|SIYE Time:1:34 on 19th August 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: 35369; Chapter Total: 1897
Awards: View Trophy Room
The entire department was watching him with serious, stressed expressions, a low hum of muttered conversation filling the air. Though Robards was at his side, it was Harry that had placed Azkaban into lockdown, and it was he who would be leading the investigation. Behind him, the wall was covered in photos of various angry Azkaban prisoners, Dolohov included, with magical lines connecting them like a shimmering web.
Theia, looking exhausted but resolute, was handing out notes and instructions. He felt bad for admitting it, but he preferred it when she was tired. Much quieter. Although, he supposed she had been fairly good in Azkaban, immediately assisting him with the lockdown, rushing from room to room with the guards to continue the search with very little fear, despite the wailing siren and the shrieking prisoners.
When she had at last sat down and he was sure everyone was in the room, he got the nod from Robards and cleared his throat.
‘Right, team,’ he announced loudly. Silence fell swiftly, all eyes attentive. ‘A plan of Azkaban was found in Dolohov’s cell, along with a list of names and times. On further searching this lot,’ he jerked his head to the pictures of the incarcerated Death Eaters, ‘also had written maps, lists and times, and combined they start to look like a sophisticated escape plan.’
He paused, glancing at Robards. Robards nodded again, his jaw set in fury, leaning against the wall with his strong arms folded. He turned back to the team, looking directly at the handful of senior guards from Azkaban. ‘I’m not going to pretend that I’m anything less that severely pissed off that this wasn’t spotted earlier. There is a reason weekly cell checks are supposed to go ahead, and there’s a reason they’re supposed to be extremely thorough.’
‘We want the Dementors back,’ said one of the guards abruptly. ‘Since you got rid of them-’
‘You shouldn’t need dark creatures to do your sodding job, and deliberately skipping tasks because you’re annoyed is not going to change that!’ said Harry, his voice raising into a shout. ‘Auror presence is going to be doubled-’
A huge groan rose from the crowd, Aurors and guards alike visibly slumping in their chairs, rolling their heads back.
‘We’re stretched thin as it is,’ complained Dawlish. ‘I’ve got four ongoing cases-’
‘Well maybe you should use your trainee as something other than a PA,’ Harry shot back. Beside Dawlish, a girl blushed furiously.
‘None of you are in any position to complain,’ interjected Robards, his voice a low growl. ‘This is a complete fucking embarrassment. We’ve got to thank Dolohov for not having any self-restraint and trying to kill Potter, or we’d be dealing with a mass breakout.’
‘Well if we can’t have the Dementors back, we want to be able to use Veritaserum again,’ said another guard grumpily.
‘Don’t be a prat, you know why that was banned,’ said Harry sharply. ‘It’s completely bloody unethical and you can never be sure it’s actually worked anyway. Stop acting like it’s a cure-for-all and accept the new laws.’
‘If we had the Dementors back-’ started Dawlish, but Harry’s temper flared.
‘We are NOT getting the Dementors back, or Veritaserum!’ he shouted, pointing a finger at Dawlish angrily. ‘I know it might seem odd to those of you that complied with Voldemort’s regime, but dark creatures, breaching human rights, and corruption have to be eradicated.’
Dawlish glared at Harry with livid resentment, but seemed unwilling to break the uncomfortable silence that had filled the room. Theia was looking rapidly between them both with wide eyes and a slightly open mouth.
‘You’ve all got jobs to do,’ said Robards dangerously. ‘The would-be escapees had outside connections, and helpfully left us a list of names. You’ve all been given information on those that you need to go and arrest, question, and build a case against.’
‘Some of them are missing,’ said Harry. ‘One of them is Livia Rookwood, now deceased, and her husband, Augustus Rookwood, on the run presumably after murdering her, or being chased away by the murderer. Others are people known to have connections to Death Eaters, but never convicted of anything themselves,’ he looked at Neville and Proudfoot. ‘Pansy Parkinson is one of them, and I want you two to question her without alerting her to what’s going on. We’ve got absolutely nothing on her except that Alecto Carrow had her name written down, so we can’t arrest her.’
‘What about the others?’ asked Savage.
‘You can arrest them on suspicion of assisting an offender, most of them have got enough criminal activity in their past for it to be a reasonable assumption.’ He tapped at a picture on the wall behind him. ‘We think this bloke is organizing it, or is at least very aware of everything that’s going on, so Theia and I are going to bring him in. When questioning your suspects, look out for any mentions of Shyverwretch, or reactions to his name. He deals in poisons and venoms, so look out for any connection there. They’d circled the kitchens and staff room, so it’s possible they were planning on poisoning the guards.’
The group of guards shifted uncomfortably, and Robards looked at them sharply. ‘I hope this means you’ll stop slacking off from now on. I’m absolutely disgusted at what I’ve been hearing. If a prisoner threatens suicide, no matter how unconvincingly, you must take him to the welfare room to speak to a trained professional. If a prisoner is found with a weapon, you must do a thorough search, and you must search all rooms weekly. And for the love of Merlin’s bollocks if someone is being attacked you don’t walk, you run. I don’t want any more of this go-slow nonsense. If things don’t improve, I won’t be getting the Dementors back, I’ll just be getting rid of the whole bloody lot of you.’
No doubt their morale was now low, and the looks on their faces certainly suggested that they were thoroughly miserable, but Harry had no sympathy. Every time he thought of the mountain of contraband and plans for escape they had discovered, he practically shook with fury. He’d thought Theia was useless, but at least she had the decency to actually try. ‘This takes priority,’ he told the room. ‘Unless a life is in danger, other cases need to be paused. Get going.’
There was a great scraping of chairs, but the Aurors left the meeting room in silence. When Harry and Theia were walking back to their cubicle, Dawlish was waiting for them, and he hurried over to Harry, pale with rage. ‘You don’t speak to me like that, Potter, I won’t stand for it-’
‘Bugger off, Dawlish,’ snapped Harry, walking past him. ‘You’ve got work to do.’
‘Why do you hate him so much?’ asked Theia in an awed voice once they were at their desks.
‘Either he happily worked with the regime during the war, in which case he shouldn’t be an Auror, or as he claims, he was under the Imperious curse. If he can’t throw off an Imperious curse, he shouldn’t be an Auror. It was only his good pre-war record and the fact that we were desperate that saved his job, I certainly didn’t want him back,’ he said viciously. ‘Either way, I’d trust a hinkypunk before I trusted him.’
He wondered if he had frightened her, she looked taken aback at the very least, but he was in such a foul mood that he couldn’t stand the thought of trying to cheer her up. ‘Did you check Shyverwretch’s licence?’ he demanded.
‘Yes, he does have permission to sell it.’
‘Right then,’ he nodded, grabbing his cloak. ‘Let’s go and get him before he catches wind of everyone getting arrested.’
The dark and dingy shop had been tidied up, and the cuts and bruises on Shyverwretch’s face were gone. Yet there was still something odd in the room, something out of place, and Theia had the odd sensation that she was about to stumble upon something.
Harry had smoothly flipped the ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’ upon entering, summoning Shyverwretch’s wand just as the shopkeeper noticed they were there.
‘Don’t get up, Mr Shyverwretch,’ he said as he caught the wand. ‘We’re just here for a chat.’
Shyverwretch bristled, his pale eyes looking them up and down rapidly. ‘What d’you want?’ he demanded.
‘Heard the news about Livia Rookwood?’ Harry asked.
‘Don’t mess me about, Shyverwretch.’
‘Haven’t seen her in years. What’s going on?’
Theia’s attention drifted from the men, examining the shop more closely. Almost automatically, she began pacing, her feet treading lightly, wandering around the shop as though browsing.
‘Have you sold any belladonna recently?’
‘What’s it to you? I have a licence for it, you know.’ He was watching Theia, she could feel his eyes burning into her back.
‘I know you do, you’re one of the few that does, as it happens. Was any taken from you in the break-in?’
Shyverwretch seemed unsure what to answer with, but Harry continued to watch him expectantly. Theia stopped in her tracks, staring at a dusty looking welsh dresser, cluttered with potion bottles.
‘Unless you have a specific purpose in being here,’ said Shyverwretch coldly, ‘I would like you to leave.’
‘You’ll need to leave with us,’ said Harry. Theia’s eyes were narrowing. One drawer of the welsh dresser was not coated in dust, the brass handle, though dull, as clean as the well-used shop door handle. She pulled it, and inside were piles of parchment, intricate building plans and maps.
‘Boss,’ Theia called automatically, and soon he was at her side. She held up a large piece of parchment, upon which a drawing of hundreds of cells was, each one labelled with the name of the occupant.
Harry turned just in time, Shyverwretch was bolting towards the door, but he was hit by Harry’s tripping jinx before he reached it, and he landed with an almighty crash. The potion bottles trembled and tinkled from the impact, but Shyverwretch made no sound as Harry bound his hands and hoisted him up. ‘You can do the honours,’ he said to Theia.
She took a breath, excitement coursing through her veins. ‘Oscar Shyverwretch, I am arresting you in connection with the death of Livia Rookwood. You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.'
She said all of this very fast, and it was so unintelligible that Harry had to repeat it, but nevertheless; she had made her first arrest. She was glowing with pride, and it was with her head held high that they escorted a yelping, confused Shyverwretch to the Ministry.
‘What do you mean she’s dead?’ he was shrieking as they wrestled him into a bare cell. ‘I didn’t have anything to do with it! I had fuck all to do with it!’
‘Both of you go home,’ Robards said to them when they’d finally closed the thick metal door to the man’s yells. ‘You’ve both been working too long to be of any proper use, you especially Higglesworth. Come back when you’ve got some sleep, you can interview him tomorrow. Let him stew for a bit.’
‘I will, I just need to speak to-’
There was no arguing with Robards, and Theia was eager to go home and nap for a few hours.
‘Good work,’ Harry said to her as they walked down to the fireplaces. ‘You’ve got a good intuition.’
‘I have?’ she said excitedly, beaming madly at him. ‘You really think so? I just thought it was odd, you know, that the rest of the cupboards were so dusty, now we just have to work out why he got broken into, who he annoyed, how he managed to plan all this with the inmates. I think we’re really close to sorting all this, and I think tomorrow we should-’
‘Yes,’ he said patiently, but something about the tone of his voice made her face fall. ‘You’ve done really well, you’ve definitely got the brains. But we need to figure out how to fix your problem with bloody crime scenes.’ He looked into her dejected expression and winced slightly. ‘We’ve got to sort it, Theia, you’ve done really well but only because there hasn’t been anything very gory. I’ll have a think about how we can fix it.’
Theia felt a little stunned, she opened her mouth but, remarkably, couldn’t find the words. After a few moments, she said slowly, ‘I think I just have to get used to it. It’ll… It’ll come.’
Harry gave a curt nod. ‘Yeah. I shouldn’t have mentioned it. Look, just go get some sleep, we’ll talk about it tomorrow, yeah?’
He left. The pride she’d felt had been replaced with a cold feeling of dread. She gave a heavy sigh and pursed her lips, heading to the nearest fireplace. She’d go to Dad’s for dinner. Dad would understand.
Why on earth did you say that? Harry thought bitterly as the green flames of the Floo network surrounded him. She actually did well and you still can’t resist having a go…
He was probably just tired, overworked, the usual… Guilt stabbed at his insides as his living room came into view, and it was with a heavy heart and aching back that he stepped out of the fireplace.
‘Harry!’ A bright-eyed, blue haired toddler was hurrying towards him as fast as his little legs could carry him. Harry bent down and caught Teddy as he leapt into his arms, exaggerating a groan as he lifted him up.
‘Just who I needed to see! Look at you, you’re getting bigger every time I see you.’
The little boy beamed at him, as Ginny’s voice called from the kitchen. ‘You’re back early.’
Harry carried Teddy through to the kitchen, where Ginny and Andromeda were sitting at the table, mugs of tea in front of them.
Andromeda greeted him softly, and though Ginny flashed a look of concern at him, she turned to Andromeda with faux-annoyance. ‘Three in the morning he came back last night, then he was up again for work at seven. I don’t know why he bothers coming home!’
He gave them both a weary smile, and sat down with Teddy, who immediately launched into a babbling and confusing account of helping grandma send an owl. Harry listened patiently, making all the right impressed noises, before carefully distracting him with some bubbles from the tip of his wand.
‘Having a nightmare at work,’ he said lightly to Ginny and Andromeda. ‘A few late nights ahead, I think.’
Ginny’s face fell, and Harry once again felt guilty for how little he had seen of her recently. ‘Will you be able to make the match on Saturday? The whole family’s going, we’re making a day of it-’
‘I’ll try,’ said Harry, but he saw Ginny and Andromeda exchange knowing glances. He wanted them to know how sorry he was, how exhausted he was, but Teddy was bouncing around delighted, grasping at the colourful bubbles that floated lazily in the air.
‘Ginny said that you’ve got a new partner,’ said Andromeda conversationally. ‘And that she’s quite useless.’
Harry gave a brief chuckle. ‘Yeah she’s… A little wet behind the ears. But she did well today, so there’s hope yet.’ He hesitated, but Teddy was still squealing in delight and paying no attention, so in a low voice he quickly told them about the planned breakout at Azkaban.
‘…So that’s why I was back so late last night,’ he said to Ginny lamely. ‘Sorry.’
‘But that’s awful,’ said Ginny, her face shocked. ‘How close were they to actually escaping?’
‘Probably still a couple of weeks away,’ said Harry. ‘But they’d been planning for a long time and it should have been caught earlier. It looks like they were planning on poisoning the guards.’ He paused as Teddy clambered back up onto his lap. ‘Andromeda, have you heard of witches putting belladonna in their eyes?’
She raised an eyebrow. ‘Are you calling me old, Harry?’
‘No,’ he said hurriedly. ‘I just thought that maybe-’
‘It’s all right, it is more my generation than yours, although even when I was a teenager we knew it was bad for us, we just didn’t care. We did all sorts of silly things back then, but I suppose our parents were even worse. My mother used to grow it in the garden to have a constant supply.’
Ginny wrinkled her nose. ‘I’ve never understood why they did that. I’ve heard Muriel talk about it a few times, but I’ve never understood for the life of me what the point was.’
‘It gave you quite an innocent, girlish look,’ said Andromeda. ‘But it distorted your vision, and could kill you if you used just a little too much… My mother was virtually blind by the end of her life.’
Harry frowned to himself, ignoring Teddy tugging on his hair. ‘Why would someone keep putting themselves through that? I can imagine young women doing it-’
Ginny snorted. ‘Erm, excuse me, bit rude.’
He grinned at her apologetically. ‘You know what I mean. When you’re young you might not care if something’s dangerous if it makes you look good. Why would an old woman keep using it?’
‘Who are we talking about?’ asked Andromeda.
Andromeda rolled her eyes. ‘That old bat.’
‘You know her?’
‘Unfortunately. Very vain woman. Quite friendly with my family, I think she was a Rosier originally. She clung onto youth tighter than a kappa. Why, is she mixed up in this Azkaban nonsense? I thought she was on the run with her awful husband.’
‘They were, but she turned up dead just over a week ago, no sign of Rookwood.’ He nodded at Ginny. ‘The case I was talking about the other night.’
Ginny nodded. ‘Yes, I remember you saying something about belladonna. Are they connected?’
‘Possibly. I’m questioning someone tomorrow about it, but this belladonna thing is bothering me. She had it in her eyes,’ he added to Andromeda. ‘Just before she died. We thought maybe she was getting dressed up for another man and Rookwood flew into a fit of rage.’
‘I doubt it,’ replied Andromeda. ‘Well, I don’t know, it’s a long time since I last spoke to the pair of them, but from what I remember she was completely devoted to him and he enjoyed other men lusting after her.’
‘Oh, yes. He got quite the kick out of it, used to encourage her to flirt. I think he enjoyed calling men out on it, making them feel uncomfortable and threatened. He never seemed jealous, just smug. Horrible people, certainly, but that must have been quite the relationship of trust.’
Harry was about to ask more, but Teddy had grown impatient at the lack of attention, and was beginning to show the beginnings of a temper tantrum.
‘And on that note, I’ll leave,’ said Andromeda hastily. ‘Thanks for taking him, I’ll pick him up on Sunday.’
‘Oh, I’m sure we’ll have lots of fun,’ said Harry, watching the toddler squirm angrily in his arms. ‘Oh- Andromeda, all the stuff we’ve just been chatting about… I didn’t actually mention any of it, you understand?’
She gave him a wink. ‘Naturally. Be good, Teddy!’
‘See you Sunday, Dromeda,’ said Ginny, kissing the older witch goodbye. ‘Thanks for the chat, you’re right, I was being silly.’
‘Anytime,’ said Andromeda. With a few final waves and one last attempt to say goodbye to her grandson, she left.
‘What were you being silly about?’ yawned Harry.
‘Nothing,’ said Ginny. ‘Now, come on, Ted, enough with that, let’s read you a story.’
The echoing drip of water on metal mixed with the man’s fearful, shuddering breaths. He was cold, and drenched, and the heavy chains around his wrists had rubbed his skin raw. Every now and then, he let out a frightened sob, but it had been days now, and he knew no one was coming.
The familiar splash of approaching footsteps made him shudder and groan, his eyes flicked wildly around in the darkness until, at last, a light shone on them. He squinted at the point of light, only just making out the silhouette behind it. He sobbed again.
‘Are you hungry?’ came the voice.
‘P-please…’ said the man. ‘P-please, just tell me what you want.’
‘I have food for you,’ came the voice. ‘Are you hungry, Rookwood?’
‘Please, I’ll g-give you anything, please don’t hurt me again, please just tell me what you want.’
There was a scraping of ceramic on stone, and the beam of light shone down onto the grimy floor. There, on a plate of pristine white, was something lumpy, fleshy. He wasn’t sure if it was red or purple, but the meat had been presented beautifully, with sprigs of rosemary and a purple flower with a burst of yellow. He gasped.
‘Isn’t it a pretty flower?’ came the voice. ‘I found it in her hair.’
Rookwood gave a howl of realization and anguish, and he tried to scramble away from the plate, but he was already pressed against the lattice metal bars. ‘No! Noooo!’
‘I’m sorry it’s not quite fresh,’ came the voice. ‘I had to freeze it, but it’s fully defrosted now, and the fat has been trimmed. I think you will enjoy it. You must be very hungry.’
‘Nooo! Please, WHY? Please, no…’
‘Because you deserve it,’ came the voice. ‘You are a Death Eater, are you not? Eat it.’
And again and again and again the voice came from the darkness, calm and authoritative, while Rookwood wailed and shook and sobbed.
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