Do I Know You?

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Do I Know You?

Post by Kiera on Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:00 am

Choices.

If there was one thing about human life that he loathed, it was choices.

Which might seem a little……fascist? But no, not really. Life was so much easier when you didn’t have to shoulder the blame for mucking up your own life. And that was what choices were. Ample opportunities to muck up one’s life.

People were disappointed in you? Blame Harry Potter. Mum was disappointed in you? Blame James. The only proper girlfriend you ever had dumps you? Blame Scorpius. Hell, Jack says no, you definitely blame Ja…….okay, anyway- digressing. Its when you go around directing that well sharpened blade of resentment at yourself that things start getting iffy.

He just……never quite knew how to do choices. How could people pick so easily between one thing and the next? You never knew all the variables, all the possible things you might be losing before you were even aware of their existence. How does one decide between two paths when both destinations are obscured in shadow? And Regret, that ever looming shade, just waiting to smite you the second you stumble.

Albus just…..his entire life seemed paralysed in choice, forever vacillating between one side and the other, never quite sure, never quite certain. About anything. Merlin, how he envied those Gryffindorks sometimes. Their unwavering, unshakeable certainty that what they were doing was right. That this was the right way, it had to be, there was just no other possibility of something better. Yeah, he tried to emulate it, went ‘fuck it’ and just pushed himself off the bench he had been straddling forever…….but when could he stop looking back over his shoulder? Would he ever? Wondering, if he’d left something important behind. Wondering if his life would have been different, if he would have been different. Believing black to be only the darkest shade of grey, white only the lightest……..it was nice in theory. He didn’t Choose to be this way, forever questioning, forever aware of just one truth: that there was no truth. That nothing was right just because you said it was, and what if…..what if you were wrong? Second guesses were left far behind……Albus could subsume himself in guesses all his life and never come to a conclusion. He believed in the human fallacy too much.

(And of course, of course he was thinking about the Death Eater thing. He’d wondered all his life, wondered if he’d been born in the wrong family, wondered if the mediocre middle Potter kid could have been something else, something brilliant on the other side, wanted with all his gut the freedom that came with removing morality from magic. Then he pushed himself off the line that night in Layabout, when he let du Hunt tell her the truth, picked the side he wanted all his life.

And. He. Couldn’t. Stop. Looking. Back.

He was such a weakling.)

But of course, Convenient Ol’ Life solved it all for him.

The choices these days were pretty simple. Eat the mashed pumpkin or the carrot slop. (Something about those vegetables made them the only ones that could be coaxed by magic out of the water choked grounds of the lone standing Greenhouse Two. Maybe it was their rampant orangeness.) Mushrooms in both of them though. And owl meat. Never skimped on those, they were the only source of protein these days. Even when little Rhea screamed her lungs out when they took her Barny away from her.

Albus couldn’t bring himself to care. He just wasn’t looking forward to the day the owls from the neighbouring counties stopped flocking to the ruined castle turrets, trust bred in blood all bled out, and they’d have to venture to the Clock Tower to the Acromantula nest.

It still seemed a while away though. And the kids were getting better at shooting the birds out of the murky…..sky, if you could still call it that, every day.

So yes. Those were the highly exciting food choices to ponder over: okay, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. There were other, more commonly edible items- which were rare enough that he liked to leave them to the kids, or someone who’d worked particularly hard that day. Then there were the ‘experiments’, which was whatever squid or weed or merman tail or particularly sketchy plant someone excitable and bored had decided to cook up into a ‘dish’. Albus rather fancied himself in good health to risk those, what with the apocalypse round the corner and all.

Then there were the past times. He could go on a highly adventurous walk from the Hufflepuff dorms, where most of them were housed, through the stone corridors where kids still small enough to fit into alcoves were huddled with blankets (not cruelty. Practicality. It was remarkable how thin the line between those two got), to the kitchens. The lower levels, including the Potion dungeons, were still filled up, flooded from when the Slytherin common room ceiling had cracked and the Black Lake had crashed through. It was a great selling point of this part of the walk- the phenomenal view of Scottish magical aquatic life, right up close. Albus was convinced the Giant Squid was still squatted in his old four poster, somewhere.

After you’ve sea-watched to your heart’s content, imagining how the green velvet couches which you and Scorp used to delight in turning over to their sides and using as fort barricades during the Annual Slytherin Hex All You Want fiesta are buried six feet under, the ornate silver candlesticks crushed to shards, the stone fireplace with the tiny snake carvings that used to hiss at you at one am on lonely nights collapsed on itself; after all that, you could venture tentatively up the mossy, cracked steps to the Great Hall- provided of course, you didn’t care much about the relative safety of your ankles. A wrench was just a wrench after all. Wasn’t like you got swallowed by a baby Acromantula that liked meandering round the Hall once in a while.

The centuries old charms on the sky are down though, so no star gazing. Instead, there are the drab grey clouds, the huge masses and thickets of them that didn’t quite manage to choke out the sunlight but never let you see the sun. There’s hardly any rain either- sometimes Albus just longed for one, final downpour. Maybe it’ll wash out the castle, but at least it’ll take this bloody murky heat along with it. There’s something so oppressive about the air now- humid and wet and heavy on your lungs, and still, still as a predator’s last indrawn breath before the final pounce. There’s no chill breeze, no bracing Scottish wind to cut through the heat and half the magical energies are squandered on Cooling Charms to keep everyone awake and respiring.

And that’s nothing to say of course, of the magical discharge that clogs the air like a vast, monstrous tendril, choking the life out of it. And the magic out of them too. Its why ‘magical energy’ is so important these days……they need to conserve it. The same heat that lingers in the air draws the magic out of them, sips and sucks and grabs and pulls, draining you till an ‘Accio’ brings nothing but a faint, weak sputter on the end of your wand. So they tone down on their magic, leave it for the elaborate wards holding the water below at bay, the monsters above, the air everywhere else. The cooking charms, the Aguamenti’s, the Evanesco’s, the Protego’s. Maybe a Diffindo if a wayward creature from the Forest squatting under what was left of the castle walls got closer than a metre. Very, very spare Conjuring. Maybe a Lumos if the sunlight was too grey and not yellow enough and you really, really wanted light bright enough to look like day- actual day.

There was also the fact, that using up too much magic at once as a group could possibly create a magical void, a wormhole that caused energies from all other directions to come surging in, much like a tornado, but with no wind. They’d set up a rather comfy place, with Conjured armchairs and blanketed Cooling Charms and clothes and things in the Ravenclaw common room a couple of weeks after the Disasters first struck and……well. There’s a chasm in the ground where the Tower, where half of the castle used to be. There are probably bodies down there too.

So……so, after. After the Great Hall. A couple of minor detours, maybe the Greenhouse if Albus wanted to see Lysander….and then back to the ‘Puff dorms. And that’s the walk.

Propping up the wards is another past time. Which is a complete lie, because it isn’t like Fred is going to let anyone else mess with them much. Its almost understandable, considering that they’d all have been screwed without him- Wards were definitely too straining on the atrophying magical muscles, but the Weasley dug up half heard of runes from some place in his brain that wasn’t reserved for assholish witticisms, and there you had it. A safe place, a bastion, where they could survive if not live, and regroup for a solution.

(They’d been regrouping for over seven months now. Albus didn’t think about it.)

He tries to brew, some times. Most ingredients are out of his reach, but with some desperate substitution, he can knock up a couple of half way decent necessaries. Pepper Up, some infection killers, Draught of Living Death for those too injured to move. And of course, making up spells. What used to be a well kept secret among his close ones is now a……well, Camp wide thing. Most of the time, they’re low energy variations of common charms and Transfigurations. But sometimes. Sometimes there are spells to filter the air if a building’s fallen and billowing smoke and dust, spells to conjure blood and bind sinew and regenerate life in dying plants. He’s been pushed to feats he’d never have imagined in his life, and it only took surviving an apocalypse to do it.

There’s hardly much entertainment, but he can’t exactly lay the claim to boredom either. Most of the time time just speeds away making sure that the Camp doesn’t collapse round its ears and gets gobbled up by the ground. It’s a bit of a full time job.          

…..so the point is, like Life is often wont to do, it took away the thing that Albus liked to whine about, if only to bare its teeth at him smugly. (Like his parents. But that’s old tragedy now.)

So…..no more choices. This is his…..existence.



But every once in a while, a choice came round the corner to bug him.

“She….sh…she….” The kid is panting too hard for Albus to make out anything beyond the first syllable. The dust-streaked hair is long and tangled enough to make it a little problematic to make out the gender too. “She’s..gone. J-Jack.”

Albus didn’t blink.

“I…..I saw her in the m-“ The kid breaks out into a set of racking coughs, then clears its throat with a truly unearthly sound, wiping spittle off its chin with scraped knuckles. “Morning. She was off digging with Lysander, then cleared up a bit of the rubble in the Hall and then-“

He cleared his throat politely.

The kid flushed. Gender still indiscernible. “..anyway. She got lunch sometime round noon, and then she was….gone. I wanted to ask her to show me that Reducto charm again half an hour ago, but she’s been gone for ages. No one’s seen her.”

He nodded.

The kid blinked, then gaped a little. “Aren’t you…..aren’t you gonna go find her?”

He smiled agreeably. “Sure.”

Minutes passed. The kid was looking more frantic by the second, almost like it was about to crawl out of its very ill-fitted skin. Vibrating feet, constantly changing posture, eyes darting back and forth from the door, clearly dying to tear off to the distance to save the lovely Jacqueline Dyllan. Albus almost felt bad.

Almost. He wasn’t Sorted Slytherin for nothing.

All too soon, the kid couldn’t keep it in any longer. Albus was again, almost impressed with how long it had gone. “Aren’t we……aren’t we gonna look for her? Anything could have happened to her out there! There’s the forest and the ground shaking whenever it feels like it and-”

Albus leaned forward. The kid silenced itself almost immediately. Huh.

“Let me tell you something……”

“Cameron.”

Damn. “Cameron.” Albus repeated, smile firmly back in place. “Looking isn’t always just about the right place. Its about the right time. Now off you go.”

“Bu-“

His lips turned down, just a little. The kid looked suitably chastened, almost drooping in place. Double huh. “Okay.”

Approximately thirty minutes later (all time was approximate these days), Albus leisurely got up to his feet. Smile tightened a little when he exited his cocoon of Cooling Charms, but he fixed it soon enough. Navigated his way through the dorms, in the midst of stinky adolescents, to get a pitcher. Filled it with water, drank up the lot. Came back to his ‘room’, which was the Prefect suite, and flung open the connecting door to the next ‘room’.

“Long trip?”

Spoiler:

Kiera

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Re: Do I Know You?

Post by Jackles on Wed Nov 04, 2015 2:28 pm

Someone who did not know Jack Dyllan to have at least some emotional complexity might have thought she was actually enjoying the end of the world.

In all honesty, she had taken very well to it. While others wore masks of tragedy, she could not help but flourish in an environment where her particular skillsets were put to use. She was crammed into a castle full of people who needed her strength, her fortitude, and, on occasion, her sense of humor for the sake of survival. The woman had always struggled to fit in where she was not needed, but now she was in high demand. Her days were full, her nights were almost restful, and she was actually making a difference.

She had been the first to venture into the Forbidden Forest. It made sense that it would be her. She had the most experience with magical creatures, and she was the most likely to get cabin fever first anyway. As fortune would have it, she also had a gun. So while they were discovering that their wands were no longer dependable, Jack still had a method of defense. The first time they managed to have venison was the day Jack finally managed to fell one with her handgun. Claire had been working on something to duplicate the gun, but the magic was too much. So Jack taught some of the more capable adults and after a quick sweep of Hogsmeade for more firearms, a team of three, all armed, could make their way into the forest and at least come back with a squirrel.

Jack also found that her times leading Potter's Army were still of great use. She spent several hours a day teaching younger students defensive fighting, minor spells that seemed to still be useful, and other skills that proved useful in a world where almost everything could kill you. As a result, she often had a small trail of youngsters chasing after her, not treating her as a parent, per se, but definitely considering her their guardian and safeguard.

Perhaps it was because of the surplus of young faces around her that the others did not seem to notice the absence of a face that Jack felt so keenly. Sunny had been visiting her parents when the world as they knew it ended, and Jack still had not recovered her. She had sent letter after letter, having to use blood when their ink stores began running dry, but a response never came.

Maybe the others had noticed. After all, Albus had been to her home, had seen evidence of the sunshine in Jack's life, had been warmed by it. That fact could not have slipped the mind of one of the greatest vaults of details she had ever met. Part of her imagined that no one was bringing it up in the hopes that she had forgotten or given up. She imagined that they thought the only thing keeping her from going AWOL was not having to confront the fact. That maybe she was just okay with being the commander of the orphans and the killer of the forest friends.

It was a little jarring to realize you were surrounded by people who must not know you very well.

She had been sneaking out for awhile, sure, but for the past two weeks she had managed to stay out the whole night. She was using the broomsticks in the Quidditch field, the few that had not snapped in half, taking them out until the magic in them failed, before moving on to the next broom. They seemed to recover over the course of a day so she had never been without one. Her pack weighed heavily on her back, her Gytash perched on her shoulder in a smaller former, nose quivering.

The brooms usually didn't get her farther than a few miles before they sputtered and died. Then she was on foot, Elliot transforming into something larger and more threatening as she picked across the wartorn terrain of the world she had once found herself at home in. Now, she was an unwanted visitor, the earth itself attempting to turn her away as tremors shook the ground, as fire pulled civilization down, as its creatures, on four legs and two, attempted to stain the ground with her blood. Some nights were full of running and hiding, and she hardly ever managed to actually get far enough to find somewhere she might possibly find her niece. Those nights weren't the worst, though. It was the silent nights, punctuated only with the sounds and smells of death, reminding her again and again of the horrible truth : this was real.

She was calling tonight Friday. That was a running joke she had with her pack of ragamuffins. They would ask her what day she thought it was. While the adults were keeping track, calling it 4 Days After, 19 Days After, 32 Days after... she would say, "Probably Friday. Hey, it's the weekend! Party time!" and the kids would manage laugh. Now, they made a point of asking. And she kept up the joke. Even though it had long ago stopped being funny.

This Friday night, the broom sputtered out and died earlier than usual, and did not come back to life as she expected. So she had to hurry through the ruins of Hogsmeade, scaling up a building to get across a particularly deep crevice in the earth, Elliot clambering after her. They dipped into the forest and made their way as quietly as possible. Though Jack was easily becoming the most acquainted with the forest, the sense of danger she had in it increased every time. She was certain there were werewolves and centaurs and maybe even giants lurking among the trees... and they were going to be hungry and desperate.

The doors were locked tightly at nights, but Jack had long solved that problem. After wrapping some twine around the bum broomstick to indicate its weakness and leaving it  with some of the others behind one of the greenhouses, she hurried towards the side of the castle from which she could access her room. She had chosen the room not for its comfort or its proximity to others, but because of the tree that had collapsed against the castle walls, its branches clinging to just beneath her window. Elliot made his way around the castle, going off for his nightly stroll as Jack leaped onto the tree, pulling herself from branch to branch, breathing in the smells of the dying plant, as its sappy blood seeped out and clung to her hands. Even in death, however, it reminded her of life.

She finally managed to get to the usual branch and she took a breath, stepping from bark to stone, her toes straining to keep their hold as she stretched up, her side abs working as her hands finally found purchase on her windowsill. The muscles in her arms from years as a Beater pulled her onto the sill and she slid through.

Her feet barely touched the ground when she heard a bang and a voice. Immediately, she straightened up, revolver held aloft. The gun lowered soon after, however, and she quirked an eyebrow. "Would have looked foolish getting yourself shot for the sake of having dramatic effect."

She strode over to her desk and put the gun down, stretching and attempting to ignore the question that posed some amount of trouble for her. She turned and sat on her bed, dropping her bag next to her and beginning to pull off her shoes. "Come to think of it, is dramatic effect just... bursting into rooms that you have no reason to believe actually contain the people you are looking for? Because it seems a little less like being smooth and a little more like being a little too gun-ho. And that's bad, coming from me."

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Re: Do I Know You?

Post by Kiera on Wed Nov 25, 2015 4:45 am

It never failed to amaze him.

Maybe amaze was too positive a word.

He’d stick with it for now. He never failed to wonder at how……casual she was, in these situations. It was faintly, reluctantly reminiscent of Scorpius, when they’d met again, years after they’d parted ways in seventh year. That cavalier manner, that relaxed stance, no tension whatsoever in the shoulders, informal, almost friendly tone…..its like he…they, were absolutely unaware. Of the elephant rampaging under their nostrils. Of what they’d done. No, all they needed to do was stick up their chin and the world would just give them a pat on the back and go on spinning.

Snick.

That was the door closing behind him, pushed into place by his own gentle, unobtrusive fingers. Two steps forward, and while the room continued to shrink around them, the silence was hardly ominous. Well, Albus had never been the intimidating kind before. Still, the feat was terrific. He felt half inclined to congratulate himself.

Or…..maybe not. You see, there was pushing at the lines. And there was pushing. Today, apparently, was his threshold.

Maybe it was because the world as they knew it was at an end. All authority crumbled around its ankles. Rules and regulations thrown to the wind. In such a state, she had to push against something. It was her nature.

Frankly though? Albus Potter had neither the inclination, nor the patience to put up with any of Jack Dyllan’s pointless rebellions.

“Homenum revelio. Incorporated into a ward- Fred helped out. Tells me when you’re here, and when you’re not.”

In dystopia-torn bunkers, where people were stuffed close enough to breathe each other’s sweat half the time, every drop of privacy counted. Yes, this was a horrible invasion of hers. And it was even more idiotic to actually reveal the fact to her, after months.

But. Patience -> end. Albus had covered this fact already, yes?

Another step, and he swivelled around to drop onto her bed, very softly. Played his fingers lightly over the damp, moisture-swollen headboards, gazed out of the frieze of her window like it was the Riviera and not indeed, skies that could spit out death at them any second they pleased.

“That was the third broom you’ve used up this month. I’m sure you think you’re making up for it in some adequate way. Maybe even re-enchanting them yourself.” A barely audible snort, to convey how likely he thought that was. Jack was good. In combat. Maybe a fairly large arsenal of useful, powerful spells. A couple of inventive ones. Anything more finicky than a prank…..let alone an enchantment that took decades for a wizard to master? Yeah. No. “I have no doubt that you think you’ve been replenishing the resources you’re rampantly wasting in some form or the other.” The first of many fleeting smiles. “I do not give a fucking damn.”

“It’s still a waste of your time, and a waste of your talents. Which, in case you think we’re still living in some lovely illusion of democracy, isn’t just at your disposal anymore. Its for the group. You could be giving your own magic to reanimate every broomstick you’ve ever sucked dry, and it would still be a waste because you could have made new ones to add to the existing number instead. Ones we could have used to fly to the Forest for one more meal. Stockpile for the flight up the Acromantula Tower for that recon mission we’ve been putting off forever.” That tower was the highest spot in what used to be Hogwarts. Maybe it pierced through the storm clouds. Maybe they could actually see what was around them. If anyone else was around them.

“But hey.” Another, broader smile. “Why am I boring you with administrative, resource management bullshit, right? You’re not like me. You don’t dabble in the everyday problems of the ordinary. You’re the heroic kind. You have a gun to brandish, brave missions to go on- destroy dangerous beasts and rescue lost people. Not an extremely bad example to the hundreds of kids stuck here, separated from their families- no, not at all. You’re a martyr. Dashing off to sacrifice your life, uncaring of what happens to you in the process.” The smallest of pauses. “Uncaring of if you get to come back.”

A tilt of the head, to demonstrate concern. So perfectly angled, tone of voice so flawlessly amiable. “But you see, Dyllan. We’re of a more cowardly breed. We actually think of consequences. Take Cameron, for instance. Poor idiot refused his spiced pumpkin pie today, all because he was too worried about your well being, and Merlin knows he’d been looking forward to that treat for ages. You see, he and many others, unlike me, don’t know how invincible you are. Because of some,” and he tried, he really did, but the warmth leeched out of his words just the same. The enunciation sharpened, like the words being whetted on the blade as they were being shaped. “unfathomable reason, the numbskulls around this place have lost enough of their brain cells to care for you.”

No. Too much. Too much. He toned down, raised his eyes, and let his incisors bare in a smile again. “Apologies. I was being unjust. You have to look for your niece.” His voice picked up that conversational tone again, but couldn’t quite regain the warmth. Pity. “But say, you know. Hypothetically. If any of us were as brave as you. As heroic. Fred, for instance. Fellow Gryffindor. He could go out looking for Roxi. Or you know, Lysander, with his parents and twin brother and all. Hell, I could even go out looking for James. But of course, even if his limbs have been torn off clean by a tornado somewhere.” Not a waver, not a shake. His voice didn’t even rise. “I hate him. So its not like it matters.”

Thunder rumbled in the distance, somewhere.    

“Then again, a hero’s gotta do what a hero’s gotta do. So let me put it in terms more comprehensible to your simplistic brain.” For the first time since he’d arrived, Albus fixed his eyes directly on hers. Straight, unflinching. “You, may be infallible. The hundreds of people who still try to survive here, are not. They actually want to keep surviving. You want to throw your life down a cliff, you are at full liberty to do that. But while you’re still in the painstaking process towards that ultimate goal, these people actually have some expectations of you.” All remaining hints of sarcasm drained away, the cold statement of fact left behind almost jarring in its stark difference. “The water from below finally breaks through the wards, another wall falls down, the Acromantulas decide to come out for a pretty walk, another crack opens in the ground….we can probably handle ourselves. Fred, Lys, Bishop….lots of people around with skills. But lives will be lost. Actual people, still here, while you’re out on another one of your quests. People who might have been saved.”

The next sentence……he probably shouldn’t have. It crossed a line. But hey, she wasn’t the only one who liked pushing.

He stood.

“I’m sure you’re used to it. Unfortunately, Dark magic or no, I haven’t quite managed to be fine with walking around with the lives of other people on my conscience.”

Kiera

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Re: Do I Know You?

Post by Jackles on Fri Nov 27, 2015 5:43 pm

Jack wasn't sure, because she tried not to give it too much thought but... was this the first time she and Albus had been alone since that night, that night where everything turned to shit? She was pretty sure it was, maybe minus a few moments here or there where they ran into each other while working reconstructions across the castle, sparing seconds where the ever-pressing task at hand could distract from the ugly, confused feelings constantly swirling in the pits of their stomachs, that horrible reminder that clenched jaws and fixed gazes could not mask the oh-so human element to their relationship. That human tendency to place too much hope, too much trust, too much consideration into another human, a human much too complicated, much too damaged, much too flawed to ever hold up against those expectations.

But who had time to think about that when the world was ending?

If they could ever agree on anything, it was that there was always something more important that needed to be done, more important than dealing with stupid, ever-changing emotions. It was this mindset that had, thus far, kept them from tangling alone. Now, it was this mindset causing this long-avoided time alone. And she knew it. She knew that if she had ever gotten caught (because even though she knew it was more of a matter of when, she had tried damn hard to keep it at an if) then there was going to be a problem between her and the other head honcho.

Because that was the weird thing. They had pretty much avoided doing a whole 'who leads us' vote, probably because everyone knew it was likely to start factions, resentment, etcetera. And no one wanted to face the reality that the might need their own government, that there was no one else out there that was going to save them. But somehow, she and Albus, along with Fred and Bishop to a smaller extent had all stepped up as... elders, maybe? And they had sort of been working together too. The headed up the projects they were best suited for, discussed what needed to be done, helped each other delegate the best they could.

And, weirdly, it had been working. If there were ever a group of people to disagree on how to run a community, it was them, but the Great Need seemed to outweigh the Great Egos enough that all had been relatively decided upon in a civil, decent manner. Sure, there had been disagreements, bristling emotions, some cool words... but never enough that seemed to threaten their arrangement.

And she knew taking on her own task would be a threat. It had been why she had done it at night, on her own, taking as few risks as possible to minimize the threat to anyone but herself. But she could feel Albus' anger from here, as well controlled as he thought he might be. She could feel the particles in the air charged with confrontation, and she knew she was going to have to find every and any loophole to justify her actions. Because, when it came down to it, they were reckless. They were rash. They were probably stupid and in vain.

But they had to be done.

She didn't need his approval, or his forgiveness. She just needed him to let her keep doing it.

But she had a nasty feeling that it wasn't going to be an easy thing to convince him of.

Maybe some humor, to lighten the mood?

"Oh, so you're stalking me. Not chill, Potter. Not chill at all."

Okay, so... yeah, no, that was a dumb idea.

And then he began talking. And seemed right ready to never stop. Because every time she thought she found an opening to defend herself, or accuse him or the others of much of the same, or argue the morality of a statement, he just pressed on. And her face, which had been smoothed in an attempt to appear civil and calm, crinkled into her usual combative expression. She turned and slipped off her plaid shirt as he spoke, leaving her in an old tank top that was only clean because of the efforts of some of the women to keep clothes somewhat clean. She stepped towards her trunk, pulling it open as she tossed the shirt in, looking for another. Claire had been clever enough to suggest they put some effort into recovering clothes and using materials to ensure they did not become a nudist colony. Only Fred had actively voiced dissent to the small project, claiming he could see benefits in ditching clothing altogether.

She pulled on a sweatshirt, reaching down to take off her shoes and switch out her socks. She had hoped that the simple act of changing would keep her calm and casual, while also diffusing the situation a little by not giving Albus more attention than she wanted to give the matter. And, because, if she didn't try to make the matter seem smaller and more trivial than it was, then she would have already thrown a swing at Potter. Because of all of the horrible things they had ever said to each other, these were some of the worst. He was being cruel, condescending, mocking. Treating her like an insolent child, putting into question how much she cared for their little colony, belittling her intelligence.

It was almost amazing to think of the world before there was no world. Back when Jack showed Albus her old home and the dangerous memories there. Back when she saved him from drowning in the rain and his guilt. Back when he played the guitar. Back when he made her dinner.

Back when they were friends.

It seemed that had died with the rest of the population.

There were some implications of compliments in his speech. And she might have heard them, had rage not filled her head and begun rattling between her ears, finding only those statements that were sure to escalate the situation when she managed to spit them back to him.

He seemed to be done, and she was still lacing up her shoes, afraid that if she looked up at him she would start throwing a fit. She felt her body trembling with anger and indignation, bu her time as an Unspeakable, cut off as it was, had taught her a few things that the young Gryffindor would not have been capable of just three years prior - restraint being one of them.

So she allowed breath to seep in through her nose, tried to feel it enter her lungs, fill her cells, send oxygen to her brain. Tried to make it a conscious process. And she felt some control come back to her. And as much as she wanted to pick apart everything he had said, she knew it would only end in an argument. So she straightened up, sitting on her bed, forcing her to place her hands in her lap, lacing her fingers. She looked horribly calm. Annoyingly calm.

She had learned it from him.

"You want us to survive," she said. "I want us to rebuild. That means being able to live again. And, for me, that means that I cannot let the five year old girl who's entire life is my responsibility wander alone forever. I know the possibilities. I know the probabilities. I am doing everything I can not to leave completely until I know the truth, because I know I am needed here. But in the few hours that are mine, the few hours that I get to be Jack rather than to be the hunter, the trainer, the whatever... I have to be Jack. And that means I have to be certain."

She stood and walked over to the gun, pulling out a cloth and beginning to clean it. "Believe it or not, but I have been as careful as possible. And I'll redouble my efforts to be careful. But if anyone tries to prevent me from finding that little girl, from finding any survivors that might be out there, then you are asking me to sacrifice my identity and my right to live. And if that is what this community wants, then this world truly is lost."

She looked up at him, cloth resting on the barrel of the gun. He had expected a fight, had expected emotion. But, warrior as she was, she didn't want to fight him. She never had. And maybe it was time to start acting that way.

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Re: Do I Know You?

Post by Kiera on Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:10 am

Albus….Albus expected. He knew he expected. He knew what he expected.

The only thing he wasn’t understanding in this scenario, was why exactly he wasn’t getting it.

She was shaking, her knuckles whitened, her fingers trembling ever so slightly as she pulled on her shoelaces, the motions tight and jerky and just on this side of too tight. It was going to implode soon. He was ready for it, ready to return any volleys, any accusations of ‘hypocrite’ or ‘unfair’ that might be tossed his way, with an added helping of ‘tosser’ and ‘jerk’ the way only Jack could. When the implosion contracted into itself though…….the moment he could clearly see her shakily drawing a breath in, then again, and again- firmer and deeper every time. It was almost disappointing. He’d been storing every word with every time she’d ducked out at night, hoarded every carefully worded barb another broom disappeared from the store. Smiled just right, timed the pauses just right- scathing commentary, sardonic praise that were worse than insults, finished with a dash of truth that ought to have cut to the bone. So rightly done. He deserved a response. He deserved to see her hitch, her hesitate, her rage, her indignant, inflamed responses.

Not this sea of……nothing.

No wonder Scorpius hated it every time he argued with him, if this was anything close to what he felt.

(Albus ignored why he’d been thinking of the Malfoy so frequently of late. If the Malfoy only existed in his thoughts now. In his memories.)

She finally began speaking, and Albus resisted the urge to groan. Oh Merlin. She was going to attempt to reason her way out of this.

Is she always this slow? A scathing voice within the confines of his head demanded, simmering in frustration. So bad at reading people?

Irritation, resignation, tempered with a self-aware amusement flared in his head: couldn’t she see that he was in no mood of reason? Had decided, without any premeditation whatsoever, that he would disagree with everything she said, even if it was that the sun (presumably, now) rose from the east and the world was fucked around them?

Yeah, he thought- watching pale blue eyes flicker in determination: but if anyone tries to prevent me from finding that little girl, from finding any survivors that might be out there, then you are asking me to sacrifice my identity and my right to live- she couldn’t. And she probably didn’t give a damn either way.

Idiot.

(and that, that had almost been fond).

“You know,” He began, standing up, stepping back. A statement, one to complement the verbal ones he was making, like every single action of his had been since he set foot inside the room. “Lets stop the charade that my opinion matters to you, for a couple of minutes. You’re an adult, you can do what you please without anyone’s supervision. Its not like anything I, or anyone else says or feels will ever make the slightest difference to what you decide. To what you do.” And here was where the words strayed from their bare, plain meanings, taking implications- old ones. Ones stemmed in the night they both were alone for the last time, they both were thinking of in this very moment, the night that would probably hold sway over every interaction they ever had for the rest of their lives.



”Please, Jack?”


“Albus……..you’re the only friend I have.”




But he breathed and continued on lightly, as if the weight of unresolved memories were non-existent. “I would only say this. Don’t stay forever suspended between one course, and the next. Choose. If you really mean to find Sunny, then……well. Stop steadying the kids’ hands when they’re learning new spells. Hayes is a good enough teacher, he has experience, he can jump in. Stop talking of Friday night parties. Stop insinuating yourself in the hearts of people who don’t know if you’re ever going to return, no matter how careful you are.”

Albus smiled, quick and tight, green eyes somehow still catching whatever light that dribbled through the storms and windows. Words conspicuous in their utter lack of design. Plain and simple. “If you don’t mean to stay, Dyllan, don’t make yourself….”

Indispensable. Essential. Important. There were so many nice, formal, proper words to end that statement. But he knew what he really meant. And she deserved to know it too.

His eyes closed, something almost pained in the motion. The word escaped through bitten teeth, reluctant and yet flung with perfect, barbed accuracy. Maybe because of its honesty.

“Needed.”

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Re: Do I Know You?

Post by Jackles on Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:22 pm

She should have looked more intimidating with the gun in her hand, felt more threatening. But it had become sort of an extension of herself, not just physically, but of her entire persona. She was rarely caught without it, rarely unarmed. She certainly cut an impressive figure to most people in their encampment, but to those who knew her well enough, they knew it was Jack with a new toy. Certainly, she was imposing enough when the gun was being utilized, but she also had too much of the reputation of being the ‘whistle while you work’ leader, trying to find joy in the labor.

And then she fell into her real self out in the real world. Out in the world torn apart at the seams, spilling out, blood seeping into the far reaches of the universe. They had no idea if it was just happening in magical communities. If it was just happening in the United Kingdom. If there was help coming. The only they really knew is that they knew very little. And it didn’t provide for a very optimistic Jack. She picked over dead bodies, batted scavenger birds from her face, slipped through clouds of flies, shooed away skulking packs of dogs. It seemed like a Biblical plague, like an ancient war. And despite how motivated she was to work, how well she could rally the troops, she could not help but feel infected by the hopelessness of their situation.

And now, the one thing she had to stave off that hopelessness, the one mission she had that made her feel like there could be some recovery… It was fading.

He began speaking and she felt the need to be rational beginning to lose its edge. She didn’t care about his opinion? “Oh get over yourself,” she couldn’t help but blurt. He could say a lot about the degeneration of their relationship, certainly, but he could not claim she didn’t care. They pretty much ran this community together. His opinion was of the upmost importance to her, more important than probable anyone else’s.

Even if she disagreed with it most times.

“And don’t make me out to be some selfish imbecile, running out and having a good time. This is an extra task I’ve taken on-“

But he was pressing on, and she could feel her blood boiling, turning over and over, her pulse thickening, reaching upwards to her temple. She could feel her fingers pressing hard against the cloth that slid over the barrel of the gun and she turned, setting the gun on her bedside table, reminding herself to breathe deeply, to keep the oxygen flowing, to still her pulsating nerves.

He thought he was so clever, and so… in the right. And part of her was a bit afraid of how much she saw his side, how much she knew his words had weight. But she couldn’t lose this.

“Look, there’s not just two ways. We can’t think like that anymore. We have to explore every avenue. And despite what you may think, I’m not out there looking for one person. I’m looking for anyone who is alone and scared, people with skills and life worth who deserves a chance to live. Isn’t that why we’re all here? Trying to take our chance to live?”

She slowly settled onto the edge of the table, folding her hands in her lap. “Look. I get it. I probably shouldn’t have kept it a secret. Made it seem more nefarious than it is. Made it look like there’s some miscommunication between leadership. But there are people here who are missing brothers and sisters and lovers and children. Aren’t we all a little compromised as long as we don’t know what’s happened to them? Isn’t it worth a shot if it gives people some peace?”

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Re: Do I Know You?

Post by Kiera on Sun Dec 27, 2015 6:53 am

The knee-jerk response his hindbrain had to that……it…..well. Lets just use the nice, neutral ‘surprise’ for a moment. It surprised him.

And do you have to be the one who has to take the fucking shot all the time?

He…..Albus wasn’t being absolutely unreasonable. He knew this. He had legitimate points. Logical opinions. Opinions that were actually his, that belong to him, cautious, self-preserving Slytherin that he is. Secure your land before attempting to claim others. Its the basics.

The Camp wasn’t safe. The wards were stable enough for now, but they need to find a long-term solution, one that doesn’t involve one of their best fighters basically standing guard and on alert 24/7 to repair the cracks wherever they emerge, conduct damage control. And sitting around definitely didn’t suit Fred; his cousin strutted the same as ever, his hair was even just as sodding shiny- but there were lines around the eyes, the mouth, that didn’t exist before. There was a jerked, barely restrained quality to his movements, a sense of vibrating restlessness whenever he’s conducting conversation. More often than not, his cousin can be seen feverishly flipping through old tomes and scanning parchment rolls salvaged from the Hogwarts library- searching for better alternatives, old syllabaries, he says. Albus got the distinct impression he’s searching for something to keep his mind tethered to the now and not driven insane by the ingloriousness and monotony of survival.

Fred Weasley was a man defined by his lack of definitions. The utter lack of rules, of say-sos and chains, tying him somewhere, anywhere. And now he was trying valiantly to pretend that the safe place he helped create was nothing more than a prison to him.

It was an odd detour, now that Albus thought about it, for his brain to take while smack dab in the middle of yet another argument with Jacquelline Dyllan. Or maybe not at all, a tiny voice in his head pointed out, while his eyes still scoped out the indignant, outraged lines of Jack’s face. Every time that he was sent on the heels of his cousin for yet another urgent matter of consideration regarding the Camp, or hell, even to share a meal- there would be that small twist of fear inside his chest that maybe, this time would be the time that he wouldn’t find him. That today would be the day Fred would just up and disappear- vanish from all their lives and the problems inherent in them, the way he’d vanished to America so many years ago. This fear stemmed from the same reason why he thought of Scorpius so often now, after so many years of deliberately blocking his mind from all Malfoy-related thoughts, the same reason why James’ name dropped so easily from his lips today after, again, so many years, the same bloody reason he watched Lily like a creeper whenever she descended to public company during meals after ignoring her existence for…..yeah, you get the drift.

Albus Potter watched Jack Dyllan argue her stand with all the passion she had, and thought of a million, logical reasons why she was wrong. None of them were the reason he couldn’t agree with her. There was only one reason, the same reason, for everything.

“This is an extra task I’ve taken on-“


Why you?

Send someone else.

Anyone else.


Mum. Dad. James. Scorpius. Faces crashed through his memory like a particularly malicious photoalbum, and Albus Potter thought about his one reason with remarkable calmness, if he said so himself. Self-loathing too, an overwhelming deluge of it, as he stared right into Jack’s eyes, and underlining it all, a sense of absolute certainty.


I cannot let you die.


There was gratitude somewhere, welling up, where it could find space among the absolute barrage of inwardly directed contempt that rose in the wake of that thought, the contempt that pretty much comprised his entire psyche at this point. He was almost thankful because this……this made making a decision so much easier.

“Fine.”

His shoulders pulled up into an almost-shrug, his feet backed up two steps, his voice held that slightest edge of frustration to it but was remarkably dispassionate nevertheless. It never ceased to amaze him, really, how effortlessly his…..training? instinct?- seemed to take over every time those pesky things called emotions acted up in defiance of rapidly flatlining control (like when he told her at Layabout that redheads weren’t his type and laughed off his….fuck it). “If you think it’s necessary. I suppose we can’t isolate ourselves forever. Extra news can’t hurt.”

But heck, he wasn’t going to make it easy. He would make her fight for every inch. (She probably enjoyed it better that way anyway). “It would seem rather unfair though, if only a few people were allowed to search for their loved ones.” Which was stupid, because had any of them met Jack? The very idea that the bleeding heart was searching only for her niece, and wouldn’t do her utmost to bring back anyone else encountered was, simply put, ludicrous. “Thanks to you, yes, this entire mess does seem very ‘nefarious’. Best way to remedy it is to bring it to the forefront. With the exception of the kids, let people put forward their names to participate in the next search parties, to be conducted on a….monthly basis, say.” And then, with the smallest of smiles and words that were honestly, truly, not motivated by any sort of unrequited affection whatsoever, but sheer sadism. “And in the interests of fairness’ sake, lets just ban any people who’ve already been in a search party already for the next…….two, shall we say.”

Which meant Jack would stay shut up in the camp for the next two months banging her head against the walls, but she’d smile oh so sweetly and agree because this was practically unheard of, a gift from Merlin, an effing compromise, and she would jump at any chance of one.

He’d put her on pumpkin chopping duty too, Albus mused, almost savagely, and good. Fucking. Riddance.        

“And just to show how good indeed the communication is between leadership, I’ll lead the next one.” He was going to regret that, sometime. Probably in the very near future. Right now though, it just felt pretty damn good. “Can’t let you have all the fun, Dyllan.”

Admittedly, the last words were flatter than any he’d doled out so far. Maybe his emotion-faking lingual ability (oh Salazar that sounded ghastly. He was going to have to come up with a better name for that) was tired. Especially her name. It almost sounded like an insult, these days. On days he had enough energy, he tried to pretend he wasn’t doing it deliberately. Wasn’t like she noticed.

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Re: Do I Know You?

Post by Jackles on Sun Dec 27, 2015 8:15 pm

Albus Potter had these eyes… Green like his father’s, green like his grandmother’s. They were more needles than eyes, as you felt like they reached right into your own, pushed past the eye, past all the membranes and brain junk (biology had never been a strong suit of hers) right into your mind. For someone so withholding, Albus had this remarkable ability for making someone feel horribly exposed. Or maybe it was just her. Maybe because she had let him past all that brain junk, what was underneath was imprinted, and he could see it all when he looked at her.

To be fair, if that was the case, then she had just as much of that ability. Honestly, there were times when they met with their whole community and she felt like Albus was avoiding meeting her gaze. She had always assumed it was because, you know, he kind of hated her sometimes. But she wondered now if he could see her remembering what they were like before, before the world tore in half, before he asked her for an answer she wasn’t ready to give. She wondered if he saw her thinking about him playing guitar, about dinner at the gazebo, about pulling him out of the rain. She truly wondered if he could see her remembering it all because sometimes, she couldn’t be sure, but sometimes she felt like she could see him remembering.

But they couldn’t afford time to just reminisce. They had to be practical and forward thinking and her little missions had been a wonderful distraction from all those pesky memories. With them under threat, she couldn’t see life getting easier, especially when it came to green-eyed Potters.

”Fine.”

Jack opened her mouth to argue, before realizing that the word signaled she had no need. She hesitated, before closing her jaw awkwardly. She was waiting for the trick, or the lecture. Fine. Put us all in danger, The Red-Headed Avenger. Leave me to keep us all together. She would be lying if she had claimed to suspect anything different, but different was what she got. Albus was being remarkably… cool about this. And she could feel her uncertain, distrustful expression melting into one of soft gratitude, truly appreciative for what he was doing for her.  And for everyone. She didn’t mind taking more people with her. More ground covered, more backup, it would make the task much easier. It would turn her impossible mission into something… well… possible.

And then the trick came.

“TWO-“ she blurted, before forcing her teeth close, swallowing the word down, feeling it slide down her throat and land in her stomach like a stone. “Two months.” She meant to repeat the words so she could come to terms with how doable such a thing was, but the words squeezed out of her lips in a faint whisper, sounding almost ill at the thought. This conversation had taken too many turns at this point- from her having free reign to do as she pleased, to becoming a prisoner, to… this compromise that basically stripped her of her freedom, as well as a reason to complain. Knowing that others were out doing the work she so desperately felt she had to do while she sat at home doing… laundry… It was almost too much to bear.

But what choice did she have? She fought him on this and he would keep her from trying at all. Sunny was too important to wager.

It was one of the few times that she looked at Albus since they had moved into this new place and could see something beyond the mask of professionalism. As he delivered the last condition of his compromise, his own part, she saw the smallest glint in his eyes. Was he actually enjoying this?

She felt her jaw working hard to keep her from shouting, to keep her from giving him the response he was asking for. She stood up from her perch on the table and passed by him towards the door, parroting his word. “Fine.” The bite in the word was much stronger than his own.

She pulled open her door and turned to look at him, her face taut with the effort to remain cool. “Finished, yeah?”

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Re: Do I Know You?

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