Aberforth snorts and crosses his arms over his chest. "Even if she is a farseer, a farseer does not require protection."
"It's what she knows," Alphard whispered.
"Bah, I've heard enough," Aberforth grunted about to turn away
"You could get her to eat when she wouldn't do so for your mother," Rowan quietly said. "You could calm her down, when she was in one of her rages, and when she was quiet, she used to help you feed the goats."
Aberforth freezes stiff as uncontrolled fury begins to boil in his gaze. Turning his piercing blue eyes, he spits out, "How can you possibly know all that!"
"I've seen it," Rowan confessed. "You can take a look inside my mind, if you'd like."
Aberforth closes his eyes against the temptation and wearily says, "Then you know how she died, yes?"
"I do," Rowan answered as Alphard gazed solemnly at the two of them. "However, much like you already know, I do not know which spell was the one that struck her in the end."
"Then you know what my brother did and why I can't forgive him," Aberforth bitterly said as he raised his pained gaze to the portrait on the wall.
"I have no plans of asking you to forgive him," Rowan straightforwardly replied. "I hold very little trust in him." Causing both men to glance up at her with some astonishment.
"Albus Dumbledore is many things, powerful, brave, a lion. And yet most wizards seem to forget that it is never the lion that does the hunting but rather the lionesses," Rowan coldly stated causing both men's eyes to widen. "Albus Dumbledore can always be trusted to fight for the light, but the question is at what cost?"
Furrowing her brow, Rowan continues, "I know that he could not have stopped Gellert Grindelwald in Paris that first time, but still he could have prevented the actions of that night that forced the hand of countless wizards to choose a side that day. We both that Dumbledore dared not face his once dearest friend, and instead sent Scamander in his stead. The consequences of that forced the water to spill ove and we all know how this tragic tale ends."
Rowan paused and bitterly added, "I know a great deal of many things that I wish I did not know. However, I cannot remain silent nor do I trust Dumbledore to not repeat the sacrifices of the past. That being said, I do know and trust that Albus Dumbledore will always act for the light, no matter the cost."
"That sounds like my older brother," Aberforth snorted in truth. For he knew that had always been the case for Albus. Always having to be right and never being the one in the wrong.
Aberforth glances up at the portrait to see Ariana nod and smile at him. Sighing, he says, "Alright, I'll do it."
"Thank you," Alphard croaked as he tremblingly rises to his feet. Feeling suddenly lightheaded, he finds a firm hand holding onto him. Glancing over he sees Rowan holding onto him. Smiling in thanks, he waits to get his strength back before straightening up.
"Aberforth, if you would so kindly come over?" Alphard asked as Aberforth somewhat still reluctant comes to stand before him.
Pointing his wand at Rowan, Alphard begins to chant a long, complex incantation as a string of pulsing glowing light emerges from Rowan. Not ceasing to chant he points the wand at himself as another long string of light began to emerge from himself. Needing to breathe, Alphard continues chanting as he points his wand at Aberforth.
The two strings that had emerged from Rowan and Alphard begin to interlock and flow into Aberforth. The two strings flow into Aberforth for some time until a gold light pours out of Aberforth as Alphard falls silent. Breathing harshly Alphard sits down and watches golden sparks pour out of Aberforth before fading away.
Aberforth is silent as all the knowledge of the previous Secret Keeper is poured into him. Gasping he holds his head at the sudden headache. Glancing up at the girl, Aberforth says, "Well, at least this lines up nicely with Albus's plans."
"Yes, Moody did say the Order of the Phoenix had been formed," Rowan muttered as she recalled the two-word sentence she had received from him.
"Well, that's at least something," Aberforth grunted. "Will you be informing the others of the change?"
"No," Both Alphard and Rowan replied as they shared a faint smile.
"It's best to keep a hidden card up one's sleeve," Alphard drily stated.
"A rather prudent choice," Aberforth said in a rare form of approval. "Though I must say, you've taken a rather Slytherin approach. I quite like it."
Rowan and Alphard flash identical smiles. "We are Slytherins."
Aberforth wryly chuckles and says, "The sorting hat almost placed me in Slytherin, but in the end, it thought me too rash, and I ended up in Gryffindor. Though I bet that would have nicely given Albus a heart attack."
"At least I can rest easy now," Alphard said as he glanced over at Rowan. "You'll be in good hands."
"I know I will," Rowan confessed as Aberforth was quite powerful and cunning. He was one of the few original order members to make it through both wizarding wars. But most of all, he did not implicitly trust Albus Dumbledore, his own brother.
"You best be going, Rowan," Alphard tiredly said as his face looked rather gaunt in the flickering light from the fireplace.
Leaning over, Rowan faintly brushes her lips across his cheek. "Thank you, Alphard," Rowan whispered as Aberforth moved away from the door and unlocked the door behind him. Quickly her footsteps fade away until only the two of them are left.
"You do not long for this world, Black?" Aberforth solemnly declared.
"I am tired," Alphard raised his stark gaze to meet Aberforth's.
Aberforth is the first to glance away as he briskly says, "Then make it count."
"I will," Alphard said as he slowly rose to his feet. "I can't thank you enough, Aberforth. Please look after her. She already carries far too much for a child of her age."
"She is no child," Aberforth flatly said. "No more than I, my brother, or even Ariana. We were all forced to grow much too quickly."
Alphard disagrees, but he does not comment on the remark. "Nonetheless, thank you again," Alphard said, before nodding one last time at Aberforth.
Turning to the mantel, Alphard glances at the portrait to see a faint box in the corner of it. Hiding a smile, he grabs a pinch of Floo powder, before tossing the sparkling powder in as the flames turned green. "Ministry of Magic!" Alphard cried before vanishing into the green flames.
"What have I gotten myself into, Ariana?" Aberforth muttered as he stared into the flames that were changing back to their original fiery color.
The blond, blue-eyed girl in the painting says, "Don't worry, Aberforth, it will all work out in the end."
"And yet here we are," Aberforth bitterly said.
"That was then, and this is now," Ariana quietly replied.
Flashing, Ariana a cynical smile, Aberforth says, "Either way, things are sure to pick up from now on. Everything I've seen tells me it's only going to become much, much worse, before it will ever get better."
"Then be wise and cunning, brother," Ariana said, before closing her eyes as if to rest.
Aberforth carefully closes the door behind him, before actually getting to cleaning his pub. It was utterly humiliating, but he couldn't well put up a sign and not do so. It'd be fairly obvious he lied.
And so, for the first time in ages, the Hogs Head Inn sparkled like it was new and even had a nice lemony scent. That when the pub opened later that day some old customers almost fainted from sheer shock. The Hogs Head Inn for once not only was clean, but even Aberforth had even trimmed his hair and beard. From that day on those that had were present would whisper of the day they witnessed the Hogs Head Inn sparkle.