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Generated: Mar 22, 2017 3:41 PM
Post last updated: Feb 21, 2017 10:03 PM
kwesiri ịkpaso ibe ha agwa n'obi nwanne
year three ensues
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Miranda has a lovely summer, some of it spent at Karen's and some in Italy and some at home.

She shows up with Karen at the train platform and they look for Minor.

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Minor! And a full complement of six brothers, this year - James and Samuel are of Hogwarts age.

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"Hi Minor! Hi James and Samuel is there a good way to tell you apart."
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"Hi Miranda! Not really - Mum can and Timothy can but everyone else we can fool if we're trying -"

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"Well, do you have tells if you're not trying?"
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"I talk more, Samuel never buttons his cloak -"

"I did today," objects his brother.

"- unless it's a very important occasion, then he buttons it but he's off by one."

His brother looks down at his cloak, sighs, and starts correcting the off by one buttons.

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Karen giggles. "Hi all the rest of you too."
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"Hi," echoes Miranda.
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"Hullo - how were your summers -"

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"Pretty good."
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"I still didn't get to go to India but I did get piano lessons."
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"Ooooh! There's an empty classroom at Hogwarts with a piano, it was dreadfully out of tune but I tuned it. Fourth floor."

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"Ooh, good to know."
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"What elective courses did you two pick?"

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"Arithmancy, Runes, independent study."
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"Same thing but her independent is wandlore and mine is in healing."
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"Arithmancy, Runes, and more Runes."

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"Yes, we've heard."

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"Healing? Is there a recommended self-study curriculum for that or are you trying to develop one?"

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"I owled Madam Hirudinea and she said she'd point me at things and let me help in the hospital wing."
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"Cool!" He's Head Boy; has the badge and everything. 

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"I wanna get on the train before it's full -"

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"Take care," says their mother, "owl us -"

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"Minor writes every few days and gets all the pocket money he pleases. In case you were trying to sort out where your incentives are."

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"That depends how you're doing your inferences and your decision theory! So if you think that Minor writes more and therefore gets pocket money, you could write more expecting to get more pocket money. But what if instead you think that Minor just writes more for reasons that are related to the reasons he gets more pocket money, namely that he's Father's favorite - well, then, writing more won't make you Father's favorite, but arguably being the kind of person who'd write more does -"

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"I love all of you," Finis says. 

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"That wasn't one of the disputed premises."

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"What's the going rate on an inch of parchment?"
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"What if Minor just likes writing?"
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"I also get more pocket money because I spend it nobly."

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"Nobly? You mean on destroying lake ecosystems?"

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"Destroying ecosystems is kind of a stupid complaint - not always, but often - they don't have a stable state from which people nastily perturb them, they just change all the time in lots of ways..."

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"- that was you?"
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"Yeah."

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"Thank you."
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"Didn't do it for you."

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"Theo -"

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"But you're welcome, if you like."

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"The merfolk would probably thank you too? I just really didn't want to have to decide how many of them I could get away with being sure I had never seen before."
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"I kind of hope they wouldn't thank me I kind of hope they'd be like 'what are you doing about the fact that was an acceptable thing to happen at all' and then I'd be like 'uh, nothing, because I'd last three days in politics before challenging some nitwit to a duel' -"

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"As a family, though, we're fixing it."

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Squeeze. "It's going to be a while and it's going to be complicated, don't congratulate yourselves yet -"

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"Is there a specific merfolk-related plan?"
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"Minor's talking to them to try to avoid incidents like the one last year and obviously in the long term once everything can be ordered exactly how we like it merfolk can be their own political jurisdiction just like anybody else and they can have treaties with their neighbors and the treaties will actually be enforced so they don't just expect them to be functionally meaningless, and also I kind of want to do Hogwarts discipline differently - do you think you've ever been improved in character by being whipped? I sure haven't - but that's not a very high priority. Medium-term I just want enough people on the board that I can get them to - not do that kind of thing."

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"I haven't actually ever gotten in enough trouble to get whipped. I'm not sure I would have been even if I were a boy."
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"Not super worth it."

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"Didn't think it was."
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"I've been late to things enough that I've gotten swatted on the hand but yeah it did not feel character developing."
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"I admittedly don't have a replacement in mind."

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"So how are you infiltrating the board of directors?"
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"- we should get actually on the train."
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On the train they get.

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They will not all nine of them fit in one compartment. Karen and Miranda stick with Minor, where's he going?
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Near the back, chattering about lightning.

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Yup that's Minor all right.
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"It's sort of a pity you did Runes early because now we won't be in your class."
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"Yeah but if I'd waited I wouldn't know runes yet."

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"You could've picked up some other language in that time!"
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"I did that too!"

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"Yeah, of course you did."
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"I don't have any Italian, though - how was Italy -"

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"It has neat old buildings and they eat tomatoes there!"
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"Are they any good?"

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"Tomatoes? They're all right but I'm not going to ask the kitchen elves to incorporate them."
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The snack cart comes; Minor conserves his not-really-limited pocket money just on principle. 

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Mid-afternoon he ducks his head in to make sure all is well.

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"Hi Timothy."
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"Hey! Have you been dissuaded from the mischief you were no doubt intending by this reminder there are authority figures on the train?"

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"We will desist from our plan to reroute to Wales!"
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"Good, good, that's strictly prohibited." And he goes on to the next compartment.

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"I've been looking forward to this year for forever, all seven of us at Hogwarts."

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"Pity it'll only last the one year."
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"Will your parents be lonely? Mine are starting to mutter about having another kid, they miss me when I'm gone."
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"Maybe a little bit, but I think they're also glad to not be interrupted all the time and make more progress on their own projects. And Timothy and Michael'll probably be getting married pretty soon and then they'll have grandchildren to fuss over."

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"It's really hard to imagine Michael getting married. It's sorta hard to imagine Timothy getting married too but differently."
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"Michael'll have to settle down a bit first. But girls at 20 don't want the thing he'd doing right now so I bet by 20 he'll have stopped doing it. Timothy'll probably marry as part of a scheme, it seems the sort of thing he'd do."

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"That seems mean."
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"Not if she's in on it."

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"Okay, then it seems like it would have to be a really great plot to be worth literally their entire lives of being married for it."
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"Yeah probably."

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"I'm not sure my parents liked each other that much before they got married, they say you just sort of get used to each other?"
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"I don't think most people from good families marry for love, who you love at 18 might not be who you want to raise a family with at 30 anyway so you might as well just pick someone you get along with? I don't want to do that. But I think lots of people do."

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"To be honest I'm not totally sure about the raising a family part either but maybe that will come along with whenever I start liking boys."
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"I want kids. And I don't, like, have any interest in kissing girls yet so they don't always go together. But probably for some people. Anyway I don't know if Timothy's planning on marrying for love, if you want to rule the world other stuff is probably more important."

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"Well, I hope whoever he plots with gets good and used to him, I guess."
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"Sounds kind of lonely but it's Timothy, he'll make it work."

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"I guess."
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James is in Hufflepuff and Samuel in Ravenclaw; they are mildly disappointed. There are several other Ways sorted; Minor pointedly pays them no attention. Timothy, as always, watches the Sorting as if it is the most important possible proceeding of a civilized society and perhaps also as if he wishes he were the Hat. There is a feast. There is a stern warning to stay away from the lake and not bother the merfolk.

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Karen shows off her cool scar and reiterates this warning to the new Ravenclaws.
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They are so impressed, she made a wand and escaped from the disgusting beasts all by herself before the Aurors could even get there?

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"You aren't Gryffindors, so I was hoping you'd pay attention to the part where I almost died and the wand turned out to be unnecessary because somebody was coming to bring me warm things."
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"But still, if you hadn't rescued yourself the Aurors would've had to do it -"

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"I wish I had rescued myself by knowing Mermish, or by not getting knocked off my broom into the lake."
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"Making your own wand's more impressive, though."

"And if you hadn't gotten knocked into the lake maybe someone else would've who couldn't fight back!"

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"It was a terrible wand and I couldn't use my arm for two weeks. Leave the merfolk alone."
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They are not at all planning to go pick off the remaining merfolk. 

 

Third years start learning proper duelling in Defense Against the Dark Arts.

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Ooh.
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Ugh.
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Varied unhelpful suggestions (dance? charms? shoes? better parentage?) are proposed to help Miranda with her footwork.

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Look, if anybody has a charm for this she's all ears. Better parentage person gets a plectere to the head and will have to go around in rather tight silly pigtails.
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Hexing fellow students is not allowed but he doesn't really suppose that counts; perhaps the victim shouldn't question people's parentage.

 

For Miranda's birthday he gets her an obscure book of charms with unusual wand movements and a set of potions tools that extend shelf life.

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She wasn't super expecting to be on a lots-of-nice-presents basis with Timothy still. Maybe the Ways just have so much money they can do that? But no, Gaunt has a September birthday too and gets a card and a pinch of potion-grade saffron, thoughtful but not as elaborate.

His birthday's in October.

She gets Nnenne to send her a French translation of The Prince and brings it to his room and knocks.
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He opens the door.

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"Happy birthday." Book.
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"Thank you!" He turns to put it on his shelf. "You can come in."

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She steps in. "I would've got you the Italian but Minor says he doesn't have any Italian and I assume you couldn't hide literacy in Italian from him."
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"Maybe if the fate of the world were at stake. No - maybe if the fate of the world were at stake and I promised to still teach him by Christmas. Thank you."

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"You're welcome."
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"I am very sorry I scared you."

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"I accept your apology."
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He tucks the book away. "Enjoying your classes?"

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"Yeah they're good except we're doing dueling."
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"I heard. Hopefully you won't need it."

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"Hopefully I won't break my neck."
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"That too."

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"I don't want to be a nuisance."
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"I - recognize the difficulty of designing heuristics that would catch if I was evil but don't position you as arbiter of as many deeply personal details as you require to decide if you approve of me."

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"I - that's a separate thing, if I ever couldn't take my bracelet off on demand I would want somebody to find out what was wrong and fix me -"
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"You'd told people about the Imperius because something seemed shady about the potions weeks before that came up."

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"Just Minor. Not even Karen. And, yeah, I was sort of creeped out about the potions and wanted to know what the deal was but I wasn't terrified till you wouldn't take the bracelet and drew your wand on me and then I wanted to figure out how to help you, for all I knew you could've given me the bracelet as long-shot insurance against something happening to you -"
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"I know, I'd do the same."

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"I'm sorry how it turned out though."
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"I'm not angry with you. I am vaguely worried this will keep on happening, I'm involved in trading lots of favors and none are unethical but plenty sound suspect."

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"I don't really think you're evil."
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"Oh, good."

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"Is it likely I'll run into more weird stuff - it's already been a lot of coincidence -"
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"I'm not presently involved in anything else you'd find that weird. I can let you know if that changes."

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"Having warning would help a lot."
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"Can do. If I were evil I'd have had you killed last year, for whatever that's worth."

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"As in, you'd have the resources to put hits on people if you were evil, or as in, you already have them but you're not using them because you're not evil?"
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"As in you'd be gaining resources faster than I would past that point and it would obviously be necessary eventually and so better to move while the resource gap was largest rather than when I was most prepared."

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"I... think I should consider that a compliment?"
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"Yes, you should."

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"As far as I can I'll tell you things you'd be distressed to discover incidentally."

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"Thank you."
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"Thank you for the birthday present."

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"You're welcome."
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"Were you avoiding me because you were annoyed with me or because you were worried I was annoyed with you?"

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"I'm not very good at minding my own business and may have overcompensated and yes I did think you were mad at me."
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"That would have been unreasonable."

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"Sometimes people are unreasonable!"
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"Unreasonableness in people who want to rule the world is perhaps less worrying than expertise in dark magic but still at least a little worrying. I wasn't angry with you. There are a few hundred ways I could have handled it better."

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"Yeah, next time you say 'give it ten minutes to wear off' or something."
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"Didn't know how long it'd be. But yeah."

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"- that sounds scary -"
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"I've been filtering for ones that aren't judgment-affecting. You'd hate it but I don't, especially, it's kind of an interesting mental exercise to route around -"

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"Okay."



Pause.



"Would it be a good idea for anyone else to know who - I mean -"
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"The way to learn the Imperius curse is to agree to let someone put you under it. Repeatedly, until you learn to throw it off."

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"- okay. So not - just roaming around - I'm really sorry do you want a hug -"
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"I do not. But yes, you don't need to worry about your safety or that of your friends - or anyone ever, if I can learn how to teach it -"

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Nod nod.
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"I'd do it again. If I needed to."

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"You don't have to tell me anything it's none of my business really I just wanted to make sure it was safe."
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"I can think of hazards that worry me more."

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Nod.
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"I hear they've been giving the third-years an awful lot of homework this week."

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"You can just tell me when you want me to go away, you know," she says, and she goes for the door.
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He watches her close it.

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Miranda asks to be excused from dueling when nothing to help her with footwork turns up. She is denied. She makes an attempt to duel while stationary, with shields and spells that keep her opponents from closing, but she's not actually very good at dueling and there are several legal spells that make her attempt to move anyway, ones that make her dance or spin or launch backward.

There's also a few that are legal aimed at the body but not at the head.

Most people under Tarantellagra just - dance. Miranda falls, and where her shoulder was is her ear.

She hits the ground.
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Poor Miranda. Dueling's fun but only if you can walk in a straight line.

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Miranda goes to the hospital wing and takes more than half an hour to patch up.
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That is worrying! When she's not back after a bit he finds Karen.

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Karen hasn't even heard yet; she's in the library.
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"Hey! Wanna go to the hospital wing with me, Miranda fell duelling. Again."

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"Again? Yeah -" She packs up her books. "Why won't he just excuse her -"
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"'If you get into a fight with Dark Creatures they won't go easy on you because of your incompetence' - nitwit -"

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"Cretin," agrees Karen.
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Miranda is unconscious and does not look comfortable.
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" - what happened she just fell -"

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"She took a Contusion Jinx to the ear on her way down," says Madam Hirudinea. "She'll be all right, but it will take at least overnight before she wakes and she'll be in some pain for the next few days."
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"She shouldn't be dueling."

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"I don't disagree, Mr. Way, but it is what it is."
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"It needs to stop being what it is."

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"I am not the person to whom you might most productively voice your concerns, Mr. Way."

"She has independent study with you, can you - create a scheduling conflict," says Karen.

"Certainly not," says Madam Hirudinea.
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"Who should we be talking to if the professor won't -"

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"I suppose you could take it up with the headmistress."

"Can you tell the headmistress that in your opinion she is unqualified to learn dueling? At least on foot, could she make it up with broom dueling - she invented it -"

Sigh. "If the Headmistress asks of course she can have my professional opinion."
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Karen sits by Miranda and holds her hand.

"She's unconscious, Miss Dwimmer."

"I know."
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"Is there anything you can do so she's okay faster -"

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"I've done it," says Madam Hirudinea. "She just needs rest now."
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"We should probably wait until she's awake to petition the headmistress."

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"You don't think it'd be more emphatic if we were there on behalf of our comatose friend?"
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"Maybe but Miranda's better than me at that kind of thing are you good at it -"

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"Not like really good. We could ask Timothy."
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" - yeah I guess we should probably do that."

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"We could catch him at dinner."
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Nod.

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Karen sits by Miranda till then.
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Yeah. 

 

At dinner they find Timothy.

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Timothy thinks the best angle is that their parents are going to be displeased to hear their friends are suffering serious injuries in class, especially after what happened to Karen last term, people might think Hogwarts isn't trying to keep its students safe.

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Okay, they can try that - should they bring Timothy along or not -?
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"I'd be happy to try if you want, up to you."

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"It just matters if it works and I think you'd guess better about that."
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"I'll come with." And they go to Twimble.

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The gargoyles outside the office allow them passage after a fifteen-minute delay.

Twimble is behind her desk. "What is it, Mr. Way?" she asks Timothy.
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"One of my third years, Swan, has some sort of incapacity to stay on her feet and is unconscious overnight in the hospital wing for the latest duelling-sustained injury. She has requested and been refused leave to do broomstick duelling instead, at which she's perfectly capable. I am not looking forward to this coming to the attention of her family, who certainly heard about the incident with her best friend Dwimmer last spring -"

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"By 'family' I assume you mean her mother, the rest being absentee at best?" remarks Twimble.
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"In Igboland, as I understand it, where they can withdraw her for school if they think Hogwarts isn't educating her responsibly."

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"That seems unlikely," says Twimble.

"H-her mum is a teacher," Karen says. "Of little kids, but still. She might just withdraw her to home-educate her."

"That would be Madam Swan's prerogative. Students replacing bits of core curriculum with their own inventions is out of the question; I have enough misgivings about allowing elective substitutions. Miss Dwimmer." She looks pointedly at Karen. "Which may be no safer, if I recall your initial foray into wandlore."
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"Then she should be excused on medical advice before she gets herself killed."

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"If anything happens to Miranda I'm not coming back either."

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"Really, Mr. Way?" remarks Twimble skeptically.
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"Yes. My father could teach me everything important and Miranda's brilliant and you're risking her life for no reason, she's not going to be getting into duels, if she does there're people who can stand in for her -"

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Twimble sighs and rubs her temple like she has a headache. "Unless Professor MacDougal opts of his own accord to include a broomstick dueling element in the course I will not tell him to assign marks on that basis. If Miss Swan can produce seconds at times when she will otherwise be expected to duel I will encourage him to count that for partial credit, but he may choose to assign none, which he may also do for any duels she sits out of. What I can do is allow her to decide between dueling and sitting out without threat of other disciplinary action."
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"Thank you."

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"Thank you," echoes Karen.
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They go back to Miranda's hospital wing.

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Still unconscious.
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"We have Charms when she has Defense on Mondays but we can second her on Thursdays."
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"And maybe some of the Slytherins would - she hasn't mentioned thinking especially highly of any of them but they're Slytherins, they're bribable practically by definition -"

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"Yeah - I don't know what to bribe them with but Timothy would. I think she and Malfoy get on all right..."
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"So when she's awake if it sounds good to her we can figure out how to bribe Malfoy."

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"Yeah." Handholding of unconscious Miranda.
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He does homework. Eventually he goes back to their dormitory to sleep.

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Miranda is at breakfast the next morning but she flinches at loud noises and keeps rubbing her ear.
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He will pout from across the Great Hall and then after breakfast he and Karen can go tell her what Twimble said.

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"That's - good - it might also be worth trying to," pause, flinch, head-rub, "duel out of class while sitting down or something with a shorter spell list, see if I can just get good enough at all the not footwork parts."
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"Yeah of course."
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"They shouldn't make you at all it's so stupid."

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"Maybe they think I'm faking it."
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"But why would you do that?"

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"To get out of dueling if I just plain didn't like it or something?"
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"That's stupid, you invented a different kind that you could do!"
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"Yeah. But I don't do it that much."
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"And it's not like you try to get out of class all the time."

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"I know I'm not faking, maybe I'm even obviously not, but maybe they think it'd be a bad idea to have a policy fakers might use?"
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"Maybe they're just dumb and terrible."

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"Anyway we can second you Thursdays and maybe somebody in your House can do it Mondays, if MacDougal'll let that count like Twimble suggested."
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"Thanks for going to her for me."
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"You could die."

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"And I don't want to do that, so thank you."
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Miranda hugs him.
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Hug. "Please don't die."

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"I'll do my best."

Malfoy is willing to second Miranda on most Mondays. MacDougal is grudgingly willing to credit this alternative solution to dueling.
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Good.

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Miranda and Karen practice seated dueling with spells that won't be a disaster if Miranda can't deflect them. Miranda gets better at shields - they're best with the ostensible chimaera wand - but not to the point where an inability to dodge wouldn't be an awful risk in a regular duel.
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Well, she doesn't do many things that'd get her challenged to duels.

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She doesn't!

But then she gets into an argument during the boring parts of Herbology with agemate Gryffindor Parthena Prewett about Azkaban, and Prewett feels rather strongly that the fellow who killed her grandmother deserves the place, and Miranda does not notice how strongly she feels about this until after Prewett is demanding that they match wands at sundown.
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"You don't technically have to accept a challenge."

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"I tried to turn her down and she said I did it wrong!"
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"Do they do it differently in Igboland?"

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"I don't know I've never been there!"
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"Do you want me or Karen to do it for you?"

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"Which of you is less likely to get hurt - I don't care if you win it I'll apologize if she wants but I don't want you to get hurt -"
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"I don't know let's ask Karen - I care if we win -"

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"I really don't object to apologizing, I was trying to do it when she said I refused the duel wrong." But they can go hunt up Karen.
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"But you're right and she's wrong!"

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"Yeah but I didn't want to upset her, I don't have anything against her."
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"And I probably really wouldn't care about whether it was right to torture someone if they murdered my dad. But still."

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"But still what? Why should we care if we win?"
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"Because then people'll agree we're right - okay, when put that way it sounds stupid -"

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"Yes, a bit."
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"I still wanna win."

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"Well, I wouldn't want you to throw the duel."
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And Karen is caught up on the situation.

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"I'm not sure which of us would be better -"
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"We should specialize more, have someone get good at duels, it might come up."

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"You don't have to win!"
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"There will still probably be occasions when it's useful to be good at duelling!"

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"Well, I suppose we could duel each other and see who wins but if we wound up getting hurt it'd put us at a disadvantage for this evening."
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" - yeah. Would it be unsporting to just ask one of my older brothers who'd definitely win -"

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"It doesn't! Matter! If you win!"
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"Would it be unsporting to ask one of my older brothers who definitely wouldn't get hurt, then!"

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"Maybe? I am not sure, MacDougal mostly covers practicals and not etiquette. I bet Michael knows duel etiquette?"
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"Yeah because half his relationships end in duels."

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"Yeah that's why I think so. And all the other duels."
Permalink Eye

"There are kind of a lot of them. Let's go find him."

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So they go find Michael and "Is it bad dueling etiquette to get an older second, Karen or Minor would do it but I'm worried they'll get hurt - also for future reference how am I supposed to decline a duel if 'I decline your challenge' isn't it -"
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"Ooooh, who're you dueling? - a year'd be all right but it'd be fairly poor etiquette to duel a child once you're of age unless they really provoked you and wouldn't back down - though if whoever you're dueling has an older sibling I could fight them and there'd be nothing unsporting about that -"

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"Prewett. She's just got little siblings and I think Avery's her cousin."
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"Yeah unless she, like, tried to strangle you in your sleep it'd be pretty unfair to have someone older settle it for you - in future you can say 'I regret my words and am unwilling to defend them', that'd settle it -"

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Miranda writes that down. "She didn't try to strangle me in my sleep. I have no idea how good Prewett is in a duel, either."
Permalink Eye

"You're third years, I am presuming someone'll knock someone over and that'll be it -"

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"I mean, I hope so, but it's not actually impossible for people other than me to take Contusion Jinxes to the head, just less likely."
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"I mean, if you want me to knock over a third-year for you I will, it'd just be terribly rude."

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Sigh. "No, it's okay, I was just consulting on the etiquette thing."
Permalink Eye

"Sure. Take care."

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Miranda goes and gets an actual book on duel etiquette and flips a Knut to pick Minor to stand in for her and the sun sets.
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And they can have a duel! Even if it's kind of stupid.

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Prewett is annoyed that Miranda is having her second duel for her but can't say anything about it. She bows formally to Minor.
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He bows back. 

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Prewett's really good.
Permalink Eye

They should definitely have someone specialize in duelling, it seems likely to come up. Maybe Timothy and Michael practice secretly. He doesn't want to do that though, so many other things are more interesting. He dodges something he doesn't even recognize, blocks something else...

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She dodges really well and seldom needs to block, which means she seldom needs to let up. She has a couple spells she can cast nonverbally.
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That's fifth year.  It's a shame how she's wrong about Azkaban - 

- he fails to dodge something -

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- and he's flipped heels over head and lands in a heap, bleeding through his robes.

Miranda shrieks and takes just the one step from the second's box to take over and Prewett was not expecting Miranda to take over even if Minor did die, and Prewett's hair is braided over her eyes and she can't see to dodge and she takes a chimaera-wand Stunner and skids a few yards across the floor. Prewett's second can't step in because Prewett is still alive.

Miranda trips her way over to Minor to make extra sure, third years are not supposed to know lethal spells -
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He is not dead but that is an awful lot of blood wow.

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"Episkey -?"

"Is he -" calls Prewett's second.

"No I was mistaken but go get Madam Hirudinea."
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Prewett's second runs for Madam Hirudinea. Miranda knows a little healing, she tries what she's reasonably sure won't make him worse.
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It does not seem to make him worse!

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And then Madam Hirudinea arrives and forces blood-replenishing potion down his throat.

"Is that even a legal spell."

"Yes, only this bad if it hits an artery and not too debilitating even then," says Madam Hirudinea.

"So he'll be fine -"

"Yes, up and about in an hour, but let's bring him to the hospital wing anyhow."

They do that.
Permalink Eye

He wakes up there.

 

 

" - did we win?"

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"Yes."
Permalink Eye

 

 

He gazes adoringly at Miranda and then closes his eyes again.

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She waits for him to wake up for real.
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Couple more minutes. "- are you okay -"

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"I'm fine but I thought you were dead for a minute."
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"Oh. I'm not dead."

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"Yes this was clarified after I stunned Prewett."
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"Good for you. Can I get out of bed or -"

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"Yeah, your blood replenisher should be all kicked in now."
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Out of bed he scoots. "Someone should super specialize in dueling. I guess maybe Michael's doing it and that just doesn't help us at school -"

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Hug.
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Hug. "Let's not do that again."

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"Yeah next time I just turn whoever down. Properly."
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"Unless it's important, might be important someday, and then we get someone specialized, Aaron's going to lecture me. Though at least I'm not in Slytherin and Timothy can't lecture me."

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Nod.
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And he heads breezily back to his dorm.

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Timothy does not lecture him. He also doesn't lecture Miranda, though he does raise an eyebrow a tiny bit when he next sees her.

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"I tried to turn her down."
Permalink Eye

"And then she dragged you down to the site of the duel?"

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"And she said I did it wrong and Minor and Karen both volunteered - so did Michael when I went to ask how I should've done it instead but he said it would be rude - and I flipped a coin."
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"You could have not showed up."

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"I didn't want her to have a vendetta against me forever and I didn't think he'd be hurt."
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Nod.

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"I know how to decline duels right now."
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"I am overjoyed to hear it."

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She goes to her dorm.
Permalink Eye

 

Over winter holidays when they're exceptionally secured against witnesses Timothy tries to teach Michael to throw off the Imperius curse. It doesn't work. He can't mean to hurt him badly enough, or the right way.

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"Should I be more annoying."

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"I do not think that would do it."

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"Should I be trying to kill you or something."

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"That might do it but if it doesn't then you've killed me, which would be terrible."

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"How'd you pick it up I can just do that -"

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"No."

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"Suit yourself."

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"Imperio -"

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Michael sticks out his tongue at him.

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Timothy invites Jocosa Smith to the winter ball. She's a perfectly capable witch with a grandmother on the Wizengamot and he doesn't especially see himself marrying her but he thinks he might just have a hard time seeing himself married for some reason. He'd really sooner they not break up until after he's graduated, anyway, lest people notice he's inept at this thing; it'll be less noticeable after Hogwarts. So he watches Michael and in addition to being exceptionally charming tries for some actual warmth.

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Jocosa is so charmed and very animatedly delighted about the whole thing. She likes flowers and she likes going for walks in the woods (not the Forbidden Forest; there's some less forbidden trees on the grounds) and she likes Timothy. She really really likes Timothy, she hadn't thought he'd noticed and wasn't sure how to let on and never did figure out what was going on with Crouch but she's so pleased he asked her.
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He can do flowers and walks in the woods and if he gets credit for mysteriously knowing that she liked him well that's just a bonus. 

(This isn't manipulative. This isn't unfair. If he marries her he'll love her by then. Correcting disabilities with potions is no one's concern but his.)

They go for walks and he gives her flowers and he kisses her.

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She is possibly slightly more delighted about being kissed than respectable witches are supposed to be. Okay a lot more.
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...maybe she's taking potions too. For the same reason, even. 

 

The evening of the ball he debates taking one. He decides against, the risks while he's still at school are too high. He's gotten better at kissing, he'll be fine without it. 

 

He does do a couple of Cheering Charms. Michael doesn't seem to find dating this upsetting.

 

Permalink Eye

Michael is taking two girls to the ball; it took some doing. He talked them into kissing each other and it was really hot and the plan is to trade off dances until the three of them want to duck out of the public eye anyway. 

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Jocosa likes dancing! And Timothy!

And butterbeer!

She is four foot ten and wand-slender, and even then should be able to handle three butterbeers over a four hour ball. The extent to which she cannot is not immediately obvious - she doesn't miss steps, she can still beam at Timothy and giggle when he says things, and while people are looking she manages not to do anything too embarrassing. The minute nobody is looking she puts her arms around his neck and pulls herself up enough to kiss him and clamp her knees around his waist.
Permalink Eye

 

 

TImothy is extremely flustered! He endeavors to carry her back into a public area as quickly as possible aaaah oh god why is she doing that!

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She likes being carried! It means she does not have to reserve her hands for keeping within kissing distance!
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Okay now they can hardly go back in a public area - 

- he would like Feverfew to come and bite her, please -

(Feverfew is very far away). 

 

He set her down and moves her hands. Firmly. He's much much taller. "You're drunk -"

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"I liiiiike you," she says, and she leans on him since her hands are pinned.
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"Yeah, okay, I like you too, what are you doing -"

 

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"I was kissing you I wanna kiss you -" She squirms. "Or you could hold me down that's okay too there's probably stuff we shouldn't do but if we did anyway you'd marry me right - I really really like you, kiss me -"
Permalink Eye

 

 

He stuns her.

 

 

 

He stuns her and then no one is touching him which is a serious improvement -

- aaaaaaaahhh -

 

 

 

He curls up in a ball on the ground and buries his head in his robes and takes deep calming breaths -

Permalink Eye

" - Timothy?"

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Jump - "oh, Fredrick, hi. I think Jocosa had too much to drink, I was going to - take her back to her room -"

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"...not a good idea she'll wonder what you did -"

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" - yes but if I get a friend then she's embarrassed in front of other people and she likes me she doesn't think I'm a monster -"

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"Budding Dark wizard, though, everyone thinks you're a budding dark wizard -"

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"I shouldn't have Stunned her."

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"Five points to Slytherin! You Stunned her? Why the fuck did you stun her?"

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"She was hitting on me and I panicked - I haven't decided yet whether to marry her-"

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" - you Stunned her because she kissed you but you haven't decided whether to marry her?"

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"She wasn't just kissing me!"

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"If you marry girls, you have to fuck them, Timothy."

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"I have a plan for that."

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He blinks at him for a while.

"Okay. Well, what you do is - you wake her up, holding her, you tell her that you think she might've fainted, she had a lot to drink, you had a delightful evening and are absolutely not going to take advantage and want to walk her back to her dorm. You do that."

Permalink Eye

" - right, that is approximately what I was planning to do, I just needed to calm down first."

Permalink Eye

 

Fredrick nods. "Please do not memory-charm me," he says, and turns to go.

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"Not actually evil," he mutters, and then he pulls Jocosa into a standing position and wakes her up and - "are you all right, dear -"

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"I, what happened -?"
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"You fainted, it's only been a few seconds, I think you had a bit much to drink, it's quite all right -"

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"Oh no -"
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He kisses her forehead. "It's all right, it's all right, I had a lovely evening, let's just walk back to your dormitory, okay?"

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"Okay -"
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He carries her. It's faster.

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She leans her head on his shoulder and furrows her brow. "I'm going to be so embarrassed in the morning," she says vaguely.
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Pet pet. "It's all right, it's all right."

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Sigh. "You're so nice."
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"More people should be."

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She's quiet the rest of the way to Hufflepuff.
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He drops her off. He kisses her goodnight.

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She is enthusiastic about the kiss goodnight but doesn't climb up him again.
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That's good.

 

He leaves and goes around a corner and leans against the wall.

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An hour or so later Fredrick finds him there.

 

He's had several more drinks; he's not quite walking in a straight line. "Got her home safe -"

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"Yeah."

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"Didn' tell anyone."

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"I didn't think you would."

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"'s that why I remember -"

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Headshake. "Wouldn't - not over that -"

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"Does half the school know, then, or are you usually more careful -"

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"Know what? That I dragged my date off and Stunned her, I've never done that before -"

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"You don't like girls."

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

"I like her fine."

Permalink Eye

 

"Can I kiss you -"

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" - no. No."

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Nod.

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"You're underage and you're drunk -" he trails off because Fredrick is beaming at him.

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"Both those things will change," he says, and leans against the wall next to him.

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"I have plans for my life I can't mess this up it's too important -"

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"Am I making you worse at them?"

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" - people'd have a way to blackmail me -"

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"You poor fucking idiot," he says, and hugs him. "You silly - ridiculous - your father's common sense -"

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"Don't bring my father into this."

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Fredrick snorts. 

 

"I love you, you know."

Permalink Eye

 - and now he knows what Jocosa felt, earlier, what she'd wanted from him, what she'd thought he might be feeling - 

 

(You shouldn't repress it, a voice says gently, and the voice wants Timothy to nod so Timothy nods, you'll twist yourself all up in knots. Find pretty Muggles, make them forget it - and he wants Timothy to nod again but Timothy's head is suddenly not a peaceful happy place at all - 

do you do that? he'd said once he could speak again -

- hmmm? No, I do this - why -)

 

"Drunk," he says, "and underage -"

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"I think I am clearly the clearer-thinking party present."

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"And what do you want -"

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"To make sure you're okay. And your date. And to make sure you knew, you know, that you can have me in the meantime -"

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Timothy takes Fredrick's hands and pins them firmly out of the way where they won't touch him and kisses him.

 

"I'm sorry," he says, after a moment, letting go, "I'm sorry I - you can leave -"

Permalink Eye

"Yes, you seem't've figured out the disadvantages of Stunning your dates, I was not very worried I'd walked into something I couldn't walk out of. Are you okay?"

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"Am okay -"

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"I am exceedingly tempted to just kiss you myself but -"

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"No don't do that."

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He leans his head against Timothy's shoulder.

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"Want you. But -"

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"But you don't have any better judgment than you did an hour ago and you had terrible judgment an hour ago?" he offers helpfully. "Can you just - stop overthinking - figure out tonight tonight, and tomorrow tomorrow -"

Permalink Eye

"Did I hurt you when I held you and kissed you?"

Permalink Eye

"No, you did not, that was fantastic, it was the only part of this entire evening that didn't have me completely baffled how you have a reputation for competence."

Permalink Eye

"Is this flirting -"

Permalink Eye

"Trying to strike a middle ground between flirting and shaping you up into someone sensible enough to go for it, honestly."

Permalink Eye

"Are you going to regret this in the morning?"

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"Going to regret I didn't get to't like a year ago - you idiot, you stubborn fool -"

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Timothy holds him still, and then he kisses him, and then he pulls him into a quiet classroom where there's nothing to risk and he whispers - "when you said I could have you -"

Permalink Eye

"Need mechanical details?"

Permalink Eye

He flinches slightly. " - no - need you to - keep doing that -"

Permalink Eye

"Making fun of you? Fuck's fucking sake, Timothy, you - you ridiculous adolescent with a martyrdom complex -"

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"That's hardly fair," he whispers, and he could wave away their clothes but instead he undoes them with fumbling fingers.

Permalink Eye

"Can't play fair, 'm playing against you."

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In the morning Jocosa is very embarrassed, as predicted, and terribly anxious that Timothy will think less of her.
Permalink Eye

He assures her that he doesn't, not in the slightest, he really did have a lovely evening.

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"Oh good - I really really do like you you know it wasn't all the butterbeer -"
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"This week I have a mess of essays but we can plan a walk again on Friday?"

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Blush. "Yes, I'd like that."
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"I'll see you then."

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They go for a walk and she shyly asks if she should write her parents maybe soon?
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"- I should probably feel out mine, first, my father can be prickly if he decides he's going to be -"

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Nod, nod. "I don't think mine will have any objections so that makes sense." She smiles up at him.
Permalink Eye

He kisses her. 

 

 

 

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She is not drunk so she doesn't do anything too terribly inadvisable. Standing up on tiptoe and kissing back happily is not too terribly inadvisable, nor making happy little noises!
Permalink Eye

Those things are not frightening at all!

 

 

 

He finds Fredrick and casts half a dozen charms for secrecy and - "do you think I should marry Jocosa Smith?"

Permalink Eye

"Are you serious?"

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"What, are you planning to never get married?"

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"Don't know. Probably."

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"Well, I can't never get married."

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"If she knew the truth would she want to marry you?"

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"...no."

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"So if you have to marry someone marry someone who'd answer yes. Even if you can't ever tell them, answer someone who would still go ahead if you did -"

Permalink Eye

"There might not be any girls like that."

Permalink Eye

"You're cheating on her. You do realize that, right? That is the thing you are doing. It occurs to me you might've mentally applied the term to Michael's dramas and not generalized successfully but that is the word for the thing you are doing. She is feeling terribly grateful you didn't take advantage before marriage and you. Are. Cheating on her."

Permalink Eye

 

 

"I'm not trying to hurt people I'm just trying to - stay safe, keep the pieces together, I should never have -"

Permalink Eye

"You were in a bind. I love you. I don't think you're a bad person. But don't marry the poor girl. Tell your father in a way that makes him have objections."

Permalink Eye

That isn't very difficult. It involves some lying and lots of mentions of, of course, Fredrick's family.

 

 

He gets an owl and leaves the Slytherin table visibly upset, a few days later, and when he sees Jocosa he hugs her and cries and tells her that Finis is being worse than a bit prickly over it and refuses to entertain any such match at all.

Permalink Eye
She cries too. ...Bawls. Eventually flees to do so less on-Timothy.
Permalink Eye

 

His crying is not insincere. She was nice, and if he wanted girls the right way then when she'd said that at the ball his heart would have leapt and he'd have had difficulty refusing her for an entirely different reason and now he'd be itching to marry her so he could - 

- it could have just been that way, it would have been so easy - 

 

 

He takes abundant precautions and meets his cousin twice a week and finds to his delight that it's entirely different without the Imperius and he has to get married but it can wait a few years...

Permalink Eye
Jocosa is mopey for the rest of the term.

Karen's parents owl her to tell her that she will have a baby sibling in August.
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Minor talks the merpeople into not attacking accidental trespassers on the lake; he's very proud of himself. Michael's two girlfriends fall in love with each other but want to keep using him for cover; he finds this very frustrating. The seventh-years bury themselves in studying for their N.E.W.T.s. Theodore declines to study at all for his O.W.Ls, and only passes three of them; he wants to leave Hogwarts early and go work on a dragon reserve, and Hogwarts is inclined to accommodate this. 

 

Timothy can't exactly have Fredrick over but it'd be a shame not to see him all summer. "Polyjuice?"

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"And here I was going to suggest you just occasionally visit London."

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"My brothers would all want to come along and it'd be suspicious to keep refusing."

Permalink Eye

"The kind of suspicious you deliberately court because it's useful, or -"

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"No. The kind of suspicious where they'd try to follow me, or at least check how I accounted for my time. We could maybe get away with it once, twice."

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"I can do Polyjuice."

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"Thanks. There'll be people in and out, I'm going to be working for Grandfather, I'll find someone who could be in and out more often without raising any questions."

Permalink Eye

Kiss. "See you soon."

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And Leander Lymball, who'll be a Slytherin fifth-year in the fall, comes by with a question from his aunt and even mentions that she might send him again, she seems to delight in assigning him errands the elves can do.

"Or maybe she doesn't think the elves could do it," he says. 

Shrug. "Maybe. See you, Way."

Timothy suggests a different errand-boy to the aunt and sends Fredrick hair and they meet once a week. 

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Miranda spends the summer at home, reading and practicing and visiting Karen and writing to Minor.
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Minor thinks he's getting somewhere on the wards (he wasn't allowed to take the O.W.L. in Runes this year, but he'd completed the coursework and was permitted to sit it for practice; he got an E) and the bulk of his letters is excited explanations about that, but he does find space on the occasional piece of parchment to update her on how the rest of the family is doing and to idly speculate about how Timothy's miscellaneous activities for his grandfather get the Statute repealed - I don't know if it's just a matter of corralling votes or if he's planning something to bring it to vote in the first place - Lymball's been coming over weekly, and I thought his family was very conservative, do you know if he's any better?

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Lymball doesn't hate Muggles but I think he'd rather nobody ever had to look at them without planning to, wouldn't peg him as anti-Statute unless it was some kind of compromise solution where wizards can go mess with Muggles but Muggles aren't allowed any wizarding places.
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So it's definitely the lightning ward, and the problem is that it's regulating current in this way which rules the piles out, he writes back, and then six pages about that.

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Hee hee.

Miranda goes to meet Karen's baby brother Benjamin when he is a few weeks old. He is mildly interesting.

School shopping she encounters Lymball in the potions ingredient shop and asks what he was doing over at the Ways so often.
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"...huh? I've only been there once."

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"Oh - must've misread - anyway what for?"
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"My aunt had me running errands. Thought I'd be perfect since I knew Timothy."

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"Huh. Well, see you at school."
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"Yeah." He pays for his books, leaves.

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She has a standing invitation from Minor. She reads through all the pages of wards stuff carefully to have an excuse and borrows a broom and flies up.
Permalink Eye

Minor is delighted to see her! They can talk wards all day.

 

Lymball stops by mid-afternoon.

Permalink Eye
She watches him.
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Goes up to talk to Timothy, leaves around three hours later.

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Miranda nips up to Timothy's room the next time after that Minor is in the bathroom.
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"Miranda! Hi! I didn't realize you were here today."

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"Spur of the moment decision after I ran into Lymball at the ingredients shop fill in the blank what is going on."
Permalink Eye

The door closes. 

 

"I don't suppose I can just observe that it's not really any of your business?"

Permalink Eye


"You've probably earned one of those if you really want."
Permalink Eye

 

"I am seeing somebody I really shouldn't be and we're using Polyjuice to manage my father."

Permalink Eye
"Okay."
Permalink Eye

"What did you notice, do you think other people are likely to -"

Permalink Eye
"Minor said he'd been over a lot but didn't elaborate, when I ran into him I asked what for, he said he'd only been over once. I suppose Minor's probably writing Karen too, I don't know if your other brothers send chatty letters."
Permalink Eye

 

"I can ask them not to but -"

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"They might wonder why."
Permalink Eye

"Yes. 'nefarious plot' only gets you so far."

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"It's sort of out of character as a nefarious plot."
Permalink Eye

 

 

"I know. I'm sorry."

Permalink Eye
"You don't have to apologize to me, you aren't using my form to evade whoever thinks you shouldn't be seeing whoever."
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"I shouldn't guess I should go do something distracting thank you for explaining." She gets up. "- why didn't your father like Smith though, she's perfectly respectable -"
Permalink Eye

 

" - oh, I asked him for a way out because I realized I shouldn't get married - he wouldn't even care if I wanted a Muggle, he's not like that -"

Permalink Eye


She still shouldn't guess but she stops leaving for a moment.
Permalink Eye

Feverfew crawls into Timothy's lap.

 

"...so, yes, it's worse than that." Sigh. "I'm not hurting anyone."

Permalink Eye


"You'll probably trust me eventually," she sighs, and she goes back downstairs.
Permalink Eye

He arranges for Fredrick to change faces. He cuddles him and frets."There's too much at stake -"

Permalink Eye

"For you to be blackmailably fucking around with love potions, yeah. This is less of a risk, easier to deny..."

Permalink Eye

"I could just be alone forever."

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He pats his head, a little condescendingly.

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"I told Miranda I wasn't doing anything illegal. That's not totally true anymore - Muggles forbid this -"

Permalink Eye

"They probably also forbid witchcraft. I doubt she took you to mean you were abiding by local Muggle ordinance."

Permalink Eye

"I'm betraying the people who trust me."

Permalink Eye

"If they were trusting you to be an infallible personal-needs-free automata dancing its way to ultimate power with no concessions to human frailty along the way, sure."

Permalink Eye

"You say that like it's a joke but that is what I trusted myself to be."

Permalink Eye

"Well, we're agreed that you're an idiot."

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"You could try to talk to Miranda. If she's going to hate me for it it'd be better that she learn now, and I don't think she'll say anything - and if she would be tempted to it'd be for the sake of the person I was presumably abusing into it, so if you -"

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"If you like."

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"I just wish - why me -"

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Snuggle. Sigh.

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They go back to school. It's weird not having Timothy or Theodore at Hogwarts.

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Theodore's absence has less of a daily effect on Miranda's life but Timothy being gone is definitely weird. She gets on with one of the year's new prefects all right though so she doesn't have to frantically revise her habits to account for no friendly authority figures.
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"And next year maybe you can be a friendly authority figure."

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"I dunno if I'm in line for it. Maybe."
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Not being Timothy he doesn't have dozens of tricks up his sleeve to contrive to meet with arbitrary Hogwarts students but he manages to find her in the library after a while. "Timothy asked me to talk to you."

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"Uh, okay, hi. What is it?"
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"We're sleeping together and I think he has concluded that you're going to notice eventually and that if you're going to be appalled you might as well do that sooner."

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Miranda thinks about that for a good two and a half minutes.

Then, "No, I don't think I'm going to be appalled."
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"He will be delighted."

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Giggle.
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"I don't think he prefers, in general, gambling on whether people'll be appalled."

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"I won't go around telling people."
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"Thank you." 

 

And he heads off.

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There's a Muggleborn first year in Slytherin. She's having a hard time of it. When Miranda gets back to the common room she's outside the door crying.

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"What's the matter?"
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"Black memory-charmed me to forget the password, said I wasn't supposed to know it anyway and should just go - bother the Hufflepuffs -"

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"It's kallipolis. Black doesn't do the Sorting, doesn't resemble a Hat at all, and ought to know better, that was a rotten thing to do. There's a thing you can learn that'll let you throw off memory charms but it takes a long time to pick up."
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"Oh?"

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"It's called Occlumency, I can loan you my books if you want to put the time in." The door has opened; Miranda ushers her through. "Did you tell any prefects or teachers?"
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"No. I don't really want to make enemies. And Heller and Black are friends, I've seen them together, he won't get him in trouble."

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"So don't tell Heller, there's half a dozen prefects and that's just in Slytherin, you can try the other Houses' prefects with some things. Maybe not this thing since it's disciplinary. Molloy's not bad, or Carew."
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"Okay," she says doubtfully. 

 

Molloy tells Black not to use first-years for spell practice. He complains that Muggles shouldn't count; she agrees that Muggles wouldn't count "- but she's a witch and you know it."

"No, she's not, and indulging the delusion does her no favors."

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"Does Memory Charming her do her favors, since that's what we're driving at?"
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"Yeah, actually," Black says. "The best thing to do about them would be to let them be Muggles who weird things occasionally happen to."

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"And then you have an entire family of Muggles-who-weird-things-happen-to, because Muggleborns don't have fewer half-bloods than anybody else. You want to keep those out too?"
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He rolls his eyes. "I actually wouldn't object to setting up a school for them, if it weren't Hogwarts and didn't tell them they're as good as any born wizard."

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"Well, when you're out of here you can start one or fund one or something, fill the void, in the meanwhile locking firsties out of the dorm isn't helping anybody."
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"I told her to go be a Hufflepuff."

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"Because that'll go over real well. Lobby Twimble about re-Sorting, see if you get a different answer than the last twenty people, you're a Slytherin and I'm sure policy changes like that for which you have such well-formed arguments won't be beyond you."
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"Twimble is very traditional, and I respect that. But it means the only way to keep Muggleborns out of this house is to make this house the wrong place to sort them into."

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"Lobby the Hat. Dazzle it with your knowledge of personality variance in Muggleborns. But this one's already here."
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"Have strong feelings about Muggleborns, Swan?"

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"I have strong feelings about Memory Charms and crying firsties."
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"I certainly won't go out of my way to bother her again."

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"Good. I'm confident it's a waste of your time."
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A week later the first-year, Genevieve Stoller, misses class because someone soaked her robes through with a laundry charm while she was wearing them.

"I didn't go out of my way," he says, "she got in my way."

"I don't want to have to give you a detention for bullying an eleven-year-old," Molloy said.

"I want to be able to enjoy my own common room without smelly Muggles around."

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"Have you been sniffing people, Black?"
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"You could smell it from across the room. They live in their own shit, you know, Muggles."

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"They lack the advantage of house elves, but here those are included in the tuition and we all use the same ones. Do I just have a terrible sense of smell? Where did you even learn to do your own laundry charms, I'd think the Blacks would have elves at home too."
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"I looked it up after she started stinking."

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"Because you don't know the Bubblehead?"
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"Because I shouldn't need it in my own common room."

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"Well, she was trying to get out of the common room and go to class, but you've neatly foxed that plan."
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"Angling for prefect, Swan? It's nothing to do with you. You might be half Muggle but you at least manage not to stink like it."

 

"That's out of line," Molloy says.

Permalink Eye
"If you wanted people to leave it alone you shouldn't have started by locking her out of the dormitory where anybody might wander by and find it affecting; I'd think that was pretty obvious. Maybe you should switch houses?"
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"I should not have to."

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"Well, that seems like a problem you invited by not acquiring total control over who's sorted Slytherin by now, what's taking you so long?"
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"I'm working on it. Next year betcha there won't be any."

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"As if nobody in other Houses resorts to harassing eleven-year-olds."
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"Are you trying to convince me that we need to be more effective at it?"

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"I'm trying to convince you that you're wasting your time and didn't expect to get anywhere telling you why I think so, so I'm telling you why you might think so. Talk to Twimble or the Hat or drop it and find something else to do."
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"Like I said, I won't go out of my way to bother her."

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"Your way shouldn't involve ever aiming a wand at her again."
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"Go away, Swan, I'm studying."

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"In your busy soaking-firsties-and-ignoring-Molloy schedule? Where do you find the time?"
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He puts up a muffling charm.

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Miranda teaches Stoller a shield charm which should even poorly done handle a casual non-hex.
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She's very diligent. "How many people think like that, do you know -"

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"Well, his exact nuance on it isn't common but there's people who'll hate you all over. This is the worst house for it, though, you can more or less argue with most Ravenclaws and the Hufflepuffs less often get mean about it and the Gryffindors - well, I don't know, maybe Gryffindors are as bad but they don't have the reputation."
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"Are there other Slytherins, I haven't wanted to ask people..."

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"Other Slytherin Muggleborns? Honestly that's not something most of 'em would say, if I know of any it's privileged information. You got unlucky to have it undeniable before you knew anybody. If I knew any other Slytherin Muggleborns would you want me to tell them to say hi to you?"
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"Advice would be nice. But it's fine. He's not wrong about Muggles, just -"

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"Just, you're a witch."
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"Yeah."

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"Well, maybe you'll be good at dueling, and Black'll be gone in two years anyhow."
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"It's not just him - well, he's the only one who's done spells -"

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"Are the others doing more than talking?"
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" - are there things other than spells and talking I should be looking out for?"

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"If your roommates have it in for you, possibly, but don't be paranoid in excess of what you actually need, waste of energy."
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"They're okay. Thought I was dumb for not knowing how to read but I was dumb."

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"You'll catch up."
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"I'm trying."

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"I can help you out if you have trouble spots as long as I have time."
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"Thanks. I don't like imposing on people, especially not with things a pureblood witch would know -"

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"It's okay, I'll shoo you if I'm too busy so ask whenever."
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Nod. 

 

She finds Miranda with a list of questions a few days later. What are house-elves, what's a good thing to read to know all the important families, what's something written with simple words that explains dark magic and what it can do and why people whisper about it, what's wrong with her Wingardium Leviosa...

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House-elves are a species of magic slaves, they like it that way it's weird if she promises to respect that Miranda will tell her how to get into the kitchens. Bloodlines and Origins is pretty readable and you can also assume any two purebloods whose families have been in Britain long enough (so, not Miranda, not the handful of kids from India) are related and ask them how as small talk. Dark magic is magic that requires evil intent and there's not really any simple books on it but here's the rundown of the unforgivables. She's swishing wrong, borrow this demonstrative stick.
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" - does Occlumency also help with the Imperius -"

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"It can't hurt but I've never tried it."
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"Do people have to worry about that -"

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"The Imperius is insanely illegal and practically nobody learns it, let alone casts it, anyway. If you're worried about it I have a way to tell if you're under it or not and I can check you now and then, but I doubt Black can cast it and if he can I doubt he'd escalate like that with you."
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"Thank you." She gets to practicing Wingardium Leviosa.

 

Black uses a spell to throw her against the wall whenever she can be construed as in his way and ignores her otherwise. 

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Well, that's - navigable. Miranda can heal well enough to save her trips to the hospital wing over minor blunt force trauma.
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She gets plenty good at staying out of his way.

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Miranda helps her out where possible and attempts to think of opportunities to get Black to cut it out altogether.
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Minor stays up until outrageously odd hours for a week and then declares he thinks he knows exactly what is wrong with the wards and how to fix them, though maybe it should be tested somewhere smaller than Hogwarts because recasting all of the wards on Hogwarts will require most of the experts in magical Britain and actually even they might not be able to do it. "Though I think they should try," he tells Karen, "this is really important."

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"Is electricity actually useful for anything yet?"
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"Not yet but it's only a matter of time and interactions with magic should be figured out now!"

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"What if in fifty years they're using some totally different kind of electricity and the first kind was never useful and the interactions are different?"
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"It's not like that, there aren't kinds."

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"No?"
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"There are things you can vary but the wards disallow all of them and the interactions might be different but that's why we need to start testing!"

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"We? Do you need me to do something?"
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"Help me convince Hogwarts to go along with it?"

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"I'm not very persuasive."
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"And Timothy's doing more important stuff these days. Supposedly. Lots of having tea with people, I guess we'll see if rule of the world results."

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"He'll at least be popular with tea vendors."
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"Maybe that's all he ever really wanted."

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"Maybe."
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It is, as it happens, not all he ever wanted. 

 

Italy is contemplating withdrawing from the Statute. They're not likely to go through with it - someone would step in and do enforcement for them - but it's the first place it's recently been up for debate. He arranges for a trip there. 

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It turns out that in Italy they speak Italian, which is something of an obstacle, but he can find people who know French, even English - ambassador types mostly - though none of them have any obvious reason to make appointments with some random nineteen year old.
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Or he can take his father.

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Somewhat more of them can be talked into talking with an inventor, yes, and his father also makes the Italian thing much less prohibitive.
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That second thing was the more important thing. He can get something out of people-watching without a grasp of the language but not nearly as much. 

Permalink Eye
The center of the movement to attempt to dispense with the Statute is Elio Sortilegio, a local halfblood wizard, who does a surprisingly good job of arguing humanitarianism to the humanitarians and convenience to the indifferent and inevitability to the conservatives.
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It is delightfully satisfying to watch and hear translated. He doesn't have a good reason to talk to him - doesn't have enough strings to pull at the Ministry yet to be able to talk about offering Britain's commitment to respect Italy's sovereign right to withdraw from treaties if they so please - so he sticks to watching.

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He gives really good speeches. One of his aides does at one point ask what the Ways' interest in the subject might be.
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...Finis is not of an age where it is absurd to claim he has the leverage to get such commitments from Britain. He comments mildly that the Wizengamot might be persuaded to consider it.

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The aide would be delighted to provide an address for more direct owling to Signore Sortilegio's office if there are any developments there or they can be of any assistance!
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He'll take an address and let them know when it might be time for assistance!

 

 

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He returns home in a very good mood. The Muggles have communications between the nations on the scale of months, now. If the Statute falls anywhere it falls everywhere, even if it'll still be illegal to do anything useful with magic in Britain.

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Meanwhile, back in Hogwarts:

"Stoller, I've heard two different people call you my 'pet' followed by different uncomplimentary nouns, it's not going to bother me but if it's going to annoy you this is the time to hang around me way less."
Permalink Eye

" - should it?"

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"I wouldn't like it if I were you but it'd be reasonable to prefer it to wandering around without anybody obviously looking out for you, take your pick. You probably get another chance to ditch me come summer, let everybody forget about it and reset expectations come fall."
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"Are you doing anything horribly objectionable I should hesitate to be associated with?"

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Snort. "No."
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"Then I don't think I mind in the slightest."

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"Okay then. I wonder if there should be more of an explicit mentoring program here, goodness knows I hung around the eldest Way a whole lot when he was around..."
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" - Michael? Or is there an even older one...I would object to being someone's pet if he were a boy, I think -"

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"There's an older one, he's called Timothy. Michael's still around. Maybe I should talk all my roommates into adopting a firstie each next year or something, might work better with girls somehow."
Permalink Eye

"Might help. What'd he teach you, if you were already a pureblood and could read..."

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"He's a people person, he was helpful with that sort of thing. And he was a prefect, it was handy to be friends with one sometimes."
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Minor's pocket money turns out not to be infinite and to be insufficient for hiring a dozen experts to ward a patch of ground with revisions he expects'll allow electricity. His father advises him he can save up for it. He turns to Aaron for ideas on how to do this and to Karen to complain about the injustice.

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"I'm not sure 'injustice' is the word you want."
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"You know what I mean!"

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"Yeah, I do, sorry. It's not an emergency, really, is it?"
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"I guess not but I've been working on it for years and I don't want years more to pass before I even know if I got it right -"

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"Are you definitely out of stuff you can do without all the experts doing things?"
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"If that's wrong I need to redo everything and if it's right then there're lots of magic interaction tests to do but none I can do now, because nothing works now."

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"...you could figure out how you'd redo everything if you do have to? So you don't, um, break stride if that happens?"
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"I guess." He sets to do that in between nodding approvingly at investing schemes of Aaron's.

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Karen has now done enough of her wandlore study that she is ready to try making a simple wand that, hopefully, does not bite.

She makes it all right and it's good that she finishes a week early because she's scared to try to do anything with it.
Permalink Eye

"Do you want someone else to?"

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"I don't want it to hurt anybody else either! The one that blew up on me really really hurt!"
Permalink Eye

Hug. "Could take a painkilling potion first?"

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"That's a good idea. Maybe I'll just. Do that."



She has to brew her own because Madam Hirudinea is hoarding them but she gets it done before she has to present her midterm project to the supervising professor. The wand doesn't bite. It also won't cast, but she's not in trouble over that until the end of the year.

Winter hols roll around.
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He missed his brothers so so much he wants so many hugs and to do nothing but talk their ears off about the wards thing. They patiently tolerate this - Theodore less patiently.

Permalink Eye

Is Theodore receptive to a scheme to become Britain's biggest spice importers with flying carpet-aided transportation, though.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, he'll go for that.

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Minor invites Miranda and Karen over for a day to exchange presents.

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As usual Miranda is unavailable on both Christmas itself and Boxing Day but can come the twenty-seventh or on Christmas Eve, whichever he prefers.
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Christmas Eve, if it works for Karen!

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Yup!

Karen gets everybody homebrewed wand polish that she is reasonably sure should actually improve performance at all and not just make wands shiny. Minor also gets aquarium plants to put in with his eels and Miranda also gets enchanted parchment that looks blank to anyone except the writer and will fully blank itself for reuse on command.
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Miranda gets everybody books! Timothy gets The Republic and Minor gets a bunch of some Italian student's notes from Alessandro Volta's lectures which she has finally gotten translated for him (the original Italian is also enclosed) and Karen a book on unicorns. Aaron gets An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
Permalink Eye

Aaron gets everybody money but courteously does not tell Miranda that he already has Wealth of Nations and she should have gotten him money. 

Permalink Eye

He gets Aaron money! He gets Michael a piano that doesn't lose its tune when shrunken pocket-sized and then expanded, which Michael had complained about for years with inferior pianos. He gets Michael's help on designing Miranda and Karen standard-looking Hogwarts robes that self-regulate temperature and deflect minor hexes. 

Permalink Eye

And Timothy gets Miranda a cat. Well, a Kneazle, technically.

 

He met the cat in Italy, when it bit him; he was making Feverfew trail a politician for him. He recalled Feverfew and the kitten hissed and snarled and stopped when he took off the Imperius. Though it still glared at him disdainfully.

 

He had a feeling that it might get along with Miranda.

Permalink Eye
"Ooh how'd you make these - hex deflection'd be handy for Stoller -"
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"That's the first-year you adopted?"
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"Yeah but there's only so much I can do when it's a sixth-year hassling her. He's mostly backed off as long as she avoids him now."
Permalink Eye

"Black?"

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"How'd you guess - should I have asked you for blackmail on him or something, am I very remiss in the care and feeding of my pet firstie not bugging you about it even now you're out of school -"
Permalink Eye

"I very much doubt remotely managing the wellbeing of Muggleborns in Slytherin is a valuable thing for me to be endeavoring to do. I wouldn't've blackmailed him, actually - would probably just have told him he was eroding discipline in the common room -"

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"Molloy tried, didn't help much."
Permalink Eye

"No one got to the kid in time to warn her to implausibly claim decent ancestry?"

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"She ran into Selwyn in Diagon Alley."
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"I should talk to the board about a better procedure for contacting Muggleborns in the first place - arrange an orientation and a shower for them before they -"

Permalink Eye

"Do Muggles actually smell or do people just say that to be mean -"

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"No, it's true, it's just not morally relevant and also if the Statute were gone we could fix it."

Permalink Eye
"And reading lessons."
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"I learned to read when I was three, I don't see how Muggles don't -"

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"They don't have any books, their parents don't have time to teach them and they can't all afford school..."
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"No one taught me."

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"Muggles as smart as you probably come out fine."

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"Yeah. But I think being smart and being randomly magic are mostly uncorrelated." Her new kitten yawns awake. "- is that a live cat, I was assuming it was an enchanted statue you'd explain at some point -" The kitten bites Timothy. "Is that a live cat that hates you."
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"It is! Merry Christmas."

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She picks up the kitten. "What nefarious plot is served by my ownership of a cat that hates you?"
Permalink Eye

"He resents my conduct towards Feverfew. And noticed it immediately."

Permalink Eye

"Your conduct towards Feverfew?"

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"I use her for experimental spellwork."

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"Aww, do you have strong feelings about animal welfare?" asks Miranda, petting the kitten. "Is it a boy or a girl I don't know that I could be confident about it on a cat -"
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"I think he's a boy. I didn't name him, that's all yours."

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"Cricket."
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"Why Cricket?"
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"Cats jump a lot? And I like the sound of it."
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"Hi, Cricket."

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"Mew!"
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"Is he soft?"
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"He is!"
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"And doesn't hate anyone else?"

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"Do you hate anybody else?" she asks Cricket.
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"Mrr."
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"Maybe he's reserving judgment. You like me, though?"
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Purrrrrr.
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"Awwww. Anyone want to have a snowball fight, casting only allowed on the snow -"

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"Can I be on a broom?"
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"Why not?"

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"Because I'll be faster than anybody who's not and you'll be buried in snow?"
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"We can all take brooms, then. Unless Timothy has picked up unaided flight by now -"

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"Why would I've been working on that?"

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"Dramatic and intimidating."

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"If I decide to be dramatic and intimidating I will make Michael do all the aesthetic planning, it's really not my strength at all."

Permalink Eye

"Should I be designing Dark Lord Timothy outfits, I was not informed of this."

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"Outfits seem like an even lower priority than dramatic flight spells."

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"Dark Lord Timothy sounds stupid, a name should be the real first priority here."

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"A snowball fight was, I think, the first priority here."

 

And they go outside.

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Whee!
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Karen's really good at magic airborne snowball fights.
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And Cricket the kitten goes home with Miranda, and comes to school with her when school resumes.
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Genevieve Stoller runs into Black going through the portrait hole and ends up in the hospital wing with a cracked skull; Molloy gives Black detention for that one.

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Does he seem deterred?
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Not remotely.

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She talks to Molloy. "I don't think he's going to leave her alone over a few hours peeling Shrivelfigs."
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"If I have him whipped his family will hear about it and think of course that he is wholly in the right -"

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"And she hasn't got one to speak of, I know, but there's got to be something."
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"We shouldn't let magical children be raised in Muggle homes in the first place," Molloy sighs. "You could call him out for it - well, I mean, if you could duel -"

Permalink Eye
"I can't, and even if I could he has two years on me."
Permalink Eye

"Talk Way into it? He might do it just for fun."

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"I hope you mean Michael, the last time Minor dueled for me it didn't go that well."
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"Yes, I meant Michael, since your initial objection was that Black's older -"

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"Yeah - dunno -"



She goes and hunts up Michael.
Permalink Eye

"Sure, I'll duel him," he says immediately. "What for?"

Permalink Eye
"Attacking my pet firstie." Pause. "Do you think you could do it Polyjuiced as her and bait him into starting it."
Permalink Eye

"Now that I would love to do. You have Polyjuice?"

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"I have Aaron's Christmas money."
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"Stoller's on board?"

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"I'll ask, but I don't think she'll mind Black always wondering if she's the version of her that can hex him into next Thursday."
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Snort. "Doesn't seem likely."

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She asks Stoller. She also asks Fredrick if he has any extra potion lying around for a good cause.
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He does! "What good cause?"

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So she explains about the petness of her firstie and how far Black has escalated and Michael's participation.
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"Slytherin. Yeah, go for it." Polyjuice is provided.

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"Thank you!"

And she finds a good time for Michael to get in Black's way and some pigment to make his wand superficially resemble hers for a little while.
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And Michael borrows a set of her robes and takes the Polyjuice and bumps into Black in the hallway with a bookbag slung over his shoulder, and blocks the immediate motion to throw him against the wall -

 

Black frowns, does it again -

The girl who looks like Genevieve Stoller sets down the bookbag, shaking. "It's bad form to leap to curses without a challenge, you know."

"You want me to duel you? Swan thinks you're cute but she can't walk in a straight line, she won't take over when you die."

"Yes, I want to duel you. Cricket can be my second, he has a bite."

Black blinks at her. "Mudblood, I'd just kill you. Don't be a fucking Gryffindor about it -"

Genevieve Stoller has adorably wide eyes and is trembling and is waving her wand like she hasn't the faintest idea how to use it.  "Challenge me or cut it out."

"- you wanna be too dumb to live, fine."

She bows solemnly. Stalks back five paces. 

 

The common room is looking on in mingled concern and confusion. 

Permalink Eye
"Mew."
Permalink Eye
"Don't be silly, kitty, I'm sure he figures out which end of his wand is the handle in some more intelligent manner than asking his mirror every morning."
Permalink Eye

Black shoots a glare at her. "Where," he snarls at Stoller, "and when -"

"Here and now."

 

He bows. He raises his wand, slashes-

- gets blocked -

- again - 

- gets blocked -

"Wingardium Leviosa," says Stoller proudly, picking up a corner of his robes and levitating it six inches.

Black blinks at her disbelievingly. "Diffindo, Escelpsis."

She dodges. "Expelliarmus!!"

That he deigns to block, using a sweeping motion to knock her off her feet at the same time. She tumbles. "Wingardium Leviosa," she says again, rolling to her feet and catching a different corner of his robes, "Wingardium Leviosa, Tarantallegra -"

Now he looks disgusted. The next Diffindo, dodged again, leaves a gaping slash in the wall. The ground turns to intensely sticky tar so she has to stop dodging -

- she seems unaffected, for some reason -

- four different bolts of purple light arc towards her, so even an experienced witch couldn't block them all - she blocks two, evades one, takes a long ugly slash on her cheek - "Wingardium Leviosa!" And she turns the ground beneath him to oil - he loses his balance but his robes are being levitated in four different places and now he's dangling from them -

"Petrificus Totalus," cries Genevieve triumphantly, at an angle he can't block from. She trots up to him. She takes his wand. "Um," she says. "I have a question about duelling?"

Permalink Eye
"What's your question?"
Permalink Eye

"Do I have to kill him? I mean, he implied it was a duel to the death but that seems like a bit much, honestly. He thought I wasn't a witch and I bet he's not confused anymore."

Permalink Eye
"By dueling etiquette you could kill him if you wanted, but it would be against school rules, so you should probably let him live."
Permalink Eye
"Mrow."
Permalink Eye
"Yes, it is very magnanimous of her considering how many rules have previously been broken in this series of events!"
Permalink Eye

"I don't want detention," she says agreeably, and picks up her bookbag, and leaves. 

Permalink Eye
Anybody looking likely to unpetrify Black soon?
Permalink Eye

Several people are looking distinctly suspicious but most of them are just shellshocked. No one is making any moves towards Black. (The ground beneath him stopped being oil as soon as the duel was over.)

Permalink Eye
Good. Miranda goes to make sure the handoff of Genevieve's possessions is handled unsuspiciously.
Permalink Eye

Michael is unPolyjuiced and grinning and handing Genevieve Black's wand along with her robes. "Hey, Swan."

Permalink Eye
"That was brilliant."
Permalink Eye

"It was a pleasure. Don't try that at home," he tells Genevieve, "I was fifth-year before I could sustain four Wingardium Leviosas with enough strength to hold someone up and by then you'll know better spells for it."

"I understand."

 

Permalink Eye
"And you shouldn't keep his wand for long - not sure if you can get away with making him say please, but you could owl it to him at breakfast or something."
Permalink Eye

She nods solemnly. "Thank you, Miranda."

Permalink Eye
"You're welcome."
Permalink Eye

She mails Black's wand to him at breakfast.

 

He does not harass her further.

 

He does say to Swan - "I know it wasn't her."

Permalink Eye
"Gosh, what makes you say that?"
Permalink Eye

"You want to indulge the poor little kid's delusions until she's old enough to care no one'll marry her, that's your lookout."

Permalink Eye
"Yes it is."
Permalink Eye

It's Winter Ball.

Minor is pretty sure he wants to kiss Miranda but isn't quite ready to tell her that yet and so agonizes over whether to ask her to the dance. He is pretty sure he can't turn to Karen for help on this because it was explained to him by one of his roommates that girls might get sad if you ask their advice on asking out other girls. Owling Timothy the question seems a bit much and Michael's suggestions would be a little Michael. 

And Miranda can't dance and might not want to go with him even if she does like him which he is not sure about.

Permalink Eye
Miranda can't dance! She is planning on just not going to the winter ball.
Permalink Eye

That makes sense. He's not especially interested in going either.

Permalink Eye
Karen gets asked by one of Minor's roommates - not, like, seriously, just to have someone to go with, not that he doesn't like her or anything - she thinks about it for a day and a half but then accepts.
Permalink Eye

"Have fun!"

Permalink Eye
"Thanks."

She goes. She reports in confidence that her date smells weird up close. They do not go anywhere else together.
Permalink Eye

He checks when he gets a chance to do so inconspicuously. Miranda does not smell weird up close. 

Permalink Eye
Nope! Almond oil and parchment!
Permalink Eye

He still doesn't say anything. Aaron's spice trade adventures are paying well and it looks like he'll be able to afford his warding experiment by summer; he might be a little miscellaneously chattier in Miranda's presence than usual.

Permalink Eye
"Where are you going to do it?"
Permalink Eye

"Just off our estate, probably, so I have access to the spot all summer for experiments but it doesn't interfere with the house; the next step'll be redoing the wards on the house if I got this right -"

Permalink Eye
"Your house wards block electricity?"
Permalink Eye

"Not like Hogwarts does but I think they might have a problem with interference if you were trying to do anything complicated with currents, see..."

Permalink Eye
"Ooh."
Permalink Eye

 

 

"I really like you."

Permalink Eye
"That is probably because I'm awesome."
Permalink Eye
Permalink Eye
"You're great too," she assures him. "Even Cricket likes you! He hates almost everyone!"
Permalink Eye

"Why does he hate Timothy, people do experiments on animals all the time..."

Permalink Eye
"Maybe he likes Feverfew."
Permalink Eye

"Do you think he can detect -"

Permalink Eye
"Well, I think that's why Timothy gave him to me. He is very smart, I think he's at least part Kneazle, won't be able to tell for sure till he's grown up."
Permalink Eye

"Did Timothy tell you what he was doing in Italy? They're debating withdrawing from the Statute."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, it's really exciting!"
Permalink Eye

"Maybe by the time we graduate it'll already be happening!"

Permalink Eye
"We can hope!"
Permalink Eye

Having acquired his Apparition license and having no real girlfriends at present and two pretend ones to cover for, and having reasonably tolerant prefects, Michael takes to spending weekends at Muggle churches listening to the music. It's lovely. 

Permalink Eye
Singing nuns at this one. One of the novices gets a solo. She shoots the conductor a dirty look before she sings it.
Permalink Eye

She has a lovely voice and an appreciative audience.

Permalink Eye
She folds back into the choir afterwards and dawdles when the others disappear into the recesses of the nunnery.
Permalink Eye

Maybe she wants to say hello. He's not actually sure how much attention he can get from girls without the family name. 

 

He heads over. "You were lovely."

Permalink Eye
Smirk. "Why thank y-"

"REBECCA," hollers another, nunnier nun.

"Ugh," says Rebecca. "But thank you." She gets up and scampers.
Permalink Eye

He comes back the next week.

Permalink Eye
Rebecca sings!
Permalink Eye

He has brought her a box of chocolates. Non-magical chocolates, he doesn't want to get in Statute trouble and make headaches for Timothy.

 

He finds her afterwards and hands them to her. "I liked your singing."

Permalink Eye
"It's nice to be appreciated - what is this -?"
Permalink Eye

"Exotic foreign candy. You'll like them. - they're not drugged or poisoned, I can demonstrate by eating one if you would like."

Permalink Eye
"Oh, I can't imagine why you'd do that." She eats one. "- mmmmmmmm -"

"REBECCA!"

"Damn," says Rebecca, and she stuffs the box under her wimple, "duck pond, ten minutes," and off she runs.
Permalink Eye

In ten minutes Michael is at the duck pond.

Permalink Eye
Rebecca climbs out a window, chewing a chocolate, and goes up to him. "These are probably too expensive to be all eaten in a sitting and I don't care. What's your name?"
Permalink Eye

"Michael. They're not cheap but I don't know what the point of indulgences is if you don't, well, indulge."

Permalink Eye
"The point of indulgences is to irritate Protestants."
Permalink Eye

" - I don't actually know anything about Mug- about British religious politics, I just come to churches for the singing."

Permalink Eye
"...it's a bit hard to miss. Not Catholic, then?"
Permalink Eye

"No. I could convert, if one needs to be Catholic to give presents to pretty nuns."

Permalink Eye


"Okay, this is really funny but do you even know what a nun is?"
Permalink Eye

"- yes, you live here and run things and sing and so on? I know it's a religious vocation."

Permalink Eye
"There's vows of chastity, if they catch me I'm in deep trouble."
Permalink Eye

"I could disguise myself as a girl, would that help any? Vows of chastity? Why? I mean, you do you, but..."

Permalink Eye
"I'm not supposed to talk to anyone, actually, due to the deep trouble I am already in. I haven't taken vows, yet, the nunnery's just supposed to keep me in line, but most novices wouldn't get within ten feet of you."
Permalink Eye

"I, uh, disrecommend vows of chastity to anyone who doesn't know what they're missing. Why are you in deep trouble?"

Permalink Eye
Rueful expression. "Knowing what I'm missing."
Permalink Eye

"I like you. I don't want to get you in trouble, should I in fact come back disguised as a girl and we can sing a duet -"

Permalink Eye
"I think someone might notice you sing - lemme guess, baritone?"
Permalink Eye

"Sure, but not if I'm disguised as a girl, it's a really good disguise. I have seriously mysterious access to exotic foreign stuff."

Permalink Eye
"Like I said, I'm not actually supposed to talk to anybody, I'm being tamed from my sinful ways and not to be exposed to worldly influences etcetera."
Permalink Eye

"How long does that last?"

Permalink Eye
"Till the part with the vows, probably longer. I'm thinking about how to run off before that."
Permalink Eye

"Where for, do you know -"

Permalink Eye
"I was thinking grab my baby and show up in the Colonies swearing I had a husband and he was dead, why, do you have exotic foreign suggestions?"
Permalink Eye

" - that detail had not been mentioned. I do not have exotic foreign suggestions though I could probably do, like, nice clothes and a trunk of jewelry to make the swearing to that effect more convincing."

Permalink Eye
"All this for the price of a duet, huh, or might I show up in New York with two babies," she deadpans.
Permalink Eye

" - I mean, I did show up here to hit on you but that was before you explained about vows of chastity and babies and the necessity of fleeing the country, I am not anywhere near the degree of asshole required to hear that and think 'great, I can buy her -'"

Permalink Eye
"You wouldn't be the first, people tend to assume."
Permalink Eye

"Where I'm from you could challenge them to a duel over it, makes people careful about assumptions."

Permalink Eye
"Women don't duel. Where do women duel? You don't sound foreign."
Permalink Eye

"I'm from a place where they speak English but women duel. When I found out my last girlfriend was cheating on me we had a spectacular public duel - to first blood, it wasn't a serious relationship and I wasn't going to issue a serious challenge over it - and it was marvellously satisfying."

Permalink Eye
"Who won?"
Permalink Eye

"I did! Not that it really mattered, honor's satisfied all around either way, but I get into a lot of duels and am accordingly very good at it."

Permalink Eye
"I take it this wasn't a gun duel, then. D'you fence?"
Permalink Eye

"...mysterious exotic foreign weapons."

Permalink Eye
"You're very, very mysterious and exotic and foreign for somebody without an accent or a weird outfit or anything, Michael."
Permalink Eye

"I suppose I could also be lying outrageously. People do that to pretty girls, probably even more if the pretty girls can't duel 'em. The chocolates are real, though."

Permalink Eye
"I noticed they were real. I also noticed they were delicious."
Permalink Eye

"Chocolate is among my favorite inventions. You can take some to the Americas and hand them out to skeptics."

Permalink Eye
"Sounds like a fun time."
Permalink Eye

"Where's the kid now?"

Permalink Eye
Sigh. "My parents have - I don't know if it's a boy or a girl they took it away - my parents have it."
Permalink Eye

" - before you could - 

 

- that's fucked up -"

Permalink Eye
Rebecca's about to say something when a door creaks open and a nunnier nun, possibly the nunniest of nuns, approaches.
Permalink Eye

He glances at Rebecca's panicked expression and makes them both invisible.

Permalink Eye
"- bwuh -" says Rebecca.

The very nunny nun passes them by without comment.
Permalink Eye

"Didn't mean to scare you," he whispers once she's passed. 

Permalink Eye
"That was brilliant, are you going to say how you did it or is it just more exotic, foreign, whatnot -" Rebecca whispers back.
Permalink Eye

"I can't tell you, I'm sorry, I'm not supposed to show you either but I'm not very likely to get caught. Exotic foreign whatnot."

Permalink Eye
"Secret exotic foreign whatnot, which you aren't allowed to tell me about, but you're free on weekends to chat up nuns."
Permalink Eye

"I'm still in school, learning exotic foreign whatnot, and I have two girlfriends to explain my absences."

Permalink Eye
"That's a considerable number of girlfriends. They don't mind?"
Permalink Eye

Sigh. "So I started courting them last year partially because they were best friends and inseparable and so - close - and it was really cute and I talked them into kissing each other and they liked it and we all three went to the dance together and had a lovely time for a few months and then they decided they were in love. With each other. And they wanted me to cover for them. And - they'd have been willing to compensate me for that but as established I am not that much of an asshole so I'm covering for them but can hardly date more girls at school without people wondering why two isn't enough..."

Permalink Eye
"Hence the nuns. How many nuns?" she wonders rhetorically.
Permalink Eye

"If I claim you are the first nun to capture my heart will you believe me?"

Permalink Eye
"Maybe there are also exotic, foreign nuns."
Permalink Eye

"There are no exotic foreign nuns. If a girl where I'm from got with child and the father wouldn't marry her they'd probably duel over it."

Permalink Eye
"Too good to marry a Catholic, you see."
Permalink Eye

"- we don't have Catholics but I am familiar with people like that."

Permalink Eye
"Where in the world speaks English and doesn't have Catholics -"
Permalink Eye

"What exactly makes someone a Catholic?"

Permalink Eye
"Catholic parents, usually, or converting."
Permalink Eye

"Anyhow, we don't have them but we have people who'd date a Muggleborn or halfblood girl but never dream of marrying her. I dislike them both because they are annoying and because it's hard to convincingly assert you aren't one."

Permalink Eye
"Date a who?"
Permalink Eye

"Muggles are people who cannot do the exotic mysterious things I can do. Muggleborns - people with Muggle parents. Halfbloods - one Muggle parent. If you're from a good family you'd never dream of settling down with one of them, you wouldn't have pureblood children."

Permalink Eye
"I don't think it's exactly like that, I think a converted Protestant is just as good to them - maybe better, means they won? Not sure."
Permalink Eye

"Now that I've shown you things I shouldn't anyway, we can sing and I can do something so no one but us can hear it."

Permalink Eye
"Sure, why not."
Permalink Eye

He pulls out his wand and does the muffling charm. 

 

"Oh nuns, oh nuns, can you hear me?" he shouts loudly.

Permalink Eye
Rebecca laughs, hard. "Mother Superior, come quick, I'm being further corrupted by the wiles of men!"
Permalink Eye

He giggles.

 

And he starts singing.

Permalink Eye
She comes in on the second chorus.
Permalink Eye

If he puts an arm around her after a while singing?

Permalink Eye
Well, she's invisible, so he can't get very detailed feedback, but apart from a surprised twitch she does not attempt to escape.
Permalink Eye

"Are you interested in music in general?" he asks her once the song concludes.

Permalink Eye
"They don't have a piano here," she sighs.
Permalink Eye

"I have one in my pocket but you'd have to find somewhere to put it."

Permalink Eye
"Is it an exotic foreign mysterious piano."
Permalink Eye

"Well, it fits in my pocket and is still in tune when sized up, that is the only exotic foreign mysterious thing about it. It was a present from my little brother."

Permalink Eye
"The only exotic foreign mysterious thing about it? That's all? I'm so disappointed. I have no idea where to put it, I don't think I can play an invisible piano."
Permalink Eye

"But you like to play?"

Permalink Eye
"Oh yes."
Permalink Eye

 

 

 

 

"We could just get out of here and grab your baby and get married, I have another three months of school but you could live on our estate until then."

Permalink Eye
"Is it an invisible estate? I'm not sure that wouldn't be an improvement on the convent, mind, but I'd like to know what I'm getting into."
Permalink Eye

"It's very visible and I'd take you there first and see how you like it if not for the laws about secrecy but the laws about secrecy are very inflexible. We need only be married on paper, if that helps any -"

Permalink Eye
"I'm not sure a Catholic church will do it at all, but I might as well complete my parents' despair - should I believe you about being easier to run away from than a convent -"
Permalink Eye

 

"I mean, to be wholly honest with you, if I wanted to be I would be much, much harder to run away from than a convent. But - if you want to go I will get you whatever frippery you need to impress New York."

Permalink Eye
"Oh, I know, if nothing else imagine me trying to get groceries while stuck invisible forever." She pauses to think. "Let's do it."
Permalink Eye

Now they're visible. "Need to pack anything -"

Permalink Eye
"God, no, and if you can get me literally anything that isn't this to wear..."
Permalink Eye

....he can transfigure it into something significantly more revealing, and prettier.

Permalink Eye
"Brilliant. Do you have mysterious foreign exotic ways of fetching the baby?"
Permalink Eye

"I can teleport or if you do not want to be estranged from your parents I could get mine and with some guidance on how Muggles do it they could probably do what they're supposed to do when I write them that I want to marry -"

Permalink Eye
"I am, already, so very estranged. Do you go off the address or -"
Permalink Eye

"No I'd need to know the spot - we could fly to the area and then you could point it out to me -"

Permalink Eye
"It's down that road, first - do you need to carry me -?"
Permalink Eye

"To fly? We can both sit on the broomstick, it won't have award-winning acceleration anymore but it'll be perfectly serviceable -" and he pulls a broomstick out of his coat -

Permalink Eye
"A broomstick. Well, in for a penny."
Permalink Eye

He grins at her. Off they go.

Permalink Eye
She clings to him nervously on the broomstick and points out her town, then her house.
Permalink Eye

"I think I'll just knock instead of teleporting in, if that's all right?"

Permalink Eye
"There's some chance my father'll attempt to kill you, if he's home."
Permalink Eye

"He would fail."

Permalink Eye
"Just warning you. If there's several babies around because the wetnurse has another or something - they said when they were taking it away it looks just like me -"
Permalink Eye

" - okay -"

Permalink Eye
"- and it'd be two months old, almost, that's all I know."
Permalink Eye

He slips off the broom and knocks.

Permalink Eye
A woman who's probably Rebecca's mother opens the door.
Permalink Eye

"Hello. My name is Michael Cyrus Way, my family has an estate just north of here, and I have fallen in love with your daughter and decided to marry her and raise the child as ours, so I'm here to pick the baby up, thank you so much for your time."

Permalink Eye
"Which d- Rebecca?"
Permalink Eye

"Yep!"

Permalink Eye
"Rebecca's in a convent -"
Permalink Eye

"She didn't do anything wrong, I went for services and was enchanted by the sound of her voice. Where's our child?"

Permalink Eye
"Your -? Who do you think you are?"
Permalink Eye

"I am Rebecca's affianced and I am here for the child we are going to raise together alongside our own and I don't see what your objections are, here, really, children should have a mother and father."

Permalink Eye
Someone who is probably Rebecca's little sister ducks under their mother's arm with a bundle and thrusts it at him.
Permalink Eye

He takes the bundle. "Thank you very much," he says, and turns to go.

Permalink Eye
There is the sound of a slap, behind him, and angry shouting too overlapped to hear.
Permalink Eye

 

He goes back to find Rebecca. He doesn't totally know how to hold a baby. "A younger girl gave it to me did she likely give me the right one -"

Permalink Eye
"- looks like me but frecklier?" Rebecca takes the baby; she knows how to hold it.
Permalink Eye

"Yep."

Permalink Eye
"Yes. Sh-sh-sh-sh - did she say what they've been calling it, if they've given it a name -"
Permalink Eye

"No, should I go back and ask -"

Permalink Eye
"It's too young to remember and I had names picked I just - could've used it for a middle name -"
Permalink Eye

Pop, he's back on the doorstep. He knocks again.

Permalink Eye
The shouting inside reaches a peak. A little brother peeps out the window.
Permalink Eye

"Hi. Do you know what they were calling Rebecca's baby?"

Permalink Eye
"Caroline," he whispers. "Will Rebecca visit us."
Permalink Eye

"I'll make sure it's easy for her to do that if she wants."

Permalink Eye
"Okay," whispers the little brother. "Tell Rebecca she's just like when Judith was a baby."
Permalink Eye

"I will. Thank you. What's your name?"

Permalink Eye
"John."
Permalink Eye

"Caroline," he tells Rebecca, "and I'm to tell you 'she's just like when Judith was a baby'."

Permalink Eye
"Oh, good, that will be easier." She has put the baby to her breast - "I have no idea if this works, after this long, but she's giving it a good try - Catherine Caroline."
Permalink Eye

"If it doesn't I think there're potions for it - flying on a broomstick with a baby is not ideal -"

Permalink Eye
"Much harder to hold on. What's the way to do it with one, then?"
Permalink Eye

"Carpets, or Floo, or carriages - the nearest place with Floo's not far, we could walk there..."

Permalink Eye
"What is that?"
Permalink Eye

"You step into a fireplace and fly through 'em and come out of a different fireplace - come to think, that might not be good for children either - what we need is a carpet but they're not popular in Britain..."

Permalink Eye
"Well, if carriages are what they sound like..."
Permalink Eye

"Yeah. I'll need to go get one, though, will you be all right - shouldn't be five minutes -"

Permalink Eye
She looks around. "Yeah."
Permalink Eye

He vanishes with a crack and then reappears a few minutes later with another crack and a handheld carriage, which, placed on the road, grows up into a real one. With a flourish he offers her a hand to get into it.

Permalink Eye
She laughs and adjusts her hold on Catherine Caroline Surname TBD to take his hand and step up.
Permalink Eye

The carriage moves on its own, at quite a brisk pace. He puts an arm around her again. "What did your brother mean like Judith -"

Permalink Eye
"She's our sister, she's four now, she was a really easy baby, only ever wanted to nurse night and day and as long as that was handled she never cried."
Permalink Eye

"Awww. He wanted to know if you'd visit."

Permalink Eye
She makes a face. "I would but they live with my parents..."
Permalink Eye

"Can't arrange for them to visit either, at least not until the stupid Statute's repealed. Maybe we can tell them a place to meet us in London." He looks at the baby. "She's adorable."

Permalink Eye
"Mm-hm. And she does look just like me, doesn't she." Pet pet.
Permalink Eye

"Why the fuck would they take away your baby, what a horrible thing to do -"

Permalink Eye
"Can't have one in a convent."
Permalink Eye

"I am not clear on why send you to a convent either."

Permalink Eye
"Cure me of my wickedness, of course." Eyeroll.
Permalink Eye

"Did the father get sent to a convent too?"

Permalink Eye
"Monastery, and no, he's not Catholic."
Permalink Eye

 

"So people'll think she's mine - until she gets older and it becomes obvious she doesn't have exotic mysterious abilities - I am not especially attached to correcting them, it can be however you'd like -"

Permalink Eye
"I don't know - is it a problem when she doesn't have exotic mysterious abilities -"
Permalink Eye

 

"Kind of, yeah. We can keep her away from idiots but - it'll probably be a little hard for her, people don't think much of Squibs - that's when magic people have a nonmagical child..."

Permalink Eye
"- like the fireworks?"
Permalink Eye

"Hmm?"

Permalink Eye
"If a firework doesn't go off that's what it's called."
Permalink Eye

"Might share an origin as words, then. My father might know."

Permalink Eye
"She still won't have the abilities even if nobody thinks she's yours though."
Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Then people won't be expecting it, but that won't necessarily make them more polite."

Permalink Eye
"If she's expecting it -"
Permalink Eye

"We'll have to tell her. And Timothy will guess."

Permalink Eye
"Timothy?"
Permalink Eye

"My older brother, I have six but the rest are younger. Timothy's - I could maybe get a lie past him once if I orchestrated it really carefully, most people can't even do that."

Permalink Eye
"Well. I don't know yet, how quickly do I need to decide -?"
Permalink Eye

"What we're telling the world can wait a while, what we're telling my family less so."

Permalink Eye
"I don't want them telling her she'll be able to turn invisible when she grows up if she won't, either."
Permalink Eye

"Then my family at least should know. They'll be all right about it - might actually be less mad at me, really..."

Permalink Eye
"How mad are they going to be, I was assuming they were pretty lenient if you were considering it at all."
Permalink Eye

"There's no risk at all we'd end up estranged over it but they will probably be very concerned and disappointed at me, probably not in front of you."

Permalink Eye
"Well. Thank you for whisking me off anyway, I'm not actually sure I could have gotten all the way away, let alone with Catherine."
Permalink Eye

"It sounded like the kind of thing that'd be hard if you were a Muggle. And - firstly if I never did things that concerned and disappointed my family I'd be very bored and secondly - the reason they'd be is -

- imagine if you knew an established man of thirty or so who was courting a girl of, say, fifteen, even if he did nothing wrong you might assume part of the appeal was having someone he could run rings around - that's how people who aren't outright prejudiced see marrying Muggles -"

Permalink Eye
She makes a face. "I was analogizing it to having a lot of money. You look about my age."
Permalink Eye

"I'm seventeen. Having a lot of money sort of gets at it but even if I married a very poor witch she could throw me across the room if she pleased - or needed to -"

Permalink Eye
"Men can do that anyway, more or less, unless one is some hulking farm girl with a milkmaid's grip strength -"
Permalink Eye

"I'm not liable to lose any sleep over the  disparity, it shouldn't really matter much. My point was more, they'll be concerned and disappointed but then if it looks all right it'll be all right."

Permalink Eye
Nod. She switches Catherine to the other side.
Permalink Eye

"What will she need, we haven't had babies at the house for a long time -"

Permalink Eye
"I'm not sure if she's actually getting anything but you said there was a potion. My family usually puts babies in bed with the parents but some people have cradles. Nappies, obviously. She's not old enough to want dolls or anything yet."