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James Montgomery for Ester Montgomery.
Wait, your wife did what?!
"I'll bleed wherever I damn well please!" She shouted, scowling at him. As if to prove it, she uncovered her nose and shook her head back and forth like a dog attempting to dry its fur of water. Little droplets of blood rained on the sidewalk all willy-nilly. Billie Farrow in A Good Dusting
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Holding on is hard to do
when all you really want you lose

March 22nd, 1890 — Pennyworth Streets
@Emilia Moony / @Cassius Lestrange
Eavan was back - back ‘home’, he’d nearly thought. But that wasn’t true. He might have settled in Irvingly for the time being, but that had been for her - but visiting her at the start of the year had reminded him of the last place he’d called home. Nowhere without Nola had ever really counted.

He’d missed Eva badly. He missed Nola badly.

But there was lots for Eva to do with her friends and her birds and the zoo, so Conall had elected to mind his own business for the day, and had been in Hogsmeade. He’d gone to a friend’s in Pennyworth, they’d had a couple of drinks, his friend had leant him a newly published journal from a naturalist in Africa who’d been studying Fwoopers. He’d been wandering back towards the High Street when he spotted her - one of the Federlines. Well, not a Federline. Once a Federline. Not that he’d ever known her then; Nola had been older, and on her way across the Atlantic. Eavan had spent more time on this side of the world than he had; she knew better than him.

Come to think of it, Conall wasn’t entirely certain he recalled what this Federline’s actual last name was. Which was partly why he let his gaze slide past her on the street, unsure of whether he wanted to start a conversation with the sister-in-law he’d probably only seen a handful of times since being here. But he felt he’d been too slow to pretend not to see her, and he didn’t want Nola’s only sister thinking him rude. (Even though he was.)

So he stopped in his tracks, and turned towards her as if he’d only just seen her. “Ah - Emilia,” Conall exclaimed, trying not to make that a question. Her name was Emilia. That was about as much as he managed before he second-guessed himself. He wasn’t entirely sure she looked in the mood to... chat.

Weekends were lonely. Weekdays she was busy with work, but weekends - especially with both of the children at school - were lonely. And so EJ had committed herself to errands, was coming back from the store with a loaf of bread and some flowers to plant in the basket under her arm. She walked there and back, hoping to kill some of the time alone in her household.

She recognized Nola's husband, but likely would have ignored her had he returned the favor - which, honestly, she had expected. She knew Eavan; she did not know her father well at all. He had married Nola and left when Emilia was still a child. But then things spun past them - there was, perhaps, some brief eye contact, and then it was too late.

(She shouldn't begrudge this, Emilia knew - it meant she could have someone to talk to.)

"Conall," Emilia said warmly. "Fancy seeing you in Hogsmeade."

Well, she sounded friendly enough, whatever he’d expected. (Conall did not usually expect friendliness.) Nor did she look as threatening she she could: she was a woman - maybe mid-thirties (a fair amount younger than he and Nola, he knew that much) - carrying a basketful of flowers.

“Yeah, I make the trek from time to time,” Conall said wryly, only realising now that although for many years he had had a very good excuse of being on a different side of the world, that being in the next town over was not so sturdy a reason to have made approximately no effort in seeing Nola’s family, Eavan’s own aunt.

Still, he didn’t come to Hogsmeade all that much. It wasn’t exactly the most magnificent place in the world, was it? From what he’d heard of it, it seemed more a magnet for disaster.

“And - you live down this way, then?” he asked, inclining his head the way she was going.

EJ's mouth twitched into a crooked smile at his comment. She otherwise ignored it and gestured vaguely in the direction of Pennyworth with her free hand.

"Yeah," Emilia said, "A rowhouse, with my children - although they're at Hogwarts, now."

Kit had been gone for months, now - if she pretended that he didn't bear mentioning, then she could pretend that it didn't matter. Although if anyone understood being alone, it would be Nola's wild husband - with his wandering daughter and Nola dead for almost six years, now.

He nodded in mild appreciation at her affirmation about living here; this area of Hogsmeade - Pennyworth, did they call it? - looked cleaner and newer than he’d expected, than some of the streets stretching down the other way. Still, all a little... cosily crowded, however nice it looked.

Probably not her house, at least, if she was the only one in it. Or was her husband -? No, he didn’t think so. Emilia wouldn’t have glossed over him so conspicuously if he were living there too; though Conall was fairly certain, from Eavan talking about her aunt from time to time, that Mr. Moony had resurfaced at some point. Better not ask what her husband was doing now.

And the question slipped his mind in another few seconds after all, because it turned out her children were at Hogwarts. “What, both of them already?” Conall said in genuine surprise, blinking back his shock to hear it. When his wife had used to talk about them - a boy and a girl, wasn’t it? - well, they’d only been kids, the first of them only born at about the time when Eavan’d left for school. Remembering most milestones by what Nola had been telling him at the time meant they’d always been something of a static picture in his head. None of it felt all that long ago, but the realisation hit like a stunner to the chest as he did the maths on it. Six years. Jesus. How had Nola been gone six years?

Emilia nodded, a bemused smile on her face at Conall's shock. "Anne's only in her first year," she said. Which of course meant that EJ was alone - missing Kit and knowing exactly why she could not have demand he come back to her house at the same time. She shifted the basket on her arm.

"Nola always told me they grew up too fast, but I don't think I believed her until I saw it myself," she said, with a wry smile. Nola and Emilia had never been especially close - a ten-year gap between them had only been exacerbated by the physical distance - but they had, of course, been the only two daughters.

One of them being a first year made it slightly more believable, but only slightly. His fault, he supposed; he had spent plenty of the time removed enough from the rest of the world to pay proper attention to time.

She said her sister’s name, and Conall felt the familiar twinge in his chest. “I remember Eavan at that age, going off to Ilvermorny,” he said, abruptly turning to lightness, a memory to make him laugh. “Next thing you know, they’re twenty-six,” he warned.

“House must be quieter,” Conall added, offhand, wondering how Emilia was coping with the sudden change. Could be a blessing, could be a curse. He didn’t think he knew her well enough to guess.

"Oh, yes," Emilia said. She laughed, but there wasn't a solid quality to it. It was hard to pretend that anything about the emptiness brought her joy, and Conall was not a common enough presence in her life for her to try and lie convincingly. "Work keeps me busy, though." She could fill the gaps left by her children and her husband with the Department of Mysteries, if she tried hard.

Conall did not spend a great deal of his life scrutinising people in their habitats, not their words or actions or weird little human quirks, but never had an oh, yes sounded more like its opposite. He wasn’t entirely thick.

He didn’t think asking after the husband would make things any better, however, and was just about floundering on what else to say to move on from that too-quiet-house of hers, when she found that solution for herself. “Ah, of course,” Conall agreed, latching onto the change of subject without thinking fast enough not to say, “and what are you working on these -” He caught himself before he finished, at least, and raised a hand to wave off that question. “Right. Never mind.”


"Oh, you know," Emilia said, with the handwave she always used to indicate the mysteries of her job.

"And what are you up to?" Emilia asked, because she could, even though Conall's job made about as much sense to her as the Department of Mysteries did to normal people. It had taken him all over the world, though, and that was interesting - Emilia had always been fascinated by people who traveled all over.

“Ah, spent a little time in Africa last year -” Conall said easily, “- and m’thinking of heading back for longer.” This was the bit he didn’t like so much, the finding the funding, the planning, the talking to the people who cared for magizoology, the people who’d write the findings up and make things neat and actually worth something to the rest of the world.

Fortunately he’d been doing this sort of thing long enough to know the friends he had for that, but at his core he would have shipped off to Africa by himself tomorrow, and done it with no plan, just for love of the creatures.

Though it was also true that the four years living in the heart of the Amazon had worn him out somewhat. He was not as young as he’d used to be. Getting too used to a comfortable life.

“Visited Eavan in Arizona just after Christmas though,” he added, as brightly as he ever got, because he was proud of Eva for having gone to do it, and because he knew Emilia was fond of Eavan, too. “You’ve heard she’s back?” Probably. (Proud of her for going as he was, he was more pleased to have her back.)

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