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The Importance of Intelligence

By the next morning, June had nearly forgotten everything.

The earthquake, the problems, the new room, Mrs. Potter and the boy next door.

She woke up, her face still pressed into her pillow and stared dazedly around the room. The pinkness came in a blurry haze and she blinked, groaning as she forced herself awake.

When she opened the door, something very small and red collided with her in the hallway.

“Watch where you’re going, you bloody idiot!”

June stared down blearily. “Huh?”

“How stupid are you? Can’t you understand me?”

The face of Lily Potter swam into view, her small features scrunched into anger. June sighed.

There wasn’t time enough in the world to deal with people like this.

“…Sorry. I – I couldn’t really see – ”

“That much is obvious, stupid.” Lily pushed against her and stomped away, still murmuring something to herself.

June proceeded to the room to her left and opened the door. “Dad?”

Her father was sitting on his bed, reading. He looked up and smiled as she entered. “Hello June! Sleep well?”

“It was alright. Dad, when can we move out?”

He frowned. “Do you not like it here, dear?”

“No, no, it’s – ”

“Ginny’s already said that she wouldn’t mind us staying here, even after you go off to school. Then it’ll be just me!”

“But what about your work?”

“I can take a bus down to the café when I need to, so don’t worry.” He patted her shoulder. “It’s alright. We’ll be just fine here.”

There was a lit pattering of feet and suddenly, Mrs. Potter seemed to emerge from nowhere. “Oh you’re awake! Get downstairs as soon as you’re ready, dear. Someone’s just arrived for you and they’re waiting downstairs.”

Albus?

No, that sounded silly. But remember Harriet and Daniel, some small part of her squeaked.

So as she brushed and bathed in a hurry, the same scene replayed in her head.

Daniel, sopping wet, waiting for Harriet in a rainy day in Hogsmeade. She doesn’t make it for hours, but he still stands in the same spot, waiting –

She stepped out of the tub and splashed water over the ground.

- and he never gives up on her. He’s just pretending to hate her to stay as far away from Harriet as possible.

So she dried off, changed into comfortable clothes and ran downstairs with eagerness, her hair still wet.

“June!”

“Hi June! Priscilla, turn around. June’s here.”

The three girls seated on the sofa deflated June’s expectations a fair bit, but she smiled at them. “Hello!”

Lucy looked up, grinning. “You’re finally awake! We’ve been waiting fifteen minutes already!”

“Sorry, I didn’t know you lot were coming by.”

“Of course we were!” said Trista, “We had to look in on you!”

“All circumstances considered,” came from the corner currently inhabited by Priscilla Fawcett. She surveyed the grandeur of the house with obvious disdain. “I don’t know how you’ve survived a day here.”

Lucy frowned. “This is my aunt Ginny’s house.”

“Which is also inhabited by a pompous and – ”

“So, why did you come?” asked June, cutting cleanly across Priscilla. The last thing any of them needed at the moment was another one of Priscilla’s rants on how to murder and dispose of the body of Albus Potter. Especially when said person was still very much alive and could possibly overhear them.

“Well, we thought you might want to come out with us for a bit,” said Trista. “Since school’s starting again soon, we should go shopping in the muggle world while we still can!”

Priscilla’s face darkened. “I don’t see why we couldn’t just go to Diagon Alley, instead of wandering around muggle places – ”

“I think it’s fascinating,” said Lucy earnestly, “and besides, Trista’s muggle-born and June’s – ”

“I’m practically three-quarters muggle myself,” said June dully. “Might as well be a Squib.”

“Oh hush,” said Lucy airily, “and we’ll need you around anyway. You’re so good at picking clothes and Priscilla’s quite horrible.”

“I take offense at that,” said Priscilla.

“You tried picking a cardigan with a camel on it last time we went,” said Trista. “We practically had to wrestle it out of you and bin it.”

“It was a piece of art!”

You’re a piece of art! You wouldn’t look half as decent if you didn’t have June picking what you should wear every weekend!”

They all smiled back up at June innocently. She groaned.

“Alright, fine. But today? Right now?”

“Well, you’re all dressed!” said Lucy, “I already told Aunt Ginny and she thought it sounded fun, so off we go!”

“Off we go,” said Priscilla skeptically, pulling back a lacy white curtain to reveal the contents of the window: an ashen sky scattered with gray clouds welcomed them. “It’s still winter. It’s freezing outside. It looks like it might rain.”

“We’ve all got our coats,” said Lucy. “We can just Apparate right over to some crowded spot. Nobody’ll notice us come or go! We’ll be just like regular muggles.”

“Regular muggles don’t call themselves regular muggles,” said Trista, grinning. “They – ”

Another set of footsteps broke her off. Albus was standing at the foot of the steps, his eyebrows raised in obvious disapproval.

“Hey Al,” said Lucy. She got a nod of recognition in return.

“Aren’t we being a bit productive today?” he said as he descended. “Already covering up other people’s houses in trash and walking around like we own it. “

“Potter,” began Priscilla; she promptly stopped herself and received no reply in return.

“I told my mum we shouldn’t take in charity cases. First poor people. Then we’ll have dogs running around this place. What do we do now?”

June was flushing heatedly. “I didn’t invite them – ”

Lucy’s mouth was dropping in indignation. “How can you say something like that? June isn’t a charity case! She’s our friend! She’s your mum’s friend!”

Albus had already passed them by into the kitchen. Lucy stared after him.

“Wow, is he really like that?” said Trista.

“Not really,” said Lucy, frowning. “He’s never really been that rude before…”

June bit her lip. “He’s right, isn’t he? I really am a horrible person. I’m sitting in his house, in his sofa, and I do act like – ”

“This is Aunt Ginny’s house, not his!” said Lucy, positively agog, “You can’t think like that! You’re welcome here and you’re welcome anywhere we are.”

Trista squeezed June’s hand. “Everything will work out. You’ll see.”

The sounds of Albus pouring milk into a cup filtered through the kitchen. She had never before been this ashamed of existing, of just sitting in one place…not that she had ever really thought to be ashamed of those kinds of things before…but this seemed like a new low. Hated for just existing. A nuisance.

Meanwhile, Priscilla had descended into absolute silence.

The few times in her life that Priscilla had managed to maintain silence was marked by some ominous foretelling of death and destruction. This, fortunately, was not one of those times. She looked positively blue with holding her breath.

They rose and passed by the kitchen where Albus was now sitting alone with a newspaper in hand. Priscilla made an obscene hand gesture as she saw him, before saying as loudly as possible, “You know, I always thought gay men were supposed to be friendly!

*

“Did you have to call him gay? What if he thought I said it?”

“Please, you don’t have the guts to say it!” As Lucy and Trista appeared behind them with a faint pop, Priscilla held her head high. “Besides, he’s such a charlatan that one good kick to the arse is all – ”

They had arrived in a busy corner of muggle London. It was now lightly drizzling and the sky was darkening quickly, but Lucy looked keen to join into the crowd.  “Come on, let’s get in and go shopping! Just like regular muggle girls!”

With that pronouncement and the addition of several more profanities from Priscilla, they slipped into a small crowd that was shuffling into the first store they could find.

Lucy looked thrilled at the sight of trousers and skirts and frilly dresses until the eye could see. There were several mannequins propped at the front and Lucy gave one a tentative poke as she passed it by. Trista and June shared a bored look.

“I don’t know why I came. I can’t afford a thing,” said June baldly as she inspected the price tag of a bracelet. “I can’t even afford to look at this, never mind buy it.”

But Lucy had already disappeared into a throng of dresses.

Trista followed cautiously. “Maybe I can pick up something for my mum…” And with that, she too disappeared.

“Everything is so tawdry here,” said Priscilla, “this is why I prefer the magic world. There’re robes. And that’s about it. No complications.”

“I’d love to make clothes,” said June, her eyes sparkling at the sight of the unending rows of dresses. “Pretty and comfortable, but still affordable. Magical fashion doesn’t just have to be restricted to robes.”

As they weaved their way after Lucy and Trista, Priscilla called over a large pile of jewelry. “Then why don’t you?”

“Do what?”

“Make clothes? You draw a lot of them anyway.”

“Oh I couldn’t,” said June dismissively. “I’m not very good.”

“You can knit! You made every seventh year in our House scarves for Christmas. And you made Trista that jumper with all those Quaffles. And Lucy got a skirt for her birthday.” Priscilla was now out of her sight and June looked around hesitantly. There were still a few lingering shoppers around and it wouldn’t do to be caught yelling about quaffles and magic around them.

“I can’t go into design,” said June. “I need something more stable and besides, nobody’d want me.”

“Don’t be ridicu – ” There was a sound of a collision and a muffled falling noise.

A new, soft voice began apologizing. “Oh, I’m so sorry! I wasn’t watching where I was – ”

“You – you bloody turnip!” came Priscilla’s screech. “I should transfigure you into a lamp for that! Where the hell were you looking?”

This was going to be more exhausting than June had foreseen.

*

By late afternoon, Lucy had emerged with six or seven shopping bags laden with clothes. Trista had bought a small necklace and a skirt. Priscilla had pronounced everything beneath her taste. And June hadn’t been able to afford anything.

When they stepped back outside, they were greeted with a torrent of rain. There was enough water falling on them that June could barely see anything in front of her; her hair and clothing were beginning to stick to her skin.

“Damn it, how is it raining this much?” asked Priscilla, squinting past the onslaught of rainfall into the misty, abandoned streets beyond.

“My clothes are getting wet!” moaned Lucy. “Does anyone know an umbrella spell?”

Everyone promptly looked at Priscilla, who shrieked, “And just what the hell is an umbrella spell?”

“I thought you would know!”

“All right, I’m going home,” said Trista, feebly defending herself against the rain. “I’ll see you lot on the Platform!”

She twirled her wand, and with that, disappeared.

“Sounds like a good idea,” said Lucy, who was now protecting her clothing with her body. “I’m going home as well. Take care, Priscilla, June!”

Lucy too left, and it took Priscilla only a hasty farewell and a popping noise to leave June standing alone in the rain.

Well. There really was no point staying anymore, even if all she had to welcome her home was more yelling.

June shuffled to the side of the street as she pulled out her wand from a pocket. The rain was pouring hard enough that her fingers began slipping as she held the wand to eye level. For one brief moment, she fumbled with her wand. It dropped by her feet and promptly rolled into the drain with a horrifying clang as it slipped below.

June screamed as it disappeared. She was wet and cold enough that she was now shivering. “NO, no, no, no, no! Why does this keep happening me?!”

She sank onto her feet and groped at the drain. Tears were beginning to slowly slip down.

She waved her hands over the drain. “Accio! Accio wand!”

Nothing happened.

How could I be this stupid?

Everything anybody had ever said about her intelligence had been true. And it had all culminated to some godforsaken place next to the drain, plopped onto the ground.

June pondered briefly what her options were. She had no wand. She didn’t know anybody in the vicinity. She couldn’t write to anyone for help. She had almost no money. And the three people who had come with her had probably returned home and assumed she had as well.

Of course, Lucy must’ve told Mrs. Potter where they’d gone. But that could take hours before anybody came in search of her.

After a few moments of staring at the drain in desperation, she stumbled back up and wobbled to a shelter from the rain.

*

Three hours later, June was hunched over a chair in a crowded pub.

The few coins she’d brought had been spent on coffee that had already gone cold. At least the dripping had stopped, she reflected. There was now a small pool of water by her feet. The cold in her fingers had receded somewhat, but it was still raining outside.

The pub was something nondescript she had managed to walk into. There was a tittering crowd somewhere behind her of muggles, none of whom had given her a second look since she had taken her position in the corner.

Nothing of particular circumstance occurred until forty minutes later, when finally the cavalry arrived.

There had been no warning except the blurring background lights and the tilting footsteps. No warning, no sign of recognition. Someone tugged at her sleeve. “There you are.”

She looked up, still feeling soaked, before squinting into the light. “Albus?”

“Get up.” He yanked her off the seat and continued leading her out by pulling on her sleeve.

“Where’re we going?”

“You idiot, do you know how insane my mum’s gone looking for you?”

“I’m – I’m sorry, I – ”

“What happened?” They were out of the pub by now and nobody had noticed them enter or leave. There was still a slight downpour of water; the water began trailing off of June’s clothes.

“It was raining. I lost my wand. I couldn’t get back. What’re you doing here?”

He surveyed her with disdain for a moment, before saying in exasperation, “My family’s been looking for you. We’ve got to Apparate out of here. My mum’s down the other street with Lily.”

Behind them, the door to the pub opened and an older couple walked out, staring at the sight of June and Albus standing in the rain.

“Well, we can’t do it here.”

“Is there anywhere we could go?”

“I passed a telephone booth at the other end of the street – ”

That was enough to get Albus to regain a death-grip on her sleeve and all but race her to the end of a street, where they approached a dusty red telephone booth.

“Get inside,” said Albus.

“We can’t leave yet! My wand’s still in the drain!”

“You’re such a pain in the arse! I told my mum not to take in – ”

“I know,” said June miserably, “I know. But please help me. I won’t bother you anymore after this, I promise.”

“I find that unlikely,” said Albus, staring her down decisively. His eyes were…very green, noted June feebly. She blinked under the grazing look, feeling uncomfortably vulnerable. He finally gave a relenting sigh. “Where did you drop it?”

“Down this street, then take a right. There’s a drain on the very end. It fell in there.”

“Fine, I’ll go. You stay in here and wait, understand?”

June nodded meekly; Albus turned around before giving her an annoyed backwards glance as she stepped into the telephone booth.

For a moment, the backwards glance seemed odd. His permanently frowning mouth wavered into a thin, serious line.

Less annoyed and more…sympathetic?

But he turned and the brief semblance of relation vanished.

June waited in the cold edges of the booth with only the raindrops pitter-pattering against the glass for company. Finally, there was a yank against the door and he shuffled in towards her and shut the door behind them.

She would have jumped at the thought of closeness with Albus Potter two weeks ago. Now that it had happened, it was becoming more and more disconcerting.

“Here,” he said curtly, thrusting a grimy, wet wand into her hands. She bit her lip in slight disgust at the sight of it. “I did what I could.”

“Thank you.”

“Let’s Disapparate to my house before anybody else comes out. Then I can contact my mum and let her know. You can Apparate, can’t you?”

“I Apparated to get to your house, remember?”

“Whatever.”

“How are we supposed to Apparate in here? There’s no space for both of us to – ”

“Side-Along, I suppose.”

There was an awkward pause.

“I’m sorry about all of this – ”

“Would you shut up and stop apologizing? It’s beginning to irritate me. Why the hell did you have to show up on our doorstep two days after Christmas like a nightmare, I’ll never know.”

“I said I’d leave!” Spots of color began reappearing on the largely whitened complexion of June Bernard; she was, occasionally, known to acts of dignity. “What else could I do? We didn’t have anywhere else to go! I’m sorry for ruining your Christmas even though it already passed, but we had a bit of a distraction along the way. I don’t even remember what we did for Christmas this year!”

Admitting that she had forgotten Christmas seemed like a new low for June.

All she could vaguely remember was seeing a tree shunted in the corner of the Leaky Cauldron and some fruitcake of questionable origin. But most of it was spent haplessly glugging Butterbeer and forcing her father to eat.

And then Lucy and Priscilla and Trista had come; evidently, they had forgotten Christmas as well, because it seemed to have been so insignificant in the sudden scope of being homeless.

What a miserable thought.

What day was it?

December…twenty-eight.

Albus was still looking at her, apparently in a mixture of curiosity and the usual revulsion. June averted her gaze and attempted to move back a step in the cramped telephone booth, which led to nothing but nearly tripping over her feet.

She nearly began apologizing again, just out of habit. Being near him seemed to elicit an apology for almost everything she did, but he ignored her.

“Let’s just go.”

“Okay,” she said tentatively, vaguely tilting herself towards him. It was likely the most awkward Side-Along Apparition to ever occur to the likes of June. Apparating with her luggage had both been more comfortable and more romantic. Her luggage was never quick to judge her.

And her thoughts still pandering on luggage-related matters, she hesitantly clung on to Albus and they disappeared into the coming night.






 

Author's Note: Thank you so much for the reviews for last chapter - you guys are lovely. :) I hope you enjoyed this chapter as well, as Al's pratiness is still intact, June's dubious intelligence wavers and various sarcastic things were said. June's growing up, though, slowly, but surely.

Please don't forget to review telling me how you thought this chapter was! 

Celeste

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