False Hope of Redemption - Page 3

False Hope of Redemption

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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Simon Marek on Sun May 29, 2016 4:53 pm

When she curled into his side, Simon was worried at first. His free hand reached to cover hers, concern pulling at his face. Her laughter met his ears, though, and he decided he quite liked the sound of it. Rubbing his hand over hers a couple times, he chuckled as well before letting his arm fall back to his side.

When Livia saw the dancing, Simon knew that she was lost. She was lifted up and down by the balls of her feet, and he half wanted to reach out and set his hand atop her head to keep her grounded. She was bound to take off and fly at that rate.

He did take a moment to be stubborn, and it did register that he could be made fun of for this as long as Livia felt like bringing it up. But he just couldn't say no. Even if his costume labelled him as a rogue.

"If that would make you happy." He shrugged and pulled his arm away, sliding his hand down to hers instead. "Come on, then. Before they get too far through and we can't catch up."

Simon, perhaps surprisingly, was very practiced in copying movements and patterns. Years of Quidditch will do that to a person, undoubtedly. So when they stepped into line and he managed not to trip over his own feet, a woman to their left - dressed completely ironically as a witch (although Simon wasn't quite sure she was in the correct era) - looked over at him and he smiled at her.

"You must have some sort of background in dance," the woman said to Simon.

"Actually," he quipped, his face entirely serious, "I've got magical enchanted dancing shoes." It wouldn't have been a terrible idea, actually.

She blinked once, but burst out laughing, and Simon grinned before turning back to Livia and holding up his hand to match hers and step back into the pattern. Lifting his hood back up with his free hand, he peered at her from beneath it, smirking as though he were some character at a ball he shouldn't have had access to. As though she were the princess he had snuck in to find.

Imagination, believe it or not, was one of Simon's secret strong suits. For a few breaths, walls rose around them and the tinny music used for instructing them was live and produced by instruments present and manned by skilled musicians. That feeling didn't last, though, because someone nearby cried out and then burst into giggles as she tripped over her partner's feet. Simon glanced in that direction briefly, tearing his eyes from Livia and the pretend room they were gliding through.

When he turned back, it was gone. The music was fake, they were in the middle of an average old park, their costumes were helping them play pretend, but he was still a rogue. And Livia was a princess. And rogues didn't win over princesses in real life. It was time he stopped imagining otherwise. But they could be allies, be friends.

He ducked his chin, pushed the hood back, and stood up straight again. "Are we going to dance the day away? Or did you want to give archery a go?"
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Livia McCallum on Mon May 30, 2016 3:35 pm

She liked the feel of his skin tingling against hers, much more than perhaps she should have for a girl who had so strongly asserted the friendship boundaries between them. She opened her mouth when his hand slipped away but buttoned her lips back up again as quickly as she had parted them. There was no way to ask for his hand back without it sounding odd. But she did. Despite herself, she really did. Before she could give into dreams, it became a small reality: the reality of his fingers threading through hers. She could only hope her palm wasn’t clammy. She felt clammy – suddenly all flush and of a tither, breathless and bright. And smiling. God, did she smile.

They fell into step with the other dancers and Liv tried to concentrate. Much to her later delight, she found that she did, and carefully watched the other dancers, mirroring their steps while keeping an eye on what Simon was doing, desperate not to muck up and embarrass him or disappoint him. She wasn’t the most right-footed of individuals. Desperately, mortifyingly clumsy at times, the witch wasn’t best suited to dancing – but her father had always said it depended on the partner, on the leader of the dance. He had always been a good dancer, able to lead her through any steps with very few bumps and bruises, indeed.

She, too, giggled at his quip – deft of words as well as of feet. She shook her head, grasping the irony much better than the woman who had spoken to him, and brought her hand up to his when offered. Her giggles grew to be titters when he lifted up his hood and she, too, felt as though she was in the midst of a fairy tale – at her very first ball. She could imagine it, down to the very last details of the little Cinderella-style mice stealing bread rolls from the buffet tables and hiding underneath to devour their little feasts. She half wished it could be real. She would have been a decent fairy tale princess, she would’ve thought. Better than the good witch she was trying to be.

“We should dance the day away,” she laughed, spinning a little, unable quite to help herself. “But I do really want to try the archery.”

The archery range was a colourful affair, with bunting everywhere. A group of people moved on just as they arrived, clearly smelling the hog roast on the air. They shifted off in search of it, giving Limon the opportunity to hop up and observe the proceedings. The lady running the range helped them to their quivers and matched them up with their bows and after getting all their safety bits sorted, left them to the targets.

Liv looked down and dug her feet into the grass a bit, wanting to make sure she wouldn’t lose her footing too badly if she messed up. Lifting her head, she glanced at Simon and offered him a smile before sorting out her arms so that she had the bow right. The lady came over and corrected them both, telling them to pay mind to how they were in that moment so that they could keep going. Liv closed one eye and lined it up.

“Here goes!”

And it did go – straight over the target and into the trees beyond. Liv brought the bow down, a pout on her lips. But, before she could get too sad about it, a laugh split the cupid’s bow and she shook her head, reaching into her quiver for another arrow. And that one? Well, that one ended up in the ground in front of the target. Her third shot did hit the target, though. It wasn’t very good but it made it and that was enough to utterly enchant the girl and send her bouncing triumphantly about.

“I did it, I did it, I did it!” She crowed, wiggling with her bow like she was in a bit of an odd dance with it – even for the renaissance.

And where was it on the target, you ask? On the outer ring, on the very edge, at the furthest point from the centre … but, reader, she did it.
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Simon Marek on Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:29 pm

For the record, Simon was not good at archery. But he had been polite, had made sure she could get home alright and everything else, and that following Monday he found himself standing outside of a school, surrounded by tiny people who were looking for their parents. It was actually completely terrifying.

Their plans had gone awry when Liv realized she needed to get Finley Howard from school - perhaps because his father was working, or because his father was helping his brother fix up the gift Keiran was planning for his youngest niece's first birthday on the eighteenth. Simon couldn't have known anything about the man, which was probably for the better. He might have said he needed to go to work or something absurd if he'd known it was Peter.

He didn't really want to be there. He consistently felt that kids, as positively ridiculous as the concept was, were better judges of character and thus could see right through him. They would know how badly he had failed that little girl. And there was a part of him that worried he would make some sort of mistake yet again and hurt someone without meaning to.

He was standing there next to Liv, leaning against the wall of the next building over, his hands loosely holding his elbows in front of him. He wasn't sure why she wanted him to be there, considering she would need to take him home and whatever else needed to be done before his father was free. But he was there regardless, feeling pretty foolish for it. Perhaps if they had been together it would've been a different kind of feeling. But he was slowly training himself to see her as nothing but a friend, as she wanted him to. Besides, they'd only met for the third time that afternoon, and regardless of how charming she was or how attracted he felt to her, it was foolish.

In fact, it was foolish to spend even as much time with her as he already had.

Simon had been watching the kids as they left the school, but he realized that it wasn't the brightest idea since he had no idea what the boy looked like. So he glanced to his left, watching Liv out of the corner of his eye. He had the distinct feeling that her face was the sort to light up when she saw someone she loved, and although he couldn't have discerned it if she'd done that when looking at him or if she ever would, he wasn't wrong this time. He didn't know if she knew that she did it, but of course she would.

That's when he turned his attention back towards the school and he noticed a perfectly charming little boy heading in their direction. Simon stood up straighter, dropping his hands for fear that he would look intimidating rather than casual. He wasn't at all sure what to do, so he simply stood and kept out of the way while Liv greeted him.
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Livia McCallum on Wed Jun 22, 2016 6:35 pm

The dark, impish eyes of the young Scotswoman peeked to her right, chancing a look at her friend who, really, she felt a bit bad for. They had been mid-Scrabble, you see. She’d been losing and had been mulling over her letters while Simon had been flicking through the movie shelf, the suggestion to put something on while she thought about it all coming from the witch herself. Then, before the choice could be made, a silvery Patronus leapt through the window and Peter’s voice filled the living room. So, the game was abandoned – well, it was half time, Liv was going to call it half time – and the pair donned their coats against a spring breeze and headed down into the village to the school.

The Hogmeade School for Little Witches and Wizards had been open for just over ten years, opened first by the widow Verena Mayhew. It had since her retirement, been run by her daughter, Elspeth who had ascended to the headmistress role on her twenty-fifth birthday. Livia had met her quite a few times and found the woman effervescent and truly in love with her profession. Liv hoped that once she had the knots sorted out in her own career, she would love it as much as Elspeth did. She needed to talk things over with Keiran, really, and decide what to do. She couldn’t be his apprentice forever – as much as she was sure they’d both be happy with such an outcome. And she couldn’t work for Peter forever. Neither could she live with him forever. But she could think about it all later – for now, she was happy.

Happy didn’t even come close to it when she set her eyes on Fin. Simon’s estimation was right. She lit up like a Christmas tree and the grin that spread across her face threatened to split her cheeks. It was an expression of joy that the dark-haired boy mirrored as he hurried down the steps and broke into a sprint. He didn’t slow, either, even when he got closer, and Liv knelt down, opening her arms wide for him. The bookbag was abandoned and arms were thrown around her neck when he reached her. She wrapped hers around his torso and sprang back to her full height, bringing him with her and swinging around. She pressed a kiss to his cheek and cuddled him close.

“Have you had a good day?” She asked, hanging onto him for just a little moment more before they unwound from each other. Fin nodded eagerly when he bounced back down onto his feet, bending down immediately to retrieve his bag from the floor.

“Any homework?” She asked, holding out her hand for him to take. He nodded, his lips forming an adorable pout that made her heart heave happily in her chest.

“We’ll figure it out before dinner,” she promised, squeezing his hand reassuringly. Peter was better homework help than she was. He liked to joke that he taught Finley useful things while Liv taught him how to dream. He wasn’t far wrong, really.

“Hello!” Fin’s attention was diverted. He’d noticed Simon, it seemed, and was smiling brightly at the man, his eyes sparkling from underneath the fringe Liv knew she needed to get around to cutting before he needed it pinned back to go to school. He let go of her hand for a minute to hop over to hold his out to Simon, having learned how to introduce himself to new people from his daddy. It was best to be formal about it, Peter had told him, and respectful, and always hold out your hand for them to shake.

“I’m Finley,” he introduced himself. “I’ve met all of Livvy’s friends so you must be new. Does that mean you’re Simon?”

Liv felt her cheeks heat up immediately and she bit the inside of her cheek, wishing Finley wasn’t as clever as he was. Peter had never made any bones about where he got those smarts from. Though they were largely from his mother, he did point out that it wasn’t just Keiran’s looks that Fin seemed to have inherited. Kids, huh?
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Simon Marek on Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:15 am

As someone with a lesser command of the English language, a part of Simon was still reveling in how well he had done during their game. He hadn't even played it more than a handful of times, so he supposed that Livia just didn't have much practice. Or perhaps she saw the parts rather than the whole when the letters were laid out in front of her. It was cute, either way.

Livia would make a good mother, Simon felt, but he wasn't sure that he should have noticed. He probably would have done for someone else, just the same, but Liv was pretty off-limits. So anything along the lines of romance or interest? He rejected it.

Well, as best as he could manage, anyway.

The boy turned towards him, making Simon jerk to attention, his expression showing quite clearly how embarrassed he was. He didn't know if he needed to be, really, since this was about Liv and her sort-of-cousin, but he felt it nonetheless. He had no idea what he was supposed to do around this boy, or how old he was, so he stood there for a second before deciding that he was grateful for Fin's apparent ability to have the conversations he couldn't start.

Still, surprise flickered across his features, followed by an amused smile (rather like the one you might find below, reader). That irrational fear that Finley might innately dislike him was more or less done away with, though he did hope that his accent wasn't too thick. Livia had never said.

"It does," he replied, giving Fin's hand a firm shake and a serious nod that suggested the boy was quite grown up. "Tell me something, mate," Simon requested, squatting down to be on his level. "Are you any good at Scrabble? Because I was positively destroying Liv at it earlier and you may have to finish it for me after you've done your school work, yeah?"

He grinned at Fin before looking up at Liv and squinting a bit when the sun dared to peek out from behind a cloud. "Don't let her ruin all my hard work, pal."
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Livia McCallum on Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:31 am

"Liv is terrible at Scrabble!" Finley laughed, twisting round to grin at the brunette behind him. "I'm only okay," he conceded with a serious look, his broad smile creeping back as he added, "but everyone's better than Liv." And by everyone, Livia was chagrined to admit, he did mean everyone. Only the smallest children had gone untested but she was certain even Darcie could beat her.

"Look!" She huffed, hands on her hips, pout on her lips. Finley shuffled round to stand half behind Simon, concealing his giggle behind his hand. "I'm a transfigurer, not a linguist! And being terrible at Scrabble doesn't mean anything, really!"

"Then why are you so annoyed?" Finley taunted, the laughter bursting forth now, making him sound like his dad. The pure joy in the sound made Liv smile despite herself and she dropped her hands down to her sides once more.

"Come on, you silly hen," she coaxed, ruffling his hair as he returned to her side. "Better get you home, eh? What's your da doing that means he's so busy?"

"He's with Uncle Kegs," Finley semi-reliably informed her. It was as good a guess as any she figured, taking his hand again. "What's for dinner?" He asked, although his eyes were elsewhere, focused on Simon, his spare hand held out to him.

"Dinner's ... in the works," she hedged, mentally going over what was in the fridge that might charm the lad. Her mind strayed, then, to the take-out leaflets in the kitchen drawer. She dashed that one, though. Peter couldn't come home to them eating chow mein on the living room floor too regularly. Maybe next week...

"Can you cook, Simon?" Finley asked, ever the conversationalist. Liv passed a wry look in his direction, knowing which way this was going to go. "Simon could help, Liv!" Ah, there it was. She couldn't say she didn't appreciate his attempt. Sweet boy.

"And then we'll both help you with your homework and then you'll help him finish beating me at Scrabble - is that how this is going to go?" She asked, raising her eyebrow and creating an expression that momentarily gave the boy pause. She spent too much time with Uncle Kegs, he thought to himself.

"Yes!" He declared, satisfied that she understood where this was all going. He then turned his head back to Simon and smiled again. "Do you like potato smileys? They're my favourite."
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Simon Marek on Thu Jun 23, 2016 8:18 am

Simon chuckled at the boy's claims, unable to say he did anything other than believe him. His eyebrows flew up when Fin moved around, more or less behind him, and he glanced over his shoulder for a moment. But Livia's comment drew his attention because of the curiosity that struck him regarding her career, whatever it was. They hadn't really touched on that, luckily. Simon still wasn't sure what he would tell her.

When Liv suggested that they needed to get going, he stood up, preparing to bid them goodbye. But Finley reached out towards him and Simon hesitated. He didn't like the idea of making the boy feel rejected, so he offered up his own, glancing at Liv a bit cautiously. He hardly knew this woman, and she would have every right to tell him to back off if she wanted to. Arguably, he supposed, she probably should.

"Well, I can cook some things," Simon decided, uncomfortable with claiming any real talent at it. "But I'm not very picky so I tend to make the same things over and over. I'm not a great help in the kitchen, I'm afraid."

But then he blinked, confused by the turn of events. He wasn't sure what Fin wanted at first, but as he and Liv spoke Simon started to piece together the suggestion that had been made. It had been a long time since he had been able to have those partial conversations with someone, and it just reminded him of his distance from... everyone, really. Perhaps it wasn't a dreadful idea.

He just had to wait and find out if Livia agreed.

"I- I don't know what those are," Simon admitted, confusion furrowing his brow. But then his eyebrows lifted as he offered an apologetic frown. He looked back and forth between the pair of them, trying to discern what sort of conclusion they had just come to. "But I wager they must be great if they're your favorite," he conceded.

"However," Simon continued quickly, "I don't know if it's very fair of me to intrude on your dinner and plans, Fin. Especially since I'm a rubbish cook. I also doubt that Liv would want me to keep embarrassing her with that Scrabble game," he added with a smile in her direction. It was fine, the look said, if she didn't trust him to be there. And what would the boy's father think if some random man was sitting there with Fin and Liv without warning? Simon didn't know how such things worked, really, or how it would turn out.

It would be fine if she agreed and let him leave, but a quiet part of him didn't want to let go of that friendly little boy's hand now that it had been offered to him.
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Livia McCallum on Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:40 pm

“It’s not intruding if you’re invited,” Finley pointed out, glancing up at Liv after declaring so, as though he had to check to see if that was true. What he found was a flushing witch, caught between embarrassment and pride. She gave a nod and he grinned, turning back to Simon to show him his triumphant, toothy smile. “I’m inviting you,” he reiterated, enunciating clearly and deliberately so that there could be no mistaking it. “You need to try potato smileys, besides. It’s important.” For the young Hayes, it was the most important thing going, aside from his chocolate frog card collection. Everyone had to try potato smileys. It was imperative.

The unlikely trio were cajoled into setting off by the boy keen to get out of his uniform and Liv couldn’t help but smile over at Simon as Finley chatted away happily to them. He’d not enjoyed maths at all that day but science was worse. “Way worse,” he announced with a morose shake of his head. Art had, blessedly, been good and had capped off his day well at the end. The magical theory they had dealt with in the morning had taken a rather interesting turn, though – a fact that Finley had to reluctantly admit to in anticipation of an owl arriving with a letter explaining what had happened.

“Hang on… you levitated your teacher out of the skylight?” Liv’s brows shot to her hairline as she stopped them in the middle of the high street, peering down at Finley who had a sheepish look on his face.

“It was an accident,” he hedged, shrugging a little as he chanced a glance up at her to try and see if she was angry at him or not. She didn't look it, he thought to himself, grateful to feel his heart relaxing in his chest once more.

“Where did he land?” She asked curiously as they started walking again. Finley didn't reply and Livia’s expression darkened. “Where did he land, Fin?”

“He might’ve landed in the middle of Dufftown …”

“Might’ve?” Her voice was just a little bit squeakier than normal. “Might’ve, Finley?!”

“It was an accident, Liv!” He protested. “Didn’t you ever do something like that?”

“Yes but it was my brother, not my teacher!” She found herself laughing, seeing no sense in being too angry about it. The Ministry couldn’t really do a lot about that sort of accidental magic. She shook her head, mutely impressed with him, and let go of his hand as they strode down the side alley to take them round the back of the Hog’s Head. Buttons was there waiting, waggling his tail impatiently.

“Hey kitty,” she reached down to scratch between his ears as she took her keys out of her pocket.

“Simon,” Finley chirped, turning his worried head towards the man. “Did you ever do anything like that?”

Liv unlocked the back door and the cat shot in first, flying up the stairs. Once coats and shoes were off, they could make their way back upstairs. As Finley climbed up after the cat, calling out his name, Liv took Simon’s hand hopped up to press a kiss to his cheek.

“You’re a sweetheart,” she murmured appreciatively. “C’mon. We better introduce you to potato smileys and …” she smirked, “I need to thrash you at Scrabble.”

She grinned and hopped up the stairs, knowing it wasn’t going to happen. Not in a month of Sundays.

When she opened the door into the living room at the top of the stairs she found Fin on the sofa already, cuddled up to Buttons, feeding the feline treats that were slowly but surely fattening him up nicely.

“I looked at your letters,” he informed Liv, looking up. “Simon’s going to beat you.” A pout appeared before she could stop herself and he laughed. “Sore loser,” he teased.

“You play a round or two while I figure out what to pair with potato smileys,” she told him, throwing one of the sofa cushions playfully in his direction. “Get me some points, boy.”

“I don’t think I can help you.”

No, Liv didn’t think he could either.
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Simon Marek on Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:57 am

It seemed as though everything had been decided by the two of them, so Simon didn't argue it. Instead, he let them lead the way, feeling a bit odd since Fin was still holding onto his hand. Although he did offer a smile back to Liv, he really just listened while they talked, his eyebrows lifting and his gaze jerking towards the boy when the story came to light. Merlin, that kid was going to be quite something once he'd been all trained up, wasn't he?

When he let his expression morph into a bemused sort of appreciation for the story, he glanced around and nearly stopped dead in his tracks when he saw an elderly woman gesturing towards the three of them while talking to her friend. They both made faces as if to say, how cute are they?, and when they saw him looking they even waved and beamed at him.

The color faded out of his face as he faked a closed-lip smile and nodded once at them. They didn't notice the awkwardness that lingered behind it. He wasn't sure that he ever expected to actually be deserving of a look like that. He hardly knew these two, and he knew that the thought kept coming back to nag at him, but he couldn't let himself dismiss it. People so rarely had reason or desire to trust him or even know him, and when he had trouble trusting himself it made it hard for him to be entirely comfortable. Bizarrely, it made him wonder if he could trust them. It wasn't fair, but he was afraid.

It just was bad news for Simon that he quite liked her.

Liv stepped forward, leaving him on his own with Finley, expected to answer the question. "Well, I didn't go to a school like yours. I was taught at home -- which was fine, but it probably wasn't as fun. I didn't meet too many kids my age. I'm pretty sure I broke the glass and the lock on the front door once, though, when I got bored and the kids on our street were playing some game or other. Nothing too big, I don't think."

He frowned slightly, sure that his mother would've had a better story. But then again, he had never been the best at... well, anything really. But he had learned to work with the things he knew, like his unending (once comfortable, of course) ability to sass someone and make jokes out of most anything. That, he supposed, or the almost uncanny way he could mimic people once he got to know them. But those were all sort of parlor tricks, and not exactly very useful in the real world. Even more than that, those so-called skills were almost pointless in a world full of magic, so it wasn't as though he had many options beyond the one pathetic, dangerous and stupid job he had taken.

It was bound to get him into massive amounts of trouble one day, but before he could give that life up, he had to find his way into something better and safer, and Simon had absolutely no idea where to turn.

"I honestly can't remember," he decided with a shrug. "I really liked school, though, because I finally had friends besides my sister and parents. Which sounds really unfortunate now that I've said it," he laughed, shaking his head. "I'm being dramatic. But you know. Nothing crazy happened until I went to Durmstrang."

He released Fin's hand, gesturing for the boy to head inside first, Simon did as Liv did, repeating the motions he had gone through earlier when he had first arrived for the Scrabble not-date. When he turned to follow them up, though, Liv was still there, taking him by surprise. His spare hand moved to her wrist, confused at first, but the corners of his lips inched upwards and he looked down at his feet. Although he did hesitate at the bottom of the stairs, it was only for a moment.

He'd thought she wouldn't ever be that tactile with him, though it hadn't exactly been a problem in the past. But it seemed different. And maybe it wasn't, but it gave him pause enough that he was a few steps behind her when they reached the top.

He wanted to ask if she was sure, but he supposed that they oughtn't leave Fin with nothing to do, either. So he sank back down into his spot from before, telling Fin that it had been Liv's turn, and one of the longest ones in history. Once they started up again, he actively decided to play words that would win him less points to make the pair of them feel better. But after a little pause of silence hit, he decided to ask about Fin's science homework.

"I never actually got to take that," he admitted. "Unless you count Potions, which I probably shouldn't. Do you think you could show me a bit?" He asked, knowing full well that while he could never claim anything close to proficiency in any of the sciences, he knew enough to purposefully mess up. If there was one thing Simon knew how to do, it was make the wrong choice, and he had learned over the years that if someone couldn't explain a topic, then they didn't know it well enough.

So he suggested that Finley get out whatever paper he needed to fill in and that he try and teach whatever topic they were on, sneaking glances Liv's way as he made blatantly foolish answers and wondered how long it would take for the boy - or Liv, if she were listening - to catch on. He doubted it would actually work, but Liv had said he needed to get the work done, and it was probably the best he could do.
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

Post by Livia McCallum on Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:30 pm

The little old women hadn’t so much as made a blip on Livia’s radar. It was a fact which possibly reinforced their belief that the trio cut an adorable image together. She was entirely focused on Finley and Simon, her heart thrumming with joy at the way her world and her friend had clasped together so seamlessly, so wonderfully. She adored Finley – the closest thing to a son that the witch could ever envisage having at nineteen years old. It was role she had filled without even thinking about it. Moving in with Peter had just led to that logical conclusion. Simon, whose company she was truly beginning to value, getting on so well with Finley mattered to her. The fact, too, that Finley liked him also mattered. It meant that she still had good instincts about people. Simon was good. If Finley could see that, it had to be so.

“I’d have been your friend if I was born then,” Finley assured Simon, finally replying to the elder man as he hauled Buttons onto his lap, thwarting the cat’s attempted escape from the boy’s affections. “I only have a few friends but I have Liv – oh, and you now! So, I can make up for not being your friend when you were my age by being your friend now. That works, right?”

Finley grinned toothily again and Liv rolled her eyes, making a mental note to assure Simon that Finley was certainly well-furnished with acquaintances but he was careful about who he dared to call friends. He had learned early that friends were not a given thing. Friendship was important and needed to be earned and then cherished. It was one of Liv’s favourite Peter-lessons. His nuggets of wisdom were always profound.

“I’m scared about Hogwarts,” Finley confessed all of a sudden, drawing Liv’s attention. Her head had been in the freezer, having gotten the potato smileys out, still unsure as to what to cook. “I don’t know what house I’m meant to be in. My dad and Liv are Hufflepuffs but my uncle is a Slytherin and my auntie is a Gryffindor.” He opened his eyes dramatically, as though (and, indeed, it really was) it was the most important conundrum of his whole life. “Who should I follow where?”

“I think you should be a Ravenclaw,” Liv called over her shoulder, deciding to put some breaded plaice and salad with the dinner in a vain effort to make it healthy.

“They’re boring though!” Finley complained sourly. Liv laughed and closed the freezer, shaking her head minutely as she strayed to the fridge, leaning down to rifle through the salad drawer for anything that wasn’t too wilted.

Finley shook his head hurriedly and eagerly dived into the board game once the option was there, abandoning Buttons who scampered into the kitchen to hide. He gleefully took some points that Liv was much in need of, chattering idly away to Simon. When the question about science came up, however, his nose wrinkled and he pouted a bit. He nodded, mentally going over everything he’d learned that morning, and went to fetch his things.

In truth, Finley wasn’t bad at all. His reservations about the subject handicapped him somewhat, that was all. While he didn’t have all of the technicalities down to pat, he knew the topics broadly and had absorbed some of the anecdotal bits of information that, perhaps, he wasn’t entirely meant to. His attempts to teach Simon, carefully showing him how to label a flower properly, did not go unmissed by the witch who was cutting up salad vegetables in the kitchenette. She was listening attentively, only narrowly missing her fingertips a few times. There was only a little bit of blood in the salad – only a little bit.

“And thennnnn…” Finley finished writing ‘petal’ on the page. “It’s done – see? Mrs Green said that it would get more complicated when we get older but for now it’s okay. I just want to colour it, really. Liv likes daisies. I like roses. What’s your favourite flower, Simon?”
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Livia McCallum
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Re: False Hope of Redemption

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