Chapter 4 : Jolt
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by Eponine @ TDA
“...and today, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome another one among you.” The Head spoke, hands placed on her shoulders. “Ms. Weasley, here, has finally passed her physical and magical examinations and been awarded her ranking position of Auror. She has now become your equal.”
There was faint clapping in the room of marginally older men and women officers, coupled with fierce glares and scowling. She could see only the aged Whitaker smiling at her through his brown crinkled skin. Nonetheless, Rose had known she wouldn’t be well-liked. The Head had known that too, yet he felt inclined to punish her with unwanted praise. It was like rubbing salt on the wounds of hungry lions; she was a mere antelope in his twisted animal hierarchy.
When he called the meeting to end and dismissed everyone, he kept her there.
“You were late this morning, Weasley.”
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“Now, now, I don’t want excuses! I reminded you that this was an important day and yet you neglected to listen to me.”
Rose didn’t bother pointing out that he had never mentioned anything of the sort.
“Not only are you now a ranking officer, Weasley, but you must behave like one. This callous attitude of yours must cease, do you hear me? I will not tolerate any tomfoolery, and neither will your colleagues. Any whiff of disobedience and I will send you straight to Azkaban like you belong.”
She never got tired of hearing that.
“Of course, sir.”
“Now I should probably mention that your colleagues probably won’t be fond of you. You are, after all, younger and haven’t trained nearly as long as them. Therefore, you will tolerate any type of hazing, abuse, or harassment they inflict upon you, no matter how humiliating or painful.”
He paused for a moment to observe her reaction. When there wasn’t one, he continued, a bit more irritably:
“Your purpose here is different than theirs, Weasley. Despite your rank, you do not serve the ministry. Your missions will be different, separate, off-record. You will be alone. You will follow my orders without questioning, no matter how obscene, treacherous, or difficult they may be.”
“Of course, sir.”
“You will not consult the law. You will not consult your conscience. You will not consult human decency or reason. If this is too difficult for you to understand, speak your mind now.”
Her pause was as quick as a deafening heartbeat.
“No, sir. I completely understand.”
Rose paused speaking.
“You look as if you have a question, Mr. Walker.”
“Well, as interested as I am in hearing about your professional endeavors, I would like to know about the Scorpius character present in both yours and Mr. Potter’s memoirs.”
“I had meant to talk as little about him as possible.”
The pained expression on her face was difficult to ignore.
“You don’t have to,” I murmured. “But I would like to hear it.”
She gave a morose chuckle. “You don’t wish to leave a dying woman any shred of privacy. You wish to bleed me out completely.”
I didn’t see how she could talk about the emerging war without talking about Scorpius.
“There are some that believe that Mr. Malfoy was the war.”
“Scorpius was not the war.” She countered sharply. “Do not make the same mistake the rest of the world has. War is not a person—it cannot be confined to the actions of a single being. It is the careful accumulation of events, an ever growing hunger …and there are those in this world whose cruelty will never be sated.”
I pressed my mouth in a hard line, unbudgingly.
The woman gave a weary sigh.
“Very well, I shall tell you about Scorpius. I’ll have to start from the beginning— the very beginning, mind you. It will take a while. I won’t skip ahead to the parts you want.”
“I want all the parts.”
He thought, with a nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach, about how he had probably broken a dozen rules to create a port-key and sneak out from school. Scorpius was no stranger to trouble—rather, trouble loved every blond hair on his Slytherin head—but he knew getting caught would effect a punishment far beyond any other. Strange enough, he had felt no apprehension when he flooded the girl’s bathrooms last year to cause a distraction, helping Albus sneak into the Chamber of Secrets, or changed the Gryffindor colors to a revolting shade of pink for the hell of it. But this of course was far beyond any childish school prank. He stood outside the Head’s house, his mouth dry, his fist against the panel of the front door—risking expulsion for a girl.
No one would be able to understand why he was doing so, least of all Scorpius himself.
The door was promptly yanked open by a man he recognized from the papers—the Head. He towered over the blond in all his menacing, scar-faced glory.
“Who the hell are you?”
“I’m…was a classmate of We—Rose, um, sir. May I see…“
Scorpius could hear footsteps rustling and the familiar voice calling to ask what it was. She poked her head through the doorway, freezing, eyes widening, mouth unhinging at the sight of him. They stood face to face, and Scorpius couldn’t help but stare her in—a wave of relief washing over him. She was alive, in the flesh, no doubt the same girl he remembered from Fourth Year.
She was alive.
An entire year.
She was alive.
It was the same hair, same sparse freckles, same lips, same eyes, but somehow different. Less child-like. More feminine. It was the subtle things—the cinching of the waist, the softness of features, the more adult expression of rage in the eyes directed at him.
She was alive.
The Head observed them both disdainfully.
“You know this boy, Weasley?”
“Never seen him in my life.”
Scorpius blinked, bewildered for a moment, and then scowled. Her anger was so characteristically misplaced that he would’ve laughed if he wasn’t pissed. He wouldn’t admit that he had worried for her, spent nights contemplating what she was facing, but couldn’t she see it in his expression? Sure they weren’t friends, but were they such strangers that she couldn’t read how relieved he was to see her?
He observed as the Head interrogated his ward.
“Are you lying to me, Weasley?”
“Of course not, sir.”
“I’ve told you about seeing boys. I’ve told you to sever all ties with—”
“Rose petal, don’t you remember me?” Scorpius drawled, catching on. “One of your many, many boyfriends from school."
Rose gaped and the Head's eyes bulged dangerously. Scorpius continued with a smirk.
"I wouldn’t be surprised if the others start showing up at here soon too, with that reputation of yours. You always were a wild--”
“H-He’s a compulsive liar, sir." A stammer. "You can’t believe a single word that comes out his abnormally large mouth.”
“I thought you said you didn’t know him, girl.”
She began shrinking. “I don’t. I just mean—“
“How can you say that, flower petal? How can you call our love a lie?” Scorpius watched in amusement as she grew more pissed by the second. “Did I mean nothing to you? All those romantic nights we shared, under the moonlight, where I caressed your—”
“MALFOY, SHUT YOUR FAT MOUTH OR I WILL BEAT YOUR ASS TO A PULP!”
Ah ha. Scorpius grinned at her seething, red-faced confession. The Head looked absolutely irate.
“There will be no ass-beating today, Weasley! Now you get yours back upstairs and I will schedule a medical appointment for tomorrow.”
Rose opened and closed her mouth like a fish, bent on arguing but realized quickly resistance would prove futile. As she sulked away, The Head turned his attention toward the smirking blond.
“Damn this child raising business.”
“Now you better get lost before I call the authorities, boy.”
“I thought you were the authorities.”
The Head froze at the realization he had been outsmarted by a wry adolescent and so, finding himself at a rare lack of words, slammed the door.
But Scorpius was very wry indeed—in fact, from the moment he laid his eyes on Rose, he had assessed the situation and come to the conclusion that there was no chance of private conversation (or anything more) until he diverted the abysmal guardian.
Having changed tactics on the spot, Scorpius would now organize his next plan of attack.
At the very same moment, Rose was crumbling into her sheets, unsure which of her emotions was more prevalent: anger or gut-wrenching surprise. She and Scorpius had always waded amongst a fine line with each other, not-quite-amiable, not-quite-hateful, not-quite-anything —a no man’s land—where Albus created tornadoes of tension and spite consuming them both, and that accursed one other innuendo neither of them could wrap their pubescent heads around. Taunting and angry gobstone throwing followed that sort of thing, and yet all Rose could focus on was the abnormally long time she had spent trying to figure out whether the silly poems tied to the gobstones were sincere, or how Scorpius took that slag Wanda Jules to the Yule Ball when she made it so obvious she wanted him to ask her.
Unsure—that was the word Rose would associated with Scorpius.
Followed shortly by Albus’s pet.
Sudden rapping on the window made her pulse shoot, but she forced herself calm and climbed out of bed. A familiar head of hair stood on a ladder outside her pane, a smug expression resting on his face. She glared at him wordlessly before pulling up the glass.
“It’s four in the morning,” She said icily.
“You said I had an abnormally large mouth. I checked and I reckon it’s pretty normal sized.”
“Did you hear me? I said it’s four in the morning.”
“I’m glad you can read time, Weasel.”
“I’ll push you off.”
Scorpius grinned. “I’ll scream, break my leg, wake your hellish guardian, and everyone on the street will wonder why I’d been climbing through your window in the first place.”
The threat was vicious enough to make her reconsider hers.
Hesitantly, she allowed the blond to take hold of her arm and climb in.
Rose folded her arms as he scrounged around her rather unimpressive living quarters— the single white-sheeted bed, small chest for clothes, ‘HEAD AUROR for MINISTER crossed DICTATOR’ posters on the walls, and stack of old books in the corner.
“Nice cupboard. About as big as my bathroom at home.”
“Did Albus send you?”
Scorpius shoved his hands in his pockets, as he nosily inspected her propaganda adorned walls. He twirled around toward her. “Merlin, why does every conversation have to start like this? Why can’t you ever say ‘oh, hey Malfoy, how’s it been? Gee, you’re looking really handsome…did you do something different with your hair?’”
“Your hair looks nice…Did Albus send you?”
He paid no heed to her accusation, sprawling out on her bed with his shoes, breathing in as he closed his eyes contemplatively. Rose scratched the sensation to levitate him out the window and into the chrysanthemums. Definitely too much noise.
“I have to sleep there.”
“I know. I left space for you.”
Her cheeks glazed with red. “I want you to leave, Malfoy.”
Scorpius opened his eyes and glanced up at her. “Do you know how many rules I broke to get here in the first place?”
“Should I be flattered? Because I don’t remember asking you to come and disturb my life."
“I think you should be flattered regardless.”
She nearly lost her temper on the spot.
“So what was the deal with the whole charade you pulled out there?” She seethed, “Flower petal?! And in front of my boss, no less, who’s now going to have me tested for blasted STDs. As if I don’t have enough to—why the hell are you grinning?”
“Nothing, it’s just-” He bit back a grin. “-I’m glad you look well, considering…you know, everything.”
Her anger deflated a little.
Scorpius nodded, sitting up on her bed and fumbling with the ends of his jacket. “So how’s your new life?”
“It could be worse. It could be Azkaban.”
“As optimistic as ever, Weasel.”
Despite the sarcastic playfulness, he understood precisely what she meant. The idea had haunted him the same way it had haunted her.
He changed the subject.
“So you haven’t missed much at school, though I don’t reckon you’re coming back with the expulsion and…things. Anyway, Filch’s cat caught fire again this week. Slytherin beat Gryffindor at the last match, thanks to yours truly… Slughorn’s always complaining about you being gone, now that no one can answer any of his questions.”
“I’m sure Albus could.”
“Well, you know what he’s like. He’ll never give fatso the satisfaction…though he does miss you, err, Albus that is.” The last half of his comment was latched on with a sloppy grin.
“I bet he told you to say that.”
“That doesn’t mean he’s lying.”
Undisputed, unavoidable reality deemed Albus was always lying, but Rose didn’t want to pick the argument. Malfoy’s pseudo-passive, skirting-around-the-real-issue act was beginning to tire her.
“So what about you?” she asked, for the first time making contact with his grey eyes. “Are you here because he asked you to be or because you miss me?”
“Do I get a third choice?”
“Answer the question.”
“Officer Weasley.” The obligatory eye roll and glib smile. “I miss your obnoxious pencil biting, yelling-at-me, potion-dumping-in-my-lap ways. I turn myself over to the Ministry because apparently that’s a crime.”
“I never said it was!”
“Then why are you getting so worked up about it?”
“Because you’re being facetious!”
“I thought I was being flirtatious. Guess it wasn’t obvious enough.”
A coy smile rested on his features. It was so strange, so nerve-wracking, so direct that Rose turned her attention toward the window. Her insides felt queasy.
“I think you should leave.”
He got off her bed and lazily stretched out his arms. “Right.” He yawned. “There’s an awful Runes exam today I should probably get some notes copied for. Next time I’ll come earlier so that we have more time—”
“There’s not going to be a next time.”
The face flickered, startled, and the playfulness tired. The ends of his mouth curved downward.
“Give me a good reason why.” He stepped toward her, scowling. “Not that I don’t think you have one, or several. And they’re all probably justified in some annoying way.”
She observed his distance. “You wouldn’t understand.”
But Scorpius didn’t want to deal with excuses. The passing year had made his insides ache, and he wasn’t sure he could bring himself to care about the whole ‘I’ll get in trouble’ or ‘I don’t want to see you’ or ‘my life’s too complicated’ tirade. They were no longer school children with multiple opportunities at each other, the time for pretending otherwise had long started to fade. The world was tilting in an ugly direction—his window with Rose would soon close.
“Till next time, Weasel.” He leaned in to brush his lips against her cheek.
Within seconds he was back on the ladder outside the window, out of her sight.
Shadows reflected over the symmetrical rows of tombstones as the sun dunked into the horizon. His father’s was rectangular and cut from stone far larger and thicker than any of the others—a monument-like testament to his heroism. Albus observed the engraving on the front with indifference.
Harry J. Potter
Beloved Hero, Friend, Husband
The last one had been carved in by James, latched on like an afterthought. Confronting the dead parent now did not give Albus the sort of resolution it had given his siblings—the moments they had shared were not quite so pleasant.
For the past couple years he had frantically scrambled to revive it from his otherwise photographic memory, every instance, every lesson with his father in order to justify his hatred. It came in fragments in the dead of night— the cold sweat on his forehead, the hardness of the ground, the pangs of pain shooting through his middle as the result of his father’s conditioning— but in the end, he couldn’t save it all.
The convulsions, the fatigue, the extraordinary amount of willpower his seven-year old self summoned to keep his mouth from screaming while his body felt as if it was tearing itself to pieces— but most importantly, mixed with soreness afterwards, it was the indescribable pleasure of meeting his father’s approval.
“Now, son, remember that this pain is nothing but a mind trick. The ultimate manipulation of this curse, you see, rests in the recipient. Rather than deflect, I want you to control your emotions, make your hardness your strength, never allow for doubt to invade the security of your mind, and you will be stronger, much stronger, than anyone else.”
Slowly he had learned to love it, the sadism, the torture, the taste of success, disguised in bitterness and blood, that marked his endurance. His mind repressed the worst of it, but all that he remembered he found to be indefinitely useful.
“And if you find someday that you cannot trust in me, trust in my teachings, and most importantly, trust in what you know…you know that I love you more than anything, Albus.”
“I know, Dad.” His voice would echo, like a broken recording.
Everything became so much easier once you stopped feeling.
Scorpius woke up at least twice a week, to watch the silhouette hunched over in the bed across from his, forehead covered in sweat, face contorted in fear, gasping as though he was being drowned. Sheets crumpled to the ground as nightmares plagued his friend.
Friend was a strange word to use for Potter, who dismissed any notion of such attachment as frivolous, superficial, and crippling. From day one, Potter had been upfront with Scorpius that he had no use for the word friend.
But Scorpius continued using it.
His night terrors worsened and the dark-haired boy slid off his bed, landing on the ground with a loud painful thud. Previous incidents would compel Scorpius to shoot out of his own bed and help, but such compassion was often resisted with a Piss off, Malfoy. I’m fine. Therefore, when Potter woke up from his frightful nightmares, gasping for air, wide-eyed, stone-faced, Scorpius would pretend to be asleep. Oftentimes, Potter would pretend to believe him.
This was not one of those times.
“I know you’re awake.”
Scorpius opened an eyelid, watching as his friend sauntered to the bathroom sink, a drowsy heaviness in his step. Acknowledgement meant it had been a particularly horrifying night. Of course Potter never told him what the nightmares were about, and the blond didn’t intrude by asking. His friend’s demons were his alone to battle, just as they had always been.
Potter made it clear that he didn’t need help. That he didn’t need anyone.
Scorpius stood by the door pane, watching as the dark-haired boy splashed cold water on his face, the cold porcelain features so distraught they looked fragile.
“Check the doors, Scorp.”
“I did... they’re locked.”
“And the windows?”
“I checked everything.”
A childish query, but one that Scorpius would answer whole-heartedly, grinning.
“You won’t tell anyone about this.” Albus coughed violently into the bowl. “You hear me? You won’t speak a word—”
“Yes, yes, I know the drill. You’ll destroy me. You’ll ruin my life. You’ll murder my unborn child -- honestly Potter I keep your secrets for the asking. You don’t have to threaten me every time.” Scorpius often wondered whether Albus didn’t understand the concept of trust, or whether he just preferred aggressive bullying.
“We’re not friends, Malfoy. Get that through your thick head now.” He spat, glaring at him through the mirror.
“I never said we were.”
“Then don’t act as if…as if—” He subsided into a coughing fit more severe than earlier. Scorpius sighed, his eyes weary, his shoulders descending…it would be a long night indeed if his friend insisted on being so stubborn.
“You sound like shit, Potter. go lay down. I’ll get some tea from the elves.”
“I didn’t ask for—”
“Will you just shut up and do as I say?!” Scorpius glared at Potter, whose brows drew up. He had not been expecting such ferocious insolence.
“You don’t speak to me like that.”
“I apologize profusely, master. There, is that better?”
Potter tightened his jaw, surveying him coldly. “Earl Grey.”
“Yes, yes, I know.” Scorpius muttered, hands in his pockets as he stalked out the doorway.
Passing swiftly through the halls and avoiding the prefect routes, he arrived in the kitchens where various house elves were busy toiling away for the next day. He only had to say two words.
The house elves were fond of Potter, not because he was kind, nor caring to fake it, but because he had helped them arrange a strike for better wages the year prior (which had resulted, as deliberately planned, with the Gryffindor common room in shambles). Obviously Albus hadn’t done it out of some understanding of their plight, or Merlin forbid, because he actually had a heart underneath his shell of ice. It was more or less to test his powers of control against the Head Boy last year—a disdainful Gryffindor who often awarded him with detention. For some reason or other, Potter was always trying to see how far he could pit things.
Normally Scorpius enjoyed the intrusive thrill this created in his otherwise conventional life, but occasionally, he had to wonder what went through his friend’s head.
With Albus Potter, you could never be sure of anything.
“Anthony Rimbaud.” The Head stated, passing her over a file. “32. Widowed. Head of the International Magical office of Law. Pureblood aristocracy. Previous affiliation with renegade underground movements. Attends the Minister’s tea parties. A dangerous enemy that can be turned to a vital ally if you play your cards right.”
Rose glanced through the file.
“And you want me… to convince him?”
“Seduce him?” The very thought made her stomach turn.
“Heavens no, Weasley. My house-elves are more sophisticated in the art of seduction than you. Your task is much simpler. Rimbaud is in the possession of a rare, very valuable basilisk egg that I would like. Naturally, would I to end up with such a blackmail worthy possession, I could not only place his entire career in jeopardy, but the nature of his underground work.”
“So theft, then.”
“I expect it won’t be too difficult.” He said tonelessly, surveying his fingernails.
“Probably not, sir.”
“Excellent.” He stood up and walked over to his fireplace. “Now come along, I need to collect a delivery from my contact in the markets.”
Rose hadn’t been out in wizard streets since the incident with her brother. It was always through the use of floo powder that she traveled from the Head’s estate to the Ministry to the training ground and to the hospital to see her brother, where the staff had been instructed to keep her presence secret. The Head didn’t allow her to read newspapers or talk with reporters—he said the aftermath didn’t concern her, that she had caused enough trouble in the world without needing it relayed it back to her, and she didn’t argue.
Rose had been living in a bubble until she stepped ashen foot into what looked like Knockturn alley, with its leaky streets, dampened shadows, and promise of secrecy. Hoods draped over their faces, she followed the quick-footed Head as they cut seamlessly through the masses of people, shifting shoulders and avoiding eye-contact. Unexpectedly the Head side-stepped into a questionable looking shop to the left, and Rose followed suit.
“Close the door behind you, girl.” A raspy voice spoke, hunched, disturbingly deformed figure slinking out of the shadows, “Vincent, if it isn’t my favorite customer. What shall I get you today? Perhaps a jar of goblin eyes?”
“We’re on Ministry business, Toad.” The Head spoke curtly but the hunched man’s attention had been diverted toward Rose. He vanished into thin air and popped up unnervingly close in front of her, leering at her with abnormally large eyes. Rose struggled not to whimper as he traced his malformed hand across her face.
“What an interesting specimen you’ve collected, Vincent. So soft, so supple —”
“Observe your place, Toad.” The Head spoke sharply, “Rose Weasley is a ranking officer and you will treat her with respect. From this point on she will serve as my messenger in Diagon Alley.”
Her eyes shot open. Diagon Alley?
“My apologies, Rose Weasley” The man hissed, retracting his hand. Turning around he shot a steady glare at the Head. “You intend to bring her here and set her loose in a field of dogs, Vincent. I certainly hope power has not blinded you and made you stupid. You have seen the streets as they are, the world as it is.”
“I am every wary of my actions.” The Head eyes gleamed as he turned his attention toward Rose. “Wait outside until my business here is done, and do not speak with anyone. Do not make it known that you are here.”
She nodded, speechless, her mouth turning dry as she stepped outside. Her heart plummeted with the realization that the streets in which she stood, grey and solemn and bustling with fearsome faces—was Diagon alley.
Just what had happened in the past year?
Shops darkened from the inside, trash littered the streets; an unspoken presence of fear harbored every startled pair of eyes she accidentally came into contact with. People scoured past her in the alley, careful never to linger anywhere too long— Rose made herself blend instantaneously. It was the rare but self-preserving quality about her that even the Head often remarked on.
Disregarding the tell-all Weasley hair, there was absolutely nothing distinctive about Rose. Her eyes the unremarkable color of mud, her facial features not unappealing but easily forgettable— sparsely powdered with freckles—and her body standard and lean. Unlike Albus, with his striking good looks and always towering presence, who was able to turn heads simply upon entering a room—Rose faded into the background. She could morph through any group of people, shifting and passing seamlessly through conversations and facades and attitudes. Clothes changed, and she transformed from scared-shitless adolescent to respectable authority figure to blank face in the crowd.
Albus would fool the world with his charm and wit, but Rose was the true Impressionist.
Someday, she’d even fool herself.
But a fatal mistake would occur that day, shattering the essence of her disguise and causing the second most devastating accident of her life. It would occur in five steps. First, a distraction—Rose paused gazing at the barred shops. Second, the irrelevant man blindly pacing through from the right, late for an appointment at Gringotts to arrange for a loan for his house which – where his three children and wife lived but had no idea he’d been recently laid off – was behind payment.
Third, that moment where they bumped shoulders.
Fourth, her hood would slide inches, revealing strands of tell-all red that would instantaneously be adjusted with feverish hands. “S-Sorry.” A stammered response, followed by a queer look manifest of something so obscure it could easily have been overlooked. Perhaps he remembered a picture from the Daily Prophet or perhaps he had been on the trial the day her sentence had been proclaimed or perhaps he was part of Mungo’s staff and had once spotted her shifting through the hospital to see her brother. Or perhaps this man just had an impossibly sharp eye.
Fifth, the blasted look of recognition, followed by a hasty step back.
“R-R-Rose W-Weasley,” he sputtered, just loud enough for the person passing beside him to hear. A whisper, no, plural— whispers, mumblings, traveling, interrupting, shifting with the once dead but now invigorated monster of a crowd as people one-by-one began to halt and steely, perplexed eyes hungrily searched each other. Rose could feel her heart stop pounding, falling as deathly silent as the rest of her. Her eyes traveled upward—offering a silent prayer to whoever still listened.
“She’s over there!”
The beast was alive. There were screams followed by a division of movement, away and toward. Fear and desperation. The latter composed everyone who had ever lost anyone ever, everyone so tormented and broken that they would do anything, anything to bring back a loved one. Her eyes widened in horror at the absolute madness unfolding. Screaming, tearing, pushing, pulling, shoving, falling, hurting, kicking, desperate to get to her, the beast was hungry and violent. They were trampling over each other to get to her. Women over children. Men over women. Giant waves of bodies crashing into the next, leaving tattered figures as remains. Every man for himself, killing for the secret to life, their voices overlapping. Rose please! my daughter! my son! my father! my uncle! my husband! please, no, me first! I need help! you’re the only one, please! you have to help! you have to help! you have to help!
You have to help.
Rose was petrified, unable to move.
A beam of light shot from the distance creating a shield between her and the masses of people plummeting toward her. A quick apparition occurred to her right, hands grabbing her by the shoulder, and the two of them were gone.
In the Head’s office, Rose ended up violently thrown to the floor.
“What the hell did I tell you?!” He roared at her, “Didn’t I tell you to remain inconspicuous?! Do you have any idea the mess you’ve caused?! Blast it!” He slammed his desk in anger, throwing off papers.
She trembled, her mouth unable to form a single coherent thought. Except one.
“Accident?” The Head laughed spitefully. “No, Weasley, you don’t get to make any more accidents. The world out there has gone mad—people are killing people because of your accidents. ”
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