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      How to get sorted   03/03/2018

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Phillip Aldermaston

The Birch's Lament

9 posts in this topic

Phillip had tried talking to Foster about the whole auror attack thing – it hadn’t got him anywhere but he had tried.  Foster didn’t believe him and didn’t even have the good grace to admit that she didn’t believe him – her solution had been to one: Tell him she’d look into it and two: to tell him to keep an open mind about his attack.

Point one was stupid.  As if Phillip didn’t know very well that his attacker was the one writing the bloody incident forms in the first place and he certainly didn’t trust a professor who didn’t seem to understand that very simple concept.  Obviously, it would be justified on paper since he wasn’t the one writing the forms – bloody Borage-Brown was.  As for point two, that wasn’t much help either.  Why on earth did Foster think he’d waited for a while to tell her?  To wait for the weather to be right or something equally daft – no, Phillip had snorted to himself at that.

And then there had been that duel where the prefect asked him what was wrong and he’d blown it off with some comment that everything was wrong because it was all tangled up with how he felt about Foster and he was just a child and he didn't know anything about how to tell a prefect a teacher was useless. And then there was that second duel where he’d longed to take someone else’s place because of the whole keeping an open mind thing.  And thus after the second duel, Phillip had fled to the armour gallery.
Once he had, he had found a window seat and then had hopped up onto said window seat and then he’d drawn the curtains around him before he’d given in to the urge to sob. Not that Phillip knew what he wanted but he did know that it was now that he felt horrid and like a criminal  - after all, he'd just been jealous of a victim of a Death Eater attack, for goodness' sake.   At least here, he might have some solitude or more to the point, he might not be a danger to others who had their own stuff to deal with.

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It wasn't that Rowan liked to be alone - on the contrary, she hated being alone - but there were days when thoughts weighed on her mind too heavily and it was hard to breath with other people in the room. On days like those, she found herself retreating to the far recesses of the castle, looking for solace and comfort in an empty room or a quiet nook.


Today had been one of those days.


Perhaps it was the way she'd woken up, sharp claws from one of her roommate's pets sinking into her leg through her covers. Maybe it was the roar of voices in The Great Hall that distracted her enough to forget to eat. Or it could have been the sidelong looks from passing teachers whose bad sides she'd somehow managed to get on.


Regardless of the reason behind the churning storm in her stomach, the result was the same. She needed somewhere to hide; somewhere to be wholly and truly herself just long enough to allow the fog to clear from the corners of her mind and clarity to return to her.


The Armory had been a frequent spot of hers; the occasional suit of armour might pester her a bit, but for the most part the room would remain empty. Students didn't quite had a need to look at giant metal men. Rowan had slunk her way into the room, tucking herself in an alcove behind one of the metal suits.


Her eyes traced patterns along the tarnished silver that her fingers dare not replicate. Though she wouldn't admit it - not even to herself - It was a familiar suit of armor, one that carried nicks from the toe of her boots and scratches from her nails clawing at the metal. The churning in her stomach only got worse. 


She'd been readying herself to leave - giving a pep talk to tell her that she could manage the rest of the day, the week, the year; that she would be fine - when she heard footsteps. Or perhaps footstomps with the way they pounded against the stone floor. Instinctually, she held her breath and pressed her small frame as close to the wall as she could in an attempt to make herself invisible. 


Then gentle cries permeated the silence of the room; in any other moment, she'd have considered them quiet, but here they were deafening. The air flowed out of her in a huff that sounded a bit like a sob of her own as she peered out from her hiding spot towards the source of the sound. 


The bolts of fabric in the window shook with each cry; a signal that someone corporeal was there - probably a schoolmate or, Merlin forbid, a teacher! She swallowed, hard, steadying herself to attempt an escape without being noticed. One of her Heeley'd feet slid forward slowly and silently as she extracted herself from the nook. 


A wave of relief that perhaps she might make it out without a scene ebbed just below the surface, ready to wash over her. The feeling had arisen too quickly as her second foot slid forward too quickly, propelling her directly into a suit of armor that clanged loudly during the collision and proceeded to begin telling her off the second it had righted itself. 



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Phillip hadn’t pondered for very long on the subject of whether he’d like to be alone – he had simply considered that other people needed him to be far away from them for their own sakes.   Phillip was fairly sure that “being jealous of the Death Eater’s victims” was a thing that would get him sent to his room at the very least (and possibly the nursery, even) until he was ready to join the rest of the civilised world again.    

Going to his room would not cut it here.   Not with the way Hogwarts sleeping arrangements were set up and besides, he didn’t need any aurors-can-do-no-wrong fools (*cough* Desmond *cough*)   around nor did he need them around.  Apparently, knocking someone unconscious was a mistake on the order of getting a question wrong on your homework – Phillip didn’t need that foolishness just now.    But yes, Phillip considered that a twelve-year-old-boy who had just been jealous of the victim of a Death Eater should not be wandering around in public and should be alone, regardless of his opinion on whether he’d like to be alone.  Because he’d just been jealous of a D.E’s victim, for heaven’s sake!   


Footstomps, yes, they had been but Phillip wasn’t intending them to be foot stomps – he wasn’t deliberately stomping, exactly, it’s just that he had fled from the duelling chamber and in his running haste, he hadn’t been paying the slightest attention to how heavy his footfalls were or weren’t.

Phillip had been sitting so that he was hugging his own knees and the boy’s body shook with sobs and since he was pressed up against the window, this had resulted in the bolt of fabric that was the curtain shaking with each sob.


And then there was an almighty clatter and this resulted in Phillip making a little startled half-jump (and he accidentally tugged a curtain more open at that point) and tossing his head like a frightened horse.    Of course, since he’d wedged himself in the space rather tight to begin with, this naturally resulted in the little boy tumbling off of the window seat.   And then Phillip saw the armour and Rowan was there and um.   Oh dear.  That wasn’t what he meant to happen and he ended up snapping at the armour to “Shut.  Up.”   Phillip blinked up at Rowan but he made no move to right himself before looking up at Rowan.     

How could he possibly explain anything to Rowan who’d had her own attack?  Oh, sure, the attacks were different – Phillip figured that her attack was harsher physically but… there were other things that Phillip did or didn’t do that was the whole mess.  Phillip’s mouth worked silently for a while and he tried to ignore that squeeze in his stomach of some hybrid of guilt, jealousy, fear and resentment because he was twelve-years-old and he was weird about feelings before he tried to tell Rowan something.

“Uhhh….Rowan?  It’s me.”   Yes.   Make it clear that he’s not a teacher first as if revealing himself hadn’t done that.   And  Phillip battled with his inner demons for a bit before making a decision:  In for a penny/knut, in for a pound/galleon so Phillip made sure he was facing Rowan before he took a deep breath.


Phillip didn’t know what to do here.  “I was just duelling with someone who was attacked by D.E.s in  October”   Naturally, Phillip expected Rowan to understand exactly which October he was referring to.     And then Phillip let out a laugh although there was no real mirth or humour in it before he elaborated  “And…. I was bloody jealous.  And… I wanted to swap with them, for heaven’s sake! ”  Yes, Phillip had just sworn in mixed company and yes, the floor took a punch at this point.

And then Phillip hunched himself up and resumed the position he’d been at in the window seat – he was hugging his knees and had drawn himself inwards.   Phillip then turned his head up to Rowan  and tried hard to blink back the tears that were threatening to spill from his eyes.     “That…. Does… Is it….  Am I a bad person for that?” Because Phillip really didn’t like himself much at the moment, his tone suggested that he thought the answer was ‘yes, it does’ or something of the like.

Phillip could hardly approach Seeley or Professor Foster or Desmond about this.   While he liked Seeley well enough despite their having got off on the wrong foot, she didn’t understand how much danger an incompetent professor put them in.   Professor Foster was the incompetent professor in question who didn’t understand the concept of an attack.  Desmond (who should know better as an auror’s grandson) didn’t understand the difference between an attack and a mistake.


Phillip couldn’t go to Eloise either – he’d already tried that and it hadn’t gotten him anywhere useful because apparently, his duelling mentor didn’t understand the concept of an attack either.  There was another barrier with regards to Foster but that applied to most people – they wouldn’t understand that he’d felt a bone-deep ache to trade places with the girl attacked by D.E.s – they’d think he was just a little boy seeking attention or at best, that he was jealous in the same way that new big brothers were.

On the other hand, Rowan seemed to believe him when he told her what had happened to him on that October.   Most people would automatically jump to ‘Yes’  but… even if Rowan agreed that he was a bad person for what he had just wished for  then she would at least understand why he was asking that question and why he had felt that longing in the first place.

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In times of deep embarrassment, like this, Rowan’s fight or flight instinct kicked in, filling her mind with one word: run, as if that would somehow save her from whatever situation was to follow instead of simply prolonging the inevitable.


Alarm bells sounded in her brain; a loud, ominous noise to signal that she needed to get out of there as fast as possible. Adrenaline coursed through her, eyes darted from place to place looking for the best method of exit.


Somehow Phillip’s voice cut through the near deafening noise of the inside of her mind; his words clear as they could be: ‘it’s me’. Her gaze, which had been quickly darting from door to door fell on the face of the all too familiar boy. The anxiety that had plagued her momentarily began to dissipate almost as quickly as it had arrived.


Without warning, he began to speak, which threw her brain into overdrive attempting to process exactly what he was saying while also sorting her own thoughts out from the panicked ones from moments before. October. Death Eaters. She felt slightly ill.


Philip hadn’t been the only person to bring up the attacks to Rowan; far from it, actually. If she didn’t know better (and honestly, she didn’t) she would think that people enjoyed the topic of conversation to be about a near death experience. He was, however, the only person who’d been able to talk about it without Rowan turning into an angry, petulant child.


That, of course, didn’t mean that she wanted to talk about it all the time with him. Yet, somehow, every time they were together that seemed to be the topic of conversation. Couldn’t they, for once, be like normal kids and talk about how bad the food was in the Great Hall or how rowdy their classmates were?


The second half of Phillip’s sentence finally registered in her brain. Jealous. He had said he was jealous of someone who had been attacked. The mere thought alone was enough to churn her stomach and cause her hands to shake - perhaps with anger, maybe with sadness, she honestly wasn’t sure.


In a swift motion, she pushed herself off the ground, standing up to her full height. With Phillip on the floor still, this would cause her to be taller than him for once, which she assumed would be imposing. Ready to yell at him or hit him or something equally bad that she couldn’t think of just yet, her feet carried her towards the boy. Nearly simultaneously, he retreated into himself; a position of sadness Rowan knew all too well.


The frustration and anger that had previously been coursing through her vanished, replaced by her empathy and sadness; another hill on the emotional rollercoaster that had been the prior few minutes. She could only assume that his tear rimmed eyes matched hers; though she wasn’t on the brink of crying just yet.

"Phillip, you're no-- it's not--" A huff escaped her; words had never been this hard previously, but these felt as though they would carry a weight to them. She needed to be sure that she delivered the right ones; granted she wasn't sure what the right ones were supposed to be. Quietly, she sat down next to him. Her hand hovered over his shoulder unsure if she should touch him or was even allowed to touch him, "You're a good person, Phillip, something bad just happened to you."

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((Sorry for the super-long post))

Phillip hadn’t meant for Rowan to be embarrassed since he hadn’t considered her coming to the armour gallery in the first place.   Phillip had intended to den himself up in the window seat until that horribly complicated feeling in the pit of his stomach went away or…. Summer, whichever came first. 

Phillip was only twelve and therefore wasn’t really equipped to deal with that horrible swirl of resentment, jealousy, guilt and all the other emotions that were swirling in his stomach and he’d been trying to deal with it alone – of course, Rowan had (accidentally) scuppered that plan.  


Had Phillip known about her thoughts about wanting to just talk like normal kids, he likely would have responded with something adjacent to both amusement and annoyance.  Amusement because neither of them were normal children and neither of them had been since their respective attacks.  Annoyance because … well… it wasn’t like Phillip had come to Rowan.     In all honesty, then, it was probably just as well that Phillip remained oblivious to Rowan’s thoughts.


As for the jealousy part, it wasn’t that he was jealous of someone who was attacked exactly.  It was more that he was jealous of someone who had been attacked by Death Eaters, the people who were supposed to be the aggressors.    Phillip had, during that duel, experienced a bone-deep aching wish to trade places with that person or really anyone attacked by a Death Eater.  Of course, Rowan seemed to misunderstand completely why he wanted to do that and why he was jealous of the victims of Death Eaters.

It wasn’t that Phillip was completely unaware of the consequences of Death Eater attacks.   It was simply that Phillip was the kind of boy who would have found it easier to deal with even the worst pain a D.E. could inflict than the reality because bad guys attacking children was much easier to understand and Phillip suspected that it wouldn’t result in nonsense like Keep an open mind or Treat your attacker with respect or That sort of accusations needs context and to Phillip, the nonsense was more painful than a D.E. attack would have been to the little boy, just in different places.

And so, Phillip swallowed at the imposing figure she momentarily cut.   It was more-or-less a new experience for Phillip to have a girl his own age be taller than him even momentarily and so he swallowed again before he decided that he needed to try to explain himself.

There was a moment where Phillip made up Rowan’s dialogue in his head but it was more a reflection of his mood than Rowan herself and after a second, he elaborated on his thoughts on that subject.   “I’m not…It isn’t…I don’t….” 

Phillip had tried a few variations on a sentence before settling for   “I have thought about this.”   More accurately, he’d felt about this.   “I have worked out that Death Eater attacks were worse than….”    What I went through but Phillip didn’t say that but he settled for “Well,you know” and the little boy expected Rowan to know exactly what was meant by that.

While Phillip was struggling with how to tell Rowan about Professor Foster, he decided to tell her about Professor Llwyd.    “Professor Llwyd….told me to be respectful of … well, the auror.”   And yes, Phillip figured that Rowan would know which auror he meant without further clarification. 
Not the whole story either.

Phillip shrugged because it was so difficult to find the words.  “It’s just that…well…”  That they didn’t have to deal with nonsense but that sounded so petty so instead, Phillip decided to tell Rowan certain things about what had happened to him.     “Remind me to tell you the story about Professor Foster sometimes. “   And there was a sarcastic inflexion on the word ‘Professor’.

“Professor Foster called me into her office about it. She called my attack ham-handed and undiplomatic  like all the auror did was call me names or refuse to say please or something and she said I should keep an open mind.   She also said she wasn’t incompetent.  Since one is a DADA professor not understanding the concept of an attack, one of those is a lie.  She also brought up children badly injured by D.E. attacks as if I didn’t know.”  

That comment about children being badly injured by D.Es had stung because it seemed like the whole calling-him-into-his-office was just a set-up to tell him to be grateful that he wasn’t attacked by a D.E. because it would be worse and a set-up to tell him he was in the wrong and she’d pretended she’d believed him.     Phillip wasn’t going to fall for that one again. 

  Of course, that wasn’t the whole story.     “I doubt she told victims of D.E. attacks to keep an open mind”  Because she had asked him what was bothering him and…. Brought it back around to children badly injured by Death Eaters.     That’s all she cared about which, by extension, meant she didn’t care about him.      "It's just that it'd be easier for me to deal with a D.E. attack than nonsense."   That was really all this was.

“I tried to tell Eloise but she asked about context.   If there was context, I wouldn’t have called it an attack.”  To Phillip’s mind, the only type of attack was an unprovoked attack.    If he had been winding up a cousin, for example, and got punched then that wasn’t an attack to Phillip’s mind since Phillip kind of deserved it in that case.

Phillip watched Rowan’s hand hover and shifted slightly to allow her to reach his shoulder easier if she so chose which required uncurling slightly but he didn’t uncurl any more than the minimum the gesture required.  Of course she was allowed to touch him, he’d shown her where his heart wasn’t which required touching.  

One thing was for certain though, he was never going back to Foster’s office.   The fact that he was at boarding school and therefore it might be unavoidable occurred a moment later so he settled for mentally amending that  to never going back there alone.

Of course, that entailed asking a favour. “Rowan….I …  I … I”   Okay, deep breath.    “Rowan,I have a favour.  If I ever have to go back  Because he’d been there once and wasn’t going there alone again   “to Foster’s office or… if I ever have to go to Llwyd’s office”  again, he wasn’t going there on his own initiative … “Uhh…would you come with me?  ….Please?”   

Of course, Phillip wasn't sure whether Rowan really meant her answer to his question "And....are you sure that doesn't make me a bad person?"   Phillip wasn't going to let himself off the hook as easily as that in his current frame of mind.

And all Phillip could do now was wait for an answer.


Edited by Phillip Aldermaston
Forgot stuff

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Rowan’s attack had been locked up in the recesses of her mind. In a place where bad memories and horrid thoughts went to die; a place where she wouldn’t have to be reminded of them; a place where she could pretend as though the hadn’t actually happened.


Sometimes they would seep through the seams; manifesting as bad nightmares or harsh words thrown at unsuspecting students. She was still haunted by the worst of those leaks - her outburst at Lindy on the first night which resulted in tense, torrid months of awkward interactions.


Today, right now, had been so viciously close to being another one of those moments. The kind that she would think about late at night when she couldn’t sleep; the kind she would replay in her brain when she was upset with herself.


Phillip could have easily been the victim of her poor coping methods and short temper. They had come drastically close to an incident. Infact, she could still feel the sting on her tongue where her teeth had pressed into it in anger.


Somehow, there was something about him that made him different. -- Well, there was the whole medical anomaly thing, but that wasn’t what she’d been referring to. No, there was something else there; something that made her okay with talking to him about the attacks and death eaters. Only him, no one else. 


Phillip Aldermaston was someone she still hesitated to touch; he was someone with whom silence was uncomfortable and needed to be filled. Their relationship teetered somewhere between strangers and friends or, somehow, it was an odd mix of the two.


Perhaps that was why she’d been able to quell the anger that brewed inside her at his mention of the attacks. Everyone else who’d mentioned them - from students to counselors to Ollie, who’d gone through it with her, - would have received the full force of her fury.


Instead, she was sat next to the boy, attempting to understand why he felt the way he did; attempting to comfort him with a gentle hand on his shoulder and kind nods as he talked. At every mention of the attacks, her stomach did small jumps that made her feel sick, but she could handle those.


Then, he brought up Foster. Just her name was enough to twist Rowan's insides into knots; every mention of the woman sent chills up her spine. In an attempt to not interrupt him with harsh words about their professor or a shout of the two curse words she knew, Rowan tightened her jaw, pressing her molars together as firmly as she could. That was her tried and true method of keeping silent; it was impossible to talk when your mouth ached at even the thought. 


Children badly injured by D.E. attacks. The phrase was a gut punch; a baseball bat to her senses. Had Foster been talking about her? Had that woman attempted to co-opt Rowan's suffering in order to push Phillip's under the rug? She ground her teeth together even harder, allowing him to continue.


The anger stewed in her as he continued; a symphony of hatred and disdain. It only took moments for the emotions to come bubbling up, and despite her best efforts she couldn't stop them. Her jaw relaxed as she turned to face the boy, ready to commiserate with him over their mutual hatred of their professor.


Before she could manage, he threw her a curveball in the form of a question. Go with him? To Foster's office? The thought of having to spend time in a tiny room with her was nausea inducing; but there was something about Phillip that made her chest hurt and her mouth feel dry.


"Um, well, I mean, yeah. I can go with you if you want me to." She responded, coughing a bit to clear her throat in the process. Then came the second question; one she had already answered but knew he needed reassurance on. "Phillip, if you were a bad person, we wouldn't be f-friends." 


She hesitated momentarily on the word, unsure if it was the correct one to use for whatever this relationship was.

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Phillip’s attack had been constantly swirling in the back of his mind since his little ‘chat’ with Professor Foster – in that place where it is just at the edge of a boy’s awareness.  If he had been called upon to describe it, he would have described at as constantly being thinking-and-not-thinking about it.     Night was easy – all Phillip had to do was go to sleep. And if he had a bad dream, well, he had a bad dream.   Day was easy – all Phillip had to do was pay attention to his schoolwork and if he had an upsetting thought, he had an upsetting thought.  

That in-between time in the cold grey half-light of the dawn just beginning….that was the hardest time for the little boy because he wasn’t sure whether they were upsetting thoughts or bad dreams. When these … things… occurred to Phillip, these things that he didn’t have words for…Phillip was inclined to lose himself in willing himself to wake up back in his bedroom at home, back in the house with those.. complicated… relationships.

Sometimes, his wistful wishful vision was waking up back in the hospital wing or back with Taid or back with the other grandparents or back and there was a variety of these wishes.  But in the end, the location didn’t matter and the one theme that was common – he simply wished himself back  - back before October.

Phillip was unaware how close he had come to an incident (well, there had been the woodworking thing but he was aware of how close that was) or at least, unaware of how close he had come this particular time.  Phillip tried to shift against Rowan slightly but he wasn’t trying to escape Rowan’s touch, he was simply being a fidget-bum.


Another shift and this was neither an escape attempt nor simply Phillip being a fidget-bum, he was trying to shift so that Rowan could hear slightly right-to-centre of his chest or more to the point, what that area of the boy’s body contained – the thrumming pulse of a heartbeat.   This was partly to reemphasis the point about confidence and partly as an attempt to nonverbally give her permission to touch him.

Had Phillip known that Rowan was struggling to understand why he felt the way he did, there likely would have been another incident, only it would have been caused by Phillip this time.    Phillip didn’t tell Rowan everything about his siblings but thanks to certain things, it had been a Phillip-and-Pauline thing and they’d ended up growing up trying to do something about that and the end result was that Phillip was in some ways, a stereotypical boy:  Fidgety, rough-and-tumble, weird about feelings.     It really came down to the fact that Phillip was the kind of child who could cope with physical pain better than … the other kind of pain.

Phillip angled his head so that he could watch for a moment as Rowan set her jaw.  “Uhh…..I...”   But that sentence hung in the air too long and was left unfinished because there were too many sentences there that he wanted to say.  I want, I need, I don’t….I don’t like…but none of them were quite right for the moment so he simply let the sentence trail off and hang in the air.

Phillip wouldn’t have been able to tell her about whether or not children being badly injured by Death Eaters meant Rowan if she had asked.  But he would have told her that yes, that woman had (attempted, nothing) co-opted the D.E’s victim’s attacks (he was too weird about feelings to use the word ‘suffering’ himself) in order to push his own attack under the rug. 

Phillip shrugged slightly at this point.  “Not sure what children being badly injured by  D.E.s has to do with aurors attacking children but...”  and Phillip trailed off for a moment and then there was laughter though there was no real mirth in it and there was no real  genuineness in the laughter – it was simply the laughter of a mind momentarily gone too haywire to act appropriately.     

And then there was more hysterical laughter and for a fraction of a second, Phillip was a normal twelve-year-old boy with a glint of mischief sparking in his (brown) eyes and with a mischievous grin on his face.  “Then again…if it’s a good enough excuse for aurors knocking late-August-born ickles unconscious” and there was more mirthless laughter here.  

More hysterical laughter “…It’s an excellent excuse for… anything.   Undone homework, undone ties, lateness, out-of-uniform.  Hell, never mind the wrong clothes, I could turn up in just my underwear or…. And that’d  clearly be a good enough excuse…right?”    Yes, Phillip had just sworn in mixed company and no, that was not something he normally did. 

 And the implication that Phillip had left unspoken was that it was also sufficient justification for just turning up with even less on than his underwear.   And while the naked thought was just a fantasy he’d never be brave enough to act out in reality, turning up in just his underwear most certainly wasn’t and that was  something that Phillip actually intended to try. 


It was just as well that Rowan hadn’t attempted to commiserate over their mutual hatred of Professor Foster because Phillip hated Rayya Borage-Brown but he just really really really really really (really really….) disliked Professor Foster – there wasn’t actual hate there, just something very near to ‘hate’.

Phillip scowled at this point.  “I hate that…”  and then there followed a string of words which were most definitely not PG   “that bloody Rayya.”   Phillip wasn’t going to give her the respect of calling her Mrs Borage-Brown, no blooming way.     And no, bloody was not the word that Phillip had actually used. 

And Phillip frowned again… hmm…there was a point.  “Hmmm….I want to take Ancient Runes because it looks interesting.”   Yes.   “I don’t want to take Ancient Runes because of … well…one of the Professors is her husband” and Phillip had spat out that ‘her’ as if it was the word he had used in place of 'bloody' and not a perfectly ordinary pronoun and he'd treated her name the same way.


And he tried to tell Rowan more about his dilemma “I want to take Ancient Runes but…Professor Llwyd told me to be respectful to Rayya…I mean, I don’t think he knew exactly what he was  really asking for me to do (I think Professor Foster knew exactly what she was saying) but….”   Phillip trailed off with a sigh here because this was way too complicated for him.

Phillip nodded at her comment about going with him.  “I’m not going on my own again.”   A defiant sentence and one meant to impress consequences on Rowan - the simple consequence that he wouldn't be going unless he was accompanied and that that was that, sure as eggs are eggs.

It must be admitted that he stiffened when she mentioned wanting and started snapping at the girl.   “It’s not a want.  I’m not some little kid who wants the sacred blue plate.”   No, not being alone with Professor Foster again was a deep need that Phillip couldn’t explain and thus he had bristled at that way of putting it and in all honesty, he was a little offended by that phrasing.


Phillip nodded at her comment about being friends and his mood suddenly shifted and words failed him at this point and Phillip could only attempt to securely press himself up against Rowan’s side and try to lean into Rowan’s touch.    The only two words he could manage at this point were  "Thank you"  And it was a soft expression of gratitude, it was technically more than a whisper but only technically.

Phillip did raise his head at this point to ask another question "Umm...Rowan....I'm sorry...I have to ask."  Yes, for his own sake.  "Is ... was... the open mind thing just Foster being... well, Foster...or....?"  Phillip shook his head and tried again.  "Were D.E victims told to keep an open mind about their attack or.....?"   But Phillip simply let the unspoken half of the question hang in the air rather than finish it out loud.

Edited by Phillip Aldermaston

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With Phillip, Rowan had managed to avoid the volatile emotions that came with talks of the attacks, by continuing to be vague about the situation. If she never actually mentioned what happened, she could simply pretend they were talking about a choose your own adventure book they both had read. 


The question that came from the boy - straight forward and brash - was a gut punch; her breath turned shallow and pin pricks of tears found their way to her eyes. Crying seemed like such a childish reaction to a simple question - one that she knew he genuinely wanted an answer too and was not attempting to be purposefully cruel as some of her classmates might. 


Regardless of awareness of the boy's intentions, Rowan's body didn't listen to her brain, betraying her with a red flush in her cheeks and a quiet sniffle as she attempted to keep herself from crying. She took measured breaths; slow and calculated, to give herself something different to focus on. She simply needed to distract herself long enough to stop from thinking about the attacks. Maybe then she could pull together something that sounded enough like an answer to placate Phillip. 


There was a silence that hung between them for a moment longer than it should have; just a fraction of a second, but enough to make the air feel thicker and harsher to Rowan. Her mouth opened and then closed just as quickly - a false start to a sentence she wasn't sure her brain was even able to form. She repeated the action once more before something resembling a sentence settled on her lips.


"Um, well, I don't..." She trailed off, her voice was shaky and unsure; her words equally weak. With a sharp cough, she cleared her throat and the idiot words she'd begun to form with it. You can do this, don't be a baby. The phrase played on repeat in her head as she attempted to continue, "They didn't really tell me much of anything after the, ya know, situation." 


A pause punctuated her sentence; she was unsure if that was an adequate answer to his half-posed question, but it was one of the few that she was able to form without breaking down. Therefore it would have to do.

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((Sorry this was so late))

The volatile emotions might have been kept at bay for Rowan by not discussing the details.   But for Phillip, it just made things worse since the details of his attacker was precisely what set his attack apart from all the other attacks. Phillip was trying to convince himself that Foster was just an idiot who didn’t understand the concept of an attack.   But that only worked if she had also told that to the victims of D.E. attacks (Phillip was pretty sure he would always think of them as D.E. attacks and not just attacks because of his history with Rayya) but…instead of Rowan answering his question, there was silence for a long moment.

The atmosphere stiffened, almost palpable, and it seemed to Phillip that the tension was thick enough that he could saw it in half with the pocketknife he carried.   And then his head jerked up when she told him that they didn’t really tell her much about the situation in the … well…aftermath of it all.

They’d told him plenty and asked him lots of stuff too.  An auror died.   Not his fault and he hadn’t really cared about that when Foster brought it up – surely, they knew the risks when they took the job. Keep an open mind.   Phillip was keeping an open mind but that didn’t mean he was fool enough to believe something that someone said just because.

Maybe the auror was just handling things in a ham-handed and undiplomatic manner.   No, or he would have not used the word ‘attack’ and as for the children were badly injured by Death Eaters and keep an open mind to the possibility why on earth did she think that he’d waited for so long before doing anything about it in the first place?

And even then, it wasn’t like he’d barged into her office, she had invited him there so in Phillip’s mind, she simply had no right to talk about other priorities given that she’d decided he was supposedly a priority in the first place.

Don’t twist my words.  Except that he hadn’t, he had simply repeated them back to her.  It was hardly his fault if an accurate description of her behaviour offended Professor Foster, was it?  Another pause while Rowan did something or other.

And then when the answer finally did come, it was no answer at all and it was a longer sentence than he’d been expecting and the longer sentence didn’t even contain the answer  that he’d been looking for so no, it wasn’t an adequate answer to his question.

And Phillip snapped at Rowan at this point. “That’s not an answer!”  No, because Phillip desperately needed to hear how Foster had reacted to other attacks and he wasn’t sure how  to cope with the reality that he couldn’t find that out, it seemed.  “It was a simple enough question”   Yes, Phillip had deliberately not used the word ‘easy’ there.

Phillip shook his head.   “Fine! Don’t answer!” and with that, Phillip stormed off to the boys’ dorm, slamming all the doors in his path behind him as he went.

((So sorry)) 

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