Chapter 13 : Answers in a Portrait
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13. Answers in a Portrait
By that night, three hours later, into the darker parts of the night, I knew three things.
What happened to Eric was intense and dramatic, and he had every right to feel angry about how he had been treated, and how nothing had been done for him in repayment. And he still has to see Albus every single day at school, now hanging out with one of his friends.
That must be like a punch in the guts, to Eric.
So I didn’t blame him for being angry with me.
I didn’t care about what they had done. Why he hated Rose and the rest of the Weasleys and Potters I could only assume was because they were just as famous as Albus and James, and could therefore do most things without consequence, in Eric’s mind.
But I didn’t care. Sure it was wrong and a stupid thing to do, But it was also done by a fourteen year old who didn’t know how to handle looking after his little brother, and let alone handle the life of the little eleven year old that was seemingly obsessed with him.
It was a mistake any simple child could have made.
It was a mistake that a simple child did make.
And I had already forgiven them for it. James Potter, who I had never even spoken to in my life, and Albus—who really was just an innocent bystander in the whole scenario.
And finally, Number three:
If I have to listen to another song from either The Rolling Hills, Oh I Love My Magic Farm, or Jemima and the Purple Cows again, I may just shoot myself in the head.
I rolled over on my bed, disturbing Scrubs, who was perched on my knee. He fluttered crazily for a second, before landing on my bed’s headrest.
“Off, I tell you!” I demanded at the wonderful music playing machines.
Since muggle music players didn’t work in Hogwarts, one fabulous Hogwarts graduate had decided to invent and send back to Hogwarts, a magical music player.
All you needed to do was place the tip of your wand against the blue patch where it directed, and then magic would read your feelings and pick a music play list that best suited your mood.
And god help me, Oh I Love My Magic Farm doesn’t suit anybodies mood.
Scrubs seemed to agree with me, because when I reached across the bed and lifted my wand pressing it to the magic spot that would change the god-awful music, Scrubs let out a grateful squawk.
And then one of Lavender Brown’s love ballads came on and both Scrubs and I winced.
“What?” I demanded, tapping my wand down a couple more times. “I don’t want to listen to this.”
To add to the confusion, Scrubs became airborne again, and then settled himself on my flailing leg. I flinched, frowning and turning my head to see him.
“Get off, you stupid bird.” I muttered, shaking my leg. Scrubs’s feet remained attached to me, his talons digging into my skin.
“Ow! Bloody—”I struggled to free my other arm from the confides of my duvet. “Somebody—someone help—it’s broken—” I shook my leg one more time and howled in pain as the talon cut through the thin layer of skin. “Freaking—SCRUBS!!”
I heard footsteps and relaxed, only to tense again when a familiar mane of perfectly conditioned blonde hair walked through the door and I recognised Emily staring down at me.
“Oh.” I said. “Don’t worry.”
She didn’t roll her eyes, or ignore me like she usually would have.
Instead, she clasped her hands together and then sat down on her bed, facing me, and straightening out her skirt.
I must have been a funny sight. Scrubs was still sitting in my leg while my other leg was still trapped under the duvet, as well as my left arm. My right arm had been flung across my whole body, so I was lying on my right arm, and I was balancing because my wand was permanently pressed to the music player, which was now jumping through songs by Freya Freewand and the Hexers, which gave away my angry mood.
“Hi.” Emily said slowly.
“Uh…” I said, completely bewildered. “Hi.”
“Carson told Charmaine that she told you what happened with Eric and the Potters.” Emily said slowly.
Ah. Yes. Of course Carson would have told Charmaine. What one twin knows, the other soon finds out—the saying goes.
Or it should go, if a saying about intelligent twins is indeed out there.
“Yeah.” I said. “She did.”
“So…” Emily said slowly.
No… this isn’t awkward. What gave you that idea?
“What do you think?” She asked slowly. Then she stared at me, as though she was trying to calculate me.
Holy Hamburgers I don’t want to do this right now.
“Scrubs…” I said. “Gerrof…” Scrubs seemed to recognise the tone of the area with his sixth animal sense and did so. And the blood started flowing down my leg.
I couldn’t do much, still trapped in my sheets and duvet, but to my surprise Emily stood and grabbed some tissues.
“Here.” She said, handing me a bunch of them that, after a huge leap that freed me of the duvet, while pulling it entirely off my bed, I pressed to my leg.
“So?” She asked, when I was sitting up. “What do you think?”
I stared at her calculatingly. “You’re not going to be pleased, Emily.”
She had been looking at me almost proudly. When I told her that, it was as if she deflated, and her face fell.
“You’re going to side with them?” She said, upset.
I sighed. “I don’t know why we’ve suddenly become us or them. And why I’m some sort of a traitor just because I like the people. But yeah, I’m going to stick by Rose, and Albus and their families. Because it’s not as bad as you guys think it is.”
I flinched, as I used the 'you and them' analogy myself, but I tried not to let it show. Instead I focused my energy on watching Emily’ face.
“How is it not as bad as we think? They tricked Eric into almost killing himself, and just got away with it.” Emily said angrily.
“They didn’t trick anyone.” I protested tiredly, “James made a mistake that Eric paid for. It was a simple mistake.”
“…That Eric paid for.” Emily emphasised what I had just said. “They made the mistake, and instead of enduring the consequences of that mistake, Eric paid the price.”
“James Potter was fourteen years old when he made that mistake. And you’re still crucifying him, five years later?” I asked.
“Eric was eleven when he paid for Potter’s stupid mistake.” Emily said, “He went through things that grown adults couldn’t comprehend.”
“Then why, do you think that you can comprehend it?” I asked,
Emily stared at me. “What? I don’t I—”
“You’ve got a position, in this whole situation, that has brought you to have a grudge against people you don’t even know. All because you think that you can define what Eric went through. And, if Eric wants to alienate the people who hurt him, fine. Maybe that’s healthy for someone in his position…”
I stared at her.
“But where do you get off, in condemning them to execution? You have no idea what either James or Albus Potter went through back then?”
“Went through? What could they possibly be—”
“AND you have no idea what Eric went through. He was eleven years old. It was five years ago. All you have, is his account of what happened.”
“Are you saying you don’t trust Eric?” She asked.
I almost screamed in frustration. “Stop, twisting my words.” I ordered angrily. “Of course I trust Eric. Even after all this, and all the dreams he’s probably had of me falling off the astronomy tower—I’d still trust him with my life.”
Emily stared at me, wordlessly. “Eric doesn’t dream of you falling off the Astronomy tower.” She said, almost sadly.
Oh I wish I could believe that.
I never wanted Eric to imagine me falling off the astronomy tower.
But he hadn’t been angry with anyone (besides the Potters) more than he had been angry with me these past few weeks.
“Well,” I said to Emily. “It hasn’t come across that way. And I’m not fine with the way things are. But I’m not fine with the way things were. So, instead of staying here to apologise, like I’m sure you expect, I’m going to go and find the people I need to. And I’m going to tell them, that I forgive them, and that I still love them.”
Emily jerked, looking up at me. “Love them? They’ve been your friends for nine weeks.”
I shrugged. “And they’re the ones who saved me, when I did fall.” I told her. “You dropped me, and they caught me. And that’s alright. But now, I’ve got to catch them.”
I was walking (limping) towards the door when I saw Natalie, Shirley, Lauren, and Charmaine walking up the stairs.
I was almost through the door when Emily decided to get the last word.
“When I saw you with Hilary St. Claire, I should have guessed that my Kate was dead.”
I seethed. I saw red. There were multiple expressions for the anger that I felt at those words. Fury. Hatred. Loathing. Detestation.
I spun around (might I add, on my injured leg) and glared at her.
But it was the injured leg that jolted me back to reality, and I realised that this was just Emily’s defensive mechanism. Whenever someone really spoke to her, who she inwardly agreed with she would snap at them, or fight back.
But I wouldn’t stand for Hilary to be insulted. Hilary who had been so nice since that first day, and become my permanent Potions Partner.
“Don’t insult Hilary, Emily.” I told her.
Voices—or lack of voices—on the stairs told me that everyone there had, well, stopped talking.
“She’s a wonderful person, she’s really nice, and you haven’t given her a chance.”
“She doesn’t deserve a chance.” Emily snapped.
I sighed. “Maybe if you talked to her, you’d realise that she does.”
And then I walked down the stairs, trying to keep air coming in and out of my lungs.
I was half way towards the Gryffindor common room when I realised that I really didn’t know where it was. I froze, in the middle of the sixth floor corridor, frowning.
How was I supposed to find the Gryffindor’s to tell them that I didn’t hate them, or blame them for what happened if they were hiding in the top secret Gryffindor common room?
Emphasise on the top secret.
“Dawdling in neither good for one’s health, or personality.” A voice said. “In fact, it probably brings about the opposite effects.”
I frowned looking around me.
There was no one there.
“And that just makes you look stupid…”
I recognised that voice.
“Fred? Fred Weasley?” I shouted out into nothing, peering around me.
“That would be me.” The voice—Fred—said.
But the voice wasn’t quite right. It sounded quieter. Muffled almost.
“Uh… Fred Weasley—as in my husband?” I verified. “Father of Michelangelo?”
“Married and a father?” The voice that claimed to be Fred let out a whistle. “He didn’t tell me? His own uncle? I shall have to have a very specific talk to that young man…”
Alright—so it’s not Fred.
But apparently it’s his uncle…
Snowmen and FISHFINGERS!!!
“Harry Potter!” I shouted out loudly. “Oh my God! Harry POTTER is here…”
The voice chuckled. “Silly little kid still gets all that attention. I’ll have you know he was rather gawky.”
I deflated and glared into the empty corridor.
“Fine. If you’re not Fred, and you’re not Harry Potter, then who are you.”
“I am Fred, thank you very much.”
WHAT is going on?
“Oh god…” I moaned. “I’m going to have a brain aneurism.”
I pressed my hand to my forehead in an effort to control the whizzing and confused thoughts that were buzzing around in there.
“Whoa there, Nelly.” The voice said. “Calm down.”
“Are you telling me all the truth?” I demanded. “You’re not lying to me or anything.”
“Cross my heart and swear to die—oh no, I’ve already done that… I swear on my grave.”
“You’re a GHOST!” I shouted out triumphantly. “You’re haunting me?”
There was an unimpressed snort. “M’not a ghost,” he said—I had soon concluded that it was a guy. “You have to be scared of death to become a ghost. I walked right into the bright light.”
“Wow. So there is a bright light?”
At this point I was staring at the ceiling, as though expecting the heavens to open up and pluck me from the sixth floor corridor.
Hang on—sixth floor corridor.
That was the corridor that they dedicated specifically to those who fought and died in the Great War.
And if his name was Fred.
And he was my Fred’s uncle—
“Holy crappers…” I said my eyes widening. “Fred Weasley Senior?”
“Got it in one. Well, not one. You’re surprisingly slow, for a friend of my families.” The voice said. “Well, maybe it’s just an every generation thing, because Ron was an idiot, and—but then there’s Hermione…Oi… are you alright?”
I had gone extremely pale.
I knew where the voice was coming from now.
And I was too scared to turn my head and see the painting that had been created for Fred Weasley Senior. The one that was talking to me, right now.
The one who had died.
“Nngh…” I gurgled.
“You should sit down,” Fred Sr. advised “And lean against the wall, or something to that effect.”
I did what he told me, sitting beneath and to the right side of his painting, resting my cheek against the cool marble wall.
“So… uh…” I said, trying make conversation. “You’re… uh…”
“Dead?” Fred Sr. offered.
I nodded. “Yeah…” I frowned, totally unsure of what to do in a situation like this. “…What’s that like?”
Fred Sr. snorted.
“Well,” I said, suddenly offended by his laughing. “I’m not very good at making conversation with a…”
Ooh, good work Kate.
Dig yourself into a deeper hole, why don’t you.
“…Painting?” Fred Sr. suggested.
I frowned at him. “I wasn’t going to say that...”
I had totally been about to say that.
“…A person who had passed on, I was going to say”
Fred snorted again, and then nodded. “Right.”
“Alright then,” I concluded. “Why don’t you talk then. Silence me with your wonderful conversation skills?”
“If your silent, then the conversation skills won’t do much good, now will they?”
Goddamn logical painting.
“Anyway,” He continued, “Why are we talking in the first place?”
You know? I’m not quite sure.
“Hey, buddy.” I said frowning. “You talked first.”
“You talked second.”
And suddenly, I was arguing with my cousins William and Thomas again.
“So? It was all your fault that I talked.”
“No it wasn’t.
“Yeah, it was.”
“Yeah—You know what, I’m not arguing about this. I’m too mature.”
Fred Sr. chuckled. “Right. Which is why you’ve completely stopped going wherever you’re going so you can talk to a dead guy on the wall.”
I frowned. “You’re not some dead guy.”
Fred Sr. shrugged. “I am. I don’t mean it’s a bad thing. You should see the other side. Totally rocks.”
My eyes widened. “You’ve been to heaven?” I asked. “What’s it like?”
Fred shook his head. “Sorry. Can’t tell you. I’m pretty sure that’s like, a capital offence.”
“So…” Fred Sr. said, starting the conversation now. “You and my nephew are married and with child?”
I shook my head, sullenly. “Were with child.” I corrected him. “Michelangelo died, a few days ago.”
Fred Sr. frowned. “How did that happen?” he asked.
“I accidentally drowned him.”
I decided to be a little more upfront with Fred Sr. Besides, who knows what cool super powers you can get when you die. Fred could be able to tell whether or not I’m lying, just by looking at me.
Fred Sr. snorted, again. Then he said:
“And were you and Fred married before or after that?” Queried Fred Sr.
“After.” I told him. “We thought it would be right to honour Michelangelo’s memory.”
Fred Sr. looked down at me, as though checking whether or not I was for real. “What’s your name?” He asked, loudly.
“Katie Dalton,” I said. “Hufflepuff,” I added on, just in case.
Fred smirked slightly, to himself. “Oh. You’re that girl.”
“What?” I asked. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Fred leaned forward inside his little portrait. He was sitting behind a little desk with a sash across it, with his full name on it. Then it said in italic “We will never forget, a hero who died with a smile on his face.”
“Katie, do you realise that you were on your way somewhere when I stopped you. Are you late for something.”
I swore. Then I pushed myself to my feet. “I was… looking for the Gryffindor Common Room.” I said. “You were in Gryffindor right?”
Fred narrowed his eyes. “Why did you want to go there?”
“Because I have to tell Rose, and Albus and Fred that I don’t hate them for the mess they were mixed up in with Eric Smithers.”
Fred Sr. flinched—even dead people knew before me. “Right. Well, I was in Gryffindor.”
“Can you tell me where it is?” I asked urgently.
Fred looked a little unsure.
“Come on,” I urged. “No offense, but you’re dead. What’s the worst they can do to you?”
Fred Sr. smirked, that seeming to have affected him. “No offense taken, Miss Dalton,” He said smiling and then he leaned forward.
Three minutes later, I was rushing in the directions that Fred had given me, also using a passageway that Fred said no one else knew about, save for specific students.
So I got there extremely quickly.
That had to be the first time I haven’t gotten lost trying to get from one floor to another.
It was only as I was shouting through the portrait of the fat lady wearing an extravagant and yet, extremely elegant dress, that I realised Fred Snr had never answered my question—
What had he meant by ‘that girl?’
“Ah, look everybody. It’s the missus.”
It is really astonishing how irritating Fred Junior could be. And most people would laugh at me if I said that Fred Weasley Sr. was mature.
But, I was glad enough that he was even open to letting me talk to him, so I launched myself at him—hugging him.
“Huh—” I heard Scorpius say, “Looks like someone’s getting some tonight.”
I pushed myself away from Fred to glare at Scorpius. “Aren’t you in Slytherin?” I demanded, glaring at him.
“Aren’t you in Hufflepuff?” He countered.
“So… I’m taking it you aren’t angry at me?” I said, hopefully.
Rose rolled her eyes and got up. “Why would we be angry at you, Katie?” She asked.
I shrugged, not entirely sure myself.
Why the heck had I asked that?
Rose giggled. “What about you?” She asked, “You’re not angry with us? You haven’t changed sides?”
I stared at her.
She looked hopefully at me.
“Of course I haven’t changed sides.” I said staring at her like she was crazy. “You guys have been there for me in every single part of my life. Why would I be angry at you for something that happened five years ago?”
“Well,” Albus said frankly, “you’re friends are doing that.”
I shrugged. “You didn’t help my friends by tap dancing in front of the entire school. And…” I turned to Rose, “You didn’t tutor my friends,”
They looked a little confused.
“They don’t know you like I do.” I said, settling on a simple way to get my feelings across. Then I frowned. “Wait, you guys were actually worried?”
There was momentary silence, in which I expected laughter of denial. But then they all exchanged glances and Scorpius nodded at Albus.
Who then launched himself at me, tackling me to the nearest soft plush couch and sitting on me.
Yes, sitting on me.
“You are such an idiot, Kate Dalton.” Rose declared, walking over and staring me in the face.
“Yeah.” Scorpius added. “How many times do we have to tell you that we like you?”
“I married you didn’t I?” Fred asked. “Course, we can’t really know if you drugged me or—”
“You’re right, lover,” Fred said. “Love potion.”
I just didn’t see the point in denying it any more.
“Of course we were worried about how you’d react,” Albus said, peering down at me. “We didn’t want you to hate us like your friends do. And we already feel bad enough for making your friends angry with you.”
There was a sudden spread of happiness through my whole body—although, I couldn’t actually feel half off my body, considering Albus Potter was squashing the life out of me.
But along with that boat load of happiness, there was a little confusion.
I looked up at Rose. “Did you tell them what I told you?” I asked, thinking back to what I had said.
‘We’re going to be okay.’ I had promised her.
Everyone looked at Rose, who had suddenly blanched. “Uh…”
“What did she tell you?” Scorpius asked, almost ominously.
“She said…” Rose said slowly, stuttering for the first time since I had met her. “Uh…”
“I told her that we were all going to be alright. And that everything was going to be okay.” I told the boys for her.
The was a moment’s silence. And then:
“She told you that she was alright, and you had us pacing around the Common room freaking out about what she was going to say when she reacted. AND YOU ALREADY KNEW?”
Rose shrugged. “I didn’t want to get your hopes up,” she admitted guiltily.
“Get our hopes up?” Fred echoed. “YOU were the one freaking out the most.”
But that was all any one could say on the matter, because three seconds later, Rose was pinned to the opposite lounge, face down, while Scorpius sat on her, demanding that she apologise.
“Say sorry to us, and then to twinkle toes, for betraying her trust.”
And that was the first time that the name twinkle toes, didn’t bother me.
But the moment was kind of ruined when, as I was laughing at the treatment of Rose, Albus saw me and said:
“What are you laughing at, Katie?”
And then I got a mouthful of velveteen couch.
Alright. So things have been sorted out between the Canon heroes, and Katie—and we’ve had an appearance from good Old Fred Weasley Senior.
Sorry if you’re irritated at how many characters I’ve brought in over the past thirteen chapters—but minor characters will keep on coming.
There was a little more with Albus and Scorpius in there, as well as Fred.
And some Emily/Katie stuff too. To people who like their dynamic, I just want you to know that Katie and Emily don’t make up for a while, and they won’t ever really go back to the way they were at the beginning.
Also, with Fred Weasley Sr.—I kind of needed to bring in an adult character who Katie could talk to, but without that Teacher dynamic, or the parent dynamic. And I figured that, who doesn’t love the original Fred Weasley.
Thanks to those people who reviewed last chapter, but please don’t stop with just one.
I will always need feedback on what I’m writing. SO please review and tell me what you thought.
PS. BIG THANKS TO MY EXCELLENT BETA WHO IS SO INVESTED IN HELPING ME FIX UP THIS MESS OF A STORY! YOU TOTALLY ROCK!
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