There was a scraping sound and light flew into the room brilliantly. Seda turned onto her back, her eyes blurry and puffy.
"It's nine o'clock," said Scott's brisk voice."Come on. Up you get."
Seda rubbed her eyes and blinked rapidly. Her bed was warm, the expensive magical sheets were sweet oblivion. She snuggled deeper into the covers under the Egyptian-woven comfertor, smiling vaguely.
"Come on, Seda," said Scott loudly.
Seda growled. Finally she sat up and threw the covers off and got out of bed. She sat on the edge of the bed and yawned widely. She then glanced at Scott who was hanging up her robes for that week.
"Happy Monday," said Scott cheerfully. Seda smiled sleepily. "Now wake up, sleepy."
Seda consciously forced herself to wake up fully. She stood up and stretched, feeling refreshed. If only Seda had that mental control when she was upset, she thought. She smiled tightly at Scott who then left the room. Seda went into the adjoining bathroom and got ready for her day.
"Let's see what we've got here," Seda said to herself as she approached the robes rack. Her Monday robes were navy blue, made of the finest material, and patterns were embroidered on all the hems and collar in gold silk thread. Seda's robes all had the same embroidery design, they were just all in different colors. All Seda's robes were basically stolen but she didn't care; she liked the richness in which she grew up.
Seda slipped the robes on and tied her hair in a tight ponytail. She was ready for the day.
Seda made her way down to the kitchen which was empty. With her wand she summoned cereal, fruit and tea. She wondered vaguely where everybody was. Sitting in silence, Seda then thought she heard music. It was very vague, perhaps coming from the far away living room.With her fruit bowl in hand she wandered through the house, the piano playing coming louder. Seda had barely known they had a piano.
The living room was a massive room with high windows and mint green walls. It was not a comfortable living room: it was for decoration, not for use, so there were many hard wooden chairs. A white grand piano sat in the far corner from the grand fireplace, and Seda could see Tracy's red hair.
Seda snuck in nonchalantly, listening. It was a beautiful piece, Tracy was a very good pianist, and the crescendos seemed to make Seda's heartstrings vibrate. Seda had always thought music was useless, but this was exceedingly lovely....
"Now what do you think you can do?" said Tracy as she stopped playing. For a moment Seda didn't know who she was talking to, but upon coming into the room fully she glimpsed Camali sitting on the bench next to Tracy.
"Father probably won't like her learning music," Seda said loudly and Tracy jumped.
"Oh good morning, Seda," she said, smiling. "Why wouldn't Blaise like it?"
"He thinks music is useless," said Seda simply. She walked over and stood next to the piano. "He raised all of us to think logically."
Tracy shook her head in disbelief. "Music is a way of expressing emotions," she said, "It's an art. A player can place his heart in his hands and let the world hear it without words."
Seda shook her head impatiently. She couldn't comprehend anything that was not right in front of her, anything with an obscure meaning was utter nonsense. She left Tracy and her musical madness to roam her house. She couldn't face being deemed ignorant in not understanding Tracy's metaphorical language.
The Zabini manor was divided into four sections with three floors. The first floor was the living space and kitchen and whatnot. The second floor was the work floor with literal offices for tutors to teach Seda and Maureen's children. The third floor was where everyone slept. The basement, however, was where Blaise's business operated in secret.
I haven't been downstairs for a long time, Seda thought musingly. Seda walked into the formidable downstairs library, which was quite a full library indeed. She approached one of the bookshelves. She drew her wand and tapped it, muttering the password. The bookshelf didn't open, it didn't even seem to change but Seda was able to walk right through it into a small chamber. Seda took the marble staircase leading down to the world of her father's business.
The basement was hardly a basement: it was the size of the whole house and was paved with black marble tiles on the floor and white painted walls. Chanedliers hung from the ceiling. Fogged glass cubicals in which workers sat filled the hall. There was a sort of checkpoint, which could be related to an airport security check, where wizards worked busily on a mountain of goods.
An agitated- looking wizard suddenly bumped into Seda.
"Oh, sorry Connie," he said quickly, his bald head glinting from the chandelier overhead. "Could you take this down to High Security for me, Apollo Tsiatas and Robert Larson want to exchange a Greek dragon for a Common Welsh."
"Excuse me?" said Seda arrogantly. "Do I look like I'm wearing workers' robes? I am Seda Zabini."
The man's brown eyes widened and he became incredibly flustered. "Oh, Miss Zabini, I'm so sorry, you look like Connie Song, my apologies."
"You should be more careful who you talk to," Seda reprimanded. "This is a secret business, McGrille."
"Yes, of course," McGrille muttered and he even gave her an awkward bow.
"Do you know where Mr. Zabini is?" Seda asked him.
"Er, I believe he is at a meeting in Egypt," replied McGrille. "Look, I'm very sorry about this mishap, Miss Zabini. I'll just get my intern to do it."
"No, I'd actually like to deliver the message," said Seda. Unwillingly McGrille handed the file over to the young lady. She smiled at him and walked down the aisles until she came to the High Security offices. She approached the largest office: Head of High Security Dept, Korea Baye-Signa.
Seda's jaw dropped as she entered the office.
"Korea?!" she gasped.
The honey-haired woman looked up from her papers. She broke into a smile. "Seda! How are you? What brings you down here?"
"How long have you worked here?" Seda asked, astonished.
Korea smiled. She was a beautiful woman, tall and elegant; she was kind but could be incredibly shrewd and tough when the situation demanded it. "I've been here all along, Seda. I met Mr. Zabini when I was an intern. I've worked my way up to this high position."
Seda struggled with her emotions for a moment, then pushed everything away forcefully. "Oh, I see. Well I was just coming down here to wander when McGrille ran into me and now I'm running messages."
Korea laughed as she stood up and went over to a filing cabinet. "I don't remember you as being the wandering type, Seda. What was the message about?"
"Something about a dragon exchange," said Seda, extending the file in her hand. "So what happened to your name? It seems that you've gotten remarried, Baye-Signa."
"Oh, yes," Korea beamed, and now Seda saw the rings on her finger. "Alan Signa and I met when we were both on vacation in France. I didn't want to drop Baye so I hyphenated my name."
"So what's Danielle's name now?" Seda asked politely.
"She wanted to keep Baye. Danielle Baye is much nicer than Danielle Signa."
Seda nodded, pursing her lips idly. There was a sudden buzz. Seda jumped and Korea calmly walked over to a small wooden box and turned a knob on it.
"Yes?" she spoke into it.
"Mrs Baye-Signa, we have a security breach!" said a gruff voice. It was panicked.
Korea paled and looked up at Seda. "You should go upstairs. Don't come back down for a while. I need to check this out."
"I'm coming with you," said Seda fiercely. She turned on her heel and led her post step-mother down the halls. There was a bit of a skirmish in a far room: the interrogation chamber. Seda, Korea and two burly men entered. A thin boy with his hands tied behind his back and a gag and blindfold over his face sat fidgeting in a chair.
"We caught 'im," grunted the first man, Marvin Legitt.
"What happened?" Seda asked calmly. She thought the boy looked rather familiar. "No- let's start with -who is he-?"
Legitt jabbed his wand at the boy and the blindfold and gag disappeared. Albus Potter sat coughing and spluttering in the chair.
"Al Potter?" Seda gasped. "What the hell?"
"Just what I'm thinking!" Albus said. He licked his cracked lips, staring around him. His face and his voice was calm but his eyes were quite frightened. "I don't know what's going on. Why am I captured?"
"You was snoopin' around one of our facilities," snarled the other man, Gustavus Ronaldo.
Albus wrinkled his nose. "What facilities? I don't snoop, Sir."
Seda folded her arms and glared at Albus shrewdly. "So what were you doing there?"
Albus blinked at her. "Oh, is that you, Zabini? You're in on this madness? That could explain it."
Immediately Ronaldo and Legitt seized Albus and threw him on the floor. The thugs began to kick the boy.
"No!" screamed Seda wildly. Fear clouded her heart for a moment. "No, stop it! Ronaldo! Legitt!" She whipped out her wand and pointed it at Legitt: there was a bang and he uttered a girly squeal as he staggered backwards, wincing.
Albus sat up on the floor after several moments, shaking his head. He got to his feet awkwardly. "Okay...I'm all for doing whatever one must to justify a situation...but what was that for, exactly? Was there a reason?"
Seda glared at him. "You need to tell us what you were doing in the facility."
"Seda," said Korea, "Let me handle this."
"No, Korea," said Seda sharply. "I'll deal with Potter."
"I was trying to Floo to the Burrow," said Albus through gritted teeth. "But I guess it thought I said something else, then took me to this warehouse place. I didn't know where the hell I was, I wasn't snooping"- he glared at Legitt and Ronaldo -"then these thugs came and just took me away."
"So you weren't investigating anything?"
Albus looked incredulous and insulted. "Yes, in fact, I commonly investigate a random warehouse when I Floo accidentally to it. It's a hobby of mine."
Seda rolled her eyes. "There's a time for sarcasm, Potter."
"Anything that will get me out of this place," he replied. "And if you are operating in secrecy, you shouldn't keep me here for too long."
"Why not?" Korea frowned.
"Er, my dad's Harry Potter," said Albus and there was a hint of a threat in his voice. "He's Head of Auror department. He knows wherever I am."
All of a sudden there was a loud, harsh alarm. Seda and Korea spun around and stared out of the room: there were flashing red lights.
"Security breach!" gasped Korea. "Zabini is in Egypt, he won't be able to get through!"
"I'll handle it," said Seda firmly. She set her brain into gear. "Take away his wand and keep him locked here for a little bit so he's out of the way."
She dashed out of the office. Most people were running down the aisles, some were screaming, and everyone was panicking, even Korea. Seda pointed her wand at her throat and muttered "Sonorus."
"Excuse me!" Her voice rang through the chamber, echoing madly. The workers' bodies froze but their heads kept turning oddly as they searched for the voice. "This is Sedaline Zabini and I'm commander since Mrs Baye-Signa seems unable to do the job.
"I need you all to be calm and keep your wits. This is no time to be stupid." Seda ran (as composedly as she could) onto the small stage where Blaise made announcements. She stepped up to the imperious podium. "We need to act fast. I need three people to go outside this building and set up defense charms and concealment enchantments. Cast every protective spell you know." Several workers Disapparated.
"We must freeze all exchanges being dealt currently," Seda announced.
"But there are articles being flown as we speak!" yelled a voice and Seda recognized McGrille.
"You have communication with those transports, don't you?" said Seda coldly. "I need the communications division on top of things, send the alert to all bases. Tell current traveling items to rest no closer west than Russia and no closer south than Greece. Where are those oafs I sent to cast the defenses?"
There was a great bustling as the workers grouped to send the message out. Seda continued to give out clear orders.
"What about the inventory here?" called a woman, Connie Song.
Seda hadn't even thought of her answer before she spoke. "Open the extendable walls and put all the inventory there. Don't seal the walls unless we're physically infiltrated. Hey, don't shove it haphazardly, organize it!"
"We don't have time to place it in an organized fashion!" yelled a man, Greg Tucker.
"Everyone in the-the- organization department, your proper title escapes me, get together and figure something out, pronto. Divide it mathematically, in fact everything grouped now can fit evenly if you separate the items properly."
"There's no time!" shrieked Connie Song.
"Not when you waste it arguing with me," snapped Seda, "just get to it. I can see the ideal pattern from up here."
"Nice job," said a voice.
Seda looked over sharply at Albus who had an odd smirk on his face.
"What are you smiling about?" Seda's voice echoed through the chamber. She quickly reversed the spell. "How did you get out? They took your wand."
"No, they took my joke wand," replied Albus. He took his real one out of his pocket and twirled it in his fingers like a baton. "You've really got a knack for bossing people around."
"This is not the time, Potter," Seda snarled. She was distracted as a ferrety little man ran up to her. "Miss, what about our other facilities?"
"They're constantly armed, aren't they?" said Seda in a tone that offended the man. "Send the message to them to be on their guard."
"Zabini!" Connie Song burst toward her, rather out of breath. "We can't fit it evenly. Barely half fits the secret chambers, we might have to open the deeper sections."
Seda tutted impatiently. She shot a glare at Albus. She seized him by the wrist and pulled him with her as she jogged back with Connie. Damn the size of this hall, Seda thought. They rounded the stock site and at the sight of it Seda thought she might lose her mind.
"Are you kidding me?!" she yelled. "How useless are you? You, watch Potter. You three, open the rest of the wall with me. You only opened half of them." Soon all entrances to the outer hall chamber was accessible. Seda jumped into the fray herself and by magic separated mounds of items far more sinister and illegal than pretty robes and bed sheets.
"Potter, why are you always here to ruin everything?" Seda snarled at him. "This is your fault."
"No it's just my job," said Albus lightly.
Seda opened her mouth to yell at another incompetent worker but stopped. She stared at Albus suspiciously. "You said Harry Potter knows wherever you are."
"Caught on, have you?" Albus grinned. "You are smart, Zabini, I'll give that to you."
Seda's eyes scrutinized him calculatingly. "You didn't arrive there by a Floo mishap. You're a set up!" She turned on her heel, fear bubbling inside her. "Where are the defenders I sent out?!"
"Probably Stunned," said Albus lightly.
Seda whirled back around to glare at the boy. Her head was beginning to spin. Fast as lightning she sent a curse at Albus: he was knocked backwards and collapsed on the marble floor heavily. Seda left him unconscious on the ground and ordered for the Inventory Inventors Squad.
"Do you still have those magical sacks?" she asked the sweating men.
"They're still in testing," panted a very fat man, Heath Holmes. "Also not Federation of Regulated Magical Enterprise Approved."
"Since when is anything you work with FRME Approved!?" Seda's nerve was beginning to rise from the pressure; she alone knew exactly how little time they had. "All of the grouped stock, wrap it up in those sacks as fast as humanly possible."
The team went to work. Streams of workers came to consult Seda.
"Mr Zabini just got the message," said Korea. She was just as nervous as the other tittering workers.
"Pull yourself together, Korea," said Seda, snapping her fingers in the woman's face. "We need you, so do your job. When should Zabini be arriving?"
"You told us to seal all entrances into the chamber or any of the facilities," replied Korea. "Nobody can get near the facilities in Britain or Europe. The whole continent is frozen under your command."
Seda nodded and took a shaky breath. "Good, our first priority is to protect the stock. Did you clear out the files and transfer them to Diamond Quarter?"
"You told us to freeze-" began Korea blankly.
"I thought you were smart, woman!" Seda screamed hysterically. "I told you to keep a limited channel open between here and Diamond Quarter, it's practically empty. You need to get files and evidence out of here!"
"Are you sure?" Korea questioned. "Are you sure we have to?"
"Have to?" Seda repeated. "You must! The Aurors are on their way, Baye."
Korea's eyes widened. She nodded and hastened away. Panic was beginning to abstruct Seda's clear thought process.
"We've finished wrapping, Zabini," said a voice and Seda turned to the Inventory Inventors Squad.
"Alright," said Seda firmly. She mentally lodged herself back into business. "There's a limited channel open between here and Diamond Quarter. I need everyone to pitch in putting these bags in the magical carts I called for."
"Miss," said a timid-sounding voice. Seda rounded impatiently on a quaking intern.
"What?" she snapped.
"There's been a delay in retrieving those magical carts," squeaked the spiky-haired intern.
Seda stood still for a moment, her dark eyes boring into the lad Brad Collins. "Why, Collins?" she asked as sweetly as she could.
"Er," Collins checked his notes, "They're in full operating use at Diamond Quarter."
"Diamond Quarter is a warehouse!" said Seda furiously, dropping the sweet act without a thought. "Are you the one sending the message back? Tell them to dump everything out of the carts, onto the cement floor if they've got to. We need those carts now. And don't take no for an answer, if I don't have carts in thirty seconds you're out of here forever."
Collins' eyes widened and he sprinted off without further ado. After thirty five seconds of pure agony, in which Seda stared around at the bustle surrounding her, Collins returned. His eyes were bright and his face was flushed. "They're on the way, Miss."
It seemed to be a miracle, but in the mere twenty minutes that had passed since the alarm had sounded, all stock and paperwork was nowhere to be seen. All filing cabinets and desk drawers were cleared; the moveable cubicals were pushed against the walls.
"Everyone get out while you can," called Seda hoarsely; her voice was almost gone.
There was a slam and a scream. Seda and several others turned around to see wizards dressed in Auror's robes running down the back entrance steps. Seda's stomach lurched; they had come through her open book case.
Most workers ran for the exit, some hid behind extra desks and a few tried to fight. Seized by an idea, Seda snuck quickly over to where Albus lay sprawled on the floor, still unconscious. She raised his body off the floor, holding it upright against her. She took a big breath and yelled as loud as she could.
"Stop or he dies!"
All fighting ceased and the Aurors turned sharply. Seda's wand was pointed straight at Albus' exposed neck. She was going to Azkaband anyway, she knew it.
One of them stepped forward. He slipped his hood off and Seda saw the fabled Harry Potter staring at her, his face white. The Auror head and teenage girl stared each other down intensely, not saying anything. Seda was glaring fiercely and Potter's eyes glinted strangely. It made Seda hesitate....
"You don't want to do that, Sedaline," he said and his voice was surprisingly calm and soft. "Come now...put your wand down. If you spare his life you'll only go to Azkaban for a week; you're underage and I so far have no proof that you're an accomplice to keep you longer. If you kill him...there will be dire consequences."
Seda blinked rapidly. It wasn't the words he said that made her heart throb, but the gentle insistence in which he said them. She looked down at Albus' blank face. He wasn't here to save her this time....
And suddenly Seda felt exhausted, more tired than she ever had been in her life. The weight of all the emotion and stress came down upon the sixteen-year-old and her body went limp. Her stinging eyes were closing...her heart was sobbing, about to burst. Darkness gathered at the edges of her brain, creeping in...and then the feeling of Albus in her arms disappeared and the dark fog took over completely.
Something was bustling. There were hurried footsteps and loud, angry voices. The light was almost blinding. It was all very overwhelming and stressful and Seda put her hands on her head and moaned, trying to hold herself in from exploding.
"She's awake now," said a voice. It was soft and the accent wasn't English.
"Great," said a hard voice, "Tell her I hate her."
"Shut up, Potter," snarled another voice.
With every ounce over energy she could muster Seda forced herself to sit up and open her eyes. It took her a few minutes to see through her blurred vision. After blinking thoroughly she saw she was in an unfamiliar room. It was a room that gave the impression of being rather squat from the low ceiling and the large and thick furniature.
"Where'm I?" Seda mumbled.
"Relax," said a voice. A gentle hand appeared on her shoulder, forcing her back to rest on the headboard.
"You're in the Auror Department of the Ministry of Magic."
All at once, everything came rushing back. The business, the crisis, the Aurors coming....A fresh bubble of panic popped in Seda's chest and her eyes flew open. She sat bold upright and stared around her. Immediately people began to hush and subdue her.
"I didn't do anything!" she tried to yell; it came out in a hoarse rasp.
"Zabini," said the offended voice. Seda looked around and saw Albus Potter sitting up in the bed next to her. She had never seen him look so angry.
"You hit me with a Conjuctorel Imiter curse," he growled at her. "That's bad enough to land you in here not to mention Azkaban. You almost killed me, Zabini."
"He's right." With a slight shudder Seda looked up into Harry Potter's face. It wasn't angry or offended; rather, he looked disappointed. As if he was disappointed in Seda. "You do know what the Conjnucotrel Imiter curses do?"
Seda tightened her lips defensively. "Of course I know. It temporarily imitates death. It's just a high dosage Stunner."
"Do you know what it means to temporarily imitate death?" asked Mr. Potter.
Seda hesitated awkwardly.
"It does begin to shut everything down," said Mr. Potter steadily. "Eventually it-"
"I -know- what it means," Seda snapped. She restlessly looked around for some comfort. To her surprise Scorpius had been standing there the whole time; and Tracy stood right next to her bed.
"What happened?" Seda whispered to Tracy.
Tracy bit her lip and began to tear up. "I'll tell you when we get home."
"Don't cry," Seda said desperately. She couldn't deal with the tears right now. "Don't, please. Ms. Rumsford, if you do I swear-"
"Stop it," said Scorpius fiercely to the red-haired woman. He approached Seda's other side and took her hand.
Tracy blinked rapidly. She still looked depressed as she looked over at Mr. Potter, who was looking confused.
"Miss Zabini," said a brown haired Auror woman, "your mother said she doesn't know what you were up to yesterday. So when you're feeling up to it we're going to have to question you directly."
"Who?" said Seda blankly.
"Mrs. Zabini," blinked Mrs. Weasley kindly. "Tracy."
Seda slowly looked over at Tracy. She wrenched her hand out of Scorpius' grip as a red haze appeared in her eyes. Hatred burned on her face. "What's wrong with you?!" she spat with such spite and venom that Tracy, Mrs. Weasley and Scorpius all stepped back timidly. "Why would you tell people that? You're not my mother!"
"She has legal rights to you," said Mrs. Weasley soothingly.
"She doesn't have anything to do with me!" Seda yelled, pain crossing her eyes. "My mother's dead. I don't need yet another phony coming in and trying to call herself my mother."
Mr. Potter stepped forward. He walked right up to Seda and took her face in his hands. A thrill of mingled anger and misery welled inside Seda as her eyes locked again onto the man's.
"Seda," he said very softly, "It's okay."
Seda trembled and tried to squirm free but he set his hand firmly on her shoulder. "Tracy just cares for you. It's okay to open up once in a while."
Now Seda turned on the offensive. She glared at Mr. Potter. "You don't know what it's like. You don't know anything about how I feel."
"Don't I?" said Mr. Potter heavily. "I was made an orphan was I was a baby. I was raised by my abusive relatives and then I had to fight the most powerful wizard of all time when I was seventeen. I thought I was alone. Seda...it's okay. It seems terrible now, like there's no where to go, but you have to put some trust into other people. And don't say you don't have other people...plenty of people love you. You know they do."
Seda blinked and then her eyes turned huge at the strange words being thrown at her. She understood the meaning, but she struggled to find the essence and true comprehension. Someone was trying to relate to her...and she wasn't pushing him away.
The door of the room burst open loudly and everybody, who had been gazing almost transifixed at the exchange between Mr. Potter and Seda, jumped. Blaise Zabini entered the ward warily.
"Ah," said Mr. Potter. He straightened up and stepped back from the bed.
"Blaise," gasped Tracy.
He crossed the war and grasped Tracy's hand briefly, glancing at her. Then he turned his eyes upon his daughter laying weakly in the bed. The room was silent.
"Hi Father," said Seda.
Blaise's hand went to her forehead gently. His palm was cold; Seda's forehead was burning. "Hi Seda," he said simply and retracted his arm.
"How is everything?" Seda asked apprehensively, giving him a look.
Blaise's eyes turned clouded and angry. Seda read his face immediately and scowled.
"I did the best I could," she told him. "I swear, Father, I did as you would have."
"You didn't think about our house, did you?" snapped Blaise. "We lost it, Seda, all of it." He shot a glare at the Aurors Potter and Weasley.
"You took our house?" said Seda weakly, staring at Mr. Potter.
"We have evidence that you acquired it in questionable ways," said Mr. Potter to Blaise.
Seda looked over at Albus. He was staring at her with his eyes aloof. He looked very guilty. Seda shook her head at him and her eyes burned.
"Where are we living now?" Seda asked, not taking her eyes off Albus.
"Maureen has agreed to let us stay at her house temporarily," said Blaise in an evasive tone. Seda went rigid and looked over sharply.
"Blaise," gasped Tracy is disbelief. "All the contacts you have and you decided on Maureen? I'm sorry, Blaise, I refuse to move in with that woman. I won't let you put Seda through that." She folded her arms defiantly. Blaise's face was impassive as he regarded his wife.
"Fine," he said finally. "We'll go somewhere else."
Seda let out a desperate sigh of relief. She felt a strange rush of affection for Tracy.
"Can we have some time alone?" Tracy asked the room at large. A helper drew thick, sound-proof curtains around Seda's bed, Blaise and Tracy.
"What did you do, Seda?" snapped Blaie immediately.
"I saved your ass, Father!" Seda snarled. "They may have gotten our personal belongings but I saved your whole business. I saved the whole industry, Father! They have no proof against you. Why can't you accept that I can actually do something good for once?"
"That's not it, Seda," said Tracy quietly. "You put yourself in danger by taking part in fighting back. It was an incredible risk."
"Well I'm sorry I didn't just sit around and let everyone get caught!" Seda said shrilly.
"Hush," said Blaise. "Keep your voice down, Seda. They'll be suspicious."
Tracy and Blaise exchanged meaningful glances and she sighed deeply. She turned to Seda, looking grim. "Unfortunately, although the Aurors have no proof about Blaise's business. they have uncountable proof on all the illegal items of them house."
"What does that mean?" Seda asked apprehensively.
"It means I'll either be arrested or watched carefully," said Blaise in a low voice.
Seda's mouth fell open. "You can't go to Azkaban! Who's going to run the system? Who's going to take care of Mali and Veasna?"
"Korea Baye is succeeding me," said Blaise.
"Oh, no," Seda groaned. "Father, you have no idea how useless she is. I like her, but during the fiasco she was tittering around like some chicken with its head cut off. No, you must put someone strong in charge. Please consider it."
"I would if I had time," said Blaise. "I have no intention of going to Azkaban. I'll still have full control of the business, I'll simply operate from the south. Our only problem is getting me out of here now."
"Why are you here? You're in the Ministry of Magic."
"I was taught a few tricks," said Blaise in the strange evasive tone he used when he skirted the stories about his Death Eater days. "I'll be fine." He turned to another manner and his eyes turned cold as he looked at her steadily. "Seda, I'll be able to come back to England so if you do something stupid, or your grades go down...keep your head on and don't be an old idiot. Remember you-"
"-Must always do better than your best," Seda finished, rolling her eyes. It was the same old speech he always gave her. On the pretense of him going into exile, Seda felt more disconnected from her father than usual; and she found she didn't care.
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