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Author Notes:

Thanks to my friend and fellow author Selena for letting me borrow characters and happenings from her DV spinoff story, Defying Gravity!

Persis Blishwick and Thackery Runcorn were the very model of a modern pureblood family. There was their marriage, carefully arranged after extensive searches through both family trees to ensure that there were no nasty little secrets lurking, such as mad cousins, aunts who'd married Muggleborns, or (heaven help us) Squib uncles. There were their two darling daughters: Calanthia, born in April of what would have been Persis's seventh year at Hogwarts had she not given up her education for the far more important task of replenishing the pureblood race in Britain, and Lucasta, born precisely ten months later, around the time "all that unpleasantness" (as those purebloods lucky enough to remain unincarcerated referred to the Second War with Voldemort) had been heating up badly.

And finally, and most important of all, there was their son. Kenelm Thackery Runcorn, eleven months younger than his middle sister, was three months too young to be considered a wartime baby, though certainly he'd been conceived during the war. Still, Harry Potter's stunning victory over the Dark Lord (as certain unincarcerated purebloods still referred to Lord Voldemort, though very privately, as they preferred remaining unincarcerated) on Halloween 1997 had, Persis occasionally admitted to herself, created a more stable environment in which to raise children. It would, of course, have been better had the battle tipped the other way, but even with the assistance of Lacey, the house-elf who'd been Persis's wedding gift from her mother, three babies in three years made for quite a lot of work.

Especially when one of them was…

But here Persis always stopped, took a deep breath, and reminded herself that she had no proof. Her son was still very young. True, Calanthia's fits of temper had started putting fires out when she was two, and Lucasta had been changing the colors of her dolls' dresses by the time she was three, but that only meant that her daughters were supremely talented. Just because Kenelm would soon be six and still hadn't so much as called a toy to him across the floor or made a water glass explode at dinner, it didn't mean he was…that.

Even to herself, she didn't dare use the word.

Besides, Persis always reminded herself after regaining her mental composure, her darling Thackery had their son well in hand. He would make a man of Kenelm early, teach him what was to be expected of a proper pureblood wizard.

So well-trained in the ways of her world was she that she did not even allow herself to think about what might become of her child, were he other than his father expected him to be.


"Let us try again," said Father, his deep voice holding the tautness of suppressed anger. "Again, Kenelm."

The boy sighed, but got to his feet and looked at the small white ball his father had placed on top of the freestanding wardrobe across the room. "Come here," he said to it, holding out his hand, trying to put his desire into his voice, as he heard his sisters do when they absently called their books or teacups or quill pens to them, as Lacey did when she made her cleaning supplies follow her down the corridor each day. "Come here now."

The ball did not move.

"You are not concentrating," said Father sharply. "You must concentrate, Kenelm, concentrate all your focus, all your magic—"

"I don't have magic!"

Even as he shouted the words, Kenelm knew they were a mistake, knew he should never have said them, never even have thought them. Of course he had magic. He was the son of a pureblood house and line, the long-awaited heir to the name of Runcorn, his family's only hope for the future. There was no conceivable way in which he could not have magic.

Except that I don't. I never did. I don't even know what magic is supposed to feel like. Callie says hers feels like a hot fire burning inside her, and Cassie talks about the way hers squirms and wiggles—I don't want things squirming or burning inside me. It sounds like it would hurt.

But I don't want Father to be angry with me either. And that's already happening. He risked a glance up at his father's darkly good-looking face and had to fight back another wince. And it does hurt when Father's angry with me…

"I had thought, Kenelm," Father said in his coldest, harshest tones, "that you were past the age of senseless lies. It seems that I was mistaken. Very well, then." A wave of his wand, and the door of the wardrobe sprang open. "Inside with you."

Kenelm swallowed hard. More words tried to rise up and get out of his mouth, words like I'm sorry, Father, like I'll try harder, like Please, I don't want to, but he knew none of them would do any good, not when Father spoke like that. Slowly, jerkily, he crossed the floor and approached the wardrobe.

He wanted, very much, to cry, but that would only get him slapped before Father closed the door on him. Tears were for witches and Muggles—a pureblood wizard six years old, or nearly so, should be brave enough to face anything—

But I'm not a wizard. I can't be. I don't have any magic.

He stopped dead, five feet from his father.

I don't know what I am, but I'm not a wizard. And I don't want to go in there.

"Kenelm!" Father snapped. "Obey me at once!"

Kenelm swallowed again, screwed up the courage Father was always telling him he ought to have, and opened his mouth once more.

"No," he said.

Father jerked like someone had hit him with a spell from behind. Kenelm giggled a little before he could stop himself.

An instant later, he knew that he had never really seen his father angry before.

"You dare," Father snarled into his face, holding him off the floor by the front of his robes. "You dare! Ungrateful brat—after all I've done, all I've sacrificed—"

The first slap hurt more sharply than Kenelm was used to, and left a dribble of warm wetness down his cheek in its wake. Father's seal ring must have turned inward on his finger, he noted in some far-off, recording corner of his mind. The second, backhanded blow felt the same as ever, but the third landed just above his ear, snapping his head to one side, and the world took on a distinctly hazy tone. He barely even registered it when Father released his robes—the fall towards the floor seemed to happen in slow motion—

Father's hand caught his left wrist, and a thin, brittle snap reverberated up his arm. He would have screamed, but his voice was frozen with the bright, sharp shock of the pain—he'd thought he knew what it was like to hurt, but nothing, nothing had ever hurt like this—

The impact with the floor of the wardrobe knocked the wind out of him, and he stared up at his father, trying to get his breath back, blinking through the red and white mists covering his eyes.

"You will stay here," Father said with great precision, "until such time as you can release yourself. By magic, Kenelm, the proper magic of a son of the Runcorns. And if you cannot…" A cold smile crossed his face. "If you cannot, then you are no son of mine."

The door slammed. A moment later, Kenelm heard the lock shoot home.

Home.

The word started a memory playing in his mind, which he latched onto gladly. Anywhere, anytime, had to be better than here and now.

"Master Kenelm!" The voice was Lacey's, squeaky and alarmed, and he was—how old? Little, too little to know I shouldn't hide at bedtime. Maybe three, or not even that. "Master Kenelm, you must be coming home now! It is getting late, your father is wanting you to go to bed!"

Little Kenelm giggled into the sleeve of his robes and snuggled further down into his hiding place under the big bush in the garden. If Lacey couldn't find him, she couldn't make him go to bed. Maybe he would be able to stay out here all night—that would be an adventure, like Marcus had in the storybooks Callie would sometimes read to him if she was in a good mood—

"Master Kenelm, if you is not coming home right now…" Lacey's voice trailed off. "Master Kenelm, I is not wanting to scare you," she said in a quieter tone. "But Mistress is saying just the other day that the Clans is looking for new little boys and girls, and they is liking best to steal the ones who is not coming home when they is called."

Little Kenelm squeaked and scrambled out of his bush. "Here I am, Lacey!" he shouted. "Here I am!"

I was afraid of the Clans coming to steal me away if I wasn't good. Big Kenelm, or as big as he was ever going to be, anyway, curled up around his hurt arm and shut his eyes to keep from seeing the darkness and tried to remember through the pain and the lightheadedness washing through him. But that was just baby stuff. The Clans don't steal children, Cassie says, and she ought to know…

Cassie shook her head hard, her golden curls bouncing. "Nuh-uh, not ever," she said with certainty. "Mr. Fox says that's just a silly story somebody made up, and sometimes he likes to play a joke and pretend it's true, but everybody knows it isn't really. It's usually his friends' kids that he's stealing, anyway, or somebody who asked him to steal their kid for a little while, but he always sends them home again after he's done."

"Why?" Kenelm asked his sister, wide-eyed.

"Why do people ask him to steal their kids?" Cassie frowned. "I don't really know. He said something about learning manners, but I didn't understand it too well. Maybe I'll ask him when I see him again next week." She picked up the long wooden tube beside her and arranged her fingers along the holes, putting it to her mouth.

Music, Kenelm remembered as if from a long way away. The Clans like music, they all know how to make it. And they like colorful things and playing games, and they laugh a lot. And they tell stories, and they all have pets, and they cook tasty food—Cassie always says how good everything smells when she goes for her lessons, and sometimes she brings home treats and lets me have a little bit—

He wanted to cry, but he knew the shaking would only hurt his arm worse. Instead he leaned back against the wall of the wardrobe, breathing in and out as quietly as he could, and tried not to think about food. It was almost dinnertime by now, and he'd known all morning that Father wanted to see him immediately after lunch, so he hadn't been able to swallow very much past the scared lump in his throat.

"I wish it was true," he whispered into the uncaring darkness around him. "I wish it was true, and that I never came home that night. I wish…" He had to stop, both for an extra-large wave of sick dizziness and for the enormity of the desire. "I wish the Clans had stolen me."

Because maybe they'd want me. Maybe they wouldn't think I was a freak. Maybe they wouldn't hit me and take away my dinner and make me sit in the dark for hours and hours. Or for always.

A little sad smile came to his face.

Or maybe even the Clans wouldn't want a boy who doesn't have magic.

I know nobody else does.

The tears were going to come very soon now, he couldn't stop them much longer, and after the tears ran dry the fear would come, the silent fear that lived in the darkness and wanted him to be a part of it. It would slip inside him with his every breath and press on his eyes whenever he opened them and run through his veins like his blood, the pure blood that his father was so proud of, but that hadn't brought him magic like it should have done. No matter how much he wanted the lock on the wardrobe to slide back, the door to swing open, it never would, and he was going to be here, in the dark, with the fear, alone, forever, until he drowned in it and became a part of it and went out looking for other little boys like he had once been to drown them too—

A rasping noise broke off his thoughts, and he blinked his eyes hard, raising his good hand to wipe them, because it was impossible but it was happening—the lock had just snapped back, the door was opening wide—

But I know I don't have magic—

The mystery solved itself as a man's dark figure was outlined against the painfully bright light of Kenelm's bedroom beyond the door. Kenelm fought back a whimper of renewed fear and instead tried to turn his body so that Father would catch his good arm instead of the one that hurt so terribly to drag him out again—Father must have changed his mind, maybe Mother had talked to him, she didn't usually concern herself with Kenelm, a boy's place was with his father, but once or twice within his memory she'd spoken up—

The man outside the wardrobe door said two words in a low tone of voice that was decidedly not Father's and drew a wand from within his robes, his green robes, and Father always wore black—the wand which was now coming down to point at Kenelm was too long, too graceful, to be Father's, and the man himself was too slender and much too fair, the hair shining sleekly in the light was so blond it was almost silver—but who—

The thought was lost in astonishment as a spell shot forth from the man's wand and outlined Kenelm in a momentary wash of blue—and his arm, his head, his chest and stomach, everything that had been hurting stopped, and the relief was so great that the tears he'd been holding back broke free, welling up out of him and making him shake with silent sobs—

A bright flash startled him, and he looked past the man to see a woman with wide eyes and a long fall of dirty-blonde hair lowering a camera. His sister Cassie was pressed against the woman's side, staring at him in horror, which he could see because the man was down on one knee now, reaching into the wardrobe, gathering him up into strong arms, holding him close and turning to sit down on a chair which hadn't been there before—

"Let's get a close-up on the arm, love," said the man, his voice vibrating through the chest against which Kenelm was being held. "Kenelm—am I saying that right?" His grip shifted until Kenelm could see his pointed, clever face and a pair of silvery eyes, filled with concern and looking at him, looking right at him, not past him or over him at all. "Kenelm, we need to get some pictures of the way you're hurt, just to make sure nobody can say we're lying later on. As soon as we've got them, we're going to take you out of here. You, and Cassie, and probably your other sister too—what is it you call her, Cass?"

"Callie," Cassie volunteered from her few steps back, the hand which wasn't shoved up against her mouth fisted tightly in her robes. "Mr. Fox, I didn't know, really I didn't, but I was so scared when I saw Father looking like that—"

"You've got nothing to apologize for," the man interrupted, gently pulling back the sleeve of Kenelm's robes to show the place where his arm was hurt—was broken, Kenelm realized as he saw the new bend in the middle of his forearm, but the man's spell had stopped the hurting—

I know who he is now. The thought came dreamily to him, cushioned by the unusual lack of pain, punctuated by the flashes of the camera and the voices all around him. He's Cassie's teacher, the one who gives her lessons on her recorder. Mr. Fox, that's what she called him, what she says all his students call him.

He comes from the Clans.

The tears were ebbing now, slowing down enough that Kenelm was able to blot his face with the sleeve over his good arm, able to catch his breath and even smile a little at the things that were happening to him, because it felt like a story from one of Callie's books or made up out of his own head except that it was really and truly true. He'd shouted and defied his father, refused to do what he was told, and just like Lacey had always said would happen if he wasn't good, the Clans had come to steal him away.

Or would that be Clan, if there's only one of him? But no, the woman with the camera came here with him, she's probably his wife, Cassie talks about her sometimes but I can't remember what she's called—and I know he has more family than that, brothers and sisters and cousins and things, it's what "clan" means, a great big load of people who're all related to each other, like the family trees I always see Mother looking at with her friends—

The reason Mother looked at those family trees suddenly came back to Kenelm with terrible force, and he shivered, curling in on himself, because there was something Mr. Fox didn't know, something Cassie couldn't have told him, and when he found out, all the good things that were happening would go away, everything would go back to the way it had been, because even the Clans wouldn't bother with a boy who—

"There, that should do it," said Mr. Fox, and his wand swirled around Kenelm's hurt arm. Kenelm swallowed as he felt the magic twisting and pushing the broken bits back into place, because even though it didn't hurt, it still felt very strange. Besides, it made him think of the thing he didn't want to say.

But I have to. He'll only get angry if he thinks I lied.

His imagination-stories about the Clans rose up in his mind again, tempting him all the more now that he could feel a man's strong hands holding him safe instead of hurting him, could see the woman across the room cuddling Cassie against her with one arm and giving Callie a handkerchief with the other, but he pushed them away. I can't have you, he told them. You're not for someone like me. Even if I did get you for a little while, they'd find out the truth as soon as I had to do anything with magic, and then they'd send me back to Mother and Father—

The thought of what would surely be waiting for him at that homecoming stole Kenelm's breath and made him shiver again, harder this time. Mr. Fox looked down with a worried expression. "I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" he said, his wand now sheathing Kenelm's arm in a stiff white sleeve. "Was there somewhere I missed?"

Kenelm shook his head, trying not to look at the wardrobe, trying not to think about how much worse it would be in the darkness this time, with all the new things he'd discovered to want. "It doesn't hurt now," he said. "Thank you. But…" The words made a lump in his throat as solid and painful as the one which had stopped him eating lunch. He squeezed his good hand tight and forced them out anyway. "I don't have magic."

Mr. Fox nodded gravely. "I see," he said in a considering tone. "Is that why your father got so angry with you? Because he wanted you to show him magic, and you didn't?"

"More because I shouted at him," Kenelm admitted. "And said no to him. And then laughed when he looked surprised."

"I see," Mr. Fox said again, but there was a little smile on his face now. "Well, in that case, there's only one place for a young man like you. Love, do you think you could get in touch with—"

"She says come right over," the woman interrupted, holding up a small, silvery object, from the top of which flickered a green flame until she shut a lid over it with a decisive click. "Rory and Rosie are having their naps, so she's free for the next hour or so."

"One of these days, do you think you could let me finish my sentences before you start answering me, O great Seer?" Mr. Fox asked, but he was laughing through his words, laughing as he stood up, still holding Kenelm tight in his arms, and started walking towards—

Not the wardrobe, but the door of the room, the door into the rest of the house—the woman was already out the door and halfway down the corridor, Callie and Cassie holding onto her hands on either side—

"As it happens, we don't care much about magic where we come from," Mr. Fox murmured, his voice sinking into Kenelm's ears but not meaning anything, not yet, not when what it was saying was so impossible. "At least, not the way you seem to think we do. We care about making sure people use their magic, whatever they have of it, in a good way and not a bad one. And one of the ways that's the most bad, whether you're talking about using magic or anything else, is to hurt a boy like you. To punish him, over and over again, for something he can't help." He looked down and smiled, really-and-truly looking at Kenelm once again. "A boy like you is one of the reasons the Clans exist, Kenelm. And because of that, we make it our business to help all the boys and girls like you that we can find."

A boy like me—they don't care about magic—and Father is the one who was bad—

The ideas were too big to think about all at once. Kenelm thought they might be too big to think about at all. They were certainly very, very different from everything he had ever heard or thought or believed up until this moment. But he closed his eyes and tried anyway, and let the back of his mind enjoy the unfamiliar sensations of being held, of being carried through a rush of cool autumn air (which was rather like he'd always imagined flying), of hearing adults' voices talk over him, about him, but without anger, without shame, without anything he was used to hearing from his parents.

My parents. The thought sent a tiny spiral of fear through his stomach, even now. Father might not mind losing me so much, but Mother will be furious when she finds out Callie and Cassie are gone—is Mr. Fox going to get in trouble? Because Callie and Cassie are proper witches and nobody hurt them, will somebody say they have to go back home? And maybe will Father hurt them because he's angry with me?

A ripple of warmth, then one of cool, ran up his hurt arm, and the stiff sleeve on it split apart and fell away, vanishing on its way to the floor. A wand tip traced a line along his face, making his skin itch for a moment in its wake. He twitched once at the all-over tickle of a Cleaning Charm, but ignored it in favor of his own thoughts.

I don't want Callie or Cassie to get hurt because of me. I don't want anybody to get hurt because of me. But I don't want to get hurt again either, or go back in the dark, or keep trying and trying to have magic when I don't. Why can't there be a way for everybody to be happy?

He was dressed in soft pajamas now instead of his robes. Someone must have taken the not-hurting spell off him, because his stomach had the ache deep down in it that meant he'd missed a meal, but there was a covered cup hovering near his face with a straw in it. He tried reaching out for it and felt like cheering when both his hands moved the way he wanted them to.

Above and beside him, someone laughed, and his chair shifted—

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," said the voice that went with the laugh, and a woman about his mother's age smiled at him. He was on her lap, Kenelm discovered, both of them sitting in a big soft armchair upholstered in a warm coral pink, in a room painted mostly gold but with one wall blue. The woman wore robes the same color as the different wall and had soft blonde hair cut short around her face, and he couldn't quite decide what color her eyes were, blue or gray or even green, but they were doing the same thing Mr. Fox's eyes had done, looking at him and not just seeing him but noticing him, paying attention to him.

He wasn't sure yet how he felt about that.

"You can call me Ms. Crystal," the woman went on. "Technically, I suppose it ought to be Mrs. Weasley, but there are so many of us around by now that we tend to go by our first names instead. And you're Kenelm, is that right? Kenelm Runcorn?"

"Mm-hmm." Kenelm sucked on the straw and got a mouthful of apple juice. He knew the name Weasley. His father liked to put it together with some very rude words on days when things hadn't gone right for him at work. But there was something else about the Weasleys, something important he was forgetting…

He swallowed quickly as it came to him. He'd heard his mother and her friends talking over tea one afternoon not too long ago.

"Breeding us into extinction, these Clans," Mother said bitterly in his memories, "and we the only ones with enough sense to try for more than one child apiece! Not that it's anything new. Look at the way all the best families were in denial for so many years, fussing about keeping their lines clear, while the Weasleys, blood-traitors or not, at least had the right idea—not that it's any help now, they've thrown in with the Clans, core, grip, and wand-shaft…"

Kenelm had another sip of the juice and glanced from the corner of his eye at Ms. Crystal. She was looking into the distance, humming a song to herself, nothing he knew, but then, he didn't know a lot of songs.

But if she's from the Clans, then she would. She does.

Maybe she'd teach me.

"You have two sisters, I think they told me?" Ms. Crystal said into the quiet, breaking off her song. "Older, or younger?"

"Older. I'm the youngest one." The baby. The tag-along. The "go away, Kenelm, we don't want you." So I started making my imagination-pictures, because they don't ever not want me…

"You'll have to meet my twins, once they're awake. Girl twins, and didn't that just rock my husband's world three years ago next month, and his whole family, too." Ms. Crystal laughed. "'But Weasleys always have boys,'" she mimicked a man's stunned voice. "Well, darling, surprises are what you're going to get when you go and marry a Muggle."

Kenelm almost dropped his cup.

She's—she's a—

But she's just joking, she has to be. She can't be a Muggle. She's nice. All the stories say Muggles are stupid and nasty and hate wizards—

And what do all the stories say about the Clans? whispered another part of his mind. They were wrong once. Couldn't they be wrong twice?

Besides, a Muggle is just somebody who can't do magic.

Maybe I do know the name for what I am after all…

"Didn't know, did you?" Ms. Crystal put one of her hands around his, steadying his shaking grip. "I don't bite, I promise. The girls might, but only if you try to get between them while they're fighting. Something for you to remember, since you're going to be stopping with us until things get settled. Unless…" She held up a finger of her free hand. "Unless you'd rather somewhere else." Her eyes seemed to have settled on blue for the time being, and were looking into his as intently as if he were another grownup. "If you don't want to stop here, Kenelm, if you'd rather be with a family that's all magic, just say so." She smiled a little. "But we thought you might want to meet somebody who could tell you it is possible to live in this crazy, mixed-up world without any magic of your own."

Kenelm opened his mouth, not sure even as he started to speak what he was about to say—

"What're their names?"

"My girls?" Ms. Crystal made an odd face, as though she weren't sure whether she wanted to grin or grimace. "Well, you have to understand. Their father and I made a deal when I found out they were twins. I'd get to pick the first name for one and the middle name for the other, and he'd get the opposite choice. And what did we end up with? Aurora Hesperia and Eglantine Rose Weasley." She sighed and shook her head, laughing under her breath. "But everyone calls them Rory and Rosie, so I suppose it all worked out in…" In the middle of her sentence, she stopped, as though a thought had just come to her. "Does anyone ever call you Ken? Just Ken?"

"No." Kenelm considered it. "Not yet," he added daringly, and Ms. Crystal laughed again.

He liked the way she laughed, and the warm bright colors all around him in the room, and the idea of being a big brother for once instead of a little one. Especially he liked the idea of girls called Rory and Rosie, girls who sometimes fought and sometimes bit but who might also sometimes like to sit still and listen to him read a story to them (or, daring thought, listen to him tell a story, one of his own from his imagination-pictures in his head). It would be nice to see his own sisters sometimes, especially Cassie, but it would also be nice to know that they were going someplace else at the end of the night.

And I don't ever have to see Father at all.

His mind made up, Ken settled his weight more comfortably onto Ms. Crystal's lap and took another drink of his juice. "Do you have animals?" he asked.

"You mean other than the wild twins?" Ms. Crystal made a roaring face, and Ken had to giggle a little at it. "Yes, we have a dog and two cats. The dog is five times bigger than the cats put together, and still it's the cats who manage to run the household. Don't ask me how that works, I don't understand it myself…"


Late that evening, Crystal looked up from the pile of sleeping children and creatures by the fireplace as her red-haired husband stepped through the front door. "Luck?" she mouthed to him.

With his usual careful neatness, her husband removed his cloak and hung it in its proper place beside hers, then pointed towards them and the twins' cloaks, hung low on the wall where the girls could reach them. Crystal frowned. Why does he want me to look at—

Her eyes widened in glee.

With a precise swirl of a wand, a fifth coathook, neatly splitting the difference between adult and three-year-old, had sprouted on the Weasleys' wall.


Persis Runcorn sat alone in her boudoir. Except for Lacey, she was alone in the house.

It was a state of affairs she thought was likely to continue for quite some time.

"Consider yourself lucky that you're not being arrested along with your husband, Mrs. Runcorn," Casewitch Anne Davies of Wizarding Family Services had informed her, arms crossed over her slender chest. "The physical injuries to your son are bad enough, but what has us quite a bit more alarmed is that he apparently expected to be immediately abandoned when he revealed that he has no personal magic. We've matched him with a foster family who are…well-suited to help him adjust to his circumstances, and to teach him about the new adaptations being developed every day to help him lead a normal life." Her eyes were cold and hard. "Once he's settled in, if he decides that he wants to see you, you may be permitted visits."

"And my daughters?"

"Lucasta is remaining, for the time being, with her music teacher and his wife, in his family's home." A raised eyebrow warned Persis that any outcry against said music teacher would be futile, which she'd already known. He was, after all, related to the Minister of Magic, in a complicated, Clan sort of way. "And my brother and sister-in-law have volunteered to host Calanthia."

"Your—" Persis cut herself off, but she was sure her color was already rising. She remembered Davies's sister-in-law quite well from Hogwarts.

We dueled at one point in my final year, and her fifth. After I had pointed out how she was shaming our House by choosing a partner like Davies, and she responded that the only way I could get a man was to "pay" him. As though a dowry were anything of the sort!

But old injuries and slights aside, she had to face facts. Thackery had been arrested, and current wizarding law, to say nothing of public opinion, did not look kindly on one who harmed a child, so she was unlikely to see him again for quite a long time. Her daughters might be retrievable, once she had reestablished some form of domestic stability, but for that she would need money, and the same dowry over which she had once dueled with the elder of the Moon sisters was long since spent. And even if she could find work, even if Calanthia and Lucasta eventually returned home to her…

I seldom saw my son after he grew from an infant to a toddling child. It was more proper, more fitting, for his father to have charge of him. It was the right thing to do, what was best for everyone, the way purebloods have always done things.

How many other children, I wonder, over the centuries, have suffered as my Kenelm suffered today, for the sake of "what was best for everyone"?

And for how many of them did a rescue never come?

Laying her head down on her dressing table, she wept for what she had lost, and what she had never had to begin with.

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Author Notes:

'Tis late so I'll be brief. If I was following the pattern hinted in the title of this story, this should have been Chapter 1, and "Reflections" Chapter 2. That might give you an idea of what will be in other chapters.

Surpassing Danger is being a bit slow so may not update until this coming weekend. Thank you for your patience.

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