SIYE Time:8:26 on 16th July 2018

Suitcase Burrower
By 0902FRIENDs

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Category: SIYE Challenges, Magical Creatures Challenge (2017-3)
Genres: Action/Adventure
Warnings: Extreme Language
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 36
Summary: It was the first Tuesday in September, 2016, time to go back to school. So when Auror Potter found his office utterly incapable of handling this - creature - thing, they call an expert, or experts... Oh and who can answer Al's increasingly challenging questions?
Hitcount: Story Total: 4392; Chapter Total: 502

Author's Notes:
Tried my best to post this at 11:00am on Sept 1st. Happy 19 Years Later everyone :) PS I'll deal with the randome signs later... Back to bed I go!


2. Sighting

Warning: mild to strong language

It was one of those days where work just couldn't get a grip of itself, Harry decided by lunch. Since he arrived at the office, he'd already received three surprises: an urgent meeting with Percy and Kingsley about a British Unforgivable user captured in Spain, Umbridge's barrister barging into his office for the fifteenth time of the year demanding a retrial, and, just as he directed the man to Hermione, a heated argument broke out between a third-year trainee and her mentor.

"Eat," said Stacy, his PA. "You can review the trainee profiles afterwards."

There were 12 trainees in the Auror office, and two conventional vacancies. As the head, Harry needed to review the progress of each of them, and recommend them for one of the four options: "Progress into Next Training Scheme", "Remain in Current Training Scheme", "Progress into Conventional Employment", and "Progress into Specialized Training". The decisions were due by the end of the week as a new cycle of training were scheduled to start on the third Monday of September.

Harry scowled, and opened his lunch pack reluctantly. He was more inclined to read through the profiles while eating, but Stacy was having none of it, claiming he needed some time away from work. It was then Hermione walked into his office, her lunch in hand.

"Thanks for sending Ferguson," said Hermione as Stacy closed the office door. "He gave me another earful for half an hour."

"That's an improvement from last time, isn't it?" Harry asked. Umbridge's newly appointed barrister seemed to believe that if he harassed DMLE heads frequently enough, he'd get what he wanted.

"Only because I threatened to hex him," Hermione let out a sly smile, "and suggested that my statement, truthful or not, would have more influence than his."

"What an idiot," Harry mumbled, "At least he'll leave us alone now?"

"I hope so," Hermione pursed her lips. "So, dreadful morning?"

Harry swallowed a mouthful of his sandwich, "Just behind schedule, that's it. Guess I should get used to it after ten years as Head."

"Nobody likes surprises," Hermione picked up a chunk of salad on her fork, "That's why I didn't join the Aurors in the first place. I'd like some routine in my life."

"You remind me of Kopp," said Harry, smiling, "'There's only one routine in the Auror Office: nothing has a routine.'"

His imitation of his ex-mentor won a chuckle from Hermione.

"That's your office motto now, isn't it?" teased Hermione, "Did you drill that into Teddy's head, too?"

"He doesn't need me," said Harry, "Kopp does it in lectures frequently enough."

"Let's hope he doesn't become obsessed with work like you do, then."

"Who are you? What have you done with my Hermione?" Harry looked around, pretending to look for the "real" Hermione.

"Honestly, Harry," Hermione put down her salad and slapped his arm with a folder. "You need to spend less time with Ron and George!"

"All right, all right," said Harry, finishing his sandwich, "Not my fault that we were best mates since Hogwarts Express, is it?"

"Suppose not," said Hermione, "Have you got anything planned for Thursday, aside from the lecture?"

"No," said Harry, "Ginny's got a match in the morning, but she should finish her report before school's off. Lily's gymnastics class doesn't start till next week. Why?"

"Hagrid invites us for tea, after the lecture," said Hermione, "Kids are invited, too."

"Is it wise?" Harry couldn't help but question Hagrid's judgement.

"They go to the school grounds and the castle on Memorials anyways," said Hermione, "It's not like they've never been there."

"And Minerva doesn't have a problem with it?"

"Not according to Hagrid," said Hermione.

"Alarm: Breach of Statue. Offender Category Unknown. Alarm: Breach of Statue. Offender Category Unknown..."

A cold, apathetic voice lacerated the Auro Office. Automatically, Harry stood up, entered the main office, and directed his gaze to the Map. A hundred orange pins glowed somewhere around Birmingham. Everyone else in the office stood and held their breaths.

"There's some mad squirrel and it attacked me and my mates..." The transcriptions of relevant Muggle emergency calls began filing in.

"There's this shadow thing flying round and I just heard screaming, like a child being hurt..."

"...Strange screeching noise coming from the corner between Lamb Street and Well street..."

The Map on the wall zoomed as more calls - mostly about strange, horrifying noises and shadows - were magically transcribed, and eventually focused on Coventry. Most of the glowing pins were scattered around the city centre, while the most distant call came from a pin some three miles away. It was certainly some unusual situation. Harry looked at his men, who were staring at him expectantly.

"Offender Category Unknown," Dean frowned, recalling the alarm, "That's unheard of."

"Not since you joined, sonny!" Kopp growled from his lecture room, shooting Harry a glance, "It screamed the same thing when that damn dragon was released from Gringotts."

"Another dragon?" Harry thought out loud, "There shouldn't be one in Coventry, should there?"

"Not likely," said Geraint Ostrovski, their magical beasts specialist, "If one escapes Cardigan Island, it should be seen in Wales first."

"Unless it's a dragon we didn't know existed," said Susan Bones, her tight bun of hair jumped as she raised her eyebrow at their specialist.

"I'm more inclined to believe it's something else," said Geraint grimly, "but I'll contact experts immediately."

"We won't know until we see it," waved Harry, "Susan, Geraint, can I trust you to check this out? I'm just a Patronus away if you need anything."

Two of his team leaders nodded and called their colleagues.

"Obliviator Request Forms are on your desk, Harry," said Stacy as the office returned to its fast-paced, ready-for-anything order, "So is the Extraordinary Operation Request, just in case."

"Thank you, Stacy," said Harry as he retreated into his office.

"I'll leave you to work," said Hermione, making Harry jump, "Just remember - Thursday, after the lecture."

"You'll have to remind me after the lecture then," he called after his friend, who shook her head and left the office.

Harry filled the forms and sent them to Hermione, who would sign her approval before delivering them to Justin, Head of Department of Muggleborn and Non-Magical Affairs, and Kingsley. Hoping for a simple incident that Susan and Geraint could handle themselves, Harry opened the trainee files, and started reading.

He had just started reading the reference letters of the first profile when a silver highland cow hopped onto his desk.

"Harry, we're not in danger, but you'll want to take a look at this," said Susan's voice, "We're at Floyd's Field Sports Ground on Tanner Road, five miles west of Coventry."

"Stacy," said Harry as he stormed out of the room, "Susan just called me to take a look at the scene. Would you clear my afternoon just in case?"

"Yes, Harry," said Stacy, already pulling out the office agenda, "Team C and G are available; B and L are on-call."

"Thank you," said Harry appreciatively, "Florence, get dressed, we're taking your monkey out for a walk."

He then headed straight to the Auror changing room, pulled out his Muggle-friendly uniform from his standard-issue suitcase, and got changed. His mind drifted to his first encounter with Florence Byre.

It was the September after the war, and they were still rounding up Riddle's supporters. The Auror office had just lost most of its end-of-war recruits due to the new school year, and everyone who stayed were overworked. Tensions were especially high when Harry, along with his mentor Kopp, finished their Azkaban shift and returned to the office for some paperwork. Florence, a third-year trainee then, chose that moment to call him a "useless coward hidden behind fame and favour" while entertaining his trainee friends friends. Harry, having just stepped into the office after hours of Death Eater guarding, thought he was being attacked, and sent a merciless Stunner his way. Neither Kopp nor Gwen Ostrovski, the Head of Office back then, was impressed, and eventually the two were forced to make up and work as a pair, until Harry became the Head of Office.

He was just smiling faintly at their first encounter when Florence entered the change room with his trainee, Alex. These days, Aurors worked in a combination of pairs and teams, with each team consisting of two pairs: one Auror-Auror pair, and one Auror-Trainee pair. Florence's team was still finishing off their vampire case, but the other pair could deal with the leftover paperwork themselves. Harry needed at least one partner before going into the field.

"Ready?" he asked as the other two men walked out of their cubicles.

"Aye," said Alex. He was a fine young man from Cumbria, and was never too shy to display his heritage.

The three of them walked through the change room and entered the Emergency Portkey room. The receptionist today, Mr Hancock, was a cheerful chap.

"Harry," he called in his usual, breathy voice, "Urgent departure?"

"Yes, Timmy. Could you send us to Floyd's Field Sports Ground on Tanner Road, five miles west of Coventry, please?" Harry repeated the address.

"Not a problem," Mr Hancock searched through his detailed Map of Britain for Portkey Office Personnel book, before pointing his wand at an empty crisp tube. The tube glowed blue as the man silently enchanted their destination.

"Here you go," Mr Hancock handed the tube to Harry, "It leaves in thirty seconds. Good luck with whatever you're doing!"

"Thanks," said Harry, holding the tube out so that the others could put their fingers on it. A few seconds later, following a familiar, hook-like sensation at his navel, they arrived in the middle of the an empty football pitch. Susan and Teddy were waiting for them.

"Took you long enough," said Susan, though her voice was free of accusation.

"Came here as soon as I got your message," said Harry, "What's going on?"

He needn't have asked, as the next moment, his attention was caught by a giant creature moving in the air above the entrance of the field. It looked like an enlarged badger, standing at least 20 feet tall. Its head looked like it belonged to a fox, with a wide, white stripe running from its forehead down the middle of its chest, disappearing right inbetween its two front legs. It was baring its sharp teeth at the Aurors down below; its nine tails, covered in shiny, ink-black fur, floated around its body as if protecting itself from offenders. The rest of Susan's team and Geraint's team were beneath the creature, trying to figure out a way to either capture it, or demolish it.

"Muggles only see it as a shadow, thank Merlin," Susan filled them with the most up-to-date information, "But we still don't know anything about it. It doesn't seem to be able to make a single noise, nor does it look like a squirrel. So we're not even sure if it's related to the calls."

"Are we even sure it's a magical creature?" said Florence, "I mean, none of their spells are going through -"

"Of course it's a magical creature," a familiar, dreamy, voice spoke, "It's just not the creature. That's all."

"Hello Luna, Charlie," said Susan, undisturbed by their unannounced arrival, "Geraint wanted to call experts," she added in way of explanation.

"Er - Miss -"

"Luna Lovegood," said Luna, "And you are Alex Taylor, third-year Trainee. It's dangling from your lanyard."

"Er - yes," Alex smothered his identification card, "Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you, Alex," said Luna, "But I think it's time we drop the small talk. Charlie and I are called to help with a creature."

"You're lucky the European Magical Creature Conservation Summit is happening at Hogwarts this year," Charlie cracked a rough smile, the scratches on his cheeks made his face even more startling, "Or else you'd have loads of trouble finding the best hands!"

"So you think it is a creature?" Harry asked.

"It's Luna's theory, not mine," said Charlie, "But let's say it is a magical creature. I don't think it's native to Europe. We'd better consult someone who's done extensive studies outside Europe and northern Africa."

"But Mr Scamander is in the Amazons these days, there's no way we could find him before this thing destroys half the country," Florence's brows knotted into a deep frown.

"Rolf's granddad hasn't seen this, either," said Luna, "It's likely something from the Far East, thought to be long extinct."

"Then we need to call Kathy Walters," said Charlie, "She'll have a better idea."

"Kathy's back?" asked Harry.

"No," said Charlie, "But she's staying at the Dome, the Chinese magical school, you know. We can contact her via the school."
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