Chapter 8 : Reverse
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--a lie, because faces can be falsified can’t they? Polyjuice is a prime example—
--if only she’d looked closer, if only she hadn’t been so taken by grief, she would’ve spotted the irregularities. Albus commented on them—
--Rose, no one’s mentioned how the fire happened. Rose, there are burn marks all over the bodies but not the faces. Rose, your father wasn’t wearing that shirt when he left. Rose, doesn’t your mum’s hair color seem a bit dark? Stop it, Al, it’s probably just the light—
Sounds of a clanging shovel reverberated through the dead winter air. Tilled soil, wilting plants, mildew of stone—these were the scents that surrounded her, urging, pushing her further into the earth. Specks of dirt shot at her with every heaving blow, thousands of little bullets. Her eyes burned from the fatal combination of cold and decay.
Cold sweat crept onto her skin—she stripped down to her essentials to continue digging. Hours passed but time had lost its meaning; only inches and feet mattered now. Dirt found its way everywhere, ears, mouth, hair, armpits, and underwear. Despite their brutal conditioning, her muscles screamed of exhaustion. She didn’t stop. She couldn’t even if she wanted to.
Her shovel fell as she hit something solid. Now she was on her knees, clawing and tearing through the dirt with her hands. Bloody knuckles. Snapped fingernails. Every particle of dirt was like a speck of her sanity tossed away.
She pulled out their caskets and pried them open.
Her throat burst—only explanation for the wracking sobs that tore out of her mouth. But she quickly wiped her face, telling herself this was neither the time nor place to plunge into hysterics. It was dark now, very dark and she had to finish the dirty deed. Yes— complete the triumvirate.
Shovel clenched in convulsing hand, she approached Uncle Harry’s resting ground.
Now she would defile the grave of the most revered man in the Wizarding World.
There was a special spot in hell reserved for her.
She dug. Frozen mud flew everywhere.
There was a clang at shovel meeting metal.
Flies exploded from the casket as soon as the lid buckled and her shoulders fell, in dismay.
Because there was no body there either.
Nothing but an eleven-inch piece of holly.
Rose and I had become more than simple acquaintances. On day 2, I had enough perspective into her life to feel as if I’d known her for years. I felt as if our meeting was predestined, and that perhaps in a separate dimension, we might’ve been soul mates.
Not of the hearts, exactly, but the mind.
We were two halves concerned with a similar truth. Which made me brave enough to prompt discussion on her parents.
“They were heroes Mr. Walker, what is there to say?” She gave me a gravelly smile. No doubt it was a deeply personal topic. “Their lives were riddled with admirers. Their funeral had thousands of mourners. ”
“But there’s more,” I implored. “Unspoken truths.”
“Every family has its closet of skeletons.” She replied.
“Yours quite literally.”
“It came with the territory, Mr. Walker.”
“Did you and Albus know then?”
“About the secrets?”
“About the magic.”
The old woman pressed her lips together. “If you mean to ask, Mr. Walker, whether at seventeen we knew what our parents had set in motion, I’m afraid not.”
“But things would’ve been different if you had?”
“Very much so.”
“Would you even have gone looking for them?” I asked,
It was an unfair question, and Rose turned the cheek to me, rather coldly.
“The what ifs and would haves…there is no solace in such thoughts, Mr. Walker. The past cannot be changed any more than the future can be predicted. It was clever execution, I think, that made us think for the time that we were masters of our own fate. We were not. You must understand. It is perhaps the most pivotal lesson I learned. You must understand that history will always repeat itself.”
I’d heard that somewhere before.
“Are you listening Rose?”
The seven-year old girl sitting on her dad’s shoulders stopped playing with his red curls.
“Sure Mum,” She giggled.
“Then what did I just say?”
Something about Herbert.”
Hermione’s forehead creased.
“Herpo the foul, love. The earliest known dark wizard? I was talking about his contributions to basilisk breeding.”
“That’s what I meant.”
“Wakey wakey and pay attention to Mum, Rosie,” Ron said, spinning her around. Rose shrieked with laughter. “Put me down, I have to pee!”
Grinning, Ron put the girl down and allowed her to prance away. He then went to sit next to his exhausted wife. He put an arm around her, chuckling.
“It’s not working,” Hermione sighed, rubbing her temples. “She doesn’t pay attention.”
“Cut her some slack, ‘mione. She’s seven and, honestly, history is a pretty boring subject,”
“History is not boring.”
“Course not. And Percy isn’t the biggest twat in the world.”
“This isn’t funny, Ronald.” She pursed her lips, “Mind you, this is exactly the sort of attitude that’s discouraging her development.”
“Discouraging her development? Hermione, do you hear yourself? This is our daughter we’re talking about!”
“She’s gifted,” Hermione whispered fiercely, “Just last week she used your wand to transfigure Crookshanks into a teapot. If we don’t cultivate her talents now--
“I think it just shows that no one likes your ruddy cat.” Ron snorted. “And you’re not cultivating anything by boring her to bits.”
Hermione folded her arms, annoyed. “How’s Harry teaching Albus then?”
“He skipped theory. Only makes him do practicals.”
“Apparently the boy’s a natural.” Ron shrugged, “You’ve seen him haven’t you?”
Anarchists raid the Minister’s house
Fifteen aurors die in rally
Giants break peace treaty, join with centaurs.
Total count: seventeen Azkaban escapees
Quidditch cup canceled this year: Dark Wizard threats keep people from going.
The Head had assigned her to the main task force to compensate for the severe scarcity of aurors. It had plenty to do with recent deaths and little with how much he trusted her. Sitting in her cubicle, Rose rubbed the back of her neck. Her uniform skirt felt too short and she pulled at its hem to try to lengthen it. She felt uncomfortable being in broad view of others. Important people passed by, immersed in important conversations but their gazes lingered on her. Bold. Inquiring. Judgmental. It seemed the deaths she’d caused at Diagon Alley were permanently etched on her face.
Working in the shadows was more preferable to this public damnation.
Strange looks greeted her as she passed through the halls of her new department to deliver some papers to her squad superior, an anal retentive woman named Patricia Hummel.
The woman regarded the papers disdainfully.
“What the hell are these, Weasley?”
“Arrest orders for the men who attacked Officer Highmore, ma’am.”
“I do believe I asked for these yesterday.”
“I do believe the approval notices required signatures from fourteen officials, most of whom didn’t get here until this morning,” Rose said sourly, “As severely understaffed as we are, I do the best with what I have. Ma’am.”
“I don’t appreciate that tone, Weasley. Unless you would like to be reported—”
“Then report me,” Rose snapped. As the Hummel’s mouth fell open, she turned and stormed back to her desk. She knew she’d regret her words when they reached the Head, but she didn’t care. Lately, it had gotten increasingly harder to feign civility against unwarranted abuse. She had to tread carefully around the Head, but lower bosses like Hummel, no, she didn’t care what they thought. Her emotions had been on edge lately, with the recent discovery about her parents.
There were no bodies in their graves.
This meant the bodies at their funeral hadn’t been real. Which meant her parents never perished in a fire. Which meant that for some reason or other the Ministry faked the whole ordeal…Hugo thought she was being mental when she told him what she thought.
“C’mon, Rose. Be logical,” He had implored, “If they were alive, don’t you think they would have contacted us?”
“Look, I know how it sounds—”
“It’s asking for trouble,” He sighed. She could tell he wished she’d never told him. “Let’s just drop it, Rose. You focus on your job and I’ll focus on getting better.”
The small sadness from him drew out to Rose. He was such a delicate boy. She was a teenage girl, and it was embarrassing how much she loved him, how beautiful he was to her in his frailty. He was as scrawny as he’d been since at twelve and there was a distinguishable lack of masculine growth. She wanted to wrap her arms around his smallness and shelter him from all the problems they were having to face. He didn’t belong there, with her, in this cruel wicked world. He was too good, too pure.
And right. It was foolish to risk their happiness on such a faint possibility. He didn’t want to face the crushing disappointment with finding that their parents were truly dead. Hugo was right to look to the future, where they actually had a shot at surviving. Rose needed to stop living in the past.
They dropped the matter, but it still festered in the back of her mind.
Rose plowed through the rest of the paperwork in disciplined silence.
She thought about asking the Head about her parents but decided against it. Though in some twisted way he had ultimately helped her out, their alliance wasn’t unbreakable, and Rose feared his reaction. She wasn’t brave enough for confrontation—she wouldn’t risk her job. She wouldn’t risk Hugo.
Not to mention she had another plan.
An accented voice interrupted her thinking.
“Don’t mind Hummel. She has an inferiority-complex when it comes to pretty girls.”
She looked up. A young man with thick eyebrows stood over her cubicle with two cups of coffee and a crooked grin.
“Yaakov Gachevska, from the Bulgarian division.” He passed her one of the cups and held out his hand, “Friends call me Kovy.”
She regarded the gesture with suspicion but shook the hand. “Rose Weasley. Not interested in making friends.”
“Heard you were transferred to this hellish job like me.” He shrugged, “Thought we could bond over our horrible luck, at least for the next six months that I’m stuck here.”
Rose had no interest in bonding. She raised a brow at him, “Do you know who I am?”
“Guess you’re kind of famous right?” He grinned, “The Bulgarian papers call you Кралицата на смъртта. Queen of death… it’s kind of sexy. My brother thinks anyway.”
Rose wasn't impressed. “So why were you transferred to England?” She asked, a little testily.
“Same reason all us transfers were.” He lounged against her desk, drinking his coffee, “Countries like Bulgaria with a vested interested in England are concerned about its safety, given all the riots.”
“Sure,” He nodded at her. He seemed eager to divulge in chatter and put off his paperwork, “England’s the hub of the magical world. What happens here will inevitably spread to Bulgaria. So, really, I’m just here to make sure you people don’t screw it up for everyone. World peace and all that bullshit.”
Rose bit her lip. “What, you think there’ll be war?”
“I think it all depends on whether—“
The ministry break-in alarm sounded, interrupting all activity on the floor. Aurors shot up and rushed towards the elevators. Yaakov shot her a grim look. “C’mon.”
They jammed themselves into the elevator along with the aurors. Pushed into the very back with various elbows wedged into her ribs, Rose listened to her heart slam repeatedly against her chest, her breathing ragged and heavy like all the air around her was diffusing. She squeezed her wand in an effort to calm herself.
Dueling in school was something she excelled at because of Albus. He pushed her to become better than him, and in doing so, tapped into a frenzy neither of them could truly explain. Provoked with malicious words, she held nothing back. In turn he threw her against walls with the very same destructive energy. It was all under the guise of practice, but for the most part, they bloodied and bruised each other because they could. It was fueled by a raw emotional energy, teetering on the edge of feral. It had little to do with technique and everything with the glimmer of knives behind his crooked smile—he would eat her whole unless she stopped him.
But Rose wasn’t a violent person by nature. Plus all her missions for the Head had required stealth and trickery up till now so she had never faced an actual opponent head-on.
Aurors fled out of the elevator as soon as the doors burst open, edging and elbowing past each other to jump into the battle. Wand gripped in hand, Rose stood watching the fight unravel.
The long and very splendid hall was tarnished. Blood smattered against walls, creating bullet-like striations. Curses were being shot spanning the distance between the gilded fireplaces. Expulso!! Bombarda! Impedimental! The once-peacock blue ceiling had stopped relaying notices and was now blank. Magical waters from the grand atrium in the center of the hall had stilled as the intruders shot out from behind.
It happened in waves-- aurors she was familiar and unfamiliar with threw themselves fully into battle while others held defensive positions. She saw Hummel dodge deprimo just as incarcerous hit her from behind, roping her feet together and lifting her into the air. Yaakov was engaged in duel with a dark-haired woman and, for a moment, Rose just stood watching him cast a powerful shield charm.
The Head hurtled out of nowhere and rammed her to ground with his shoulder as a curse flew over them. She staggered backwards, unable to voice a coherent thank you. “Get moving!” He snarled at her, then lifted himself up and disappeared back into the battle.
Rose sat stunned until the movements around her jolted her awake and she leapt to her feet. Bodies fell around her as she ran, dodging any stray hexes. Some woman lunged at her feet, and Rose, not sure whether she was an attacker or fatally injured, kicked her away. She ran as great a distance as she could, and dodged around a nearby pillar. Away from sight. She pressed her body against it and closed her eyes, her heart pounding against her chest.
Now out of sight, she listened to the nearby sounds of fighting, the slashing movements of wands, bodily thuds against pavement, and loud ear-splitting shrieks. She could hear the Head bellow out orders, in a surprising display of heroism. Rose closed her eyes and tried to picture the litter of corpses afterwards, piercing the so-long-suppressed memory of what had taken place at Diagon Alley. She couldn’t deny herself of it much longer---this was her fault. On the most fundamental level, all violence was her fault. She knew she should jump into battle but her feet were rigid, frozen like blocks of pavement. She was scared. She was really scared. She felt guilt for her fear and an obliterating amount of shame for lacking her parent’s courage. Ron and Hermione Weasley had vanquished the dark lord while their cowardly daughter couldn’t even clean up her own mess.
Still, Auror was a title she held out of desperation, not some misguided call to duty. She didn’t want to risk her life for the same people who nearly sentenced her to azkaban. She didn’t want to protect the institution responsible for her parent’s disappearances. She didn’t know who to believe, what to protect, which side to take, who she even was in the large scope of this conflict between government and dissenters. It wasn’t her fight. Not yet.
For now Rose would do nothing.
It was three years before she’d even step foot in Hogwarts and her mum was having her read about the 1938 uprising in Europe that predated the rise of Voldemort. It was very boring.
An eight-year-old Rose looked up from her book.
“Do you think Hugo will ever get better?”
“Have you finished the passage on Grindewald yet?” Hermione tapped the page in the book with a pencil.
“Tell me about it”
“It’s about why he thinks wizards are superior to muggles. He reads Darwin’s theory of natural selection and makes connections to eugene’s socks”
“It’s eugenics, love. With the way Grindewald employed the concept, it means—Rose stop picking your nose—it means eliminating people with undesired traits. For Grindewald, basically those without magical capabilities. He used it justify his plan of committing mass genocide”
“That’s what I said.”
“Very well.” Hermione gave her daughter a gentle smile, “But do you understand why it’s wrong?”
“Hurting people is bad.”
“Yes love, but why is it wrong to hate people based on biological differences?”
Rose was momentarily distracted by a fly in the room.
“Umm...Grandmum and Grandpa are muggles and they’re really nice. They always send Hugo those tin biscuits he likes so much.”
“Besides Grandmum and Grandpa, dear. They’re family. You have to love family.”
“I don’t have to love family. I don’t love Al.”
“It’s true!” Came an indignant cry, “He’s wicked when he thinks no one’s watching him. He’s the one who stole Uncle Percy’s wand—“
“Just yesterday you two were playing together. What happened to that?”
The small girl shook her head, her pigtails wagging.
“He’s evil, Mum.”
“No eight-year old is evil.”
“I don’t want to hear this,” Hermione said sternly, “Albus has his reasons and I don’t want you to treat him the way your cousins do.”
Albus wasn’t well-liked in the family, due to his aloof and distant nature. If Fred wasn’t hiding dungbombs with his toys and under his clothes then Dominique and Lucy were knocking over his food at the famous Weasley dinners, then, proceeding to snicker about it under the tablecloth. Not that he didn’t return the treatment, and often more violently. The more their cousins treated him like an outsider, the worse he grew—it was only around choice adults that he exhibited restraint.
“Albus acts out because he has a lot of pressure on him.” Hermione explained gently, “He’s very smart, just like you. And the two of you will make great friends when you’re older.”
“Do I have to? ”
Her mother didn’t reply, turning a page in their textbook as they moved on to another topic.
Following the disastrous events of the self-imposed dinner with Rose and his parents, Scorpius felt like an idiot. The vivid recollection of his father’s words, Rose’s following reaction, the painful clench of her brow struggling to contain her distress. Despite her abrupt, near-hostile dismissal of him, he had followed and tried to talk with her. Outside the confinement of the Malfoy Manor her inhibitions had dropped, and she was able to cry freely.
He recalled sitting beside her, speaking softly, consolingly, but his words had no lasting effect. His coat was gone, thrown over her shoulders—she didn’t noticed. It was cold. So cold his hands had blistered and he rubbed them together for warmth. She rebuffed him when he reached for her hands. In that instance she didn’t want to be comforted and he didn’t know what to say.
Then there was the recent Ministry break-in that had set the vast majority of government workers – along with his father – on edge. His healer mother, who was having work double shifts to compensate for the recent influx of patients, talked about them moving. We can go to France, Draco. My sister won’t mind us staying with her. And Scorpy can finish his Seventh Year at their boy’s academy. But his dad would hear none of it. We’ll be fine, Tori. Malfoy Manor’s the safest place in all of England. Like Scorpius, he didn’t want to leave his home.
Though Scorpius also had other reasons.
He stood outside the Head’s house, desperate to make amends with Rose. He loitered for a few moments under the street lamp rehearsing sensible things he might say to her. Weasel I’m sorry about what happened at dinner. Truth is that I didn’t know about your parents either. I would have told you, I swear. I know it must be hard to take in—no no, too formal. She would rebuff him again. I want to talk to you. I want to comfort you. I heard about the ministry attack. You must be miserable –idiot! That’s not what you say to a girl when she’s miserable! I know it’s stupid and inappropriate but I think about you all the time. At night I fantasize about us—it was hopeless. She might very well throw him out the window.
He climbed up to her window and tapped as he had done before. There was no shuffling of footsteps in response and his heartbeat accelerated. Was she not home? Did he make a huge mistake coming there? Then, hearing the distant sounds of running water, he relaxed. Using his wand he unlocked the window and carefully pulled himself into her room. Her living quarters were as diminutive and pathetic as he had last seen them. The bed, tousled and still-warm to the touch; she’d just woken from a night of restless sleep. He could picture her body twisting and turning in it all night long, the smallness of her trapped beneath blankets. Sounds of running water continued from the bathroom and while impatiently waiting, Scorpius was compelled to lay in her bed. He positioned her head exactly where he pictured hers—it was silly—perhaps imagining where her legs grazed the bedsheets or she pressed her mouth onto the pillow.
His hand struck something papery; he reached under her pillow and pulled out the wad of documents, scattering them on her bed. Notes. Handwritten potion ingredients and instructions. It wasn’t her handwriting but he recognized the perfect cursive script. He had copied many homework assignments from it—
Abruptly, there was a click-clack and the bathroom door opened. Scorpius looked up to see Rose staring at him, her hair damp, body wrapped in a towel.
“How did you—“
He sprang off her bed. “The window.”
They stared at each other for a moment. Scorpius could feel his face burn. It was actually ironic. He’d caught her in a private moment and he was the one embarrassed. He tried to tear his gaze away from her half-concealed body. He had known her since they were First Years transfiguring frogs into goblets, but he had never really looked at her like this. Rose had a strange but enduring quality that allowed her to take form with whatever she wore. Clothes wore her. She’d look frustrating pretty in a gown, plain-yet-endearing in her school outfit, cold and prominent in her auror robes, unapparent in her street clothes. She was familiar to him but also impersonal. He knew her but he didn’t really know her at all until now.
Dyed-brown hair matted over her scalp. Now that she stood clothes less, expressionless (or shocked. He couldn’t be sure), white sheet covering only the absolute essentials and hugging all the dips and valleys, Scorpius felt in the presence of something forbidden. Like he had just tip-toed past a delicate membrane. Past the coy liners and snippiness and facetiousness and everything imagined but never duly expressed. It wasn’t sensual—well not all of it—but a broach into a more intimate sphere of consciousness. It was reckless.
But it wasn’t what Scorpius had come to discuss right then.
“I wanted to talk to you.” He gasped.
“It couldn’t wait.”
“I see that.”
He blushed visibly, looking at the floor, the ceiling, the window, everywhere but her as she raised an eyebrow at him. She then walked over to her closet.
“You came to see how I’m doing after the Ministry attack,” She muttered, rummaging through her clothes, “Well I assure you I’m perfectly fine” --undergarments first –“can handle myself” –buttoned up her pants-- “just another damn” --pulled on her jumper-- “occupational hazard.”
Then quit. He scowled into the floor. “We both know you’re a bit accident-prone Weasel. Can’t blame my mum for worrying.”
“You’re really using your mum? ”
“For some reason you made an impression with her.” He rolled his eyes, “I personally thought you were a bit rude at dinner. Stiff and arrogant. Not to mention you’re a right mess when you’re crying, all puffy-eyed and incoherent. It’d be cute if it wasn’t so obnoxious.”
“You should be arrested for being such an awful flirt.”
He saw the edge of her mouth lift and was secretly pleased she wasn’t pissed with him.
“Still not as bad as you, Weasel.” He sneered, “Prancing around me in a towel. My, my, what would ickle Hugo think?”
“You’re the one who doesn’t know where to look.” She shot back.
“Stop flirting Weasel. I’m going to get the wrong idea.” He grinned, and looked back at the documents he’d scattered over bed, “And never mind that, tell me about these potions instructions you’ve nicked off Albus.”
Her brow tersed. “They’re borrowed.”
“Right,” He gave an impatient eye-roll and lounged back on her bed, “So go on, what do they have to do with, well, whatever you’re up to? ”
Rose pulled out a wand. At first Scorpius thought she was going to hex him, but when she sat down next to him, he realized it wasn’t even hers.
“It’s his, you know. My uncle’s….it’s the only thing I found in Godric’s Hollow.”
It took him a moment to make sense of this. “You—you dug up his grave?”
“I dug up all three, Malfoy.”
“Bleeding hell,” He cursed and glared at her, “Are you mental? Have you completely lost it?”
“Yes, I think so.” She said, quietly.
His surge of anger suddenly expunged.
“Sorry. Stupid thing to say.” He ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. “So there were no bodies at all?”
“I’ve checked their files in the Missing Wizards department as well and they aren’t marked dead.”
“So what does that mean?”
People don’t just disappear into thin air.” She grumbled, “Wherever they are, dead or alive, the Ministry’s behind it. I need to figure out what happened. I need to retrace their steps. I can use Uncle Harry’s wand to do that, and the potion—well it doesn’t exist yet but theoretically--”
“You plan on using a potion that doesn’t exist?”
“Well obviously I have to make it exist first,” She said impatiently.
Scorpius raised his brows. “So is this potion, erm, dangerous?”
“Yes and no but that’s not the point.” She said irritably, “It’s difficult but not impossible to make. The instructions are easy enough to follow. Ingredients...the major thing I need is time turner dust. And Albus.”
“I need to find Albus. It’s his potion.”
“Mum, I’m going out.” A fourteen-year old Rose called, “I’ll be home before midnight.”
Ron looked up from his chess match with Hugo. “Is there a boy involved in this?”
“No boys, dad.” she chuckled, “Just Al.”
“Albus is a boy,” Hugo pointed out as his father sneakily reached across the board and stole his bishop. Turning back to the match, Hugo vocalized his outrage.
As father and son bantered, Hermione emerged from the kitchen. “So what are you and Albus up to tonight?”
“Just going to see a movie.”
“Can I assume that cauldron is for popcorn?”
In retrospect, Rose had known attempting to carry a giant shopping bag out the front door would be suspicious. Nothing got past her mum.
“I don’t like it when you lie to us, Rose.”
“I’m sorry, Mum.”
“If you’re making potions, you tell me that.”
“It’s all academic, Mum. It’s practically studying. You told me to study with Albus.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow, “Is this one illegal?”
“Take your wand, Rosie.” Ron called, holding Hugo over his shoulder and spinning him around (The boy complained about being manhandled), “Streets are dangerous at night. I don’t want some mugger tailing you.”
“Don’t be silly, dad.” Rose rolled her eyes, “Albus would break his jaw.”
Ron and Hermione exchanged a startled look at this, a look that went relatively unnoticed by their children. But just as Ron was about to say something Hermione stopped him.
“Your father’s right. Take your wand, dear.”
Later that night after Ron had carried Hugo up the stairs (he wasn’t able to climb stairs at this point) and Hermione had tucked him in bed, the parents sat together and discussed a private matter.
“She’s spends far too much time with that boy doing things she shouldn’t be—“
“This is what you wanted, ‘Mione. You told her to befriend him, remember? And this is a normal part of growing up—didn’t we get up to a couple of illegal things when we were kids?”
“It’s not the same, Ron. Harry and—well we were trying to save people. Do good things.”
“Don’t you think she’s trying to save someone as well?” Ron glanced toward their son’s room. It was no secret that Hugo’s dystrophy would continue worsening until his almost inevitable death. Soon he would be in a wheelchair, and then after, in a cot at St. Mungo’s.
“But that’s not her responsibility, that’s ours.”
“We won’t be around forever, Hermione.”
“You raised her clever,” Ron stroked his wife’s hair, “It’s only natural she’s not interested in the normal things. It’s only natural she wants to save her brother. It’s only natural she’s more fascinated by potions and magic than she is by boys. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.”
“She’ll be alone, Ron. She won’t have many friends.”
“She’ll have the one she needs.”
If all goes well. Hermione rested her head on her husband’s shoulder. “They won’t be anything like us,” She murmured, “They may grow to hate us someday. Can you live with that?”
“We don’t have a choice.”
Meanwhile a fourteen-year old boy waited in a barren field atop a motorcycle he’d nicked off family friend Teddy Lupin— not that the dolt would’ve noticed. Albus knew the older boy would be too preoccupied with his veela girlfriend that particular evening to notice him flying away with it (though as a precaution Albus had jinxed their doors and windows shut from the outside and cast muffliato so no one would hear their incessant banging until the morning. A problem for another day).
Albus wore a thick woolen jacket over his usual cotton shirt and trouser combo. Fifteen impatient minutes passed before his red-haired cousin finally showed up.
“You’re late.” He gave her a dull stare, “And underdressed. I told you it’s cold where we’re going.”
“I thought we weren’t apparating.”
He’d calculated the distance and increased the motorcycle’s maximum speed to accommodate it.
“Don’t have to. We’ll easily make it by dawn. Granted no bathroom breaks.”
“I told Mum I’d be back by midnight.”
“Why’d you lie to your mum, Rosie?”
She glowered at his smirking, but allowed him to pull her aboard the motorcycle. They flew over small collections of lights, then mountains and valleys and villages, and finally long murky spans of water. Twilight fell; the sky turned to a burnt hazel littered with spots of silver and she could hear Albus murmur an appreciative beautiful. She buried her face into his shoulder and clung to him for dear life, her fingers digging into his ribs.
“Still afraid of flying, Rosie?” She could hear him chuckling.
“Shut up,” She muttered into his shoulder. “I hate you I hate you...And I should probably mention my mum hates you too.”
“Been telling mumsie wicked things about me, have you?”
“Don’t have to. She’s smarter than you think.”
“Thinks I’m corrupting her daughter?”
“You couldn’t corrupt me if you tried, you bastard.”
She could picture the self-satisfied smirk flit across his face.
“Good thing I’m not trying.”
They swerved violently to the right, a move Rose was certain he only pulled to make her cling tighter. He was absolutely sadistic, relishing any sort of occasion he got make her helpless and exploit that dependence on him. And he enjoyed the fact that there was one else she’d spend her free time with.
That was the thing about Albus. He was magnetic. Time and time again Rose failed to make friends simply because no one measured up to him, in his absurdity, in his absolute genius. Normal people with their boring lives and hobbies and conversations – Rose needed someone with whom she could brainstorm and discuss theories and chase after dreams and feel brilliant and special. It was fascinating to be in his company. His pace was fast, his conversation sparse and to-the-point, he didn’t linger on people and events—only concepts and ideas. He enraptured her mind as fast as he ignited her anger.
“So this potion you’ve outlined will have healing properties?” she queried.
“I did not say that. If you were listening I said that a possible use for penguin genitilia may very well be neural hypertrophy. Read about it in Anticoch’s notes. But no, my potion isn’t for your brother.”
“But we should make a potion for him, Al.” She insisted, “What’s the point of all this research of you can’t make some profound impact with it huh? The greater good?”
“Patience Rose, patience,” He cooed, like one would with a small child. “Now I never told you what my potion’s about did I?”
Rose wanted to know why it required penguin genitilia. “I’m not killing any penguins for your potion, Al.”
He shrugged carelessly. “You can watch.”
They flew over mounds of silken ice, glittering under the moon’s mournful gaze. Rose stared beneath her in rapturous awe. Meanwhile Albus rambled on about his potion.
“First thing, it has the elemental structure of a pensive. But I’ll substitute floo powder for memory dust, and the reaction will require a magical catalyst—an item personal to the subject of interest.”
“Socks aren’t magical, Rose.” He said impatiently.
“I know. I’m just trying to piss you off.”
“You’re remarkably proficient at it.”
Rose readjusted her arms around his waist, resting her chin on his shoulder.
“Sorry, go on. So what’s the rationale for the floo powder?”
“The potion will allow you to visit past locations rather than memories. More specifically the locations at which the item was last used. Floo powder takes care of transportation. Reversing the object’s locational memory is done through—“
“—time turner dust.”
“So you’re been paying attention.” He murmured, giving her a quick glance, “Impressive.”
Rose beamed at this rare compliment. In truth she was always paying attention to Albus.
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