|SIYE Time:8:14 on 20th July 2018|
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: 45328; Chapter Total: 2207
Awards: View Trophy Room
A rumbling explosion, a woman screaming, flames illuminating the tall trees that surrounded the house. Aurors were rushing towards it, keeping low to the ground, ducking behind any shelter they could find. An anti-apparation charm had been swiftly cast by Dawlish, and Mrs Runcorn had been dragged out, but was now screaming and struggling against Matthew’s grip as she tried to make her way back to the house, from which bolts of fire were being launched from the windows. Theia ran to Harry, who was crouching behind an old car, skidding onto her knees beside him.
‘Proudfoot says our target came in and tried to grab Runcorn’s daughter,’ she roared over the noise. ‘When Savage and Wigens burst in to stop it, Runcorn thought they were part of it and launched his attack!’
‘Are they still in the house?’ Harry shouted back. She nodded, and he pointed his wand to his own throat. ‘Everyone move forward, minimal damage, no attack,’ he said, and though he was speaking normally she heard his voice reverberate through her head. ‘Robards, Higglesworth, Proudfoot, and Williamson in with me, everyone else provide cover, testudo formation.’
She knew that this was where her training should be kicking in, that previous Aurors would have had three years of drills so that it became second nature, but at this moment, as flames hit the ground and exploded meters from her, she couldn’t think for the life of her what a testudo formation was.
Deciding to wing it, she followed Harry’s lead, keeping close behind him as he ran out, swiftly met by the others, who stood close by them. From behind, their colleagues advanced too, but more slowly, taking turns to cast Protego charms over the heads and to the sides of of Theia and the small group. In front of her, Harry and Robards cast strong shield charms too, which held fast as they marched forward. The flames hit them with thuds, sliding off the shields like water, and though Theia felt fear, she had also never felt more alive.
The flames were not being cast by Runcorn. As they reached the house, Theia could see dark shapes in the windows, some kind of instruments that shot the flames out like the machines of war her mother watched on the Muggle news, but magical, a special design for the most paranoid of dark wizards. They reached the front door, already blasted open, and could hear furious yelling and screaming.
‘DON’T TOUCH MY DAUGHTER-’
‘GET DOWN! GET DOWN!’
‘DROP YOUR WAND!’
They thundered up the stairs to a scene of confused terror. A little girl was cowering behind the ferocious looking Runcorn, who was attempting to duel the three intruders to his home. Savage and Wigens were blocking his spells, while trying apprehend-
Yes. There he was. The man from the pub. The young man from the photo. The target. Dubrow. Fischer. They had found him. Caught him in the act.
His blonde hair and pale, square-shaped face was covered in soot, his teeth gritted in rage, trapped in a corner like a mad dog, unable to reach either the small girl he’d been trying to kidnap or a window he needed to escape.
Had Runcorn not been there, Theia had no doubt they would have been able to disarm and arrest Fischer easily, but Runcorn was a skilled wizard, and despite the terms of his release, had a wand.
‘Auror department! Calm yourselves,’ boomed Robards, though his wand was raised too. A flicker crossed Runcorn’s face, as though he were about to obey Robards, but the panic was too far set in, and curses and hexes were flying everywhere. The little girl also seemed to be causing accidental magic, the tightly packed landing shook and the lights flickered, a nearby door handle shattered behind Wigens who yelped in pain.
The little girl shrieked as a jet of red from Fischer hit the wall behind her, leaving a burned hole.
‘Get the kid out of here,’ Harry ordered Theia sharply.
She moved forward automatically, her arms outstretched to pick up the child, but suddenly her world was filled with red and she felt more pain than she had ever experienced, unbearable, unyielding-
It was gone as swiftly as it had started, and now she found herself on her hands and knees, panting, while Harry was furiously doing battle with Runcorn. ‘Get her out!’ he shouted again. She had never seen him like this. It was terrifying. Cold rage dominated his expression, so much so that he was virtually unrecognizable. He swiftly glanced over his shoulder as he blocked a curse from Runcorn, no doubt looking to Robards and the others trying to arrest Fischer.
Theia felt separated from her own body. She felt herself rise and grab the sobbing child, no more than seven years old, surely, unnoticed by Runcorn who was roaring at Harry.
The girl didn’t squirm in Theia’s arms, though surely she believed her to be an enemy. She screamed for her daddy but curled an arm around Theia’s neck as she raced down the stairs, terrified that she would fall.
She wondered desperately how she would get across the fiery lawn without the use of her wand arm, but her colleagues had advanced so far forward that they were able to shield her as she ran. She reached the safety of the driveway, out of reach of the flames, and had barely put the girl down before something of inhuman strength barreled into her.
‘Maggie!’ the woman was sobbing clutching her daughter to her, ‘Maggie!’
‘Mrs Runcorn-’ began Theia, but the woman jerked the shrieking child behind her, staring at Theia with wild eyes.
‘Don’t come near my daughter! Don’t you come near us! I won’t let you take her away!’
‘We’re not, Mrs Runcorn, we were trying to protect-’
An almighty crash, different from the low rumble of the flames, caught her attention, and she turned to see a body fly from a window. She didn’t see the landing, for the other Aurors were in the way, but they seemed to suddenly fall like dominoes, and a purple mist covered them. From the unnatural cloud burst a tall figure, who ran for the forest surrounding them.
Theia didn’t think twice. She left the woman and child and followed the fleeing man, running with a fierceness she never knew she had. She could hear shouts and running behind her too, but it was like tunnel vision, her eyes were so fixed on Fischer as they whipped through the bracken, dodging branches that she barely had time to see before they were gone.
He cast spells at her wildly over his shoulder, but his aim was poor and she barely had to dodge as they hit the trees beside her, splintering the bark.
‘Expelliarmus!’ boomed a voice behind her, and she saw Fischer’s wand fly easily from his hand, yet he didn’t stop pace, and so neither did she.
She pointed her wand, it was like an instinct, she barely thought of the spell-
Fischer fell, flat on his face from the tripping jinx, and Theia caught up to him. She leapt onto his back to pin him down, like she had been shown in training, but he was so much bigger than her that he easily rolled her over. They wrestled for a second, she found herself on her back with his angry face looming over, and then she saw his fist raised, ready to strike, but a blue shimmered over him.
His eyes rolled back and his body stiffened. He had barely begun to slump and roll to the side when Theia saw Harry’s hands grab him roughly.
She gasped as he pulled the heavy man off her, sitting up rather shakily.
Harry was panting too, binding Fischer’s hands as Robards and Proudfoot caught up with them. ‘Nice work, Theia,’ Harry said, as Proudfoot helped him hoist up Fischer. ‘You’re all right, are you?’
‘Fine,’ Theia spluttered. Absurdly, it was only now that the fear was hitting her. She began to shake, but the others hadn’t noticed, or were at least kind enough to ignore it.
‘You two take him back,’ Robards told Harry and Proudfoot gruffly. ‘Stick him in the holding cell, don’t question him until I’m back.’
They did so, and Robards extended a huge, bear-like hand to Theia, who accepted it and was pulled firmly to her feet. Robards eyed her shrewdly. ‘Sure you’re all right? That was a nasty Cruciatus curse you were under.’
‘I was only under it for a second,’ she said. ‘Is the little girl OK?’
Robards gave a non-committal grunt. ‘She’s not hurt,’ he said. ‘We have a man down, though.’
‘W-what?’ she spluttered. ‘Who?’
‘Nigel,’ said Robards. ‘He got a big lungful of that poisonous gas and we weren’t able to revive him.’
‘Gosh,’ said Theia, in a slightly stunned voice as the faces of all her colleagues ran furiously through her mind. She felt incredibly guilty. She had no idea who Nigel was, she mostly knew people by their surnames. But Robards began to walk back through the forest silently, and she followed alongside him, feeling incredibly disconcerted.
It was sort of anti-climactic. Was that really it? They had arrested the culprit and now she supposed it was simply a matter of getting a confession, or enough evidence to convict. So why did it feel uncompleted?
‘What information do you have for me?’ asked Robards abruptly.
She gaped at him, then looked straight ahead. While she and Robards were ambling along at a relaxed pace, Harry and Proudfoot had rushed ahead, and were now barely visible in the distance. ‘You can’t still think he has something to do with this?’ she said.
‘Perhaps not,’ said Robards. ‘But don’t mistake me. He’s not the only one I keep tabs on.’
There was a long silence. ‘He hasn’t done anything,’ said Theia in a low voice. ‘He’s worked really hard on this case, and not once have I thought he’s had anything to do with it, and now it’s pretty much over, so I don’t see what on earth-’
He gave the lightest of chuckles. ‘Your unwavering loyalty is remarkable to see. Are you in love with him?’
A burst of anger froze her face into a hardened grimace. ‘No. It is possible for women to work in this profession without falling in love at the swish of a wand, you know.’
‘And anyway, I have a boyfriend. And Harry has a girlfriend. All of us are more than happy with our respective partners, thank you very much.’
‘I’m sure,’ said Robards, who seemed completely unperturbed by her offended reaction. Twigs snapped underfoot, and a wood pigeon was cooing somewhere nearby. It was oddly peaceful after such an eventful morning.
‘Besides, Harry isn’t as amazing as most girls think he is,’ said Theia, who now felt desperate to prove her professional worth.
‘How so?’ asked Robards in a controlled sort of voice.
‘Well, he can be pretty moody, he can’t really control his emotions, you know, and-’
You are being manipulated, said a voice in her head.
‘And?’ prompted Robards.
‘And… He’s not that good looking in reality,’ Theia made up wildly. ‘Sort of goofy looking.’
‘I see,’ said Robards. ‘And what does he do when he can’t control his emotions? Lose his temper? Let them stew? Take them out on you?’
‘I didn’t mean it like that,’ Theia said swiftly. ‘I just meant… He has a very expressive face, you can always sort of tell what he’s feeling. Surely you must have noticed that?’
Robards gave her a slight smile, and they stopped at the edge of the forest. The house, now streaked with black beneath the odd looking magical instruments in the windows, looked over the burnt and crowded lawn. A huddle of Aurors stood around a body covered in a white sheet.
‘The thing is, Higglesworth, Bessie came to me the other day. There are inconsistencies in the killings we just can’t ignore. I wouldn’t be surprised if this Fischer bloke is only scratching the surface.’
‘What do you mean?’ she asked, though his statement was not unexpected.
‘I am going to see to my staff,’ he said, looking over at the mourning Aurors. ‘You go back to the office and tell Potter to put the suspect in an interrogation room, but not to question him yet.’
Theia ignored protocol, and only nodded her response.
When she arrived back at the office, she paused only to peer through the hatch of holding cell one. Fischer’s head was in his hands. She couldn’t see his face.
She could hear a light giggling from the break room, and as she entered, she saw Mrs Runcorn scowling from the sofa, while the little girl, Maggie, sat on the nearby table wearing a ceremonial Auror’s hat.
Harry leaned against the table too, smiling kindly down at her. ‘Suits you,’ he said. ‘Would you like to be an Auror when you grow up?’
The little girl giggled again. ‘No! I’m going to play Gobstones.’ She peered up at him, chewing on her lips. ‘Are you really Harry Potter?’
‘Yes,’ said Harry. ‘Would you like to see my scar?’
The bloody cheek of it, thought Theia. He hated it whenever she had been caught looking at his scar, but this little seven year old was permitted to reach up and touch where he pulled his hair back. From the sofa, Mrs Runcorn gave an irritated huff.
‘Dad says you made most of it up,’ said Maggie.
‘Well, your Dad and I have a few differences,’ said Harry lightly. He caught sight of Theia standing awkwardly in the doorway, and then pointed Maggie to the direction of Judy, who was standing sternly by the sink. ‘Judy’s going to hang out with you for a bit now,’ he said cheerfully. ‘I’ll talk to you soon.’
Judy looked very unhappy at being asked to babysit, but Harry appeared not to notice as he quietly slipped out of the room with Theia. ‘Shit about Nigel isn’t it?’ said Harry. ‘Didn’t know him very well, but he seemed decent.’
‘Merlin, I’m so embarrassed, this is awful but who on earth is Nigel?’ whispered Theia.
‘You know the one, grey hair, mad grin. Got really drunk at Neville’s leaving do.’
‘Oh! Right… Yeah, such a shame…’ She still had no idea. ‘Anyway, Robards wants you to put Fischer in an interrogation room but wait until he gets here-’
‘Yeah, keep him waiting, Robards’ favourite tactic,’ said Harry unconcernedly. ‘Did he say anything about Runcorn? We’ve got him in a holding cell. I’d like to charge him for use of an Unforgivable on you, but-’
‘Harry, listen,’ she interrupted. ‘Before Robards gets here… He’s been asking me about you.’
Harry seemed to stiffen slightly, but his relaxed expression didn’t change. ‘I know,’ he said calmly. ‘So he still thinks I have something to do with it, does he?’
She glanced nervously over her shoulder. ‘I don’t know. I mean, yeah, maybe. I sort of got that impression… He doesn’t think this is the end of it. I think he thinks there are… Other people involved.’
He shrugged. ‘OK. Well… He’s never properly trusted me. Fair enough, really. I swanned in here without any training after half his department got sacked or demoted, and he was pressured to put me into a senior position after just a couple of years.’ He scratched the back of his neck awkwardly, keeping his voice low. ‘He’s a good guy, really Theia, he’s just… Paranoid. And if he thinks we need to keep looking out for other culprits, that’s what we’ll do. It’s a shame he thinks I might be involved, but that’s the way it is.’
‘He’s asking me to spy on you,’ she hissed. ‘It’s completely unethical-’
Harry laughed dryly. ‘You really remind me of my friend Hermione sometimes… Don’t worry about it, Theia. Just answer his questions fairly and if he manages to stumble across my secret plot to destroy the world, give me a heads up so I can make my getaway.’
She smiled weakly, looking down at the floor as she nodded. She expected to feel more elated after the arrest.
‘Am I still on for meeting Dennis this afternoon?’ he asked lightly. ‘I won’t stay long, because I’m shattered, but it would be good to see him still.’
‘Er…’ She ran a hand through her hair, suddenly feeling her own exhaustion. ‘Sure. He should be in.’
‘Good,’ said Harry reassuringly, patting her on the shoulder. ‘I’ll go stick Fischer in Interrogation then. Would you mind trying to get Mrs Runcorn’s statement? She hates me.’
Fischer was odd to look at. He would no doubt grow into an intimidating looking man, but his youthfulness meant that his square jaw was softened by his rounded cheeks, his heavy brow frowned over blue eyes that blinked rapidly as he glanced around the interrogation room.
Harry sat calmly opposite him. He let the silence stretch. His only movement was to gently roll a quill between his fingers.
He heard the door open and close with a quiet click. He didn’t move as Theia took her place beside him, but he knew that he had permission to proceed. Robards would be watching on the other side of the window, disguised from their side as a grey brick wall. He released the quill, which gently floated and poised itself over a roll of parchment ready to record.
‘You are Lars Fischer, are you not?’ asked Harry. Fischer nodded. ‘Aged 19, from Dubrow in Germany?’
‘Yes,’ croaked Fischer.
‘And you’ve made friends here, haven’t you? The Death Eaters all think you’re called Dubrow.’
Fischer’s expression was of blank defeat, and he waited several seconds before responding. ‘I am Dubrow,’ he said at last. ‘That is who I am now.’
His English was very good, but in an effort to control his accent, he spoke slowly. Harry leaned forward with a sigh. ‘Have things got a little out of control, Fischer? You don’t seem proud of what you have done.’
Now Fischer smiled, his shoulders shrugging as he gave a breath of laughter. ‘No, I am very proud,’ he said. ‘I am just disappointed it has ended so fast.’
‘Why don’t you tell us what happened, Fischer?’ asked Theia. ‘Now is the chance to tell your story.’
Fischer bit the nail of his thumb as he considered her. Then his eyes flicked to Harry. ‘You must know how good it is to kill the man who murdered your mother.’
‘I didn’t kill him,’ Harry replied. ‘His own curse rebounded. I was only trying to disarm him.’
‘But you would have killed him.’
‘Yes,’ said Harry. ‘I probably would have, in the end.’
He heard Theia’s sharp intake of breath, and could imagine Robards’ arched eyebrow behind the wall.
‘You see,’ said Fischer, whose accent was growing thicker. ‘You can hardly blame me.’
‘But Kaufer wasn’t the man who murdered your family, was he?’ said Harry. ‘He played a part in it, certainly. But I don’t think the situation is the same.’ Fischer shrugged, and looked away. ‘And what about the others?’ asked Harry. ‘The Rookwoods, Pansy Parkinson… I’m assuming Cormac McLaggen is dead too. They had nothing to do with your family.’
Fischer gave an odd jerk of the head. ‘They all played their parts in deaths and disappearances,’ he said. ‘None of them got what they deserved. None of them saw real justice.’
‘But how did you even know about them?’ asked Theia. ‘Did the families of their victims contact you? Is this why you muscled your way into the old Death Eater crowd? For more information?’
‘Not to mention how you managed to wriggle your way into it,’ said Harry slowly. ‘Your name comes up a lot on our bugging charm, and they seem to trust you, but you beat up Shyverwretch, didn’t you?’
‘He wouldn’t give me some information I needed,’ said Fischer. ‘But such actions are normal among those horrible people.’
‘If they’re so horrible, why did you try and help them break out? Seems to me you were playing Beater for both sides.’
‘Some of the people I need…’ began Fischer hesitantly. ‘They are in Azkaban. I needed to get them out.’
Harry sighed again, leaning back in his chair. ‘I see. Hard to get in, murder someone and get out again, isn’t it? Especially if you have a list. I suppose the poisonous gas you used to kill poor old Nigel today is the same stuff you would have had dropped on the guards, is it?’
Fischer said nothing.
‘But I still don’t understand, Lars. I can see why you’d look for Kaufer. I can see why you’d kill him. But none of the other stuff makes sense. Why don’t you explain it to me?’
‘ ”ðr,’ said Fischer.
‘Oh-thur?’ asked Theia, flummoxed.
‘It is a concept,’ Fischer explained patronizingly. ‘One of divine inspiration. A friend opened my eyes to what needed to be done, and I helped him to do it.’
‘Friend?’ said Harry sharply. ‘What friend?’
‘A friend,’ Fischer repeated. ‘A friend who was unhappy that you and your friends got your revenge and moved on, neither worrying nor caring about justice for others.’
‘Ah, I love it when it gets personal,’ said Harry, though he was beginning to feel the prickle of anger. ‘Tell me, what were you planning to do with that little girl? She’s not yet eight years old. She has no idea what her father was responsible for in the war. Were you going to cut a body part off her too? Feed it to Runcorn like you did to Rookwood?’
Fischer seemed startled. He blinked rapidly. ‘No,’ he said, but his voice wobbled.
‘Because it seems to me,’ Harry continued loudly, fuelled by Fischer’s frightened expression. ‘That it’s neither divine nor inspired to hurt a little girl because you have some angry feelings about the criminal justice system, especially as it’s not even the justice system of your own country.’
‘She was never in any danger,’ said Fischer, now speaking so rapidly that it was hard to understand him through his thick accent.
‘She was in danger just in that house!’ shouted Harry, losing his temper. ‘You put her in monumental danger, and I find it hard to believe you were going to treat her kindly considering the injuries we found on your other victims.’
He pushed forward photos of Livia, Augustus and Pansy, and Fischer cried out in disgust and fear, turning away from them. ‘Nein, I did not know-’
‘Didn’t know?’ asked Theia. ‘What do you mean you didn’t know?’
‘Who else is involved in this?’ demanded Harry. ‘Who is your friend? Did you not know about any of this?’
‘They all deserved it,’ Fischer shot back. ‘I’ve been told what they did. Who they hurt. I have no sympathy for them.’
‘But you didn’t do this?’ asked Theia. ‘Is that what you’re saying?’
‘I delivered them,’ said Fischer.
‘To who? Where?’ asked Harry, fists clenched. Fischer looked away again. His face was very white.
‘Lars,’ said Theia, her voice gently and soothing. ‘Why don’t you tell us about this friend? Where did you meet him?’
He seemed to think for a very long time. ‘At school,’ he said at last.
‘Durmstrang?’ prompted Harry.
Another long pause. ‘Yes.’
‘And this… This whole scheme, it was his idea, was it?’ asked Theia.
Fischer chewed on his thumbnail again. ‘We came up with it together. ”ðr.’
‘Well it looks like he goes a bit further than you,’ said Harry quietly. ‘You deliver them, but I suppose you were allowed to kill Kaufman yourself, were you? You gave him a quick death, I’ll give you that. But the others… They suffered, Lars. Why don’t you help us? Why don’t you tell us who your friend is?’
Fischers eyes roved slowly over the photographs, tracing the pools of red, the pale skin, the eyes wide open in horror. ‘They deserved it,’ he said coldly. ‘When will you send me to prison? Others there deserve it too.’
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