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The Umland Brothers
Just a bit of a family disagreement....
Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:54
40.132.211.177

There were disadvantages to being a prefect, and being expected to be useful during the first hours of a new school year was one of them. John could not imagine much, short of being shot and found out by his family again, that sounded less pleasant than hanging out in the Gardens with the first years, so he had muttered something to Xavier about taking a post in a common area and promptly gone to the Owlery to compose himself.

Coming back here was a mistake.

The normality of it all – the utter sameness of everything he saw getting off the wagon – had hit him like a truck falling from a clear blue sky. The world had turned upside-down, almost everything he had spent most of his life, now, trying to conceal was out in the open now, he had lost his family because of it, he felt utterly alone and adrift in the world, and yet here he was, wearing the same green robes and badges he had worn last year, just as though nothing at all had happened. He knew that was the only way, that his thoughts were based in emotion rather than fact even if they were not an exercise in self-pity on top of everything else, but he couldn’t make the thoughts go away.

“Get it together,” he told himself sternly. An owl hooted its agreement with this proposition.

John took out a bit of parchment, scribbled Aislinn - Tea at four? John, sent that out with an owl, and reasoned that the Cascade Hall was not just a place which presumably held a substance he felt in dire need of. It was a fact that the Cascade Hall probably had tea in it and that John desperately needed to drink some, but it was also a fact that it was a common area. It was probably also a fact that much of the staff was there, but this did not mean it was not a place he could go while still technically keeping his word to Xavier. Maybe he still did feel a nagging sense of dereliction of duty, a sense that he was not doing what was Right – but emotions were not relevant, and he would give a galleon for access to the Irish Breakfast right now.

Luckily, for them and for him, none of the staff made any immediate efforts to stop him from making himself a cup. He inhaled in relief as the hot water hit the teabag, then forced his thoughts onto anything other than all the times Mom or Julian had brought him tea when he was ill or nervous or busy or just because one of them was having some and thought of it.

He’d go back to the Owlery when it finished steeping, he decided. He wasn’t ready to deal with Jax or Aislinn or Emmy-Lou or anyone yet, so that ruled out watching over the other Aladrens, at least for a few minutes, and the Owlery was another common area. The birds had seemed suspicious of him when he was a first year, as though they somehow knew he was fascinated by how magic had contributed to their skills, but they mostly liked him now. He could pull himself together there before presumably having tea with Aislinn at four, it wouldn’t be too bad, having tea with her and talking about something interesting, and it wouldn’t be so long before the Feast that remembering to be attentive and polite for the duration of the occasion would be an impossibility….

Thinking about this, and trying to ignore the side-loops running that involved Mom and Julian and tea and what he had done and what had come of it the last time he had talked about magical theory with a girl unless one counted arguing with Joanie about whether or not Muggle blood would have killed him and whether or not Joanie wanted to kill him right now and whether she was crazy enough to track him down across a continent to get the job done if she did (probably she was, he concluded), John almost missed footsteps behind him. Almost. He turned a little too quickly, sloshing his tea, but he didn’t notice the bit which splashed onto the drinks table as he recognized the person behind him.

* * * * * * * *


If he had been asked to wager the outcome of a dollar on whether or not John would come back to school, Joe would have had to tell the asker that he thought that one was going to go to the judges. All the way from Calgary, in one vehicle and then another, he had been able to think about little else. The family had not talked much about John since they had received a note informing them he was on the other side of the continent and a border, but alive and with a roof over his head, but he knew everyone had been thinking about him near-constantly and just before Joe had gotten on the wagon, his mother had asked him to wait and had gone to the van to get a suitcase he hadn’t seen before.

"Give this to your brother when you see him,” she’d instructed him. ”It’s some sweaters and a scarf and a new coat and gloves for when it gets cold – he has his umbrella, he took that with him, I suppose it’s still good. I put a rain hat in there too anyway.”

For one moment, Joe had understood why Julian was at least as angry with John as she was worried about him. He had wanted to yell at Mom and John in almost equal measure for a moment, but had kept his mouth shut. The rest of them had to hang together now or Joe thought they would all lose what was left of their right minds. He had taken the suitcase along and wondered if it would have a recipient to the point where he almost felt sick by the time the wagon landed in Arizona.

He scanned the prefects around the Gardens for his brother, then checked the library, but John appeared neither among the Orientation supervisors or in his usual haunt. Could he really not be here at all? Could John have really just…left school? Disturbed, Joe wandered down to the Cascade Hall – and froze almost as soon as he opened the door. The person’s back was to him, so he supposed he couldn’t be really sure – but he was sure. There, as though nothing at all had happened, stood John.

Feeling almost in a trance, he approached the table where his brother seemed to be making tea. He stopped behind him, opened his mouth, and still did not know what to say when John turned around rather quickly. He looked as startled to see Joe as Joe was to see him, which for a moment was almost funny – what was wrong with them? Of course the other one was here, this was their school – but the impulse to laugh passed quickly as they stared at each other, both apparently at a loss.

The staring contest ended when John put his teacup down. He was tapping his fingers restlessly, a sure sign of nerves. “I think I saw a couple of bags of lapsang souchong in the mix,” he said finally.

Later, Joe would think this had perhaps been a tentative overture. An invitation to talk, maybe, or to sit quietly and see if the usual camaraderie would fall back into place between them. In the moment, though, Joe did not think of that. In the moment, something inside him, something which had been slowly wound tighter and tighter every day since July, suddenly snapped.

“You son of a -----,” he shouted, and took a swing at his brother. John dodged it and Joe staggered before turning and starting to try again before something or someone impeded his progress.

    • Not anymoreHeadmaster Brockert, Tue Mar 14 11:40
      Mortimer had been in his office working on preparations for the new year when he decided he needed a break. To stretch his legs. While he'd never been fond of exercise and thought sports were about... more
      • Well, this got out of hand quickly.The Umlands, Tue Mar 14 15:01
        John reached for his wand – still unfamiliar, he missed his old one, but he had practiced enough over the summer that he expected he could manage; the new one was not so temperamental as the old – as ... more
        • It certainly did.Headmaster Brockert, Wed Apr 5 11:55
          Mortimer couldn't help but warm slightly at Mr. Umland's enthusiasm for his torture instruments, not thinking for a second that it was anything but an innocent academic interest like his own. The... more
          • Most of Joe’s brain was still caught up in a confusing whirl of anger toward his brother and dread about the immediate future, but enough was still functioning that there had been an element of... more
            • You are not.Headmaster Brockert, Sat May 6 12:27
              Okay, this was precisely why Mortimer didn't like dealing with the students himself and instead,preferred to pawn them off on another staff member. Teenagers could be such utter twits. Just as he was ... more
              • We suspected as much, but thanks for confirming.Joe and John, Sat May 6 13:57
                Now that the headmaster put it that way, Joe supposed it did sound pretty stupid. He had included the details while trying to yell their collective way out of trouble, but apparently Brockert only... more
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