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1. Person: Franco Shackleford
2. Place: Dervish and Banges
3. Thing: Candy

April 19th, 2012

Ah, Hogsmeade... how long had it been? He wasn't even sure, but then, his sense of time wasn't working as well as it once had. Between traveling, worrying, and the omnipresent dark cloud of Sylvanna's death, Franco felt that even looking at clocks didn't register properly anymore: he could look one time and time was crawling, every minute seeming an hour, and the next time, he would've thought five minutes had passed and a glance upwards would reveal it had been four hours. There was no time, no clarity, not with anything.

And now there was this. This... suspicion. Franco was not a pessimistic man by nature, not usually -- though it was hard to be anything but that, when under a dark cloud -- so the rising feeling that something was wrong with one of his closest and oldest friends was unsettling, to say the least. Having spoken to Aventus the day before, he was beginning to come to the realization that even the Syndicate had changed... there was truly no part of his life that was untouched by tears and death.

But Hogsmeade looked the same. It was just starting to obviously be Spring, the air getting warmer and flowers budding at every turn. The little shops were all still there, the same as always, the same he remembered from when he was in school, even. Seasons changed here, but time seemed to be silent in this place, having no sway over it. Even Franco in his dark cloud could find a moment's joy in going into Honeydukes, looking around at all the bright wrappers and signs, selecting a lollipop for himself. His hand was halfway through reaching automatically for some of their specialty chocolate when he remembered why he had the habit in the first place.

It was Sylvanna's favorite.

He bought some.

Out in the sunshine again, he walked along the bustling street, hearing the cheerful voices of shoppers and storekeepers chattering away, eyes fixed on the bar in his hand, wandering by memory to his real destination. Dervish and Banges hadn't changed, really, either, though he vaguely suspected that the building might have gotten a fresh coat of paint recently. He really should just go in and get it over with, he told himself, but he hesitated, hand not quite touching the doorknob. What if he was wrong? What if this was wrong, and really he should just leave it alone and stop doubting his old friend? His hand fell back to his side, his head bowing slightly; he turned aside, perching himself on the small bench beside the building, crossing one lanky leg over the other and staring at the chocolate bar again.

They'd come here once, him and Sylvanna. They hadn't been able to go out much in the Wizarding world as it was today, not with her being a Veela, but she'd asked so many times about his school, about the places he'd gone as a child, that Franco had relented. He could remember it so clearly... his beautiful wife, with her brightest smile, trotting around and looking at absolutely everything. She'd asked questions at a mile a minute, and he'd laughed -- ah, he missed laughing -- and done his best to answer them all: about the town, about the shops, about the Shrieking Shack, about all the times he'd been here with Jake and Ced and Kitty (both of them, probably). He'd bought Syl things, anything she liked the look of, spending lavishly and joyfully because nothing made him happier than to see the glowing look his wife got when she could tell how much he loved her. She'd never really thought she deserved it, that love... she'd been considered not as beautiful, not as alluring, by her tribe of Veela, and he could still remember the look on her face when he'd first met her and told her how absolutely stunning she was to him--

He was crying.

It was embarrassing, really, to sit on the high street of a busy little town, a full-grown man, sobbing like a lost child, but he couldn't have stopped at wandpoint and threat of death. Death didn't even matter, now... it didn't scare him in the slightest, because at least then he'd be underground, too, in the cold earth with his sun. He hid his face in his hands, clutching at the chocolate bar, not even noticing that he was crushing it until he heard it snap. Drawing in a shaky gasp, he promptly stopped, smoothing it out carefully in his lap, wanting to repair it somehow... but the bar was his heart, wasn't it? The bar was his memories, and all of them were broken, too. His hands, usually so steady and careful, shook as he undid the wrapper, making himself face the damage: the bar was cracked from top to bottom, broken into crooked halves. Franco stared down it, watering it a bit with teardrops, and then carefully selected a piece, taking a little bite and looking out at the street again.

"It's so delicious!"
"It is, isn't it? ... I can bring you some, next time I come, if you like it that much..."
"Oh, would you? You are so good to me, darling, thank you!"

He touched his cheek: he could almost feel the kiss she'd put there, after saying that, like a little warm spot gently burned into his soul. But his fingers were cold, and his cheek was wet, and it was another day entirely: time had chosen to spin on again, faster than he could run to catch it, to make it freeze in that moment forever. That moment was gone, and she was gone, and he was crying on a bench...

... outside the shop where he meant to get a Sneakoscope, to find out if Jake really was trustworthy or not. Yes, he mustn't forget that; even if he wanted to stay in that time, he couldn't, he had a job to do. The refugees needed someone to look out for them. The former slaves needed someone to keep them safe. He couldn't lose himself, no matter how badly he wanted to... he couldn't go under the cold earth just yet.

Sylvanna wouldn't want him to give up.

Wrapping up the chocolate again, Franco stood, stuffing it into his pocket, wiping at his eyes with his sleeves. He drew a long breath, let it out. He couldn't give up now. He couldn't despair. He had to keep going.

He opened the door and went in.
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