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Phoenix Waterford

[1837/1838][EN] The Golden Age

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Tuesday the 10th of April 1838 - in the evening - Phoenix' usual spot in the library

 

It was always a strange occurrence to see any adult in Hogwarts that wasn't a teacher, but it was an even stranger occurrence to see an adult in the library, sitting on the table that Phoenix had claimed so often that other people started to avoid it, and being... well. His father. His actual father, who he had met once before. Yes, that was during a 'family vacation' where he was invited before Phoenix even realized that he was part of the family, but still, he wasn't very familiar with the man in question. Just familiar enough to be able to recognize him.

 

"Sir," Phoenix greeted the man. "Were you... here for me?" He shifted the books in his arms around, a little uncomfortable, wondering if he was supposed to sit down or wait until Thurion Foulkes-Davenport did indeed acknowledge that he was here for Phoenix and hadn't randomly wandered in the library of Hogwarts, a school which he, as far as Phoenix knew, never had been in before, to sit at the exact same table that Phoenix always used.

 

Okay, okay, Phoenix decided he had enough of a reason to sit down. 

 

Also, he decided not to let Mr Foulkes-Davenport knew that Phoenix usually sat on that side of the table.

 


 

Private! 

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Ik misbruik Daniel's account nu ook voor Thurion. 

 

Dat gaat pas fout als ik die allebei tegelijk nodig heb.


Anyway: post met Thurion Foulkes-Davenport, Daniel's daddy dearest!

 

Yes, Thurion Foulkes-Davenport had descended like a rain cloud driven by a Northeastern wind upon the Scottisch castle where both his youngest sons had been schooled for the past couple of years. When Daniel had been here, he had felt no need to come over, preferring to write to his son instead, and read his accounts of the school which, this being Daniel, had presumably been just as colourful as the oral version; he might have felt that the boy needed an at least partly British education, but that did not mean that said education needed to cost him time and effort and taking a holiday – horrors. Not a holiday per se, those were useful if only because you could tell your staff you’d be back a day later than you actually were and inspect whether or not they had their shit together when you barged in and caught them unprepared – but holidays in Britain. The dreariest of wetlands. No, he’d come over only when his son had gotten himself nearly killed because of – and by – a girl, and then when he’d married him off to the charming cousin. That had been more than enough, for the both of them.

 

But then, Daniel was a very different case from Phoenix. And although at first he had intended just to invite Phoenix over for the summer and talk to the boy then, it had struck him that his son was now embarking on his final exams, and that that was rather a Momentous Occasion. The kind of Momentous Occasion that warranted a show of parental support. Or something.

 

Of course, he could’ve written a postcard, but then again, perhaps a conversation was long overdue.


And he must admit to a certain curiosity to see Phoenix. He had been pleasantly surprised by the boy over the summer, he had been shy, spooked but seemed clever and considerate. He had potential. Potential that Cheiron had seen fit to smash to pieces in a typical Cheiron fashion, but that under slightly less… desperate tutelage might truly be something. So he’d come over. And he’d found Phoenix’s usual haunt – the library, very appropriate – and waited for him there. ‘

 

“Yes, I was,” he acknowledged with a slim smile, as he looked Phoenix over, confirming the physicial similarities to both Daniel and himself that he had previously noticed. “Your Head of House, I believe that’s the structure, told me I might find you here. I apologise for not writing ahead, but I was in the neighbourhood.” Of sorts. He’d been in the north of Canada? “I was thinking that perhaps we could do a pre-exam dinner? I’ve arranged with Professor Astoria that I need merely return you by morning.” His smile turned a little more wry. “Truth be told, that was shockingly easy. I shudder to think what would have happened had my intentions been untoward. Ah well… You’ll need a coat, the weather is living up to its reputation, you can probably Summon it.” He should hope at least that his son was capable of a Summoning Charm.

 

“How’ve you been?”

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Yes, it probably was easy for Thurion Foulkes-Davenport to sign Phoenix out of Hogwarts, especially if the professor he talked to was dear professor Astoria. The woman was rather an enigma, that Phoenix had no intention of figuring out, because while she could be strict to her students, she seemed utterly terrified of any adult conversation. Phoenix suspected that she had just nodded that Mr Foulkes-Davenport could do whatever he want, as long as he left her alone. But he wasn't going to let his father know that first they might have to track down professor Evergreen, his actual Head of House. "Some teachers are... easier than others," was all Phoenix thought safe enough to say. "Right away, sir." And with a wave of his wand, as a seventh year he had been taught nonverbal spells, the cloak would be on its way.

 

"Oh, I've been good..." he nodded a little bit, awkwardly waiting for his cloak to arrive. "But I should also thank you... for arranging matters." The simple matter of housing, clothing and feeding him, actually. "I don't think a lot of other people would have done that, in your position." 

 

Ah, the cloak arrived. Phoenix gratefully plucked it out of the air and wrapped himself in it. "Where would you like to have dinner, sir?" 

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“Ah, there’s a new one in Paris which is supposed to be quite good.” He did not like Paris, but for the cuisine, apparently, it was the place to be. Sir. Merlin’s beard, the boy was polite. Of course, it was the kind of situation where the appropriate choice of words was other than that very much in question: after all, ‘Dad’, or even ‘Father’ was very clearly a no-go area and Thurion could understand why Phoenix would be hesitant, as of this moment, to recklessly embark upon a relationship on a first-name basis. Well, clearly he could understand, because Chiron had been Chiron, but he could also fathom that it would be difficult for a child not tragically used to parental abuse. Hell’s witches, he wasn’t sure if he himself would be all too happy about it. He didn’t much like his first name, in any case. It was a principle, not a name. You had to sound odd and magical and mighty, but ‘Thurion, can you hand over the salt,’ had never really worked in a real-life conversation.

 

Also, it was a menace for anyone with the characteristic under-ten lisp and thus Thurion was still, to some of his oldest friends, resolutely ‘Susie’.

 

He didn’t mind.

 

Not only was Phoenix polite, even thanking him for his troubles, but he was capable, too, and Thurion was happy to be soon able to set course for the outside. They had to walk out apparently, as you could only Apparate outside school borders. He supposed he ought to be pleasantly surprised that that most minor of precautions the school did at least enforce. “It was a matter of course, Phoenix,” he said, and allowed Phoenix to connect that to their previous conversation. “I wasn’t going to let you end up on the streets.” He frowned in the hesitant, vanishing sunlight. “I don’t know how much you know about the arrangement with my former friends, but you were no accident that I stashed away with them. You weren’t unwanted.” He smiled. “They really wanted a child, and I helped out. Given their… recent behaviour… I considered myself well within my rights to step back in.” Whether or not Phoenix thought he had a right to, that did not of course really matter. Didn’t even occur to Thurion that that could be a factor, to be honest.

 

“And while we’re on the topic… I’m very sorry about your mother. She seemed a sweet girl.” It had at least been a lovely twenty minutes.

 

Sorry, Phoenix.

 

“I have arranged for a small fund in her name. You can choose what you would like it to be for… perhaps a scholarship, nature preservation, orphanages, those tend to be the typical things.”

 

Outside the grounds, he offered Phoenix an arm so that they might Apparate.

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Paris. Yes, to someone who had traveled in from Canada, the small distance to Paris might be utterly minor, just a little bit of technically a sea in the way and there you go, but for Phoenix Paris was still another country, speaking a different language. Not that he wasn't fluent in French, but still. Paris. "Sounds good, sir," he decided to say, however, because well, what was the point? He had expected a restaurant in Hogsmeade, instead he would be taken to Paris.

 

Oh well. Not the strangest occurrence this year.

 

He followed his father, father, still such a strange idea after all this time, out of the castle and into the brisk spring air. Here in the mountains it was still more of a winter than a spring, but they'd only be in the air during the short walk from the castle to the gates, so he made no comment about the weather, instead shoved his hands into his pockets and listened carefully to what Thurion Foulkes-Davenport had to say.

 

About his mother. 

 

"I'm... aware," he decided to say, though perhaps the how and the why was best kept between him and, well, himself. Yes, his adoptive parents did really seem to want a child, but somewhere that made Phoenix only feel even worse. They wanted a child so bad, and yet always seemed so disappointed. That it was him rather than someone else, someone more accomplished, more gregarious, smarter, stronger... "She was." Yes, his real mother had always looked out for him, even at the last possible second, and he felt guilty about that too, that he had never been there for her. Maybe if he had... maybe if he had said something... 

 

Surprised, Phoenix looked up when Thurion mentioned the fund he had created for Mrs Thompson. "That's very kind, sir." What could he do with that money... What would his mother have liked? He couldn't tell, of course, he knew her much too little for such things... But his father gave some suggestions. An orphanage might be a good idea... He kept that thought in mind as he took his father's arm, to quickly appear in Paris, on the footstep of a restaurant that Phoenix had never heard of. 

 

"She always seemed to look out for me," Phoenix said, when they were guided to a table and left behind with some menus. "Looking back, at least... I admit that I didn't realize it before." And he should have. 

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Ah. It should probably not come as a surprise that the boy wanted to talk some more about his mother. Thurion had, after all, brought the subject up, though he realised now that he had basically assumed that he would mention the fund and that that would be it. With those administrative matters as well as the polite pleasantries taken care of, the reality of Ruth’s death again loomed over any continuation of their conversation, and that was quite the heavy topic to be discussing for a first interaction at least on a father-son basis. He wondered why Phoenix was undertaking it: was he simply too shy to change the subject of his own accord - not a wonder, with Chiron as his ‘father’ until now, but a concern certainly for the boy who would become a Foulkes-Davenport yet - or was this something he felt like sharing with Thurion? The man who after all must have known his mother? How much did he think Thurion had known his mother? Regardless, it wasn’t something he particularly wanted to go into.  It didn’t seem especially suited for the consolation of a half orphaned child. And of course, Phoenix was a young man, albeit a shy and nervous one. But at the death of a mother, people were all children again. Thurion understood.

 

Didn’t like it, you know. But he understood. 

 

He ordered a good red wine for the both of them, deciding at this moment that Phoenix wouldn’t feel like fish or at least shouldn’t feel like any fish with less colour on it than salmon, and nodded. “That does her credit.” Of course, if she had wanted to look after Phoenix a small note to a certain wealthy Canadian might’ve been a lot more productive than whatever token resistance and assistance a slight, poor servant could amount to, but once again, that was one of those things that would not be conducive to consolation to say it out loud. Or to anything, for that matter. The past was the past. There was no point to questioning it. The future was far more important. And Phoenix’s future in particular. “And it does you credit, that you held fast to the true story about her death.” Now, could they finally leave this matter behind? “This is supposed to be a very good year,” he told Phoenix about the wine, as the waiter poured it. “We do some wine trading on the side... there’s plenty of overlap... a remnant from our whisky ways. Ah, not that it matters now...” He smirked, raised a glass. “Cheers... to your mother’s memory...” 

 

He had a sip, and did actually think about Ruth. Of course. He was, despite appearances, human.

 

“How is your school work going? Amidst all of this.... we’ll take the Midi menu, please,” he added to the staff, then turned to Phoenix again. This was the best menu. It would pair excellently with the wine and had only three courses, so it might not leave for too many awkward silences. “And you had those extremely important exams coming up?”

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Maybe it was a bit strange, but until this very moment Phoenix had never considered that going to the aurors had actually done him credit. Yes, his not-father would be punished for a murder, which he certainly deserved, but Phoenix himself had considered it more as... giving up. Admitting defeat. He couldn't handle what his father did, the utterly ghastly, selfish things, and by going to the aurors, he had told the world he couldn't handle any more. And, there was the guilt too, the guilt that he hadn't been able to protect his mother, that she had to die for him.

 

So yes, Phoenix smiled a little, tried to look grateful for the compliment, and filed that thought away to think about on a silent night when he had nothing else to do. He did take a sip of wine, though, and tried to think of a memory that had nothing to do with her bleeding out. 

 

"Ah, yes, our final exams." He nodded politely. "I think I'm doing pretty well,  I have a good schedule." And the drugs he took worked wonders on his concentration. In the beginning he had to get used to them, but of late he seemed to have... mellowed out. "Though I must admit, I'm a little nervous." Or a lot nervous... what if he failed? What if something strange happened with the exams? What if Hogwarts flooded? You never exactly knew and there was only so much you could prepare for. "And then University next year... I was thinking of studying Psychology." 

 

He was fishing a little bit, Phoenix admitted, to see if his actual-father had any opinions about his decision. 

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No argument about the wine, no snarky comment about the menu, or for that matter about the stuffy-looking waiter who seemed to be far too warm in his many layers obligatory for a restaurant such as this. It was a wholly different experience from taking Daniel to dinner, the father of both reflected as he had another sip of wine and looked at Phoenix in the shimmery pleasant light. Daniel had many witty remarks over a plate of hospital food. Or a glass of milk, if the mood took him. It was not so much that one experience was better than the other, but it was at least a relief to notice that it was not something about Thurion that ensured that none of his male offspring could have a normal conversation without lapsing into poetry. He’d often wondered what made Daniel do that. But then he’d often wondered about what made Daniel do any of the things he did, because the boy seemed not so much intrinsically motivated as intrinsically not so. Curiosity, he supposed, about people’s thoughts, their reactions... 

 

In that regard, Phoenix’s choice of studies seemed oddly apropos. Perhaps his sons shared more resemblance than initially met the eye... perhaps in fact it was all nurture, Daniel raised so loved and so nourished, Phoenix so poorly regarded, barely maintained. “Psychology? Really,” he asked with a smile, and he thought that he could discern something of a question in Phoenix’s tone, as though the boy was wondering what his newfound father thought of his intended course of an academic career. Indeed, Thurion certainly had opinions on this, but it would take him a little bit to find how best he ought to put those opinions across. “Why? Not... offensively,” he chuckled, “just curious about your motivations. The desires make the man, don’t they? Those and the clothing.” See, Thurion, this is why Daniel can have poetic commentary on anything.

 

Oh well.

 

“And then to become a psychologist? In some kind of practice? Of course, they’re very useful studies,” he agreed, as their starters were laid out and the waiter told them in French of course what was on the plates - he waved him away, he was making a point and he could see that it was what it had said on the menu, could he not. “Human interaction, human behaviour... understanding them better is useful in any profession. But don’t you think it’s the kind of course where you’ll always have to tack something on to apply it?”

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A question so simple as why shouldn't have to be so loaded, Phoenix thought, but he was, of course, working with a different history. With Chiron Waterford, if there was a need for a why, Phoenix had done something wrong. There were the clear expectations of his father, who would've wanted Phoenix to study Economics, of all the boring courses in the world, and if Phoenix had diverted from that, the why would've been an introduction to a punishment. Why was more of a question of what Phoenix would care about, what he would have to lose.

 

"Human nature has always fascinated me," Phoenix said, trying to comfortably give a generic answer without seeming like he was hiding any more complex desires. "There are so many different ways that different people can respond to the same thing... I want to know why." And more than that... he wanted to understand himself. What was wrong with him, and how he could fix himself, without laying himself open for someone else to poke and prod. He had a deep desire for something independent, and what was more independent than fixing your own emotional issues?

 

He smiled a bit apologetic to the waiter, always in some desperate need to fix the whole entire world, even when there was no hurt, and then listened to his father. "I see," he frowned. "I hadn't really thought about it that way..." His future study fascinated him and he had been a little drunk on the idea of sudden freedom to make his own choices, so he hadn't really given the future after that a thought. "So you think it would be a good idea to combine it with another course?"

 

Or was he supposed to put psychology away in general...

 

Phoenix couldn't help but feel a stab of disappointment of a higher intensity than the way he stabbed at his food. 

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So indeed, it was this desire to understand human behaviour. Thurion could see advances of that – there was no working, no functioning, outside of interaction with other humans and therefore he could understand the appeal, even if it was mostly because he thought of it as a bunch of academic cheat codes. But then again, he thought that about pretty much everything at university: you used it, to get you to where you wanted to go. If you liked the university too much, you might want to stay there, researching, and what good would that do anyone? Daniel would probably want to, but then again, they would have that discussion at a later hour, if it even became a discussion. Truth be told, Thurion might just have to give in there. His son’s condition was such that research did seem a better profession than the heart-wrenching realities of hospital life. But he wasn’t there yet. Who knew how much Daniel could still recover.

 

He supposed a psychology study might have been of help to him now, as he studied his son, who was not letting him in, but seemed in some fashion to have been taken aback, and smiled. “No, I get that… I must admit, personally, when I was where you are right now, I was not quite thinking beyond those four years of study either. But that can be a pity, if it means you make choices that leave you feeling empty after those four years, or without the prospects you will then know you would have appreciated.” And so you had a dad to tell you not to fuck up here.

 

“What about tacking on psychiatry? It would take you a little longer, but then it will allow you to, after your studies, do a bit more than handholding and suggesting deep breaths?”

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There was, of course, quite a difference between the way Thurion Foulkes-Davenport gave Phoenix advice and the way Chiron Waterford had done. Though perhaps you couldn't say that the demands of Chiron resembled advice. Usually they were just a clear you're going to be awful at this, but I won't accept anything else, try not to disappoint me so much, which wasn't very motivating. His actual father, though, seemed to accept his suggestions and then slightly nudge him into the direction he wanted his son to go in.

 

It was strange and Phoenix felt both conflicting needs to rebel and concede. He wanted approval, he wanted the freedom to make his own decision. He wanted everything he had never had before.

 

"That might be a good idea," he nodded instead, taking slow and calm bites of his food. "I would need to do some research, look up some of the programs..." Even though Phoenix knew that he wouldn't really say no, not so soon. He wasn't that familiar with saying no anyway. "You studied Healing, right? Like Daniel is doing now?" It seemed like a family expectation...

 

Better than economics, at least. 

 

"Also, I've been meaning to ask about the crystals..." 

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Thurion smiled, sipping from his wine. “Actually, the Healing is rather more a tradition on the Scottish side of the family, your uncle Thanatos, his father and grandfather and so on. They’re a more... traditional bunch.” He had a couple of bites of his food, not to postpone this discussion in any way - he did not mind it, he was rather curious to see what Phoenix would make of it. “Daniel married into that family, as you know and this seemed to best answer those expectations, what with Thanatos’ own son having foregone it.” Than had seemed very happy to have a Healer in the family still, and it had not seemed to occur to him that Elaine might have also done it - admittedly, Thurion would not have pressed that thought either, because she was a girl and it just wasn’t the same. There were some things a man had to take care of. Plus, he’d had other reasons not to press that thought, other reasons to go out of his way to use Daniel as a patch on both their families. Both Than and he had a stake in solving this little family blow up. In making sure their interests by and large aligned. 

 

He ate some more, finishing the starter. He always liked the small French portions where starters made you feel like the next course. “I studied history, in fact. So I’ve quite some experience with picking a study based on interest rather than the subsequent career options it provides... and I understand, I just wanted to give you that piece of advice.” He smiled carefully, reflecting on his memories. “I got a lot of grief over it from my dad at the time, let me tell you that, and I somewhat wish I’d listened - though I had a lovely time with my studies, and that’s very important as well. And of course, for me, what I studied didn’t prevent me from after that still doing quite well at what I wanted to do. That’s the advantage of a family business, isn’t it.” His food done, he proceeded with his wine quite contentedly until Phoenix would catch up. He was liking the boy more than he would have thought, liking the moment more than he would have thought, feeling uncharacteristically, unexpectedly like sharing in the company of his younger son, which prompted him to say: “You’d be most welcome to come and have a look there, too, incidentally, perhaps over the summer if you’d like.” He didn’t know what it was that was making this meal easy. Perhaps that Phoenix wasn’t yelling at him about abandonment and irresponsibility, which after all meant that it could have been worse.  Perhaps he was just old enough now not to fuss anymore. 

 

Perhaps he was arrogant enough to have never fussed much. 

 

“The crystals? Ah, a good segue,” he grinned, leaning back. “They’re a family tradition. We have been in the jewelry business for hundreds of years... the most beautiful gems we find, the ones most special to us, we turn into family heirlooms... gifts. Wedding rings are a big one, so that our wives become part of the family, are accepted as such by the enchantments in our homes - the one you live in presently, in Edinburgh, is such a one, should you want to invite people into it they’ll have to carry a key - a stone. Children, under seventeen, that’s fine. And for you, the crystals I’ve given you, those are mine, they carry my magical signature. They’re for your achievements through a magical life.” He smiled. “You can use any of them to turn into yours and give them to the persons you want to share that magical life with. Well, that’s the long and short of the tradition, basically. Did that answer your questions?”

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Ahh... the Scottish side of the family. Phoenix had known some of the difference, of course, you couldn't really be friends with Daniel and not realize that there were two branches of the Foulkes-Davenports, but Daniel hadn't said a lot about it and Phoenix hadn't thought to ask. Traditionalists, though, apparently, but from the explanation of his father he could assume that professor Foulkes-Davenport had been a bit of a... rebel. And now Daniel, of all people, was expected to take on that role. 

 

Oh dear, a lot of people were going to disappointed. 

 

"Ahh, I see," was Phoenix' polite reply, but he carefully stored all information inside his head. He wanted to make a good impression and he didn't want to be told the same thing twice. No, more than that, he wanted to fit in perfectly, sliding into the spaces left for him, as if he had always been there, as if he belonged. Right now he still had to ask questions, get clarifications, and it frustrated him endlessly. If only he had put a little more effort in getting to know Daniel before everything had collapsed, maybe it would've been easier then...

 

"History, really?" He raised his eyebrows between the last bites. History... he didn't quite know what sort of person he thought of that studied history, but a Ravenclaw came more to mind. Someone who liked to disappear into books, endlessly, and never come out. And sure, he didn't know his father, but from what he could tell, Thurion Foulkes-Davenport didn't have that 'I could've been reading instead of doing this' look on his face. "Did you take some business classes later?" Chiron Waterford had scoffed at anything that was even one letter away from 'business' or 'economics', the idea of Phoenix taking something like history and then still be expected to take a place in his business probably would've caused a minor stroke. "Oh, thank you, I would like that." He wouldn't, really, the idea of a family business still gave him nightmares, but he wasn't going to say no to anything the Foulkes-Davenports offered him.

 

Don't ask too much, but don't take too little, those seemed like good rules.

 

He quickly finished the starter as he listened intently to the explanation of the crystals. What a strange tradition... Very... nostalgic, in a way. Or sentimental, maybe. "That sounds nice," he nodded. A reward for your achievements... what strange world had he entered? "What sort of achievements are we talking about?" Did you only get one when you were the best of your year, for example, or if you gotten straight O's on your exams? And did he count as someone who could win those crystals? Because then he would have to take his exams even more serious than he already did. 

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Thurion laughed - he had to. “Yes, history. I loved the Greats, the traditions. It did so speak to the imagination of a seventeen-year-old. We had a great teacher for it at Ilvermorny too, which always helps, especially with a subject like that... he could really turn it into some very good stories. And I didn’t feel like studying economics at the time.” He shrugged. “Of course, history teacher is basically all you can become with such a degree, which was not something I’d thought about, nor something my father or indeed I myself would ever have been very happy about. So yes, eventually I took some business classes, read a bit more widely but I think I learned most about the company just running it and listening carefully to everyone who’d been working there already. I realise this isn’t something very practical to tell you right now, but truthfully, university can simply only teach you so much.” He was a big believer in the practical approaches.

 

Phoenix would get there. 

 

Their starters were swiftly interchanged for their mains, their wines topped up. “Happy continuation,” he said with a smile. “And achievements... oh, they can be anything, really. They’re individualised... specific ... it’s dependent on the track your life takes, isn’t it? What is a remarkable moment for you? The first show of magic, getting your first wand, exams and graduation, your turning seventeen, those are traditional... any noteworthy things you do during your studies or for the company... but they can also be very personal, emotional, such as the diamond I sent you... marking those periods in your life that carry meaning to you, that marked you.” He smiled half-heartedly. “My father gave me one when he died, for example, in his will. Because taking over would be a marked moment for me. And Daniel got one when he was hospitalised briefly last year. They are... a memory... they are of significance.” He smiled. “Don’t worry, I’m certain you will give me plenty of opportunities to update your collection.”

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It was, maybe strangely, a relief to hear that university wouldn't be able to teach him everything. Phoenix saw most things that taught him that you didn't have to succeed in a set number of years as a relief, after years of years of hearing that if he didn't have everything together now it would all be a waste of time, money and trust, finding out that you still have so much to learn and so many opportunities too seemed relaxing. Like you weren't standing on the edge of the abyss, but that the abyss wasn't even into view. "Oh no, it's rather good to hear," Phoenix nodded in all earnest. "Obviously I'm still going to take university serious, I wouldn't dare to do otherwise, but my father - Mr Waterford, I mean - had some... other opinions." To put it mildly. 

 

That freedom seemed intoxicating, more so than the wine he had been drinking.

 

He frowned at the explanation. "So you can even be rewarded a gemstone for the bad parts of your life? I mean, being hospitalized isn't exactly cause for celebration, you'd think." And your adoptive father murdering your mother in front of you wasn't really one either. Although he assumed that his was mostly awarded for now being a bit more part of the family. "You'd think that certain memories would be best left forgotten." But then again you did seem to be allowed to do whatever you wanted with the gems, so maybe you were expected to turn any relating to a bad memory to something better. 

 

"So everyone in the family has a collection like that? How many do you have? If you don't mind me asking." 

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“I’m sure he did,” Thurion agreed, somewhat noncommittally for while he was indeed certain that Chiron had had different notions on university and in fact on quite a lot of things that had to do with child-rearing and the like he did not of course know the details. If he had known, beforehand... or even halfway... he didn’t think that he would have stood for it, to be honest. It was a tricky question, a soul and conscience searching one. Would he have obliged a friend, knowing what that would cause, what harm that would do to someone he didn’t know, never had to know but felt instinctively connected to? No... he didn’t think so. There was a lot you could say about the Foulkes-Davenports, but they did tend towards a family first approach. Anyway. While he indeed knew that Chiron would have different thoughts on the matter he also knew that the extension of those thoughts was what had landed him in jail.

 

So he was going to go ahead and trust his own approach.

 

He nodded again, as he cut his meat carefully with the helpfully sharp steak knife provided. “Yes. A bit counterintuitive I know, but as you’ll have noticed over the past months, those bad experiences tend to mark us far more than good ones ever could... they have an impact, they... carve you into the wizard you become. And they never do really let you go. This is our way of acknowledging that, I suppose, of employing the pain of the difficult moments in our favour.” He shrugged. “And yes, everyone has one. Well, not the girls... not in the same way. it’s a little different for the girls, they receive them as gifts, from their parents, from male siblings.” Because girls would get married and belong to other families, typically speaking. “Mm.” He pulled from his pocket a sleek, satin roll, tied together with magic bonds and unfolded it across the table. A detailed map of the world was depicted on it, gemstones shimmering in the blue water, the green of the countryside hills, diamonds sparkling on their crisp mountaintops. Some spots were empty, shimmered in a silver little haze. “This is my collection,” he explained, sipping from his wine. “You start gathering them early, so it’s usually just on a bracelet - you know, a charm bracelet. Eventually, you get something to collect them in, something that defines you as a person. And then when you give one away...” He tapped some of the silver marked craters. “Here’s the one I gave you. That’s the one my father presented me with in his will. My wife, I gave the one I received for my first record profit, it’s in her wedding ring now... you get the idea.” Right?

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Phoenix couldn't deny that he had been changed by his experiences, marked, the way Mr Foulkes-Davenport had named it, but he wasn't willing to accept that as a positive thing just yet. It was better to not have been marked, surely? Better to be strong, untested, pure, in a way. Mr Foulkes-Davenport seemed to consider it a strength, Phoenix was suddenly remembering the letter he had received, that same day, where Thurion had said he was proud of the hardships he had faced. Phoenix hadn't known what to think of it then, had just pushed it to the back of his brain, occupied with many more important things, but now he remembered. 

 

It was only that Phoenix didn't feel like the experience, or his whole past with his father, had strengthened him. More that it had made him fragile, broken, worse for wear. And now he was supposed to be proud of those achievements? Look back on them, instead of trying to hide them away in a corner of his mind and pretend they had never existed in the first place?

 

"That's an... original way of looking at it," he picked his words carefully, trying to make it sound like a compliment, though not entirely being able to actually form one. "I hadn't thought of it myself." Wouldn't want to either, rejected the entire idea. He was much more grateful when his father showed him his collection, for something else to focus on.

 

"That's exquisite," he said, with raised eyebrows, as he took in the entire map. "Really beautiful." Such beautiful artwork. The piece alone would've been worth a fortune, but with the added stones... it was a miracle he dared to bring it with him. "Yes, I get it," he nodded. "So did you pick out the map or did someone else?" He almost wanted to touch it, but was afraid of touching something so priceless too. Of course he was used to his fair share of expensive art pieces, but this was something much more personal, belonging to someone Phoenix wanted to impress more than anything. 

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