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Robin Corelli-Rose

the not-so-suble art of nope-ing

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takes place in the very early hours of september 1st

 

Today was supposed to be the big day – Sorting Day; ‘Congratulations – you’re a wizard!’ Day.

 

Doomsday.

 

Plans were made in advance to meet Kay and Francis the Second at King’s Cross Station, so that all three of them could step through the wall between Platforms 9 and 10 together, as Official Hogwarts Almost-First-Years. Robin had fussed over his suitcases all week, debating whether he’d need that or this, before enlisting his more experienced older sister’s help when he finally decided he needed to repack everything. Eventually, everything was relocated to beside the door, waiting for departure.

 

They had their last family dinner before the Christmas holidays last evening and Robin had looked around their home above The Bakery and committed it all to memory and bit his tongue to keep from asking whether his dads were sure he needed to go to Hogwarts.

 

Robin had gone to bed with his heart hammering in his chest, eyes wide-open, and sleep a distant dream.

 

When tomorrow arrived, however (or maybe right before, since it was not even the crack of dawn when he slipped out of bed), Robin’s courage and resolve failed him – fled so quickly and far away that Robin had no hope of catching either. Everything he’d planned with Kay, all of Lindy’s assurances and Fran’s proclamations – gone. In their place? A horrible sense of doom.

 

He couldn’t do this.

 

Despite the efforts of family and friends, What Ifs dissolved into visions of a variety of elemental disasters and being consequently removed from the premises of the school. Promises that at Hogwarts he’ll be able to train his magic turned into uncontrollable charges of power. If he had access to more magic, it could all only end terribly. He’d miss the Hogwarts Express and stay home decorating cakes with his dads. He’ll refuse to use magic until whatever spark of it inside him became cold ash. He’ll grow up to be a baker.

 

Kay would be disappointed – Stop thinking about that, Robin scolded himself, as he stalked down the stairs to the kitchen of The Bakery.

 

Simon couldn’t be avoided like the creaky bits, though. Robin crept around the man as he prepared dough for that morning’s muffin batch until he was at last discovered with a soft sound, and then raised his finger to his lips. “Uncle Francis,” he whispered by way of explanation and hurried out to the Java Bomb next door.

 

Uncle Francis was usually up before either of his dads and this time was no different. Robin approached him with intention and staring up at him and a resolute look, whispered, “Hide me.”


Edited by Robin Corelli-Rose

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It was a well-established fact by this point that Francis Barnes the original did not do magic.  He didn’t live it, he didn’t breathe it, and he most certainly didn’t speak of it, unless of course it was to say something particularly derogatory about the seven years of suffering he’d been forced to endure.

 

If someone could read the inside of Fran’s head at any given moment, they would no doubt be quick to point out that it hadn’t been all bad.  He was still alive, after all (though barely), and had walked away from the… experience… with a few close friends who had withstood the testament of time.

 

Francis was still doing the math on whether or not that made up for the terror that was Xanxus Alexander Lloyd.

 

Where was that shining example of a future Death Eater now, he wondered?

 

400 miles away from Francis, hopefully.

 

In any case, despite Francis’s… misgivings… towards magic, he had nothing against the practitioners.  Carson, Evvie, and Arcite were responsible adults (most days) and could do as they saw fit.  Francis, however, had chosen to acknowledge the numerous flaws crippling the foundation of the magical community and had decided many years ago to piss off and stick to what he was comfortable with.

 

Discipline, structure, business, and coffee.

 

Then babies happened and Francis was forced to re-live the horror that was Hogwarts all over again.

 

Oh, not for himself (THANK GOD) but the crawling, drooling, future Hogwarts hopefuls.

 

Edith had been the first.  She hadn’t said anything—not a hope, prayer or utterance of suspicion—but by naming her son Francis Barnes II it had been obvious from the get-go that she was hoping her son would follow in his uncle’s magical footsteps.

 

Then Lindy had entered the picture.  With Carson and Evvie for parents, it was always a given that she’d turn out a witch.

 

Both Lindy and Francis  II (bloody hell, that was going to be confusing) had shown nothing but enthusiasm for magic and Hogwarts.  Francis loved them both dearly, but had written them off as lost causes rather easily.  He just hoped they didn’t get sent back to their parents in match boxes before their seven years were up.

 

Hogwarts didn’t have the best track record for safety.

 

But Robin… Robin was the silver-lining!

 

Adopted by Carson and Arcite when he was four, the boy was a complete, mundane, homebody who cared more about baking and being with his family than shooting fireworks up someone’s nose with a magic stick.  Francis had hit it off with him immediately, particularly when Robin came into his magic.

 

It was a shock and disappointment that Francis was rather familiar with, and while he could do nothing to change Robin’s circumstance (wizards who didn’t learn to control their magic tended to go ‘boom’ and the insurance policy on Carson’s bakery had already gone up once due to “sudden and unforeseen weather disturbances” inside the property) but he could sympathize.

 

So when Francis heard the bell above his shop’s entrance chime and looked up to see Robin standing in front of him instead of a customer, he simply pointed behind the employee only counter and said, “Get in.”

 

He didn’t think Carson or Arcite would ever let their son miss his first year of Hogwarts, but maybe Francis could buy Robin a day or two if he helped him miss the train.


Edited by Francis Barnes

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Robin didn’t hesitate – and more importantly, he didn’t allow himself to feel cowardly about it.

 

He nodded his thanks, walked around the counter with surety and curled up with his cheek pillowed on arms around his knees, closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. He liked that he and his Uncle Francis had this understanding, that his Uncle didn’t ask him to do anything he didn’t feel ready to.

 

Not that his parents did the opposite, if he were honest. It went without saying that his dads were very understanding from his first day as a Corelli-Rose, when magic crackled and popped around him, to his shaky start to Pre-Hogwarts Primary. He was never treated differently from Lindy for his magical mishaps, and was given the means to redirect his emotions to other things.

 

Like his enchanted journal, which he carried with him everywhere.

 

He just knew, however – ever since he’d gotten his wand and imagined it exploding – that Hogwarts, all of it, would be entirely too much for him, which would consequently make the reverse true as well.

 

Maybe if he missed the train and had the extra day to talk to his dads, he could convince them to let him stay here in London. All Robin needed right now was time.

 

“Uncle Francis,” Robin said, peering up. He didn’t need to whisper, soft-spoken as he was; Uncle Francis always looked like he got up tired. Sometimes his dads did, too, but Uncle Francis wore exhaustion like armour. “If you get in trouble, I’ll speak up for you.”

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Francis simply nodded, giving away no obvious tells as Robin hurried around the register before ducking around the counter.  He didn’t know if the Corelli-Rose-Nevin family (what a mouthful) were paranoid enough place an alarm spell on Robin’s bedroom door, but with Simon handling the prep work at the bakery this morning Francis figured the kid probably had a 15 minute head start on his parents.

 

Heck, in the event that Carson and Arcite proved to be more trusting than what was strictly sensible, Robin could be under that counter for a good hour.

 

Maybe he should have considered a more roomie hiding spot.  Unfortunately, with glass displays and open tables there really wasn’t anywhere Francis could stick the kid, aside from his flat on the upper floor.  Unfortunately, Francis didn’t trust his neighbours not tear his living quarters apart if it meant getting Robin to Hogwarts.

 

Francis would rather have them destroy his shop.  ‘Least then he would have the video footage to cover the cost and responsibility of the damages.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Francis replied when Robin quietly piped up from beneath the counter, flipping disinterestedly through a magazine, “You’re a master of sneaking.  I don’t know you’re here, and you didn’t tell me.”

 

The bell chimed again.  Francis glanced up to greet his first customer of the day.  A large order, probably some grunt running coffee on his way to a staff meeting. “Pipsqueak, pass me a tray,” Francis instructed once he’d gotten the man’s money and coffee in order.

 

The man pinned him with a questioning look.

 

“What?” Francis deadpanned.

 

“Nothing.” The customer replied in a tone of voice that greatly implied nothing was something.

 

Francis felt the cardboard tray smack into his leg.

 

“Thanks kid,” he said before loading the man’s drinks up.

 

“Oh, take your kid to work day here or something?” the man asked.

 

Francis wrinkled his nose and tried not to look disgusted as he uttered, “I don’t have children.”

 

“Oh…” the man trailed off, vacating the shop with the perplexed look of a man who still hadn’t adjusted to being awake.


Edited by Francis Barnes

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Uncle Francis’s plan to play ignorance was heaps better than Robin’s own for the moment his disappearing act was at last discovered. There was very little he could do about that eventuality, except to remain hidden for as long as possible. He knew he could (stay hidden, that is), because both everyone in his family plus Kay said he was the best at hiding.

 

So it must have been true.

 

Then the door chime interrupted his thoughts and Robin froze. Sucked in a reserve breath and held it, eyes wide; surely his dads weren’t awake yet? He didn't dare move. He'd woken up so much earlier precisely because he knew his dads would still be sleeping. Robin held his breath until the man on the opposite side of the counter read out his order and Robin realized he'd had nothing to fear after all. Nevertheless, his relief was so complete that he registered his Uncle's instruction a little belatedly and had to silently fumble to extricate the tray from the stack.

 

And finally, Robin let himself relax while Uncle Francis organized the man's order. He stifled first a smile in his hand at the assumption that it was Take Your Kids to Work Day, and a giggle when the man sounded very confused, when in fact Uncle Francis told him the complete truth! Besides, none of this was the man's business.

 

A few more customers came in after that and because he didn't fear discovery (none of the entrances sounded like either of his dads come looking for him), Robin dutifully, in his stage-ninja way, helped his Uncle with the larger orders. They were a good team.

 

All good things, however, had to end at some point, and it was during a lull that Robin heard one big thud - and then a few smaller ones - come from somewhere to the side and above them.

 

Robin's eyes rounded and he looked up at his Uncle.

 

He didn't have to say it:

 

That wasn't a customer.

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Robin was gone.

 

After the world had stopped tilting, Arcite had rushed back to the bedroom, shaken Carson awake and shrilly hissed, "Robin's gone!" It took very little time indeed for his husband to shake off the cobwebs of sleep. "Take care of Lindy and I'll - I'll - Christ - find him." Then he'd grabbed his phone from the top of the nightstand and his wand from within and hurtled back out.

 

He'd woken up earlier than he'd needed to make breakfast for the family and give Carson a little bit of a break (and because Sorting Day was still, to this day, exciting and he was excited for Robin and Lindy) and thought he'd look in on the children. Robin had seemed quietly overwhelmed last night with the prospect of attending Hogwarts at last and Arcite had wanted to make sure he'd slept rather than worried.

 

Instead, he found their youngest gone.

 

'No, not gone,' Arcite chastised himself as hurried towards the stairs to the kitchen. 'Missing.'

 

After discovering the empty bed and the left-behind suitcases, Arcite had gone through the flat, frantic.

 

He hadn't much cared about the noise he'd stirred up - anyone sleeping wouldn't be for long anyway.

 

No sign of Robin - and there weren't many places for the boy to haunt.

 

'He couldn't have gone far,' Arcite thought, his thoughts going a mile a minute as he wondered what, exactly, he would do if he didn't find Robin inside the Bakery somewhere. He could barely process that he was missing at all, that perhaps he'd missed a spot in his own house and Robin was in fact sleeping somewhere other than his bed. Thinking of other possibilities made nauseous. If he couldn't, somehow, find him on his own, he'd contact the Ministry. The police hadn't a hope if the Ministry couldn't. Besides, he'd get Damian on the search, especially because Kay wouldn't leave without Robin and neither would Lindy. Francis, Simon and Evanna would join in as well, he didn't doubt. He'd have everybody looking.

 

Thudding down the stairs with his heart hammering a similar staccato against his ribcage into the Bakery's kitchen, Arcite very nearly charged past Simon - Simon, the man who, had anyone come this way, would have seen them. Backtracking with a stumble, he rounded into the man's field of vision, chest heaving and blurted, "Have you seen Robin?" all in a rush the moment Simon had removed one of his headphones.

 

To his bewilderment, Simon held up his hands and looked at the ceiling.

 

"I am not taking responsibility," he said, sounding a little put out. "I will not have children cry that I betrayed them."

 

Arcite stopped thinking.

 

He blinked profusely, brows descending.

 

He took a step back and whirled to look at the kitchen space, eyes darting from corners to cupboards, to the spaces under the counters, before he fixed his eyes back on Simon. His jaw slackened and his panic cooled as it dawned on him.

 

Then he was out the kitchen door, through the Bakery when a thorough search failed to reveal Robin, and fumbled with the door to the Java Bomb before flinging it open.

 

"Have you seen Robin?" he huffed breathlessly at Francis.

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Robin made for a decent assistant.  In a few years, Francis might even hire him as a part-timer, so long as Carson didn’t nab him first.

 

The realization was unfortunately short-lived.  While Arcite had clearly forgotten how to work open a simple door, he had more or less arrived (thanks for nothing, Simon) and was clearly unhappy.

 

“What, he’s not with you?” Francis replied, managing to sound both convincing and bored as he raised an annoyed eyebrow.

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…Well, this was unexpected.

 

Confusing, really.

 

Arcite frowned and opened his mouth as if to say something. Instead he looked back the way he’d come and then tilted his head to the side as he took in Francis, who appeared utterly unbothered. In fact, Francis seemed more bothered by the fact that Arcite was bo--- was asking him whether he’d seen Robin.

 

Something didn’t add up.

 

He filed that away for later.

 

“No,” Arcite blinked, raking a hand through his greying – at a little over thirty! – hair. “No, he is not and – and I – we need to find him, Francis!” Arcite swept his arm through the air in exasperation. “I asked Simon,” Arcite continued, reeling himself in and peering around the café, “and he was very odd.”

 

At the moment, the stacked waxed-paper cup shuddered all on their own.

 

He'd pulled out his phone, about to begin rallying everyone he could, but now he pegged Francis with a shrewd look. “You’re sure you haven’t seen him?”

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The time it had taken for his dad to finally arrive at the Java Bomb felt both like molasses and entirely not long enough.

 

Robin attempted to make himself as small and quiet as possible and squeezed his eyes shut. It had sort of worked when he was very young and some of the older kids would tell scary stories at the orphanage, that if Robin covered up and closed his eyes tightly, no one could see him just like he couldn’t see anybody – or anything – either.

 

Maybe he could make himself invisible.

 

Maybe, if he imagined it vividly enough, he’d do it for real – for just a little bit.

 

Robin started to focus.  

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ooc: I want the world to know that my member title just changed to 'Love' and I am PUKING.

 

Arcite seemed perplexed.

 

Good.  It was always validating to know that the 10+ years Francis had spent begrudgingly coming to terms with his childhood trauma had not only made him exceptionally bitter, but hard to read as well.

 

Francis paused briefly in his machinations to enjoy this brief moment of satisfaction.

 

Then Arcite’s eyes squinted.  It was the squint of a knowing father who was on a mad hunt for his missing son after he'd just witnessed something suspicious in his neighbour's coffee shop.

 

It was a very specific look.

 

Francis didn't know what Robin had done to catch his father's eye, but he was willing to blame it on the construction going on outside the shop because that sounded legit.  Reacting now would only serve to confirm Arcite’s suspicions. 

 

“You tell me, Arcite: are these the eyes of a man who pays attention to jack unless there’s a fist-full of dollars extended towards him?”

 

No.  No they were not.

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Some of Arcite's initial panic started to, inexplicably, drip away. Robin was still missing and they were due at King's Cross Station in not a terribly long time and none of them even had breakfast yet.

 

Putting the search party summons on the back burner, Arcite inspected the café's shadowed corners with eyes crinkled in the corners before giving Francis an answer. "No," he conceded. "They are no." Francis looked tired (but then, he always did), but his expression was all closed up and unrevealing. Arcite would have thought that upon hearing that his next-door-nephew had disappeared into thin air, he would have shown more concern. 

 

Which meant that someone wasn't telling the truth.

 

He stalked closer to the counter, sweeping the far wall and from left to right.

 

Hmm.

 

No Robin.

 

"But then would you mind terribly if I took a look around?" Arcite put his hands on the countertop. "Like, say, here," and leaned forward quickly, to peer at the space directly behind.

 

No Robin.

 

What?

 

Shaking his head like a man who thought to find one thing but was presented with its opposite Arcite tottered back on his heels. "Where could he have gone" He wondered, chewing his lip. Had he gotten it so wrong after all? Was he simply wasting his time here?  

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Arcite thought he had Francis cornered.  That wild glint in his eyes could mean only one thing: the jig was up, the goose was cooked, and from this moment onward, Robin would be forced to lead the inescapable and perilous life of a young wizard in training.

 

Deep down, Francis knew there was no running from this path.  If there was, he’d have found it himself many years ago as a much younger man.  Friends and family alike had paid no heed to his disinterest in doing anything even remotely wondrous or magical, blissfully optimistic that his hesitance was merely a character hurdle that he’d overcome in time.

 

They had all been very, very wrong and Francis was most bitter about it.

 

Still, Francis knew he had nothing to fear from Robin’s discovery, and so he did not act.  From the get go, his terms had been clear.  “You were never here, I never saw you.”  He’d be just as surprised as Arcite to find Robin wedged under the counter beneath the register, no doubt following up the sudden and alarming discovery with a poorly-acted quip or two that detailed how absolutely astounded he was that Robin had snuck into his shop without his notice.

 

Things did not go as expected, however.

 

Francis had not bothered to act on Arcite’s antics, fully believing that disinterest would be his salvation in this particular circumstance.  To his surprise, Arcite did not resurface to enthusiastically crow about how he’d known all along that Francis had been lying.  Instead he looked… worried.  Perplexed.  Like he was going to suddenly sprout several more grey hairs in the following ten seconds.

 

Confused himself, Francis never the less decided to play along. “I don’t know, man.  Have you considered getting a beeper?” he recommended, leaning back up against the counter. “For your child.” he added, as though the suggestion warranted further explanation.

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