|SIYE Time:14:50 on 24th February 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: 42139; Chapter Total: 1689
Awards: View Trophy Room
It was quite crowded, but Hermione’s voice was the only sound, loudly ringing through the large chamber. She faced the stern Wizengamot, but the busy public gallery lined the circular walls. The audience was stony faced, attentive, neither exhausted nor bored despite the drawn out nature of the trial, which had lasted all week. Dennis Creevey sat in the middle, the magical shackles binding him to his chair. He did not look afraid, or remorseful. The expression on his face was eerily peaceful, with perhaps only the slightest hint of disinterest.
From his own seat, Harry looked calm, but his slightly bouncing leg betrayed his nervousness. He had been staring at Dennis for most of the trial, but Dennis never looked back.
Weeks had dissolved into months. Harry had collected the evidence. Hermione helped him organise it. Theia had not yet returned to work, though he dropped in on her on a weekly basis. The trial was here, and for a week he had fought his way through an excitable press to get to the court, stood nervously on several occasions to give or explain evidence, and returned home to Ginny, exhausted and drained.
‘…Members of the Wizengamot,’ announced Hermione, barely looking at her closing argument. ‘You have heard, over the past week, evidence and testimonies which have established, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the defendant did knowingly and with extreme malice pursue a campaign of violence resulting in the murders of Livia Rookwood, Augustus Rookwood, Pansy Parkinson, and Elizabeth Higglesworth, assisting in the death of German national Christoph Kaufer, the kidnap and torture of Cormac McLaggen, the attempted murder of the four-year-old godson of Harry Potter…’
Harry could feel hundreds of pairs of eyes watching him, a queasy feeling rising from the pit of his stomach to his throat as he tried to keep his expression composed and serious. It became significantly worse as Hermione continued, and he surveyed the crowd in its entirety. The reporters were scribbling eagerly, their eyes flicking between Hermione, Dennis, the Wizengamot judges and himself. Theia, sallow-faced and blank-looking, stood out painfully as she watched Dennis.
When he had told her, she had stared blankly at him. For a while, he was worried that she hadn’t heard him, or had misunderstood, and was close to repeating it. He remembered now, as though it were happening in the next room, the way she had then screamed. He watched Hermione’s lips move as she continued to make her case, but his head was filled with the sounds of Theia’s hoarse wailing.
‘…You have heard, too, the professional opinion of Harry Potter, the lead Auror assigned to this case, and his insight into the mind and motivations of the defendant.’ Here Hermione seemed to stand taller, her voice booming with even more authority. ‘These murders and plots follow convoluted and confused logic. They are not the work of a vigilante with a just cause, but of a traumatised and angry child, seeking justification for his desire to inflict pain and suffering on others. The defence may argue that Dennis Creevey was trying, albeit in a violent way, to right wrongs. They may emphasise the crimes of the Rookwoods, and the information Pansy Parkinson passed to the old regime. To this, I point to the murder of Elizabeth Higglesworth, an entirely innocent Muggle woman, and the attempted murder of Edward Lupin. They were not collateral damage, but targets from the start. Though plans from his study showed the defendant originally intended to murder Ginevra Weasley, his discovery that Harry Potter had a godson meant that, with full soundness of mind, he planned to murder a four-year-old child, even going so far as to spend significant time creating poisoned sweets using the same belladonna he took from Livia Rookwood.’
Harry watched Dennis. He thought there might have been the trace of a smirk. Even now, months later, he still felt a powerful rage. During the trial, Dennis had seemed more childlike than ever. Tiny-looking in the chained chair, his face scrunched in puzzlement at the legal jargon, he reacted with anger and accusations to difficult cross-examinations, confused and babbled his way through contradictory explanations and justifications, recounted his actions with an excited, melodramatic pride. But at no point did he show true remorse. The closest he came to it was expressing regret that no one had listened to him, and he had had to resort to extreme measures. Even during his trial, he had tried to recruit more people to his cause.
‘For Elizabeth Higglesworth, the premeditation was even more sinister. Together with his accomplice, Fischer, he persuaded an unknown Muggle out of his home in order to rent the flat next door to the residence of Harry Potter’s work partner, having identified her from a photograph in The Daily Prophet. From there, he manipulated Elizabeth Higglesworth, the mother of the trainee Auror, Theia Higglesworth, encouraging her to introduce him to her daughter. He then developed a relationship, the aim being…’
Harry saw Theia rise and shuffle awkwardly out of her row, keeping her lips tightly pressed together rather than whispering apologies to the numerous people she was squeezing past. Harry, who thankfully was at the end of a row, followed her as she quietly slipped out of the room, sure that the reporters were eagerly watching them.
‘Theia,’ he called to her, his voice echoing off the tiled walls.
She stopped, but didn’t turn, instead stretching out one arm against the wall to steady herself, the other hand rising to cover her bowed face. He could see her shoulders trembling.
‘I’m sorry,’ she blurted out as he approached, her fingers trembling as she wiped away tears. ‘I know I should stay-’
‘It’s all right,’ he said. ‘You don’t have to. Come on.’ He led her to an empty room, used for less exciting trials and hearings, and sat her down. He pulled out a flask, kindly tucked into his robes by Ginny that morning, and offered it to her. ‘Firewhiskey?’
She gave a short nod and took it, her swig made her wince but the tears seemed to stop falling. They sat silently together for a few moments before she spoke, quite abruptly. ‘I just keep thinking… How could I have not known? How did I not know?’
‘I told you,’ Harry said quietly. ‘The responsibility lies far more with me than-’
‘It doesn’t though, does it?’ she interrupted briskly. ‘You warned me. You tried to tell me how odd it all was. I was stupid. Just a stupid little girl.’
‘You thought you were in love,’ said Harry. ‘The phenomenon can feel quite similar.’
She took another sip of the firewhiskey. ‘The way he sits there… No remorse. Makes me sick. How many tears have I shed for him? For what he did? He seems completely unaffected. And in some ways that hurts the most. Silly, isn’t it?’
Harry could say nothing to this, simply took the flask when she offered it back to him. ‘How’s your godson?’ she asked.
He shrugged. ‘Doesn’t seem to remember it. Seems happy still, but… I don’t know, he’s not the same as he was before. He was always so much like his mother, but now he’s more withdrawn. Less confident around people he doesn’t know well. Won’t take any sweets when offered.’ He sighed and drank from the flask. The burning felt good at the back of his throat. ‘I didn’t even make it five years before I put him in danger… How are things at Judy’s?’
‘As well as they can be. Christmas was grim. Judy and her family didn’t really know what to do around me, I think. Hard to know what to say to someone recently bereaved, isn’t it? Awkward, but there’s no way I’m going back to that flat.’
‘Found your dad yet?’
‘No. He’s vanished off the face of the earth. Maybe if he sees what happened in the press he’ll come find me again. He was always… He never really…’ Her eyes seemed to well with tears again, but she sucked in her cheeks to control herself. ‘Well, he never wanted the divorce. I expect the news will break his heart, if he’s ever sober enough to read it. I’m pretty much an orphan now, really.’
There was a long pause. It was utterly silent in the room, and Harry found himself leaning back in his chair, closing his eyes. He was so tired that his eyelids almost felt as though they were bruised. ‘He’ll go down for life,’ he mumbled. ‘Even the defence knows it. He admitted everything. Didn’t even have to break the Veritaserum laws.’
‘I suppose I should go and see him being sentenced,’ said Theia dully.
‘You don’t have to.’
‘Then I won’t.’
‘Neither will I.’ He didn’t believe he would gain any satisfaction from it. No doubt Dennis would react with anger and be dragged off. He was sick of seeing his face, so simply knowing he was going to be found guilty was enough. He suspected Theia was tired of giving him the satisfaction of seeing her look so broken.
She lay back now too, stretching her legs out while he had swung his own up to rest on a nearby desk. They were leaning away from each other (even Witch Weekly would have struggled to insinuate anything romantic between them), but the comfortable silence between them was one usually attributed to very old friends. Harry opened his eyes, they roved over the cracked ceiling, intricately designed with enchanted, softly shining stars and a firmly printed Latin phrase. Fiat justitia, ne pereat mundus.
‘I will have to see him though, won’t I? When I go on Azkaban duty.’
‘Benefit of my latest promotion,’ said Harry dryly. ‘I’m in charge of scheduling now. I’m sure I’ll be accused of favouritism when you don’t get any Azkaban shifts, but there you go.’
‘I still can’t believe you got promoted to Deputy Head Auror,’ she said, shaking her head in amazement.
‘Yeah, Dawlish’s face when I told him, haha…’
‘I thought Robards hated you. I mean, no offense, but he didn’t seem to trust you enough to make you his right-hand man. He seems to think you’re plotting to be the next dark wizard.’
‘Nah, he doesn’t,’ said Harry, unconcerned. ‘He’s just a paranoid bloke. Too many years in the job. He treats everyone like a potential enemy.’
‘Sure. I can almost guarantee he’ll try and pressure your friend Judy or Matthew into spying on you for him, if he hasn’t already.’
Theia looked startled. ‘That’s horrible. A complete lack of trust.’
He shrugged. ‘It makes it hard to work sometimes, but it has its uses in a job like this. When I first joined, it was how we found out who had willingly helped the old regime. It’s just the way he is. I don’t think he’s ever trusted anyone in his life.’
‘I could probably do with trusting less,’ said Theia very quietly. She looked disgusted at herself.
A surge of pity swelled inside Harry. ‘Stop blaming yourself. You can’t go through life like him, it’d be horribly lonely. It won’t always be like this. You and me, Theia, we’ll fix the department. We’ll fix the whole system. Then we’ll get the trust back. When you come back to work, we’ll work out our strategy and get started on new hires. Hopefully I’ll be able to recruit more guards this year and soon we won’t have to spend any time at Azkaban at all.’
‘I’ll be back to work soon,’ she assured him.
‘You can take all the time you need.’
‘No, I’ve moped around long enough. I want to get back to work. I want us to start on the next stage. Our work’s not finished.’
He turned his head to look at her. She was staring up at the ceiling too, her eyes fixed on the Latin motto with a ferocious determination. ‘I know we discussed it, but we don’t have to do that yet. Not until you’re ready.’
‘I am ready.’
‘It will be dangerous. And lonely.’
‘Good. I’m in need of a good challenge.’
He nodded. ‘Right then. You’ll need some extra training. We’ll start when you come back.’
‘I’ll be back in on Monday, but you won’t.’ Her tone was very matter-of-fact, almost light. She turned to face him with an expression of stubbornness he was more used to seeing on Hermione.
‘You said after this case was finished, you would take two weeks holiday.’
‘Well, yeah, but-’ he spluttered.
‘So you take your holiday while I go back, and I’ll get started on the boring part of the training. I can do some of it myself, all the research parts and language stuff. You go on your holiday, you’ve delayed it long enough. I insist.’
He sat up, mildly outraged. ‘I’m your boss,’ he said. ‘You don’t order me to have time off, I order you to take time off.’
She laughed, and he was stunned. It was the first emotion he’d seen from her other than misery and angry resilience in months. ‘Remember how I used to call you boss? You hated it. How the tables have turned.’
‘I’m not going on holiday while you’re like this,’ he said sternly.
‘You once told me you only get one mum,’ she said, and he winced.
‘I didn’t mean… I shouldn’t have said that-’
‘No, it’s true. You only get one mum, and I lost mine. It’s awful. When you told me, it was like the world had crumbled away from beneath my feet. It was like I couldn’t hear you, but I knew what you were saying. I can never stop thinking about it. It’s always there, like a shadow. There’s no relationship like a mother and child, is there? It can’t ever be replaced. I wonder what her last moments were like. What her thoughts were. Whether she thought I was on my way. I wonder how it feels to die that way. Did it hurt as her lungs filled? Did her fear make her breathe more quickly, and shorten her life even more? Was she confused? Did she start to hallucinate? See things that weren’t there?’
She looked back at the ceiling now, her eyes tracing slowly over the Latin. Her voice was rhythmic and slow, almost soothing, quite unlike her usual fast-paced babble. ‘She must have been down there a long time. Did she feel abandoned? Because I do, sometimes. She didn’t like me having this job. She was always worried I’d get hurt. She hated that I was a witch, I think, because it was something between us, and it only got worse as I got older and started a career she couldn’t understand. Perhaps I am not doing the right thing, carrying on. Maybe I should honour her, and go and live a Muggle life. But even though she hated it, she wasn’t like Dad. She never told me to quit. She told me to keep going. She let me grumble and cry and tell her about how much I hated blood, but then she encouraged me to go back and give it another shot. She regretted leaving her career for love, and as much as I love her, I know I will regret it if I don’t finish this. I can’t bring her back or replace her, but I can remember what she valued, and uphold that, can’t I?’
‘That sounds like a good way to look at it,’ said Harry quietly.
She nodded, she looked almost satisfied. ‘It is, isn’t it? It’s a cliché, but Mum wouldn’t have wanted me to mope around imagining how she died all the time. She wouldn’t have wanted me to be an Auror, either, but I think she would rather that than the alternative. She was tough, my mum. I should very much like to be like her, so I’m going to do what I think she would.’
‘You’re tough too,’ said Harry. ‘I know you found it hard at first. I didn’t make it easy for you. I was thrown in at the deep end and sometimes I forget that there are other ways to do it. But you have an enthusiasm for everything, and that’s made you more resilient than you realise. I am very sorry that this has happened, that I couldn’t do better for you. But for the record, you’ve shown yourself to have the makings of a great Auror.’
Harry tended to only speak so emotionally to Ginny, Ron and Hermione. He still couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone but Ginny how he had felt about not being quick enough, or about how Teddy had felt limp in his arms, or even how he felt knowing that perhaps if he had tried to connect with Dennis after the war none of this would have happened. He would never be like Theia. He would never be able to return her gesture of closeness by talking through his feelings like she had. But he strongly believed, having worked with her during what would undoubtedly be the worst case of her career, that he owed her more honesty and openness than most. Dennis Creevey had changed her life irreversibly, but there was something quietly brave in her resolve to continue as planned, to stop any chance of him holding power over her from within the cells of Azkaban.
‘What are you going to do during your time off?’ she asked him.
He thought for a moment, taking another gulp of firewhiskey. ‘Elope.’
‘Really? You’ve asked her? You kept that quiet.’
‘Not yet. But, sod it, it’s our style. I’ll grab Ron, Hermione and her family and let them know, then send a few messages on the day for anyone else who wants to come. Ginny’s not into a big fuss and I don’t want reporters crawling all over it. A week to prepare should give us enough time for her to find a nice dress. Add a couple of rings and a nice place and what more do you need, really?’
‘She has to say yes first,’ Theia reminded him.
‘Pretty sure she knows I’ve been carrying a ring around for nearly a year,’ he admitted. ‘I’m lazy with my laundry.’
He grinned, and behind them they heard a great murmuring and shuffle of feet. The trial was over, and the sentence must have been passed. They froze in silence, neither knowing how to react or whether they should go and find out what they missed. The door opened, and Susan popped her head in.
‘Life,’ she said shortly. ‘No chance of parole for twenty-five years, with strong recommendations to never be granted any.’
‘Thanks, Susan,’ said Harry, and she gave a brief smile and a nod before leaving. Now the pair were left in awkward silence, both unsure of how to feel, both feeling rather stunned at the anti-climax.
‘I think you’re mad,’ said Theia suddenly. ‘When I get married, I want a huge party with loads of people to dance with. And a massive cake.’
‘The lack of a proper wedding cake may be something I come to regret,’ said Harry, gratefully seizing on the light hearted conversation. ‘But Mrs Weasley might be able to rustle something up for us. Will you be coming? You can’t miss the chance to go to Ginevra Weasley’s wedding, surely.’
‘Can I be a bridesmaid?’ she asked teasingly, but she gave a soft shake of the head, smiling serenely. ‘You keep your small wedding, just promise me you’ll invite me to the inevitable big party down the line.’
She reached over, and took the firewhiskey from him, drinking the last, and then rose. ‘Well then. I suppose we better go and face all the press and give our statements about justice being served. And then the next time I see you, you’ll be a married man and I’ll be ready to start our next big case. Hopefully I won’t screw this one up.’ Misery returned to her face as she crossed the threshold of the door.
‘You’ll be all right, Theia,’ Harry said. ‘Not yet. And not ever the same as you were before. But we’ll face this new problem head on, and all the other problems after that. We’re made for it, aren’t we?’
Together they walked out of the Ministry and into the horde of press, gazing unflinchingly ahead as they pushed through the blinding, flashing lights.
Theia will return in Espionage.
A/N: Thank you all for making it to the end of the story! I really hope you enjoyed it. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please do leave a review or come find me on reddit or tumblr for a chat. I know a few people will be pleased to hear I have edited chapter four with a brief reason a certain potion hasn’t been used. Theia and Harry will indeed return in a new story, Espionage, but probably not until 2017 as I have a new project to write. Until then, watch this space!
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