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States of Mind by ARG
Chapter 6 : Misery
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6

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26 December 1998

The universe sure had a funny way of saying ‘Merry Christmas’, Izzy mused early in the morning of Boxing Day.

She remembered when she was little and things were as simple as being a good girl getting her presents and being a bad girl getting her a lump of coal. Apparently now the guidelines also said that living through a war, risking their lives for the right side and saving probably thousands of lives got them a lovely outbreak of Dragon Pox on Christmas Day…

To be fair, it wasn’t until Boxing Day that they figured out what was really going on: Christmas had mostly been about managing Alex’s ‘cold’, which had been quickly caught by Mary as well. He might have gotten praise over being so good at sharing if it wasn’t for the fact that said sharing involved two miserable and feverish children, four bewildered family members and one overworked house-elf.

And so, after a long night, during which her parents had taken turns keeping an eye on the kids, Izzy had gone into Alex’s room in the morning only to find her mother asleep in a makeshift bed on the floor beside the bed where two greenish children finally slept peacefully. Truth to be told, once her mother had woken up, she’d been more relieved than anything else upon realizing that what was wrong with the kids was actually Dragon Pox: granted, the disease on itself was a piece of work to deal with, but it was just one of those things that people in the Wizarding World generally ended up catching at one point or another in their lives. The good news were that, once it was out of the way, it was almost certainly never coming back, which made Izzy more thankful than ever about the fact that she’d had it alongside Harry years before. Another dose of Dragon Pox was a Christmas present she was tempted to politely decline…

“So what do we do now?” Izzy asked her mother as she reached up to remove series of vials, flasks and bags out of their potion-ingredient-filled overhead cupboard and passing them to Kreacher so he could start brewing copious amounts of Pepperup potion.

“Well, for now we let them sleep,” Mia said as she kept an eye on the eggs frying at the stove. “They barely did it last night and they seem well enough for now. After breakfast we can try and get a healer from St Mungo’s to make a house call.”

You’re a healer,” Izzy pointed, frowning at the disgusting contents of one of the flasks. “Is this rotten?” she asked, showing it to Kreacher, who promptly shook his head. She felt bile rising up all the way through her throat just thinking of people consuming such a thing. “Never, ever tell me what potions this thing goes in.”

“Kreacher won’t,” he promptly promised. He knew perfectly well she was stubborn enough that, if he did, she’d forever refuse to take any of those potions even if it killed her.

She turned back to her mother, closing the cupboard and starting to set the table. “What was I saying?”

“You were just pointing out that I am a healer, which I’m not anymore,” Mia reminded her. “And even when I was, I usually dealt with spell damage, not magical diseases. I’d rather someone from that field took a look to make sure this is just a straightforward case. It looks like one but I don’t want to take any chances.”

“Doesn’t make it much better for them, though, does it? I had a straightforward case and I distinctively remember wanting to scratch myself raw even though I was only four at the time,” Izzy pointed out as she placed the plated on the table.

“Trust me, you could have had a lot worse,” Mia assured her, turning around as she finished cooking. “Oh, I can finish that,” she said, referring to the setting of the table. “Why don’t you go upstairs and wake Harry and your father up?”

Izzy gave her mother a look. “You just don’t want to deal with the complex process that is waking Harry James Potter before ten in the morning.”

Mia sighed. “He’s not that bad.”

“No, he’s worse,” she replied, making her mother roll her eyes.

“Are you or aren’t you doint it?”

Izzy huffed. “Alright. But, fair warning, if he’s not up at the second try, I’m throwing a bucket of icy water on him,” she promised before heading to the stairs.

Understandably, even though she reached the floor of her parents’ room first, she kept climbing up to the one above in order to get started on the getting-Harry-up mission. She knocked on the door first, just for the sake of not walking in on him getting dressed, something as embarrassing as it was unlikely since he’d never be up at that hour unless someone had already made him. When no answer came in, she barged unceremoniously only to find him pitifully sleeping on his stomach, one arm and a leg hanging off the bed.

Approaching it, she shook him a little. “Harry, get up,” she said. He barely even moved, so she did it again. “Oi, didn’t you hear me? Up!”

That time, he mumbled something unintelligible against the pillow but still didn’t move an inch. It didn’t surprise her – with him, it was a rude awakening or nothing.

Phase two, she thought, heading to the windows in order to open the curtains. He groaned at the light and absently pulled the pillow from under his head and used to shield himself from the light.

She huffed. “I’m going downstairs to wake up Dad. You’d better be up next time I come up here,” she warned him before walking out. Hopefully, letting him stew under the morning light would convince him he might as well just get up.

Compared to log upstairs, her father was much easier to rise. Not five seconds after she’d knocked on the door, she was already hearing a muffled response from the other side sounding somewhat like ‘come in’.

’s it morning already?” she heard her father slur from the bed after she opened the door.

“Yeah, it’s almost nine” Izzy replied. “What time did you go to sleep?”

“I dunno… fourish?” he mumbled. “Your sister just wouldn’t go down. Are they any better this morning?”

“They’re not worse. I’ll let Mum tell you all about it,” she said, wanting to spare herself from the long explanation about the Dragon Pox as she headed for the windows in order to open the curtains too.

She hadn’t even touched the fabric and her father was already groaning. “Merlin, it feels like a hippogriff trampled my head,” he said.

Izzy turned to him in the dark, vaguely seeing his outline sitting up on the bed. “Do you want me to keep the curtains closed, then?”

Her father groaned again. “Only if you want me to go back to sleep. Just do it.”

She complied and heard him hiss as the light hit his eyes before she’d even turned around. Once she did, her eyes facing him directly, she froze. “Oh my god, Dad!” she nearly shouted.

“What?” he mumbled, confused. “What is it?”

“Don’t get up,” she said. “I’m calling Mum.”

“What for?” he asked.

But she was already rushing for the hallway and shouting all the way down the well between the stairs for her mother to come. When she came back into the room, it was clear her father hadn’t listened – he appeared to be standing in front of the long mirror in the room, staring at his reflection.

“I told you to stay in bed, Dad,” Izzy reminded him.

He ignored her. “Why am I green?” he asked before turning to her with a slightly annoyed expression on his face as he scratched his arm. “You know I usually love a good prank, Izzybel, but this is just… unimaginative.”

She huffed. “It’s not a prank, Dad. You’ve got Dragon Pox.”

He frowned. “I’ve got what?”

“Dragon Pox! That’s what Alex and Mary have too. They must’ve given it to you.”

Sirius snorted. “That’s ridiculous – adults can’t have Dragon Pox.”

“Yes, they can. Everyone knows that! They can and almost always because they didn’t get it as kids. Did you ever get it when you were little?”

Sirius was silent for a while. “Are you sure it isn’t a prank?”


“But I feel fine!”

“You’ve just told me five minutes ago that you have one hell of a headache. And stop scratching yourself!” she said, swatting his hand away from his arm.

“Hey!” he complained.

What’s wrong?” they heard Mia’s voice asking from outside the room just before she came in.

He is,” Izzy replied, pointing at her father, who frowned.

Mia stopped on her tracks the moment she laid eyes on her husband. “Please tell me there’s something wrong with the lighting in this room.”

“There isn’t,” her daughter replied.

She took a breath, covering her face with her hands for a moment before making her way to her husband and touching his forehead. “I think you have a fever. Doesn’t seem very high, though. Do you have any other symptoms? Nausea, muscle pain…” she asked her husband.

“He’s got a headache,” Izzy replied before her father could even open his mouth. “And apparently, he’s itching.” She promptly swatted her father’s hand away from his opposite upper arm, which he seemed to be scratching.

“Oi, quit it with that,” he complained, narrowing his eyes at his daughter.

“And you quit it with the scratching,” Mia warned him. “You’ll cover yourself with scars!”

Her husband gave her a look. “I knew you’d only married me for my looks,” he said, resentful.

Mia sighed. “Sirius, this is important. You’re sick and, judging by how quickly the green rash appeared, it’ll be no time before you’re burning up. Do you feel cold?”

He shrugged. “It’s December – it’s always a bit chilly.”

“Not in a magically heated room, it isn’t,” she replied. “You need to get into bed.”

Sirius huffed but didn’t fight her as she took his arm and guided him into the bed as if she was afraid he’d fall over. “You know, I usually like it when you say that but now you’re just ruining it,” he commented while she tucked him in.

“Merlin, Dad!” Izzy immediately hissed, completely mortified. “I don’t want to hear that!”

“What?” he asked, completely unrepentant.

Izzy rolled her eyes. “How did you not catch Dragon Pox as a kid, anyway? Practically everyone does.”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I just didn’t. Neither did my brother, as far as I remember. I kind of figured we probably were just immune or something.”

“Or you were just never really exposed to the disease,” Mia pointed out. “I don’t suppose your parents fancied having you taken to a playground, did they? Letting you play with other kids over there…”

“I’m sorry, are you referring to the Muggle-haters who raised me? Sure, they would have loved to have me frequenting a playground in a Muggle neighbourhood,” he replied, his hoarse tone laced with sarcasm.

“Well, that explains it,” she said with a sigh.

“Look, it’s not that big a deal, is it? I mean, you’ve said so yourselves – practically everyone has it. It’s not like people drop like flies because of Dragon Pox.”

“Sirius, Dragon Pox is not that big a deal in children. It can be much more serious in adults. There can be… complications.”

“What sort of complications?” he asked.

Mia sighed, turning to Izzy. “Go and see if Harry’s up yet, would you?” she requested. “This might take a while.”

Izzy got a feeling her mother was just trying to get her out of the room but went anyway, knowing a little search in the downstairs library was all it would take for her to learn about those possible ‘complications’.

She was just about to reach the upper floor when she heard a loud outburst from her father.

“It can do what to my what?! Merlin, what are we still doing here?! I need to get to a hospital this instant!”

“Sirius, calm down,” Mia quickly urged him.

Calm down?! You’re not the one who might end up i…” The door of the room closed with a bang, courtesy of her mother before Izzy could finish listening and, after a moment of thought, she felt thankful for that. Every word she could think of starting with a ‘i’ that her father might have spoken had the potential to scar her for life – ignorance was bliss, in that case, she was sure.

Upstairs, she found Harry just as asleep as before. The difference was that, that time, she didn’t have the patience to follow the usual procedure. She just walked in and, praying he was decent under the covers, pulled every single blanket he had on top of him.

Go away,” he immediately mumbled against his pillow.

“Get up! Dad’s got Dragon Pox,” she unceremoniously declared.

That seemed to do the trick. In a fraction of a second, he had his face off the pillow and was starting to sit up. “He’s got what?”

“Dragon Pox. So do Alex and Mary.”

“You’re joking.”

“Sure, why not?” she said blandly. “I guess he could just be green because he’s trying to change his animagus form into a lizard.”

Harry looked at her for a moment, trying to figure out if she was joking or not. He thought not, immediately getting to his feet and walking past Izzy out of the room.

The door of her parent’s room was open again downstairs, so, as Izzy followed, Harry went straight in.

“Bloody hell,” he said, the moment he saw his godfather was, indeed, a very unflattering shade of green.

“Harry!” Mia scolded him as she took her husband’s temperature, mindful of the younger boy’s language.

“Sorry, Aunt Mia,” he apologized before turning back to his godfather. “Are you alright?”

“’o, cudn’ be wors’,” he managed to say with the thermometer in his mouth.

“Sirius, don’t speak while you have that in your mouth,” his wife told him. “Do you want to add mercury poisoning to your list of problems right now?”

He pouted, leaning back against the headboard for about twenty more seconds, when his wife remover the thermometer and checked the temperature.

“I said I couldn’t be worse,” Sirius stated out loud, referring to his earlier response.

“Weren’t you trying to play this down little more than five minutes ago?” Izzy asked, raising an eyebrow.

“That was before I was told this could mess with my…” Mia sharply cleared her throat and gave him a warning look before he could finish “… eyesight,” he lamely amended. “It’d be a tragedy if I had to start wearing glasses over this.”

“Hey! There’s nothing wrong with glasses!” Harry protested. In fact, he was missing his own very much at the moment, feeling practically blind due to the fact that they’d been left on the nightstand upstairs. “Anyway, is there something I could do to help?”

“Yeah. You can get me into a hospital right now since your godmother is convinced I don’t need to go to one!” Sirius said, turning to glare at his wife.

Mia huffed. “I’ve already told you, Sirius. It’s not that you don’t need medical attention, it’s just that procedure in case of an infectious disease is to stay home to avoid it from spreading too much and get a house call from someone from the Magical Bugs and Diseases Unit, which I am just about to do.”

“Oh, I can do that for you,” Harry offered. “I’ve got a feeling they’ll be here much faster if I’m the one asking.” It was just one of those things that came along with being the ‘Saviour of the Wizarding World’ – he only needed to say the world ‘help’ and people would be racing each other to give him a hand at anything. Granted, that was a ‘power’ he didn’t like to use, much less abuse, but if there was ever a time to do it in a justifiable way, it was now.

“Would you really?” Mia asked, sounding genuinely thankful. Harry gave a nod in return and, immediately, she turned to her husband. “There, you’ll have a healer in no time. Now, can you please calm down for a few minutes? Your f… eyesight is not going down the drain from one minute to another!”

“Just how certain are you of that?”

“Not as certain as I am that if you don’t shut up about it right now you won’t need your… eyesight at all with me ever again!”

Confused, Harry approached Izzy. “Is ‘eyesight’ supposed to be code for something?” he whispered to Izzy.

“Probably,” she replied before giving him a warning look. “But don’t you dare ask what.”


“I don’t get it.”

George sighed, putting the piece of parchment containing the mail order he was trying to fulfil and throwing a box of Canary Creams into a shopping basket. “What don’t you get, Lee?” he asked his friend.

“The whole thing. How do you go from being a permanent grouch to being… you-ish again in a matter of days?” Lee Jordan questioned him.

“Christmas miracle,” George replied dryly. Lee had been going on about it for about ten minutes, which didn’t particularly surprise George. Sure, he’d already been less jerk-y on Christmas Eve morning, but they’d all been far too busy with the shop for the issue to be brought up. Lee wasn’t one to keep questions to himself, though, so naturally, first chance he had, he was asking questions.

“Christmas miracle my arse,” the dark-skinned boy replied. “Is it a Dickens kind of thing?”

“A what? What the hell is a ‘Dickens’?”

“Not a ‘what’. A ‘who’ – he was some Muggle writer from Victorian times who wrote this book about an old grouch who got visited by ghosts on Christmas that made him rethink his life.” George raised his eyebrows at him. “Don’t give me that look! You know my mother teaches Literature at Oxford. This kind of stuff was what she told me and Eff as bedtime stories when we were kids – she thought fairy tales were too ‘simplistic’.”

“Your mother told you ghost stories at bedtime?” George asked sceptically. It was the first time he was hearing it.

“Pff, that’s not even the worst of it. She read us her entire Phd thesis on ‘Jude the Obscure’ too – trust me, that’s not something you want to be read to when you’re five.” Thoughtful, he let out a sigh. “No wonder my sister turned out such a nutjob.”

In normal circumstances, George might’ve pointed out that Lee was a bit of a nutjob himself but, knowing Lee’s sister far better than he’d like to, he refrained himself from doing it, seeing as there was no comparison between their respective levels of craziness.

“Anyway,” Lee said, “Is that it? A Dickens type of thing or not?”

“Well, I didn’t receive a visit from the beyond, if that’s what you’re asking,” the redhead assured him, picking up the basket and moving on to the display containing the Skiving Snackboxes.

“What, then?” Lee asked, pausing for a moment. “Wait, are you dying?”

George gave him a look as he dumped a box of Fever Fancies into the basket. “No!”

“Is someone else dying? Is it me?”

“No one is dying, Lee!” George assured him. “Not that I’m aware of, anyway.” He moved on to the counter, Lee following behind him, and placed the basket in front of Verity. “Do you think you can wrap these up for me so I can mail them later?” he asked the cashier.

“Sure,” she immediately agreed, since there wasn’t a single costumer in the shop at that moment. It was still early but, Merlin, was it a relief not to have the place crowded like the inside of an egg like it had been two days before.

“Just quit dancing around the matter and tell me what on earth caused this epiphany of yours, George,” Lee impatiently demanded.

“What does it matter what caused it? I’m fine – if I wasn’t, I’d have already kicked you out for being such a pest.”

“It’s just weird, okay? One moment, I have a funny best friend, then I’ve got a grouchy best friend, now I’ve got middle range one… Send a bloke a warning, would you?” he said, before turning to Verity as she worked on wrapping the boxes. “Veri, tell him you think he’s being weird too.”

“No,” she refused without looking up.

“Why not?”

“Because he’s my boss and he pays my salary.”

“So? I’m your boyfriend and I warm your bed at night.”

“I wouldn’t have a bed if he didn’t pay my salary,” she pointed out.

“And now you can get yourself a second bed and kick him out of yours because you’re getting a raise,” George informed her.

“Hey, that’s not fair!” Lee protested.

“Sounds fair to me,” Verity commented.

“I don’t mean the raise – I mean the secrecy,” the former Hogwarts Quidditch-Commenter argued before looking directly at George. “I’ve been here for you, mate. For months. And I want to know what it was that was done to get you better that I didn’t do.”

George sighed and, faithful to his change, decided to throw his friend a bone. “You didn’t tear me a new one. Verbally.”



“That’s it? So, if I’d verbally wiped the floor with you, it would have worked?”

“Probably not,” George said, turning around and leaning with his back against the counter, facing the outside windows. “It required a very specific set of circumstances. It’s hard to explain.”

And, coincidence or not just as he said so, he spotted said ‘specific set of circumstances’ (or the girl who embodied most of those circumstances, one Isabelle Kathleen Black) passing just outside the window and apparently dashing into the apothecary, appearing in quite a hurry as she did so. He raised an eyebrow, wondering what that was all about.

“I’ve got to go,” he announced suddenly, to his friend’s confusion.

“Go where?” Lee asked.

“To the apothecary,” he answered without thinking, already heading to the door. “And before you ask,” he added, a thought just occurring to him, “no, Lee, I’m not going there to spend all my gold in potions that I’m hooked to either.” It wouldn’t surprise him if that was the next shady thing Lee would accuse him of.

“That’s what people who are hooked to potions always say,” Lee argued.

George’s only response was walking out the door and shutting it firmly behind him, ignoring his friend.

The whole alley was only scarcely populated, which was incredibly refreshing after all the Christmas rush. It was ridiculously cold, which was more of a problem over the fact that he’d left his cloak inside the shop – he didn’t bother going back, though, knowing Lee would only use it as an opportunity to annoy him further. It was only a few yard’s walk to the apothecary, anyway.

Even before he went in, he spotted Izzy at the counter through the glass door, chatting away with the shop assistant who – to George’s complete surprise – seemed to be Neville Longbottom. He pushed the door in, moving away from the cold, and walked straight into the middle of a conversation

“…heard he was back. So, how’s he like? You know, dead,” Neville was saying, to George’s complete confusion. “Is he as… you know?”

“You mean as nasty as he was back when he was alive? Definitely – that much hasn’t changed,” Izzy informed him. “I don’t have him for classes but Ginny says he’s as much of a nightmare in them as he was before and that the worst part is that she can’t fantasise about killing him with her bare hands anymore because… well, he’s already dead.”

Neville sighed. “That’s just sad,” he stated before turning to George. “Hey, George,” he greeted him, causing Izzy to turn around, her lips curling as she saw him. “How are you doing?”

“Fine, thanks. I didn’t know you worked here,” he admitted, which ought to be the lamest thing in the world, given the shop in question was right across the street from his. Merlin, had he been living under a rock lately?

“Yeah, I’ve been here for a few months,” Neville said jovially. “Don’t get used to the idea, though. I was just telling Izzy here that Professor Sprout invited me to assist her in her teaching at Hogwarts, sort of as a trainee. I’m starting at the beginning of the term.”

“That’s brilliant. Why didn’t she call you up at the beginning of the term, though?” George asked.

Neville nodded. “She probably heard that I was dabbling with the possibility of becoming an auror,” he said. “I got an invitation sort of like the one Harry, Hermione and Ron. I tried, but it didn’t work out.”

“I wouldn’t put it that way – Harry said you were doing pretty well,” Izzy pointed out.

The other boy shrugged. “I guess I was, but it didn’t feel… right, you know? It just wasn’t the thing for me. I talked it over with Gran and she said there was no point in doing it if it wasn’t something that made me happy. I guess she was happy just with the fact that it was possible I could do it.”

“Of course she was. And she’s got a point,” Izzy said. “You always did have a knack for Herbology, didn’t you?”

Neville nodded, smiling. “It’s kind of why I ended up here. Loads of plants. Speaking of which, I’ve got to get most of this stuff from the back room,” he said, picking up a list that Izzy had presumably given to him. “Oh, is there something you wanted?” he suddenly asked George, recalling he might be there as a costumer rather than as a friend.

He shook his head. “I was just passing by,” he said.

“Alright. Well, I’ll get these things for you, then,” he told Izzy before disappearing into the backroom

“So, Isabelle,” George started, leaning against the counter. “Starting the day with some errands?”

“Yeah. How did you know I was here?”

“I saw you from the shop,” he pointed out, pointing at the window with his thumb. “You seemed like you were in a hurry.”

“Of course I was in a hurry,” she said. “It’s bloody Siberia out there. Speaking of which,” she added, giving him a frown, “what are you doing here without a coat on? Are you trying to get sick too?”

He raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, Mum. I forgot it at home. And why do you look so much like Isabelle Black?” That won him a half-hearted smack on the arm, which he easily laughed off. “Oh, come on, you were just asking for that to be said,” he argued.

Izzy rolled her eyes. “I guess I was. Forgive me for being more sensitive than usual to sickness. I have plenty of it back home.”

“Really?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

She nodded. “Remember how my brother was a bit under the weather on Christmas Eve?” she asked, receiving a nod in return. “Turns out that was the beginnings of a bout of Dragon Pox.”

“Dragon Pox? That’s a fun one,” he said sarcastically, knowing from experience just how annoying that was.

“It is a fun one,” Izzy said. “In fact, it’s so much fun that both my sister and my father just couldn’t wait to join in.”

“Wait, your father?” George asked, surprised. “Sirius’s got Dragon Pox?”

“Oh, yes he does. And he’s currently greener than a Slytherin flag, which would be funny, weren’t be being so whiny about it,” she informed him.

“But, really, is he okay? Are all of them okay?” George asked in all seriousness.

“They’re fine. There was just a healer there and, though he told us to keep a close eye on them, especially on Dad since Dragon pox can be more unpredictable on adults, he said that at the moment there’s no reason for him to believe that’s anything more than a straightforward case of the disease. He’s coming back later, though, and wrote down a boatload of stuff for them to take, which is basically why I’m here.”

“But that thing with your Dad: didn’t he ever catch Dragon Pox as a kid or is it one of those cases when he got it and now has it again? I heard those were pretty rare.”

“He never got it,” Izzy told him. “Apparently, he just assumed he was immune. Honestly…”

“People can be immune to Dragon Pox. And I mean, actually immune, not just lucky or unlucky enough not to catch it,” George pointed out.

Izzy raised an eyebrow. “They can?”

He nodded. “Fred was.”

Her eyes widened in surprise upon hearing that. Not because the fact that Fred himself was immune was surprising on its own (well, it kind of was, but that wasn’t the point) but because of how easily George had mentioned his late twin without even flinching. She didn’t say a word and so George spoke instead.

“When I was about six, there was a big Dragon Pox epidemic back home. I caught it, Ron caught it, Ginny caught it… I think even Percy caught it. But Fred… there wasn’t a single inch of green on him – it was unbelievable.”

“So he didn’t catch it,” she asked. His openness about it was starting to make her comfortable – Fred wasn’t a forbidden subject, she knew, and he was making it clear by speaking about it. “At all?”

George shook his head. “As you know, the two of us did everything together back then,” he said. That time, there was some nostalgia in his tone, like he desperately wanted such a fact to remain but also knew that, ever since May, it would forever be a thing of the past. “So when I realized I was going to have to get through Dragon Pox and he’d just get to sit around happy as a clam rather than sharing my misery, I was pissed. I don’t think I said a word to him for two days.”

“Really?” Izzy asked, sceptically. It was impossible to picture Fred and George at odds.

“Yeah – you’ve got to see that, in my mind, that was the ultimate betrayal, Isabelle,” he explained. “But then I ended up forgiving him, obviously: he did try very hard to catch Dragon Pox too – wouldn’t leave our side for anything, even when I was giving him the cold shoulder. In the end, the healer looking after us found it odd that he just wouldn’t get sick too and got him tested and it turned out that he really was immune, which was ridiculously rare for someone that hadn’t taken a vaccine.”

“Oh, well, pity my Dad never took one of those either,” Izzy said. “Would’ve saved me a lot of trauma.”

“Merlin, Isabelle, seeing your father coloured green is hardly traumatizing,” George assured her.

“No, but hearing the stuff he has to say is. I think the fever is loosening his tongue far too much,” she pointed out. “He either bickers with my mum about his ‘eyesight’, which I’m pretty sure is not actually his eyesight but rather something I really don’t want to know about, or he flirts with her. Shamelessly. It was embarrassing just being in the house when that happened, you know? Harry actually ran – the little bastard was supposed to just go downstairs and floo St Mungo’s to use his ‘Chosen One’ charms to get a healer in the house and instead he decided to go there on person because – I quote – ‘People might doubt it was actually me over the floo’. That didn’t turn out so well for him in the end, though, seeing as he ran straight into Rita Skeeter there.”

George raised an eyebrow. “Rita Skeeter hangs around hospitals now? Is she that desperate for news?”

“I think she was there as a patient. Harry did mention her repeatedly puking into a bucket… but that still didn’t stop her from hounding him for information on why he was there,” Izzy pointed out just as Neville came back from the back room, carrying far more vials, jars and containers than it seemed safe.

Miraculously, maybe, said vials, jars and containers reached the counter safely and, after the goods were bagged and Izzy paid for them, they said their goodbyes to Neville (who was already busy eagerly attending to Hannah Abbot, who’d walked into the shop just seconds before) and headed for the door.

“Come on,” George told her as he relieved her of one of the bags and held the door open for her. “You can take the floo home from my place. It’s closer by than the Leaky.”

They crossed the chilling street, which seemed to have slightly more heavily-cloaked people than before when he’d gone into the Apothecary, and made their way into the far more comfortable shop across the street. He quickly spotted Ron, who’d been absent when he’d left, by a display talking to some costumers and, while Verity still remained at the counter, Lee appeared to be missing (thankfully, George added in his mind).

“Hey, where did Lee go?” he asked the shop assistant as he and passed the counter.

“He was starting to get annoying, so I sent him into the store room to get some Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder,” the blonde said without looking at him.

“Didn’t I tell you just an hour ago that we were out of that?” George asked.

“Oh, yeah. My bad,” she said, not sounding very sorry about it. When she looked up from what she was doing, she didn’t seem it either. “Do you want me to let him know?” she asked tartly, as if daring him to go through another round of questions.

George saw through it and, recognizing the mastery of the move, went along with it. “Maybe around lunch-time if he lasts that long,” he said, causing Izzy to raise an eyebrow by his side. “What? He managed to annoy his own girlfriend – it’s not my place to tell her how to manage him.”

She felt tempted to ask how he would feel if she sent him on a goose chase because he’d annoyed her but then decided against it once she realized that basically involved classing herself as his girlfriend… sort of. It might just be a little too soon to go there, after all.

“Alright, we’re going upstairs so Isabelle here can take the floo home,” he told blonde. “Just shout if I’m needed down here.”

With that, he made his way to the door leading to the back of the shop and started climbing up the stairs, Izzy following shortly behind.

George, is that you?” they heard Remus Lupin’s familiar voice asking from his office, which was located one floor belong the entrance to George’s flat. “I’ve got some bank paperwork here for you to sign. I need to deliver it by the end of the…” He stopped talking just as he exited the office and found George standing on the stairs with Izzy. “Izzy, I didn’t know you were here.”

“I was actually just going home,” she said. “George is letting me use his fireplace.”

Remus nodded. “Listen, Dora and I got your mother’s patronus just before I came here. So your father, Alex and Mary have Dragon Pox, then?”

“Yeah. They’re fine at the moment, though. Dad’s just extra annoying. You should probably brace yourselves for Teddy to follow suit – he played with Mary at Christmas, didn’t he?”

He nodded. “It’s alright. I’m actually hoping he’ll catch it now, for his own good. I got it just two months before going to Hogwarts and, trust me, I’d rather it had happened at an age when I wouldn’t remember it.”

Considering that was said by a werewolf who went through excruciating transformations every month, George and Izzy could only imagine how bad his case has been.

“I’ll have that paperwork ready for when you come back down,” he told George, who simply nodded. Then, he looked back at Izzy. “Let your mother know I’ll try to drop by later for a visit, would you? It’s only fair I take some of your father’s whininess myself since he faithfully handles mine every full moon.”

Izzy couldn’t possibly think of a less whiny person than her father’s best friend but she didn’t care to mention it out loud – if he wanted to have his go at her mother’s fever-induced annoyance, then who was she to stop him?

As Remus went back into his office, Izzy and George resumed climbing up the stairs, that time only stopping in front of George’s door – the door, Izzy recalled, she’d spent ten minutes banging on just a few days before. And, now, the door he was willingly opening to her. It made her want to strangle him and kiss him all at once – how deeply things could change in just a matter of days…

The place was a bit messier than the other day, Izzy noted as she stepped in, but she took that as a good sign – it reflected the fact that somebody actually lived in there, not just hang around apathetically like before. There was a pile of bags next to the sofa she imagined must be Christmas Presents and Care packages Molly had sent along from the Burrow and a pile of clothes on the back of a chair probably waiting for laundry day. But, of course, what caught her attention the most, was the little tower of neatly folded parchment sitting on the side table by the sofa – she knew instantly what it was. Her letters.

“I’ve finished reading them,” George told her, noticing where her attention had gone.

She turned to him, her lips curling a little. “How many did it take for you to get fed up?” she asked in a self-deprecating manner.

“I didn’t get fed-up,” he told her immediately, like he was defending her from herself. He placed the bag containing her purchases that he was carrying on the floor and she did the same with the one she was in charge of, just noticing it was getting a bit heavy. “I like the way you write – it makes me want to laugh at the smallest things. You could probably make yourself a few galleons if you had those published in a book.” He wasn’t the kind of person who spent all their time reading but he’d still read every single one of her letters at least twice.

She made a face. “I’d rather keep it between us,” she said. Writing professionally was not something she thought she had the discipline or organization to do.

“If you say so… But I’ll have you know that the ‘plot’ was so… convoluted (and I mean this in the best of ways) that I have a few questions myself,” he informed her.

“Well, ask away,” she urged him.

His lips curled. “By ‘a few’ questions, I actually meant a boatload of them. It’d probably take hours for you to answer them all and I don’t think you’d want your father and siblings to waste away waiting for these potions you’ve just gotten while you sit here showering me with answers.”

He was actually right about that and Izzy was thankful he’d been thoughtful enough to consider that. “Well, I’ll tell you what: ask one question now, at least. Now you got me curious.”

“Alright, then. I guess I’ll start with the most vital question, which is… Looser’s Lurgy? Really?”

She snorted, recognizing her own mention of Zacharias Smith’s bout of disease. “I did not make that up!”

“You’re telling me some disease researcher actually thought one day to name one of his discoveries ‘Loser’s Lurgy’? As in ‘let’s call the poor sods who get this losers and add to the insult by saying it’s a kind of lurgy, which usually means it’s a made-up disease’. I’ll admit that’s something I would do, but I doubt a professional would.”

“Okay, just so you know, it’s an illness exclusive to the tropics that Smith caught while he was on vacation. The actual name of it is in a dialect whose name I can’t even pronounce. I’ll admit that the ‘lurgy’ part maybe have been lost in translation but the ‘Loser’ one it right letter by letter – apparently, catching it is a bad omen.”

“That one will be a loser all their life?”

“Probably. Would it really surprise you, considering it’s Zacharias Smith who’s got it?”

George paused for a moment. “Not really, no,” he admitted. “Any interesting symptoms to it? You didn’t mention any.”

“We didn’t see much of him while he was ill – he was at the hospital most of the time. Rumour has it that it involved balloon-like swelling up, psychosis and loud singing. Honestly, I think it’s probably exaggerated – we’d have heard it from the papers if every window in the main hospital in the country had cracked at the same time,” she joked, relishing at the moment she saw a look of amusement on his face. “So, I guess that’s one question answered.”

“One of…” he paused, trying to count them “…several.”

“It might be a good idea for you to note them down for next time,” she suggested. “Not as good an idea as it would have been to have read the letters when they arrived and reply to them with those questions like it’s customary, but well…”

He groaned. “I’m never going to hear the end of that, am I?”

“Mentions may grow tamer and farther apart with time,” she offered. “You are sorry about it, after all.”

“I am. I really am,” he assured her. “In fact, related to that, there’s something I’ve been meaning to give you.”

“‘Give’ me? Like a present? As in a Christmas present? Because I don’t have anything for you in return,” she told him, alarmed as he started making his way towards his bedroom in order to pick up whatever he was referring to.

“It’s not a present, Isabelle,” he assured her, pausing for a moment. “This is more like me giving something back – something that was yours in the first place. Just wait here a moment – you’ll see what I mean.”

She watched him leave the room, her mind clouded with confusion. What on Earth was he on about? What could he possibly have in his possession that had belonged to her in the first place? She just couldn’t recall ever giving him something of hers to hold.

But then, he exited the room with the object in question in his hands and, suddenly, it hit her. The papyrus. The scroll of papyrus they’d used to communicate back when Hogwarts was ruled over by Death Eaters – it was connected to another one in George’s possession and whatever she wrote in hers, he could see in his. The memories it brought along were infinite.

“I figured we’d be probably making a good deed by giving those poor owls at Hogwarts a rest,” George said, approaching her. “Weekly flights to London and back all the way from the Highlands has got to be brutal, especially with this weather.” He extended the scroll to her with a smile. “It’s yours.”

She stared at it in silence for a few seconds. “George…” she started “…that’s not giving something back.”

He raised an eyebrow. “It isn’t?” he asked.

“No! ‘Giving it back’ implies that it was mine before, which it never was,” she told him. “I borrowed it from Ginny, who you lent it to so she could communicate home. It was yours. Yours and Fred’s.”


“I can’t take something that was yours and Fred’s,” she declared.

He sighed. “The other one was mine and Fred’s. This one didn’t belong to either of us for a very long time. It was yours from the moment you first wrote to me on it.” He paused for a moment, as if waiting for her to argue, but she was just silent. “Isabelle, these scrolls have no point at all if they’re shoved together in a drawer. None. For one to work, the other has to be with another person. I want you to be that person, so I want you to have it. Permanently, not just in a temporary fashion.”

She kept looking at him in silence for several seconds. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say you’ll take it,” he requested. “If not because I’m asking you, then for the sake of those owls you’re enslaving.”

He promptly thrust the scroll further her way and, tentatively, she reached to touch it. The real weight of the gesture, just how much it meant to her, didn’t hit her until she had her hand wrapped around the scroll and George let go of his end – at that moment, before she could stop herself, she practically launched herself at him in a bone-crushing hug.

If he was in any way uncomfortable about the gesture, he didn’t show it – he held her just about as closely as she held him and never appeared inclined to push her away. She closed her eyes, her head just barely resting on his shoulder as she stood on tip-toes due to the height-difference. She’d missed him so much after he’d been gone for so long… but now he was back. He was back and it never ceased to amaze her just how ‘back’ he was. She could already see glimpses (glimpses that were slowly becoming full-on sights) of those best parts of him she loved him for, that one being one of them. “Thank you,” she whispered against his ear.

She felt him shaking his head. “No. Thank you,” he said before they pulled back a few seconds later. “I hope you won’t mind that I made a few changes to it.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Changes?”

“It’s mostly on my end,” he told her. “Just a little… emergency mechanism. To protect us from myself.”

“What do you mean ‘protect us for yourself’?”

He sighed. “Look, I told you that I’m trying, Isabelle. I’m trying to be… me without the whole ‘being a jerk to the people I care for’ thing. And so far it’s going well but you’ve been practically holding my hand all the way. What’s to say that… I dunno, the moment you’re miles away at Hogwarts all over again I won’t start taking steps back?”

Izzy just looked at him for a few seconds. “You don’t trust yourself yet, do you?”

“Not really, no,” he admitted.

She nodded. “So, what does it do, then? The emergency system?”

“It keeps me from ignoring you when you write,” he said. “It’s basically an alarm that sounds whenever you write down this specific code-phrase – trust me, it’s impossible to ignore. It won’t shut up until I write something back. And before you point out that spells and hexes can almost always be broken by the person who cast them, I asked Ginny to do it for me yesterday just in case. She was more than eager to do so.”

“I don’t doubt she was,” she said. “So, what’s that code-phrase you were talking about?”

“Oh, it’s written down on a piece of parchment I put in the scroll. But before you read it,” he added, stopping her just as she started unrolling it, “I just want to stress the fact that part of the deal for Ginny to cast the spell for me involved her being the one picking the phrase to activate it, so the content of it is not my doing.”

Izzy gave him a look before finishing unrolling the papyrus just until she found the piece of parchment tucked in the middle of it. Once she laid eyes on the words written in Ginny’s unmistakable handwriting (which, infamously, made chicken scratch look more like calligraphy) she had no doubt George was telling the truth. “‘George Weasley, I’m going to go there and bang your head against the wall repeatedly unless you answer me right now’,” she read, raising an eyebrow. “Really? She couldn’t make it any longer?”

“Oh, so you have problems with the length but not with the threat. That’s nice, Isabelle,” he told her, looking slightly annoyed.

She smiled. “Well, let’s hope I don’t have to use it often – I like to keep my promises, even when they’re written using someone else’s words.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he assured her.

Pushing her sleeve up, she checked her watch for the time. She’d already been there far longer than she should have. “Well, I should get these potions home,” she said, placing the scroll of papyrus in one of the bags she’d brought from the apothecary before picking both of them up.

George nodded. “Yeah… hey, before you go,” he said, suddenly reminded of things, “did Ginny tell you about Bill’s thing for New Year’s?”

“New Year’s?” she asked, confused.

“She probably hasn’t had a chance yet, then. Anyway, Bill is holding this little New Year’s get-together at his new place. They’re making me go because apparently I’m in a probation period in which I cannot turn down invitations for any family function unless it’s because I’m either dying or rushing to somebody’s deathbed. I was just wondering if you were going too… I mean, if the disease outbreak over at your house is less hectic by then.”

She thought of it… it wasn’t like she had any plans for New Year’s, anyway. “I suppose I could try, if that’s the case,” she told him with a smile. “I’ll let you know later on the week.”

He smiled too. “Well, you know where you can find me next time you have to make a potion-run,” he told her.

“Yes, I do,” she agreed before impulsively reaching forward and impulsively catching George by surprise by kissing him on the cheek. “Bye, George,” she told him before heading to the fireplace and balancing all the bags in one hand to grab herself a handful of floo powder.

“Bye, Isabelle,” he replied just as she disappeared in the midst of the flames.


She wished she could say the rest of the day was uneventful from then on.

Uneventfulness – even boredom – would certainly beat the utter ridiculousness that came over her and her family the moment the ‘Evening Prophet’ reached their home. Because, since the universe was so clearly on their side, of course Harry’s run into Rita Skeeter at St Mungo’s hadn’t turned out to be just an inconsequential anecdote…

Of one thing they couldn’t accuse the woman: of not being hard-working. She must have spent her whole hospital stay concocting the ridiculous article and ran straight to the newpaper’s bullpen, puke-bucket on a tow, the moment she was out in order to get it printed in the edition coming out just in a few hours.

The headline had, of course, been sensationalistic as ever – ‘Family Drama for Harry Potter: Godfather Sirius Black’s Life Hanging by a Thread due to Unknown Desease’ – and the article went on to make up the most ridiculous details like funeral plans involving a Weird Sisters performance and the confirmed presences of dozens of famous people. Skeeter had even been able to (mis)quote Harry in it – apparently, he’d said something to her along the lines of not wanting to tell her anything because she’d just make it sound like his godfather was at Death’s door, the first part of which she must have… ‘misplaced’.

The most obvious result of the article, aside from the mandatory annoyance, had been the unstoppable flow of floo calls from other reporters wanting a comment and friends, family and acquaintances wanting to check if her father was, indeed, dying or not (even George had left her message on the papyrus wanting to make sure the article was, indeed, a sham). The first call – Molly – had come minutes after the paper had arrived, before they’d even had a chance to read it, and so far they hadn’t stopped.

“It’s your turn,” she told Harry as she saw the flames change colour at the fireplace through the corner of her eye.

Harry frowned across the kitchen table, where they’d been sitting for the past hour playing wizard’s chess. “How is it my turn? I took the last one!”

“And I took three calls in a row when you went to the loo ten minutes ago,” she argued.

He groaned. “Why are we still taking calls, anyway? It’s probably just another reporter.”

“It could be the healer from St Mungo’s. He said he’d come back later to check on the Green Squad upstairs,” she replied. “Go on.”

Harry huffed. “There had better be no comment from you if tomorrow I’m quoted in the paper telling reporters to ‘piss off’,” he warned her as he got up.

She chuckled. “I’m pretty sure Mum’s the one you’ll have to worry about if that happens,” she told him, turning to the wall clock in order to check the time – half past ten at night.

Sighing, she got up from the table just as Harry dove his head into the green flames and walked away from the chess game – it was probably going to be left unfinished, as usual. She could use one hand to count the number of Chess matches the two of them had ever had the patience to finish.

She walked over to the sink, intending to get herself a drink of water, and took a look at Kreacher, propped on a stool and leaning over a cauldron floating over one of the iron-cast stove’s burners, carefully stirring a potion he was working on. He’d been on it all day – brewing stuff, mixing salves, getting something or other for her mother… what would they possibly do without him?

“Aren’t you tired?” she asked him.

“House-elves never tired, Young Mistress,” he told her.

She rolled her eyes. “Liar.”

The house-elf ignored that. “Kreacher can keep eye on calls from now,” he said without looking at her as she drank from her glass. “It’s getting late for masters.”

“It’s getting late for everyone,” she commented, looking pointedly at him. But she had to admit she was getting tired and Kreacher showed no sign of wanting to sleep – ordering him to do so would only get him cranky… “Are you sure you can get away from that potion?”

“Kreacher almost done with it,” he declared.

“What is that, anyway?” Izzy asked, nodding at the blue-coloured liquid in the cauldron. “Pepperup potion?”

The house-elf gave her a highly disapproving look. “Young Mistress should know Pepperup potion be orange,” he said in a long-suffering tone. She didn’t blame him for it. He’d tried – in vain – to tutor her in potion-making time and time again before she’d finally dropped the subject. It just wasn’t her thing, she supposed.

“You know I don’t take Potions as a subject anymore,” she pointed out.

“Young Mistress should. Potions be very useful subject,” he pointed out.

She knew he was right and she was aware she should be making a bigger effort about it, but she just couldn’t stand it. “Good thing I live under the same roof as someone who is so well-versed about it, then,” she told Kreacher, smiling at him.

The disapproving look remained. “Kreacher won’t live forever,” he reminded her.

That had her frowning. “You will if I have a say about it,” she replied, narrowing her eyes at him before looking away at Harry, gesturing away with his hands as he spoke. He seemed to be far too interested in the conversation for it to be some reporter. “Alright, I suppose you could tell him to go to bed after he’s done with that call. But don’t take more calls after the healer asks to be let in,” she told the house-elf. “People can wait for the morning to hear that the reports of my father’s impending death are highly exaggerated.”

“Kreacher won’t,” he promised.

“Good. A good night of sleep is the first step for you to start working on that immortality of yours.”

Leaving a rather exasperated house-elf behind, Izzy left the room and started making her way up the stairs, headed to bed. Passing by her parents’ room, however, she saw a light inside through the crack between the door and the jamb and couldn’t resist making a stop there.

She knocked on the wooden surface and her mother’s voice came from inside, urging her to go in. She found her mother lounging on the sofa at the foot of the bed, covered with a blanket and holding a roll of parchment she appeared to have been reading from – grading essays, Izzy guessed. On the bed itself, her father lay in a feverish stupor under the blankets, the green hue of his skin matching the one of the two sleeping children lying under each of his arms.

“How are they doing?” she asked, referring to the green individuals in the bed.

“They’re well, all things considered,” her mother said, putting the parchment and her quill down and sitting straighter on the sofa. “They’re still running a fever but it wasn’t too high last time I checked. It’s to be expected.” Despite her words, she pushed the blanket aside and got up from the sofa – clearly, her intention as she approached the bed was to check on their condition again.

Izzy nodded. “Quite the Christmas present we got,” she observed, looking at her sleeping father and siblings. At that moment, they seemed the most comfortable she’d seen them all day.

Mia sighed, softly touching all of their foreheads to see if their felt warmer to the touch than before. “It was bound to happen at some point to your brother and sister. Your father, however…” She paused at him, softly brushing the sweaty hair on his forehead away from his face. “At least he’s enjoying the ensuing dramatics.”

He really, really was, mad as it sounded. At some point after the article had arrived, her mother gave him an extra-strong dose of pepperup potion that had made him seem almost normal for a couple of hours – lizard-like appearance notwithstanding – and somehow gotten a hold of the newspaper. He’d loved it.

In fact, he’d loved it so much that he’d been milking the damn article for all it was worth ever since he’d first laid eyes on it. Sentences such as ‘Are you really going to deny a dying man this?’ or ‘Won’t you do that for your dying father/husband/godfather/best friend?’ had been wildly used, not to mention that a long list of ‘last requests’ had been made: those ranged from asking her mother never to remarry a bloke that was younger, handsomer, funnier, better at pranking or at Quidditch than him to casually pointing out to Izzy that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for her to join a nunnery in his memory. She’d politely told him the Dragon Pox was messing with his brains.

“Has he come up with anything new while we were downstairs?” she asked her mother as she watched her tuck the blankets closer around Sirius and the children.

“He was mostly asleep, though he did make a comment about us needing to lock-up your sister in a tower if he’s not around to keep boys away from her,” Mia said, looking up with a smile of amusement.

“Typical… funny how he never says something of that sort about Harry or Alex,” Izzy commented, unimpressed.

Mia didn’t reply to that. She turned back to the ailing people commandeering her bed and reached to caress each of their heads before walking away, back to the sofa.

“Are you planning on sleeping there all night?” Izzy asked, nodding at the sofa. “There are plenty of empty beds in the house, you know?”

“I know. But I want to stay close,” Mia said, tucking her legs under herself on the sofa and patting the empty seat next to her, inviting Izzy to join her. She did so, picking up the blanket and giving it to her mother, who used it to cover them both. “So, are people still calling?”

Izzy nodded. “Yeah. It’s fewer now but they’re still calling. It’s mostly reporters. Kreacher says he’ll keep an eye on it from now on – just until the healer comes back for a follow-up.”

Mia gave her a nod. “It’s been a hectic day for everyone in this house, I’d say. We haven’t even had the chance to talk much in the past couple of days, have we?” she asked, a smile crossing her face. “I’ve got a feeling there’s a lot for us to talk about.”

“Are you referring to something in specific?” Izzy asked.

Mia raised an eyebrow. “You tell me. It seems I’ve seen more smiles on your face in the past two days than in the past six months. Something tells me it may be related to a certain surprising presence in the Weasley Christmas dinner.”

Izzy’s lips started to curl however she stopped herself, turning to her father’s sleeping form once she recalled his presence in the room.

“Oh, don’t worry. He’s done for it for the next few hours,” Mia assured her. She pointed at a large tome resting on the floor. “I dropped that book ten minutes ago and he didn’t even flinch – none of them did. I had to go check if they were still breathing and everything. You’re safe. So, am I wrong?”

Izzy shook her head. “I missed him. A lot,” she admitted.

“How is he? Really,” her mother asked.

“He’s… healing. He sounds more like himself every time I talk to him,” she told her. “He needed a shake-up to start snapping out of it.”

“And you gave it to him?”

Izzy nodded. “We fought. It got worse before it got better. But then…”

“But then ‘better’ kept on getting better and turned out to be worth the ‘worse’, didn’t it?” Mia guessed.

Her daughter smiled. “Something like that,” she replied. “But we’re not… dating,” she had to specify. “I… it’s too soon… which is kind of ironic because a few months ago I thought it was long overdue.”

“Circumstances change,” her mother said. “And have faith that if it’s meant to happen, it will happen when it’s meant to happen. I have a feeling it will.”

Izzy nodded, just as a snore sounded on the background, courtesy of her father. “He’s going to hate it, isn’t he?” she said.

Mia didn’t need to ask who her daughter was referring to – clearly, it was her dear green-tinted husband. “He’s always going to hate anything that threatens to take you away from him, either it’s a boy or a job,” her mother said in all honesty. “You were his first baby and he didn’t even get to hold you when you were born. He’s lost so much time with you during his Azkaban years that every second he has with you now is precious and letting you grow up is hard.”

Izzy understood, even though it was easy not to consider it. Her father was such a big part of her life these days that it felt like he’d been around forever. But he hadn’t. Even if it was easier to push aside, there still was a big hole haunting the first twelve years of her life, which was bound to be just as big for him. She couldn’t erase it, though. And she couldn’t pause her life to make up for lost time – he had to know that. “I have dated before,” Izzy argued.

Her mother raised her eyebrows at her daughter’s notion of dating. She vaguely recalled said dating and it solely involved a few months spending time with Terry Boot and, after she was done with him, two or three Hogsmeade visits escorted by a boy, never the same one twice. Sirius had made a bit of a fuss at first but quickly realized that the boys in question meant little more to Izzy than the dozens of dates he’d had before making a move on Mia had meant to him. George, however, was a different matter. “But you’ve never been in love before,” Mia replied.

Izzy bit her lip. “It’s not like I’m going to pack up and leave the day after we get together. If it ever happens.” She wanted it to happen – she desperately did. But she didn’t want to talk about it like it was a sure thing – what if that jinxed it?

“I know. I’m just saying that this time your heart is in it and, once your father realizes that, part of him will be sad, just as another part will be happy for you. It happens with every parent,” her mother stated.

“Including you?”

“Including me,” Mia confirmed with a little smile. “Still, you’ll have a point in your favour when it comes to your Dad.”


“He likes George,” she informed her. “Respects him, even, as a fellow prankster who managed to make a business out of said prankster tendencies and as a good person, who gave his best friend a chance to make an honest living regardless of what he turned into on full moons. I’d say that gives you a bit of an advantage.”

Izzy was thoughtful for a few moments. “I’d never thought of it like that,” she admitted after some time. “Thanks, Mum.”

“You’re welcome. Now, off to bed with you,” Mia urged her, reaching forward to kiss her on the forehead and getting up. “You’ll need your sleep. It’s been a long day and I have a feeling that tomorrow might just be an even longer one.”

“What makes you said that?”

Mia sighed. “You saw how insufferable your father managed to be during those two hours he was awake after we got the newspaper saying he was ‘dying’,” she said, making a point of making quotation marks as she did so. “Imagine how tomorrow will be like when he has that trick up his sleeve all day.”

Izzy went even further. “Imagine if they report him dead,” she said, immediately reaching for the nearest table in order to knock on wood.

For several seconds, mother and daughter just stared at each other, looks of horror on their faces. He was never going to shut up if that happened – both of them were certain of that.

Then, Mia was the one to break the silence, saying something Izzy thought she’d never hear her mother say. “How easy do you think it would be to slip a strong dose of sleeping potion into his tea?”

A/N: I'd say things are slowly getting warmer, don't you think? I hope you liked the chapter. Feedback is always very welcome! Review!

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