Yes. About that. Ms. Marlene came over to see you after she returned from the hospital and you were not home, so her and I shared a conversation. As she was heavily bruised and injured, I offered her some of that powerful salve we keep, and as she was wearing trousers, she needed some clothing that would allow her legs to be exposed so as to apply the salve… I allowed her to borrow it. I hope that’s alright. She must have taken off in it… I’m sure she’ll give it back. I’m sorry, Alice. I was only trying to help her.
Please don’t be mad.
Marlene could feel her legs improving with every touch of the salve on her skin. It was really brilliant stuff. They’d probably tried to get her to take some at the hospital but she’d left in a bit of a rush. She’d hated feeling trapped there after being held hostage, she’d hated being touched, she’d hated the sympathetic looks…she’d hated it all. But somehow Frank’s help was more welcome. Maybe it was the fact that she knew he was an honestly good person, or maybe the vodka was just messing with her. It did feel nice though.
Marlene could feel it in his hands the exact moment reality hit him they faltered and slowed on her legs. It didn’t take long for her eyes to snap open and meet his in horror. Just as it didn’t take him long to remove his hands from her legs and flee. He didn’t just stop he ran and it occurred to her just how badly they had fucked up. How badly she had fucked up. Because regardless of the fact that Frank had offered and gone through with rubbing the salve on her legs she should have known better. She was the experienced drinker not him. She was supposed to be aware of her surroundings and the consequences of her actions. She should have left long before this could happen.
She’d only come over here to find Alice. Oh Merlin…Alice. Oh feck. She no longer felt badly about Frank running because she wanted to run too. She wanted to run far and fast away from the truth that she had just let her friend’s husband rub his hands all over her legs. Felt nice too…oh feck me. She sat up straight already looking at the door. Did I bring anything I can’t leave behind? She glanced around again. Just the vodka bottle..evidence…gods we didn’t do anything wrong! He was just trying to help. We were just drunk and stupid. She still grabbed the bottle when she stood up slipping the salve into her pocket with an equally awkward smile. “Yeah, I think that’s best,”she said closing her eyes briefly on the irritation that sprang up with her words. How could I be so stupid? "Thank you..for your help,"she glanced desperately at the door once more.
"I..ought to go home and get some rest, if you…when you see Alice tell her I was looking for her,"she stuttered out already heading briskly for the door. She did need to get home and sleep. When she woke up all of this would make more sense. She wouldn’t feel the buzz of Frank…of Alice’s husband’s hands on her legs or the confusing reaction to his touch. She’d be fine. She shot him one last awkwardly grateful smile and she fled.
"No problem," Frank replied, his reaction a little too instantaneous, causing his cheeks to turn an even more vibrant shade of red. Oh dear Merlin, what the hell have I done?
Nothing. You did nothing. You were helping a friend.
But she was practically naked and I was feeling her legs!
You were helping her. You were giving her medication to soothe her injuries! It’s not a big deal.
Yes it is! She was in Alice’s skirt!
What if that had been someone else? A male, for instance? Would you have cared?
I wouldn’t be feeling up some bloke’s legs!
Frank’s internal argument was causing his face to scrunch up in the horror of realization. He had wanted to feel womanly flesh beneath his calloused hands. Alice hadn’t allowed him to touch her in Godric knows how long and Marlene was pretty and needy and… Oh fuck his intentions had been ill-fated and he knew it now that he was coming down from the vodka. Fuck fuck fuck!
"Yeah, okay," Frank managed, sounding rather awkward as Marlene suggested she leave. Honestly, he could hardly hear her words. He was hardly aware of her presence as his own mind turned the thoughts over and over in shock and guilt and horror and embarrassment. "Thanks for stopping by."
Thanks for stopping by so I could feel your legs? Is that what you’re trying to say, Frank?
"No," he said aloud, his face turning an even darker shade of red. Quickly, he rubbed his hands over his cheeks and shook his head. "That shouldn’t have happened. I’m sorry, Marlene. You didn’t need that. That was wrong. Oh fuck. Okay."
He was making everything worse. Fuck fuck fuck! Frank forced himself to calm with all the training an Auror received and gave her a friendly smile.
"I’ll see you around. Feel better, will you?" he asked, giving her a quick salute before he retreated to the kitchen, hoping to look distracted enough by cleaning up their dishes from the scones and glasses.
What would he tell Alice?
Molly stood in her kitchen, she could hear Bill and Charlie running around upstairs playing some sort of game, Percy was at the kitchen table behind doing Merlin knows what, but he wasn’t bothering her so that was all that mattered. The twins were asleep-for now- and she finally had a moment to clean up the mess she called a kitchen. Flicking her wand she set the sink to work cleaning the collection of plates and pots. The broom hopped up and started sweeping away the piles of dirt that the boys had dragged in and the few straggling glasses that lay around the house made their way back into the kitchen. She let out a small sigh and smiled as she sat down across from Percy. She did her best to show her boys that everything was fine, despite their father missing.
The act was wearing thin though, just the other night Bill has yelled at her for not missing his dad, he hadn’t seen her cry or worry like everyone else who had stopped by. He had even accused her of being glad he was taken. Molly hadn’t responded, how could she? Her eight year old son couldn’t understand what it was like to be a mother as well as a wife. Of course she missed her husband, it felt like someone had pulled her heart out of her chest and replaced it with nothing more than a ticking clock. She wasn’t whole without Arthur. But she had the boys to think about, she wasn’t allowed to check out and leave them alone. She couldn’t do that to them.
There was a knock at the causing her to jump slightly. Grabbing her wand out of her apron, she held it tightly by her side. It was probably just another order member or a friend stopping by to see her, but after the few letters she had received she wasn’t going to gamble her children’s lives on it.
Where is she? Where is she? Where is she?
It became something of a chorus that echoed through Frank’s mind ever since his wife went missing. She was missing and there was little he could do about it. He’d been ordered to stay out of work. Had this not been him in this situation, he would have understood the logistics behind such orders. However, he was far too consumed with pain and worry to care about protocol. His hands were still quite bruised and cut after his little tete-a-tete with Igor Karkaroff, which brings us to Case and Point Number One as to why Frank Longbottom cannot be trusted to act rashly when too close to a case. It was too much, though. Sitting at home was too mind-numbingly awful that he refused to do as such. Wandering the streets was getting old. Checking and double checking any place he could think of was threatening to drive him to insanity. Frank needed a change. And despite all of Frank Longbottom’s downfalls, he wasn’t one to ignore his own instincts. He needed to see Molly Weasley. Out of everyone who had someone they loved taken, she was, perhaps, the only one to identify with him most. They both were missing a spouse, after all.
Without further thought, Frank disapparated to the Burrow, precisely on the spot where none of the protective wards would go off or threaten to kill him (thank Merlin sleep didn’t negatively effect his apparation skills). He knocked heavily on the front door.
"Molly! It’s Frank Longbottom," he called through the door, hoping to settle her nerves. If he was in a tough spot, Frank could only imagine how she must be feeling given that she had five kids to worry about on top of Arthur’s disappearance. When the door opened, he gave her a sad smile. "Mind if I come in?" he asked, taking note of the boys behind her. It was strange how adaptable children were. He had to wonder where they thought Arthur was.
Date: September 24, 1978 Time: 8:00AM Location: St. Mungo's Hospital
The owl arrived sometime in the middle of the night.
Alice and the others have been rescued. They’re at St. Mungos.
They had been rescued. Alice was safe. She was alive and she was being treated at the hospital. Frank wasted no time in disapparating straightaway, desperate to see her in the flesh to know that she really was alive and real and breathing and okay. But he arrived and the Healers kept telling him no. She needed tests and potions and healing spells and Dumbledore needed to talk to her and god damnit he was growing restless. He was her husband for Merlin’s sake! Shouldn’t he be top priority in seeing her? And why the hell hadn’t he been alerted to the rescue? From what he’d gathered, Moody and Kingsley had been involved. Why hadn’t they told him?
Of course, Frank Longbottom could hardly think straight. Since Alice had gone missing, he’d gotten barely any sleep and had practically gone mad with desperation. He wasn’t thinking that his presence in a rescue would have been inhibiting. He wasn’t thinking that they could have walked in on a very dead Alice Longbottom, which would have, most certainly, drove Frank to insanity. He could have blown the entire mission. But he wasn’t thinking that. He was thinking about Alice and her small body and the way her voice sounded when she said his name. He was thinking about the way her hair smelled after getting stuck in a rainstorm and how he could know just what she was thinking with one simple look. He was thinking about how she could kick the ass of men ten times her size without so much of a second thought, and yet he was almost certain he had lost her for good. What kind of evil creature could do this to someone so good, so pure, so beautiful? He just needed to see her, feel her, hug her, kiss her, smell her, protect her.
When he was finally given the ‘all clear’ to see his wife, Frank scurried up and practically stumbled into the room, his eyes manic and tired but needing to see Alice alive and okay. It took him a moment to spot her amongst the pillows and sheets and bandages, her body so tiny and frail and broken. His heart crushed in his chest at the sight of her wounds and how small she truly was, but he said nothing as he forced himself forward to the edge of her bed.
“Alice,” he gasped, choking back a sob. “I thought I’d never see you again.” It was all he could do not to hug her and squeeze her tight. He would not, however, cause her more pain than she was already experiencing. All of the anger and sadness and need he had experienced over the past few days finally seemed to settle because
his Alice was back.
I want to know if Moody is with Alice because he’s just a horny old man. A man like him doesn’t seem the type to help a Jr. Auror cheat on another Jr. Auror because of love and FEELINGS.-not sure who I feel worse for- Frank or Alice.
[Frank’s refusal to follow his order precluded him from leaving right away as he would have preferred. Another flash— the growing need to be out of this damn house clawed at the back of his mind, demanding his attention.
You are going to stay here. Fix your goddamn hand, check your wards, and do whatever it takes to get some rest. You look like shit— you’re going to be nothin’ but a liability if something happens.
If I do recall, Moody, I am not on duty. You cannot give me orders. I am going out.
[Frank’s voice was nearly a growl as he spoke, frustrated that Moody was trying to tell him what to do. It wasn’t his place to do so at this moment. Without another word, Frank left, slamming the door behind him.]
[Was her life a joke to him? The flash of anger struck fast and hard, leaving him snapping dark eyes up to glare at the younger man. He didn’t care how lowly anyone thought of him as a person: he did not regard any life as a joke, and never would hold Alice’s so cheaply, and fuck Frank for thinking he might. Whatever desire to be helpful he had vanished faster than a wisp of smoke on a windy day.
(that’s it)(open your mouth and confirm his suspicions)(it’s what he must be waiting for to spring some sort of trap on you)
Yet he didn’t comment, choosing to silently clench his jaw so tight he was sure he’d feel a tooth crack and was surprised when he didn’t. He was almost glad Frank kept talking— Alastor needed every second to get his bleeding temper under control. When he spoke again, his voice was hard and flat.]
But you had plenty of time to tear the shit out of your hand.
[Briskly, he jammed the notes into his coat pocket and turned toward the door.]
Stay here. Heal your fucking knuckles afore anyone else sees. If you’re needed, you’ll be called.
I’m not staying here.
[Frank had already shoved his arms into a light, fall jacket. He hadn’t intended to leave at the same time as Moody, rather just leave so as to feel productive. He wanted to go look for her and follow stupid leads that had come to him or that he’d overheard or anything that made sense to him while he was out, searching and re-searching places that she might be. He could not and would not sit in his house staring at the clock inhaling her scent and going absolutely mad anymore. Not until she was safe. He would not rest.
Until she was safe.]
My hands are fine.
[Still, Frank made a mental note to fix them when Moody left him.]
[Emmeline stared at him for a moment before nodding, returning her attention to her tea. She didn’t know what else to say, as she didn’t know what was going on between Alice and Frank, but she knew better and she wasn’t going to get in the middle of it.]
I’m fine. You know, the hospital and the Order and all. How are you?
[Not well, she thought, but it was the polite thing to do.]
[Deep down, Frank was okay. He had all his limbs. He’d survived the war thus far. Alice was physically okay. No one really close to him had been severely hurt or killed. He knew he needed to count his blessings rather than find things to complain about. He was being selfish.]
I’m real sorry to drop in on you like this, Ms. Vance. I’m just not sure how to handle Alice’s loss and it’s difficult knowing what to say when she won’t let me say anything, you know?
Maybe I ought to just get to work, eh? Suck it up and be a man about these things.
Her life’s a joke to them, whether you like it or not. And yes, it makes plenty a’ sense. If that wasn’t what you meant, then say what you mean. This isn’t difficult, Longbottom.
[He barely managed to refrain from laughing outright when Frank made his claim his house was so well protected. The younger man taking offense with him made it so much easier to give into that angry impulse at the back of his mind, his own temper worn thinner than usual from days of stress. Some more reasonable part won out— barely— and he checked back a few smarter comments before they could cause a problem. Info first, attitude later.]
Since you’re so convinced a’ that, I’m sure your wards are probably a weak point. Edgar an’— Arthur. Weasley. ‘Course.
[Moody stared at the letters, ignoring whatever Frank needed to insist about his marriage. (It wasn’t important and he didn’t want to hear it regardless.) Arthur possibly could have let something like a less-happy-than-it-appears marriage slip, but why would he? What interrogator would think to ask him about anything but his own marriage? The point was moot; assuming the hostages were held together, he might be able to follow it no matter who it came from. Or he might not. Anonymous letters were only slightly more than nothing.]
Potential they’ve extrapolated from that, but I doubt it. Still too big a bluff. Not worth riskin’ it— McKinnon still bears lookin’ into. Anythin’ else even vaguely important or related come to mind?
I was talking about you, Moody. Is her life a joke to you?
[Moody’s attitude was starting to grate on his nerves and even though Frank knew he was only trying to help, he couldn’t handle the man’s comments right now. All he wanted was for Moody to support him and make this better. He was the best Auror in the business. He had to make this better. He just had to. If he couldn’t, who would?]
If you are here to make jests, kindly leave. I do not have time to sit around and listen to your condescending remarks today. I have to find my wife.
[Frank’s annoyance was bubbling up again. His unpredictable moods over the time spent without his wife was threatening to ruin him, but he didn’t care. He needed to find her and if someone like Moody was going to get in his way, he didn’t need the man.]