“Afternoon, my lovelies,” she says as she summons a chair to sit between the two beds. She brushes a kiss against Alice’s temple before turning to kiss Frank’s cheek. Alice is folding a piece of colored paper, and Frank is watching a tree shake outside as the wind blows harder. After she fusses with their clothes and their blankets, muttering under her breath at the ineptitude of the night Mediwitches, she sits down and pulls out her knitting.
This has been a routine for so many years that it’s now second nature. As she gets older, she worries what will happen if something ever prevents her from making these visits, knowing full well that magic might keep them alive longer but it didn’t necessarily mean every part was in complete working order once you reached certain years. Now, she doesn’t worry as much as she used to, because she knows Neville will eventually take over for her, as he always visits during his school holidays and knows the routines well.
As she weaves the bright red yarn into a nice knit cap for the local boy who tends to the garden, she tells Frank and Alice about the latest events in the wizarding world. When they were younger, she did so with the firm belief that they’d eventually be cured and would need to be aware of everything, to make it easier to settle back into their lives. That hope died long ago, but the chatter fills the silence and they seem to like the sound of her voice even if they don’t comprehend what she’s saying.
It’s war she talks about today. Whispers of a Ministry takeover and the disgusting Muggleborn laws that horrify her. That, more than anything, confirms the whispers, to her mind. She lived and lost in the first war against Voldemort, she remembers the rumors and the ‘grand ideas’ that many purebloods advocated. She lost her son to that war, lost far more than she’d ever have imagined by turning a blind eye and assuming Frank was just young and idealistic and that war wouldn’t ever touch them personally. Now, she knows better. This time, she’s not going to make those same mistakes.
“You’d be proud of Neville, Frank,” she tells him, shaking off her thoughts as her mind brings her back to the main bright spot in life at the moment. “You, too, Alice.” She nods at the woman she barely knows and smiles as she moves her knitting needles faster.
“They’ve taken over the school, you see, but our Neville. He’s not hiding or cowering in the shadows. Not our boy. He’s finally showing some of that spirit I knew he had to have,” she says proudly, not even caring if anyone might overhear. “Gets it from me, of course, but we’ll let him think it’s from you, Frank.”
“I suppose I’ve always been a tough old witch to live with, been too hard on the boy, I know,” she admits, listening to the sound of tree branches scraping against glass, paper being folded, and the click clack of her needles as she knits. “Had to be, though. If I’d not, he’d have never had to strive for anything. Can’t coddle and spoil children if you want them to find their strength and courage, after all. Never did with you, son, and I certainly wasn’t going to start with your boy.”
She smiles briefly before frowning, so no one will think she’s losing her mind and becoming senile. To avoid being overheard now that she‘s talking about more dangerous things, she casts a charm and continues. “Told him I was proud of him just the other day. Wrote him a nice letter, letting him know how strong he is and how brave. He needs that if he’s going to survive at that school. I’ve been hearing things all over, whispers and rumors but I know there’s truth in them, even the most ridiculous. They’re not going to make it easy on him, not if he keeps this up, which means none of us are safe. Can’t very well let them use you or me against the boy, not when those children need him to give them hope.”
Alice laughs softly and reaches out, handing Augusta a folded piece of red paper that nearly matches the cap she’s knitting. She accepts it and moves her finger over the paper, studying the woman for a moment before looking at Frank. “I can take care of myself, of course,” she says, “but I worry about the two of you. That boy would do anything to protect you, you see, and I don’t know how safe this place is anymore.”
Frank looks out the window, giving no sign that he can even hear her, and she sighs, feeling old and useless for a few moments before she gathers her strength once again. “There’s a place where you’ll be safe, until this is over. If it doesn’t end well, then you’ll both be alive and out of danger, so it really is the best choice. We can’t let our boy be controlled by those people. You do understand, don’t you? It’s a nice place by the sea, so I’m told, and it’s run by a squib who used to be in my Gardening Club.”
She looks from one to the other before she stops knitting. It bothers her to think that the routine will change, but it’s necessary. She can’t very well sit and do nothing this time when Neville is out there making them all proud. She lost her family once, and she’s not about to lose it again. She stands up and casts a charm that starts the needles knitting on their own, listening to the familiar sound that tends to keep the staff out until she leaves.
There’s not much to do after that. Frank and Alice have very few things, so a couple of waves of her wand is all it takes for their suitcases to be packed. After they’re shrunk down, she puts them into her bag of yarn and stops the needles. While Frank and Alice can be discharged at anytime to her care, as their stay here isn’t mandatory and she‘s their guardian, she has no desire to fill out forms and alert anyone who might be on the wrong side that they’re leaving. So, they’re going to have a grand adventure that shouldn’t be very daring at all. she takes Alice’s hand and leads her over to Frank, who has finally looked at her and smiled. She wishes there was recognition in his eyes, but they could very well be strangers for all he’s concerned.
“Shall we go for our weekly walk, lovelies?” she asks, taking Frank’s hand in her free hand and squeezing it tight. They leave the room, just as they do every Thursday afternoon, and she guides them through the halls and down the lift until they reach the first floor. Instead of going to the gardens, as is their routine, she carefully leads them towards the lobby, where it will be possible to Apparate.
In the end, it’s surprisingly easy. She’s an old woman leading around two patients who are simply shells of the people they once were, after all, and people are used to seeing them, every Thursday like clockwork. No one suspects a thing, and she Apparates to the first of three points before they finally arrive at their destination. Once they’re safe in their new rooms, Alice folding a new piece of paper and Frank staring out the window at a bird, she finally relaxes. She won’t tell Neville, of course, because he might not understand. Besides, he has far too many other things to worry about.
She sits on Frank’s new bed and sighs, reaching up to brush his hair back from his face as he looks out the window. “You’d be so proud of our Neville, Frank,” she whispers before dropping her hand and looking out the window, “but I won’t let him end up like you.”