Chapter 40 : Smudges
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"So, what are we here to talk about?" David asked. He didn't look too keen to be seated in a room with Harry when it involved his daughter. Devlin recalled how Maria had said Harry had kept asking her how she had escaped. "You've got him now, Harry."
There was a softness to these words; an understanding.
Dubhán felt a rush of something ugly that David had eyes only for Harry, when he was the one sitting here; he was the one who had said those words that got them here. It was him who was taking the risk.
"It was me," he said, with some strength. David's eyes swung to him, narrowing with curiosity rather than negativity. Maria looked at him, brilliant blue eyes locking on his face.
"What about you, Devlin?" David asked, his voice much softer and gentler; he smiled wanly.
"It was me." He wasn't sure how to make it past that declaration. Declaring responsibility was one thing; describing what his actions had been was altogether different.
"What was you, Devlin?" His voice and eyes were kind, and Dubhán couldn't help but contemplate what they would be full of, when he knew.
"I had the wand," he said, finding that, in this case, it was easier to start at the end rather than the beginning. Everything at the end he had thought of a million times, had meticulously planned before he had partaken. It was all those things in the middle that he tried so very hard not to even approach. "I put it in her hand. I broke through the wards. I told her to run until she found the black muggle stone and I told her to follow it until she saw the place kids play. It was me - I made her not talk to you. I told her if she said anything about me or where she'd been they would find her and I wouldn't save her again, because they'd be killing me, too. I lied to her. It was me."
David's pale face had turned a grey color. Devlin turned to Maria. She was sagged against the sofa, neither upset nor happy. Nothing good. Nothing bad. Nothing at all.
He wished he felt like nothing, too.
"Obviously David, this is very sensitive information," Harry said softly into the silence.
David turned slowly, his face blank as his mind tried to slog through the information.
"You don't...you don't want people to know he saved her?" His voice was a little shocked, but then he seemed to think a moment and his eyes went very wide. "You're worried he will get him back."
His face turned green as he seemed to realize he'd said this near to Devlin.
"I'm not afraid," Devlin said resolutely. He tried to think of his grandfather's words. Fear is for lesser beings. He decided, then and there, that he would strive not to be afraid. He would be better. He would not share Voldemort's fear. "I'm not afraid. He won't know, if you don't tell. I can keep secrets from him."
He had no reason to doubt himself overly much. All his life, when he had decided he could, he had. His magic had only ever failed him once, and he had been six, terrified, and beaten. This wasn't his magic, and his mind had never failed him.
Don't think. Don't think. Just do what has to be done.
He was asking about the middle. The part he tried very hard not to think about. His face twisted as he remembered the smudge on her cheek, the man's hand in her hair-
"He snuck in and he cut a hole through the wall, and he dragged me out. When I was scared he used magic to fix me so I could follow him." It was Maria who had answered, cutting him off before he had even had a chance to begin. She did not mention the man, or the hand in her hair, or-
He shook his head, and tried to stop the reel of images.
David sagged against the sofa and used a hand to rub at his face. As if he thought the movement would clear out the fog in his head. When his hand was back on his knee, there was a different look across his face. He leaned forward, his face twisted with the temptation.
"Did you see them, Devlin? Did you see who kidnapped her? Their faces? Do you know their names?"
Maria was silent beside him, but she was not still. He tried hard not to overtly look at her. All eyes were trained on him. Harry seemed to almost hold his breath, and he could almost hear the subtle thought in his head: will he give them up for her?
"No," he said. A lie - a vocalization of Maria's wish, as her head shook slowly beside her father, pleading with him through her brilliant blue eyes. He thought of his scars, covered meticulously by his clothing and knew that, even though the smudge had washed off, she still felt it there, and wanted it kept invisible. "They were wearing their masks. It could have been any of them."
Even after she had left, her brilliant blue eyes haunted him. He chest clenched and he hoped with every bit of his magic that her father would be smart enough not to tell.
Harry had sent him to bed hours ago and he tried very, very hard, to stay still and fall asleep. Every time his eyes closed, he would see her brilliant blue eyes, his hand in her hair, the smudge on her cheek.
He swung his body out of bed.
He was half tempted to ask Harry to call that lady back, but somehow knew these things were simply not his to discuss with anyone.
The hall was hushed. He paused at the top of the stairs, but there did not seem to be any sound downstairs. If Harry wasn't in the kitchen maybe he could sneak a bunch of cookies.
Harry was not in the kitchen, and he used his magic to unlock the top cabinet and bring a hand full of cookies down to him. They were the kind with chunks of chocolate in them, and he liked them almost as well as he liked cheese pastries.
He shuffled out of the kitchen to go sit in the living room and read one of the books from the shelf.
Except he wasn't alone downstairs.
They were sitting on the sofa that faced away from the door. Their bodies were close and their words so soft that Devlin hadn't heard them from the kitchen or over his shuffling feet. That Harry and Alexandra had not, in turn, heard his shuffling feet was almost as curious as what they were doing now. Kissing. He had never seen someone kiss like that.
Their lips were against each other, Harry's hand carefully woven through Alexandra's hair, and the look on their faces was one of happiness. Alexandra wrapped her arms around Harry's neck, crossing them behind him. She leaned into the kiss.
He was frozen at the doorway, transfixed.
In his world kisses were something far...fiercer. A show of power and control. A way to take something, which Dubhán did not know how to define, from a person.
"I don't think we've done that in a long time," Harry said, laughing. He kissed her again - quick and little. One of her hands travelled up the back of his head until she pulled him closer - into another kiss.
"That's your fault."
"It's always my fault," Harry said, laughing. He shifted closer to her, and she shifted to push her hair behind her ear - and her movement was just enough to turn her head the half inch that was needed to spot him, still lingering by the doorway.
She fell still and Harry read her like a book and turned to follow her gaze.
"Hello," Dubhán said, not quite sure what else to say.
"Hey, little dude," Harry said; his voice was wispy, not in a bad way. His face had gone a little red. Alexandra's ear was pink. Dubhán blinked. "What are you doing up?"
"You were kissing," he said, matter-of-fact; partly to avoid discussing why he was up, partly because he was still somewhat transfixed. Something in his world had shifted and he felt it was another one of those things Geoffrey would tell him he was just too young to understand.
Alexandra went red. Harry stumbled over some words. Dubhán wondered if this was like the topic of nakedness with Vincent that the man had felt so awkward about and Dubhán had not.
"Yes," Harry said. His smile was edged with bemusement and uncertainty; as if he wondered why he would press, or care, or have stood there to watch. He had the inkling that it was not that Harry was embarrassed by his actions, but that it was Dubhán's blatant curiosity that made him uncomfortable. When Dubhán continued to linger at the door Harry remarked "Haven't you ever seen two adults kiss before?"
There was a rueful smile on his lips. Alexandra nudged him, and Harry's smile turned sheepish.
"Yeah, okay, maybe not." He was calmer, more dazed, than he normally ever was. Dubhán wondered if that was something that happened when one kissed like that.
"Is that always how you kiss?" He had learned over the years with Grandfather that answering someone's question was not necessarily the best first option. An answer closed the door in a way that another question did not. He had never really felt the press of awkwardness like others. Geoffrey had once remarked on it. Alexandra laughed nervously. Harry seemed to take it more in stride.
"Trying to get lessons?" Harry asked, rising to come towards him. "Do you fancy someone, maybe?"
Harry's eyebrows swaggered.
Harry gave Alexandra an indecipherable look.
"Maybe we should let Uncle Sirius have this conversation with you," Harry said, beginning to steer him into the hallway, laughing. "He knows all about kissing girls."
"Like all the ways?" Dubhán tried to imagine Sirius - goofy and disorganized - ever being fierce.
Harry paused, arching one brow. They were right in front of the steps. His lips were pinched into a bemused smile.
"Is there something you want to tell me, Devlin? Like, is this something you're actually thinking about a lot?"
"You're the one who was kissing. I was just asking if that's how you always kiss."
"Well, it's just kissing, isn't it? There aren't many ways to do kissing..." He looked a bit uncomfortable about the topic now that it had turned back to him.
"No, there are different kinds." Obviously, he had noted something Harry had not. "Like the way you kiss Emma and I. Sometimes you kiss Alexandra on the cheek or really quick. You don't have your hands in her hair, then. You don't look like that then."
Because he'd seen Harry kiss Alexandra before, short and kind - on her cheeks or lips or neck. Harry often kissed Emma in that same quick way. This was different.
"Well yes. I kiss you and Emma - that's because we're family. But that is always different from when I kiss Alexandra. Alexandra and I - we're both adults."
He felt a slight tug of something in the shift of the conversation, and Harry must have felt it too, and Dubhán should have been smart enough to listen and shut up, but he wasn't and he didn't.
"That's not true. But then there is kissing like you were kissing and kissing like they kiss - and do you kiss both ways or are you always nice to Alexandra like that?"
Harry froze beside him, midway up the stairs. He was suddenly aware of Alexandra moving out into the hallway. There was thattug again and he suddenly knew he had missed the opportunity to shut up.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked. He recognized that tone. That tone meant Dubhán was missing something. Somewhere he hadn't put the puzzle together. Back a moment ago he should have shut up. Somewhere this conversation had become about something a regular boy ought not know. He bit his lip and turned away.
"I donno," he said; what Emma said all the time. He hid himself behind her childish reply.
"Yeah, you do. Tell me what you meant, Devlin." His voice was firm again. Dubhán thought of the bathtub. Thought of Harry's promise. He licked his lips.
"Is this - is this something I'm not supposed to know?"
Harry's eyes were a brilliant green.
"You're uncomfortable. What I said - it made you afraid. What about it am I not supposed to know?"
"I'll tell you, if you tell me what part of it I'm not supposed to know!"
He would never be able to survive out here if he kept making mistakes like this and he didn't have anyone else to help him but Harry and Alexandra. He couldn't risk infecting Emma with things she wasn't supposed to know by asking her.
UPCOMING: “Hey, little man,” Sirius said, ruffling his hair. Devlin ducked away from the touch, sneering. He was stuck with the man today. Something had called Alexandra and Harry away. They had claimed “something came up” - some case that involved both of them - but Devlin hadn’t liked the sense of purpose and planning that had seemed to saturate their whole preparedness that morning.
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