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A History of Cartographers [+podfic]

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It did not matter how hard Almira Perkins tried; she had not been able to save any of them. After their parents' deaths, she had done her best to raise her younger siblings. She married, too young, to a man with a good job, in order to provide them with a stable home life. Instead, he beat her and took away her wand. He sneered at her brother Constantine, calling him by his birth name, Constance, saying he could never be a "real" boy. He led their baby sister, Delilah, over to the side of Grindelwald, and ultimately, to her death. He was tried, found guilty of crimes against Muggles and Muggleborn wizards, and died in Azkaban.

Almira was a failure as a wife, unable to keep her husband happy, or on the path of righteousness. She was a failure as a mother, allowing her younger siblings to be ill-treated. She was a failure as a witch. She should have been able to stop it.

Shame and self-loathing ate at her. She was sure the Ministry was still watching them, waiting for some sign that they had been of Grindelwald's camp, too. She trusted no one, not even herself -- no one but Constantine, and Constantine would not stay with her. He had his own life, his own friends. He would not spend his youth keeping company with a sister who had become a virtual shut-in.

"How can you trust them, after everything we've been through?" she demanded. "They're not your family."

"They're my friends," he told her for the hundredth time. "I would trust them with my life."

He seemed determined to convince her. The next time he invited her to supper at his flat, she discovered they were not dining alone.

"Mira, this is Pedanius Pettigrew," he introduced the short, pear-shaped young man with the cheerful face and wide blue eyes. "Dany, my sister, Almira Perkins."

Almira muttered the expected pleasantries, shooting her brother a narrow look.

Constantine had chosen well, however. Pettigrew was charming and soft-spoken, witty and kind-hearted. He was present again, the next time she dined with her brother, and the time after that. When she invited Constantine to tea at her own flat, he asked if Pettigrew might join them.

"You seem to spend all your time with him these days," she commented approvingly in the kitchen after tea. "It must be getting serious."

Constantine laughed. "Oh, no! Dany and I aren't together. It's you he fancies, Sis."

"Me?" she gasped. "Why, he must be ten years younger than me if he's a day!"

"It doesn't bother me if it doesn't bother you," said a voice from the doorway.

Almira blushed, looking the man over in a new light. Her first marriage had brought her nothing but grief, and she had never thought to wed again. But this man .... She had grown fond of him, in spite of herself, over the past weeks. Constantine trusted him, and he treated them both with kindness and respect. She could not imagine him raising his voice against another person, let alone his hand.

The next time Pedanius Pettigrew came over for tea, Constantine was not invited.