|SIYE Time:21:08 on 20th October 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: 37916; Chapter Total: 1975
Awards: View Trophy Room
As soon as her key was in the lock, the door was wrenched open.
‘You’re late!’ her mother hissed, not unkindly, but with a sense of urgency that took Theia rather aback.
‘There was a lot to do at work, a body-’
‘Never mind that,’ she whispered, pulling off Theia’s coat. ‘He’s in the kitchen, dinner’s nearly ready-’
‘Who-?’ Theia began, before sighing. Of course. The Muggle mum was trying to set her up with.
‘Take that look of your face and go and say hello,’ her mum ordered.
Throwing her one last dirty look, Theia dumped her bag and went reluctantly to the kitchen. The young man in there sat with his back to her. ‘Hello,’ she began in a bored voice. ‘I’m Theia-’
He had turned at her entrance. The familiar face, the mousy brown hair and brown eyes… He had recognized her too, and after a second of gaping at one another, they burst into amazed, delighted laughter.
Her mother hurried through, looking bewildered and stressed. ‘Do you two… know each other?’
‘Dennis!’ exclaimed Theia, rushing forward to give his laughing face a kiss on the cheek. ‘I can’t believe it…’
‘What are the chances?’ he said back.
‘Mum,’ said Theia, grinning from ear to ear. ‘Dennis and I went to school together, he was the year below me. How funny!’
‘Primary school?’ she asked hopefully.
‘Hogwarts! We weren’t in the same house, but-’
‘Oh,’ said her mum, sounding rather disappointed. ‘I thought you were… Well, I didn’t realize you were magical too,’ she said accusingly at Dennis.
‘Sorry, Mrs Higglesworth,’ he said apologetically. ‘I honestly am a student though, I have been living as a Muggle for the last few years.’
‘Yes,’ said Theia, sitting at the table. ‘You didn’t come back to Hogwarts after the war…’
‘Lots of people didn’t,’ he said casually, but she noticed a tenseness in his shoulders. ‘I didn’t really want to…’ he chewed his lip slightly. ‘I wasn’t really interested in magic anymore.’
‘But you’re a student now?’ asked Theia, eager to move the conversation away from grim topics.
‘Yes,’ he said distractedly. Dinner was now being served, and he muttered a slightly embarrassed thank you. ‘I went to a Muggle school, pretended I’d been homeschooled… Got my exam results and I’ve just started at Queen Mary.’
‘He’s doing criminology,’ said her mum, who still seemed a little irritated. Dennis looked rather abashed.
‘I… Er, I heard you were a policewoman. I assume you’re in law enforcement at the Ministry, then?’
‘Auror,’ Theia clarified happily. ‘I work directly under Harry Potter.’
‘You’re kidding?’ he said, wide-eyed. ‘That’s incredible! Mrs Higglesworth, you must be so proud.’
‘Call me Betty, Dennis,’ she replied. ‘But yes, of course I am. You know about this Harry Potter bloke too, then?’
Dennis and Theia exchanged amused glances, neither noticing how Betty’s shoulders sank slightly. ‘Everyone knows about Harry Potter, Mum. I told you, he’s very famous.’
‘My brother and I always looked up to him,’ said Dennis excitably, and Theia was struck by how similar he was to the small boy she’d known all those years ago. ‘Growing up, he was my absolute hero.’
‘Theia doesn’t like him much,’ said Betty.
‘I never said that,’ said Theia swiftly.
‘Yes, you did, you said never meet your heroes.’
‘Well, he’s not what I was expecting, I suppose,’ admitted Theia. ‘I don’t think he likes me very much, I talk too much for him, he’s very quiet. But he’s growing on me.’
‘He always was a bit private, now I think about it,’ said Dennis. ‘Colin used to drive him up the wall asking for autographs and stuff.’
‘I was so sorry to hear about Colin, Dennis,’ Theia blurted out. It was the wrong thing to say. Dennis looked down at his food, pushing it around slightly with his fork.
‘What happened?’ asked Betty.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ said Dennis calmly. ‘So what’s your work like? What’s troubling the wizarding world this time? More violence and prejudice?’
His voice was bitter, and before she could stop herself, or think about what she was saying, Theia’s annoyed response was tumbling out of her mouth. ‘Well, it’s not as scary as it used to be, obviously, but criminals are criminals wherever you are, aren’t they? I doubt it’s any worse than the Muggle world, nowadays anyway, and you wouldn’t be studying criminology if there weren’t similar Muggles, would you?’
‘No…’ he said carefully. ‘No, I wouldn’t. I thought it would be interesting. To see what makes people like that tick. But I find Muggle criminals do a little less damage.’
‘So you’re going to stay as a Muggle, then?’ asked Betty.
‘Oh, definitely,’ he said reassuringly. ‘The wand’s up in the attic somewhere, I think…’ He hesitated, and looked at Theia. ‘I didn’t mean to be so… Rude. I haven’t heard anything about the wizarding world since the end of the war. So, catch me up. Harry became and Auror, did he? What about Ginny Weasley, my brother always liked her.’
The conversation lasted hours, and as Theia gave a detailed account of the last three and a half years, she found herself marveling at how so much had changed. Her admiration of Harry seemed reinforced, and pride infused her voice as she spoke of the changes at the Ministry. Even her mother listened with interest, though Theia knew she struggled to keep track of what she was talking about.
‘And I can’t say much about what I’m working on at the moment, of course, but it’s all getting pretty complex. Two different things going on that I’m pretty sure are entwined, but it’s working out how.’ She was struck by an idea, and her eyes lit up as she turned to Dennis. ‘You could help! I’m sure you’ve got lots of insights on psychology and motivation, our department doesn’t have anyone like that-’
‘I don’t want any part of that world,’ he said sharply. ‘Besides, I’ve only just started the course, I’m just a fresher.’
‘Well give it another few years and maybe you’ll change your mind,’ said Betty cheerfully. Dennis looked highly doubtful, but as he left Theia’s mind had already leapt to excited imaginings of having someone who might truly understand behaviour. Even if he refused to come to the department, she thought as she bid him goodbye, knowing that he lived in the building meant that she could always come to him for advice, or to test out theories.
‘He’s lovely, isn’t he?’ said her mother as they closed the door. ‘And ever so smart, I thought you’d get along, I never imagined you might have already met. What ever happened to his brother then?’
Theia told her, and as she did her mother’s face grew more and more still, her lips pursing and her arms folding across her chest.
‘He stayed about for a bit, sent photos to the wizarding newspapers from his Colin’s camera and stuff, he always wanted to be a photojournalist, you see, but Dennis then just never came back to school the next year. Probably didn’t want to carry on living in the place where his brother died. Loads of people didn’t come back, even Harry.’
‘I wish you’d told me more about this when it was happening, Theia,’ she said coldly. ‘I never would have let you go there if I’d known. Thank goodness Dennis is sensible enough to put the past behind him and move on with his life.’
Theia knew what she was getting at. ‘My job isn’t dangerous, Mum,’ she assured her. ‘It’s not like how it used to be. Anyway, Muggles can be just as bad, if not worse. Don’t you ever watch the news?’
Betty sighed, reaching into her pocket and lighting up a cigarette. ‘Magic or not, you can always count on people to be nasty bastards. And these sort of things never really solve themselves after a couple of years. There’s always people that are still angry.’
Theia thought about her mother’s words as she lay in bed. Thought about Azkaban, and the angry, vicious people behind the bars there. The way Dolohov had launched himself at Harry with bulging eyes, how Harry was simply bored of it all, because it happened so often. She wondered how many people the Rookwoods had killed, or hurt, and whether Pansy Parkinson had ever hurt anyone in that way.
Some people, she decided, left their anger up in the attic. Boxed it away and hid from it, kept themselves to a dull, grey world with no magic, forcing unnatural normality and staying safe. Others let their rage course through them, motivating them to relentlessly seek revenge, over and over again, growing ever more extreme in a quest to satisfy the hatred that grew inside them like a weed.
Harry could hear the shouting as soon as he walked into the department, and as he came closer to his office, he realized with a lurch of dread that it was coming from his own cubicle. Dawlish, the bloody wanker, was screaming his head off, he could see his arms waving ludicrously above the flimsy wall.
‘-SET US BACK WEEKS OF WORK-’
‘What the hell is going on?’ he snapped. Theia was sitting like a rabbit caught in headlights, gaping up at the fuming Dawlish, who turned to Harry with a face of deep purple.
‘I’ll tell you what the fucking hell is going on! Your moronic girl here has ruined the entire operation! Because of her shoddy paperwork we have to let half the people we’ve brought in go!’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘I forgot to hand in the special circumstances form so they could be remanded in custody for longer than three days-’ squeaked Theia, but her voice had enraged Dawlish again.
‘We’ve effectively dropped the charges against them automatically, we were obligated to let them go so we didn’t break the Wizarding Rights Act, NOW THEY’RE ALL GONE BEFORE WE’VE FOUND ENOUGH EVIDENCE AGAINST THEM, YOU STUPID-’
‘OI! Don’t yell at my trainee!’ shouted Harry. ‘Go yell at your own! This doesn’t have to be a big deal, this could be a good thing.’
‘Could it?’ blinked Theia.
‘Shut up, Theia,’ he hissed at her, before turning back to Dawlish. ‘I’ll handle this, who’s gone?’
‘Warrington, Birch, your man Shyverwretch-’
‘Right, go make sure the paperwork’s all fine for whoever’s left, and then go and find something useful to do, preferably something that doesn’t involve shouting at people that are still learning.’
‘I mean it, Potter, I-’
‘Just go away,’ Harry snarled at him. ‘Go away and have your temper tantrum somewhere else, I don’t have time for this!’
Dawlish left, stomping his feet and barking out swear words as he went, and Harry slumped at his desk, head in his hands, his brain whirring as a control-damage plan began to form.
‘Thank you for sticking up for me, I’m really sorry-’
‘Theia,’ he growled, his eyes closed. ‘I mean, Merlin, Theia, all I want is a fucking competent department, I’m surrounded by lazy, borderline corrupt-’ he began haphazardly going through the pile of parchment on his desk, ‘-idiots, all the decent people are leaving, and I really thought that you would be at least capable of giving Susan a few bits of parchment.’
Her eyes welled with tears, but Harry began searching desperately through his drawers, throwing out files and wads of parchment and chocolate frog wrappers all over the floor.
‘I mean, bloody hell, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got better things to be doing on a Saturday morning, but now it looks like I’ll be here all day cleaning up your mess-’
‘I don’t want to hear your apology, I want to hear solutions,’ he said sharply. His hands pulled out the torn magazine page he’d been searching for. ‘Do you know this spell?’
She took the excerpt of Defensive Digest and scanned it quickly. ‘I- N-no, I don’t think so…’
‘Well learn it. You’re good at stealth, aren’t you? Scored highly on it during training?’
‘Right then, learn that now and go do it in as many rooms of Shyverwretch’s place as you can, I don’t even know if he’ll have gone back there but it’s the best chance we’ve got. Don’t get caught.’
‘Where are you going?’ She asked helplessly as he grabbed his bag.
‘Just do it, Theia, now!’
He raced out of the cubicle. Dawlish had clearly done a very good job of spreading the disastrous news, for the entire department was a cacophony of outraged noise. Neville was pouring over files, shaking his head at Williamson. ‘He won’t have gone there, he’ll have ran for it, we won’t find him there again-’
Susan was practically buried under a pile of files and parchment, scribbling so furiously that ink was splattering onto the end of her nose, and Proudfoot was pacing up and down in front of the case wall, mumbling to himself and occasionally shouting for coffee.
The lifts were packed, so Harry hurried up the stairs, two at a time, muttering furiously under his breath. After the chaos of the Auror Department, Hermione’s department seemed eerily calm, like the eye of a storm. Unlike the cubicles downstairs, this office was open plan, and he could spot her bushy hair easily by a large, bright window.
‘Thank Merlin you came in this morning,’ he said as he approached.
She looked up, surprised. ‘Oh! Hello… I’m not here long, I just wanted to write something up before the match later. Did you want to leave together?’
‘Wha-?’ He felt as though a cold bucket of water had been thrown over him, and he swore so loudly that several people turned to stare at him.
Hermione blushed, looking very alarmed. ‘Is everything all right?’
‘No, look I don’t think I’ll be able to make it-’
‘Oh, Harry!’ she said crossly. ‘Ginny’s been reminding you about it for weeks, it’s a big game for her-’
‘I know, I know,’ he said, and he hated himself. ‘Maybe if I get all this sorted quick enough I’ll be able to make the second half, look, there’s been a paperwork problem, do you know the legalities of arresting someone twice under the same charge?’
‘Yes, there’s been this whole thing, we didn’t get an extension so we didn’t finish interviewing them, we need to go and find them again and bring them in as soon as possible-’
‘Harry, you can’t! You should know this,’ she looked bewildered, and kept glancing at her interested colleagues who had all frozen to watch.
‘There must be a way,’ he insisted. ‘It’s if I find more evidence, right? But if I can’t, there must be a way for me to arrest them again anyway, seeing as it was human error that they were let go-’
Hermione shook her head, sadly. ‘Harry, I’m sorry, there just isn’t, you’ll have to find more evidence.’
He rubbed his eyes under his glasses and let out a groan of frustration. ‘Right… Right…’
‘So you’re really not coming to the match?’
‘I’ll try,’ he said. ‘I really will, I’ll try my best, I promise.’ He shoved his hands in his pockets, and his fingers brushed against the velvet box.
Hermione looked disappointed. Her neat and tidy desk, so different from Harry’s, sat between them, and Harry stared at it miserably. ‘Tell her I’m sorry,’ he said. Hermione simply nodded.
Theia stuck to the shadows. Even though her disillusionment charm was good, the thought of failing yet again was abhorrent. The people of Knockturn Alley were a naturally suspicious lot, and she felt as though they were searching for her, even though she knew it was practically an impossibility. Her feet stepped silently over puddles, sure that any ripple or splash would give her away, and she crept alongside the rough stone walls of the shops.
When she reached Shyverwretch’s shop, she peered through the window to see it empty. About to push open the door, she remembered the tinkling little bell, and slipped down the alleyway to the side. It had an awful, sickly sweet smell of something rotten, and a scrawny ginger cat stared at her from behind a dustbin. She knew that it could see the shimmer of her spell.
Overflowing black bin-bags were piled up beside a side-door, and though it was locked her whispered charm made it swing open silently. She stepped inside, but kept herself low to the ground. Somewhere upstairs, a wireless was playing. She could hear the slightly static hum beneath an old tune.
She pressed her wand against the wall, tucked away behind a dusty looking box. Please work, please…
‘Audividimus’ she whispered, and something red spilled from the tip of her wand, pooling into a sticky blob the size of a galleon against the wall. It glowed slightly.
She pushed the box back against it, but at the slight, hushing drag it made, the cat behind her meowed. She turned, horrified. It had followed her in, and was staring right at her. ‘Go away!’ she mouthed at it, waving her hand, but it just stared at her. Wincing, she made her way down into the corridor, and through a doorway where she found herself behind the counter of the shop. She could hear the cat meowing after her, but she ignored it as she glanced urgently around, looking for the best place to cast the spell. Yes, most of the walls were covered in vials and bottles, but she doubted any of them would hide the glow, and besides, even if they did, there was always the chance that someone would buy one and it would be moved.
She heard the rumble of footsteps down stairs, and instinctively she dropped, lying flat on the floor behind the counter and rolling onto her side, squashing her thin frame against the underside of the counter as much as possible. She looked up at the underside of the counter, and, without thinking, pressed her wand to it and nonverbally cast the spell. To her astonishment, it worked, just as a pair of heavy booted feet lumbered into view, and Shyverwretch clambered onto the stool just inches from the top of her head.
She was sure she was breathing too loudly. Her heart was beating too loudly. She was blinking too loudly. The cat was sniffing at her knees.
She heard Shyverwretch clucking his tongue, and then his great, pockmarked face came into view as he leant down and pulled the cat up. ‘How did you get in?’ he asked it. ‘Hey? How did you get in? Where are you from, you fuzzy little thing?’
The bell tinkled, and the cat was dropped immediately onto the floor by Theia’s face. It glared up at Shyverwretch and then began to irritably clean itself, while Theia listened silently.
‘Sorry, did I ruin a tender moment?’ came a mocking voice. It was deep, and male, but Theia couldn’t place it.
‘It’s not my cat,’ insisted Shyverwretch. ‘Dunno where it came from.’
The stranger sniggered. ‘Surprised you’re here, Shyverwretch, I didn’t think you’d come straight back here. This is the first place the Aurors will come, you know.’
‘Let them,’ said Shyverwretch. ‘I know my rights, they’ll have to find something else on me first, something big. And they won’t.’
The stranger gave a non-committal hum. ‘They’ve been milling around Pansy’s place, she sent me a message the other day, told me to keep away for a while. I probably shouldn’t even be in here, to be honest.’
Shyverwretch sighed heavily. ‘What, they arrested her, then?’
‘Nah, she said they just turned up asking questions, but she was pretty sure they’d be back, said they were watching her. I reckon they’re watching me too. I just shook someone off, I’m sure they were following me.’
‘Of course the Aurors, you plonker, who else would it be?’ The voice sounded carefree, bouncy, almost amused. Theia pictured a young man.
‘They showed me these pictures… Someone’s done Livia Rookwood in.’
‘Nope.’ Shyverwretch drummed his fingers on the counter. Theia glanced up to see the glowing red splodge wobble, but it stuck fast. ‘That’ll be why she and her husband didn’t show for the last meeting then.’
The stranger swore quietly. ‘What about Augustus, is he dead too?’ There was a silence, Theia supposed Shyverwretch was shrugging his shoulders.
‘I don’t give a shit about him, he was a dickhead. But I reckon it must have been a dirty Auror. Everyone liked Livia. Always had a smile for you, did Livia.’
The stranger snorted. ‘Or a bit more.’ There was a long pause, and Shyverwretch’s knee began to tremble slightly, his foot tapping against the stone floor. ‘You really don’t know who it could be then, Shyverwretch?’
‘Could be anyone, I suppose… Pansy might have some idea. D’you reckon it’s safe to carry on with the plan?’
‘It’s blown,’ said Shyverwretch. ‘We’ll have to get them out another way. Don’t look like that! We will get them out.’
‘We better do, and soon,’ said the stranger fiercely. ‘It was hell in there, they shouldn’t have to suffer through that.’
‘Well mind you keep your head down so you don’t end up in there again as well,’ said Shyverwretch sternly. Then, more casually, he added, ‘or like Livia Rookwood.’
‘Yeah, well, I’m sure I’ll be all right. Got any hemlock? I better have a reason for coming in here in case the Aurors get on my back and all.’
Shyverwretch rose, and Theia seized her moment. Rolling onto her front, she crawled silently behind him as he left the counter. She was sure that as she stood she made some noise, but thankfully the two men were talking loudly, so it was only the ginger cat that noticed. She looked over her shoulder as she left the room, desperately trying to see the stranger. He had his back to her, but she could see broad, strong shoulders, dark blonde hair, and a tall stature.
The stairs creaked slightly as she snuck upstairs to plant more bugging charms, but nobody heard a thing.
‘! Go To Top ‘!