Fall of the Facades
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Fall of the Facades

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Fall of the Facades Empty Fall of the Facades

Post by Fred Weasley II Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:44 am

“As difficult a fact as it may be to comprehend Freddie…….I don’t actually work for your department.”

Soft soles setting little, golden clouds of dust up into the air from wherever they settled, Fred covered the length of the…room, for the lack of a better word, in long strides, only half of his attention on the words echoing in his ear from now the highly-famed ear piece. He should have been paying more attention. He should have noted that significant occasions in his life, occasions that set everything to blazes or turned out to be massive pains in the arse, were often preceded by conversations with prats over long distance.

Being as he was, a non-believer in anything remotely prophetic, these little coincidences completely flew over his head and only left us readers rubbing our hands in anticipatory glee, waiting for the fireworks to begin.

“In fact, I don’t happen to remember working for the Ministry at all.” Albus drawled rather wryly, making Fred wince a little because no one had been more appreciative than him when his cousin had started to drop that little conversational quirk he’d picked up from Malfoy in his misleaded youth, and any return to that was frankly a little horrifying. “Seem to recall leading a half-failed rebellion against it, if you would believe, in the not so distant past.”

“But you have a boner for all things boring and dusty and ‘pioneering’ research-related, so lets cut with the patronising crap already and get to it, right Alby?” The words were poisonously sweet, but oh well. What was a little affectionate animosity among family?

Albus remained silent for a long moment, almost like the twat was going to vengefully withdraw promises of help after calling in about a breakthrough. But then the words broke because………well. Fred hadn’t been kidding about the boner. “The markings that you showed me. Running over the walls, the doorway of the maze. They’re similar to the ones you find around a Pensieve.”

Fred came to a stop outside the very doorway, and raised his head. A single shaft of light penetrated through the skylight, tinged gold even though the sky was sunset orange outside, faintly illuminating the immensely tall, ominously innocuous silver pine grain of the door that Fred was starting to suspect was the opening to a maze. Which……didn’t make much sense, but not much made sense when you tracked down the bungalow of the last man suspected to be in possession of the puzzleboxes they’d been hunting for over two years now, and discovered a hall with towering ceilings in the bungalow’s deserted basement. Fantastic application of wizarding space if he’d ever seen any. The skylight right in the centre of the hallway, focusing a circle of illumination around the ornately carved doorknob didn’t seem to make much sense either, since it was a bloody basement, but what had caught Fred’s attention had not been logistics of space and light, but the fine, almost chicken scratch markings running over the aforementioned door standing at the end of the hallway, and two very conspicuous circles made of the same markings etched a couple of inches before the threshold. They were slight depressions, doodles almost, of the child of a giant perhaps, long strokes faintly reminiscent of the characters of the Chinese alphabet. At least, that was what he’d thought at first. Now the faintly glowing impressions around a magical stone memory basin were flashing before his mind’s eye, overlapping with the markings on the doorway in perfect chirality.

Fred toed at one of the circles, noting that it was of the exact size to fit two feet in, and mused, amber eyes scoping over the entirety of the scene laid out before them, missing nothing. “That’s why I couldn’t match them to any Runes in the syllabaries, then.”

“Its memory magic.” The Potter sounded like a child given free reign at Honeydukes. Fred couldn’t quite deny the tiny upward curve to his lips at the very obvious excitement. Albus demonstrated his genuine emotions so rarely. “I’m hypothesising that two people, wizard or witch, need to stand within the summoning circles and allow the sentient magic to read-“

“What’s the relation to Pensieve markings, then?” Fred interrupted, because yes it was genuinely heart-warming to hear Albus ramble on about experimental magic, but he had a job to do here.

That pause didn’t bode very well. Albus sounded significantly more cautious when he voiced, “It might be one. Just……..on a significantly larger scale.”

Well. Now that wasn’t very reassuring at all.

“We’ve tried standing in the circles to open the door before.” Circles was a disservice of a word, really. More like highly elaborate calligraphy using a chisel as paint brush and the floor as canvas, in vaguely circular shapes. “Didn’t quite work.”

“I’ve gone through the list of the different people who’ve tried. I think you might not have hit on the right combination yet.”

Fred knelt, halfway to the floor, thumb nail scraping over the groove of the inlaid markings into the stone. He could feel the mildest of vibrations against the cornified skin below the nail. “Go on.”

“Judging from what’s been mildly effective so far, considering mildly effective to be a pair that’s managed to elicit a faint glow from the markings and vibration from the door hinge…..I’m guessing the enchantments are barely skimming over your surface thoughts, and allowing only those with hostilities to pass through.

Fred’s brows furrowed for a second. “Hostility? But wasn’t the only ‘mildly effective pair’ me and Mills-“

“Whose girlfriend works in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, who I walked in on you getting a rather….involved neck massage from.” The delicate emphasis over ‘involved’ was very well done. The prat continued in a right helpful tone. “Really wasn’t that difficult to ferret out the connection when I went looking for it.”

“So possibly walking into the largest Pensieve yet made, with a person I share hostilities with…”

“Really doesn’t need a genius brain to compute the difficulties of making it through to the centre.” Albus completed. He sounded half in love too, the shithole. “Booby traps, walls, magical barriers, hellfire….heck, even a dragon. All of those protections are typical, and ultimately fallible. Enchantments which focus on the mind though……which twist your head and turn you about your heels, make you doubt your convictions, your end goal, what you were doing there in the first place. Which wear your mental defences down one by one, wreak havoc on your psyche. That’s the best kind of Da-…..the best kind of attack, because defense against it isn’t possible with magical shields and wards, isn’t easily avoided or dodged or walked away from. You pretty much have no other option but to cross your hopes and wade into the muck.”

Silence.

“So what you’re telling me is that I have to find someone who I trust to have my back in dangerous, possibly fatal territory and that person needs to hate me?”

Albus sounded incandescent with happiness. “Pretty much, yeah.”

His eyes scoped over the vastly imposing grey of the door one more time, catching at what seemed like refracted gleams of light that seeped through the narrow opening between the door and the floor. He didn’t know, nor much care about what it said about him that the decision was fantastically easy to make. A snap of the fingers, and one of the lackeys that the Ministry liked sacrificing to the DoM now and then hurried before Fred, stumbling over the overlong hem of his work robes.

“Call my Law Enforcement liaison, if you please. Say the matter is a little urgent and requires....personal handling.”

And all the while, tried not to think of the memo with one half-broken wing that he’d sent to her office weeks ago when he’d first heard, written and slashed out and written again, crumpled and re-crumpled, until he, Fred Weasley, king of words, could come up with something suitable enough to say. At the end, he sent it off with vastly insufficient words, because yeah, he couldn’t come up with any better, and it wasn't like it could make much of a difference to her anyway.

To,
The Department of Law And Enforcement
Level Five
The Ministry of Magic

The Department of Mysteries
Level Nine
The Ministry of Magic

Dated: May 21, 2028
Time: 23:26:12

C. Bishop,

I heard. I’m sorry.

F.W.
Fred Weasley II
Fred Weasley II
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Number of posts : 65
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Fall of the Facades Empty Re: Fall of the Facades

Post by Claire Bishop Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:30 am

A world without Mathias Bishop was very similar to a world with him. The Bishops had not exactly been a loving, doting family, constantly in contact and turning their lives into a family style meal, where everyone had their hands in each other's business. Until that night, Mathias had not even met his granddaughter or son-in-law. And he died without ever hearing Claire's side of the story on Avery's new husband. Before that night, Mathias had been largely absent in the lives of the two blonde women. And after that night, the trend continued. It was only that night, that strange night that existed in some terrible limbo, that reminded Claire that she had suffered a loss.

She had left the tears to Avery, taking up the funeral preparations with Mathias'... Agnes - Claire was sort of uncomfortable calling the woman anything else. Else had tried to help, but her place naturally fell with Avery, and the two women had consoled each other. It was a godsend, really, that the four women had been involved that night. It left half of them to grieve and half of them to prepare. Claire would have been horrid helping them grieve. She would have forced them right past Denial and into Anger and Depression.

Going home had been strange. After all those hours in the hospital, after being introduced into a life where he helped someone exit their own, she had been expected to go home and sleep. That was it. She was expected to go to her apartment, change into pajamas, sleep and... then what? There was no one explaining how life was supposed to continue with this strange vacuum, this emptiness pounding in every joint, threatening to unhinge every part of her until she was nothing but a pile of Claire Bishop, unable to move forward in typical Claire fashion. But if going home and "sleeping it off" was what people normally did, then she would do it.

She sort of suspected that Elsie had curled around her that night to give her permission to cry, or sob, or whatever. But she didn't cry. She let her friend hold her until Elsie's breathing slowed, and then Claire Bishop let herself sleep.

She had tried to return to work. But two days of people asking her how she was, questioning her presence, and looking at her like she was a fragile little flower in need of care-taking had been enough for her to decide maybe time off was okay, sometimes. Max Morrison, one of the few people at work who did not make her feel like a heartless robot, had gently advised she take some time - if not for herself, then for her coworkers. Grief was hard for everyone. Even those who weren't sharing it.

She hadn't liked it. The home had been cleaned meticulously over and over. She had redecorated the living room. She had caught up on all of her paperwork. She had learned how to bake banana bread. And then she had returned to work. Same as always.

Same as always.

And... things were... going. She was standing, she was breathing, she was talking to her mother again. The funeral was behind her, and work was ahead of her. Oddly, she found herself easily throwing herself back into the mission set forth by her original employer, taking more and more meetings with people above her station, inquiring after the strange magic crisis, learning of the rumors of a spy among their ranks, hearing of some sort of rogue band of people going about, taking vigilante justice. They were all leads for her and she found that her previous hesitation to find out information that may harm those around her was gone. Not because she didn't care about the people. But she had finally remembered that this was her job. And people were supposed to do their jobs, or all of society fell apart.

Regardless of what happened and who left, the world kept turning if people kept working.

It was on a particularly boring day that this cog in the great machine found her flow interrupted by a terribly nervous serf of the Department of Mysteries crew. She had suspected it was Jack again - the woman had been throwing her a lot of cases recently. Claire didn't think the upward trend was because Jack had not heard, but because she had. If there was one thing that Claire could recognize in herself in the unruly and typically objectionable woman, it was the shared need to be contributing in some way. Consulting on strange information and screening bad guys had been very helpful to Claire Bishop - and helpful on more levels than one.

The serf, however, belonged to Castle Weasley. Claire had half a mind to just brush him off with her excuses, but the day had been dreadfully slow, and her slow days had not been particularly good days. Regardless of what Fred Weasley wanted her for, she knew there was something to be done, something to distract her mind with. So, with a sigh, she donned her coat and put her hair up, before allowing herself to be apparated off.

CRACK!

Her eyes first fell on Fred Weasley, once the world had righted itself and she had released her hold on her mule. But she had to quickly scan the area, of course, as she would not put it passed Fred Weasley to risk some sort of prank on her - even though some part of her knew that he wouldn't do that. Not now. Not on their first meeting since... He wouldn't do that. As much as she wanted to believe otherwise.

But what was she supposed to say to him? The last few encounters with him had each been horrific and confusing in their own rights. Screaming over takeout, laughing over a teenaged mishap, pausing over written words. She didn't need that again. She needed business. "Mr Weasley." She quirked an eyebrow. That seemed professional enough. She continued her scan. And then her eyes fell on something spectacular.

She turned, taking in the doorway with her full gaze. She needn't ask if this was what she was here for. The presence of strange and wonderful magic was so apparent. "Wow," she did say, unable to keep the reverent expression from her her lips. She stepped forward, letting her eyes inspect the doorway from top to bottom, taking in the strange markings and the magnificent, otherworldly glow. She reached out a hand and began, "Can I..." No warnings were given, so she pressed her palm against the door, and felt that wonderful sensation of magic. There was not much explanation to it. Somehow a hum, somehow an energy. To Claire, it had always felt like a pulse. Like the magic was alive, waiting to be known and craving to be understood, even when it was impossible.

Her fingers went to the markings and she lightly touched them. She did not recognize them, and she fancied her head had a bit of a database when it came to interesting magical literature, having devoured books on anything magical since a young age. There was something grand on the other side, and nothing would convince her otherwise. She could open the door and see a button and be convinced that the button was of great magical importance. She raised her wand and waved it slowly. There was that pulsing. It didn't tell her what it was, or what to expect, but something was becoming incredibly apparent.

There was something magnificent, and potentially terrible, on the other side of this door.

But behind her was something most definitely terrible (and perhaps magnificent in its own right) behind her. She turned around to face Fred Weasley, trying to tear her attention away from the great mystery behind her. She supposed she had to say something.

"Have you tried Alohamora?"
Claire Bishop
Claire Bishop
Durmstrang Graduate
Durmstrang Graduate

Number of posts : 193
Occupation : Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement

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Fall of the Facades Empty Re: Fall of the Facades

Post by Fred Weasley II Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:22 pm



And it opened…just like that. There had to be something ironic about that.

~

It looked nothing like those brightly polished mazes of amusement parks, rectangular slabs of glass shining the light back into your eyes. Just pillars of unidentifiable stone rising from the floor, curving upwards to meet the other in semicircles- a thousand archways stretching off into the distance. A thousand pathways dwindling into dark, empty points on a non-existent horizon.

Fred took a step.

On closer view, the mirrors themselves were darkened panels of glass- black and frosty and clouded over, marks spiderwebbing over the ten-foot tall frames. The same markings snaked over the stone, whisper thin and barely visible to the eye.

The glass was warm to the touch.

“Lys. Lys Lys Lys Lys Lys Lys-”

And then came the sound. A deep, deep indrawn breath followed by a sigh. The purest of sighs -like resignation and frustration had distilled themselves together, to create a sound so divine- patience fraying to the finest thread and barely clinging on. Fred flashed his teeth at the ceiling sunnily.

A blonde blob appeared in his vision, “Yes, Freddy Krueger.”

Fred tried to narrow his eyes, but he couldn’t exactly feel his face, so success was a little hard to gauge. “Why…do you call me that?”

“See, normal you wouldn’t have needed the subtitles.” Lys grumbled. Fred couldn’t quite be sure, but he thought he sensed a Glare of Despair emanating somewhere from the vicinity of the blob. It was a familiar feeling; Fred stretched his hands over his head and sunned himself in it like a satisfied cat. “It’s because you’re the terror to conquer all terrors. What did you want.”

“I…” Fred moved his mouth around soundlessly for a while. Ooh, this was interesting. Did his lips always make such weird shapes? Aaaaah. Eeeeeeeh. Ooooooooh.

“Fred.”

“I had an…” What was the right word? Eclairs? Epidural? “Epi…epiphany.”

“Oh joy.” Lys said flatly.

“About why you always have successful relationships.” Fred turned his head to look at his best friend properly- and faceplanted on the floor.

Another sigh, this one less resigned and more simmering fury. Or the Lys analogue to fury. Fred grinned where his lips were still flattened against the marble flooring- at this rate, he’d get Scamander Sigh Bingo within the span of the night. A hand fisted itself in his collar, right at the scruff of his neck -wait, this wasn’t very dignified- and hauled him back to a seated position, head swinging with vertigo.

Lys dusted off Fred’s shoulders, Fred’s stare dopily fixed somewhere to the right of his ear. “The guy with…oh right, twelve breakups counting tonight, would like beg differently.” Another mutter that trailed off into soundlessness. “Figured I’d be the one taking care of you.”

Fred snorted, enough to jerk his face into motion and leave him blinking blearily. “You don’t need comforting.”

“She was the one who dumped me.” Lys pointed out needlessly.

“Because she was embarrassed of…holding on to your apron strings when she was all better and Mama Scamander had already given all he had to give.” Fred took a calculated (for the lack of a better word) risk and pitched forward, lips curving up in satisfaction when he hit the target and hooked his chin on his best friend’s warm shoulder.

“And you’ll always be needy, that what you’re saying?” Lys exhaled tiredly but went along with it, hand curling around to pat the centre of Fred’s back like a mother rocking her babe to sleep.

Fred closed his eyes. He breathed out contentedly, warm breath ruffling the locks fluffing up at Lys’ nape. “Y’know how I’m always…winning, no matter what room I’m in?”

“So you’re an affectionate ass like this, but still an ass.” Lys completed. “Sure, go on.”

“You….” Fred pondered, lashes brushing against warm, citrusy cashmere. “You’re not in the race. That’s what makes things different.”

“So I’m not even in your league of awesomeness, is what you’re saying.”

“I’m saying you don’t need to be.” Fred insisted, though it was hard to tell through the sparkly fog what he was insisting on. “Not like me. Not like everyone else. Or you don’t need to…be seen as winning?”

“You’re whatever the opposite of a garbage compactor is.” Was Lys’ insightful contribution. Fred suppressed a distant flare of irritation. “Slurry in, garbage out.”

“It’s why, hypothetically, someone like me and Bishop can never work out.” Fred voiced to the air, and the shoulder beneath him stilled. “It’s too much about….palsy? No, wrong word. Per…perception. We need to win, and we need the other person to know we’re winning.”

“I’ve never heard you hypothesise yourself with another person before.” Lys said, and it was a quiet vibration under Fred’s chest.

“It served to make my point.” Fred raised his head slightly, and peered at the wash of brown and white at the other end of the room. Where even were they? “It’s why all your relationships work. Because you don’t need to be seen as anything.”

Fred could feel Lys’ amusement vibrate under his chest again, soft and soothing. “Who’d have known Fred Weasley would be such a drunken sap.”

“Coo….reection. I’m baked.” Fred said, then snickered- drool smearing freely on the cashmere underneath his chin. Lys sighed again. Ooh, only two more squares to cross out. “Different kind of Weasley pie. Haa. I’m hilarious.”

“Dunno about that, but. You know what the special thing about you is?” Lys murmured, like he wasn’t talking to Fred at all, hand still patting a comforting rhythm on Fred’s back. “You think you’re smart, and funny, and charming, and talented.”

And that was when the smile in his voice really became audible, the only thing better than a Lysander sigh. “But you have no idea what the special thing about you is.”


Queer thing, to be so lost in the fugue of a memory while standing just within the doorway of certain peril. Fred wasn’t a disciplined man, but he wasn’t so easily distracted either. The enchantments must be scooping off the surface of his thoughts, trying to scatter his focus. They’d have to do better.

And that was when Fred snapped open his eyes -when had they pressed close so tightly?- and saw the memory play in high definition on the glass.

If he’d been a less experienced man, he’d have slid the wand free from his holster and Reducto’d the mirror immediately. Best came to best, the curse would have ricocheted off. Likely- the place would have come down around their shoulders. Worst- he’d have screwed something up in his own head.

So he didn’t. The facts rollcalled in sharp clarity through his mind: the echoing footsteps following on his tread inside. The rustling movements behind him right now.

He could just deafen her temporarily, if it wouldn’t mean handicapping the only other source of assistance he had in this place. They had to make it all the way through, and Bishop was a competent woman, but this probably wasn’t the right time to test how well she dealt with the surprise loss of her sight and hearing with only Fred for support. Yeah, no. He was reckless, not suicidal.

“Y’know how I’m always…winning, no matter what room I’m in?”

He…didn’t even remember this. It could have happened on any number of nights, as it evidently did…but he didn’t remember saying any of it. He didn’t remember even thinking it.

It didn’t last very long. The sound trailed off, the image of Fred’s head tucked into the crook of Lysander’s shoulder fading to leave dark, overcast glass behind.

The silence was…loud. Fred didn’t realise these kind of things often, but it prickled at the back of his mind now, making his stomach shift and knuckles itch. It’s hypothetical - he could have said, just to get the wretched quiet off their back- except that was the last thing in the fucking world he should say, so he didn’t.

Bishop would get it. It was like a game of Shag, Marry, Crucio among mates. Sometimes screwing the Whomping Willow was the best option. It didn’t need clarification.

It stuck though- stuck to the back of his lids like something aggravatingly stubborn- the image of his unsmirking lips spelling out, me and Bishop can never work out. Fuck, he was never getting stoned again.

His brain was being a little lax with spitting out something suitably droll- so he stepped back, palms falling to wipe imagined sweat against his thighs, the denim scratching roughly across his skin. The sensation jerked him out of the fugue, a little.

This would just have to do. “Don’t touch the glass. Gottit.”
Fred Weasley II
Fred Weasley II
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Fall of the Facades Empty Re: Fall of the Facades

Post by Claire Bishop Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:27 am

It was strange that she was there. Fred certainly had friends just as almost as qualified as her that were not her, which would certainly be seen as an advantage in the eyes of Fred Weasley. Had she not felt the might of magic in the doorway, not sensed the strange seriousness in her not-friend, had Fred not kept his explanation short and concise, she might have suspected that she was in for some sort of trick. There was a chance, of course, because this was Fred Weasley, and he lived to surprise. But as good as he was at surprising her, she fancied she knew enough about him on his game to see when he was stumbling from the beaten path of his certainty and self-assuredness.

Even as subtle as it was.

The magnificent room - was it a room? - didn't disappoint. Her eyes strained in the almost-dark and flicked from reflective surface to reflective surface. It was more curiosity than anything that made her flick her wand, illuminating the tip. It was a useful gesture, a quick way to gauge the scale of the maze of sorts. But there was also something very gratifying about the sight of that tiny lingering orb, multiplied by hundreds, or was it thousands, floating through the darkness. Despite how many times it reappeared, it did nothing to truly illuminate the vast darkness in which they had plunged. It only magnified just how big the darkness was.

She banished the light away, as it had almost become disorientating, and watched curiously as Fred approached a mirror. Her wand remained loose in her hand in case the magic decided to lash out because, believe it or not, she'd actually help him if he needed it.

There was no offensive action. Not really. But somehow, the effect was almost worse that poison darts of a mist that scalded or whatever else they might have expected. Those, she and and Fred could have handled easily. She could rattle off a dictionary-sized list of Fred's faults, but he was competent, and a strong wizard. She would never deny him what he was due. And he was due her respect, at least.

A professional respect, of course.

And as though to spite her own internal denial that there was something very personal to her relationship with Fred, always had been, the scene that suddenly presented before them both was anything but professional. She wasn't sure she had ever seen Fred anything but completely in control of a situation, something she wasn't used to as she typically took control when she could. After all this time of wanting to see him in the more submissive position, completely out of control, she couldn't help but wish she could turn away. Because as intrigued as she was, as much as she would have loved to see this in person, it felt wrong to view it this way. He had not agreed to show her this. She was not invited. And her respect for him extended to allow him some privacy... even if he had proven he was capable of denying her the same.

But he had asked her to come. Even if he had not known the details (surely he would have prepared her if he had expected this, but she couldn't imagine him inviting her with the knowledge that she'd get a peek into his mind) he had agreed to take the risk with her. This was the risk. He had consented. She could be okay with that.

It did amaze her, now that she let herself look without guilt. Not necessarily that Fred lacked control but that he comfortably handed it off to someone else. This other person, Lys, was immediately impressive to her, in his unobtrusive care for the Weasley man who had probably never allowed another person to speak so openly with him. Claire could be wrong. She could get a special brand of Fred that was coarse and cocky while others got a more vulnerable, open Fred - but she just knew that wasn't the case. She could pin it on pride or self importance but she just knew that this was not the Fred everyone else got.

So what was it about Lys?

Even secondhand, the blonde man's temperament seemed to reach out and still her, and she couldn't tell if it was because of who he was, or who he was to Fred, that made him this way. All she knew was he was expert in his handling of Fred, either seasoned in it or instinctual (and her gut said both).

Her name popped up and she was incredibly grateful that Fred had stepped forward to look into the mirror and could not see her face, as her eyebrows dived inward and then up, lips parting ever so slightly. Her eyes slid to her Fred - the Fred in the now, she meant, of course, not her Fred - and she couldn't help but wonder why he had not tried to stop the memory or block it from her view. Especially now that he had, or his past self had, admitted some consideration of... but, of course, he was just using her to make a point of himself.

Wasn't he?

The memory faded and she pushed it all out of her mind, a favor to Fred and to herself, as there was nothing in the mirror that would do her any good to dwell upon. She found an almost Fred-like (or perhaps it was more like Elsie) impulse to break the tension. To relieve the seriousness with a joke. So, is that your boyfriend or something?

But now probably wasn't the best time to prod at his ego.

He spoke and she nodded, and it was less an acknowledgement of the fact and more an agreement to say nothing more about it. She glanced about and took a few steps further into the room, her reflection passing as she walked. Shimmering, a Claire that was not Claire, not at all comforting knowing that within these mirrors were past versions of themselves.

She slowed suddenly and glanced around. "There's no getting around touching them," she said. "No way to tell what is mirror and what is the path." And because she was a team player, her hand lifted slightly as it felt air, stepping forward just a few more steps-

Her fingertips flattened against a surface and immediately the glass swirled darkness into light, and she could hear the gentle sound of her own voice humming-

At fourteen years old, a Claire Bishop who had just suffered through yet another growth spurt still seemed dwarfed in the palace of a room that was Elsie Norton’s bedroom. She was sitting cross legged on a grand bed, comfortable in jeans and a v-neck, hair pulled into a long ponytail low on her head, pretty even without makeup, simple and unaffected. Her fingers moved deftly as she folded a blouse, setting it atop a small stack of clothes next to her knee, three other stacks scattered in a semicircle around her. She was humming to herself, sunlight streaming in from the large window that let in a stunning view of rolling green grounds. Despite the illustrious setting, Claire Bishop was clearly relaxed.

“Hey Claire.”

She angled her head towards the sound of the voice, but kept her eyes on the jeans in her hands until they were folded, eyes sliding up to meet the comfortable gaze of Benjamin Norton. At eighteen, Ben had finally sprouted shoulders to compliment his long frame, but the way he carelessly leaned against the doorway was evidence enough that he could hardly be excited by any physical improvements. He had a face that was more intelligent than it was handsome, which only went to prove just how clever his eyes were, for there wasn’t a Norton in the world who was anything less than fetching.

Claire’s lips upturned into a kind smile that seemed to be reserved for the Norton siblings. “Hi Ben,” came her pleased reply.

His eyes swept across the bed and he let out a sigh. “Please tell me Elsie isn’t making you fold her clothes. Really. I had just begun to hope for the reclamation of her soul for good.”

Claire mouth flitted into a smirk and she shook her head. “She isn’t making me do anything. Actually, I’ve taken my turn at being the demanding one. “

As though on cure, a walking pile of clothes suddenly stumbled out from Elsie’s walk in. The clothes monster had legs remarkably the same tone as Elsie’s, and sputtered and complained with a range very similar to the brunette. It headed across the room and rebounded off the bed, letting out a curse word that the Norton girl had begun excessively fond of in the past few months, and it suddenly hunched itself before divulging its body of its outer casing. Blouses and shoes and scarves tumbled from its form and fell onto the bed, leaving a very frazzled looking Elsie Norton in its place.

Elsie, young and irritated as she was, still had that striking quality that would follow her for the rest of her life, leaving a trail of wandering eyes behind her. Besides a slight roundness to her face, and a leanness to her torso, she was already growing into the womanly figure that would garner attention from men and boys and make life all the more interesting and terrible for her. It was a burdensome thing, for a girl to already look so much like a woman.

Fortunately, her attitude made up for it.

“That’s everything,” she huffed. “And even if it wasn’t, I’m officially done. My arms are jelly and I just can’t anymore.”

“What is all this?” Ben asked, amusement beating out curiosity for tone.

“This is Claire’s guilt,” Elsie announced, turning to look at her brother. “Claire’s guilted me into being a good person, and I’m over it.” Elsie turned to give her best friend a dark look. “Y’know Claire. Guilting a friend is a sin. Jesus said that. So you’re not even breaking even on this deal.”

Claire and Ben couldn’t have tried to time their synchronized eye rolls better, and Ben followed quickly so Elsie couldn’t berate either of them. “What is this all for?”

Claire opened her mouth but Elsie was quicker. “Claire likes to hang out with rascals from the other side of the tracks. She’s a latchkey kid and she pretends to be a poor person and-“

“Elsie,” Claire said, frowning in sincerity for the first time in their conversation. Elsie tossed her head and huffed, sitting on the sill under the window. “Not far from my house is a really poor neighborhood. I’ve gotten to know some of the kids. They don’t have much in the way of nice clothes, but I only have so much. I asked Elsie to donate what she didn’t wear anymore. I was also going to ask-“

Ben nodded. “I have a box somewhere I was going to give away. And I’ll check again.”

Claire smiled even as Elsie let out a groan, head knocking loudly against the window. Her breath sucked in and her eyes squeezed shut, even as Ben smirked. “Did that hurt?”

“No,” Elsie whimpered, reaching up to rub her head.

Claire laughed and set down the scarf she had just picked up. “Fine, Elsie. You want to go riding?”

“No, let’s swim. C’mon Ben, you have to go with us.”

“The pool is being cleaned,” Ben said in confusion. Elsie was smirking over at Claire who had wiped emotion clear of her face to offset her best friend’s exuberant expression.

“Yeah, but the river’s not.”

Ben's face widened in surprise, a grin stretching across his features as Elsie reached out to grab Claire's hand and drag her off the bed, stumbling towards Elsie's dresser and Claire's suitcase-


And though the scene had faded, Claire could still see them. It hardly seemed fair, that Fred's memory had been much more intrusive, but she still felt her heart thudding at the memory. It was shocking to see herself so young, so different. They were all younger, happier, less worn. And despite the memory being a perfectly pleasant one, there was a heaviness in her throat, trickling down into her stomach, because life marched on and there would never be summers of jumping into rivers and playing with her poor neighbors.

Fred had just seen it. And now she understood what real vulnerability was. Sweat pants and glasses were nothing to the smile she only let her closest friends see.

She cleared her throat. "I would have thought it started at more recent memories. Interesting."

Yes. Interesting. Interesting in the way a scientist might find it interesting. And nothing more.

She hoped.
Claire Bishop
Claire Bishop
Durmstrang Graduate
Durmstrang Graduate

Number of posts : 193
Occupation : Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement

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Fall of the Facades Empty Re: Fall of the Facades

Post by Fred Weasley II Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:16 am

Not a smart comment. Not one.

Fred Weasley was not a man easily perturbed, but this was freaky as fuck.

Merlin, but there were so many possibilities. A dig at his poor tolerance to alcohol (which
Fred would have followed up with reminding her that he was stoned, not drunk, and it was no wonder the Department of Law Enforcement had such poor numbers if its Head had such deplorable attention to detail), a jibe about him clearly requiring a nanny (to which he’d have coyly winked an eye, as much as Fred did anything coyly, and asked if she was jealous that Lys had encroached on her nannying territory, a harken back to their correspondence back in the States). Or even the most unoriginal jab of all, using a suitably sappy word to describe his and Lys’ relationship- which you’d think would bother Fred, but the long years of every cock-blocked boy at Hogwarts implicating shit about him and Lys had inured him. Besides, there was no believing that rumour if you had a functioning cell inside your brain- between his ‘free love’ policy, and Lys’ actual, no quotes required, free love policy, they’d probably been with half the girls at Hogwarts twice over. They tended to score with different demographics too, which was helpful.

(he wouldn’t have told her all about it though, if she had made the implication. Because if she had…Fred would’ve smirked, dug his thumb into the little dimple that appeared at his chin when he did, and purred that he’d always had a thing for blondes.)

But she didn’t say a word.

Probably mulling over a way to ask me for Lys’ Floo. Which was ridiculous, because Claire didn’t have a romantic bone in her body- but it was a cardinal rule that the women who didn’t like Fred always liked Lys, and sometimes the women who liked Fred liked Lys too- Lys was a very likable person. He was even doing that whole soft-eyed blink thing while patting Fred’s head in the memory; and women went really gooey over the soft-eyed blink thing. Fred had snapped a picture of it once, printed it on a card, and sent it off to every female in their year during Valentines in their fifth year. Still attested it was the best Valentines that girl-kind had ever experienced, shut up in that filthy big castle.

It wasn’t even that bad an idea, to be honest. Lys would be good for her. Lys was good for everyone. He’d probably gentle her sharp edges out with respectful, understanding words, get her to relax her strict veneer with smiles alone- instead of teasing and mocking and prodding and fake engagements that never came through and bets that hinged on sword fights and ambushing her with Chinese-

Then Claire moved past him, murmuring something about having no way to tell the difference between mirror and path, and Fred came back to himself with a shake of the head and a-standing in a possibly dangerous mirror maze, right.

Then she stuck out her hand in the air, like a moron, and-

There she was. There her dirty blonde hair, skimming against her neck, there the little freckle on her cheek, there her alienly smiling mouth. Claire Bishop was squatting on a massive bed, humming away to glory, and Fred didn’t remember the last person he’d heard humming but Aunt Luna, stirring away her Gurdyroot infusion with her hair coiled on top of her head, ladyfinger earrings dangling from her lobes.

It was…strange. It shouldn’t have been, but it was, to see that gangly frame contentedly folding up clothes on the mattress, to see those grey-brown eyes look so young. Teenage Claire Bishop shouldn’t have come as a surprise, she obviously hadn’t popped into the world as an adult, fully grown-except she had, hadn’t she? Sprung out of Zeus’ mind, fully formed, armour clad and waving a sword aloft, Athena with wisdom and war entwined into one.

Hey Claire, a handsome boy at her doorway said, and was this the love of her life? Robin Ivanov -who’d left one Bishop sister for another- except she called him Ben with the gentlest curve of her lips, and it was stranger yet, to know that research couldn’t tell you every detail of a person’s life. The next detail was a bit more familiar: Elsie Norton, he remembered taunting Claire with that name several years and a continent ago, her furious scribbled words on a letter-you cheater, you cheated… C. Bishop, and wow, he hadn’t been this caught up in nostalgic memory for years.

What wasn’t surprising was smol!Claire’s bleeding heart for the less fortunate. It…wasn’t a thing he’d known about, specifically- but it fitted into the rest of her just as perfectly, as if he’d always been aware. Like…yes, Albus had been a weird, floppy-haired Slytherin with a melodramatic streak, but of course he brewed Wolfsbane for free for a potions-based charity. Of course he did. You didn’t know, but you also knew, and when had Claire entered that list of people anyway?

The memory had long faded, but her fingertips were still pressed against the glass. A few seconds traipsed by, and he was…catching hold of them with his own, pulling her hand away, her skin strangely rough against his own.

“Better not…risk prolonged contact,” Fred said, and if he’d glanced up to see his own reflection, he’d have seen a shimmer of the affection shining in Lys’ eyes (and Elsie’s and Ben’s), glimmering in his own.


…and he dropped it, air almost whistling with the rapid movement. Fred flexed his fingers, stretched both his arms up and to the side, backing up steps with a flamboyant smirk. “No way to tell? Are you really going to give up that easi-”

His back hit glass with a thump.

(Okay, there was no way in hell that had been there ten seconds ago, Fred Weasley was not this incompetent-)

The blade scraped against his cheek, passing over bristly skin with ease. One pass, two- and the razor snagged, catching against his jaw with a sharpness that stung bright and intense.

Fred’s eyes strained at the distorted reflection in the wall- the Charm always wore off too soon. Damn it.

The door to his bedroom creaked behind him. Light footsteps, robes rustling in the silence.

“Fred?”

Fred thumbed away the coagulated hair on the steel, flicking it into the basin, hissing water from the tap hitting the white ceramic a second later. The black bristles floated atop the colourless liquid, draining away in spirals. “Hullo Uncle Perce. Here to check up on me?”

Shifting movements. “I wouldn’t say-”

“It isn’t very subtle, you know. The thing you guys have going on.” Fred ran the same thumb along his jawline, feeling for roughness. “The adults. Assign someone to a nephew or a niece, check in periodically, make sure no one’s fucking the parenting thing up too badly. That’s what a humongous extended family’s for, yeah?”

“I’d say it’s a smart idea, except…” Fred raised his head to the wall, shot his uncle a sharp, fourteen-year old grin in the Charmed reflection. “They assigned you to me.”

Even through the fading Charm, Uncle Percy’s lined face was all too prominent. His quiet tones, were not. “I wasn’t ‘assigned’ to you.”

Even quieter. “Wouldn’t shaving be easier in a real mirror?”

Fred snorted. “Not very good at this check-up thing, are you?” A quick smile in the aftermath, to assuage the blunt words. “We don’t have mirrors in the house.”

Silence.

He splashed his face, rivulets running down his throat, dampening the neck of a t-shirt stretched over shoulders that were firming up into muscle already. Fred turned, right hand reaching out to grab the towel off the handrail, and strolled back into his main bedroom, flannel patting away at his face. Landed with a thump on his king-size mattress, left hand feeling for the assortment of half-opened candies strewn across the bedspread.

Fred looked up at his uncle still standing at the doorway, smiling angelically. “Canary Cream?”

Uncle Percy didn’t answer. His eyes were careworn, irises dull and pedestrian brown, horn-rimmed spectacles gleaming unflatteringly in the light. His Ministry-assigned robes fell straight to his ankles, his collar buttoned up tight, his creased forehead shiny with sweat.

“No?” Fred unwrapped the lemon drop, paper crackling loudly underneath the words; tongue darting out an instant later to nab it out of his fingers. “Maybe you can do the gargoyle impression outside my room, then. Kinda…” Waved expansively at the walls covered with Falmouth Falcons and Skyrim V posters, a line art recreation of a Romanian Longhorn and a red-and-gold embossed Excalibur. “ruining the feng shui of the place here.”

A flicker to Uncle Percy’s lips, like he was about to smile and changed his mind. He wasn’t shifting in place anymore, almost unnaturally still; though that didn’t stop him from looking any less out of place. “Are you doing alright?”

“Yep.” Fred smacked on the candy, legs drawing back indolently to fold under his thighs. “Roxi’s getting on my nerve, but…” Another smile that made the play for innocence, but missed the mark by several thousand degrees of smug knowingness. “All Weasleys can’t be the same. I get that.”

There was definitely something curling at the end of Uncle Percy’s lips there, a trace glint to those eyes as if to say, 'smart, aren’t you'.

“Sometimes they’re a bit more similar than others.” Uncle Percy smiled outright, even though his lips didn’t stretch out that far. Wow, they were really going heavy-handed on the double meanings there.

Fred cocked his chin. “I admit, my parents did a phenomenal job at my name. It’s almost as if they were Seers.”

“I wasn’t talking about Fred.” Uncle Percy said, and the amusement blinked out of his eyes for a second, like a candle flame. “Though of course, you have those traits. Fred, George…even Ron.”

Uncle Ron? Fred’s moue flickered in distaste for a second, before clearing up. Yes, the man was the most incredibly oblivious person when it came to reading people, but he was still a war hero. It was admirable.

“But I was referring more to…me, actually.” Fred’s eyes widened a fraction at the words, before his lips clamped down on themselves to stop releasing a snicker. And Mum said that he didn’t know how to respect elders. Pshh.

It was going to be another one of those cooing, hair-fluffing, shoulder-patting adult rambles of, 'look, your right eyebrow looks so much like mine, you’ve grown up to be such a charismatic lad, I’m so proud of you.' Fred had withstood his fair share of these over the years, without laughing. Too much. He could do it again.

Of course, the important question was whether he’d want to…but Mum liked Uncle Perce. Ah, the sacrifices one made for family.

“Being so much smarter, than your peers.” Uncle Percy began, and Fred’s lip wobbled dangerously. Control, control. Uncle Percy’s mouth seemed to be doing something in turn, twisting downwards slightly, amused but also…bitter? “Knowing yourself to be smarter. Better. Regardless of the room you’re in.”

This…wasn’t sounding very prideful. No cooing at all.

“The absolute, bone-deep certainty that everything you do is exactly the right thing. The way you think is the right way. Self-righteous little prick, Gin used to call me.” Uncle Percy’s lips definitely flickered out into a smile now, but his eyes were clouded over. “The ambition. The inflexible, judgmental attitude. The…lack of actually backing any of it up.”

'The way you ran away to the Ministry during the War, you mean?' The words wanted to escape, whip-sharp and retaliatory. The candy cracked, hard and jarring under Fred’s teeth, the smile curiously absent from his face.

But Mum liked Uncle Percy. “What are you trying to get at?”

Uncle Percy wasn’t actually looking at him. His eyes were affixed at a point somewhere above Fred’s shoulder, where Excalibur was sketched out in loving detail in scarlet and gold. “Heroism doesn’t come from a name. Any…name.” His eyes flitted down to meet Fred’s, still plain and brown and utterly unremarkable. Fred couldn’t look away. “It took me decades, and the loss of a brother to grasp that. I don’t want you to have to pay the same price.”

“Being a Weasley didn’t make me a hero.” A faint, regretful downturn of the lips. “It didn’t even make me a good man.”
Fred Weasley II
Fred Weasley II
Gryffindor Graduate
Gryffindor Graduate

Number of posts : 65
Occupation : Unspeakable | Owner of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes

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Fall of the Facades Empty Re: Fall of the Facades

Post by Claire Bishop Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:21 pm

Claire hadn’t really registered that her hand was still pressed against the glass of the mirror - a mirror. How was it that a mirror could reflect so deeply? She wondered what Shakespeare would think of this magic. A mirror up to nature, indeed.

Truly, it was amazing how the past could swallow up the present, could throw the mind from the immediate and into a reality long moved past. She had seen the effects of this dangerous nostalgia, this division of mind. She had lived it. The entire first year of her assignment in the U.K. had consisted of her head still running on New York time, checking in with the papers over there, caring more about her former coworkers and the American department than the people around her. And then work had called her in, and Fred had jarred her to the present, and Elsie had showed up. Her mindset had shifted, but something clung to the idea of New York, the idea of home. Because once you found it, it didn’t change.

Right?

There was nothing to the memory that should have shaken her. There were far worse ones out there, and her pulse was already quickening at the mere thought of more private scenes surfacing. Not only was she privately unprepared to face certain moments in her life once more, but the added judgment of Fred Weasley seemed almost impossibly unfair. If she were one to exaggerate feelings of self pity, she might have thought Fate had conspired against them. But she wasn't that person. Things just happened. She knew there was nothing personal to the mirrors effect, despite how deeply personal the product was, and that the strange, penetrating magic was simply meant to deter them from their mission.

Which, speaking of, she had not exactly been briefed on.

And not for the first time, Fred brought her back to reality. His hand took hers and, because her mind could work on multiple tracks, it registered that this was possibly the first time Fred had touched her outside of a combat situation. Of course, it was just an observation. A fact. Considered only because it marked a deviation from their baseline.

But as her eyes flicked up, she couldn't help but note that his expression was a new one too. One she had not seen him wear, let alone direct her way. But his hand was still on hers and she dropped her gaze to it just as he let go, and she pulled it inward, nodding. Prolonged contact. Yes. Best to avoid that.

He backed away and she turned to look at him. She didn't have to say anything. She knew he was about to- yep. Good job, Fred. Honestly, she didn't even have to say anything to prove him wrong half the time. It was wonderful.

These two minds were two of the cleverest in the Ministry and, dare she say, the country. Surely, there was a way to outsmart the maze. Just keep walking. Conjure flames to stay a step ahead of them. But perhaps it was just caution that kept them playing by the rules of the maze. Or perhaps it was an even worse sense of curiosity, an inability to deny themselves this rare experience with a strange magic. And, despite her own uncertainty and feelings of intrusion, she could not honestly deny the fact that she was intrigued by his memories. Because how did someone even start to become Fred Weasley?

She wondered if it was because her own memory had featured her at roughly the same age as Fred was in this memory. Part of her was thrilled by the idea of dissecting just how the mirrors latched onto memories. It couldn't have been ones floating towards the top of consciousness, as she knew her own memory had been one she had more or less forgotten. Perhaps it was those deeply buried memories? Or were the mirrors making a patchwork quilt of the past, holding up memories of her own against his, trying to find ones that fit the theme, or palette, or whatever other quality bound them all together. She doubted this information could be useful to them in the present, but this was a magic so specific and so strange that she could not help the desire to unpack some of it.

Fred Weasley shaving. Young Fred Weasley shaving. He was already handsome, already growing into an athletic figure, and while Claire was absolutely certain she would have seen through him just as well as she did now, he was exactly the sort of boy Elsie would have enjoyed staring at. She recognized his uncle, a man who, if she understood correctly, had gotten off easy in the history books that limited his involvement to an asterisk. *Came around eventually. He who had sided with authority over loyalty. Someone nothing like-

Oh.

She hardly had a reaction to Fred's blatant show of disrespect. Coming from a family that had suffered through maybe three open conversations in their entire family, Claire couldn't be sure if it was disrespectful or if this was how loving families embraced dysfunction. Remembering who exactly she was dealing with tipped the scales back in favor of disrespect - how could she ever doubt that?

No, that wasn't what bothered her. But as his uncle began to reveal a tone that was more bitter than loving, more spiteful than helpful, Claire felt a discomfort grow within her. The conversation felt... inappropriate. Delving into the truth of the matter was one thing - because she was one of the few people who could appreciate that Fred's feelings of superiority were much more rightfully placed in his mind than any other physical asset he might use to exercise his pride. But true or not, he didn't need to hear it. Not like that. Not at fourteen. Not when the distance between himself and others was more a construct of his own mind, not some quality he learned could not be remedied.

It wasn't fair. And it wasn't right. And no matter how much he probably deserved it now, he didn't deserve it then.

She was glad she hadn't said anything about the last memory. Because there was nothing she wanted to say now. She didn't feel bad, exactly, but she didn't feel right. Continuing a pattern of silence was comfortable, much more comfortable than if she had commented on the first memory but not the second.

"Come on," she finally said, pulling out her wand again. "Slow and steady will be the way."

It was hopeful thinking to suppose that her wand might not have the same effect as her skin. If anything, her wand was more apart of her than her own skin, comfortable as she was with one, restrained as she was by the other. But at least she wouldn't smack head first into a mirror. That sort of humiliation was especially abhorrent to her. Claire Bishop was not a slapstick joke.

There was a tink as she turned and wand tapped against glass. And the colors swirled, ready or not...

She couldn’t hear their clones at first. A version of herself, recent by most standards, dressed in a neat outfit for work that starkly contrasted the well-worn, comfortable atmosphere of the Leaky Cauldron. Avery, always a step away from okay, her drink clasped in her hand like a lifeline, slumped in her stool. The scene was still shimmering but even with their forms distorted, it didn’t take more than a second glance to see the elder Bishop was crying. And Claire, her neck strained if anyone cared to notice, was reaching out a hand to cover her sister’s as her mouth opened and unheard words slipped from her lips.

But the image was swirling- a teaser, nothing more. Or perhaps the mirror had found the meatier memory, a memory that warranted more scrutiny than that of that night with her sister. But as the new image came into view, Claire recognized that the night had not changed – only the setting.

Their apartment looked the same, but it only took the lazy presence of Elsie, an unattached Elsie whose only aspiration was to see if she could successfully draw Claire out into the night, to date the night as belonging to a spring night the year before – before Elsie found love in Paris and transformed into a strange beast Claire hardly recognized. A night that would have been unremarkable had Claire not just come back from the remarkable – because an occasion with her sister that had started in tears and had ended well (well being a relative term) was certainly a remarkable thing indeed.

And as the scene was thrown into sharper clarity, Claire's throat went dry with the revelation of which memory the mirror had coaxed from her mind...  

Claire slipped into the apartment, withdrawing a breath that seemed to have been trapped there all her life. All her life, holding her breath until she slipped past whichever barrier meant safety and isolation. Elsie was one of perhaps two people in this world with whom Claire could share that safe space, feel free to start breathing again. And she had just found out that the only other one had been found dead.

Elsie poked her head out from the kitchen. “Claire?”

Claire slipped off her blazer and kicked off her flats, carefully folding the former as she toed the flats out of the doorway. She hung her keys and her purse on one of the hooks before padding down the hallway and towards her room. “I don’t know why you ask. It’s not like someone else is going to waltz in.”

“But if they do, they’ll know I’m expecting Claire Bishop, and they’ll turn right around!” came Elsie’s sing-songy American accent, and Claire rolled her eyes at the way the statement’s inflection rose at the end. Was there any night where Elsie could simply cook with the wine, or did she actually have to ‘sample’ it as she went?

Claire didn’t call Elsie out on the logic, or lack thereof. She knew it was a sassy excuse to cover for a habit, a habit that Claire didn’t actually mind but had become her own habit to call out. Claire slipped into her room, flicking her wand at a clean hamper of clothes as the articles lifted into the air and began to sort themselves out. She hung up her blazer and reached up to tug the pins and hair tie that had created the loose bob on her head and freed her blonde hair of the vice grip it had been twisted into. Her hair fell around her shoulders and she reached up to run her hands through it, shaking her hair at the scalp before her fingers moved downward. Volumized but now relaxed, her hair hung around her face as she reached out to pick up her glasses, slipping them onto her face. She began to scrounge around for her sweater as she called out, “Elsie, do you still have our move in packet?”

It took only that to make Elise materialize in her doorway, forehead wrinkled with concern. “Why?”

Claire rolled her eyes as she slipped her blouse off, a modest tank top underneath,
(fortunately, dear Reader, as real time Claire nearly had an aneurism at the first time of clothes being shed) and she reached for her sweater, a baggy grey thing with the word Harvard in red. “It’s not for me. I know the only way I’m moving away from you is in a body bag.”

“Damn straight,” Elsie said, lifting her wineglass to her lips.

“It’s for Avery.”

Elsie actually choked on her drink. Every cliché overreaction seemed so natural when coming from the dramatic brunette, and somehow managed to even seem original. “Why?” And this time, the word did not have that leading, suspicious quality, taking on a more pointed and accusatory tone.

“She’s needs a place to stay,” Claire said, tugging the sweater over her head. She slipped past Elise and headed for the kitchen, drawn by the smells of the stir fry Elsie was working on. “She’s been living with Mum.”

Without turning, Claire could tell that a smirk was playing on Elsie’s lips when she said it, and it was for this reason that her words sounded so smug, so lilted, so full of schadenfreude. “Oooh, trouble in paradise?”

Claire stopped in the doorway to the kitchen and looked back at Elsie, who lifted her chin victoriously, a shift in her shoulders and hips to show just how pleased she was by the other Bishop’s pain.

Any other time, Claire would have just let Elsie believe what she wanted. It was their little deal. Elsie kept Claire from becoming so tightly wound and brittle that she would snap and shatter, and Claire protected Elsie from some of the hardness of this world. But Elsie was going to find out. She ran in Robin’s circles much more than any Bishop ever had, and Elsie had an ear for gossip. And what was Claire to say when inevitably asked? It had slipped her mind?

Elsie’s expression had dropped, only slightly, but it was softening with the anticipation of some bombshell. Why else would Claire hesitate. “What?”

Claire shifted. “Robin’s dead.”

Elsie’s entire body tensed, lips parting as her eyes seemed to lose some of the light in them. “What?”

Claire inhaled through her nose, tilting her chin, her chest swelling with the heaviness of her breath. “Robin died. It seems like on one of his missions. He’s been missing for awhile but Avery’s friend found his body. He’s dead.”

Elsie blinked and slowly closed her open mouth, jaw clenching. She reached out and set her wine on the counter ledge, before running a hand nervously through her hair. “And Avery-?”

“Isn’t great,” Claire said, turning as she walked into the kitchen, crossing to the stove to stir Elsie’s pan of vegetables and chicken. “But she wasn’t the mess you might expect. She’s carrying a lot of uncertainty, about them, and guilt-“

“What’d she say about you?” Elsie asked, suspicion once again hinting in her words.

“She just… She told me he loved me. And that-“

“He loved you more than he loved her? Because that’s true, you know.”

“Elsie-“

“It is. I bet she did. And I’ll bet she cried while she said it and you had to tell her that wasn’t true, and that she won his heart, and she felt so good about it, never mind the fact that you knew him longer-“

“Elsie,” Claire said, turning to look at her friend with a disapproving look. “Stop it. It wasn’t like that.”

“Tell me she didn’t say any of that,” Elsie said defiantly. Claire had hardly formed the question on her lips when her best friend forged on. “Because you’re always having to fix her insecurity for her, Claire. People would like her more if she stopped crying about how people didn’t like her more. Your dad died and she ran away, made it all about herself, all because she chose to live with your mum instead of your dad. You deserved to be by his side for every second and she stole that from you. And she stole Robin from you too-“

“She did not steal Robin from me,” Claire corrected. Firmly. “You know that.”

“She should have walked away the second she knew about you two,” Elsie said. “She knew he loved you, she knew it, and she did it anyway, just to see if she could win-“

“That’s not like Avery at all-“

“That’s a blatant show that she doesn’t care, Claire. I would never do that to you. If I knew, I’d- but your own sister? She knew-“

Claire could see Elsie swelling, prepping to go on even longer, eyes wide and arms beginning to gesticulate more and more wildly, her passion growing. And Claire only had one question but it was an important one. She gathered her voice and it was firm and resounding in their little kitchen when she demanded, “Why does it matter so much to you, Elsie?”

Elsie stopped, arms hanging in the air, a strange expression of righteous anger on her face. Her arms dropped and she shrugged, voice casual despite the venom still in your eyes. “It doesn’t. I’m just saying-“

“Yes it does,” Claire said. “This is weirdly personal.”

“No,” Elsie said, “I just care about my friend. You’re not going to be angry on your behalf so-“

“So your angry on my behalf?” Claire said, raising an eyebrow. “Not your own?”

Elsie’s face drained of all expression, shoulders tensing as she quirked her lips. “Whatever. If you don’t care, neither do I.”

“Elsie,” Claire said, stopping the brunette who had attempted to collect her wine. “Robin’s dead.”

“I know,” Elsie’s voice came, small and far away. Her chin was beginning to buckle and she tried to turn away, but Claire’s hand was on her wrist as her jaw clenched back her own lost feelings. Elsie had dropped her gaze and Claire’s eyes slid closed. A moment. Two. And Claire inhaled and Elsie nodded. Eyes opened and head lifted. A small smile between the two. Claire turned for the stove and Elsie for the counter, and a frown tugging at Claire’s lips, even as Elsie glanced over her shoulder to check on her friend-


And that was it. Elsie turned and began setting their table, while Claire turned off the stove and began to dole out portions. Elsie’s mouth was moving as the scene faded away, leaving Claire to wonder… Why that memory? Because if the mirrors were designed to show something important, it begged the question… what had Claire missed about that memory that made it so important to her? Why not the revelation of Robin’s death, or even the private cry she had had that night as she mourned him for the very last time? What was it about Avery’s reaction, or Elsie’s, that made that something she ought to relive?
Claire Bishop
Claire Bishop
Durmstrang Graduate
Durmstrang Graduate

Number of posts : 193
Occupation : Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement

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Fall of the Facades Empty Re: Fall of the Facades

Post by Claire Bishop Thu Jun 24, 2021 2:58 am

There was no use staring at the mirror as though it would give her any of these answers. It was a reflection, it did not offer any deeper insights, just a faithful retelling. she glanced at Fred and lifted her eyebrows, a "well what can you do" sort of gesture, and then turned.

It took maybe nine seconds to come into contact with another mirror.

The mirror swirled and began to piece together a scene. She saw the landscape and the large silhouette and without any other context she realized which night it was going to make her relive, and her stomach sank. Of course. Of course it was going there, what a perfect fit after the last memory. When you've seen the end of a storyline, what better way to heighten drama than to flash back to its climax?

There was nothing to fear from this, she reminded herself, it was all just... things that had happened. How could memories be harmful?

Still, she almost groaned.

Anything but him. And in front of anybody... but him


The twinkling of the castle lights lit up the frosty clouds of breath produced from two figures joyfully stumbling across the grounds of Durmstrang Castle, each pulling at their heavy robes and pulling their hats snugly over their ears in a desperate bid to chase away the cold.

The sounds of students celebrating their freedom, their parents lamenting that graduation had come far too soon, followed them on their walk - and Claire Bishop, seventeen, turned to look back at Durmstrang Castle. Her face was slightly rounder than it was now, eyebrows a little softer on her face, blonde hair bouncing on her shoulders, a youthful, energetic glow to her eyes. Her lips pursed, eyes wide on the castle, and for a moment they betrayed a breadth of emotion that was so often unavailable to her now. Tenderness first, then gratitude, and pride, and an almost sadness. Thoughts of what came next, however, shadowed her face and as she heard her companion call her name. All evidence of her deep feeling melted away, her chief survival mechanic already well established even so young. Her expression smoothed into a gentle contentedness as she turned forward again, and took the hand of a smiling Robin Ivanov.

Robin, with only the ghost of facial hair, and a frame not quite full enough and with inches still to grow, was looking at her. In that way he looked at her. Her lips pursed at the memory of the first time she caught him looking, of how for weeks later he would stare - she thought just to annoy her. And when finally she knew it wasn’t a joke, far from it, and she saw what his eyes looked like up close as he looked at her…

His face broke into a smirk and a smile sputtered ungraciously onto her lips, betraying the weight of her memories, but he pulled her easily along. She cleared her throat and followed after him, teasingly pulling her hand back as she hugged herself, rubbing her arms in the cold. “Two graduates found frozen night of graduation. You know, it’s a catchy headline.” He laughed, bounding ahead to hop onto a boulder and walk its length as he quickened the pace. She watched him, trying to keep up, and asked, “Seriously, where are we going?”

“You’ll seeeee,” he teased, slipping his hands loosely into the deep pockets of the robe, before twisting around to look at her with a mischievous grin. He hopped off the boulder and soldiered on.

But Claire was frowning, hugging herself tighter and slowing down as she tried to force him to slow his pace - or, better yet, turn back. “I should be spending tonight with Elsie, and our friends. And, you know, my parents. So should you.”

He stopped and turned around to look at her. He looked a bit disappointed, honestly, that she was bringing in rational thought and a consideration for what was “supposed” to happen. It was a familiar look, clear to any onlooker where Robin wanted excitement and magic, Claire was quick to remind him of reality. It was her super power to remind him of all their limitations, and she felt it more keenly now.

But he smiled, that cliche roguish smile that wasn’t at all cliche on him, because it was sincere and betrayed a tenderness he never let anyone but her see. She took in a breath and it hitched, because something was happening in her and she knew it was bad news.

Bad news had no place on graduation night.

“Hey,” he said, stepping forward to catch her hands in his, stepping closer one more time, concern softened hus words. Her teeth had clenched and she straightened up, willing the mask to come forward once more, but he reached out and encircled his arms around her, rubbing her back to keep her warm. He just thought she was cold.

She gave him a small smile of gratitude and he teased, “So, fancy award for your Duelling record. How’s it feel to know you can probably beat me up?”

“Feels any other day,” she responded dryly, but a smile tugged unwillingly at her lips as he laughed. At the sight of her smile, he leaned in and, missing that brief look of conflict and longing on her face, he met her lips with his own in a comfortable, familiar kiss. He pulled away but didn’t release her from his grip, dropping his arms low around her hips and began to sway in time to his thoughts.

“According to Headmaster Kevlov, and this fancy piece of parchment, we’re proper adults now. We get to go out and do whatever we want. I, for one, think we should start with a bottle of vodka, or maybe-”

“Where were you taking me?” Claire suddenly interrupted.

He shrugged and smiled a bit. “The greenhouses.”

“The greenhouses?” she repeated, eyelashes fluttering sardonically as though to ask if he had gone mad.

But he tightened his grip on her waist and his smile softened. “It’s where you told me you wouldn’t date me if I was the last boy in school,” he said, his tone serious, even with all that mischievous eye-twinkling. “And I offered to arrange that, saying I’d happily drown every one of those prats in the lake. And when you were laughing-“

“And my defenses were down,” Claire reminded, her tone chiding but a smile forming despite herself.

“I kissed you. And, like it or not, you kissed me back. Pretty enthusiastically, if I recall.”

Claire rolled her lips, trying to keep the smile at bay. She sighed and shifted her weight from one hip to another. “The point?”

“The point is,” Robin said, suddenly releasing her hands to force his own back into his pockets, rocking on his heels with that chaotic energy that always seemed to keep him moving. “That I’ve never met anyone like you. I mean, you know I’m amazing, but can you believe that there are some people who claim I’m a no-good trust fund kid? Maybe they’re right. But I do know when I’ve found something amazing. And I’m much too stubborn to let go.”

Claire’s throat felt dry. “Robin.”

“Claire. I love you. You know I love you. And, if you’ll have me-“

His arm was moving and he was sinking towards the ground. Panic seized Claire and her hands flew up in a defensive motion, face wincing as she felt the horrible words fall out of her mouth. “We need to break up.”

She stood in this awkward pose for a few seconds, while Robin stared at the ground. They froze in that frozen air, and her heart beat loud enough that she was certain he could hear it. He wasn't standing and she knew she had crossed the line, knew she had changed everything in the matter of a second, and that she had to at least be good enough to see it all through. She swallowed and dropped her hands, taking in a big breath. He still hadn't moved and she stared down at his bent head and gathered all of her reserve. She cleared her throat and softly, more kindly, but undeniably firm, repeated, "I want to break up."

Claire would, for all of her life, be accused of not having a heart. Which she understood. She was cold, distant, preferred efficiency to kindness, chose productivity over people. She struggled to show people she related, struggled to make people in her life feel important. Her poker face was infallible and she had always been unflinchingly even handed. Sometimes she would even believe the rumors about herself. Maybe she was too unfeeling.

But she knew she had a heart. Because as Robin finally lifted his head up and looked at her, surprised and confused, the beginnings of despair beginning to hint in eyes that had been gleaming with excitement and love just moments before, Claire Bishop felt her heart break.

“What?” he said faintly.


The image in the mirror shimmered, seeming to speed through the questions, the explanation. Why? Because she was moving to America. But, why? Because she had taken a job with the Ministry. When did this happen? Why didn’t you tell me? About a month ago, because she needed time to think about what she wanted. Claire was thankful that the mirror was pulling away from the memory, that the words were obscured as it settled. Because maybe there was a chance that Fred couldn’t make out the garbled speech of the worst part of it.

”Don’t you love me?”

Her answer was intelligible, the memory was fading. Robin stepped forward and pressed a kiss to her, not a plea to reconsider but an attempt to capture all that had happened between them in one parting memory, one gesture to hold onto. And he turned, and left. And Claire waited, let him get halfway across the grounds before she followed after. It wasn’t her idea to wander out into the cold but she knew she deserved to stay out there. She was, after all, the Ice Queen. The nobody who had dumped wonder boy Robin Ivanov on graduation night.

The memory gone, the mirror reflected her face back at her, and she made eye contact with herself, staring into those calm eyes, that composed countenance. That night happened less than a decade ago - hardly any time at all. But it had been the day that Claire had brushed herself off, shaken off all indecision, and decided to never be sorry for doing what was right.

Because it was the right decision. She and Robin were just like any young couple. Barely the shape of who they were meant to be, unformed in any true or lasting opinions of what they wanted from life - their minds were still ruled by chemicals, unfinished in their formation. Robin was good to her, great even, but there were times she did not feel herself with him. And they didn’t just seem different, they were different at their cores. Not in the way that excites change and induces challenge, but an awkward fit that tried to make discomfort feel natural. She would have never been at ease at those pureblood parties, never capable of being complacent in a classist (and racist) system. She would have never laughed easily among his friends that valued beauty and influence over integrity and truth. She would have never laughed enough at his jokes. And he would have never taken her work as seriously as she would like him to, would have never argued with her, and would have never pushed her quite in the way she needed (and, truthfully, wanted) to be pushed.

She did not regret not marrying Robin Ivanov. And not for any “look at my life now, I’m happy with how it all turned out” reason, but just because she knew it was the right thing to do. She had not always had this view, but she definitely had it now.

She would have never stayed in America so long if she had said yes.
He wouldn’t have started his illegal doings if she had said yes.

He would have never met Avery if Claire had said yes.
Avery would have never mourned him if she had said yes.

Sophie would have never been born if Claire had said yes.
He would have been more careful, he would be alive if she had said yes.

Her heart was pounding in her ears and she closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath and letting out a long sigh. She was composing herself, a (typically) private practice of hers to touch base, to ground, to come back into control. She could not say what emotions crossed her face in that brief moment - she summoned them all with one breath in, and let them fall away with one breath out.

It was maybe three seconds. Her eyes opened and she turned to look at Fred Weasley, strangely unperturbed that he had just had a front row seat to this moment of near-vulnerability. There, clearly, was nowhere here to hide, and as much as he could be trusted to tease and mock and flirt and chide, she was beginning to realize she was not afraid for him to see her as she was, pajamas and all.

“Not my best night,” she said dryly, joking in that unlaughing way she did. She cleared her throat. “Remind me why we’re here again?”
Claire Bishop
Claire Bishop
Durmstrang Graduate
Durmstrang Graduate

Number of posts : 193
Occupation : Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement

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