Chapter 75 : The Fight
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Two days later found Amelia still a bit tired, stressing out slightly as she stormed down the aisle of her classroom. She’d just gotten done conferencing a seventh year student on their poor quality of work, and was about thirty seconds from being late to the meeting at the Ministry. Waving her wand so that her office door burst open, she threw Floo Powder into the grate and shouted for the Auror office in the Ministry, Kingsley’s direct connection, as he’d recently gotten a new office. Her head and body spun wildly in hot, green flames, other offices flying past, and she clutched to her paperwork tighter, hoping she wasn’t going to revert back to illness. She’d only recently stopped hurling every morning, and had gotten a renewed vitality that was the only thing keeping her going at the moment.
Stumbling out of the grate and catching her breath, wiping a slightly sooty strand of hair behind one ear, Amelia saw a few other late stragglers hurrying towards the meeting room, through Kingsley’s open office door. She straightened her robe, trying to hide her stomach, which had finally started to rise up and greet the world. She’d noticed it yesterday morning, as had Harry, since she’d stopped by the house to help do laundry and clean a bit on her way back from Mungo’s. Hermione and Abigail had gone home this morning, and evidently she was a very well tempered baby, not crying much at all. She’d not seen any of them since leaving the hospital, and now was almost regretting coming to the meeting. Catching the door as it went to swing shut, she felt abut fifty eyes boring up at her. Mouth pressed together firmly, she tried not to look guilty as she slid into the only empty chair left, towards the end.
“Right, now that everyone has graced us with their presences,” Kingsley said pointedly, from the end of the table, “we may begin. We all know the series of attacks that have occurred on Scotland Yard early last evening, which undoubtably has made all the major news lines by now...”
The meeting was quick, as everyone had work to do, and basically outlined a new strategy they were going to send down to the Auror ranks. Amelia had handed in her package of paperwork when Kingsley requested it, and avoided the eyes of anyone that glanced in her direction. Tonks, sitting across from her and down a few spaces, had given her a narrow-eyed look, before turning to Kingsley’s question of how the watch on Buckingham was going.
As everyone stood to leave, Kingsley caught a look from Tonks, who was infamous for communicating not with words, nor even hand gestures. “Wright, a word.”
She groaned inwardly, feeling like she was back at Hogwarts, trapped by Snape and a nasty potions assignment. She stood at the end of the table, hand clutching a chair back hard enough to make her hand tingle with pain, and said nothing. Kingsley was shuffling papers around into a neater pile, the jacket of his gray suit hanging open. He’d recently taken a more business-like approach to his weekly meetings.
“Sit,” he said sharply.
Amelia wrenched the chair out and slammed herself into it, glaring directly at him. His forehead wrinkled a bit, still bent over the papers, but he said nothing of her loud actions. Then, after he had gotten them all to somehow fit into a small manilla folder, he straightened, walked over to her, and sat on the long conference table by her. Staring down at her with his unnerving dark eyes, he said,
“Why haven’t you told him yet?”
She had expected some sort of sharp tongued reply to come flying from her mouth, but as it opened, all it did was hang there, slightly. Kingsley watched her for another moment, before nodding. He breathed in deeply, turning to gaze out the window to her right, where false sunshine was streaming in. “You know, if I were him, I’d want to know.”
“It’s not a big deal,” she said sharply, finally reconnecting her speaking abilities.
He turned to look back at her, wrinkles forming on his dark, bald head. “You’re teaching full time, you’re trying to work here full time, you’re pregnant, Amelia. It’s a very big deal, you’ve got too much to worry about.”
“I’ll be fine-”
“Stop trying to be valiant, Amelia,” he shook his head softly. “Stop trying to do it all. It’s catching up with you. How long did you sleep last night?”
She clamped her mouth firmly shut, refusing to let him know the answer. A mere three hours of sleep had not made her very happy, least of all with him. He stared at her expectantly. She shook her head. “It’s not your business.”
“You’re my Auror, your mental and physical health is my business,” he countered smoothly.
She shook her head, standing. “You’re not making me quit, Kingsley. I’m here and I’m doing what I can to make a difference.”
Turning, she walked towards the door, amazed she’d restrained from shouting at him. As her small hand reached to open the door, to storm out on him and make him eat shit for another day, his voice accused softly,
“You’re being selfish, Amelia. You’re doing what you want, and you’re not seeing the effects it’s having on your son.”
She whirled around to hiss dangerously, “You stay out of my business, Shacklebolt. My son is not a concern of yours, he is not an Auror of yours.”
“He won’t be anything for anybody if you don’t give up this stupid pursuit of yours!” Kingsley said angrily, standing to his towering height.
Amelia said nothing, there was nothing for her to say to such an accusation. She glared at him bitterly, then turned and stormed out, slamming the door behind her so hard that the glass window in it broke and shattered. The entire Auror department became silent, everyone peering over their gray cubicle walls as she rocketed out, in a fine rage, and no one made a single move for fear that her rage would be turned on them.
Harry blinked and looked up as a soft tapping came to his attention. He was sitting in the living room, studying, and Ron was due to come over any time now, as they were going to have a jog round the neighborhood for school. However, the knock stopped, and he realized it wasn’t Ron rapping on the glass of the front door, but an owl. Standing and still reading a paragraph from a book, he ran a hand through his hair, which needed a cut. Hurrying to the door, he opened it. A barn owl sat on the mat, a neat scroll attached to it’s leg. It hooted.
“Alright, alright, you,” he murmured, nudging him onto his arm. “What’ve we got?”
Pulling off the letter, the owl wasted no time in blinking at him, then turning and flying away. Shrugging, Harry took the letter with him into the living room, shutting the door with one sock-clad foot. Breaking a wax seal that bore the Auror symbol on it, Harry’s brow furrowed.
It was from Kingsley.
Seeing the students off the train and away from Hogwarts for Easter Holidays, that Thursday, was a very odd feeling, knowing that had been her a year ago. A few of her students, still seeing her as her normal self, waved away from her and called a laughing “Adios, Senorita!” back to her. Amelia just rolled her eyes and grinned, arms crossed over her chest. McGonigall, next to her, looked over at her as she stood, arms tucked behind her back, nodding at student who waved.
“Are you going to go home as well?”
Amelia sighed and nodded. “Yeah, the house probably needs a bit of cleaning. Besides, I need to catch up on my studying and paperwork...”
“Don’t over-work yourself,” Minerva said softly. “I nearly did when I was pregnant with Amyas.”
A pained tone came to her voice, and she immediately dropped the subject, as if she’d dared to touch a red hot stove burner. A silence ensued between them, over the noise of many students chattering on the train, and a bird singing somewhere down the dirt road that led to Hogsmeade. The train was puffing out white smoke, but slowly it started turning darker, before it was a deep gray, and the train’s wheels ground and slowly started turning. Hagrid, down the platform, was waving to the first years, who all loved him very much, and called a loud, “Be good, yeh ‘ere!”
As she train chugged out of the station and towards London, Amelia turned, walking from the platform and onto the large dirt path. Minerva followed her, hands still clasped behind her back, and there was a companionable silence, the whistle of the train heard in the distance. The road to Hogwarts wasn’t a long one, but the summer was to be a hot one, and soon it felt quite warm.
“I am just saying, I don’t want to see you or him get hurt,” Minerva spoke. “I know how it feels.”
Amelia just nodded, knowing that Minerva had always felt sort of motherly about her. “I know, Minverva.”
“I’ll take some paperwork off your hands, if you want,” she offered. “I’ve got most my grading gone, and I was only planning on giving my room a thorough cleaning this week. I’ll grade anything you need done.”
She cut her off, gently touching her arm, “Yes, Amelia, you could. You need sleep, you’ve got these horrible bags under your eyes....”
Amelia blinked at her, not really knowing what to say. It was true that the piles of homework to be graded had grown alarmingly large in the past few days, and they all needed to be done and in the grade books by next Friday. Not only that, but she had three tests to do for Vedera by Monday, and a whole package of paperwork for the office was supposed to be done by Tuesday. Slowly, she nodded, and hugged Minerva, who stood stiffly for a moment, before wrapping her thin arms around her.
“Thank you, Minerva. Really.”
They walked up to the castle, quietly chatting about the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s coming up, weather or not they thought a majority of the students would need calming draughts, that sort of teacher gossiping thing. Separating at the great stairs, Minerva to go to the teacher’s lounge and Amelia to her room, they waved, and Minerva added,
“Oh, just leave the papers on my desk, I’ll have them back to you by the time you come back here.”
Amelia nodded, smiling gratefully, as Minerva swept down a corridor to her destination. Sighing, she turned, going slowly up the stairs. She looked forward to going home, it was looking more and more like a refuge, these days. Harry would no doubt be studying the whole time, as she hadn’t heard from him since coming back to Hogwarts, and he was probably busy. She’d not heard from Hermione and Ron, either, but they were probably just accustoming to life with a new baby. The students had actually been a bit interested when she mentioned to them on Tuesday morning that Hermione had delivered her baby and named her Abigail. Now, though, she had the daunting task of packing up everything, and then cleaning her room, as it was a complete mess from lack of attention. She’d been so buy studying and working that it had grown somewhat into a disaster zone.
When she finally made it up to her room, breathing a little bit faster than normal but otherwise unscathed, she opened the door to her messy room, grimly setting herself to the task of helping out the House Elves by doing something herself. Four hours later, everything was spotless (she’d cleaned the Muggle way, things just got cleaner that way), and she was almost completely packed to go back home. Throwing in a pair of trainers and another shirt into a gym bag, Amelia busied herself with gathering all the work that was to be graded. Guiltily looking at the immense pile in her hands, she split it in half and shoved one of the halves into the bag, as well. Still, the pile was about two inches thick when tightly compressed. Shaking her head and sticking her wand in the bag, Amelia turned, leaving her room, and gently locked it behind her.
The halls were oddly quiet with the absence of a few hundred students. Some of the ones that had stayed behind were to be seen wandering the halls in search of something to do. A few waved at her, and she smiled back, hands too full with papers to do much else.
“Where are you off to, Amelia?” asked a lone Ravenclaw, little Martylla Neu.
She glanced around quickly, making sure no one had overheard that. “Home for the week.”
“Oh.. Tell Harry I said hi,” she smiled.
Nodding, Amelia swept down the halls and into Minerva’s office, setting down the parchments. Then, hesitating and then leaving, she went to the teacher’s lounge, which was now empty. Sighing, she took some Floo powder from a plastic baggie in her gym bag, and threw it in. Calling out her address, she stepped into the roaring green flames, spin about seven or eight times, slammed her bag on someone else’s grate, and fell onto her parlor floor unceremoniously. Coughing out a bit of ash, Amelia stood, seeing her quiet house all around. Evidently Harry was still at school, or at Quidditch practice. Or at the Order. Hell, who knew? She didn’t, and was only able to sigh. Walking upstairs, she brushed off her slightly sooty bag, before dropping it by the side of the bed she frequented. Turning, she went back downstairs, seeing it was afternoon, already, and that she had a bit of laundry to do off in the side laundry room.
By the time she heard the front door open, the sun had dipped towards the horizon and she’d started making dinner, the western skillet thing that Billy seemed to only know how to make. The whole thing was simmering on the stove, and she was busy rummaging through the cabinet to make sure she didn’t need to go to Food Flicks, the magical supermarket, and get things. There was a pause before the front door swung shut, again, and she glanced up. Perhaps Harry was reading something, he seemed a bit distracted. Drat, we need more green beans... Heavy footfalls were heard walking through the hallway and into the kitchen. Harry had his Firebolt slung over one shoulder, and was still wearing some muddy and grass stained robes bearing the E.A.I.L. colors and logo. As he sat on a bar stool at the counter, his broom gently set on the floor, he watched Amelia carefully. She glanced back at him as she checked on the corn stock. He had a very stony look on his face.
“Bad practice?” she asked, jotting down something else on her parchment list.
He stared at her for a moment, before leaning back in his chair, arms crossed. “No.”
Amelia could sense venom dripping off his words. Slowly, she turned and leaned against the counter, one hand still holding her quill, to stare at him. “Then what’s wrong?”
There was a measurable silence in the kitchen, and even the ticking of the clock seemed timid. He breathed out slowly, then grabbed a bit of parchment off the counter she’d not noticed before. Looking down at it blankly, he said, “You tell me.”
“I don’t play word games, Harry,” Amelia said sharply.
He let the letter slip from his hands, and it glid through the air down onto the floor by her feet. “But you do lie...”
Amelia stared first at him, a seed of worry starting to blossom, then her eyes darted down to see what the letter said. She didn’t have to read past the introduction to know what it said, she recognized Kingsley Shacklebolt’s cursive. Immediately her worry was overshadowed by anger at her boss. How dare he?!
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Harry’s voice was loud, angry, accusatory.
“Because I knew how you would respond to it, Harry!” Amelia spat, throwing down the quill. “I knew you’d start trying to shelter me-”
“Of course I would, but that’s not even the point right now!” Harry shouted. “You’ve been lying to me!”
“People lie, Harry, it’s in our nature!”
“They don’t lie to people they love!”
“This isn’t about love, Harry, it’s about doing what I can!” Amelia yelled.
He was now standing, and shouted back, “You can’t do anything right now, you’re pr-”
“Can we not consider me a cripple for one goddamn second just because of what I have in my womb?!” she cried shrilly.
“No one ever called you a cripp-”
“Bullshit!” she shouted. “Bull fucking shit, no one lets me do anything around here anymore-”
“That is not the point!” Harry yelled, his loud voice making even the clock seem silent. “You lied to me, you’ve been doing this behind my back-”
“Stop making it sound like I’ve been cheating on you or something!” Amelia shot back, face steadily growing a bit pinker. “This is something I’ve wanted since I was a child-”
“What about my child?!” Harry asked venomously. “What about our child? You’re putting him and yourself at risk, here-”
“I’ve not even been fighting, that’s dragonshit and you know it-”
“Kingsley told me you’ve been worried over everything, you’ve been working yourself to the bone-”
She yelled, “Kingsley don’t know shit, he just knows what he sees in the office-”
“Dumbledore told him that, Amelia!”
A resounding silence occurred in the kitchen, both of them red faced, standing with fists balled, and glaring hatingly at each other. Smelling something burning, she waved her wand at the stove, as dinner was now irreparably ruined, and whispered dangerously,
“Just because I may have been keeping you out of the fine doings of my life does not give you the right to get mad at me like this.”
“Dragon shit, Amelia! You know you were told specifically to stay away from anything that would stress you out in the slightest!”
“What. Do you know. About stress?” she asked testily. “You haven’t been the one filling out the forms to certify who’s dead and who’s not. You’re not the one authorizing the signatures for more of our Aurors to be sent out into a fucking mouse trap and die for this cause.”
“What cause are you serving?!” Harry shouted. She just stared daggers at him, arms crossed over her chest. He seemed to be waiting for a reply, and when she gave none, he nodded viciously. “Exactly, you don’t even know what the hell you’re doing anymore.”
“I’m trying to help, Harry, that’s what I’m doing!” she yelled. “I am trying to help so that while I am sitting on my ass filling out paperwork, we have at least one more person out on that field trying to stop Voldemort, while I’m sitting here being pregnant there is one more hand out there to try to bring an end to this war! I am thinking for the future, I am trying to stop it before it gets any worse, and you would think that you of all people would understand just how dangerous it is to let Voldemort grow any stronger!”
A very dangerous, pained look came over Harry’s features, and he whispered angrily, “Don’t you ever tell me I don’t know what it’ll be like when he gets to more power. I’m the one whose parents were killed for no reason, I'm the one with the scar.”
She stared disbelievingly at him. “HELLO?! Do you not even see me standing right here?!”
“That’s not the poi-”
“Fuck you, Harry!” Amelia shouted. “It’s entirely the point! You’re not the only one who’s had every fucking thing ripped away from them! Your parents were killed because they tried to protect you, mine were killed because I know what the future is. I am the one who wears the Eye around my neck and cannot even sleep without thinking her dreams mean another person will die! Don’t fucking talk to me about I don’t know what it’s like!”
She turned, storming out of the kitchen. Raging up the stairs, she slammed the bedroom door so hard that the door frame cracked, before utter silence reigned the house.
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