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Off, Damned Spots! (Alexandrian Librarian) (27 July)
Zam Wesell
alexandrian_lib wrote in 30_hath
Title: Off, Damned Spots!
Author: alexandrian_lib
House: Ravenclaw
Date/Challenge: 27 – Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge
Character/Pairing: Marietta Edgecombe, Hermione Granger
Rating: G
Word Count: 944
Genre/Warnings (if applicable): Gen, postwar

The woman would have been pretty, had her face not been covered with swollen purple spots which not even the magic of St. Mungo's could cure. Thick layers of powder and creams barely obscured the word which the spots spelt out. The glamours and obscuring charms served to blur the letters a bit, but they also made Marietta Edgecombe look faded around the edges--rather, in fact, like someone who had been practicing the Dark Arts too intensely. It was this appearance, and the sad and defensive look worn into her face over the years, which had first drawn her to the attention of certain still-undefeated members of wizarding society.

The Dark Lord was dead, but so was Harry Potter, and wizarding Britain was left without a focus for the first time in decades; the dark times were gone, replaced by the drab times of the modern world. The pusillanimous conduct of the Ministry had not been successful in stamping out the ideals of the Death Eaters, even though the organisation as such was once again merely a loose confederation. Bellatrix Lestrange still lived, and Neville Longbottom was in the bed between his parents'. The defeat of the Dark Lord had not ushered in an idyllic era, and everyone felt perpetually, vaguely unhappy.

Marietta slumped in a chair at the Hog's Head, a little more miserable than most. She was a cheerful person, deep inside; she felt that there was nothing wrong with her life that couldn't be cleared up if her face cleared up. Marietta was possessed of pronounced intelligence, if a little lacking in common sense, and she was more than qualified for employment far above her current standards. At the moment, however, she was out of a job yet again, after her employer told her she was frightening off customers. Most shoppers tend not to be inclined to trust a saleswitch with "sneak" written across her face, even in Knockturn Alley establishments. She held other odd jobs from time to time, usually with the sort of employers who hired werewolves and hags. Those lasted longer than employment better befitting her capabilities, but the work was unpleasant.

This disaffection was what had drawn Bellatrix Lestrange's attention to her as a potential recruit. A former co-worker of Marietta's had Death Eater sympathies and had arranged a secret, anonymous meeting between the two. Thus Marietta came to be sitting at a table in plain view of the door, waiting for an appointment with Bellatrix, when Hermione Granger walked in out of the rain. Hermione was a reclusive scholar these days, rarely seen outside of the various large wizarding libraries. As she bustled into the Hog's Head, scraping a large clump of mud off her boot on the doormat, the two witches caught sight of one another.

It had been years and years since the incident with the DA, and Hermione had completely forgotten about Marietta and the jinx. To be fair, she had been rather busy inventing new spells, researching forgotten ones, and fighting for the Order. When the war ended, Hermione had dealt with her delayed grief by throwing herself into another deep, involved project. She hadn't even thought of the DA for several years.

Marietta's expression held no hatred, only the same heavy sadness it always did. Hermione's thoughts turned from shock that the jinx was still in effect, to pride at her spellcasting even as a young woman, to bitter memory of the incidents in her fifth year, to chagrin at having left that girl--What was her name? A Ravenclaw friend of Cho Chang's... ah, yes, Edgecombe, rhymes with Hedge-gnome--to suffer for decades without remembering. For an instant, as those terrible days with Umbridge came rushing to mind, Hermione considered walking past Marietta. Then she was immediately ashamed. One mistake all those years ago did not deserve decades of disfigurement. Hermione saw the Wizarding Wanted section of the Prophet open on the table in front of Marietta. She squared her jaw and drew her wand.

"I can never apologise enough, and I shan't try," she said, "but I will try to make amends," and a great jet of purple light burst from the tip to hit Marietta straight in the face. Marietta reached a hand up and felt smooth skin on her face for the first time since she was an adolescent. She could only gasp and blink tears from her eyes. "I see you're looking for a position," Hermione continued. "The Newtonian Alchemical Library needs a new assistant librarian. I can get you the position, or at least an interview. I know it's not much...." Hermione's voice trailed off, abashed. Marietta found herself still incapable of speech--old resentment and new relief fought to dominate her emotions, and she was a bit stunned by the almost brutal practical attitude of the adult Hermione Granger. Hermione, unaccustomed of late to interacting with other people, covered her awkwardness with brusqueness. "You might as well come with me now; I know the chief librarian is interviewing applicants today."

Marietta snapped to at the peremptory tone. "Of course I'll come, right this instant! Only, I'm supposed to meet someone here in a few minutes; I'll have to leave a note to cancel." She pulled a scrap of parchment out of her pocket and conjured a quill and ink. After scribbling a short message, she signed her initials and jumped up to follow Hermione.

Dear madam,
I've a job interview, so I'm afraid I can't stay for our meeting.
Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll give mainstream society another go.

It's never too late to begin again.


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