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Worth Saving

December 31st, 2007 (06:38 pm)
recumbent

i'm feeling: recumbent

Worth Saving
{He's just about to leave, to go and fight and maybe not return, when he turns to look, just one more time, at the beautiful mess he's made of his life. Kingsley Shacklebolt, before the Battle of Hogwarts, wonders: We're all human, aren't we?}

 

Worth Saving


We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.

He’s just about to leave, leave her elegantly decorated little flat in Kensington, to go off and fight and maybe never return and, just at the last minute, he turns to look at her one more time, to revel in the beautiful mess he’d made of his life (and hers) when he couldn’t stop himself, and marvel at how little he regretted any of it.

Kingsley Shacklebolt is a man who has done few things in his life that he did not intend to do. Certainly this has to be one of them, however, because falling in love with a Muggle secretary in the offices of the Muggle Prime Minister is not anything he had ever planned on.

Kingsley has always had a certain sort of social grace and finesse which, in addition to his Auror training twenty-some years ago, has served him very well in his precarious but altogether necessary position amongst the ever-clueless Muggles surrounding the Prime Minister.

Caroline is the only muggle amongst them to ever question his presence. He’d bid her good morning every day, and she’d smile vaguely up at him as he passed. And that was that. No questions, just Kingsley going about like he always did, any suspicions that might arise prodded along into complacency with a few carefully done charms.

But she’d looked at him one morning, not any special day, with a very keen suspicion in her blue eyes.

And just for a moment, he thought, she saw past all of those enchantments he’d laid on her, that he’d laid on all of the Prime Minister’s staff. Her brow wrinkled in confusion, her hands stilled on the keyboard, and she formed her mouth around words, poised to speak and say “Who are you?” and he just didn’t know how she’d snaked around his spells.

...and then that rather dull look had settled back into her features and she’d smiled vaguely at him again. “Good morning,” she’d said, the same empty, thoughtless greeting she was almost programmed to.

It's purely a professional interest that sparks him to ask her to dinner, he tells himself. It is dangerous not to understand how she’d managed to shake herself into awareness for those few seconds, fleeting though they were; it might happen again, and last long enough for her to make a mess.

He never finds out why or how or even if she ever actually managed to slip under the spells, but her smile is different away from the office, away from the heavy blanket of spells that keeps the Prime Minister’s staff cooperative and docile and ignorant (Muggles are curious, suspicious creatures). Caroline is brighter, more alive and more…human, not the autonomic little doll he breezes past every morning. He feels a little ill in the first few moments, watching her eyes sparkle as she chatters; she's a talky little thing in a way he never would’ve imagined. It seems like some violation that this be taken away from her every day when she walks into work, that she be dulled down into an unquestioning, controllable little pawn. Kingsley feels dirty for this, this betrayal of the bright, lovely, innocent woman across from him.

It is a very different thing, talking about Muggles being every bit as worthy of life as their magical counterparts, and actually sitting across from one and realising this same fact.

She smells like expensive perfume and she plays with the ends of her hair when she's gathering her courage. He thinks she must’ve kissed him first, because he can’t recall ever making a conscious decision to do it, but then again, he isn’t sure how tiny little Caroline, all five foot two of her, could’ve managed up to his six four frame to do it. Maybe he met her halfway. She tastes like blackcurrant and apple cordial.

It’s like she doesn’t know him when they’re in the office. The spells dull her away to a pretty, polite, and absent little doll; he brings her a Crunchie and a cherry coca-cola during lunch hour at her desk one day and she thanks him politely, setting them down “for later, thank you…I’m not hungry right now.” Crunchie bars and cherry coca-colas are Caroline’s favourites, and she’s always hungry. Had she been anywhere else, out from under the heavy cloak of spells, had she been herself, she would’ve laughed and thanked him and smiled her lovely smile and promptly demolished both of them.

They’re still sitting on her desk, forgotten, when Kingsley leaves the office late that night.

He has dinner with her a few days later and, as he walks her back to her flat in Kensington, he stops into a convenience and buys her both. Caro laughs and smiles and thanks him (with a kiss) and both are gone before they reach her flat.

He leaves her asleep in her flat, facedown into her pillows, limbs tangled in the bedding, to fight the Battle of Hogwarts, hoping very much that he’ll be back to intercept the letter he's posted to her, the one that says he has accepted a new position and is moving…somewhere far away and that he's sorry, but it's over.

He very much hopes she never needs to read that, he very much hopes that, when (if) he returns, that they’ve won and he can introduce his world as something worth seeing. He hopes she’ll say yes to the diamond ring he bought on impulse yesterday (that's not usually the kind of thing he does, but he desperately needs to live beyond hopeless, despairing now). He hopes she’ll understand all the things he took from her to protect other lives, to protect her (he'll tell her that, too, when he comes clean he never wants to lie to her again). He hopes she’ll still love him (that seems so much to ask). He hopes she at least won’t hate him. He hopes that he won’t have to make her forget. He hopes he won’t be the only one to bear the memories.

But mostly he just hopes he can come back to her and hopes (maybe even a little more than he hopes to return) that Caroline will have a world that's hers, one in which she can understand or refuse to understand, where she can be angry or happy or anything she wishes, where she can exist as someone worthwhile in her own right. A world where she can live.

He kisses her hair (he wishes she'd turn over and wake up and at the same time is glad she isn't conscious to ask him questions he can't answer truthfully...not yet) and stops at her vanity on the way out. Her perfume is in an elegant glass bottle and he sprays a little on his pocket handkerchief. He wants to remember exactly what he’s fighting for, what a muggle life is worth.

It's worth everything, and it's worth saving.


Comments

Posted by: cactus wren (cactus_wren)
Posted at: January 1st, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)

Well done!

Posted by: cutemara (cutemara)
Posted at: January 1st, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)

Beautiful! :)

Posted by: dame_gita (dame_gita)
Posted at: January 7th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)

perfect, loved it...

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