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Masquerade by Up and Away

Format: Novella
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 41,889
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Harry, Ginny, Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Hugo, Rose, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing, Harry/Ginny, Rose/Scorpius, Teddy/Victoire

First Published: 01/05/2011
Last Chapter: 12/06/2012
Last Updated: 12/06/2012

Summary:



Gorgeous banner by ramitaarora at tda!

Sophia Hinds, daughter of the Minister of Magic, has been dating James Sirius Potter since fourth year. The wizarding world is obsessed with the couple, and not a day goes by without their dating drama splashed across the tabloids. No part of their relationship is a secret.
Except that Sophie and James aren't actually dating.

Albus/OC


Chapter 1: Love's Labours Lost
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Disclaimer:  I am in no way, shape or form J.K. Rowling and I can only claim the plot and original characters.  Review please!




 







 

Summer, Seventh year.







 “Sophia, welcome!” Mrs. Potter greeted Sophia—Sophie—Hinds as she stepped out of the fireplace. It was the summer before her seventh year, and she was spending the second half of the Holidays with the Potters while her mother—the Minister of Magic—attended to matters of state. Sophia, despite knowing all three Potter children since birth, had never spent more than a couple of days with them, but now, she was spending nearly two months. Mr. Potter leaned forwards and took her bags. Sophie smiled gratefully and asked where everyone else was.



 

“Fred and Roxy have invaded,” Mrs. Potter announced wearily. “I threw the lot of them out after they burned a hole in the sofa. Now I think they are in the field playing quidditch.”




“Why don’t we take your things to Lily’s room before we go looking for the rest of the hooligans?” suggested Mr. Potter. Sophia smiled. She liked the Potters, and not just because her mother did. They were nice. Her mother always said that Mr. Potter was a refreshing politician because he always meant what he said and stuck to his morals. And Mrs. Hinds adored Ginny Potter because—and here Sophia was quoting—“She is a ball of steel that can handle any situation.”

Mr. Potter asked what NEWTs she was taking as they walked up the stairs. The conversation was easy, and Mr. Potter was quick with bad dad-jokes, the kind that made Sophie laugh simply because it was funny that he thought they were funny. Lily’s room was at the top of the stairs. One thing that Sophie had always liked about the Potters was that although they were immensely wealthy, they didn’t live in a mansion, just a house big enough for their three children and the occasional guest. Sophie’s family had resided at Hinds’ Manor since the early seventeen hundreds, and although it would always be home to her, there was something lacking about the drafty emptiness of the old mansion that the Potter’s home possessed.


Lily’s room was lavender this year, with enchanted flower patterns that changed magically at random across the wall. Photographs covered the walls--family and friends waved eagerly out of their frames. Mr. Potter set Sophia’s trunk on a spare twin bed, next to a copy of the newest witch weekly open to the page “Train Your Wizard to Charm His Own Socks.”

“You have your own bathroom to share with Lily, Albus, and Scorpius are across the hall, and James’ room is as far away as we could make it,” laughed Mr. Potter. Sophie laughed too. It had been a long time since any coy remarks about her relationship with James Potter had made her blush.


And there were a lot of comments, because Sophia Hinds had been dating James Potter for three years.






 

Christmas Ball, fourth year.



 

“What do you think about it?” Asked James. He had joined Sophie out on the terrace of the Hinds family ballroom, holding glasses of water and pumpkin juice. Sophie, bored of the political talk of the adults and the seeming inability of fourteen-year-old-boys to ask her to dance, had snuck out to read a novel.





 “Merlin, Jay, you scared me! Thought you might be my mum!” Sophie laid a hand to her heart, for emphasis. She quickly stashed the book into her beaded purse, a gift from her father that was much bigger on the inside than on the outside. 
“Sorry,” James amended, but he wasn’t. He handed her a glass of water, keeping the pumpkin juice for himself. The two had been friends since childhood, so Sophia knew when he was lying. His parents had been wartime heroes. Sophia’s entire family was dedicated to public service and had been in the public eye for generations. Currently, her mother was serving as Minister of Magic. She had worked closely with Harry and the other major players in the last stand against Voldemort, and so it seemed only natural that their children, so close in age, would be close friends. Her older brother, Christopher, was close with Teddy Lupin and her older sister, Madelyn was friends with Victoire Weasley. It was proximity-induced camaraderie.

“What do I think of what?” Sophie asked, finally processing James’ first question. They were looking into the ballroom from the outside of magnificent glass French doors, watching couples glide across the dance floor. It should have been cold, but the elder Hinds had spent the weeks prior to the festivities preparing the temperature for the garden so guests could enjoy a sort of tropical paradise in the middle of a grey, English winter. Sophie’s sister Maddy had created the spell that kept the temperature at the perfect, not-to-hot-not-to-cold setting. Everything was perfect. So when asked what she thought about ‘it,’ Sophie felt she needed more specification.

“The way we live,” Sophie arched an eyebrow, wondering where James was going with this. “The way we are constantly on display,” he explained. Beyond the garden, the pair could just hear the excited clicks and flashes of cameras and the chattering of their owners. The entire compound had long since been spelled against intruders such as the paparazzi, so the photographers couldn’t get in, but they were still camped outside the grounds. They had been for days.


Sophie thought for a moment, and then nodded. She didn’t get as much attention from the media as the Potters, but she still hated what attention she got. But she had been born in the public eye.  Her mother had become Minister of Magic soon after her birth, after Kingsley had stepped down. Sophie had been raised to deal with unwanted attention from the media, and when she couldn’t handle it, her mother, her father, and even her two older siblings had stood up for her. She hardly heard the clicks and the flashes anymore, she was so used to it.


“I understand,” James began carefully,” Why they are so fascinated. I can understand that they want to know everything about us that they can. But they obsess. And they make up things and personalities about us that just aren’t true.”


“They can hardly help it,” Sophia ventured slowly. “We can’t know everyone. Its unfortunate, but true.”


James wasn’t looking at Sophia. He had turned towards the gardens and leaned against a marble railing, gazing down at the glass in his hands. For her part, Sophie felt mildly surprised. James was exhibiting a level of emotional depth that she rarely saw, and she thought she knew why. She was flattered that James would want to discuss the topic with her, but she was baffled as well. Although she had little problem with the paparazzi, it wasn’t because she was never in the tabloids or on the front page of the newspaper. It was because she always was.


Hardly a day went by with out she or her brother or sister gracing the pages of the Daily Prophet. The Hinds were taught that the only way to survive was to play the game, give the people the news they want, but only the news you want to give them. So why come to a girl who is used to being under the spotlight in order to complain about the spotlight?


“Soph,” James burst out. “It’s getting out of hand. The wizarding world’s obsession with us.” He meant the Potter-Weasley clan. “Its hurting us, but no matter what we say, we aren’t left alone.”

“Are you going to ask your mum and dad to send you off to another school? Like Katie Wood did, last year?” Asked Sophie. She hoped not. She liked James. Who else would tutor her in charms?   Maybe Rosie, but that was beside the point. There is a special bond between the ‘hunted’ celebrities, one that she shared with James and not with her other schoolmates.


“No,” answered James. “No, I…its not about me. I mean to say, I’m not talking about me.”

Sophie nodded, sure now she knew what he was worried about.

“Lily is taking everything really hard. When she came home for Christmas holiday, mum said she didn’t fit into any of her old clothes and she hasn’t been talking. Albus and I thought she might just have been ignoring us, but she hasn’t made many friends and she won’t talk about anything. She hasn’t been the same since she started Hogwarts.”

What James wasn’t mentioning were the numerous cruel articles that had begun to appear regarding Lily. In some ways, it had been easy for James. He was the golden child, first born of Harry Potter, savior of the Wizarding World. Newspapers hadn’t dared write anything bad about the eldest Potter lest the entire wizarding population would rise up against the writer. Albus was so serious that, even if anyone had wanted to write slander about him, no one would have believed it. But Lily…

  It had begun with an article comparing her to her mother, Ginny. It was published on the second of September, right after the announcement that Lily had been placed in Gryffindor. In the middle, the writer had spent and unmitigated amount of time comparing the looks of mother and daughter. No one should tell an eleven year old that she is much larger than her mother was in her first year. Even Sophie could tell that Lily wasn’t eating like she should. Or at all.


The Potters had sued, and an apology was printed, but it was all anyone at Hogwarts could talk about. 


After that, one snide comment led to another, and Lily-hunting had become a favorite sport of the paparazzi. Someone got a picture of Lily falling off her broom when the first years had their flying lessons—an article reminding the world of Harry Potter’s first flying lesson was published with the picture of her falling next to it, and Lily was so humiliated that she vowed publically never to fly again. In the spring of her first year, she began “dating” some boy, but a tabloid writer produced a piece about how this particular boy didn’t really like Lily, he was dating her because his parents wanted the political influence of Harry Potter behind them. Sophie wasn’t sure if this was true, but Lily broke up with him immediately and had turned down all proposals since. Every trip, bad hair day, and insufficiency was documented and broadcasted. Lily Potter had gotten the short end of the stick.


The Potters were doing everything they could, but the Wizarding world was fixated on Lily.  And she was caving under the pressure. 


Lily was paranoid. She rarely appeared in public if she didn’t have to—she wasn’t even at the Christmas party that night, even though the Hinds had promised seclusion and privacy. She had very few friends, not because Lily wasn’t a likable person, but because she couldn’t be sure that any friend of hers wouldn’t betray her to the media. The youngest Potter was self-destructing, and the people who loved her didn’t know how to help.


“I hate it,” James spat. Sophie walked to the balcony railing to join James and looked out into the garden. It was easy to feel sorry for Lily—and the rest of the Potters—but the it was hard to do anything about it. Because more than she felt sorry for Lily, she was scared for herself. If Lily wasn’t the focus of the media, they might have time to find a new scapegoat. Like Sophia. 


“I hate it,” James said again, but more slowly. “And I want to do something about it.”
“But what? Lily won’t change schools. She thinks it means she’s giving up and doesn’t want to be a disappointment. I was there for that shouting match, remember?” It had been really awkward playing exploding snap in Albus’ room pretending they couldn’t hear the Potter’s screaming match with Lily. They had only been trying to help. “We are fourteen years old—“


“I’m fifteen—“James cried, indignant.

“We are kids!” Sophie insisted. “Your parents, who defeated the most powerful dark wizard of all time by the way, could not stop the paparazzi from bullying Lily. What in the name of Merlin’s beard do you think we could possibly do?”


“We need to be a distraction,” James looked over a Sophie, more serious than she had ever seen him. “If they have something better, maybe they won’t bother Lily so much.”

“What do you mean…” Sophie inquired, warily. She wasn’t sure she liked where James was going with this.

“Soph, I need your help.”

“James, I—“

“Just hear me out!” James sounded desperate. “She’s my little sister, Sophie! Do you have any idea how awful it is to watch this happening to someone you feel responsible for? I can’t help her, Soph! And it’s killing me!”

James looked frantic and Sophie felt like crying. There was no way she could say no to him, but she was terrified of saying yes. She didn’t know what James wanted her to do, but she was scared.

“Sophie, will you go out with me?”

“That…is not was I expected you to say,” Sophie was confused. “I thought you were going to ask me to help you distract the media by embarrassing myself.”



 

“Actually, I am.” Now James was confusing her. “If we start dating, it will be a media frenzy. You know it will. The daughter of the Minister of Magic and the son of The Boy Who Lived—the photographers will be distracted for weeks.”



 

“But what will we do after they lose interest?   They will, you know. They always chase after the newest scoop.”



 

“Then we will always be the newest scoop,” James’ eyes bore into hers until she looked away, guiltily. She still wanted to back out. What kind of horrible person was she?   “We can play interference, distract them at every turn.”



 

Sophie looked up her answer in her expression. She had never had bad publicity before. And she was sure she wouldn’t like it. Even an emotionally illiterate fifteen-year-old boy could tell she would say no.



 

“Sophie, I’m begging you. Just until Lily gets back on her feet. Six months, tops, and she’ll be better equipped to handle the pressure.”



 

“Just six months?” Half a year didn’t seem bad. 



 

“I wouldn’t ask you to do this if it weren’t for Lily.”



 

“Well--” Sophie cut herself off. “No, I can’t! James, I can’t date you. I don’t like you that way!”



 

“It would just be fore pretend! It wouldn’t hurt my feelings! Hey, you can even break up with me, how’s that?”



 

“No Jay,” Sophie looked sad now, and James couldn’t figure out why. “I don’t like you  like that.”


 

 


 

“So, you are dating someone else,” James questioned, confused.



 

“No, but—“



 

“But what?” Now James was angry. “What could possibly be more important that saving Lily?”



 

“I like Albus!” Sophie waited for James to say something, but continued when he remained silent. “I like Albus and if I date you, he won’t look twice at me. You know how much he hates being compared to you.”



 

“I didn’t know.  But Soph, its Lily. And I could ask someone else, but I don’t know any other girl who could handle this. You are the only one strong enough to handle the attention without folding.” He didn’t ay it, but the words ‘like Lily did’ were almost tangible. “And Albus would understand. He’d even appreciate what you did for Lily.”



 

James was being manipulative and he knew it. But he was still a child, and was handling the situation the only way he knew how. He would do what he had to do in order to help his sister.



 

“Just six months?” Sophie said, caving.



 

“How long could it take?” James asked, smiling.



 

“And I could break up with you?” 



 

“In any humiliating situation you so please! Just, we can’t tell anyone. They have to buy it.”



 

“Alright,” it was strange, but Sophie almost felt excited. “I’ll do it. How will we make the big announcement?”



 

“Well,” said James, glancing towards the bushes, beyond which the pair could just hear the faint sound of the paparazzi. “I’ve got an idea…”



 

By the next morning, every newspaper in the country had a blown up picture of James Potter and Sophia Hinds caught snogging in the bushes during the annual Ministry Christmas Ball.




And it was the beginning of the biggest mess of Sophie’s life. 

 







Author's Note: I hope you liked this first chapter.  It's going to be slightly drama-filled, but I hope that once I get the story going I can add a bit more humor and school pranks etc...Anyway, please review!

Title and summary quote complements of William Shakespeare.


Chapter 2: On The Decay of The Art of Lying
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“Sophie!” the youngest Potter had come back to the house for something and bombarded her friend. Sophie smiled and hugged Lily energetically. The nearly fifteen-year-old Lily was nothing like the lifeless waif she had been three years ago. It had taken the concentrated efforts of the entire Potter-Weasley clan, but Lily Potter was a functional human being who was even able to handle a couple of bad stories in the paper, Sophie was proud to say. She still watched her weight, but Lily was in no way unhealthy. She still was careful about who she confided in, but was much more open. She had even been caught snogging Lorcan Scamander last year.

 

Sophie was so proud.

 

“How long have you been here?” Lily asked, excitedly. “Wow, you already put all your stuff away!”

 

“Ah, the beauty of being an adult!” Sophie said, waving her wand for emphasis. “I’ve only been here a moment. I was just about to head to the field. You done with the game?”

 

“You know they aren’t,” Lily said, rolling her eyes. “I’m not even sure they noticed I was gone. I got thirsty and took a break.”

 

Sophie laughed with Lily. Quidditch was pretty intense in this family. Nearly all the Potter-Weasleys played on their house team (except Hugo, ironically. He was the best keeper Ravenclaw had ever seen, but quit last year to focus on his studies). Lily was an amazing seeker, just like her father. It had taken some time, but Albus and James had coaxed her onto the quidditch field and she hadn’t looked back since. Albus and James took after their mother. Combined with Rose Weasley, they were a deadly chaser team. James, of course, was planning on playing professionally, like his mum. The rest just played for fun. 

 

And to win. Competition was very, very fierce.

 

“I’d better get back," Lily observed. “Fred’ll be angry if Scorpius catches the snitch while I’m gone.”

 

“I’ll come watch,” Sophie said. “Maybe cat-call James a bit.”

 

“Don’t you want to play?” Lily asked as the two sped down the stairs.

 

“Nope. I’m decent but James’ intensity scares the fun right out of quidditch for me.”

 

“He does at that!” Lily cackled as the girls raced out the back door, past a smiling Mrs. Potter. As soon as they were clear of the house, Lily hopped on her broom and flew off, leaving Sophie to walk the last hundred feet or so by herself. Above her head, the tiny specks that were flying Potter-Weasleys darted about, yelling and cheering as the game progressed. It was Fred, Roxy, Hugo, Rose, Lily, and Louis against James, Albus, Dominique, Molly, Scorpius and Lucy. Fred’s team was down one player and James’ was down two. When the entire family was involved (Victoire and Teddy were wedding shopping and the adults were to busy to play) they sometimes created extra positions, a fourth chaser or a third beater.  The pick-up games were fun, but intense. Fred was yelling something obscene at Lily that Sophie couldn’t quite make out and Lucy was screaming some sort of war cry as she wacked a bludger towards Hugo, her favorite cousin and the opposing team’s keeper. 

 

Finding a tree with a good vantage point an a lovely patch of clover for her to sit on, Sophie settled in to watch the game. She was, of course, rooting for James to win. Sophie followed all the rules of girlfriend protocol. She came to every quidditch game James played, distracted the teachers when he was late to class, and bragged about him to her girlfriends. Of course, she also had very public shouting matches with him if he was seen with another girl, was caught in various embarrassing displays of public affection, and had allowed camera men to snap many a picture of her artfully tear strewn face in the midst of a lovers’ spat. 

 

All in all, Sophia Hinds was the perfect girlfriend.

 

In the past three years, their fake relationship had become the focus of an entire nation of wizards. Sophie was often stopped by inquisitive witches and wizards in Gringott’s or Madam Malkin’s  and asked why she hadn’t forgiven that sweet boy yet, or how could James have attended that ball with another girl. She and James had achieved everything they had ever set out to do. But somehow, six months had turned into three years.

 

The plan had worked perfectly. With the attention off Lily, she began to act a bit more like herself. Suddenly all the talks that Ginny had been giving her about self esteem began taking hold. Suddenly she was willing to try flying again (far from the public eye and with the promise of her brothers not to laugh). She even had friends, friends she was willing to talk to and trust. Lily was coming out of her shell and Sophie and James secretly knew they were the cause.

 

And it wasn’t as hard as Sophie had thought it would be, “dating” James. They had always been friends. The kissing had been awkward at first, especially since she wasn’t sure what to do, and wasn’t really all that attracted to James in the first place. By now, they had it down to a science.  The pair even planned out their “spontaneous romantic moments” well in advance—it became commonplace for Sophie to walk into a room and hear James say, “So I’m thinking about sliding my hand up your skirt. Are you wearing nice underwear for the picture?”

 

The only downside—and it was a big one—was that she became a constant disappointment to her mother. Madam Hinds, Minister of Magic, was a proper Englishwoman who expected to raise three, well bred children. Sophia’s older brother was a Healer at St. Mungo’s and her sister was training under Hermione Weasley in Magical Law enforcement. Neither had created too many scandals. Neither had rocked the boat much. Sophie wouldn’t have either, but James had asked, and although she sometimes regretted the backlash of bad publicity, she never regretted the decision. 

 

Although explaining that her bad publicity was merely a decoy might have raised Sophie in her mother’s opinion, Sophie was never able to tell her. Madam Hinds was the kind of woman who believed that the only way to fight was out in the open. That was the way she conducted herself, and the way she had raised her children to be. Her mother, Sophie knew, would never have approved of a plan that involved lying to anyone, much less the entire wizarding world. She probably would have outed their pretend relationship herself. But that wouldn’t matter much longer. The rouse was coming to an end.

 

A frenzied battle cry from Lucy jolted Sophie out of her deep thoughts. She had no idea what the score was, but by the look of desperation on James’ face, Sophie guessed that Team James was significantly behind. And James hated losing. 

 

Absentmindedly, Sophie began braiding wildflowers into a crown. James and Albus were hurtling towards the makeshift goals, only to be easily stopped by Hugo, boy-Keeper-wonder. Lucy, Roxy, and Fred were locked in a battle for the bludgers. Lucy and Scorpius were the two beaters for Team James despite the fact that neither usually played the position. Scorpius was strong but not precise, but had enough heart to make up for it. And although Lucy was not as strong as some beaters—like Fred or Scorpius—she had remarkable aim and was holding her own, even if her own still allowed Albus to be hit in the shoulder with a sickening crunch as he reached for the quaffle. Time out was called, Albus was fussed over, and it was decided that he should have a penalty shot for, according to James, “attempted murder.”

 

Although the rest of the teenagers were quickly re-engrossed in the game, Sophie followed Albus with worried eyes as he rotated his shoulder once, twice, and then sped off towards Hugo to score ten more points for Team James. He didn’t look like he was in pain, Sophie decided. But looks were deceiving, weren’t they? And was he flying more slowly than usual? Several flowers were shredded completely by her rough handling.

 

James caught her eye, because he sensed her worry or because he knew her so well, Sophie couldn’t tell. Making sure she saw him, James shook his head, indicating that Albus truly wasn’t hurt. Sophie breathed a sigh of relief. Because, if she was really honest with herself, her mother’s disappointment wasn’t the only downside to her fake relationship with James.

 

Because she was “dating” James, she would never be able to date Albus.

 

After several months of dating James, the pair decided that Lily was back on the mend and it was time to initiate operation “Biggest, Messiest Break-Up in Wizarding History.” But before the big unveiling, the pair sat Lily down and explain what they had done. They explained why they had done it. They told her how much she had improved and how they thought she was ready. Surely she wouldn’t be focused on again, and if she was, she was better equipped to handle it.

 

But what they hadn’t expected was Lily’s breakdown. She wasn’t an idiot. She knew the paparazzi was only leaving her alone because there was a better story. She hadn’t realized that it was a fake story, but she begged them not to stop. She sobbed, making James very uncomfortable and Sophie heartbroken. So Sophie and James dated a little longer.

 

By that time Albus had a girlfriend, and Sophie was feeling miserable already, so James said they could continue until she was ready. And then one thing led to another. Suddenly they were so comfortable with the entire situation, that neither wanted to stop. They were best friends already, and if they “broke up” they would have to pretend to ignore each other all the time. Besides, neither party really wanted to date anyone. James had his flings on the side, but he hadn’t found a girl he wanted to devote any time to. Sophie fell out of love with Albus and into a few short romances with some perfectly nice boys (whilst on a ‘break’ from James) but they were nothing to write home about. So they dated. And dated. And continued to attract all kinds of attention.

 

But then, sometime at the end of their sixth year, it all came rushing back. One evening she looked at Albus, and instead of seeing a good friend, she saw something more. James knew immediately. It had been he who suggested that the masquerade finally come to an end.

 

Sophie was scared, of course. Even though it was fake, her relationship with James was the most deep, trusting, loving relationship she had ever had. If only she had fallen in love with James instead, but something inside her had always known they weren’t right for each other. James said the same thing, although he had said, quite rudely, “Of course I’d never be attracted to you!”

 

The worst part of the entire situation was that, even though the facade was coming to an end, there was no guaranteeing her a happy ending. Although they were friends, Albus often criticized her very public lifestyle. He lectured her (and James, for that matter) about the fools they made of themselves in front of the wizarding world. The fake personality Sophie had created in order to live this lie had fooled everyone, including the one person she wanted to see her for who she truly was.

 

But Albus or not, the break-up was a good thing. It was time she and James stopped depending so much on the crutch of their fake relationship and started becoming adults. Although she had only just admitted it to herself, she was beginning to think she wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps and become Minister of Magic, but how could she do that if she continued embarrassing herself in front of the media, even if it was just for show? And what would happen when James found a nice girl he really liked, who wouldn’t look twice at him because of his grossly misleading public image of a ladies man? Yes, she and James were adults now, and they were finally acting like it.

 

Or at least they were in theory. Sophie looked across the quidditch field, notified by the whoop of glee that James emitted that their seeker, Dominique, was closing in on the snitch much more quickly than Lily. James was flying in circles around Fred, singing “Weasley is our Queen” as Dominique caught the snitch, putting an end to the game. Groans from the losers, and cheer that sounded like “One, Two, Three…Go Us!” and all the players finally landed safely on the ground. James hit the ground talking, explaining his more manly plays to Sophie. He gracefully accepted his laurels—the flower chain Sophie had just finished—and a congratulatory kiss before turning to sling an arm around his winning seeker in celebration.

 

James’ team had only won by about forty points, according to Fred who was walking beside Sophie and defending his own honor (to hear Fred tell it, James winning was just a fluke). The two teams engaged in friendly banter all the way back to the house, each arguing that they were the key player of the match. 

 

It wasn’t yet time for dinner, but everyone was so hungry that Mrs. Potter let the teenagers raid her pantry in pursuit of snacks. After a warning that anyone who didn’t eat a big dinner wouldn’t get desert, half of the food was return to its previous location. Delighted with their plunder, the mass of Potter-Weasleys (+Hinds) separated to pursue their own endeavors until dinner.

 

As Sophie and James headed off on their own, a few eyebrows were raised, but only in jest. It was commonly wondered by the many, many Weasley cousins how two people like James and Sophie could act like they did. But then, love does mysterious things to a person.

 

On their way up the stairs, Sophie tapped Lily on the shoulder and caught her eye, indicating that she and James wanted to talk to the youngest Potter. A slight nod assured Sophie that they would soon be joined and she and James continued up the stairs. Sophie felt a familiar hand slip into hers. It was comforting and sad. Soon everything would be different. The Masquerade was coming to an end.

 

“How’s your mum?” James asked, as the turned into Lily’s room at the top of the stairs. He looked out of place in the feminine décor. James really was cut out to play professional quidditch. He was fit and innately masculine, ruggedly handsome as her older sister had once put it.

 

“She’s fine. A bit overworked, I guess.”

 

“Dad says that she’s got her hands full. He’s not exactly pleased that she hasn’t stood against the Purists outright.” The Purists were a group of Witches and Wizards who were against non-wizards like goblins and centaurs being granted the same rights as wizards. James’ parents, as well as several other prominent, forward thinking individuals had introduced the idea earlier in the summer and had expected Madam Hinds to fully support them. But although she agreed with their sentiments, the following of Purists were too strong to be ignored, and it was impossible for Sophie’s mother stand against them without sacrificing any hope of compromise. 

 

“Yeah, well. She’s doing her best. Its much harder than it looks, her job,” Sophie said, subtly defending her mum. 

 

“Yeah,” James agreed. “I’d work as a teacher before I succumbed to politics!” James shuddered. He hated school, but apparently he hated the pressure of politics more. The thought made Sophie smile. From below, a pair of footsteps began climbing the stairs. James looked at Sophie, his gaze steady.

 

“We are doing this,” he said,” No matter what she says. We have to be allowed to live our lives, and she can never grow up with us acting as a safety net.”

 

They had agreed as much the numerous times they had discussed their ‘break-up’ over the summer. Sophie nodded at him and took his hand. The door to Lily’s room creaked, and a head popped in.

 

“Oh, sorry,” Albus winced, embarrassed. “I just, I mean I wasn’t intruding, just looking for Lily.”

 

“I think she went to ask your dad something,” Sophie lied, easily. It was hard, but she prevented her eyes from gluing themselves on his injured shoulder. Despite what James had said, a part of her wanted to walk over to Albus, push up the sleeve of his shirt and check for herself. 

 

“Oh, ok,” Albus said, backing out of the room. James and Sophie listened to him pad down the hall and knock on his parent’s door. Just as he did, Lily snuck into her bedroom. James and Sophie breathed a sigh of relief. When waiting to discuss life-changing events, even the slightest delay can be eternity. 

 

“Al and Scorp wanted discuss some sort of celebratory prank or something, so I gave him the slip,” Lily explained as she shut the door. “What did you want?” 

 

James and Sophie looked at each other and then back at Lily. James went to lock the door as Sophie placed silencing charms around the room. Lily looked a bit pale by the time they were finished.

 

“I guess this means the two of you are calling it quits?” To her credit, Lily’s voice was steady and she only looked a little scared.

 

“Yes,” Sophie answered for the two of them. “Its time. And we wanted to tell you first.”

 

“But just because we are breaking up doesn’t mean that your world will come crashing down,” James began, carefully. He was a wonder, that boy. Not thirty minutes ago he and his sister had been on opposing quidditch teams, and James’ heckling could have made you wonder whether he even thought his sister was even human. But now he was sincerely worried about her and was trying to ease her mind.

 

“Oh, I know,” Lily said with a hollow laugh. “ I’ve been waiting for the real break up for awhile now. I was sort of hoping that you two would actually fall in love, I suppose.”

 

James and Sophie looked at each other, eyebrows raised. Lily was the only person who knew the real situation, and as such had spent a lot of time with James and Sophie over the last few years. Even she had realized what a disaster it would be if they tried to actually date.

 

“Oh alright,” Lily laughed, for real this time. “I guess that’s a bit far fetched. But I don’t want you two to feel like you have to worry about me. I haven’t needed you for quite awhile now-“

 

James coughed, pretending to be offended.

 

“You know what I mean!” Lily continued. “I just freaked out last time. I can handle it now. I really can. It’s a bit scary, but I will manage. So when are you going to announce the split?”

 

“We are going to tell the family tonight at dinner,” James explained.

 

“My family’s all off fighting for justice and the like,” interjected Sophie. “But I’ve sent letters, so they will know about the same time.“

 

“We thought,” James continued, slowly. “That we would do and interview, an exclusive one, on the condition that it would be published after we got to Hogwarts.”

 

“We aren’t going to explain the whole ruse,” Sophie included. “There’s not need for that. We are just going to feed the papers one last story.”

 

“Sounds like you’ve been planning this awhile,” Lily said. There was an awkward silence, with Lily feeling like she was the reason  they had been unable to execute their plan earlier and James and Sophie feeling like they should have had this talk with her sooner.

 

“So,” Lily said, brightly. “What’s the scoop? Who cheated on whom? Did someone expect a ring, perhaps…?”

 

“Do you think we should make it that exciting?” Sophie asked. “We were thinking about the standard ‘Irreconcilable differences’ and just letting everyone wonder.”

 

“You should make a huge splash!” exclaimed Lily. “Hey, maybe James is gay!”

 

James sputtered indignantly about how ‘no one in their bloody mind is going to believe that’ while Sophie and Lily laughed hysterically.

 

“Remember, Jay,” giggled Sophie. “You told me I could break up with you however I want.”

 

The girls succumbed to another fit of laughing as James imagined his future in the professional Quidditch demolished by one little rumor.

 

When she had finally calmed down, Sophie wiped a tear from her eye and reassured him, ”I still say that we should just explain that we realized that we weren’t right for each other and that we parted as friends.”

 

James heaved a huge sigh of relief and kissed Sophie’s cheek, saying emphatically, ”Thanks, Soph. You are an angel.”

 

“Dinner!” Mrs. Potter yelled up the stairs. Almost immediately, the sound of a stampede of teenagers sounded throughout the house. Sophie laughed. Now that was something she would never hear at home. James, Sophie, and Lily waited a moment (so as not to be trampled) and then left the room. This meant that by the time they got to the table, all the seats had been taken and food was being devoured. 

 

Sophie sat between Louis Weasley and James, while Lily was forced to sit in the last open seat at the end of the table, hear her father and Scorpius. Sophie politely set her napkin on her lap and thanked the Potters before helping herself to some shepherd’s pie. From across the table, Sophie heard a resounding SMACK and looked up. Sensing that one of her children was about to exhibit bad manners, Mrs. Potter had smacked Albus’ hand with a spoon as he reached to grab a green bean out of the serving bowl. Sophie smiled to herself, enjoying the chaotic atmosphere. To her right, Mr. Potter was telling some funny Auror story and Fred was again going over the afternoon’s game to the person beside him. 

 

The food was wonderful and Sophie loved being invited to spend time with this amazing family, but she always felt a little guilty. She was the one who had made James infamous amoung the Potter children. Sophie knew they liked her, but who could be happy that their son’s life was splashed across the headlines daily? Next to her, James was eating furiously. He was left handed, so his right hand was sitting on the table, tapping the surface agitatedly. He was nervous too. Quietly, Sophie slipped her hand into his. James glanced over at her and smiled. Sophie returned the smile and continued eating.

 

“So Sophie, what are you and James planning to do this summer?” Asked Mrs. Potter, having seen the handholding. “I know he’s been wanting to visit some teams and get his name out there. Are you going to go with him?”

 

The question was innocent, but neither James nor Sophie felt like lying any further. If they made up stories about their summer plans, and then announced their breakup at the end of dinner, everyone would know they lied. Sophie flashed a look at James, eyebrow raised. James nodded curtly and said, ”Actually Mum, we’ve got an announcement.”

 

“Oh Merlin,” Mrs. Potter said, forlornly. “Sophia, are you pregnant.”

 

“What!” Shouted James. “Mum, no! Not that kind of announcement!”

 

Mrs. Potter had the decency to blush furiously. “I’m sorry, James. You just sounded so serious, I got worried…”

 

“I wasn’t serious because of that!” James looked angry. Sophie was more embarrassed that the Potters obviously thought she and James were so…irresponsible. It was definitely time to end this. “Sophie and I aren’t pregnant, we are breaking up!”

 

That last bit had been said rather forcefully, and the announcement resounded in the silence that followed. His anger wearing off, James began to feel a bit uncomfortable.

 

“Well,” Mr. Potter ventured, after a moment of dead silence. “What did he do this time, Sophia?”

 

Sophie wasn't sure if he thought this was just another of their famous fights or if he honestly believed that they were breaking up and assumed his son had somehow ruined their relationship.

 

“James didn’t do anything, Sir. We’ve just,” Sophie paused, finally letting go of James’ hand and looking at him to be sure she worded it correctly. “We’ve realized that we are very different people. We aren’t right for each other and we decided to split amicably.” 


"Wait," Dominique demanded, actually putting down her fork as she focused on the pair.  "Are you being serious?"

"No," Fred assured her, flicking his head back to James for backup, looking at first confident, and then confused. "They aren't...no..."

"We haven't really been together all summer," James continued, adding to their fictional story.  "We have thought long and hard about this and we wanted you to be the first to know."

Suddenly the table was truly silent, not even the gentle clinking of cutlery.  All eyes were on the young couple with an array of confused expressions.  Sophie slanted her eyes towards James, noting his reddening ears and all at once seeing how funny the situation really was.  The Potters were finally finished with the embarrassment that was their oldest child's relationship, and the whole lot of them looked genuinely upset.

So Sophie laughed.  Only James chuckled with her.

"This is really a good thing.  We really still are friends. I know this is different for everyone, but I hope that you are all ok with our decision. "  James smiled at her and nodded.  For a moment they waited, wondering what the Potter clan might say when--

"Well, I made blueberry ice-cream for your first day here Sophie.  Who's ready for desert?" asked Mrs.  Potter, which was really more of a retorical question, since every teenager in the house had been ready for desert since they sat at the table.  Suddenly there was a chorus of voices and the clatter of plates and the scraping of chairs and the attention what off Sophie and James.  They were out of the woods.

The only other problem was how the rest of the Wizarding World would handle the news.  'Oh Well,'  Sophie thought.  'One thing at a time."  And she reached for a bowl of ice-cream.

 





Authors Note:  The title comes from Mark Twain and the quote is from "The Merchant of Venice."  I'm having fun stealing things from literature--it means that I don't have to think up my own titles and descriptions!  I hope you all like the next installment :)

 
I love every single review I get--Thank you and please do so again!


Chapter 3: The Importance of Being Ernest
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Recap:


 

 


 

The only other problem was how the rest of the Wizarding World would handle the news.  'Oh Well,'  Sophie thought.  'One thing at a time."  And she reached for a bowl of ice-cream.

 



 

 

Two hours later Sophie was getting ready for bed. Even though she would probably stay up half the night gossiping with Lily, Sophie was making an effort to look like sleep was her goal that evening. It was very different, being Just-Sophie, and not Sophie-and-James.

 

 Just-Sophie was in an old pair of shorts and a raggedy tee shirt that read ‘Grigotts: Your Money is Safe, Even From You’ and was brushing her teeth in her own bathroom before bed. Sophie-and-James would have been wearing something nice and just a little risqué and hanging around the boys’ rooms to spend as much time with James as possible. 

 

 Lily, dressed in a towel getting ready for her shower, was rummaging around in a drawer looking for shower gel, muttering something about ‘the trouble she had to go through to smell like a girl around this place’. Sophie spat and continued brushing, when she heard someone clear their throat from the doorway.

 

 “Albus!” Shrieked Lily, falling over in an effort to pull up her towel, which had begun to come loose during her rummaging.   “Geez, don’t you ever knock?”

 

 “Sorry,” said Albus, the intruder, in a way that said he really wasn’t. But really, what teenage boy was terribly concerned when they bothered their sisters? Sophie realized that her mouth was still full of toothpaste, so she took a drink of water, swished and surreptitiously spit again. Alright, not so surreptitiously, but really, it wasn’t like she was impressing anyone with her appearance right now, so it was better not to be concerned with it.

 

Lily had back tracked into the girls’ shared room, looking for a robe now that their space had been invaded by a male. Sophie and Albus could still her muffled ranting from the other room, and the situation was just too funny not to smile. And as they were smiling at each other, Albus at Sophie and Sophie at Albus, and Sophie had completely forgotten that she looked like a homeless witch, Albus had the great indignity to break the silence.

 

“I was just coming to see if you really are alright,” he stated, voice low so that snooping younger sisters wouldn’t hear.

 

“Oh, I’m fine,” replied Sophie, a bit giddily. She had to remind herself that Albus was not there to profess his undying love for her now that she had broken up with James. Although that would be terribly romantic.

 

“Are you sure?” Albus was insistent. “Because we’ve talked it over, you see. All the cousins, and if James was done anything wrong, anything at all, we will teach him a lesson.”

 

Suddenly Sophie was a little worried for James. Apparently his family had made the joint decision to side with Sophie when the time came. It was sad, that they assumed that James was at fault, and Sophie was reminded again that James suffered the same hardships she had during their ‘relationship.’

 

“Really, truly, there is nothing wrong. And no reason at all to…’teach James a lesson.’ Whatever that means. Did you hear that?” Sophie raised her voice to yell in the general direction of the doorway, where she was sure there were several sets of extendable ears snooping on the conversation. 

 

Sophie was rewarded by a yelp that sounded strangely like Hugo, coming from three rooms down.

 

“How can you be so…calm about breaking up with James, who you have dated for nearly three years?” Sophie didn’t think Albus sounded judgmental, just disbelieving. 

 

 “Well,” Sophie began, as Lily walked into the room, fully covered in her robe this time. “Your brother an I made this decision several months ago, and have had all this time to get used to the idea. We helped each other through the bad parts.”

 

"But—"by this time Sophie was fairly sure that Lucy, Dominique, and Fred, all of whom were avid gossips, had told Albus not to leave without the inside scoop on the Sophie-James split. Suddenly her romantic image of Albus sweeping her off her feet was seemed much less likely.

 

 “Oh for the love of Merlin, Al,” interrupted Lily. “Its not a big mystery. Leave her alone.”

 

 Ever the mature older brother, Albus stuck out his tongue and Lily threw a washcloth in his face. Albus sputtered, getting rid of the taste of cotton, before saying,” Well if you ever do decide you need us to take care of James, just, you know…”

 

“Yeah, I’ll tell you. Goodnight, Al.” 

 

“Night Soph, Lily.”

 

“And goodnight….Lucy, Dominique, Hugo, Roxy, and….Fred?” Sophie guessed.

 

 “Hey,” Louis interjected, sounding hurt and left out.

 

“Goodnight Louis,” Sophie apologized.

 

 Sophie turned to Lily and rolled her eyes as if to say ‘your family’ as they heard Albus pad down the hallway and several doors shutting as they reeled in their extendable ears. Sophie was still enjoying the ridiculous behavior that was the Potter-Weasley clan when Lily said softly.” I’m so, so sorry that you have to go through this. I should have just let you break up years ago. Then you wouldn’t be under all this third degree.”

 

 “Oh Lils,” sighed Sophie. “It wasn’t you. We could have broken up anytime we wanted to, even if you had told us no. We knew that you could handle it and we should have broken up to let you see that for yourself. We just got comfortable. We had been putting on that ruse for so long that we didn’t really know what to do with ourselves if we weren’t plotting our next public appearance. It made us feel special. We brought this on ourselves. We can handle it. And it is in no way your fault that we have to.”

 

 “If you’re sure,” Lily said slowly. “ I just can’t help but feel-“

 

 “Well don’t,” Sophie interjected quickly. “Really. I always had a date to events, every girl in the Wizarding World is jealous of me, and James treated me like a queen, even when no one was watching.”

 

 Lily absentmindedly brushed her hair as she took this in, leaving the girls in silence for a moment.

 

 “Take your shower quickly,” Sophie instructed, having finished her nightly routine and heading to the shared bedroom. “We’ve got a lot of gossiping to be done and very little time to do it!”

 

Lily smiled a true smile and turned on the shower to warm the water. Sophie shut the door and flopped onto her bed. She picked up the Daily Prophet that Lily had left on the floor and flipped through it. She had already read all the news that morning, so she leafed through it until she found the crossword puzzle. Sophie had just completed 23 across (The third ingredient in the sleeping draft: dragonscales) when Mr. Potter yelled up the stairs, “Sophia? Your brother’s here to talk to you!”

 

“What?” Sophie shouted back, unintelligently. She scrambled off the bed, leaving the sheets rumpled and the paper scattered across the floor. Sophie raced down the stairs, skipping every other one, and cut the corner into the living room much more sharply than she should have. Mr. Potter was standing in the doorway that connected the living room to his study, a case file in his hand and his glasses slightly askew.   He was talking to a disembodied head in his fireplace about an auror that was in St. Mungo’s at the moment, but the moment Sophie walked into the room, the head swung towards her ands topped paying attention to the Head of the Auror department.

 

Sophie hadn’t seen her brother Chris in almost a week and had not realized how much she missed him until that moment.

 

 “What on earth is going on Soph?” The head that was her brother Christopher was very imposing, despite the fact that it only came up to Sophie’s kneecap. Sophie dropped to sit cross-legged on the carpet as Mr. Potter said goodbye. 

 

“You can’t,” the head continued its rant. “Just send a letter and assume that Maddy and I are going to hear that you are turning your life upside down and not come running. A letter, Sophia? You couldn’t even come visit me?”

 

 “You’re in the middle of your internship, and Maddy’s been busy with her department training. I just thought a letter would be a good way to tell everyone at the same time,” Sophie was more than a little ashamed of herself. At the time it had seemed a very grown up thing to do—make sure that everyone knew what was going on without disrupting their work schedules—but now she realized that she had treated her family like they were a check list. Talk to Lily? Check. Tell the Potters? Check. Inform family of decisions without having to face them? Check.

 

 “I’m sorry,” Sophie began, picking at the carpet. “I really didn’t think it would be a big deal. I just thought you would like to know…”

 

 “Of course I want to know, Soph,” the head sighed. “But what am I supposed to do with a letter that says ‘Having a great summer, have safely arrived at the Potter’s house and decided to break up with my boyfriend of three years. Love, Sophie?’” 

 

“Well, you were supposed to take it better,” Sophie said, a bit sullenly. “Its really not your decision who I date.”

 

 “You are completely missing the point! You are such a child, Sophie! How do you think I felt when I realized that something had happened so that you and James were calling it quits? How do you think I felt when Maddy showed up at the hospital in a fit—a fit, Sophie—demanding that we rush to the Potter’s this instant to see what was wrong. At least have the decency to pretend that you care whether your siblings are involved in your life at all."

 

 “Of course I want you two in my life,” sniffled Sophie. “Don’t yell at me. Its been a hard day.”

 

Chris’ head looked a bit embarrassed that he had made her cry and said, “There, there” rather unhelpfully (he didn’t have arms to pat her back). 

 

 “I just…I mean, he hasn’t done anything, has he Soph? Because you know that you can always count on Maddy and me to take care of you. You are barely an adult--we can help.”

 

 “I know,” said Sophie, a bit watery. “But I really don’t need you this time. I just knew that everyone was going to have opinions about our break up, the same way they all had opinions about our relationship. And I’m sick and tired of having to answer questions and explain myself. And I really didn’t want to have to do so with you.”

 

“We don’t ask questions to harass you,” said Chris, sounding hurt.

 

 “I know…but what if you don’t approve? Chris, if you or Maddy didn’t agree with my decision I don’t know what I’d do.”

 

 “We,” said Chris firmly. “Will always support you. No matter what. Maddy and I love you—Maddy, tell Sophie you love her.”

 

 From beyond Chris’ head came the distant sound of her sister Madeline’s voice agreeing with Chris. 

 

 “You shouldn’t ever feel like you can’t tell us something,” finished her older brother, and Sophie cried a bit harder, because that really was the problem. She spent so much of her time pretending to people, and although sometimes it made her feel smart or adult, she sometimes got so tired of defending imaginary feelings or acting like another person. 

 

 She and her siblings might have been a couple of years apart, in different places, and interested in different things, but she had always been closer to Christopher and Madeline than anyone else. She had spent three years lying She couldn’t bear lying to them one more time.

 

So instead of lying outright, Sophie amended her story. She hadn’t consulted with James, but she couldn’t let Chris and Maddy keep thinking that they weren’t important.

 

 “Chris,” Sophie began, scooting closer to the fireplace and lowering her voice. “James and I haven’t been together for a while now.”

 

 Christopher looked at her, eyebrows raised only slightly, and then turned his head back, presumably looking at Maddy behind him.

 

“James and I…we’ve known for a while now that we weren’t going to last, but there were some…extenuating circumstances. We had to make plans.”

 

“And what ‘extenuating circumstances’ would those be?” Chris asked, trying to decide whether or not to be concerned. 

 

“You know that our break up would cause a media backlash. Our families are going to be under scrutiny,” Sophie winced in apology. Chris didn’t even acknowledge the infringement on the Hinds family privacy. “Well, when James and I first started talking about breaking up, we worried that…certain people wouldn’t be able to handle the increased media pressure.”

 

“What? What certain pers—“ Chris started, but from behind him Sophie heard her sister say, ”Oh don’t be an idiot, Christopher. She means Lily Potter.”

 

 Chris raised an eyebrow in question, and Sophie nodded in agreement. Chris sighed and said, “ Soph, please tell me that you didn’t stay together with him just to feel like you were protecting someone else? Lily is nearly grown—she doesn’t need you to protect her.”

 

Sophie blushed. Chris didn’t know the half of it. “Well, why do you think we broke up? We know that too—it just took a while to figure things out. I’m not a child anymore, you know.”

 

Chris sighed again, flames licking his face. “We know, Sophie. Its just, next time try not to give me a heart attack. Maddy and I love you and we are here for you to talk to, not ignore.”

 

“I love you far too much to ignore you both,” Sophie whispered. “And I’m so glad that you love me enough to check up on me in the middle of your late shift at Mungo’s.”

 

“Yes, well,” said Chris, a bit embarrassed. “Anything for you.”

 

“Anything?  Well how about you start by keeping your nose out of my business, “ Sophie teased, causing Chris to snort.

 

“Did you hear that, Mads? She wants us out of her life? How do you like that?” Asked Chris with an exaggerated tone, keeping up the joke.

 

Sophie giggled as she wiped her face, getting rid of the last of her tears. She could hear Madeline in the background rattling on about all the times she and Chris had needed to come to Sophie’s rescue and that was the thanks they got?

 

“Oh, in case you can’t hear her, Maddy wants to know what you told Mum and Dad.”

 

“Well they got a letter too—“

 

“Come on Sophie!” Interrupted Chris.

 

 “Yeah, in hindsight it was a bad idea! Can we move on now? I suggested that Mum and Daddy come for lunch tomorrow to talk things through. That’s not so bad, right?”

 

We didn’t get invited to lunch,” came Maddy’s voice from the beyond.

 

“Well go easy on them,” Chris said. “You know how they worry.”

 

“I’ll take care,” Sophie promised. “Have fun at work Chris. And go to sleep Maddy. You have done your sibling duty admirably and I thank you for it.” Sophie gave a mock bow that had Chris rolling his eyes. But he said his goodbye’s all the same, promising her that he would keep in touch. His farewell was echoed by Madeline and then cut off as the fireplace connection terminated.

 

Sophie stood up, stretched her legs, and wiped her face again, checking for tears. She felt a little frustrated with herself. She very rarely cried, but she had melted into a puddle after a few words from her brother. Sophie was glad that soon this would all be over—she wasn’t sure she could handle the constant emotional turmoil much longer.

 

At the top of the stairs she was met with a surprise—James. He stuck his head out his room and asked quietly, “Is everything alright?”

 

“Yeah!” Sophie replied brightly, but James wasn’t fooled. He turned his head to check that they weren’t being watched, and then stepped out into the hall with her. Quickly, he wrapped his arms around her and pressed a brotherly kiss to her forehead. Sophie leaned into James, taking in his strength, and then just as quickly they separated. 

 

“Sorry your family thinks you  are the reason we broke up.”

 

“Sorry your family doesn’t think you care about them.” So he had been listening.

 

“Tomorrow will be better,” Sophie replied with some confidence. “And the next day will be better and then before you know it we will be at Hogwarts and by then everyone will have forgotten to pay attention to us.”

 

 James laughed and Sophie smiled, feeling much better. They separated into their respective rooms and for some reason that was the moment that Sophia Hinds truly realized that she and James were no longer “dating.”


 Which was funny, because they never had been. 





Author's Note:  As always, please rate and review.  I still need to do a lot of editing on this chapter, so if you see typos etc... please tell me so I can correct them.  The title comes from my favorite of all Oscar Wilde plays ('The Importance of Being Ernest').  The quote in the summary is from "All's Well That Ends Well."  Hope you enjoy!


Chapter 4: Vanity Fair
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 Her lungs were burning. 

Sophie hate running. Well, that was not entirely true. For the first ten minutes, she loved it. She felt excited to exercise and proud that she had gotten herself out of bed. But she was finishing up her third mile and had been running for over twenty minutes and at that moment, she hated running with a passion.


 

At least, Sophie reminded herself, she wasn’t running with James. It bothered him that she ran so slowly. If he was going to get a workout, it wasn’t going to be with her. He was much too much of a gentleman to leave her running by herself, but he chafed at the slow pace and would make little impatient remarks as they went along. 


 

That was why, on this lovely summer morning, Sophie was gasping for breath next to Roxy, twin of Fred, daughter of George and Angelina, and (oddly enough) wizarding world socialite. 


 

Yes, Roxy loved the paparazzi, and the paparazzi loved her. It was strange—her twin was creative, spontaneous, and only thought of the press when it got in his way. Roxy, for all her potential (what with two war-hero parents and all) had only one aspiration: to be constantly adored by her public.


 

This meant, amoung a host of other things, Roxy took care to keep her body in perfect condition. Since Sophie and Roxy were in the same boat, they often made plans to run together at school and over holidays. It was Roxy’s fault Sophie was up this early at all—if she had had her way, Sophie would have taken the morning off and slept in. But Roxy had snuck in around seven, poked Sophie awake, and gently reminded her friend of the number of bowls of ice cream she had ingested the night before.  


 

And so there Sophia was, using the last of her energy to crest the final hill that separated her from their destination: the perfect breakfast spot. She regretted that she had missed the sunrise. It simply came too early in the summer for her to bother to wake up for it, but the memory of previous sunrises was enough to make her almost regret sleeping in. 


 

“Come along, Soph!” gasped Roxy from only a few feet away, impatient to get to her breakfast. 


 

“Come along yourself!” panted Sophie, sprinting the last steps to her friend. The girls paused for only a moment, taking in the soft view of the perfection that was the world they lived in, before sprinting easily down the slope. 


 

The Potter’s lived in the middle of nowhere with only nature as far as the eye could see. The perfect breakfast spot was a huge rock jutting out of the side of the hill they had just run up. It faced East, so the girls were able to enjoy their food while enjoying some sun at the same time. And the view was breath taking. The run had taken Roxy and Sophie around the perimeter of the Potter’s lands so that they were now in almost the exactly the same as when they had started, except they now had food and a slightly different view.


 

Once they were settled, Roxy reached into her expandable pack and pulled out bottles of water, an apple a piece and two sandwiches made with leftover chicken from the night before.


 

In between stuffing their faces, Roxy and Sophie caught up on all the gossip. It was strange, when Sophie was around parents or siblings, it was as though everything she said related to politics or intelligent current events. When she was round James, or even Freddy or Al or Mr. Potter, she suddenly became a quidditch dictionary. Now here she was with Roxy counting calories, comparing social events, and sharing catty stories about other girls in their circle. 


 

Roxy had only mentioned the break up once in passing. “And now that you are back on the market, you can finally take Marc up on that date he’s been after you for,” Roxy had said off-handedly, as though Sophie breaking up with her three year boyfriend was some sort of social move to entrap the rising quidditch star Marc Hail.

 

 

 

“Yeah, I guess,” Sophie said, answering Roxy’s question. She’d never really thought anything of Marc. It was weird for Roxy to be bringing him up. 

 

 

 

“What do you mean you guess?  The Malfoys’ party is coming up—you are going to need a date aren’t you? Marc will do.” Sophie shrugged noncommittally, not particularly interested in giving up on the idea that Albus would be noble and go with her since she didn’t have a date.


 

 The Malfoys’ annual summer gathering (read ‘elaborate ball’) was in only a few weeks—in the world of elite wizards and witches, it was the main social event of the summer season. Some of Sophie’s earliest memories of the Potter/Weasley’s were of ruining her best summer dress sloshing around in the Malfoy’s grand fountain with several of the cousins. Now the ball meant something completely different. It was an opportunity to display herself as a capable adult to the influential families who would—one day—support her when she ran for Minister of Magic.

 

 

 

The dress she described to Roxy was a deep rose, which accented Sophie’s  mahogany hair and hazel eyes. It was demure but still young looking and flattering. She had searched everywhere. It was the perfect dress.


 

“Gag me,” exclaimed Roxy, making a face that suggested her eggs had been undercooked. “I’ll show you my dress when we head back in. Now that’s the perfect dress.”


 

Roxy had the amazing talent to pick dresses that were the most indecent thing that Sophie had ever seen without anything being wrong with them. Roxy never wore anything too low-cut, no slits in her dresses, nothing so short as to give a show when sitting down (as Katie Wood had the unfortunate tendency to do), but somehow managed to look absolutely scandalous every time she left the house.


 

“Hey!” exclaimed Roxy as Sophie—ever the picture of female composure—slurped the last of her orange juice. “You know what we should do?”


 

“Wha-ht?” Sophie asked around her mouthful of juice.


 

“We should switch dresses!”


 

“Absolutely not!” Sophie didn’t even have to think about it.


 

“Come on Soph!”


 

“Come on Rox!” Sophie mimicked. “Setting aside the fact that whatever dress you chose would most certainly give my mother an aneurysm, we have completely different body types. I would look like a little girl trying on dress up clothes in anything that fits you.”


 

It was true. While Sophie might be five foot four feet of pure character and determination, Roxy was five foot eight inches of womanly perfection. There was no way that Sophie could fit into Roxy’s dress. 


 

“You take the fun out of everything,” Roxy pouted. “Besides, that dress is perfect for you


 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sophie asked, affronted. 


 

Roxy rolled her eyes in a way that said that Sophie knew nothing. For all that the things that interested Roxy were superficial, Roxanne Weasley was a very intelligent person and often took the opportunity to remind her family and friends of the fact.


 

“Sophie. Please. You may pretend to be the squeaky clean, heart-of-gold politician's daughter, but at least be real with me.” Sophie gave her friend an incredulous look.


 

 “What’s with the face, Soph? You know its true. Except when participating in various forms of embarrassment with Jamie, you were always the perfect little Hinds’ child. You are polite, intelligent and you know how to network. You were practically raised from birth to be Minister of Magic. Has there ever been anyone in your family who didn’t become a Healer, Lawyer, or Politician?”


 

“My father is a professor,” said Sophie, a little hurt.


 

“A Magical Law Professor,” Roxy stressed the syllables. “Heck, even dating James was a political move forwards—“


 

“Hey!” burst out Sophie, outraged and completely unsure how they had gotten to this subject from the topic of dresses.


 

“Oh please,” Roxy had just a little bit of spite in her eyes. Apparently she had felt this way for awhile. “Its me, Soph. Its not like I’d do any different. There are a lot of perks to dating the son of the Boy Who Lived.” 


 

“Stop it. Now.” Sophie’s voice was low and hurt. “You don’t know anything about anything. So just stop it.”


 

Sophie hadn’t realized it until that moment, but Roxy was angry with her. Roxy had invited her out to run so that they could have their spat far away from the house and any extendable ears present. Roxanne Weasley was the only one taking James’ side in the break-up.


 

“Dating is different with us,” Roxy said calmly, taking a bite of her apple. “ You know that. Everything we do is a show for the public and its easy to get caught up and act “like we are supposed to.” But my cousins are off limits. You aren’t allowed to use my cousins like props to create your little fairy tale.”


 

Sophie couldn’t say anything. She was hurt that her friend could think she would do such a thing, but it was more the fact that she was completely caught off guard. She had never been blamed for anything that went wrong in the relationship (well, nothing too horribly embarrassing). But now she was being accused by Roxy, and she didn’t like it. She didn’t like it one bit.


 

Sophie wondered if this was how James felt.


 

“I let you date him,” Roxy continued. “I was excited—I thought you would be my cousin one day. But you have crossed a line. You can’t just used James and then throw him away when you are done with him and expect no repercussions.” 

 

 

 

“That’s not how it happened,” Sophie was embarrassed to feel tears creeping up on her for the second time in 24 hours. She took a quick breath to get a hold of herself.


 

“Oh, just tell the truth already. We are friends. We were supposed to be friends. I thought I could trust you.” The words ‘with him’ were left unsaid, but Sophie knew. Roxy thought that Sophie would have told her if her relationship with James was for publicity or any other reason than love. Roxy thought she had been betrayed by Sophie. 


 

In fact, Sophie was starting to understand how Roxy felt. If Sophie thought that someone had used one of her siblings like that, she would be having a similar talk with the perpetrator. She knew for a fact that Chris had had several “talks” with Maddy’s boyfriends.


 

It was not easy to be in the spotlight. It was a game—how long could you trick the public into thinking you, your life, and your family are perfect. To pull off the masquerade you need the support of the entire cast of characters, everyone in the spotlight must stand together. There was a code amoung the famous. Roxy thought Sophie had broken the rules by using James to play her part. In fact, Sophie had broken the rules—she and James had created their own ruse without discussing it with the group.


 

“I didn’t use James,” Sophie began, carefully. “In a way James used me.”


 

Roxy raised perfectly shaped eyebrows in an expression that said ,’Oh, really. You expect me to believe that?’


 

And for a moment Sophie wanted to spill the beans. Sophie wanted to tell Roxy everything that had happened in the last three years. She wanted Roxy to be impressed with her. Sophie wanted Roxy to feel sorry that she had ever thought badly of her friend. 


 

But Sophie couldn’t do it. This awful feeling of being judged, James felt that every day, and here Sophie was caving after only five minutes. They had promised each other that they wouldn’t tell and Sophie was not going to break that promise.


 

“Roxy, I loved James.” That was true. In some ways Sophie still loved James. But what she felt for James was more of a brotherly love. “I loved James. You have to believe that I never would have dated him otherwise.”


 

Roxy deflated a bit, perhaps, Sophie thought, in relief. “Then how can you be ok?” Roxy questioned softly. “You never said anything to me, to anyone, about having problems. How could you just make this decision and be fine without any…emotion?”


 

“Its not without emotion. Roxy, James and I have been trained from birth to compose ourselves in public, no matter what we are feeling in private. We just made the mistake of concealing ourselves from our friends and family.”


 

“Then what happened, Soph?” Roxy didn’t seem to be angry anymore, but Sophie was going to be careful with her words. She had forgotten that family came before anything else, and now that she and James were no longer dating, she was outside the sphere of Roxy’s family.


 

“James came to me before Easter Holiday and said that he wanted a break. I…”Sophie paused for dramatic effect. “I didn’t know what to say. We hadn’t been having any fights. I hadn’t noticed him acting any different. I didn’t know why.”


 

Roxy’s eyes were compassionate and Sophie felt bad for lying. But there was nothing else to be done. She was too far in now.


 

“He said that now that we were heading into seventh year, things were getting serious. He said that people would start expecting an engagement.”


 

“James you idiot,” Roxy rolled her eyes. 


 

“That’s what I said!” exclaimed Sophie, getting into her part. “I told him that we didn’t have to do what people expected of us. He shouldn’t feel any pressure. But James said that He had been thinking about it for sometime and he couldn’t see himself marrying me, and if that was the case maybe we should take some time off.”


 

“Oh Sophie,” lamented Roxy, having completely switched sides from Team James to Team Sophie. “How heartbreaking. I never knew James was so mature, to think about dating in that way.”


 

“Its one of James’ many surprises,” Sophie sighed for dramatic effect. She was actually kind of enjoying the elaborate tail. “At first I was devastated. I had certainly pictured myself marrying him,” Roxy was nodding along was Sophie drew closer to the conclusion. “I was so upset but I kept telling myself that if I didn’t think about it, somehow everything would be worked out on its own.”


 

“You should have talked to me,” Roxy admonished, as though she would not have immediately leaked the gossip as soon as she knew that James and Sophie could handle the rumors. Sophie managed to look remorseful and continued the story.


 

“Well, when I finally did think about it, I realized that I didn’t want to marry James either. At least, I don’t right now, or even in the foreseeable future. We just want different things. We grew into different people without realizing it. Breaking up was painful, but by the time it was over, we both knew it was the right thing.”


 

The two girls sat in silence for a time, finishing their meal and gazing out at the scenery. 


 

“I’m sorry I thought,” Roxy said. “That you were the villain in the break-up. Its just, people don’t realize it, but James is a stand-up guy. But its as though he makes sure that the good things he does aren’t noticed.”


 

That was very true, and very typical of James. James Potter was always being told he looked like his father—the hair, the eyes, the mannerisms—but what people missed was the most important likeness. James had his father’s savior complex in a big way. Not just with his family and friends, but with everyone.


 

But Roxy was very astute to have noticed it, because James had taken to being subtle with his good deeds. Early on, every time he did something extraordinary, it was immediately dragged out into the spotlight and compared to his Father’s works. Anything good James did became media fodder and didn’t have the same meaning anymore. So over time, James became very good at being good without anyone noticing.


 

If a boy in his year was having trouble in a class and was too stubborn to get tutoring, he would pretend to have trouble in the same class so that they could “work it out” together. If he noticed a girl was having a rough time of it after a breakup, he would suddenly absolutely need her, and only her, to do important prefect work and keep her busy until she was feeling better. James was sneaky, but not sneaky enough to avoid all notice.


 

“Sophie, you don’t know,” Roxy continued as the girls finished the short walk down the hill to the Potter’s house. “How many times James has come to my rescue or watched out for all of us without asking anything in return.”

 

 

 

“I know. If I were in your position I would blame me too. No hard feelings.” Well, that was a bit of a lie. It was hard not to be a bit hurt that Roxy would jump to that conclusion, but Sophie would be an idiot to fly off the handle—It was a perfectly logical assumption.


 

“Well, “ Roxy said awkwardly. “Now that I have made a complete fool of myself, I have a question: What on earth are you going to tell your parents when they come to lunch today?”


 

"Roxy," Sophie groaned.  "Why bring that up?  We were having a nice moment?"


 

Roxy laughed as they entered the house.


 

 "You know it won't be that bad," Roxy said, to placate Sophie.  "Your parents love you.  In fact, they are probably thrilled.  No more pictures of their baby girl doing untoward things with the son of their good friend."


 

"Yeah, you're probably right," replied Sophie, heading up the stairs to a shower, with no idea how wrong Roxy was.


 




  

Authors Note:


 

Hey Guys!  Sorry I took so long.  I finished all my exams and am currently posting this from SPAIN!  I hope it was worth the wait :)  Did you like Roxy?  I had the most fun every writing her.  



Also, I definitely intended this chapter to be about her parents so that we could get on with the plot, but Roxy was very persistent and wanted a whole chapter too herself. 

As always, the quote in the summery isn't mine--its Shakespeare's (from The Merchant of Venice).  Also, the title is from the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray.


Chapter 5: Crime and Punishment
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

  “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 :)


Chapter 6: Sophie in Wonderland
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


November, One year ago



“Ally, come on!” Sophie was pulling on her trainers and stuffing a colourful knitted hat over her un-brushed hair as she raced down the stairs. The muffled sound of boy-talking-with-a-mouthful-of-toothpaste met her ears as she reached the last step. 



“Geez, Soph, its only half-eight!” yelled Albus from the sixth year bathrooms, after spitting out his toothpaste. “Who goes shopping this early anyway?”

“Girls!” Sophie replied happily. It was a Hogsmeade weekend, the last before the holidays, and Sophia Hinds had tricked Albus Potter, younger brother of her current pretend-boyfriend, into going Christmas shopping with her.

The Gryffindor common room was largely deserted—no one else would bother getting up for another few hours. Not only was it early on a Saturday morning, but it was early on a Saturday morning the day after Gryffindor had won a huge victory over Hufflepuff. The party had raged into the wee hours of the morning. Sophie like these parties for the first hour or so, then her head began to pound and she got tired of yelling to be heard. She had gone to bed at a modest midnight while James had stayed much longer to celebrate his fantastic Captaining. 

Sophie sank into one of the plush scarlet couches listening to the succession of clanks and bangs that were a very sleepy Al getting ready to leave. Just a few hours ago the common room had looked like a dance club, but somehow the house elves had managed to return the disaster to its original state. A warm fire crackled in the huge hearth and there were blankets piled on the ends of armchairs for students to use when studying. Outside, the world was grey slush and depressing cold.

Sophie was in heaven.

She certainly loved warm, sunny days, but there was something about grey, dreary days that made her smile. Maybe it was because she felt like she should be curled on her favorite window seat reading a book, but there was something about the somber beauty of these cloudy days that always put some extra pep in her step.

This was ironic, because Al was complaining incessantly about the drabness of the weather as he descended the stairs. His hair was flattened on the left side while the right side stuck up in tuffs and spikes that had been formed while sleeping. He had clearly forgotten he had promised to go with her to Hogsmeade and stayed up later than he intended. 



“How can you even think of stepping foot out the castle on a day like this,” Albus moaned, indicating the dark, swirling, clouds that could be seen from one of the impressive windows that graced the common room. He struggled to wrap a comically thick scarf around his neck and failing miserably. “I think we should just go back to bed!”



“Albus Severus,” said Sophie, raising her eyebrows and leaning over to help untangle him from his scarf. “You aren’t getting out of shopping that easily! You lost the bet to James, remember? That means that you have to pick out the present for your parents and I have to approve any present. Therefore, you are coming. End of story.”



“But couldn’t you have picked a warmer day?” Al hated the cold. From October to April he stayed indoors as long as he could help it and even now he was only leaving the castle under great duress and many layers of clothing.



“It’s Christmas, Ally. There is no possible way for me to have picked a warmer day,” Sophie laughed at him.



Al grumbled indistinguishably but didn’t make any real attempt for escape. Instead he waited patiently for Sophie to wrap his silver and green scarf snuggly around his neck and ears before heading out of the portrait hole. Sophie looped her arm comfortably in the crook of Albus’ arm, more like a sister than a lover. They had been friends for years and despite Sophie’s earlier crush on the younger Potter, there was a great deal of ease between the two.



“Have fun last night, eh?” Sophie wiggled her eyebrows at her companion and giggled when he blushed. Albus was on the rebound, and had spent much of the night chatting up a very pretty Ravenclaw in his year. The boy made no indication besides his reddened cheeks, so Sophie—ever the good friend—probed further.



“You must have, seeing as how you didn’t even make it back to your own common room!”



“Oh come off it,” retorted Al, a tetch irritatedly. “You know good an well I crashed with James. You banged on the door to wake me. How did you even know?”



“I borrowed the communal knowledge.”



“You know where it is!” Perhaps she shouldn’t have said anything. Sophie had forgotten that Lily had taken the Marauder’s Map without telling James two weeks ago because he had threatened a fourth year who had asked her to Hogsmead.



“I have my ways ,” she replied, cryptically.



“So Lily has it?”



“Yeah. Don’t tell James.”



“Of course not.”



Sophie smiled and reached into the big bag at her side and rummaged until she produced a mug of tea charmed to stay hot and passed it to Al as they descended the final staircase that separated them from the floor with the one-eyed-witch.



“Here,” she said. “You’ll feel more yourself with some tea in you.”



Al grunted his thanks and began gulping the tea, making Sophie wonder just how much he had had to drink the previous night. 



“Here, I’ve even got a jam sandwich,” Sophie said, offering half to her friend. Albus eyed the sandwich suspiciously over the thermos. 



“That’s it?” he questioned. 



“What, am I supposed to keep bangers-and-mash tucked away in my purse?” questioned Sophie, incredulously. 



“I’m a growing boy!” proclaimed Al in a manly voice. “I need meat!”



Sophie snorted but still gave him half the sandwich when he reached for it.  True to form, Al perked up a bit after having some food and by the time they were in the tunnel that led to the basement of Honeyduke’s he was positively chatty.



It was tradition for the Potter-Weasley’s to get to Hogsmeade via secret tunnel rather than with the rest of the school. Victoire Weasley had once been abducted by a journalist on her way to Hogsmeade in her third year. Teddy had come to the rescue, but it had been decided that the tunnels were a safer mode of transportation. 



Albus was regaling Sophie with stories she had missed after she went to bed the night before, including one particularly memorable one involving a young Gryffindor’s mistake declaration of love for Al’s housemate, Scorpius. A male Gryffindor’s accidental declaration of love.



“Apparently,” Albus said between laughs.” The poor kid was so sloshed that he mistook Scorp for Angela Turner. You know, the tall skinny bird in Lily’s year?”



“How could you be drunk enough to think Scorpius looked like Angie Turner?” Sophie had tears coming from her eyes. “On that matter, who was more embarrassed: Scorpius or the boy?”



“Well, Scorp thought it was funny until we started the jokes about how lady-like he looked. After a bit he just headed back to the dungeons. The kid was still too drunk to understand what had happened. His friends said that he had taken a bit to much liquid courage before chatting up his ladylove. Poor bloke's never going to live it down.”



They walked for a moment in a silence broken only by the lingering giggles brought on by the story. Sophie had cast a warming spell in the tunnel that had put a stop to Al’s incessant groans about the chill. In fact, it was rather nice, to be out an about, with shopping on the mind and Albus to accompany her.



“Sophie,” the boy in question cleared his throat in a way that made Sophie think he felt uncomfortable. She cocked her head towards him, indicating that she was listening. “Are you and James…on the outs again?"



“Why do you ask that?” Sophie felt a familiar tug beneath her ribs. A year ago, Sophie might have lost herself in the old fantasy. “I adore you” Albus would say. “I don’t care about James…” But that was ridiculous. Al would never make a move on her, and besides, Sophie fallen out of love with him months ago. Old habits die hard, she supposed.



“Well,” Al sounded unusually hesitant. He cleared his throat—to buy himself time, Sophie thought—and then ploughed right into the subject. “James left the party with a girl last night.”



“Oh,” Sophie said, quietly. Her fake boyfriend was cheating on their pretend relationship with a real girl. For Al’s sake, Sophie coaxed tears to well up in her eyes. This was the worst, most vile kind of lying. She could tell her friend was very worried about her. She knew she would spend the next few weeks making the people who loved her concerned for her, and the irony was that she was happy for James. Unfortunately, his reputation was about to take another hit, and all because he found a girl he liked.



Oh yes, she was supposed to be acting upset.



She sniffled slightly, and managed to sound suitably choked up when she asked (tragically), ”So, what…(sniffle)…what did she look like.”



Albus coughed uncomfortably. Sophie felt bad for putting him in that position, but over the years Sophie had settled into a pattern: cry, ask about the “other girl,” lament for weeks, ect…ect…



“Sophie,” Albus began kindly. “It doesn’t matter who she was or what she looked like. That will only make it worse. Here, have some tea.”



Albus thrust the piping hot tea into her hands. In a habit garnered from his mother, Albus always medicated emotional pain with Earl Grey.



Sophie let a few, glistening tears spill over onto her cheeks in response. Albus stopped walking, turned toward her, and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Sophie, maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. Maybe we should wait to get more information.  But I just couldn't...not tell you.”



Albus reached a mittened hand up to wipe Sophie’s cheek and then pulled her into a comforting hug. Sophie wasn’t sure what to say—Al was such a great friend, and here she was playing him the fool. It was times like this that she just wished she could blurt out the truth and have him understand.



But instead of coming clean, Sophie took a deep, reassuring breath and said,” You’re right, Al. I’m sure by the time we come back James will be awake to explain how this is all just a misunderstanding….”



Albus agreed, and put an arm around her to comfort her. She felt even worse about her deception knowing that he was so worried about her. Sophie gave a little sigh, and began thinking of ways to expand their lie to cover James’ ‘misbehavior’.



The present day.



It was almost time for her to go, and Sophie was deeply regretting not packing the night before. In a last sign of petulance that Sophie herself mistook for a dislike of packing, the morning came and went without a single article of clothing finding its way into her trunk.



She had preformed the packing spell but was missing ½ of her favourite pair of socks, some eye shadow, and her tweezers had gone mysteriously missing. She had tried Accio already, but the Potter household had some many socks/eye shadow containers/tweezers that Sophie had been pelted with miscellaneous items until she was forced to discontinue the spell. 



Currently, Sophie Hinds, straight O student, glittering debutante, and future Minister of Magic was on her hands and knees crawling under James’ bed looking for her missing possessions. Although Sophie was loudly complaining about the state of the boys’ room, it wasn’t that bad. Mrs. Potter had stormed in the night of Sophie’s arrival—wand ablaze—and forced her progeny to clean all items that were rotting, undistinguishable, or smelled. The room wasn’t quite up to Sophie’s personal standards, but she had only run into a few molding socks and had yet to gag.



Pushing aside a colony of old quidditch equipment, Sophie decided that she honestly didn’t care anymore. Who cares if those socks were her favourites? They had abandoned her and she was not going to spend another second under James Potter’s bed looking for them, that was for sure!


 


Backtracking carefully on hands and knees, Sophie returned to the light. Sophie ran a few fingers in her hair to ensure that no cobwebs had followed her escape before rocking onto her heels and standing.



“Find anything?” asked Albus, more out of courtesy than concern. He wasn’t even really paying attention to her. Currently he, Louis, Fred and James were huddled around the new ‘Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes’ catalogue that Fred had brought from his father’s store.



“No, “ Sophie replied, wrinkling her nose in irritation. “And it will be a pain to replace the tweezers, too.  Wizarding stores rarely carry them.”



At the mention of tweezers, Sophie watched Fred’s face carefully for any guilt—she had no evidence, but if she were a betting witch, she would place money on the suspicion that Fred had something to do with the absence of her grooming tool. However, Fred’s demeanor did no change in the slightest. There were only two possibilities for his guiltless manner:  Either he really was innocent of tweezer-napping or he had inherited his father’s great talent for mischief. Sophie decided to give him the benefit of the doubt—she doubted he had the wherewithal to actually touch the tweezers. 



“You know,” she commented. “I don’t know why you bother looking at the new items. Even if you could somehow trick your father into selling you any prank-worthy products, Mrs. Potter would never let you get to Hogwarts with them.”



“What?” sputtered James, incredulously. “You think one tiny woman could keep us from smuggling in contraband? Your lack of faith astounds me, Miss Hinds!”



Sophie rolled her eyes. It was common knowledge that the Potter-Weasley’s had yet to smuggle WWW products into Hogwarts. The great irony was that it was relatively easy for a non-Weasley/Potter to get the forbidden pranking supplies. However, Ginny Potter and Hermione Weasley had gotten together when their children began going to Hogwarts and created some way to keep their kids from getting their hands on any of George Weasley’s creations.



No one was sure how they had done it. All sorts of different plans had been implemented to trick the two mothers, from the complex (stashing extendable ears in hollowed out text books) to the more simple (hiding dungbombs under their shirts). But somehow, as soon as they opened their trunks, removed the invisibility cloak, or accio-ed the item, the products were nowhere to be found. Even if the boys gave the items to a friend to bring, they vanished once the trunks entered the Great Hall.



Sophie personally postulated that Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Weasley had used some sort of tracking charm that identified WWW products that had been touched by a Weasley/Potter under the age of 17 and then somehow caused the item to disappear. Sophie liked to think that Hermione and Ginny kept the pranks and used them from time to time. You never know.



But whatever the mechanism depriving the boys of their supplies, they were determined to beat it. A new, grand scheme was being created (months in advance, Sophie noted) and James in particular was extremely invested in the outcome because it was his last year to try. 



Seeing that she would be ignored if she tried to stay, Sophie dusted off her jumper and offered a quick farewell to the boys.



“Wait, Soph, where are you going?” Louis’ voice stopped her. Sophie turned around. 



“Breakfast?”



“Er…you can’t.” Louis said, much to the confusion of Sophie.



“Why not?” Sophie inquired. “I’m hungry and I don’t feel like packing anymore.”



Louis sent frantic, expressive glances at the other three boys. James, at least, seemed to understand his meaning, even if Sophie didn’t.



“Yeah, Soph. Why don’t you help us plan? Mum is…”



“Mum is on a rampage,” Albus cut in. “You know how she gets. She’s decided that the kitchen has to be redone and if you go down there you won’t be able to escape her grasp!”



All four boys nodded their heads in unison, each adding their own affirmations. Sophie narrowed her eyes suspiciously.



“A rampage?” Sophie questioned. Four identical head bobs.



“In the kitchen?” It was like the boys were puppets, the way they moved with such synchronicity. 



“Ummmhmmm…well then why don’t I hear sounds of the wreckage being caused?”



All four boys froze. Sophie watched as they looked at one another, trying to patch the holes in their story. Sophie wasn’t sure why they were lying to her, and she wasn’t sure what they were lying about, but she was determined to get to the bottom of it. 



Quickly she bolted to the door, but Fred, who was much closer to it that she, slammed it shut in her face. He looked at his hand in horror, as though it had acted on its own. Sophie could practically see him thinking, ‘how do I explain this now?



Slowly she turned so she could see all four boys. She took the time to look each one in the eye and stare them down. Louis swallowed uncomfortably. James looked away. That, if nothing else, made Sophie worried. If James hadn’t confided in her, if he wasn’t looking her in the eye, he was trying to protect her from something. But what?



“James?” it was a question, not a name. Her partner in crime met her eyes unhappily. 



“Sophie, I don't think--"James started, but couldn't finish.



“There’s been an attack on the Ministry of Magic.” It was Albus who finally filled her in. She could see that he hated to be the one who told her. But it wasn’t in Albus’ nature to keep secrets.  "This morning, the Prophet’s headline was…alarming, to say the least. We didn’t want you to see it until there was better news."



It was as though the blood in her veins turned to ice. She couldn't breath, couldn’t move. Her sister worked there. Her mother worked there. She had tunnel vision—it was as though all she could see was Albus’ face, only hear Albus’ voice telling more horrible details. He walked closer and took her hands to reassure her, but it was as though she couldn’t feel him.



“They are still evacuating, and its still hectic, but I’m sure Maddie and your mum are fine—“



At the mention of her family, Sophie jerked her hands from his, tore the door away from Fred, and bounded down the stairs. Behind her, the boys bounded out into the hallway in pursuit. Once in the kitchen, she didn’t immediately see the paper. Someone must have hidden it. Sophie jerked about wildly until she saw it, under a cushion in the den, crumpled but still legible. Mrs. Potter ran into the room, having heard the ruckus, and said, “Oh dear, she’s seen.”



The pictures were horrible. People were screaming and running. The Headline read: Ministry Breached by Unknown Extremist Group. The article told her that it had been less than forty-five minutes since the attack, but there was no record of a death-toll as of yet.



“Why wouldn’t you tell me!” Sophie shrieked at them. 



“Soph—“



“They could have been dead and I would have never known. Did you think you were protecting me! Did you think I couldn’t handle it!”



“Of course you could handle it, you idiot!” James yelled back. Sophie took a deep breath to try to control her anger and terror. “Dad went to find out more. There’s no proof that your mother or Maddie are in any danger. “



Sophie took slow, deep breaths, trying to let go of the uncontrolled initial panic.   She was shaking with adrenaline.



Albus glanced at James and them added, “They didn’t even get into the main Ministry. They attacked the floo systems. That’s where the casualties are. Dad should be back soon. He sent a patronus about ten minutes ago, but its really crazy there. “



The five of them stared at her, the four boys and Mrs. Potter, waiting for her reaction. Would she cry? Would she yell again? Would she be reasonable?



“My socks,” Sophie finally said. A confused silence followed. “My socks and my tweezers and my eye shadow. You took them. To distract me until you could get more news.”



Mrs. Potter raised her eyebrows. Louis looked up guiltily and said, “James and I put them in an enchanted chest so you couldn’t find them. Its just….Soph, what if Uncle Harry comes back and nothing is wrong? Then you would never have had to worry. We just didn’t want you to worry.”



“You let me climb under James’ bed,” Sophie accused. She was breathing more steadily now. “But you are right.  Its probably fine. My mother’s fine, my sister’s fine. Its fine. If it wasn’t fine, we’d know, right? That’s a good thing, right?”



The four boys bobbed their heads enthusiastically and assured her that everything would be “fine.” Albus came over, gave her a bracing hug, and put a cup of tea in her hands that was so hot it burned her tongue when she sipped it. He was right. Tea always helped.



It took a moment, but the shock was wearing off into a steeling of herself. If—just if, mind you!—the unthinkable had happened, there would be no more yelling outbursts. This wasn’t the first scare the Hinds family had encountered, and it would not be the last. 


 


Sophie carefully sipped her scalding tea and accepted toast from Mrs. Potter. Instead of focusing on the anxiety building in her chest or the worried gazes of her friends, Sophie focused on breakfast. Sophie had learned long ago that the trick to being calm is to focus on something other than the imminent disaster that is looming. Ergo, tea and toast suddenly became much more interesting than the attack on the ministry.



The article hadn’t mentioned any group taking responsibility for the attack. That was normal. In the years since The War, many things had changed. In some ways, the change had been for the better—the gap between purebloods and muggleborns had shrunk considerably. But there had also been a backlash. Everyone remembered what it felt like to be oppressed, hunted, without the ability to fight back. So now certain socio-political sects that became more vocal—and even more violent—with their views. 


 


Over her lifetime, Sophie had survived “witch-hunts” for Deatheaters, wild protesters causing a riot in Diagon Alley, and even attacks on her own house. Sometimes people thought that this sort of violent outburst was the only thing that would get the attention of the Wizarding World. Sophie understood the need to be heard, but she couldn’t comprehend the desire to hurt anyone else.



Especially since Sophie was fairly sure that this protest was a result of the movement to grant wand-rights to half-humans and other non-wizards. Over the last year and a half or so, legislature had been promoted—by Harry Potter and his constituents—that would grant more rights to the non-wizard magical community. 



This had caused a frenzied backlash of people who wanted to keep the magical creatures suppressed. There was an ignorant supposition that there would be an uprising and Wizarding power would be overthrown. Sophie personally thought that was crazy, but enough of the wizarding population was against the proposition that Mrs. Hinds had been unwilling to sign it into law. Now the wizards that wanted the law were mad that Mrs. Hinds had not signed, and the wizards that did not want the law were upset that Mrs. Hinds hadn’t dismissed the idea in the first place. Either party could have been behind the attack.



Suddenly there was a ‘whoosh’ of cold, electric air rushing by her and her father’s patronus—an elegant lynx—appeared at her side. Mr. Hinds voice came next: “Sophia, your mother and Madeline are safe. Do not leave the Potter’s. Will come for you.” 



And then as quickly as it had come, it disappeared. Sophie closed her eyes and gave a sigh of relief. For a moment, no one said anything, but then—



CRASH.



Six heads turned, surprised, to the fireplace. A slightly sooty Harry Potter clutched his knee where he had hit it on a chair that had been left in front of the chimney. 



“Who left furniture in the middle of the room?” he questioned, face grimaced in pain. 



Mrs. Potter smiled, kissed him on the cheek, and adjusted his crooked glasses. “How was it?” she asked, seriously. 



“Not as bad as that gossipmonger at the Prophet made it seem,” Harry replied grimly. “No fatalities, a few injuries. Some people ended up halfway across the country trying to take the floo system to work. And of course, we have no idea how many people were caught inside the chimneys. But no real damage was done.”



“So after seeing all that devistation and all those people caught inside the floo system, you thought it would be a good idea to take the same system to get home?” his wife chided lightly. Harry suddenly looked like an embarrassed boy. “Well, I didn’t take the chimney from work. I took the minister home and flooed from the Hinds’.”



At the mention of her parents, Mr. Potter turned towards his guest and said,” Your mother was fine. She had gone into work early and your sister had a day off. “



“My dad sent a Patronus,” Sophie said. “But do you know who did it?”



“There are a few theories, but nothing serious enough to go public with.” Everyone in the room knew that this meant the Aurors knew who had done it, had no proof, and were therefore unable to catch them. It was frustrating, but generally the way these things played out. 



“You parents are going to come by later with security to escort you to your sisters,” Mr. Potter continued.



“Oh,” Sophie said. “I thought maybe I would be staying here now.”



Mr. Potter shook his head. “They are setting up a Fidelius Charm. Your father will be able to tell you more when he gets here.”



“We’re going underground?” Sophie asked, incredulously. ‘ Going underground’ was a phrase that had been coined during the War when people literally went underground to hide. If her parents thought the Fidelius charm was necessary, they were really worried.



Sensing her unease, Mr. Potter elaborated, “I’m sure its just a precaution. We have no evidence that the attack was directed at your Mother. But I think your parents are just being protective.”



It was a relief to hear that. The excitement was over. Everyone was safe. Another sip of almost-to-hot tea and Sophie would be fine.



A warm hand clasped her shoulder offering support. Sophie didn’t have to look to know it was Albus. It was nice to know she had such stability. 



It was odd, just an hour ago, Sophie would have given anything to stay with the Potter's longer.  Now, all she wanted to do was go home. 







Authors Note:



Well, I could not wait any longer to write some Sophie/Albus time so I gave you a flashback!  



You may notice some typos--I hope there aren't any, but if there are I'm sorry.  I'm publishing this without doing editing because it has been so long since I last published.  And I'm so, SO, sorry for the wait.  I'm not going to jinx myself by saying the next one won't take as long haha.



I don't know if you've noticed, but I have started pointing out little differences between Albus and James--in this chapter, its the way they deal with uncomfortable information.  Albus is direct, and deals with the situation honestly.  James hates to be the bearer of bad news and would rather wait and hope that the situation will work itself out if he leaves it alone. 



The title is Lewis Carrol's beloved children's novel.  I chose it because the first half of the chapter--even the first half of Sophie's summer--is a wonderland.  Its strange and uncomfortable, sure, but now she has come back out of the rabbit hole and been reminded of real life.  The chapter quote is W. Shakespeare from As you like it.



But what did you think?  Did anyone see this coming?  Give me ratings!  Give me reviews!  Please and thanks :P



Chapter 7: All the Minister's Men
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

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? 





Author's Note:

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!


Chapter 8: Something Funny Happened on the Way to Fortescue's
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

 Sophie sat in her room, alone. There were many things she could be doing. Sophie could finish her summer homework. She could start applying for internships for next summer. She could answer the letters her friends had sent. But instead, Sophie was sitting quietly, and thinking.

 

 

After her mother’s recent revelations last week, Sophie was feeling more than willing to return to her adolescent life. She still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her information. On the one hand the wizarding world had a right to know that non-wizard persons might have had something to do with the attack. On the other hand, if the Purists got a hold of that information, all hopes of equality in the wizarding world could be given up. 

 

 

 

Sophie shook her head—she didn’t know what the right thing to do was. Guiltily, she decided to put off deciding until there was more concrete information. After all, what was the point of getting worried if the information wasn’t even verified yet? It could just be a huge misunderstanding, she reassured herself. But despite the many logical reasons for not shouting her information at the nearest street corner, the decisions still weighed heavy on her heart. Her choice felt uncomfortably like cowardice, an emotion Sophie was altogether unfamiliar with.


 

At least she wasn’t the only one who didn’t know how to behave with such volatile information.   Sophie had met her brother for lunch yesterday, and Chris couldn’t stop chattering. Chris was programmed for truth—it was killing him to keep the secret. His nervous babbling was one of many reasons that Chris would never have a role in Politics. 


 

The other reason was the Christopher Hinds was far to kind and obliging. Her parents and Maddie had simply assumed that Sophie would keep the information concealed. This is what the children of prominent public figures did—there was no question of what Sophie wanted to do. But at lunch, Chris had told Sophie rather seriously that he would support her, whatever decision she made.

 

 

 

“Listen Soph,” he had said. “I know this is a lot for you.  Mum shouldn’t have told you. It puts you in an awkward position.”

 



 

“I’m not a child,” Sophie had answered, childishly. 


 

“I know,” Chris had responded, sincerely. “ You’re an adult now. You can make your own decisions. And I know you. I know this bothers you. And I want you to know that, whatever you decide to you, I will still love you.”

 



 

“Chris!” hissed Sophie, shocked. “Are you saying you think I should tell!”

 



 

“No,” Chris replied, simply. “I honestly don’t think you should. But I know you. I know you want to.   And I’m not going to try to convince you either way. What I’m saying is, you are old enough to make your own decisions. And if you decide to go against mum and tell, I don’t want you to have to worry that your family will abandon you. It’ll make Christmas’ awkward, but you will still be loved.”

 



 

“I know, I know,” Sophie muttered. Chris nodded like he was satisfied, but Sophie continued to pick at her food. She knew her family would eventually forgive her if she told—she just wasn’t sure she could forgive herself if she didn’t tell.

 

 

 

With a sigh, Sophie stood from her spot on the bed. Idly, she walked down the hall and into the kitchen. She had no real objective in mind, but busied herself tidying the counters and putting on a cup of tea. The kettle had just started to whistle when she heard a series of thumps from the living room. Mug in hand, Sophie stuck her head around the door jam and was met with one of her favorite sights in the entire world: the Potter children.

 

 

 

She put down her cup with a squeal and ran to embrace her friends. “It is so good to see you,” she whispered, one arm looped around each sibling. 

 

 

 

“Surprise!” Lily giggled.

 

 

 

“It’s only been a week,” laughed Albus, grabbing her around the waist and lifting her off the ground in a bear hug. Lily slapped her brother, offended that he had stolen her friend. Albus set Sophie carefully on the ground with a laugh, and although her feet were on the ground, her head still felt like it was spinning and the left side of her face tingled where it had brushed against his.


 

Turning to James quickly, she gave him a quick hug and a peck on the cheek. He caught her sad look before she turned away, and sent her a questioning expression. Sophie gave him a discrete shake of her head—this was one secret she could not share with her best friend. 


 

“We are headed to Diagon Ally,” Lily was chattering. “And it wouldn’t do to forget you, Soph. Especially since you have been ignoring my letters recently. Would it kill you to pick of a quill?”

 

 

 

“Ah! Sorry, Lils!” cried Sophie, immediately assuming the role of the busy child of the Minister for Magic. “I’ve read them—I swear! But its like I’ve got a million things to do and no time left for writing back!”

 

 

 

Lily chattered her forgiveness while James helped himself to some of her tea and a biscuit. “How’s your mum doing?” he said, once he could get a word in edgewise.  

 

 

 

“Fine, fine. You know her. Works best under pressure. Your parents are the same way.”

 

 

 

“Too true.”

 

 

 

“Hurry up, Sophie. We are having a fun day, finally, and you are going to make us late.”


 

“Its just school shopping,” teased Sophie.

 

 

 

“All the cousins will be there!” announced Lily with a flare as she too snatched a biscuit. “And it will be a chance to finally get you out of this dreary house. You’ve just cooped yourself up in here—don’t lie, I know you haven’t been busy all this time!”

 

 

 

Sophie rolled her eyes, but Lily was right. The girl had a scary way of always knowing everything. Sophie wasn’t sure if Lily was some sort of genius legimens, or just had an extremely accurate information network, but Lily Potter knew absolutely everything about everyone.

 

 

 

“How long are we going to be gone,” Sophie asked. “I need to leave a note for Maddy. Oh, and the Floo powder is in the little jar there, by the bookcase.”

 

 

 

As Sophie scribbled a note to her sister, Albus opened the jar, took a pinch of green powder out, and then disappeared into the fireplace. Lily followed, and but James stalled behind.

 

 

 

“You alright?” He asked, as though he wasn’t quite sure.


 

“Yeah,” Sophie reassured. “Just family stuff, you know.”

 

 

 

James nodded, stepped into the hearth, and was carried off to Diagon Alley with a whoosh. Sophie took a deep breath, and followed.


 

Sophie stumbled out of the fireplace at The Leakey Cauldron, bumping into Fred Weasley. “Wotcher, Soph!” He exclaimed, steadying her.   Sophie laughed and apologized. Nearly all the Potter-Weasleys were present. Even Victoire was standing next to her sister, Dominique, even though she had graduated the year before. 


 

“Sorry, Sophie held us up,” Lily teased loudly when she saw her friend. Sophie sent Lily a mocking glare and started up a conversation with Fred and Roxy, who were eager to unload the latest gossip—the Potter/Weasely’s were so numerous that it was almost impossible to keep updated unless you were actually there.

 

 

 

Owling, apparently, was not a good enough substituted for face-to-face chats, because although she and Lily had exchanged two letters in the short amount of time, she was still surprised when Fred informed her that Louis had dumped his girlfriend.


 

“Was he even dating?” Sophie exclaimed. Roxy waved her hand as if to say, who knows. Eventually someone decided that they should make their way outside, rather than clogging up the pub, and the group began heading en mass towards the door. 


 

Somehow, in the hustle and bustle of the exodus, Albus had ended up walking next to her. Sophie found her eyes sliding sideways to glance at him under her lashes. A lock of hair had fallen over his deep, green eyes and Sophie barely restrained herself from brushing it aside. Realizing what she was doing, Sophie gave herself a quick shake and focused, once again, on Roxy.


 

“He picked her up at Fortesques’ at the end of last school year,” Roxy was saying. “Would you believe he actually proclaimed his undying love to her in French, just to get her to go out with him? Of course his fifteen and he got bored within a few weeks.”

 

 

 

“How many girls has he had in the last year?” marveled Sophie. “I certainly wasn’t like that when I was fifteen.”

 

 

 

Fred snorted. “Of course you weren’t,” he laughed.

 

 

 

 “But then again, not everyone is like you and James, Soph,” Chimed in Albus.

 

 

 

He was smiling, so Sophie smiled back, but something near her heart squeezed uncomfortably. There James was again. Sometimes it was hard not to regret the decision to date him—if she hadn’t, maybe the boy she adored would have been on her arm, rather than smiling at her from a distance.

 

 

 

Fortunately, the moment passed without notice from those around her. Roxy continued her rant about Louis’ philandering ways (‘can a 15-year-old philander?’ Sophie questioned), while Al was distracted by new quidditch supplies. No matter that he didn’t play on the team, all Potter/Weasleys were required to have a passion for the sport. 

 

 

 

“Look, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes!” Exclaimed Sophie, changing subjects quickly. She wasn’t sure she could take much more talk of other people’s love lives, when her own was so hopeless.

 

 

 

Fred groaned. “I’ve had to work there all week. That’s the last place I want to go!” 

 

 

 

There were a few moments of obligatory bickering before they realized that they could split into smaller sets. Of the group at large, there were several who had things to get at WWW, but James, Lily, and Fred decided to disappear into Quality Quidditch Supplies, while Rose, Dominique, Louis, and Molly headed off in the pursuit of books. Other factions left in the direction of Fortesques’ or Madame Malkins, but Sophie, Roxy, and Albus made a beeline for Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.

 

 

 

“I’m meeting Scorpius here,” Albus admitted to Sophie as they entered.

 

 

 

“What?” Sophie gasped in mock horror. “You are ditching your family in favor of some Slytherin?!

 

 

 

“Ha-Ha,” Albus laughed back, rolling his eyes at her teasing. “So what do you need, Soph? Is the Minister’s daughter even allowed to pull pranks?”

 

 

 

Sophie laughed and shook her head, mournfully. “Alas, no. I come here only to gaze upon the forbidden fruit.”


 

“How tragic,” said Al, continuing the joke. “That you will never know the delicious pleasure of spiking someone’s pumpkin juice with a mild truth serum.”

 

 

 

“Too true,” commented Sophie, standing near him to examine the item in question. He smelled clean, good. Sophie fixed her eyes on the vial of serum, determined to keep her eyes from straying.

 

 

 

“Or slip a Nosebleed Nougat into the goblet of a certain Ravenclaw keeper on game day…”


 

How did you know?” squealed Sophie, giggling. Albus waggled his eyebrows at her, but didn’t reveal his source.


 

“And,” continued Albus with a grand gesture. “You are surely too good and pure to ever use a Patented Daydream Charm in History of Magic, to avoid being bored.”

 

 

 

Sophie smiled at Albus’ banter and caught the tiny, colourful box that he tossed to her. She traced the edges, more intrigued than she ought to have been. The cover had picture of a man and woman on a pirate ship—not exactly Sophie’s idea of the perfect daydream, but the side of the box held the promise of a perfect daydream for every user.


 

“Tell me you don’t actually use this in class,” Sophie chastised lightly. Albus made a motion as if to zip his lips. 

 

 

 

“Well, I came here for self-inking quills, not any of this…” Sophie gave a dismissive wave, as though the all the fantastic products available in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes were beneath her interest.

 

 

 

Albus laughed uproariously, knowing that although she wasn’t a hard core prankster, WWW had received considerable patronage from Sophie Hinds over the years.


 

“Your loss,” he said with a grin. Then someone caught his eye. “Oy, Malfoy! Scorpius!”

 

 

 

Albus left with a farewell and a wave, heading off towards his best friend. Sophie was left standing alone, watching him leave for much longer than she really ought to have. Shaking herself out of her reverie, Sophie busied herself looking at the products on the shelf.

 

 

 

She still had the Patented Daydream Charm in her hand as she browsed the shop, picking up items along the way. Somehow, it was still in her hands when she was ready to check out. Maybe it was because Albus had given it too her, or maybe because she was in desperate need of an escape from reality, but Sophie actually bought the charm, and quickly hid it in the bottom of her purse. Somehow she felt silly buying something so frivolous. It was almost as bad as buying a love potion. 

 

 

 

Roxy had only come into the shop to wheedle some money out of her father. Although George Weasley was cunning and shrewd when it came to business, somehow his children could always get what they wanted from him. Roxy had once mentioned, in a rare serious moment, that she believed it was because he had grown up without having a lot of money and wanted his children to have what he couldn’t. 

 

 

 

But whatever the reason, Roxy left the story with “book money” safely in hand. She caught Sophie’s eye and nodded towards the exit. “I’m heading to Flourish and Blott’s. Wanna come with?”

 

 

 

“I’m done,” Sophie replied. She turned to Albus, to tell him they were leaving, but he was too absorbed in a conversation with Scorpius and another sixth year to notice her wave.

 

 

 

She and Roxy exited the shop, blinking in the unexpectedly bright sunshine. “So, where too?” Sophie asked her friend.


 

“No, I really need to go to Flourish’s. So suspicious!”

 

 

 

Sophie rolled her eyes at her friend. Roxy constantly spent book money on things that were definitely not books or even school related. Roxy shrugged, as if to say, so sue me.

 

 

 

“So what NEWTs are you taking?” Sophie asked. The letters from Hogwarts had come a few days previously. Sophie would be taking Muggle Studies, Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Arithmancy. She wasn’t sure at all what Roxy would be taking—Roxanne Weasley was incredibly smart but did not like to exert herself in the pursuit of an academic career.


 

Roxy looked away and named her classes: Potions, Transfiguration, Herbology, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Arithmancy. Sophie’e eyebrows raised so high they were in danger of disappearing into her hair line. Roxy stubbornly avoided her gaze.

 

 

 

“I thought,” Sophie said. “That you were going to take as few NEWTs as they allowed. You said there was no point—“

 

 

 

“I know what I said,” Roxy sounded a bit annoyed.


 

“—in taking lots of classes when you weren’t going to get a job anyway,” Sophie finished, unfazed at her friend’s annoyance.

 

 

 

“Well I changed my mind. My prerogative.” Roxy still wasn’t meeting her eye.


 

“What, did you parents twist your arm?” 


 

“Are you enjoying this?” Roxy whined.

 

 

 

Sophie giggled. “Of course not. I’m just glad you are living up to your potential.” And she was. Sophie thought Roxy was one of the smartest witches she had ever met, and yet, up until this year, Roxy remained determined to establish herself as a determined party girl. Good for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley for making their daughter challenge herself academically.

 

 

 

Roxy pretended to huff as they entered the shop. Flourish and Blott’s was busiest in the weeks before school started. Luckily, the girls were there fairly early in the season—in another week, the store would be too crowded to take a step without bumping into someone. Since Roxy and Sophie had several of the same classes, they divided the workload: Sophie would find the books for Arithmancy and Potions while Roxy would get the books for Transfiguration and DADA.

 

 

 

“See you in a bit,” Roxy said by way of farewell.

 

 

 

Sophie roamed around the bookstore, half looking for textbooks, but mostly looking at the people. As a game she tried to guess the ages of students, or what books people had come into the store for. For instance, there was a woman browsing the biographies (the ditzy wife of a prominent politician) who Sophie could only presume was looking for the latest juicy tell all on Victor Krum (he had, after all, just gone through yet another nasty divorce—details within!). An older gentleman near the cash register was surely buying the newest mystery novel by Cho Davies for his granddaughter. And the two very giggly, very red faced teenaged girls in the archaic texts sections were undoubtedly only there to attract the attention of the handsome store clerk and had no intention of scholarly endeavors whatsoever. 

 

 

 

Sophie smiled to herself as she reached for the Standard Book of Spells (7). Mitchell Cates was two years older than Sophie and heir apparent to the esteemed Flourish and Blott’s franchise. He was a nice lad, very smart, if Sophie remembered correctly, but the girls only seemed interested in other aspects about him. At present, their focus was his bum. Sophie grimaced and hoped that she hadn’t been this silly at sixteen.

 

 

 

Sophie shifted the heavy books in her arms and set about looking for her final text—Charms. She could see the book in question. It was a small, burgundy book, just at her eye level. However, with her hands already full, she couldn’t easily reach it. Sophie wrinkled her nose in annoyance and considered her options. She could set her books down, but the store was so crowded that she was sure they would be knocked over. She could just leave it, pay for what she had, and get the Charms book later. But that would take too long—she would just have to ask someone to get it for her.

 

 

 

“Excuse me,” Sophie tried to get the attention of a group of teenage boys to her right. Unfortunately, they chose just that moment to laugh uproariously at something, and seemed not to hear her. Sophie let out a little frustrated sigh, and opened her mouth to ask again, when a voice to her left stopped her.

 

 

 

“This one?” came a vaguely familiar voice. Turning, Sophie was unsurprised to see none other than Mitchell Cates handing her the very book she needed. Behind him, the two girls glared at Sophie. She looked questioningly at Cates—his face remained bland, but his eyes darted back the teenager girls in a panicked way that made Sophie take pity on him.


 

“Thanks,” She said. “Actually, I need some help with some other books. Mind lending me a hand?”

 

 

 

Cates nodded politely and even offered to help her with her load. Sophie led him to Roxy with a slight smile as he breathed a sigh of relief to be rid of the younger girls. 

 

 

 

“My friend is over here,” Sophie explained. “I didn’t really need anything.”

 

 

 

“Thank you,” said Cates with deep appreciation, glad to have found a polite way to escape the giggling girls. 

 

 

 

“Roxy!” shouted Sophie, so as to be heard over the crowd. Roxy waved from over by the register. Once the pair had made their way close enough to be heard, Sophie tried to introduce her helper.

 

 

 

“Roxy, this is Mitchell Cates. He’s a year or two older than us. And this is—“

 

 

 

“Roxanne Weasley,” Cates interrupted with a smile. “We know each other.”

 

 

 

Sophie looked at her friend with mild interest. Roxy shrugged. “He tutored me in Charms and Arithmancy fifth year for OWLs.”

 

 

 

“I’m still not sure why you needed it,” Cates said, with a smile as he began ringing up their purchases. “It only took a few sessions to catch you up to the rest of the class.”

 

 

 

“The homework was boring,” said Roxy, by way of explanation. Sophie laughed.  She knew for a fact that Roxy was much better at Charms than Sophie would ever be—it just seemed to come naturally to her. However, Roxy had the tendency to ignore required reading or homework if it interfered with her social plans or happened to be ‘boring.’

 

 

 

“Waste of potential,” commented Cates. Roxy had the decency to blush.


 

“Look—Lily!” Roxy pointed towards the other side of the store, where Lily, Molly, and Dominique stood browsing through the half-priced books bin. Lily caught the wave and beckoned them over. Roxy left a few coins on the counter to pay for her books and took off. Sophie shrugged at Cates, saying who knows about that girl.

 

 

 

He gave her change and her purchases and she thanked him before heading off towards her friends.

 

 

 

“Its all rubbish,” announced Lily upon her arrival. “Absolutely nothing worth buying.”

 

 

 

“I’m all shopped out for now—anyone up for ice-cream?” asked Molly. All the others nodded enthusiastically.


 

“Yikes!” Dominique looked at her watch, surprised at the time. “I told Rose we’d meet her there five minutes ago. Hopefully she’s late.”

 

 

 

“Where’s Victoire?” questioned Molly.


 

“Am I my sister’s keeper?” quipped Dominique. 

 

 

 

“Yes,” the others chorused. Dominique rolled her eyes.

 

 

 

“I expect she’s looking at robes or something. If she wants ice-cream, she’ll come.”

 

 

 

The group made their towards the door—a not easily facilitated task. Each girl was weighed down with several bags and there were far too many people in the store to be comfortable. It was a relief when they were finally standing out on the street again. 

 

 

 

Sophie began a conversation with Molly, whose father worked closely with Sophie’s mother in the Ministry. She had found a book on the most ridiculous laws in the wizarding world and was telling Sophie some of her favorites when they heard someone shout from behind them.

 

 

 

“Roxy! Sophie! There you two are!” Albus, finally noticing the girls he had escorted into Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes had disappeared, had gone off in pursuit. Scorpius Malfoy followed behind, the tips of his hair slightly singed and smoking. Albus too had burnt a small hole through the sleeve of his shirt. Sophie wasn’t sure she wanted to know how or why.


 

“We’re going for ice-cream,” Roxy informed him.


 

“You can come if you promise not to use any of the Wheeze’s products you have stuffed in your pocket,” offered Dominique. The boys glanced at each other, managing to look both sheepish and sly at the same moment. Promises were made and the lively group finally began making its way down the street.

 

 

 

Sophie had gone back to chatting with Molly for some time when they were both distracted by the conversation going on between a very shy Malfoy and the more assertive Dominique.


 

“I’m just saying, you haven’t dated in ages. People are beginning to talk—“

 

 

 

You are the only one talking about it—“Scorpius cut in, but Dominique continued.

 

 

 

 “You’ve been so down lately—it would do you good to start dating again. You and Al are already friends, I don’t know why this would be a problem.” Roxanne and Lily were laughing at Scorpius’ stunned face as Albus enumerated the many reasons why he and Scorpius could not be in a gay relationship (“First and foremost, neither of us is gay, Dom!”).

 

 

 

Sophie and Molly began snickering with the others. 


 

“Well, fine,” Dominique conceded. “Take one of the girls then. Except not Victoire—she’s already claimed.”

 

 

 

“Or Roxy,” piped in Molly. The others looked at her questioningly. “She’d eat him,” she explained. Everyone nodded in understanding while Roxy hissed,” What do you mean by that, cousin dear?”


 

Scorpius made a face and tried to shrug off the comments. Sophie giggled to herself; Poor Scorpius really didn’t deserve it. But he knew how the girls got—he ought to just ignore them to deprive them of the pleasure of teasing him.

 

 

 

“Well the obvious choices are Dominique and Rose,” offered Lily. “They are in his year, after all.”


 

“Not Dominique,” objected Roxy. “Your features are so similar: blond hair, blue eyes, and that bone structure! I’m worried all your traits will cancel out and your children will be bland looking.”

 

 

 

Dominique shoved her cousin playfully—“Our children would be gorgeous!” She announced to the street at large, further embarrassing Scorpius. Sophie could tell he was getting annoyed. She would later wish that she had intervened to stop the conversation here, but she was too occupied with giggling at Scorpius’ expense to bother. 


 

“Rose it is then,” announced Lily as they rounded the corner to arrive at their destination. “What a wonderful choice, Scorpius. She’s so pretty and smart. Your only problem will be Uncle Ron. Say, where do you plan to take her for the first Hogsmead trip?”


 

“Lay off, guys,” laughed Albus, defending his friend.

 

 

 

“Honeyduke’s, definitely,” concluded Dominique. “He knows how much she likes to try the new candy when it comes in.”


 

Scorpius was getting slightly red in the face, getting more and more annoyed with their teasing. 

 

 

 

“Oh,” sighed Molly. “I just love a good Romeo and Juliet love story. Hope it works out better for you and Rose, Scorpius.”

 

 

 

Scorpius ruffled his hair in agitation as he defended himself.

 

 

 

“There’s nothing going on with me and Rose,” he protested, gaining only knowing looks and more laughter. 


 

“Oh come on, Scorpius!” Dominique teased. “I bet the whole reason you are such good friends with Albus is so you can get closer to Rose: Admit it, Malfoy, you are head over heals!” Still, no one took seriously the annoyance that Scorpius had barely been controlling.


 

“I am not,” Scorpius all but shouted. “Nor will I ever be, in love with Rose Weasley!”


 

There was a shocked silence. This worried Sophie—there had not been silence among the Weasley cousins all day. Normally one of the other girls would have jumped in and said, “The lad doth protest too much,” but no one was saying anything. 


 

Then Sophie noticed Roxanne’s horrified look.


 

It was almost as though time slowed. Sophie felt like it took an eternity to turn her head to see where Roxy’s gaze was fixed, and before she even saw who it was, she knew. She knew without a doubt that Rose Weasley had come around the corner from doing her shopping and had heard nothing else but that last, terrible sentence.

 

 

 

And it was at that moment that Sophie wondered how she had ever missed the fact that Rose Weasley was in love with Scorpius Malfoy.

 

 

 



 

 

 

Author's Note:

 

 

 

I am so, so sorry it took so long to update.  Its been a busy time in the life of your favorite author.  However, the next chapter is mostly done, so it shouldn't take as long to update next time.

 



 

But how exciting!  I did promise you some Albus-action :)  Hope you liked it.  There will be more and more in comming chapters.  This was mostly a fluff chapter, with some important bits hidden inside.  And the next chapter will be really fun haha.

 

 

 

As always, please tell me what you think--was there enough Albus?  How is Sophie going to handle the secret her mother told her?  And what do you think of the first Rose-Scorpius interaction (as minimal as it was)?




 

Also:  the title is from the musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"  and the quote is by Mr. William Shakespeare and is found in The Merchant of Venice, Act 4 scene 1.


 


Chapter 9: Thus Spake Scorpius
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Scorpius, who seconds before had been so enraged, seemed to have the same realization.  It was one of those surreal moments where everyone understood what had happened just a little too late to prevent the wreckage.  Scorpius’ face froze in a horrified, gape-mouthed expression.  He seemed to debate whether or not to turn around, but obviously decided to man up and face his friend.

 

 

 

Rose Weasley stood with surprising composure in the face of such a shocking statement.  For several of the longest moments of Sophie’s life, no one said anything.  What was there to say?


 

Suddenly, Scorpius burst out in the beginnings of an apology, but Rose cut him off.

 

 

 

“Don’t worry about it Scorpius,”  Rose reassured with a smile.  “Its no big deal.”


 

All seven teenagers gaped at her.  She awkwardly adjusted the many bags in her arms, took a deep breath, and began again.

 

 

 

“So you aren’t in love with me,” she said, lightly.  “I’m not in love with Sophie.  Sophie’s alright if I say that.  Aren’t you Soph?”

 

 

 

“Err,” Sophie was jolted out of her appalled stupefaction.  “No.  I mean, yes.  You’re right, Rose.”

 

 

 

“See, it really doesn’t matter.  Besides, its not as though I asked you to love me.  I didn’t.  Ask you to, I mean,“ Rose finished briskly, if awkwardly.

 

 

 

And with that, Rose began to walk off down the street, toting all her books and school supplies with her.  She had barely gotten ten steps before Scorpius shook himself out of his stupor. 


 

“Rose,” he called.  “Let me…can I help you carry your—“

 

 

 

“Don’t worry about it, Scorp,”  Albus interjected.  “I have to head that way anyway.”

 

 

 

Albus gave his mate a brisk clasp of the shoulder before he left to do damage control.  Scoprius was still to embarrassed to argue, and so the rest of the teenagers stood in semi shock as Albus relieved Rose of her load and the two walked down the streets of Diagon Ally. 

 

 

 

The group of teenagers watched until Al and Rose were beyond hearing distance, at which point Scorpius let out a frustrated groan and sank his head into his hands.


 

“Don’t worry, Scorpius,”  Lily said kindly.  “Rose wasn’t bothered by it at all.  Its really kind of funny if you think about it.”

 

 

 

Scoprius looked up at her miserably, as though he wished the ground would swallow him.  The point wasn’t that Rose seemed ‘fine’ (although Sophie would now bet Rose was much less than ‘fine’).  The point was that no half-way decent guy wanted to say something so horrible to a girl, any girl.  How do you apologize for something like that?

 

 

 

The awkward feeling in the group was palpable.  Scorpius was miserable, Sophie, Lily and Molly felt uncomfortable, and Dom and Roxy were trying their hardest not to laugh hysterically.  Sophie wisely decided it was time for the group to go their separate ways. 

 

 

 

“Alright,” Sophie announced.  “I….just remembered that I need another book.  Why don’t you guys go in and order.  I’ll just go back and get it. Scorpius can come help me.”


 

The boy in question managed to lift his pitiful head to look at her.

 

 

 

“I need you to come with me and carry the books,”  Sophie informed Scorpius. ”Just order me one of those Sundays that changes flavors in your mouth.  I’ll be back in just a minute,”  She instructed Roxy.


 

Sophie pinched the material at Scorpius’ elbow and pulled him in the direction of the book store.  As they separated, Sophie and Scorpius heard the barely suppress giggles of Roxy and Lucy, with Molly’s muffled admonishments running counterpart. 


 

Sophie handed the boy her bags and turned to the North end of Diagon Alley –back towards Flourish and Blotts.  The pair walked a ways in silence before Sophie said:

 

 

 

“So how are you going to fix this one?”


 

Scorpius gracefully tripped over nothing in his surprise.  Sophie waited calmly for the boy to regain his footing and reply.  Scorpius just groaned, well aware that he had truly put his foot in his mouth this time.


 

“Well,”  he said finally.   “There’s only one thing to do.  I’ll have to marry her.”

 

 

 

Sophie burst out laughing.  “Why, to preserve her honor?”  She giggled.

 

 

 

“Don’t laugh at me, I’m miserable!”  Scorpius announced, but he was smiling too, in a sad way.  There was silence for a few moments before he continued.  “What if she doesn’t talk to me after that?”

 

 

 

Sophie looked sideways at the younger boy.  He really did look miserable.   He was terribly worried that he had hurt a friend and had no way of resolving the issue gracefully. 

 

 

 

“She will talk to you again,”  Sophie reassured.  Scorpius shot her an exasperated look, clearly questioning her judgment.  Sophie only smiled.

 

 

 

“It’ll be awkward at first,”  she allowed.  “But you are too good friends to let your friendship disintegrate over something this insignificant.”

 

 

 

Scorpius shook his head unhappily but seemed somewhat better.  Sophie looped her arm through the younger boy’s and gave him an affectionate squeeze.  “Really,”  she was saying,”  its going to be alright—“


 

But suddenly the pair was blinded by a series of flashing lights followed by the whirring and clicking of what could only be a camera.  Sophie, caught off guard, turned into Scorpius’ shoulder, shielding her eyes from the onslaught. 


 

“Sophia, are you and James on another hiatus?”  Came one aggressive, yelling voice.

 

 

 

“What’s he done this time?” a second voice interjected.

 

 

 

Sophie pulled Scorpius by his arm once she could see again, not replying to either of the questions.  This kind of thing was unfortunate but not uncommon.   It was best to keep going until they lost the photographers.

 

 

 

The two reporters continued to heckle the teenagers as they turned to go, unsatisfied without some sort of juicy story or comment.  Finally, bored with the cold shoulder he was getting, the second started attacking Scorpius.

 

 

 

“Stealing another bloke’s girl, Malfoy?”  He taunted.  “That’s not exactly exemplary behavior!”


 

“’e can’t help it,”  the other chimed in.  “It’s not like his moral compass exactly points north, do it?  Apple doesn’t fall far from the—“


 

“I haven’t stolen anything!”  Scorpius exploded.  “Besides, Soph and James haven’t been together since—“

 

 

 

Scoprius stopped in horrified silence, catching himself before finishing the sentence.  Unfortunately the damage was already done.


 

“Scorpius!”  Sophie nearly shrieked, over the absolute mayhem that had erupted after his statement.  Scorpius groaned in utter defeat, as the paparazzi clicked pictures with an alarming frequency, shouting questions as they did so.


 

Sophie grabbed Scorpius to run, but they got no more than two shops down before a dozen more reporters and photographers cornered them, all yelling.

 

 

 

“Ms. Hinds, care to comment on your recent break up with—“


 

“—Is this your new man—“

 

 

 

“How does it feel to be single?”


 

“What do you have to say about the rumors that James slept his way through the Holyhead Harpies last season?”


 

“Is the explanation for the recent weight gain Sophie?”


 

It was as though an aggressive sea of flashing lights and jostling elbows surrounded Sophie.  No matter where she looked, there was no escape—only another microphone shoved in her face and more invasive questions.  She began to feel panicked and claustrophobic.  Not knowing what else to do, Sophie grabbed Scorpius’ hand and apparated away from the mob.

 

 

 

The pair stumbled on the grass outside of the Potter’s land, the closest a wizard could apparate to the house.  Sophie took a series of calming breaths and blinked the flashing lights of her vision.  To her left, she heard Scorpius sink to the ground, groaning,  “Twice in one day!

 

 

 

Sophie struggled not to loose control of her temper, but she felt as though she could shoot fire from her eyes right then.  Not even looking at the boy, she grabbed Scorpius by the collar of his shirt, hoisted him to his feet, and hauled him off towards the Potter’s house.  Apparently, Albus and Rose had decided to come home rather than go for ice-cream, because they came out of the house as Sophie and Scorpius approached. 


 

“What happened,” asked Albus warily, noting Scorpius’ look of abject shame and Sophie’s murderous gaze.

 

 

 

“Soph, I am so sor—“

 

 

 

“Chatty Circe over here told the paparazzi that James and I broke up,” said Sophie, pointedly, brushing past Albus and Rose to get into the house. 


 

“Oh goodness,” Rose commented in a resigned tone—already reporters were lining up as close as they could get to the house, clamoring for new information. 

 

 

 

Sophie made a beeline for the kitchen, where she knew Mrs. Potter had some blueberry ice-cream left over.  Behind her she could hear Scorpius’ miserable voice explaining what had happened.  “Good!”  thought Sophie.  “Let him be miserable.  He’s ruined everything.  Now I won’t be able to walk in public ever again.

 

 

 

The trio of sixth years entered the kitchen just as Sophie managed to find the left over ice cream. 

 

 

 

“Sophie, I am so, so sorry.  I don’t know what happened.  I was angry and it just slipped out…” Scorpius trailed off, not knowing what to say next.

 

 

 

“Whatever.  Its not like I can expect anything else out of you anyway.” 

 

 

 

Sophie could not remember regretting saying anything more than she did right then.  Even as the words were coming out of her mouth she wished she had had the presence of mind to slap a hand across her mouth to muffle herself.  Scorpius just turned and walked from the room to be miserable on the patio, while Rose and Albus stared at her in disapproving silence. 


 

After they heard the quiet click of the door announcing that Scorpius was outside, Rose looked Sophie in the eye and said,” That was uncalled for and cruel.”


 

With that, Rose turned and followed Scorpius.  Sophie dropped her head into her hands, furious with herself.  She hadn’t meant it.  She knew Scorpius was already miserable for what he said to Rose, and that he felt horrible about letting her relationship status slip.  She knew that people made mistakes.  She knew that she wasn’t really mad at Scorpius.  But she had just been so upset at that moment, she had let something incredibly malicious slip out.  Merlin, this day had gone south in a hurry.

 

 

 

“I don’t know exactly what happened.  I wasn’t there,” came Albus’ disapproving voice.  “But you have no right to speak to Scorp like that.”

 

 

 

Sophie took a resentful bit of ice cream, not quite calm enough to apologize for her actions, no matter how ashamed she was of them.

 

 

 

“He didn’t intend to tell, he didn’t do it vindictively.  He was provoked—its happened to all of us.  I don’t understand why you are angry.”

 

 

 

“I’m angry,”  shot back Sophie, her fury rekindling a bit with this opposition.  “Because he started a mob in Diagon Alley by discussing my personal business to reporters.  And you can’t understand that?”


 

“You were the one who told us—him. “


 

“Yeah, and I’m regretting that now.”

 

 

 

“Look, Sophia.  You knew what would happen after your break up.  He isn’t the one who splashed your incredibly messy and public relationship across the tabloids.  That was you.  Maybe if you had shown an iota of discretion before, you wouldn’t be in this predicament now.”


 

Sophie had never been so mad at anyone in her entire life.  It took all the strength she had not to take Mrs. Potter’s china bowl and chuck it at Albus Potter’s smarmy head.  Instead, she hissed, “Yeah, well no one asked your opinion Albus!” and stalked out, slamming the door childishly after her.

 

 

 

Once alone on the porch, Sophie put her face in her hands for a moment, holding back tears.  After three deep breaths, she looked around until she saw Scorpius, sitting slump-shouldered on the steps leading down to the lawn.  Rose sat next to him, arm comfortably around said shoulders, murmuring comfortingly to him.


 

At least, Sophie thought, if nothing else, Rose and Scorpius are friends again.  Sophie came close and cleared her throat to make her presence known. 

 

 

 

Rose looked up with a face that said I hope you are happy with yourself.  The look Sophie sent back was apologetic and signaled she wanted to talk to Scorpius alone.  Rose gave her friend one last pat on the back and wandered off, close enough to see but not hear.


 

Scorpius wouldn’t even look at Sophie when she sat next to him.  For a moment, Sophie wasn’t sure she had the mettle it took to apologize—not that she didn’t want to, but it took an incredible strength to face your own incredible failings. 

 

 

 

“I didn’t mean it, Scorp,” she began quietly. 

 

 

 

“I deserved it,” the boy’s reply was muffled. 


 

“No, you didn’t.  You really didn’t.  We are friends.  And you don’t deserve me treating you like that.  You made a very simple, very forgivable mistake.  I was mad because I felt very scared.  I hated being mobbed like that.  It doesn’t happen, but when it does, its terrifying.  I was scared, so I lashed out at you.”


 

“It was really frightening,”  Scorpius allowed, his head coming up a bit.  “But Merlin, Soph, I’m so sorry about letting it slip.”


 

“Its nothing.  Really.  I was the one who broke up with my boyfriend.  The reporters were the ones who let it get out of hand.”

 

 

 

Scorpius was silent for a time.  So, just to make sure, Sophie added,”  I have never regretted saying anything more.  You are a reliable and trustworthy friend.  I really hope you know that.”


 

Scorpius nodded, and Sophie smiled.

 

 

 

 "So what now?"  Scorpius asked.


 

Sophie shrugged.  "I guess I'll have to get a hold of James.  Go talk to my mother."

 

 

 

"Good luck," said Scorpius, making Sophie laugh.  Sophie signaled to Rose that she and Scorpius were done.  The three walked back into the house together, almost at ease until Sophie caught sight of Albus.

 

 


He met her look for look, completely unashamed of the accusations he had made earlier.  Sophie looked away in anger with a stab of a feeling that felt uncomfortably like heartbreak.  She walked passed him without speaking and headed to the fireplace.  Just as the floo fumes began to whoosh her away towards the ministry, she heard Rose ask, “What did you say to Sophie?” 






Author's Note:  Guys, I'm so sorry.  I just caught up in all kinds of school craziness.  I so apologize for the wait.  However, I do hope you liked it!

I know, I know--Mad because Albus and Sophie aren't speaking?

Me too.  But at least Rose and Scorpius are on good terms again!

Anyway, I thought I would hurry up and get this one out.  I'm going to be honest with you.  There probably won't be another update until at least mid May.  Finals have priority.  I hope you can wait that long!

The title is a parody of "Thus Spake Zarathustra" by F. Nietzsche and the quote is from Much Ado About Nothing (Another of my favorite Shakespeare plays).


Chapter 10: The Heart of the Matter
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 “We just grew apart.”


“Not as friends, just as lovers,”  Mr. explained.  Although the awkwardness was palpable in the room, the two teens comported themselves well and made sure to assure this reporter that they and their families would remain close, despite the shocking breakup.  For a duo famous for their tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship, Ms. Hinds and Mr. Potter took pains to establish that they were, in fact, calling it quits for good.

 

“We do want to thank absolutely everyone who has been involved in our relationship,” implored Sophia Hinds.  James Potter agreed.

 

“So many people have been supportive over the years.  Dating in the limelight is different.  In fact, we almost felt as if we were letting people down.”

 

“Which is why we were so hurt about the reporters leaking the story before we were ready to come forward with it.  We wanted to be the ones to tell everyone.  If nothing else, we wanted it to come from us.”

 

As many will remember, James Potter and Sophia Hinds have captured the hearts and minds of the wizarding world as the hottest “it couple”  since they began dating three years ago.  Their relationship, lasting longer than some marriages, was, as yours truly mentioned in a piece memorializing the war, “ a bright beacon of hope and a representation of the next generation.”  They used their considerable celebrity to support groups such as Muggle2Magic (a nonprofit group promoting harmony between magical and non-magical communities), as well as All Creatures Equal (a lobbying foundation supporting non-wizard magical creatures).  Potter and Hinds plan to continue their philanthropic work, stating that their relationship status, or lack there of, has not diminished their passion for these causes.

 

But the question on every reader’s lips is:  “What’s next?”  If not an extravagant wedding, what can we look forward too from the famous James Potter and Sophia Hinds?

 

“Quidditch, I suppose,” replies James first, looking embarrassed.  “I’ve put in a few applications, so we’ll see.”

 

“He’s brilliant,” beams Hinds, supportively.  “This time next year you’ll be writing about his career, not his relationship.”

 

The illustrious daughter of the Minister of Magic states that she’s not quite sure yet what she wants to do.  “I’m looking at magical law,” she says, but mentions she’s still unsure.  “I don’t want Maddy (Hinds) to think I’m following in her footsteps.”

 

And because it couldn’t be left unasked, this reporter ventured the question:  Is the rumor about Scorpius Malfoy true?  Hinds and Potter exchanged a rueful smile.

 

“we’re friends,”  Hinds assures.  “And that’s all.  The reporters seemed incredibly excited when they took those pictures, as though Scorpius and I never hang out.  We grew up together.”

 

“I guess its hard for people to accept our split without a scandal.  Gotta sell those papers,” jokes Potter.

 

And there it is—the end of a three-year relationship.  Just as they were examples to other young people while they were dating, they continue to prove themselves to be exemplifying. 

 



 

“Laid it on a bit thick, don’t you thing?”  was Maddy’s only comment after she finished reading the prophet article the next morning.  Sophie lay face down on the table, miserable. 

 

“It’s loads better than the one in ‘Teen Witch,’”  Sophie replied without lifting her head.  The article in question was an in depth look at the secret affair of Sophie And Scoprius complete with a picture of a heart broken James with the quote,”  She broke my heart—I never saw it coming!”

 

Maddy, who at the wise old age of 18 refused to read Teen Witch anymore, laughed and assured Sophie that she would take her word for it. All in all, the backlash was not as bad as it could have been.  The prophet article had deflected most of the attention, turning the story from a free-for-all gossip piece into something more manageable.  There was even a picture with the piece, with James and Sophie smiling at the camera while the reporter tried to look both hard hitting and attractive (a feat she almost pulled off).  The Teen Witch article would not be believed or would be forgotten soon.  For all the big fuss she had made, this might be the least scandalous part of her fake relationship.

 

But Sophie was still unhappy.  Maddy was very kindly pretending that Sophie was upset about the story, but they both knew differently.  Sophie still could not get over the fight with Albus.  She knew he had been in the right to chastise her the way he had.  She had behaved terribly.  But she was so incredibly embarrassed to have behaved that way in front of him that she was unable to apologize.  In fact, she was so embarrassed that she was starting to get mad at Albus for making her embarrassed.  So instead of making up, Sophie was content to sulk around the house, making the occasional pointed comment about how “some people weren’t perfect either!”

 

Maddy had allowed this behavior to continue, but was wondering if she ought to say something.  Sophie had always been especially sensitive to Albus’ disapproval.  But at the same time, the two had always been great friends.  They had been fighting and making up since they were children.  They probably just needed time to work things out on their own.

 

Try as she might, Sophie didn’t seem to be able to ignore what he had said.  She hated the thought that Albus was so disapproving of her relationship with James.  She had known, of course.  He brought it up from time to time.  But the reiteration of his sentiments just when Sophie was feeling particularly low was distressing.  Some opinions—like the gossip writers for the Daily Prophet—didn’t matter.  But the opinion of those she loved and respected were invaluable.  That’s why it hurt so much when Albus disapproved.

 

Sophie poked at her oatmeal unenthusiastically as Maddy finished the paper.  After a few particularly violent stabs, Maddy decided something needed to be done.

 

“Sophie,” she interrupted.  “Lets go out!”

 

Two days later, Sophie, Roxy, Dominique, Victoire, Maddy, and Olivia (a school friend of Maddy’s) gathered at Victoire’s flat on Diagon Ally.  Hair was elaborately dressed, make-up was applied, wiped off, and reapplied to look exactly the same.  Excitement was in the air.

 

For Maddy, Victoire, and Olivia, who had all started jobs recently, this was the first real night out since graduation.  Roxy was a seasoned pro, but Sophie and Dom rarely went clubbing.  In fact, Sophie was kind of nervous—she wasn’t even sure what she was supposed to do on the dance floor, unless it involved a waltz or a fox trot.

 

To her left, Roxy was doing some warm up stretches.  Sophie sent her friend a questioning look.  “What?”  Roxy said.  “Don’t come running to me when you pull a hamstring!”

 

Whaton earth does she think I’ll be doing that I’ll pull a hamstring?”  Sophie mused aloud to the room at large.

 

“Anything you want,”  replied Victoire.  The older girl was dressed to the nines and absolutely gorgeous.  Sophie made a mental note not to stand to close to her on the dance floor.  “You know, Soph, this is one of the few times in your life anyone will forgive you for acting out.  All you have to say is, ‘I don’t know what came over me—I was just so heartbroken about Jamie.’”

 

Maddy shoved her friend in the shoulder, moving her out of the way of the mirror so she could apply some mascara.  “Oy, don’t give my baby sister any ideas.  Tonight is a night of good, clean fun.” 

 

“Yeah, good, clean fun with a little alcohol and hopefully some blokes!”  Olivia, the most outgoing and entertaining of Maddy’s friends, had just broken up with her most recent boyfriend and was the most excited about going out.

 

“Olivia, this will not be like Halloween sixth year,”  warned Maddy.

 

“What happened Halloween sixth year?”  Dominique questioned with amused interest.

 

“We had milk and cookies and went to bed early,”  Vic rushed to say while Maddy simultaneously burst out,”  Never you mind!” 

 

The three younger girls giggled as Olivia wiggled her eyebrows at her two friends.  “That’s alright,”  she said.  “I’m not up for another Halloween.”

 

“Alright ladies,” Victoire said, authoritatively.  “As the designated apparator of the night, I say its time to head out.”

 

“Meet at the Siren’s Call?”  asked Roxy, referring to the club they had decided on earlier in the night.  It was a club in Harlow which served a largely magical cliental and was, according to Roxanne, wonderful for dancing. 

 

“Last one there pays for drinks!” announced Dominique before promptly dissapparating.  Sophie closed her eyes, felt the familiar dizzying lurch, and suddenly, she was standing in the apparition section behind the bar.

 

Although it was still early, the club was beginning to buzz with activity.  There was the start of a crowd on the dance floor, but there was still room to move.  “Perfect!”  exclaimed Roxy when she saw this, and promptly abandoned her friends to begin dancing.

 

“You getting anything to drink?” yelled Dom after her cousin.  Roxy just waved her hand in a manner that said ‘no right now.’  Roxy rarely drank, anyway.

 

Maddy was already at the bar, telling the handsome barkeeper their orders.  “You’re drinking red wine on our crazy girls night out?”  Vic laughed at her friend as Maddy began passing out the drinks.  “I like what I like,” Maddy replied, unbothered. 

 

She handed Sophie something fizzy and blue and said,” You’ll like it.  But drink slowly.”

 

“You are letting me have alcohol?”  Sophie teased, feigning surprise.  Maddy stuck out her tongue and replied,”  Only if you promise to be responsible.”

 

“Yes mother,” answered Sophie and went off to a side table with Dom to finish their drinks and watch Roxy dance.  Sophie was not sure how—every other Weasley in existence had terrible coordination—but Roxy was a natural dancer.  At that very moment, she was doing some sort of Samba, catching the eye of everyone in the club. 

 

“She looks so happy,” commented Dom in an off-handed manner as she sat.  Sophie and Dom shared the opinion that Roxy’s time and talent was wasted—all she wanted to do was be some sort of social butterfly.  She had no other ambition but to go out every night, dance, and have fun.  Never mind that she was brilliant.   Roxy just wanted to marry some rich wizard and have fun for the rest of her life.

 

“If I could dance like that, I’d be happy too!”  Sophie giggled.  Dom laughed as well, imagining herself out on the floor and knowing it would not look anything like Roxy’s demonstration. 

 

“Sophie, are you really alright?”  Dom asked the question hesitantly, not making eye contact.

 

“Yeah,” Sophie replied out of habit.  She and Dom were friends, but if she was going to confide in anyone, it would be James or Roxy…or Albus, but that wasn’t happening, was it.  If only Albus could see her now, he would probably say something like ‘is this how a future Minister of Magic should act?  Sulking in a club when she knows she’s done something wrong?’  Actually, it was more likely he would not say anything; he would just give her that Albus-look he did when he thought she ought to be doing something she wasn’t.

 

“It’s not like he’s a saint!” muttered Sophie to her drink.

 

“What?”  Asked Dom, confused. 

 

“Its nothing,” winced Sophie, embarrassed.  The two sat in silence for a few seconds before Sophie burst out,”  Its just—“

 

“It’s just…?” Dom inquired.

 

“I…said something I didn’t mean.  First to Scorpius, and then to Albus.”

 

“Rose told me,” Dom said, and Sophie wasn’t surprised.  Rose and Dom were actually very close, considering they were only cousins.  “It was perfectly understandable.  You were under quite a lot of stress.  And you apologized—sometimes that’s all you can do.”

 

ImightnothaveapologizedtoAl,” muttered Sophie indistinguishably into her drink, purposefully not meeting Dom’s eyes.

 

“What?” her friend asked in genuine confusion. 

 

“I didn’t actually apologize to Al, per say.”

 

“Why not?”  Dom didn’t seem to be judging, only curious.

 

“At first, I was just so mad.  But now…I said something horrible and acted terribly.  I’m not sure I can face him after that.”

 

Dom snorted into her drink.  “Sophie, Albus has done much worse.  He can’t exactly blame you for losing your temper now and again.  Do you remember the time in his second year when he was so mad at James that he broke his new broomstick?”

 

“I’d forgotten about that.”

 

“How could you,” Dom commented dryly.  “James brings it up every single time Al asks to borrow his broom, even now.  We all do rubbish things now and again.”

 

“Dom, what if he doesn’t forgive me, though?”

 

Dominique waved it off as an impossibility.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  This is Albus we are talking about—you’ve been friends since he was in diapers.  He is physically unable to ignore your apology.  Now, Sophie, you will stop sulking and come dance with me.”

 

“But I’m a terrible dancer,” Sophie said, putting her glass down on the tale and getting up to follow Dom out to the floor.

 

“So am I,”  Dominique replied blithely.  “That’s half the fun.”

 

“I’m not sure your definition of fun is correct,” Sophie ventured.  “Maybe we should cross-reference.”

 

“Nonsense!”  Was Dom’s only reply before dragging her friend out into the middle of the fray.

 

Sophie could honestly say that the first two minutes of dancing were the most awkward of her life.  First, there was some head bobbing, then some bizarre shoulder movements.  Roxy took one look at her friend and cousin and burst out laughing so hard that she doubled over.  But by the third minute Sophie had decided that she did not care that she looked like some sort of flailing octopus—she was having fun.  So together, she and Dominique danced atrociously in the center of the dance floor.  Occasionally, Maddy, Vic, or Olivia would join the circle and once Roxy grabbed Sophie for a dramatic tango down the center of the floor (which only resulted in Sophie’s laughing so hard that tears rolled down her cheeks). 

 

After some time, Sophie realized that she was absolutely parched and motioned to Dom that she needed some water.  Getting off the dance floor took considerably more effort than getting on, but Sophie did eventually manage.  Sophie asked the bartender for a glass of water and sat on one of the stools, amazed at how much dancing had worn her out.  

 

“Sophia Hinds?”  There was a male voice to her left.  Sophie turned toward it and immediately recognized the boy next to her as Mitchell Cates, the Ravenclaw who had tutored Roxy the year before—they had met in Flourishes earlier in the week. 

 

“Sophie, please,” she replied with a smile. “I’m Sophie to friends.”

 

“Well then, if we are going to be friends, I must be Cates,” he returned the smile.

 

“What?” Sophie asked, confused.  Mitchell Cates looked slightly embarrassed.

 

“No one but my mum calls me Mitchell.  I’m just Cates—always have been.”

 

“Then Cates, I have to have to say—because I am such a good friend—I would never have expected to see you here.”

 

He laughed.  “Because I was a Ravenclaw?”

 

“Because you were a Ravenclaw turned bookstore keeper who comes to a club with ink stains on his hands,” replied Sophie, pointing to the very obvious marks stating that Cates had using a quill all day.

 

“Well, maybe that’s exactly why I needed to get out.  You here with anyone else?”  His eyes were already scanning the dance floor, as if looking for someone.

 

“Yeah,” Sophie answered, and pointed out the rest of her group.  Roxy was, as always, the center of the crowd, moving to the music with a grace and fluidity that never failed to impress Sophie.

 

“Geez.  She sure can move,” Cates gave a low whistle.  Sophie agreed and commented on her own lack of coordination.

 

They chatted a while longer and Sophie realized she might be flirting.  It was a strange feeling—the only flirting she was used to was fake, so she wasn’t entirely certain she was interpreting the situation correctly. 

 

But if this was flirting, then it was very fun.  And Cates was being so nice, not at all like Albus who was—

 

Sophie looked down at her water, immediately unhappy again.  Albus was probably off not thinking about her at all, having fun with other people. 

 

“Something wrong?” Cates asked. 

 

“I...no, nothing.”

 

“Oh,” if he was confused, he didn’t show it.  “I apologize.  I must have misinterpreted your interest in our conversation as unhappiness.”

 

Sophie made a face at him, smiling in spite of herself.  “I’m on the outs with a friend,” she explained.  “I don’t know how to ask for forgiveness but I don’t think I can go much longer without fixing things.”

 

“Well, I know this may not be what you want to hear, I think the answer is pretty obvious.”

 

“Yeah..” replied Sophie, unenthusiastically at the idea of humbling herself before Al.

 

“Yeah,” Cates said sadly.  “You’ll have to get absolutely sloshed at the club tonight and flirt atrociously with a handsome stranger at the bar.”

 

Sophie laughed in spite of herself.

 

Cates grinned at her over his drink and said,” Look, there’s that smile again.”

 

Still smiling, Sophie said,” I think….I have to go and talk to someone.  Thanks for cheering me up.”

 

“Oh, fine,” Cates teased.  “Leave me here all by my lonesome.  Its just as well—I was fancying a dance and after watching you ‘bust a move’ I think I’m better off asking Roxanne.”

 

Sophie gave Cates a shove for insulting her dancing, waved a goodbye, and headed off in the direction of Maddy.  A few very fit blokes were chatting up Victoire and her sister, and Maddy was not pleased when Sophie waved her over.

 

“What?”  Maddy hissed, while simultaneously smiling at and attractive Italian.

 

“I’m heading out early.”


“Why?”  Suddenly, Maddy was more concerned than irritated.

 

“I’ve got to apologize to Albus.” 

 

Maddy raised an incredulous eyebrow.  “Soph, you’ve been avoiding that all week. Why do you suddenly—wait, how much did you have to drink?”

 

“What?”

 

“Oh Sophie, I know this sounds like a good idea, but it’s the alcohol talking.  You’ll only end up making a fool of yourself.”

 

“Mads, I only had the one.”

 

“You can’t even remember how much you’ve had.  I’m a terrible older sisters, exposing her baby sister to this kind of environment.  Here, I’ll help you home.”

 

“Maddy! I’m fine!”  Sophie shook her elbow out of Maddy’s hold.  “Really I am.  I’m not drunk, I just realized that I can’t really have fun until I’ve gotten this off my chest.  It will take me five minutes—I’ll be right back.”

 

Her sister looked her up and down, suspiciously.  “Listen, just walk in a straight line really quickly—“

 

“Maddy,”  Sophie said, exasperated. 

 

“Fine, but check in when you get to the Potter’s.  I want to make sure you haven’t splinched yourself.”

 

“Sure thing mum,” Sophie teased before apparating out of the club.

 

When her feet touched the ground again, she was standing in the slightly dewy grass outside the Potter’s house.  The heels that Roxy had forced on her wobbled a bit as she made her way across the lawn to the door.  Once on the porch, she rang the door bell and waited for the response.

 

A breeze rustled the trees as Sophie strained her ears to hear someone coming to the door.  Perhaps she should have thought this through.  She didn’t even know if the Potters were home. 

 

Just as Sophie convinced herself to walk back to the apparition site and return to the club, the door opened.

 

“Sophie?”  asked James, confused.  “Come in—is something wrong?”

 

“Um, well.  I just wanted to see if Albus was home for a chat.”  Sophie looked around, guilty.  She knew that James knew about her little out burst with Al.  She hoped he would not make a big deal about it.

 

“Yeah,” James replied.  “He’s just upstairs in his room.”

 

Sophie nodded and started towards the stairs.

 

“And Soph?”  the sound of James’ voice stopped her momentarily.  “I know you’ve done wrong, but don’t be too hard on yourself.  It could have happened to anyone.”

 

Sophie nodded with a rueful smile and made her way to Albus’ room, steeling herself for the worst.  In front of his door she took a deep, calming breath and knocked.

 

“Hey, Al.”

 

Sophie knew he was standing before her in the doorway, but she kept her eyes glued on the ground.  If she looked him in the eyes, she knew she wouldn’t be able to finish.  So, focusing on Al’s bare feet and pajama bottoms, Sophie blurted,  “I’m so sorry for the way I acted the other day.  You were right; I was way out of line.  And I already said as much to Scorpius, so you don’t have to worry about—“

 

Sophie didn’t even get to finish talking before warm, strong arms enveloped her and Al pulled her into a very comforting hug.

 

“I hate when you are mad at me.  I hate that you are disappointed in me.  I’m not perfect, Al, but you have to forgive me, you have to!”

 

“No Soph, I should be apologizing.  I knew you were under stress and didn’t mean it.  I shouldn’t have snapped at you.  And I didn’t know how to ask your forgiveness.”

 

“Well,” Sophie pondered, her head resting in the crook of his neck.  “Groveling is a good place to start.”

 

She heard the rumble of his laughter reverberate in his chest, and for the first time in days she felt complete.  It was never good to be on the outs with a friend, especially when that friend meant as much to her as Al did. 

 

They stood there like that, Sophie leaning on Al, his hand tracing circles on her back for a few moments, until Albus seemed to realize how close they were and disentangled himself.

 

“So,” he transitioned, only slightly awkwardly. “ Where were you that you were all dressed up?”

 

Sophie looked down, forgetting momentarily the short dress and high heels that was her uniform for the night.  “Oh, girls night.  Roxy and the others are still out living it up.”

 

“And you left early for little old me?”  Albus grinned a crooked smile and Sophie’s heart melted.  He retreated into his room and sat back at his desk which was covered in a thick layer of papers, books and quills.

 

“Its hard to have fun when you are feeling guilty about something. “  Sophie sat at the edge of Al’s surprisingly neat bed and took off her shoes, which had bothered her feet much more than she had realized until she left the club. 

 

“Soph, you didn’t have to feel guilty about that.”  Albus had turned his desk chair towards her, his head bowed in shame.  He ruffled his hair uncomfortably.  “I didn’t mean—its just that Scorpius has it so much harder than we do.   And his family’s been going through some rough media as well.  Did you see that nasty article in the Prophet two weeks ago?”

 

Sophie nodded—with all the tension surrounding the Magical Equality laws that the Potters were supporting, the media had had a field day.  Two weeks ago, a particularly unpleasant article had been written that had alleged the reason the Malfoys had not publically supported the equality act was that they were Purists and had then commenced to remind the public of the Malfoy’s sordid past in dark magic.  It had not been flattering. 

 

“But no matter about the Malfoys.  I know you didn’t mean any of it—you’ve just been under so much stress.”

 

“Things have been crazy over the few months, haven’t they?” Sophie began, hesitantly.

 

“You can say that again,” answered Albus, leaning back in his chair precariously. 

 

“Things have been crazy—“Sophie said teasingly, before Albus cut her off by throwing a pillow at her.  Sophie caught it and threw it back, giggling. 

 

“Al,” Sophie began again, more seriously.  “What do you think about the Magical Equality laws?”

 

He raised an eyebrow.  “What brought that on?”

 

Sophie shrugged and picked at a loose string on his comforter.

 

“Well, I think it’s the right thing to do.  But I think it will be years before its in place, and years after that before it becomes something most witches and wizards actually believe in.  Our parents certainly have a fight on their hands to get that law to make the changes they want it to.”

 

Sophie looked at him, amazed again at the enigma that was Albus Potter.  “Yeah, I’m coming to believe the same thing.  James doesn’t worry about it too much—he just thinks that everybody will agree once the law is finalized.  But not everyone is like our families.”

 

“James likes to think the best of everybody,” Albus said this with a smile, meaning it as a compliment. 

 

“It’s a good thing,” Sophie agreed.  "Its just that issues like this are so complicated.  You have to change the oppinions of an entire poplulation of wizards."

 

"And with the deep prejudices set in place, it will be hard."

 

It was one of the reasons that Sophie loved Al so much.  He thought about these dilemmas teh same way she did--focusing on what was right but understanding the difficulties that came with the task.  And it was in that moment she made up her mind--she was going to tell Albus.

 

“I need to talk to you about something.  And I don’t think I can talk to anyone else about it,” Sophie's heart was beating out of her chest.  She was about to tell her biggest secret, but she had to know what he thought.  She needed his advice.  "You have to promise me that you won't tell anyone what I say."

 

“What do you mean?” now Albus was suspicious.

 

“Al,I have to tell someone.  I can't keep it to myself any longer.” Sophie took a deep breath and let it out in a rush.  “They think that the attacks on the ministry were orchestrated by magical creatures unhappy that the Magical Equality Law hasn’t been signed yet.”

 

Al stared at her, mouth agape.  “Oh.”

 



 

Authors Note:

 

Hello All!  I know--its been so long since I last posted.  I'm so sorry!  But in my defense, I've never had such a busy summer.  I hope this being extra long helped out :)

 

So what do you guys think about Sophie telling Al her secret?  Good idea or bad idea?  And how do you think he will respond?

 

As always, any characters you recognize are not mine (JKR is amazing!).  The title is from Graham Greene's novel ("The  Heart of the Matter") and the summary quote is from Shakespeare's "Two Gentlemen of Verona."


Chapter 11: Catch 22
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“What?!”  yelped Albus, surprised.  Sophie opened her mouth to repeat the sentence, but before she had even uttered the first syllable, Albus leaped across the room and shut the door, an almost frantic look in his eyes.

 

 

 

Sophie shut her mouth in surprise.

 

 

 

“Please tell me,” began Al slowly.  “That I misheard you and completely overreacted to your saying something perfectly normal.”

 

 

 

“Like about how I’m excited for the Malfoy’s Summer Ball?”  Asked Sophie, playing along with his charade.

 

 

 

“Yes.  Please Merlin tell me you said something about their ball and I flipped out unnecessarily. “

 

 

 

“You know I didn’t,”  Sophie’s voice was sad.  “I’m sorry I dumped this on you.”

 

 

 

“I’m trying not to be irritated, Soph, but that’s a lot to tell me all of a sudden,”  Al looked sad and unhappy, but not angry.  He ran a hand over his face and absentmindedly ruffled his hair, a mannerism he had adopted from James.

 

 

 

“I’m so, so sorry.  Its just that I’ve been not saying it for so long.  I ask Roxy where we are going for lunch, and I want to tell her.  I went into Diagon Ally to buy a pair of shoes and wanted to shout it from the street corners.  Its bursting out all over the place and I hate keeping secrets.”

 

 

 

“I suppose we can’t say anything.  Of course we can’t.”

 

 

 

“Nobody has sworn me to secrecy or anything,” offered Sophie, hesitantly.

 

 

 

Al smiled ruefully.  “Even so, we couldn’t.  It would cause so much more harm than good.”


 

Sophie looked into his eyes and knew in that moment that he felt exactly the same way she did.  He struggled with the decision as she had, and for the same reason.  There was a moment where Sophie felt completely in tune with Albus, and never before had she wanted to kiss him so badly as now.  It is an incredibly powerful feeling, to find someone who shares your ideals, with whom you feel so in tune.

 

 

 

But then Sophie remembered who she was and what Albus thought of her, and just barely prevented herself from doing something extremely embarrassing that would have deeply threatened their friendship.

 

 

 

Albus Potter was blissfully unaware of the turmoil going on in his friend’s heart.  Instead, he was focusing on the problem at hand.  In one short sentence, Sophie had caused an issue he believed in firmly—the Equality Act—to look very different to him.  He was not rethinking his stance on the fact that all magical creatures should have the same basic rights.  It was simply that up until this point, he had only seen the good, the downtrodden, put-upon side of the fight.  Now he was seeing that even the “right” side had bad components.

 

 

 

It was disconcerting to be sixteen and be reminded that good and evil are rather hazy and overlapping descriptions.  Life would be so much easier if they weren’t.  Albus groaned in frustration, wondering what this information would mean for the future of the bill, for magical kind.

 

 

 

Suddenly Sophie was beside him, an arm around his shoulders and her head resting near his own.  “They aren’t bad, just confused and tired of waiting to be treated like equals.”

 

 

 

Albus smiled.  “I know.”

 

 

 

And Sophie knew that he did.  “Do you remember when you were a second year?”

 

 

 

“Vaguely,” replied Albus, dryly, wondering where this was going. 

 

 

 

“Its just that, all those years ago I asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up.  Do you remember what you told me?”

 

 

 

“Quidditch player,” Albus said with some confidence.  There had been a brief period in his life where he wanted to do anything and everything that James did.

 

 

 

“No,” answered Sophie.

 

 

 

“What?”

 

 

 

“You told me you wanted to be Headmaster of Hogwarts and I laughed at you.”

 

 

 

Albus grew quiet.  “I remember,” he replied slowly, because now he did.

 

 

 

“I thought, what a silly thing to want to be when you are twelve.  Especially when there are so many more interesting things to want to be.  Rose wanted to be a Dragon Tamer.  James wanted to be a quidditch player.  But you wanted to be a teacher.”

 

 

 

Sophie was smoothing his jumper in a distracted way that was distracting him.  He had forgotten that he had ever told her, and was not sure how he felt that she remembered something so silly.

 

 

 

“And I asked you why on earth you wanted to do that, and you replied that you wanted to change things.  Big things.  Like Gryffindors and Slytherins.  You told me, at eleven, that having everyone divided into houses only kept the old hatred alive, and that if you were going to change the world you needed to change the people.  And if you want to change people, you change how you teach them.  Slytherin, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw—those labels didn’t matter.  You wanted to show that what mattered was who each person was.”

 

 

 

“I’m sure I don’t remember it sounding nearly that eloquent,” mumbled Al, embarrassed. 

 

 

 

“Well I do.  And it really made an impression on me.  I’ve always remembered it.  Its why I thought. Well.  I thought that if I told you, you wouldn’t run off making assumptions and judging.  You would know that that there are good and bad people on both sides of the argument.”

 

 

 

There were a few long moments of silence, before Al said with a smile,”  I can’t believe you remember that.  It was years ago and I was just a kid.” 


 

“Of course I remember it,”  laughed Sophie.  “That was the moment I first…realized you were going to grow up to be something special.” 

 

 

 

Sophie gave his shoulders a final squeeze and rolled to the end of the bed where her shoes where.  The real end to that sentence was the moment I first realized I loved you. But Sophie would never say that sentence aloud.  Instead, she smiled over the familiar memory of an eleven year old standing out in the December snow, promising her that he would change the world one day.

 

 

 

“I’m not mad, you know.  That you told me.  Its just a lot.  Actually, I’m kind of flattered.”

 

 

 

“Well, you should be flattered, me being so important and all,” Sophie drawled, trying to figure out how the strappy shoes went back on. 

 

 

 

“Our world is really changing, isn’t it.”

 

 

 

“Maybe it always was, and we just didn’t see it until now.  Makes me wonder what all I missed.”  The shoes were on and her purse was located.  It was time to go back to the club.  As she had promised Maddy, it had taken no more than five minutes.  Well, twenty.  But Mads had been busy with the Italian, and surely had not noticed her prolonged absence. 

 

 

 

“You off?”  Asked Albus.

 

 

 

“Yeah, the night is still young.  You know me, party animal and all that.”

 

 

 

“You come here, deliver earth shaking new information, and then just abandon me?” teased Al.  Sophie spun around, apologetic.  She really had done that.

 

 

 

“I’ll stay if you want me too,” she offered.  And for three heart breakingly exciting seconds, she thought he would ask her too, but instead he smiled and told her to go finish her night. 

 

 

 

“In all honesty, the more I think about it, the less surprised I am.  It was only a matter of time before something like this happened.”

 

 

 

“To be fair, they really don’t know who did it,”  Sophie elaborated.  “They just suspect.  But even a suspicion is enough to give the Purists a boost and change the feelings of the public towards the law.  If they had something more substantial, they would say something.”

 

 

 

“Knowing my father, of course they would.  He can’t stand for government to lie to the people.  He probably can’t even stand this white lie.”

 

 

“Some times you have to, in order to keep people safe.  Imagine all the riots that would occur if it came out that non-wizard magical creatures could break into the Ministry and do all that damage.  There would be a public outcry to put everything that wasn’t human in a cage.  And I can’t imagine that would go over well.”

 

 

 

“We’d be three seconds from an interspecies magical war,” answered Albus gravely.  Sophie looked at him, again seeing a glimpse of the amazing man she was sure he would become.  She shook herself out of the solemn moment and smiled.

 

 

 

“On that happy note,” she laughed.  “I will take my leave.”

 

 

 

Albus managed a smile in return and ushered her towards the door.  “Oh, now that we are friends again, am I going to see you at the Malfoy’s Ball?”

 

 

 

“Of course, good sir! It is only the social event of the season—I would never miss it!”  Sophie teased.  The first hour was always fun—seeing people she had not seen in months, the excitement, the food.  But as the evening wore on, making small talk with the adults and dancing with the children of her mother’s friends occupied her time.  It was an event she both looked forward to and dreaded.

 

 

 

“Yeah, well, I’ll be the handsome one in the fancy dress robes,” teased Albus.

 

 

 

“He’s lying of course—that will be me.”  James sauntered in from the den, having heard then come down the hall.  “Alls well?”  He questioned.

 

 

 

“Right as rain,” sang Sophie, and she stepped into his arms for a goodbye hug.  She had not seen him in days.  It was odd, missing someone who had been such and important part of your life.  Sophie was reminded that seventh year would be quite an adjustment, if only because James would not be around as much.

 

 

 

“Sure you don’t want to hang around?  Mum and Dad are out at an event and Lily’s at a friend’s.  Really, Al and I are just tearing the house apart we’re so bored.”

 

 

 

“Its practically in ruins,” lamented Albus as he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek in farewell. 

 

 

 

“Yeah, yeah.  I can tell,”  Sophie smiled.  “But if I stay any longer Maddy will get worried.”


 

Sophie waved a cheerful goodbye and walked off towards the apparition site.  Just before she popped off she heard James ask Albus, “So what did you talk about for so long?”  but she apparated before she could hear Al’s reply.

 

 

 

Back at the club, Sophie was able to lose herself in the music.  She danced with Dom and Victoire, chatted with a cute boy at the bar, and played a never-have-I-ever-esque drinking game with Maddy and her Italian suitor.  For the first time in weeks, she felt completely free—no one was mad at her, nobody thought she was dating James, and she had Al to talk to about the Magical Equality Act.  For a brief, glorious moment, her life seemed normal, open, and guilt free.

 

 

 



 

 

 

Author's Note:

 

 

 

I know its been forever--in my defense, this has been a really difficult semester.  And I know that this is a bit shorter than normal, but if I added any more it would have been too long, so I decided to end it where it is.  Also, if you see any typos, please tell me--I edited this very late at night and I am prone to miss things.

 

 

 

The quote in the summary is from Henry IV by W. Shakespeare.  I chose it because there is an underappreciated side of boldness and valor that requires you to put aside your personal beliefs to bring about the greater good.  In my mind, this is something that a Slytherin or Ravenclaw might understand better than a Gryffindor (one reason why Albus understands better than James might).

 

 

 

Have a lovely holiday and expect more updates now that the semester is over.  Cheers!


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