Chapter 1 : Beauty's danger
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A whirl of colour and noise rose up to greet Hugo Weasley as the ratty umbrella he had used as a Portkey unceremoniously threw him off and he landed roughly on the dusty ground. Standing shakily he muttered mutinously to himself as he brushed his clothes down. He hated portkeys with a passion but seeing as travel by Floo made him violently ill and he had never managed to master apparition, it was the only viable method for him to travel. Uncle George’s suggestion of flying had been met with incredulous looks from his parents and even he himself recognised the stupidity of attempting to fly across several countries on a broom. Then again since when could anyone rely on Uncle George for serious suggestions?
Having given up on his clothes as a bad job, Hugo checked to see if his luggage had survived the fall. His mum had performed one of her famous undetectable extension charms and Hugo had three trunks of equipment and clothes stuffed into his pocket. Once he was sure everything was in order, he made his way to the only door in the rather sparse room. Pushing it open, he was instantly blinded by bright sunshine and a cacophony of voices hit him. Hundreds of stores stood before him with their owners all standing by the doors, chatting with each other or receiving deliveries. They seemed to consider shouting the only method of communication that would get their point across and thus the noise was incredible. It was early morning so there were only sporadic customers dotted amongst the brightly coloured fabrics and strangely-shaped fruits displayed in windows.
However even if there had been thousands of people before him, Hugo wouldn’t have had much trouble in picking out the man he was looking for. His uncle’s flame coloured head was only lightly streaked with grey and stood out amongst a sea of bobbing dark-haired heads, and his strident voice could be heard even over some of the stall-owners.
“Ah come off it Andrei, these are hardly worth ten knuts, let alone a sickle!”
The man Charlie Weasley was debating with, launched into a torrent of Romanian that the Englishman had no problem following, but clearly didn’t agree with. He was just opening his mouth to retort when he spotted his nephew watching the exchange with a grin on his face. With a roar he shoved, what looked to be luminous pink pears that he’d been haggling over back at the seller and grabbed Hugo in a bone-crushing hug.
Customary Weasley greeting out of the way, he stepped back to observe the boy he hadn’t seen in four years. At 22 Hugo had finally filled out from the tall skinny child he’d been and although he would always give off the perpetual aura of a scholar, thanks to his glasses and the hunched way he stood; as if he was leaning over a desk, he no longer looked like an innocent, inexperienced little boy. There were lines on his young face that hadn’t been there when Charlie had last seen his nephew and with a frown the older man noticed the weariness in Hugo’s eyes that had nothing to do with travel fatigue. Although that certainly played a part, and so with a start Charlie realised that he’d just been staring for the past few moments. With a chuckle he affectionately ruffled Hugo’s hair and slung an arm around his shoulder.
“Well you’re a sight for sore eyes aren’t you! C’mon I know you’re no fan of floo so I borrowed the Jeep from Codrin. Although after this journey I’d say you might be reconsidering your opinion of magical transport!” Charlie laughed and with this ominous statement, the two men headed off into the steadily growing crowd within the bazaar.
Hugo collapsed through the door Charlie had pointed out and crumpled onto the bed. His uncle hadn’t been kidding when he talked about the journey. Hugo could honestly say he had never been bumped, jostled, thrown about or basically almost killed more times than that jeep had attempted. Every part of him was sore and he groaned as he remembered that he had promised to meet Charlie down outside the pavilions in an hour. His body wanted nothing more than to sleep, sleep, sleep, maybe wash, but then sleep some more! Grumbling to himself, he dragged his exhausted limbs from the bed and set about attempting to unpack. As he took the neatly folded clothes from the newly re-sized trunks he breathed in the smell of home that clung to them. A flash of his mother carefully washing and packing these garments popped into his head, and he had to swallow hard to prevent a wave of nostalgia sweeping over him. He was only in Romania about 3hours for Merlin’s sake! He didn’t want to be reminded of home, wasn’t that why he had come? Hadn’t the choking silence and lost words begun to overwhelm him to the point that he couldn’t enter his family home without feeling sharp, stabs of pain? He wasn’t bringing that part of his life with him. It was going to be different here.
Eventually he gave up on the unpacking and had a quick wash, just to make himself feel marginally more refreshed. He then made his way down outside, and following the directions Charlie had given him earlier; he meandered down to the grassy banks on the far side of the reserve. Reaching the fence he leant against it, looking around for his uncle.
Suddenly a beat of wings drew his attention upwards and he caught a glimpse of a dark shape heading towards him. As it got closer, his heart beat faster and faster. It was a Peruvian Vipertooth, its copper coloured scales gleaming majestically in the sunshine. Hugo stared spellbound, at the creature hurtling in his direction. He was completely mesmerized and the thought of possible danger ever once entered his head, even though he was well aware of the vicious nature of this particular breed. Luckily for the distracted Englishman when the dragon reached about 200 metres out, a force seemed to repel it and it could get no closer to its prey.
Hugo gazed, rapt, at the snarling visage of the beast, its venomous fangs bared and he felt a thrill that, at last, he would be realising a child’s dream of working with these amazing creatures.
*“It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution,” a voice announced from behind him. Turning, he spied Charlie appearing from the shadows of one of the outbuildings, an unreadable expression on his face.
“It’s incredible, absolutely fascinating, there are so many words I could use to describe its exquisiteness but none would do it justice,” Hugo replied fervently.
Charlie frowned. He strode forwards and wrenched his nephew’s face away from the creature before him. Hugo’s confused blue eyes met his uncle’s brown irises, bewilderment dancing across his face.
“Yes Hugo. It is exquisite, it is fascinating, it is incredible, and it is mesmerizing, it is any adjective you want to use. But you must never, ever forget the most important ones. It is deadly. It is dangerous. It is vicious and unfeeling and if that shield had not been there then, you would be either dead or dying a most painful death,” the older man shook Hugo vigorously, “These aren’t distant creatures of your dreams anymore Hugo. They’re very real and they’re very lethal. Never forget that! Never!” Charlie thundered at his nephew, before deflating slightly and letting his hands slip from their tight grip on Hugo’s shirt. He took a shuddering breath and continued, his eyes boring into Hugo’s;
“Don’t make me have to return to my brother, to my youngest brother, and tell him that I am the reason he no longer has a son; that my stories every Christmas were the cause of your death; that my stupid, stupid love for these harsh cruel beasts are to blame for the fact that none of his children remain to him.”
Hugo stiffened at Charlie’s last words and turned away from him.
His uncle sighed and placed his hand on Hugo’s shoulder.
“You can’t escape it here Hugo. Just because you’re far away from everyone and every place that would remind you, you can’t escape your memories. You need to face up to it.” Charlie wearily counselled.
Still facing away from his uncle Hugo felt the tears roll down his cheek and ignoring them he replied;
“You think I haven’t faced it? You think I’ve been able to look my mother in the eye and not see the grief reflected there? You think I haven’t noticed the hours my father spends locked in her room? You think I haven’t sensed the gloom and pain in every single family get-together ever since that day?” Hugo’s voice got steadily louder and less stable as he continued, “you think I’ve been able to look at her page in the Daily Prophet and see the drivel that has replaced her article? You think I’ve been able to look, unfeeling, at how broken and lost Scorpius is without her? I’ve faced enough uncle! I’ve faced goddamn enough!” With those final words, Hugo lost any strength he had left in his legs and fell to the grass below him. Past caring what anyone thought he sobbed desperately into his hands as he felt Charlie’s arms encircle him in a tight hug.
She had been his older sister. His bossy, over-protective, fun-loving, brave, kind, intelligent, skilled older sister and she was dead. She had wilted like the flower that shared her name. It had only taken days for the poison to spread, for her life to be extinguished and torn from her, leaving only pain and confusion for those left behind. His parents had crumbled; torn apart from the inside as they said good-bye to their beautiful daughter who had only just begun her blooming. His cousins, and her best friends, Albus and Dom had clung to each other in their grief, neither able to handle the thought of a life without their Rose, without their rock. None of the family were capable of understanding why their most vibrant and lively member had been the first to go. Rose had been the vine that tied everyone together and she could boast of being a confidant to each and every one of her numerous cousins. A boast that ensured even more heartbreak for a family that realised now just how much they needed each other.
But at least they did have each other. Scorpius had no-one. And no-one had Scorpius anymore. He had vanished. The body that had held his spirit still remained, still functioned, still walked around the home he had shared with Rose, still caused his parents heartbreak and worry of their own. But his spirit had abandoned it; you could see it in his empty eyes and vacant expression. He no longer lived in the real world, but instead was lost in a fantasy world of memory where Rose hadn’t gone; where she still lived and laughed and wound her captivating enchantments around his heart.
Hugo had had enough of a country where he couldn’t turn his head without a fresh wave of memory and pain sweeping across him. So he had decided to follow in his sister’s footsteps and pursue his childhood dream. She had motivated him into realising that he may never have the length of time on this earth he had assumed was his to squander.
Kneeling on the dusty Romanian ground in his uncle’s embrace, he realised that he would never manage to completely escape her. Like Charlie had said his memories would never leave him and he would always carry a part of her with him.
But he realised something else.
These memories didn’t need to destroy him, they didn’t need to consume his happiness and further his suffering. Lifting his head to look back at the dragon that was still hovering around the shield, searching for a weakness, Hugo smiled through his tears. After all look what Rose had done for him from beyond the grave. He had seen a dragon; a real, live, breathing dragon! Even when dead she was still helping him achieve his dreams. Staggering to his feet he glanced at Charlie, who was watching him apprehensively, and calmly spoke:
“You’re right Uncle Charlie; *it is a beautiful and terrible thing and should be treated with great caution.” Hugo paused before smiling brilliantly up at the cerulean sky above him, the same colour of Rose’s eyes, “but so is life, and I don’t intend to back down from that either.”
His uncle’s eyes crinkled into the beam shared by all his brothers as he pulled his nephew into a one-armed hug. Then, arms slung around each other, they turned and headed back towards the main buildings leaving the dragon glaring at their retreating backs with hostile eyes. But neither of them felt it; after all both had been on the receiving end of a Rose Weasley glower before. Not even a dragon could hold a candle to that.
A/N: Quotes marked with a star are from The Sorcerer’s Stone, pg 298, US edition HB (Chapter 17, The Man With Two Faces)
First ever attempt at Next Gen and I kill off my favourite character! Not sure where my mind was when I wrote this but I honestly have to say it is one of my most favourite pieces that I’ve ever written and I’d really like to know what you guys think! Please? Pretty please? With a cherry covered chocolate sundae on top!? “puppy-dog eyes”
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