After (after the battle, after Voldemort, after Harry Potter, after-) Hogwarts needs to be rebuilt.
It’s not an immediate thing, but it happens. There are funerals, an endless procession of them, and Aurors and the Ministry poking around the place, although they’ve got their own mess to sort out. There are people in St. Mungo’s, or looking for their families. Rarely, someone simply disappears and doesn’t come back. There are Death Eaters to round up and try in court.
Throughout it all, Hogwarts is hammered back into shape. It’s almost unintentional at first, part of cleaning up the dangerous mess left behind from the battle. Even when the cleanup starts in earnest, it’s mostly teachers and some of the younger graduates, with the teachers organizing the entire effort. There are parents and younger students too, Ministry workers and inhabitants of the Forbidden Forest, house elves and members of the Underground, the lost and the abandoned and those who have no place to go.
Izzy’s not sure which one she is, or what to do. Alec is at St. Mungo’s, but he’s got Magnus watching over him. Jace is helping round up Death Eaters. Max is out of the country, tucked away in a safe spot until Maryse thinks it’s safe in England again.
She could go home, see her parents, and change into clothes that haven’t just been charmed clean. Instead, she goes looking for a fireplace.
She ends up in Flitwick’s office, throwing Floo Powder into the flames and announcing “Robert and Maryse Lightwood, Number Three, Idris Street.”
There’s a lot of work to be done. It’s not just the big things, either. Smashed potion bottles need to be cleaned up before anyone gets hurt. There are small fires scattered throughout the grounds. The giant squid is restless and needs to be soothed periodically. So many people need help, whether medical or emotional or simply an owl to contact their family.
Izzy tells her parents all that, but the truth is that arrogant as it might seem, she feels like Hogwarts needs her. And Isabelle Lightwood won’t let it down.
There’s nothing less glamorous than cleaning up storerooms. Her brothers would probably laugh at her, kneeling in the mess with her robes tucked up out of the way and a Healer’s mask over her mouth. Izzy’s one of the few people that Madame Pomfrey trusted not to kill themselves picking through the ruins of the Potions cupboards, and even through the mask, the fumes are getting to her. She can’t even use a spell, in case she causes a chain reaction that makes something go boom.
Izzy blows a strand of hair out of the way and peels down one rubber glove to look at her watch. It’s past lunchtime, which means she’s been working for hours now and deserves a break.
Izzy gets up, shedding her mask and shaking out her robes. There’s a nearly constant lunch in the Great Hall now, run by the house elves (some of them wear clothes now, but they’ve all insisted on staying at Hogwarts.) Sandwiches sound great right now.
The Great Hall is almost never empty nowadays, even at night. Nevertheless, when Izzy gets to the Great Hall, there’s no one there. Izzy’s just about to bite into an egg-and-cress sandwich when something wet plops onto her forehead.
“What the…” Izzy says, wiping her forehead. Her hand comes back smeared with a blob of blue paint. As she watches, it turns grey, then a lighter shade of blue.
“Sorry,” says someone from above her. “Did I drip on you?”
Izzy looks up. Just below the ceiling of the Great Hall floats a wooden platform with a face peering over the edge.
“Yes,” Izzy calls back, nonplussed.
“Oops. Sorry.” Whoever it is has ginger hair, so maybe it’s a Weasley.
“It’s all right,” Izzy says graciously. “If you don’t mind me asking…”
“Oh! Clary. Clary Fray.”
“Isabelle Lightwood, but I was actually going to ask what you’re doing up there.”
“Fixing the paint job. The paint got damaged in the battle, although honestly, it probably needed to be redone anyway. The spell’s flaking off.”
The ever-changing sky of the Great Hall looks fine to Izzy, but then, why should she care? “Okay. Need anything up there?”
“No, but thanks.”
Clary goes back to her work, and Izzy eats her sandwich, careful not to stand directly under the floating platform. As she’s leaving the Hall, something occurs to her and she turns back. “Say, weren’t you in my year? You were in Gryffindor, right?”
“That’s me,” Clary says. “Didn’t you go by Izzy back then?”
“Nice to make your reacquaintance, then, Izzy. Don’t be a stranger. It gets lonely up here.”
“It gets lonely down in the storerooms, too,” Izzy says drily, and Clary’s laugh follows her out of the Hall.
The next time Izzy sees Clary, she’s drawn by the chatter. It sounds like there are a lot of people in a tiny classroom, so Izzy makes a detour on her way down from the hospital wing to check out the source of the noise.
“I had no idea it was such a big deal,” says a familiar voice, and Izzy pops her head through the doorway.
Clary’s there, alone, sitting in front of an easel. Paintings line the room, evidently the source of the noise, as they’re all gossiping quite happily while Clary paints.
“I dare say,” and Izzy realizes that that particular voice is coming from Clary’s easel. “Oooh, that tickles!”
“Terribly sorry,” Clary says.
“Ho there, young Lightwood,” says one of the painting near the door. Izzy recognizes the occupant as the witch who hung next to her room in Ravenclaw Tower. “How fair’st thee? Art thou wounded from the battle?”
“I’m quite well, Mother Waterhouse,” Izzy replies. “Hi,” she says to Clary.
“Hi.” Clary waves her in with a paintbrush. “What brings you to this corner of the castle?”
“The noise,” Izzy says, raising her eyebrows expressively.
Clary nods. “I came here for the peace and quiet- to concentrate, you know- but honestly, this lot make a lot more noise.” She says this last in a theatric whisper, which incites sounds of protest among the portraits.
“I didn’t know that the paintings needed touching up like the ceiling,” Izzy says, stepping closer to Clary to be heard.
“Most of them could go another century or so, even with the damp. It’s the magic that preserves them. But…” Clary shrugs. “I banged up my leg during the fight, so this is as much as I can do.”
“They don’t mind?”
“Oh, no,” says the portrait Clary is touching up. She’s dressed in a pale, old fashioned dress, and has the air of someone who’s seen a lot and will wait until everyone else is quite finished, thank you very much. “It’s very nice to have someone take an interest. Everyone just rushes about us. I was hanging next to the Arithmancy classroom, and I must say, this is far more pleasant, apart from the tickling.”
“Izzy, this is Mrs. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Mary, this is my friend, Isabelle Lightwood.”
“Oh Merlin,” Izzy breathes. “I mean, it’s an honor, Mrs. Shelley.”
“Not at all,” Mrs. Shelley says, looking pleased.
“I’ve read all your work,” Izzy says. “It’s incredible. I just- wow. I am usually much more eloquent than this.” She looks to Clary for backup.
“Eh,” Clary says, shrugging.
Clary does this cute nose scrunch thing at her, laughing, and Izzy thinks oh, no.
It takes Izzy a few seconds to realize that she’s awake, that she’s had a nightmare. Her nightgown is sticking to her back from the fear sweat, and the dark room, full of sleeping bodies, seems too small. She puts on her bathrobe and shoves her feet into slippers before tiptoeing out of the room. She’ll go to the kitchens.
She’s not the only one who had the same idea.
“You too, huh,” says Clary, soft.
Izzy sits next to her. The kitchens are warm, homey, and she breathes in the scent of bread, finally calming down. “Yeah.”
A house elf in a truly atrocious vest top bobs up by Izzy’s elbow. “Would Miss Lightwood like some cocoa? Or tea?”
“Tea, please,” Izzy says. “With some schnapps in it, if you’ve got any.”
The house-elf nods and trots off.
“Muggle alcohol, huh?”
“Hey, don’t knock it till you try it.”
“I’m more of a Butterbeer girl myself,” Clary says.
The house-elf appears again, handing Izzy a nice, large mug that smells very comforting.
“Thanks, Balbey,” Clary says. “Sorry for imposing on you in the middle of the night like this.”
“Miss Fray and Miss Lightwood is not the only people to be coming down to the kitchens nowadays,” Balbey says. “We is happy to help.” He bows and pops off.
Silence settles around them. Izzy takes a sip of her tea. It’s exactly like she would have made it, down to the sugar she keeps telling herself she should quit.
“Here,” Clary says drowsily.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“You said you hurt your leg, right? So why not go home?” Izzy asks.
Clary looks into her mug, quiet until Izzy is worried she’s made a terrible faux pas. “No one’s there right now,” she says finally. “Mum’s at St. Mungo’s, and Luke, my stepdad, he’s with her. She caught a curse during the battle and she hasn’t woken up since.”
“It’s okay. You didn’t know.”
“She’ll be fine,” Izzy says, unconvincing even to her own ears.
“…Tell me about her?” Izzy suggests.
Clary smiles. It’s tiny, but it’s there. “She’s an artist.”
“Better than me. She only does Muggle art, no talking portraits, and she’s got her own gallery. She sells to Muggles, too.”
“That’s…interesting,” Izzy says.
“We’ve always lived as Muggles, pretty much. The only times Mom mentioned magic was when she was telling me to keep it hidden.”
“Why, what did you do?” Izzy asks, feeling a little silly but curious nonetheless. It reminds her of her first days in Hogwarts, comparing juvenile magic with her new roommates.
“The usual stuff. Flew a bit. My crayons changed color a lot. Sometimes I glowed.” Clary smiles, laughter tucked into the corners of her lips. “Mom wanted to kill me.”
Glowing suits her somehow, Izzy thinks, but she doesn’t know why.
“How about you?” Clary asks.
“Nothing really unusual. I changed my hair color a lot,” Izzy says. “To blonde, if you can believe it. My mother didn’t mind so much, but we were always around wizards. I could somersault over and over again without getting dizzy or falling over. Jace was so jealous.”
“Must be nice having siblings,” Clary says. “The closest I’ve got is a best friend. Although I think we swore eternal brotherhood back in second grade.”
“Eh, they’re all right,” Izzy says dismissively, and Clary laughs. “Tell me more about your Mum.”
“She’s beautiful,” Clary says wistfully, like she doesn’t know how beautiful she herself is. “She’s brave. The bravest person I know. She’s always there for me.”
“She sounds great,” Izzy says gently.
“She is,” Clary says. She takes a sip from her mug, then looks at it with a surprised expression. “It’s empty.”
She looks so betrayed that Izzy giggles. Clary starts giggling, too, and soon they’re laughing hard.
“I feel a lot better now,” Clary says once they’ve calmed down.
“Me too,” Izzy says.
“Good, because I feel like I’ve been monopolizing you with all my troubles,” Clary says. “Magnus told me your brother’s in the hospital. That must be rough.”
“Alec can take it,” Izzy says, because she’s more relieved for Alec than worried about him. Injured in St. Mungo’s is the safest he’s been in a long time. “You know Magnus?”
“He’s a friend,” Clary says, in a ‘we’ve got history’ voice. She yawns. “Sorry, I’m kind of tired. See you?”
“Definitely,” Izzy says, and watches Clary walk away. She downs the rest of her tea and sighs.
“Is Miss Lightwood wanting a refill?” Babley says, from the vicinity of her elbow, and Izzy jumps.
“No, thank you.”
“Maybe relationship advice?” Babley asks, and Izzy watches in horror as he does some kind of eyebrow wiggle. It looks like his eyebrows are trying to escape his forehead. “We is good at listening to tales of woe. Babley listened to Professor Dumbledore sigh over sad heart too, many years ago. Preferred brandy.”
“No, thank you,” Izzy repeats, and leaves before she can think of who Professor Dumbledore used to date.
They take lunch together after that, hunt for each other through the castle if one of them forgets. If they both forget, it’s tea, or at least a sandwich in some corner of the grounds. They grow close, and it’s fast, faster than Izzy’s ever become attached to anyone apart from her own brothers. Clary’s sweet and bold and stubbornly independent. She’s also a good listener, so that Izzy finds herself talking without noticing, telling Clary things that she would never tell anyone else, and loyal, so that Izzy’s not afraid that she’ll use it against her.
Clary talks, too, although Izzy can tell she’s keeping some things back. It makes sense, because they’ve only really known each other for a few weeks. It just feels like longer.
It’s good, and Izzy’s scared silly. She finds herself thinking the exact same things that Alec told her about, back when he and Magnus were still new, with the added fear that Clary isn’t even interested in girls.
She could send an owl. Dear Alec, how are you? Hope you are doing well. P.S. please ask your boyfriend if the girl I fancy is queer. Love, your sister.
Izzy can hear the teasing from here.
It doesn’t take long for something bad to happen.
Izzy’s juggling sandwiches and pumpkin juice for her and Clary, who’s chatting with one of the seventh years who’ve stuck around. She’s keeping it all afloat with a spell when she trips over someone’s outstretched foot. She manages to keep her feet, but the spell is broken and the food and drinks drop. Izzy’s robes are drenched in pumpkin juice.
“Death Eater whelp,” says someone. “Go back to where you belong.”
Izzy grits her teeth and turns around. “Excuse me?”
The boy staring back at her is hollow-cheeked and sunken-eyed. He’s wearing jeans and sneakers, but his robes are Hogwarts uniform. “You heard me.”
Izzy rolls up her sleeve. “Do you see a Dark Mark here? No? Then back the fuck off.” She turns away, flushed with anger and humiliation at the scene.
“Guess it doesn’t pass through genetics, then,” the boy calls.
Izzy goes cold.
“All right, that’s enough.” It’s the girl Clary was talking to- one of the Patil twins, though Izzy can’t tell them apart now that they’ve shed their House colors. Probably Parvati. “Knock it off, Dyer. She fought same as you did.”
“Yeah, I’m sure she had it just as hard as the rest of us, with her Death Eater parents.”
“My parents aren’t Death Eaters,” Izzy hisses.
“This time round, you mean-”
“Silencio!” Clary says, pointing her wand at Dyer, and he gapes at her.
“Enough!” Patil says, loud, and this time everyone listens to her. “Clary, that was uncalled for. Dyer, you’re coming with me to Professor McGonagall right now.” She drags him up by the arm and frog-marches him out of the Great Hall.
“Come on,” Clary says quietly, taking Izzy’s hand. “Let’s get out of here.”
“My parents are not Death Eaters,” Izzy says. Her chicken salad, fetched by a sympathetic Padma, sits untouched.
“I know,” Clary says.
“I know they were on Voldemort’s side during the first war. I’m not justifying them, either. They were wrong. But they weren’t Death Eaters.”
“And they stayed out of it this time!”
“Izzy, you don’t have to explain it to me.”
“Why not? Apparently I have to explain it to everyone else,” Izzy says bitterly. She stares down at her robes, the blue cloth stained dark with pumpkin juice now. “How could they, Clary?”
“I don’t know.”
“And how come I still care about them? They’re assholes.” Izzy wipes her eyes. “Pretentious, homophobic, pureblood assholes.”
Clary puts a hand on her arm. “My father was a Death Eater.”
Izzy looks at her. “Your father who runs the bookshop?”
“No, not Luke. My biological father.” Clary stares out at the lake. She looks calm, as if none of what she’s saying is touching her. “My mom left him. She changed her name and lived as a Muggle to hide. Luke was her only connection to the Wizarding World for a long time, until I started showing baby magic.”
Clary takes a deep breath and turns to face Izzy. “The point is, who your parents are doesn’t matter. You’re amazing, Izzy. You fought against You-Know-Who, and you stole medical supplies for the Underground, and you stayed to build Hogwarts back up again. You’re nothing like the Death Eaters, and you’re nothing like your parents. Your love for them makes you a better person, not worse.” She’s crying. Her nose is red.
Izzy’s crying too. It’s real crying, the kind that ruins your makeup and hurts your chest. It feels like she’s emptying herself out, the pain and fear and loss of the last two years pouring out of her.
Clary hugs her, and they stay like that, sitting by the lake in each other’s arms.
“Izzy!” Clary shouts, and Izzy’s heart leaps into her throat. She abandons the hole in the side of the Astronomy Tower and lands the broomstick she’d been hovering on, just in time to stand in front of a panting Clary.
“Merlin’s hairy trousers, Clary, what happened?”
Clary waves around a wrinkled note. “My mum’s awake! She’s still pretty weak, but Luke says that the Healers say she’s going to make a full recovery.”
Clary beams at her. “Yes!”
“Are you going to see her?”
“Yeah.” Clary bites her lip. “I might not be coming back. I want to, but I want to be there for Mum, too. Even if I do come back to help, it might not be for a while.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Clary, of course you should stay with your mother,” Izzy says. “Go on, scram.”
“I’ll owl you,” Clary says, and then she takes a deep breath and kisses Izzy.
Let it never be said that Isabelle Lightwood doesn’t take advantage of good luck when it come her way. She buries her hands in Clary’s hair and kisses right back.
They break apart, a little out of breath, and Clary grins up at her, scrunching up her nose. That nose scrunch could fell empires, Izzy’s sure of it.
“Come with me?” Clary asks.
“Of course,” Izzy says.
“Can I borrow your pajamas?” Izzy calls from the tiny shower in Clary’s London flat.
“’Course, although I don’t think anything I’ve got will fit you,” Clary calls back.
“It’s okay. As long as I don’t have to put on robes that smell of hospital, I’m good.”
“Found something. You might have to cast a stretching charm, though.” Clary knocks on the bathroom door, blinking when Izzy opens it, clad in a towel. “Or you could forgo the clothes. I think that’s a good idea.”
“Hush,” Izzy says, pleased. “Give me those.”
Clary hands over the clothes wordlessly, and Izzy winks at her. She shuts the door on Clary’s blush.
A few minutes later, Izzy emerges from the shower clad in sweatpants and Clary’s old Gryffindor jersey, bought on a whim in Diagon Alley for Quidditch games. She shouldn’t look good, but damn, she does.
“Do you think red’s my color?” Izzy asks, doing a little spin.
“Iz, with a body like yours, everything’s your color,” Clary says, and lifts her head up for a kiss.