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In this alternate universe, Lord Voldemort is dead, but so is Harry Potter. Factions continue to fight, Hogwarts educates the next generation of witches and wizards, and the Ministry of Magic does its best to hold everything together.

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The Almost Recovery

on Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:22 am
Once upon a time, Jack had been a girl without a home. There was Hogwarts, a place where she was good at what she did but not exactly liked. And there was her parent's house, where she wasn't even good, not in their eyes. She was a lonely nomad, always on the move, but it never hurt too bad, because she always had one companion.

The Thirst.

The Thirst was this small, unquenchable flame deep in her belly. It never went away, but it would curl up int embers and go to sleep until suddenly, some gust of change would make it flare, and the little flame would grow and grow, before lapping at her heart. And with a knapsack on her shoulder, some help from her uncle, and her two feed sturdily beneath her, she would go.

From the age of fourteen, she spent just barely a month in her parent's home. Her summers were instead spent tramping through the pastures of Utah, to her tall treehouse; they were spent along the sea of Seattle, feet in the water, hands curled around a fishing pole which was her only source of food; they were spent along the waters of Loch Ness, in a musty old tent that didn't keep the dampness out but sure kept the adventure in; in the Forest of Dean, under a canopy of leaves and stars.

Before Jack Dyllan bought into the lie that she needed anyone but herself, The Thirst had always been enough.

And then Chase and Andrew had come along. And it seemed right, it seemed fair, to invite them to the banks of Loch Ness. She didn't feel betrayed when Andrew found her in her treehouse, when he entered her place of secret. Because once you let someone in, the seal was broken, and pushing them out seemed nearly impossible. And when the summer after her seventh year came and she had lost everyone she had worked so hard to keep around - Chase, Andrew, Ari, Elliot, Vito - she couldn't even return to those places. She had a job, she had a new home, she had no reason to live like a vagrant. So she had tried to go. Tried to spend her summer under the stars, in the fields, in the trees, atop the sand. She had packed her knapsack, the knapsack that had also remained loyal when others had not.

But she couldn't leave. Because she really had never gone alone.

And The Thirst was asleep.

Sure, it came back sometimes. It even got strong enough to lap at her heart. But it always got smothered out by something, cold water dumped on the embers. It struggled to stay alive, to not get completely killed. And she struggled to. And she barely stayed afloat. And the firey, explosive Jack Dyllan became... whoever she was now.

But watching Max go. Realizing that, despite what he said, he wasn't coming back and only she knew it, and no one would understand... she felt the flame lick her heart. But she went home, because it always went away anyway. But it didn't. So she went to to work, because that had always wreaked havoc on her spirit before. But it didn't. And now, time moving forward, the loss becoming apart of the past rather than the present...

The fire was still there.

It was late. The sky was inky. She didn't want to go to Utah, even though just the thought of the amber fields tickling her cheeks still caused a flutter in her chest. She couldn't go to Loch Ness, because the ghosts of Chase and Andrew were waiting for her. And she couldn't go camping because she couldn't just pack up and leave her family.

So she went to another place. A place that wasn't apart of her childhood, wasn't apart of the time when she was Jack the Triwizard Champion, Jack the Hogwarts Badass. However it was a time, a brief time, but one of the few that survived the horrors of what her adult life had become.

She could hear the waves crashing against the cliffs, and if this specific place had not forced her to plant herself there, she would choose the cliffs, choose the spray and the cold. Or she would have chosen to lie in the thick, green grass, grass that went on as far as she could see, grass that perfectly cushioned someone who might want to gaze up at the beautiful sky.

It was amazing she had been able to apparate here. She had only been there once, and quite some time ago. But how would she ever forget it, either?

She sat on the rail of the summerhouse, of the gazebo, her head tilted back, her hands gripping the sides to keep her there. Everything else had fallen away. That sense of loss, that sense of helplessness, that sense of uncertainty, that sense of indignation that the world thought it had any right to continue to give and take away.

And all that was left was The Thirst.

As well as the small, faint memories of the almost date.

This gazebo had been waiting to serve the purpose of relaxing those who came across it, those who needed a brief escape.

And boy, Jack could use an escape.

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Re: The Almost Recovery

on Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:32 am
Being a storyteller was strange. You saw through all the fallacies of your words, all the golden webs of delusion that they strung up and blinded people with. But somewhere along the road, your feet strayed into the leaf-covered pit and down you tumbled; unable to tell the difference between your own lies. Maybe because selling those lies necessitated believing in them, at some point- because how else could you be convincing?

Sometimes things really are that innocent. Sometime writers do truly believe that love trumps all obstacles, that things that you let go returned to you, that hard work always brought sweet recompense, that good forever triumphed over……something-not (evil was such a limited word, Albus personally abhorred it.) But most of the time, these are optimistic lies at best, laced in hope and ribboned in faith and the author of said words the largest cynic of them all. It was so easy to lose track though. To give way to dramatics and sentimentality and fall to thinking that the universe was nice and neat and worked in ways that made sense and the end of things was like the closing scene of a Muggle movie- forever interlaced with that calming thing called closure. That the end felt like the end and could be prettily wrapped up as per convenience.

Why this ceaseless ramble, you ask? Well, it goes something like this.

Happiness was starting to…..not feel so alien to Albus anymore. More comforting, less scary. Everytime Ceci hoisted herself on his chair demanding what on earth he was reading from that godawful black-and-white print of the newspaper pages, and Aurelia scooted to the room not too long after, mostly lingering around the edges but listening nonetheless- awe receded bit by bit and morphed to familiarity, solid and warm in his chest. He still didn’t quite get what was so fascinating about the Prophet’s over embellished tales of witches losing their noses to teapots and mysterious cases of enigmatically vanishing keys- but judging from the tiny quirk around Aurelia’s lips while he proceeded to dryly disseminate the ‘newsworthy’ information- he wasn’t quite succeeding in being an impartial herald. The ritual would inevitably be interrupted by Athena swooping in to steal the girls away from breakfast- sometimes with Auggie over one shoulder, Archie trailing after her heels and clutching at her hip. Generally, he tried to keep the girls occupied for as long as possible; the boys were enough of a handful this early in the morning, especially when he knew she still needed to psych herself up in the mirror each day to set foot in the place she still called ‘that Muggle university’. And Merlin, the pride in his chest was like a physical sensation, big and heavy and glowing.

But today, he was itching for the sound of that quick, light tread, punctuated by plaintive cries- Ceci had smeared ink all over the crossword and Aurelia was being particularly crotchety- biting and cold towards her sister while Ceci got progressively more and more keyed up. It was while he was struggling, rather valiantly in his own opinion, to rein his tongue and not shower the girls with abundant Mr Bennet-like sarcasm- that it dawned upon him how very normal and……ungrateful he was feeling that morning.

It was…….it was brilliant. This transition period was officially not a transition any more- it was a valid phase in his life, one with a definite expiration date no doubt; but at least he could be assured that it had a life span instead of being a quick flash-and-gone sort of mirage. The remarkable amount of impatience he was feeling at the moment towards the girls- Aurelia with her upturned nose and Ceci with that manic, headstrong grin- attested to the fact. He didn’t have to cherish every moment they deigned to spend with him. They could very well go and annoy someone else.

(Truth: Albus couldn’t quite resist a manic grin of his own at that thought.)

So……his authorial sensibilities couldn’t quite resist falling to sentiment. To ideas better left as ideas and not attempted to be drawn into solid existence. This was a beginning. He knew this had been A Beginning ever since he’d invited these amazing, amazing lunatics into his house, now home. But he had never been as sure that this was A Beginning to a Something that was worth settling into with complacency, instead of being alternatively tiptoed around with apprehension, or clutched onto with desperation. But he was…..sure now, in ways he rarely ever was.

(That ‘rarely’ should have clued him off, right there. Surety was a luxury not afforded to one Albus Severus Potter, self-questioning little soul that he was. He should have learned that a long time ago.)

So……sentiment. And ambition, too overreaching even for a self-acknowledged Slytherin like him. New beginnings meant…….maybe he was finally brave enough for closure.

So he pulled on his favourite white shirt, cuffs unbuttoned, dark slacks, a pair of leather loafers, barely a comb through his hair- and twisted in place to emerge with closed eyes- to the scent of grass and pine and salt in the breeze toying with his cuffs, cold air brushing over the back of his neck and setting the dark hairs there fluttering. His rowan vibrated in his pocket- soft and muted in response to the overwhelming chorus in the air.

Merlin. He’d forgotten how …….celestial, the voices were. How quiet and raucous, melodious and wild, settling and uplifting. Magic spun solos and duets in the air, and nature’s waves crashed against the immutable rocks in counterpoint. He opened his eyes- to grass of the darkest green and dusky black skies and the white marble gazebo.

And…….red.

His heart started up, slow and ponderous and deep. He could feel it thrumming in the little pathways that his human body had fashioned for blood- arteries and veins and the tiniest of capillaries. The voices soared in chorus- then grew absolutely, utterly quiet.

It was a strange dream. But it had to be one. What else could it be- to see Jack Dyllan again sitting on the gazebo rails, her face tilted to the sky………so quiet and at peace?

Peace. That sardonic, caustic, mutedly bitter Albus Potter, the one that had never quite died, was laughing somewhere, hysterically, within the confines of his head. Peace. Closure. Yes, well done, you poor sucker.

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Re: The Almost Recovery

on Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:05 am
Elliot had said something to her once that continually came back, turned circles in her mind, pounded against her heart, begging to be let in. Elliot, the ghost no one knew. People knew about Chase - it had been in the papers. Some knew about Vito, about Nemo - the two had been infamous in their own ways, and her relations with them had not been kept very private. But few knew about the illegitimate cousin, the cousin that had introduced her to a life of adventure, the cousin who had been a friend to her when no one else had. He had been quiet, and pensive, and was the spitting image of her half brother. She had never sought out advice but he always seemed to know when she needed it.

She had been struggling. She didn’t see him much right before his murder, but in one of their last conversations she had finally betrayed some of her fears. Between Quidditch, and the Tournament, and everything going down with Chase and Vito, Jack was drowning. She had never felt so overwhelmed, so downtrodden, so… ready to quit. It was the first time in her life she had felt this way. Elliot had given her a sympathetic frown and a sad shrug. And then he said something that stayed with her.

“That heaviness in your heart… That’s love.”

She knew she loved the family she had constructed, and now it was fractured, and would never return. She really had fooled herself into believing this really was permanent. That this time around, it would all stick. Somewhere, deep down, she must have known. That’s why Eis happened. That’s why she waited so long to act, to admit any sort of attachment, and why Max was kept at a distance even once those feelings were out there. And now it was gone and she should have known and she could have spared herself those feelings, except she was stupid.

Good going.

That heaviness… that’s love.

She could do without it for awhile, maybe.

A crack ripped the soundscapes apart and Jack’s eyes slid open, her hand twitching to her wand at her hip, slowly turning her head. She knew… she knew who it must be. Who else could it be? Sure, the odds were incredible, but she only knew of one other person who knew of this place, meaning that there was only one person who should logically show up in her brain. But she really didn’t want that to be the case. Because how was she supposed to handle that?

She had to look. Part of her wanted to pretend she didn’t hear, but he would surely know that the ever-vigilante Jack Dyllan would not ignore such a loud noise. So she turned and saw him there, in the middle of the field, in the middle of the night. Not a ghost at all, so very real. Almost summoned. He looked so… unchanged. And yet, he seemed unfamiliar. That… that didn’t feel good. That didn’t feel right. That made her feel…

Heavy.

”That heaviness in you heart… That’s-“

Probably something else.

She put up a hand and waved.

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Re: The Almost Recovery

on Tue Mar 15, 2016 2:34 am
There were two ways of handling character flaws.

You could seek to change them. And that does seem like the obvious, if not the only, way. But sometimes your personality might not be in the mood of cooperating.

Albus tried. He did. Did people really think he couldn’t see how childish he could be at times? Resentful? Holding unnecessary grudges? Unfair to everyone in his vicinity? He tried. Why do you think he had the masks? No one deserved him at his core.

Sometimes the horrid thing about retrospection……about understanding emotions in general was, that you could figure them all out. Analyse why you do the things that you do. Break yourself down like a bug dissected for parts. And be able to do f*ck all about actually changing anything.

You could pick emotions apart. You couldn’t stop feeling them. Understanding the laws accomplished nothing.

Albus could know that James wasn’t deliberately trying to push him to the walls, make the spaces contract, make his younger brother feel like his presence was taking over every nook and cranny in the house. Albus couldn’t stop the black rot of suffocation aching in his chest.
Sometimes you couldn’t kill the monster in your soul. Because they weren’t independent things, you see. Symbiotes, feeding off the other at best- at the worst and most true: the monster grew out of you, and you could no more hack it off than you could kill yourself. Which you could. But Albus was too stubborn for that.

So you mostly ignored it, and shoved it away- except neglect sometimes made it rear up in rage and dart out into the open in intermittent, horrific bursts. So then you feed it. In small doses- let yourself feel smug over tiny, petty victories, revel in your arrogance when an experimental spell goes particularly well, devote hours of dark thoughts to people who shared your blood- so you can smile at them later, successfully. Sometimes you needed to let impulses breathe.

He had a choice, here and now. There were several impulses battling for attention- to twist away into nothingness again, pushing away the split second memory of her back in this place; to smile and wave back, maybe not a genuine impulse, but almost a reflex at this point. Cover, hide, quip about something suitably dry. Maybe allude to their last encounter here just to prove he wasn’t a complete coward. Something like- ‘I realise I may have given you the wrong impression last time, but there actually aren’t any McD’s around here.’ (She knew what a McD was though, right?)

He went with the last option.

“Please tell me Max isn’t here.”

It was……it was still supposed to be a joke. A little double edged, but still ironic. But apparently he lost all his humour around her. It didn’t sound very funny. It sounded….like he was actually asking.


Albus wouldn’t realise this until later, but all thoughts of Athena and the girls and happiness had zipped out of his mind, like smoke through a keyhole, the second he’d seen her face. Pale, a little ruddy in the nose, amazing hollows under the eyes. He’d never seen her without them.

But she couldn’t have them, now- even though visual evidence proved the contrary. She couldn’t have bags under her eyes when she was happy with Max- the same as when she was fighting and arguing and sort of being friends with Albus. That……that defeated the entire point.

He remained standing where he was.
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Re: The Almost Recovery

on Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:09 am
She hated the idea of fate now. Because if fate was real, if fate was true, it had been toying with her for years. Dragging someone out of the background and presenting them to her, making them a star in her life, letting her grow attached... and then dragging them away. If fate was at work, it was cruel, and it was working up to something that had better pay off for all of the shit she had to wade through.

All that said, she didn't believe in fate. There were actions, reactions, coincidences, ironic little situations. Fate couldn't be real.

So why did the word always ring in her ears when she found herself thrown into a new situation with Albus Potter?

Seriously. From hiding behind trashcans to finding him collapsed in the rain, their lives always intersected at seemingly inconsequential but almost always crucial points in their lives. She didn't know what else to chalk it up to, because the possibility of so many coincidences stacked on top of each other... Jack had never been particularly mathematically-minded, but even she knew it was a highly improbable statistic.

She didn't want to move, and it seemed it was a shared sentiment between the dark-haired man and the red-headed woman. Space separated the two young adults, a strange energy rippling in that space, suppressing all movement save for the wind brushing the grass stalks. It wasn't the only thing, certainly. People had come into that space, ideologies, egos. Now, it was just empty space. Something both of these powerful wizards could overcome, could wrestle into submission with ease if either took the initiative to do so.

Neither moved. Still.

And then he spoke.

She would have smiled, maybe even would have laughed. Because Albus Potter rarely joked. And when he did joke, he was funny, funnier than he knew. And she wanted to reward any relief from those heavy thoughts that weighed upon his conscious.

But for once, Albus wasn't funny.

She swallowed, her mouth twisting into an insincere, ironic smile. "You're in luck. He's moved to the States. Indefinitely."

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Re: The Almost Recovery

on Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:54 am
As much as he’d fancied being brave and sticking it out, his legs still wouldn’t move. He was loathe for them to. Let them stay this way, a hundred metres apart, far enough that you couldn’t really see the colour of each other’s eyes, much less read what was visible in them.

He……he didn’t even know why the thought of moving forward made gravity seem so wobbly underneath his feet; a treacherous uncertainty rather than a law of the universe. Why he could feel the hairs on his arms rise in response to the taut atmosphere- the crescendo was over and dead. The voices weren’t even singing. But the waves kept crashing- one boom after the other, the swelling alto of the tide ticking the seconds down as they passed.

This…..wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. It wasn’t. It wasn’t like they hadn’t met after that night. They had, and proceeded to have another yelling match across bars. She’d called him a wannabe starcrossed dramatic. They’d even shaken hands at the end.

His feet were yet to be convinced.

Maybe they would have been able to slip right back into it if it was somewhere…..anywhere less…momentous. A bump in at the Ministry, knocking over Fred’s geraniums. A rushed hello at Diagon Alley, when it was too packed to the brim with witches and wizards and excitement to leave the space for awkwardness (unless if the girls were with him, because wouldn’t Aurelia be starting Hogwarts in a while?). An eyebrow raise across the hall at a gala, a matching snicker at ridiculously, ornately formal dress robes, a common eye roll when a Ministry stooge would prattle on too long. A drink with friends and family, a companionly nudge of the elbow, a toast of Firewhisky, a small nod and a smaller smile to indicate that all would be fine with them, eventually.

Instead......it was this spot. At this very instant of time, when night yawned on infinite and limitless, echoing with magic and older memories. Fate was a f*cked up woman.

He didn’t know if he ever would have moved. Maybe let the all too necessary distance stay, and let words be borne on the salt-laden wind to drift over to her ears. They seemed to be doing pretty well so far.

But Fate was a f*cked up woman. And she chose her moments well.

“You're in luck. He's moved to the States. Indefinitely."

He was there before he knew it, number of steps blurring in the haste to get there; and Jack’s face loomed before his vision like a particularly familiar apparition. As pale as he’d ever seen her, with shoulders somehow knotted so tight and drooping so loose that he didn’t think they’d be able to bear the weight of her careworn head. She appeared defeated. His reaction was the only natural one to be had.

“Dipshit.”

Then he blinked, voice far more normal than one would expect- but the ghosts of their previous meetings didn’t seem so important now. “Him, that is. Not you. Though if I had to be honest, you’re looking a little on the shittier side too, Dyllan.”

A little upward raise of the arms, words as steady as could be expected. “A hug for old times’ sake?”

It didn’t matter that the excuse was bullshit- they’d never done this before. It didn’t matter that they both had their own, sizeable personal bubbles. It didn't matter that physical affection prickled, that offering it was even more awkward than being on the receiving end. It didn't matter if she refused now. What was important was that Jack Dyllan had dragged him out of the rain once, and he’d be deeply at fault if he didn’t offer an umbrella now. If only for a moment.
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Re: The Almost Recovery

on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:31 am
It was like an old mexican stand off from a spaghetti western, but the weapons were glances and the stakes were… still wildly unclear. That might have been their problem all along. In every interaction since their friendship turned sour, they could sense that there was something major to be gained or lost, with not clear idea as to what that was. But, as highly competitive individuals, they knew they were not willing to lose (whatever it was) and they had to stand their ground. Where once they were united, they found themselves forced to be divided.

It was a sad, strange day when friends became enemies. Especially when they weren’t sure why.

Enemies was a strong word. Jack could have turned him in for crimes long passed, if he truly were her enemy. He could have revealed the mark on her arm to her family, thrown shadows of doubt into who she truly was. She could have not defended the Potter name when it was mentioned, could have rolled her eyes along with the few dissenters that spoke out against the holy family. She sometimes wondered how he responded to the people that didn’t like her. People like Katrina-Carlotta. People who had reason, who had right, who had earned his respect.

People who weren’t her.

She knew she got self-pitying around Albus, and she knew she shouldn’t, as she had accused him of that very same thing. It was… complicated. It was how she fed off of his energy, it was the guilt she naturally felt towards most people, it was the weird mingling feelings within her that communicated some strange sense of loss every time she looked at him.

”Dipshit.”

He went on to clarify, but he wouldn’t need to. Either way, it had tempted a small, sad smirk onto her face, an expression so becoming of her that it made her look alive, like throwing light onto a statue in the dark and revealing it to be an entirely different subject than one had thought before. The word might have been a harsh word, but it was a kind sentiment. It was a kindness she did not expect from Albus Potter because she didn’t think she had earned it, and he was all about fairness.

And he was near her. He was close. The stand off was over. The barrier had been broken. This was real. They were both here.

Again.

How times had changed.

“Getting shittier every year,” she said, the corner of her lip twisting and turning, pulling upwards but being tugged downwards by gravity, by age, by circumstance.

He asked for a hug, and neither her mind or her body could find protocol on this. They should have been panicking, should have been freaking out trying to figure out what to do with this odd request, this request that had so often been rejected before, this request that went against all of the data previously gathered by her guarded mind.

It should not have been instinct for her to slide off of the gazebo and land on her feet in front of Albus Potter, closing the gap between them, tucking her head under his chin, working her arms around him. For something so foreign, it was so weirdly familiar. Like coming back home.

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Re: The Almost Recovery

on Fri Mar 18, 2016 10:45 pm
It was almost ironic, how it was- awkward and strange to stand even hundred metres apart from each other, but so instinctively at peace when wrapped close and providing comfort. Especially with their notorious love of personal spaces. But maybe that was the key phrase. Providing comfort. For all their ideological differences, all the times they were incapable of understanding the other, all the chasms and gaps and drawing of lines and sides……there was one characteristic they shared. The instinct to provide comfort.

After all, hadn’t he echoed her when he’d thrown open his doors to Athena and the kids? It was funny how they could only quibble over the numerous things they conceived differently, and never note their similarities. The things that their minds aligned perfectly on. And this, right now, was a moment of alignment- his hand around her shoulders (Merlin, she’d lost so much muscle tone), her cheek against his collarbone, the points of her fingers pressing into his back. His left palm had come up to cradle the crown of her head, and dry, slightly sticky strands of red hair slipped between the spaces of his fingers.

But her family had departed through the doors again. That’s what she was telling him, wasn’t she. With her ready acquiescence to comfort, if not her words.

“The world’s been a dipshit to you, Dyllan. Too many times.” His breath rustled over the top of her head, gently stirring some of those static-y red hairs. Even me. Especially me. “Shaking a bit with the blows. Steadying yourself. There’s no shame in that.”

He pulled back a little, then; watched the watery blue of her eyes under the scanty light. It was just the hue that was faintly reminiscent of a watercolour painting; they were absolutely dry otherwise. Shittier or not, that bravery would never back down- would it? The sheer scope of that fortitude used to awe him. Still did. Love or not, desperately grabbing for connections or not, setting her on a pedestal of nobility or not- she awed him. That wasn’t a creation of his fancies.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have given up on that Viva La Revolucion thing. We’d have made good world rulers.” He turned his head away, a little, watched lightning crack through the black sky in the distance. Too far to be heard, but beautiful even in enforced silence. “Outlawed shittiness. Too much of it stuffing up the universe already.”

Yeah, all those hypothetical ways of reconnecting would have been good. Cribbing about Fred together in the Ministry hallways, a hustled meet in Diagon, a nod across a gala ballroom, an exaggerated, mutual roll of the eyes when a prick started pontificating, a snicker in response. They would have been ideal.

Hell, talking of ideal. So many things could have been. That was the issue of ideal- every situation has the potential of becoming so, and so the hope of ideal cheats you worse than the actual prospect ever could. Shooting for ideal- he could imagine them being better friends in Hogwarts. Maybe he’d have ended up a better person as a result.

But Fate, the f*cked up woman of yore, had her job for a reason. Their lives intersected when they most needed it- not when the situation would have been ideal. Her walking in on him hiding behind a dumpster, or breaking down in the rain, or striking a deal with Katrina-Carlotta- it was innately horrific, in the moment. Yet where would they have been if situations just twisted themselves into idealism for their own convenience?

Well, Jack would have spent her entire night alone- in a place where teenage Albus used to watch the bottom of the steep cliff face and the water behemoths crashing against it. Pushing six feet from the edge, but sometimes closer.

Closure was an elusive beast, but maybe Albus had been brought here for a greater cause.
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Re: The Almost Recovery

on Sat Mar 19, 2016 1:44 am
And then, they remained. Just as they had remained so far apart at the start, at the beginning of this interaction, now they remained. Jack… didn’t do this. She had children romping about and she really didn’t… cuddle. Not that this was cuddling, mind. Of course not. Merlin, no. But, this was not something that happened to her very often or came easily. The few times it had, she had not been very receptive. It wasn’t a very Jack thing to do.

But a very different sort of reality existed here, in this field. Here, there was a reality in which Jack Dyllan can put on a dress and not feel like a complete traitor. A reality in which she could agree to a ‘date’, no matter how much they all insisted it was just a funny term to a funny bet. A reality in which she could be completely at ease. A reality in which the masks of Albus Potter were not firmly attached, where they could slip and fall and stay off. A reality in which being friends who just… watched out for each other, just be there, was easy. Wasn’t complicated by wizarding wars, light and dark, family ties, complicated feelings.

And it was nice to step back into that reality. It could be brief. It could never return. But it was here now. And while she was in a reality where she could act a little out of character and not feel like she was insane, not feel fake. So, she would enjoy the reality in which she could accept a hug. Because she had no idea when she would have another opportunity.

“The world’s been a dipshit to you, Dyllan. Too many times.”

This reminded her of Nemo. Nemo telling her it wasn’t her fault that Vito had been insane, that the world was dark and scary and just because she was navigating it, didn’t mean she was apart of that darkness. But Nemo had succumbed. Had left. And it had been Albus to tell her that she could make it without him. To not give up on the world. And he hadn’t left. Not like everyone else. Much of their time was spent on opposing sides of the field but every now and again they crossed, stepped into a different reality, held on.

She shook her head and let out a thankful breath, unable to say anything to that account. It honestly wasn’t a thought she had often. She looked at her luck, compared it to those around her, and saw that she was steeped in trouble. But she spent so much time trying to make the world less shitty that she never really blamed it. Besides, she was the constant.

It was nice to hear it said otherwise.

“Jack Dyllan doesn’t shake,” she grumbled.

She did manage a short laugh at his reminder of their planned revolt. She shook her head, feeling the weight of passed time. That memory felt so very faint. How could it be so faint, with the whole scope of time before them? “I’m still game. I need a new hobby.” And it would do me good to have some consistent company. Something she couldn’t say. Something she didn’t have a right to say.

She took a deep breath, her shoulders and chest swelling with the air. Her eyes slid closed and she reached up, rubbing the backs of her eyelids, the friction evaporating any moisture that might have threatened to collect there. She let out a long breath, letting her arms drop, eyes finally opening. She offered a bracing smile. “Right. Right-right. I’m…”

She wasn’t going to lie. She wasn’t going to say she was something she was not. So she swallowed it.

“Um, sorry.” She said, reaching up and brushing her hair out of her face. “Did you want…” some privacy? Her to leave?

She didn’t want to lie and say she wouldn’t mind leaving.

She literally could not get any more words out.

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Re: The Almost Recovery

on Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:37 am
”Jack Dyllan doesn’t shake.”

“I’m sure.” He said, the curve of his smile the most natural thing in the world. The words weren’t even trying for sarcasm anymore. They just existed, uttered as pure and unfiltered as they were conceived.

He wondered if she realised that her voice was trembling.

“My tastes have, alas, grown to be a little less adventurous. I’m a tethered, domestic animal now. No revolutions. Its horrendous.” Maybe ‘horrendous’ ought to have been said with a little less ……warmth. But leaving out the pretences with Jack was just so….easy.

“Crocheting. You should try it. I hear its absolutely riveting.”

But then the comfort was evaporating. She was pulling back, eyes flicking back open, knuckles pressing back against the lids as if to hold the tide back- and for a moment, Albus loathed his prior thoughts. The admiration, the awe. Was it worth it, keeping up that strength despite all odds, even when she was barely keeping level? When string and needle and piecemeal bravery seemed to be all that was holding her together?

His friend didn’t need awe. She needed support.

And why, exactly, had it taken him this long to realise it?

Jack Dyllan doesn’t shake.

How many of those lies had people flung at her over the years? Sometimes proffered at her feet like a deity who could never fail, sometimes concealed as dares and mockery that puffed her stubbornness up ever the more. How many of those lies had he been the personal emissary of? Brave, noble Jack Dyllan. Incapable of wrong, reservoir of unlimited strength, leader of movements and armies and revolts, personal animal of burden with the plough of ideals strapped across her shoulder.

“Right. Right-right. I’m…”

He could still remember her voice cracking when she threw all those assumptions back at him, behind the bars of the Ministry holding cell.

“Um, sorry.”

When had she started believing the lies?

“Did you want…”

“I want you to sit.” Albus’ voice was quiet. His fingers wrapped around her wrist, entirely of his own volition, this time- and down they tugged. His knees folded, the back of his legs hitting the ground with a decisive thud, the crushed grass releasing dewdrops into the air- soaking into the chilled fabric of his trousers. “Here. With me.”

The night sky was barely interspersed with clouds, and when the cheeky, silver edge of the moon peered out from behind one and trickled light on their cold silhouettes; Albus felt like an actor on stage, beam of light shining right down in a ridiculously simplistic metaphor of enlightenment. Comprehension. Awareness.

“I want you to mock me and punch me on the shoulder and call me Potter. I want you to tell me about how amazing your day’s been, and tell me if it hasn’t. I want you to talk, and I want to listen.” His gaze was straight, direct; and for all that Jack Dyllan messed up his normal pathways of thinking, he’d never experienced as many moments of surety as he had in her presence- no matter how ill-begotten they appeared to be later. “I want to apologise, because I’ve been a f*cking awful friend. I have a tendency towards punishing people for slights that are my fault as much as anyone else’s and-“ And his breath had to catch here, just a little. “And I needed time to myself after…….after. To reorient, get my head on straight. I’ve done that now.”

“I want to stay. Let me?”
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