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the definition of family

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Post by Lily Luna Potter Thu Feb 25, 2021 1:01 am

Lily’s face flushed deeper - of course they were all busy. Here she was, telling Minister of Magic Robert Lupin that she was a tad busy. It had been a long time since she had felt embarrassed. When you’re at the lowest you have ever been, shame just didn’t manifest, it was just understood. She supposed this sense of bashfulness now meant she had something to lose, which was… if not an improvement, at least a change.

It had been a long time since anything had piqued her interest - and the idea of holing up in a state of the art potions lab definitely piqued her interest.

It was furthermore interesting how quickly the air went out of her lungs just at the mention of Wolfsbane. She still hated that Teddy knew, that Molly probably knew, that her brothers had found out. She dreaded the day it came out - because she was a Potter and their secrets did not stay secret forever.

She counted back from five and parted her lips - excellent, she was still breathing. Her voice was soft and halting as she said, “Dragon pox? Just add water.” Teddy grinned at her joke. She continued, “I… have experience with Wolfsbane - it’s one of the hardest to brew so I’ve always challenged myself to it. I’ve toyed with recipes for a longer shelf life, and trying to find less expensive substitutes for the rarer ingredients. I’d be very interested in helping you with that. With all of that.”

She could feel Teddy watching her, and she dropped her gaze to her tea, but she could practically feel the pride radiating off of him. She just couldn’t deal with him sometimes, bless his heart. And she was absolutely certain her cover would be blown if she met his eyes.

Teddy drew a breath and leaned back, overwhelmed - but excited to know he could be of help. “I’m free - and I’m itching to get started. Lily?”

He knew she was free - she never went anywhere these days - but he would never think to speak for her.

She met Robert’s gaze. “So am I.”
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Post by Khaat Lupin Thu Feb 25, 2021 1:57 am

Khaat had felt the little jolt of electricity that seemed to race through the room, the excitement of adrenalin that always was the herald of adventure, that same old feeling that everyone in her family seemed to crave more than oxygen. She glanced at her father who was looking eye to eye with Lily, and his face broke into a grin.

"You are going to work out just fine, Lily Potter," he said. "If you already have an appreciation for the delicacy of wolfsbane, then I think you may just be the person I've been looking for. And, if you're looking for longer shelf life, then you need to come with me the next time I go get some of St. Mungo's more rare ingredients. One of our...more reclusive suppliers might just have the preservative you're looking for. We could ask him if you like. That requires an afternoon, and good hiking boots. Give me one moment, and I'll get your portkeys."  He got up for a moment and left the room.

"I think you'll like Paris," Khaat said. "It's always busy, but there's something compelling there that keeps drawing us back again and again. And if he takes you to get potions ingredients this time of year, you're going to want a good winter jacket. Trust me, but if his contact likes you, your preservative will be affordable."

"If that old codger likes her, it'll be free," Kate said, with an amused grin. "Don't kid yourself. You're both going to want to keep your portkeys about you. It doesn't just get you back and forth from the Paris safehouse, it can also act as a distress signal. It can draw help to you if you get into trouble, and likewise, it can lead you to an operative in distress. We all have similar portkeys. The only thing different about them is that most of the women prefer their portkey to be a bit smaller, less ostentatious."

Robert came back in with two gold chains, and off each chain hung an antique gold doubloon. One of the doubloons was half the size of the other.

"Whichever of you gets the smaller one, if you would like your doubloon to be full size, I can fix it for you," Robert told them, laying them on the table between Teddy and Lily. "It's just what I had here at the house. And, yes, they are authentic doubloons, and yes, they were in the property of pirates at one time. At some point, one of the kids is going to ask you, so you might as well know. How it got to be in our hands? Well, that story remains in the custody of the operative that makes our portkeys but, frankly, I'm not sure I really want to know. You're welcome to ask him when you meet him if you like. He's...a wee bit different. I wonder if he would babysit Abbey while we go to Paris for a bit."

"Michael? With little people?" Khaat frowned deeply. "That really isn't in his wheelhouse. I'll either stay or we'll take her with us."

"Now," Robert said, "you see the gold cross on the front of the coin? It's simple. Push it, and it will either take you to the safehouse or it will return you home. To activate the distress signal, spin the cross to the right. If you are intending to respond to a distress, turn your signal to the left. I've always remembered it by trying to remember that if I am in distress, I do not want to be left behind. So that reminds me not to turn the darned thing to the left. And if I'm responding, I try to remember I want to go to where someone else already probably feels left behind, so I turn it to the left. Otherwise, I'd probably be buggering the whole business up."

"And if that thing ever starts to glow, consider that a general all persons alarm that will summon you to wherever the trouble is. That's the one signal that you probably will not want to see," Kate said. "That summons every operative we have."

"Now that we've probably overwhelmed you, do either of you have any questions, or shall we pop over to Paris for a bit? When we get back, I'll show you where the potions lab is, Lily, so you can come and putter around there whenever you like. It's one of my favorite places to putter around," Robert said.
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Post by Teddy R. Lupin Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:17 am

It was the first time in months that she didn’t look small.

Teddy would probably always see Lily as a little girl, the image of the round face and large blue eyes of her as a ten year old would always be a phantom filter over her countenance, just as it was with Albus and James. But especially after the debacle with Lily, watching her nearly waste away into nothing had reduced her in many ways.

But here she was, rock steady, speaking to Robert Lupin with dignity and grace. Atta girl.

She seemed to have run out of words, however - he was shocked she had spoken so much as it was. Robert brought out the portkeys and Teddy gestured for Lily to go first, and she reached out for the small dubloon, the ghost of admiration on her lips.

Teddy smiled and took the other one, rubbing a thumb over the raised ridges. He listened intently, tracing the path of the cross either way, before looking up at Khaat through his hair, his smile almost roguish (if only he weren’t such a cinnamon bun of a person.) “This is brilliant.” He laughed and straightened up, pulling the necklace over his head. “I don’t think we wixen appreciate just how clever our magic can be.”

He glanced again towards Lily, unable to resist a final check in with her. “You’re good to go?” She only nodded, but her face was placid. He looked back towards Robert, though his eyes darted between him, Kate, and Khaat, unsure as to whom he owed the most gratitude toward. “Thank you for sharing this with us. Really.” He locked eyes with Robert. “We’re ready.”

Lily nodded.
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Post by Khaat Lupin Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:54 am

"Splendid. Then I say we should waste no more time. I'll take the pipsqueak with me," Robert said, reaching to Kate for Abbey. "Want to go bye bye with me, Abbey?" he asked her. The tot nodded as Robert picked her up. "You want to try your portkeys and Abbey and I will meet you there?" he asked the others. He pushed his own doubloon and was gone.

"He apparently is just taking it for granted that you've both ported before," Kate laughed. "If you're both good, go ahead, and we'll follow He's probably waiting outside for you. If you end up going sideways someplace, send a distress signal, and we'll come right to you."  

Khaat thought hastily and then picked up a napkin and wrapped one of Teddy's cookies in it and tucked it into her pocket for Abbey, along and accio'd Kiki, a little pocket sized stuffed kitty that Abbey loved, and she shoved it in the other pocket. The stuffed cat had gotten named Kiki when the closest Abbey could come to kitty was Kiki, and the name had simply stuck. It hadn't taken Khaat long at all to realize that being a wizarding mum to a toddler meant having one's pockets full of snacks and distractions.

Robert's portkey had whisked him and Abbey to a quiet Parisian residential neighborhood, in front of a townhouse that had a whitewashed front, a gray tin roof, blue trim, and an old well polished wood door with old but finely done carvings. It didn't look any different from any other house on the street, just the way it was supposed to look. Its layers of protection charms had, so far, kept it safe from their enemies. It ran through Robert's mind that James and Lily would never have imagined their granddaughter coming here, and Remus would have been, surely, proud that Teddy would at last be here, but there would be a bit of residual sadness that the problem was still with them this many years later. Still, many children had found hope here through the years, and that was well worth still being here.

He walked up the steps to the front door and knocked, figuring that surely the others would not be more than a moment or so behind.

"This is going to be a good thing," he said to Abbey who nodded, having no idea what in the daylights her papa was talking about. "They''re going to both be splendid."

"Cookie!" Abbey said, hopeful that maybe some tasty biscuits were in the offing.

"Your daddy needs to teach you proper British words," Robert told her, frowning slightly. "I really do not like his shortcuts. Teaching you to avoid proper British words for these Americanisms really will not do, you know." She nodded happily, still not following a word of what he was saying.
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Post by Lily Luna Potter Fri Feb 26, 2021 1:19 am

These were not the circumstances in which she thought she would acquaint herself with Paris.

As lost as she was, as practical as trauma and pain had forced her to become, there was the soul of a dreamer buried deep inside Lily Potter. Her brothers had always dreamed of greatness and their overt pursuit of them had marked their ambitions as clever and noble. Lily had spent so much time trying to be forgotten that most would be surprised to know she had any desires besides anonymity at all.

But she had once had dreams. She wasn’t much of an artist, but she had dabbled in paint, in piano. Deeper than that was a desire to see and experience things, to distance herself from her name, to fully appreciate the smallness of herself in comparison to the bigness of the world.

And she wanted a garden, full of herbs and spices and flora. The greenhouse would be a lab and she would invent new potions as she sipped on coffee and enjoyed the company of… someone she loved. Whoever that would be.

Those desires, big and small, were trickling back to her and now she was in Paris - on a mission she was way underqualified for.

She and Teddy turned their Portkeys and she felt the hook at the nape of her neck, the sudden jerking as she was lifted from the ground, spun, spun, spun.

She stumbled but Teddy had already landed and caught her deftly. She took a breath and looked around, her breath catching as she saw gold lettering over a bistro so French it nearly hurt.

“Where’s…”

“I think that’s Robert at the end of the street there. The Portkeys probably pop you in the least conspicuous place in a certain radius - and this being an overpopulated place, that probably changes by the second.” He was already heading towards Robert when he realized Lily had not moved. He looked back at her. “Lily?”

She met his eyes. “I don’t want anyone else to know… about what I am.”

Teddy frowned, but he said, “I know.”

She blinked. “I feel like I shouldn’t be here. I can’t help other people. I can barely…”

She didn’t have to say it. He knew what she meant though and he stepped forward, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Robert wouldn’t ask if he didn’t trust you. If you can’t trust yourself, trust him. Trust me.” He smiled and she let out a breath, nodding.

They caught up to Robert quickly. “Hi Abbey,” Teddy cooed, waving at the little girl, widening his eyes and sticking out his tongue to entertain her with a silly face. Lily offered what felt like a weak smile, but tried to stand a little taller.
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Post by Khaat Lupin Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:34 am

Abbey saw Teddy and Lily coming, and when Teddy waved and made a little face, she giggled and returned her own silly face at him. She eyed Lily, trying to search her little memory for a name. Robert saw where Abbey was looking and smiled. Abbey had no berries to distract her now, so of course now Lily was of interest to Abbey because she was a relatively new face for the toddler.

"That's Lily," Robert told Abbey. "She's family. Can you say Lily?"

"Lee Lee," Abbey said, pleased with herself.

"Hm...Fair enough for now," he said. "We'll work on it." He looked at Lily and gave her a half amused smile. "Believe me, it could be worse than Lee Lee. The more you come around, the quicker she'll get it right. I'm glad your porting went well for both of you."  Glancing over Teddy's shoulder, he saw Kate and Khaat arriving, porting in across the street. "Since we're all here, let's go in." He used the knocker, more as a rhetorical announcement of his arrival rather than expecting anyone to answer the door, and then he turned the knob and opened the front door. "Come on in."

He walked in,and the nautically decorated foyer opened up to a similarly decorated sitting room, a main hallway that went back through the length of the house, a large stairway going up, and an archway that opened up to a staff dining room in the next room, with the kitchen and pantry behind that. And, as usual, there were a few children rather running askew, and when they saw him, they stopped and gathered round, asking him if he'd remembered. Buggar, he thought. He hadn't remembered, and they were about to hold him to it. He had promised them licorice wands, and he had forgotten. He'd bought them but he'd left them behind at the farm.

"Well, buggar," he sighed. "I'm going to have to pay up, aren't I?" He expected them to be irked with him but instead they seemed delighted.

"You owe us double now," the oldest boy said, crossing his arms and cocking his head to the side with boyish overconfidence to show Robert that he meant business. Robert rather liked him in particular because he was a bit of an artful dodger. He liked intelligence and straight shooters. "That was the bet, you know, Captain," the lad said, confident he had the advantage.

"Indeed it was, and of course, you told everyone," Robert said, amused.

"Certainly. Someone has to keep you on the up and up," the boy said, proud of himself.

"Now that's cheeky. Alright, double it is," Robert said. "Now, are you all supposed to be down here?"

"Nah, but I'm not taking no spelling tests," he said.

"Be off with you, all of you, for that spelling test--unless you want to be a bug in one of my bug jars," Robert said. The children nudged each other, the younger ones seeming to take it seriously that he might transfigure them into insects, and they headed upstairs, dragging the older boy along, who hadn't believed a word of the threat Robert had given. He rolled his eyes at Robert in mild annoyance and then went upstairs with the others.

"That boy has been here about three weeks," Robert told the others. "His name is Toby. He's a good lad, but his father, not so much. His father's a tosser. If I send him back to his dad, we'll be rescuing Toby again in less than a fortnight. He's safer here than he is out there, and he's streetwise enough that he knows it, so he does try to reasonably follow the rules. I'm working to get him legally free of his father, and then we'll make some other permanent arrangement for him. He'll be old enough to go to Hogwarts in the fall, so that's a possibility."

"They're not here to talk about Toby," Kate said, "The layout is pretty straight forward. Here on the ground floor, aside from this sitting room, is the staff dining room, the kitchen, the pantry, two bathrooms, the chief operations office that Robert and Brian share, a couple of other offices for agents to use for their paperwork and such, and a records archive. Come on back this way down the hall, and we'll show you."  She went down the hallway and motioned to the empty offices on the left side of the hallway that were free for anyone to use. The first door on the right was a bathroom, the second was the archives and Robert's office was the last on the right, the plaque on the door reading "Bridge".

"This is liable to be the room you'll want," Robert said, going in and motioning them in. He flicked on a light. "I don't remember who started the use of the naval terminology, but there is a bloody lot of it. This is the center of operations. It was intended to be my office, but it has evolved into the core of anything that is currently going on. The map on the wall behind the desk shows where we've had operations and where current operations are, and where we suspect activity is occurring. It's all color coded. Any relevant documentation about a current or pending operation is always in here."

"New staff?" a voice asked. Robert turned to the opposite wall where a large portrait hung of the original founders of the organization--James, Lily, Sirius, Michael, Remus, and younger versions of Kate and Robert--in their 1981 selves. They had been poised to be pouring over a map that was laying on a center table painted into the portrait, but they straightened themselves upon seeing new people there and they seemed to take great interest in everyone who had entered the room. Wizarding art was odd that way. One looked at art to observe it and any message or intention the artist intended to send, but with wizarding art, the art was often observing you and how you observed it. There were times it felt a bit disarming, and this portrait had people who incessantly needed to be involved. The title of the portrait, embossed upon the gilded frame read simply, "Our Founders, 1981"

"Ah, meet the peanut gallery," Robert said, deliberately teasing the portrait members. He looked back at Lily and Teddy.  "You will find that, on occasion, they actually do have useful information or advice. Shall I introduce you?"
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Post by Teddy R. Lupin Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:23 am

Lily spent little to no time with children. When she was younger, she had been surrounded by her younger cousins, and the difference between eight and six seemed much more enormous than the difference between eighteen and sixteen. As one of the younger of the Potter-Weasley (and then extended Longbottom and Lovegood) family, her memories were of elders rather than young’uns.

But the smile of a child as small and happy as Abbey was infectious, it broke through layers of uncertainty and reserve. And Lee Lee? Please - how was that supposed to be resisted?

It was the first smile that night that was uninhibited, warm, something of the old Lily.

- - -

Teddy felt bad to be… excited to meet these kids. He knew the sucker punch would come later, when he was alone - that was when the sadness would grip his heart, remind him that he was one of the lucky orphans, an orphan with friends and a place to go. Merlin, he now had too much family to even count. How was it that there were children with nowhere to go? Still?

We go three steps forwards just to go two steps back.

But for now, he had steeled himself and was using all of his Teddy powers of optimism to focus instead on the work to be done, the help he could offer. He had to admit, he was uniquely qualified for the work. Social work degree in university, mental health clinic hours at St. Mungo’s, three years under his belt as a professor at Hogwarts. It felt like he could not resist answering the call. Not that he’d want to.

As was everything with the Lupins, the action started immediately. He witnessed the coordinated shakedown of the Minister of Magic by a gaggle of street kids for candy with amusement - good for them.

He stayed quiet during the tour, silenced by just how legitimate the whole affair was - this was no thrown-together, fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants operation. They were established.

Had he wanted to speak, the words died in his throat at the voice of James Potter. He blinked a bit rapidly, eyes hurting. It wasn’t the first time he had come face to face with his father’s portrait, or his friends, but it always threw him. He couldn’t help but feel like Remus’ silent, gentle eyes were tracing him, following him, memorizing him. Teddy understood the magic of the portraits, he knew that wasn’t actually his father, it was an imprint.

But besides his extended family, it was the closest he could get.

Teddy worked past the hitch in his voice as he said, “Oh, I know these folks.” He stepped forward. “Hi Dad… and adopted grandpa James and Sirius.” Lily immediately threw back her head, laughing as she jostled James and Sirius who pretended to be irritated by the term, though they both had a softness for Teddy as well. “Hi Lily,” Teddy said, a bit more softly. Her laughter faded as she clapped a hand on Remus’ back, shaking him encouragingly. “Hello Teddy,” she said, placing a hand on Remus’ shoulder. Remus still did not speak - but he did not have to.

Teddy cleared his throat and stepped out of the way, looking at Lily and gesturing for her to step forward. Her eyes darted between him and Khaat before she stepped forward, raising a stiff hand by way of greeting. Lily and James took a deep breath, almost coordinated, revealing their closeness, their agreement of mind. James cracked a grin and all she could see was her brothers, and the faintestmemory of a father she barely knew. “Lily, you’re even more beautiful than your namesake.” He obviously meant to rib his wife, but she was practically swelling with pride as she said, “I’m so glad you have your father’s hair.”

Lily nodded, looking a bit numb. Their home had been littered with pictures, both magical and nonmagical, so she knew these faces as well as her own. Teddy couldn’t tell what she was feeling beyond discomfort, and had no idea from whence that sprang.

Teddy cleared his throat and said, “Thank you, for starting this thing. I’m looking forward to continuing your legacy.” He looked to Robert, Kate, and finally Khaat, smiling. “Thanks to all of you.”
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Post by Khaat Lupin Sat Feb 27, 2021 1:40 am

"You're so very welcome," Robert said, "and we look forward to having you both with us. Truth be told, its something I've wanted for a very long time, so I am very grateful to both of you for being willing to give it a go. If we don't have any missions brewing, there is still  absolutely no shortage of things to do, and there are a good many things I would like to see us do that we just haven't gotten to. So if you see something you'd like to do or get some ideas of your own, by all means, speak up. Now, if you want to see where our agents are, the map will tell you at a glance. You see those blue lights? Each light is an agent that is off duty, no matter where they are in the world. The green lights are agents who are on duty who are in safe conditions. Any red lights are agents who are in trouble, and..." As he was looking at the map, he saw a green lit agent simply blink off. He frowned. That wasn't supposed to happen. Light didn't just turn off.

"Angus," Robert called. A moment later, a dark haired man appeared in the doorway.

"You called?" Angus asked.

"There was an agent south of Notre Dame, and he just went off grid completely," Robert said. Angus frowned.

"I'll go get him," Angus said. "Kate, would you get the tarte tatins out of the oven in ten minutes?"

"Of course," Kate said.

"Take some backup, Angus, just in case," Robert said.  Angus nodded, nodded a civilized greeting towards Lily and Teddy and then disappeared again.

"I'm sure you'll have time to meet him later, but if you're here and you're hungry, that's the man to see," Kate said. "Angus is the house manager. He's a former auror, a jack of all trades, and, believe it or not, a certified chef. He would be happy to whip up something for you any time, and feel free to take him along with you if you're going out and could use a partner. He's another one who juggles two jobs. When he's not here, he works for Khaat and Brian, managing their estate."

"Yes, and I'm keeping him," Khaat grinned. "Wait til you both get a taste of his cinnamon rolls. They a favorite at my house."

"They're a favorite here too," Robert said. "If a child has a birthday while he's here, that child gets to ask for whatever he wants to eat for one meal out of the day, but they all know that if they ask for a cinnamon roll on their birthday, Angus makes the birthday boy or girl one cinnamon roll but it's as big as their breakfast plate. They normally end up sharing it, but they do really like seeing that one big warm cinnamon roll with all that icing melting down over the sides. The kids here would rather have that than cake, I think. Speaking of cinnamon roll, you can see the kitchen as we go through. I think I'd like to show you the cellar next. The weapons locker is down there, the potions lab, and my rather feeble attempt at a bit of a hothouse down there. I had good intentions with it, but I haven't had time to keep up on it. If you're any good with plants, Lily, I might let you see if you can do anything with it."

"That, and that miserable eyesore of a greenhouse in the back garden," Kate said.

"Oh, that," Robert said, frustrated. "It needs a repairo spell and an enlarging spell."

"Or a sledgehammer," Kate muttered.

"It's not a bad little greenhouse, but it's old, some of the glass is broken, and it's too small. An extension charm would be just the ticket," Robert said. "I had hopes of us growing not only a lot of our own potions ingredients but some of our own culinary herbs and such. And I'd like to leave space in the back garden for the children to play." He walked to the doorway of the room and motioned them to follow him. He led them through to the kitchen and when they got to the back kitchen door and the basement steps, Robert motioned to the window in the back door. "There's that greenhouse, Lily--in the back corner. He pointed to the left corner in the back garden to the sad looking little Victorian styled greenhouse. It had looked like an elegant little thing at one time. Robert thought it could be attractive once again if someone took an interest in it.   "It definitely needs some work. I could help with the repairs and enlarging, but I really would have to leave you do whatever you felt best with the plants, if that even remotely interests you," he told Lily.


Last edited by Khaat Lupin on Sat Feb 27, 2021 6:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Lily Luna Potter Sat Feb 27, 2021 2:55 am

Lily felt remarkably out of her depth, like a child prematurely invited to the grown up table. She felt like she would have been more capable three years ago, before she had even taken her OWLs. She had always been mature for her age, often credited with an old soul and steady patience. She had gone through things few adults ever would, but it did not serve to make her feel any stronger or any more prepared for the evils of the world. So deep were the waters that she could take very little consolation from the fact that she had survived drowning.

It only served to make her more afraid of the waters.

The Lupins, however, were speaking quickly, and Teddy was taking it all in stride, keeping up with each new development. Teddy had always been the most mature  and responsible - he had been forced to grow up early and his maturity was especially magnified by the fact that he did not feel any resentment for that. A caretaker through and through.

Lily wasn’t a caretaker. But she admired Teddy, and Robert, and Kate, and Khaat. If she could be half as strong as one of them…

She was shaken from her reverie when Robert asked her to check out the greenhouse. She nodded and followed, plunging her hands deep into the pockets of her cardigan, fighting the urge to duck her head as she followed.

Staring through the window, that sense of dreaming captured her again. Had she not just been musing upon the idyllic desire to cultivate her own plants, to tend to roots and leaves that would be rolled into cures and salves? Her mouth was dry and she was all eyes for the greenhouse. She didn’t see Teddy look to Khaat with a wide grin, mouthing ‘perfect’. She only saw the possibilities in that backyard.

“Yes. Yes I would very much be interested in that,” was her low response.

Teddy now turned to both Lupin women. “What’s happening with schooling? While the kids are waiting for placement. And are any of them in any kind of therapy? I can’t imagine what they’ve been through, but it can’t have been a picnic.”
Lily Luna Potter
Lily Luna Potter
Sixth Year Gryffindor
Sixth Year Gryffindor

Number of posts : 25

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Post by Khaat Lupin Sat Feb 27, 2021 6:22 am

Khaat saw how pleased Teddy was, and she saw how Lily was immediately captivated by the greenhouse. Ah ha. There had been the magic made Lily come alive. She smiled back at Teddy.

"Excellent, then," Robert said, also aware that it had moved her, but he hadn't changed his tone with her a bit. He had decided that Lily was not going to trust easily, and although he didn't know what had caused her to be so repressed, he wasn't going to treat her any other way than as though she were capable of the work ahead of her. He believed she was capable, so he saw no reason not to treat her as such. "If you like, I can set a couple spells in motion before we leave to get the basic rebuilding done. Then, when you come back, you can organize it and handle it however you like. We do have some basic gardening equipment in the storage room, and I will help you get seeds or plant starts or whatever you need. Or, you can come with me and pick out what you like."

"Those are really good questions, Teddy," Kate said. "Two of the upper floors are for the children, and they can be self sustaining if we need them to be. There are bedrooms, playrooms with all sorts of toys and games, classrooms, libraries of children's books, common sitting rooms, bathrooms, infirmaries, and there are some creative arts studios--one for younger children, and another for older ones so they can do pottery, sketching, painting, and all sorts of expressive arts. They have their own large kitchen and pantry, a large dining room and a smaller one, and, of course, a nursery for the very young. There is a staff office on each floor, but the staff that are stationed to care for the children are rarely in the offices. They're with the children, as we would expect them to be. We have tutors for their education, and we group them into small groups of 4 or so that we call pods so they can have some peers their own ages who are studying the same things. We've found that by creating a bit of a routine for them gives them consistency and a sense of security, but we deliberately break up the school work with recreation to try to keep their moods up."

"Daytime isn't the issue," Robert said. "It's nighttime. Insomnia and nightmares are very common, along with just plain fear. It isn't at all unusual for Khaat or Brian or I to need to come at bedtime and help with some relaxation spells or sleep potions or to read stories or cuddle. It tends to get easier for them the longer they're with us, but yes, there is a good deal of trauma. Therapy is badly needed for most of them, but ironically, it is harder for us to find a therapist that also fits in with the clandestine nature of the place itself. We don't have anyone doing that, unfortunately, so we're doing the best we can until we have a better solution. They get a good deal of affection, and that does help a bit, but it doesn't erase trauma.

"Shall we go down and see the potions lab?" Robert was changing subjects. "I probably should mention that there are boatloads of age lines that are geared to keep children out of the cellar. There are age lines at the stairs, around the cellar windows, and in front of all the downstairs doors. Down here is not only the lab but also the weapons locker with all sorts of espionage equipment, some training room space for operatives, a storage room, and whatever might be left of the hothouse." He opened the cellar door and turned on the lights and went downstairs. He opened the doors to all the rooms downstairs so they could walk around and see what they liked but when he opened the door to the hothouse, he sighed. Kate looked in to see what he was unhappy about. He would show them some of the things in the weapons room in a moment, but while he had Lily's focus, he wanted to show her the potions lab and the hothouse. The potions lab was fairly large and roomy and also held the potions ingredients, equipment, and jars of potions already made, all on shelves that lined the room. The hothouse was the next room beyond the potions lab.

The hothouse was warm and had plenty of magical light but the plants were all dead--dry brown stalks with crispy brown leaves and the dirt in the pots could have rivaled any desert soil. Kate looked at him frowning.

"For a farmer, how on earth did you forget to renew your watering spell?" she asked, disapprovingly. "You have a whole room of kindling now. You're going to scare Lily off before she gets started." She cast a bit of a wink in Lily's direction to let her know that she was deliberately baiting Robert and not intending to throw any shade Lily's direction.

"I don't think Lily Potter is intimidated in the least by a dead plant," Robert said. "This is just what I get for having entirely too many irons in the fire. Lily, I'm afraid these plants are all a total loss. You might have to decide if you want to keep the hothouse or not and, if you do, you'll have to start from square one. My original idea was to keep a supply of the plants I use the most a bit closer at hand, but you see how well I managed with it. Ah, well, you will do a good deal better, whatever you decide, I am quite certain."

(love lily's outfit, by the way!)
Khaat Lupin
Khaat Lupin
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Gryffindor Graduate

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Special Abilities : Energy Worker, Medium, Heightened Sensitivity
Occupation : Director of St. Mungos, Owner of Sparks Bistro

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