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Chapter 17 : Secrets
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I sigh as I pace outside the garden, trying not to trample on Aunt Hermione’s flowers, but unable to keep still. I’m itching to just run and find dad…
I bite my lip, sinking onto the ground, breathing in a deep breath in a futile attempt to calm down. I feel like I might vomit at any moment. I’m just so exceptionally worried about dad…
I can’t wait any longer. I have to go after him. I have to—
“What’s up with you?”
I turn quickly to see Rose, Louis, Hugo, James, Lily, Roxanne, and Teddy staring at me. Okay. When the hell did they get there?
I stop, biting my lip and glance to the side, as if searching for the answer to the question that was aimed towards me.
After a moment I say, “I dunno. I just can’t sit still.”
Roxanne snorts slightly and with a playful smile she asks, “So you resort to pacing automatically?”
I roll my eyes. “No…” I grumble. “I don’t usually… I just… I don’t know what’s wrong with me today…”
Rose watches me with narrowed eyes. “You seem awfully stressed, Al.”
A nervous laugh escapes me and I say, “Stressed? No. Not at all. Absolutely not.” Oh, Merlin, I’m rambling, aren’t I? Make it stop. “Why would I be stressed, I mean…” I choke off slightly, finding them all staring at me strangely again and admit, “Maybe a little,” in a squeaky voice.
Rose watches me carefully and I can see the gears working in her brain. She knows that it has to do with dad, doesn’t she? She worked most of it out when she saw that article in my book. She’s not a bloody Ravenclaw for nothing.
Teddy sits down next to me as I sink onto the ground and asks, “What’s wrong, mate?” I blink slightly, but then shake my head, dropping it into my hands.
A slight sigh escapes me, but I don’t look up. I can feel James sit down next to me. After a moment, his hand hovers over my shoulder, and then he wraps his arm around me and hugs me to his side. I glance at him though my hands to see him smiling slightly at me.
“You know,” he whispers so softly in my ear that I can barely hear him, “A wise person once told me that everything will work out in the end.” He winks slightly, and I know he’s referring to what I said to him a few weeks ago.
I chuckle lightly, and he gives me a lopsided grin. He bumps my shoulder with his and says, “Whatever’s bothering you, Al…” He glances slightly at me and then continues, “Just stop worrying. Do what you think is right.”
What is right?
Should I wait for Scorpius? It seems to be the more logical thing to do. Two of us would be able to help my dad more than I would if I was alone.
But I can’t stand waiting. I want to see that dad is okay. I want to make sure he’s still alive. I want to see him, smiling down at me again, just like he always did. I want to know… I want to help him, to save him now, so that everything can go back to normal. I sigh, closing my eyes tightly.
I realize suddenly that there really is no right answer to this. I can either go after dad now or wait a day or two for Scorpius. I bite my lip, and glance behind me at Rose, who’s patting my back, her eyes watching me carefully. Roxanne has disappeared somewhere, as has Teddy, but Lily and Hugo are talking quietly behind me and Louis has settled down close to where Teddy was.
I look at him and almost choke on a laugh. “Uh… Louie…”
He blinks up at me innocently, tilting his head. “What?” He asks, his voice light.
“You…” I chuckle, unable to stop laughing all of a sudden, “You’re sitting on Aunt Hermione’s forget-me-nots and lilacs, you know that right?”
Louis eyes widen and he glances down, and then, seeing I’m right, moves quickly, gasping, “Shit.”
Rose lets out a slight laugh and says, barely able to hold back a contagious chuckle (Lily and Hugo are laughing now too from behind us), “Oh, Merlin, my mum is going to kill you, Louis.”
Louis turns slightly red as he looks at the trampled flowers. After a moment he says, “I wasn’t trying to…”
James laughs slightly. “Tell that to Aunt Hermione.”
Louis pales rapidly. I laugh softly under my breath, imagining Aunt Hermione’s face when Louis tries to explain the trampled flowers.
After a moment Louis says in a strangled sounding voice, “This,” he waves his hand towards the trampled flowers nervously, “never happened. D’accord?”
Rose rolls her eyes. “Sure.”
James snickers. “Whatever you say, dearest cousin.”
I shake my head in exasperation at all of them, trying to keep my mind off of dad. After a moment I take a deep breath.
I know what I’m going to do.
The right thing.
I nod slowly. It’s to go to Malfoy manor. And if Scorpius still isn’t ready then…
I bite my lip and stand up quickly. James looks at me in surprise as his arm falls to his side. Rose blinks up at me.
Still nodding to myself, I take off into the burrow without so much as a word to them and make my way to the fireplace.
I’m surrounded by green before I stumble into Malfoy manor. Scorpius is sitting on the couch, twirling a quill in between his fingers chewing on his bottom lip. He doesn’t even glance up as he begins scribbling on the paper. I’m about to say something when he asks, “Can I help you, Al?”
I let out a slight laugh, and I can see that annoying Malfoy smirk light his face, his silver eyes sparkling. After a moment I sit down next to him and ask, “What’s that?”
He glances up at me for the first time since I entered his house and says, “A story for the Prophet. Tommy asked me to work on this one.”
I roll my eyes. “The Tommy I’ve met I’d assume?”
Scorpius smirks again, setting the quill down. “Yes. That Tommy.” He shakes his head at me. “Come on, Al. Where else have you ever met a grown man who allows himself to be called Tommy?”
I snicker slightly and say, “The name really doesn’t fit him in the least. Angry looking man with piercings… It just doesn’t work for me.”
Scorpius rolls his eyes. “Anyhow, he asked me to give him some ideas for an article they asked him to write. He’s stumped.”
“Nice of ye,” I say in a perfect impression of Tommy’s voice, causing Scorpius to laugh. I fake confusion, continuing, “What’s wrong with ye? Did I say somethin’ funny?”
Scorpius is laughing so hard he ends up choking, practically falling off the couch. I smirk down at him and say, “Oh yes, he’s an odd one, Tommy.”
Scorpius rolls his eyes at me. “You don’t even know him that well, Al.”
I smirk slightly. “I think meeting him for ten minutes was more than enough.”
Shaking his head, Scorpius returns to his tattered notebook, picking up the quill again and continuing to write quickly. After a moment I ask, “Scorpius?”
He looks up at me, sensing the importance of what I’m about to say, and then blinks. “Yes?” he questions, his voice quiet and hesitant.
“Can we go after my dad now?” I look up at him, and his silver eyes seem to glaze over for a second, almost as if he’s afraid of answering.
“Al…” Scorpius sighs and I stop.
“Scorpius I can’t wait any longer!” I yell. “What if they killed him in the time we’ve just been waiting? I can’t do this anymore!” I haven’t even realized that I’ve begun to cry softly, while I’m talking. A conflicted look crosses Scorpius’s face. I know he wants to help. I know he wants to come with me and help me find my dad.
But he’s stopping himself. He doesn’t quite know what’s going on, and he’s afraid of what might happen to us if we go up against a group of death eaters. I’ll admit it, I’m frightened to death too, but I’m even more scared of what will happen if we don’t make it in time. Of what will happen if dad is dead by the time we get there.
I bite my lip, trying to control my stomach, which is threatening to upheave again. I’m going to be sick…
Dad can’t be dead.
He can’t be.
Life without him would be worth nothing. He always kept us all together. He was the in-between, the rationality, the lost teenage boy who had finally gotten the family he had always dreamed off.
Everyone who met him and got to know him liked him. That’s just how dad was. He could make anyone smile. He was incredible.
No, no. No, no, no. There I go again. He’s not dead. I can’t talk about him in the past tense. He’s still alive. He has to be.
I’m still crying softly, but now I realize that I started trembling at some point too, making me look like a crazy mess, just sitting there, crying on Scorpius’s couch. I can’t even stop myself.
All I can do is sit here and cry pathetically. I draw in a sharp breath, trying to stop my shaking, my tears.
After a moment Scorpius says, “Tomorrow morning. I’ll be at your house. Maybe we can take them by surprise… I don’t know. I swear to Merlin, Al, I will be there.” I look up at him, angrily wiping away tears with trembling hands.
He sighs. “I told you to give me one day.”
“I know…” I say, looking down at the floor, my hands clenching into fists. “I’m just… So worried that he’ll be gone for good by the time I get there. I feel like I’m wasting all the time he’s got left. Like I’m just sitting here being useless.”
“You’re not being useless,” Scorpius says kindly. “You’re being rational.” I look up at him again and he says, “Think about it, Al. What good would it do to barge in there randomly. What would it be… Two against thirty?” He gives me a pointed look and says, “Do you really think we would stand a chance?”
I chew on my lip. “It would be three, though. My dad…”
“If he’s actually able to fight,” Scorpius agrees. “If he can find a wand to use. If he’s…” He stops and I know what he was about to say. I’m grateful he stopped, but I can still fill in the blanks.
If he’s not dead.
My stomach drops. I feel sick again. What if he is dead? What if he’s been dead for weeks and this whole thing has been in vain?
What if I’m just getting my family into deeper trouble for nothing?
I feel my face scrunch up against the tears. I can’t do this. I can’t cry. Not now. I can’t afford to go back to what I was two months ago; I have to suck it up again. I can’t break down. Not when dad’s life is on the line.
Scorpius scoots closer to me. “Al,” he says softly. “Go home. Get some sleep. I’ll find you in the morning, and I swear, we’ll go after him.”
I nod slowly, standing up and fleeing the manor, that sinking feeling settling in the pit of my stomach, making me feel sick.
No. Dad can’t be dead.
He can’t be.
“Albus.” I turn at the sound of his voice and smile. It doesn’t occur to me that he shouldn’t be here.
Right now I don’t care.
“Dad,” I breathe, watching him. His emerald eyes sparkle at me as he pushes his glasses back up his nose. He smiles softly at me.
I swallow, unable to find the words to explain what I want to tell him.
He nods as if he understands. Then he comes over to me and ruffles my hair, that soft smile still lighting his face.
I still can’t tear my eyes away from him—I feel as if I’ve just woken from a terrible nightmare to discover that everything is normal after all.
I bite my lip and say, “Are you alright?”
Dad blinks at me and then nods slowly, looking strangely surprised, but slightly amused. That softness is still in his eyes though, and I know exactly what he’s feeling. “I’m fine, Al.”
I smile, tears coming to my eyes. “Good…” I whisper. “That’s good…”
And suddenly, words fail me again. I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t know how to tell him what’s happened; I don’t even know what to do.
His face softens. “Albus,” he steps even closer and wraps his arms around me, tears filling his emerald eyes too. “I’m so sorry. You don’t even know… I wish I had been able to come back sooner, I just…”
“Dad,” I say softly, hugging him back, taking relief in the comfort of his strong, sturdy stature. “All that matters is that you’re here now. Who cares what happened before? As long as you’re here to stay now.”
An odd look crosses his face as he looks behind him. “Albus…”
“What?” I ask, glancing over his shoulder. Everything suddenly turns dark. Candles flicker behind us, and I lean further around him, peering off into the distance. “Dad? What’s going on?”
He bites his lip. “Albus…”
I turn and meet his eyes, barely able to see them in the darkness. “What is it?”
He turns quickly, and I lean around him again, trying to get a glimpse of whatever he’s acting so strangely about over his shoulder. I see his eyes again, full of worry and fear, and then a green light flashes towards us.
“No,” he gasps, and shoves me out of the way.
I trip and stumble into the ground, landing face first in the dirt. I jump up quickly, just in time to see my dad fall limply to the ground, his face paling.
His eyes meet mine and I can see the words on his lips, I love you. Then his eyes drain of any life they had left in them, the emerald sparkle that defines him, that shows that spark of life—the happiness that he always has— is gone.
I turn in the candle light, not even noticing the silent tears dripping down my face.
He’s dead. I was too late.
It’s my fault.
It’s all my fault.
I jerk upright, breathing heavily, shivering and sweating, my teeth chattering. I can’t think straight. All I can think is no. No, he can’t be gone…
It takes me a moment to realize where I am.
I’m sitting on my bed, the window thrown wide open, showing the starry night sky, letting cold air wash across the room. The sheets of my bed are tangled around my legs, slipping slowly onto the ground, and I realize what must have happened.
I kicked them down there when I was dreaming.
And that’s all it was.
A dream. A nightmare. I bite my lip, stopping tears from spilling over. He wasn’t really here.
But wherever he is… He could be dying. I glance sharply at the clock.
It’s six in the morning.
And I know what I’m going to do. I can’t wait any longer—not when dad’s life could be on the line.
Not with something so important at stake.
It might be foolish. It might be suicide to try and attempt this, but I really don’t care. I would die to get dad back.
And maybe that’s what I’m doing.
But I don’t have the time to carefully plan. I don’t have the time to sit and wait, watching the sand slip through the hourglass, hearing the silent tick-tock-ing of that stupid internal clock of mine.
I can’t sit and wait.
So I’m going to find my dad. I jump out of bed. This is going to work.
It has to.
A/N: Oh… Chapter seventeen for you all. Anybody figured out where Al’s headed (other than for some trouble)?
Chapter eighteen is slightly depressing, I cried writing it (pathetic, sort of. Maybe.), but we get to see the world through Scorpius’s eyes, which was an interesting chapter to write. Scorpius is just an interesting over all character. And D’accord means agreed in French. Just saying.
Here’s your preview(!):
This causes me to freeze, and I almost forget the persistent urge I have to grab her and snog the living daylights out of her.
I shake my head, trying to get this lovely vision out of my head, and leaning closer to her (bad idea) I ask quietly, “Wait, you haven’t seen him since last night either?”
She shakes her head, her red hair flying everywhere, her sky blue eyes sparkling with worry for her cousin. And my heartbeat speeds up.
Damn those butterflies.
I swallow, and try quickly to think up where Al would be, all the while trying to stop thinking about Rose.
I fail. Miserably.
Heh. Scorpius and Rose… XD
I’ll get chapter eighteen in the queue as soon as I can. That white box down there would love a review. As would I. *winks*
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