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by: Justin McDowell
Monday, 6 February 2012
7:00 p.m.

It seemed strange to Justin just how quickly life could force you to grow up. A few months ago, he'd been pulling pranks and had found out Lissa was alive and had kissed her. Only a few weeks ago, he was a student at Hogwarts pining for Lissa like some lovesick puppy. His biggest worry then was getting his homework done on time, blocking quaffles, and well, whether Lissa just hated his guts or was dead.

Then, the Hufflepuff first year had been found missing with signs of struggle and blood all over her bed in her dormitory, Panda had been hurt and put into a temporary coma, and Lissa had contacted him. Finally. He had felt thrilled, relieved of his anxiety at that moment. Of course, he still felt lucky to be with Lissa at all with everything that had happened this past year and a half and was still happy as hell to spend time with her.

It wasn't enough to chase away his worry, however, and he'd found himself worrying whether his cousin would be OK or whether Sofi was keeping safe at Hogwarts or going on a self-destructive path. It was as though he couldn't shake anxiety from his life. Every time he found something to be happy about, it got taken from him or something else happened.

Justin supposed it was that way for everyone, and he was luckier than most. He could be dead or a slave or in Azkaban, but instead, he was hiding out in relative safety with his girlfriend. His cousin could have died from that hit on the head when she'd fallen, but instead, she was now awake and alive and back in Hogwarts. Sofi could have been killed already, but instead she was alive despite the fact she was still in danger.

Frankly, Justin had been ok until his outing with Lina. Something had changed that day. Something had made it such that being down here made him feel caged and stuck. It was stupid. He couldn't do anything to help Sofi or Panda. They would have contacted him by now if there was something they thought he could do. The best he could do for them was keep an ear out for news and keep himself and Lissa alive and happy. Worrying never helped anyone. Still, it seemed all he could do these days.

Justin shook his head at himself as he headed out of his little one-room cell and headed to Lissa's. They were supposed to have dinner tonight.


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by: Melissa McCarthy
Melissa! Outfit!

There wasn't much cause to dress up within the syndicate. For the most part Melissa dressed in practical, layered clothes, for her chilly life within the undercity. She was forever running around every corner of the city visiting families, being dressed to guard against the cold a necessity.
But tonight Lissa was cooking for Justin, they wouldn't be leaving the flat...

Lissa's hands carefully smoothed down her dress. It hadn't been easy gotten, but what young girl wouldn't go that extra mile to find something to wear. The black, closely nipped fabric hugged her newly constructed hips and waist, making Lissa smile nervously at her reflection. She circled a necklace she'd bought on the underground market around her neck and carefully stroked it into place.
She felt pretty... Melissa wasn't sure when she'd last felt pretty...

With one last smoothing of the fabric, Melissa turned back to her tiny little kitchen. The Shepard's pie she'd worked on for a fair chunk of the afternoon bubbled away to itself in the oven. Lissa wondered ideally whether Justin would pick up on the reason for her choice of dinner. What he'd ordered that first chance meeting in Hogsmeade...
Carefully Lissa poured out two glasses of wine she'd managed to scrounge of the Den. Justin should be here soon... A smile crept onto her face at the thought.
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by: Justin McDowell
The walk went by faster than Justin liked at this given moment. His head was murky with thoughts and emotions, and he had hoped to have the walk to Lissa's place be enough to clear his head of such things. Now, Justin wasn't so sure he would be the best company, but he would try. He had no doubt he could succeed. Lissa always made him happy. Her smile could brighten up his darkest day, and her laugh made everything troubling him go away. (The only thing that came remotely close was scaling buildings.) Maybe it sounded sappy, but it was Justin's truth.

Justin paused outside Lissa's door and took a moment to relax before he knocked, placing the flower* behind his back and putting a smile on his face. Despite his emotionally-trying day, he was happy to be here so the smile wasn't a lie. He felt antsy waiting for the door to open. He wanted to hug her and see her smile when she saw the flower. He wanted to hear her chatter on about something, anything. He'd sit there, eat, and all would be well. She'd keep him going, living...happy.


*Whatever her favorite kind is.
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by: Melissa McCarthy
The knock which announced Justin's presence at her tiny home made Lissa's face blister in a smile. Only he could have that effect on her. Even during their time apart, the man had never been far from her mind.
Lissa threw the door open, smiling a little shyly up at the man of her dreams.
"Hey stranger..."

How, after all this time, could this boy still make her stomach clench and flip with as little as a smile? How? How could they have ever been anything close to platonic? It wasn't like people back in school hadn't said anything. The amount of girls who had given Lissa a dirty look because they saw her as the compatition, and her and Justin would have just laughed. They would have sworn they were just friends?
How had he never noticed how his oh-so-easy smile made him shine in the middle of a crowd? Or how his laugh made her whole body tingle?
It was amazing what time and hindsight had done for their relationship...

"I missed you..."

((Liss loves roses - because she's a cliche ^^))
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by: Justin McDowell
"Hey, yourself," Justin replied with a smile as he leaned against the door frame. His smile broadened as she told him she'd missed him. He had, too. "Brought you something," he said, holding out the rose for her. Hopefully she liked it. It was strange that one person could make him worry about something so small as that. In any other context but a relationship, it could seem like insecurity. Instead, it was a reflection of the fact he cared. He guessed. Sometimes he wondered if the jittery feeling he got was a reflection of insecurity instead. It was probably silly to wonder that. He liked her, and he felt elated every time he saw her face after some short time apart. That time he spent wondering if she was still alive or if she hated him when she seemingly wouldn't respond to his letters was forever etched in his memory.

"So, nice as it is out here...you going to let me in?" he asked after she'd had a small bit of time to admire the rose. From the smells wafting out of her small flat, he was in for a good dinner and his stomach was making its state known to him.
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by: Melissa McCarthy
The sight of the rose made Lissa's heart swell. Her head dropped to the side, resting gently against the door frame. How could he be so good to her? More to the point, how had it taken so long for her to notice?
Lissa took the rose carefully from Justin, in case of thorns, and took in the scent.
"You're too sweet, thank you..."

It was amazing how Justin's presence in the Under City had turned Lissa's life there on it's head. Before Justin had arrived, Lissa had been a different person. She'd come to realise, through speaking with some of the volunteer councilors, that she'd had no choice but too. Lissa would never be the person she had been before slavery. She could never be. So Lissa had had to discover what post slavery Melissa looked like. It had even come with a new name, Mel.
But Justin had arrived in time to help her rediscover some of the old Melissa. The happily, giggily, slightly judgmental Hufflepuff who would role her eyes at her trouble making friends and steal food from their plates while the weren't looking. He'd provided the bridge between pre and post slavery Melissa, and to be honest Lissa doubted he'd ever realise how greatful she was for that.

"... you going to let me in?"
Melissa smirked, twirling her rose between her fingers.
"Well you did bring me this, but you're still forgetting something..." Lissa pouted her lips, indicating a kiss.
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by: Justin McDowell
Justin laughed at Lissa's statement and pouted lips. It was cute and nice, this. Having a girl want you to kiss her and be near her and stuff. And not just any girl. Lissa. Only the girl he'd had a crush on for forever but had never said anything about. And Justin certainly never tired of giving into her requests for him to kiss her or hug her or hold her, so he obliged rather swiftly but not without adding his own sense of playfulness into it. He leaned down to kiss her, lingered a moment, then only gave her a quick peck. He grinned as he returned to his full height. "Debt paid?" he asked, a twinkle to his eyes.

Justin was happy to see from Lissa's actions before the kiss that she was seemingly in a playful mood. It would make it so much easier to keep it fun and lighthearted with her like that. "So, what'd you make me?" he asked, full well recognizing the smell of the spices and ingredients. Still, it was his favorite, and he wanted to hear her say it so he could give her praise and appreciation for it or something of that nature. He didn't know. He just truly really wanted to hear the words said out loud. The nose didn't lie, not about this particular meal, but still. Ok, his brain was still definitely sort of in a funk, but he'd roll with it. So long as she kept it light, all would be well.
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by: Melissa McCarthy
The kiss wasn't exactly what Lissa had wanted, but she smiled all the same. She faked a scowl up at him before stepping back to allow Justin entry to her tiny flat. Lissa reached out and interlinked her fingers with Justin's own, attempting to tug him over the door step.
" The debt is paid... For now any way..."
Melissa was surprised at her own candor, this playful nature was a new addition to Lissa's personality. Well, perhaps not new, a kind of old new. Back in school Lissa had had quite the playful side to her. Not to the point of Justin or Cross, who had been almost exclusively "playful" side, but it had been there. Her time in slavery had all but extinguished that part of her. It was one of the first things to be squashed during training. Lissa was only just rediscovering a less serious part of herself. Justin had helped her no end with that.

" Shepherd's pie... I remember a certain boy was rather partial to it once upon a time..." Her hand squeezed Justin's gently, smiling up at him.
"I also... Well I went to the market earlier. McCawber went topside earlier this week, brought back a few bottles of muggle wine..."
The young woman glanced at the taller man, let go of his hand and moved to the counter. She reached into her shoulder bag and pulled out a dark glass bottle with a crinkly gold foil top.
"Well I traded him for bottle of champagne... Thought we could enjoy it together..."
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by: Justin McDowell
For now? Justin smirked. He was half tempted to swat Lissa's bum, but she was being playful and flirtatious, and he wasn't about to risk turning that off. He enjoyed it when she was in this sort of mood, and while he liked to hope it would lead somewhere, he had long since figured out that pushing his luck was not a good strategy for getting lucky. He'd get lucky when the time was right. He just had to be patient and respect her. After all, he had had plenty of fun with her for years without even so much as kissing or holding hands. It was a little harder now to not think about going beyond that, but he wasn't stupid despite his hormones. He didn't want to scare her away ever, so he was continuing to let her set the tone and pace.

At Lissa's answer for his question, Justin's smirk turned into a smile and then a grin as Lissa smiled at him. He watched with amusement as she chattered on about the muggle wine and went to retrieve what she had managed to get from McCawber. Champagne. She seemed so happy with herself, which meant Justin was pleased. By no means would he discourage her cooking and getting something like this for them. Champagne was certainly an interesting beverage, if tale was right. Alcohol that was bubbly but in a way that was different than ale or beer. He had never had some, but he was willing to try it.

"You've thought of everything, haven't you?" he said with a smile. Justin walked over to Lissa and took the champagne bottle from her gently and set it on the counter before leaning in for a deeper, appreciative kiss. After a moment, he pulled away. "I love how thoughtful you are."
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by: Melissa McCarthy
Justin took her breath away. Lissa's eyes followed Justin's movement's as he took the alcahol from her hand, before leaning down to kiss her. Her hands hovered for a second, before settling on his waist, anchoring his body to hers. Her mouth opened to the boy in front of her, enjoying their little moment together.
Every time they were like this, close in more than just physical proximity, the anxiety lessened. Justin had always made her smile, but there was something else, something more. Feelings swirled in her stomach, batting away any fears which may have reared their head in the past. The feelings which fluttered inside her now were different, just as intense but... Different. They made her blood boil, only in the best way possible.

As Justin pulled away from her Lissa heard a little whine escape her mouth. She wan't ready to let go yet.
"I love how thoughtful you are."
Lissa flexed her fingers against Justin's warm skin, before dragging them up under his shirt. Her eyes flickered upwards, until she found Justin's kind gaze.
"Show me..."


He had to be quick. Gideon knew that. Even if Dresden and the Headmaster had all but forced the Guard to release him, the eyes of the ministry wouldn't be far away. Gideon didn't doubt for a second that certain members of the Guard weren't still watching him. But the Guard wouldn't be expecting this. 6am and Gideon was up and out. One letter was all he needed to send. It would take 10, 15 minutes tops and he would be back to the Castle. No one would be any the wiser.
He scribbled a note on a piece of parchment, there wasn't much to say.

"Justin. You Melissa's mother. I've found her, she's in London. If I'm to restore her mind, I might need your girl's help. Sometimes a loved one can help kick start memory re-growth. Owl me, we can find a place to meet.

Coach C"

The Profesor let the bird fly before returning swiftly to the Castle. He could only hope the owl found his target.


The message had been through many hands before it found itself winding through the evening city streets. The past pair of hands had bewitched the parchment into a crane, the standard way for messages to be past through the city.
It fluttered it's way through the gloomy blue streets, closer and closer to Lissa's little flat.
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by: Justin McDowell
"Show me."

Justin liked where this was going. The feeling of her hands venturing beneath his shirt was electric. With a lack of deftness and burst of energy that could only be due to excitement and nerves, Justin removed his shirt. It ended up somewhere behind him in a place Justin had no time or need to know. Instead of staring at Lissa awkwardly, however, Justin leaned back in to kiss her again. He didn't know what else to do, and he liked kissing her and she'd seemed not to like that he pulled away earlier, so why not? He was hungry, but perhaps a little deviation from simply going straight to digging in would be worth it.

As the moments went by, Justin's hands, which had settled at Lissa's waist moved up to cup her face a moment to draw her nearer only to feel light poking on his face. Justin swatted whatever it was away without breaking the kiss only to have it return. He tried to swat it away again only to have it return a third time. This time Justin pulled away with a, "Bloody hell!" and looked around, fully expecting to find the world's quietest fly but finding a paper crane instead. Justin groaned and grabbed the paper. Who the hell was writing him now when he was enjoying his time with his girlfriend? He grabbed the crane viciously from the air and set it down on the counter in one fell swoop. His attention returned to Lissa, fully intent upon resuming what they'd been doing only to have a thought crop up. What if it's Panda or Sof? Or...Dillon?

So, Justin turned to the paper crane in defeat. Whatever the hell was about to go down between them would have to wait until later. When he opened it, he didn't recognize the writing, so he looked to the bottom. "Coach C." Alright, Conleth, not Headmaster Camoynes. Justin felt immediately relieved and returned to the start of the letter. Well, this wasn't something Lissa would be very happy with if he waited to tell her, so despite the fact it hadn't been anything bad about his little brother or his cousin or his friend, their snogging session was over.

"So, um," Justin said then licked his lips, "Professor Conleth's found your mum."
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by: Melissa McCarthy
Well wasn't Justin feeling literal. Show me hadn't exactly meant take of your shirt, but she couldn't pretend to deeply mind. Her hands went to explore as he brought his lips back down to hers, which she gladly accepted. Her lips mouled themselves against Justin's as he moved her hands up, ready to wrap themselves around his neck so he couldn't escape again.
Escape... As if Justin wanted to escape. He seemed to be enjoying this just as much she was. Lissa couldn't imagine why he would ever want to stop this, not when the pair clearly both wanted it so much.

And just like that he stopped...

Lissa's eyes popped open, searching his face, questions written all over her face.

The young witch narrowed her eyes at the note which Justin scanned. Sure, everyone used varying methods of origami birds to send notes round the city, but you could usually tell the author by their folding style. She'd missed what it looked like folded, so there was no clue there. A little humph escaped her and she made a turn to check the food. Never made it though. Justin's words slammed into her, knocking the wind from her lungs and her strength from her stance. In an effort to stay up right she clutched onto the counter top.

She must of heard wrong. Justin's mystery Conleth could not possibly have found her mother. It had been... Well over 2 years, though it felt like a life time. Her mind drifted back to her last memories of her mother, smiling, waving her off as she slipped through platform 9 and 3/4s... Now she wouldn't even recognise her. Her mother would look straight through her, the blank stare of one stranger to another.
Lissa didn't know if he could handle that.

Her knuckles slowly turned white as she gripped the stonework, as if it would keep her grounded from drifting into space.
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by: Justin McDowell
Yeah, this was not a conversation he wanted to be having right now. The way his girlfriend was reacting was not a way he wanted to see her act right now. Was it really only moments ago that things had been going so very differently, had been feeling so very differently? And it made him feel extremely awkward to realize the hormones were still rushing through him despite having no bearing here now and the fact they would do him no good in this situation. And the worst part was Justin didn't know what to do in this situation. He could imagine it would be a relief to hear that news after so long away from your parent yet still a punch in her gut. And he hadn't even broken the worst part yet: her memory.

"Com'ere," Justin said, holding out an arm and wrapping it around Lissa for support. He pulled her into a hug once he was able to and held her in silence for a few moments. There was nothing more he could do right now aside from...well, the champagne. Maybe he could get her some of the champagne because didn't alcohol help ease things? Even if it only really masked them? Or something like that? There was a reason adults always gave for not drinking too much and how hiding behind drinking was bad or something like that. But c'mon, a little champagne would be good, right? However, he didn't think letting go of her would be good right now.

Justin gave Lissa a kiss on her head after a few moments and murmured, "What are you thinking?" He wanted to know. Even if he didn't think he would like it. He already knew he didn't like seeing her like this, but didn't girls like to talk about things? And he wanted to understand.
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by: Melissa McCarthy
There was very little that would have made Melissa let go of the counter top she was clung onto for deer life, but the offer of Justin's open arms was one of them. Lissa's hands finally relinquished themselves before folding her body against her boyfriend. Now she was the one being held, and it felt so much better.
Her head buried itself into the crook between Justin's neck and bare shoulder. Her hands settled on his waist as her breathing matched itself along with his. She just had be breath in and out... In and out and everything would be okay. Lissa and Justin and her mum and even mystery Conleth, they'd all be fine.

The quiet was welcomed by Melissa, if only for a little while. She didn't want to try and articulate her feelings right away. She just wanted to feel Justin close. He was there with her, he had promised to always be there (Cedric had made sure of that). Although Lissa had been unimpressed at the time, she was glad for that promise now.

"What are you thinking?"

Lissa sighed into the former Hufflepuff's shoulder. Her head didn't rise as she spoke.
"She wont know who I am..."
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by: Justin McDowell
She knew? How did she know? Had she been there when her mother's memory had been taken? Had that happened before that morning in sixth year, and she hadn't told him? Had the Syndicate helped her find out more or less what had happened to her mother since she'd joined? Why hadn't she said anything? Ok, Justin probably knew the answer to that last one. It had to hurt like hell, and the way Lissa kept her head on his shoulder and remained in his embrace confirmed as much. And truthfully, it didn't matter how she knew. That was her bit of information to keep, if she so wanted. He wouldn't push for the answer. He'd just continue to hold her.

"I'm sorry," Justin murmured. "I'm sorry ever...about everything." And he was. Why did all this have to happen to Lissa? She'd always been such a good person, such a good influence (even though he'd rarely listened when it came to pranking and getting in trouble). She'd always been kind and thoughtful and helpful and smart. She'd loved her parents and her brother, and they had loved her. Yet, it always seemed bad things happened to good people. And there was nothing he could do to change that everything had happened, and he hated it. There was nothing he could do to make it better, except...Conleth had said....

"Professor Conleth said seeing you might help..." he told her, though he didn't pull away. He'd let Lissa be the one to do that when she was ready. They didn't have to see each other to talk, and if arms and closeness were more comforting than faces at this time? Justin wasn't going to complain. He probably didn't look too well right now anyway, all teary-eyed as he was.
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