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Counting Daisy Roots by peppersweet
Chapter 5 : Five
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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I keep the stone in the pocket of my jeans, and one day, I have a heart-stopping moment where I wonder if I remembered to remove the stone before putting said jeans in the wash. I then discover it has been in my shirt pocket all along.


I consider throwing it down a drain, but that seems too prosaic. I think about burying it, but I can’t do that without attracting attention. I think about borrowing a diamond-tipped drill to break it apart, but I somehow suspect it’s unbreakable. I think about flushing it down the loo, and then conclude that that’s far too ludicrous.


I realise that I have to honour it. It is, after all, one of the famed hallows from the history books, the conclusion of the last war, the stone with the power to recall the dead. Besides that, I have to honour the hours Albus spent retracing his father’s footsteps of some thirty years previously to find it.


I balance it on my palm and think of the power it holds. I end up thinking about Mum.


*



The weather is pleasantly warm this far south and Dad hasn’t bothered to crack a window open, so his flat is almost unbearably stuffy. I rather think that the curtains were only opened five minutes before my arrival.


He’s worked overnight again. His new role is nothing to do with the Department of Mysteries – after what happened there, that’s no surprise – and is, instead, in Law Enforcement, as the staff member responsible for receiving emergency patronuses and other similar cries for help. The dispatch officer, if you will, one of a ten-strong team. I wonder if the others know that my father can’t produce a patronus himself. Not that I can either.


You can see the overnight shifts in his face. He looks at least a decade older than he is, thin verging on gaunt, with greyish hollows beneath each eye that rather make him look skeletal in darkness. Like son, like father, I suppose; he doesn’t have the greyish tint I do, but he’s pale enough to look unhealthy. Then again, he’s an ex-Unspeakable, ex-Death Eater. He’s not meant to look like a functioning member of society. He isn’t one.


We go through the ritual of making tea and drinking it. We don’t talk much. Dad’s laconic, a bit like me, although it’s less shyness in his case and more a matter of preoccupation. He thinks too much, likes to dwell on the past. Whilst he drinks his tea he looks past me to the window. I feel as if I’m not actually there.


The stone is in the pocket of my jeans and I’m trying to pretend it isn’t there either. I have to bring it up sooner or later.


I bring it up by placing it next to my coaster. Dad’s face doesn’t change, but he nearly drops his mug.


‘Albus gave it to me,’ I say.


Dad furrows his eyebrows. ‘Why?’


‘Said it’s my problem now.’


His lip curls. ‘Your problem?’


‘He said I’ve got to get rid of it.’


‘Should be his problem. He’s the one who dug it up.’


‘I know, but he says he can’t.’


‘Preposterous,’ Dad says. His eyes are fixed on the stone.


‘I don’t know where to put it,’ I admit. ‘I can’t think of anywhere good. I mean, I can’t just throw it out the window or chuck it down a drain, it’s too important for that, and someone might find it. It’s got to be somewhere far, but I can’t think of anywhere…’


‘You’ll think of a place. You’re smarter than him,’ Dad says. He won’t take his eyes off the stone.


There’s something of an elephant in the room, a problem I desperately need to address. I can’t take my mind off it, but I can’t quite muster the courage to bring it up. I know Dad’s thinking about it too. How could he not?


It feels like no time has passed between the day we met with the two Potters in St Mungo’s and now. I remember sitting up in bed. The air being static. The three of them sat around me, Dad on my left, Albus and his father on the right. I remember that Albus promised to shoulder the responsibility, and his promise to hide it again.


I also remember wondering if he ever regretted saving my life. If he still regrets the moment he realised I was dead and reached into his pocket for the stone, the same moment an Auror applied the tip of his wand to my heart and thought of the incantation to restart it.


‘Dad,’ I say, and my voice is as quiet as possible because I’m scared of upsetting him. ‘Do you want me to keep it?’


His eyes flicker to his mug instead. ‘No, of course not. No. What would you use it for?’


‘You know,’ I shrug. My eyes are starting to burn, and I can’t form the next word properly. I mouth it instead. He’s not looking at me, but I think he gets the gist of it.


‘No,’ he shakes his head. ‘No, no…’


I swallow, try to regain my composure. ‘I just thought…well, you never…never got to say goodbye.’


Silence. My heart rate is climbing. There’s static in the air, the muggy sort of feeling that creeps in before a thunderstorm. I clasp my hands on the tabletop and several sparks burn a small hole in the tablecloth.


Dad withdraws his wand and says ‘Reparo,’ without apparently thinking. The cloth repairs itself. I jam my hands under my thighs instead.


‘You can have it if you want,’ I say.


I honestly don’t know whether I want to bring Mum back, or just want to palm the responsibility off on him. I don’t want it anymore. I look at it sitting on the table and I feel like I’ve given it up for good. I never want to touch it again.


‘No,’ Dad says. ‘Absolutely not.’


‘But Dad…,’ I whine.


‘Look what it did to you,’ he snaps. ‘Do you want that to happen to her?’


Perhaps I do. But I recognise that I won’t win this fight.


‘No,’ I finally admit.


‘You’ll have to get rid of it, then,’ he says.


I have no idea how to that. This is when a tear finally leaks from my left eye and drops onto the tablecloth. I’m biting my top lip as hard as I can to stop a second tear, a third, from following suit. Dad doesn’t say anything. I wish he’d shout, or punch the table, or do something, otherwise I’ll crack first.


But Dad’s never been good with emotion. I know what happened to him when he was younger, and I think I understand what has gone on inside his head in the years after. I think he stopped trying to feel things – and I think that was a mistake – and became quite accustomed to bottling things up inside, pretending they don’t exist. That’s why he wasn’t there when Mum died, I guess. It was an outright denial.


Unfortunately, I haven’t quite mastered the same coolness. The second tear drips beside the first. I thumb the third away and rub both eyes with my palms, feigning tiredness. I let my glasses slip down my nose and hope they catch the rest. Dad acts like he can’t see. Not that I can tell, because my own vision’s too blurred to register anything much at all.


I wish he’d do something. My nose has started to run, so I sniff, and his fingers flex on the tabletop.


‘Blow your nose,’ he says.


Are you that blind?


I push my chair back from the table. ‘Just going to nip to the loo,’ I say. It’s surprising how calm I sound. The blood rushes back into my hands, and they fizz with pins and needles.


I lock myself in the bathroom with sparking fingers. I can’t seem to electrocute myself, because I push up my glasses and wipe my eyes again and again with the back of my hand and the sparks don’t touch me. It’s not like I never cry; I do, relatively frequently, but I’d die if anyone knew. If it wasn’t socially unacceptable for boys to cry, I think I’d be a nervous wreck on a near-daily basis. I know how poorly Dad’s flat is soundproofed, though, so I press my face into the hand towel hanging from the back of the door and cry into that. I keep quiet. The moment passes. I go to the sink and run the cold tap, splashing my face with water. When I stand up straight again, I end up face-to-face with myself in the mirror.


There’s nothing I can do about the eyes. I don’t like the feel of contact lenses, and so I’ll have to learn to live with the pin-prick stare. Ditto the pallid complexion. Ditto the bruise and the grazes, which are small and off to the side, but look black, as if they’ve decayed.


I cover that side of my face with my hand and look again. My hair stands on end, but I don’t look as bad now that the cuts are covered. I look monochrome, like a cutting from a photograph. I don’t look all that dead after all.


I return to the kitchen. Dad’s pushed the stone further over to my side of the table. I wonder if he picked it up and held it, or just nudged it across?


He doesn’t mention the red-rimmed eyes or soggy fringe. I think he knows I’ve been crying, but chooses to ignore it.


Then, when I sit down, he abruptly says this: ‘I know a place.’


*



We apparate directly into a puddle. Dad moans about how his boots let in water. My canvas shoes soak right through.


I vaguely recognise this place; I think we went hillwalking here, once, as a family, when Dad started taking us on cheap holidays. The land rolls lazily down to a small lake, where a dinghy is tethered to a ramshackle pier. The other side of the lake is bordered with trees. It’s autumn now, and the leaves are browning and crisping. It was muggy in London, but there’s a slight chill in the air here, and it feels like the loneliest place in the world.


‘There,’ Dad points to the lake.


‘What do you want me to do?’


He doesn’t answer, but nudges my elbow. I hold the stone and take a few steps forward, sizing up the distance between here and the lake. I think I can make the throw. Though I was never fit enough to make the team, I tried out for role of Chaser three years running. This thought comforts me, and I try and make-believe I’m at one of these trials again. All I have to do is net the Quaffle in the hoop, and then I’ll be free.


This is a difficult fantasy to maintain. The stone I hold in my hand is the resurrection stone. It’s a legend. I know the story from childhood. If this stone had not coincided with that spell, I would not be here, holding it.


If I turn this stone over three times, I can bring my mum back. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.


I throw it as hard as I can. A moment’s silence passes. Dad puts his hand on my shoulder. I don’t look to see how good my aim is.


‘Well done,’ he says.


I focus on breathing. I already regret what I’ve done.


‘Shall we go back?’


‘Sure. Dad, um, something happened the other night,’ I mumble. ‘I, um, well, a girl kissed me. And I electrocuted her. You know, the hands.’


I don’t know why I’m telling him this. I think I just want the distraction.


‘Pardon?’ he says.


‘I gave her a shock. You know how the hands work,’ I wiggle my fingers in the air for effect.


Dad’s looking at me in disbelief. ‘Well. Have you apologised?’


‘I…no,’ I say.


He shakes his head. ‘Unbelievable.’


I want to press on and tell him more, just to distract my thoughts from the stone. But this is Dad, and I don’t really tell him things. ‘How would I even apologise?’ I ask.


‘Conjure her some flowers,’ Dad says.


‘She’s a Herbologist. I don’t think she needs any more flowers.’


‘Sunflowers always worked on your mum.’


‘I don’t think Lucy wants sunflowers.’


There’s a minute pause, a tangible shift in the air. I wonder if Dad knows she’s a Weasley. He seems to be putting two and two together in his head.


Finally, heavily, he says ‘Well, maybe a sorry will suffice.’


‘Dad, we should go and take some sunflowers to Mum’s grave. We haven’t been there in ages.’


‘Alright. Maybe…maybe ask your Herbologist friend for help finding some.’


I realise that he’s shivering uncontrollably; I’ve forgotten my body’s refusal to feel much of the cold. It won’t do either of us any good to stay here much longer.


I try not to look towards the lake when we apparate away again, but it’s too hard. I can’t resist a glance. The waters are still and calm, as if out of respect for the stone within, the presence of death.



a/n: so! An entire chapter of Draco/Scorpius interaction. Hope you liked it, and thanks for reading!


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