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Bernadette Roux

I step in the room, they all notice that

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Bernadette Roux

“Stay here. I’ll be back in an hour.”

 

Those words had been parted with twenty entire minutes ago and in that time Bernadette had exhausted all feasible entertainment options one could find in the office of a high ranking Ministry official. Scrunching up hopefully-not-important papers to throw in the overflowing bin, the mess a testament to her aim, Bernie let fire without enthusiasm and watched the parchment land atop the pile of ruined documents (no doubt trying to ruin the lives of mudbloods everywhere) and bounce away.

 

Another five minutes of repetitive play and the young girl had finally had enough. Leaving the law-making corner behind by crouching down and crawling under the gaze of the disinterested woman on the reception desk, Bernie rushed into freedom and was immediately swept up in the frantic maintenance of the wizarding world. Unable to push against the tide of bodies, no matter how hard she kicked out, Bernie was forced into an elevator.

 

Feeling the floor beneath her begin to descend, Bernie looked up to try and peer at the floor levels between bodies but found new distraction in the form of purple paper aeroplanes that hovered above her. “Whaa-” the doors pinged open and two of the planes took flight. Bernie immediately followed. “’SCUSE ME!” She bellowed, throwing limbs left, right, and center as she powered forwards. Leaving a number of official looking people in a heap, Bernie chased down the planes.

 

Jumping upwards to catch them, to see how they were flying without aid, Bernie ran without paying attention to where she was heading. As the planes forked towards different offices, her body naturally took her to the left and she turned with great agility. The dash lasted another minute before the plane zipped into an office that Bernie caught open with an outstretched foot. Squeezing between the gap, Bernie burst into the new offices with great intrigue. 

 

Instead of the glorious wizarding secrets she expected to be exposed to by following the important memo, Bernie found herself looking out across a sea of takeout boxes. “Uh…” was there some sort of new muggle scam where wizards were putting potions into Dominos ingredients? Kicking out at the box and hearing the clattering of age-old crust from inside, Bernie advanced to the desk the aeroplane had landed on. Hopping up onto the seat and grabbing the paper, accidentally knocking a pile of files to the floor with her arm as she reached for it, Bernie unfolded the letter and set to uncovering what pressing issue the Department of Discarded Take Out Boxes had to deal with.

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Rayya Borage-Brown

“No, your mother is going to be the death of me,” Rayy muttered grumpily into the mirror. “She knows I know she knows who my parents are but isn’t the whole rubbing our marriage into their noses old by now?”

 

Clearly the response she got from her husband was less than desirable and her glower was enough to make several young interns scatter like leaves on a breeze. “Seb! I love Willow far batter than I love my own mother but I’ll be damned before I spent another endless Charity Ball smooching up to people I’d rather die than see!”

 

Rayy was totally failing on winning this argument!

 

”But no one actually holds Aurors in much stead these days...to a large number of idiots, we’re the top bad guys now...” she sighed heavily, “but...”, sighed again, “She’s insane! The twins aren’t up for a formal charity ball! Merlin’s balls Seb! Ash is vigorously sure he can take on a fully grown werewolf with one flacking punch! Bill will egg him on and then be a sobbing mess when he inevitably dies...you tell her that she can’t go by Bill...”

 

The door to the office rapidly came up and she still hadn’t won the argument and now her colleagues would hear her defeat but there was no help for it. There was a large group of people coming her way and she didn’t want complete strangers listening in. Rayy yanked the door wide enough to jam her foot in and used that to kick it fully open and step through, kicking it shut behind her, vaguely aware that the silence meant she was alone and could continue trying to drum some sense into her husband’s head.

 

”Seb! You can’t expect me to ride herd on...no, no, it’s not the same...it’s not! I had to dump them on you...yes...you do have a point...oh gods they’re not! We agreed! Castelobruxo...yes but Edward is different...he’s following his passions!”

 

Rayy dumped the pile of reports on her desk and stared at the mirror in disbelief. “I know you reckon you could hack being in Gryffindor love, but do I need to remind you? Your youngest son’s goal is punching a werewolf in the face and do you really want to give him unbridled access to the other side of the Forbidden Forest that bang smack on our backyard?”

 

The scowl deepened as she brushed her hair from her face and cleared up the mess of boxes that were still scattered round from the late night, “Fine! I’ll go and be the dutiful daughter-in-law to your mother’s Ball! But you get to convince the twins that a solid and safe education in Castelobruxo is going to be in their futures!”

 

Merlin! She’d do anything to see the crooked grin that came her way and despite her ire and panic, her own face melted into a bright smile and she signed off with an air kiss and a heartfelt, “Love you too!”

 

The mirror got slammed down as soon as the connection ended because as much as she loved her irksome husband, he sometimes had no damned clue! It was only then that she realised the office wasn’t quite empty.

 

Her brain supplied the words, ‘who the hell are you?’ But what came out was, “Oh! Hello?”

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Bernadette Roux

With little regard for who the offices belonged to, Bernie kicked back and placed her feet on the desk to get comfortable. Pulling the memo open her brow furrowed as she attempted to piece together its contents. Many basic educational tools had eluded her for both her attitude and a lack of access. Reading had always proven to be a great struggle. Mouth opening and closing as though decoding the syllables would help, Bernie failed to make out words beyond ‘urgent’, ‘now’, and ‘help.’

 

She scrunched it up and tossed it aside, hopping off of the desk to investigate some more. Stepping over the files on the floor in favour of picking up a small glass ball, Bernie jumped as a red smoke billowed around the container and wondered what it meant. Focus did not last all that long, with the blonde turning her attentions to forcing the desk drawers open. Some did, their depths providing nothing scandalous, and as Bernie attempted to pull on a stubbornly frozen handle the door burst open.

 

Instinctively she jumped into a fighting stance, holding her wrestling abilities to an extremely high standard and more than happy to take down a full-grown wizard with her bare hands. Confrontation never came, however, and Bernie watched as the woman talked into the palm of her hand. Slowly rotating back to the desk she had made herself comfortable at, moving herself out of the woman’s path as she went, Bernie sat down in silence and listened into the argument with great curiosity.

 

Castelobruxo? Sounded like a disease.

 

Punching werewolves? Now they were talking!

 

And then, suddenly, the talking was literal as the woman finished her discussion and realized she had company. “’Sup,” was Bernie’s casual reply, legs back up on the desk now as she looked up to the older woman. “So how would punching a werewolf work? Is it like a shark where you can whack ‘em on the nose to release you?” The memo went forgotten about as she curiously awaited answers.

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Rayya Borage-Brown

Rayy startled at the girl’s attitude - she could only be all of what 9? 10? - and she found herself replying on automatic, which was an excellent indicator of just how many questions she fielded from kids on a daily basis. “Punching a shark when it comes close is one thing! And if it has a limb in its jaws then it’s still possible you’ll survive. A werewolf is another creature altogether and by the time you’re close enough to punch, it will most certainly already be far too late to be useful...a fact that seems to escape a lot of folk until they find themselves dead, dying or having some really bad hai...Excuse me?”

 

Eventually her brain unhelpfully supplied that the child sitting with her feet on the desk was not one of her brood nor any child of any of the people in this office. This was mostly because any offspring of an Auror tended not to think about distinctions between punching sharks vs werewolves in the face...unless the kid happened to be called Ash and have a death wish! #parentingwin?

 

”You, young Madam, can get your feet off that desk, sit up straight and tell me who you are and what you think you’re doing? In fact, get out of that chair before you wreck the delicate settings @Julian Tricehas painstakingly adjusted it to! I don’t need to hear him bang on about his back and how he needs a new chair! Plonk your backside in mine, if you must have a seat.” A nod of her head indicated the desk she had dumped her stuff on only a few feet away from the one she occupied. 

 

She frowned at the girl and cast a few spells that showed every draw that had been opened, the one that hadn’t, the Remembrall that must have fallen from her cloak pocket on her way out last night, the files that lay in a horrible mess on the floor and a scrunched up memo.

 

Rayy righted the office, tucked her now-found Remembrall into a deeper pocket, and smoothed out the memo whilst death-glaring the child criminal. “There’s a small tin of biscuits in my drawer. You might as well eat them when you go over there; it’s  the only drawer you didn’t try to open. And if you can think of a good reason while I reply to this, I won’t charge you with breaking and entering.”

 

A faint grin flitted across her face before she slammed the scowl back down. Mystery Girl was going to find out the hard way that not all biscuits were harmless - the tin had been intended as a treat for her twins and would have had the pair in hysterics as they were unlabelled canary creams that would transform the unwary into a giant canary for a short time. And as much as it would be nice to sit and watch, Rayy had a memo to reply to. She grabbed a quill and scrawled,

 

“I am NOT your mother, Aeryn! Well, okay, I AM but forgetting your lunch is no longer my responsibility! Do what the rest of us do, scrounge the nearest lounge for a communal biscuit tin. If you’re still starving at lunch, I’ll treat you. PS: this is not what interdepartmental memos are for, especially not to the Auror department where we tend to reserve the words ‘urgent’, ‘help’, and ‘now’ for rather MORE urgent things. 😘

 

 

Rayy flicked her wand and returned her attention to the kid, hoping she wouldn’t make her underage wizard/witch arrest rate go up. “So?”

 

 

 

 

 

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Bernadette Roux

Though Bernie was looking right at the older woman as she spoke, not a single word was successfully retained. Unblinkingly she continued to stare, the inability to keep up with the conversation clear for all to see. Eventually she managed to reinsert herself in the interaction by asking: “Have you ever punched anything?” And then, because she needed to establish dominance and all that, added: “I’m super good at punching stuff. I got a punchin’ bag and everything back home. I reckon I could fight a shark.”

 

Whatever dominance she had sought to gain had clearly failed for the woman was demanding she remove her feet from the desk. Bernie looked at the woman, looked back to her feet, then back to the woman with a scrunched-up scowl. “I’m Bernie,” that part of the request she could comply with, but the feet remained where they were. “Just chilling, innit? Chased that paper aeroplane thin- OH!” A lightbulb, an extremely dim and flickering light bulb, went off above her head. “I think you got some sort of mail but I lost it.”

 

With a loud and dramatic sigh, Bernie finally rolled out of the seat and slouched over to the new desk, collapsing back on the seat heavily. In a show of annoyance Bernie sat down (well, she was practically on the floor with how low her back was in the seat) and simply stared forward to ignore the woman as she went about her magic. Eventually boredom reared its head once more and with a twist of her neck to curiously peer back to the stranger, she saw the letter in her hand. “You found it. ’Owt interesting?” Pushing herself up to pull open the desk draw, the blonde lowered her voice as she mumbled her innocence.

 

“Didn’t break anything, can’t charge me with that." 

 

Retrieving the tin and disappointed the contents were just custard creams as opposed to a much superior snack such as jaffa cakes (…wait, did they even have jaffa cakes in the magical world? This was an extremely pressing issue!) Bernie took one and carelessly tossed the tin back into the draw with a clatter. In the five minutes between being shunned to the new desk and getting a biscuit, Bernie had forgotten the prior conversation. Expressions of irritation ceased for one of confusion as the word ‘so’ was shot in her direction. “…So what?” It was the first time those two words had left Bernie’s mouth as a genuine question and not an arrogant dismissal of consequence or demand. Rolling the biscuit between her fingers the entire time, the blonde decided to use the break in interrogation to take a bite for something to do. 

 

It was with a series of squawks that Bernie discovered something was very wrong with the offering. 

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Rayya Borage-Brown

One thing was rapidly becoming clear: this girl was no Phillip Aldermaston! It was a complete relief if she were being honest. Yes, the kid talked tough and was extremely rough ‘round the edges but she eventually complied to the request to get her feet off the desk and move to a chair that Rayy had given up on caring about. And, if pressed, she would also have to admit that there was something rather endearing about the scrappy attitude that Rayy couldn’t determine if it was a self-protection thing or her real nature.

 

It was also funny and ironic how it was much easier to accept in someone who wasn’t your kid.

 

A sigh escaped her as Bernie asked questions, had some slow dawning of realisation, missed the real meaning of breaking and entering, broke her chair - thank Merlin it wasn’t Ju’s - and then turned into a canary.

 

The squawks were amusing and by the time Bernie turned back to her usual self, there were yellow feathers everywhere. 

 

Rayy grinned, “Good aren’t they? And no, the memo was nothing important or urgent. Just a forgotten lunch and a hungry child who is old enough to fend for herself. So, you’re Bernie, nice to meet you. I’m Rayya. No, I haven’t punched anything, so you’re the expert in the room. I generally find my wand to be more than satis...” She broke off as she realised that Bernie might not get the bigger words and changed to a simpler concept, “...my wand works just fine in beating the bad guys.”

 

She studied Bernie carefully, the ‘so what’ seemed genuine and not a show of attitude and it forced the Auror to back up a mite and try for a better angle. Rayy spoke slower and clearer,  “So, I am wondering who you are and what brought you to the Ministry today?”

 

The following of a memo was just chance, Bernie could have ended up in any office on any floor. It was happenstance that brought her into this one. But she had to have already been in the building. So why was she here in the first place? Was she lost? Was there a parent out there looking for their kid? Rayy’s heart lurched to her throat. Losing your kid was a nightmare shared by every parent. And the feeling when you did was enough to gut you. It wasn’t something she’d wish on her worst enemy.

 

”Who brought you here? Your mum or dad?”

 

And feeling somewhat sorry for the canary cream, Rayy dug into her bag and pulled out a slightly squashed chocolate frog box. “The frog’ll try to jump so you might want to grab that before you go for the card or else no chocolate for you.” She handed the box to Bernie and sat on the corner of her desk waiting to see what she’d learn.

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Bernadette Roux

It was for the best that a full transformation took hold as the cursing billowing from Bernie’s mouth would have faced dire consequences if not for the clucking that replaced the swearing. Arms shooting upwards and throwing up feathers in the air, bird!Bernie’s eyes widened in horror that the woman had turned her into an animal and instinctively took the ‘fight’ option of the ‘flight or fight’ reflex. An angry squawk now, and bird!Bernie lunged beak first at Rayya.

 

Unfortunately (fortunately?) before contact was made, the transformation ceased and instead of an angry bird it was an angry girl that landed on the woman. “AAAAH- OH!” Upon hearing her regular voice back, Bernie froze in her attack and found herself just sat on the stranger, arms in the air ready to land what had once been wing slaps. “Er…” she shuffled off of the seat, “Don’t do that again, like, as the punching expert you wouldn’t wanna catch these hands, you know? Why’d you turn me into a chicken?” A new anger flared for a second as she took her seat and realization dawned. “Do you think I’m a chicken? ‘Cause I’m not!” But for all her scowling and dips into violence, Bernie could admit to herself it had been kinda cool. The magic her family used was boring and revolved around work and chores, meanwhile the biscuits (when not used on her) looked extremely fun. “Could I take a couple for later?” 

 

“Your job is fighting bad guys? Cool. What sorts of bad guys?” Little did Bernie know that now, through her mother’s marriage, Rayya’s answer could very simply be your family but for all his faults Edward had managed to shield Bernie from the shadier comings and goings around Roux Manor. That was not wholly redeeming, and the resentment was evident in Bernie’s tone as she revealed to Rayya that she was at the Ministry because of him. “My stepdad works here,” she spat the word out as though it pained her to acknowledge the relation.

 

And it did, really, because with every passing day since she had been ripped from her small council estate and thrust into the nefarious decadence of the Roux family something had felt missing from her life. Like a hole growing ever bigger in her heart, the urge to return was an unspoken anguish and one she sought to shove down deep, deep, deep inside because, as she had previously established, Bernie was not a chicken.

 

“But his room is soooooo boring,” she rolled her eyes dramatically and fell back in the chair with a huff. Body sprawled at odd angles she continued, addressing the ceiling as she spoke. “I told him I could stay at home ‘cause I’m trying to learn that broom sport thing and I could practise in the garden but noooo he didn’t trust me.” Squishing her face down onto her chest in a series of a thousand, puppy fat chins, Bernie looked across to Rayya and sensed a challenge. This chocolate frog did not stand a chance against her. Pushing herself up and taking the box, Bernie pulled at the cardboard and flicked the container open. The frog was quick, leaping to freedom with elastic limbs that powered it onwards. Bernie was quicker, reflexes sharpened from years of contact sport. Within seconds a small hand, bearing the shadows of bruising from her punchbag practices, whipped through the gap between them as the frog rocketed upwards and clasped it in an iron grip. 

 

Clearly pleased with herself, Bernie bit the head of the questionably sentient foodstuff off and peered into the box with a grin. “Who’s…” she peered closer, scrunching her eyes up as though extra focus would help with the pronunciation. “Egg-arr Stew-oo-lee-ger?” A true butchering of Edgar Stroulger’s name. 

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Rayya Borage-Brown

“Canary...not chicken...and no, I don’t think you’re chicken at all,” Rayy assured quickly. No, indeed, nothing about the girl screamed she was a chicken. Scrappy, tough, willing to take on whatever came her way with her fists...none of that indicated someone who was cowardly. If anything, there was too much gumption. “And yes, you can have the rest to take home, I’ll buy more later.”

 

”Bag guys come in all shape and forms but one thing is always the same: they break the law,” she explained as simply as she could. But their purview had changed over the years and these days it often wasn’t as clear cut. Now they were just as likely to be out confiscating wands from otherwise law-abiding citizens as they were to be arresting those neck-deep in dark endeavours.

 

Rayy shook it off and really listened to everything Bernie offered up: stepdad, strain in the relationship for whatever reason, pushing for independence and not getting it, clamouring for recognition and difficulty with academic arts but well suited to physical sports, so it was probably no wonder the girl had gotten bored out of her brain stuck in an office with nothing to do.

 

”So you want to learn Quidditch? I reckon that you’d do quite well, certainly you’ve got the reflexes given the way you caught the frog. Edgar Stroulger was responsible for creating the sneakoscope, which detects when people are doing something sneaky near it. He’s got a portrait in Hogwarts if I remember rightly.” Though Rayy knew she was because they generally covered secret passageways, some of which she had used, though she refrained from telling Bernie that. “You might like to watch out for it when you go. Interesting things are often found near his portrait if you look carefully and ask a few questions.” Maybe it would fire up the kid’s imagination? 

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Bernadette Roux

Constant surprises were being thrown up in the conversation. Firstly, no harsh yells were issued at her sudden burst of violence. Usually Bernie’s stomping and yelling was matched with the screams of adults trying to control her. While Patricia, her mother, had grown tired of her daughter after mere months of having her, Edward had found his new project an amusing joy at first. That had been before her realized her behaviour was not a temporary, retaliatory blimp. Now he too had reached the end of his patience, whilst Rosie had never owned a shred of affection towards her to begin with. 

 

Their annoyance at her was constant, blatant, and succeeded only in making matters worse – their frustrations the norm to what the vicious blonde could leave in her path. But all Rayya responded with was the fact that no, she didn’t consider Bernie to be a chicken.

 

“Oh.” Her anger ceased and attentions turned to the box she had already placed her hand in to pocket some extra biscuits. That was the second shock: that Rayya would simply allow her to have something. Growing up in the manner she had, Bernie had fought tooth and nail for every possession she desired. Extremely poor, this had often involved some less than moral routes, and now with wealth her mother had grown even more dismissive of her wants: wanting as much of the Roux funds she could personally get her hands on without sharing. Even if that involved aiding her daughter. Bernie was used to being told no, and then in turn adept at screaming and kicking until she got some leeway. Here, she got to keep the entire tin, no questions asked. “Cheers.” 

 

And then, in one fell swoop, Rayya condemned every parental figure she knew to a life of criminality. Rather annoyed with the adults around her Bernie did, for a brief second, consider making a comment to the woman. Mouth opening, then shutting like a fish, the blonde decided against it in a rare show of better judgement. After all, when the words that had proceeded meeting your new stepfather had been ‘if he finds out I can’t use magic we will be in big trouble’ you would be more considerate than usual when the topic of Edward Roux was brought up.

 

“I think that’s what he does,” the dismissive 'he' her clearly beloved stepfather, “Like, the rule stuff. Makes ‘em. I don’t get it,” there were many things Bernie failed to understand, which had seen her be dragged around the wizarding world as he made his shady deals, knowing she could never tell on his crimes for they went over her head. But all of this was incredibly dull, and she had more important things to discuss. “Quidditch! Yeah that’s the one. Magic stuff is named proper funny,” sitting up straighter out of excitement, Bernie continued with great animation. “You think? I play for a local team but I’m not allowed a bat,” a frown appeared despite it being a very understandable ban, “I play loads of sports that’s why I have banging reflexes.”

 

And she used to chase down the loser kids at school. That had aided in her physical accomplishments big time.

 

Speaking of magic stuff being named proper funny though, Rayya continued to add to the list of funky titles with both the correct pronunciation of the man and why he found fame worthy of a collective item. “What interesting things?” In the event she remembered she might check it out, but the concept of Hogwarts was so consuming she could barely remember the more obvious of details let one who had a portrait where. “My sister said I had to swim to the castle to prove I was powerful enough to study there, and that there’s a huge squid that eats people in it.” 

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Rayya Borage-Brown

Bit by bit, a word here and an action there Rayy was slowly building up a clearer picture of Bernie...the sudden change from anger to a more affable demeanour spoke volumes as did the bright ‘cheers’. And the picture wasn’t one Rayy really liked. Still she kept her feelings to herself and struggled to keep a smile off her face though she couldn’t keep a straight face at the fact that magic stuff was all named funny. To Rayy, who’d known no different, it all seemed perfectly normal - it was the muggles who had oddly named things. And it didn’t come as a surprise that Bernie didn’t have much of a clue as to what her stepfather actually did at work, as a child she’d had no clue either. 

 

“Why aren’t you allowed a bat? Rayy asked, wondering if she was correct in thinking it was because everyone in the girl’s life thought she’d take the bat and whack at stuff or at people in a fit of temper. She rather hoped to be wrong of course but she had a sinking feeling that she wasn’t. “Since you clearly love sport it would be tedious to have to borrow equipment all the time before you could play. If that happened to me I’d feel mighty cheesed off. But if you’re serious about wanting to play Quidditch I could give you some pointers though I think things might have gotten a little more updated since I last played. Still flying tips never really change so I might not be a complete dinosaur at it.”

 

But the amusement broke and Rayy outright laughed at the tale of being made to swim across the lake to get to school, it seemed such things hadn’t changed since her day. “No, oh no! You won’t be swimming across the lake to prove anything. If you’re magical your name’s been on the books for a while. You get a letter and that’s all the proof required; you’re in with the same opportunities as everyone else. And the Giant Squid does not eat people! It does sometimes lift first years back into their boat if they fall out though but don’t try it just to find out or else you might be swimming across the lake! But there are things best avoided in the lake so it’s not advisable to really go swimming.”

 

Here Rayy paused because as much as she wanted to be open to the girl, she knew that half the fun of a Hogwarts was learning the secrets for yourself though perhaps the vague hint was a bit too vague for Bernie to fathom out on her own. “Edgar Stroulger was into sneaky things. Hogwarts is a castle first and foremost. It has lots of secrets and there are always some near where you find his portrait. You’re a smart girl - ask questions of the older students but be nice about it, talk to the portraits as well - they know an awful lot. If they know anything they might be open to sharing with you. But the fun would be ruined if I told you all there is to know about the castle. You’ll have plenty of time to explore on weekends.”

 

 

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