"Just go ask him," Georgia Weasley whispered to her twin, gesturing to the tall man in black standing over the cauldron. The girls crouched together at the top of the stairs leading down to Severus's home lab at Spinner's End.
Sevannah made a skeptical face. "Daddy already said no."
"That's why we have to ask Grandpa to talk to him." The bolder redhead gestured again.
"Why don't you do it?" Sevannah shifted her weight back and forth nervously.
Georgia rolled her eyes. "Because he'll say no without even thinking if I ask him. He'll listen to you."
"What are you guys doing?" Scorpius Malfoy appeared behind them, having come through the living room floo.
"They are discussing how best to ask me to tell their father that they should be able to try out for the club Quidditch organization that is opening up a team for children ages 9 and 10. But since their father rightly has told them 'no', I'm not sure that my involvement will help them as much as they think it will." Severus put down the stirrer in his hand and carefully ladled the contents of the cauldron into a large vial. The pink liquid fizzed as he put on the stopper.
"It's not even fair," Georgia protested, going down the stairs to see if proximity made her grandfather see how wrong he was about the topic.
Sevennah stood up from her crouching position and turned to Scorpius. "Daddy's never going to let her do it."
Scorpius leaned casually against the wall across from the staircase, his blonde hair shining in the sunlight that came through the frosted window in the front door. "I thought you both wanted to do it?"
Sevannah shrugged. "Georgia really wants us to." She looked at Scorpius's smirking face and narrowed her eyes. "And me too, of course."
Scorpius rolled his eyes and came forward to wrap one arm around her shoulders. "You hate Quidditch."
"No," Sevannah shook her head decisively, shrugging off his arm and stalking into the living room. "I hate playing Quidditch."
"What are we talking about?" Teddy Lupin came down the stairs, dressed in magenta robes.
"How Sevannah hates Quidditch," Scorpius said, then when Sevannah shot him a look, clarified. "I mean, how Sevannah hates playing Quidditch."
Teddy snorted. "Don't let anyone hear you say that." He walked past them into the kitchen.
Sevannah rolled her eyes. "I just don't enjoy having things flying at me."
"Catch," Scorpius grabbed an apple off the counter and threw it at her.
Sevannah managed to catch the apple and throw it back at him moving around the table as if it would protect her from another attack.
Instead, Scorpius locked eyes with Teddy and they both rearmed themselves. Sevannah found herself under a barrage of fruit.
"What is going on up here?" Severus and Georgia emerged from the lab then, the nine-year-old witch clearly disappointed with how the conversation had gone.
Teddy waved his wand, returning the fruit to the counter. "Umm, nothing."
"Don't you have a job?" Severus raised an eyebrow at his best friend's son.
"I'm on my way," Teddy grinned at Sevannah, then turned on the spot and apparated.
Sevannah and Scorpius ducked into the living room, escaping the Potion Master's glare over his bruised fruit, sitting on the sofa. Scorpius started to set up the wizarding chess set that always sat on Severus's coffee table. It was delicate, silver and gold with crystals. It had belonged to Sevannah's mother, but she hadn't seemed tied to it enough to take it with her when she'd moved from Spinner's End.
Sevannah sat beside him on the sofa and moved one of her pawns two spaces forward. "What are you doing here, by the way?"
"I can't just come over and visit?" Scorpius moved his knight out and over. He met her eyes. "Severus is making my mother's potion. I told her I'd pick it up for her."
Sevannah slid her bishop across the board. "Is it working?"
Scorpius grimaced. "I don't know. She doesn't really like to talk about it, and my father really doesn't like to talk about it." He moved a pawn to free his queen.
Sevannah's instinct was to hug her friend. Or at least put her hand on his leg or arm. Or something. But Scorpius was not one for physical affection. Sevannah had spent a lot of time at Malfoy Manor over the years, and she wasn't sure she had ever seen Mr. Malfoy touch his son. Coming from a family where her parents and grandparents hugged and cuddled her almost constantly, it seemed so sterile.
Georgia came out of the kitchen, obviously having tried one more time to plead her case. She flopped onto the sofa next to Sevannah. "He would have said yes to you," she grumbled.
"Certainly not." Severus entered the room and settled in his armchair. Severus Snape did not have a favorite grandchild. He loved his twins more than he thought possible, and with Elizabeth ready to deliver his third grandchild, his life was reaching a level of happiness he wouldn't have bet on during the war. "It's insane to think that children that young should be playing that dangerous game competitively. It's asking for higher injury rates. In fact, I'm strongly considering changing the age requirement for the House teams at Hogwarts. Perhaps to Fourth years."
Georgia looked aghast. "Grandpa!"
Severus smirked and shifted his attention to Scorpius. "I assume you are here for this," he held up the pink vial. "Tell your father that when you go to Hogwarts in September he'll have to come face me himself."
"He said to tell you that he's not sure he wants to participate with someone who clearly uses his powers of foresight to unfairly stack the deck."
Severus rolled his eyes. "Do I look like a fortune-teller? You can tell him that it is not at all my fault that he drafted a Seeker who can't catch a Snitch."
Scorpius laughed and took the vial. "Maybe I'll play next year."
"Fantasy Quidditch is not for the faint of heart, young man," Severus said serenely. "I assume the rest of your family is well?"
"Father thinks Lucien needs to spend some time 'correcting his attitude'," Scorpius curved his fingers into air quotes. "I think it is because he told Father that he didn't want to live at the Manor forever. So now he's on restriction, and he can't leave the house." He stood up with the vial in hand. "I better get back with this. Goodbye, Sevannah, Severus." He looked at Georgia. "Evil Twin."
"Goodbye, Goldilocks," Georgia made a shooing motion with her hands.
"Why are you so mean to him?" Sevannah asked after Scorpius had gone through the Floo.
"Me? He calls me 'Evil Twin'." Georgia wrinkled her nose. "I don't even know why you're friends with him. He's like a plastic boy."
"No he's not," Sevannah argued. "He's nice to me."
"Well I think he's a knob."
"Georgia Ann!" Severus frowned at his granddaughter. "Where did you even learn that word?"
"Uncle Ron," Georgia said matter-of-factly.
"Let's leave that kind of nonsense for him then, shall we?" Severus raised an eyebrow and stood. "Come with me. I think you both need something to do other than think about a boy." He lead the twins downstairs and set them up at the lab table with a bowl full of glitter snails.
Sevannah took a snail and put it in the top chamber of a double vial and shook. The snail rattled around against the glass, releasing a shower of sparkly gold particles through the strainer separating the chambers, into the bottom compartment. "Grandpa?"
"Yes?" Severus busied himself collecting larger containers to contain the glitter the girls were creating.
"Is that potion making Scorpius's mum better?"
Severus placed a large jar in front of each redhead. "I'm afraid Mrs. Malfoy isn't going to get better, Sev. But that potion is helping her be more comfortable. Curses are difficult things to break."
Sevannah looked down at her glitter snail. She didn't realize there were tears in her eyes until they started to roll down her face, and Severus sat down on a stool beside her to wipe them off her cheeks. "It makes Scropius sad," she said softly.
"I'm sure it does," Severus nodded and brushed her hair off her face. "My little empath," he kissed her forehead.
"What does that mean?" Georgia asked, shaking another snail.
"Empath?" Severus looked at his other grandchild. "It's someone who feels the emotions of others. There are actual magical empaths that literally feel everything of everyone around them. Thank merlin that isn't Sevannah." He tapped the larger jar. "Empty your vial or the glitter is going to go everywhere."
"She only feels bad for Scorpius because she has a crush on him," Georgia made a face.
"Back to boys," Severus shook his head.
Sevannah lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling. Not really her bed, actually. Her bed in the whirlwind that was Georgia's room. It was a stark contrast to her own room across the hall, meticulously organized. Coming into her sister's room was like going into Weasley's Wizard Wheezes after the last weekend before the Hogwarts Express left. She had needed to move a giant pile of Georgia's clothes and other junk just to lay on the bed.
"Okay, what's the problem?" Georgia asked from her bed. "You've been mopey ever since Grandpa's house."
"I don't know," Sevannah kept her eyes trained on the swirls of plaster above her. "I thought Mum charmed your ceiling."
"I had her take it off," Georgia said. "The night sky is fine until you keep getting really loud owls." She turned on her side to look toward her sister. "Are you upset because Scorpius is going to school?"
"No." Sevannah said sullenly. "Yes."
"You'll see him all the time," Georgia assured. "We go to Hogwarts all the time. More often when Mum says she needs to 'reclaim her sanity'."
"He's going to make new friends," Sevannah said unhappily. "We're only friends because his parents don't let anyone come over to the house and he's homeschooled."
"Well then why isn't he friends with me?" Georgia challenged. "And you aren't friends anyway. You want to snog him."
Georgia grinned, but her response was cut off with the door opening. Fred poked his head in the door. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," the twins chorused.
"Mmhmm," Fred looked at each of his girls closely. "You only sleep in here together when there is something wrong. Did something happen?"
"Dad. We're 9. Go away." Georgia pulled her comforter over her head.
"No idea what your age has to do with anything," Fred came all the way into the room and sat on the edge of Sevannah's bed. "Is everything okay, Angel?"
Sevannah nodded, knowing her father wouldn't believe her for a minute. She could see his eyebrows raise even in the dark.
Georgia sighed from across the room. "She thinks Scorpius is going to get new friends at Hogwarts."
"Georgia!" Sevannah sat up, glaring across the room at her sister's shape in the dark. "Pas devant papa!"
"No twin speak," Fred said, brushing the hair off Sevannah's forehead.
"It isn't," Georgia said smugly. "Fleur is teaching us French."
Fred groaned. "Okay, then no French. It's nearly midnight. English only. Lie back."
Sevannah sank back against the pillows and let Fred pull the red blankets up to her chin.
"Don't get me wrong," Fred said smoothing the blankets. "I would love it if you never spoke to Scorpius Malfoy again. Or any other boy, really. But I really don't think he's going to stop being your friend, even if he makes new friends. And you will be there in two incredibly short years."
Sevannah smiled a little, but two years felt extremely long. Her father always tried, but he just didn't get some things. She needed to talk to her grandfather about it. Severus understood how it felt not to have many friends, unlike Fred, who everyone loved.
As with all of their conversations, she just quit talking. As long as Georgia didn't speak for her, Fred would eventually give up. It would get awkward, and he would go away. He loved her. Sevannah knew that. But they were just so different.
True to history, Fred dropped a kiss on her forehead and smoothed the blankets one more time. "Go to sleep, Angel. Everything will be fine."
After he left, Sevannah turned to Georgia again. "Stop telling him stuff about me."
"Sorry," Georgia shrugged, sounding anything but. "It really is going to be okay."
Sevannah decided to try the same silent tactic on her sister. They were bonded, that was certain, but it didn't mean that Georgia understood her when it came to things like this. All the kids at their birthday parties knew her, but were friends with Georgia.
"Do you want me to go get the dogs?" Georgia's voice came again, not giving up on the conversation.
Sevannah stayed silent.
"I'll get them," Georgia decided, slipping out of bed and out the door. Sevannah listened to her feet go down the stairs, and heard the gate that kept the dogs in the living room at night creak. There was no way that their father wasn't still awake.
The door opened again and Angel, in all her golden glory, jumped up onto Sevannah's bed and lay down on top of her. Snitch circled the room a bit, examining all the things on the floor before Georgia coaxed her up onto her bed. Sevannah closed her eyes, letting the dog's constant weight calm her into sleep.
Sevannah was awoken the next morning with a knock on the door and her mother's voice. "Sevannah, are you in there?"
"Yes," she called back, still pinned under Angel, who had gone completely boneless.
The door opened and Elizabeth came in, her eyes landing immediately on the dogs. "Down," she commanded, trying to shoo Angel off of her daughter. Angel raised her head in recognition and stayed put. "Down!" Elizabeth tried again. "Girls, you know there are no dogs upstairs."
Sevannah patted Angel's head and wriggled out from underneath the golden fir, causing the dog to lose interest in the bed and flee downstairs. From across the room, Snitch looked as unaffected as her owner, who had not woken during all the noise.
Elizabeth sat on Sevannah's bed. "Daddy was talking to Grandpa, and he said he could use your help at Hogwarts today."
Sevannah looked at her mother, sure that this was a roundabout way of getting her to talk about her feelings. But since it would potentially give her independent access to Severus, she was willing to play along. She got up, heading back to her room to get dressed. Her room, unlike her twin's, didn't have a piece of clothing out of place.
She pulled jeans and a purple t-shirt out of the closet, and a black zip-front hoodie as an afterthought. It was always cold in the dungeons. Not that she didn't have clothes there. Severus had changed Elizabeth's room into a place for the twins to stay basically as soon as they were born. Her mother liked to joke that she had just been a placeholder for grandchildren.
Dressed, she went downstairs to the kitchen where Fred was reading the newspaper. "Daddy?" Sevannah sidled up to his side and leaned against him. "Can I floo by myself to Grandpa's?"
Fred didn't even look up. "No."
"Please?" Sevannah bent to the side so her face was between his and the newspaper.
Her father badly covered a smile and put the paper down. "You need breakfast, and then I will let you say the words when we go."
Sevannah sighed. "I'm 9."
"I'm aware. I'm reminded of that a lot." Fred stood and ruffled her red hair. "What do you want to eat?"
"Ice cream." Sevannah hopped up onto one of the stools at the counter.
"Do I look like Grandpa Weasley?" Fred raised an eyebrow.
Sevannah made a show of squinting. "Kind of."
"Castor oil and anchovies for you," Fred said, pouring cereal into a bowl.
Sevannah rolled her eyes and dug into the bowl with her fingers.
"Sevannah Rose, would it kill you to use a spoon?" Elizabeth came into the kitchen from upstairs.
"Next thing, you are going to ask her to put milk on it," Fred joked, handing his daughter a glass of orange juice.
"Don't be ridiculous," Elizabeth said, settling into on the kitchen chairs carefully. "You know we don't enforce the use of milk in this house. The whole thing is a ruse from the dairy lobby to trick people into buying their product by saying milk is healthy."
"Daddy said I could floo by myself."
"Daddy did not say that," Fred rolled his eyes. "I keep telling you, kid. You can't try that trick when the person you are lying about is listening."
Sevannah quickly finished the rest of her breakfast. "Can we go?"
Fred held up his coffee. "Put your shoes on, I'm going to finish this."
Sevannah dashed back upstairs, pulling her purple sneakers out of her closet. When she came back out of her room, Georgia was leaving hers, stretching, followed by Snitch. "Where are you going?"
"Daddy is worried that I'm upset, so he's sending me to Hogwarts. Because you have a big mouth." Sevannah sat at the top of the stairs to put on her shoes.
"Maybe you can talk to him about Quidditch again," Georgia dropped down beside her sister.
"No, she can't," Fred stood at the foot of the stairs. "I don't want to hear anything else about it."
Georgia flopped backward on the carpet. "But we've been flying for ages."
"With safety ground, safety brooms, and safety bludgers." Fred frowned at his daughter's prostrate form.
"You and Mum—
"Georgia Ann!" Elizabeth called from the kitchen. "One more word and you won't see your broom for a week!"
Georgia made a strangled frustrated noise, but stopped talking. Sevannah finished tying her shoes and left her twin, going down the stairs to her father, who ushered her to the floo.
Fred held out the floo powder pot and Sevannah happily took a handful. "After you," Fred gestured, letting her throw the powder and step into the flames before following her.
"Snape's Residence, Hogwarts!"
"Read these to me, just the names and cities or towns," Severus handed Sevannah a scroll and settled behind his desk in his office.
"What are they?"
"Students who haven't received their letter for one reason for another. We need to figure out why." Severus unfolded a map of Great Britain on the desk. "Go ahead."
"Emilee Abbott," Sevannah read. "Sheffield."
Severus circled the city on the map. "Next?"
"Aaron Bottington. Brighton."
Severus carefully circled the city.
"What are you doing?" Sevannah frowned at the map.
Severus looked up. "Often the reason a student doesn't get their letter is an owl issue. Sometimes Muggle cities think it is a good idea to discourage owls in some way. If we see an unusual number of students in one area not getting their letter, we need to look into mail issues in that area."
"What is another reason?"
"Sometimes students have moved out of Britain, and we just didn't get the information. That's common with Muggle-born students. If Emilee Abbott no longer lives in Sheffield, but instead lives in Paris, then she needs to get a letter from Beauxbatons, not Hogwarts."
Sevannah nodded, and turned her attention back to the parchment. Severus hadn't mentioned why she was there, and she didn't feel like starting a long conversation, even though she knew she would feel better after talking. She had stepped from the floo almost directly into her grandfather's arms, and after a quick goodbye to her father, Severus let her practice using the floo on her own to get to his office.
"Harry Edwards. Bath."
There were several names on the list, although when Sevannah thought about it, missing 7 or 8 students in the entire country didn't seem that bad.
"Well," Severus looked at the map. "I don't see a mail issue. We may have some relocations. Or we may have some Muggle parents that need support." He held out his hand for the parchment. "We'll give that to your Uncle Remus and let him follow-up."
"Daddy said that a lot of Muggle-borns are going to the school that Miss Johnson started before they come to Hogwarts."
"That's true. That school has really been very helpful with helping Muggle families. It takes some of the pressure off of Hogwarts staff because parents are introduced earlier to the idea, plus students don't come unprepared." Severus sat back in his chair. "Not all Muggle families are excited by the idea. You will be in a much easier position when you are here, that is certain."
"I wish I was coming this year." Sevannah dug the toe of her shoe into the rug.
Severus was silent for a moment. "Is that because you are excited to be here or because a certain young man is going to be here?"
Sevannah didn't meet his eyes. Looking at her grandfather made her spill her guts faster than Veritaserum, and she wasn't ready for that yet. "Both, I guess."
She heard Severus return the quill he'd been using to its holder. "It's frightening to imagine losing a friend," he said quietly. "However, I honestly believe that it won't be the case with Mr. Malfoy. You have been friends a long time."
"What if I get sorted into Gryffindor?" Sevannah didn't take her eyes off her shoes.
She heard Severus give a low whistle. "You are worrying years in advance now, Sev." His chair scraped the floor as he pushed it back. "Come here."
"I'm okay," Sevannah shrugged.
"Sevannah Rose." She didn't have to look at Severus to know his eyebrow was raised in warning. She stood up and made her way around the desk to his side. A long-fingered hand gently tilted her face up. "You love with your whole heart," Severus said quietly, looking into her eyes. "That problem with that is it makes you so easy to hurt." He patted her hip. "I believe that you mean as much to Scorpius as he means to you. I can't promise that you will be friends forever, but I really don't think that coming to school is going to change how he feels about you."
Sevannah leaned against his knees. "Georgia says I need more friends."
"Georgia has a completely different personality than you, sweetheart." Severus pulled her to sit on his lap. "Sometimes I'm shocked that you come from the same family let alone the same pregnancy." He smiled softly. "Quality over quantity is a good rule of thumb for friends, I think."
"And as far at the sorting is concerned," Severus smoothed her hair. "It doesn't matter to me, and it won't matter to him. Although I really would be shocked to see the Hat put you in Gryffindor, no matter your surname."
"I don't fit in with Georgia's friends." Sevannah's stomach twisted.
"Of course you don't," Severus snorted. "Lot of loud, reckless nonsense. Merlin only knows why your sister wastes her brain on some of those people."
Sevannah turned to bury her face in his robes, not wanting the tears to spill over right in front of him. "I wish it was as easy for me as it is for her."
"I know you do," Severus put his arms around her and rubbed her back. She could hear his sigh reverberate through his chest. "Childhood is a rough time for everyone," he said gently. "Everyone has struggles, and this is yours."
Sevannah nodded, relaxing a little more as her emotion spilled out. "It's not that I don't like being with Georgia."
"Of course you do," Severus continued his gentle circles on her back. "That's different. Your friends don't need to be copies of you, especially when they are family. Just look at your Uncle Remus and I." Sevannah could feel him smile over her head. "And don't forget your Grandma was a Gryffindor. The worst kind, actually."
Sevannah rolled her drying eyes. Severus didn't think Lily was the worst of anything.
"Anyway," Severus sat her away from him a bit to look at her face. "You spend an awfully lot of time here to be worried about not seeing your friend. Are you planning on not coming to see me over the next 2 years?"
Sevannah shook her head.
"Good," Severus kissed her forehead. "Do you feel better?" He searched her face. "You look exhausted, love."
"Didn't sleep very well last night," Sevannah lay her head on his shoulder. "Tried to sleep in Georgia's room."
"And your mind runs on a loop when you are upset." Severus stood, still holding her. "I think it's time for a nap."
"I'm 9," Sevannah protested, but not with much heart. Lack of sleep and crying had caught up with her.
"I'm aware," Severus laid her on the sofa against the wall of his office and conjured a fluffy green blanket. "Just a little while, alright? Then you can help me check that the Hogwarts Express is ready for its practice run." He brushed the stray hair off her forehead, and Sevannah closed her eyes, slipping easily into sleep.
"Here," Fred handed each of his daughters a crate. "Stock these along the outer wall."
Georgia took her box and looked at their father. "10 sickles an hour."
Fred smirked. "Dinner, and a place to sleep tonight."
"Sounds fair," Georgia put her crate down so she could hold her hands up in surrender. She looked down into the box. "There's like a million boxes in here!" She groaned and rolled her eyes before picking up the crate again and heading across the store.
Fred looked at the other twin. "Are you going to try to extort me too?"
Sevannah looked up at him innocently. "No, Daddy. But I bet I can do it faster than Georgia."
Fred raised an eyebrow. "Faster and more accurately?"
Sevannah nodded. "Bet you 10 sickles."
Fred looked around the shop, then dropped his voice. "You're on. Go."
Sevannah grinned and skipped off with her crate of blood capsules. Georgia would never finish before her sister. She was too easily distracted and didn't have any eye for perfection. If you wanted something done that was dangerous or exciting, Georgia was your girl. If you wanted precision, you needed Sevannah.
Forty minutes later, Sevannah watched as Fred counted out 10 sickles from his coin pouch. "I don't have to remind you not to tell your mother, right?"
Sevannah grinned and shook her head. Betting with Fred was all upside for her. When she won, she got paid, and when she lost, mysteriously he forgot all about it. No need to bring her mother into any of this. She pocketed the coins and went to watch Georgia finish working on her box of dungbombs.
"How do you did you do that so fast?" Georgia asked, looking over at the other section of wall.
"Focus." Sevannah said serenely.
"I would focus more if I wasn't slave labor," Georgia griped.
Sevannah smirked, softly jangling the coins in her pocket. "Yeah, it's pretty bad."
Fred appeared next to her. "Your mum is coming in 20 minutes to take you to Muggle London for school supplies."
"I thought Grandma was going to take us." Georgia looked up at him.
"Grandma gets confused with Muggle money," Fred put a casual arm around Sevannah. "And last time she took you two shopping, you ended up with 2 stuffed unicorns and no socks."
"That was Mum's fault," Georgia argued, putting another row of boxes on the shelf. "She didn't say we couldn't get stuffed unicorns instead of socks."
"Well, she'll be there this time, so maybe everything will be clearer," Fred laughed. "Finish that up, and you can both get one piece of candy for being helpful."
What Sevannah always marveled at Malfoy Manor, not because of its palatial aesthetic. It was so… Wizardly. There was no kitchen, to start with. All the "cooking" was done magically by house elves like at Hogwarts. Food just appeared on the table. There was also no family room, mostly because the Malfoys did not spend family time together outside of meal times, from what Sevannah could tell.
Which was why she and Scorpius were sitting in the formal parlor, where the Malfoys were supposed to receive guests. It was stiff and unwelcoming, everything about the room reminding guests that their stay was temporary.
"How is your brother on restriction?" Sevannah asked Scorpius, tossing the practice snitch they were playing with into the air for him to catch. "He's of age."
"My house, my rules," came a voice from the doorway. Sevannah turned to see Draco Malfoy leaning against the doorjamb. His robe was open, revealing a white shirt and black slacks. Sevannah often wondered why Mr. Malfoy bothered getting dressed at all, seeing as he didn't have a job. "Hello, Sevannah."
"Hi, Mr. Malfoy." Sevannah caught the Snitch as Scorpius threw it back.
"Take that in the backyard," Draco gestured to the snitch. "In fact, play with the real one. What is that teaching you? How to sit down during a game?"
Scorpius smirked. "This one is more Sevannah's speed."
Draco pointed to the back doors that led out to the garden. "Outside. I'm having guests in a few minutes."
"He's having 'guests' a lot lately," Scorpius said when the door was closed behind them. "I think it's doctors. For Mother."
Sevannah looked at her friend as they wandered toward the pond, again helpless as to what to do in the situation. "How bad is it?"
Scorpius shrugged, and kicked one of the decorative rocks off the bank and into the water. "I don't know. She spends more time in bed lately, and Father spends more time pacing. And having visitors."
"Maybe we should listen?" Sevannah dug in her pocket for the latest version of WWW's extendible ears, charmed stickers that could be secured almost anywhere. She handed a pair to Scorpius, who inspected them, looking like he wanted to shoot down the idea, but then reconsidered.
"How would we get into the room to place them?"
"Georgia said she used them on the outside of a window a couple of weeks ago. She was using them to listen to Teddy and Victoire in Grandpa's living room."
Scorpius considered this, looking up at the house. "Father will probably have them in his study, and that's on the second floor. How are we supposed to get up there?"
Sevannah looked at him strangely. "Are you a wizard, or not? We need your broom."
Scorpius scowled at her. "Joke's on you, because Father took it away last week because I told him that I'd rather eat glass than brussel sprouts. He wasn't in a joking mood."
Sevannah bit her lower lip, thinking. "Do you know where it is?"
"He always locks it in his study. No way we are getting it."
Sevannah debated the idea that was floating in her head. "Okay. So I'll floo home and get mine."
"You aren't allowed to floo by yourself."
"No one is home, and I'll be there and back no problem. It will take 2 minutes. We'll wait until your dad is upstairs, and no one will ever know."
Scorpius looked like he was doing some debating of his own. "You know this sounds like more of a me plan than a you plan, right?"
Sevannah couldn't argue the point. Risky stunts were not really her thing. But she was consumed with curiosity about Mr. Malfoy's guests, and she knew Scorpius was as well.
"Two minutes," she promised. "What could happen?"
One of things that could happen, it turned out, was that Sevannah could completely miss the exit that would take her to the Weasley's living room. Another thing that could happen is that she could freak out and decide to come crashing through the floo of a home she had never seen before. There could be a person home when she fell onto their carpet, covered in soot, and that person could fire-call Fred, who could arrive second later to collect his daughter, looking displeased.
"I have to go back and tell Scorpius what happened," Sevannah tried, when they arrived in the office at WWW.
"I'll be sure to let Draco know what is going on," Fred pointed at the chair against the wall of the office, the one that was dangerously close to being considered in the corner. "Sit."
"Sit and don't talk," Fred clarified. "Think about what could have happened if you hadn't ended up in a home with people who wanted to help you get home safely."
Sevannah squirmed a little bit, trying to stay quiet, but the idea of Scorpius just standing beside his floo, waiting for her and worrying. "Can you please just call—
Her father's face looked a lot like her Grandma Weasley's when he was angry. "Sevannah Rose Weasley, you had better stop worrying about being a polite houseguest and be concerned about how much trouble you are in." Fred waived his wand and spun the chair properly into the corner. Sevannah stared at the junction of the wall in front of her. This ridiculous. Nine-year-olds do not sit in the corner. At least she didn't. She couldn't remember that last time their father had looked at her like he had. This getting in trouble business was Georgia's thing. Sevannah was usually more careful than this. There was no reason she should have messed up the floo. She'd used the floo her whole life. She'd heard whoever she was with say the destination over and over. How had she missed it? It was like she didn't slow down at all. She always remembered slowing down a little bit before the destination.
Behind her, she heard Fred send his Patronus twice, once to Scorpius's dad and one to her mother. Neither of those were going to be met with happiness.
It was important to get her father calm before her mother got there. Fred wasn't angry that often, but when he was, it didn't last. Elizabeth, on the other hand, would still be bringing this instance up in a week as evidence that Sevannah couldn't be trusted.
The trick was not to further antagonize the tall redhead. She shouldn't have tried to talk at all after he'd told her to stop. Getting him riled up didn't help. She sat, staring at the corner, trying to look contrite. The problem with that was that she wasn't really. She her pride was hurt that she couldn't do it by herself like she thought, especially because she knew that there were kids younger than her did it just fine. But that was probably because they didn't have parents were so bloody overprotective. She tried to breathe through her nose. Riling herself up would help her look like she was sorry about the events of the last hour.
She was a little frightened too, if she had to admit it. Landing in an unfamiliar living room was not the best experience. And the whirlwind trip back with an angry father hadn't been pleasant either. Not that he was afraid of Fred per se, but she didn't like when he was upset, especially with her. Unlike Georgia, who seemed to get a certain amount of enjoyment from raising their parents' blood pressure, Sevannah liked to be on their good side.
Sevannah didn't hear Fred intone the spell, so she was startled when the chair started to turn slowly. Her father was sitting in an identical chair, facing hers, sliding his wand back into the sleeve of his robes.
"Alright," the wizard rested his right ankle on his left knee, and laced his hands together in his lap. "Tell me the whole story."
Sevannah didn't have to fake the tears that sprung to her eyes. She hadn't meant to upset him, and here he was, clearly still trying to keep his temper in check. "I'm really sorry, Daddy."
"You are certainly sorry you got caught," Fred said, his voice even. "And I would imagine you gave yourself a bit of a fright as well."
Sevannah's tears spilled over. That was the kind of soul-identifying statement that Severus would have given.
"You need to tell me what happened, Sev." Fred looked at her, his eyes locking on hers.
But she couldn't. Sevannah had no idea where this swell of regret came from, but it had fully forced out the righteousness she'd felt earlier. All she could feel was so much sadness.
Sevannah heard her father sigh. "Come here, Sevannah." She shook her head, and Fred's voice came again. "Sevannah. Come here." When she still couldn't move, she felt hands slip under her arms and lift her just enough for her father to sit on her chair and settle her on his lap. "Why do you do these things to yourself, Angel?"
If Fred was calling her "Angel", he had definitely cooled off. Sevannah's devastation started to ebb, the side of her face pressed into his robe, hearing his heart beat in her ear.
Sevannah told the story, quietly, looking off around the office, not willing to meet her father's eyes. There were two desks in the room, across the room from each other. Sevannah remembered her mother saying something about how Fred and Uncle Ron needed as much space between them as they could get, while she needed a wall to separate her work area from theirs. There was a door at the back of the office that lead to Elizabeth's smaller office. Sevannah played with the hem of his robes as she waited for Fred to react.
"So." Fred put his hand over Sevannah's, stopping her from unraveling the edge of his robe. "I have to say, I think you and your sister are karma's funny, funny joke." He ran a hand over his face. "First of all, you have discovered that our Floo has security that is designed not to allow anyone to access it unaccompanied by your mother, myself, or adult members of our family. It's supposed to protect you, but clearly that backfired."
Sevannah sagged. She'd been doomed from the beginning, really.
"I assume Mr. Malfoy doesn't have a child lock on his floo because he has obedient children," Fred continued.
"Not that obedient," Sevannah shrugged. "Obviously."
"I won't go on about how you shouldn't eavesdrop, because you know that you shouldn't. And I'll give karma that one, since you got it from both sides." He closed his eyes a moment. "You are grounded for 2 days."
Sevannah wasn't surprised. Actually, she was sort of surprised that it wasn't longer. All in all, her father was being much calmer about the situation that she had anticipated. Hopefully he would be able to channel that feeling into her mother.
"When you are not grounded," Fred said slowly, "I will teach you to use the floo. Since you are obviously a danger to yourself." He looked down at her. "This is not an excuse for you to start doing other crazy things. It is possible that I've been a little overprotective concerning the issue."
"Mum is going to be mad."
"Mum wanted me to let you do it a year ago." Fred tightened his hold on her. "Probably because Grandpa Snape kept the child lock on their floo until she was like 25."
"That," Elizabeth's voice came from behind them as she stepped out of the floo. "Is because when I was 11, I took off to go to Remus' house." She crossed the room to their chair and crouched, putting her hand on Sevannah's head. "Did you get sick?"
Sevannah shook her head. "I'm not Georgia," she smiled a little, gauging her mother's irritation level.
Elizabeth smiled back and stood, looking at Fred. "You covered how it's dangerous to floo when you don't know what you're doing?"
"More or less," Fred shifted Sevannah on his lap.
"Daddy says he's ready to teach me," Sevannah offered. "And I'm not lying this time."
Elizabeth hid a smile badly, and pulled Sevannah to stand, putting her arms around her.
"Are you mad?"
Sevannah felt her mother sigh. "I'm just happy you're safe. Maybe I'll be mad later."