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The Potion Princess

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She looks small, sitting there.

Kingsley isn't used to seeing her as small. He's used to looking at Audra as a girl that can fill up the room with nothing more than her laugh and a smile, but he suposes the war has turned them all into the shadows of who they were meant to be, especially the young ones. He aches for all of them, but particularly her, this girl who could degnome a garden faster than any Weasley and used every inch of her body like a weapon. He closes his eyes for a minute and allows himself to think of how she used to be before- tumbling onto the Burrow's front lawn after a haphazard broom landing, trying her first sip of firewhiskey at Sirius' insistence and spitting it out all over the kitchen, dancing in Fred's arms to Mrs. Weasley's old records. He likes these images much better, but they are soon replaced by others- Audra gathering her dead brother in her arms, a dark mark burning on her forearm, an entire wall of dust and stone collapsing down on top of her. They remind him of the final battle and pain, so he opens his eyes again, trying to look like he's supposed to.

"Are you ready, dear?" The witch overseeing the interview asked, peering at her over the top of her glasses. Somewhere along the line the ministry had decided that they needed to know what the heroes of this war had been doing. It seemed very important that the wizarding world learn about the efforts of these guerrilla fighters, so they can praise them for the heroes they were. One by one the members of the order were being dragged here, forced to sit in that awful chair like they were on trial, staring down the flashes of cameras and scratching of quills, looking into all the faces that just want to say thank you, thank you, you are a hero, even though the best thank you would have been to be left alone. Kingsley wants to protect them, all of them, but he can't, so he does the only thing he can: lurk in the back and bear witness to this. "We can go as slow as you need."

"I'm ready." She doesn't look ready, sitting there. She's digging her thumb into the splintered wood, and he can see where it started to bleed already. "I just want to get this over with." There is a humming sound, one that was probably supposed to be sympathetic but didn't quite make it there. Kingsley wonders again, not for the last time, what gave any of them a right to do this. What was it about them that made them think that the were entitled not only to their sacrifices, but also to their stories, allowing the pain of the wizarding warriors to be splashed across the front page of the Daily Prophet like it was some celebrity romance gone bad. They do not start off slow.

"What made you turn against the Dark Arts?" Audra straightened up, startled, angry. She throws her head back, hair tumbling down her back and narrows her eyes. When she moves her hand, he can see where her blood had soaked into the arm of the old wooden chair, the same color as the rust on the chains. It reminds him of the old version of her, and is thankful to know that she is still buried in there, under all the scars and grief.

"I was never involved in the dark arts." She spits out the words haughtily, almost an accusation. "Never."

"I'll rephrase." And then came the dagger to the heart, the below the belt punch that tore all the fight out of her. "What made you turn against your family?"

She slumps back into the chair, staring at the ground, and her thumb is worrying at the splinters again, digging, digging, until the blood is coming steadily now. He wonders how she doesn't notice, and realizes that the pain may be the only thing that makes sense to her anymore. "I don't know why I did it, exactly. It wasn't like there was a defining moment where I realized that what they believed in was wrong, that there was a better way. It was the build up of a bunch of little things." Audra takes a deep, stuttering kind of breath, like her lungs are still so clogged with the dust and debris from the battle that they do not have room for air. She is clutching at the glass of water they had given her. "But I suppose that it started the day I became friends the Fred and George Weasley."

She does not stumble over his name. She does not break down. Audra doesn't even flinch, but Kingsley can see it in her eyes; it hurts, and inside of her there is pain, pain so great that she doesn't know how to deal with it, not now when everyone else has too many holes in their hearts to take time to heal hers and everyone is looking towards the members of the order for guidance.

"You did all of that for two friends?" The woman's voice was full of something, disbelief, maybe, or respect. "You turned your back on your family, walked away from everything they ever taught you? Killed your brother? Helped smuggle your muggle born classmates to safety, became a spy for the Order at sixteen?  Took the dark mark on Dumbedore's orders?  All because of them?"

"You didn't know."  Audra's voice was dead. "You didn't know how much we loved each other. How much I loved him.  I'll tell you why, if you'll listen."

The witch nodded, apparently pleased.   "That's what we're here for."

The story spilled out of her then, about all the wonderful pain of that comes from loving someone as fiercely as she did and the gut wrenching ache that you feel when you lose them, about fear and bravery and how the two things go together, about how she traded her old family for the Weasleys and can't bring herself to regret it. 

The world listens, and so does Kingsley, and all he can think is that a child this young should not know a pain like that.