Chapter One: Fortune
"Molly, Lucy, would you like to take a walk with dear old Gramps?" Molly and Lucy looked up at their grandfather who had propped both elbows on his desk and was looking at them as they sorted through the shops files. Their mum was out running an errand in Hogsmeade and could be expected to be gone for the rest of the day; their dad was working which left Molly and Lucy in the care of their grandfather. Lucy perked up at the idea, Gramps liked to walk all over the area, even the shady parts of Diagon Alley, so Lucy saw all kinds of things that her dad would have a fit about on these walks.
"Where are we going to go Gramps?" Molly asked nervously as she put the files back in the cabinet as Gramps rose from his desk and stretched.
"Out, your uncle is having a special on fireworks and if one makes it into the shop again… Well, it's just time to take a walk." He picked up his cane and strolled out the door. Lucy left her files on the floor and followed him out with Molly behind her, through the empty shop and out into the streets of Diagon Alley. It was loud, busy, crowded and Lucy loved it. Most of the crowd had gathered in front of her Uncle George's shop and were gasping in awe at the wonderful things that they could see. That was good. Freddie and Roxanne were probably busy in the shop with their parents, good, less time for mischief.
Lucy and Molly followed their grandfather through the crowd staying close so they would not get lost in the mess of people. Such energy, excitement, Lucy shivered delightedly. They passed old witches dressed in flamboyant colors and wearing far too much makeup, the amount that would be acceptable for women in their twenties going to a club. An old wizard was a small crate that fire was coming out of the top dashing through the streets. Lucy would wager a guess that it was an illegal hybrid of some sort and he did not want the local Enforcer to catch him.
The local enforcer was a woman named Celeste Scully, formerly Cadwallader, the wife of the owner of the most violent pub in the alley. Even with an enforcer living and working out of that building, the Sneezing Snitch still had its reputation and more then lived up to it. She was working twenty-four seven. She was aided by Lucy's uncle Cappie, an enforcer noted for being the best spell sniper in the Ministry, able to take off one's hat from two hundred feet. He and Celeste Scully were both well respected locally, but found themselves unable to get an Enforcement post outside of within the Ministry to handle crimes to minor for Aurors. According to Lucy's mother, Celeste had lofty ambitions of being Head Enforcer which she had dashed when she caught the current Head Enforcer in a compromising position some years ago; she also had accused him of being crooked. She now was in charge of The Diagon Watch, a two person patrol, (counting herself). Uncle Cappie was noted for being very close to Celeste, which may not have helped his career advancement, but he seemed very happy here, he and his wife Serena knew everyone from the big money makers to the poorest shop keeps, the most straight laced fellows to the most crooked rouges. Besides, it was not a dangerous post by any stretch of the imagination and Uncle Cappie had his family to think about.
Gramps led them off the main street and down a shadier, quieter street. There was hardly anyone in sight, a couple of stalls where goods were being bartered and haggled over. Molly trembled visibly and picked up her pace to walk next to Gramps as Lucy slowed was watch and tried to see what was being bought. Gramps told her not to dally and Lucy gave up her watching to follow. He took another turned between an old war destroyed building and a small potion shop, leading them down a small street where there was a man in dark robes standing next to what appeared to be a cellar door to a destroyed building. He looked at Gramps appraisingly and opened the cellar door. Gramps flashed a smile and walked down the steps. Suddenly, Lucy had a vague idea where they were going. She suddenly felt very excited.
The stairs were a short walk down to cellar floor and the wooden door at the other end of the room, Gramps walked through into a well lit hall with small floating balls of light over their heads. "Hey, Gramps, where are we going?" Molly asked again as she stepped closer to Lucy.
"You'll see you're both going to love it." Gramps replied as the taps of his cane against the floor echoed through the hall. It was a long walk, almost as long as the walk it had taken to get to the cellar door. There were loud voices up ahead and Lucy's heart began to pound excitedly in her chest. It had been almost a year since she had been to one of these. Lucy's ears were filled with the noise of local riffraff shouting their support for the duelists in the ring in the middle of this unusually large room.
"Welcome to the twenty-sixth annual Dueling Society's Dueling Tournament!" A loud voice exclaimed from the middle of the ring. "Place your bets for our final match by the end of the hour. We are now down to our final two matches before the grand finale!" Cheers rose up from the crowd, "Are you ready?" More cheering, Lucy joined in as she reached into her pocket to make sure she still had some pocket money. "Now, let's thank our host!"
A round, portly man dressed in navy blue robes who looked to be around Lucy's mum's age stepped forward to the announcer's side. His brown hair was neat and tidy; his face was round with small eyes. Lucy thought he looked a bit like a frog. Molly watched with interest while Gramps stood behind them clutching his cane tightly.
As the man opened his mouth to speak, Gramps leaned down to whisper in his granddaughters' ears. "That is Harold Silvern; he's the leader of the Reformation." Lucy took her eyes off of Silvern and looked at Gramps. "He's a piece of work by all accounts, talks about the failing of our world being brought about by purebloods and the repression of those of lesser blood. Sadly, he may have a point about that. The world is his stage for speeches and propaganda. Silvern tried to give a speech about muggleborn's working under purebloods for less pay on my shop steps once. I came out behind him, fool didn't hear the door, and tossed him over the crowd and into the rubbish bin across the street." Gramps laughed at this recollection, "Hasn't been near my shop since, but the whole incident only made him more popular."
"What's so bad about that, Gramps?" Molly asked. "If he's bringing attention to hate crimes and the like-"
"He's radical, he likes to have purebloods that were in the Ministry during the war jumped and tortured. He'll even have a go at bloodtraitors on occasion. Silvern's already at go at me a couple of times now, his little mouthpieces barely made it home in one piece." Molly looked horrified while Lucy's widened in excitement. Gramps had a bad leg, but it did not stop him from being a very capable and rather scrappy duelist. "A lot of people agreed with Silvern when he showed up after the war, a lot of muggleborns were angry and discontent about the attempted genocide." Gramps looked uncharacteristically grim. "Well, a lot of those people got in deep and their children grew up nursed on Silvern's vile. He's a silver-tongued serpent; don't let his manner fool you. In fact, I want to both to cross the street when you see him coming. Clear?"
"Yes sir." Lucy and Molly said in unison turning their attentions back to the center ring.
"-Thank you all once again for allowing me to host this event, I hope you all have a pleasant and fun filled experience. Competition remains fearsome as our top contenders begin their final steps on the road to glory and a hefty prize of galleons." The crowd erupted in claps, roars and cheers at the end of Silvern's speech and they soon dispersed to pass time until the final showdowns.
Lucy, Molly and Gramps walked towards a small section of tables where there was a group of people sitting and laughing over a few glasses of liquor. One of the men sitting at the table looked up and waved them over, "Septimus, over here!" Lucy recognized him; it was Mr. Fowler, a local shop owner. He reminder Lucy of her dad a bit, slightly neurotic, a few issues with control and micromanaging but these issues were properly applied to his choice of business. Mr. Fowler had no problem with citizen movements to keep crime out of the Alley during the post war chaos.
Gramps waved and took an empty seat across from Fowler, "How's the family?"
"Good, how's your niece? She still staying with you, I mean, you're not dead yet so I'm not sure what else to think."
Gramps laughed drily, "Funny, very funny. Lucia would not harm her favorite uncle. You on the other hand..." The topic soon changed and Gramps began to talk to Fowler about business and this year's wine. Lucy wandered over to the ring and eyed the betting booth out of the corner of her eye filled with longing and seeing opportunity with her sister in tow.
Molly was telling her opinions to Lucy as she followed Lucy to the ring where the two duelists were using a variety of jinxes and hexes, Molly turned her back to Lucy and the fight. "I am constantly surprised by what Gramps does in his spare time. Who likes to watch people duel for fun?"
Lucy raised her hand, though her sister did not see her. "What's wrong with it Molly, knowing how to duel is very important, learning tricks from other people's styles could be very useful." Lucy wandered to the betting booth watching Molly's back out of the corner of her eyes.
"Oh, you are spending far too much time with Gramps. You are starting to quote him." Lucy was now next in line at the betting booth. Perhaps this Mack bloke would be a good bet, he had some great footwork. "I don't know why he drags us to these things. I don't see the appeal. Violence just brings more violence and trying to glorify only increases the problem. And betting on the victors of a dueling match is-"
"Yeah, five Galleons on Mack Guffin!"
Molly turned quickly at the sound of Lucy's voice, "Lucy Septima Weasley!"
Lucy signed her name to the amount she had bet and turned to smile at her sister. "I won't tell dad about the incident, if you don't mention any of this to him." The man behind the booth roared with laughter as Molly's face paled considerably and she walked back to sit with Gramps. Lucy chuckled and wandered off to look at some of the illegal goods that were for sale. It was not like she was going to buy anything, she had used all of her money to place that bet. A small portion of her savings to be accurate.
She walked through the crowd, admiring good and taking turns around the booths and tables where people were swapping stories. They sounded bloody and violent and Lucy drew the conclusion they were war stories. Lucy turned the corner by a booth where pastries were being sold and saw the one person Gramps told her to avoid at all costs. Lucy paniced and ducked under a nearby table peering out from under the edge of the whit table cloth.
There were two figures talking with Silvern, one was wearing robes that appeared too heavy for the seasonal weather with an almost too large hood to hide her face. Lucy could tell this one was a woman; her fingernails were long and well maintained. The second figure was not wearing such a heavy cloak, but the hood was just as large and under the hood his face was wrapped in a scarf, one green eye was visible. The man was fingering his wand apprehensively.
"I'm sure this will be adequate, the person I work for sends his regards, but he feels it is not safe at this time to show himself openly."
Silvern reached for the small bag the woman held out to him. "I understand," He weighed the bag in his hands with some degree of shock, "This would seem to be more then adequate."
"Is that a problem?" The woman said smoothly. "Because if it is, we could always keep it." Her companion laughed, it was sort of raspy and very familiar to Lucy's ears.
"It's more than fine Madam," Silvern corrected quickly. "It is just surprising to me that someone would make a donation this large."
"The people I work for find this to be a relevant issue. After all, it will take more time to modernize the beliefs of our world to something more acceptable in the years to come. We want it to remain in the faces of the people and you seem to be the one to do such measures." Lucy could hear the smile in the woman's words, "After all it's what you have been doing since the end of the war right? Almost twenty years…"
Silvern stared stupidly, that kind of look boys got when they looked at Victoire and Dominique. This woman must be very beautiful to get a look like that, she was probably a veela. "Yes, the Reformation has been here since the end of the war." Silvern puffed himself up like Lucy's father did when he was talking about his accomplishments at work. He ran his fingers through his hair, "We offer our support to half-bloods and muggleborns against repression and aid them in their hate crime cases. Though most of these victims tend to be muggleborns without the blood claims a half-blood would have." Lucy blinked, her father's family's bloodline could be traced back to the Middle Ages, Lucy's mum could trace her family back to Ireland, a grand total of three generations. Lucy never really thought about her mum having any problems related to bloodstatus. Silvern pocketed the bag, "I will give another speech sooner than expected with this. Thank you very much for your concern and support." He smiled in a charming way and shook both of their hands and walking back to one of the rooms behind him.
The woman took her associate's arm, "That was very easy, don't you think?"
"It's not my place to say, Milady; don't count your chickens before they hatch." That voice… Lucy's eyes widened in horror as she covered her mouth with her hand, it was No-face. "After all, he could be useful."
"The fools always are." She pulled on the Faceless' arm and they walked away. Lucy did not follow; she was frozen in pure terror. She waited until they were well out of sight before crawling out from under the table and walking in the opposite direction as quickly as she was able.
She ducked between two people taking part in a deal of questionable legality and dodged a fire breathing chicken as she tried to find Gramps and Molly. Lucy pulled the hood of her robes back up and over her head.
"Pardon me miss," Lucy stopped short and turned to look at the person who was speaking to her. It was an older man; glasses perched on a hawkish nose as he sat at the table. "What is your hurry?" There was a crystal ball on the table in front of him.
"No hurry," Lucy lied, pulling her hood over her head as far as she was able.
The man smiled, "I'll tell your fortune if you like, no charge." Lucy looked around before taking the seat opposite of the man. She put no stock in Divination, but Lucy had her curiosities. "Could I have your left hand please?" Lucy held out her left hand and the man turned it palm up and examined it closely. "Hm, you have a lot of magical power." He turned her hand, "You have very soft hands indicating sensitivity and refinement. You have very long fingers, which tell me you are emotional and maybe a bit aggressive. The fact that your fingernails are very short tells me you are uneasy and slightly paranoid." He turned her palm upwards again; he looked grim all of a sudden, "A deep breaking fate line," his mouth tightened, "how unusual."
Lucy looked up, she did not believe in fate or destiny or any of that garbage.
"A deep broken line, an island, trouble in your youth and a few short lines intercepting your fate." He mumbled to himself, "The breaks and island mean that there will be a period when your life does not flow smoothly, the lines intercepting the fate line mean that your destiny will be opposed by others. All of this seems to occur during your youth. You are a very interesting young woman."
"Haven't heard that before," Lucy said as he hand was released.
"I doubt it will be the last. Let me wager a guess at your wand type, wand materials can be very telling." He paused for a moment, "Is it –"
There was a loud sound of crashing and the resounding sound of Celeste Scully shouting "Freeze!" Lucy rose from the table and ran; she felt a rush of bodies pressing against her as all of the people present began to evacuate not wanting to spend the night in the Ministry holding cells. Molly appeared and grabbed Lucy's arm and pulled her towards one of the openings that had appeared, "Gramps just got us arrested!" Molly kept muttering as she shoved her way past a rough looking warlock who kept his face hidden. "Dad's going to go spare!"
"Don't think about that Molly, it'll just make everything that much worse! Besides, dad doesn't know yet!"
"Molly, Lucy! Over here!" Gramps waved them over from where he was standing next to a fruit crate. The girls ran over as their grandfather moved the crate to reveal a small door that both Molly and Lucy could possibly crawl through. Lucy felt her breath tighten, she was claustrophobic. "Through here, it should take you up not far from the main street." Lucy groaned inwardly as Molly knelt down opened the door and crawled through. "Just a few feet Lucy. I'll meet you both at the shop." Lucy got down on her hands and knees and crawled into the dark as Gramps closed the door behind her.
Lucy's breath tightened, she could feel the walls pressing against her shoulders. The walls were crumbling, falling, and crushing her beneath the earth. She could not breathe. Molly's hand wrapped itself around Lucy's wrist and pulled her out into an open space where there was a tall ladder to the surface. Lucy rose to her feet, feeling relief through her body and oxygen filling her lungs. Molly gave her a one armed hug before ascending the ladder to the surface, Lucy following closely behind. Molly pushed upwards on the cover, something that sounded like a rubbish bin clattered to the stone streets; she then stepped out and helped Lucy into the back alley they found themselves in. Lucy put the rubbish bin where it had been before and they both took off to go back to the shop.
It was good to be back above ground. They moved between Alley visitors and waved at the locals who had watched them grow up. Squeezing through the crowds around their Uncle's shop they made it to the doorstep of their own. Lucy placed her hand against the door and it swung open.
Gramps always locked the shop.
Lucy and Molly stepped off the stoop and stared at the open door.
"Septimus, is that you?" Lucy and Molly ran into the Septenary at the sound of their mum' voice, Audrey was sitting behind the counter, feet on said counter with a book in her hands. "Oh, girls!" her feet came off the counter, she tried to be a good example about feet on the furniture and tended to be unsuccessful. "How was your day?"
"Interesting," Molly and Lucy chimed in unison as Gramps burst through the door.
"All right here?" Lucy tuned to find Gramps looking slightly frazzled, "That wasn't so bad, was it?" Molly scowled as Gramps looked up at the counter to find Audrey looking at him quizzically.
"No, it wasn't. That museum was pretty fascinating!" Lucy said quickly, "It was nice to see the complete and unaltered history of the manufacturing of broomsticks."
Her mum smiled, "It's nice to know you had some educational quality time with your grandfather before you both go back to school. None of those street duels this time, Septimus?"
"Haven't seen any of those lately, I think they wised up and stopped after that last bust."
Author's Note: Gramps is by all accounts a very interesting man. Did he just take the girls there to show them Silvern, or was he just being selfish and only there to watch the duel? Ha, fun to speculate. Anyway, welcome to my latest project. I'll make the effort to stay ahead of you all by a couple of chapters; I'm fixing to start college at the end of the summer so that may cause time constraints. I will try to write a little a night once school starts. And see how that goes.
Fun Fact: Lucy and Septimus share the birthdate of July seventh. Yeah, Lucy had no chance.
Over all, I am pretty proud of this chapter.