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Chapter 2 : Bonfire
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Roxanne is special.
You know this with the same certainty that you know the sky is blue and grass is green. Perhaps you are biased, with your ability to see beneath her rebellious, wild child mask. Maybe it is because every parent should consider their children special.
"Dad, Dad!" she shouts, her hair bouncing upon her shoulders. "I think I've got the combination right!"
You get up from your desk to approach the working table in the middle of the room. On a small section of it is firework paraphernalia, a notebook where your daughter has hand-written her measurements and creative process, and a completed firework.
"I've put a pinch of Instant Peruvian Darkness Powder in," she explains, her eyes lighting up as she talks. "If I've done my calculations right -- and I'm top of my class in Arithmancy so I must have -- it'll go bang like a Roman candle, but the first bang will release the powder so that there's a dark background you can see the firework on. That way, people can still have fireworks during summer evenings."
You pick up the firework and walk outside with her to the garden, where a small bonfire is burning -- you spent the entire morning trialling new versions of your fireworks before Roxanne arrived. She crouches down on the ground -- you taught her to never kneel, or she won't get away fast enough -- and positions the firework on the bonfire. You're right next to her, your hand an inch away from hers, ready to save the day if she makes a mistake even though she never has: you've taught her well. When she lights a match to release the firework -- wands are too dangerous -- you grab her hand and both of you scramble to a safe distance.
When the firework goes off, it's exactly as Roxanne described: first the powder is released, turning a small portion of the sky pitch black, before several different colours are released in a circular pattern accompanied by a crackling sound. You're confused when the last pop releases no coloured sparks, although the darkness disperses.
"The last one was a blank," Roxanne explains. "All it did was release air, which made the Peruvian darkness spread out until it fades away. I thought that might help it pass Ministry regulations."
Beaming proudly, you turn to your daughter with a smile. When she was sorted into Ravenclaw five years ago, you'd initially been disappointed -- your own Ravenclaw friends never had a reputation for rule-breaking at school. However, she'd proved you wrong by pairing up with Bill's Dominique and apparently wreaking just as much havoc as you and Fred had. According to your son Freddie, the only reason you and Angelina aren't plagued with school letters is because they're too intelligent to leave evidence behind.
"By the way, don't tell your mum about this, will you? It's Easter; you're supposed to be revising for your OWLs."
She laughs. "My lips are sealed."
When summer comes, you don't expect to receive a midnight Howler from St Mungo's, instructing you to visit the hospital as soon as possible. In ten minutes, you've arrived at the hospital after breaking into a run to get there. You're got one hand against the wall to support yourself while you take several deep breaths, vowing to exercise more when you see your daughter.
She's lying on a stretcher that's levitated by a Healer, while several others surround her. They've put hospital robes on her, but that's not enough to cover the bandages covering her legs. Her small face is tear-stained and in the stretcher, she looks far younger than sixteen.
"Roxanne!" you call out, trying to approach her, but the Healers push you away. "I'm her father!"
"Please, Mr Weasley," one of the Healers says. "Your daughter has severe burns and we're treating her right now. Your wife's waiting in the relatives' room -- if you'll join her, one of us will come to you as soon as we're able and give you more information."
You're too shocked at the news to do anything except nod, unable to find the energy to state that you and Angelina divorced years ago, though you remain friends. In a daze, you make your way to the relatives' room and sit down next to your ex-wife without a word.
Quietly, Angelina breaks the silence.
"She was on the camping trip with her friend Lucas and his Muggle cousins. I'm not sure of the details, but there were fireworks involved."
You're expecting to be lectured on why you encouraged Roxanne to enjoy fireworks, so you're surprised when she throws her arms around you and begins sobbing into your shoulder.
"I'm sorry," she cries. "I know I always complained about you letting Roxanne use fireworks, but I never really appreciated how you always made sure she was safe until now. I can't help thinking that if you had been there, it wouldn't have happened."
You can't help but think the same.
Once the Healers have finished their emergency treatment, you and Angelina are allowed to see your daughter. Clearly still recovering from shock, Roxanne is quiet as she explains the whole sorry tale.
"Lucas' cousins brought fireworks with them. We had a bonfire and they wanted to have fireworks to celebrate the start of summer, but it was obvious they didn't know what to do. I tried to persuade them not to, but when I couldn't, I decided to set them off myself because otherwise they might have got hurt; I was sure I wouldn't because I knew how to do it properly."
And then she turns to look at you, her chocolate eyes piercing your very soul.
"I swear, Dad, I did everything right. I don't know what went wrong... I don't understand why this happened."
Neither do you.
You aren't sure how Harry managed to join the Muggle investigation, but you're grateful for your brother-in-law's help. While the world is convinced that your daughter was being rebellious and is paying the price for her stupidity, Harry believes her.
And then one day, he has proof.
"Lucas' cousins admitted to taking fireworks out of a box from their parents' bedroom," he reveals, after an interview with the family. "And the parents bought the fireworks from an unlicensed seller who didn't comply with regulations -- that's why the fireworks were faulty."
You nod, unable to say anything more until Freddie walks into the shop's back room where you and Harry are.
"Son, do me a favour," you ask. "Take all our fireworks off the shelves, and if anyone asks, we don't sell them any more. Tell the Hogsmeade branch, too."
Freddie nods hesitantly. "Dad, what do I say if people ask why?"
"Tell them about your sister. Tell them about a girl who just wanted to protect people from getting hurt and ended up with permanent scars on her legs. I've seen how it affects her, the hard way, and while I'd never let this shop sell faulty products, if someone inexperienced set one of our fireworks off and got injured, I'd never forgive myself."
Your son nods while Harry leaves for work, and you thank him for his help. Without him, Roxanne might never have got justice.
Nevertheless, you wish you could turn back time.
It shouldn't have happened.
It's almost a year after the accident when you hear the door opening. You put down your clipboard and turn around to see Angelina approaching you.
"Be nice to Roxy," she says.
You frown in confusion; you're always nice to your daughter, particularly this past difficult year. She was popular at school, but in the wake of the accident, she's suffered from bullies mocking her appearance to the point you banned those bullies and their families from the shop, even congratulating Dominique on receiving detention for punching one of them, to her mother's fury. Although, deep down, you know the bullies wouldn't affect Roxanne if she didn't already believe their words: that she's ugly, even though you and everyone who cares about her insist that the scars don't matter.
And then Roxanne walks into the stockroom with an hesitant expression. It takes you a moment to realise that she isn't wearing the jeans or leggings she's lived in for a year, but a skirt.
"You look lovely," you splutter, lost for words.
She smiles. "Thanks, Dad." There's a small pause before she blurts out her news. "Dom and I are going on a double-date. I thought if he's got an issue with the scars, he's not the kind of boyfriend I'd want... Maybe I should change --"
"-- No," you interrupt, pulling her into a hug. "You look beautiful."
In that moment, you've never been more proud of your daughter.
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