A port key site had been set up in the middle of the enormous back yard beyond the Potter’s house. Knowing the disaster her offspring had the potential to cause, Ginny Weasley had set up protective boundaries to keep someone from accidentally wandering onto the landing site and getting run over by oncoming port-key traffic.
Sophie sat in the shade of one of the many trees in the landscape, surrounded by her luggage, waiting for her family. Despite knowing no one had been hurt in the “attack” on the ministry, the incidence had shaken her, and Sophie knew she wouldn’t feel right until she saw her mother and sister herself. Superficially, Sophie’s demeanor was calm and collected—nothing less was expected of the daughter of the minister of magic.
Around her, the Potter/Weasley’s frolicked; a quaffle was being tossed around and Roxanne, Lily and Fred were chaining daisies. Oddly, James was not joining in the festivities. Instead, he was walking towards her, hands in pockets. He sat to her right, and looked at her bashfully. Sophie let out a frustrated breath.
“Sorry,” it was James who spoke first.
“You have nothing to apologize for,” this was dually truth and lie, and they both knew it. “Its just, you know how much I hate to be surprised by things. I wish you had told me.”
“I hate to see you worry,” it was a statement, not an excuse. James was picking at the grass and avoiding her gaze.
“I know,” Sophie half smiled. Annoying as it sometimes was, James’ tendency to ‘keep her from worrying’ was meant with the best intentions. It was, however, one of the many reasons why she and James would never work out. They were completely different people who made wonderful friends but terrible lovers. “But you not telling me made it worse. I felt like you didn’t think I could handle it and that made me panic more. But I love you, Jimmy, for trying to help. Just tell me next time, yeah.
They sat in silence for a minute, each ensnared in their own thoughts. Finally James broke the silence, asking, “You gonna be alright?”
Sophie shrugged. He knew her well enough to know the answer was that she had no choice but to be alright. They were strong, those in the spotlight.
“I wish you were staying here,” James said, seriously. Sophie glanced at him, and for the first time in the conversation, James brought his eyes from the ground to look at her. “It’d be easier if, you know, we could handle this as a team.”
Sophie agreed and eliminated the distance between them by putting a friendly arm around his shoulder. “James, what on earth are we going to do now.”
“Graduate,” he suggested cheekily. Sophie chuckled. “I dunno, Soph. I guess everything will work out. Maybe people won’t make that big a deal out of it.”
“You realize we are practically pariahs now. No one will date us.”
“Have you seen us, Sophie? We are a mess. No one can handle dating us,” James laughed, but Sophie knew he was just joking off the sad truth—they would be spending a lonely seventh year at Hogwarts watching their crushes from afar.
“Huh,” Sophie snorted, amused. “I guess that’s one way to put it.”
“Queen Sophie!” Roxy announced, gaily. She and Fred had finished their flower chains—well, Roxy had. Fred had given up early on and started decapitating the daisies rather than braiding them. Roxanne, however, presented the fruits of her labor to her friend with a flourish. Sophie graciously accepted the gift and donned the new jewelry.
“How are you doing,” came the obligatory, serious question. Sophie shrugged and Roxy nodded in understanding.
“Don’t worry. These things happen,” offered Fred, simultaneously dumping his pile of ravaged petals on her lap as a peace offering. Sophie laughed and scolded him without really minding. Everyone in the Potter/Weasley family had made an effort to comfort her without making her feel like she ought to be more worried than she was.
“How am I going to see you over the summer?” Roxy whined, plopping down next to James.
“I’m sure you could come visit me. And we could meet up in Diagon Alley.”
“What,” Roxy exclaimed in mock surprise. “You are being let out of the house without a battalion of bodyguards?”
“I’m sure I could find a way to come sans escort,” giggled Sophie.
“Actually, come with the bodyguards. Maybe one will be cute!” Roxy wiggled her eyebrows at Sophie while Fred groaned.
“You don’t know what its like to live with that!” He complained, mostly to James. Roxy punched her twin in the arm, and Fred made and over-exaggerated show of falling to the ground in agony.
“They’re here!” Lily’s voice alerted the crowd to the presence of the four figures now standing on the lawn: Mr. and Mrs. Hinds, Maddy, and Chris.
Sophie surged to her feet, nearly taking down Fred in the process and rushed to her family. After a whole morning of worrying and unease, Sophie felt her world slide back into place, as though she had just found the right piece of the puzzle or put on glasses and had the world return to its normal clarity. Nothing mattered but the fact that all four of the other members of her family were healthy and safe.
She gave her mother and Mads an extra squeeze to show her relief, an act which Chris took offense.
“Well I see what you have to do in this family to get attention!” He announced in a huff. Sophie laughed and reached to give him an extra hug too, but he side-stepped her. “No, no! I don’t want your pity hugs!”
“Come off it!” Sophie exclaimed, finally catching him. He was so thin, she thought. And he smelled like St. Mungo’s. Sophie arched her eyebrow at him, asking why he hadn’t eaten, and Chris threw up his hands in self defense. Maddy, catching the exchange, said,” I know! Out of our influence not one year and already he can’t take care of himself!”
As their daughters berated their son, the elder Hinds were already in deep conversation with the Potters. Harry, in his capacity as head of the Auror department, had been asked to perform the Fidelius Charm, and the adults were going over the last details.
“Maybe we should all be staying together at the Manor,” Chris suggested. Maddy shook her head.
“Easier target,” she explained, morosely. “So how are we going to do this?”
“What do you mean?” Sophie asked.
“Who’s going to secret-keep for whom?”
“I could do you both, and then Mads, you want to be mine?” Chris offered.
Maddy made a face. “But I don’t want to be woken in the middle of the night by your patients trying to get a hold of you. Let Sophie do it—she doesn’t have a job.”
“Aw, thanks Mads,” Sophie said sarcastically. Just then, Sophie was nearly knocked off her feet by a flying tackle.
“I’m going to miss you!” said the projectile, one Lily Potter.
“I’d miss you more if you let me breath!” Sophie exclaimed.
“Seriously, though. Who am I going to have girl-talk with!” Lily whined.
“Well Roxy—“ Lily rolled her eyes at the very thought.
“Try James,” Sophie suggested. “He can be surprisingly sensitive.”
“Hey,” protested the gentleman in question as he approached. Despite his annoyance, he gave her a one-armed hug in farewell. This signaled the other cousins that it was time for a mass send-off. As Sophie intercepted hugs and good-bye’s, Maddy and Chris chatted with various cousins about life outside of Hogwarts. Suddenly the somber mood that had encased Sophie all morning was alleviated.
“Right, you lot ready?” Called Mr. Potter. Last words and hugs were exchanged as the group would leave for Maddy’s apartment to perform the charm. A second port-key was produced—an old muggle bicycle wheel—and the family gathered around, each grabbing hold of a portion of the wheel. Sophie looked over her shoulder, taking one last look at the second family she was leaving. Her eyes seem to catch onto the sight of Al and refused to let go.
For a moment that was much longer than appropriate for a friend, Sophie remained gazing at the green-eyed boy who had stolen her heart, until whoosh! There was the familiar tug beneath her ribs as though her breath was being taken away, and then the sickening feeling of everywhere and nowhere at once.
They landed less than a second later and the feeling of wrongness was gone. Sophie landed with a jolt that shook her jaw and made feet tingle with the impact.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” Her mother moaned. If Mrs. Hinds had one weakness, it was that she could not stand to travel by port key. Mr. Hinds kindly rubbed her back until her nausea passed. Sophie looked around Maddy’s apartment until her mother regained her composure.
It was a little flat that overlooked muggle London. Maddy insisted on having her own place upon graduating Hogwarts, and although the apartment wasn’t quite up to the standards of the Hinds’ home, the flat was cozy. The furniture was comfortable and the walls were decorated with cheery pictures of friends and family.
Featured prominently was the picture of Maddy’s graduation. The entire Hinds family—even Sophie’s grandparents—smiled and waved at her from a simple gold frame. They looked so happy.
From behind, she heard Mr. Potter clear his throat. Her mother still looked slightly green, but was essentially recovered. The process, it seemed, was to begin.
The Hinds’ Mansion was already protected with all the powerful magic available, but Maddy and Chris’ apartments were still unprotected. In the hours since the attack, the flats had been made unplottable and un-apperatable. And now, it seemed, the inhabitants of the house would be put under the Fidelius Charm.
Chris shifted uncomfortably to her left. He had a question, but he wasn’t sure how to ask it. Their parents looked at him expectantly, knowing their son well enough to sense he had to speak his mind.
“Are you,” Chris hesitated, glancing at Mr. Potter, as though worrying he would embarrass his parents in front of their friend. “Are you sure that this measure is necessary. It seems….excessive.”
A look was shared, and it was Mr. Hinds who eventually spoke. “It is not excessive. This is your safety. We would rather be too cautious than to have something happen.”
This speech was not made in terror—in fact, his voice sounded exceedingly calm. Sophie wasn’t sure what to make of it, and a look at Maddy and Chris told her they didn’t either. Neither Mrs. Nor Mr. Hinds’ expression seemed unusual. To an outsider, this might not seem suspicious. But Sophie had a feeling. She knew something was up, but couldn’t figure out what.
Unfortunately, her parent’s didn’t feel like sharing. Just as Sophie was about to push the subject, Mr. Potter motioned the family towards him to begin. Instead of ferreting out the truth, she crossed the room with her siblings to begin the ceremony.
The Fidelius Charm was remarkably simple for such an immensely complex protection. Granted, the spell caster had to be a remarkably talented witch or wizard, but it only required an incantation an a bit of blood to bind the participants and their secret together.
It was decided that Sophie would be the secret keeper for Chris and that Chris would be the secret keeper for Maddy and Sophie. The three siblings each pricked their fingers and milked a few, painless drops of blood into a dish. Sophie felt odd looking down at the mixture of blood. Somehow, she felt uneasy with the process. Years from now, when she looked back on this moment, Sophie would have to admit to herself that this summer was the beginning of a change in the wizarding world and this spell marked the intrusion of that change on her life.
Mr. Potter flicked his wand and a golden, shimmering light filled the room. It seemed to find every nook and cranny, fill every doorway, and seal every window. As the magic infused every inch of the apartment, Mr. Potter nodded to Sophie, Maddy, and Chris. The three Hinds children stepped forward and Harry Potter spoke the words that would bind them together.
A shiver shot up Sophie’s spine that was at once chilling and warm. She felt a tug at her very essence pulling her towards Chris. The Fidelius Charm was strange—even though their situation was not dire and Sophie was not in any immediate danger, in the moment of the spell’s casting Sophie felt as though she were putting her life and safety into Chris’ hands. She was struck by the sudden realization that Chris was utterly trustworthy and that she loved her sibling deeply. If her eyes had been open, she would have seen that Maddy and Chris were experiencing similar emotions.
Once the warm glow of the casting abated, however, the sensation passed. Sophie felt slightly embarrassed, to have been so moved by an emotion brought on by the spell casting. Mr. Potter must have seen the look in her eyes, because he explained.
“The spell brings out certain…feelings of trust and devotion in the participants. It’s a survival mechanism. Chris, if you feel strongly devoted to your sisters, you will be more likely to protect their secret. Girls, if you trust Chris to keep you safe, then you won’t worry that he will betray you.”
“Of course he won’t ‘betray’ us,” Maddy giggled. “We picked him as secret keeper, didn’t we? We must have trusted him.”
Mr. Potter looked uncomfortable. “There is, unfortunately, a long and sordid history of Secret-Keepers forsaking those they protect. Conversely, it is just as likely that those kept in the secret will cease to trust the secret-keeper and kill him to protect themselves.”
If Sophie didn’t know any better, she might have thought her brother had paled slightly. This conversation was getting much too serious, much too fast. Quickly, she smacked her brother’s shoulder.
“It’s not going to happen to us, you prat,” she hissed at him. Chris looked sheepish and Maddy giggled. Mrs. Hinds frowned and Mr. Hinds admonished, “ Sophia, language...”
“Before we actually exit the apartment, Christopher, remember to officially tell us your secret,” Mr. Potter reminded as they prepared to leave.
“Why?” asked Sophie. “You were standing right here.”
“We will forget once we step outside the door. Our knowledge is conditional—once we step outside the barrier, we will forget.”
“Alright,” Chris cleared his throat. “Maddy and Sophie live at 37 Toggs Street.”
“No we don’t,” Maddy laughed. Its 52 Toggs Street. Where on earth did you get 37 from?”
Chris looked embarrassed. “Are you sure its 52?”
“I do live here,” Maddy protested sarcastically. “But hey! On the bright side, you’re really going to do well with this secret keeper business. After all, if you can’t remember where we live, how can you tell anyone?”
Chris ran an embarrassed hand through his hair and babbled in an attempt to justify his mistake. To his left, their parents shared a smile and Mr. Potter laughed outright. It was amazing to Sophie that, despite all that had happened in the last few hours—from Attacks on the Ministry to Fidelius Charms—the Hinds family was still able to laugh and joke. When had this level of unrest become normal to them?
“Sophia,” Mrs. Hinds began,” why don’t you check to make sure all your things are here before we stop by Chris’. If we hurry, I can still pop into the office for a half day.”
All three Hinds’ children turned towards their mother with incredulous looks on their faces, while Mr. Hinds frowned in disapproval. Sophie turned and walked down the hall to the room she would now share with her sister. Behind her, she could hear her parents arguing in low tones about her mother’s possible to work. As she turned into the bedroom, she heard Mr. Potter chime, voicing the opinion of the Head of the Auror Department.
Sophie shook her head, glad she wasn’t a part of the discussion. Maddy’s room—her own room, too, until the end of the summer—was smaller than she was used to but well lighted and cheery. Maddy was almost alarmingly tidy, so Sophie was not surprised to see that there was already a space for her in the room, an extra bed borrowed from a family friend whose children had long since grown.
There was a window that should have shown a vision of the street below, but instead had been charmed to depict the place the viewer most wanted to see. On rainy days, a warm sunny park. In winter, a Mediterranean beach with white sand and clear ocean. But today, the window showed the background of the Potter’s house. Mrs. Potter was sitting on the porch doing paper work and watching her children in the distance playing yet another game of quidditch.
Sophie turned away before she got nostalgic.
A quick checklist told her all her things were present—Hogwarts trunk, owl-and-cage, books, extra clothes, etc….Sophie was surprised that Maddy hadn’t organized her things already.
“Sophie?” Her father called from the hall, anxious to go to the next house. He had to teach a class in an hour, after all. Sophie cast one last longing glance at the scene in the window before turning back to her family.
As soon as she came into view, the others began gather around a plain dinner plate, preparing to portkey to Chris’ apartment. Mr. Hinds was still muttering unhappily about women who thought it was a good idea to go back to places that had very recently been attacked. To which Mrs. Hinds quipped that some women could take care of themselves. Sophie smiled awkwardly. For all that they loved each other, her parents often had very different opinions. Unfortunately, this sort of situation arose often in the Hinds house hold. Experience told Sophie that the issue would resolve itself, so instead of acknowledging the exchange, she elbowed her siblings aside and made some joking comment about Chris’ hair to ease the tension.
And then there was a jolt and a twisting of her stomach as the port-key stole her from one location and delivered her to the next. One moment she was looking at Maddy’s homey, tidy living room and the next she was deposited into the messy den of her brother. Clothes and books littered the ground and Sophie tripped over a pair of boots moving from one end of the room to the other. Chris had the decency to blush, and surreptitiously tried to kick some crumpled papers under the couch before the others noticed.
Mr. Potter was already preparing for the Charm again. It seemed so odd that she was participating in something so serious in such a casual manner. Maddy, unable to contain herself, was tidying up. Chris followed behind, complaining loudly about her uncontrollable habits and ‘no man will marry you, Maddy, if you are this meddlesome!’
Sophie walked towards her parents, who were talking quietly somewhat apart from the rest of the group. “--Don’t know they were involved, Mark! I’m not going to—“ Mrs. Hinds was saying, but she stopped herself when she noticed her daughter.
Sophie sent a quizzical look to her mother, asking a silent question. Mrs. Hinds shook her head, indicating it was not something for Sophie to worry about. Instead, Mrs. Hinds pulled her daughter into a quick, warm hug. For a moment, Sophie was struck with how worried her mother must truly be, and how awful it must be for her parents to know that what they do might put their children into danger.
“What do you want, Sophia?” her father asked, teasingly, as though his youngest
daughter had come to ask for money or wheedle her way out of trouble. Sophie laughed, but became serious much to quickly for her parent’s liking.
“Mum,” Sophie began, quietly. “These attacks. You haven’t…there haven’t been any threats against you, have there?”
There was a pause that told Sophie more than her parents intended. “Its nothing to worry about,” her father reassured her. Sophie was not reassured. She frowned, and met her parent’s eyes, waiting for them to explain further. Seconds ticked by, but neither her mother nor father indicated that they would offer any further information. Sophie pursed her lips, annoyed.
“I’m not a child, you know,” Sophie commented, softly. “I understand what’s going on here. You think you are doing me a favor, keeping me in the dark but you are just holding me back.”
“Sophie, you are seventeen—“
“An adult!” Sophie insisted, her voice still soft so that no one else in the room would be alerted. If her parents were worried—and she was positive they were—she wanted to know why.
“Sophie,” her mother warned. Sophie understood that her parents didn’t want to discuss it, but she didn’t care. If something was going on, and it involved her, she had the right to know. She had the feeling the Maddy, and maybe even Chris, knew more about the situation than she did. She was the baby—no one wanted to tell her. But the time for pampering her was past—people were attacking the Ministry. She needed to know what was going on.
“Mum, it is not fair to exclude me—“
“You aren’t being excluded—“
“I’m a part of this family—“
“—you need to understand how sensitive this issue is—“
“—and I can help. I’ll be out of school in a year—“
“—you have no idea what you are talking about—“
“—I know it has something to do with the Purist movement trying to stop the Bill supporting the equality of magical beings.”
“What?” her mother whispered, shocked.
“And if you don’t tell me,” Sophie threatened, voice still low so as not to attract the attention of her siblings. “I will just do some investigating on my own.”
“Sophia,” her mother’s voice, though soft, was as furious as Sophie had ever hear her. Her lips were pursed, nearly white, and her eyes were narrowed as she considered her youngest child. Sophie knew it had been foolish to push her mother like she had, but it had been the only way to get the information.
Distantly, Sophie heard Mr. Potter announce that he was ready to begin the ceremony. All five Hinds moved closer, but Sophie and her mother hung back.
“Sophia,” her mother said again, tersely. “Have you even considered that this is not all about you?”
“So I’m not the only one in the room who hasn’t been told the details of the attack?” Sophie countered, unable to let the matter drop. They were treating her like a child, like a baby, and she was determined that they would see her as an adult.
“Sophia?” Mr. Potter’s voice interjected. Sophie jolted, having forgotten why she was in Chris’ home in the first place. Realizing what was going on, she held out her hand and pricked her finger to participate in the Fidelius Charm, but turned her attention back to her mother once her part was completed.
“This is not a game, Sophia! Peoples lives are at stake,” her mother admonished, so quietly Sophie almost didn’t hear. Around them, Mr. Potter once again began the Charm, filling the room with the lovely, golden light.
“Yours, Mum. Chris’. Maddy’s. Mine. This involves me. But since you aren’t going to tell me anything, I’d better stick to reading the Daily Prophet to learn about my life. Better yet, maybe I can ask a reporter…”
“Stop this now, Sophia,” her mother commanded. “You want us to treat you as an adult? Stop acting like a child. You want to know why we haven’t explained things to you?”
“Obviously,” Sophie answered, peevishly.
“Its suspected the culprits are magical creatures unhappy that I haven’t signed the bill ensuring Magical Equality yet. If this news gets out the Purists will win and the bill the Potters and myself have worked so hard for will have no chance of sucess. Now tell me, Sophie. Does knowing that increase your safety? Are you glad I told you?”
What followed was silence. Dimly, Sophie heard Mr. Potter announce the Charm was complete. She knew the rest of her family was moving, talking, doing. But she couldn’t move. Sophie felt like all the air had been sucked from her lungs. She had thought—she had been sure—that it had the Purists behind the plot. They were the “bad guys.” She as assumed—naively—that the secret was clear cut, a simple answer.
But this information could change everything.
If the Purists caught wind that a half-human terrorist group was responsible for the attack on the ministry, those who wanted segregation of the magical community would be on the war path. Never mind that the greatest threat to wizard-kind in all of history had been a wizard, not a half-human. But with this information, the Purists might be able to terrify the public into accepting “safety” laws that would discriminate against and oppress half-humans and other magical creatures.
Sophie looked at her mother with wide, alarmed eyes. Mrs. Hinds gazed steadily back, every inch the Minister of Magic. Sophie wondered, with a tightening in her chest, what was too be done. On the one hand, the public had a right to know who the ministry suspected. On the other hand, honesty could cause the oppression of an entire population of half-humans.
How do you choose between the public you swore to represent and doing what you know is right?
I know, I know. Its been forever. In my defense, I'm still not completely happy with the chapter. I had a lot of information that needed to be in this chapter and I hope I presented it well.
And my biggest regret of all--No Al! But worry not, he is featured heavily in the next chapter (which will be much more fun than this one).
The chapter title came from the novel All The King's Men
, a political novel by Robert Penn Warren. The quote is from Hamlet, and is in reference to the fact that there is much that Sophie doesn't know and can't understand.
As always, please rate/review! I love to hear your opinions of the story :) and if I get lots of reviews, I will put LOTS of Albus in the next chapter!