SIYE Time:8:16 on 20th July 2018

The Aurors
By FloreatCastellum

- Text Size +

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
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 298
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: 45330; Chapter Total: 1832
Awards: View Trophy Room


On Saturday morning, Theia had still not heard from her mother.

‘Maybe she forgot to bring a charger for her phone,’ said Dennis. ‘Or she left it behind or lost it, or something.’

‘She could ring from the hospital,’ said Theia, scraping her hair back into an untidy bun with a panicked expression. ‘They have phones there for people to use, don’t they? Are you sure she didn’t say which hospital?’

He shook his head. ‘Look, stop worrying. Just sit down, and we’ll start ringing round some hospitals, if you want.’

‘No, no,’ she said, feeling flustered. ‘I can’t. I’m going to nip into the office-’

‘It’s your day off!’

‘-And finish off reading through those files before Harry notices I didn’t do it yesterday.’

‘He won’t be in either, will he?’ asked Dennis. ‘You said you both have the whole weekend off. The case is over.’

This was true. Robards had decided that, despite the phone call with an unknown accomplice, Fischer was ultimately the culprit and their energies were best spent formally charging him and preparing evidence for trial. Harry was not happy about it. He had insisted, several times, that putting Fischer away was not fixing the problem, that in a few months whoever else was helping him would just start up again, but Robards had insisted.

‘One murderer at a time,’ he had said. ‘Sort this out, find this McLaggen boy, and then worry if there’s anyone else mucking about.’ Theia wasn’t sure who to support. She believed Harry, very strongly, but was also eager to see someone put in prison, keen to at least put a bucket under the leak before calling a plumber.

‘I think Harry thinks that if we keep combing over the evidence we’ll find something we’ve missed. I think his girlfriend would kill him if he came in today though, but I don’t want to face his wrath on Monday if he realises I spent half my time in the records room yesterday gossiping with Judy.’

She had tried to say it casually, but Dennis was watching her very carefully, and perhaps he noticed the way she pressed her lips together or how her eyes welled with tears, for he spoke gently to her. ‘I’m sure your mum is fine, Theia. What did Judy say about it all?’

‘Oh, you know, same as you, really… She’s probably just distracted with other things. I don’t know, it’s all just odd though, I can’t shake this feeling… I’m being silly, aren’t I?’

‘Not at all,’ said Dennis, moving forward to kiss her on the forehead. ‘I know I’d be the same. But I assure you, she’s perfectly safe. This job’s just made you paranoid.’

She gave a sniff and a watery smile. ‘Yes… You’re right. I can’t talk, I’m always going off for hours without telling her where I am.’

‘You’ve been a bit funny for days,’ said Dennis. ‘Fancy getting it into your head that I’m a bad guy just because your cat doesn’t like me.’

Theia laughed. ‘It’s not my fault! One of this D.A lot asked me about pets, and when I told him he mentioned something about kneazles and trust-’

‘And you got ahead of yourself, yes, I know,’ he said, smiling. ‘And like I told you on Thursday night, I love you, and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?’

‘Yes,’ she said softly, allowing him to lean down and kiss her on the lips. She sank into him, and then giggled as he tried to push her onto the kitchen table. ‘Stop, I mean it, I’m going to work!’

‘You don’t have to,’ he murmured, but pulled away all the same.

‘Would you mind ringing round the local hospitals while I’m at work?’ she asked. ‘I’d be really grateful-’

‘Of course I will,’ he assured her. ‘You go. Don’t forget to pick me up so we can go to Harry’s, though, I never learned to Apparate.’

She smiled as she left, but in all honesty she would rather skip the meal tonight and search for her mother. She was beginning to grow quite resentful of her, for worrying her like this, leaving without so much as a note or where exactly in the country she was.

The weather was blustery that day. The brief walk from the Apparation point to the entrance of the Ministry was enough to turn her nose pink from cold and her wispy hair flying madly about her head. They were now well on their way to Christmas, and so a vast Christmas tree was being set up in the atrium of the Ministry by navy-robed wizards. Theia greeted them as she approached, watching them levitate great swathes of glittering tinsel, but then found her eyes drifting to the white marble fountain in the hall.

It must be strange to walk past, she thought, for so many people. She had taken little notice of it herself. She vaguely remembered her first trip to the Ministry, to prove her blood status during the war, and then the room had been dominated by a vast, ugly thing. Her father had hurried her past it, and by the time she had started work as an Auror, she had quite forgotten the horrible details.

She had never stood here, and considered the new statue. There had always been too many people bustling past, too much to do, not enough time. But now, with only a small, distracted, gaggle of the Magical Maintenance crew nearby, she could stand and appreciate it.

A phoenix, carved from white marble, bursting upwards from a round pool of water, which glittered with gold, silver and bronze coins. It was exceedingly beautiful. What she had always assumed were feathers marked onto the body she could now see were names, hundreds of them, their ages too, tiny and cramped, but each and every one carefully carved into the white rock. The water slowly trickled over the statue smoothly, she wasn’t sure where it came from, it seemed to simply glide like glass over every inch so she could read the names quite clearly, dropping into the pool like rain. The sound was like a delicate, hushing song. Her eyes scanned until she found him, tucked away beneath the vast right wing.

Colin Creevey (16)

She stared at it for a few moments, but was disconcerted by the lack of feeling. She had expecting a great sadness to well inside her, but instead they were just cold letters, dancing ever so slightly under the streaming water. She read it over and over again, taking her time over each letter, but soon found herself slowly walking around the fountain, looking for other familiar names. They were not hard to find. The Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher from her first year at Hogwarts, next to his wife, at the base of the neck. Harry’s parents, etched on the back. Sally-Anne Perks, who had been a few years above her in Hufflepuff, along one of the huge tail feathers. One of her father’s friends, who had vanished on his way home from work one day. The man that had owned the ice cream shop on Diagon Alley.
Finally her eyes fell to the bronze plaque at the base of the pool.


This fountain, commissioned by the Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, honours the victims of Tom Riddle and his followers, 1975-1998. Never again will such darkness corrupt these halls.

With thanks to:

Harry Potter

Ron Weasley

Hermione Granger

The Order of the Phoenix

Dumbledore’s Army

(Phoenix Fountain, designed by Dean Thomas, unveiled 2nd May 1999 by Kingsley Shacklebolt and Harry Potter. All proceeds to St Mungos Hospital for Magical Maladies and the War Recovery Fund.)

‘Oi, love!’ called one of the workmen. ‘Giz a hand wi’ this!’

She blinked, and shook herself out of her reverie, hurrying over to the Christmas tree. The wizard wanted assistance with a Norwegian pixie that had managed to hitch a ride on the trunk of the tree, and she banished it easily, though her thoughts were elsewhere.

‘Don’t look at that statue too long, love,’ said the man. ‘You’ll get yerself down. They oughta put something more cheerful, shouldn’t they?’

‘It’s quite nice,’ said Theia. ‘Phoenix… Rebirth, hope and all that.’

Another man snorted in derision. ‘Listen to her, Bob. Sounds like Reg!’

‘Leave it out!’ called a voice from behind the tree, who Theia assumed to be Reg. ‘She’s right, it’s poetic! Them heroes deserve no less.’

‘Ignore ‘im,’ said Bob. ‘Thinks the sun shine outta Harry Potter’s arse, that one.’

‘Doesn’t it?’ Theia asked innocently.

Bob shrugged. ‘I dunno. Never met him. You can think what you like, love. I’m just the man who puts the tree up.’

‘I met him!’ shouted Reg proudly. The other wizards rolled their eyes.

‘We know, Reg…’

‘Me and Mary, we brought the kids to see him, he asked after us, you know, to check we were all right after-’

‘Chuffin’ Nora, Reg, we know…’

Theia smiled her goodbye and walked away, leaving Reg to loudly recount the story his coworkers had heard a hundred times before, his voice echoing around the gleaming white fountain.

As she took the elevator to the records room, she wondered if Dennis had ever seen it. She wondered how he would feel. It seemed incredible to her that just a few days ago, she had begun to doubt him, to see fears and suspicious behaviour where there was none. It was said that Aurors could have no private life, but she had never expected to fall in love, so it had never seemed to matter.

Now, as she pulled back the rattling grill, she realised that her work had consumed her. That her brief but dramatic time here had already changed something in her mind, made her fear the worse for her mother, made her suspect innocent coincidences and the man she loved, made her feel nothing but shame as she looked upon the names of everyone that had died fighting while she kept her head down at school.

Well, perhaps she had missed her opportunity during the war. She had not proved herself then. But now that so many had been lost, it was down to ordinary people of no remarkable bravery to step up and continue, wasn’t it?
She enjoyed being back in the warm, musty records room, that place filled with secrets everyone ignored. It may not be glamourous, or valiant, but here was where she would begin her own quiet revolution. Here she would find that piece of evidence that must exist, surely, that would prove that Fischer was not a lone wolf.

Unfortunately, by lunchtime she was still no closer to finding anything of interest. Even by her standards, the files Harry had asked her to read through were dreary, and she swiftly remembered why she’d been so easily distracted by Judy yesterday. She thought about going down to Bessie’s office and taking the phone, ringing her mother or some hospitals or something, but then she remembered that it had been low on battery on Wednesday, by now it would surely be dead, even if she could get into Bessie’s locked office.

She ate while she worked, brushing the crumbs from her sandwiches off the files and knowing nobody would ever notice if she got one of them messy, because who on earth would read them? At one point, she even felt herself dozing off, and she was quite sure that several times she was reading the same paragraphs over and over again without realising.

Her pile was becoming smaller though, and she began to think wistfully about dinner that night. She couldn’t wait to see Ginny Weasley again. Perhaps she would like her more now, maybe they could even become friends. What if they became best friends, and after her matches, Ginny could meet her in that trendy bar in Hogsmead, and they could talk about Harry and Dennis and get matching best friend tattoos and-

‘Calm down,’ she muttered quietly to herself. ‘You’ve got a problem, Higglesworth.’

She grabbed the file on Runcorn, reading through it with utter boredom. Just as with the others, the connection to the case was very clear. He was a famous criminal who had got away with a reduced sentence thanks to the services of a good lawyer, witnesses too afraid to speak out, and a Wizengamot still rumoured to have a few corrupt weak spots.
And yet, towards the back of the file, well past all the other terrible things Runcorn had done, something caught her eye.

Within his role in the regime as Coordinator of the Muggleborn Registration Committee, Robards actively recruited and legitimised gangs known as ‘Snatchers’, who searched for and captured any wanted persons. On day four of Robards vs Wizengamot (3rd August 1998), multiple Snatchers testified against Runcorn as part of plea deals (detailed on page 63 of this report). Those witnesses were as follows:

K. Bosher

L. Flint

E. Hopkirk

J. Mason

A. Pucey

C. Warrington

She was going to throw up. Heart pounding, hands trembling, she leafed through the thick file, barely looking at where she sent parchment flying, her head thundering with the awful possibilities…

Witness Statement of Ezra Hopkirk, submitted in writing to the Wizengamot:

Though I had little contact with Runcorn personally, it was made clear that our orders came from him. While working professionally in broomstick design, I joined a group of Snatchers for the evenings and weekends, after being heavily pressured by Runcorn himself and suffering financial hardship. Runcorn made direct threats to myself and my family, in particular my daughter, who was at Hogwarts at the time.

We were instructed to track down and arrest those on the most wanted list. On one occasion, we tracked down Ronald Weasley, but due to being unsure of his identity, our hesitation helped him to escape. I urge members of the Wizengamot to remember that our inaction that day saved a great hero of the war. I do not remember all of the individuals we arrested, but they included the Gardener family, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Gerald Manea, and Sandra Doughty. These people we delivered directly to the Muggleborn Registration Commission, where they would be seen to by Runcorn before being placed on trial under Dolores Umbridge. To my knowledge, many of these people were not seen again.

We were also often required to intimidate others into joining the regime, or confessing to perceived crimes. On multiple occasions my group was sent to the homes of witches and wizards believed to be hiding Muggleborns or committing other infractions, including Ha-Jin Chang, Martha and Edward Montgomery, Esme and William Robins, and Algie Longbottom. On these families we were often encouraged to use physical violence, as well as, on occasion, the Unforgivable Cruciatus Curse. On these occasions, Runcorn was often present, or required photographic evidence.

I greatly regret my actions during this dark time, and wish to remind the Wizengamot that I did so out of fear for my own safety, as well as that of my child. I urge the good ladies and gentlemen here today to recognise that Albert Runcorn was the organiser and instigator of these crimes, while I was a wholly unwilling participant. The effect of this psychological trauma has been extremely difficult for me, and I now find myself with a crippling alcohol addiction as a consequence.

Theia stayed silent for a few moments, staring down at the faded parchment with a blank expression. Then, with a great bellow of rage and fear, she stood, sweeping the desk free of the mountain of files, the parchment fell to the floor like leaves.

She was beside herself, completely unconnected from her body which wailed and growled with shame and fury, pulling random files from the shelves and throwing them to the ground, kicking at the shelves, beating her fists against the bookcases. It was like a physical pain, all she could do was remember the way he had once carried her on his shoulders, the way he had beamed with pride when she had got onto the Auror program, the way he had, ashen-faced, hugged her when she had been evacuated from Hogwarts.

She found herself crouched on the floor, sobbing, rocking as she gripped her own hair tightly. Who knew? How public had this been? Did Judy and Matthew know? Did Harry know? Did Dennis know?

How could she not have known?

She remembered now. She remembered clearly, him telling her to stay with her mother for a few weeks. Not to visit. He had claimed that he didn’t know when it could all kick off again. He had said he wanted her safely in the Muggle world.

Another choking sob burst from her lips, she could barely see for crying, it felt as though the entire world was closing in on her. Her shaking hands searched through the explosion of parchment surrounding her. She found it again, that terrible page, and stood with a stumble.

She made her way to the atrium as though in a daze. The Christmas tree glittered in the low light, the Magical Maintenance men must have gone home. Perhaps she was completely alone in the building. One hand crumpling the parchment, the other gripping her wand firmly, she stepped out into the dusk, and Disapparated.

Her father’s flat, looking as run down as always, was oddly foreboding. She knew if she went in, she would know the truth, it would be confirmed, and every shred of hope she had had for him would be gone.

But it was already gone. That she knew. The truth was crumpled in her hand, it was rolling down her cheeks, it was etched on the white marble phoenix.

She knocked. There was a long wait, the quiet evening broken by some early revellers in Diagon Alley below. She muttered ‘please’ under her breath, but she didn’t know if she was hoping he would be there or not.

Finally, there was a click, and his grinning face appeared at the doorway. ‘Theia! My little-’

‘Is this true?’ she demanded, holding up the crumpled parchment.

‘S-sorry? What? Are you all right, poppet?’

She shoved it into his chest, and pushed past him into his flat. She was looking around as though searching for something, pacing back and forth in the grotty kitchen, while her father ambled after her, reading the statement he had made just a few years ago.

‘Well?’ she spat.

He looked up, and he at least had the decency to look ashamed. ‘Yeah, it is, sweetheart…’

She swore, half-sobbing, half-laughing, raising the back of her hand to her mouth.

‘You don’t understand-’

‘Yes I do,’ she shot back. ‘You’re scum. Scum! You should be in Azkaban.’

‘They were going to hurt you, Theia. Your mum-’

‘Don’t give me any of that shit,’ she spat at him. ‘No one threatened me, did they? These are your drinking mates, aren’t they? You met them at the pub. You needed more money for drinking, so you joined the Snatchers with all your mates. What a bloody good laugh that must have been.’

He stood there, looking absolutely pathetic, slack-jawed and pale, staring her with glassy eyes. ‘My… My wife is a Muggle,’ he tried feebly.

She swore at him again. ‘Mum DIVORCED you, Dad. She’s not your wife anymore!’ She seized the parchment from his limp hands, and pointed to his last sentence. ‘You see this, Dad? You see this? This is how I know you’re full of shit. Mum divorced you years ago because of this. For years I thought she let you down! But you’ve been an alcoholic as long as I can remember! Don’t pretend, don’t lie to me-’

‘Theia, listen, you and Mum were-’ he said desperately, but she seized a nearby dirty plate and threw it against the wall with a livid scream.

‘STOP IT! JUST STOP! I’m a Higglesworth, now, all right? Get it into your head that I am NOT Theia Hopkirk anymore, and Mum is NOT Betty Hopkirk. This is how you’ve always been, wriggling out of everything, shifting the blame, pretending to be the victim in all of this. Did you even get a prison sentence for this? Well? Did you?’

He looked away, his shoulders were shaking. ‘I got a fine and a suspended sentence… T-Theia… Please, if I worked with them I knew they wouldn’t look too closely at us, I knew we’d be safer that way-’

‘You see this couple?’ she demanded, shoving the parchment under his nose. ‘This couple right here? Esme and William Robins? They helped two Muggleborn brothers get false papers so they could carry on going to Hogwarts. I’m dating one of them. Did you know that, Dad?’ He kept shaking his head frantically, backing away into a corner like a frightened child, still refusing to look at her, but she continued to advance. ‘They risked their lives for two boys they barely knew. What did you do to them, Dad? What did you do to them?’

‘They were all right,’ he wailed. ‘They were, Theia, they were fine, I promise-’

‘You tortured them, didn’t you, Dad? Didn’t you?’

‘I didn’t want to,’ he said. ‘Please, Theia, I didn’t. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just trying to keep you and Betty safe.’

‘Was it a public trial?’ she asked, her voice shaking. ‘Do people know about this?’

‘It was public, but no one turned up to see me sentenced,’ he said. ‘There was just a small note in the back of the paper. There were more exciting people being sentenced. Please Theia, I’m not a bad man.’

She laughed. A scoffing, disbelieving laugh that seemed to hurt her chest. ‘Not a bad man? Would you have handed Harry over then? You nearly handed Ron Weasley over. Would you have destroyed all chances of winning the war? Or did you think we’d already lost?’

He didn’t answer, so she threw the parchment at his feet. ‘You should leave,’ she said coldly. ‘Go and hide. Someone’s going round killing people like you.’

He looked at her, eyes wide and wild, cowering from the realities of his life. ‘Where should I go?’ he asked.

‘I don’t care,’ she said. ‘I don’t care where you go. I don’t care what happens to you. Whatever does happen, you probably deserve it.’

Now her heart was pounding with a new fear, the tears no longer came, she had entered the same tunnel vision she had experienced when arresting Runcorn. She left her father’s flat, at once having no idea where to go and yet also knowing exactly what must be done. She had to find her mother. Her need to be close to her was stronger than ever, her childish fear had an icy grip around her heart, and she felt almost light-headed as she ran into the street.

She apparated just outside her building, neither knowing nor caring if Muggles were nearby to see. She took the lift this time, all the way up, but as she stood in it she paced the tiny box, urging it to go faster. She didn’t know exactly what she was doing, what she was hoping would happen, but something innate was pulling her there.

She reached her flat, and burst in yelling for her mother, but as usual there was silence. She stood, frozen for a few moments, her heart felt like it was beating in her throat. She checked the answering machine. Nothing. She searched all the countertops and the table for a note, as she had done dozens of times before, but still nothing, she became frantic, hysterical, scattering anything in her way onto the floor. Plates and glasses shattered, papers flew, she became aware that she was sobbing loudly.

A new sound entered the room. A soft mewing.

She turned. Váli was there. His tufted ears pointed to her, his tail flicking low by the ground. She stared at him, and swallowed. He turned, and began to walk away, and she followed him, as she had done in the alley.

Her hand was gripped around her wand as she followed the kneazle, kept her eyes fixed on him as he led her out of the front door she had left wide open, and sat in front of Dennis’s flat.

She knocked. ‘Dennis?’ she called, her voice trembling. ‘Dennis? Are you there?’ She leant her forehead against the door, closing her eyes as another choking sob bursting from her lips. She felt Váli’s paws against her leg, a soft, warm pressure. Her wand shook in her hand as she pressed it to the door lock. ‘Alohamora,’ she whispered, and there was a click. She breathed in slowly, a great shuddering breath as her hand rested on the door handle. Váli rubbed himself against her legs. She opened her eyes as she opened the door.

Váli led her straight to the study. There was a rushing noise in her head, almost like the hushing trickle of the phoenix fountain. Váli sat by the door. She unlocked it.

Her eyes widened, her face paled. Realisation hit her like a raging torrent.

It was no longer the empty room Harry had searched. Instead, the walls were plastered with papers, photos, newspaper cuttings. Faces of Death Eaters, lists of names, post-it-notes, a blueprint, photographs of women and
children with red circles drawn over them, tiny note cards beneath. On the windowsill were books, accounts of modern wizarding history, Nordic legends, analysis of terrorism. She walked into the room slowly, nausea rising. Her eyes were caught by a large page of The Daily Prophet. She recognised it immediately.

There she was, the black and white photo of her screaming with disbelief and laughter, hugging Judy in front of a noticeboard. Beneath, the interview. Her gushing, rambling, embarrassing speech about how delighted she was to work with Harry Potter. “Words cannot express how excited I am…” Her first day. Just two weeks before Dennis had moved in next door.

‘It’s rude to break into someone’s house.’

She swallowed as she heard his voice. She turned slowly. Even Váli seemed to pause for a second, then he charged at Dennis, yowling and screeching, but Dennis stepped nimbly aside and into the room, shutting the door just as Váli shot through the doorway.

Theia could hear the kneazle battering himself against the door, desperate to get back in, but she kept her eyes fixed on Dennis, her wand hanging loosely in her hand.

Dennis looked around the room with a slightly abashed look, as though Theia had merely stumbled across an embarrassing collection of Veela posters, or a messy kitchen. ‘Sorry about all of this,’ he said cheerfully. ‘I expect you’re a bit shocked.’

But she didn’t feel shocked. She understood completely. ‘Where is my mother, Dennis?’ she asked quietly.

‘Oh, don’t worry, she’s perfectly safe,’ he said pleasantly. ‘I promise.’ He walked over to the dusty camp bed, where three bin bags, apparently half full of yet more plans and photos, had been dumped. He moved one, and sat down.

She stayed standing, watching him with a face of stone, breathing deeply but unmoving, wanting to attack him but rooted to the ground with fear and horror and desperation.

‘I hadn’t finished getting this room back to how it should be,’ he said, gesturing to the bin bags. ‘I’m sorry you’re seeing it in such a mess. It’s just a good thing I had enough warning before Harry came round, isn’t it?’

She ignored him, and now finally pointed her wand at his chest. It no longer trembled. ‘Where is my mother?’

He raised his hands, but there was a confident smile on his face. ‘Calm down. I promise, she’s all right. She’s not like Pansy Parkinson or Livia Rookwood. I know she did nothing wrong, she’s a nice lady, I have no desire to hurt her.’

‘Where is she?’ Theia said louder, and though the rest of her was steady, her voice quivered with desperation.

‘I need her for insurance,’ said Dennis softly. ‘That’s all. I just need to make sure you and Harry will hear me out. You’ll get her back.’ His eyes flicked to the newspaper cutting she was stood near, and his smile grew. ‘You know, when I first met you, I didn’t like you much at all. I thought you were ditzy. I just needed you to get to Harry. But what can I say? I was telling the truth, last night, Theia, I really do love you. I have come to admire you greatly. It’s an inconvenience, really, but it’s true.’

She couldn’t speak, just shook her head slowly at him, her chest heaving with each deep breath she took. He rose, and stepped forward, cupping her face in his hands.

‘I have to admit, Theia, that after getting to know you… After seeing that you, too, could understand… Because you do understand, don’t you, Theia? They have to be eradicated. Law and order just isn’t working anymore.’

She looked up into his face. The face that had been so earnest and excited when she had known him at school, the eyes that had lit up in wonder at magic now lit with something else entirely. Her bottom lip trembled. She understood what had to be done. ‘Yes,’ she said.

He nodded, and now he brushed her wispy hair away from her cheeks lovingly. ‘You understand what those people did. You’ve seen how Harry and the other good Aurors can’t fix things the way they are. You know I am only trying to make things better, don’t you?’

‘Yes,’ she repeated.

‘You’ll get your mum back, of course, but I need you to take me to Harry’s tonight so I can explain things to him too. I need you to make sure that I have my chance to explain. He might not be as understanding as you, at first. But I’ll help him see that this will be better for everyone.’

‘What are you going to do?’ she whispered. ‘Please, Dennis… Please just tell me where my mum is…’

‘I will,’ he said. ‘Once I’m sure you’re on my side. You are on my side, aren’t you, Theia?’


‘Good. Let’s go now, then, or we’ll be late. And remember, Theia. If you ruin this for me, you will never find her.’

He gripped her arm tightly. She understood the threat. She understood that she was trapped. She understood that he was prepared to go to terrible lengths to get Harry onside. She had to warn him. But her mother… Oh god, her mother…

‘Theia,’ he prompted, the warning clear behind his smile.

She nodded, and they disappeared with a crack.
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