Chapter 1 : Periphery
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Sunshine streamed through the window, peeking between the parted floral curtains and painting a stripe of the white, warm light of early morning onto the opposite wall. Frank Longbottom slowly opened his eyes, watching the flowered fabric dance in the slight breeze, and then rolled over again contently until he heard the clock chime six times. He rose and dressed quickly, then walked into the kitchen to make breakfast.
His wife Alice was already awake, sitting in her dressing gown at the round wooden table, cradling a mug of tea between her palms. She smiled when Frank walked in. “Good morning,” she said. “The water in the kettle is still hot.”
“Ta,” said Frank, helping himself to a nice steaming cup of Earl Grey, and then made some toast and eggs and brought it to the table. As they ate their breakfast together, they listened to the merry warbling of the skylarks and watched the finches fluttering around the bird feeder outside the kitchen window in a kaleidoscope of bright coloured feathers.
Frank liked to get up early so he could have time for a relaxing breakfast with Alice before they went into work for the day. Although the Auror Office was not nearly the hive of activity and desperation it had been in years past, during the war, it was still busy and Frank didn’t have much time for anything other than work during the day. So the mornings were special, a time to breathe freely before the daily pressure of the Ministry set in.
Despite the stress and the headache, Frank loved his job and had his reasons for coming back; he was making a difference improving the wizarding world. He loved the camaraderie of the Aurors and the feeling that they were all fighting together for a greater good. He didn’t have dangerous missions anymore like he’d used to during the war, but there weren’t a lot of dangerous tasks to be had now anyway. Voldemort was gone, and the remaining Death Eaters who were still at large remained quiet – although every once in a while the Ministry would apprehend one.
Frank considered himself incredibly lucky, as for a number of years, he and Alice had been long-term patients in St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. They had both made a spectacular and unexpected recovery – one of the Healers there had called them a Christmas miracle. Although they had taken some time to get back on their feet and return to work once they were released, in the grand spectrum of things they were doing rather well. That had been six months ago. Six months back in the Auror department and Frank felt fully readjusted to his job again – he’d missed it.
In the office that day, there was very little activity. Frank dealt with a large pile of parchmentwork for most of the day. He turned on the wireless in his cubicle, and then found a fancy eagle-feather quill and scratched away on some incident reports while a delightful honey mezzo-soprano voice sang arias to him through the wireless.
At lunch time he visited Alice’s cubicle; she had been organising files. “Six break-ins,” Alice told him as she opened a cabinet drawer, shuffled her way through volumes of untidy parchment with their corners sticking out, and stuffed another purple folder inside.
The only interruption to an otherwise ordinary day came when Leticia Flores went running out of the office at half-past noon, her bright green cloak flapping behind her. Frank worried briefly that Voldemort had killed someone else, that the Dark Mark had appeared. It took him a minute to remember that no, it wasn’t Voldemort. There was no Voldemort anymore. As it turned out, Leticia had only left her oven on at home.
By the end of the day, Frank’s fingers had sustained a few parchment-cuts, and he was eager to treat his hand with a solution of murtlap. When he and Alice went home, Frank tended to his hand while Alice began preparing dinner, waving her wand at the garlic, onions, and courgettes which all began to chop themselves, the knife dancing evenly in the air above the chopping board.
“Neville’s supposed to visit on Thursday,” she said. With another jab of her wand, the vegetables leapt into a sauté pan on the stove and began cooking.
“That’s wonderful,” said Frank.
A gust of warm breeze entered the room, and Frank walked over to the large kitchen window. Outside, the air was thick and sweet; it smelled like a storm was coming in. He looked across the grassy fields, past the lights twinkling in the dusk descending upon the sleepy seaside town, and could see thick grey clouds gathering miles away, over the ocean.
The following day, Frank woke up to the sound of thunder, and parted the curtains over the window to see sheets of steady rain plummeting from a menacing dark grey sky. There were no cheerful birds for him and Alice to watch at breakfast; they just listened to the sound of thousands of raindrops pelting the roof. As they ate, Frank opened up the Daily Prophet to find that a man had been found dead yesterday.
The Auror Office was all aflutter when Frank entered work that morning. Large piles of parchment lay on his desk, and he spent a good number of hours sorting through them. He was exhausted by mid-morning.
Surely it hadn’t always been like this? He knew he’d been in a war before, but he couldn’t remember it most of the time, his past locked in the realm of hazy memory. Only when he slept at night, he’d remember brief flashes of his life before, but they’d be gone by the following morning. It must have been a result of being in St. Mungo’s so long, his brain addled by dark spells.
People had told him he’d helped defeat Voldemort, he’d been out there fighting against Death Eaters, so it must have been busy back then. Dangerous tasks every day. He knew it was so, because that’s what they always said, but all he remembered was sitting at this desk filling out parchmentwork.
After writing up his thirty-seventh report in two hours, Frank put his head on his arms to rest for a moment.
A/N: Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. Or the title of this story, which is the name of a painting by Salvador Dalí.
This short story has been brewing in my mind for a few months now, so I’m excited to be finally posting it! It will jump back and forth in time throughout the narrative. I’ve never written quite anything like this before, so I’d love to know what you think so far – if you want to leave me a review I’d appreciate it so much! Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it! ♥
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