Trouble In Paradise
The murderous glare that Septimus inflicted upon his boss' retreating back in response to the insult he had just received was one of the most genuine Fee had ever witnessed, despite the fact that she had spent seven years being the best friend of Walburga Black, once the queen of murderous glares. However, her former best friend- she assumed, having heard nothing from Walburga- was now dethroned, since Septimus' glare superseded his new cousin-in-law's. Fee watched the Auror carefully as he sat down in his chair before sighing in defeat.
“Sit,” Septimus barked.
Fee silently conjured a small green armchair and complied with her new mentor's instruction. She saw Septimus' instant distaste of her choice of colour, but he quickly masked it.
“Question,” Septimus spoke defensively, surveying Fee with distrust. “I've got to take you with me on assignments, but how do I know I can trust you? How can I guarantee that you'll fight alongside me, and not stand by doing nothing or even “accidentally” curse me into oblivion?”
It was a reasonable question for the Gryffindor. He had spent his entire schooling, if not his whole life, distrusting those who took pride in being from Salazar's House, and even in adulthood, the majority of the criminals he encountered tended to be Slytherins. And now here he was: in the position of working with one. What made this particular Slytherin worse, too, was her close friendship with the estranged in-laws he had never met, but who he knew would be baying for his blood after he had “tainted” their precious Cedrella. It didn't matter that as a Ravenclaw, Cedrella would inevitably have crossed paths with Muggle-borns and half-bloods while they had been at Hogwarts. In addition, according to the countless Howlers that they had received in the past two days, it evidently hadn't crossed the Blacks' minds that Cedrella's colleagues at St Mungo's weren't all pure-bloods and nor were the people she treated. He couldn't be surprised: none of the Blacks had made much effort to stay in touch with Cedrella- with the exception of her sisters- since her graduation, so they probably didn't realize how much she had been slipping away from their non-negotiable beliefs.
“The answer is simple,” Fee shrugged, snapping Septimus out of his thoughts. “I want this career. I want to pass Auror training and secure a position as a full-time Auror. It would be counter-productive to my plans if I was partially responsible for my mentor's hospitalization, or even his untimely demise. And trust me, Weasley, as much as I dislike you, here's an indisputable fact: you aren't worth risking my career for.”
Septimus considered the young woman's statement, admitting to himself that she was right. A Slytherin trait was selfishness, and certainly Fee's little speech had been self-absorbed, considering that there had been no mention of his welfare, only hers. He would infinitely prefer a conceited but predictable protégée instead of one he found amicable, but who defied all his preconceptions of Slytherin House. So far, Fiona Phoenix fitted his expectations perfectly, and for Septimus that was excellent, because then he knew where he stood.
“Fine,” he conceded. “Looks like we're crystal clear. Now, since Savage evidently wants better organization, why don't you make a start on that paperwork while I dispose of this Boggart?”
He stood up from his chair and motioned to his own, indicating that she should move seats. The glare that he received from Fee was filled with pure venom, and Septimus couldn't resist a small chuckle at her indignation as he opened up the bottom drawer of his desk and retrieve the briefcase containing the Boggart.
“One of those days, Weasley,” the younger redhead muttered under her breath, “I'm going to curse you into oblivion.”
“But for the next three years, Phoenix, I'm safe,” the Auror smirked, enjoying his position of power as he whispered into her ear while she walked from her lavish green armchair to the battered red chair. “So why don't you be a good girl and get on with what you're supposed to be doing, sweetie?”
“Call me “sweetie” again and I won't be held responsible for my actions,” Fee said through gritted teeth as she fought to restrain herself.
“Understood,” Septimus called back as he walked out of the Auror office, before continuing his sentence under his breath, “sweetie.”
“So how's your first day at the Auror Office going?” Alphard asked as Fee slid into her seat at the restaurant in Diagon Alley where they had agreed to have lunch.
“Do you remember that time we jinxed the chandelier in your hallway to fall on Abraxas' head?” she muttered in response, putting her head into her hands.
Alphard couldn't resist a smile of amusement as he recalled the occasion in question. It had been the summer of 1939, their first summer since starting Hogwarts, and he and Walburga had invited Fee to stay at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place after the Muggles who had raised her had disowned her because she was a witch. Fee had been particularly annoyed at Abraxas Malfoy, who had been taunting her about the fact that the Slytherin Quidditch team hadn't accepted girls on the team for several decades, so had decided to wreak revenge on the blond boy. Alphard had been willing to help, solely for the amusement that mischief-making would cause.
“I remember. Especially how pissed off you were.”
“Multiply how pissed off I was back then by oh, two thousand, and that's how pissed off I am now at that stupid, pretentious Weasley jackass.”
“You've lost me,” Alphard shook his head in slight confusion as he picked up a menu. “Which Weasley jackass is this, and what did they do?”
“Septimus Weasley- yes, the same one who married Cedrella,” Fee scowled. “He happens to be my mentor at the Auror Office. I'm supposed to spend two days a week working under him, and I barely survived this morning.”
“So why don't you quit?”
Alphard, unfortunately, had chosen to ask his question while Fee was halfway through gulping the complimentary glass of Gillywater that the restaurant served its customers while they perused their menus, and therefore the flame-haired witch was forced to endure a violent coughing fit caused by choking on her drink.
“I will not allow a blood traitor to stand in the way of my dream,” she spoke vehemently. “If Septimus Weasley wants to play games and call me sweetie-” at this Alphard winced, knowing the consequences of such an action, “-then he can go right ahead and do just that, because I give as good as I get. A chicken and ham pie and Butterbeer, please.” she added to the waitress before the woman even had a chance to speak.
“Be careful,” the middle Black child advised. “As much as I agree that manipulative games will put Weasley into his place, I know how much you want to be Minister. He's not worth jeopardizing that for. It's a beef casserole for me, and Butterbeer too.”
“I know. I told him that this morning.” Fee smiled. At Alphard's look of curiosity, she continued. “He asked how he could possibly trust a Slytherin to back him up in the field, so I explained that if I was even in part responsible for any injury or death caused to him, it would be detrimental to my career.”
“How are you going to explain working with him to Wali?” the raven-haired wizard asked. “You saw how she reacted to Ophelia being assigned to cover Cedrella's wedding. Which makes me wonder: why is Weasley not on his honeymoon?”
“After the way Wali behaved at the wedding reception, she owes me,” Fee muttered darkly. “And you do have a point. I'll try and find out; it might be useful blackmail material, just in case Weasley decides to double-cross me.”
“If Weasley ever double-crosses you,” Alphard laughed, “it'd be his funeral.”
“Agreed. So, how was the job interview with the Daily Prophet
“You are now talking to the Prophet
's newest reporter. I'm not working at their London offices though; I'm working part-time in Hogsmeade, writing articles from home and the rest of the time, I'll be at Zonko's.”
“What is it with you and Tom?” Fee groaned. “You're gifted wizards who could do absolutely anything you wanted, and yet you both decide to work in a shop
“There's no need to be so disdainful, Fee!” Alphard replied cheekily. “Besides, as part of the job at Zonko's, I get to help the man develop new products and test them out. It's the only socially acceptable way I can carry on pranking now that we've left school.”
“Here are your meals. Don't hesitate to let me know if you require anything further,” the waitress interrupted quietly, setting Fee and Alphard's dinners in front of them.
As Fee and Alphard picked up their knives and forks to begin eating, the raven-haired wizard couldn't stop himself from blurting out the thought that had been playing on his mind.
“You remember that Mother and Father wanted me to move out after Walburga got married?”
Fee nodded while chewing her mouthful of pie.
“They're buying an apartment in Hogsmeade for me, since I did reasonably well in my NEWTs and got a respectable job with the Prophet
- Zonko's they've said they'll accept for a couple of years while I “grow up and mature”- so anyway, I persuaded them to get a two-bedroomed apartment so that I could get a lodger.”
“Okay,” the flame-haired witch answered. “Relevance?”
“I thought since you're currently apartment-hunting, you might want to live with me. Just as friends, of course. I wouldn't charge you rent, either.”
Fee paused before answering her best friend. “Hogsmeade is too far away from the Ministry.”
“Do what every other Ministry employee does and Floo there,” Alphard pointed out.
There was a long pause as both consumed their meals, Fee doing her best to avoid meeting Alphard's eyes. He continued to stare at her, waiting for an answer. And then suddenly, out of the blue, she nodded.
“You're right,” she said, shaking her head to rid herself of unwanted thoughts. “So when do I move in, then?”
“I move in tomorrow, so it depends how long you want to carry on sleeping on Tom's sofa for...”
“Tomorrow,” Fee nodded, before smiling cheerfully to hide her reservations.
She couldn't understand why she was feeling so uncertain. She and Alphard had discussed living together after their graduation when they had been twelve or thirteen, hoping for the day when his parents would stop disliking her so much. For years, living with her closest best friend had been one of the things that Fee had most wanted to do.
So since when had she changed her mind?
Why can't it be possible to erase all of the mistakes that I made? Why can't I turn back time, wipe memories and pretend that it never happened?
There are so many whys, and not enough answers.
But then again, that's probably what you think about me. How strange and ironic it is that two people who couldn't be more different ended up with the greatest affinity of all. If only you hadn't suffered through circumstances of my creation, then our lives would have been so very different.
I'm so sorry. Please forgive me.
Author's Note: So, I hope you liked this chapter! I just want to point out that I'm aware that Fee lodging with Alphard wouldn't be exactly popular in the 1940s, so I wanted to clarify that the pure-blood society thinks that Alphard and Fee think of each other as siblings, so the Blacks wouldn't be too fussed because there wouldn't be any risk of them getting into a relationship... or so they think. ;)
Please let me know what you think of this chapter! XD