Chapter 4 : Your Biggest Mistake
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Would your bones have to break and your lights turn off?
Would it take the end of time
To hear your heart's false start?
Your Biggest Mistake – Ellie Goulding
Araminta didn’t return to the office until Thursday, three days after her argument with Gideon. He glanced up as she reached the cubicle, then took a double take.
“Have you been run over by the Knight Bus?” he said, startled, forgetting that he was supposed to be angry with her.
“Fell down the stairs at home,” she replied hoarsely. She winced as she sat down.
“They must be some stairs; I’ve not come across many that leave handprints round someone’s neck,” he deadpanned, trying to hide his concern. He took up his wand. “Here.”
He cast a Concealment charm to hide her black eye and the yellowing bruises on her neck.
“Thanks,” she said quietly, her eyes fixed on the floor.
“Why didn’t you do that yourself?”
“Can’t do the charm.”
Her fingers were twisting nervously round her robes.
“Do you want a glass of water?” He got to his feet.
She nodded slightly.
“I’ll be back in a minute.”
On his way back to his cubicle with the glass, he stopped by Marlene’s.
“Someone’s beaten her up,” he said in a low voice.
She frowned quizzically.
“Did she say who?”
“She didn’t say anything at all. Fell down some stairs apparently. I’ve never come across any stairs with hands, and those are strangle marks around her neck.”
“Well she obviously doesn’t want you to know what happened, or she’d have told you,” she said after a moment. “Just ... keep an eye on her, I’d say. Why didn’t she conceal the bruises?”
“Didn’t know how to, apparently. I’ve done it for her.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“Didn’t think you could perform such a charitable act.”
Gideon turned to leave, greeting Kingsley, who was just arriving, on his way out.
Araminta was examining his in-tray when he returned.
“You won’t find anything interesting in there,” he said, setting the glass down in front of her.
“Thanks,” she said faintly, as he sat down in his chair. She paused. “I want to apologise, for Monday,” she continued stiffly. “I was out of order and ... and I apologise.”
Gideon looked at her tenderly.
“That’s okay,” he said softly. “Just ... don’t do it again. My work life is miserable enough without you joining in.”
A faint smile appeared on her face. She was, Gideon reflected, quite beautiful when she didn’t have the sour expression on her face.
“Listen,” he continued, reaching across the desk and taking her hand, “if you want to talk, about ... what happened-” he gestured towards her neck with his other hand – “then I can listen, and I’ll do what I can to help-”
Gideon sat back in his chair, removing his hand from Araminta’s. He crossed his arms lazily as his brother strolled into the room.
“You’ve barely been back twelve hours and already I’m wishing you were still away.” Gideon scowled, cursing his brother’s timing. “Giddy? We’ve been through this time and time again, Fabe, don’t call me Giddy!”
“I think it has a lovely ring to it.” His turned his attention to Araminta. “And you must be Minty Gamp!” He scrutinised her. “Gid told me you were a looker, but I think he’s done you a disservice; bloody gorgeous would have been more accurate!”
“You’re getting married in three weeks,” Gideon chipped in, seeing a shy smile threaten to light up her face.
“Doesn’t mean I can’t look!” Fabian said in a sing-song voice.
“Marlene might beg to differ.”
“What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” Fabian winked at Araminta; her normally chalk-white cheeks tinged with pink. “Anyway, I should be off, apprentices to train!”
“Who’s your apprentice?” Gideon asked curiously, suddenly aware of the fact that he didn’t know who his twin had been assigned to.
“Don’t have one.” Fabian smirked. “Was meant to be Black.”
“That’s nothing to smirk about, Fabby, it means Moody didn’t think you good enough to train up somebody else. Now off you go, corrupt those youngsters.” Gideon waved an airy hand and Fabian scowled, before grinning and strolling off.
Gideon turned to Araminta.
“How is it that after two weeks with you I still hardly get a reaction from you, yet my engaged identical twin brother has you blushing after two minutes?” He shook his head in mock disgust. “Unbelievable.”
“Wish I could come,” James said wistfully.
“Mate, we’ll take one down for you.” Sirius patted him reassuringly on the back.
Gideon nodded in sympathy.
“It’s just a shame Pete has to miss out on this too,” James continued. “He’d enjoy a little raid.”
Their friend Peter wouldn’t be taking part in the raid as his mother was ill; as a result he’d missed the last week and a half of Order meetings.
“Hey ... where’s Remus?” Gideon suddenly noticed the absence of the fourth ‘Marauder’. The four of them were seldom apart, but he too had missed the most recent meetings.
James and Sirius looked nervous.
They both stopped talking at the same time, turning to look at each other in desperation.
“His rabbit is ill.” James turned back to face Gideon, fidgeting slightly.
Sirius copied the nod.
Gideon inwardly rolled his eyes, deciding not to pry further; it was clearly a ‘Marauder secret’. He turned to look for Marlene, who was in charge of the raid.
“His rabbit?” he heard Sirius hiss to James in exasperation as he walked off.
The scheduled raid on the Death Eaters’ meeting in Wimbourne took place on Friday night. Ten minutes before they were to leave, Marlene was still giving out orders, glancing every now and again at a sheet of parchment.
“Ah, Gideon!” she said as he reached her. “I’m pairing you with Sirius for this one-”
She rolled her eyes.
“Don’t give me that, Gideon. You both work well together, and you know it.”
“Worked, Marlene. Worked. I’m not being paired with him-”
“You’re either paired with him or you don’t go, it’s as simple as that.” She folded her arms stubbornly. “It’s been two years, Gideon, can we not act with a little bit of maturity? Is that too much to ask?” She paused. “You can’t run from this all your life. Wheeza would want-”
“Will you stop telling me what Wheeza would want?” He glared at her angrily. “Just ... stop it, okay? Funnily enough, I think I know it for myself, without you having to tell me. And I’m not running from anything.” He took a deep breath. “I’ll work with Black. But Merlin forbid, if something goes wrong and it’s his fault again, like it was last time-”
“I’ve told you time and time again, Gideon, it was nobody’s fault! You have to let this go! You can’t fight alongside people if you’re constantly blaming them for simple mistakes-”
“You don’t cause people’s deaths then attribute them to a simple mistake.” Gideon’s voice was cold, harsh.
“Well it’s hardly as though he meant it, is it?” Marlene’s eyes bored into his. “Honestly, Gid, I love you, but you have to let go of this if you want to survive this war, because it will keep blinding your judgement.”
“And what if I don’t want to survive it?”
Her face crumpled.
“Then you shouldn’t be fighting at all,” she said quietly, before turning away and heading across the room to Dorcas.
“Wow, Prewett, you really know how to give a morale-boosting speech.”
Gideon closed his eyes at Sirius’s dry comment.
“Leave it, Black,” he retorted, not turning round. “Haven’t you done enough?”
Sirius let out a bark-like laugh.
“That’s right, blame it on everyone else-”
“Because you don’t do the same?”
Gideon spun around to glare at Sirius, who didn’t respond.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
Gideon crept through the undergrowth, having cast a Silencing Charm to minimise any noise. Sirius trailed him closely. To his left, he was aware of Moody and Emmeline Vance; to his right, Elphias Doge and Caradoc Dearborn.
A large house loomed ahead of them in the darkness. As they reached the edge of the trees, Gideon’s ears pricked up at the sound of quiet, murmured voices. Sirius had also heard them. He raised a hand and pointed at a spot to the left of the house’s wrought iron gates where two cloaked figures, barely visible in the night’s gloom, huddled in the shadows, talking to each other feverishly.
As they watched, two silent Stunners hit them, from the direction of Marlene and Fabian’s station. Gideon mentally congratulated them, and allowed his thoughts to wander to the argument he’d had with Marlene less than half an hour earlier. He scowled, as he remembered about how harsh he had been to poor old Marlene, who didn’t deserve any of his anger. All she had been trying to do was end his two-year-old feud with Sirius, which had caused a ridiculous number of confrontations ever since.
He had shocked himself with his suggestion that he didn’t want to live any more. His life had gone rapidly downhill in the previous two years, that much was true, but did he really want to end it all? He knew he’d die for the cause, he had known that for years, but being prepared to die and wanting to die were two completely separate things-
Sirius flung himself at Gideon, knocking them both to the ground, as a green jet flew past them. Gideon swore, lifting the Silencing Charm from himself, as he focused back on the house. His lapse of concentration had meant that one of the arriving Death Eaters had not been Stunned, and, upon seeing the fate of his fellows, had immediately called for backup.
In short, all hell had broken loose.
“And Prewett does it again,” Sirius sneered, stomping into the kitchen, holding essence of dittany to his left forearm. “What a wonderful way to get us all almost killed-”
“Yeah, that’s right, Black, blame everyone else,” Gideon replied hotly, getting to his feet, amid the protests of Lily, who was attempting to mop up a gash down his cheek. “Because it would have been impossible for you to Stun Lestrange yourself. Nice spot of affection for your cousin-in-law there-”
“Are you suggesting I deliberately saved your life in order to let Lestrange go free, Prewett?” Sirius’s eyes flashed with anger. “Maybe I should’ve just left you in the curse’s path; it would have caused us a lot less trouble-”
“And maybe I shouldn’t have saved your fucking skin in Hogsmeade!” Gideon yelled back at him. “That sure would have saved a few more lives, without you around to fuck it up-”
Lily glared at them both.
“For Merlin’s sake, will you two stop blaming each other for everything? I’m sick of it! Nobody died tonight – don’t you say a word, Gideon Prewett – so both of you, just give it a rest!” She took a deep breath and forced Gideon back into the chair. “Besides, you caught Selwynn and Jugson, so-”
“We would have gotten them all if some oaf hadn’t missed his cue.”
Sirius stomped out of the kitchen. As he left, he passed Marlene in the doorway. The blonde folded her arms, glaring furiously at Gideon.
“I think you’ve got far too much on your mind,” she said. Unlike her facial expression, her voice was cold, but calm. “I’m telling Dumbledore I want you withdrawn from all Order missions for the next month. You’re not mentally up for it.”
“What?” he yelped, attempting to jump to his feet again; Lily forced him back down. “Marly, you can’t do that-”
“Watch me,” she hissed. “You could have gotten somebody killed out there, Gideon! I specifically stated the plan before we left; you missed your cue! We can’t afford lapses like that. You need some time away from the battlefield to sort your head out. And if you and Black can’t sort out your spat, then so help me I’ll murder you both.”
“Yeah, about Black, don’t you think you should be doing something about him?”
“I’m pulling Sirius out too. You’ve both become liabilities. I’m not having something like that happen again. We’d have had them all easily if you hadn’t missed that Stunner.”
She left the room.
Gideon slumped over the kitchen table in despair, despite Lily’s orders to sit upright.
“I’ve royally screwed it up,” he muttered furiously. “Why the hell can’t I do anything right?”
Lily stopped her ministrations.
“Oh, Gideon,” she said softly, stroking his head. “Honey, you’ve been through so much, we all have, it’s only understandable that you have an off day-”
“Not when it nearly kills people!” he protested in exasperation.
She sighed sadly.
“Look, I know you don’t like it, but Marlene’s right. You need a few weeks off to clear your head. You’ve just got far too much on your mind at the moment.”
Gideon felt something tugging on his leg. He sat up and looked down at the floor to see Harry’s emerald eyes, so like his mother’s, staring up at him, welling up with tears at the sight of somebody else’s unhappiness.
A tender smile spread across Gideon’s face as he bent down and picked Harry up, setting him down on his lap to face him.
“Hey, little man,” he said gently, as Lily continued to tend to his wound. “And how’s my favourite Potter?”
All of his worries were temporarily pushed to the back of his mind, as he listened to Harry’s baby chatter, accompanied with extravagant hand gestures involving his stuffed toy dog. Not for the first time, he felt a pang of jealousy for the life James Potter was able to live.
“What the hell were you playing at?”
"I don’t know what you mean-”
“You told them about our fucking meetings, you dirty wench!”
“I told you ... they found it out...” she says weakly.
His lip curls.
“I think you need to be taught a lesson,” he hisses venomously.
A third figure emerges from the shadows, caressing her wand lovingly, a sadistic smirk on her face.
“Somebody needs to be reminded of where their loyalties lie,” she says, as she aims her wand. “Crucio!”
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