|SIYE Time:1:18 on 14th December 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: 39273; Chapter Total: 1882
Awards: View Trophy Room
Harry crept in quietly, feeling his way up the stairs in the darkness, his feet treading with practiced softness. Ginny had left the bedroom door open (it always woke her when it creaked), and as his eyes adjusted to the whisper of light he saw her, her skin shining white against the dark covers.
He undressed silently, noting the damp towel she had left slung across the laundry basket. She was as bad as he was sometimes. The corners of his lips twitched into half a smile, and though half his mind was still at work he felt a warmth spread through him as he heard her soft, heavy breathing.
He slipped under the covers as carefully as he could, but the weight of him on the mattress made her roll towards him slightly. They were both light sleepers, and she gave a quiet groan, mumbling something unintelligible.
‘Sorry,’ he whispered, kissing her firmly on her temple. She nestled closer to him, and he was sure that she was asleep until she croakily spoke.
‘Did you figure it out?’
‘Not yet,’ he whispered. ‘I’m sorry for taking your fingerprints. I know you’re not a murderer.’
‘Just don’t go digging in the back garden,’ she yawned.
He smiled again, his fingers combing through her hair. ‘Are you at practice all day tomorrow?’ he asked.
‘When do you stop for lunch?’
She propped herself up on her elbow, squinting at him blearily. ‘At one. Is this because I’ve been throwing strops?’
‘Yes,’ he said honestly. ‘But also because we haven’t had lunch together in ages.’
She rubbed her eyes, yawning again. ‘All right. But only if we go somewhere Muggle. That way neither of us can talk about work.’
He sealed their agreement with a kiss, and she drifted back into heavy sleep. But as Harry stared up at the ceiling, his mind began to return to work again, slowly connecting half sentences, odd expressions and hinted gossip into worrying implications.
Theia bustled in the next morning, her arms heavy with manila files and her thick scarf trailing on the floor behind her. It was odd seeing Longbottom’s cubicle empty now, though she had been told that it would become hers soon, yet the Auror department was as chaotic and loud as usual.
‘Does everyone here work on a Saturday?’ she grumbled to Judy as they made their way down the corridor. ‘I knew it wouldn’t be the standard nine to five, but really…’
‘You don’t even have to be here,’ said Judy, scowling. ‘Dawlish says I have to be, and I don’t even do anything exciting, just paperwork and cups of coffee.’
‘Harry hates him,’ said Theia in a low voice. ‘Is he really awful?’
‘He hates Harry,’ Judy sniggered. ‘Says he’s a privileged little shit. When it comes to the Christmas party, I think I’ll sit them together. It’d be a laugh, wouldn’t it?’
‘You’re on the planning committee?’ said Theia jealously.
‘Oh come off it,’ said Judy, leaning against the wall as they reached Harry and Theia’s empty cubicle. ‘You get to do all the exciting stuff. Planning a party’s hardly the same as foiling a breakout.’
‘Foil is a bit of an exaggeration,’ said Theia, plunking the files onto the desk. ‘Stumbled across and then forgotten about is closer to it.’
‘Still…’ said Judy enviously. She glanced at her watch. ‘I’d better get to my own desk, Dawlish says if you’re on time, you’re late.’
‘I wish someone would say that to Harry,’ muttered Theia.
Sure enough, it was another twenty minutes before Harry turned up, with heavy bags under his eyes and looking a little worse for wear. By this time, a memo had arrived for him, but Theia, impatient and frustrated to sit doing nothing, had opened it for him.
‘They got someone in the Department of International Magical Cooperation to translate the newspaper clipping,’ she told him.
He sat, yawning widely. ‘And?’
‘It’s a story from a German newspaper about a wizarding family being found dead on the first of September, 1997.’
Harry frowned, and took the memo from her. His frown deepened, and he suddenly asked for the original clipping. When Theia handed it to him, he swore. ‘Yeah, it was Voldemort,’ he said, rubbing his eyes under his glasses stressfully. He gave a heavy sigh. A woman and two young children?’
Theia nodded. ‘That’s right. The Fischer family.’
‘In the former address of Mykew Gregorovitch?’
‘How did you know?’ asked Theia, surprised.
He looked very unhappy. ‘Doesn’t matter.’ He frowned again. ‘Doesn’t make much sense though. If it’s about justice, this family got theirs. Well, as well as they could. They were just… Unlucky.’
‘Well,’ said Theia hesitantly. ‘Did you notice the name of the town?’
Harry raised an eyebrow, and looked back down at the translation. When he looked back at her, it was with a somber sort of excitement. ‘Dubrow.’
She nodded grimly. ‘I thought I could spend this morning looking up this case. Perhaps the husband of the woman or something is out for more justice, and the man he killed last night is connected somehow-’
Harry nodded. ‘Maybe. Definitely worth looking into. Odd that this Dubrow character is getting mixed up with Shyverwretch and Death Eaters though. Strange choice for a vigilante.’
Theia faltered. She hadn’t even thought of that. ‘I keep forgetting about the break out plan,’ she admitted. ‘I was saying to Judy this morning about it. That is weird… I can’t work out whether he hates Death Eaters or wants to help them.’
‘I’ll go and check the Surveillence Quill we’ve got on Shyverwretch, see if he’s let anything useful slip,’ said Harry. ‘Maybe pay him another visit later too.’
She nodded, and rose to leave, but she had almost made it to the door before he suddenly and uneasily called her back. He watched her for a few seconds, looking uncomfortable and awkward, before finally speaking. ‘I hope you don’t think it’s out of place, but… You were talking about your boyfriend last night, and you said it was someone I knew.’
She blushed, and giddy excitement once again forced her face into a grin. ‘Gosh, I was a bit tipsy, wasn’t I?’ she giggled.
Harry cheeks were pink too, but he held her gaze. ‘I might be leaping to conclusions,’ he said carefully. ‘But you were very quick to defend Dennis Creevey at Terry’s yesterday.’
She laughed. ‘You are good at this, aren’t you? I suppose I was really obvious, was I?’
He winced a little, and absent mindedly rubbed his scar. ‘Let’s find a meeting room,’ he said.
Her excitement was rather deflated as she followed him to a private meeting room. As she had found out rather swiftly after meeting him, he was not the gossipy type, and now suddenly she felt nerves tug at her stomach as she remembered Robards words from the previous night…
Harry closed the meeting room door behind them, waving his wand lazily to cast an Imperturbable charm over it. Theia sat, feeling immediately defensive, and wondering if she should have lied.
He sat too, and there was such a long pause between them that she felt as though she were in detention. ‘You know I wouldn’t usually pry into your personal life,’ he said.
‘It’s all right, I’ve probably pried enough into yours,’ she tried to joke, but he didn’t laugh.
He gave a heavy sigh. ‘I think this is one of those things where you have to be cynical, Theia, and perhaps you should have told me. He just… moved in next door?’
‘Yeah,’ said Theia awkwardly.
‘I don’t know exactly. Around the time I started here I suppose. Look, there are lots of wizards in London, I don’t think it’s that odd-’
‘It is, Theia,’ said Harry, and she felt a rush of resentment.
‘He wasn’t expecting me to be next door either, it was a complete shock when we saw each other. He’s living a completely Muggle life, I know, I would have seen if he had magical things-’ Harry tried to interrupt, but she spoke rapidly over him. ‘But you should see him, any hint of magic and he tenses up, I think he’s genuinely afraid of it, you know, he wants nothing to do with this world at all, not to mention he had no clue over what’s happened these last few years, he had no idea about you being an Auror, or the Dementors leaving Azkaban, and when I told him about Livia Rookwood-’
‘You’ve been speaking to him about work?’ Harry said abruptly, his eyes widening.
‘You speak to your partner about work, I’ve heard you,’ said Theia.
‘Not the same, and you know it,’ he said sharply. ‘Don’t say anything else to him, got it? I’m going to have to talk to him.’
‘Why?’ she said furiously. ‘He wants nothing to do with the wizarding world, it’ll just upset him-’
‘This isn’t just to do with you,’ he said, and though his voice was reassuring she didn’t believe it. ‘I told you at Terry’s that I wanted to speak to him, I want to speak to everyone in the D.A, especially those that didn’t… Didn’t get the closure they needed.’
‘Dennis is finding closure in not being a wizard anymore,’ said Theia. There was a certain bite to her tone, a kind of resentment, and briefly she imagined living a magical life with Dennis, some sort of future where he loved magic once again. She ached for it, and wondered how long she could live with a foot in each world.
There was a silence again, Harry watching her so intently that she wanted to look down at her fingers, but she irritably looked back. ‘You know we never found out who actually killed Colin,’ he said. ‘He took a few photos in his last seconds, but none show the final blow or a clear culprit.’
‘All of the Death Eaters identified in his photos are either dead or in prison though,’ she said coldly. She was not stupid. She had read the news after the battle like everyone else, heard all the stories, listened at the memorial, seen all the photos that Dennis and Colin’s ex-girlfriend had sent into the paper.
Harry nodded. ‘I’d still like to talk to him,’ he said calmly. When she didn’t answer, he sighed. ‘I won’t interrogate him, I’d just like to see how he’s doing.’
Theia considered, drumming her fingers on the table. ‘Fine. He doesn’t have lectures on Wednesday afternoons, you could come round then.’ She pursed her lips. ‘He does want to see you again actually,’ she admitted. ‘He just wanted a bit more time to adjust to the idea.’
Harry smiled slightly. ‘I’d like to see him too. I imagine he’s grown up a lot since I knew him.’
‘Yes, he has,’ said Theia pointedly.
After yet another awkward pause, they rose together, neither meeting the other’s eyes, and began to leave. ‘Perhaps best if you don’t tell him I’m coming,’ Harry said suddenly as he opened the door.
It was manipulative and cold of him, in Theia’s opinion, to spring such a shock on Dennis given all he’d been through. But she gave a grunt of approval, reminding herself that he was her boss, and that the quicker he realized Dennis was still the sweet boy they’d known at school, the better.
Harry left to the surveillance room to check on Shyverwretch’s magical bugs, and Theia went in the opposite direction, to the rattling lifts and then down to records room. She liked it in here. The air felt thick and close, the files and record books were musty and stiff. It was only the Auror department that was busy on a Saturday, and the records room hardly ever had people in it anyway, so it was wonderfully deserted, heavy with peace and quiet.
Others might have seen dull records of births and deaths and crimes, but Theia saw endless secrets and histories, the lives of thousands of witches and wizards arranged into neat forms and sorted into careful categories, laid bare for anyone in the Ministry to examine. But hardly anyone ever did. Gossip is more interesting when one has to work for it.
The records room was huge, larger even than the Great Hall at Hogwarts, and the shelves stretched up, vanishing into the dark ceiling. She had a mad urge to climb one of them. Instead, she continued to the back, to the section she knew held files related to foreign affairs and international crimes.
It took her a long time to find the correct file. There had apparently been a lot of activity in late 90’s Germany relevant to the British Ministry, but clearly it hadn’t been deemed important enough to organize properly. Finally, she found a file where “Fisher” had been scribbled out and corrected to “Fischer”. She sat cross legged on the floor and pulled out an old yellow parchment, which bore the summarized translation of the crime report.
The bodies of Elfriede (36), Gerhild (8) and Bastian (6) Fischer were discovered at Glucklich Haus, on the outskirts of Dubrow, on the evening of 1st September 1997 by Josef Fischer (39) and his son Lars Fischer (16).
The bodies were found to have signifiers of murder by the Avada Kedavra curse. Elfriede Fischer was found in the hallway of the home, beneath her was the body of Gerhild. Bastain Fischer was found in the closest doorway leading to the kitchen, and appeared to be fleeing. Photographs of the crime scene have been provided by the German Ministry and are included in this file.
Sightings of the Dark wizard known as He Who Must Not Be Named in the local area are believed to be associated with this murder. Christoph Kaufer (42), a records keeper in the German Ministry, has claimed that He Who Must Not Be Named approached him looking for the wandmaker M. Gregorovitch (61). In fear, Kaufer revealed Gregorovitch’s address, without realizing that the Fischer family had moved into Glucklich Haus just one month prior.
Theia pulled out the photographs. Her stomach lurched. She hadn’t really considered what it would be like, to see the body of a woman slung over a child, the little girl’s large blue eyes staring up at the camera vacantly. The little boy was on his front, his tiny face against kitchen tiles. She supposed the curse would have hit him in the back.
It was suddenly very cold in the room.
She sniffed, and shook herself slightly, putting the photos back into the file and digging through it further.
‘I thought I’d find you in here.’
She jumped at the low, growling voice, and looked up to see Robards leaning casually against the shelves. He looked sinister in the low light. She swallowed before answering. ‘I’m looking up the case that was described in that newspaper clipping,’ she said, unsure why she sounded so nervous.
He nodded. ‘Potter mentioned.’
He stared at her expectantly, and she found herself feeling anxious as she pushed the file back into its place on the shelf and rose, breathing deeply.
‘Have you put any thought into what I said last night?’ he asked.
She didn’t look at him. ‘You can’t seriously think that,’ she said quietly.
‘Not really,’ he said. ‘But it’s worth considering. I keep an eye on all my staff, Higglesworth. He wouldn’t be the first to snap. And orphans… They’re always funny, orphans. Attachment issues.’
Now she did look at him, and she was sure her expression showed the disgust on her face. ‘He seems fine to me,’ she said loyally.
‘That kid’s been through some messed up stuff,’ said Robards. ‘I admire your faith in him, but good Aurors are always suspicious.’
‘It clearly wasn’t him, I was with him all night,’ she said, her voice trembling. She realized her fists were clenched, and her jaw was jutting out in anger.
‘Yes,’ Robards said. ‘Like I said, I don’t think it’s him. But he could be covering for someone. These are all his mates, and Potter’s always been blind to his friend’s faults.’
Theia said nothing, simply stared into Robard’s pale eyes.
‘He’s too trusting… If you suspect he’s covering for someone, or letting sentimentality get in the way, you are morally and legally obliged to tell me, you hear, Higglesworth?’
‘That I have no objections to,’ said Theia. ‘But asking me to spy on him is something else entirely. It’s immoral.’
Robards leaned forward. ‘Not in this job it isn’t.’
With that, he walked away, leaving her alone in the dark room filled with people’s lives.
Harry had been looking forward to lunch all day. Ginny’s training was over running slightly, but he didn’t mind; it was good to sit in the stands of the Holyhead Harpies stadium, watching her weave in and out of the other players, her ginger ponytail streaming behind her.
Finally Gwenog’s whistle shrieked, and Ginny landed not far from him. ‘Sorry,’ she said breathlessly, hurrying towards him. ‘I’ll be two minutes, I promise-’
She gave him a quick peck and ran off in the direction of the changing rooms. Many of the other players were not bothering to change, and instead were summoning packed lunches and sitting on the stands not far from him. It was far too cold to eat outside, in his opinion, but Rhiannon Carmichael kept waving and giggling at him, nudging Abigail Turner excitably.
Finally, after several minutes of him resolutely pretending not to notice the star-struck Harpies, Ginny emerged again, smiling at him brightly. ‘Where’re we off to then?’ she asked.
‘I was thinking the Three Broomsticks, I wanted to update Neville on the case.’
She stared at him, face horrified, before noticing his smile and smacking him lightly on the chest. ‘You arse, that’s not funny.’
He grinned, and pulled her close. ‘I should know better by now, shouldn’t I?’
He apparated them both to a quiet corner of a market town not far from the stadium. The air was still cold here, so it was with great relief that they hurried into a cosy-looking café, where they were able to sit on squashy sofas underneath fairy lights.
A cheerful waitress took their orders, Ginny deliberating for an agonizing amount of time, and Harry leaned back into the cushions, yawning widely. ‘Sorry,’ he mumbled. ‘How’s practice going?’
‘If you’re not allowed to talk about work, I’m not either,’ she said. ‘Anyway, I have something more important to discuss.’
‘More important than Quidditch?’
‘All right, I might be exaggerating. But interesting anyway.’ She shifted in her seat to face him properly. ‘I think Ron might be planning on proposing to Hermione.’
Harry raised an eyebrow. ‘I think he would have told me.’
‘Well, yes, that’s what I said, but George says he keeps saying weird things like they need to do more research into what girls want for the Daydream Charms, and asking Verity about whether public proposals are tacky.’
‘Didn’t Verity get proposed to in the middle of Diagon Alley?’ asked Harry.
‘Yes, she called Ron a cretin and hexed him, but that’s not the point. Why was he asking that stuff in the first place? He must be planning to propose.’
They were momentarily distracted by the arrival of their food, so there was a pause before Harry said, ‘nah, he’d tell me. He’d want advice or something.’
‘Well would you go to him?’ asked Ginny, suddenly turning very red.
‘Would you… Would you go to him? For advice?’ She was blushing like the setting sun now, and sending filo pastry flying as she cut clumsily into her feta and spinach pie.
Harry was rather sure that alarm bells were going off in his head. ‘Well, that’s different,’ he said carefully. ‘You’re his sister.’
Ginny seemed to let out a breath, and flashed him an embarrassed smile. ‘He’d prefer that to us living in sin, wouldn’t he?’ Harry shrugged, too relieved that he’d escaped a dangerous conversation to care. ‘Did he ask you advice about Hermione before then?’
‘No, I suppose not,’ said Harry slowly. ‘But after that whole locket thing during the war I just thought that was because he thought there could be something between us.’
Ginny snorted. ‘You and Hermione? God, he is a muppet, isn’t he?’
‘I still think he’d ask me. He’d ask me before Verity, surely?’
‘Well when was the last time it was just you and him?’ Ginny said gently.
Harry’s shoulders sank. ‘I don’t know… I can’t remember.’ Guilt tugged at his stomach.
‘I know I’ve been on at you,’ said Ginny softly. ‘And it’s not fair of me, not really. I could see that the other night, and I was still kicking up a fuss. But-’
‘We said we weren’t going to talk about work,’ he interrupted. ‘How d’you reckon he’s going to propose anyway? Hermione must have told you what she wants at some point. I can try and drop hints next time I see him, make sure he doesn’t do it in the middle of a Chudley Canons game or something stupid.’
Ginny smiled at him, her eyes shining, and she leaned into him as they talked, whiling away their lunch hour entertaining themselves by coming up with ever more elaborate proposals for Hermione Granger.
When he returned to the office, Theia wasn’t there. Impressed and faintly appalled at her work ethic in equal measures, he simply grabbed the files he needed and headed down to the records room. He paced the aisles of the shelves until he spotted her, sat on the floor surrounded by papers and books and files.
She didn’t look up as he approached, but greeted him with a distracted tone, frowning over a photograph.
‘Any luck?’ he asked, sitting opposite her.
‘Yes,’ she said proudly. She explained the information she’d found on the Fischer family, and then pushed a photograph towards him. ‘This is our guy, isn’t it? The one that was hanged outside the pub. I mean, he’s a little younger here, but-’
‘Yeah,’ said Harry slowly. ‘That’s him. How did you find him?’
‘His name is Christoph Kaufer. He worked in the German Ministry in the 90s, and told You-Know-Who where the Fischer’s were. He says he didn’t realize that Gregorovitch didn’t live there anymore, but…’ She pushed forward another piece of parchment, which Harry grabbed and scanned rapidly. ‘…He fled Germany after the war when it was revealed that he happened to be family friends with Gregorovitch, so must have known he had moved. German wizards turned on him when they realized that he sent You-Know-Who to the old house without caring that a new family must have moved in.’
‘Where did he go?’
‘The UK,’ Theia said promptly. She tapped a heavy book. ‘Registered with the Ministry here and told them he didn’t know a new family had moved in, and that he was just absolutely terrified of You-Know-Who and he couldn’t stay in Germany anymore. I don’t know if he was telling the truth or not, but it doesn’t really matter, because…’
‘There were survivors,’ Harry finished for her as she lifted the Fischer file.
She nodded. ‘Sort of. The father and another son came home to find the bodies. The father died not long after from a heart condition.’
Harry winced. ‘How old was the son?’
‘Sixteen at the time of the murders, seventeen when his father died. His name is Lars Fischer. It could be him, couldn’t it? It could be our guy? He could have got his hands on a coin somehow, they’re quite famous now, you know.’
Harry nodded. ‘Makes sense. I checked Shyverwretch’s bugging charms… There’s been conversation about Dubrow in the shop.’
‘They don’t trust him. He’s a newcomer, he’s from Durmstrang. But he’s getting along with them all, and he came into the shop to talk to Shyverwretch about a new breakout plan. He seems really determined to get the Death Eaters out, even I was convinced, and I was just reading the bare bones of the conversation. It might all be a ruse to trick them and get close to them, or perhaps he really does align with their beliefs, but is just a bit of a loose canon. Death Eaters used to do this stuff all the time — they’re a violent lot, and the smallest arguments could result in death.’
Despite his grim words, she looked delighted. She gripped at her hair, almost delirious with excitement, smiling broadly. ‘This could be it!’ she exclaimed. ‘We just need to find him! It must be him, it must be!’
Harry nodded. ‘We need him to make a mistake. We need to rattle him.’
‘Remember what I said about killers always being proud of what they’d done?’ he said. She nodded. ‘And did you see the Daily Prophet this morning?’
‘Yes,’ she said unhappily. ‘It was all over the front page, the press aren’t going to leave us alone, are they?’
Harry smiled. ‘No,’ he said. ‘But I don’t want them to.’
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