|SIYE Time:21:05 on 20th October 2017|
Category: Post-Hogwarts, Post-DH/PM
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Death, Disturbing Imagery, Extreme Language, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Violence
Story is Complete
Summary: The last thing Harry Potter wants is to be lumped with a trainee Auror, especially not one that idolises him. As he guides her through the realities of being an overworked Auror and tentatively settles into adult life with Ginny, a dark plot brews on the horizon...
Hitcount: Story Total: 37903; Chapter Total: 2313
Awards: View Trophy Room
The rain poured heavily onto the cobbles of Knockturn Alley, the darkness of the evening causing the looming buildings to appear as though they were suffocating the street below. The gas street lamps spluttered, the light they cast dissolving in in the rain, falling hazily onto a skeletal cat that crouched in a doorway, slipping out a tongue to devour a morsel of rotten meat.
A man appeared with a loud crack, like a clap of thunder, and with a painful yowl the cat leapt up and sprinted away, darting through the dark spaces. The man watched it for a second, then, with heavy boots, trudged through the rushing water in the gutter.
His travelling cloak was torn and stained with mud, and he pulled it closer as the rain drenched him. He could see his destination, and as he advanced the lights in the window were snuffed out. The lights in the buildings around him also fell away to darkness, the inhabitants inside recognizing that no man was here at half-past-one for any good reason. There was a scraping and a clattering as they pulled shutters closed and bolted their doors.
He reached the wooden door, above his head the sign creaked in the wind. He did not knock, but instead began to kick at the door, each blow of his boot like the beats of a fatalistic drum, until the wood underneath splintered and fell away. He withdrew a twisted, gnarled wand from his pocket, and entered.
It was not a graduation. That had been emphasised to them on multiple occasions, with stern reminders that they had two more years before they were qualified, and that this was only happening because so many people had died and they had a serious staff shortage, so they could wipe those bloody smiles off their faces and show a bit more propriety, thank you very much.
Yet it certainly felt like a graduation, and Theia couldn’t hold back her broad grin as the camera flashed, the lights bouncing off her shining silver buttons and polished shoes, her wispy hair pulled back into a sensible bun. Her father was there, grinning smugly, and after the photos had been taken, he clapped her on the back.
‘My Theia!’ he said loudly. ‘A proper Auror!’
Her heart burst with pride, and she smoothed down her ceremonial robes, almost delirious with excitement. ‘I’m not a proper Auror yet, Dad.’ She began to explain, yet again, that for the rest of her training she would be paired with a senior Auror that had lost their partner, assisting them while continuing her training.
But he was barely listening. He scratched the stubble on his chin, looking around the crowded room. ‘Is there not a caff or something in here? What d’you say we get some lunch and a pint? To celebrate.’
Her face fell slightly. ‘No, Dad, I have to go to work, it’s my first day, that’s what all this-’ she gestured to the photographers, families and fellow trainees, ‘is all about.’
‘You could slip off for a bit though, couldn’t yah?’
She opened her mouth to respond, but Judy Noakes had rushed over, seizing her arm. ‘They’ve put the list up! They’ve put it up!’
Alive with excitement, she joined the crowd of trainees gathered at the noticeboard, craning their necks to see the large list that had just been pinned there, ignoring the flashing cameras.
‘I’ve got someone called Savage,’ said Matthew Strudwick, his eyes widening. ‘Savage! Blimey…’
‘I’ve got someone called Dawlish,’ gabbled Judy, pressing her finger against the name. ‘And Theia, you’ve got… You’ve… Oh…’ Her finger had slid down to Higglesworth and paused.
Gasps and awed silence surrounded her, the cameras clicking madly. She rather thought she’d been hit over the head.
Harry Potter was running late. Half shouting an apology about paperwork to Susan as he hurried past her, his hot coffee spilled over his fingers as he carried a wad of manila files under his chin, a briefcase floating behind him.
‘Tuesday, Tuesday,’ he called over his shoulder at her.
‘I mean it, Harry,’ Susan yelled back. ‘I need it by the end of the week!’
Interdepartmental memos zoomed overhead, the buzz of morning chatter and yawned greetings following him as he rushed to his cubicle. But there was already someone sitting in it.
He stopped dead in his tracks, his coffee slopping over the mug onto his fingers again, and stared the pale, fragile-looking girl sitting in the spare chair by his desk.
‘Hello, Mr Potter,’ she said breathlessly, leaping up and grinning at him excitably. ‘I’m so excited to be working with you, I can’t wait to get started. Thank you so much for taking me on, it’s such an honour and I really won’t let you down-’
‘Uh-huh,’ he said slowly, edging his way around her to his chair. As he moved, she rotated on the spot, beaming at him and keeping her un-blinking brown eyes fixed on his face.
‘I’m so excited to have been paired with you, I can hardly believe it, I would never in my wildest dreams have expected to be mentored by you, I can’t tell you how much it means, you’re a true inspiration and it was you that made me want to be an Auror-’
Harry lowered his now half-empty coffee onto his desk, watching the girl babble relentlessly. His eyes flicked up to the top of his cubicle, and he could see some of his colleagues sniggering.
‘-And I really think it’s the best start my career could have,’ finished the girl, still smiling elatedly.
‘Right,’ said Harry. ‘Er… What did you say your name was?’
‘Higglesworth, Boss,’ she said. ‘Theia Higglesworth.’
‘You don’t need to call me Boss,’ said Harry, feeling slightly alarmed.
‘We were all told that was the standard when talking to your line manager or mentor, Boss,’ she said, completely unperturbed. ‘That or Sir, or Ma’am.’
‘Right,’ said Harry again, ignoring a snort from Proudfoot, still watching from several cubicles away. ‘You all meaning…?’
‘All the trainees, Boss,’ she said, her grin as wide and delighted as ever. ‘What’s that?’
‘What’s…?’ he followed her gaze to the little cardboard counter that read Days Since Attempt On Life: 63. ‘Er… It’s a joke my- a friend got me… Sorry, did you say you were a trainee?’
‘Yes, Boss. I’ve been partnered with you.’
Harry nodded, a little rapidly, trying not to let his feelings show on his face. ‘OK… All right, Thee, was it?’
‘Right, Theia, could you, er… Could you go through these files and just…’ he stared at the manila files for a second. She wouldn’t have a clue what to do with them. ‘Actually could you just… Watch them, and make sure no one touches them?’
‘Of course, Boss,’ she said happily, sitting back in the spare chair. He dumped them on the desk and she immediately stared at them intently.
Shaking his head slightly, he left the cubicle, throwing a glare at Proudfoot and the others who were silently laughing, and stormed to Robards’ office.
‘In,’ came the gruff voice as Harry knocked.
‘Sir,’ he greeted stiffly. Robards gave a great sigh, but didn’t look up from his memo.
‘I did give you fair warning, Potter,’ he said.
Harry ignored him. ‘Sir, I said I didn’t want to be part of the new recruitment scheme.’
‘I know you did,’ said Robards. ‘And I told you that you didn’t have any bloody choice in the matter.’
‘I don’t need a partner,’ said Harry. ‘And I don’t have time to train anyone up-’
‘None of us have time, that’s not the point,’ said Robards, scowling up at Harry. ‘You haven’t had a partner in nearly a year-’
‘I don’t need one-’
‘Yes you bloody well do,’ snapped Robards. ‘Everyone needs one, it’s standard procedure, it’s dangerous to go off on your own.’ He crumpled the memo and chucked it into a wastepaper basket in the corner, leaning back in his chair grumpily. ‘I don’t know how else I can explain it to you, Potter, we’re seriously understaffed, have more work than ever thanks to you and Shacklebolt’s bright idea of scrapping the Dementors, and we need to get new recruits in the field as quickly as possible-’
‘They’re seriously undertrained,’ said Harry seriously. ‘I doubt any of them have any real experience, it’s a real risk for us to be babysitting while we’re working.’
Robards pointed at him sternly. ‘Don’t give me any of that shit, I know you’d done a lot but you were only seventeen when you started here. You’ve effectively done the same thing as them, at least they’ve had a year in the training centre.’
Harry fell silent as he tried to think of another argument he hadn’t made a hundred times before. Robards rubbed his eyes tiredly. ‘Just be nice to her, Potter, yeah? Start her off with an easy case, bring me some results and I’m sure you’ll get used to it.’
Harry looked at him sourly. ‘With all due respect, Sir, I have to ask if this is punishment for my involvement in the reorganization of the department? The understaffing problem has a lot to do with me, not just the war.’
Robards glared at him. ‘Shut the door,’ he ordered coldly.
Harry reluctantly obeyed, noticing as he did the amount of people suddenly turning away and pretending they hadn’t been listening. He turned back to Robards, his face irritable and gritting his teeth.
‘You and I both know you could be next when I retire,’ said Robards, his voice low. ‘But I need to see mentorship from you. I heard all these great things about you teaching kids defence at school, but since you joined you’ve just worked with friends- I know,’ he interjected loudly, raising a hand. ‘I know you said you could pair with Longbottom instead of helping with the new recruits, but between you and me he’s considering leaving too, something about Herbology, I don’t know.’
Harry’s heart sank. Even Neville was leaving now? Robards leaned across the desk, resting heavily on his elbows. ‘The point is, I need to see you can work together and train someone up, someone you didn’t have in your little club at school.’
Harry nodded. ‘Yes, Sir,’ he said, feeling a little defeated.
‘I know you don’t agree with the new scheme,’ said Robards. ‘But what am I supposed to do? You and your mates were the only ones I could hire after the war, one of you’s left and another’s about to do the same. We need new blood and we need it fast.’ He surveyed Harry’s miserable face, then added, more kindly, ‘your cubicle will be extended to fit the new kid in. I picked one of the more able ones for you, apparently she scores quite highly on stealth exercises, I know that’s your thing. It’s just until she graduates.’
‘Thank you, Sir,’ said Harry grudgingly.
‘Right, well then, sod off,’ said Robards, jerking his head to the door.
Harry returned to his cubicle, ignoring the curious stares from the rest of the department. When he arrived, Theia was standing steadfast in the entrance, one hand grasping each side of the doorway, arguing stubbornly with a wizard from magical maintenance.
‘There is highly sensitive information in here,’ she was saying loudly. ‘I can’t risk anyone touching it.’
‘I’ve just come to expand it,’ insisted the wizard, looking bewildered.
‘Bloody hell,’ muttered Harry. Proudfoot and the others were now laughing hysterically, though Theia appeared not to have noticed. ‘Sorry, Steve. Theia, get out the way, let him do his job-’
‘I protected the files, Boss,’ she said proudly.
‘Well done,’ said Harry irritably. ‘It’s just Steve though. Come out the cube, let me introduce you to people…’
Steve shook his head sympathetically at him, and he shrugged back. Theia followed him, and he made his way around the office, introducing her to the people he worked most with. It was rather like being followed around by an excitable puppy, and whenever they met another mentor and new recruit, she could hardly keep her face from showing her smugness as the recruits stared at Harry.
He was in a decidedly bad mood by the time they got back to the newly expanded cubicle, and he looked despondently at his now cold coffee.
‘I can get you another one, Boss,’ said Theia chirpily.
‘Please don’t call me boss,’ muttered Harry. He sat down, and Theia did the same, though her back was so straight she could hardly have been resting.
Harry rubbed his eyes under his glasses and breathed heavily out through his nose. ‘Right,’ he said. ‘A case, let’s find a case…’ he glanced at the map on the wall. ‘Not that one,’ he said to himself. ‘And not the Zabini case…’
‘I’ve been reading about that one in The Prophet,’ Theia said brightly.
Harry gave her a withering look, and pulled the pile of files towards him. ‘Let’s find a new one,’ he said, flicking through them. ‘Start from scratch.’
Theia looked at the files too, looking tempted but unsure whether or not to touch them. She jumped as Harry spoke to her.
‘Which house were you in at Hogwarts?’
‘Ravenclaw, Sir,’ she replied.
He glanced at her. ‘You don’t need to call me sir, either. Just Harry is fine.’ He cast aside a file and picked up another one. ‘So you’d have been a few years below me?’
‘Two years below you,’ she blurted out, suddenly going very red. ‘I, er… I remember you,’ she added awkwardly.
Harry now felt embarrassed too. He didn’t remember her at all. ‘Oh… Were you in the D.A?’
He winced, she looked horrified. ‘No,’ she said, the wispy tendrils around her face trembling as she shook her head violently. ‘I’m really sorry, I wasn’t, not when you were there, I joined it later but I didn’t really do anything, I was a bit too young, I really wanted to though, I just thought you were all so brave, and it definitely inspired me and I want to make sure I make up for it now-’
‘It’s all right!’ said Harry desperately, hoping his voice sounded reassuring. ‘I was just trying to place you, that’s all, it doesn’t matter. Did we ever speak?’
‘No,’ she said, a little too quickly.
There was an achingly long pause. ‘Let’s do this one,’ Harry said, tapping a file marked Shyverwretch and trying to sound upbeat.
‘Great,’ she said hurriedly, reaching out for it. ‘Shall I read it now then?’
Harry checked his watch. ‘Nah, it’s really late already, let’s just go. Just watch me, you’ll pick it up.’
She spluttered. ‘But the official Auror guidelines state that all officers should be well prepared and knowledgeable, fully reviewing all information in the case file before-’
‘We’ll get the Floo,’ Harry said, grabbing his travelling cloak and heading to the door. ‘Come on.’
They got the Floo to the Leakey Cauldron, Harry giving Tom the barman a friendly wave as they passed through. Over the past few years, he’d mastered the art of walking fast and with purpose, keeping his gaze down and never lingering, thereby discouraging people from recognizing him or trying to stop him for photos. Unfortunately, he had much longer strides than the rather tiny Theia Higglesworth, who had to do an awkward half-jog to keep up.
‘So where are we going?’ she asked eagerly. ‘Is it a murder? Dark magic?’
‘Nope,’ said Harry briskly. ‘Break-in, possibly connected with illegal potion smuggling.’
They turned down Knockturn Alley, the shimmering puddles reflecting the towering grimy buildings either side. Harry was not sure Theia had ever been there before. She glanced around nervously at the shrunken heads in the windows, the trio of rats scuttling ahead of them and vanishing down a drain, the intimidating looking witches and wizards that loitered in the doorways with twisted smiles. A scrawny cat hissed at them from behind a dented dustbin.
A bustle of activity around one shop drew their eye, and Harry passed easily through the shimmering blue line that hovered at waist height. Theia bounced off it.
‘Oh,’ he said, distractedly, aware of the other law enforcement workers watching them. ‘Do you not have permissions yet?’
‘I was meant to go to the Ministry Authorities department,’ she said helplessly. ‘It was in my induction brochure. But there wasn’t time, I didn’t realize we’d be visiting a crime scene so soon-’
Harry felt irritated. This was exactly why he hadn’t wanted to take on a recruit, it just slowed him down. He turned to a nearby Law Enforcement witch. ‘Sandra, could you give her temporary access?
The witch nodded, looking bored, and cast her wand over the line, creating a narrow gap which Theia slipped through quickly.
The shop itself was as grimy and dark looking as all the others, with dusty potion bottles lining the windows. Above them, a creaky sign blew gently in the breeze. Shyverwretch’s Potions and Venoms. The wooden door had been smashed in, the distressed wood lying in splinters all over the flagstone floor.
‘Owner?’ Harry asked Sandra.
‘He’s inside,’ said Sandra. ‘We thought it was just a burglary, but he’s all beaten up as well so thought we’d get you lot in.’ She lowered her voice. ‘Who’s that?’
Harry followed the direction of her head jerk to see Theia, looking very seriously at the window of the shop, rubbing her chin and frowning in concentration.
‘Don’t get me started,’ he muttered.
He called Theia over and together they entered the shop. The place was a mess. The low candle light caught on the shards of glass and colourful liquids all over the floor, a large oak table in the centre of the room seemed to have been hit with a reducto spell on one side, and the walls bore shadowy marks of soot.
In the middle of it all sat a battered looking old man holding a sponge to his face, accompanied by another Law Enforcement wizard.
‘Thanks, Phil,’ said Harry.
Phil nodded. ‘Watch where you step, nasty potions these.’
Theia and Harry carefully dodged the puddles of poisons and made their way over to the old man in the chair, who glared up at them from beneath his sponge. His wrinkled face was heavily bruised, and a trickle of blood worked its way down his face from his wiry grey hairline.
‘Mr Shyverwretch?’ asked Harry pleasantly.
‘Don’t need Aurors,’ growled the man. ‘Least of all you.’
Theia looked shocked, so for her benefit Harry gave her a kindly smile. ‘I’m never particularly popular round here.’
‘I want you to leave,’ said Mr Shyverwretch, his pale blue eyes glinting with fury.
‘Why did you send an owl to the law enforcement department, Mr Shyverwretch?’ asked Harry. Beside him, Theia gave a small ‘ooh’ of recollection and started rustling through her bag, pulling out a self-inking quill and notebook as Mr Shyverwretch began to answer.
‘Insurance,’ he grunted. ‘Need to make an official report to get the insurance.’
‘But you don’t want us to find out who did this?’ asked Harry, looking around the destroyed shop.
‘I don’t give a rats arse, I just want it cleared up, places round here get robbed all the time.’
‘They do,’ admitted Harry, looking back out to the street. ‘Nasty place. This wasn’t a robbery though, was it Mr Shyverwretch?’
Mr Shyverwretch scowled up at him, bruised knuckles gripping his sponge more tightly. Warm water seeped from it. ‘Yes, it was, they took twenty-three galleons and four sickles from the till.’
‘Beat you up, too,’ prompted Harry. ‘That bruise looks nasty. I can heal it if you want?’
‘Come on, Mr Shyverwretch, I’m not stupid. Nobody goes to this much effort for a few galleons. You were being punished.’
‘I don’t want your lot involved,’ growled the man again. ‘Get out of my shop.’
‘The thing is, everything’s pointing to you being in a bit of trouble,’ said Harry. ‘Legitimate business activities don’t usually result in this sort of thing.’
‘It’s nothing to do with my business,’ insisted Shyverwretch.
‘Oh, really?’ asked Harry. He pulled out his wand and conjured up a chair. ‘Theia, go see what the neighbours know. Mr Shyverwretch is bound to have annoyed one of them at some point or another, see if there’s any rumours of him doing things he shouldn’t. Anything anyone says, write it down. When you’re done take it back to the office and see if you can work anything out, I’ll see you there.’ She beamed and nodded, hurrying out the door.
‘Bring Sandra with you,’ Harry called after her. The last thing he wanted was his new recruit getting into a fight on day one. He turned back to Shyverwretch and sat in the chair opposite him, surrounded by the explosion of poisons.
‘Are the fumes dangerous in here?’ he asked lightly.
‘Yes. Get out.’
Harry simply smiled. He waited in silence for a few moments, watching Shyverwretch until he felt uncomfortable.
‘You think you’re a big man now, don’t you?’ sneered Shyverwretch. ‘But you’re still a little boy.’
Harry continued to smile. ‘You frightened, Mr Shyverwretch?’
‘Why don’t you want to talk to me then?’
‘Because you’re a little shit, that’s why,’ spat Shyverwretch.
Harry yawned and checked his watch. ‘I’ve really got better things to be doing, Mr Shyverwretch. The thing is, now I’ve been called and you’ve refused my help, your insurance can be invalidated anyway, because I can say that you did this yourself.’ He surveyed the potions and venoms on the floor. ‘There’s a lot of stock here, must be quite a blow to the business if you don’t get reimbursed for it.’
Shyverwretch watched him silently, his mouth turned down in disgust.
‘And, forgive me if I’m making assumptions, but given a few of your past convictions I don’t think it’s a great leap of faith to assume that some of these were incorrectly labelled.’ He looked carefully at a pool of sticky black liquid, with a slightly purple sheen. ‘That looks horribly like Black Locust extract, I could always take a sample and check it later, but I’d hate for you to experience the heavy fine that comes with selling that.’
‘This shop sells poisons and venoms,’ said Shyverwretch bitingly. ‘Even someone as slow witted as you cannot really be surprised that I sell dangerous substances.’
‘They’re meant to be for pest control use though, aren’t they?’ said Harry cheerfully. ‘Anything more dangerous for academic interest has to be duly registered with the Ministry. Do you have Black Locust extract registered as stock, Mr Shyverwretch?’
Shyverwretch didn’t answer, but he finally lowered the sponge. His right eye was black and shiny, swelled up so much that it was barely open. Harry hissed.
‘Very nasty. So the intruder came in and did this to you? You must be able to give me a description.’
‘No, he was hooded,’ said Shyverwretch bluntly.
‘Of course he was. Well, hopefully he won’t come back. If that’s all, Mr Shyverwretch, I’ll be off. If a memory stirs-’
‘Dubrow,’ muttered Shyverwretch.
‘Dubrow,’ Shyverwretch repeated loudly, great annoyance on his face. ‘He came because a delivery of water hemlock went missing.’
‘And who does he report to?’ Harry asked. Shyverwretch swore at him. ‘Very well. I’ll look into it, Mr Shyverwretch. Perhaps try some purple betony on that bruise. See you later.’
Theia was beside herself with joy. She had interviewed what felt like every person on Knockturn Alley, practically alone apart from that Sandra lady, and now here she was, working on her very own case, studying each and every word in her notebook more closely than anything she’d ever read in her N.E.W.Ts. Judy had walked by enviously a few times.
She had apparently mostly been given the role of getting coffee and answering memos, and no other trainees had been trusted with an actual crime scene on their very first day. No, that honour belonged only to Theia.
The Harry Potter.
Had he really been truthful when he appeared not to remember her? She felt her blush return. Merlin, she hoped so. A traumatizing memory resurfaced of her twelve-year-old self nervously approaching the Triwizard champion and asking him to the Yule Ball. She hadn’t lived it down for years.
She looked over at his desk. One corner was cluttered with pictures. A blue haired baby, a huge group of red-haired people, and an attractive woman Theia immediately recognized as Ginny Weasley, famous in her own right for her skill on the Quidditch pitch, but also a favourite subject for the Daily Prophet as the girlfriend of Harry Potter.
Theia had admired Ginny too, especially during the war. She had always been at the very edges of the D.A, a little too young to be involved and in a different house, so though she had “joined” in her fifth year, she had never received a coin, never been to more than one meeting, never been able to join in with them as they scrawled graffiti on the walls and plastered pictures on every flat surface they could find.
Ginny Weasley was everything Theia wanted to be. Fierce, exciting, a vibrant life. Considered almost as much of a war hero as Harry Potter. And though Theia had never been any good on the Quidditch field, perhaps her blossoming career as an Auror was the place to begin that sort of brilliance. And who better to guide her than Harry Potter himself?
A familiar cold feeling tugged at her stomach. She was not sure that Harry liked her. He seemed a little irritated, a little badgered. She was probably talking too much, she did that a lot, but every time she saw him the words came tumbling out of her mouth, and she just wanted him to know how much he had inspired her, how much she had looked up to him.
Thankfully, her admiration of him was no longer the schoolgirl crush she’d had at the age of twelve. He was not her type, and even if he had been, she was too much of a fan of Ginny Weasley too to try anything. But even so, she remained star struck, giddy with excitement that she was destined to be his protégé.
Yet another doubt was niggling at her, and though she looked down at her notes with pride, a sense of unease gnawed at her as she remembered the scowling, beaten man, and the words one of the Aurors had said to her when she’d got back…
‘How did your questioning go?’
She turned as Harry strode into the office, and automatically grabbed at the sweet he tossed at her.
‘Oh, thank you… Yes, really good, actually, I gathered plenty, people seem to really hate him, don’t they?’
‘Everyone hates each other there,’ said Harry, unwrapping his own sweet. ‘Any names stick out?’
She hesitated. She didn’t want to sound stupid. ‘I don’t know… What did Shyverwretch say?’
‘No, no,’ said Harry, leaning back on his chair. ‘You tell me what you found first.’
She suddenly felt very nervous, and very aware that she had no idea what she was doing. He was watching her calmly and patiently, like a teacher, but his eyes only made her feel anxious. She stared at her notes. They’d seemed so good before, but now as she read them she realized that most of them were completely useless. Who cared that he came home drunk sometimes? Who cared that the neighbours found him obnoxious and rude? People didn’t get beaten for such petty reasons, surely, and they certainly didn’t have their businesses destroyed for it.
A feeling of defensiveness rose up in her. ‘Why did you send me out when you were questioning him?’ she demanded, startled by her own bravery in confronting him. ‘He’s the one that’s got the most useful information, and I missed all of it.’
He gave a slight smile, his eyebrows raising in surprise. ‘Did it annoy you?’ he asked, chewing on his sweet.
She felt a bit irritated. He was young too. It’s not like he was a wise, battle-hardened veteran of an Auror. Well, he is a battle-hardened veteran, said a mean voice in her head.
‘I just… I’m so grateful that you took me to a crime scene, I really am, the other trainees haven’t really done anything, but I was wondering if you sent me out because you thought it would be dangerous for me to talk to Shyverwretch or something, and what happened to your last partner?’ she blurted out.
Now he really did look surprised. ‘Sorry?’
‘Your last partner. Everyone else has been partnered with old mentors who’ve been Aurors since the first war, and no one was expecting to get you, and then when I got back Williamson saw me and he asked me how I was settling in and I said good thanks, I’ve been partnered with Harry Potter and then he sort of chuckled and made an “ooh” sound and then he said that you’d only been here three years and you needed a new partner already, and in the training centre they kept talking about how dangerous the work was and how you could get seriously injured or die and that’s why they have such a shortage because so many people died and did your partner die?’
She was slightly out of breath when she finished, and he looked a little alarmed. He wasn’t chewing anymore, he seemed to have frozen. Then he smiled. ‘No…’ he said slowly. ‘He went to run a joke shop with his brother.’
He seemed to be trying not to laugh. ‘I’ve given you a fairly straight forward case. Shyverwretch is a bit of a coward, we already have a lot of information on him, and a lot of information on the people I think are involved. It will be more of a jigsaw than anything else… Check in with me if you want anything, but otherwise go for it. I’ll be working on other stuff.’
‘Aren’t… Aren’t we supposed to work together?’ she asked, disappointed.
‘We will,’ he said, turning back to his files. ‘But let’s see how you do on your own for a bit. It’ll help you learn the ropes. I’m sure you’ll be great.’
The door clattered open, and already Theia could hear the tv. Some audience laughing and shrill American voices.
‘Is that you, love?’ called a voice. ‘How was it?’
Theia dumped her bag and kicked off her boots, heading into the dark and cluttered living room where her mother sat, cigarette in one hand, slippered feet resting on a pouf. ‘Brilliant,’ she said breathlessly. ‘Really good. Mum, I’ve been partnered with Harry Potter!’
‘Ooh! He’s good, is he?’
‘Mum, I told you before, he…’ she sighed. Her mother stared back owlishly, an interested but slightly vacant smile on her face. ‘He’s highly respected,’ she said eventually.
‘Ahh, that’s nice,’ said her mother, tilting her head. ‘I wish I could have seen you off on your first day. Did other mums go to the thing in the morning?’
‘No,’ muttered Theia. ‘You wouldn’t have understood any of it anyway-’
‘It still would have been nice,’ said her mum. ‘There’s a pie in the oven for you, and a good drama’s about to start-’
‘No, I’m going to go look through some of my files,’ said Theia, throwing a disdainful look at the tv.
‘Oh,’ said her mum, her shoulders sinking slightly. ‘Well, you tell me all about it later, then.’
Theia grunted, and headed to her room, her head swirling with thoughts of Knockturn Alley, celebrities and poisons.
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