Oh, my Goodness. This is late. But forgive me. One last time.
This is the end. Fin. Finished. Done. It's all over. No more Left Unsaid.
I think I might cry.
Okay, confession time: I did cry as I wrote this. And not because it was sad; it's not. Just because. It's the end. I spent a long time writing this, then scrapping other versions. Then hiding. Then writing more, then hiding, then doing more school work and using my school work to hide from my crappy epilogue because I love Left Unsaid far too much to mess up the Epilogue.
February 25, 2022
Nathanial Isaac Gale was not a boy who collected friends.
He'd had a best friend, in Nottingham, and a girlfriend, for a bit, before Finn had talked to her and she'd sort of known and Nate hadn't been willing to risk everything for a girl who popped her ps obnoxiously. So he'd cut her loose, and he'd eaten lunch with a couple of other kids, but mainly, his friend was Finn, and that was it. Not a particularly social boy.
So, starting at a new school was a nightmare.
Especially this school, he thought, looking at the looming stone building in front of him. This shiny school with a suit that had it's own little emblem and a tie—which he'd had enough sense to loosen, and he'd unbuttoned a button of his collar, because he didn't want to get beaten up. This was a prep school. What has Molly gotten me into this time? He'd known from his arrival at Mrs. Longbottom's that things were different, here, in this sparkly London neighborhood where his house was large and he had a weird little house elf and his own room, for the first time in a long time. But this was a different level. Lerner Prep hadn't really been a prep school—preppy, sure, a little, for the rough neighborhood of Nottingham they'd lived in. But there were still fights in the courtyard and kids with troubled families (Nate knew nothing about those kids) were as common as rain.
Mrs. Longbottom was bringing the twins later, and had offered to come over with him now, but Nate had opted out. He had to go early to meet his assigned buddy—new kids got buddies at this school—and get his schedule and meet with the headmaster.
"Hi, are you Nathanial Gale?" A girl who had been standing looking at her cell phone on the front steps asked; Nate glanced at her sharply, before he nodded once, hoisting his black backpack—it was new, as were all the school supplies within it—higher on his shoulder. She was pretty, short and dark skinned with her hair back in a braid. "I'm Teresa Levin—call me Tess—and I am your new buddy." She beamed, coming down the stairs and holding out a hand for Nate to shake; he did, his eyebrows raised. Kids shook hands here. Hmm.
"Hey." He said after a moment, quiet. "Nice to meet you—" He paused, glancing around. "Thanks for coming to school an hour early for me, I guess."
"Oh, no problem." She was still smiling; she was too smiley. "I'm head prefect anyway so I would have had to come early for a meeting and that would have just been boring; this is much more interesting." He guessed that she blushed a little because now she looked flustered, though he couldn't tell. "Let's get inside; it looks like it might start…snowing?" She glanced, looking up at the sky, and Nate followed her gaze upwards; by the time he looked down again, she was already moving inside.
Nate forced himself forward, up the stairs and through the large double doors at the entrance; a security guard sat at a desk inside and looked up expectantly. Tessa waved Nate towards the desk as she stepped up to it, resting her forearms on the counter and flashing her big smile to the guard. "Hi Devon, this is Nathanial Gale, he's new today—you should have an ID for him—"
"Indeed I do." The guard smiled too, at Nate, and Nate took a deep breath. So many smiles. Devon the guard grabbed one of those big yellow envelopes and slid it across the desk; Nate took it and looked down at it, then flipped it over, opening it. Nate opened the ID and reached inside, pulling out the pieces inside; a school ID the size of a credit card, and a yellow packet and two copies of his schedule. And a t-shirt that said Watson Wolves in the corner. "You're lucky to have Tess showing you around, lad." The man said in a thick Irish accent; Nate glanced up at him.
"Yeah, she's head prefect, I hear." Nate said, glancing at Tess; she was still grinning.
"We really have to get going, Devon, but I promise I'll bring Nate back so he can get to know the real head of this school." Tess told Devon, and then she grabbed Nate's hand—she grabbed Nate's hand—and pulled him after her. Nate couldn't help the hormones pulsing though his veins, and he forced himself to take a deep breath.
Tess led him through another set of doors and up a stair case that was twice the size of that at Lerner; around and around and around, until she pulled him out the door that led to the roof. It was a playground, for the kids, Nate had to imagine, but Tess dropped his hand and walked easily over to swings, dropping her bag before she sat down on one. Nate hesitated, then followed suit. He was a little more reluctant to sit on the swing, but he did, a few beats after her.
"So why is the head prefect showing me around?" Nate asked after a moment, his voice quiet. He was careful to sound regular, but he felt his heartbeat move a little faster as he contemplated the idea that maybe Mrs. Longbottom had told. Maybe the school had assigned the troubled boy the smiley head prefect.
"I was going to start with the question are you new to London, but sure, let's start there." Tess said without skipping a beat; Nate glanced at her, and she was still smiling, a little less earnestly, however. "And I am taking time out of my ludicrously overbooked schedule to show a half-year student around for two reasons." Tess raised one finger. "First, because you're new meat and I wanted to see what we were dealing with." Nate raised his eyebrows at this. "What? We're a small school, only forty kids our year. New kids are a big deal." Tess laughed a little. "And second, because I know all about Hogwarts. So I told the administration that you were my old friend from camp so I could catch you alone."
Nate didn't even flinch, though he felt his stomach churning; he wasn't supposed to talk about Hogwarts. He'd been so pointed about this with Ellie and Cal that it made him feel guilty. "How?" He asked after a moment, his eyes flicking to his backpack, momentarily; he had his magic mirror in there. Had she sensed it or something?
"My whole family went there." Tess said, smiling still. God, didn't her face hurt by now? "Levin Wand Makers, Superior Sticks since 1012."
Nate considered this. He didn't know the name of the company, but that didn't mean much. He didn't pay a lot of attention to magic things that weren't relevant to his sister, and there was a lot of that, so he wasn't exactly every in a position to look for more things.
"Why aren't you there?" Nate asked after a moment, his voice free of suspicion, but he was thinking it.
"Got shortchanged." Tess explained with a shrug, still smiling. "I'm a squib. It's like the opposite of your sister—she's got all muggle blood, but is magical. Well, I've got all magic blood—or most, there is that cousin on Dad's side—and am nonmagical." Nate stared at her, losing her explanation for two words she'd said.
"You know about my sister." He murmured, his lungs tight. Molly had been meticulous about the papers but Nate had subscribed to the Daily Prophet once he'd convinced the owl to deliver them to school. He'd rather be the weird boy who received mail from owls in the school yard then the boy with the black eye who got them at home. "And my mum, and my dad—" Nate closed his eyes, leaning his forehead against the chain of the swing. He already had a headache. "Is there anyone else in this school?"
"No." Tess said quietly, smiling gently now; Nate forced himself to open his eyes, looking at Tess.
"Are you going to tell people?" Nate asked softly. He'd lied on his application, he knew; said he'd never been arrested. False. And Tess knew that.
"Am I going to tell people your dad's an abusive, imprisoned bastard and your mum flaked?" Tess demanded, incredulous at the question. "No, no. Jeez." She frowned, now. "None of their business, first off. None of mine either, but tabloids, whatchagonnado?" And she said it just like that, one word. Nate chuckled, partly due to relief, and partly because this girl who was head prefect and pretty and well-spoken said things like that. "Story that I believe you're going with is that your Mum's having some issues and your dad's out of the picture and you are staying with your great aunt Augusta Longbottom in a lovely home that I hope to be invited to sometime soon."
"I told the school my dad is dead." Nate admitted quietly. He'd checked that little dark box, passed, date 02/23/22 . He'd written down the date of his dad's trial. Mrs. Longbottom hadn't said anything, copied the same onto the twins' forms.
Everyone knew it was better to pretend like he was dead.
Well, everyone but Nate's stupid therapist. Nate had a therapist, now, a woman who basically sat there for an hour twice a week and listened to him yell about how much he hated therapists. Granted, he'd only been one and a half times—he'd walked out, halfway through, the first session. But he had to keep going. It'd been part of the rules—he and Molly both saw therapists now. Cormac didn't, but that was because Cormac talked to people. And years of their parents had long ago squeezed that instinct out of Nate and Molly.
Nate spoke to Molly a lot too, but that was every night, and sometimes for hours. Just repeated conversations about how it couldn't be over; after nightmares with reassurances that at least things were done, now. Even if the nightmares were still there and even if things still sucked, they weren't getting worse. He told that to the twins, too; he knew Molly had said it to Cormac, a few times. It'd only been a few days since the trial, and they'd already needed that much reassurance. Nate didn't think he'd realized how broken they'd been until he'd been given a chance to survey the damage. Now, though, it was clear.
His family was a disaster.
"Still only your business." She murmured. "It's a shame how much your family's been in the papers. I know if I'd had that much exposure, I would be dying to rewrite my story so it was mine again. I'd probably say something more ludicrous, though. My father was…an American astronaut or something." She shrugged, and her words made Nate smile.
"I just don't want them looking into him." Nate admitted quietly. "I don't want to have to deal with that, and I can't ask Mrs. Longbottom to deal with it. The kids are on board, because they're seven and get on board with everything." Nate let out a breath. "And they're happier now that's he's gone." He shrugged. "But yeah, Mum ditched. No sense in beautifying that bit." Nate shook his head once, just a little shake. Silence fell between then before Tess looked at Nate.
"I'm sorry your mum ditched." She said quietly.
"I'm not." Nate murmured, looking down at the ground. "She was weak. And we could handle that, when things were okay, or better—" Nate swallowed. When things were okay. But Molly had been getting shit from his dad for ten years. Things had never been okay, not really.
He just hadn't known that. His mother had, though, she had to have.
"She let Molly take a lot of shit for ten years." Nate said quietly. "And Molly took it, because that's the kind of sister she is, but she needs a better mother. And Mrs. Longbottom, and Molly's friend's Fred's mum has already done that." Nate shrugged, looking up.
"What about you?" Tess asked. Nate shrugged, because that was all he was willing to offer this girl he barely knew. He'd already said too much. But he was lonely and starting a new school and this girl knew. He didn't have to censor himself.
"So, I don't know if you do this, because you're a muggle and was raised a muggle," Tess said after a beat, smiling again, "but your sister is dating the son of the most famous man in our world. More importantly, however, your sister is dating a boy who supports the Chudley Cannons, and my question is—do you? Because I live and die by them. So I'm not sure we can be friends if you don't."
Nate stared at Tess. Smiley girl was smiling again, and willing to lie for him, and head prefect, and pretty. "Stop smiling." He said finally. "You're freaking me out."
"Oh, now." Tess said, tilting her head to the side. "That's half the fun of it." Nate exhaled, tilting his head back to look up at the sky again. It was a dark grey, and it was getting colder; Tess had been right, it was going to snow. For some reason, though, he felt unreasonably warm. After a moment, he looked back to Tess and smiled back at her.
He could build something, here.
"I demand mail." Fred said irritatedly as he looked at the letters that had landed on my plate. I glanced up at him, smiling a little, even as I reached to sort through the mail. Two letters from Nate, One from Cal, one from Ellie—Mrs. Longbottom helped them send their own letters, now—one from Mrs. Longbottom, and two from Dean Thomas, the man who was organizing my parents' estate. My mom had given over possession of the house—she'd moved in with Mr. Causer and Finn—to a trust in Nate's and my names, and after a few discussions, Nate and I had agreed to sell it and leave the money in an account to gain interest until one of us needed it. It wasn't very much, but it was enough in case of trouble, and Nate had agreed that we needed a backup plan. After, that is, he'd spent ten minutes mocking my making yet another plan.
"This is getting pretty silly." Albus agreed. I ignored them, opening the letter from Cal first and tugging out a card. Happy Mothering Day! He'd written in sloppy, light blue crayon-writing. I stared down at it for a moment before I flipped open; glitter burst from the card, exploding in my face, and I swiped it away, reading the words inside. Your the best. Love you, Cal.
"More glitter!" Fred exclaimed. "Seven-year-olds and glitter are not a good combination, I am telling you—"
"It's sweet." I told him firmly, looking up at him as I put the card down, smiling a little; I picked up the next letter, then blinked down at the writing. Finn Causer's shaky scrawl, less legible than even my little brother's, was across a perfectly square envelope. "Oh, bloody hell." I grumbled. Finn was living with Mr. Causer and Mum, and I'd told him to write me—the kid had been my best friends with my brother for years, we were practically siblings ourselves—but thus far I'd not gotten a letter, which I'd taken as a good sign. Finn would probably only write me with a problem. Or, in this case, a wedding invitation. Dammit.
"What?" Albus asked, looking over. "Is that from Nate?"
"I wish." I muttered, flipping it over and cracking open the envelope, taking out the contents. A large, thick invitation, a small envelope and response card, and then a folded paper fell out of the envelope. I swallowed, flipping the invitation over to look at it; Eamon Causer and Niamh Breston are pleased to invite you to their wedding on October 1, 2022. I inhaled, exhaled, and then reached up, tearing it in half.
"The hell…?" Fred muttered.
"Niamh Breston," I said lowly, "formerly Gale, is engaged to Eamon Causer." I turned the halves, and, after a moment of struggle, tore those in half too. The pieces dropped to the table as I reached for the note, flipping it open.
Please come to the wedding. I'm pretty much as thrilled as you are about this.
"Finn?" Albus guessed; I glanced up at him, then nodded once, folding the paper in my hands and dropping it with the pieces of the invitation. "Going to go?"
"Nope." I popped the p flippantly, because I could and the boys would know better. They weren't stupid. This made me angry.
"Alright." Albus murmured. "Think Finn is okay?"
"I think he's a big boy and mum isn't—" I fell silent, looking back down at my plate with a glare. For the last few months, I'd stumbled along, fielding midnight mirror calls from the twins when they had nightmares and remembering, when I woke up from my own nightmares, that it was better now. Things weren't bad anymore. "Mum isn't abusive or hateful or wrong. Just weak. And married to a well-off soccer coach with one teenage step-son to keep an eye on is a good thing for her." I exhaled. "She'll be happy." The word was hard to say because I wasn't good enough to want that for her. I wanted her to be miserable. I wanted her to feel the same all-consuming anger I did when I thought of her and Dad and the years-long mess that we'd all had a hand in creating.
"She deserves to rot in Azkaban." Fred volunteered; I glanced up at him sharply. "What?" He demanded, glancing from my shocked face to Al's slightly scolding one. "You were thinking it. I just…said it." He raised his eyebrows, reaching forward to grab a muffin from the basket and took a bite. "Mmmm." He said contentedly through a mouthful. "Muffin."
I stared at Fred, then snorted in laughter, and Albus slipped an arm around my waist, leaning over to kiss the top of my head. I didn't have to think about Mum anymore. She didn't matter.
I didn't go to the wedding.
Finn sent me a copy of the video anyway.
"Molly, babe, you can't just…" Albus's voice drifted off as my head snapped up, my eyes narrowing at him. "Not sleep." He finished his sentence uncertainly, my glare silencing him.
"We have our potions OWL tomorrow." I said darkly.
"You literally have slept like eight hours in three days, Molls. Not healthy." Albus said certainly, sitting down across the library table with me.
"Go away." I said irritatedly, looking back down at my book.
"Molly." Albus's voice was obnoxiously calm.
"Molly." I dropped my pen, my head snapping up to stare at him.
"I made Liam promise to punch you if you tried to impede my studying." I said lowly. Albus pressed his lips together, a smile there, and I felt a surge of irritation. "Stop smiling." I hissed. "This isn't funny. I'm going to bomb this, and since I have no goddamned idea what I want to be, I have to ace everything to keep all my options open—"
"Molly." Albus repeated.
"Stop saying my name." I hissed.
"You need to sleep. And eat." Albus said.
"Al, you want to be a stupid seeker," I hissed at him. "You don't need an O.W.L. in any subject to be a fucking seeker. You need to be speedy." I stared at Albus. "You are speedy. You will be a seeker." Albus grinned, straightening up at this backwards praise. "I will be a waitress at the fucking three broomsticks unless I—"
"No." Albus shook his head. "My uncle failed—"
"Your family saved the damned world!" I cried, folding over the table and pressing my forehead onto the table. "My family is famous for being a walking disaster! No one will employ me! I'm going to fail out of school and—"
"You're having a meltdown." Albus stated; I lifted my head, my chin resting on the table, my eyes miserable on him. "And since I'm—a boy, I am unsure of what to do with this, but let me tell you this." He leaned down on the table, resting his chin on the table too. "You're pretty. So, if you need to, I think you could make it as a super classy prostitute." I stared at Albus for a moment, then groaned, letting my forehead fall to the table again, trying not to smile.
Dopey Albus still made me smile.
Everyone assumes that being a Potter means things are just peachy all the time. Because my dad saved the world and my mom coaches a quidditch team and has red hair and freckles and because I have a girlfriend that can outduel just about anyone in our school. Those things must mean things are just great for the Potter children.
No one remembers that having a parent who's an auror means spending nights thinking oh, shit, Dad might not come home. No one remembers that dating the girl with the abusive dad means that the idea of early release for good behavior is a nightmare that might come true.
No one remembers that being the seeker for the Gryffindor team can be really fucking stressful when we lose the cup.
No, but actually.
"It doesn't matter." Molly murmured in my ear as she wrapped her arms around my neck in the locker room; no one gave a shit that we weren't supposed to have other people in here. Part of that lack of care was James was trying to drown himself in the showers, and Louis had reluctantly accepted the task of retrieving him while Sera laid on the ground, helpfully, and stared at the ceiling wordlessly, and Grace had locked herself in one of the stalls in the girls' room and Alec Thomas had been awkwardly standing in there pounding on her stall for the last ten minutes. Everyone else got their person. I got Molly.
I pressed my face into her hair, my eyes closed as I inhaled the way she smelled. I couldn't really describe it—it was like autumn, I guessed, but that wasn't really a description, and I would have laughed at Fred if he described a girl smelling that way (or described a girl smelling any way—smelling people is not normal behavior). Maybe leaves? I didn't think I'd ever smelled leaves before. I wasn't that kind of kid.
"Dammit, shit, fuck, fuck." I murmured into her hair; she pulled back, smiling sadly as she reached up to touch my face. "Molly—" The pain in my voice was audible.
"You're a fifth year, it doesn't matter—" she murmured to me. "We passed our O.W.L.s, you're low on sleep, that's why you—"
"Molly—" I breathed, shaking my head thickly; Molly gently pushed me backwards, forcing me back to the bench in the middle of the room, and I sank onto it, putting my head in my hands. Molly's hands covered mine on my face for a moment before they slid down to my knees, and she crouched down before me, cupping my calves for a moment; I looked up at her, and she reached a hand up to push my hair back from my face. "I didn't catch it." I said to her lowly, around the fist I'd pressed to my mouth, because I couldn't bring myself to say the words without distorting them, at least a little bit.
"Because you haven't slept in like four weeks, and you took a bludger to the chest eight minutes in." She reminded me, her voice gentle. "That, by the way, should be looked into." She glanced to my chest, and I didn't move. She sighed, reaching forward to unbutton my shirt, just the collar, first, and then down my chest. She pushed the flaps back but I didn't move to help her, so she just left it most of the way on, then reached to touch my undershirt, bring it up from under my belt. She lifted the shirt, and then exhaled slowly. "Albus." Her voice was soft, and I looked down at her; she was staring at my chest. I had a big black and red bruise on my ribs. Nothing was broken, I knew, but it still hurt like hell. "Can you even raise your arms above your head?" She asked finally.
I shrugged, then winced.
"Alright." Molly murmured, carefully lowering my shirt. She put her hands on her knees and pushed herself to her feet, looking around the room. "Oy, you lot." She said to the lagging Gryffindor Quidditch team; I felt people shift to look at her but no one said anything. "You lost the cup. I'm very, very sorry. You fought hard." She paused. "But there is a shitload of Butter Beer in our common room for drowning your sorrows." She looked down at me. "And Madame Pomfrey has to have bruise salve somewhere for that."
I stared up at her as my team and myself remained unmoving. Finally, I swallowed, then spoke, hoarsely. "But we lost the cup."
"Mother of—" She exhaled. "Do you know who else lost the cup, love? Your dad did. And so did your mom. And so did your uncle Bill. So. Guys." She looked up. "Pull it the hell together. Who do you think you are? The Gryffindor Quidditch team. Now. Since you can't win like Gryffindors—and yes, friends, that ship has sailed—go drink like sailors. Go! Go! Shoo!" Molly waved her hands, and a few kids shakily rose to their feet. Sera was among them, she exhaled, turning towards the boys' showers where the distant sound of Louis arguing could be heard. First one kid left, then another four together, then two. Another two, and then Sera and Louis and James emerged, wet, from the locker room and left. And then it was just me, and Fred, who was now lying down on a bench and had his eyes closed, his arm over his face.
"I can't even face my dad." Fred's voice shook.
"You lost the damned cup, not the damned war," Molly muttered. "If your dad has a problem with that, I'm going to yell at him, just you wait."
Fred snorted, but I didn't, just looking miserably to Molly, who looked down at me. "You're a good quidditch player, Albus." She murmured. "Really good. This doesn't mean anything. All this means is that next time you get your ribs pummeled, get out of the game. This doesn't matter. You're a fifth year, you're not captain, this doesn't matter. For Grace, yes it does. She's a seventh year, and captain. But you're just a fifth year. So calm the fuck down and pull it together." She held out her hand. "It's a big shiny gold goblet. If it's that important, I'll put it on next year's Christmas list."
I stared at Molly, then smiled a little, despite myself. She grinned, now, proud of herself. "Drink yourself into oblivion with me?" She asked softly.
"I'd be delighted, my lady—" Fred began weakly.
"I'm not losing my cup and my girl in the same night, Weasley, fuck off." I muttered. Fred exhaled, then chuckled for a half-second, tiredly. I grabbed Molly's hand and let her pull me to my feet. "Molly, love." I murmured as I slipped my arms around her waist tightly. "You have many lovely talents. As it turns out. Pep talks are not one of them."
Molly looked up at me heatedly, then seemed to let go of her anger as she pressed her lips to mine for a moment, before pulling away. "I'm letting that slide because you're sad." She murmured as we turned towards the door, and I pressed a kiss to the top of her head, my throat hoarse. Dammit.
"Thank you." I murmured. She nodded against me, and Fred sighed behind us.
"You losers are boring." He mumbled. I exhaled, glancing back at him lethally.
"I hate you." I breathed.
(especially (and I'm naming names to make special not to exclude people) Imnotcallingyoualiar, AllenPitt, hushpuppy22, Notadreamnotyetanightmare, Molivline, pottercullen4-ever, Skittles31),
you have made this story not only easier to write but actually enjoyable. I loved every minute of your reviews (also those reviews by reviewers unmentioned, the above were mentioned because they stuck it through from the beginning or something like it and were serious, hardcore reviewers who deserve cookies and hugs). They really do change everything and this story was just astronomically more frequently read then my other stories which made me feel all special and fun. So thank you, lovely reviewer people. You made my day. More than that, every time I received an email alert that I'd received a review, I was just pleased as punch and smiling at my email like a crazy person.
A million times thank you,
PS. More to come, soon. Also, writing a blog, link's on my profile, it's called Perfectionist's Prose, I started it tonight (seriously) so it's a little lacking now but I will be posting a preview (!) of my next story on it so if go, click away in the next few days and then wander back to my blog.