|SIYE Time:1:17 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: 39271; Chapter Total: 1586
Awards: View Trophy Room
They stood on the doorstep of the cottage, Dennis’s knock of the door still echoing through her ears. She could stun him now, she thought, somewhere in the back of her mind. But she knew, as surely as she knew that the sun would rise and that the earth would keep turning, that if she did he would never reveal where her mother was.
It was though he had read her mind. ‘Give me your wand.’
She pressed her lips together to hold back the sob. ‘I don’t want to give you my wand. I’m not giving you my wand.’
‘Do you want to see your mother again? Do you?’
What could she do? She handed it over. She could hear faint laughter from behind the door. She swallowed. Dennis’s grip on her arm was firm. ‘Don’t spoil this for me,’ he whispered. ‘Stay by my side.’
The royal blue door opened, spilling warm light onto their faces. Ginny Weasley appeared, her smile broad and kind. ‘So lovely to see you both,’ she greeted, standing aside to let them through. ‘Oh, Dennis, it’s been such a long time.’
‘It has, hasn’t it?’ he replied, accepting her hug. ‘So kind of you to invite us.’
‘Not at all, come through, we’re delighted. Harry’s just finishing off the dinner- Oh! Let me get your coat.’
She had to do something. She had to warn them somehow. Theia had never been to Harry’s house before, but as she looked around the cosy, photo-filled cottage she felt an overwhelming dread inside her, like the start of grief. It was like a punch in the stomach when a small, blue-haired child came running through from the kitchen, covered in flour.
Ginny bent down and stretched out an arm to stop Teddy leaping onto Dennis, who was laughing softly. ‘Teddy,’ she said, with friendly warning to her voice. ‘What have we told you, we don’t jump-’
‘Hello,’ said Dennis, an amused grin on his face. ‘You’re very excitable, aren’t you?’
‘Sorry,’ apologised Ginny, with a slightly exasperated expression as she picked Teddy up. ‘He does love meeting new people, he gets it from his mum. Teddy, these are our friends we told you about, Dennis and Theia.’
‘I’m Teddy,’ the little boy said proudly. ‘Do you want to see my colours?’
‘You can show them that later,’ said Ginny patiently, holding Teddy on her hip. ‘I thought you were making the pudding with Harry?’
‘Harry let me use the big boy knife,’ said Teddy immediately. ‘He told me not to tell you.’
Dennis burst out laughing as Ginny raised her eyebrows. ‘Oh did he? After I told him you were too small? Interesting.’
‘Teddy, you little grass!’ came Harry’s voice.
Ginny grinned over her shoulder. ‘I think Harry’s a bit overwhelmed in the kitchen to come through, so we’ll have to go to him…’
Theia and Dennis followed her through to a stone walled kitchen, where Harry was busying himself by the stove. ‘Sorry,’ he said hurriedly, only glancing at them with a brief smile. ‘Hello, hello, good to see you both, I’ll be with you soon, I got my timings wrong.’
Theia felt sick. A cold clamminess covered her, her mind was furiously working, desperate to think of a way to tell Harry to get his girlfriend and godchild out of the house, urgently trying to figure out how she could get a message to him without Dennis realising.
Ginny was offering them both wine, which Dennis cheerfully accepted, but as she approached Theia, her face fell slightly. ‘Are you all right, Theia? You look a bit pale.’
‘Yes, sorry,’ she mumbled. ‘Not, er… Not feeling great.’
‘I can get you water if you’d prefer?’ Ginny said, with great concern.
Theia accepted with a nod and her best attempt at a smile. She accidentally caught Dennis’s eye and saw the warning in his expression. Did he have others working with him too? Would he hurt his mother if she didn’t behave the way he wanted? Had he already hurt her?
Ginny was now talking animatedly with Dennis, delighted reminiscing about their Hogwarts days.
‘And how is Demelza?’ Dennis asked. ‘Her family were so good to my brother and me.’
‘She’s good,’ said Ginny. ‘I still see her from time to time, she’s working as a rune translator for a curse breaking company, but she was thinking of moving into something with more human contact…’
Ginny’s voice seemed to fade away as Theia panicked. She wanted to catch Harry’s eye, perhaps if she looked frightened he would guess, but he was too focused on the dinner and his godson tugging at his trouser leg. Perhaps she could go to the bathroom, and leave a note on the mirror with her lipstick? But what if Dennis went in before Harry or Ginny? It was worth a shot surely, but as she began to move away, Dennis held her hand. He did it so casually that she doubted Ginny would have noticed even if she hadn’t been deeply engrossed in conversation with him.
Should she even warn Harry at all? Thoughts of her mother filled her mind, and her eyes stung with tears, but she blinked them back and drank deeply from her glass of water, forcing herself to calm down. There had to be a way to keep everyone safe and get her mother back. There had to be, there had to be…
She blinked and looked down in surprise as she felt a tugging on her skirt. The little boy was gazing up admiringly at her. ‘Hello!’ he said, beaming.
‘Hello, Teddy,’ she replied, trying to keep her voice as positive and natural as she could. ‘I’ve heard a lot about you.’
‘Are you Harry’s friend?’
‘He’s an orr-aah,’ said Teddy knowledgably. ‘He got me an orr-aah costume for my birthday. Do you want to see it?’
‘That would be lovely,’ she said, and he ran like a bludger from the room. They heard something crash and thud as he went.
‘That’ll be the clock again,’ said Harry, who seemed to have finally gained control of the dinner. ‘We really ought to move it when he’s round.’
‘He’s a very confident little boy, Harry,’ said Dennis.
‘Yeah, he’s great,’ grinned Harry proudly, grabbing his own glass of wine. ‘Dinner won’t be long, shall we go through?’
Theia wanted to seize the moment while Teddy was out of reach, wanted to let Harry know now, but how could she with Dennis’s arm wrapped around her, guiding her into the dining room? He leant down, very close to her ear, and whispered. ‘You need to enjoy yourself. Don’t worry. Nothing will happen as long as you enjoy yourself.’
The dining room was more spacious than she had expected, the table far bigger than necessary for a couple living on their own, but as she looked around she could see that it was a room well used for entertaining. Dozens of pictures of the pair of them with other red-headed people, with old D.A members, with the little boy and a dark haired woman lined the cupboards, a battered looking gramophone sat in the corner. The table was already set for their meal, with bowls of olives to nibble on, and they chatted lightly together.
It was very odd seeing Harry in this context. Had Theia not been so terrified, she would have been enjoying herself immensely. He certainly seemed relaxed, but when he pulled out his wand to summon the first course, Dennis flinched.
‘Sorry, d’you… Do you mind if we keep a fairly Muggle night?’
‘My apologies,’ said Harry calmly, tucking his wand back into his robes.
‘I know it’s awfully rude,’ continued Dennis hesitantly, ‘but would it be all right if we didn’t have wands in the same room as me? I know it’s silly, but I just-’
‘Sorry, Dennis,’ said Harry, more firmly. ‘My wand stays with me at all times.’
‘Even in your own home?’
‘You never know who could burst through the door.’
Dennis did not have time to respond, however, as Teddy came rushing back into the room, dressed in a miniature version of the red Auror robes.
‘Wo-o-ow,’ exclaimed Harry. ‘Look at you, Ted!’
Teddy beamed at the adults, who were making all the right impressed expressions and noises. He had even turned his hair black like Harry.
Ginny rose to fetch the first course, while Teddy clambered onto Harry’s lap, kneeing him in the stomach as he did.
‘Quite a handful,’ said Dennis. ‘How did you end up a godfather, Harry? Theia tells me his father was one of your old teachers.’
‘Yes,’ said Harry, slightly distracted by Teddy trying to steal his glasses off him. ‘You won’t remember him, but your brother would have been taught by him. Remus Lupin. He was a member of the Order and a friend of my dad’s at school.’
‘I never knew that,’ blurted out Theia.
Harry nodded, squinting as Teddy successfully pulled his glasses off. ‘Him, my dad, and my own godfather were all best mates. They’ve all passed away now, of course.’
‘He must be very special to you,’ said Dennis. Something crossed Harry’s expression, but Theia couldn’t tell if it was fear or if she was simply projecting her own feelings.
‘Special to everyone, aren’t you, Ted?’ said Harry. ‘Just special in general.’
‘I can count to a hundred,’ said Teddy seriously, trying to balance Harry’s too-big glasses on his nose. Harry gently took them back as Ginny returned with the last of the starters and persuaded Teddy in the seat next to him, where he sat happily, swinging his legs enthusiastically under the chair.
‘I hear you’ve finished your big case, Harry,’ said Dennis pleasantly.
‘Sort of,’ said Harry. He looked at Theia, and she tried to tell him everything through her eyes, wishing that she were telepathic, but he simply nodded sympathetically. ‘I know we could have done more. I’m sure if we’d pulled at the thread a bit more it would have all unravelled, but at least we can put someone in prison.’
‘Are you often disappointed with the outcome of your cases?’ asked Dennis.
‘Well… No, it’s a satisfying job most of the time. Just the usual stuff, clash of work cultures, clumsy mistakes, you know.’
‘I expect there are lots of people out there that should be in prison but got away with it, aren’t there?’ said Dennis sympathetically. ‘Like last time.’
‘We’ve got the worst of them,’ said Harry easily. There was a tenseness in his shoulders, and even Ginny had begun to chew very slowly as she watched them. Perhaps Dennis noticed, for he now turned to Teddy again.
‘That’s a brilliant Auror costume, Teddy. Would you like to be an Auror when you grow up?’
The little boy nodded enthusiastically, and looked up at Harry again. ‘Can I show them my colours now?’
‘Of course you can.’
‘OK, this one… This one’s…. Um… This one’s purple,’ said Teddy, and he scrunched his face up hard. The black of his hair shimmered and rippled into a dark purple, growing lighter as Teddy’s cheeks grew red with the effort. Finally, when it was a bright shade of violet, he opened his eyes to brightly receive their amazement.
This continued for some time, and he was so endearing that despite her terror, Theia at times found her mouth twitching into a smile, before she remembered what a monster she had bought into the house. When Harry rose to get the next course, Teddy jumped down from his seat, keen to show off his Auror costume some more. This time, he changed his hair back to his favoured shade of turquoise blue.
‘That’s brilliant that you can do that,’ said Dennis. ‘Is it just your hair you can change?’
‘No!’ shouted Teddy, who was getting so excited that he could barely stand still. ‘I can do my nose too, and my eyes, anything really!’
‘Your eyes?’ gasped Dennis in mock-amazement, and Ginny laughed warmly. ‘I don’t believe you!’
‘I can, I really can!’
‘No, I don’t think so!’
Harry returned with steaks just as Teddy ran to Dennis to prove it to him, and Dennis hoisted him up onto his lap. Harry looked uncomfortable, he watched very carefully as he sat down. Ginny was laughing along with Dennis and Teddy as the little boy changed his eyes to various requested colours, joining in, unaware that Harry was now looking at Theia with a serious expression.
Harry’s eyes met Theia’s, and she could see uncertainty, dread.
Theia gave her head the tiniest of shakes.
‘Theia,’ said Dennis suddenly. ‘Have you seen this kid? Isn’t he talented?’
She turned her head to smile at them both. ‘Very talented. How old are you now, Teddy?’
‘Three and three quarters,’ Teddy recited proudly.
‘Gosh, you are getting big,’ she said. ‘You were born just before the battle, weren’t you? On May Day?’
Teddy looked confused, but Ginny spoke up for him. ‘No, he was born a little bit earlier than that, in April.’
‘I see,’ said Theia, and she stole a glance to Harry. He met her eyes again, but his expression didn’t change. Had he heard it? Had he understood? She didn’t have the taboo, sadly no Aurors would come running, but had he heard the meaning of the word? Had he tensed up, or was she merely seeing what she wanted to see?
She couldn’t tell. He looked pale, but he had leaned back in his chair, as though relaxed. ‘Ted!’ he called cheerfully, holding out an arm ready to embrace him. ‘Come here, mate.’
Teddy grinned, and made a movement as though ready to hop down, but Dennis’s arms remained around him. Dennis reached into his pocket.
‘You know, Teddy, I never met your parents, but my brother always said your dad was his favourite teacher.’
‘Really?’ asked Teddy. His smile had lessened slightly, but his eyes had grown wider.
‘Teddy,’ said Harry, more loudly now, still with his arms outstretched.
But Teddy was now entranced by Dennis, who pulled a small paper bag out of his pocket. ‘Yes, he said he was a brilliant teacher. I was so sorry to hear he died. I was even sorrier to hear that the man who killed him is still alive and well.’
‘Ted,’ Harry said again, and now Theia could hear desperate fear in his voice. Next to her, Theia could hear Ginny’s sharp gasp, she sensed a rustling movement.
‘I’d put that down if I were you,’ said Dennis suddenly, eyeing Ginny’s wand. ‘There’s no need to worry as long as everyone sits quietly and listens. Theia understands that, don’t you, Theia? Just put the wand down. There, in the middle, out of reach, please.’
There was a glint of light from the knife Theia hadn’t noticed in Dennis’s other hand, pressed lightly against Teddy’s back. Dennis raised it until Ginny, pale-faced and trembling with fury, placed her wand on the table. Dennis stared at Harry until he did the same, slowly, hesitantly. She could see he was tempted to disarm Dennis, but it was clear that at the slightest hint of a spell, Dennis would need less than half a second to cause untold misery…
‘Edward,’ said Harry, as he placed the wand slowly and carefully on the table, his voice deep, urgent, authoritative. ‘Come here now.’
Teddy looked at his godfather, his expression distressed and confused, he began to wriggle, but Dennis kept a firm grip. ‘You’re not the only one though, Teddy,’ Dennis continued. ‘There’s lots of us who lost people we loved.’ He slowly raised his eyes from the little boy, and looked directly at Ginny. ‘My brother snuck back into the castle. Wasn’t that silly of him? Someone helped him.’
Ginny’s eyes were filled with tears, she was staring at Dennis with disbelief. Theia was shaking, she was desperate to leap forward and grab a wand, thoughts of her mother had flown out of her head now that there was a child involved, but the point of the knife was now at the back of the unknowing child’s neck.
‘Helped him?’ asked Teddy.
‘Yes,’ said Dennis, as though telling a bedtime story. ‘Hid him and some friends in the Room of Requirement so they could join the battle, even though they were still children. If that girl hadn’t done that, I’d still have a brother…’ Now his eyes roved slowly to Harry, who was poised to spring from his seat, his eyes fixed on Teddy, his jaw set in rage. ‘Or perhaps… If others had been quicker…’
‘Come on now, Dennis,’ said Harry, his voice oddly calm compared to the hatred on his face. ‘You know that isn’t fair.’
‘Quite right,’ said Dennis. ‘Quite right. But let’s have a chat, shall we?’
‘Let my godson go, and then we’ll talk,’ said Harry coldly.
Dennis shook his head. ‘You must think I’m stupid. I know you won’t listen otherwise.’ He turned back to Teddy, smiling reassuringly. ‘Would you like a sweetie, Teddy?’
He wriggled the paper bag at Teddy. ‘Don’t eat that, Ted,’ said Harry sharply.
‘You’ve still got your dinner, Teddy,’ said Ginny. ‘No sweets before dinner.’
‘It’s all right,’ said Dennis soothingly. ‘Just one is all right. They’re my favourite.’
Teddy began to cry. He was reaching for Harry now, and Harry was leaning forward, his hands ready to seize him but his eyes flicking from the knife to the bag of sweets. ‘What d’you want, Dennis?’
‘I want you to listen.’
Dennis licked his lips. He looked nervous too now. ‘I don’t want to hurt him,’ he said. ‘Or Theia’s mum.’ Theia felt Ginny stare at her, surely now the pieces were falling into place. She hated herself. For everything.
‘You don’t have to,’ said Harry. ‘Just hand him over. It’s all right, Dennis, just hand him over-’
‘But if it comes to it, I will,’ said Dennis fiercely. ‘Because you didn’t listen to lots of people. All those people sending you letters, begging, pleading, telling you that the people that had destroyed their lives were walking freely, or enjoying a life of luxury in Azkaban-’
‘I’m not in charge of sentencing, Dennis,’ said Harry softly. ‘You know that-’
‘But they would have listened to you!’ said Dennis, his voice on the edge of strained shouting. Teddy cried even louder now, wriggled in Dennis’s arms. Theia wanted to leap forward and knock the knife out of his hand, and perhaps it showed, for Ginny was holding onto her arm, keeping her back.
‘What do you want me to do, Dennis?’ asked Harry quietly. ‘Kill people? Like you killed Livia and Augustus Rookwood? Like Pansy Parkinson? Like-’
‘You could have,’ said Dennis. ‘You could have and who would have blamed you? You killed Voldemort, why not the other evil people of the world? It’s justified, you know it is.’
‘It’s not,’ said Harry. ‘Not like that. Give me my godson, Dennis.’
‘We’re still at war,’ said Dennis, and now tears were streaming down his face, and the knife was trembling at the nape of Teddy’s neck, aligned with his spine. ‘Maybe not you, maybe you’ve moved on, but some of us are still at war, and killing is necessary in war.’ He looked down at Teddy again, who was sniffling loudly. ‘Don’t cry,’ he told him. ‘Have a sweetie. It will cheer you up.’
‘Teddy,’ said Harry again, his voice cracking, ‘Teddy, look at me, it’s going to be all right, OK? Don’t eat that-’
‘Everything was all right for you,’ continued Dennis. ‘We both got the fairytale beginning, but you were accepted. Me and my brother wanted nothing more than to be part of this world, Colin thought it was the best thing that had ever happened to us. But they didn’t want us there. Do you know what that’s like? To love a world you will never be accepted in? I didn’t choose this.’
‘Dennis,’ said Ginny softly. ‘We accepted you… I loved you and your brother… Please Dennis, put down the knife…’
His eyes flashed with anger. ‘Is that so? You and plenty of others were perfectly happy to be nice to us, but when my brother was murdered and we wanted justice, what then?’
Teddy wriggled more, but now Dennis took a dark purple hardboiled sweet from the bag. Harry leaned further forward, he seemed ready to strike.
‘We’re putting people in prison, Dennis,’ he said. ‘We rounding them up and putting them away so they can’t hurt anyone else.’
Dennis gave a shallow laugh. ‘You know you’re not solving the problem. You know that. You’ve let us down. You’re letting them spend a few months in a cell then letting them out again-’
‘Yes! Yes, you are, when they should be eradicated. When the apple’s rotten, you take it out of the barrel. You will never solve this problem. Not without real action. But you could. People would listen to you.’
Harry was now very pale, his eyes flicking rapidly between Teddy and Dennis, his lips pressed together. Theia had never seen him afraid before, and it frightened her. She was suddenly aware that she was crying, and that Ginny’s hand on her arm was trembling. It was unbearable frustrating, sitting there, letting this happen, but the point of the knife was pressing against the back of Teddy’s neck, and Theia was sure that, like her, Harry and Ginny were frozen with a fear they had not encountered before.
‘That’s what you want to do, is it, Dennis?’ asked Harry. ‘Kill everyone who ever helped Voldemort? That’s a lot of people.’
‘Yes,’ said Dennis. ‘Yes, it is, which is why your method isn’t working. Their prejudice breeds among them, they will never be trustworthy. They might love you now, Harry Potter, but when a new wizard comes they’ll line up to get rid of people like me all over again. You haven’t changed anything.’
‘Dennis,’ said Theia, and she could hardly believe that she was talking. ‘That’s a huge number of people. It’s people like… Like my dad…’ He didn’t look at her. She couldn’t tell if he knew what Ezra Hopkirk had done to the family that had hidden him. ‘People with their own loved ones, their own brothers and children. This isn’t the way, Dennis…’
He looked at her, and his expression was one of utter betrayal. ‘You said it yourself. They have to be eradicated. Sacrifices have to be made for a safer future-’ He looked back to Harry desperately. ‘Don’t make me do this, Harry. You already know what it’s like to lose someone. Imagine not getting justice for them-’
‘We don’t know who killed your brother, Dennis,’ said Harry, his eyes still fixed on Teddy, his voice strained.
‘Exactly, because it wasn’t one person, it was a whole system of people. The entire society is rotten to its core. You understand, don’t you, Harry? You could help me-’
‘Teddy,’ said Harry again, and Theia could now see the tears in his eyes as Dennis lifted the small purple sweet to the little boy’s lips.
‘How can you sit there, and not understand?’ demanded Dennis as he forced the sweet into Teddy’s mouth. ‘How can you look me in the eyes, and say that my brother and I don’t deserve justice? There’s dozens of us, you know-’ Teddy began to make choking noises.
‘Please, Dennis- Teddy! TEDDY!’
‘If you joined our group, you could help finish what you started. You’ve done the worst of it, but we shouldn’t stop now, not when our goal is in sight-’
‘What have you given him? Dennis, what have you given him?’
‘I told you, I told you this is what would happen if you didn’t listen to me. I’m not unreasonable. I gave you enough warning.’
Teddy began to cough and splutter, his head lolling limply back, and now both Harry and Ginny were shouting his name. ‘All of us that agree this is the best way, that saw the potential in Dumbledore’s Army but were disappointed by your lack of action-’
Teddy gave a great, strangled gasp, his lips were turning blue, Harry leapt forward as Ginny reached for her wand. Dennis pushed Teddy to the floor, but Harry half-caught him in his arms, his eyes wide and panicked as he stared at the limp boy.
Ginny ran to them, wand raised, crouching down to help, for Harry was frantically shouting Teddy’s name, trying to open his frothing mouth. ‘Open his airway! Ginny, open his airway! Teddy! TEDDY!’
Dennis could see that it was over, and he began to run from the room, but Theia, enraged and distraught, adamant that she would not let this happen, threw herself at his legs, tackling him to the ground.
She could hear Ginny still shouting for Teddy, heard Harry run from the room, but she remained on the floor, wrestling Dennis with tears in her eyes.
‘How could you?’ she screamed at him. ‘Give me my wand! Give me my wand! I’m placing you under-’
‘Get off me,’ he snarled at her, trying to push her off him by the throat. ‘Don’t make me hurt your mother, Theia-’
She had reached inside his robes, and felt her hand grasp around the handle of her wand, but as she did he hit her across the face with such force that she was spun off him. She lay there, her head ringing, as he scrambled up. She rolled back over to her front, feeling as though she were in slow motion, her head cloudy and filled with the sounds of the ringing and her own heartbeat and her heavy breathing. Her wand was still in her hand, she pulled herself up with the help of the wall, her eyes trained on the back of Dennis, who was now running out of the room.
She followed him, passing Harry as he burst back into the kitchen holding a potions kit, chasing Dennis out into the cold night air, leaving screams behind her.
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