Chapter 2 : Such Great Heights
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“I could just walk out with anything and you’d never notice,” Rose giggled as Al started at the sound of her voice.
Looking towards the door, Al said, “I didn’t hear the bell.”
“Oh, that’s because I silenced it,” she explained, flourishing her wand.
Al raised his eyebrows, as if asking if that was supposed to be impressive. “Did you stop by to show off your prowess at the silencing charm?” Albus inquired, tapping his quill against the counter.
“I thought you might want a demonstration,” she said nonchalantly. “You probably need to brush up on the basics with all the advanced work you’re doing here.”
“Hmm,” was all Al mustered for a response. His mind was on other pressing matters than his cousin’s banter.
A fleeting look of annoyance crossed Rose’s face at Al’s despondence. Making a note to revisit his distance, Rose decided to push on with her own issues first. “I might go crazy at my job,” she announced, causing Al’s attention to snap to the conversation.
“Crazier, you mean,” he corrected her with a mischievous smirk. “What’s going so horrible at your job that you’re liable to end up in long-term care at St. Mungo’s?”
Rose looked as if she had been holding in this rant for a while when she started with, “I’m losing mental faculty doing the same boring tasks day-in-day-out.”
“Why don’t you quit and find another job?” he suggested, not seeing the dilemma that caused his cousin to get as worked up as she was acting.
With a loud sound of exasperation, Rose pressed two fingers into her forehead. “You couldn’t understand. Your parents are just dandy with whatever you want to do. Mum wants me to have a sensible job at the Ministry,” Rose bemoaned. “Even worse, she got me the job I have now because it involves travel – which she thinks is what I want to do for work.”
“I…” Al was searching his memory banks for the last time he and Rose talked about careers; it had been a while back. “I thought you liked travel.”
“I do but that doesn’t mean I want to monitor traffic on the Floo network,” she said as if this were obviously not the kind of travel she’d be interested in. “It is, however, a job that will lead to ‘a bright future at the Ministry’ according to Mum.”
This was out of Albus’ range for advice giving but he couldn’t let Rose hang out to dry. “Is it that bad to stick with it for a while?” he proposed tentatively. Rose’s eyes narrows as her brows contracted, clearly telling Al that his consolation was missing its mark. “Or talk to Uncle Ron about it. He’s less…” Al paused to search for a polite word to describe his aunt’s fervor for hard work and drive.
“Nutters?” Rose supplied shortly. “I would but Dad runs away from these discussions like a quaffle from a beater’s bat. I don’t know if he agrees with Mum but he doesn’t speak up about it,” she said forlornly.
Searching for a change of topic, Albus asked, “Why aren’t you at work now?” It was barely 2 in the afternoon and surely Rose’s job went until 4 or so.
“Oh, you know, told them Mum wanted a word with me,” she grinned. Al started to laugh and shook his head in slight disbelief. “So, are you going to tell me why your head was in the clouds earlier?”
The question caught Albus off-guard. “I was busy… with work,” he stammered, unable to keep a respectable amount of conviction in his voice. When Rose didn’t respond and only drummed her fingers against the counter, Al confessed. “Last night I had a nice snog with Brandon and, well, I was thinking about it.”
“You’ve been sitting on that news and didn’t tell me? Or owl me as soon as you got back?” Rose asked with the excitement she always showed for good relationship gossip.
“It’s not really news…”
Rose slammed her hand down on the counter, causing more noise than she intended. “What do you mean, ‘not news’? Have you been snogging him often?” Albus just ginned quite dopily, causing a squeal from Rose. “Are you going to go out on a proper date or just snog him?”
The thought of proper dating caused Al’s face to fall. “It’s not that simple, Rose.” It was Rose’s turn to answer without saying anything. “I just mean I don’t know if I want to go on and properly date him.”
“Come off it, Al, you were devastated when he ended things,” she pushed, not able to understand why he would miss another chance with someone who made him so happy.
“You’re dating him again?” Rose asked incredulously. “I get you’re friends but he wasn’t that good to you, Al.”
“He’s changed a lot since then.” Rose and Scorpius had seen each other on several occasions since their breakup but she kept an emotional barrier between them, not wanting to revisit an old flame. “And, he’s started seeing someone else.”
“Merlin, you have fabulous timing,” Rose scoffed. “Are you going to try to date him then?”
It was Al’s turn to rub his forehead out of stress. “I just don’t know,” Al sighed, biting his lip.
“Look, Al,” Rose’s voice came abruptly as it usually did when she was imparting words of wisdom. “You can’t sit in the between two brooms as they’re about to take off, hesitating on which you’d rather be on. If you wait too long neither will be there for you.”
Albus was momentarily amazed that his cousin, who was the least interested in quidditch out of all his family, would make a flying analogy. “Maybe I should delay their departures,” he said with a mischievous laugh.
“You work on that, Romeo,” she laughed. “I should head back to work. Mum will kill me if she knows I skived off for the afternoon.”
Scorpius wasn’t expecting a visit from Albus but welcomed it nonetheless. Albus offered up an excuse that he needed to visit to discuss the flyers they were passing out at his uncle’s shop, but his questions had been about details they discussed a few days prior.
“How long should we pass these out?” Albus asked, hoping that Scorpius wouldn’t ask why he was asking such obvious questions about work they regularly did between the two shops.
“Two weeks should work,” Scorpius reminded him, feeling his cheeks grow warm as his mind wandered to the possible ulterior motives Albus could have for showing up unexpectedly.
“Great, I’ll tell Uncle George.” Albus waited a few moments, taking the opportunity to glance around the small shop, before moving onto the topic he really wanted to discuss. “How was your date with Corbin?”
In the time it took Scorpius to begin his answer, Al worried that he had been too transparent by jumping to a question about Scorpius’ new love interest. “It was really nice,” Scorpius said, not wanting to sound too excited – not if Albus was suddenly showing romantic interest in him again. “He made me dinner and we listened to the Warlock Choir on the WWN.”
Albus felt a twinge as he listened to Scorpius describe a perfectly romantic evening. He had to poke a hole in the promising Corbin somehow. “The Warlock Choir? They croon more than they sing,” Albus said with a laugh.
“They were pretty popular when Corbin was at Hogwarts,” Scorpius explained with a shrug.
“Was he at Hogwarts with my parents?” Albus teased, hoping that Scorpius would not take offense to a bit of poking fun.
“Witty, Potter. Corbin is in his 30’s, so, I’m pretty sure he went well after your dad graced the halls of Hogwarts.”
Thinking that Corbin would have quite the established life at this point, Albus decided to press for more information. “What does he do, being in his 30’s?”
Thankfully, Scorpius was quite eager to talk more about Corbin and didn’t question why Albus would show so much interest in the man he was dating. “It sounds like he’s done a few things, nothing consistent since he’s been out of school. But, school was so long ago for him that we hardly talk about it. Right now he’s in book publishing.”
“How did you two meet?” Albus asked, wondering what would bring a book publisher to cross paths with a potioneer.
“He was early for an appointment at Flourish and Blotts one afternoon and stopped in here to have a look around,” Scorpius recounted with a bleary-eyed look on his face. “He couldn’t stay long but asked if I would have drinks with him that evening – he was interested in the Mooncycle potion.”
“I can tell his interest in you is centered on potions,” Al laughed, nudging Scorpius playfully.
“Well, I thought he just wanted to talk business,” Scorpius insisted. “That is until he said I was attractive,” he said, dropping his voice to a quiet murmur.
“Anyone with eyes should be able to spot that,” Albus said, moving slightly closer to Scorpius. “It hardly makes him remarkable.”
Scorpius gulped, his eyes darting to the door, then on Al’s approaching face. Licking his lips, and wondering why it had taken them so long to do this, Scorpius leaned into the soft kiss and returned it with tender passion.
Brandon’s eyebrows were knitted together in concentration as reviewed the Wyatt which was especially troubling and it would likely involve taking the child into protective custody. The elevator ride to the Atrium was the best time for these solitary thoughts. He was debating asking Fredericks to accompany him when the elevator rang and he could hear a person enter.
It was the slender arm pulling him into a tight hug that caused Brandon to snap out of his reverie. Red hair obscured his vision as he heard “Brandon!” exclaimed from a young woman’s mouth.
“R-Rose…” he stammered as she released him from the iron grip of her arm. “How are you?” he asked hitching on a grin. It was hard to pull out of work-mode and be social, but Brandon wanted to give it his best effort.
“I’m okay,” she huffed. Before Brandon could ask what was wrong, she continued, “I’m just not sure a job at the Ministry is for me.”
The elevator door opened to the Atrium and they both stepped out. “The Ministry isn’t for everyone, Rose,” Bran offered as he held the elevator door open. “Do you want to talk about it? You seem a bit upset.”
Nodding, Rose walked over to a bench facing an ornate fountain in the Atrium and took a seat. “I like sitting here,” she commented watching the water splash up the filigree.
“It’s quite a beautiful place,” Brandon agreed, as he turned to face Rose. “Tell me about your job woes.”
It was clear from Rose’s long diatribe about her job that she wasn’t in the right profession. “It’s really Mum that I’m worried about letting down,” Rose confessed. “She wants me to have a useful job.”
“Well, all jobs are useful. Otherwise you wouldn’t get paid to do it,” Brandon reasoned with a half-formed smile. “Have you told her what you want to do?”
“I’ve never tried to really define it with other words than interesting and travel,” Rose sighed slightly melodramatically.
“Why don’t you try explaining it to me? I can be a good sounding board,” he offered with an encouraging smile.
Rose looked slightly apprehensive but took a steadying breath and pulled together several disparate thoughts she’d been kicking around. “I want to help people travel – to go see magical places around Europe. There’s not a good way for people to find or get to some of the less well-known historic locations.”
Nodding slowly, Brandon said, “I could see how that would be a good job. Would this be your own company?”
“I think so. At least I don’t know of anyone who does this,” Rose said, feeling that she could possibly get her mother to see this idea as a respectable future. Not wanting to waste an opportunity to wheedle information from Brandon about his feelings for Al, Rose changed the topic. “I’ve just talked about myself for the last 20 minutes. What have you been up to?”
It was a vague question but Brandon guessed she knew a thing or two about his recent snog with Albus. “I’ve been travelling a bit, actually,” he said, not wanting to discuss his run-ins with Al.
“Has this been for business or pleasure?” Rose asked, waggling her eyebrows.
“Are the two incompatible?” he laughed. “Business, actually. Most of my work entails the safety of young witches and wizards but I went sent to Belgium to track down a suspected dark wizard.”
With a slight frown, Rose asked, “Isn’t that dangerous?”
“It is, but that’s the kind of work I do,” Bran said solemnly. “Though, it’s like I said, I only pull that kind of assignment once in a while.”
Feeling her worry assuaged, Rose grinned. “Good. I would hate for something horrible to happen to you.”
A/N: Hello, lovelies! Thank you so much for the great feedback on chapter 1. I’m excited to write this all out and hopefully you’ll be happy with how I spin the various relationships in the story. The title for this chapter is based on a song by the Postal Service. I recommend giving it a listen! -Rose
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