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Dedicated to Gina (justonemorefic) for all the help and inspiration. Thank you and enjoy!




A Matter of Great Irrelevance

Within seconds, June found herself outside the door of a familiar, if largely unimportant, squalid flat.

Hesitantly, she opened the door. The inside, contrary to what was assured by the last of her father’s letters to her, was littered with the remains of the boxes that he had not yet managed to transport to the new flat. This, however, did little to phase her; the habits of the Bernard bloodline, procrastination and a largely ballooned sense of optimism were both part of a normal lifestyle.

“Dad?” she asked, closing the door behind her. “Dad, I’m home.”

She stepped gingerly over a large pile of books that she was quite certain her father had never read (only when moving out did one truly account for the various fluff items stocked throughout the house). She vaguely suspected he stocked them in the rare advent of a visitor’s arrival to better reflect the tendencies of a lifestyle spent in front of the television.

There was a loud snore from behind the wobbling pink sofa.

“Dad?”

A short, portly man lay sprawled across the sofa, snoring gently. June shook him and he awoke with a startled, “What – what’s going on?”

“I’m home.”

“What?”

“It’s me. I’m home.”

“Oh, hello dear,” said Mr. Bernard, wiping his brow. He sat up and gave her a small embrace. “Did you find the journey back alright?” Upon the disappearance of the grogginess of an unseemly and unannounced mid-morning nap, he looked up and properly took in the sight of his daughter. “You look so thin…are you alright?”

June set down her trunk. “No, no, I’m fine.” She took a look around and attempted to say without an accusatory tone, “You haven’t finished packing yet. We’re moving tomorrow.”

“Ah, yes, that,” said Mr. Bernard, looking more hassled at the thought of it, “well, I’ve been doing it all morning, June. There’s no end to it.”

“Do we really have to move so soon? This place isn’t so bad…”

It was not the entire truth, but for the sake of her father, June had long stopped offering the unfiltered truth. The flat that she stayed in was only through the holidays and the summer time, but it was incredibly stifling: two bedrooms and a tiny kitchen-esque space (it really would be offensive to other kitchens to liken it to one) always seemed to heighten unpleasant emotions.

“The new flat’s even better, I promise.” Mr. Bernard gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. “And it’s the last time we’ll be moving.”

“Really?”

“I don’t think we’ll be moving again,” he said happily. “It’s bigger and it’s got a decent kitchen at last and the roof doesn’t even leak! And it’s very inexpensive, June – we can actually, properly afford it this time.”

“Thank goodness,” said June, feeling an enormous sense of relief billow forward. Within the confines of the Bernard household, it had been habit to move every two or so years, undulating with the level of profits from Mr. Bernard’s tiny restaurant.

“Your mum would’ve been so happy.”

And there it was, like always. June deflated slightly at hearing the line once more. She didn’t need to face her father to know that he had swiped the family picture off the table beside him, and was currently pointing to it. It was a crinkled, age abused photograph of them: Mr. Bernard looking very much like he still did, with his weary smile and balding brown hair, a five-year-old June wearing a flowery dress, and a stately woman beside them, smiling happily, unaware that within a few years, the photograph would be one of the last things she’d leave behind. “Her dreams are all coming true, June, just like she’d said. We’ll be getting a proper home.”

Her throat suddenly feeling remarkably dry despite the cool air, June coughed. “I’m going to my room to check that everything’s packed.”

And with that, she skittered out, into her bedroom, where she spent a long time on her bed, sitting alone in the dim afternoon light and watching the mid-winter winds outside.

*

Things, as they always seemed to do, were finished on time. June and Mr. Bernard worked feverishly through the late evening and by the early morning, the disarray within the flat was gone. Boxes were piled neatly by the door; the windows and walls were stripped of curtains and pictures and June’s room, which had once been scattered with pieces of fabric she’d cut up and never put away, now stared blankly back at her.

It was a slightly disconcerting sight to see the flat as empty as it was when they had first arrived. Like nothing at all had changed in the last one and a half years.

And perhaps they hadn’t.

June had worried that she would’ve cried at leaving like she once had or that she would’ve left wishing that things hadn’t changed like they did. After all, she was June Bernard – prone to sentimentalism, highly unpractical, and annoyingly childish. There were a few things she would undoubtedly miss – the park nearby, the small dogs that she could see trotting by from her window, the landlord that had given them chocolates when they’d first moved in, the good looking twenty-something writer she’d harbored an idle infatuation for in the boredom of the summers, the elderly couple who lived two floors up and on occasion could be heard using highly colorful language as they bickered, and the girl on the other side of the wall who sang nasally while she showered. And if June was truly misfortunate, she might even miss the man who sometimes doused them with rousing melodies on his trumpet at three in the morning.

But the worries were for nothing.

Perhaps it was out of habit – there had been so many flats just like this one in the past few years – or perhaps she had at last grown up, but she surveyed the place for the last time numbly. Sunshine was pouring in through an open window, highlighting the cracks on the walls.

She picked up the last of her boxes, and shut the door behind her, following her father into the morning.

*

The next few days were relatively quiet. It was a depressing thought to imagine that her friends all had bustling families and large homes to return to, but at least her father had been partly right about the new flat. It was bigger and cleaner, with bright walls and a comfortingly distinct absence of a trumpet playing Scotsman.

Soon enough, June found herself looking forward to again seeing her friends; they had all assured her that they would be stopping by that Tuesday and it was with a heightened sense of vigor (the last few days largely spent alone in the flat while her father went off to work had made her feel more lonely than ever) that she awaited them.

Priscilla, whose lack of punctuality was now infamous among her peers, surprised most objects in existence by arriving a full hour before the arranged time.

June was curled up on the floor, rereading Love at Hogwarts for what was now surely the thousandth time; her eyes were barely skimming the page – she was reading to verify the words, not to absorb anything.

*

It was a little past noon when Priscilla arrived. The unused fireplace burst into emerald green flames and with a jarring twitch, June dropped her book, gaping at the sight of the flames licking the side.

Within seconds, girl with spiraling brown hair and haughty features whirled in. She fumbled out, coughing and breathing heavily, before stepping out and dusting off her robes.

“Priscilla? What’re you doing here? You’re really early…you’re not supposed to be here until one…”

“God, I loathe international Flooing!” Without a pause, Priscilla Fawcett made her way across, still dusting off her robes and lamenting at the top of her voice. “There’s like ten dozen grates that you have to pass by and it’s proper headache trying to tell them apart! And I won’t even start on that witch who I passed who was on the sofa  with her – god, never mind, it was downright traumatizing!”

“Er – why’re you here so early?”

“My mum,” said Priscilla simply. As with many things in her life, Priscilla Fawcett often used the excuse of Mrs. Fawcett in rather flexible ways - to explain away drunkenness, lack of interest in school, laziness, and the occasional bout of constipation.

“I see,” said June lightly; she had learned never to ask too much of Priscilla. Some things could never be emptied from one’s mind, even if the mind was already rather empty in the first place.

“D’you have any food, by chance? Maman tried cooking again and I only pretended to eat, but I made the cat eat it when she wasn’t looking. I’m absolutely dying.”

“I think there’s some bread on the table, but there’s not much else.”

Looking pacified, Priscilla reached for the slightly stale bread and began eating. “This tastes like a molding pumpkin.”

To this, June said nothing, and instead picked up her battered copy of Love at Hogwarts and resumed reading.

“What’re you doing?” came Priscilla’s voice. “You have an honored guest over, you know! You shouldn’t be ignoring them!”

“I’m reading,” said June.

Priscilla snorted derisively. “Not that Fifi LaFolle rubbish again, I hope.”

“It’s not rubbish!”

“If that’s not rubbish, then I’ll snog Flitwick. If I honestly had to read one more line like, ‘we waded into an endless pool of infinite love’…”

The threat of snogging anybody coming from Priscilla Fawcett was enough even to elicit a knowing smile from an unusually focused June. It was well known that of the Fawcett tendencies to indulge in publicized and amorous love affairs, to marry and remarry, and to occasionally have a spouse go missing at an acutely convenient time were all characteristics of a lineage seeped in a strange combination of ambition and an innate craving for attention; it was the spectacle of centuries, the stuff of housewives’ gossip for decades. Thereby, it was long predicted even before she had stepped into the institution of her forefathers that the Fawcett girl would follow in her parents’ footsteps.  

But, the spectacle came with two highly unattractive features for a woman: a mouth and strong opinions.

“You don’t believe in romance at all,” said June, pouting. “Romance is supposed to be deep and profound. You’re supposed to feel it in your heart!”

“I don’t really think I have a heart,” came the curt reply. “But I usually carry around chocolate instead and that’s about the same.”

“You do realize that’s why nobody asks you to Hogsmeade, right?” asked June earnestly, her eyes widening. “You act like you’d gouge their eyes out.”

“Fair enough. I probably would.” She took a large bite of her bread and watched June flop for words.

“And it’s not so bad to fancy someone. I – I know that they might not always fancy you back – ” at this, June’s voice rose a little like it always did when she was nervous “ - but it’s the experience that really matters. It’s the greatest feeling in the world when they look at you or notice you or talk to you. It’s like – like floating.” She clasped her hands together rapturously. “That’s why I like Fifi LaFolle so much. She understands.”

There was a pregnant pause.

“You know what frightens me? I think this bread might actually be more intelligent than you.”

June frowned. The usual jabs from Priscilla at her intelligence were quite enough; she was used to them enough to laugh alongside once in a while. But insulting FiFi LaFolle so much – it seemed absolutely heathen to do.

So, with Priscilla still sprawled on the ground, eating the bread with all the grace of a Blast-Ended Skrewt, June picked up her book, and out of spite, began reading aloud. Even June Bernard had her limitations with people like Priscilla.

Hi, my name is Harriet Aurora Henderson and this is my story of how I nearly died trying to survive seventh year.

But unless you wanna die, call me Hattie. Funny story on how I got that nickname actually. When I was little, I'd like to try on all my mum's hats when she bought them and I'd walk around all day in them. Alright, so maybe it wasn't very funny. But it shows you what kind of family I come from. My middle name – Aurora – comes from my mum thinking I’d be the light of her life when I was born. And then she actually met me.

“Are you reading that rubbish out loud?” asked Priscilla incredulously. “Did I wrong you in a past life or something?”

No, wait. That makes me sound almost normal. Better yet, I’m probably that slightly weird, incredibly awkward girl who lives near you who collects toads. You know the type. I’m socially disabled (Alcott calls me a freak of nature, but don’t mind him), so don’t try to get me to talk to you or anything.

“God, the quirky girl archetype! Being a complete buffoon is not attractive! Look at me, I’m quirky and rubbish and I’ve got all the intelligent thought and functionality of a cactus!

I might end up accidentally killing you when neither of us is looking. Also, gravity is one of my arch nemeses (more on the other later). Seriously, I can’t walk normally, much less run, without toppling half the earth. Mum says I’m vertically challenged. Oh ha ha ha. Shut up. Don’t laugh.

“I feel like I should say something deep about schizophrenia right about now. Maybe write a poem? God, but I can’t rhyme at all. Remember the poem I wrote for Anthony Boot?”

Distracted momentarily from her reading, June looked up. “You mean the one you wrote after he chucked Lucy?”

“The very one. It was a revelation in language.”

“You barely rhymed anything,” said June fairly. “And it was only two lines long.”

“Oi! I rhymed ‘shit’ with ‘dragon shit’! It was genius!”

"That's irrelevant," said June testily, holding up the book. "This is writing, not poems about wanting to hex people."

"I'm an irrelevant person,' said Priscilla irrelevantly. "Let's see...tangential, unrelated, containing irrelevance. Besides, I don't agree with this. All this rubbish romance. It can't exist."

"Just because you don't agree with it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You also don't agree with bald men, beards or parrots, but you'll find they exist all the same."

With that, June scoffed and went back to reading, ignoring the pained wail emitted by Priscilla that very much resembled the cry of a dying creature.

But anyway.

There’re two things you need to know about me if we’re ever planning to get along:

1) I collect toads. My favorite one’s name is Alcott. I smuggle him to Hogwarts inside my trunk, which is probably unnecessary since toads are allowed anyway. We talk a lot – it’s great, except that he gives me this really strange wide-eyed look all the time.

“Oh my god, she collects toads? I’d nearly forgotten! Why don’t you just drain the past few years of schooling from my head and call it a day?”

But don’t take his cuteness too seriously. He’s also rather rude. Even if I’m weeping my eyes out, he never bothers replying! UGH, ALCOTT, WHY??

“Why are girls such banshees in these kinds of stories? It’s always weeping their heads off about men or screaming their heads off about nonexistent men. When do they ever study? God, moreover, when do they ever use the toilet? Or maybe they go to the toilet and continue screaming? A visceral image of a girl near a toilet screaming, MY TOAD’S SUCH AN ARSEHOLE!” is coming to mind, honestly. Poor toad. Poor toilet.

Then it’s downright horrible and I get really close to Transfiguring him into a carpet or something (cue: awkward teenage girl), but then I don’t (cue: audience applause because I am, in fact, only sort of a creeper).

2) Daniel Whitman is the bane of my existence. THE BANE. (Sorry I yelled. I just had to. HE IS THE BANE OF IT. THE BANE. You’re probably covering your ears/eyes right now.) He’s probably the most idiotic person you’ll ever meet. Arrogance the size of Mars? Check.

“How big is Mars, precisely? Is it bigger than an ‘endless pool of infinite love’, do you suppose?”

Bloke who thinks that just because he can play Quidditch, he inherits the world? Check. Git who plays not-so-hilarious pranks usually involving a poor, spastic victim and her toad while most of Hogwarts laughs their arses off? Check. Idiot dating world’s biggest blonde bimbo who shrieks every twenty seconds and probably snogs a mirror in her spare time? Check.

“You know, writers are can be such pathetic people sometimes. Imagine being a frustrated housewife taking it all out on some poor blonde sod and writing about snogging it up with a guy half your age.”

Bloke with black hair and attractive blue eyes? Che – UGH WAIT – I never said that!!!

“And that’s the thing with writers anyway. They’re all a load of creepers when it comes down to it. They’re kind of mad stalkers, except that the people that they stalk will never be of any real significance.”

But as long as you keep Whitman out of the conversation and remember that I like toads, we’ll get along just fine, I’m sure.

“So in that sense, they’re kind of like fanatical maniacs. Except that they’re writers. But otherwise, definitely fanatical maniacs. I bet they’re all prudish and live with their mums and spend their time staring out the window and grunting.”

Before June could retaliate, there were two loud popping noises by the door. Giving Priscilla only a mildly annoyed glower, she went to answer. From the other side, she could her bickering.

“You’re sure this’s the right place, Lucy? June gave you the right address?”

“Oh, I think so,” said a familiar voice fretfully. “Imagine if it weren’t! We’d have to explain how we just happened to come outside a – ”

June pulled open the door to reveal a flushed Lucy Weasley and a slightly agitated Trista St. Clair.

“Thank Merlin it’s you!” said Trista, ushering Lucy in before her. “This one was going mad nagging me about it.”

“I was not,” said Lucy. She caught sight of Priscilla laying on the ground. “Oh, you’re here already?”

“She’s been here a while,” said June glumly. “Still on about Fifi LaFolle.”

Trista set down a package on the table and descended to the ground beside Priscilla and Lucy. “Well, that’s to be expected. Priscilla doesn’t believe in romance. Remember what she said after she finished Romeo and Juliet? ‘Thank God that stupid bint finally died!’”

“Priscilla also doesn’t believe in a lot of other things,” added Lucy deftly. “Like honesty, or hard work, or hard work or waking up on time, or hard work.”

“She also doesn’t believe much in me,” said June, sticking out her tongue.

“I’m going to the toilet to weep,” said Priscilla. “Don’t miss me while I’m gone.”

With that, she crossed the blank premises of the kitchen, navigated past a precariously perched tower of books, a globe of the world bought with dubious rationality, and an ugly puce robe. As Trista and Lucy began talking about the upcoming holiday and the snow, June could not quite rid her mind of the imagery of toads, toilets, and screaming banshees.

*

The afternoon, at first, seemed like it would pass with little incident.

Lucy spoke at some length on her sister and mother; Molly was having a row with her mum about her latest boyfriend, a rather dodgy addition she’d picked up on the streets of Diagon Alley. Mrs. Weasley thought he was just another shoddy boyfriend that attached on to anything Weasley to attract some attention. Didn’t Molly remember what happened to Roxanne last year?

Then Trista complained a bit about the Hufflepuff strategy this year for the upcoming game against Gryffindor. There was something about Beaters not being strong enough and the mention of someone named Spinnet, but the conversation comprised mostly of nodding on the parts of the others, who knew next to nothing on the subject. Then there was some ponderings on her elder brother’s girlfriend, something about her various other siblings, and within an hour, all four had thoroughly exhausted all conceivable topics that could be wandered upon in an empty flat with nothing to do.

The Muggle news reports would say that it happened at precisely 2:23 PM.

Trista had noticed first. June’s father’s old clock, which was leaning haphazardly, fell. Trista broke off what she was saying with a shriek.

“Oh my god! Look!”

The few sparse paintings on the walls were rattling violently.

“What’s going on?” asked Lucy, her eyes wide.

The table, which was some distance away, flew forwards, narrowly missing Priscilla, who jumped into June’s lap.

What the hell is going on?”

Both Trista and Lucy grabbed on to the table which had streaked past June; Lucy was still quivering when the last of the paintings hit the ground. Within seconds, the clock had smashed into them; fragments of wood flew everywhere.

From several floors above, June could hear similar grinding noises and screaming. Next to her, Priscilla was completely white.

The world was rotating out of view. It was a violent streak of incomprehensible colors and noises. June could feel her stomach twisting.

Trista was bleeding from a cut across the cheek and Lucy was holding her hands, whispering something frantically. Trista nodded feverishly, and Lucy pulled out her wand to Trista’s cheek.

The ceiling above them split with a cracking noise; within seconds, black webs had scattered across the once-white surface.

“June!” Priscilla nudged her frantically. “I – I just realized – I think I left my wand on the table when I went to eat bread. D’you have yours on you?”

“Yeah.”

Priscilla gave a sigh of relief. “Alright, good, because I think the ceiling’s going to be coming in any second now.”

Priscilla, as always, was right. The square of ceiling wall above them gave one final shudder.

“JUNE, DO SOMETHING!”

The wall was caving in – there was no time – no time –

“COME ON! DO SOMETHING!”

Protecto!” June said, desperately trying to remember the name of the spell, as she waved her wand, the feeling of horror strengthening. Why wasn’t it working?! What was she doing wrong? Protectogo! Protogo!”

ARE YOU MAD?! DO YOU WANT TO DIE?” With an angry swipe, Priscilla pulled June’s wand away. “Protego Totalum!”

The entire ceiling caved forwards. A mass of dust and wood fragments blew their way; June could feel her breaths residing and her skin shuddering under the sudden impact as debris blew past them. Priscilla’s arm was still tightly wound around her own.

And with that, there was a loud clamp of noise, some screaming, and darkness.

*

Protectogo, honestly, there’s never knowing with her…”

“Not so hard, Lucy. I’m still bleeding – it hurts like hell.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” There was the sound of muffled crying. “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe what just happened! What if she’s not alright?”

“She’ll be fine,” came a reassuring voice. “She’s been through worse. We’re just lucky Priscilla did what she did so fast. That was amazing.”

“You were really something yourself, you know. I can’t believe you blew up that table like that! I didn’t even see it coming. If you hadn’t seen it – if Priscilla hadn’t done what she had – ” More crying.

“Alright, enough with the crying. We’re all alive, which is the point. Let’s try moving June. The muggle doctors are supposed to be on their way and Trista’s sent a distress signal to the Ministry and they should be sending Healers. We’ll be fine.”

“I hope so, I really – I really can’t imagine – ”

Then, back to the darkness.

*

Within a few hours, June was discharged from St. Mungo’s and led downstairs by a matronly Healer who insisted on holding her hand the whole way downstairs. There were moderate cuts and slight head trauma, but she had come off well, said the Healer.

Still feeling a strange sort of numbness from the Sleeping Solution the Healers had put on her while they treated her, June walked near the exit of St. Mungo’s, and hazily past a girl who had sprouted antlers and wings. The world felt strangely distant, like it was from another time. The idea that it was the same afternoon that she had spent irritating Priscilla with a book seemed absurdly mundane…

It was night outside by now; there was a cool emptiness in the breeze as the winds washed past the star-strewn fabric of the sky. Outside, street lamps were flickering to the silence of the darkness.

“June!”

“She’s already downstairs! There she is!”

There was the thudding of rushed footfalls. In another place, perhaps the reunion would’ve been more poetic…more important…she didn’t know, she could barely understand what was happening…

Four familiar faces swam into view. Lucy was sporting incredibly dusty robes. The Lucy Amelia Weasley in her normal, non-delirious state would’ve disapproved of anything but the utmost cleanliness, but she looked entirely at peace. Priscilla and Trista both had bandages across their cheeks, but nobody of the group seemed to have fainted as she did.

“Are you alright?” asked Lucy anxiously. “We were so scared, June! You went out and you didn’t say a word and we didn’t know what we were supposed to do! I know that you’re not supposed to move an injured person, but we couldn’t just let you – ”

June nodded, feeling a burning sensation on the side of her head. “S’okay. I’m fine.”

Past the three worried girls was the figure of a short man peering over them. He had a round face, and kind, hassled eyes that were surveying her intently.

“Dad!”

“June!”

Mr. Bernard swept her into an embrace, which sent the sides of her back tingling. “You’re alright, thank God, if something had happened to you too, I don’t know what – ”

“What happened today?”

“There was an earthquake, dear,” he said, forcing her down on a chair. “But don’t worry about that. We can discuss that in the morning. You’ll need some rest and some – ”

“Are we going home?”

Before Mr. Bernard could say anything, Trista said, “You’ll be staying at the Leaky Cauldron tonight, actually.”

“Your friends have kindly helped me pay for a room for a few nights,” said Mr. Bernard, squeezing her shoulder. When she winced in pain, he offered an apologetic smile.

“Why can’t we just go home?” asked June. There had been some walls crumbling and the furniture was certainly gone past any hope of recovery, but even the idea of sleeping on the bare floor seemed strangely comforting, like a denial that anything wrong had happened. Back to the flat that her father had bought with so much hope, had assured her that it was the end to a long list of wanderings. It surely couldn’t have been gone – the rumbling was hardly -

“I’m sorry, dear,” Mr. Bernard murmured shame-facedly. “Perhaps in the morning…”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

There was a horrible sinking feeling. Everyone hastily exchanged glances, before looking away.

June looked at each in turn and they all gave her blank expressions. Finally, she reached Priscilla, whose arms were crossed protectively over her own chest. If Priscilla Fawcett could not be honest with her, then nobody ever could be.

“What happened?”

Priscilla hesitated for a moment.

“I’m going to find out eventually. Just tell me.”

There was a pause. She studied June carefully out of a bruised eye.

“Alright. You should know. The flat’s been destroyed. Half the building’s gone.”

 







Author's Note: Welcome again, beloved readers! 

I hope this chapter wasn't too much of a trial; the shift in tone from a rambling parody to the whole earthquake scene was hard to muster fluidity to write and I hope I did the concept at least some justice. This chapter's dedicated to Gina (justonemorefic) for her amazing support of this story when I was very, very close to tossing it and moving on, and her lovely support and capslock advertising. Check out her work if you haven't - she's a fabulous writer. :)

Also, my thanks to the legendary gubby (GubraithianFire) for help with the whole weird Love at Hogwarts excerpt concept and to the populace of the TGS c-box who faithfully vented a slew of frustrations with fanfiction which was translated to inspiration to Priscilla's rant for this chapter. I hope I portrayed some of your very justifiable anger well, TGS-ers!

So, no Albus, but he will return with all his Albus-ness soon. Let me know how you found the concept of the excerpt, any feedback on the parody, and the transition into the quake sub-plot. Thank you for reading! :D


Celeste

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