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Masquerade by Up and Away
Chapter 5 : Crime and Punishment
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 15


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  “Sophie?” queried a hesitant male voice from beyond the door. Sophie sight, mid-brush and opened the door. Fred Weasley and Albus Potter stood, slightly cowered, beyond the entrance to the second floor bathroom. Their fear was understandable—Sophie was preparing for war.

“What do you need?” Sophie inquired, not unkindly, but somewhat impatiently, of the boys. They looked at each other, silently deciding who would speak, and then back at here. Sophie clicked her tongue impatiently, signaling them to get on with it--Boys frequently had difficulty finding the exact words they wanted to say to her. But as Sophie was sure that neither Fred nor Albus was nearing a public admission of love (much to her dismay), Sophie had little patience with their dalliance.



  “You,” She commanded, wielding her hairbrush like a broadsword to indicate Fred. “Speak.”

 “Right,” Fred’s Adams apple bobbed nervously. “Well, seeing as how you’re busy and all, I say we just forget—“



  “We need a favor,” interrupted Albus, rolling  his eyes in Fred’s direction. The aforementioned cousin made a face, as if to say ‘What? Women scare me!’

 “No time,” Sophie said, and returned to her work. The girls’ bathroom was littered with all the make up, jewelry, and other accessories that the women of the house possessed. Even Mrs. Potter had contributed, saying, “Here dear. Pearls might come in handy.”

“It’s just a small favor,” continued Albus, following her into forbidden territory, picking up a discarded hair bob, and turning it around in his hands absently while he spoke. 

“Really, it’ll only take a second,” pleaded Fred, having followed his cousin.

Sophie sighed in resignation.  “What is it?” The boys grinned happily.

 “Well, you see, we know this is an important day for you and all,” rambled Fred,  “what with your parents finding out about you giving Jimmy the boot, so Al and I--What in the name of Merlin are you doing?”


 

 Sophie glanced in the mirror to see two grown wizards faces blanched with dread at the sight of….tweezers. “You didn’t leave, “ Sophie explained calmly. “So I had to finish getting ready with you in here. Relax. I’m just plucking my eyebrows.”


 

“That’s disgusting,” Albus managed to croak, holding back a gag. “I can’t watch.” And he turned his back to the proceedings.



“Aren’t there spells for that?” came Fred’s horrified question as he watched, oddly fixated on the alien actions taking place before him.

 “You both have sisters,” Sophie stated, her voice—on the surface—sounded amused. “This isn’t news. And I haven’t used that spell since I saw Maggie Church accidentally bald herself in fifth year.”




Both boys looked a little green. Sophie wanted to kick herself.   Yet another drawback of unrequited love was the increasing tendency to take everything the object of your affection said or did extremely personally. For instance, Sophie was currently wishing with all her heart that she had simply used the grooming spell instead of letting Albus be so nauseated by her tweezing. Reminding herself sharply that she was being stupid (besides, it wasn’t like Albus was going to think about tweezers every time he saw her or anything), Sophie finished with her eyebrows and moved on to make up.

 “Its safe to look,” Sophie drawled sarcastically. Fred, who had been unable to pull his eyes away from the train wreck that was women’s’ grooming, snapped out of his horrified stupor. Meanwhile, Albus cautiously peered over his shoulder to check if the coast was clear.



But before Fred could regain his composure to ask his question, a thunder of footsteps interrupted him. Louis Weasley, who was all of fifteen and already nearing 6 foot 2, bounded down the stairs and stuck his head into the girls’ bathroom without bothering even to knock.

 “Wha’d she say?” asked Louis in a manner his mother would deem “uncouth.”



 Sophie raised her (now perfectly plucked) eyebrows in a silent question. So the conspiracy of keeping her from getting ready extended to Little Louis. Since all three boys now seemed to have taken a vow of silence, Sophie decided to hurry them along.

 “You have until the count of three to tell me what your favor is,” Sophie informed them, returning her attention to the mirror to powder her nose. “Before I deny it out of hand.”

 “Wait—“ started Louis, confused.

 


  “One…”



  “See, the thing is Soph,” hurried Albus.

  “Two…”

  “What’s with the time crunch!” exclaimed Fred, crumbling under the pressure.

 “What’s with the time crunch?” repeated Sophie, incredulously. All three boys took an unconscious step back; only Louis was lucky enough to have a possible escape—Fred and Albus backed into a wall. “The ‘time crunch’ is that my parents will be here in thirty minutes and I’m not ready.”


 

“You look—“ began Louis, who had two elder sisters and a complement always at the ready. Sophie didn’t bother to let him finish.


 

 “I,” she said regally, taking a mascara tube from the pile of make-up. “ have less than half an hour to compose myself in a way that will convince my parents, the people who gave me life, that I am making a mature decision rather than a rash, teenage temper-tantrum. And do I look ready to you?”


 

Her voice held a touch of hysteria, displaying how truly concerned she was about the impending parental visit. The boys had no idea who to react to her out burst. She was now furiously applying mascara and mumbling to herself in front of the mirror. In his mind, each boy was debating whether or not to simply ask his question and be done with it. A look was shared, signaling the conclusion that they should simply escape rather than pose the question. 


 

“Oh, there you lot are, “ Hugo Weasley had come down the stairs and, having noticed Louis in the hall, stopped by. “Aren’t you ready to go yet? If we are late to the game, dad will have a cow. He wants to beat the crowds this time.”

 

 

 

There was a tense silence as Fred, Louis, and Albus frantically—and silently—conveyed that Sophie had not yet been informed of the plan. 


 

“What game?” Sophie asked, her voice remarkably calm. She had stopped applying make-up. Huge, panicked eyes alerted Hugo to his mistake—he quickly backpedaled.


 

“I, I mean…the game of helping Aunt Ginny prepare for house guests…First one to finish their chores wins. I’m…gonna beat you guys,” Hugo said, half-heartedly. Albus rolled his eyes as Louis gave Hugo two thumbs up, the universal male sign for “She might have actually believed that!”


 

“The cannons are playing Puddlemere today, aren’t they?” Sophie asked the boys, resuming her primping. 


 

“What?” exclaimed Hugo in an overly surprised voice as Fred and Louis babbled about what a funny name ‘Puddlemere’ was, anyway and Albus commented, “Really, I thought it was the Harpies today…” 

 

 


“And I suppose you lot would rather go to the game rather than have an awkward lunch with my parents.” Sophie really couldn’t blame them.

Her answer was another indecipherable chorus of mumbled male voices, with responses ranging from “You are looking radiant today,” (from Louis) to Albus’ 

“We just thought we’d help you best by being out of the way…”


 

 “Fine,” said Sophie. “Whatever. Go.” 


 

The boys stood stock still, trying to sense if the opening was a trap or actual permission. Sophie, for her part, was feeling high strung and a bit hurt. She viewed the boys as family for most of her life. She hadn’t realized it until that moment, but she had been depending on the comfort of the huge Potter/Weasley family to lend support during the meal. It hurt that a quidditch match—not even a tournament match, just the regular season—was more important than her.


 

But, of course, logically she knew that the boys didn’t realize that they hurting her feelings. They had no idea how she felt and—to be honest—the logic she was using to justify her hurt feeling was more than a little convoluted. Besides, it was only fair that someone have fun that afternoon. It would probably be an amazing game anyway.


 

Great, now Sophie was considering skipping the meal to watch quidditch herself.


 

“Seriously, just g—oh for the love of Merlin!” Sophie squealed, having smudged her eye make up by accident. Sophie wiped unhappily at the offending mark while saying, “Really though, you don’t want to be late.”


 

The boys babbled their thanks as they shuffled towards the stairs—Fred even stopped to give her a sloppy, brotherly kiss on the check before pushing past Al, Hugo, and Louis to be the first down the stairs. 


 

Al looked at her, concerned with her erratic behavior, so he quietly and seriously said, “You look wonderful Sophie. And the smudge is gone,” before giving her a one armed hug and leaving with the rest. Sophie was so frazzled she hardly noticed the complement.


 

Finally giving up, Sophie gave a frustrated sigh and used a bit of silent magic to remove her makeup altogether. She shouldn’t be so worried. She shouldn’t be this upset.


 

“Actually,” Albus’ voice came from the stairs. “I think I’m going to stay. Mum’ll kill me if she thinks I’ve ignored my familial duty, and I’m more of a Harpies man anyways. You go on.”


 

Hugo, Louis, and Fred said their goodbyes and hurried out the door before anyone (Mrs. Weasley, for instance) could stop them. 


 

Sophie listened to the sound of Albus’ footsteps as he re-climbed the steps to the second floor, a little ashamed of how giddy she was the Albus had come back. For her. Well, that was a slight exaggeration. Mrs. Weasley really would kill him if he skipped.    And he really didn’t care much for either team playing.


 

But she still felt obliged to say a quiet, grateful, “Thanks Al,” to the teenager when he finally came into sight. Being a sixteen-year-old boy, Albus Potter played it off as no big deal, and even blushed at being caught in a good deed.


 

Having mostly given up on her preparations, Sophie absently adjusted her cloths a last time as Al fussed with the many strange gizmos and gadgets that girls use to make themselves presentable.


 

“Careful, the tweezers are still loose, ” Sophie teased. Albus snatched his hand back as though he had been burned. He narrowed his eyes at Sophie as she giggled. Rubbing his hand and contemplating his near escape from instruments of torture, Albus began a new conversation.


 

“James is all out of sorts as well,” Albus confided. “It wouldn’t do to run off now when he’s so high strung.”

 

 

 

“What’s he got to worry about,” Sophie asked, leading the way into Lily’s bedroom to find a pair of shoes to match her peach colored sundress.  


 

“Dunno,” Albus shrugged, following her into the room and flopping unceremoniously on his sister’s bed.   “Keeps saying nothing’s wrong, but he actually wore clean socks today and earlier I saw him mucking about with Lily’s hair gel, trying to tame the Potter cow-lick.”


 

Sophie giggled at Al’s explanation, but understood the boy’s serious expression—no teenage boy made a conscious effort to wear clean socks. “Actually Soph, I wanted to ask you. Could you find him and tell him he looks smashing and that everything will go over perfectly? I’d do it myself, but some things just don’t sound right coming from a bloke.”


 

“Of course,” Sophie thought it was sweet Albus was worried about James. In fact, she should have realized that he would be worried and gone to check on him earlier. Some friend she made. The minute they fake ended their fake relationship, their real friendship got pushed to the wayside. 


 

“Thanks!” Al flashed her a crooked smile that made her face feel unnaturally warm. To cover her pleasure, Sophie fished under her bed until she pulled out some strappy sandals that made her legs look long and gave her about two more inches height wise.


 

Not that she wanted anyone in the Potter/Weasley family noticing how she looked anymore. Although, if someone were to notice….


 

But that was a foolish thought.   She already understood that she and Albus would never exist as a couple. It was pointless to entertain fantasies. Besides, the sixteen-year-old was currently using a quill to write witty comments next to the pictures in his sister’s copy of Witch Weekly. It wasn’t like he was suddenly going to sit up and profess his undying love.

 

 

 

Ignoring the hope that Albus would notice how nice she looked, Sophie hopped about on one leg, and then the other as she strapped on the heals.    Finally done, Sophie flashed Albus a smile as she straightened her dress and headed for the hallway to look for James.


 

“Hold on a tick,” Albus said, rolling off the bed and catching hold of her elbow before she made it out the door. Maybe it was because this was the closest that Sophie had been to Albus since officially “breaking up” with James, but his touch made Sophie feel as though her chest was just a little too tight for her to breath comfortably.


 

Albus, who had no inkling of Sophie’s inner turmoil, merely reached up to fix piece of renegade hair that had gone rogue during the shoe hunt.


 

For a moment Sophie couldn’t move—it was as though everything had been wiped from her mind except for the fact that Albus smelled really good, like soap and freshly laundered clothes. 


 

But it was only a moment. Sophie mentally shook herself. Luckily her face had not betrayed her train of thought. Playfully, like she would with her real brother, Sophie batted his hands away with an expression of mock annoyance and set about fixing her hair herself. Albus, amused, raised his hands in a sign of defeat.


 

“So,” Albus began., but suddenly he was interrupted. Quick, heavy footsteps briefly preceded James’ voice yelling, “Sophie, Soph!”


 

Both Albus and Sophie stuck their heads out of the bedroom just in time to see a slightly disheveled James speed towards the first floor.


 

“James!” Sophie called, stepping fully out into the hallway. James, hearing her, spun around and headed back up the stairs.


 

“Sophie,” James said rather desperately. “Everything has gone wrong…”


 

And James proceeded to tell her a rambling story that began with a description of the hair-control, had a story about lawn gnomes taking over the front garden, and James was trying to explain so crisis with banana pudding when Sophie said, without having acknowledged a word he said,” James, your shirt is buttoned wrong.”


 

James was looking down at her with glassy, worried eyes saying, “But the pudding.” Sophie ignored him. James Potter had faced down paparazzi, bullies, and led his house team to the quidditch finals all three years of his captaincy, but here he was in a state of complete disarray at the mere thought of facing her parents. Sophie tugged at buttons and cast a spell to iron the creases out of his shirt while he continued to babble when suddenly something he said caught her attention. 


 

“And I can’t get anyone to help me! I can’t find the boys anywhere—I think they bailed. Why would they leave—don’t they care how important this is to me?” James actually sounded mad, and not just because his cousins were getting to see the match and he wasn’t.

 

 


“Hey!” Albus said, slightly affronted. “I’m here!” 

“Doing what?”


 

“Helping Sophie!”


 

“As if she needs your help! You are my brother, where were you when I needed you?” James was now being overdramatic and Sophie decided to put a stop to it. Al Albus opened his mouth to retort, Sophie interrupted, saying, “James that’s ridiculous. The only thing you needed help with is the shirt, and I guarantee you that he’d have botched it. Besides, I don’t know what you are upset with him about—the others left you and was the only one to stay.”


 

“You,” James said in a surly manner. “Are only helping him because you like him."

 

 

 

“Of course I like him,” Sophie said in a nonchalant manner. “He is my favorite of your brothers.”

 

 

 

James had to grin at this—Albus was his only brother after all. 


 

“James, you look fine and everything is going smoothly—what have you got to worry about?” Albus asked. 

 

 

 

“I thought blokes couldn’t say emotional stuff like that,” Sophie commented. Albus just laughed and said, “He’s my brother. And you were taking too long.”


 

“Al,” James began in a rather serious voice. “I need you to be my second.”


 

“Second what?” Al said, confused. “Second sibling? Done. “


 

“No,” James cleared his throat. “My second in a duel.”


 

Sophie and Albus simultaneously whipped their heads towards James and gave him twin expression of genuine surprise and confusion. Albus was the first to regain the capacity to speak. 


 

“What?” he asked, intelligently.


 

“Sophie,” James began, placing his hands on her shoulders and looking at her seriously. Sophie snapped to attention. “ Your dad told me that if I ever broke your heart, he was going to ‘demand satisfaction. ‘ I thought if I had enough of the Potter/Weasley males around, he could be dissuaded from killing me. But I’ve been deserted, left to die. So I am going to have to duel him and Albus will have to be my second.” 


 

There was another long pause wherein Sophie noticed—not for the first time—the James had the oddest tendency to view the world as though it were still 1880 when he was nervous.   For the second time, Albus broke the silence.


 

“What?” he clarified.


 

“What Albus means to say is,” Sophie interjected.  “My father is a lawyer. When he says compensation, he means money. If he thought you hurt me, he would take you to court, not to an abandoned field to duel at midnight. My dad hasn’t dueled since The War.”

 

 


“James,” Albus said, rather seriously. “You’re an idiot.”

“Not helpful, Al.”


 

“And why would you ask me to be your second?” Albus asked.


 

“Dad would never do it and I couldn’t ask Sophie to duel her father for me—that would just be cruel.”


 

Sophie couldn’t help it anymore—she burst out laughing.  Albus quickly joined her while James said, ”Its not funny, Soph! Stop it!”


 

“James, you look great. Everything will be fine,” Sophie said, when she finally stopped laughing.


 

James heaved a sigh and ruffled a hand through his hair, causing it to stand on end. “I suppose you are right,” he admitted. “I do look amazing.”

 

 

 

“See?” interrupted Al. “That, right there! He didn’t believe me when I said it! That’s exactly why men don’t say emotional things. No one believes them.” 


 

James made a face and opened his mouth to make a comment in reply when the doorbell rang. Despite his previous nerves, James only jumped slightly at the sound of Mr. Hinds’ voice thanking the Potters for inviting them. 


 

Sophie ran down the stairs to her parents, forgetting, for the moment, why they were there. She had not seem them in several days, and although she was apprehensive about their reactions, she loved them too much not to fling herself on them the moment she saw them.


 

“Daddy! Mum!” she squealed, throwing her arms first around her father, and then surprising her mother with a hug from behind, while she was shaking Mr. Potters’ hand. “Sophia!” her mother scolded unconvincingly, hugging her daughter in return. 


 

For a moment, Sophie worried that her mother would begin the lecture right there in the hallway, but her mum only leaned down to hug her and whispered, “We will talk later.”


 

Sophie looked up at her mother worriedly, but Mrs. Hinds only smiled reassuringly in response. Sophie wasn’t sure is this made her feel better.


 

James and Albus had followed her down the stairs and were exchanging manly handshakes with Mr. Hinds. Sophie saw James wince as he held his hand out to her father, but instead of the violence he expected, Mr. Hinds grasped his hand in his own, simultaneously giving the boy a sympathetic pat on the back.



James looked bewildered; he continued to stare at the place that Mr. Hinds had been even after the man had moved to shake Al’s hand. Where was the open declaration of war? The subtle threat, whispered so the women folk wouldn’t hear? Where—at the very least—social snub, ensuring that James would never be accepted into Wizarding society thus forth?

Where was the reason he had experienced a near mental break down earlier in the morning?


 

Sophie snickered as she followed Mrs. Potter into the kitchen to carry out plates for the lunch. James was absolutely ridiculous. Her dad loved James—in fact, Sophie was fairly sure that her father had only issued the warning out of a sense of duty, rather than intent to commit.


 

Inside the kitchen, Sophie joined Lily, who had been taken prisoner shortly after breakfast for preparations. Mrs. Potter would be performing the magic required to transport the food from the kitchen to the dining room table, however she routinely asked for help to manually carry in some of the pieces of nicer china and breakable items as a precaution. Sophie was given a beautiful glass pitcher filled with fresh lemonade and Lily held a tray of salt and peppershakers, a sugar bowl, and other miscellaneous items.


 

All in all, Sophie reflected, as she maneuvered from the kitchen to the dining room just in time to see lunch appear (magically!), the meal was going over well. Her worst-case scenario had involved her parents physically dragging her off to be home schooled to counteract the horrendous media frenzy that would soon be caused. Her best-case scenario, that her parents would suddenly begin commenting how mature she was and how impressed they were with her.

 

 

 

The best-case scenario, which had seemed like a long shot a mere hour ago, was looking more and more likely.

 

 

 

The meal was, of course, lovely. Sophie sat between her parents, across the table from James, Albus, and Lily, with the Potters (Mr. and Mrs.) at either end. It didn’t take long for conversation to start—A mutual acquaintance was become a grandparent for the first time, the Harpies were getting a new manager (and did Ginny have an opinion of who it should be?), and the many social events the summer promised. Sophie noticed that the conversation was carefully—and skillfully—steered away from politics.


 

There was also no mention of the break up. Both Sophie and James spent the entire meal expecting the question. One of Sophie’s parents would open their mouth and the teenagers would tense—was it at last the dreaded moment? But it wasn’t. The Hinds’ asked about Albus’ OWLS and teams James was looking at. Mrs. Hinds even slyly asked Lily which of the Scamander twins she was going out with (much to Lily’s embarrassment). 


 

Finally lunch was finished, and Mrs. Potter skillfully engineered a situation where Sophie and her parents would be along for a while. When they had all eaten their fill, Ginny Potter commanded her children and husband to help her in the kitchen and said,” But Sophie, why don’t you take your parents out to the patio? Its lovely this time of year and we will just take dessert out when I have it ready!”


 

Sophie sent Mrs. Potter a panicked look, knowing full well what would happen the moment she was alone with her parents. Mrs. Potter’s only response was a knowing smile—it was obvious she would be no help at all. 


 

Which is how Sophie found herself alone with her parents. They were silent for a few seconds, causing Sophie to tap her foot uncomfortably. Finally, she broke down and started,” Mum, Dad I just—“


 

“Oh Sophie,” her mother sighed, removing her glasses and rubbing her eyes. Sophie stopped talking immediately. “I’m sure you think that you are doing the right thing.  And I would never presume to tell you how you feel or what to do about that, but…”


 

“But what, mum?” Sophie was beginning to experience that awful feeling all truly good girls get when they know they’ve disappointed their parents. She was also beginning to feel anger—if her mother ‘would never presume’ to butt into her daughter’s life, then why was she? Sophia Hinds had, as most teenage girls had, a tumultuous relationship with her mother—there was no one Sophie respected more than Mrs. Hinds, but at the same time her mother could make her more mad more quickly than anyone else in the world.


 

“Now Sophie,” her mother sounded defensive and tired. “We—your father and I—just think that you are handling this very poorly. You’ve treated James very poorly over the years, and I really think that you are too mature for this kind of behavior.”


 

“And what kind of behavior is that?” Sophie jutted her chin out, truly angry now. 


 

“Sophia, “ her mother began, but Sophie cut her off.


 

“You’ve never liked the way I behaved when I was with James, and now you are criticizing me for being an adult and breaking up with him?”


 

“Just a moment!" 


 

“You’ve never supported any of my decisions with James,” Sophie said, furiously. “I don’t know why I thought this would be any different!”


 

“Sophia Hinds!” Both Sophie and her mother turned to the unlikely source of the reprimand, Mark Hinds.


 

 Sophie even felt her jaw drop a bit. Her father was the sweetest man she knew. Sophie could only remember a handful of times that he had yelled at anyone, let alone his children.  Compared to his outgoing gregarious wife, Mark Hinds should have faded into the background, but despite his reserved nature, he was well liked and often sought out by other wizards. He was the calm one—her mother was usually the parent who raised her voice.


 

But there Mark Hinds stood, a slight frown and a deeply disappointed look on his face. Sophie felt cowed as she never had during reprimands from her mother—somehow her father’s disappointment was infinitely worse than battling with her mum. 


 

“Sophia,” Mark rumbled, no longer yelling, but speaking in his low, measured way. “Your mother and I have never been happy with our daughter exposing her self—and her family—to public censure. You are not a child. You understand this.”


 

Sophie felt mortified and humbled. She claimed to be an adult, making adult decisions, but she still lashed out at her mother at every opportunity.


 

“But your mother was not referring to the actual decision, but the manner in which you have done it. We did not raise a daughter who simply discarded boys after finishing with them.”


 

Horrified, Sophie tried to interrupt and protest that this was not the case at all, but Mr. Hinds waved her reply away and continued.


 

“James is a nice boy, and I understand that if you broke up with him, you obviously believe it was the right thing. But why are you still staying here with the Potters if you have already broken up with their son?”


 

Confused by the question, Sophie didn’t answer. Of course she was staying with the Potters. She did so every year.


 

“You enjoy the perks of involvement with the Potters—you have for years. Just because James is too polite a boy to tell you to leave, doesn’t mean that you can impose on the Potters.”


 

“Mark,” her mother finally interjected. “I think she understands. Sweetheart, we only think that forcing your presence on James after breaking up with him, just to keep up appearances, its more than a little cruel. And you are not a cruel person.”


 

“And what if James broke up with me?” Sophie asked, unhappy knowing that she had disappointed her parents.


 

“Of course he didn’t,” said Mr. Hinds without pause. “I’m sure you broke his heart.”


 

The positive manner in which her father made this statement both flattered and slightly offended her. She didn’t want her father to think she was the sort of girl who simply stomped on the hearts of boys she interacted with. 


 

“I’m sure this hasn’t been your intention, Sophia,” Her father continued. “You know as well as I do that James will be blamed, no matter what you story you tell the media. Not only will James have to nurse a broken heart, but he will be the focus of the media as well. The least you can do is leave him in peace to collect himself.

 

 

 

Sophie was—at this point—so horrified and embarrassed that she almost forgot that she had not done anything cruel to James—she was only pretending to. The scolding from her parents stung unpleasantly. Sophie had fallen a very long way in a very short amount of time: Only that morning she had felt very adult and justified in her decisions. Now she felt like a petulant child who threw a fit when she didn’t get her way.


 

“I’m sorry for yelling at you, mum,” said Sophie, humbly. 


 

“Of course,” her mother remembered, if distantly, the feeling that one’s parents were out to get one. “But I hope you understand that your father and I think that, under the circumstances, you should come back home. Or,” she said hastily, seeing Sophie’s unhappy expression. “Just visit other friends. You don’t need to handle your break up like a big press release where you need to keep up appearances. Maybe it would be better to have some time apart.”


 

Sophie didn’t think this was a good idea at all, although she really couldn’t blame her parents for thinking so. If she had really had her heart broken, she wouldn’t be hanging around the Potters’ house being reminded of the fact—she would leave. So her parents made the logical assumption that she had broken up with James and was forcing him to deal with her presence.

 

 

 

Looking at it from that viewpoint made Sophie want to tell some other variation of the truth, smudging some facts as she had with Roxy, so that they would again support her instead of James. But that, Sophie understood, was petty. Her carefully crafted web of lies had become ensnared, but she couldn’t bring herself to cut herself free, just to leave James trapped. And so she would deal with the consequences. 


 

“Do you suppose I could visit Maddy, then?” Sophie asked, defeated. “I haven’t actually seen her for more than five minutes in forever." 


 

“We wish you could stay with us…” her father trailed off—the fact that Sophie would have been left alone much of the time if she were to come home. It had been ideal that she could spend the summer with the Potters, but in the end she would be spending less than three days.


 

“I’m sure Madelyn would love to have you,” her mother assured, breaking the short silence. Although she loved her sister, it was hard to be excited when seeing Maddy would mean that Sophie wouldn’t be seeing Al everyday. And Lily and James, Sophie reminded herself. But a stubborn part of her had been looking forward to the opportunity of seeing Albus Potter everyday, even though she knew there was no hope of a relationship.


 

But what was she supposed to tell her parents? ‘I can’t leave the Potters because I want desperately to hop from one Potter boy’s affections to the other’s?’ That would go over well. Of course, it would probably go over better than ‘I can’t leave the Potters because I want the chance to ogle Albus on the rare occasion that he forgets to wear a shirt at breakfast. 

 

 

 

While Sophie was mourning her lost opportunity with Al, she missed the worried looks her parents exchanged. In fact, had she truly been paying attention, she would have noticed how worn and worried her parents looked this afternoon, much more than usual. It had been reassuring to them to know that their youngest child was safely ensconced in the safety of the Potter’s mansion while they dealt with the uncertain political turmoil.


 

And there was the indisputable fact that if two of their children where both in the same place, they made a better target.


 

Sophie’s thoughts weren’t anywhere near as drastic. She was already thinking that she needed to pack soon if she was to go to Maddy’s and wondering if she could convince her parents to let her visit the Potters from time to time.


 

Sophie was so lost in her own thoughts that she was surprised when she felt arms around her. Her father, first, engulfed his daughter in a hug and her mother followed suit quickly. Sophie felt a tightness in her chest and a burning in her eyes. Despite any and all disagreements she ever had with her parents, she was lucky. They loved her—some people never had that.


 

So she decided, abiding by her parents wishes wouldn’t be so hard. If she kept out of the public eye while at her sister’s, then the press would never be the wiser.    And she would see the Potter-Weasley clan at the Malfoy’s annual Summer Gathering as in just over two weeks. That wasn’t so long. Then, they would all be back at Hogwarts, with no one to bother them. She could spend time with whomever she wanted without the third degree. 


 

“Do I have to leave today?” Sophie asked, not a little wistfully. After all, she had only just arrived. She thought of the Potters as a second family. She would miss the frenzy of daily life here. Now that both of her siblings were grown with their own houses, it was lonely at home. She had been looking forward to having a house full of pseudo-siblings to occupy her. 

 

 

 

Her parents shared a look, conversing nonverbally over their daughter’s head. “We will owl your sister and see when she wants you. We will discuss it then.”


 

Sophie, despite her resolve to adhere to her parents’ wishes, felt a bit more upset at this dismal proclamation. Her time with the Potters was dwindling by the minute.  This was not how she had planned to spend her summer.  


 

Until that moment, Sophie had forgotten how little freedom her life afforded her.  There in the arms of the two people who loved her more than life itself, she felt both safe and suffocated at the same time.


 




 

 


 

Author's Note: 


 

I am so sorry. I have had this 3/4 written since I published the last chapter.  But as I was writing the chapter I realized that her parents would want to send her away, and I didn't want that.  Unfortunately Mr. and Mrs. Hinds got there way.  But fear not!  This does not mean that James and Albus will be absent!  And besides, we have the Malfoy's Summer Ball coming up....

 

 

 

Also, the title is from Fyodor Dostoevsky's famous novel Crime and Punishment. If you haven't read it, you should.  Its pretty good.  The quote is from William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (which is also a good read).  


 

But tell me, what did you think?  Personally, I'm still frustrated that Sophie isn't going to be staying with the Potters, but I did like the scene with the boys :)  


 

Rate!  Review!  There may be cookies if you do :)


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