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Challenges 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Challenges 1
maybe [Auror!]Lily (with or without Marauder company) on a mission somewhere between Hogwarts and being pregnant with Harry? for Leah
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"Get back here," Scrimgeour hissed, yanking Lily's robes back with a twitch of his wand and bringing her with them.

She scrabbled back into the shadows at the Leaky Cauldron and turned on him, fuming. "I could just go up to the bar and hear what they're saying!"

He waved his wand again, creating a bubble. "First of all, I doubt they're saying anything useful in front of old Tom. He may not be one of Dumbledore's little army -- and don't bother pretending you're not -- but his mother was Muggle-born, and as far as they're concerned, it's a travesty he's running the place."

"That's ridiculous."

"Second, after this" -- he pointed at the still-open Daily Prophet on the table, where Lily's own face smiled out from her engagement photo -- "there's not a one of them that doesn't know who you are, what your pretty hair looks like, and that you're about to, as they put it, start corrupting a pure-blood boy."

Lily clenched her teeth. "As far as they're concerned, James is already a blood traitor. They don't think I'm the one who corrupted him. I'm just a symptom of it."

"Is that what he told you?"

She nodded, though it wasn't true. She just couldn't very well discuss the way she got the information with anyone in magical law enforcement. Wormy, in rat form, had listened in several of them discussing the subject. He'd refused to share everything ("Lily, you don't want the details of the way they talk; you can imagine them well enough and you won't be wrong"), but that had been the gist of it. The engagement announcement hadn't caused shock. It hadn't even caused surprise. It was clearly, as far as they were concerned, just one more stunt to thumb his nose at tradition. Sev had his nose out of joint (and had apparently gone on quite the tirade about James "pretending" such great virtue), which Lily had expected, but he'd lost his right to judge when he put himself in their company.

"Well," Scrimgeour said, "That may be what they think of James. But I promise, they wouldn't miss a chance to torment you for it, no matter which of you they think they're punishing."

"So how am I meant to do my job?"

"Maybe you should have thought of that before making a spectacle of yourself in the newspaper."

"It's an engagement announcement, not a spectacle."

"Please," Scrimgeour said, giving her a sneer she didn't feel she deserved. "I did my research when you applied, girl. You and the boy. You're both given to grand gestures, and they do more harm than good. Do you really mean for me to believe you weren't thinking, 'That'll show those Death Eaters! They can't stop us!'"

"Honestly, it never crossed our minds. We got engaged, we put an announcement in the paper, like anyone else."

Scrimgeour didn't even raise an eyebrow. His cool expression was enough to tell her that he didn't believe. He thought all of the members of Dumbledore's order were showboaters who were in it for the glory, as opposed to the Aurors ("And do remember which is your job, girl"), who were actually doing the grunt work of the war, tracking down clues and making arrests. That's why, despite being Frank Longbottom's apprentice officially, Frank was never allowed to assign her to cases. Scrimgeour knew that, with both of them, there was a good possibility of the Aurors turning into "Dumbledore's lapdogs," and he made sure to put things in the way of that whenever possible.

The worst part was, Lily could see his point, at least a little. The Aurors were bound by law and British legal tradition, at least a bit. No searching without warrants, proper arrests and trials. Crouch was trying to slam through legislation that would allow quicker prosecution, but at the moment, the Aurors were hamstrung about doing anything preventative. The Order, meanwhile, simply waltzed in and rescued captives, spied on meetings, and sabotaged personal property without so much as a by-your-leave from the authorities, which meant all of her spectacular successes were outside of her job. As a member of the Order, she had, with James and Sirius, stolen and destroyed a vial of poison before Voldemort's people could release it in a vapor form in Diagon Alley. (Well, James and Sirius had stolen it; she'd done the potions work to render it inert.) Their names weren't mentioned in the Order was operating illegally, but everyone knew, and the tale had been embellished into something of a legend among younger fighters. As an apprentice Auror, she'd… issued a citation for improper storage of nightshade, and been denied a warrant to bug Narcissa Black's hen party, despite the presence of Bellatrix Lestrange. She'd actually been censured for requesting it, even though Alastor Moody took her side.

"Fine," she said. "What am I meant to do?"

"If I were smart, I'd have you reporting on bloody Albus Dumbledore and his vigilantes" -- he held up a hand -- "but you won't do it, so I won't bother asking. But as far as I'm concerned, you're off the case of the bloody Death Eaters."

"But -- "

"There are crimes going on that have nothing to do with them. There was a murder in Chalgrove last night, looks to me like standard dark magic, nothing about blood status or His Namelessness. No Dark Mark. You'll be heading there to investigate."

"We?"

He frowned. "Well, you. I have more important cases. You just get the lay of the land, do an investigation of the scene, and report back."

Lily crossed her arms and fumed. "Fine."

"And if you were to see anything -- well, pertaining to other matters -- you'd of course tell us about it right away."

Not bloody likely, Lily thought. If I want anything done about it, and…

Her thoughts trailed off, as she realized what the job was, in reality. Scrimgeour might not like Dumbledore, but he was as frustrated as she was with how tied his hands could be. He wasn't sending an apprentice, he was sending a member of the Order, and he fully expected her to involve the others if anything suspicious turned up. That's why he couldn't go himself. That's why he couldn't even acknowledge suspicion. That was why he would accept whatever nonsense report she gave him, if it turned out to be something the Order could handle more efficiently.

She couldn't acknowledge this any more than he could state it.

Instead, she gathered her things, gave him a long-suffering sigh, and headed out.



Hmm... Johanna Mason, favorite memory pre-Mockingjay. for Anon 1
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"Just one happy memory, Johanna. Something to catch the audience's interest."

I look at Gale, wanting to see him pulling a gun or something, but he's leaving this to me. Traitor. At least he doesn't have the sheepish, "I went along with it, so you might as well" look that's on Haymitch's face. I turn back to Plutarch. "I don't recall giving anyone permission to make a movie about me."

"Well, technically, you don't get to decide. You're a historical figure. Fair game."

"Screw history."

"I'd like to work with you, though, rather than against you."

"Usually a good choice." I shake my head. "Come on, Plutarch. What do you expect to get out of this? Other than money. I know your star-crossed lovers one is going to keep you in fancy suits for a while."

"I didn't take a penny from that. All the profits went to the Rebuilding Project. Same with Haymitch's. Same with Finnick's -- which Annie was heavily involved in, I promise."

"Because you hired one of her pet pros to play the part," I mutter. "She'd probably let you film her Games if you gave a job to one of her little lost souls."

"Possibly."

"Which isn't that different from that kid in Haymitch's. Not a pro, but why do I think the conversation was along the line of, 'Come on, Haymitch, the kid's your doppelganger. If he can't play you when he's the right age, then he might starve to death because he'll never have played the part he was born to play…'"

"Good guess," Haymitch says.

"So, are you going to trot out my doppelganger?"

Plutarch takes a deep breath and rubs his temples. "I haven't found someone who looks a lot like you yet. But there's a great deal of interest in you. In what made you so cynical. We know it was the Games. I'd like to start before the Games, showing you before they… changed you."

"Right."

"Come on, Jo," Gale says, ignoring my warning look. "Even I don't know what you were like before."

"I was normal. I was a kid. I climbed trees. I had parents before the flu got them. A brother before the fire got him."

"What was your brother's name?" Haymitch asks.

I frown. He must know this. Right? "Fine. Nathan. His name was Nate, and he was like River. Slow. He was bigger than me, but I was taking care of him from the time I was eight. Okay? So I wasn't skipping around in some magical forest scene that you can open your movie with, Plutarch. And don't tell me that wasn't the plan. I can see it. Camera pans down across the forests of District Seven, finds little girl in pigtails, skipping around and picking buttercups. Hold them under your chin to see if you like butter. Why anyone needed a folk magic test to find that out is beyond me."

"Did you like butter?" Gale asks, grinning.

"The buttercups thought so. I never tried it until after the Games."

"But you did play the game."

I give him a lazy finger.

"Let's play it your way," Haymitch says. "How would you start it?"

"I'm not playing it any way. It would look…" I shrug. "I'm not doing it."

"Okay, then," Plutarch says. "We'll skip your brother. Start you off at a dance -- there are dances, I know that -- and we'll hire a girl with big -- "

"Oh, no you don't."

" -- hair and a little voice and -- "

"Come on." I sigh. "Okay, fine. You want something happy? It was about a year before the Games. Nate was only sixteen, but they let him out of school because he wasn't going anywhere, and he was working in the next camp. And…" I clamp my jaw shut. It's not Plutarch's business.

Mom and Dad and I grabbed a ride onto the back of a log truck to go visit Nate in the next camp. We got there, and Nate burst out the door of his barracks and ran out in that awkward, galumphing way that he had. He was wildly strong, and he just picked me up like a sack of twigs and said, "Jo-jo's here!" He put me up on his shoulders and ran that way up to Mom and Dad, with me holding on for dear life and laughing. Mom and Dad -- who would be dead of the flu nine months later, though they outlived Nate by six weeks -- had brought all of his old toys, though they were hidden in a bag. He saw a corner of his favorite limberjack toy, and clapped his hands in delight.

The foreman told us how wonderful he was at doing all the jobs he was given -- "Why, he's the strongest man I got!" -- and gave him the whole afternoon off to visit with us. We went to a little shelter where the people in this camp gathered at night, and Nate played with his limberjack while Mom sang and I told Nate about all of his old friends. He didn't care that they weren't doing anything interesting. It was all interesting to him. He loved clothes -- all clothes, from lumberjack work overalls to high Capitol fashion -- so he wanted to hear about everything everyone was wearing, and what "dressy shows" I'd been watching on the rare occasions that the televisions worked. I told him in great detail. I could tell that none of his new friends did this with him, and I guessed that they weren't nice about it, though he never confirmed that. Later, we climbed a tree together, and I held onto a higher branch and pretended to be a limberjack doll while he bounced the branch I stood on. I lost my balance and had to hang by my arms, but Nate jumped down and told me to let go, and he caught me, and…

And there was not a person around who would give a damn. Most of them would make fun of him. They'd make fun of River, too, if Plutarch went in and filmed the Games like they were, with River making big sounds and laughing at the echoes. (I guess he could film them like the highlight reel showed him, like he was a big strong and silent type who just never spoke because he was so manly.) Nate went in a forest fire. That was only indirectly the Capitol's fault, for not having any good way to get the workers out of the camp. River, of course, went in a fire that they actually set, to get rid of the plague they'd stumbled on. Then, as soon as I managed to start to get along with Everdeen, Coin tried to burn her up, too. My sibling-figures have bad luck with fire. From the sounds of it, if Finnick didn't die from being torn up, he was burned, too.

"Jo?" Haymitch says, and I look up to find him looking at me with actual concern. "You don't have to if you don't want to, and if Plutarch tries to do it against your will, he'll answer to me."

"Has he ever believed that threat?"

"I always believe that threat," Plutarch says. "But come on, Jo. Sooner or later, someone will decide to tell the story. It may as well be you."




Something with Al Potter and Jane please! early friendship, when they start dating or post hogwarts life with kids. for Maggie
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Jane had got used to the magic part of it all. She'd done bits and pieces of magic since she was quite small, and it hadn't exactly been a surprise to find out that she wasn't the only one who could do it. Her parents had been relieved when she'd got her Hogwarts letter, as they'd never known what to make of it when she made her bottles refill, or Summoned her favorite toy even when it had been taken for a punishment. (Until Hogwarts, the impossibility of prying her mobile out of her hands had been something of a family joke, even though she shorted it out routinely if she wasn't careful.)

The magic part made sense enough.

It was the fact that she was living in a medieval castle -- a castle -- that kept taking her by surprise. If anyone in her family had ever set foot in a castle as anything other than a servant, she'd eat her witch's hat. They were thoroughly middle class and thoroughly modern, and it was sometimes, frankly, difficult to remember that most of Britain was not as new as the miles of suburban tracts that she went home to every year, with their identical streets and identical people. The queen may have physically been only a few miles from her, but to Jane, she and all of her accoutrements had always seemed as fictional as Princess Leia. Quite real when she appeared on television, of course, but then Princess Leia always seemed real as well. So did the Disney princesses. Kate had made this sense of unreality more secure, not less, what with her Disney princess eyes and enviably thick hair. Real people did not look like that. Real people looked like Jane -- skinny, scabby-kneed, with lank brown hair the exact color of weak tea, and normal sized eyes with lashes that disappeared in bright light.

And they did not live in castles. Castles existed in fairy tales and tourist traps that felt as if they'd never been built for anything other than groups of foreigners carrying cameras. Their permanent inhabitants were tour guides. Oh, they said that families lived in some, but before Hogwarts, Jane had certainly never met such a creature. A real castle, as a place in which to walk and breathe and eat and have food fights in the Great Hall? What madness was this?

So even now, as she started her third year, she still found herself stopping every now and then in the middle of a crowded corridor, realizing that yes, she really, really was in a bloody castle. There were towers and turrets and antique portraits and suits of armor and impossible ancient artifacts just casually strewn around. There was a tapestry (and let's examine that concept, tapestry) in Gryffindor Tower that dated back almost to the founding. A thousand years ago, witches had sat in the same room, stitching by the light that came through the same window, speaking a language that was barely English yet, and the thing they made was still right there on the wall, overseeing yet another generation of children in strange new clothes. It hadn't even been damaged when the other half of the tower collapsed during the war.

It was a proper damned castle.

And Jane's best friend was even something of a prince.

Not that he'd ever say such a thing, and of course it wasn't anything official. But he was the son of the anointed war hero, who'd saved the wizarding world and now led the fight to keep it protected. It was a king's story, and the king's children -- against their wishes -- were treated, for better and worse, like royalty in their realm.

Which was probably why, on the third day of classes, Al Potter was already making himself scarce.

He wasn't unpopular or unfriendly, but he did tend to overload on people fairly quickly, and every year, he found some new place to hide. Her first year and his second, it had been in Hagrid's house. The next year, he'd found a broom cupboard near the kitchen and turned it into a headquarters for investigating a series of disasters at the Triwizard Tournament. This year, if his brother's Map was right (and it usually was), he was haunting the third floor corridor, which was supposed to be for teachers with families. None of the current teachers with families wanted to stay on the grounds, so it was once again deserted… except for Al.

He was sitting in the doorway of a locked suite, scribbling out some assignment or other. He looked up when Jane came up to him, and turned so she had room to sit in the same cubby, but he did say anything until he actually finished whatever he was working on. She waited for him, braiding her hair to pass the time.

"Done," he finally said. "Arirthmancy. First day of class, and vector gave us an essay on the ethics of using the subject for divinatory purposes."

"I thought Arithmancy was mostly protective spellwork -- charms worked into fireplaces and so on."

"Properly, it is. But some people use anything to read the future." He held up his hands and spoke dramatically. "Oh, great numbers, tell me what will happen this year!"

"Does it work?"

"No better than any other divination trick. Which is to say, if you're Teddy Lupin, you might be able to get something out of it. The rest of us just have to muddle through and find out what's going to happen when it happens."

"Well, that's disappointing."

"Not at all. I mean, really, I don't understand why everyone's so keen to see the future. When has that ever worked out well?"

"Didn't your dad have a prophecy?"

"And did knowing it make any real difference to what happened?"

"Hmm. Well, I… it could be fun," Jane decided. "I mean, you could hear a nice one, and try to imagine how it would happen." She waved her wand and said, "Accio cootie-catcher."

Al raised his eyebrows. "You're Summoning?"

"Rosie taught me yesterday."

"And what are you Summoning?"

A bit of paper flew through the air and landed at Jane's feet. "I had a nanny for a bit. She made these. Called them cootie-catchers. You write different fortunes on them, and then you play a game. Like, I spell your name." She opened and closed the paper contraption as she spelled out the five letters. "Now, pick one of the numbers inside."

Al glanced down. "Er… six?"

"All right." She opened and closed it six times. "One more."

"Six again."

"What's with you and six?"

"I avoid sevens on general principle."

"Well, fine." Jane lifted up the flap under six, blushed when she remembered what it said, and read, "'You will find true love.'"

"Does it say where?"

"That would spoil the fun."

"What do the others say?"

"I don't remember."

"Give it over." He held out his hand and worked it through J-A-N-E, which gave the other set of numbers. Jane didn't remember what was under all of the flaps. "Er… three," she said.

He opened and closed it three times.

She wrinkled her nose. The options were all pretty dismal, when she thought about it. She pointed vaguely at number 5.

Al lifted the flap and read the message. "Who exactly is Tom Holland, and why are you marrying him?"

Jane's face felt like it was on fire, and she snatched the thing back. "Well, that was… an unlikely choice."

He laughed. "I don't know him. Is he a Ravenclaw?"

"He's an actor. Muggle."

"Ah. Well, let's see how we can work this prophecy. You'll have to become a famous actress, of course. Well-to-do, so you won't feel kept. And of course, we'll need to get rid of me before I interfere with this match written in the stars…"

"Oh, shut up, Al."

"I think you should ditch me in some public display. Very dramatic."

"But we're not…"

"We aren't?"

"We… are?"

He seemed genuinely taken aback. "Sorry. I thought… oh. Well. That was awkward. I suppose I just thought we were…"

"Well, it would help to tell me. Or snog me or something, so I'd know."

"We did snog. Last year."

"But not since… well, not since Valentine's Day."

"But we never broke up."

Jane leaned back against the door. "We need to work on our communication skills."

"Was I meant to pick up that we'd broken up? Are we?"

"Well, no. But… oh, never mind."

"Well, we wouldn't want your actor to be jealous."

"Shut up."

He put an arm over her shoulders and obliged. She relaxed beside him, and they didn't talk until it was time for supper.
13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 10th, 2017 06:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooh and Fulvia can choreograph it into a musical with more giant butterflies!
Seriously, that was a good look into the fact that, yes, even in the districts there were happy moments. Though in a way, those moments make the suck all the more stark.
And for all his... enthusiasm, Plutarch also makes a point that someone will release something about her sooner or later. Best get some control of the situation.

Okay, so when I read "Jane", I can't help but think of Jane Hunter. Especially with the who muggle-born part.
Don't blame Al for finding good hiding spots.
That's a good point that it's really easy to forget that history and traditions aren't just something in a textbook but many times are present to interact with. And in such cases, there is a certain quality that comes with being in a historical site or witnessing an old ceremony taking place that does have a magical quality (I remember Teddy musing about that when they were traveling America; ... I may bring that up the next time you do one of these prompts).
Haha, timely crush of hers.

-- FFR
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 10th, 2017 07:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, I just realized that James and Al's early years at Hogwarts are... pretty much now. So I looked up cool teen idols of now, and...

Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking with all the Janes. (Well, except for just pasting up a quick throwaway name for a challenge who just... turned out more popular than I expected!) Bad namer, no cookie. ;p

I think that, people being people, they will find happiness where it comes, no matter the surrounding circumstances.

Edited at 2017-07-10 07:20 am (UTC)
shiiki From: shiiki Date: July 10th, 2017 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
These are as good as ever!

I love how Lily's not only shows us what kind of person she was, but gave us a look at Scrimgeour's motivations and how frustrated he must have ben to be working within the bounds of the law. I sense a bit of envy there as well, for what the Order get to do, but I imagine if Dumbledore came recruiting he'd have turned up his nose!

Jo was perfect Jo, and you can just see the way she tries to distance herself from little Jo-Jo because she's afraid to get close to people since all the Capitol does is burn them up. All of their backstories is tragic, but you've really made Jo's a punch to the gut. I mean that in a complimentary way, of course!

And Al and Jane are way too cute. Loved her amazement at the castle. It certainly is true that while the UK seems to be peppered with them, the idea of living in one is incredibly touristy. (And rather lonely, too, I'd expect, rattling around in an enormous building like that, unless you had hundreds of other people with you ...)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2017 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Scrimgeour's conversations with Harry give a good idea of how he sees the situation. I wanted to give a similar feel for it with Lily.

Poor Jo. I don't believe she was as hard as she pretended to be (and maybe had even convinced herself she was), but she really did hide herself away.

I think I'd be blown away by the castle concept, too.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 10th, 2017 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks!

These were all great, as usual. It's always such a treat to get more stories from you. Sorry I missed the original call.

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2017 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thanks!

Thanks! Glad you liked them.
reannanshaw From: reannanshaw Date: July 11th, 2017 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice. It's fun to read your Auror Lily. I've actually taken to believing Auror Lily is canon, because why not, and it seems to suit her. Though that bit about Snape really makes me hope you'll write even a little more about her and Snape.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2017 01:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll most likely not be writing anything more about Lily and Snape than can be avoided within the canon. I never liked that twist, or, honestly, the character of Snape.
reannanshaw From: reannanshaw Date: July 15th, 2017 04:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Haha, yeah, I've kind of noticed that due to his conspicuous absence in your writing. Snape shares top spot with Lupin as my favorite character, and I thought that twist was pretty obvious by the point she finally sprung it on us (I certainly knew by the end of HBP, although I didn't realize just how strong his feelings had been). The thing I didn't like about it was how, like Snape's death, it ended up making Snape's life pretty much all about Harry, which is very lame. The entire world should not revolve around the book's protagonist, even in a children's story. And Snape was too good a character to be dismissed as easily as that (although not as easily as she dismissed Sirius, a.k.a. Exposition Man). I'm just so glad we have fanfic, where authors who like these characters more than she did and want to treat them better can make them the stars of their own stories.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 15th, 2017 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, I would describe the end of HBP as the moment when I had a sinking feeling that she might go there, though until TDH, I held out a slight shred of hope that she might not.

For me, it was more a case of feeling like Snape had become a plot tumor, to the point where the last two whole books were almost about him, as opposed to characters I found more interesting and likeable. You're going to spend two books shafting Lupin, writing off his death as almost a non-event with no reason (after already shafting Sirius and insulting James repeatedly with no recourse), then expect me to care about the Harlequin sideshow plot? Yeah... just... it was just not for me.
reannanshaw From: reannanshaw Date: July 15th, 2017 05:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought it was obvious as soon as we saw that "Snape's Worst Memory" was him insulting Lily and then her not forgiving him. Which was why it was so hilarious/ridiculous that the movie left that part out and so entirely missed the point of even having the memory/flashback there at all.

Honestly, I mostly pretend that DH didn't happen. Or at least that it didn't end the way it did. I don't think I've ever actually rolled my eyes in boredom at a book aside from that one, but dang. That book just... LOL... it just failed so hard. "Here, all you fans who've been waiting years for a satisfying ending. Watch an endless camping trip and then EVERYONE YOU LOVE DIES!" It was just SO BAD. I mean, a few nice/funny moments, but 98% total crap.

One of these days I want to write my own 'next gen' story, wherein I will explain how Snape, Lupin, and Tonks (at least) are all actually alive because it never made sense to kill them in the first place. And probably bring Sirius back too, because if you want your readers to have a feeling of closure about a character's death, you don't send him through a convenient magical veil and then just say he's dead now the end. (My personal idea is that it was actually a time portal and he'll pop out on the other side at some point in the future, to the delightful shock of everyone, and then angst about how he's lost even more time while the world went on without him.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 14th, 2017 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Jo

Argh. You always manage to break my heart (warm it too) with your HG stuff. I loved the Jo/River stuff and Jo and her brother is so sweet. Love how she tries to distance herself with the whole "Everdeen" bit but admits to Katniss being a sibling-figure.
The idea of a Haymitch clone (and the reason Haymitch could ever be talked into a movie about himself), is intriguing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 15th, 2017 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Jo

I do like Jo, in an odd way. She's got a lot going on.

I think the key with Haymitch is to always play on his guilt. "Why if you obstruct this, think about all of the people who will miss out on great opportunities!" Plus, if they found a young actor who looked like him, I can see him subconsciously wanting to see the kid grow up well.
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