from the fireplace and Al sagged against the railing on the steps. Truth be told, he actually liked having his brother around. James was a take charge bloke and always seemed to be in control. Whenever he was around all Al had to do was follow orders and know everything was going to be fine.
But this time James didn’t know everything would be fine. He had no more control than Al did, and that scared him.
James briefly considered stopping by his Aunt Hermione’s place to ask her to check on his mother, but thought better of it and went straight to his flat. He was surprised to see his flat mates waiting for him in their cramped kitchen.
Roxy and Freddie spent their days working at their father’s shop in Hogsmeade. George had given them free reign over the management of it ever since they’d graduated from Hogwarts in the spring. To have them home in early afternoon was odd to say the least.
“What are you two doing here?” James asked.
“We heard about Lily from Dad,” Freddie said. “Merlin James, we’re so sorry.”
James waved off their sympathy. “I really don’t want to talk about it,” he said. He knew his best friends would respect his wishes. There was a reason the three of them had always stuck together, even after leaving Hogwarts.
“Are you sure?” Roxy asked. “I mean, from what we heard it’s getting pretty serious.”
“I just want to go do something, anything.” James ran his fingers through his hair roughly and half fell into a chair. Since he’d seen his mother back at home he hadn’t had much of a chance to think about his baby sister. Who was missing. Fuck. “Let’s go to a pub,” he said suddenly, jumping to his feet.
The twins exchanged a concerned look. “Now?” Roxy asked with a frown. “It’s pretty early.”
“And don’t the Cannons have a game tomorrow?” Freddie added.
“Oh please, I’m the last reserve chaser. Like they’d play me. Let’s have a night out- an afternoon out.” James looked at his cousins and best friends, pleading with them. This would be the perfect thing to take his mind off his family. A few shots of firewhiskey and it would all be forgotten.
A/N: Hey! I'm back with chapter two. I'm going to be posting new chapters every Monday (hopefully) since I've got a bunch prewritten. I just have to make sure they're edited first, haha. So I've introduced more characters. What do you think?
And thanks to my lovely beta Richele_xo!