Chapter 1 : broken
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I’m sorry. I know I can never make up for what I did, but I’m sorry and I wanted to explain, properly.
I was caught on a job, conning a Ministry employee into investing into one of our bigger jobs, I forget what it even was for now. The employee was Abner Carrow, and when he lost his money, he found me again and put me in Azkaban. He must have already known about us, the Clan. He said that if I passed on information to him, he wouldn’t press charges against me and he wouldn’t use the information to hurt us. I didn’t think I had any other choice, and I couldn’t tell you. I just couldn’t.
Then, when things got bad, when we were anticipating a traitor, I told Carrow and he started to plant things to make others look bad, to take the stress off me. And then when Lysander and I got caught, I refused to help him any further, but he threatened Lysander and Dom and everyone else who was in custody. He had all the power, and I had thought I could outsmart him, but I couldn’t do it alone.
I’m abroad. Hiding. From myself, mostly. Explain to Lysander please- I know I don’t deserve your help but I can’t bring myself to write to him. I can’t write to my parents either, I don’t want them to know what I did. Loyalty and friendships was always something Mum prized above everything, and I can’t show her what her son has become.
For lack of other clothes, he was still dressed in the Muggle clothes he was wearing when he’d been hit, although they’d been washed. His jeans were clearly borrowed, they were too long, crumpled up at the ankles, making his legs look skinnier than they were. Or maybe he was just that skinny... he must have lost a lot of weight.
My little brother. He looked so peaceful on the bed, suspended in time by the Healer’s spells. His eyes were closed, with dark purple streaks underneath them. When had been the last time he’d had a decent night’s sleep? I heard Scorpius come in behind me and I turned away from my brother, taking his hand, my cold fingers intertwined with his.
We sat in the courtroom silently. All fourteen of us were there, all of us except my brother, who was lying alone, three floors above us, and Lorcan, who I hadn’t heard from since Langdon End, except his letter. Scorpius squeezed my hand, and I shuffled a little closer to him on the bench.
“This is an unofficial court, and there will be no records of this ever taking place,” the judge started, a bald youngish man with tattoos of ferns which twisted and turned up his arms. His sleeves were rolled up and he leant forwards on his podium, looking down at us, but not unkindly.
“When the considerable corruption of our own Ministry is taken into account, we cannot officially prosecute you without substantial fallout onto our own system. We will be dealing with our problems internally, and therefore have decided that due to your own experiences at the hands of the Ministry and your standing within the wizarding world, we will be giving you all a full pardon, and public apology. This extends to any crimes you may or may not have committed in the past,” he continued, flicking through some parchment on his table, and looking mildly impressed. “That is not to say that a continuation of your activities as ‘the Clan’ will be tolerated, and the full weight of the law will be brought down on you if you indulge in any more escapades. Is this acceptable to you, or do you wish to bring any charges against anyone, such as Lorcan Scamander?”
Thankfully, we were only given four or so seconds of painful silence before he carried on.
“Do you have any questions, or concerns?” he said, finally looking back up to our pale faces.
“What about Carrow?” Dom said, standing up.
“We will release his body to his family, and the post-mortem will say he died of heart failure. The public will not know of his crimes.”
Dom sat down, grounding her teeth together, but I didn’t care. As long as he wasn’t hurting anyone any longer, I couldn’t give a damn what people thought of him. The judge collected up his papers and left through a side door, not looking over us before he left. Scorpius squeezed my hand again as we stood up, and filed silently out of the courtroom, into the long echoey corridors.
“I’m getting a divorce,” he said softly, as we rounded a corner to see our parents standing there. My heart wrenched to see my mother’s tear-stained face, and Dad looked so pale, so tired, so lifeless. I dropped Scorpius’ hand to hug Mum, and Dad stood apart until I pulled him in by his jacket. Behind us, I heard Scorpius quietly greeting his parents and shepherding them away from our grief, and silently thanked him for it. Auntie Ginny put her arm around my shoulders, and her sympathy was all I needed to burst into horrible, ugly sobs that hurt my throat.
There are supposed to be stages of grief. Acceptance and anger or something, but I just felt this deep hollowness inside of me that couldn’t be filled no matter what I did, a deep aching hollow pit in my chest where my heart should be, where I should feel emotions and not this sadness, this terrible sorrow that eats at me from the inside out.
I moved back in with my parents for a few months, trying to soothe my grief with familiarity, with childhood memories- but every childhood memory had my brother in it. His photos smiled and waved at us from every wall, and the clothes left in the wardrobe still smelt of him. Dad tried to forget, tried to block everything out of Hugo, turning over the photographs because every time he saw one it was like another knife wound to the chest- and Mum would turn them back over again, and would eat his favourite cereal straight out the packet while sitting on the counter, just like he used to, just trying desperately to hang on to every memory of him.
There were days when Mum didn’t even get out of bed and I could hear her sobs from the kitchen, and days when Dad didn’t come home from the pub, and I had to leave, had to get out of the house before their tide of grief pulled me under as well.
I moved out and came home when the empty space where Hugo should have been became too much to bear, but home was just a flat with a spare room, now that my brother wasn’t here.
I wondered if Hugo watches us from his little perch in heaven- because there must be a heaven or some kind of afterlife because a heart that huge couldn’t just die, he had to be somewhere- and I wonder if our grief makes him sad too.
He’d hate the mess our family had become, torn apart and broken up. Our loss was like a fresh wound, deep and raw, the blood loss making us faint and dizzy, the pain, the pure physical pain making us cry.
He’d hate that I couldn’t remember the times I woke up in the middle of the night, screaming out his name in desperation, or woke in the morning with a wet pillow, or the amount of mornings I just pulled the duvet back over my head because I just couldn’t face the day without him. He’d hate that I never cooked anymore, but when I ordered takeaway I still ordered him a pizza, too.
He’d hate that I started cleaning, obsessively, because he wasn’t around to do it anymore, and he’d hate that I couldn’t stop blaming myself for his death and anytime I caught a whiff of his deodorant my eyes would well up.
The worst parts were the unexpected reminders. When I found my Christmas present to him in the bottom of a drawer, or I opened a book to see he’d scribbled some notes in the margin. Or when I developed my camera, and discovered the photos of our last family holiday together. I sent those to Mum, although I didn’t know if that was the right thing to do. I kept one, just one, of us two sitting in the snow, our faces pink from cold and we’re laughing about something I can’t remember. I’ve stuck it to one of the kitchen cupboards, so I have a happy memory of him.
Eventually, I bit the bullet and moved in with Scorpius, just so I’d have someone in my life not as broken as I was. He had no siblings to lose, his family was whole and not hurting. His flat was different, new, with no empty rooms and memories where people should be. It didn’t take long for him to move off the sofa and into bed with me, if only so I wouldn’t wake up alone.
It hurt him to see how much I was hurting, but I needed him too much to be selfish. He still had times when he couldn’t breathe, and panicked, calling for me as the numbness from the silvery spell crept back into his chest, and he was there when I cried so much I made myself ill.
I had never seen Rose like this before. Even when we were on the run, and we constantly feared for our own lives and her family’s, our families, she was strong, composed and single-minded. Now she was at a loss for what to do. She did a few shifts at the Leaky Cauldron, trying to keep herself busy, but couldn’t stand the pity of the strangers she served.
The one thing that I hated more than anything was my uselessness. When I lay next to her as she cried in her sleep, I didn’t know what to do. I knew it wasn’t just for her brother, but for everything that had happened, every emotion she had held inside for months was all coming out in fits of hysteria and headaches from crying so much, but I didn’t know how to fix her. And that almost broke me as much as it was breaking her.
I came home from work, opening the door to see Rose asleep on the sofa, the TV mindlessly playing a rerun of an American sitcom, an empty glass of wine in hanging from her fingertips and a half full bottle on the floor next to her. I slipped the glass from her hand without waking her, setting it safely on the table. I put a blanket over her, and tipped the rest of the wine into her empty glass, settling down onto the sofa next to her. The remotes were on the sofa’s arm, and I flipped through the channels aimlessly. Death, destruction, a car chase and a quiz show with a bright orange presenter. I ended up leaving it on the sitcom, the canned laughter echoing around the room. Rose looked so peaceful asleep, and I hoped her dreams were kind. I was trying, in my own way, but I think all she needed was some kind of company, some reassurance that someone was there.
I loved her, and I wanted her to love me too, but I knew she needed time, and until then, I would be whatever she needed me to be. I’d stand through the shouting and arguments because she wasn’t angry at me, she was angry for her brother, and my Rose would come back eventually. Under a magazine on the coffee table was my confirmation from the solicitors of my divorce, and although I went to every weird Muggle scan that Louisa had and I would support her and our child in every way, I had never loved her.
I loved our child, and my Rose, and I knew that despite how broken we were now, we could get through this. Cracks were cracks and they were part of us.
A/N: This is a continuation of the story 'Honour Among Thieves, and is a small stepping stone between that and it's upcoming sequel 'Thick as Thieves'. I hope you liked it.
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