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Reputations Expectations by countrymusicfanatic

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 13
Word Count: 80,030
Status: Abandoned

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Contains Slash (Same-Sex Pairing), Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ginny, Teddy, Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, OC
Pairings: James/OC, Harry/Ginny, Rose/Scorpius, Other Pairing

First Published: 03/04/2012
Last Chapter: 12/02/2012
Last Updated: 12/02/2012

Summary:
Thank you so much to aim.moon @ TDA for the terific banner!





She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. She skipped class, he was headboy. She hid from the limelight, he smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are Auror's in training.

ON HIATUS



 


Chapter 1: Wild One: Prologue
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?

They said, "Change your clothes"

She said, "No I won't"

They said, "Comb your hair"

She said, "Some kids don't"

Faith Hill, "Wild One"

Disclaimer: Lyrics belong to Faith Hill and whoever else was involved with this song/album. All the characters mentioned in the story belong to JK Rowling and other people who aren't me.

 




Reputations are very powerful things. They are hard to control, nearly impossible to change, and easy to shatter. If you want to keep your reputation intact (whether it’s the peppy Hufflepuff, scary Slytherin, perfect Gryffindor, or shy Ravenclaw) there are certain rules that have to be followed.

 

Reputations are a work of art, created by many different people, impacted by multiple factors, and ultimately turning out to be either a masterpiece or a complete mess.

 

I never tried to control my reputation. I was taught at a young age that people will say and believe what they want to. Sometimes reputations are earned, sometimes they are purposefully created, and sometimes they just happen. Things happen, people assume, everyone talks, and reputations are made.

 

****

 

I grew up on a farm. I learned how to ride horses, milk cows, count eggs, clean stalls, and take care of all the animals. My mum worked as a waitress when I was little and she had some crazy shift times so I would stay with the Davenports, running around on the farm and getting dirty. My mum didn’t want to be a waitress, of course, and when I was twelve she had finally saved enough to open her own robe shop that took off within a year.

 

Just like every other Witch and Wizard in the UK, I got my Hogwarts letter on my eleventh birthday. It wasn’t a surprise as my mum was a witch but Hogwarts itself was a bit of a culture shock for me.

 

I was always extremely independent. I had my own way of doing things and little rules like ‘girls never go to the bathroom by themselves’ were foreign to me. Why did it matter if I walked the thirty feet to the loo on my own? Mrs. Davenport’s old sheep dog had been my best friend growing up so I was a bit behind on the rules of conduct regarding eleven-year-old girls.

 

Natasha Nott was one of my two dorm mates at Hogwarts. It took us a few months to warm up to each other but once I got passed the fact that she acted stuck up and she stopped thinking that I was depressed we became something that resembled friends.

 

In our third year we performed the ultimate betrayal for any Gryffindor under fifth year: we befriended a Slytherin. Add in the fact that we weren’t exactly friendly, I wasn’t your typical happy-go-lucky third year, and Natasha could be a bit of a bitch and I am sure you can guess the kinds of rumors that were going around about us.

 

Tyler, our new Slytherin friend, came as a package deal with his cousin, Scorpius Malfoy. Despite being a year below us Scorpius was already notorious. The students who had veteran parents from the Second War considered the name ‘Malfoy’ to be taboo and it didn’t take long for weariness to spread. His quiet demeanor and seemingly uncaring attitude added to our unintentional image nicely.

 

When we started skipping class consistently in our third and fourth year all four of our names became notorious in the thicket of Hogwarts’ rumors but people who saw us in the halls rarely acknowledged the connection between our faces and the things they were talking about. There was a sense of mystery around us and all the things we had supposedly done. Most of the students preferred to whisper our names in secret than to ruin the intrigue by actually finding out who we were. Our teacher’s eventually gave up and stopped bothering with detention when we skipped class. It took about a year but eventually we were able to perfect a system that allowed us to do just enough to pass finals and move on to the next year:

 

Natasha stayed on top of the schedule for our classes so that we knew what was going on when we decided to show up. Tyler had a photographic memory so he could read over our textbooks and tutor Natasha and me when we were hanging out on the grounds with nothing to do. I was in charge of mastering all the practical applications and making sure that Tyler and Natasha were able to perform the spells and produce the potions they would need to. Scorpius, despite his issues with the student population, was well-liked by all of his teacher’s and even though we teased him about being a suck-up, his reputation helped get us out of many sticky situations.

 

We were a well-oiled machine, each doing our part to ensure our safe passage from year to year.

 

Spending so little time in the classroom did have its downside though. Without the homework and the hours normally spent inside the sweltering classes there were times when we had nothing to do while everyone else was at the Quidditch game or drowning in their tidal wave of homework. By the time fourth year ended we had started venturing into Hogsmeade and half-way through fifth year we had a system for how to survive outside the castle as well:

 

Anyone who knows Natasha, no matter how much they love her, will back me up in saying that her sense of danger is non-existent. The same ‘bravery’ that got her sorted into Gryffindor can turn into foolishness easily but because her sense of danger is so screwed up she has no problem standing up to people. When she wants something, she gets it. And even though it can turn her into a bitch or make her seem snobby it really comes in handy because she is a great actress and can talk in circles until the person she is talking to has no idea what’s going on.

 

If there was one thing my mum taught me it was how to realize when a guy is bad news and I found out quickly that the same strategy she used when she went out on a date could be used in other situations as well. It was my job to realize when it was time to get out of a club, who we needed to hide from, which people were undercover patrollers, and who was just bad news. Trouble was inevitable when it came to us but it was my job to make sure that danger always remained two steps behind.

 

Tyler helped us out after we were already in trouble. His dueling skills are pretty much non-existent but he can fist fight like no other and when you are surrounded by drunk people it’s usually safer to stay away from wands. He also helped after we got caught. His mum, despite her many, many faults, has a lot of connections and he was always able to call in a few favors to make sure we never dug a hole that was too big for us to jump out of.

 

Scorpius was our baby. When we got detentions at Hogwarts it was usually because we had hexed some kid giving him a hard time or had been ‘disrespectful’ to one of the prefects abusing their power over him, but Scorpius was equally loyal to us. He was sorted into Slytherin but he was smart enough to give any Ravenclaw a run for their money. Like me he was pretty good at sensing trouble, but he was more levelheaded than I was. When I was ready to hex the professor chasing after us it was Scorpius who kept his head enough to use his knowledge of the castle and pull us all into a passageway where we could hide until the path was clear for us to get back to our dormitories.

 

The four of us were best friends for a reason, though what that reason was we rarely discussed. We all got each other. We weren’t your traditional click that never went anywhere without the others but we were a sort of gang. We always had each other’s backs, we understood when the others needed space, and we never tried to change each other. Each of us need our independence but it is always nice knowing that you have people who you can trust and go to whenever for whatever. We weren’t just friends. We were a really dysfunctional family that added to each of our dysfunctional blood families nicely.

 

 

 

 








A/N: So this is just a prologue for the rest of the story but let me know what you think and whether or not I should continue posting. What was good, what was bad? Criticism will only make it better. In the mean time here's a preview into next chpater:


“The redhead…hold up,” I said suddenly, literally holding my right hand up in front of Natasha’s face. “The redhead. Doesn’t she look familiar?”

 

“I guess,” Natasha said slowly. “I mean, she’s here with Dominique. We probably saw her around—”

 

“No,” I cut her off again. “She looks really familiar. Like I’ve seen her more than just in passing.”

 

“Well maybe she was a Gryffindor and she was in the—oh my Merlin!” Natasha whisper screamed.

 

“What?” I demanded, impatiently tapping her arm.

 

“Weasley. Dominique Weasley and her cousin—”

 

“Rose Weasley. Gryffindor and--”

 

“Dating Scorpius!” We finished in a whispered scream to each other.

 

“Oh, this is gonna be good,” I grinned. “Scorpius is so dead. On vacation my wand.”

 

“They didn’t break-up did they?” Natasha asked, frowning.

 

“I doubt it. Tyler would know and he didn’t say anything,” I said unconcerned.

 

“Then let’s have some fun with this,” Natasha grinned and we high-fived as the girls started making their way to the counter.



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Chapter 2: Material Girl
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?


'cause we are living in a material world

And I am a material girl

You know that we are living in a material world

And I am a material girl


Disclaimer: Lyrics belong to Madonna and whoever else was involved in the Material Girl song/Album. All the characters that you recognize belong to JK Rowling and whoever else shares rights to them. Basically, not me.

 

 

 

 

 

 









Shopping in my family is equivalent to Sunday night family dinners. Every weekend my mum, my sister, and I all spend the day in the city where we shop, catch up, and bond over the pros and cons of elegant versus sophisticated. Our communication is at its best when we’re talking about shoes, robe length, and the thin line between edgy and slutty. For us, there’s nothing that can bring us together like retail and Peter doesn’t mind it since we usually use mum’s money and it gives him the opportunity to go out with his mates to watch a Quidditch game or hang out in the Leakey Cauldron.


“What do you think of this one?” Meg-Ann asked, appearing out of the dressing room in a white summer dress that had a deep V-neck. “Too Gennifer Lanston?”
 

“Too Hollywood 1950's,” I told her, wrinkling my nose in distaste before tossing over a dark blue one. “Try this.”
 

When it comes to shopping, criticizing isn’t mean; it’s actually a compliment. If you tell someone they look good in a dark orange dress that makes them look like they’re sick you’re essentially telling them that there’s no point in being honest and saying that they look like they haven’t seen the sun in twenty years because they’re too ugly to find anything that would make them look good.
 

“I love these shoes but I can’t walk in them,” I complained, looking down at my turquoise boots in annoyance. My mum and Meg-Ann both stopped perusing their shoe shelf to look over at me. “Do the wedges look the same?”

 
“No,” mum said. “They might look okay if you had longer legs but the platform makes it look too turquoise on you.” I sighed and tossed the offending shoes back into their box.


One of the first rules in fashion is to never insult the piece unless you’re insulting the quality. Fashion changes quickly so what’s in style one day may be completely out the next. Take gauchos for example. When my mum was in school they were all the rage. For about two months. Now when we look at the photographs she cringes. Same goes for crocks but thank Merlin my mum never wore those. The thing about clothing, and shoes for that matter, is that if they make their way into manufacturing and a store picks them up they must work for someone. Some clothes need small boobs. Some shoes need long legs. Some skirts need a stick figure. Some dresses need buyers with curves. When someone looks like a drowning rat or a grandmother when they try something on it’s not an insult, it’s a fact. Some clothes might have a hard time finding an owner but it was fitted on someone somewhere.

 
“Have you girls heard ‘I kissed an earl’ by Kalie Berry?” Mum asked when we were in a record store.

“No, is it new?” Meg-Ann questioned.

“No it was popular when I was a kid. ‘California Pearls’ used to be my friends and my song.”

“Oh, I love that one,” I put in. “Wasn’t that the one you used to play when you were designing at the Davenports?”
 
“The one and only,” mum agreed. “I used a lot of her outfits for inspiration. Except this one, I can’t stand that dress.”

“It might look good if they were to raise the bust an inch or so,” Meg-Ann said, looking over my mum’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “And they could raise the hemline a little higher too. I love the black hair with it.”

“There is no doubt you are my daughter’s,” mum laughed, putting the record that was decorated in a dozen small photos back on the shelf.


Criticizing fashion is an art form. It’s different from criticizing how a piece of clothing looks on someone when you’re in the dressing room. When you’re at a store the clothing wasn’t designed specifically for that person. When you’re looking at a celebrity on the red carpet or watching a runway show it’s different because the designer created and fitted the dress specifically for that person which is why saying ‘they look like a drowned rat’ would be offensive in that situation.


Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and eight times out of ten there is something that could have been done to make it look a little bit better but criticizing in those situations is criticizing the designer and their creativity which is why the criticizer has to be extremely careful with their words and remember that it is merely their own opinion. People who criticize celebrities on the red carpet for a living need a serious lesson in this.


“Wedding dress?” I asked my mum when we had all gone over to her own boutique. Not wanting to leave our bags from all the other stores in the main area as free advertisement the three of us all went upstairs to dump our bags and, as usual, my mum’s studio was an organized mess that consisted of multiple sketches, new accessories that she hadn’t priced yet, and half-sewn designs.


“Yeah,” she said, walking over with a sigh. “I had the sketch done but then I was making it and there’s just something off. I can’t quite figure out what. This is the sketch for it.”


In my mum’s store fashion is all about going big or going home, especially when it comes to weddings. Her designs for everyday robes range from traffic stopping to elegant but every one of her wedding gowns is a statement gown. No two dresses are exactly alike and most of them are custom-made. There are a few gowns that turn out more timeless than other’s but she never designs with timeless in mind.


“Have you considered a sweetheart neckline?” I asked, looking from the sketch to the gown. “I like the simplicity of the straight across but if you turn the neck into a sweetheart then the beading might not seem so regimented.”


Criticizing an artist’s design when they’re still in the process of making it can be tricky. They’re not done yet so you have to be careful not to step on their toes but when they’re stuck, not telling them what you think is worse than a small criticism.


The key to a good criticism in fashion is having a reason for it. When you own a major fashion company and are preparing for a run-way show it might be appropriate to say you hate it and leave but when you don’t own a fashion company and you’re not putting a designer’s work on the runway, criticism needs to be backed up with the thought process.


At my mum’s store she designs for everyone and each age range has their own section: young girls Meg-Ann’s age are in the back right corner, older teenagers and girls just out of Hogwarts about my age are in the back left-hand side by the dressing rooms, adults closer to her own age are at the front on the right hand side, wedding gowns are either on display in the windows or kept in a glass casing behind the register, and all of the accessories are in the center of the store lined up on the back wall. It’s all about finding your audience and my mum is really good at drawing in the right people. Her window changes every few weeks to match the season and once she finds a hard-core customer they usually stay with her all the way through.


“Hey Taylor,” Natasha said, sticking her head around the corner of the dressing room area. “Has your mum priced the silver headbands yet?”


“No, the box is still here, why?” I asked, filing my nails as I sat on the red stool behind the counter.


“I have a girl in the purple dress and she can’t decide. The headband looks great and I think it could sell it.”


“Here,” I said, tossing it over to her. “Tell her if she buys it with the dress we’ll give it all to her for seven. The dress was going to go on sale in two days anyways.”


“Thanks,” Natasha said, catching the headband easily.


Making sales is an art. Anybody who tells you that sometimes sales happen and sometimes they don’t is lying. On very rare occasions a salesperson will come across an extremely stubborn client who is deadest on not buying anything but it’s pretty rare. Usually, it’s all about showing them what they can look like. One dress that a customer has just about given up on can be turned around with the right accessories. One pair of shoes that someone’s iffy about on be sold by knocking the price down by five Knuts and throwing in a few samples.


“Ready to make a big sale?” Natasha asked from her perch on the counter. I was organizing all of my mum’s papers that were stuffed under the counter from the past week into piles of receipts, bills, and stock we needed while Natasha took a break since the store was empty except for Meg-Ann and her best friend Lacey who were both looking through a few racks.


“But of course,” I told her, grinning at the group of girls who had just walked. “Five Knuts say they spend at least seven galleons all together.”


“Fifteen says at least seven galleons and 8 sickles,” Natasha countered. I considered for a moment before nodding and holding out my hand.


“Deal.”


All of the little sacrifices that are made and cause the profit off of outfits to be closer to twenty sickles instead of thirty are made up eventually because there are always clients who can afford full-price. In order for a shop to stay above water there have to be items that will draw people in who have the ability to pay full price. It can be hard, sometimes, gauging who can truly afford full-price and who just wears that façade but there have to be items that you aren’t willing to compromise the price on and those are the items you want to steer wealthier clients towards.


“How can we help you?” Natasha asked, smiling brightly at them. It looked more like a Cheshire Cat grin than a human smile but they didn’t seem to notice.


“My friend’s getting married,” one of the girls explained. “It’s in a few weeks so I want a summer dress.”


“Bridesmaid or guest?” I asked her even though I was pretty sure it was the latter.


“Guest,” the girl confirmed and I looked at her critically.


Finding the right dress really isn’t as complicated as most people make it. It’s all about knowing your stock, finding out the details of the gathering, and observing your client. How do they dress normally? Do they walk confidently or are their shoulders slumped? Are they tall or shirt? Curvy or boxlike? Athletic or fragile? After figuring out the right type of dress it’s all about fit so you get them into the right dress, stand them up on the pedestal, and start pinning.


“My sister Lucy needs one too,” she added, indicating a girl nearby. They had strikingly similar features with porcelain skin, strong cheekbones, and brown eyes but Lucy’s hair was as ink black as my own while her older sisters was a mousy brown done up in tight ringlets. Lucy wore a black dress with white and yellow flowers on it, a large bag, and heels with knee-length, fishnet socks while her sister was dressed in a sophisticated yellow sundress with a delicate necklace. It was already apparent that it would be hard for them to agree.


“I can talk for myself,” Lucy cut in, glaring at her sister. “I’m not five.”


“Could’ve fooled me,” a third girl cut in. She looked nothing like the others with her curly red hair, streaked with brown and blonde highlights, and freckled nose. The one thing that made me immediately come to the conclusion that they were all related was the dark brown eyes.


“Can all of you just shut up,” yet another voice cut in but this one stopped me short. I had been watching their exchange with mild amusement but as soon as my eyes landed on the blonde I stood up a little straighter and whipped my head around to see Natasha’s hand close in on itself, turning her knuckles white.


“Dominique,” Natasha said coolly. I didn’t even need to see her blue eyes grow hard to know that she was preparing for a fight. “How absolutely lovely to see you again.”


“Pity I can’t say the same,” Dominique responded, glancing at both of us contemptuously. “Then again, I suppose I should have expected to see you here. It’s not like anyone outside of your families would hire you anyways.”


“Yeah,” I agreed easily. “We applied for millions of jobs all over but not even the street cleaners in Hogsmeade would take us. Seemed to think we wouldn’t stay on top of our work since we’ve been known to cause them trouble in the past.”


“Sad really,” Natasha agreed, flicking her own blonde hair over her shoulder. “I was really hoping to get close to old Timmy. Such a lovely lad.”


“Hey,” I cut in, not wanting to wind Dominique up too much. “What do you say we save our little roommate catch-up sess for after we get dresses for Lucy and…what’s your name?” I asked the girl with ringlets.


“Molly,” she supplied immediately.


“Right,” I agreed. “Once we get dresses for Lucy and Molly. Now we have a few different options…”


Most people say that ‘the client is always right’. What they don’t say is that it is often important to manipulate the client into wearing something that you know will work and then stepping back and letting them decide which of the dresses looks best on them. You don’t want to always tell them that they look amazing because if they’re unsure about a dress and you gush about it until they feel like they have to buy it, chances are it will be returned within two days of the sale which does no good for anyone.


“I’m going to win,” Natasha sung quietly in my ear after we had found dresses for the two girls and had finished pinning the rough measurements so that they could be properly fitted.


“No, you’re not,” I sang back. “They don’t have to pay for the dresses until their next fitting.”


“Doesn’t matter,” Natasha shrugged. “Look at the little redhead, the one with the dye job. She’s definitely going to bring in a few Galleons’.”


“Maybe on her own,” I conceded. “But look, the…hold up,” I said suddenly, literally holding my right hand up in front of Natasha’s face. “The first redhead, the one with curly hair, doesn’t she look familiar?”


“I guess,” Natasha said slowly. “I mean, she’s here with Dominique. We probably saw her around—”


“No,” I cut her off again. “She looks really familiar, like I’ve seen her more than just in passing.”


“Well maybe she was a Gryffindor or she went to—oh my Merlin!” Natasha whisper screamed.


“What?” I demanded, impatiently tapping her arm.


“Weasley. Dominique Weasley and her cousin—”


“Rose Weasley. Gryffindor and--”


“Dating Scorpius!” We finished in a whispered scream to each other.


“Oh, this is going to be good,” I grinned. “Scorpius is so dead. On vacation my wand.”


“They didn’t break-up did they?” Natasha asked, frowning.


“I doubt it. Tyler would know and he didn’t say anything,” I said unconcerned.


“Then let’s have some fun with this,” Natasha grinned and we high-fived as Rose started making her way towards the counter with the younger redhead in her wake.


“Hey, not trying to make this awkward, but are you Rose Weasley?” I asked as I started ringing up the younger girl.


“Yeah,” Rose said, smiling. “Do I know you guys from Hogwarts?”


“Oh not us,” Natasha said quickly. “But you’re dating that Malfoy kid right? The one with blonde hair always has a bucket of gel in it?”


“Has kind of a big mouth,” I added. “Literally, of course. He never talks. Bit creepy really.”


“Yes, I’m dating Scorpius and I wouldn’t say he’s creepy. You probably just don’t know him that well,” Rose said shortly.


“Oh no, I know him really well,” Natasha assured her. “We used to swim naked in the kiddy pools together. My mum loves talking about those days. Of course as we got older it wasn’t the same. And then he went all betrayal and turned Headboy.”


“Awful thing to do really,” I said conversationally. “Turning his back on everyone like that. His dad was so disappointed.”

“Good old Draco,” Natasha agreed. “Do you know his family well?”

“Not really,” Rose said with a slight edge in her voice.

“Ah, well, makes sense I suppose,” I said, nodding gravely. “I mean, showing a Weasley his family couldn’t be an easy thing to do.”

“Agreed,” Natasha said seriously. “What I can’t understand, though, is why you would go for him. I mean, let’s face it: Malfoy’s a bit of a prick. You on the other hand are pretty, were Headgirl, and even have all your front teeth.”

“Oh yes, that was unfortunate,” I agreed, nodding gravely. “Losing those teeth must have been traumatizing. It’s good that he met someone who can look past it though. I heard his mother was worried that he would never get married with that…condition.

“I suppose it’s better than that skin problem that gets past through his family,” Natasha created on the spot. “Maybe since he got the teeth gene the skin condition will skip him.”

“Possibly,” I agreed. “Although it usually comes out between twenty-three and twenty-eight so we won’t know for sure until he’s around thirty.”

“True, true,” Natasha agreed. “I really am happy that he found someone who’s able to look past all of that though.”

“His last girlfriend just broke his heart when she dumped him after seeing him without his teeth,” I added. “I think it’s good though. Adding the herpes she had onto all of his other conditions would be simply terrible.”

“Are you absolutely certain he didn’t get them?” Natasha asked. “My mum was at the St. Mungos ward for…things like that…a few days ago and saw him there on his own.”


“I’m pretty sure,” I responded while watching Rose and the other girl out of the corner of my eye. “He told me a few weeks ago that he had a weird fungus growing on his foot and I suggested he tell his parents but you know how strained their relationship has been since his cross-dressing phase.”


“Who’s cross-dressing?” A deep voice asked cheerfully and Natasha and I both screamed, turning around to see Peter standing behind us, having just walked down from my mum’s work area.


“No one,” I said quickly but the younger red-head piped up happily and told him about our conversation while Rose stood stock still. Peter’s eyes narrowed as Lily continued her story.


“Please tell me that you did not believe a word coming out of these girls mouths,” Peter said to Rose who still looked like she was torn between running away whilst screaming and bursting into tears.


“Erm…I…” Rose stuttered.


“Rose, this is Taylor and Natasha,” Peter said kindly. “They’re friends of Scorpius’ who are having way too much fun taking the mickey out of him.”


“Taylor and Natasha,” Rose repeated dubiously. I grinned sheepishly.


“It’s nice to meet you Rose,” I said, biting my lip to stop from laughing.


“You guys were in Gryffindor, right?” Rose went on slowly. “You were a year ahead of us.”


We both nodded and Rose’s expression cleared as she smiled at us.


“Scorpius has mentioned you a few times,” she said.


“Ooh, speak of the devil and his cousin shall appear,” Natasha sang out as the bell over the door jingled and Tyler walked in, his blonde Mohawk appearing over the shelves before the rest of his body came into view.


“Hey Ty, come meet Scorpius’ girlfriend. Or is it only Natasha and I that he’s been keeping in the dark?” I called out to him.


“I have to get going,” Peter said just as Tyler’s eyes landed on Rose. “Be nice girls.”


“I’m always nice,” I told him, sounding as offended as I could manage.


“Rose Weasley,” Tyler greeted as a smile slowly took over his face. “I’ve never met you and yet I already know more about you than my own mother.”


“You don’t know anything about your mother,” Natasha said, frowning at him.


“Of course I do, Natasha,” Tyler said, sending her a glare. They were still fighting from a few days ago. “I merely don’t feel the need to talk about her 24/7.”


“Okay, what’s her favorite ice-cream flavor?” Natasha challenged.


“Well…it’s…that’s not the point,” Tyler exclaimed and I snorted.


“Face it Ty, you know more about Scorpius’ future skin disease than you do about your mother,” I told him.


“What skin disease?” Tyler asked at the same time Rose squeaked,


“Wait, I thought that wasn’t true!”


“Oh, shippernickles,” Natasha exclaimed under her breath as the door once again jingled.

“What?” I asked less than a second before Scorpius came into view.


“Hey Taybear,” Scorpius greeted me, still out of view from Rose and the other girl. “My mum said that she wanted­—” he stopped short when he saw who was standing in front of the counter. His cool blue eyes darted back and forth between us for a few minutes before he cursed under his breath.





“Hello Scorp. How are you?” I asked, taking advantage of his surprise. “We were just getting to know your girlfriend here.”

“You know it’s funny,” Natasha put in, ready to back me up immediately. “Most people who are on vacation in Tokyo don’t shop at Clueless. Did I miss the part where Rosey-posey here learned how to double herself? Or did you suddenly decide to study illusions and this is your latest experiment?” Scorpius grimaced.


“How bad were they?” he asked Rose.


“Erm,” she started, looking between us nervously. “You don’t really have a skin disease do you?”


Scorpius literally groaned in response.


“Leave her alone you guys,” he told us.


“You know,” I said thoughtfully. “We would happily have left her alone if only we didn’t think she was in Tokyo at this very minute. But now that it seems like you don’t want us to meet her I’m sort of interested to see what the big deal about us meeting was.”


“Yeah, you always know my girlfriends,” Tyler added, looking offended by Scorpius’ lie as well.


“That’s because your girlfriends only last for a week,” Scorpius told him.


“Hey! I dated Celia for a whole three weeks and one day,” Tyler said, looking put out.


“That’s because I bet you five sickles she would dump you in less than three weeks so you spent the last week hiding from her,” Natasha said.


“Yeah and you still haven’t paid me,” Tyler said.


“That’s because you cheated!” Natasha exclaimed, her voice becoming louder.


“I did not!” Tyler yelled back. Meg-Ann caught my eye from across the store and came over with a bag of M’n’Ms. I grinned at her and took a few before offering them to Scorpius who shrugged and took a handful. He offered it to Rose but she declined. If it had been under different circumstances I might have felt bad for her. But it wasn’t under other circumstances. So I didn’t.


“The bet was that I couldn’t date her for three weeks and I did!” Tyler went on. My mum made her way down from upstairs and took the chocolate from Scorpius, grinning as she watched my friends go at it.


“You did not date her!” Natasha yelled back. “You hid from her! To date her you have to actually see her!”


“Well I didn’t want to see her, she was annoying!” Tyler yelled.


“So you weren’t dating her!” Natasha yelled.


“Yes, I was! Taylor dated what’s his face for six months when he was in Ireland and she never saw him!”


“Do not bring me into this,” I said, holding up my hands in surrender.


“Yeah, don’t bring her into it!” Natasha argued. “They were dating for over a month before he left so it counted, you didn’t even know her last name!”


“You don’t know half the guys you hook up with’s first name!” Tyler argued.


“Exactly!” Natasha exclaimed. “It was a hookup!”


“She said she was my girlfriend so we were dating!” Tyler said.


“No, you weren’t!” Natasha exclaimed.


“Yes we were!”


“No you weren’t!”


“Were too!”


“Were not!”


“Were!”


“Not!”


“Were!”


“Not!”


“And cut!” I yelled over both of them. They both shut up but continued to glare at each other.


“That was one of your best,” Meg-Ann grinned at them, clapping enthusiastically.


“Shut up Meg-Ann,” they chorused.


“Gits,” Meg-Ann muttered, crossing her arms with a pout on her face. I laughed and gave her a hug as my mum headed back upstairs, taking the chocolate with her.


“Hey, I’m still confused,” the girl who I rang up first said a few minutes later after everyone else in her group (aside from Rose) had gone outside to wait. “Was any of what you guys said about Scorpius true?”


“That, my darling, is completely up to you to decide,” I told her as I put the last few things she had bought into a bag.


“No, it wasn’t,” Scorpius said immediately, shooting Natasha and I both glares.


“You never know,” I said. “Maybe your parents told us about the skin condition that was going to come up in a few years and they just haven’t figured out how to tell you yet.”


“You could help, you know,” Scorpius said to Tyler through gritted teeth. Tyler shrugged.


“Nah, this is more fun. Think of it as payback for lying to us and not introducing us sooner.”


“Is that what this is about?” Scorpius demanded, sounding exasperated.


“Partially,” I admitted.


“But we also thought that Rose should be prepared for whatever may come,” Natasha added. “I mean, if you do get a skin condition and turn into an even uglier little twerp—”


“Okay, that’s it,” Scorpius said, grabbing Roses hand. “We’re leaving.” I laughed and Natasha handed Lily, the younger redhead with a dye job, her bag.


“It was nice meeting you Rose!” I called after them. “And don’t think this is over Scorpius!”


“Nice meeting you too,” Rose called over her shoulder, failing miserably at her attempt to sound sincere. Natasha, Tyler, and I all cracked up as soon as the door closed.


“Okay, how much chocolate have you guys had today?” Tyler asked us, still laughing.


“I have no idea,” Natasha and I chorused.


“I lost track after my fifth bar,” Natasha said.


“I was shopping all day,” I added.


“Enough to make a giant throw up?” Tyler suggested.


“Sounds about right,” I said, nodding in agreement.


“Scorp is going to kill us,” Natasha said, shaking her head in amusement.


“He deserved it, the little git-face,” Tyler said, and with that we all cracked up again.


“You know we really did Scorpius a favor,” Natasha said thoughtfully after we had calmed down a bit. “Now that she’s seen us on a chocolate-high she’ll know what to expect.”


“Yeah, if Scorpius doesn’t put her under ministry protection,” I said and we spent the rest of the night laughing over the crazy things Scorpius might do to try and keep her away from us now. Revenge is sweet.

 

 

 







A/N: This took me longer to get out than I wanted but I s'pose that's life. It got rejected the first time because I used celebrities names but I'm sure you can figure out the celebrity names that were there origionally.

Review and tell me what you thought. Who's your favorite so far? What do you think the backstory between Natasha and Dominique will be? What about Rose and Scorpius?

Sneakpeak into next chapter:

“So,” James said, breaking the silence yet again. I had only spent a few hours with him but I could already tell that he wasn’t very good at handling silence. Too bad for him, I’m not very good at handling constant conversation.

“So,” I repeated, lifting one eyebrow at him.

“What made you decide to become an Auror?”

“Oh, the wonderful pamphlet,” I said. “I took one look at the plain black cover with the silver writing and new it was the career for me.”

“Really.”

“Yep,” I said, nodding my head serenely. “I can’t resist silver letters.”
 


Chapter 3: A Place In This World
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?



I'm alone, on my own, and that's all I know

I'll be strong, I'll be wrong, oh but life goes on

Oh, I'm just a girl, trying to find a place in this world

Disclaimer: Lyrics belong to Taylor Swift and anyone else who has rights to her song "A Place In This World". All of the recognizable/previously created characters in this story belong to JK Rowling and other people who have rights to the Harry Potter series which, sadly, does not include me.

 




Dear Miss Taylor Elizabeth,

The Ministry of Magic is pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the Auror field training program for 2024-25. You're training will begin Monday, July 3rd, at 9 o'clock a.m.

To enter the ministry you will step into an out-of-order telephone booth on 23rd West Street and dial 915-887-1223. The Auror department headquarters are on the second floor. Please see Ronald Weasley, Assistant Head Auror upon your arrival.

The Auror Department looks forward to meeting and working with you,

Sincerely,

Harry Potter, Head Auror



Running is a methodic type of exercise. I started running the summer before my fourth year at Hogwarts. My third year had been rough and the only thing that kept me sane the summer after was running every day. I would wake up in the morning, drink a glass of orange juice, and then run. When we were at home I would go through the streets of Diagon Alley, down to the park a few miles off the main drag. When we were at the Davenports I would follow the horse trails through the woods until I became hopelessly lost and would have to find a worker who would carry me back to the farmhouse.

 

When I started, I could barely manage a mile. I smoked my first pack of cigarettes my third year and that combined with my general lack of physical activity caused my endurance to be a bit below average. Slowly, I started getting faster. Eventually I got my mile down under eight minutes and so I moved to two miles and then three. Three became my average from then on but on a really crappy day or if I had time to kill I would go four or five. Eight was the farthest I had ever gone and I only went that far because Tyler bet he could beat me. He did, but only by two seconds and only because he tripped me. Always a gentleman that one.

 

Scorpious had been on my side, saying that Tyler cheated and I should win because I had been ahead of him before he tripped me. Natasha was with Ty, saying that tripping me was merely good strategy. It was one of the few times she and Tyler agreed.

 

In the end, we called it a draw and neither of us had to be the others slave for a day but honestly, we were both too exhausted to put up a real fight for our side and Scorpious and Natasha aren’t very good at fighting with each other. Actually, Scorp’s not good at fighting with anyone and Natasha always feels guilty taking advantage of him so she usually lets him win. Yeah, it’s pretty much the only time people believe she has a heart. Kidding; kind of.

 

After they agreed on a draw we all jumped into the black lake from the dock that had been our finish line. As soon as we resurfaced we were face to face with Professor Longhbottom, the Gryffindor head of house. I pushed my then naturally colored light brown hair out of my face and we all stared up at him silently. He didn’t say anything but motioned with his hand for us all to get out. We did as we were told, pushing ourselves onto the shore and standing guiltily in front of him; our clothes dripping with water. We were given three weeks of detention each—for not wearing our school robes, skipping class, and having been in the Forbidden Forest.

 

Technically, only Tyler and I had gone in the Forbidden Forest but when Professor Longhbottom asked both Natasha and Scorpious remained numb; unwilling to betray us. We realized a long time ago that the best defense is in numbers. We always got in less trouble if we were all together because they didn’t want to give four people detention for three months or knock twenty points off four students at the same time.


Arguing is also pointless so we never denied their accusation--even if they weren’t true. If you did do it and argued, it only got you in more trouble. If you didn’t do something and argued, teachers’ either didn’t believe you or would tell you to prove it which is usually an impossibility. Acceptance became our best policy for survival.

 

The night before I was due to be at the ministry I went for a run to try and calm down my nerves. I don’t enjoy being nervous and I spend the vast majority of my time finding ways to not be nervous but something about July 3rd just wouldn’t let me calm down.

 

Natasha went out that night to visit her dad over dinner and I had decided to stay in, planning on going to bed early. Needless to say, that did not work out which is why I went on a run at nine o’clock. Unfortunately, it didn’t tire me out enough to sleep so I was still wide awake and staring at the white ceiling above my bed when the door creaked and Natasha walked inside.

 

She went in to take her bath and somewhere between her turning the water on and turning it off I managed to fall asleep. Surprisingly enough, she was already awake when I got up the next morning.

 

“How’s your dad?” I asked her, pouring myself a cup of orange juice.

 

“Good,” she said, acting as if it was a normal occurrence for her to be awake before eleven. “He asked where you were and I told him about your training. He said to wish you luck and to remind you to look out for the interrogator.”

 

“I seriously think the interview will be the worst part,” I admitted, shaking my head at the thought.

 

“Probably,” she agreed easily, sitting down at the table with a yawn. “So you’ll dish on all the hot Auror’s when you get back, right?”

 

“If they’re within ten years of your age, wouldn’t make going to work awkward, and single, then yeah,” I agreed, rolling my eyes at her request.

 

“Single, shmingle, periwinkle,” Natasha said, waving it away. “It’s not my fault that guys can be unfaithful or that so many relationships are dysfunctional to the point where one person thinks they’re exclusive and the other one doesn’t.”

 

“And while it’s very kind of you to make these misunderstandings come into the light I would prefer it if you didn’t point out any relationship dysfunctions to the people I work with,” I said with mock seriousness.

 

“Fine,” Natasha agreed with a dramatic sigh. “Within ten years, no bosses, and single.”

 

“Thank you,” I grinned at her. “I’ve got to go.”

 

“Good luck,” she called out.

 

“Won’t help,” I sang but I was glad she said it none the less.

* * * *

All of my preliminary testing was done in Hogsmeade because they were improving the testing rooms at the ministry meaning that my first day of field training was also the first time I had been to the ministry since I was five years old. At the time the large building had seemed daunting and the quick pace intimidating. This time around…yeah, it wasn't any less terrifying.


I went through the visitors’ entrance and my hand shook slightly as I dialed the number and answered the creepy voices questions. When it dropped, it felt as though my stomach went with it and I had to bite my lip to stop the scream from escaping while my knuckles turned white from the death grip I had on the phone. When the booth stopped its decent suddenly my teeth bit down on my lip much harder than I had intended and I tasted blood in my mouth that was sure to match the red phone.


The Ministry was as big as I remembered and I stood still for a minute, taking in the commotion and listening to the different snippets of conversation as people hurried past, not giving me a second glance.
 

"I always knew a scandal was bound to come out, he's not—"

 

"Have you seen it yet? The balance isn't as good but the speed—"

 

"Don't know if there's a future for us. He can't seem to—"

 

"It was great, it felt like—"

 

"I am still so hung over from—"

 

"I just can't believe she's actually old enough to go—"

 

"Dailey Prophet! What is the minister going to do about an unsuspecting Muggle falling through the platform?" A young boy yelled louder than everyone else, trying to wrack-up sales as everyone made their way into work.

 

His voice snapped me out of my trance and I stood up a little straighter, walking over to the lift as confidently as I could and allowing my feet to guide me, trusting my body more than my brain.

 

I was one of the first five people on the lift but within seconds at least twenty more crammed in, blocking me from pushing the floor I needed. I heard someone chuckling beside me and glanced over to see a fairly attractive bloke standing beside me, leaning casually against the back of the lift.


“You haven’t worked here long, have you?” he commented with an easy grin as the lift dinged.

 

“Level Seven, Department of Magical Games and Sports, incorporating the British and Irish Quidditch League Headquarters, Official Gobstones Club, and Optimus Arroyos office.”

 

It was the same mechanical voice that had surrounded me in the telephone booth. The doors opened and more people crammed inside but not a single person left the lift.

 

“What gave it away?” I asked, struggling to move my right arm so that it wasn’t smashed against the metal bar that ran around the lift.

 

We jolted to a stop before I was able to reposition it and the mechanical voice rang out again.

 

“Level Six, Department of Magical Transport, incorporating the Floo Network Authority, Broom Regulatory Control, Portkey Office, and Apparation Test Center.”

 

The doors opened and I was able to move my arm as a few people shifted their position but as far as I could tell, no more than one or two people got out.

 

“The fact that you didn’t know to hit your floor as you stepped in and the look of pure terror on your face were pretty good indicators,” the guy laughed, still seemingly unconcerned that should the lift get stuck we would all suffocate due to lack of oxygen. “Let me guess…third year out of Hogwarts?”

 

”Level Five, Department of International Magical Cooperation, incorporating the International Magical Trading Standards Body, the International Magical Office of Law, and the International Confederation of Wizards, British Seats.”

 

“Second,” I replied, pushing my long black hair behind my back as a few people stepped out, only to be replaced a moment later by a few more people stepping in.

 

“Level four, Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical creatures, incorporating Beast, Being, and Spirit Divisions, Goblin Liaison Office, and Pest Advisory Bureau.”

 

“Huh,” he said, cocking his head to the side and appraising me. “You seem surer of yourself than most Second years.”

 

“Level Three, Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, including the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, Obliviator Headquarters, and Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee.”

 

“Really? You have a system for it or something?” I asked just as the lift dinged again and the mechanical voice announced my destination.

 

“Level two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters, and Wizengamot Administration Services.”

 

“Shoot, this is my stop. How do you get out?” I asked him.

 

“Two hands and shove,” he grinned at me. I sighed but did as he said, using my sharp elbows that were inherited from my mum to force my way through. My mum called them ‘Crowd Controllers’ and said they proved that we were born to shop.

 

“See you later Auror girl,” he called out as I made it to the front and outside the sliding doors just before they shut again.

 

I remembered the way from the elevator almost subconsciously, walking down the hall a ways and turning right at the last hallway before the bathrooms. It looked much the same as I remembered, full of cubicles and desks that were covered in photos and papers but the way everyone meandered around easily now struck me as more cocky than endearing.

 

I walked past the predominantly male cubicles and stopped at one of the two offices in the hallway. The one on my left had a worn looking plaque with Ron Weasley inscribed in neat cursive. I knocked on that door and opened it upon invitation.

 

“Err, hi,” I greeted awkwardly. “I’m Taylor. I’m the new—”

 

“Auror recruit! Of course,” he said, opening the door wider and ushering me inside. “Sit down, this will only take a few minutes and then we’ll have you head downstairs for your interview. It’s nothing to be worried about, just getting your take on your life. Would you like a biscuit? I’ve found that food always calms me down when I’m nervous.”

 

“Thanks,” I muttered, sitting down and taking one of his biscuits, wondering how he knew that I was nervous when the guy in the elevator thought I was a few years into my training.

 

“So Taylor you took nine OWL’s and dropped three of them,” he stated, getting right down to business.

 

“Yep,” I agreed.

 

“That left you with an NEWT in Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Transfiguration, Potions, Charms, and Arithmancy.”

 

I nodded again, not really sure why he was telling me about my scores.

 

“You failed your History of Magic OWL, but passed your Astronomy and Care of Magical creatures’ exams and yet dropped both of them,” Ron said, looking through my rather thin folder that seemed to be a copy of the one Hogwarts had on record.

 

I had looked through it and—ahem—made a few corrections during some of my detentions with Professor Longhbottom. He found most of the changes we made and put them back but he never commented and there were usually a few harmless things that went over his head.

 

“What we found particularly interesting,” Ron went on. “Was that Hagrid wrote you an absolutely glowing letter and yet you didn’t take his NEWT class despite receiving an O and Neville vouched heavily for you as well despite Herbology being one of your lower NEWT scores.”

 

“Well I was one of the more…err…enthusiastic students in Hagrid’s class,” I said slowly, trying to figure out how to put it. “And I helped him out with some of his classes after the OWL’s so I got to know him pretty well. Herbology wasn’t my best subject but Neville was my head of house so he knew me as well as any of the other teachers.”

 

“And the reason your other teacher’s had less than glowing things to say about you was…” Ron asked. I have to admit, I sort of liked that he had not tact. It’s better than the people who beat around the bush for hours on end, trying to get me to talk. This was much easier to cope with.

 

“Well, they didn’t like me much, did they?” I said, raising an eyebrow at him. “I’ve never been much of a suck up and my less than enthusiastic attitude in their class combined with the fact that I got good grades on the exams without their help didn’t sit well with them.”

 

“Well,” Ron said, closing the folder with the ghost of a smile on his face. “I have to admit we went back and forth with you but the truth of the matter is, some of my teacher’s didn’t like my friends and I. We decided that Hagrid and Neville were good people to trust on character but I should warn you that Auror training won’t be easy and it’s not something you can learn from a book.”

 

“I know,” I said. “If I wanted to learn from a book I would have become a historian.”

 

“Not coming to work won’t work out,” Ron went on with the same warning tone of voice.

 

“Look,” I said with a sigh. “I know what being an Auror entails. I know how much time it takes up, I know how stressful it can be and I know that it requires a lot of work. Going to Hogwarts wasn’t my choice. If I decide that I don’t want to do this I’ll quit. I know what I’m getting into.”

 

“Alright,” Ron agreed. “In that case, welcome to the Auror department. There’s an interrogation room set up on level 12. Bobby Jenkins will be doing your interview. It’s just making sure you are who you say you are and we’ll be cross-referencing all the information we have on you. After he’s finished, you’re free to go and I’ll see you tomorrow in Harry’s office. It’s just across the hall. The interview starts in twenty minutes.”

 

“Thank you,” I said, standing up and straightening my knee-length robes. “Is there anywhere I can get water?”

 

* * * *

 

“So you're either lost, visiting someone, or trying to become an Auror,” a deep voice said as I poured myself a glass of water from the pitcher at the edge of the hall. “As I know everyone around here I'm going with the first option.” Since the idiot couldn't see, I let myself roll my eyes at his arrogance before turning around and looking up at the one and only James Potter.

 

“Auror training, actually,” I said, waving the folder as proof.

 

“Really?” he asked, sounding genuinely surprised. Since he could see my face now I resisted rolling my eyes and nodded. “Well congratulations on being accepted, I guess.”

 

“Thanks,” I said shortly.

 

“You look really familiar,” he added suddenly, looking at me shrewdly. I shrugged.

 

“You were a year above me at Hogwarts. Probably saw me around the castle.”


“Wait, you were in Gryffindor, right? Yeah, I remember you,” he continued before I had a chance to reply. “There were only three Gryffindor girls in your year and one was my cousin. Always hung 'round with the guys though.”


I shrugged again, not sure how I was supposed to reply.

 

“She liked Quidditch,” I said simply. That pretty much explained the lack of friendship between the two of us.

“Yeah,” James laughed. “Couldn't play to save her life but was always ready to discuss it with Sam.”

“Wood?” I guessed. He had been a year ahead of me too. “I heard he got recruited…” I trailed off, wondering if the rumor-obsessed Hogwarts students had been right. James nodded.

 

“Yeah, by the Tornado's. We all knew it was bound to happen. I'd say he's a shoo-in for starting at the world cup in two years. He was an alternate for the Tornadoes last year but when they had him play to give Fields a break he did great and the dive-drop is nearly impossible to defend so—you have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?” he said suddenly, stopping his rant with a half-smile after noticing the complete lack of comprehension on my face.

 

“Not a clue,” I admitted. “My Quidditch knowledge doesn't go beyond there are four balls, catching a gold one ends the game, and you play it on broomsticks.”

 

“Are you a Muggleborne?” James asked.


“No, but my Mum is and she knows and cares about Quidditch even less than I do so…” I trailed off with a shrug. The only time I went to the games was when Tyler was able to guilt Natasha and me into it.

 

“So have you finished all of your testing yet?” James asked.

 

“I have the interview in ten minutes,” I said, crumpling the paper cup and tossing it in the trashcan.

 

“Ooh, I hated that part,” James said, wincing at the memory. “The hall creeps me out. Looked too much like the hallway that led to the Slytherine common room.”

 

“I always liked that hall,” I lied. “It reminded me of those mystery books where the hero goes through all those secret passageways and explores the hallways even though it’s really obvious they’re going to get caught and have to battle it out for their life. Besides, most of the teacher’s didn’t like going into the dungeon’s to begin with so it was always a pretty safe hideout.”

 

James was right about the hall, it did remind me of the Slytherine halls. The walls were pure stone and it felt empty. There weren’t any fake windows to provide light so torches lit up the area that I was walking towards, turning on once I was twenty feet from them and flickering off as soon as I passed. It smelled damp, like an old beach house after a big storm, and the noise of my shoes clicking on the concrete floor echoed around the seemingly empty hallway.

 

A lady was waiting for me part way down the hall.

 

“You’re Taylor?” she asked.

 

“Yeah,” I said, her demeanor somehow making my brain automatically decide against answering sarcastically.

 

“Follow me,” she said. “You’re interview will be a floor below us. Unfortunately the lifts don’t go that far so we’ll have to take the stairs.”

 

I followed her quietly and the eeriness seemed to intensify as the clicking of her heels joined mine as we made our way down the spiraling stone steps and followed another hallway with no fake windows. This floor somehow felt even creepier than the one above it but whether it was due to the iron locks on the closed doors or her silent silhouette leading me without a word I couldn’t decide.

 

She finally stopped in the middle of the hallway and rapped on the stone wall. Almost immediately it began to rearrange itself, sliding back and over to allow us to enter a moderately sized chamber. She indicated for me to take a seat across the table from a guy who looked about my mum’s age—mid to late thirties. He had a mop of curly red hair and freckles decorated his nose and cheeks. I kept expecting him to smile as I walked in and sat down across from him but he remained stony faced.

 

 “My name is George,” he told me, his face completely straight. “I will be interviewing you to find out more before the Ministry decides whether or not they would like to hire you for the England Ministry of Magic Auror Department. Are you aware that this is the job for which you are being interviewed?”

 

“No, I thought I was joining a dance team,” I said sarcastically. The interrogator, George, blinked at me.

 

“I was joking,” I told him. “Of course I know why I’m here.” George nodded and wrote something down.

 

“A few questions for a control,” he went on.

 

“Hold on,” I said suddenly, cutting him off. “Do you do interrogations for people before they get thrown in Azkaban?”

 

“I am not at liberty to speak of other interviews,” he replied mechanically. “What is—”

 

“I think I know who you are,” I cut him off again. “My friend’s dad said that he was interrogated by someone who looked just like you and he said that you never smiled.”

 

“Well—”

 

“Smiling’s good for you.”

 

“I—”

 

“I’m going to get you to smile.”

 

“Excuse me?” he said. His façade was broken and he looked surprised.

 

“Yeah. That’s my goal for today, to get you to smile.”

 

“Err—I—well—ehem, let’s move on,” he stuttered but it didn’t matter. I already had him off balance, giving me control of the interview.

 

He briefly went over standard questions like my name and birthdate, using them for control purposes, and then asked me more personal questions. I answered all of his questions as honestly as I could and when he broached subjects that I didn’t want to talk about I talked in circles and deliberately didn’t answer the actual question.

 

It was like being back at Hogwarts, all the times I got called into Professor Longhbottom and Professor Sprout’s offices. They asked questions I didn’t want to answer and tried to get me to talk about things that I didn’t want to talk about. But thanks to the two of them, I became a pro at Avoid, Redirect, and Run.

 

The interview wound up taking a few hours and by the time it was done, I was wiped out. George didn’t manage to get anything out of me that I didn’t want to talk about but he sure gave me a run for my money. After it was done, the only thing I could think about was getting away from people and sleeping so I went over to my mum’s house and took a nap on her couch. Meg Ann was always out and about during the summer, my mum was taking care of the shop, and Peter was at work so I had the flat to myself.

 

Somehow my mum knew I would be there and when I got up she had a grilled cheese waiting, a pint of ice-cream in the freezer, and a deck of cards already dealt out.

* * * *

“Hello father,” James greeted his dad, walking into Harry’s office without knocking and plopping down in the chair across from Harry.

 

“Hello James,” Harry replied, not even bothering to look up from the folder he was reading.


“What are you reading?” James asked after a beat of silence.


“A mission proposal,” Harry answered honestly. “What do you want?”


“Nothing!” James exclaimed in faux innocence. Harry looked up, obviously unconvinced, but went back to reading the folder without comment anyways.

 

“So,” James started after another beat of silence had passed. “My flat seems to be having a bit of…structural issues.”


“Structural issues?” Harry repeated, raising his eyebrows.

“Yeah,” James said, completely unconcerned by the fact that it was obvious Harry didn’t believe him. “Structural issues and it’s going to take three months, starting this Sunday, for them to get it resolved so I thought I would stay at home for the next three months…if that’s alright with you and mum,” he added as an afterthought.


“It’s going to take three months, starting this Sunday, for you, Fred, and Sam to fix some structural issues in your flat?” Harry repeated skeptically.


“Sure is,” James agreed.


“Alright then,” Harry shrugged, deciding that wasting twenty minutes figuring out what stupid thing the three boys had done this time wasn’t worth it.


“Thanks dad,” James grinned, jumping up and leaving the room.


“He bought it,” James told Sam and Fred who were waiting outside the ministry.


“Awesome,” Fred grinned. “Overpaying French-people, we thank you,” he said with a bow.


“Where are you staying?” James asked, frowning at him.


“In the flat over the store. I told my dad I would manage the Hogsmeade branch for the next three months,” Fred said with a shrug. “I think he had to talk mum into it but eventually they both agreed to let me try it out.”


“And in three months we’ll all have six months pre-paid rent,” Sam added.

“Speaking of payment, I need to get some leprechaun gold to pay Albus back for loaning me three galleons last week. See you lads later,” James said with a careless wave over his shoulder as Sam and Fred laughed at Albus’ misfortune.


“How much do you want to bet Harry didn’t actually buy his story?” Sam said to Fred, still chuckling,


“Yeah, there’s no way. James is an awful liar,” Fred agreed, laughing as well.




A/N: For those of you who read my author's notes/sneakpeaks into the next chapters you'll probably realize that the scene I gave you last time wasn't in this chapter but that's because I had to do some re-writing to get it to make sense and not feel like I was rushing it so I had to divide the original chapter into two so it'll be in the next chapter instead.

What did you think about the tiny bit of Taylor's history in the beginning? Any ideas on what's up with Natasha's dad? What's your impression of James? And most importantly....

Yay or nay on the bit centered on James? I've got a few more little scenes written centered on him but did it work or was it out of place?

Review and let me know!

(Sneak peak into next chapter can be seen under the authors note of the last chapter.)


Chapter 4: Perfect
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?

Made a wrong turn once or twice.

Dug my way out, blood and fire. 

Bad decisions, that's alright. 

Disclaimer: Lyrics belong to Pink and anyone else involved in the song/album. I don't own Harry Potter so I don't own the characters in this story either.

 

 




 

The next day I woke up late. My room in my mum’s flat was at the back, away from the rising sun. Growing up it was nice because I was able to stay up late without my mum knowing and sleeping in was never a problem. Unfortunately, in my own flat the sun came up through the window in the bedroom and I quickly became accustomed to letting it wake me up in the morning.


The day following my night of cards and ice-cream I woke up suddenly when my old pocket watch went off at the same time I had it set for the last time I had stayed in this room—the day I went to see Meg Ann and Scorpius off at Hogwarts the year before.

 

Get up,” it croaked, sounding like a frog that needed to stop smoking. I jerked awake, not used to the sound, and fell back down on the pillows immediately, burying my head back under my covers only to be startled again. “Get up!”

 

When I set it the year before I set it to wake me up half an hour before we had to leave. I arrived at the platform without make-up in pajama pants and a pair of my mum’s old, yet immensely comfortable, Ugg boots with my hair thrown up in a messy bun. Not exactly the way I was planning on showing up at the ministry.

 

My mum got me the pocket watch when I was thirteen because she thought it might help me get to my classes, as though the problem was me not keeping track of time. To this day she insists that she thought it would help me to stay on schedule since I hated being late but everyone knows the truth.

 

When my friends and I were skipping classes and seemingly ruining our lives, my mum held onto my need for being on time to keep her sanity. When I came home for breaks, she never mentioned the letters that got sent home and we went about life as we always did. I know that it frustrated her, to see me completely fine and happy at home and then to watch as I went to school and got in trouble. At first she tried to talk to me about it but my mum’s awful at heart-to-heart emotional stuff like that so eventually she just let it go and did her best with me when I was at home. There were times when we would blow up at each other and not talk for a few days but I always knew she would be there for me when I needed her to be.

 

The funny thing is, when I started to clean up my life at the end of sixth year, my need to be on time diminished somewhat. I still didn’t like being late for things but when Natasha had to fix her hair before we went to class or I got caught up talking to Hagrid and was late to meet Tyler or Scorpius, I didn’t freak out. It wasn’t quite Buddha’s Middle Path but it was as close as I would ever come to it.

 

That day, however, was not a good day to be late so I had to rush to get ready. I put toast in the toaster, threw everything that I could possibly need into my black messenger bag, and got dressed in an off-the-shoulder purple and black robe I had stolen from my mum’s closet the year before. I found black heels I had forgotten about under the bed and slid them on as well. Twenty minutes later I was rushing out the door with two pieces of toast wrapped in a paper towel and a squeaky pocket watch shrieking at me to ‘hurry up!’ I considered leaving it in my room and dealing with it later but decided it would be more fun to take it home and see Natasha’s reaction when it woke her up.

 

I had learned my lesson the day before so this time I waited until fifteen or so people stepped into the lift before following suit, making it in just before the doors closed.

 

The Auror hallway looked exactly the way it had before with the same people at their desks and the same people sitting in other’s cubicles. The only difference was the robes they were sporting although I could have sworn at least two of them were wearing the same outfit.

 

Just like Ron had instructed the day before I knocked on the door opposite his; it had a similar plaque except that this one was crooked had Harry Potter, Head Auror inscribed on it.

 

There was a bit of a scuffle before the door was thrown open by a petite blonde who smiled widely at me before hurrying out. Harry was sitting calmly behind his desk and stood up when I started walking in.

 

“Taylor Elizabeth, right?” he asked, offering me his hand to shake.

 

“That’s me,” I said just as Ron walked in behind me and perched himself on the edge of Harry’s desk.

 

It took thirty minutes for them to get through everything from the long and erratic hours to the relatively non-existent pay but eventually they finished telling me everything I already knew. Harry stood up suddenly, saying he would be back in a minute to assign me a desk and have someone show me around a bit. Ron attempted to make small talk while Harry was gone but he was rubbish at it so we sat in a relatively comfortable silence until Harry came back.

 

“Taylor,” Harry said, walking back into his office. “This is my godson, Teddy. He’s been in the department for 8 years, qualified what was it, five? Six years ago?”

 

“Something like that,” Teddy agreed, grinning at me. When I saw him, the first thing that came to mind was that he reminded me of Tyler. Ty’s hair was a bit shorter on the sides but they both had it styled in a 70’s Mohawk and seemed to enjoy adding color to it. Ty had blue tips last time I saw and Teddy’s was currently bright orange.

 

“Teddy will show you your desk and be your mentor for the next few months. If you need anything, just find Teddy and I’m sure he can take care of it,” Harry said but his attention was quickly caught by a wizard with dreadlocks and Teddy motioned for me to follow him out.

 

“So like Harry said, I’ll be your mentor for the time being. All it really means is that I’ll show you around, introduce you to people who you need to know, and if you need anything I’ll be there to help out.”















“Alright,” I agreed easily, following him through the maze of cubicles until we reached the back corner that had ten desks without cubicles separating them.

 

“This is your desk,” Teddy said, indicating one of the four without any decorations on it. “James and Kyle are going to be training with you. They’re both in their third year. Abigail Monzel and Danny Stephens are both technically still training as well but they’re about to qualify. Abigail is in her fourth year and Danny is in his sixth, poor bloke. He transferred from France’s program to ours in order to take care of his younger brother and sister. It created a right mess with his training but they’re both expecting to get their promotion with the next board meeting.

 

“Derrick and Mackenzie are the other two desks. They’ve both qualified but nearly blew a mission last month because they couldn’t get along so Harry moved them out of their cubicles and said they had to deal with the trainees until they could get along.”

 

“And that’s a bad punishment?” I guessed.

 

“Depends on who the trainees are,” Teddy said in the same quiet voice he started using when he mentioned the Abigail and Danny’s years. “With James and Kyle in the mix…well Derrick’s taken to coming in at night to get his paperwork done and Mackenzie has started trying to hide out in other people’s cubicles until someone clues Harry in. To be honest, I think it’s started amusing Harry and Ron on boring days.

 

“Danny doesn’t seem to mind much but he’s got a kid of his own and two siblings at his house so I’d suppose he’s used to it. And Abigail…well she tends to row with them quite a bit. I’m warning you now they like to prank, especially when they don’t have enough to do or get bored. So watch your back.”

 

“Constant vigilance,” two voices called out at the same time and I turned around to see James and Kyle walking towards us with butterbeers in their hands, both grinning widely.

 

“Huh?” I asked, my eyebrows knitting together.

 

“Constant vigilance,” Kyle repeated.

 

“It means you always pay attention, know everything that’s going on around you,” James explained, turning his back on my desk and pulling himself up so that he was facing Teddy and I.

 

Kyle Jordan and James Potter were both a year above me at Hogwarts. Kyle had gorgeous cappuccino colored skin and huge black hair that was shaped to be a small afro. He had never been on the Quidditch teams but he used to commentate for the matches. He was taller than Teddy, James, and I though his hair may have given him the edge over Teddy. The only things James seemed to get from his dad was the dark hair and height, both standing at about 6 feet. His eyes were a chocolate brown and his features much were less harsh than his dad but they both had a good five inches on me, despite the three inch heels I was wearing.

 

“So you’re the new recruit,” Kyle said, looking me up and down. “Yeah, good choice Teddy.”

 

“Dude, you have a girlfriend,” James stated, rolling his eyes at his friends antics.

 

“I didn’t say anything, I just said that I thought they picked a good one,” Kyle defended himself, raising his hands in surrender.

 

“Taylor, this is Kyle and James. Mates, meet Taylor,” Teddy introduced us.

 

“We’ve met,” James said, grinning at me.

 

“We have?” Kyle asked, looking confused.

 

“I met her yesterday,” James said. “You know, when you were deathly ill and just had to stay home?”

 

“Oh yeah,” Kyle said, nodding his head as though he had temporarily forgotten about his sickness. “Yesterday. Really ill I was, wouldn’t stop puking.”

 

“I’ve got to get back to work,” Teddy cut him off. “It’s her first day so help her out, yeah?  And if I find out either of you tried to dump any of your work on her then I’m telling your dad. Got it?”

 

“When did you become such a tattle-tale?” Kyle asked.

 

“Seriously Teddy,” James agreed. “Way to spoil the fun. When I first got here you piled all your paperwork on me!”

 

“Yeah, and she’ll have enough to do with all the paperwork she’ll be handed without your help. Taylor if you need anything my cubicle is just over there,” he pointed diagonally and I nodded even though I wasn’t sure which in the pack of three he had been indicating.

 

“Be nice James,” he added before turning and walking away. I sighed and sat down, ignoring James’ mumbled,

 

“I’m always nice.”

 

“What did you say your name was again?” Kyle asked.

 

“Taylor,” I repeated.

 

“And the second half?” he pushed.

 

“Elizabeth,” I said and Kyle’s jaw dropped. I mean literally dropped.

 

“Taylor Elizabeth?” he repeated. “As in—” James elbowed him and Kyle coughed quickly. “Err, I mean, you were a year below us at Hogwarts right? In Gryffindor?”

 

“As far as I know,” I said, raising an eyebrow at him. I knew there were probably a few million things Kyle meant to say in connection to my name and I knew none of them had to do with what house I was in.

 

“Right, well, uh, what I really meant was what’s your surname?” Kyle clarified, trying to disperse the slightly awkward lull.

 

“I don’t use my last name,” I told him coolly.

 

“What did people call you at Hogwarts?” he asked, looking surprised.

 

“Tay-lor,” I repeated, articulating the word. “Or Tay, or Lizbe, or Ellie, or pretty much anything else you can come up with using those two names. The options are pretty endless.”

 

“But I always call people by their last names,” Kyle said, looking put out. “Once I use their first name it’s a sign that I like them or am at least willing to be friends with them.”

 

“What if they don’t want to be friends with you?” I challenged.

 

“Everybody wants to be friends with me,” Kyle said crossing his arms and putting on a cocky grin.

 

“Whatever you say Jordan,” I shrugged, purposefully using his last name. Kyle glared at me.

 

“I’m going to figure out your last name,” he told me. I nodded patronizingly.

 

“You do that,” I agreed.

 

“I am,” he insisted.

 

“Yeah, you said that,” I reminded him.

 

“You don’t believe me,” he said, obviously annoyed.

 

“Says who?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

 

“Says me,” he stated, crossing his arms.

 

“If I guess your last name, will you tell me when I get it right?” Kyle asked after a beat of silence. I considered his offer for a minute before nodding.

 

“Sure. If you guess it, I’ll tell you.”

 

“Oi, Jordan!” a guy with long brown hair that was in a plait down his back stuck his head out of his cubicle called out to Kyle. “There’s a meeting in five that you’re supposed to sit in on.”

 

“Peterson, McCabe, Rivet,” Kyle guessed quickly, turning back around to face me.

 

“No, no, and no,” I told him with a slight smirk. He was never going to get it.

 

“I’ll get it,” Kyle said, pointing his finger at me and backing away.

 

“Okay,” I agreed, laughing when he turned around and tripped over a trashcan, shakily regaining his balance before someone grabbed his arm and pulled him into their cubicle.

 

“Sorry about him,” James said, rubbing the back of his neck uneasily. “He’s a good mate he just…isn’t always the most considerate of people.” I shrugged.

 

“I’m not either,” I told him. “Besides,” I added, unable to hold back my grin any longer, “it’s nice to know that our legacy lives on. We worked hard on that, it would suck to have it all crash and burn just because we graduated.”

 

James nodded slowly, looking at me a little oddly. I suppose if I had been head-boy, an all-star student, and a Quidditch star I might be surprised that Hogwarts’ rebel had managed to become an Auror without having an epiphany where she became all Zen and embarrassed about her previous reputation. But I didn’t have an epiphany and I definitely wasn’t Zen.

 

“Well,” James said, putting on a smile and looking like the happy-go-lucky guy he was known as at Hogwarts. “Why don’t I show you where to get some desk supplies? I don’t think we have anything on tap for today so it’ll be pretty relaxed for the most part.”

 

“Are you sure you’re not just trying to lure me to a closet so that you can lock me in with all your paperwork?” I asked him cocking an eyebrow.

 

“Ignore Teddy,” James said, still smiling. “He just likes taking the Mickey out of us. I’ve known him my whole life so he’s like an older brother to me, ya know?”

 

I nodded even though I didn’t. To me, family is family. Whether you like it or not, the people who share your blood are bonded to you irrevocably. Whether you’re close to your family or have never met them, there will always be a connection that can’t be erased.

 

There was a time when I liked to believe that I picked my family. It took a while but eventually I realized that family is one of the many things out of my control because the thing about family is that you get who you get. You can have people who feel like family and you can have people who act like family but you can’t change who you’re related to. It didn’t matter whether or not I recognized or even talked to my dad’s side of the family because they would always be there, lurking in the shadows with all their issues and dysfunctions.

 

“Are you guys actually related?” I asked, knowing that Teddy was usually included in the Wotter clan whatever’s.

 

“Not by blood,” James said with a casual shrug as he led the way down the hall. “But he spent so much time at our house growing up that he may as well have moved in with us. He married Vic two years ago though so I guess in the eyes of the law we are now.”

 

“Vic’s your cousin?” I guessed knowing, there were a lot of them.

 

“Yep,” James confirmed. “We’ve all been waiting for them to announce they’re expecting. Aunt Hermione recons she’s pregnant now but they want to wait until Vic’s done with her wandlore study before they announce it.”

 

“She’s becoming a wandmaker?” I asked.

 

“Yeah,” James said, rolling his eyes. “She’s really into it too. Every time we have a get together she makes us all answer a bunch of questions and tries to predict what kind of wand we have and then makes us hand over our wand so that she can study it and see if she can tell by observing them what kind they are. She memorized all of ours a few months ago so now she’s cornering anyone new we bring over. At first it was kind of funny; now it’s just strange.”

 

“That’s so cool though,” I said. “Wands are really complex; I don’t think I’d have the patience to study them.”

 

“You should meet Vic then,” James snorted. “She’ll talk your ear off about them. Ah, here we go. This has everything you could possibly need at your desk so take whatever you want. The maintenance crew keeps it stocked so if you run out of anything it should be in here.”

 

Looking around, I didn’t know what half of the stuff was. There were quills, inkwells, and parchment but there were also strange contraptions, one of which looked like a Muggle stapler except that it didn’t clip in place so you could spin it around in circles. Another was a dark pink something in the shape of a rectangle but when I reached out to touch it the color showed up on my finger. Not wanting to admit that I didn’t know how to use all of it I started grabbing things out of it and filled my arms. James picked up a few things that I wasn’t able to grab and we headed back to my desk so that I could set it up.

 

“So,” James said, breaking the silence yet again. I had only spent a few hours with him but I could already tell that he wasn’t very good at handling silence. Too bad for him, I’m not very good at handling constant conversation. I continued to stare at my desk but the lack of response didn’t deter him.

 

“What made you decide to become an Auror?” he asked.

 

“Oh, the wonderful pamphlet,” I said. “I took one look at the black cover with the silver writing and knew it was the career for me.”

 

“Really.”

 

“Yep,” I said, nodding my head seriously. “I can’t resist silver letters.”

 

“I’ll remember that,” James grinned, recognizing that I didn’t really want to talk about it for which I was grateful. He didn’t strike me as the perceptive type but maybe I was wrong.

 

“You should,” I told him. “One of these days I’m going to get on your nerves and it’ll come in handy so you can lure me into a closet and lock me in there.”

 

“You’re never going to let that go, are you?” James asked.

 

“Eventually I will,” I assured him. “It’ll just take a few lifetimes.”

 

“Gee thanks,” he said sarcastically. “You’re so very merciful.”

 

“I know,” I grinned at him.

 

I thought that our conversation would be done at that but of course I was wrong and he continued to pester me for the next few hours, making me really want to tape his mouth shut. He talked about his life casually and asked me about mine time and time again. I kept avoiding his questions but he wasn’t perturbed. He would drop it after I obviously avoided his question but a few seconds later another question would be fired at me. He was like a machine gun that never ran out of ammunition.

 

I went out to get lunch on my own and when I got back James became slightly less annoying, taking a few breaths in between his questions. By the time it was six and we were both leaving he had stopped talking all together and we were able to work side-by-side in comfortable silence. I hadn’t seen Kyle since his name was called that morning but James didn’t seem concerned so I refrained from asking, not wanting to seem like I didn’t know what I was doing.

 

“How was work?” Natasha asked when I opened the door and threw my bag on the floor.

 

“Tiring,” I muttered. “James Potter can wear people out.”

 

“You’re explaining that comment over dinner,” Natasha called out as I slipped into our bedroom and closed the door behind me. I froze when I heard her comment and slowly opened the door again.

 

“You’re cooking dinner?” I asked her. Natasha rolled her eyes.

 

“Don’t worry; I’m not going to catch the stove on fire again. I’m just making grilled cheese.”

 

I nodded, still slightly worried.

 

Pajamas and grilled cheese make me feel better every time, without fail. They’re my solution to everything: bad day? Put on pajamas. Feeling sick? Eat grilled cheese. Boyfriend broke up with you? Cry in baggy clothes and eat a golden brown cheese sandwich. When something really awful happens like your cat died, your boyfriend cheated on you, or you haven’t aren’t able to keep anything down add chocolate. No matter how sick I am, I can always eat chocolate and grilled cheese. Even when I’m throwing up. Tyler says it’s a disorder but I like to think of it as a gift.

 

“So,” Natasha pressed later that night. She let me get through dinner without making any conversation, for which I was thankful, but when we both climbed into bed that night she turned on her side and looked across the nightstand that separated our two beds.

 

“So what?” I asked, reluctantly closing my book.

 

“How was it?” she asked.

 

“It was…different. I don’t know. Do you remember Kyle Jordan, though?”

 

“Black guy?” Natasha asked frowning. “Year ahead of us, friends with James, good-looking…”

 

“Pretty much, yeah,” I said. “He’s doing the training as well. Teddy Lupin, ex-head boy, is my mentor. This girl Abigail is finishing her training; she was a Ravenclaw and used to chase us around Hogwarts. I don’t think she remembers me but I only saw her briefly. It’s just…weird,” I tried to explain. “I’ve never been friends with people like this. Heck, I never really talk to people like this.”

 

“But don’t you see Tay, that’s a good thing,” Natasha said earnestly. “Think about it. Who else could get an O in defense against the dark arts even though they missed more than half the classes? Who else can pull an excuse out of thin air when they get caught on the grounds at two in the morning whilst intoxicated? Who else can spread the truth so thinly that an aunt would be too much pressure on it and yet get away with it because in some really strange, roundabout way they’re able to justify it and talk in circles until it makes sense to everyone even though no one understands how the heck an elephant looks like a cat?”

 

“Huh,” I said thoughtfully. “Maybe I should have been a lawyer.” Natasha snorted.

 

“Yeah right, like you could actually listen to all those people complain without setting them on fire.”

 

“I’m not sure how to take that,” I laughed and Natasha shrugged.

 

“Look, my point is that you have experiences that most people in the Auror department don’t have. You’ve been…not on the other side exactly but you know how the people you’re tracking think. All of the goody-two-shoed Auror’s who were head boy and received all O’s on their NEWT’s—they don’t have that. They can’t even imagine something that would cause them to be in a situation like that because they’re too damn perfect. You’re not.”

 

“So everyone else in the Auror department is perfect and I’m not?” I clarified, able to stop myself from laughing only because I was so exhausted. Natasha threw her hands up in exasperation.

 

“Seriously?” she demanded. “Out of that entire speech th—”

 

“I’m kidding,” I laughed. “Thank you…But seriously, I would wipe shrink off of your possible career choices because you suck at pep-talks.”

 

“Considering you hate pep-talks I’m going to take that as a compliment,” Natasha said decisively and I laughed again, reaching over to turn off the light.

 

“’night Tash.”

 

“’night Tay.”

 

But as I fell asleep I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering back to my mind from wandering to my dad and wondering what his first day of Auror training had been like. Different than mine, this I could be sure of.

 

 

 

 

 








A/N: I'm sooo sorry about the long wait. My laptop has been having problems so I wound up having to copy a bunch of the chapters onto a flashdrive so that I could post them. I'm going on vacation for a week or so but I will update as soon as I get back so the wait shouldn't be as long. The good part about this chapter taking so long is that I'm way ahead now so I should be able to update regularly. Hopefully.

Anyways, more James/Taylor! What do you think of Harry? I always get super nervous writing the characters from the book. Any ideas what's up with Taylor's dad? Who can guess what her surname is? I only read through it once so please point out any mistakes.

Please review, it only makes the story better and it makes me want to get the next chapter out sooner (hint, hint).

And as always, here's a sneak peak into the next chapter:

Tyler: "I’ve heard nothing about Auror training though. And unless I’m much mistaking I saw an old Gryffindor Quidditch playing git who seriously needed to get over himself because what the hell you did was none of his bloody business.”

 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I laughed, remembering my rant from my fifth year. “But, hypothetically speaking, if you meant James he’s really not quite as bad as I originally thought he was.”

 

“So he’s not a prick?” Tyler asked, raising an eyebrow at me.

 

“Oh no, he’s definitely a prick,” I assured him. “He just also happens to be a pretty decent guy who I may or may not have taken my bad moods out on a few times.”

 

I’ve never been one for picking fights; I leave that to my friends. Instead, I tend to rant. A lot. And when I was in school and in a crappy mood I usually ranted about James and his group of friends, if only because I actually knew Sam Wood pretty well and therefore knew what a git he was. And truthfully, as much as I say you shouldn’t judge people by who their friends are, I always assumed that his friends were like him. Though to be fair, they do seem awful similar.
 
 
 
 


Chapter 5: Glass
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?

We may shine, we may shatter

We may be pickin' up the pieces here on after

We are fragile, we are human

We are shaped by the light we let through us



Disclaimer: Lyrics belong to Thompson Square and anyone else who has rights to their song "Glass." Anything you recognize from the harrypotter books/movies/anything else I probably didn't come up with so none of this stuff belongs to me.

 

 

 






 

Family is always complicated. The relationships, the rules, the different personalities, the varying beliefs, the opposing values—it’s all just one big mess. Family shapes everyone, whether they realize it or not. For some, their family dynamics help them to get to a better place in life. For others, they get stuck in a rut from their family and end up living on the couch or joining a gang.

 

Relationships are complicated enough with friends and boyfriends but when you are related to someone you can’t pretend that they don’t exist or break up with them, you just have to deal. For people with a small family it might be that their parents are too involved in their life or that their brother never gives them the time of day. For people with larger family’s it might be that their cousin starts dating their ex or their aunt obviously prefers one of their siblings. And for people with mixed families it could be that their stepmom tries too hard to be a friend or that their stepdad always tries to act like he is their real dad.

 

Different personalities are inevitable in a family, whether it is a newly married couple with no kids or a family with seven kids. Sometimes one person is extremely extraverted while another is shy. Sometimes there is one sibling who is smart and driven while another sibling lives with their head in the clouds. Or, perhaps most commonly, when two people in the family are very alike and they feel as though they have to compete for the attention and praise.

 

Beliefs of children are often similar to the beliefs of their parents. After all, if someone has heard that the Tale of the Three Brothers is true since they were born chances are they will believe it as they get older. Of course, beliefs do change and that is usually when the problems start to arise.

 

During Christmas time a lot of families have big get-togethers. When all of the kids are under eight years old there’s not usually a problem but as soon as one of them finds out that Santa Clause isn’t real they probably won’t want to keep it to themselves. So the other kids will either start crying because the rogue kid just ruined all their dreams or they will get mad because their cousin or sibling is telling ‘lies.’ Once the kids get a few years older the problems are more likely to be in terms of one person believing that a guy or girl is their soul mate while their parents, siblings, cousins, or grandparents believe that he or she is the worst scum to walk the earth.

 

This is where values come in. Values are influenced by family but they can’t be programmed into ones head like beliefs can be. Values stem from experiences, many of which contain family. Some people value family because they grew up in a warm and happy home. Others value family because their family was always disconnected. Some people value money because they grew up in poverty. Other’s put money at the bottom of their priority list because they grew up knowing that money can’t buy everything.

 

Personally, I think that family playing a part in how you live your life is inevitable but I also think that blaming family for the way your life turns out is pure BS. People can come out of the exact same home and live completely different lives.

 

To me, family has always been like a test. You get put in tough situations and have to deal with more issues than Ask Amy in Witch Weekly but it’s up to you to decide how you are going to handle it. It’s not so much about who the family is as it is about how you deal with the family dynamics.

 

At the end of the day, family is just one big mess. There’s no such thing as a perfect family, all anyone can do is try to navigate through all the shit, doing their best to guess where the hidden rocks are so that they don’t slip and get a concussion. Ultimately, everyone is bound to fall down at some point and no one is going to escape without a few permanent scars.

 

* * * *

 

Hey Tay,

 

I’m taking the day off Wednesday because Mya and Liam both have appointments and I don’t want to have to sit in on either of them. Want to get lunch?

 

Tyler.

*

Ty,

 

Sounds good. I have to be back by two so maybe 11:30-12:00ish?

 

Taylor.

*

Tay,

 

Sure, I’ll meet you at the Ministry

 

Tyler.

*

Ty,

 

You can wait at the fountain or come up (down?) to the second floor. Make your first right and then turn left and go all the way to the back. See you soon!

 

Taylor.

*

“You know we have three hours before the meeting, right?” Kyle asked, watching as I tried to race through my work.

 

“Yeah, but I have lunch plans and I wanted to get home early,” I explained, my eyes still flitting over the page.

 

“That’s five hours work at least,” Kyle said, looking at the stack of folders.

 

“I know,” I sighed. “That’s why I’m trying to get through them now.”

 

“Taylor,” Teddy called, walking out of his cubicle. “Come with me.”

I glanced at Kyle but he just shrugged so I pushed back my chair and followed Teddy to the opposite end of the hallway where he tapped his wand in a strange pattern. In the three weeks I have been working at the Ministry Teddy has remained the one in charge of showing me around and teaching me the ropes. As he stowed his wand away the two paintings that stood next to each other parted ways and revealed a lift that was completely empty, a stark contrast to the regular lift.

 

“What’re we doing?” I asked, stepping in after Teddy who hit the only button available. The paintings slid back into place and the lift started rising.

 

“Filing papers,” Teddy said. “We have a system that you need to learn. I’d have James do it since I’m about to leave but the last time he was in here…well, it’s not really a feasible option to have him come up here between 9 and 12 on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays.”

 

“Got it,” I said, nodding my head as though I understood. Which, by the way, I totally didn’t.

 

“Hello Phillip,” Teddy greeted an old black man sitting at a table just outside the lift. “How are you?”

 

“Not too bad,” the man, Phillip, growled out, his gaze cutting sharply to me.

 

“She’s with me,” Teddy told him, passing off his wand as ID. I still found it strange that they use wands at the ministry. It always makes me nervous, giving someone else my wand. I can’t shake the feeling that they are going to take it and run or jump me. I don’t like not having it on me, even for a few minutes.

 

When my friends and I used to go into Hogsmeade we never gave our wands for ID’s and they never asked. Nobody who went to those clubs would dare hand off their wand to a stranger so instead they had us step onto a platform that announced the person’s age. We became extremely good at aging potions when we started busting in. Of course, you always had to be on alert because when patrollers come through you have to pass them your wand which can give you away. Trick wands come in handy there.

 

“Everything is supposed to be alphabetical,” Teddy explained, leading me through the endless rows of files. “But naturally it gets messed up quite a bit. A few years ago they started changing the system so that it was all by date but they stopped about halfway through and then changed about half of the half they had changed back.”

 

“Huh?” I asked, not following him.

 

“The files are a mess,” Teddy clarified. “When you’re looking for papers you have to search alphabetically and by date. When you’re filing a paper go through and put it as close to the spot it should be in as you can.”

 

I nodded and looked around. There were fake windows in here too but outside it was almost blindingly sunny and the trees weren’t swaying in the wind as they were down a few levels. As we got closer I noticed people walking by in little sundresses, holding shopping bags and dog leashes.

 

“Teddy?” I asked tentatively.

 

“Yeah?” he replied, preoccupied scanning the letters on each of the boxes.

 

“Are we…above ground?”

 

“What?” Teddy said, pulling a long ladder that slid on a mini train-track towards him. “Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. See the Ministry of magic was originally built underground and when they expanded they kept expanding down or to the side. Everyone expects the most sensitive information to buried down in the ground so what better way to hide it then put it where they least expect to find it?”

 

“But couldn’t someone break in?” I asked him. “I mean, isn’t it a bit…vulnerable here?”

 

“Well it’s hidden from Muggles,” Teddy said, climbing the ladder as he continued to search for the right box. “It’s like the Leakey Cauldron where they just think that it’s some old, abandoned building and it never crosses their mind to come in.”

 

“And Wizards?” I asked.

 

“They can see it,” Teddy said. “But they don’t know what it is and on top of that, it’s loaded down with protective enchantments. You can’t get in or out of here unless you go through the Auror department. Rumor has it there’s an escape route and there probably is but no one’s found it in centuries. Some people say it’s like the Chamber of Secrets all over again.”

 

“But the Chamber of Secrets did exist,” I pointed out.

 

“Exactly,” Teddy grinned.

 

“Huh,” was my only response as I looked around the storage room again, seeing it in a new light.

 

“Oh no,” Teddy said, watching me.

 

“What?” I asked in the innocent voice I had mastered at Hogwarts.

 

“I know that look,” he said, sounding resigned. “It’s the same one James gets every time there’s something to find. Everyone’s looked at one time or another. James got carried away with his search which is why we don’t let him in here with Phillip anymore.”

 

“So even you looked?” I asked as he led the way back to the lift.

 

“Sure did,” Teddy said. “And I’m not naïve enough to think that you won’t but keep in mind that some of the brightest witches and wizards have searched and not found a single thing. Thanks Phillip.” Phillip just grunted in response and continued reading The Dailey Prophet. That was dated two years ago.

 

“Is he…with it?” I asked Teddy as the lift started to descend.

 

“Not completely,” Teddy admitted. “But he was a great Auror in his day and the department is pretty much all he has so they moved him to Guard Duty when it was time for him to retire. Harry hasn’t had the heart to fire him and keeps insisting that if he ever does have to deal with an attack he’ll be able to subconsciously know what to do.”

 

“And everyone goes along with it?” I asked as we stepped out and the pictures moved back together.

 

“Well he is Head,” Teddy shrugged. “Besides, the only way in is through our department and they only use him during the day. You’ll have Guard Duty eventually as well but you’ll have it at night with another Auror or two. I’ve never had anything happen at night except for when James and Kyle tried to bust in and scare me last year.”

 

Back in the secluded area where my desk is, there’s not a lot of action. When Kyle and James are in the same place it’s not exactly peaceful but it’s like we have our own little sanctuary, hidden by the maze of cubicles that surround us. True to Teddy’s prediction the qualified Aurors aren’t around much. I met each of them briefly but for the most part they seem to hang out in other people’s cubicles or work at their desk as I’m about leaving for lunch or come in as I am getting ready to go home.

 

The main drag of the Auror cubicles is always a bit noisier. Aurors are asking each other for opinions on leads, bouncing ideas for where culprits would go, or just hanging out in others cubicles having finished a recent mission, not wanting to take care of filing every detail.

 

It was barely 11:30 when Teddy and I arrived back on the normal Auror floor and I assumed that I would be able to at least finish the deposition I was reading before Tyler arrived but as I made my way back towards my desk I was surprised to see him casually leaning back in the chair trying (and failing) to keep a quill balanced on his finger as it turned in a circle.

 

“Hey Taybear,” he exclaimed loudly, jumping up to give me hug and ignoring the glare that Abigail sent him.

 

“You’re on time,” I said, unable to stop the surprise from lacing into my voice.

 

“I have nothing to do until five tonight so I figured I might as well come here. You ready?”

 

“Yeah, just a sec,” I replied, opening the top drawer in my desk to retrieve my purse and a chopstick that I proceeded to put in my hair to keep it in a messy bun, sticking my wand in as well so that it they crisscrossed.

 

As we turned into the hallway that lead straight to the lift we crossed paths with Peter and both stopped as he and Tyler did one of their man-hugs.

 

“We’re going out to eat if you want something,” I told him after they were finished.

 

“Where are you going?” he asked.

 

“Patty’s Pizzeria,” Tyler said immediately.

 

“No way,” I countered. “We went there the last three times we went out. Let’s get Indian food.”

 

“I hate Indian food,” Tyler complained. “How about the Butterbeer Café?”

 

“Fine,” I conceded. “I’ve been craving a Butterbeer float anyways.”

 

“Bring me back a float and a Turkey sandwich,” Peter said. “I have a meeting with Harry so if you’re back within the next two or three hours I’ll probably be in his office.”

 

“Will do,” I agreed and we all went our separate ways.

 

Peter and my mum got married when I was thirteen and MegAnn was six. In a lot of ways he’s been like my dad but there’s this line that’s always been drawn in the sand because he’s not my dad. He’s been Peter since the day I met him. There’s not that awkwardness of whether he’s a parent or a friend because he’s not quite either. He’s just sort of there.

 

He’s much chiller than my mum and doesn’t sweat the small stuff which makes it easier to get along with him. My mum gets worked up easily and always commits 100 percent while Peter sits back and lets whatever is going to happen, happen. When I was little I liked him because he would play with me. As I got older I liked him because he let my mum parent me while he was just there to convince (bribe) me to listen to her. Even now, he never tried to overstep the boundary that I unconsciously drew. He’s never awkward and always seems to know how to handle situations without second thought. His perceptiveness can be uncanny, especially next to my mum who needs everything spelled out for her.

 

The Butterbeer Café was packed when we arrived and it took ten minutes to get our food which we ordered to go since there weren’t any empty tables. We carried our sandwiches and Butterbeer floats to the park three blocks away and sat down at one of the picnic tables to eat.

 

“So how’s training?” I asked, eating my float first because I didn’t want it to melt and quite frankly, saving the best for last is stupid. Tyler followed my lead even though he’s a firm believer in dinner before desert. Butterbeer floats are the downfall of everyone human.

 

“Alright,” Tyler shrugged. “The kids are bloody annoying.”

 

“Shut up, you know you love it,” I said, rolling my eyes.

 

Tyler always complains about little kids. Whether it’s his half-sister and half-brother or a random kid crying because they dropped their lollypop, he’s always ready to rant about how annoying they are but in actuality he loves kids and that’s why he chose to be a Child Healer even though he had the grades to get into any department he wanted.

 

“It can be alright some days,” he mildly conceded with a grin. I rolled my eyes but didn’t say anything, knowing that was as much as I was going to be able to push him.

 

“Fine, aside from the kids how is it?”

 

“Good,” he said. “I should be cleared to be on my own in the next year or so. I’m done with all the paperwork and the visits are going fine. They said I should expect to start working operations in the next few weeks. We have to cross over for that.”

 

“Cross over?” I asked.

 

“With another department,” he explained. “We start with helping on adult operations because the little mistakes we could make are easy to fix with all the healers that will be around us. On kids, one tiny spell that’s said wrong could kill them.”

 

“That’s…scary,” I finally replied, not having any idea how I was supposed to respond. Tyler laughed at my shocked expression.

 

“It’s not so bad,” he assured me before changing the subject. “I’ve heard nothing about Auror training though. And unless I’m much mistaking I saw an old Gryffindor Quidditch playing git who seriously needed to get over himself because what the hell you did was none of his bloody business.”

 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I laughed, remembering my rant from fifth year. “But, hypothetically speaking, if you meant James he’s really not quite as bad as I originally thought he was.”

 

“So he’s not a prick?” Tyler asked, raising an eyebrow at me.

 

“Oh no, he’s definitely a prick,” I assured him. “He just also happens to be a pretty decent guy who I may or may not have taken my bad moods out on a few times.”

 

I’ve never been one for picking fights; I leave that to my friends. Instead, I rant. A lot. And when I was in school and in a crappy mood I usually ranted about James and his group of friends, if only because I actually knew Sam Wood pretty well and therefore knew what a git he was. And truthfully, as much as I say you shouldn’t judge people by who their friends are, I always assumed that his friends were like him. Though to be fair, they do seem awful similar.

 

It was a nice day out and the park was filled with people. It made the prospect of going back underground to the ministry a lot less appealing. I still had over an hour before the briefing so Tyler and I made our way over to two of the empty swings to enjoy the nice day.

 

“Have you talked to Scorpious since the whole Rose incident?” Tyler asked and I couldn’t help but laugh at the memory.

 

“No,” I admitted. “Is he still mad?”

 

“I don’t think so,” Tyler said. “I saw him about a week ago and he laughed when I mentioned it but he said he wants us to get to know her.”

 

“I was worried about that,” I admitted with a sigh. “I have to admit, I wasn’t sure this would last.”

 

“Me neither,” Tyler agreed. “I know neither of them has met the other’s family yet. Obviously she’s met us and he knows a few of her cousins but that’s about it.”

 

“I don’t see what the big deal is,” I said for what was probably the hundredth time. “The war happened ages ago. Everyone should just get over it.”

 

“It’s not that easy when people who fought in it are still alive,” Tyler pointed out quietly. “I think it’s going to be worse for Scorp though. Astoria gets sick of all the war drama and Draco will get over it if it makes Scorp happy but the Weasley’s…”

 

“Are they really that bad?” I asked, swinging slowly. I was never friends with any of them at Hogwarts. Natasha and Dominique stayed friends up until our fifth year when things went majorly south but I never talked to her much. We were on two entirely different spectrums in school.

 

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “They’re supposed to be. Best case scenario, all of the kids have matured and the adults are able to keep their prejudice to themselves. But considering how awful the kids were to him in the beginning, I’m thinking they didn’t keep their thoughts very quiet.”

 

“Worst case scenario?” I asked. I like the good news first but I still want to know the bad news.

 

“Worst case scenario they tear him apart. Make him feel like shit and break the two of them up. Scorpius retreats back again and…” he didn’t have to finish. Hogwarts was been harder on Scorpius than any of us. When we graduated a year before him I had never been more worried. But he had held his own.

 

Still, I knew that if he were torn apart by Rose’s family he wouldn’t be able to handle it.

 

“Well I guess we’ll just have to make sure it doesn’t happen,” I finally said, breaking our silence. “We’ll have to become friends with Rose and make sure we’re nearby when he finally does meet them properly.”

 

* * * *

 

The briefing took three hours and when it finally ended I was forced to return to my mountain of testimonies. Most people left as soon as the briefing was over and the office was pretty quiet. As always there were a few Wizards who had the night shift in case anything urgent came in but aside from a few other stragglers that was it. I sent a letter to Natasha letting her know that I would be home late so she shouldn’t wait up and sent one to my mum telling her that I couldn’t close up the shop.

 

Tasha sent one back saying she would probably be gone all night and my mum sent one back with a piece of cold pizza and a letter reminding me that MegAnn’s birthday was a week from Saturday and we were supposed to spend the weekend with the Davenports.

"You're here late," a voice said by way of greeting an hour later when I had finally succeeded in making the ‘finished’ pile approximately the same size as the pile I was still going through.

“I took a few hours off for lunch,” I explained, looking up to see James standing by his own desk. “What’re you doing here?”

“I forgot my wallet,” he explained, holding it up and displaying the shiny dragon leather. I nodded and turned my attention back to the depositions.

“You want some help?” he asked and I looked up again.

“Oh,” I said, caught off guard. “Well thanks but I’m actually almost finished.”

“You sure?” he asked. “It’s not like I have anything else to do on a Wednesday night.”

I’m not one for asking for, or taking up an offer of help so I’m not sure why I did this time. Maybe I’ve just gotten uncannily good at telling when someone’s had a shitty night and needs something to do that will get their mind off of it or maybe the depositions were causing my brain to not work and so I didn’t realize that something wasn’t quite right about the two of us sitting alone, late at night, with no one else around.

Either way, I broke my strict code of not taking help and staying away from any situation that could widen my purposefully small social circle.

James surprised me, though, and instead of immediately bombarding me with questions and trying to make useless small talk he just pulled up another seat and started reading one of the depositions, picking up a highlighter in case there were any red flags. His silence was slightly unnerving and strangely enough I was the one who broke the silence after we had been working for almost two hours in dead silence.

“Bad night?” I asked as I waited for him to finish the last interview. James looked at me in surprise before shrugging his shoulders.


“Could’ve been worse,” he said, returning his attention to the folder.

“Usually can be,” I nodded, pushing my chair back so that I could stretch my legs and lean back a bit.

“You know how you said that nothing about family is simple?” James finally asked as he tossed the last folder into the finished pile and capped the highlighter.

“Yeah,” I said slowly, remembering how I had used that line to avoid one of his questions my first day at the ministry.

“Well I’ve decided you were right,” he announced, sounding completely defeated as he raised his right hand to mess up his hair.

“I usually am,” I said with a shrug. “You’ll get used to it one day.”

I have a strict policy against asking people about their life. Even with my friends, I wait for them to tell me what’s going on and they wait for me to tell them. We don’t push each other and we don’t stick our nose in each other’s business. Well, unless we’re desperate for gossip or they are about to seriously mess up. After we’ve told one person, it usually only takes a few hours for the other two to know what happened on Friday night because secrets within our group are non-existent once they’ve been said out loud.

Apparently this was the night for me to ignore all of my own rules, however, so I broke the silence by asking,

“Where were you tonight?”

James looked up in surprise again and hesitated before answering.

“Having dinner at my parent’s house,” he finally replied.

“And it went badly,” I guessed, not breaking eye contact.

“My mum…” he trailed off, trying to figure out how to phrase it all. “Well, she wasn’t all that happy when I decided to be an Auror. Don’t get me wrong, she thinks it’s a great career and all but she gets really worried. She says dad’s one of the lucky ones, having survived for so long and every time there’s a close call she goes a little bit berserk.”

“So what happened this time?” I asked despite myself.

“Teddy’s in St. Mungos,” James said. “It’s not serious, it was a simple surveillance that he was doing this afternoon but he tripped one of the defensive spells. Turned out to be completely useless because the Wizard had already left but he’s unconscious and has horns at the moment. Dad laughed about it but mum wasn’t happy.”

“And she took it out on you,” I guessed again, more than a little confused.

“No, she took it out on dad,” he said. “Said it was ridiculous for people to be getting hurt like that and what would he do if it had been more serious.”

“I’m still not seeing the connection to you.”

“I’m getting there,” he said with the ghost of a smile on his face. “Teddy has been moving up in ranks quickly. Most people don’t become mentors until they’ve been full-fledged Aurors for at least ten years. She thinks he’s moving up too fast and is worried that I am too. My dad came in right after the war and she keeps insisting that what happened with them is really unusual. She’s worried Teddy’s hours will become too much with Victorie expecting and is determined that mine are going to stop me from having a life.”

“If it makes you feel any better,” I said slowly. “My mum thinks that being an Auror is the occupation of the devil and becoming an Auror was pretty much the ultimate betrayal. She didn’t talk to me for two weeks after I told her and spent the next six months trying to convince me to do something else.”

“How come?” James asked curiously.

“Because it takes up so much time and she thinks it gives people too much power before they’re ready for it.”

“And you disagree?” he asked.

“Not at all,” I shook my head. “But it’s my life and I’m going to do what I want with it. She at least gets that. She’s stopped trying to dissuade me but it’s still a touchy subject. Keeps saying she doesn’t understand why I would do this.”

“So she doesn’t get the silver letter thing?” James teased with a grin.

“Guess it’s not a hereditary trait,” I told him with a shrug and reluctant grin.

We piled up the folders and put them all on Marcus Belbey’s desk for him to look at in the morning. It was late and the maintenance staff had charmed all of the windows so that they were a midnight blue with a few bright stars that looked to be universes away. The foyer was empty when the lift doors opened. The guy manning the desk was one I hadn’t seen before and he was fast asleep with his head in his arms. No one else was nearby and the sound of my heels clacking mingled with his snores as both rebounded off the walls.

“Are you apparating?” James asked when I passed the fireplaces and started up the stairs that would lead me back up above ground.

“I think I’m walking actually,” I told him. “I’m not connected to the floo network.”

“Oh, okay,” James said, making his way over to the fireplaces.

“Hey, where do you live?” I asked, stopping half-way up the stairs.

“Just outside Diagon Alley, why?” he asked. I hesitated. I’m not usually one for initiating spending extra time with people but I felt a little guilty for being so stand-offish.

“I’m heading that way if you want to come,” I said, feeling a bit stupid. A knot formed in my stomach as I waited for his reply. It wasn’t so much that I cared what he said as I wasn’t used to doing anything that could possibly put me in a situation where I had to be friendly. At all.

“You want company?” James asked.

I wasn’t sure if he was purposefully torturing me or just annoyingly over considerate and wanted to make sure he wasn’t forcing himself on me. Based on the cocky grin he was wearing, I’d put my galleons on the former. I bit back my own smile and looked at the ceiling, torn between exasperation, annoyance, an a tiny bit of respect that he was able to beat me at my own game of making it seem like it’s completely up to the other person. Swallowing my pride I nodded.

“Company would be nice,” I said and James grinned, walking over to the stairs and taking them two at a time until he caught up with me.

I don’t know how he did it, but somehow he got me to break three of my Rules of Conduct and for some reason I didn’t take out my annoyance with myself on him which is usually a good way of making sure that it never happens again. I didn’t know why and I didn’t dare spend my time trying to figure it out. Over thinking is ten times worse than under thinking, of that I am sure.

* * * *

“James?” Ginny called softly when James got back to the house later that night.

“Hey,” James said softly, closing the front door behind him.

“Where were you?” Ginny asked.

“I stopped by the ministry to pick up my wallet,” he said, holding it up as though to show proof.

“And it took you four hours?” she asked skeptically.

“Guess so,” James shrugged and Ginny sighed.

“Look,” James stepped in, cutting her off before she had a chance to say anything. “I know you don’t like that I’m doing this and I know you think I’m ruining my life but I’m not, okay? Just trust me; it’ll be fine I just need some space. I’ll see you in the morning,” he added, kissing her on the cheek before retreating into his bedroom that was on the main floor.

He knew Ginny meant well and he knew that she just didn’t want to see him wind up miserable and alone but he had heard her every argument many times and eventually he became fed up with it. When he was at Hogwarts, a lot of people had expected him to go on to play Quidditch like Sam had but that wasn’t his thing. He had always wanted to become an Auror like his dad.

He was never a mamma’s boy growing up, that was one hundred percent Albus’ role even though he denied it. James always got in trouble and liked to experiment. As he got older, his relationship with Ginny became more and more strained. The typical time when a teenager grows apart from their parents had never ended for them. He never really knew what it was but it was something that neither of them had ever been able to bridge. Ginny was proud, James was stubborn, and both had pretty decent tempers. Admitting mistakes and acting like twelve-year-old girls making up after a fight over lip gloss wasn’t either of their fortes.

 

 

 






A/N: So, a lot more James/Taylor in this one and some more background. I hope you liked it but whether you did or not, please REVIEW, they give me encouragement and help me get better so don't be afraid to say what you think.

Is hiding the files above ground smart or stupid? What do you think happened with James and Phillip? Do you like Tyler? How do you think the Weasley's will react when they face Scorpius? Will Teddy be okay? And most importantly...What did you think of James and Taylor?
 
A/N II: Got rejected the first time becasue I had mild instead of strong language for a warning. Sorry!

And as always your sneak peak into next chapter:

“It’s okay to admit you don’t like broomsticks,” James said as we
walked, him with the broom casually hanging over his shoulder, me
holding it with two fingers as though it was a bag of dung. “You
admitted you didn’t like Quidditch the first day I met you.”

“That wasn’t the first day,” I said, ignoring his point. “I met you at
Hogwarts we just never talked to each other.”

“You always do that,” James said, shooting me an annoyed look. “Ignore
the point and never answer any questions with a real answer.”

“I’ve never lied to you,” I informed him, ignoring his unasked
question mostly to annoy him even more and if his murderous glare was
any indication it seemed to work.

“Where’re you going?” he asked with a frown as I started to move past
the Auror hall.

“To the bathroom,” I said rolling my eyes. “And yes, I really am going to pee.”

James’ annoyed comment was stopped by the two Auror’s that were behind
him, both shooting me strange looks. His face immediately changed from
irritation to trying not to laugh.

“Hello boys,” I greeted them. “There’s no need to look so shocked.
Everyone does have to pee at some point and time in their lives. Even
you will have to eventually.”

 
 


Chapter 6: Mr. Know It All
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 Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?

Mr. Bring Me Down

Well you like to bring me down, don't ya?

But I ain't laying down

Baby I ain't going down

Disclaimer: Lyrics belong to Kelly Clarkson and anyone else involved in the production of her song. All of the characters recognizable belong to J.K. Rowling and all of her co-workers/investors.






 

Flying is an interesting concept. When I was little I always wanted to fly. I watched the birds that flew freely in our neighborhood and I envied the way they could go wherever they wanted to. When I went to work with my mum I envied their ability to be outside and be independent. They could sing as loudly as they wanted to, they could set up their home in any tree available, and they always seemed to migrate in large packs, offering each other unyielding protection.

 

When we moved in with the Davenports I felt as though I could fly. I had new freedoms. I was allowed to go outside whenever I wanted to, talk to whoever happened to be around, and make creations out of whatever plants I found. They still kept an eye on me when they were working in the garden or hanging clothes on the line but I felt as though I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. I was able to run around on the farm, play with the animals, and get as dirty as the pigs. When I learned how to ride a horse it brought everything to a whole new level.

 

When I envisioned flying I always imagined the adrenaline rush. The ability to be completely in control and yet never really know what was going to happen. I pictured flying into a beautiful sunset with a gentle wind that would keep me at the perfect temperature. My mum was never into flying and the Davenport’s are Muggles so I didn’t have a chance to learn when I was little but riding gave me the same feeling of freedom that I always wanted.

 

In all actuality, flying and riding a horse are two completely different things but in my delusional little mind they seemed amazingly similar when I started being allowed to take the horses along the trails without Mr. Davenport or one of the farmhands leading me. It provided me with the same rush of adrenaline when I went fast and the same feeling of calmness when I slowed the horses to a walk and just enjoyed the view. Eventually, the idea of flying was nothing more than a distant memory that flitted into my mind every few months when I would once again become entranced by the birds.

 

When I got to Hogwarts we had flying lessons my first year. Had I gone to Hogwarts only three years earlier I probably would have been ecstatic about our first flying lesson but as it was I didn’t really care all that much and when I watched Madame Robins start to rise in the air I suddenly came to the realization that flying is a really bad idea for a person who is afraid of heights and I wondered briefly how I had never realized that particular problem before. Never the less, I wasn’t about to chicken out in front of the 30 or so other first years so I stood firm and ignored the way my knees started to shake as I watched our professor go higher and higher into the air. When she finally landed back down on the ground she instructed us to follow her lead and straddle our brooms.

 

To put it simply, the flying lesson was a complete disaster and all my previous imaginary scenarios (that ironically rarely included a broomstick) were completely destroyed. I wasn’t the only one to make a fool of myself, about half the class wound up in the infirmary, but most of them just had a broken arm or twisted ankle. I took a few falls without sustaining any major injuries but when Madam Robins instructed us all to go higher I made the mistake of looking down which caused me to completely spazz out. And dive-bomb back to the ground.

 

The only good thing that can be said about that lesson is that I gained a friend out of it. Natasha and I both ended up soaking wet and in the hospital wing with a permanent hatred for broomsticks and anything associated with them. This included, but was not limited to, flying, Quidditch, the Three Broomsticks, traditional gypsy weddings, superstitious people who used broomsticks to ward people away, stupid broom-mate jokes, and cleaning. Really, I blame it all on that first flying lesson. It might seem weird that in eight years I never got over that fear but the truth is I’ve been scarred by far less; such as gross bathtubs in cheap hotels.

They say that young children have a selective memory, meaning that when you are little your mind decides what to remember and what to push to the back of your brain. It’s still there; it’s just harder to reach it. It comes into play when you are handed a plate with Brussels sprouts and you decline it. Your parents ask you if you’ve ever tried it and you say yes. They ask you when and you can’t remember. It happened at some point, you just don’t remember. But you know, without a doubt, that you do not like Brussels sprouts.

The other part of your brain that is influenced greatly by your selective memory is the part that deals with your Fight and Flight (no pun intended) instincts. It happens when you are at a big family gathering and your parents introduce you to your Great Aunt Marilyn who you haven’t seen since you were three. She smiles at you and you immediately come up with an excuse to get away from her. You don’t really know why you’re so desperate to get away but as soon as you saw the blue bubblegum she was chewing, you knew you had to escape.

 

The problem with choosing Flight, at any point and time, is that you can only run for so long. Your predator just has to follow you, wait for you to make one little mistake. The prey, on the other hand, is one mistake away from being forced into a conversation about their Great Aunt Marilyn’s 3rd husband who mysteriously died, leaving her with a fortune and an endless supply of gum. Therefore it is up to the prey to figure out how best to handle the situation. They can either stop to set up shop and ready themselves for a fight or they can find a safe place to hide. The problem with hiding is that if the predator finds you…You’re screwed.

 

* * * *

 

“Are you ready to start boot camp?” Kyle asked me a week later which just so happened to coincide with The-Day-I-Realized-I-Should-Start-Planning-My-Funeral.

 

“Yeah,” I shrugged, not that worried about it.

 

I had heard about boot camp from multiple people. My dad mentioned it a few times, Teddy explained the process a few weeks earlier, and everyone else in the office had been making sly comments about it for the past week or two.

 

“It’s brutal,” Kyle said warningly and I shrugged again.

 

“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” I said. Kyle looked skeptical but didn’t argue with me.

 

“Well the schedule is posted on the bulletin if you want to see it,” he informed me. “The hours are going to be different than usual.”

 

“Alright,” I agreed, standing up and following him to the opposite side of the hall where a bulletin stood with updated information.

 

I skimmed over it, taking in the mornings we were supposed to arrive early, the trainings that were likely to end late at night, and all the various activities and instructors we were supposed to have. I was going back up the list in an attempt to cement the dates in my memory when I suddenly got tunnel vision and the red alert went off in my mind. On Tuesday we were signed up for defensive flying lessons. In the first paragraph, the one that contained all the background information that I skipped over, was the one word that always makes me turn and run: broomstick.

 

* * * *

 

“Do you have this in blue?”

 

“No, sorry.”

 

“Can you make it in blue?”

 

“No, it’s on sale so we’re done producing them.”

 

“Well do you know where I can find it in blue?”

 

“I don’t know of anywhere else that sells them. They were created here.”

 

“Then how do I get one in blue?”




“I don’t know.”

 

“But I really need one—”

 

“We don’t effing carry that headband in blue, okay?” I finally exclaimed, throwing the last hairband without a price tag into the purple box I was carrying and storming over to the counter where I slammed the box down in front of Natasha who looked at me with raised eyebrows. I ignored her and glared at the lady who looked affronted. She met my eyes before huffing in indignation.

 

“Come on Penny,” she said to her daughter. “We’ll get you a headband at a store that has better customer service.”

 

“But I want that one,” Penny wined as her mother forced her out the door.

 

“You’re in a cheerful mood tonight,” Natasha commented dryly. I sighed but didn’t argue.

 

“It’s been a rough week,” I muttered, letting her re-price the headbands without protest even though I normally liked to do it myself because she always put the tags on crooked.

 

“Want to talk about it?” Natasha asked sympathetically. I sighed and took a headband out of the basket as well.

 

“I have to learn how to fly,” I told her.

 

“How to fly?” Natasha repeated, looking confused. “I thought Voldemort was the only Wizard who has been able to fly.”

 

“Not like that, you dipshit,” I said, already getting irritated. “I have to learn how to ride a broomstick. You know, the magical devices that take people off the ground and in the sky?”

 

“Ew,” Natasha said, wrinkling her nose in distaste.

 

“Exactly,” I agreed. “I knew that being an Auror was dangerous but I was thinking more along the lines of dueling dangerous where as long as I was able to keep my wits I would have a pretty decent chance of staying alive. The fact that they send you to your almost certain death while still in freaking training is something they should mention on that pamphlet.”

 

“I thought you didn’t read the pamphlet,” Natasha said with a frown.

 

“Of course I didn’t read the pamphlet,” I said, rolling my eyes. “When have I ever read something a teacher told me to?”

 

“So really you don’t know whether or not it was on there,” she said reasonably.

 

“Okay, when did you switch from supportive best friend who understands the major screwed-upness of this problem to logical soon-to-be ex-best friend who cares whether or not I read the stupid pamphlet?” I demanded. I wasn’t looking for a lecture here!

 

“Sorry,” Natasha said, holding her hands up in surrender. “I was just asking a question. But look at it this way, there will only be five people to throw up in front of this time which means that the likelihood of it hitting anyone in the face is much slimmer. On top of that, you won’t have the lake to dive-bomb into so if you do lose control of your broom then you’ll dive-bomb into the ground and die so you won’t even have to worry about how badly you humiliated yourself.”

 

“Gee thanks,” I said sarcastically. “I feel sooo much better now.”

 

“Only here to help,” Natasha said smiling brightly at me.

 

I groaned and let my head fall onto my arms.

 

“Are you coming to the Davenport’s for Meg Ann’s birthday?” I asked her, desperately wanting a change of subject.

 

“I’ll try,” Natasha replied. “But I told your mum I would take care of the store. I might close early Saturday so I can make the dinner. Are the boys coming?”

 

“Ty can’t, he has to sit in on his first surgery,” I said. “I don’t know about Scorp. I haven’t seen him in ages.”

 

“Me neither,” Natasha agreed, frowning slightly. “He hasn’t even come by the shop. Do you think he’s okay?”

 

“I hope so,” I said, hating the uncertainty that was overly apparent in my words. “How about we stop by his house tomorrow? I’ll need something to cheer me up after being in a room full of broomsticks all day and a breather before I get accosted at the farm would be nice too.”

 

As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait until Friday to see Scorpius because he was waiting when I got back to the apartment. Natasha stopped to pick up the takeout we ordered from a nearby Chinese restaurant. I would have gone with her but she had a thing for one of the waiters and I was still in a foul mood. She didn’t want me to ruin the vibe and I didn’t feel up to laughing at her while I hid behind a menu.

 

The apartment was unlocked when I turned the handle and I jumped in surprise when I saw a dark figure sitting on our beat up old couch.

 

“Merlin, Scorp!” I exclaimed. “Way to give someone a heart attack!”

 

“Sorry,” Scorpius shrugged, not looking sorry at all.

 

“Why didn’t you at least turn the lights on?” I asked irritably. “It would have been nice to know that someone was here.”

 

When I caught sight of his stony face I immediately stopped berating him. After dropping my things in my room and peeling off my heels I sat down beside him, curling my legs underneath me.

 

“What’s up?” I asked. He didn’t say anything for a few minutes and I waited as patiently as I could.

 

“My parents’ house got searched night before last,” he finally said monotonously. “They didn’t find anything of course but mum wasn’t there so dad had to deal with it. He got pissed off when one of the guys tried to search my room. The MLE fired a spell at him and dad retaliated. They took him in and wouldn’t release him until the next morning.”

 

“Merlin Scorp, I’m sorry,” I said quietly, reaching out my hand to squeeze his arm gently.

 

“They’re not pressing chargers,” he went on. “Everything’s been dropped since the other guy fired first but mum was pretty mad and they wouldn’t release him for fourteen hours even when mum showed up ten minutes later after she heard what happened. They were trying to figure out what to charge him with but there was nothing they could do so they had to let him go. Two Hundred Galleon fine for us and the MLE worker though; dad for handling it himself and the other guy for improper use of power or some shit like that.”

 

“I’m sorry,” I repeated. “You should have owled us. We would have come Asap.”

 

Before Scorpius could reply a red-faced Natasha burst in.

 

“That guy,” she said angrily. “Is the biggest scum ever to walk the earth. Apparently, he only likes girls with curly hair and since I’ve had my hair curly the last two times I was there he assumed I had curly hair and now apparently because it turns out that my hair is straight, he doesn’t like me. And he actually had the audacity to suggest that I just keep my hair curled regularly. Like seriously? I left without paying.”

 

“You also left without the food,” Scorpius commented, looking at her empty hands pointedly.

 

“Damnit!” Natasha exclaimed angrily. “I knew I forgot something!”

 

“I’ll go get us dinner,” Scorpius offered. “I’ve been needing to talk to you guys anyway. What do you want?”

 

“Anything but Chinese,” Natasha said, still pissed off.

 

Once he was gone I filled Natasha in on what Scorpius had said which only wound up making her even more pissed off.

 

“When are these people going to grow up?” she demanded.

 

I agreed, of course, but I didn’t say anything. The truth is Natasha and Scorpius experienced something with their heritage that I couldn’t completely understand. Natasha’s wasn’t as bad since her grandfather was the deatheater and not her dad but she still dealt with it from time to time and with her dad in and out of prison since she was little she understood the court system and knew that, in the beginning at least, people were harder on her dad than they would have been had he had a different last name.

 

Of course, the truth is he would have been in Azkaban no matter what his last name but he wouldn’t have been treated as badly as he was in the beginning. He joked now that he liked to keep going back just to see how much his treatment would improve because they seemed to go easier on him each time. Sure, he had embezzled loads of money and all the goblins hated him but as the people who worked in the prison system started to get to know him for the funny, if a bit crazy, guy he really is, the prejudice against him lessened and his treatment got better with every stint.

 

“Your dad’s okay?” Natasha asked when Scorpius got back and we all dug in.

 

“He’s fine,” he said through a mouthful of food. “But the house has been tense. I needed a break and this is the first place I thought of.”

 

“Aw, we beat a make out session with Rose,” Natasha said, nudging me with her arm. I laughed but noticed Scorpius shifting uncomfortably again.

 

“Did you guy’s breakup?” Natasha asked bluntly, obviously noticing his uneasiness as well.

 

“No!” Scorpius exclaimed. “Why is that always the first thing you guys jump to?”

 

“Sorry,” I said, holding my hands up in surrender. “We’re still getting used to this whole lasting relationship thing when we don’t even know the girl. It’s weird.”

 

“That’s actually what I wanted to ask you about,” Scorpius admitted, playing with his potato. “Do you think you could, I dunno, make an effort with Rose? You know, make her feel like less of an outcast with all of us?”

 

“You mean you want us to get to know her?” Natasha asked, her eyebrows furrowing together.

 

“Well, yeah,” Scorpius said slowly. “I mean you don’t have to become best friends or anything but just so, you know, she’s more comfortable with it all.”

 

“Is she pressuring you not to be friends with us?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him. Scorpius sighed but shook his head.

 

“She hasn’t said anything,” he assured us. “It’s just that there are times when it seems like we really live in two different worlds. You guys are my best friends, I want you to like her and I want her to be alright hanging around you.”

 

“You really like her, huh?” Natasha finally said, breaking the tense silence. Scorpius blushed and rolled her eyes.

 

“It’s not that,” he said.

 

“Yeah right,” I cut him off. “Scorpius is in lurvvvvve with a Weasley.”

 

“I haven’t even met her family,” he said defensively. “It’s not like that. At all.”

 

“Oh but it will be,” Natasha grinned.

 

“You do realize this is the first time either you or Ty has actually cared whether or not we like the girl you’re dating, right?” I asked him. “That means something right there. I don’t know what, but it means something.”

 

“So you’ll do it?” Scorpius asked hopefully. I caught Natasha’s eye and she made a face. I knew she didn’t like the Weasley’s but I also knew she wasn’t going to say it straight out so I answered for the both of us

 

“Yeah we’ll do it,” I said feeling a bit weary about the whole thing but unable to say no after the crap few days he’d had.

 

 

As it turned out our agreement to get to know Rose better came into effect much faster than I was expecting because I ran into her Friday after narrowly surviving the torture of finding the “right broomstick.” I thought that it would be okay. I talked myself around to it the night before and I was cool, calm, and collected when I walked into the Ministry.

 

Okay, that’s a lie. But I looked fine. I went to the Seventh floor instead of the second this time and walked around in circles for a few minutes. Whether it was because I didn’t know where to go or because I didn’t want to face the brooms is up for debate. On the one hand, I really didn’t know where I was going. On the other hand I took turns that I knew would probably lead me astray with the justification that I didn’t really know it wouldn’t be over there.

 

Eventually I had looked in nearly every possible nook and cranny aside from the section with a large sign over the archway declaring BROOMSTICK REGULATIONS AND CONTROL in bold and gold letters with two snitches on either side. The background of the banner was red and I wondered briefly whether the person who had made the banner was a Gryffindor as they seemed to be biest to Gryffindor colors.

 

The Seventh floor looked much different from the second. It was more airy than the stuffy area with the Auror cubicles and the temperature was a few degrees cooler. There was a big open area when you first walked out of the elevator instead of the annoying little hallway that greeted you on the second floor. The majority of people had desks out in the open with a total of four cubicles apparent that appeared to be occupied by people who ran the various departments on the floor.

 

When I finally walked under the broomstick banner I sighed at the sight of the double doors that had what looked like the stakes used when a person was selling strawberries on the side of the road except that it said Broomsticks in blue letters instead of Fresh Strawberries: $3 per bag.

 

“Taylor’s here,” Teddy announced as soon as I opened the doors.

 

I had been expecting something like a storage shed but instead it was a square room with broomsticks stacked from floor to ceiling. I could tell by the shiny handles that some were better than others but they all looked equally foreboding.

 

“Finally,” Kyle exclaimed. “I was starting to think you were scared of broomsticks!”

 

“I didn’t know where I was going,” I said raising an eyebrow at him coolly as though he hadn’t just hit the nail on the head.

 

“The banner is huge,” James said skeptically but he was ignored by the rest of the room so I merely shrugged, opting to act as though I barely heard his comment while I watched Kyle run around in excitement, pulling out different brooms and taking them for a spin in the air.

 

“How’re we doing here?” A matron asked brightly, walking in through the doors and sending Kyle an apprehensive look as he landed.

 

“What’s the latest broom you have in stock?” he asked. The lady sighed and turned to Teddy.

 

“Teddy, be a dear and go get Charlie to help these two out, won’t you?” she asked him. “I don’t think I can handle two customers on top of him.”

 

“Sure,” Teddy grinned at her, standing up from the floor and leaving the room. When he walked back in both my eyebrows shot up.

 

“Taylor this is my good friend from Hogwarts, Charlie,” he introduced. Charlie smiled at me.

 

“I don’t think we ever met properly,” he said, holding out his hand.

 

“I’m Taylor,” I said, shaking his offered hand.

 

“Nice to meet you,” he said cordially before shaking James’ hand as well.

 

“So you work in Magical Transportation,” I said, stating the obvious.

 

“Yep,” he said, grinning.

 

“And you went way past your stop because…” I trailed off.

 

“Last I checked it’s not a crime to spend five more minutes in an elevator because you meet a pretty girl,” he said. We flirted for a few minutes but I could tell it was making James and Teddy a bit uncomfortable so I changed the subject to broomsticks as soon as I could.

 

“Alright, so what are you all looking for,” Charlie asked.

 

“Something for the field,” Teddy said immediately. “Speedy but reliable.”

 

“Any model you have in mind?” he asked, looking at me. I shrugged.

 

“Not particularly,” I admitted.

 

“It doesn’t need to be the latest,” Teddy said. “But we want as many kinks worked out as possible. Good balance will be important.”

 

“Alright well I’d stick within to the 2000’s,” Charlie said, walking over to the left side of the room. I followed, not knowing what else to do, and watched as he took out three broomsticks that looked identical. “These are probably your best options. Any preference?”

 

“Err, I like that one,” I said, pointing to one randomly.

 

“You have to try riding it,” James whispered in my ear when Charlie held the one I pointed to out for me to take.

 

I glared at him and he smirked back as I summoned the little bit of courage that must have gotten me into Gryffindor, taking the broom from Charlie and reluctantly putting a leg over so that I was straddling the broom.

 

Step One: Complete.

 

It was an improvement from first year when Natasha tried to step over and tripped, taking me down with her since I was on one leg. I swallowed the lump in my throat and readjusted my sweating hands on the handle. Feeling like an idiot I carefully pushed off the floor. I felt uncomfortable and was sure the broom would malfunction and I would hit the floor as result of gravity but to my surprise I didn’t crumple back on the concrete and when I opened my eyes I realized that I was hovering about a foot off the ground.

 

Step Two: Complete.

 

Last time I was on a broom, step two resulted in me pushing off a little too forcefully and accidentally tumbling off my broom. Thankfully I was only a few inches in the air and others were still having trouble getting off the ground so only Natasha seemed to notice my fall. She was wobbling so badly on her broom that a piece of grass caught her attention she fell off as well. She had been higher and wound up with a bump on her head. She still accuses me of being the reason she fell and I may or may not be guilty but either way she got what she deserved for causing me to trip earlier.

 

My stomach started to flip-flop and my heart was speeding up so I landed quickly, skipping step three and going straight to step four. That was the biggest improvement from first year since I landed both on my feet and on solid ground instead of dive-bombing into the Black Lake.

 

“Okay, I like this one,” I said quickly, trying to ignore the nauseous feeling in my stomach.

 

“Great,” Teddy said, looking relieved that it didn’t take me long to decide.

 

“Just sign out the model and the year on the sheet of paper by the door,” Charlie told me with a crinkly smile. “I’ll get you all the maintenance supplies you need. James, do you know what broom you want?”

 

“That’s a Firebolt,” James told me. “It was made in 2005.”

 

“Thanks,” I said in relief.

 

I had been staring at the list for five minutes, trying to figure out what kind of broom was at my feet. I had let go of it as soon as I got the chance. As silly as it is, it felt like betrayal to my 11-year-old self to be holding a broom so casually. Let alone a Firebolt broomstick. Even if I had no idea what that meant, it sounded important and I was not ok with that.

 

“See you around Taylor,” Charlie called out as James and I left. I smiled and waved at him but was still too worried about throwing up to do much else.

 

“It’s okay to admit you don’t like broomsticks,” James said as we walked, him with the broom casually hanging over his shoulder, me holding it with two fingers as though it was a bag of dung. “You admitted you didn’t like Quidditch the first day I met you.”

 

“That wasn’t the first day,” I said, ignoring his point. “I met you at Hogwarts we just never talked to each other.”

 

“You always do that,” James said, shooting me an annoyed look. “Ignore the point and never answer any questions with a real answer.”

 

“I’ve never lied to you,” I informed him, ignoring his unasked question mostly to annoy him even more and if his murderous glare was any indication it seemed to work.

 

“Where’re you going?” he asked with a frown as I started to move past the Auror hall.

 

“To the bathroom,” I said rolling my eyes. “And yes, I really am going to pee.”

 

James’ annoyed comment was stopped by the two Auror’s that were behind him, both shooting me strange looks. His face immediately changed from irritation to trying not to laugh.

 

“Hello boys,” I greeted them. “There’s no need to look so shocked. Everyone does have to pee at some point and time in their lives. Even you will have to eventually.”

 

They gave me an even stranger look and hurried through the doorway.

 

“You’re something else,” James muttered, shaking his head with a smile.

 

“My mummy always told me I was special,” I teased.

 

I splashed some water on my face and drank a glass of water slowly, waiting for the nausea to pass. When I finally felt like I could talk without puking I stood up from my seat on the floor and walked out.

 

“Sorry,” a girl and I said at the same time as we bumped into each other.

 

“Oh, hi Taylor,” Rose said, giving me a soft smile as she moved to continue inside.

 

“Hey Rose, wait up,” I said suddenly, making a snap decision to keep my promise to Scorp now instead of waiting to see if another opportunity came our way.

 

“Yeah?” she asked.

 

“Um, listen,” I said, not sure what I was supposed to say. Natasha and I had planned on rehearsing it but I wasn’t expecting to run into her so soon. “Natasha and I were wondering if you’d want to hang out sometime. We could tell some of the real stuff about Scorpius instead of making it up.”

 

“Oh, um,” Rose said uncertainly. “Sure, that sounds nice.”

 

“Okay, wait,” I grabbed her arm as she started towards the stalls again and closed my eyes for a moment, steeling myself for what I had to do. Rose was the daughter of two very influential people and I knew she had to learn how to appease people. Too bad for her I wasn’t fooled that easily.

 

“Look,” I said, crossing my arms and deciding to give it to her bluntly. “The truth is Scorpius is one of my best friends. I’ve known him forever and while I was surprised when you guys started dating, and even more surprised when you stayed together, I want him to be happy and for whatever reason, you seem to do that. I don’t want to see him get hurt and your family makes me ten times wearier than I would normally be. But,” I went on, holding up my hand to stop her from cutting me off. “They haven’t done anything yet and Scorpious means a hell of a lot more to me than your family does.

 

“I’m not asking you to become my best friend or spill your guts about your relationship but you mean a lot to Scorp and he wants us to get along. I promise we won’t have as much chocolate as we did the day we met you so we’ll be slightly less crazy and we won’t drag you out to a club or anything but I don’t want it to be awkward between us all. Just think about it, okay? Natasha even promised to stick with real stories about Scorp to freak you out. Trust me when I say we know enough to make him hide in a cave for a hundred years,” that at least got a smile out of her so I kept going. “I’m not going to force you to do anything and I’m not going to pretend like this is our idea but it would really mean a lot to him and that’s good enough for me.”

 

“Hey Taylor,” Rose called as I started to leave. “Um, as long as we don’t do anything that will make the papers the next day hanging out sounds nice. I could really use some time to chill without my family around.”

 

“It’s my sister’s birthday this weekend so I’m we’re going to her dad’s family’s house but we’ll finalize everything when I get back, okay?”

 

“Sounds good,” Rose said, looking relieved.

 

Whether it was because she actually wanted to know us or because she had a week to ready herself (my bet is on the latter) I couldn’t be sure. I could tell she was still nervous but it was a start. And Scorpius owed me soooo bad. And I would have to actually get Natasha to agree not to make up anything about Scorpius. I sighed. Unfortunately, it looked like I had just finished the easy part.






A/N: I'm not so sure how I feel about this one. It's definitely a filler but it's the beginning of more Scorpius/Rose and it sets the stage for more of the Auror training so it was necessary. Still, I had a hard time with it and I'm just not happy with it. I definitely want to edit it and re-work it a bit but I wanted to get it out so let me know what you think and any suggestions are welcome.

And as always, my stream of questions: How do you think Rose and Scorpius’ families are going to react when they come face to face? Can anyone else see a Slytherine (more specifically Theodore Nott) being an embezzlement professional? How about the periodic search of the Malfoy's home? And what, oh what, will Taylor and Natasha have in store for Rose?

Please review, they really mean the world to me!

And as always, your preview:

“It’s funny,” I said, leaning back in the chair. “During the school year I want birthday Meg Ann and during her birthday I want school Meg Ann. Why can’t she just find a balance between being your stereotypical thirteen-year-old and the creepy genius one?”

“Mum is Taylor here yet?” Meg Ann called right on cue.

“I’m here,” I yelled up. “And I’m tired so if you’re going to start nagging me about tomorrow night forget it.”

“I’m not going to nag you,” Meg Ann said, appearing in the kitchen in record time. “I just thought you might want to know that Grandma and Grandpa hired a new farmhand who is majorly hot.”

“Is he working now?” I asked, sitting up a little straighter.

“No,” my mum laughed. “But he’ll be here tomorrow night. Eleanor and John are already trying to set you up with him.”

“Oh great, what’s wrong with him?” I asked suspiciously.

“In their eyes, nothing,” my mum said calmly. “He’s good looking, he’s going to University, he works hard, he’s got a good family, and he’s smart.”

“But,” I pressed.

“Well, Luke was here yesterday and he thought that Michael was gay. Whether he is or it was just Luke’s wishful thinking I’m not really sure. I’ve only seen the boy a few times and I haven’t talked to him.”

“That’s so not fair,” I huffed. “Why does Luke get all the good guys? Besides, he already has a boyfriend.”



Chapter 7: Home
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?

Suddenly my world has gone and changed its face

But I still know where I'm going

I have had my mind spun around in space

Yet I've watched it glowing

 

Disclaimer: I don't own the lyrics or Harry Potter

 




There are times in your life when you just need a break. When reality becomes too much and you just need someone to hit pause, stop everything from moving forwards for a few minutes so that you can just breathe. Of course, usually, when you need a break the most you are too preoccupied with the rapidly spinning world to pause.

 

It’s much harder to be nice to yourself than it is to be nice to other people. That’s one of the reasons people need friends, one of the reasons people look for the perfect person to be with for the rest of their life, they need someone who can be there and take care of them.

 

Because taking a break? It’s not always easy.

 

Some people become workaholics because they get so caught up in their work and their life in the office that taking a beak—seeing their family and just hanging out with their friends—is no longer a reality. It is an addiction, working. It’s a different kind of escape from reality. At work, you deal with problems that can be fixed; you compete for something you can win. There might be politics in the office and there may be some drama but it’s not real life.

 

The problem is that people need a break from all of the things in their life. When you get caught up in work you miss out on the love, fun, and support that the people closest to you can provide. When you don’t ever work you can miss out on the feeling of accomplishing something, the feeling you get when you’ve done something.

 

Balance is the hardest thing to achieve in life. Actually, it’s pretty much impossible.

 

Balance is the thing my mum and James’ are so worried about. Being an Auror is time consuming, risky, and demanding. When I became an Auror I swore to myself that I wouldn’t let it take over my life. Since the day my mum found out that I was accepted into, and more importantly planning on joining, the Auror department she has been lecturing me and pressuring me not to lose myself in my job. But I have people who won’t let me stop being who I am solely because I decided to join the ministry.

 

I got lucky, but not everyone has that.

 

* * * *

The Davenports live on their family farm that has been passed down for generations. The original house was knocked down and rebuilt by Mr. Davenport’s father a little over fifty years ago to give them more space. The white siding needs to be repainted and the old porch creaks whenever weight is put on it but the house is always clean, the garden manicured, and the grass recently cut.

 

Before I went to Hogwarts I saw them all the time. They would watch Meg Ann and me when mum and Peter were working and I would have play-dates with some of the kids who were staying in the guesthouse while their mum or dad was working on the farm. After I started Hogwarts I was gone too much to see them as often as I used to so my mum started a tradition of always spending a weekend with them in July around Meg Ann’s birthday. Her thirteenth birthday landed on a Saturday. She and my mum went up a few days early but skipping Auror training was a non-option so I waited until my Nightmare on a Broomstick ended and then apparated to the bottom of their driveway, looking around to make sure that no one saw me since it was a Muggle farm.

 

It was a hot day, the sun was blazing and the sky was clear aside from a few pearly white clouds that could have belonged in a children’s picture book. A few of the farmhands glanced over at me as I made my way up and I nodded at the ones I knew. The Davenport’s farm is big and self-sufficient. They milk their own cows, grow their own vegetables, and kill their own chickens. I’m not a picky eater and I have eaten a lot of delicacies that most people can’t even look at but I draw the line when Mr. Davenport puts a chicken breast on the table and says: “Good ol’ Suzie should taste real fine. She was one of our best.” They’ve since learned not to name anything I will have to eat.

 

“Hey Taylor,” Derrick called out, waving at me as he took a swig of his water bottle.

 

“Is Stella here?” I asked as he made his way towards me.

 

“I think so,” he said. “It’s around naptime for the girls.”

 

I nodded and decided to drop my stuff at the house before visiting her. Derrick and Stella are a few years older than me and have two daughters. They live in the old stone guesthouse that the Davenport’s reserve for their farmhands who need a place to live. It’s not very big and it’s extremely old but it works well enough and gives them their own space.

 

Derrick’s been working on the farm since he was at University but they just moved in two years ago.

 

“Hello,” I called as I walked through the red front door of the main house. “Anyone here?”

 

“Kitchen Tay,” my mum called back. I dropped my bag by the stairs and made my way to the back of the house where she was sitting at the table reading the paper and drinking a cup of tea.

 

“Sorry I’m late,” I said, tossing myself down on one of the chairs beside her. “I ran into Rose at the Ministry and decided to keep my word to Scorpius.”

 

“Was she nice?” my mum asked, raising her eyebrows and putting down the paper.

 

“I guess,” I shrugged. “She’s a little…fake? I don’t know. She’s not someone I would expect Scorpius to be with but I doubt he’s someone her family would expect her to be with so—” I trailed off and shrugged again.

 

“And you’re supposed to get to know her? How are you going to do that?”

 

“Not sure,” I admitted. “She doesn’t seem like the type who would want to go to the club and get drunk. I don’t think Scorp would appreciate that much either. I still have to convince Natasha that it’s a good idea. She thinks they’re going to break up and it’ll be a waste of time but she doesn’t like the Wotter clan in general so maybe she’s not the best judge. Anyways, it’ll work out. How’s Meg Ann been?”

 

“Calmer than usual,” my mum smiled. “I think moving the party with her friends a week later helped a lot.”

 

“It’s funny,” I said, leaning back in the chair. “During the school year I want July Meg Ann and during July I want school Meg Ann. Why can’t she just find a balance between being your stereotypical thirteen-year-old and the creepy genius one?”

 

“Mum is Taylor here yet?” Meg Ann called right on cue.

 

“I’m here,” I yelled up. “And I’m tired so if you’re going to start nagging me about tomorrow night forget it.”

 

“I’m not going to nag you,” Meg Ann said, appearing in the kitchen in record time. “I just thought you might want to know that Grandma and Grandpa hired a new farmhand who is majorly hot.”

 

“Is he working now?” I asked, sitting up a little straighter.

 

“No,” my mum laughed. “But he’ll be here tomorrow night. Eleanor and John are already trying to set you up with him.”

 

“Oh great, what’s wrong with him?” I asked suspiciously.

 

“In their eyes, nothing,” mum said calmly. “He’s good looking, he’s going to University, he works hard, he’s got a good family, and he’s smart.”

 

“But,” I pressed.

 

“Well, Luke was here yesterday and he predicted that Michael is gay. Whether he is or it was just Luke’s wishful thinking I’m not really sure. I’ve only seen the boy a few times and I haven’t talked to him.”

 

“That’s so not fair,” I huffed. “Why does Luke get all the good guys? Besides, he already has a boyfriend.”

 

“Well you can decide for yourself tomorrow night,” my mum said, standing up and kissing the top of my head. “I’ve got to finish wrapping Meg Ann’s presents. Mrs. Davenport is out in her garden, she’s going to want to see you.”

 

“I’ll go out in a sec,” I agreed, putting my arms on the table and resting my head on them.

 

“Tired?” Meg Ann asked, taking our mum’s vacant seat.

 

“Exhausted,” I corrected her.

 

* * * *

 

“There you are!” Mrs. Davenport exclaimed when I made my way out the back a few minutes later. “I was beginning to think I needed to put out a Missing Person alert.”

 

“Nope, just got caught up,” I assured her as she stood up and took off her gloves before pulling me into a hug.

 

“Did you get caught up with your Auror training?” she asked suspiciously.

 

“Nope, friend stuff,” I said, happy it was so easy to change the subject. “Scorpius has a girlfriend and it looks like it might be serious.”

 

“Of course the first one of you to have a serious relationship is the youngest,” she said, looking at me disapprovingly.

 

“Ah, but that’s because he’s the most naïve,” I said knowingly.

 

“The most open,” she countered.

 

“The most inexperienced,” I contradicted.

 

“The bravest.”

 

“The one with the least common sense.”

 

“The one with the most faith.”

 

“The one who doesn’t learn from others mistakes.”

 

“The least judgmental.”

 

“The most idiotic.”

 

“The most trusting.”

 

“The easiest heartbroken.”

 

“The least suspicious.”

 

“The most foolish.”

 

“The boldest.”

 

“Okay, none of this is sounding like Scorpius,” I laughed.

 

“Alright,” she sighed in defeat. “We’ll have a debate on the merits of having a legitimate relationship tonight. In the meantime go check on Stella. She needs some time with people over the age of two who don’t smell bad.”

 

“You sure you don’t need help?” I asked, eyeing the garden and the huge piles she had made from pulled weeds.

 

“I’ve been doing this since the day I was born, I’ll be just fine,” she said, kneeling down and getting back to work. Not really wanting to change into jeans I didn’t push it and went to check on Stella per her request.

 

“Don’t we have a ‘no working’ policy while we’re here?” my mum commented lightly as she entered the attic.

 

“I’m not working,” I promised, looking up from the catalogue I was flipping through. “Tyler is getting Meg Ann’s present for me and I want to get out of owing him anything as quickly as I can.”

 

“Found anything good?” she asked.

 

“Not yet,” I sighed. “But it shouldn’t be too hard. He’s a cheap date.”

 

The farmhouse is three stories total. The main floor has everything a main floor usually has from the kitchen to the living room, the middle floor has all three bedrooms and the master, and the third floor is the attic where my mum and I moved in. It was being used for storage when we first saw it and we had to do a lot of cleaning to make it livable but it was worth it.

 

All of the little touches we added were still there. The curtains my mum put up so she could take naps in the middle of the day when she needed to were still hanging, the finger-paintings I made were still taped to the wall, and the queen-sized mattress still rested on the floor instead of on a bed. The ceiling was slanted and the dark wooden beams were exposed for everyone to see. The insulation wasn’t great and a fan still rested on the white vanity table for the hot days.

 

Mrs. Davenport kept it clean when we were away and out of tradition my mum and I always spent the first night upstairs. After that she and Peter usually stayed on the main floor and I would stay wherever I felt like staying. Sometimes Meg Ann would join us upstairs but she didn’t like all the dark wood and said that it felt creepy at night.

 

“What did you get her?” my mum asked, changing into her pajama pants and a camisole.

 

“‘The Medical Comparisons of Muggles and Magical Folk Including Remedies and Vocabulary’ by Stewart Ackerley,” I said, proud of myself for remembering the whole name without stumbling. “Natasha’s bringing it with her tomorrow.”

 

“Quite a name,” she said, raising her eyebrows. “Is it a new release?”

 

“It was released Wednesday but apparently there are a lot of nerds in the world who couldn’t wait to have it because it was sold out when I stopped by the bookstore today. Tyler said he could get it for me through work.”

 

“Close call,” she said, sliding into bed next to me.

 

“Don’t go there,” I warned her, not taking my eyes off the magazine as I flipped the page.

 

“I’m just saying, you’re already letting it encroach on your life,” my mum said calmly.

 

“It can’t encroach on my life because it’s a part of my life,” I said, unable to stop my annoyance from seeping into my words. “I’ve just been busy with everything and I misjudged how many people care about ‘The Medical Comparisons of Muggles and Magical Folk Including Remedies and Vocabulary.’ It happens.”

 

“I just want you to be careful. If you aren’t it is going to become your whole life instead of just being a part of it,” she replied.

 

“I am being careful,” I tried to reassure her. “It’s not taking up anymore time than training for any other career would, look at Tyler. Besides,” I added in a clipped tone, moving all my hair over my left shoulder. “I’m not dad and I couldn’t be like him even if I wanted to, alright?”

 

“I know,” she sighed. “I just don’t want to see you lose yourself.”

 

* * * *

 

The first time someone suggested I join the Auror department they said it as a joke. It was my fourth year, just before Winter break. Natasha and I had Herbology and for whatever reason we decided to show up that day. I had left my book in my dormitory so I ran back to get it while Natasha told Professor Longhbottom that I was going to be late. I grabbed my book and was running back down to the greenhouse when I heard a bunch of commotion down by the Quidditch pitch. I still don’t know why I didn’t ignore it like I usually did but for whatever reason I switched my path and made my way down to the pitch.

 

Scorpius had Divination at the same time Natasha and I had Herbology and decided to go for a ride around the pitch instead of staring into a crystal ball whilst making up his own terrible future. He didn’t play Quidditch at school but he was decent enough (according to Tyler anyways) and he liked to fly. When I reached the pitch I saw a large group of third and fourth years with a few first, second, and fifth years mixed in. Right by the locker rooms, surrounded by a horse-shoe of people, were Scorpius and Fred Weasley, both with their wands raised.

 

“Excuse me,” I mumbled pushing through so that I could get to them. “Can you move please?”

 

I stopped when I reached the front and watched as they threw hex after hex at each other. To jump in the middle would have been stupid so instead I raised my own wand and cast ‘Eexpelliarmus’. The crowd watched as they were each forced to dive to the side to avoid the others hex. Their wands flew straight into my left hand.

 

“Show’s over,” I snapped angrily at the group. “Get off the pitch and out of my sight now or I swear to Merlin you will regret it.”

 

Slowly the group started to break up and everyone began to leave, most mumbling under their breath in annoyance.

 

“It was just starting to get good,” a fourth year Ravenclaw muttered to his friend.

 

“She’s not even a prefect,” a third year girl complained. I ignored them both and turned back to Fred and Scorpius.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you two?” I demanded, looking down at both of them. Fred glared back at me but Scorpius looked a bit ashamed.

 

“Why don’t you just chill out,” a blonde guy from Ravenclaw said, laughing. “It was a fair fight and the little twerp was getting what he deserved.”

 

“A fair fight?” I said, raising my eyebrows at him. “Since when is two on one a fair fight? You really think I didn’t notice that your wand was out and pointing at him?” I said it on impulse but somehow I knew it was true. Scorpius was too beat up and Fred was too okay for it to have been a one-on-one duel the whole time.

 

“He got what he deserved,” the blonde repeated, his cocky laughter melting away as he glowered at me.

 

“Deserved for what?” I demanded. “For flying on the pitch that anyone is allowed to fly on? Get over yourself.”

 

“Where’s your Gryffindor pride?” Fred asked, standing up and looking at me angrily.

 

“Pride?” I repeated incredulously. “You think that hexing a kid for doing absolutely nothing is something to be proud of? You aren’t being brave by picking a fight, you’re being a prat.”

 

“How you got sorted into Gryffindor is beyond me,” Fred stated.

 

“How you turned into such an arse is beyond me,” I shot back. “Take your wand and enjoy explaining to Professor Longhbottom why you’re late.”

 

“At least we’ll show up,” the blonde guy snapped. He was seriously getting on my nerves.

 

“Would you shut up,” I snapped back. “I don’t even know who the hell you are and I’m not talking to you so stay out of it. One more incident Fred and I am not going to let your mum go on thinking you’re innocent.”

 

“Ooh, pulling the mamma card,” the other guy said mockingly.

 

“Didn’t she tell you to shut up,” Scorpius snapped, spitting out a mouthful of blood as he did. “Because in case you can’t tell she’s pissed as hell and if you make her mad at you you’re going to be in so much pain you’ll wish you were never born. You don’t know shit about her and apparently you don’t know shit about this arsehole either because if you did then you would know this is between them.”

 

The blonde guy shut up after that but Fred and I continued to ignore them both, having our own fight that had been a long time coming.

 

“My mum knows I’m not innocent,” Fred said. “Does yours?”

 

“I’m not the one hexing people to make myself look better,” I said darkly.

 

“I’m not the one hexing people so I can get away with whatever I want,” he said, just as quietly. “Let’s get out of here Louis,” he added to the blonde kid. “Professor Longhbottom will let us off if we give him a good excuse.”

 

“You should be an Auror,” the boy, Louis, called as they walked away. “It’d be perfect for you as long as they’re all scared of their mum’s. Oh wait, not even Fred is scared of that.”

 

“Did he not tell you about the time he broke a window and hid in his closet for three hours because he didn’t want to tell his mum?” I called after them. “Because that’s bravery right there, Fred Weasley.”

 

“Nice one,” Scorpius said, slightly hunched over. He tried to laugh but only wound up having to spit out more blood.

 

“Those people really need a lesson on reality,” I said shaking my head.

 

The second person who suggested it was Professor Longhbottom in my seventh year. During my career counseling session in fifth year I told him I wanted to be an Auror because it was the first thing that popped into my head. Well, after he said that transfiguring myself to look like a house-elf, juggling pears in the great hall, and creating a business where I could be hired to annoy people weren’t acceptable career options. Personally, I think my third suggestion was sheer genius. I mean, how many times do people want to make someone mad but can’t because they’re their boss or their parents would get mad because they’re not supposed to be picking on their siblings anymore? It could be a total success.

 

Anyways, he asked me why I wanted to be an Auror and I told him that someone had suggested it. He raised his eyebrows at me but we had run way over already so he couldn’t take the time to convince me to go with something plausible. Instead he took out their pamphlet, handed it to me, and “strongly encouraged” me to come back if I ever wanted to talk more about what I was going to do after Hogwarts. I didn’t come back.

 

Towards the end of Seventh Year I had no idea what I was going to do. Professor Longhbottom called me to his office again and suggested that I fill out an application since I seemed to have the grades for it. I believe his exact words were “I think it would be good for you, you will have to abide by their rules and limitations and it would give you a schedule that you’ll have to stick with.”

 

I filled out the application mostly to appease him, not really expecting to become an Auror. When I finally decided to go ahead with the training it was an impulse decision. I didn’t think about it, I didn’t make a pro-con list, I just did it. No reason behind the thought process what so ever which is why I was never able to fully explain it to my mum. I knew she wanted a black and white answer, a fully rationalized and reasonable explanation. But if I couldn’t even explain it fully to myself, how could I be expected to explain it to everyone else?

 

Apparently, I was the only one who felt that way.

 

* * * *

 

“You’re the first one up,” Mrs. Davenport said nodding her approval as I walked into the kitchen, still in my pajamas.

 

“Coffee?” I mumbled, still half asleep.

 

“Fresh pot by the microwave,” she replied. “Care to help me with the birthday breakfast?”

 

“Sure,” I yawned. “What are you making?”

 

“French toast, bacon, and a fruit salad,” she said. “You can start cutting the fruit.”

 

It didn’t take long for my mum, Meg Ann, and Peter (who had arrived late Friday night) to make their way down and by the time Mrs. Davenport and I stopped cooking they had already finished.

 

“Peter be a dear and run to the store to pick me up some baking powder, won’t you?” Mrs. Davenport asked as she and I sat down to eat.

 

“Sure thing,” Peter agreed, annoyingly chipper. My mum, sharing my feelings about his chipperness, glared at him but Peter was unabashed, kissing her on the cheek and adding a happy “cheer up sunshine,” before hurrying out the door.

 

“I don’t know why I put up with that man,” mum said, shaking her head in exasperation.

 

Two mild Meg Ann panic attacks, one argument over the differences between baking powder and baking soda, and a perfectly bronzed cake later I was alone in the kitchen doing dishes.

 

“Finally!” I exclaimed as the back door opened and Mr. Davenport walked in. “I was starting to think you weren’t here!”

 

“Like I would really miss one of your weekends here,” he smiled at me. “I thought you were supposed to see us more now that you were out of school.”

 

Mr. Davenport was in his late seventies but he still insisted on working in the field. Mum said it was becoming hazardous with all of his health problems but he was never one to sit around. He suffered from a mild stroke when I was seven and had another about a year ago. He walked with a limp and his speech became slurred occasionally but somehow his body managed to push through. It was a miracle really.

 

“I’ll work on it,” I promised, ignoring how sweaty and dirty he was as I gave him a hug.

 

“I expect to hear all about this ‘Auror Training’ you’re doing,” he warned me, getting a glass out of the cabinet and turning on the tap to fill it with water. His jeans and red flannel shirt were covered in dirt, his brow moist with sweat, and his hands looked as though he had been making mud pies. I made a face as the mud got on the glass and he looked down at it, suddenly realizing his mistake.

 

“Oops!” he exclaimed, putting the cup down quickly and placing his hands under the faucet, turning the water a dirty brown. “Ellie wouldn’t be too happy with me if she saw that,” he added and I smiled as he dried his hands and then washed off the outside of the cup before filling it up again and downing the entire thing in one gulp.

 

“I better take a shower,” he added, leaning over and kissing my forehead. “You’d better start getting ready too, our new farmhand Michael is planning on coming tonight.”

 

“Are you two ever going to stop trying to set me up?” I asked him in exasperation. He smiled at me again, his green eyes crinkling.

 

“Ellie and I got married when we were a year younger than you,” he said knowingly.

 

“Mum and Peter didn’t get married until she was thirty,” I shot back.

 

“Do you really want to follow their example?” he asked me. I thought about it for a minute before wrinkling my nose.

 

“You’re right,” I conceded. He nodded in approval. “I think I just won’t get married at all. Too much hassle.”

 

“You’ll think differently after you meet Michael,” he said confidently.

 

“Doubt it,” I told him, shrugging my shoulders and going back to the dishes I had been working on it.

 

Despite my lack of enthusiasm in front of Mr. and Mrs. Davenport I made sure to look nice for the dinner. Meg Ann had been going on about Michael since I arrived. I still hadn’t seen him but it takes a lot for Meg Ann to gush like that. Usually she’s more of the blush bright red be unable to talk type girl. Gushing meant that it was serious.

 

“What do you think?” Meg Ann asked, twirling around in one of the dresses we had bought when we went shopping in Diagon Alley a few weeks ago.

 

“Beautiful,” I said, grinning at her.

 

Meg Ann is much more innocent and mature than I was at her age. During her birthday, when she’s basically not allowed to worry about anything, she acts like a totally normal and annoyingly giggly girl. She doesn’t have to stress about the details and she doesn’t know enough about what is going on to even attempt to micro-manage everything. When she’s at school it’s all about school. She stresses about her grades, she takes each class selection seriously, and she gets excited about homework assignments when they’re from a class she likes. I’ve always found it a bit weird but it is very Meg Ann.

 

Her dress came to a little above her knees and had wide straps. There was literally no cleavage showing as the gold stretched up to her neck but it worked on her, somehow. It had a red bodice with a sweetheart neckline and rooshing before it flared out into a flowy golden skirt. The same fabric that was used for the skirt created the sleeves and the high neckline, attaching to the bodice so that no skin was showing. It could easily have looked overly conservative but Meg Ann was bubbly enough to pull it off. I did make her change her pointy light pink heels into red flats, however. No need for her to act like she was in her fifties.

 

When I was Meg Ann’s age I never would have worn a dress like hers. I went for big and bold. I dyed my hair black for the first time when I was thirteen and I was really into red. I loved red dresses, red shoes, and had a temporary courtship with neon-colored nail polish. I was a sight for sore eyes, that’s for sure. If I had seen the dress she was wearing in a store I would have passed it right over. It was too acceptable, I wanted to make people cringe or at least have to do a double-take.

 

I gave Meg Ann a pair of my stud earrings and stole her silver ring that was decorated in black, white, and turquoise beads.

 

For the past year I’ve been obsessed with white dresses. I don’t know why, but I love them and I take full advantage of the window in which you are ‘allowed’ to wear white. It was strapless with flowers on the top half, a turquoise ribbon that hugged my waist, and a skirt that was kept a puffy with a little bit of tool underneath.

 

“Well if Michael doesn’t react to you we’ll know that Luke was right,” Meg Ann said quietly as we walked down the stairs.

 

“That or he likes girls who don’t wear make-up,” I whispered back.

 

Make-up and subtlety don’t go together with me. I like it dark and I like it thick. I can do it tastefully if I want to but most of the time I don’t. If I’m going to wear it why should I try to make it look au natural? I don’t look like the hulk without it; I just prefer the thick eyeliners and dark mascaras.

 

The party was outside because it was such a nice night. All the food was set up on a table that was covered in a purple tablecloth and it was set up buffet style. As soon as we got down Meg Ann started doing the rounds, hugging everyone and making conversation with people she didn’t know.

 

“I got it,” Natasha said, coming up behind me just as I was making myself a plate, starving since I had skipped lunch.

 

“Oh good,” I said, letting out a breath in relief. “How many strings did he have to pull?”

 

“Well,” she said and I instantly became wary. When Natasha starts with ‘well’ you know it’s going to be a long explanation. When there’s a long explanation that involves strings, warning bells should start going off.

 

“He got his bosses assistant to ask her sister to ask her friend who’s dating her bosses nephew to get his cousin to ask his dad to ask his co-worker to ask his wife to get her friend to ask her cousin who works in the publishing company to pull a few strings and we got it.”

 

“Tell Tyler I love him,” I said, hugging the present to my chest.

 

“Yeah, it’s going to take a lot more than love to make up for this,” Natasha said, shaking her head at me. “He hasn’t slept for the past twenty-four hours and he’s gong to be up all night for the surgery. He is going to milk this for all it’s worth.”

 

“Ugh, I hate owing people things,” I moaned. “Why can’t we all just do things out of the goodness of our hearts and forget about owing people stuff?”







“You’re right,” Natasha agreed, nodding her head. “We should forget about old debts. We should start by setting a good example. We’ll forgive all of the people who owe us stuff and just—”

 

“You still owe me for making the police officer think that I was a hooker,” I cut her off.

 

“Damn,” Natasha muttered. “Ooh, hot guy at your ten o’clock,” she added.

 

“Oh, Natasha that’s Grant he’s…decided to become a hippie,” I finished, knowing that she wasn’t listening to me.

 

Natasha had on a tight, strapless, floral dress with a sweetheart neckline. She was always good at manipulating clothing, something she must have picked up from her mum. Though the dress was tight enough to wear at a club, the pattern gave it a more timeless and less provocative feeling. Though it pushed up her boobs, the sweetheart neckline also made it come across as innocent. Her signature red nails would fit in with her mother’s friends who made livings by being mistresses but the purple dress balanced them out by making it look elegant. The dress was short and her heels added to the effect but they were also closed toed, making it seem almost professional. Clothing and style are truly a work of art and if you use paradoxes to your advantage, the look you needed to convey to each person individually can be reached.

 

I didn’t wind up meeting Michael because he left before Meg Ann and I went down. Of course, it would have been helpful if someone mentioned that so that after Natasha got weirded out by Grant (which took a grand total of twelve minutes and five seconds of pure amusement for me) we didn’t spend an hour looking for him. As it was, no one informed us of his departure until we decided to take a break and sit down for a little while where we joined shortly by Stella.

 

“Michael left,” she said when Natasha explained what we were doing.

 

“What?” Natasha demanded. “Do you mean to tell me that I just spent an hour looking for a super hot guy that’s not even here?”

 

“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news,” Stella said, looking amused by how pissed off Tasha was.

 

“Well is he at least as hot as everyone says he is?” I asked hopefully. Stella laughed again but nodded.

 

“Oh yeah,” she said, leaning in conspiratorially and lowering her voice. “He is gorgeous and he works with his shirt off in the fields a lot. My sister came over to watch the girls so that my friend and I could have a day out and we wound up stalking him. We were total creepers it was so much fun. And then Derrick saw us and looked all creeped out so we gave him some lame excuse and went to get pedicures so that it at least looked like we had, had a day off the farm. The only problem is—”

 

“Stel she’s melting down,” Derrick said, holding their youngest daughter and trying to soothe her as she continued to cry as loudly as possible.

 

“It’s about her bedtime anyways,” Stella said, standing up quickly and taking her from Derrick. “Go find Anna, we should probably get them both home. See you two later, don’t be a stranger Tay.”

 

“Wait but I…want to know what the problem is,” I called after her, trailing off at the end.

 

“That she’s married, duh,” Natasha said, rolling her eyes while she examined her manicure. “She can’t do anything with him.”

 

Before I had a chance to reply we were interrupted by Mrs. and Mr. Davenport as they sat on the couch opposite the one Natasha and I were relaxing on.

 

“Michael had a family emergency,” Mrs. Davenport informed us. “But we’ll make sure you meet him at some point.”

 

“Is everyone okay?” I asked.

 

“Oh, I’m sure it’s fine,” she said, sounding unconcerned. “He said something about his mother and the hospital. It’s probably nothing.”

 

His mother and the hospital didn’t sound like nothing to me and Natasha shot me a look that clearly implied she was worried Mrs. Davenport was going senile but the Davenport’s have become very good friends with all the hospitals nearby. I don’t think a year has gone by without at least three of the Davenports ending up in the emergency room.

 

Between broken bones, concussions, and fun that went a little too far, freaking out about a call to 911 stopped being an option. Unfortunately, their need to not freak out about it when it happens in their own family has extended to others and under-reactions have become a real worry. Never the less I let it slide and decided not to worry about it as the topic changed to something Natasha could ramble about for hours: shoes.

 

“I haven’t bought shoes in three years,” Mrs. Davenport commented lightly.

 

“That’s tragic,” Natasha said, looking horror struck. “That’s even bad for your feet because they’ll be too worn out.”

 

“What’s tragic is how materialistic your generation is,” Mrs. Davenport replied. She had been shocked by how much I had brought with me for the weekend. My ‘I need options’ excuse hadn’t flown.

 

“Meg Ann has more clothes than I do,” I said defensively.

 

“Even with your new Auror clothes,” she challenged, bringing up the subject I had been avoiding with the two of them for over a year. I looked around but there was no way around it. They were Nifflers and I was the gold.

 

“Has mum been complaining to you?” I asked, already irritated. Natasha stayed quiet, knowing that I was touchy about it and sensing that I didn’t want to deal with it now.

 

“No,” Mrs. Davenport said. “She hasn’t said a word about it which concerns me more than her ranting would.”

 

“Look,” I said with a sigh. “She’s moved on, so have I. Everything that happened with dad is over so why does it matter? I’m not doing what he did I’m just in the same career.”

 

“I think you know as well as I do that it’s not about the how, it’s about the what,” she said.

 

“Can we stop speaking in riddles please?” I asked in annoyance.

 

“Let’s get back to what’s important,” Natasha jumped in to save me. “Not buying shoes for three years.”

 

“Agreed,” I said immediately and we both started to lecture her about the importance of hygiene and the many benefits of retail therapy.

 

By the time the night was done I was exhausted and no less annoyed with my mum, even though I had barely spoken a word to her. Peter was here so I knew she wouldn’t be staying in the attic but I still didn’t feel like going up there. It didn’t seem right to go to the place where we lived after all the drama when I had been defending myself against it all weekend.

 

Instead I went up to the attic to change and then went back down to the middle floor to give Meg Ann her present that I had unintentionally been carrying around all night.

 

“Are you asleep?” I asked softly, opening her door.

 

“No,” she said, sitting up in bed. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing,” I assured her. “I just never got around to giving you your present.”

 

“What is it?” she asked with a yawn.

 

“Open it stupid,” I said, rolling my eyes.

 

“You got it?” Meg Ann asked in awe as she stared at it.

 

“It’s from Ty too,” I told her, smiling as she hugged the book to her chest. I swear there is something wrong with my sister.

 

“I thought you guys got too busy with working to remember,” Meg Ann admitted.

 

“Please,” I said. “Like I’d ever put ‘The Medical Comparisons of Muggles and Magical Folk Including Remedies and Vocabulary’ after work.”

 

“Right,” Meg Ann laughed. She was silent for a minute before she added, “They really need a new person to come up with titles.”

 

“Yeah they do,” I agreed. “Now scoot over, I’m staying with you tonight.”

 

“Are you and mum fighting again,” she asked, sounding resigned.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” I told her. “We always work it out; we just need some space from time to time.”

 

“Okay,” Meg Ann agreed reluctantly. “Thanks for the present Tay.”

 

“You’re welcome,” I said, kissing her on the cheek before rolling over on my side and going to sleep.

 




A/N: No Auror training or James but a lot more backstory. What did you think about the Davenport's? Taylor's flashback? Any last guesses on Taylor's last name?

 

REVIEW!

 

Sneakpeak:

Taylor, why do you have Gorilla masks?” Natasha asked as I entered my mum’s store.

 

“You’re here!” I exclaimed, dropping all the Gorilla masks and hugging her.

 

“I am!” she said back, not having any idea why she was acting excited and hugging me back like her life depended on it.

 

“Quick, put this on,” I said, handing her the bathing suit I had been carrying around.

 

“My bathing suit?” she asked in confusion. “Why do I need—”

 

“No time for questions, hurry up,” I said. “If Tyler shows up tell him Scorpius is coming. I just have to store these upstairs real quick.”

 

“Okay,” Natasha said slowly, going into the changing room. She doesn’t work on Sundays but we all come to the store whenever we’re bored. It’s like our own personal meet up place, if we can’t find each other at our houses we just hang out here until someone shows up.

 

“Hi mum,” I greeted her, passing her on the stairs. She shrieked and fell backwards, making it much harder for me to move past her.

 

“What in the name of Merlin are you doing?” she asked, looking positively alarmed.

 

“I need to keep these up here for a few hours if that’s okay,” I told her as she stood up and followed me back into her work room. “I don’t have enough time to go back to my flat.”

 

“Why do you have...” she paused and changed her question mid-way through. “Are you going to do anything illegal?”

 

“With these?” I clarified, indicating the masks.

 

“Yes.”

 

“No,” I told her. Today? Quite possibly.
 


Chapter 8: What Was I Thinkin'
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?
 

I knew there'd be hell to pay

But that crossed my mind a litle too late

I know what I was feelin'

But what was I thinkin'?

Deirks Bentley, "What was I thinking"

Disclaimer: I don't own the Dierks Bentley lyrics, the Harry Potter characters, or The Grinch.

 




Good things are supposed to happen to good girls. It’s like the American Dream—people who work hard are supposed to be rewarded and people who slack off are supposed to be screwed for the rest of their life. And yet, despite the fact that good is supposed to equal good and bad is supposed to equal bad, in life things rarely work out that way. The thing is society is really a walking oxymoron. On the one hand, if a person makes a mistake, you’re supposed to turn the other cheek. Yet, the people who forgive and forget over and over again get labeled as pushovers and the people around them whisper behind their back about how they are never going to be able to get out of this seemingly immeasurable hole they’ve dug themselves.

 

According to society, everyone should study hard and create a future for themselves and yet at the same time, teenagers who don’t go out and party are called anti-social and the adults around them constantly worry that they’re not normal. According to advertising, celebrities are the shit and yet all those people who are in their band at school or guys who do ballet get teased but once they make it big time they get worshipped. On the one hand, people who wear low cut shirts are called sluts and yet people who follow the dress-code are called prudes. On the one hand, girls who act all giggly and flirty are considered annoying and desperate but girls who don’t flirt with guys 24/7 are uncool.

 

Because society’s rules are so obviously screwed up, I prefer to ignore them all and live my life the way I want to. That’s not to say that I don’t live my life according to a set of rules but they are my own rules and I follow them as though they were my own personal Ten Commandments. I’ve never considered myself a Good Girl and I don’t think I ever will be but that’s okay. I’ve come to realize that ‘good girls’ are overrated. Then again, so are ‘bad girls’ so I think I’ll just let the people around me make their own judgment on which of box they should place me in.

 

* * * *

 

By the time I got back to my flat, I had never been more relieved for a weekend to be over. I spent Sunday morning with Stella and the girls until mum and Peter came by to say they were leaving and I knew it was my cue to go back to the house and pack my things. I said goodbye to Mrs. Davenport as quickly as I could, making sure to do it while Meg Ann (who was staying for another few days) was in the room so that she couldn’t try to corner me. Mr. Davenport was in the fields so I made my way back and called goodbye. He waved back, probably not sure who was leaving. I disapparated in the woods as soon as I was sure I was out of sight.

 

“Hey Taylor,” Tyler greeted me as soon as I got back. I should probably have been startled that there was a guy with bright orange hair, loose workout shorts, and a muscle t-shirt that showed off his entire sleeve of tattoos but I wasn’t. I should really look into what that says about me. Or rather, my friends.

 

“Hi Tyler,” I said instead, tossing my bag into my bedroom before going to sit beside him. “How are you?”

 

“Great,” he said enthusiastically. “You are looking at a now fully qualified healer.”

 

“No way,” I said but he just kept grinning. “How did that work out?”

 

“Well one of the healers was a no show and they needed me to step in. It’s still going to take another few months of specialization to be able to be a child-healer but I’m in for emergencies. The healer who skipped out is going to be out of a job whenever they show up.”

 

“It’s slightly scary that someone not qualified to take care of kids normally is allowed to take care of them in emergencies,” I said thoughtfully. “You’d think you’d be okayed to take care of them normally first.”

 

“I didn’t create the system,” Tyler shrugged. “But you’re in a crappy mood so I’ll ignore your lack of enthusiasm and pretend you jumped up and down if you bake me a cake.”

 

“I’m not baking you a cake,” I told him.

 

“You owe me for Meg Ann,” he reminded me in a sing-song voice.

 

“Actually I don’t,” I countered. “While you were helping me get my present you forgot to get her your own.”

 

“Oh snap,” Tyler said, his face mirroring his words.

 

“Don’t worry, I told her it was from both of us. You won’t be castrated anytime soon.”

 

“You’re right, you don’t owe me,” Tyler said and I laughed softly.

 

“Nope, I don’t,” I agreed, leaning over so that my head was resting on his shoulder.

 

“Bad weekend?” he asked, wrapping his arm around my shoulders and pulling me down so that we were both lying on the sofa.

 

“The worst,” I muttered. “I don’t think I’ve ever left the farm feeling more tired than I was when I arrived.”

 

“Sixth year?” he suggested. I laughed.

 

“Okay, I’ve never left the farm feeling more emotionally tired than I was when I arrived.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Tyler said, sounding serious. I shrugged.

 

We were quiet for a few minutes before I gave him the blow-by-blow. I knew I wouldn’t have to tell it again. He would tell Scorpius or Tasha and they would tell the other one. That’s how we work. Once you tell one person, the rest of us know within a week. It won’t go outside the four of us unless the person of interest wants to tell but we’ll all know.

 

“I don’t know what they expect me to do,” I said at the end. “I can’t just quit.”

 

“Your mum will come around,” Tyler assured me. “She’s not going to stay mad at you for making your own decision.”

 

“The worst fight we ever had was when she found out I was going through with the training. It probably made it worse that I didn’t tell her myself,” I thought out loud.

 

“Wait, who told her?” Tyler asked.

 

“The ministry,” I laughed. “Didn’t I tell you about that?”

 

“No, you just said you’d had a fight.” It had been his house that I went to after I’d had it out with my mum. Natasha had been there too and the three of us had an impromptu slumber party. Scorpius had been stuck at his house, entertaining his grandparents.

 

“Well yeah, they sent an owl and since I was still with my mum for the summer it dropped it off on our table. I don’t remember where I was but for whatever reason it didn’t bring it straight to me. She saw the Auror seal and knew. She was waiting for me when I got back. It freaked me out at first because her eyes were all red. Peter was at work and Meg Ann had gone to the beach with Lacey. She didn’t even open her store that day.”

 

“She took it pretty hard I guess,” Tyler said, stating the obvious.

 

“I don’t know how he does it, but somehow my dad manages to get the biggest reactions out of people. He was married to your mum for less than three months and she still hates his guts.”

 

“Yeah but my mum’s good at holding grudges. Besides, he was supposed to be her way out of shame, not one more thing to add to the list. I think that’s what really did it. Astoria and Draco may not be the perfect purebloods but at least they have a perfect pureblood marriage that produced one perfect pureblood son and they’ve only been married once.”

 

“Our families are really screwed up,” I announced.

 

“Darling, I figured that out a long time ago.”

 

“You know what we should do,” he said randomly a few hours later after we had finished reminiscing about the brief time my dad and his mum were married.

 

“Make chocolate balls again but throw them at Scorpius this time?” I suggested.

 

“No,” Tyler shook his head. I raised my eyebrows and he reconsidered. “Well yeah, but that’s not what I was thinking.”

 

“What were you thinking?” I laughed.

 

“We should go swimming!”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“We should go swimming,” he repeated.

 

“Why?”

 

“Because we used to do it all the time.”

 

“Well yeah but that was in the Black Lake,” I reasoned. “It was fun just to see whether or not we could get away with it.”

 

“So let’s go swimming somewhere else we’re not supposed to,” he suggested.

 

“Like where? The fountain at the Ministry of Magic?” I asked, still laughing.

 

“That’s a great idea!” he exclaimed.

 

“Ty, I was kidding,” I said, sobering up at once.

 

“No, I’m serious,” Tyler said, still grinning. “We don’t have to swim, swim but don’t you want to see if we can do it? Just see what would happen and whether or not we can get away.”

 

“If we get caught—” I started.

 

“What was it you always said about the danger of talking about consequences…” he trailed off, daring me without words.

 

“Okay, let’s go,” I said, jumping up and getting excited.

 

I ran into my room and put on my pink bikini with red and orange polka-dots and threw on my strapless yellow sundress overtop. I grabbed Natasha’s blue bikini as well, just in case she wound up coming with us. We hurried out into the street and Tyler reluctantly agreed to walk to Diagon Alley to see if Natasha was at the store. While I hate traveling by magic, Tyler hates things taking more than two seconds.

 

Natasha wasn’t at the store so I took a handful of floo powder and flooed over to the Malfoy’s to see if Natasha or Scorpius were there while Tyler went back to his house to put on his bathing suit.

 

As always, my landing in the Malfoy’s fireplace was messy and I wound up tripping and face planting on their wooden floor when I tried to move out of the fireplace before I had my balance.

 

“Astoria?” I called out as I broke into a coughing fit.

 

“Woah, careful Taylor,” I was greeted by Draco’s voice instead of Astoria’s as he bent down to help me up. “You really need to practice flooing.”

 

“No—time,” I croaked out, still trying to control my coughing. “Where’s Scorpius?”

 

“Taylor!” Astoria exclaimed walking into the room having heard me call. “Merlin, sit down for a minute.”

 

I shook my head but was still coughing. She and Draco each took one of my arms and forced me onto the couch.

 

“I’m okay,” I said, waving them off. Astoria ignored me and summoned a glass of water. As soon as my coughing subsided for a few seconds I gulped it down and suddenly became aware of their concerned faces.

 

“Are you alright?” Draco asked, looking thoroughly alarmed.

 

“Yeah, I’m just looking for Scorpius,” I said, placing the cup down on the coffee table.

 

“It must have been pretty important if you’re that anxious to see him,” Astoria said, looking like she was torn between calling my mother and calling the mental hospital.

 

“I’m really fine,” I promised. “I just really need to see him. Is he here?”

 

“No, he went out,” Draco said, his tone immediately becoming cold. Astoria shot him a look and I felt a little uncomfortable.

 

Technically speaking, I’ve known the Malfoy’s since I was born. When my mum left my dad, a few months before I was born, we moved to Liverpool and lived in a trailer park only a few trailers away from where the Malfoy’s were staying at the time. The war wrecked a lot of people and it took years to rebuild. All of the people on the other side were dealing with trials for more than ten years after the end of the war and everyone was tied up financially. I don’t know their whole story but in the end they sold their family home, Draco’s parents moved to France, and Draco was forced to start over. They moved out of the park a year after my mum and I did.

 

“Do you know when he’ll be back?” I asked, deciding to act as though I didn’t notice the awkward air.

 

“I’m really not sure,” Astoria said. “But I’m glad you’re here because I wanted to ask you…you don’t happen to know Rose Weasley do you?”

 

“You still haven’t met her?” I guessed, raising my eyebrows. Astoria sighed.

 

“Scorpius is a bit…hesitant to bring her by,” she admitted, sounding slightly sour. “I don’t think Draco’s reaction helped much.”

 

“He—” Draco started to defend himself. Astoria kicked him hard in the shins and Draco winced. It had the effect that she wanted though and he resorted to mumbling under his breath. I couldn’t catch everything he said but a few phrases and words such as ‘own son’ ‘unbelievable’ ‘wretched’ and ‘teenage rebellion’ were easy to make out.

 

“I really don’t know her that well,” I said while Draco mumbled to himself. “I met her, like, twice but Natasha and I are going to hang out with her in a few weeks. Probably once I finish this boot camp thing I have to do for my training.”

 

I didn’t really want to tell the Malfoy’s anything I did know about Rose. I wasn’t sure what Scorpius had told them or what he wanted them to know. And besides, my current opinion of Rose wasn’t all that high. I kept having to force myself to give her the benefit of the doubt. Natasha was sour enough for the both of us and I really didn’t want to make things more complicated for the Star-Crossed lovers. As Tyler had pointed out at the park not too long ago, we needed to do all we could to stop a repeat of Romeo and Juliet.

 

“If it makes you feel any better I know he hasn’t met her family,” I told them.

 

“That won’t go well,” Draco snorted. “I will do everything in my power to put that meeting off for as long as possible.”

 

I’ve always gotten along remarkably well with Astoria. We’ve gone shopping, I’ve met her for lunch, and she and my mum stayed friends even after we both moved but Draco was another story. He was a closed book. I would greet him when I came over and we could make a bit of small talk but he has always been different than Astoria, less likable to put it simply.

 

Scorpius was more of a mamma’s boy but he got along alright with his dad and Tyler and Natasha both knew him better than I did from their parents. Tyler agreed that there was something off but Natasha said that her dad told her it was expected after everything that happened with the war. I still think the war gets way too much credit.

 

“I’m sure they’ve moved on darling,” Astoria said comfortingly, squeezing his arm in an attempt to reassure him. I inwardly winced. She knew nothing about Hogwarts.

 

“Listen,” I said, wanting really badly to get out of there. “I love you both, you know I do, but I love Scorp more and right now I really need to find him. Trust me when I say Tash, Ty, and I are as worried as the two of you and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure things work out. But right now I really need to see Scorpius so is he working or…”

 

“He went to Diagon Alley,” Astoria informed me. “We needed him to pick up food for Bitsy and I believe he said he was going to stop for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron.”

 

“Thank you!” I exclaimed, jumping up and going back over to their fire place, calling out the Leaky Cauldron as I let the green powder slip through my fingers.

 

The pub was loud and filled with people so no one saw me stumble and grab the wall when I landed. Since there wasn’t a step down from the fireplace I didn’t make as big a fool out of myself as I had at the Malfoy’s and I was spared a coughing fit since there was no point calling out for anyone; they wouldn’t hear over all the noise.

 

I took a moment to regain my balance fully (something I should really start doing more often) and then pushed through the crowd of people as I looked around for Scorpius. I was just about to leave and check the Owl Emporium when I spotted his light blonde hair poking just above one of the booths. Not thinking twice about it I hurried over.

 

“There you are!” I exclaimed. “I’ve been looking for you all over! Well, not really all over since I only went to your house but I was bombarded by your parents and it took longer than it was supposed to and Tyler might kill me for it but—”

 

“Hey Taylor?” Scorpius cut me off.

 

“Yeah?” I asked.

 

“Do you have a point?”

 

“Oh yeah!” I exclaimed, shaking my head slightly as though that would help me get back to what I was trying to say. Mid-shake I suddenly realized that Scorpius wasn’t alone as Rose and James were sitting across from him, both giving me odd looks.

 

“Oh hi!” I exclaimed. “What’re you guys doing here?”

 

“Eating?” James suggested, indicating his food.

 

“Oh right,” I said. “Well, sorry to interrupt but can I steal Scorp for a sec?” Not waiting for an answer I grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the booth.

 

“Taylor, are you okay?” he asked cautiously.

 

“Totally fine,” I said. “But Tyler and I came up with the most brilliant plan.”

 

“Oh no,” he said wearily as he began to back away. I rolled my eyes knowing it was an act; the smirk on his face gave him away.

 

Grabbing both his shoulders to make sure he couldn’t run away if he felt the sudden (and totally irrational) urge to run away, I glanced quickly around us to make sure no one was watching and aside from the curious gazes of Rose and James everyone seemed preoccupied.

 

“We’re going to jump in the fountain at the ministry,” I told him quietly.

 

“You’re what?!?” he exclaimed, his voice way louder than it was supposed to be. I slammed my hand over his mouth and people nearby glanced over to see what the sudden commotion was but everyone else went on as though nothing had happened.

 

“Be a little louder why don’t you,” I hissed, hitting him in the arm as hard as I could.

 

“Ow,” he mumbled.

 

“Such a baby,” I rolled my eyes at him but I was way too hyped up to get seriously mad and the manic smile was still completely intact. “But I’m serious. We’re still trying to find Tasha but we’re going without her if we can’t find her in the next few minutes. You in?”

 

“Well,” Scorpius said, glancing over at the table where Rose and James had started their own conversation.

 

“We’ll wait fifteen minutes so that you can finish up,” I told him. “It’ll give me more time to find Tasha and Tyler can get your swimsuit. Come on Scorp, when was the last time we did something like this?”

 

“Okay, fine,” Scorpius agreed, semi-reluctantly. I squealed in excitement and threw my arms around him in a huge hug. “But you have to come up with something to tell them because if they tell their dads something’s up we’re screwed.”

 

“Easy as sneezing,” I said waving him off as we both made our way back to the booth.

 

“What’s up?” Rose asked apprehensively as Scorpius sat back down.

 

“I’m going to jail,” Scorpius said decidedly. I turned to him exasperatedly.

 

“How many times do I have to tell you—?”

 

“If you talk about the consequences to everything you do you’ll never do anything, I know,” Scorpius said, rolling his eyes. I grinned and took his face in my hands.

 

“Aw, our little baby is growing up,” I teased.

 

Scorpius slapped my hands away laughing.

 

“You’re insane,” he said, picking up a chip and dipping it in Ketchup.

 

“Oh shush, you’re going to scare Rose away,” I said, turning to his two companions. “Speaking of scaring people away I have this boot camp thing for the next two weeks and unfortunately it takes over my weekends to so we’re probably going to have to wait until it finishes for our girls night.”







“Girls night?” Scorpius repeated, his eyes snapping over to me. “No way, you are not taking her out on one of your ‘girl nights’.”

 

“You said to get to know her,” I said in exasperation.

 

“Get to know her, not give her tattoos and force her to snog guys that have names on your ‘Weirdest Guys Names Ever List.’”

 

“Don’t mock the list,” I told him. “If we manage to cross off all those names before we die we will have made a pretty huge accomplishment. And you said we should get to know her.”







“Get to know her, not make her deal with a stalker,” he said but he was still laughing.

 

“Oh shush, you’re going to freak her out,” I told him, rolling my eyes. “Besides, Alfred was a little messed up in the mind, we were just too drunk to realize it and I already promised her we wouldn’t make the papers so we’ll go somewhere off the beaten path. I was thinking Sleepy’s.”

 

“Taylor!” Scorpius exclaimed. “Even Tyler says that place is creepy.”

 

“It’s okay,” I assured him. “We’re going to wear disguises. My mum has these old Gorilla masks that we’re going to wear and since the place never gets raided we don’t have to worry about anyone finding out who we are!” I said it sarcastically so Scorpius just gave me an annoyed look but I had forgotten that he wasn’t the only one listening.

 

“Um, guys,” Rose said tentatively. “I’m right here.”

 

“Okay, sorry,” I said, taking a deep breath and forcing my slightly psychotic mood to dampen a bit. “I went from a really crappy mood to way over excited in less than five minutes.”

 

“Never a good thing,” Scorpius muttered.

 

“Yeah,” I agreed. “Anyways I really do have a boot camp. Do you know when it ends James?” I asked him.

 

“Err, I think it’s two weeks from this Wednesday,” he said.

 

“Okay, so we’ll have to do it sometime after that,” I said. “Are you going anywhere this summer?”

 

“I don’t think so,” Rose shook her head. “Not until late August at least.”

 

“Okay well I’ll check with Tasha then because she does a lot of last minute getaways but we’ll do it as soon as we can, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Rose agreed, sounding nervous again.

 

“I really was kidding about the Gorilla masks,” I said again and she broke into a hesitant smile.

 

“Okay,” she repeated, squaring her shoulders and sounding determined. I couldn’t help but laugh at the way she seemed to be treating this as though it were a challenge she had to face but I suppose with the few interactions she’d had with us, it probably seemed a bit like spending a day with crazy people who shouldn’t be allowed out in society.

 

“Meet us at my mum’s store,” I said, turning to Scorpius. “If you’re late we’re going without you.”

 

“Sir, yes, sir,” Scorpius mocked, rolling his eyes. I stood up and grabbed half of his sandwich, taking a huge bite out of it.

 

“Hey!” Scorpius said indignantly.

 

“I didn’t have lunch,” I grinned at him, turning away. “See you tomorrow James,” I added, over my shoulder.

 

He raised a hand in good-bye and I laughed as I made way out of the pub and into Diagon Alley. At least now he’ll know that I really haven’t changed much since Hogwarts. I briefly felt bad for leaving Scorpius to explain himself but forgot about it as soon as I caught site of the window display for Wiseacres Wizarding Equiptment. There were a bunch of things I didn’t need but hanging from the ceiling were big, black, and extremely hairy Gorilla masks. I knew I shouldn’t freak out Rose anymore than I already had but after a few seconds of battling with myself I gave into my evil side and went in.

 

“How much for three of the Gorilla masks hanging in the window?” I asked the guy behind the counter.

 

“Those are just proto-types,” he said. “The ones that actually turn you into a Gorilla are coming in October.”

 

“I don’t want it to turn me into a Gorilla, I just want the masks,” I explained. The young bloke looked thoroughly confused.

 

“But they don’t have any powers,” he said, scratching the back of his head. “They’re like Muggle masks.”

 

“I know, that’s what I want,” I told him. He still looked confused so I sighed and gave him the dumbed down version.

 

“I don’t want to turn into a gorilla; I just want a gorilla mask. The masks in the window are Muggle masks and that is what I want. Since no one will want those masks after you have the ones for Halloween you’re going to lose the money you spent on them. However, if you give them to me you can tell your boss that you were able to sell the Muggle masks that he was never planning on selling and he will be happy because you made money on something he wasn’t originally going to make money off of.”

 

“Well okay,” the guy said, walking over to the window and taking three of the five masks down. “Here you go. I don’t know how much you should pay for them.”

 

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a few sickles, shoving them into his hands.

 

“Just for future reference,” I told him. “Never admit that you don’t know how much something should cost because if you do people will seriously rip you off.”

 

“Did you rip me off?” he called after me.

 

“No,” I said, struggling to open the door with my hands so full. “But if you’re worried that I did you can just copy the two masks still there and your boss will be impressed that you made so much off of one mask. You’ll want to make sure you’re the one to take down the masks though because they won’t be real duplicates, it will just look like it.”

 

I stopped when I was as far down the street as I could be while still being in view of the shop and looked back. Four gorilla masks were in the window of the shop I had just left.

 

“Taylor, why do you have Gorilla masks?” Natasha asked as I entered my mum’s store.

 

“You’re here!” I exclaimed, dropping all the Gorilla masks and hugging her.

 

“I am!” she said back, not having any idea why she was acting excited and hugging me back like her life depended on it.

 

“Quick, put this on,” I said, handing her the bathing suit I had been carrying around.

 

“My bathing suit?” she asked in confusion. “Why do I need—”

 

“No time for questions, hurry up,” I said. “If Tyler shows up tell him Scorpius is coming. I just have to store these upstairs real quick.”

 

“Okay,” Natasha said slowly, going into the changing room. She doesn’t work on Sundays but we all come to the store whenever we’re bored. It’s like our own personal meet up place, if we can’t find each other at our houses we just hang out here until someone shows up.

 

“Hi mum,” I greeted her, passing her on the stairs. She shrieked and fell backwards, making it much harder for me to move past her.

 

“What in the name of Merlin are you doing?” she asked, looking positively alarmed.

 

“I need to keep these up here for a few hours if that’s okay,” I told her as she stood up and followed me back into her work room. “I don’t have enough time to go back to my flat.”

 

“Why do you have...” she paused and changed her question mid-way through. “Are you going to do anything illegal?”

 

“With these?” I clarified, indicating the masks.

 

“Yes.”

 

“No,” I told her. Today? Quite possibly.

 

“Okay,” she agreed and we both hurried back down the steps. There are a lot of reasons why I love and hate my mum. Her being cool with me buying gorilla masks for no apparent reason? That goes in the love column.

 

“—is coming. Taylor is upstairs because she had to store some Gorilla masks.”

 

“I found Natasha,” I told Tyler as I walked over to the counter and hoisted myself up on the counter.

 

“You couldn’t have told me that before I went over to her mum’s house?” he asked.

 

“Sorry.” I shrugged and he shrugged back.

 

“Are we going to wear Gorilla masks?” he asked as we waited for Scorpius to arrive.

 

“No, those are for later,” I said. “But we should do something to hide our faces. You know, just in case.”

 

“We could paint them,” he suggested. “Does your mum still have that face paint we used for Halloween last year?”

 

“Probably,” I said. “I’m not sure if it would be here or at the house though.”

 

“What are you looking for?” my mum asked, walking over to ring up a young girl who looked to be a few years older than me.

 

“The face paint we used for Halloween last year,” I told her.

 

“It’s upstairs,” she said. “It should be on the bookshelf behind the yellow box that’s shaped like a heart.”

 

“I’ll get it,” Natasha offered, walking out in her bikini. My mum raised her eyebrows as she realized that the straps from my own bikini were showing and Tyler had had on bright orange swim trunks that matched his hair.

 

“You guys aren’t planning on doing anything illegal now are you?” she asked. I glanced at Ty, not sure what the answer was.

 

“Oh Sarah,” Tyler grinned at her. “Do you really want to know the answer to that?”

 

Thankfully before my mum could answer she had finished bagging the girl’s things and was being called by another customer.

 

“Don’t go to jail,” she told us. “You are all far too pretty for that.”

 

“Aw, thanks mum,” I grinned.

 

“Is it illegal?” I asked Tyler as soon as she was out of earshot.

 

“Not sure,” he shrugged. “But we probably shouldn’t get caught.”

 

“Okay,” I nodded.

 

“Found it,” Natasha said, hurrying back down.

 

“Perfect,” I smiled.

 

“I should probably put a cover-up on, shouldn’t I?” she said, frowning at her bikini.

 

“Yeah, we don’t want to freak them out too soon,” I agreed.

 

“I’ll just floo to my mum’s and get an old one,” she said. “It’ll be quicker than going to our flat.”

 

“Oh, will you get one of your brother’s old suits for Scorp to wear?” I asked. “We’ll get accosted if we go back to his house.”

 

“Okay,” Natasha agreed easily. It’s a testimony to our friendship that she was willing to wear a bikini, pick up a bathing suit for Scporpius, and paint her face without knowing what exactly was going on.

 

“Okay, I’m here,” Scorpius said as soon as Natasha had disappeared. “What’s the plan?”

 

“Paint your face,” I said, indicating the facepaint Tyler was holding. “Natasha’s getting you a suit.”

 

By the time we were all ready it was nearing two thirty. We stepped outside the shop, keeping our backs to the street so as not to attract a ton of attention and apparated to the visitor entrance to the Ministry.

 

We had all been there before—me for training, Natasha to pick up her brother, Scorpius to pick up his dad, and Tyler because his mum made him go with my dad for a day—so we all ended up in the right spot. We crammed into the red telephone box and Tyler picked up the phone, giving him the right to do the talking. When it asked him to state his purpose he got smacked by three different people for his answer:

 

“We’re running through the fountain to have fun,” he said.

 

The lift didn’t seem to think this was a problem, however, and it began to drop. When it stopped four identical pins dropped out and Running Through the Fountain was written on them. I laughed and pinned it on my suit. The other three quickly followed suit and we stepped out.

 

The ministry wasn’t busy since it was a weekend and in the awkward time between lunch and getting off work but there were still a few people who looked over and immediately stopped their conversations. One witch even nudged the guard who was half-asleep at his desk, his chin resting on his palm, drool running from his mouth down his arm. No one said anything and no one made a move to stop us.

 

“Ready?” Scorpius whispered.

 

We had taken off our cover-ups as soon as we got to the telephone booth and we hid them, along with the boys’ shirts, up in a tree so we could get them as soon as we were finished. Hopefully they wouldn’t become evidence against us. Natasha had been informed on the plan as we made our way down the streets and she had become just as excited as I had been. Scorpius had taken great pleasure in re-describing what I had told him and by the time we were actually in the ministry all of our hearts were beating faster than normal and all of us were ready to see what happened.

 

“Go,” Natasha whispered and we all took off, diving into the fountain, making sure that we were completely soaked. There were gasps and shouts of surprise but the only thing I was worried about were the two guards who had somehow found out what was going on and were now running towards us. The guard at the main desk was still staring at us with wide-eyes.

 

“Go!” Tyler and I said at the same time and the four of us stood up and jumped over the stone ledge, getting out on the opposite side we had dove in on.

 

We were no doubt a sight for sore eyes. Tyler’s face was covered in nothing but Green face paint, as he had decided to try to look like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Scorpius had done stripes of each color in the pallet—green, white, red, and purple—and he had added a bunch of sparkles that Natasha had in her purse.

 

Natasha had used the paint to create a cat face, using the white over most of her face with purple whiskers, red ears drawn on her forehead, and green, sparkly eyes that we attempted to make look like cat eyes on her eyelids. I painted my own face purple, drew red lip marks on both of my cheeks and did white sparkly stars down the right side of my face. My lips and eyebrows were covered in the white paint.

 

As we got out of the pool we looked even better. The green paint from the bottom half of Tylers face was starting to come off and the water seemed to washed out the gel that had been holding his hair up (he had opted for purposefully messy hair over a Mohawk for whatever reason) and the orange hair was now plastered to his face.

 

Scorpius’ stripes were all blending together and had started to drip from his face onto his torso. Natasha’s hair was now decorated in the colors she had painted on her face and sparkles were covering her plain dark blue bathing suit. I didn’t know what I looked like but I could feel my black hair clinging to my back and I tasted the paint in my mouth as I spit a mouthful of water out.

 

We jumped over the ledge and ran as fast as we could up the stairs.

 

“Help us!” the two guards yelled to the witches and wizards who were watching the scene but I knew I couldn’t look back.

 

We ran out of building and out the gates, into the road. With a quick glance over his shoulder Tyler held his arm out to us and he apparated all four of us back to the telephone booth. We grabbed our clothes and ran as fast as we could down the street and into a busy restaurant where we washed the paint off of our faces and put on our clothes. Natasha and I took off our bathing suits and the boys put a drying spell on theirs. As soon as we looked normal we took turns apparating onto the street Natasha and I lived on, not wanting to show up in a big group just in case.

 

I went last and when I got into my apartment all three of my friends were already lounging in the living room.

 

“That,” I announced, dropping my wet bathing suit on the floor and walking over to join Scorpius on the couch. “Was awesome.”

 

Natasha, who was lying on her back on the rug, started to laugh. Scorpius watched her for a few minutes and then started to laugh too. I glanced over at Tyler and pretty soon we were all cracking up.

 

“Hey,” I said, nudging Scorpius with my foot a little while later. Natasha was asleep with her head on Tyler’s lap and I had taken her place on the floor, resting my flip-flop clad feet on the couch that Scorpius was stretched out on.

 

“Yeah?” Scorpius asked, opening his eyes to look at me.

 

“You really need to introduce your parents to Rose. They were trying to get me to snitch on her when I stopped by to see if you were there.”

 

“What did you say?” he asked.

 

“That I didn’t know her that well but we all had our reservations about the whole thing.”

 

“Okay,” Scorpius said, covering his eyes with his right arm.

 

“Hey Taylor?” Natasha asked with her eyes still closed.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“What were the Gorilla masks for?”







“I thought you were joking!” Scorpius exclaimed, bolting upright.

 

“Go back to sleep,” I told him, grinning at the panicked look on his face.

 

“Tay,” Tyler whispered later that night, nudging me awake.

 

“Yeah?” I asked, still half-asleep.

 

“That was fun.”

 

“Yeah,” I smiled. “It was. But if I get thrown in Azkaban when I get to work tomorrow I’m taking all three of you with me.”

 

“Fair enough,” he conceded and we all drifted to sleep, sprawled randomly around the living room.

 




A/N: Thoughts?

 

Chapter 9 preview:

 


“You flooded the Greenhouses and Neville’s office when you didn’t finish a paper in time,” he said.

 

I nodded in admittance. “Normally it wouldn’t have mattered but he said it was the paper or two months detention because I got caught stealing some of his stash. Normally I would have gone with the detentions on principle but they conflicted with some other…duties.”

 

“I’m sure,” James smirked.

 

“He told me to turn it in next class, probably as a way of ensuring that I showed up, but since it wasn’t ready…well I needed to figure out a way to get the class cancelled.”

 

“So you thought you’d take care of it yourself,” James said.

 

“Hey, my mum always said I wasn’t enough of a go-getter. This way she couldn’t be mad at me.”



 

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Chapter 9: Dancing In Circles
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?

We come so close,

To loving each other and then...

We go dancing in circles again

Love and Theft "Dancing in Circles"

Disclaimer: I don't own the lyrics or Harry Potter

 




I woke up first the next morning with my back hurting from the hard floor and my entire body feeling heavy. Scorpius was still asleep on the couch, lying long ways with a pillow covering his face. Natasha was asleep in our chair, her feet hanging over one edge, her head lolling back over the other side, and her mouth slightly agape. Tyler was beside me on the floor, curled up with my pink baby blanket behind his head. I took a moment to enjoy the sight before putting both fingers in my mouth and whistling as loudly as I could.

 

“Time to get up sleepyheads,” I announced as they all groaned and tried to cover their ears. “It’s a beautiful day that can’t be wasted inside.”

 

“Taylor,” Scorpius said from behind his pillow.

 

“Yes Scorpio my darling?” I asked brightly.

 

“It’s pouring down rain outside.”

 

I looked out the window and realized that he was right. Still, I couldn’t very well say that now could I?

 

“That is merely the glorious sound of nature rejuvenating itself,” I told him.

 

“Are you on crack?” Natasha groaned. “Ow, I think I did something to my neck.”

 

“My back hurts,” Tyler complained.

 

“Well my head hurts,” Scorpius mumbled.

 

“Oh shut up, we broke a few laws, we didn’t get drunk,” I told them, rolling my eyes.

 

“SHIT! I have to work at nine today!” Tyler announced, scrambling to get up.

 

“You might want to hurry, it’s ten to nine,” I told him helpfully. He spared a second to glower at me and then sprinted out of my apartment, hopefully planning on stopping by his house since he was still in his swim trunks.

 

“Well that will be a lovely start to his day,” I said sarcastically, pushing myself all the way up and walking into the kitchen to pick out a cereal.

 

“Don’t you have boot camp?” Scorpius asked.

 

“It’s at three today,” I said amicably. “The hours are crazy for it. Like there’s one day where I have to be there at five in the morning and then go back at eight that night. They say it’s because we have to work with all these specialty people but I think they just want to make sure that we’ll answer their every call and don’t have anything that could make us unavailable like, I don’t know, a life.”

 

“You have such high opinions of the department,” Scorpius said sarcastically.

 

“I know,” I agreed, finally deciding on the ol’ classic cornflakes. “It’s a wonder I never thought of joining before my seventh year.”

 

“I have to get home,” Scorpius said. “My parents will figure I crashed with you but if I’m not back soon they’ll be hounding me with questions.”

 

“Don’t forget what I said about Rose,” I told him.

 

“I won’t,” he promised. “That’s why we were at lunch with James, I figured she’d start with you guys not making up stories and she wanted to start with someone she could convince to be nice.”

 

“Was he nice?” I asked. “Because if not I’ll kick his arse for you today.”

 

“Thanks but it was fine,” Scorpius shook his head. “I mean neither of us ended up in Mungos or Azkaban.”

 

“Good first step,” Natasha said, nodding her approval.

 

“I thought so,” Scorpius shrugged. “See you guys later.”

 

“Bye.”







“Have a good day.”

 

“When did we agree not to make up stories?” Natasha demanded as soon as the door shut. I rolled my eyes and walked over to the window where a soaking wet brown owl was pecking at the window. “Because I definitely did not agree to that,” Natasha informed me, her hand on her hip.

 

“Woah, we made the news!” I exclaimed.

 

“What?” Natasha asked, the Rose drama forgotten.

 

“Look: Yesterday the Ministry of Magic was taken by surprise when four young witches and wizards burst through the visitor’s entrance for no apparent reason. Witnesses say they each had on a bathing suit and their faces were hidden behind layers of face paint. “I didn’t know what to do,” Charlie Marshall, an employee in the Department of Foreign Affairs, recalls. “They just stood there for a minute and then took off running. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

 

“Yada, yada, yada, When asked whether or not they would be looking into it the Ministry said that they while they were appalled by the event the most the offenders could be charged with is Indecency in the Ministry which would result in a fine anywhere from thirty to seventy galleons. When asked if they were planning on investigating further the Ministry spokesperson said that they encourage the offenders to turn themselves in but there will not be an extended investigation assuming there are no more incidents. The Ministry is expected to pass a more serious regulation to stop events like this from occurring again.

 

“Wow,” I said, tossing the newspaper down after I finished reading it. “Well at least it looks like I won’t be losing my job.”

 

“I can’t believe we’re going to be the cause of a new law,” Natasha laughed, looking thoroughly impressed with herself. “I know we always said we were going to but I never thought it would actually happen.”

 

“Me neither,” I laughed. “I feel like we need a shrine for this or something.”

 

Natasha and I took our bathing suits, the prophet article, both of our buttons, and the picture the four of us took before we left my mum’s shop and put them in a shoe box that we stored on the top shelf in our wardrobe, behind a pile of sheets and blankets.

 

“Just imagine,” Natasha said before we closed the door. “In eighty years when we’re one hundred and have grandkids we will be able to pull out that box and show them why exactly we are the coolest people they have ever met.”

 

“We probably shouldn’t tell people about this, though, should we?” I asked as we closed the door.

 

“No, probably not,” Natasha agreed.

 

“So you know how I was at my mum’s house yesterday?” she asked as we walked back into the kitchen.

 

“Uh-huh,” I said, reaching into the cupboard to get a bowl out for cereal.

 

“Well her new beau is a doctor,” she said and I glanced up, amused.

 

“Really.”

 

“Yeah, he’s as annoying as shit. My mum and I were having an argument and he steps in saying we should take a deep breath and tap into our inner feelings of bitterness and discontent to see where the real problem lays.”

 

“Did you tell him that it started when you were born?” I asked.

 

“Sure did,” Natasha said. “He told my mum she should consider putting me in therapy so that I didn’t resort to causing myself physical harm.”

 

“Maybe he should consider therapy,” I suggested. “You know, to understand why it is that he feels the need to latch onto a lady made of plastic with a husband in Azkaban. Maybe he has Monophobia.”

 

“What’s that?” Natasha asked.

 

“Fear of being alone.”

 

“Well if he does then he and my mum would be perfect together,” she shrugged.

 

* * * *

 

“Did you hear?” Kyle asked as I walked towards him and James ten minutes before three.

 

“Hear what?” I asked. Kyle held out the paper and I looked at it with as little interest as possible as I replied,

 

“Oh yeah, I read that. Looks like they benefitted from the Ministry trying to downplay it.”

 

“Everyone’s talking about it,” Kyle went on. “Apparently they got badges and everything. Huge embarrassment for the Ministry but it’s pretty awesome. I wish we had thought of doing something like that,” he said, indicating himself and James.

 

“What, and risk losing your jobs?” I asked in mock horror. “What would your mothers say?”







“I don’t know what my mum would say but my dad would love it,” Kyle laughed, jumping off the table he had been sitting on and flagging down another Auror who he quickly began discussing the break-in with.

 

“So,” James said.

 

“So,” I repeated.

 

“You don’t know anything more about this than what you read in the paper this morning?”

 

“Why would I know anything more than what they said?” I asked, doing my best to sound confused and innocent. How the hell was he onto us?

 

“Well it’s just that you showed up at the Leaky Cauldron wearing a cover-up and bathing suit and you had another bathing suit in your hand.”

 

“So because I wore a bathing suit I automatically jumped into the ministry fountain?” I asked. “Bit of a weak assumption there, isn’t it?”

 

“Maybe it would be if it weren’t for the fact that there were four people and Scorpius said that you were meeting up with two of your other friends.”

 

“So we went swimming with four people. How unusual,” I said, making it sound like he was being ridiculous.

 

“And then there’s the fact that you did stuff like this all the time at Hogwarts,” he continued as though I hadn’t said anything. “And the fact that it happened about an hour after Scorpius left the Leaky Cauldron and he changed his story about where he was going afterwards three times in twenty minutes.”

 

“So are you accusing me or Scorpius of diving into the fountain?” I asked.

 

“Neither of you,” he said. “I’m just wondering what you know about it. You know, say you had pulled this off. What would you have done to make it work?”

 

“What, are you doing some secret investigation for the ministry?” I asked and then sighed. “If I was one of the people who pulled this little stunt, and I’m not saying that I was, then I certainly wouldn’t go running my mouth about it.”

 

“What, you don’t trust me?” James asked, smirking a little bit.

 

“I don’t know you James,” I said honestly. “We can talk and joke around but honestly, until I joined the Auror department the only things I knew about you were that you played Quidditch, you were popular at Hogwarts, and I extremely dislike half of your family members. I wasn’t one of your fan girls at school—sorry. I don’t even know your favorite color, and that’s always the first question I go to when things get awkward.”

 

“So things haven’t been awkward during our conversations, wouldn’t that mean that you know me better than you think?” he suggested lightly. I appraised him for a minute before answering honestly again.

 

“I think that a lot of people think they know you a lot better than they do. You talk all the time and yet you don’t usually say all that much. You ramble about your family and you tell anecdotes but when was the last time you told someone something that they could use against you with the press?”

 

“Just because I don’t leave all my cards on the table doesn’t mean people don’t know me,” James said slowly.

 

“Just because we talk occasionally doesn’t mean I’m going to show you all of my cards,” I retorted.

 

“Touché,” James conceded.

 

“I still can’t believe you came up with that before we did,” he mumbled.

 

“Who is ‘we’?” I asked.

 

“Kyle, Sam, and I. And Freddy too I suppose. Louis may have joined in as well. And if—”

 

“See there’s your problem,” I told him. “I’m not saying that I had anything to do with this but if I did the reason it would have worked would be because we would have our group set. We don’t really add people in based on who wants to come.”

 

“So I’ve noticed,” James said. “You aren’t the friendliest of groups are you?”

 

“Normally I would just say that we’re not but you seem to have something on your mind so spit it out,” I told him.

 

“Well it’s just that you seem to keep your life very segregated,” he said mildly.

 

“So what?” I asked.

 

“So nothing it’s just that when you came running up to the table yesterday you pulled Scorpius away to talk.”

 

“Because I didn’t want to be overheard.” I shrugged, not sure what the problem was.

 

“Right,” he agreed. “But why couldn’t we hear?”







“Because there are some things that are just between friends and not the entire world,” I replied.

 

“Aren’t you trying to become friends with Rose?” he pressed.

 

“Ah, I see where this is going,” I said. He looked back innocently with one eyebrow cocked but I wasn’t fooled.

 

“What I was talking about with Scorpius is none of your business and if he wanted to tell Rose he could have asked us and we would have said no chance in hell, I’ll admit it. But I promised to try to get along with Rose so that she doesn’t think Natasha and I are serial killers or trying to steal her boyfriend. I did not, however, promise to become friends with her.”

 

“Are you even willing to consider inducting her into your little group?” he asked.

 

“It’s not just up to me,” I told him. “And honestly it’s less about me and the others than it is about her. But forget about me, I haven’t done my time with your cousin yet. How did your lunch go with Scorpio?”

 

“Fine,” James shrugged.

 

“Fine?” I repeated. “Is that all I’m going to hear about the meeting. ‘It went fine. We acted like we got along and didn’t kill each other.’ That doesn’t tell me anything.”

 

“Is that really what he said about it?” James asked, looking amused.

 

“Well I paraphrased a bit but basically, yes,” I told him.

 

“Fine,” James conceded. “He’s a decent kid and I may have overreacted a bit when I first heard that they were dating. Rose kept it civilized and made small-talk and then you came over and he spent the rest of the time telling us stories about Hogwarts because every accusation about what you said could lead to some story so that he didn’t have to tell us what you guys were up to and then he left pretty quickly after you came.”

 

“Sorry.” I winced slightly, only just realizing that pulling him away probably wasn’t the best way to go about helping him not die from a Weasley Mob Attack. “I didn’t mean to ruin your lunch.”

 

“It was fine,” James said. I narrowed my eyes at the word and he laughed. “I didn’t know you knew him though.”

 

I nodded. “We were really good friends through Hogwarts,” I said. “We all dealt with…a lot back then. We needed each other to get through it.”

 

“So I gathered,” James said slowly.

 

“I’m not going to pretend I know your family,” I quickly changed the subject back to comfortable territory. “Because aside from you, Fred’s family, and Dominique I’ve never had a legit conversation with any of you but I just need to know—how bad is this going to get? I mean, are people going to be judgmental to the point where we should have a St. Mungos room booked? Tyler already offered to set one aside…”

 

“Before I met him I honestly considered beating the crap out of the kid,” James admitted. “Truth is I only really got over it because I had some time to clear my head and realize that Rose wasn’t stupid. But for the rest of the family it’s just going to depend. Uncle Ron doesn’t like him—”

 

“So I’ve gathered,” I said grimly.

 

“But I think Aunt Hermione will give him a chance,” he went on. “Fred had a bunch of issues with him at Hogwarts and Albus hates his guts but Albus is also trying to get back in Rose’s good graces so—”

 

“Okay, I don’t need a rundown of you whole family’s view on the situation, I just want the overall reaction,” I said.

 

His family was huge. I love Scorpius and all but not enough to listen to James tell me exactly the way he suspects fifty people to react to the situation.

 

“There isn’t a consensus,” James said. “It just depends on the person but Rose’s dad and her brother will probably be the hardest. I would guess that Fred needs to be mellowed a bit before the meeting if you want that to go well. He’s not usually rash but—”

 

“Scorpius strikes a bone,” I nodded. “I kind of started that one. But since the only other option was to let Fred continue being a prat and have Scorpius land in the hospital wing for a few days I didn’t have much of a choice.”

 

“His family was on the other side of the war,” James tried to explain. “The wounds cut deep. Whether or not the Malfoy’s really believed in what Voldemort was doing the second time around is up for debate but in the end they did help him. They did fight with him.”

 

“It’s bullshit,” I muttered under my breath. “This entire war, the different sides, the way people think they can take it out on people who weren’t even a part of it—it’s total and complete bullshit.”

 

“Tell that to my dad,” James said, raising his eyebrows at me. I groaned.

 

“I didn’t mean it like that,” I said apologetically. “It’s just…it wasn’t his choice you know? It wasn’t any of my friends’ choices but they’re paying for them.”

 

“Tell you what,” James said after a beat of silence. “If you look up the war, like really read about it and figure out what happened I will do my best to help Rose get my family to come around, okay?”

 

“Why do you want me to look up the war?” I asked, genuinely confused.

 

“How many History of Magic classes did you attend?” he asked.

 

“You know about all that?” I asked, biting my bottom lip. We were known for getting drunk, sneaking around, and getting away with more shit than most other students but I wasn’t expecting him to know what classes I attended.

 

“The whole school knew about it,” he laughed. “And Scorpius added some behind the scenes information about the rumors that were circulating.

 

I winced. “What did he say?” I asked.

 

“You flooded the Greenhouses and Neville’s office when you didn’t finish a paper in time,” he said.

 

I nodded in admittance—Scorpius seemed to have kept it pretty mild. “Normally it wouldn’t have mattered but he said it was the paper or two months detention because I got caught stealing some of his stash. I would have gone with the detentions on principle but they conflicted with some other…duties.”

 

“I’m sure,” James smirked.

 

“He told me to turn it in next class, probably as a way of ensuring that I showed up, but since it wasn’t ready…well I needed to figure out a way to get the class cancelled.”

 

“So you thought you’d take care of it yourself,” James grinned.

 

“Hey, my mum always said I wasn’t enough of a go-getter. This way she couldn’t be mad at me.”

 

“Was she mad?” James asked.

 

“Sort of,” I said. “But it was more of an act. You see, since his office got flooded after the greenhouse I said that I had left the paper on his desk in between the two floods. They were able to track the greenhouse to me but not his office so they called my mum in about the greenhouse and Tyler’s mum in for the office. Tyler’s mum was pissed off so my mum had to calm her down. She was annoyed at first but after she heard the whole thing she scolded me in front of the teacher’s and then sent me a care-basket filled with chocolate the next day.”

 

“My mum would never have done that,” James said, shaking his head. “Sounds more like an Angelina and George thing.”

 

“Well makes sense considering—”

 

“Considering what?” James asked curiously when I stopped short. I shook my head and smiled.

 

“Nothing, it doesn’t matter,” I said a little awkwardly.

 

“What…okay,” James conceded and I felt a wave of relief. I don’t normally slip up that easily.

 

“Can I have everyone’s attention please?”  Harry called, his voice magically amplified. “Thank you,” he said in a normal voice after everyone had quieted down. “I’m sure you have all either seen or read the papers today and heard about the…incident that occurred yesterday.” James glanced over and smirked at me. I purposefully kept my gaze on Harry, looking as unconcerned as possible.

 

“There won’t be a full-fledged investigation but anyone who knows anything is encouraged to let the ministry know and anyone who has involvement is urged to turn themselves in,” Harry continued, completely oblivious as to what was going on by an empty cubicle about twenty feet from him. “In the meantime we have far more pressing matters to attend to so those of you on a case get to work and those of you going to boot camp the portkey will be leaving in two minutes. Good luck.”

 

As soon as Harry finished talking everyone started moving away from their little gossip circles and back to their desks and maps.

 

“Don’t worry,” James said, jumping off the table he had been sitting on. “Your secrets safe with me.”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, smirking right back at him.

 

“Fine, fine,” he agreed. “Stay anonymous if you want.”

 

“It worked for seven years,” I shrugged, walking beside him as we entered Harry’s office.

 

“You really want to keep it up for another seven?” he asked but I didn’t have a chance to answer as the red shoe started turning blue and we both barely got a finger on it before we were whisked away along with more people than I was expecting.

 

I staggered as we hit the ground but managed to stay standing as Kyle, Abigail, and an older Auror that I wasn’t expecting to be with us all stumbled to the ground. Before I had a chance to ask what the four older Aurors were doing here a tall man in a bright purple track suit approached us and I got the very distinct impression that it would be best to save my question for later.

 

He stood taller than any of us and had white hair that showed he was older than those standing before him. In his hand was a clipboard with a piece of parchment clipped in place and an open inkwell balanced carefully beside the parchment. I couldn’t help but imagine his reaction if the board were to just…tip. His parchment would be ruined and silk tracksuit very possibly permanently stained. I forced the thought to leave my head as soon as it entered. I was already facing a possible seventy galleon fine if anyone (James) were to turn me into the Ministry. Probably best not to add a huge dry-cleaning bill on top of it. I’m not made of Galleon’s.

 

“Get up,” the purple jumpsuit guy said impatiently, noticing that three of us were on the ground. Abigail shot straight up; wiping the dirt off her robes quickly, her face a faint pink color. Kyle grumbled about a warning and the older Auror glared at the shoe as though it had personally offended him while the other three full-fledged Aurors laughed at him.

 

“Alright you lot,” he said. “Changing rooms are in there, we’ve got workout clothes for you all. I trust you remembered your sneakers and if not you’re running barefoot. Girls go to the right, boys on the left side. Apparently we’re splitting you up now because the minister didn’t think it was appropriate for us to have you change in the same room.”

 

From his tone I could tell that he thought the idea was ludicrous and I suppose that since we would have to change together during missions it kind of was. Abigail and I were the only two girls doing the training so we had a large changing room to ourselves. I picked out a baggy shirt and a pair of shorts that fit me best from the pile and slipped them on, glad Natasha had insisted I bring a sports bra.

 

“Anything you need tennis shoes for, you’ll want a sports bra for,” she had said when I protested.

 

“Why don’t they just have us bring our own clothes?” I asked Abigail as we both changed.

 

“It’s supposed to stimulate being on a mission,” she said, rolling her eyes. “We have to make do with what we have and deal with it. Though when we’re going to be running around on a track with an angry ex-Quidditch coach for a mission I don’t know.”

 

“Wait,” Abigail said, grabbing my arm when I started to make my way out. “You don’t want to be the first one out because if you are then he’ll notice you and target you the entire training session. Trust me, I’ve been there. Let the guys go first.”

 

I was surprised that she bothered to give me advice but I listened to her anyways and we both lingered by the door so that we would hear the boys when they left.

 

“Hey question,” I said while we waited and she nodded curtly to imply I should continue. “Why are the qualified Aurors doing boot camp with us?”

 

“Well they’re supposed to do it every year,” she said. “But most try to get out of it, claiming they’re in the middle of a mission or they can’t leave their surveillance or whatever. I mean, they do meet with Murphy during the year and everyone stays in shape on their own but during boot camp he’s way worse. Still, Harry and Ron make sure that anyone who hasn’t been in a while gets drafted.”

 

“Do they do the whole week with us?” I asked.

 

“Yep,” she nodded, popping the P. “This is my chance though.”

 

“Your chance to…”

 

“Prove that I should be moved up,” she said. “I’ve been in training way too long and now they can see when they compare me to the veterans.”

 

I nodded slowly and peered out the door. “Um, Abigail he’s walking towards us and he looks mad,” I told her, moving away from the crack I had been looking through so that she could see.

 

“It looks like the guys had the same strategy we did,” Abigail muttered. “Don’t worry; he’s going towards their changing room first.”

 

“Out, hurry up, do you think you’ll have this kind of time when you’re in the field!” the trainer, Murphy, yelled.

 

“Let’s go,” Abigail murmured, opening the door and rushing me out.

 

We nearly ran into the coach who seemed to be making his way towards our changing room but stopped short just in time. Abigail gave him an awkward smile and grabbed me by the arm, walking as fast as she could towards the center of the grass where the boys were congregated.

 

“Alright lads…and girls. I want you to do what I say when I say it and we’ll get through this a lot quicker. If you work hard it will go by a lot faster. If you’re sloppy I will keep you here all night if that’s what it is going to take for you to get it right. This isn’t a test, it’s not about how fit you are, it’s about how fit I can make you. The real test will come when you are out there. It’s Survival of the Fittest in its finest hour. Don’t treat this like a joke because if you do I will kick you out on your sorry arse and you can enjoy a sorry-ass paycheck and a crappy tombstone. We’re starting easy, everyone line up at the starting line we’re doing a mile warm-up.”

 

“How fast?” Kyle asked.

 

“Go easy,” he replied. “It’s just a warm-up.”

 

“So ten minutes?” one of the full-fledged Aurors, I believe his name was Dave, suggested with a grin.

 

“Ten minutes is walking,” Murphy replied. “Over eight and you owe me another lap. On my whistle then.”

 

When he blew it Kyle, James, and two of the younger Aurors immediately took off. I kept pace with Abigail. An eight minute mile meant two minute laps. That was a piece of cake. A few yards behind us were Jack and the other two Aurors. We didn’t talk as we ran but we finished at seven-thirty. Hey, he said to take it easy. To everyone’s surprise James and Kyle wound up coming in last. After racing the first three they had started walking slowly to let us all pass and they crossed the line at seven fifty eight. They both groaned, having been aiming for seven fifty nine. Murphy’s bushy mustache twitched in annoyance.

 

“Alright,” Murphy said while we all stretched out. “Split up four and five. We’re doing drills. Lisa and Daniel are going to be timing you.”

 

Abigail immediately left my side and rushed towards the group of three fully-fledged Aurors who were talking with Jack. I rolled my eyes and made my way towards Kyle and James who were talking to the fourth qualified Auror who had looked around and shrugged upon realizing the other group had already been formed.

 

“I think I just got ditched,” I grinned at them.

 

“Don’t mind her,” James replied. “She’s obsessed with getting moved up. She’ll do anything she thinks will get her noticed and she thinks the more time she spends with them the more people will think of her as Auror material.”

 

“Wouldn’t it make more sense for her to be with us then? So that she looks better in comparison?”

 

“Probably,” Kyle shrugged.

 

“But I’m not sure how much input this guy has. He works with Aurors pretty much year-round. This part of boot camp is more about getting us in shape than seeing how fit we are,” James said.

 

“Mind you, if you’re not in shape you’re going to be dying,” the Auror added.

 

“Great,” I said sarcastically. I hadn’t run in three days. Well, unless you count our mad-dash escape at the ministry but considering how winded I was I’m not sure how much help that will be.

 

“I’m Ryan,” he added, holding his hand out for me to shake.

 

“Taylor,” I introduced myself.

 

“Alright, blondies group at the far end with Daniel, other group with Lisa.”

 

For the next three hours we did nothing but conditioning. The first one was like an obstacle course—mini hurdles, speed latter, sprint back. After that we did fifty-yard sprints, racing the person beside us. I was on my fifth sprint and had just gotten thoroughly creamed by Ryan when Teddy showed up.

 

“What’re you doing here?” I asked, slowing up. “I thought you were out for two weeks.”

 

“Healer’s cleared me early,” he shrugged. “It really wasn’t that bad but Harry’s benching me for two weeks anyways so I’m stuck with you lot until I get all my strength back.”

 

“Ooh, sucks for you,” I grinned, jogging back to the start.

 

Teddy, apparently, had missed the vast majority of the training for the day but he at least had to endure all the push-ups, sit-ups, and mountain climbers the rest of us did. By the time we were done I was way beyond exhausted and I threw myself down on my back between Teddy and Kyle as soon as Murphy said we could stop. Teddy laughed and I gave him the worst glare I could manage.

 

“You missed the first three hours,” I told him. “You’ve got nothing to be laughing about.”

 

“You might think this is pointless,” Murphy said, starting to speak without warning and successfully stopping Kyle’s laughter. “But the truth is this is as important as anything else you will be doing this week. You are going to be in situations where you can’t use your wand. Wizards are going to be trying to corner you in areas that you can’t apparate away from and if you are lucky enough to get to an apparition spot, the less out of breath you are, the less likely are to splinch yourself.

 

“If you’re chasing down a Wizard in a Muggle area, a ten foot distance could be the difference between capturing them and never seeing them again. When you get discovered behind a group of trashcans, battling your way out with your wand will be a lot more risky than navigating your way out. This stuff is hard but this stuff matters. I’d suggest taking tomorrow off but we’re back here on Wednesday so be ready. Good work today, you’re all free to go.”

 

My entire body was covered in sweat. My hair felt as though I had just come in from a rainstorm, my gray t-shirt was a shade darker than it was when I started and I literally had to peel my socks off. It was disgusting.

 

I put all of my sweaty stuff in the plastic bag I brought my tennis shoes in and changed into another baggy outfit for the ride home. There was no hope in salvaging my hair so I merely re-did my bun and cleaned up a bit of my waterproof mascara that had smudged despite its supposed waterproof-ness.

 

“Hey Anonymous,” James called out as I was leaving. “The safe places to apparate are the other way.”

 

“I’m taking a cab,” I said, turning around to face him. “I hate magical transportation.”

 

“It’s blue by the way,” James called out as I began to walk away again. “My favorite color,” he clarified.

 

I laughed. “Good to know.”

 

I hopped the fence and hailed the first cab that ambled by fifteen minutes later. I was so surprised that I almost missed it but he pulled over and I gave him the address.

 

“You a football player?” he asked, looking at my hair that was thrown in a messy bun and the work out clothes I had on.

 

“No it was a…boot camp thing,” I told him. “We just did it in the football stadium.”

 

“You don’t look like you’re in secondary school,” he said. “You go to Uni?”

 

“Err, yeah,” I lied. “I’m…off for the summer.”

 

“My sister goes to Uni,” the cab driver said. “Really likes it too. Her grades are bad though.”

 

I nodded, not really sure what I was supposed to say. We chatted amicably all the way back to my building and I forked over the pounds he asked for. Natasha and I always kept some Muggle cash because we liked to check out Muggle London for clothes as well. Unfortunately, the cab money took anything I had for shopping for the next month. On the bright side, I wouldn’t be able to walk for the next month so maybe it worked out.

 

I made my way up to our second floor flat slowly, my feet dragging with each step. The apartment was locked so I took out my wand and cast ‘alohamora’. We kept saying we were going to fix it so that the spell didn’t work but neither of us had gotten around to it. Besides, it’s not like we had any dark wizards out to get us.

 

I tossed the plastic grocery bag onto the floor and was about to open my bedroom door and flop on the bed when I froze, hearing noises in my room. Natasha’s giggling to be more exact.

 

“Tasha?” I called out, not wanting to walk in on anything I didn’t want to see. “Can I come in?”

 

“Uh, just a second Taylor,” Natasha said. I sighed and slid down on the floor. If she had a guy in there I was going to kill her. Sure enough, five minutes later she came out in a little sundress with her hair a mess. Behind her was a guy dressed in jeans without a shirt. I didn’t even try to hide my surprise when I saw who it was.

 

“Sam?” I asked.

 

“Hey Taylor,” he grinned, leaning casually against the doorframe. I sighed.

 

“Really Tasha?” I asked.

 

“Sorry, I thought you’d be home later.”

 

“Eh, whatever,” I waved it off.

 

“You gonna get off the floor?” Sam asked. I shook my head.

 

“Was boot camp bad?” Natasha asked taking in my hair and the clothes I hadn’t been wearing this morning.

 

“Anyone who does that voluntarily needs to be put on suicide watch,” I said by way of answering.

 

“Yeah, James is always useless during bootcamp,” Sam nodded.

 

“Wasn’t last year his first year?” I asked.

 

“Well yeah but you do it a few times a year,” Sam said.

 

“We what?” I demanded. I thought this was like our one week from hell!

 

“Well yeah, didn’t they tell you?” I shook my head. “There are actually three different times—once now, once after Christmas, and then once before summer. I’m pretty sure the rest of it all is spread out.”

 

“How do you know more about this than I do? I’m in the training!”

 

“Did you read the packet?” Sam asked, looking down at me with raised eyebrows.

 

“No,” I admitted. Sam and Natasha both laughed.

 

“Wait, what the hell are you doing here?” I demanded, suddenly registering just how wrong this was.

 

“I thought that was pretty obvious,” Sam said, indicating himself and Natasha.

 

“Get out,” I said, indicating the door.

 

“Right,” Sam agreed, kissing Natasha on the cheek and leaving.

 

“Tell James I said hi,” I called after him.

 

“Will do,” he agreed just before the door closed. Natasha started trying to back up into our bedroom but I wasn’t letting her get away that easily.

 

“Freeze,” I instructed. “Back up. What. The. Hell. Was. That?!?”

 

“Err, well, he came into Clueless with his sister and my shift was almost done. And you know, he was there and I was almost done and then, well, he didn’t have anything to do because his sister’s friend came in—you know the one with black hair who ordered one of those dresses for the wedding? She was there with Rose when—”

 

“Get to the point,” I snapped.

 

“Right, sorry. So basically we both had nothing to do so we started talking and then we came back here, and then well—”

 

“I can’t believe you hooked up with him!” I exclaimed.

 

“Oh come on, it wasn’t that bad,” she said.

 

“Wasn’t that bad?” I demanded. “I’m sorry; do you remember when you guys broke up? And then when you hooked up after you broke up? And then when you hooked up with him when he had a sort-of-girlfriend? And then his sort-of-girlfriend was all possessive and tried to kill you? And then when you guys hooked up and your brother—”

 

“Okay, I get it,” she cut me off. “We’ve hooked up a few times.”

 

We were quiet for a few minutes and then…

 

“So you guys really hooked up?” I asked. Natasha nodded. “And I’m guessing you don’t want to tell the boys…”

 

“Probably best,” Natasha agreed.

 

“Right-o,” I said, still not even trying to move.

 

“You want help getting to the bathroom?” she asked.

 

“Yes, please.”

 

She took my hand and hoisted me up.

 

Normally I don’t enjoy long showers but I reveled in the feeling of the warm water washing all of the dirt and sweat off of my body after boot camp and I wondered briefly why I always seemed to rush them. It was actually rather relaxing. That is, until I heard a bunch of noise in my bedroom. I turned off the water and opened the bathroom door only to find that my apartment was infested with thirteen year old girls.

 

“Hi.” I said walking out with one towel wrapped around my hair, the other wrapped around my body.

 

“Hi Taylor,” Lacey smiled.

 

“What are you guys doing here?” I asked.

 

“Oh, Katie’s mum was being annoying,” Meg Ann explained. “We didn’t really feel like dealing with any other parents either and since we’re not allowed out in Diagon Alley past dark I figured we’d come to your place.”

 

“Chinese will be here in five,” Natasha announced, walking into the room. She had changed into jeans and a sweatshirt.

 

“What?” she asked when she saw me staring.

 

“Nothing,” I decided, walking over to the wardrobe that we had placed an undetectable extension charm on.

 

I stepped inside and started sorting through our clothes. Technically speaking all of my stuff is on the left and all of her stuff is on the right but in all actuality, we wear each other’s clothes so much that it doesn’t really matter. I closed the door so that I could change and pulled on a pair of my yoga pants and Natasha’s bright pink “I know I’m Awesome” t-shirt.

 

I limped my way out and was about to flop down on Natasha’s bed when I remembered what she had been doing on it not twenty minutes ago. I tried to stop mid-flop but it didn’t work too well so I wound up beside the bed on the floor.

 

“F you,” I muttered as two of Meg Ann’s friends jumped off the bed to help me up.

 

“I need a bunch of bags of ice,” I told them. “And if I don’t have them in five minutes you’re all kicked out.”

 

Immediately, all four of Meggy’s friends jumped up to get it for me. Natasha and Meg Ann both flopped backwards beside me, Meg Ann still reading the magazine.

 

“So I read an interesting article in the paper today,” Meg Ann said conversationally. “Mum thought it was hilarious but dad was a bit more concerned.”

 

“That’s because your dad is too by the books,” I told her. “Mum appreciates the fine art it takes to pull something amazing, unexpected, and slightly illegal off. I’m assuming your talking about the Ministry fountain incident.”

 

“So it was you guys?” Meg Ann asked. I shrugged innocently.

 

“We could tell you…”

 

“But then we’d have to kill you,” Natasha finished for me.

 

“Just checking,” Meg Ann nodded. “Hey, Albus Potter and Lauren Wood have gone public with their break-up.”

 

“Didn’t they break up a while ago?” Natasha asked. “Sam said they had been off for a while.”

 

Meg Ann looked at when the Magazine was released.

 

“It’s from three weeks ago,” she said. “So I guess they could have. Can’t say I’m that surprised though. He’s got the whole band thing going and if he’s going to be on the road or whatever. And plus she’s working for the prophet and writing stuff about celebrities and what not.”

 

“Aw, that’s too bad, I really thought they would make it,” I sighed. “I like Lauren. She’s a sweet girl.”

 

“You tutored her for potions, didn’t you?” Natasha asked.

 

“I helped her with it,” I corrected. “I do not tutor people.”

 

“Right, my bad,” Natasha rolled her eyes.

 

“We have your ice Taylor,” Lacey smiled. She and the other three girls held out their bags obediently.

 

“Thanks,” I smiled. I put one on my right hamstring, another on my left ankle, another on my right shoulder, and I put the last one on my abs for the sole reason that it felt good. When I looked up Natasha was humming to herself, Meg Ann and Lacey were reading the magazine, and the other three were looking at me expectantly.

 

“So,” I said, not really sure how to make conversation with three thirteen year olds. “What do you guys think about the Albus/Lauren break up?”

 

That seemed to work as they all started gossiping about it and I was able to lean back and rest for a few minutes. Eight empty boxes of Chinese, multiple hair braids, a late night trip to the local ice cream shop, and I finally convinced Meg Ann that since she said they were all staying at our mum’s house they should actually go there. I didn’t want her getting mad at me since it wasn’t taking much for us to lose our tempers these days.

 

“I still can’t believe you hooked up with Sam again. Again…How many times have you guys hooked up since your break-up anyways?”

 

“Shut up,” Natasha muttered.

 




A/N: favorite quotes? Criticism? General thoughts?

 

Chapter 10 preview:

 


“What can I get you guys?” a peppy guy with ginger hair, round glasses, and a white baker’s hat that was falling to the right side of his head asked.

 

“I’ll have…the Extreme Egg Salad,” I decided. James looked at the menu for a few minutes before deciding on the Special Surprise. I grinned and the guy behind the counter whistled.

 

“That’s brave mate,” he laughed and James looked confused.

 

“You never know what’s going to be in that,” I told him. “It’s different every time. I’ve never gotten up the nerve to try it.”



 

Reviews are great!
 


Chapter 10: Fire and Rain
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?


I've seen fire and I've seen rain

I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end

I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend

 

James Taylor, "Fire and Rain"

 

Disclaimer: I don't own the Harry Potter books or anything associated with them nor do I own the lyrics or the song used.

 

Being good at something.

 

“Just watch James, he’s good on a broomstick,” Abigail whispered.

 

It can come naturally or it can take work.

 

“You’ll be fine,” Jack tried to console me. “Just trust yourself to know what to do.”

 

When it doesn’t come naturally you have to work at it.

 

“Listen to what they say,” Abigail instructed. “Follow their advice and it’ll work.”

 

If you don’t have the time to work on it, you have to act like you know what you’re doing.

 

“You don’t seem that out of your element,” Jack said, watching wearily as I held the broom with two hands and swung my left leg over it in preparation for take off.

 

You try to swallow your nerves and your pride.

 

“You okay?” James asked, watching a little apprehensively as my broom wobbled.

 

“I’m five feet in the air on an inanimate object that is meant to clean the ground; not leave it. What do you think?” I snapped, reminding myself not to look down and trying to ignore my rapidly beating heart and shaking body.

 

If it’s too obvious that you don’t know what you’re doing to play it off…well, you basically just have to go with it and hope for the best.

 

“Merlin, don’t let me fall,” I muttered, rising higher, clutching my broom tighter, and hoping that my sweaty palms wouldn’t cause my grip to falter too much.

 

When you just aren’t good at something, no matter what you do, all that’s left is to accept it and avoid it for the rest of your life.

 

“I. Fucking. Hate. Broomsticks,” I mumbled to myself as I landed back on the ground with wobbly legs and a pounding head.

 

* * * *

 

In my classes at Hogwarts the thing that my teacher’s hated the most was that I knew what I was doing. I would skip class, I would purposefully botch up essays, and I would make it seem as though I was doing as little as possible while actually doing twice as much work as the average Hogwarts student.

 

You see, while others were in class, I was doing my own work. We didn’t pass our exams by luck; we passed them because we really did work hard and learned what we needed to. Our grades were in the toilet, our participation was worse than my grandparent’s marriage, and our popularity with the student population was nearly equal to the Carrows but we didn’t care.

 

To us, not having anyone know what we were up to and making sure that no one could guess what we were going to do next was a part of our image. We were untraceable.

 

“What are all of those for?” Meg Ann asked me Wednesday night after I had spent the morning doing yet another one of Murphy’s killer workouts.

 

“It’s kind of complicated,” I replied, following her gaze to the stack of books that were piled up on the table in front of the couch that was usually used for dads who were paying or friends that were giving opinions.

 

She picked up one of the books and flipped through it.

 

“It’s about the Second War,” she said, looking at me in surprise. I nodded absently and she frowned. “Why do you have books on that?”

 

“Because I don’t know much about it,” I replied vaguely, not really wanting to get into the whole James/Scorpius/family thing.

 

“You’ve never cared about it before,” she pointed out and I just shrugged, knowing that there was no point denying it.

 

Up until my seventh year I didn’t even know who Harry Potter was. I had heard of him, sure, and I knew that he was worshipped by half the Wizarding World but I always just rolled my eyes at it. They worshipped loads of people after all. I should have learned about it for my History of Magic OWL but you can really only study five years worth of material for so many classes and since I already knew I was bound to fail the HOM exam, I didn’t even bother trying and got my expected D.

 

In my seventh year the Second War came up again for the written part of my Defense Against the Dark Arts NEWT. Thankfully, it was less about what happened and more about the cause and effect of everything which was much easier for me to learn. Tyler spent the last five months before the exam going over the different protective strategies people used, the loopholes in the Death Eater traps, and the ultimate way Harry Potter was able to save the Wizarding World. No extra fluff needed.

 

Thanks to him I was able to pass the written Defense NEWT with flying colors—much to everyone’s surprise. I half expected them to run tests on my wand and work to see if there was any way I could have cheated. Most of my teacher’s at Hogwarts had done it at one time or another anyways. But they didn’t. As far as I know.

 

“So why do you care now?” she pressed when it became obvious that I wasn’t going to say anything more on the topic.

 

“I just do,” I told her in annoyance. “Can you bug off please?”

 

“Fine,” she huffed. “Tell mum I went home.”

 

“Will do,” I muttered.

 

I was only left in silence for another ten minutes before my mum came down but it was long enough for me to get the gist of all the books: Harry Potter is amazing and we should all throw ourselves at his feet. Natasha’s family was mentioned once, her grandfather being included on a list of known Death Eaters but no one talked about them much. The Malfoy’s, on the other hand, seemed to be a particularly popular topic, often times getting a chapter or two dedicated solely on their involvement. Some praised them, saying that they had bravely put their lives on the line for the better of the Wizarding World. Most put them down, calling them selfish, tenuous, sketchy, and superficial.

 

“Do you want to get something to eat?” my mum asked when she saw me. “I’m starving and Peter’s working late.”

 

“Sure,” I agreed immediately, folding down the page I was on.

 

“What are you reading?” she asked, walking over and picking up one of the books. She raised her eyebrows, just as surprised as Meg Ann had been. She flipped it open and read the first page while I pulled on my black combat boots. Her eyebrows rose higher the more she read but she didn’t comment and lead the way out once I was presentable enough to be in public.

 

“Where do you want to go?” she asked once we were outside. I pulled at my camo shorts, wishing I could make them longer without having them look weird. I always forget how much colder it gets at night.

 

“I don’t care,” I shrugged. “Ethnic food or pub?”

 

“Pub,” she decided. “New Direction?”

 

I nodded in agreement and we turned left.

 

“I don’t understand the appeal of the Leakey Cauldron,” she mused as we walked. “The food really isn’t all that appealing.”

 

“It sucks,” I agreed, not seeing any reason to be nice about it. “But I think it’s more about finding people you know. It’s the gateway and there area always people staying in the rooms above the pub. Plus, Tom’s awesome.”

 

“Tom?” she asked in confusion.

 

“The bar guy,” I said. “I met him last year when I didn’t feel like cooking. There were usually a few drunks but it was better than most, especially on Fridays since the Leakey Cauldron attracts a lot of families. We had to stick to topics that happened five years ago because his short term memory isn’t doing so well but he’s really a pretty interesting guy.”

 

“I see,” she said, looking bemused.

 

“Oh, and he calls me Elizabeth,” I added. “Apparently he had an ex-girlfriend whose name was Taylor and it didn’t end well. Eventually he just forgot my first name all together so he just calls me Elizabeth but he gives me free hot chocolate every time I come in.”

 

“So if I told him I was you do you think he’d believe me?” she asked.

 

I looked at her critically. We don’t really look all that different. We have the same wavy hair, stand at nearly the exact same height with less than an inch difference, and have the same hazel eyes that Meg Ann inherited as well. When our hair was left natural it was the same color but as usual mum had added red and mine was black.

 

When it comes down to it, though, the only thing that really sets us apart is our noses and my slightly darker skin tone; we share clothes all the time and even wore similar make-up since she is the one who taught me how to do the smoky-eye and colored liners. She moved past the thick liner quite a few years ago but I have a feeling she could still pull it off if she tried.

 

“I think you could pull it off,” I decided. “But the accent might throw him off a bit. You still sound American from time to time.”

 

New Direction was packed when we got there but the bar attracted the majority of the customers. It seemed to consist mostly of Hogwarts students, probably recent 17ers, with the odd person who had just gotten laid off from their job. You can always tell them apart because they come in their work clothes and are so smashed that they wouldn’t make it to work the next day if they tried. The most noticeable girl this time had dark red hair and was wearing plain gray robes. Her hair was falling out of her bun that was pined so tightly that it must have been flawless just a few hours earlier and she was slamming her cup down harder than strictly necessary every time she wanted a refill.

 

“Table for two,” mum told the hostess. She nodded and led us to the far end, away from the bar.

 

“Can I start you off with any drinks?” she asked.

 

“I’ll have a butterbeer,” I told her.

 

“Two please,” mum said.

 

“Are you still not drinking?” she asked when the waitress left.

 

“Not much,” I shrugged, taking a sip of my water. “It’s just not worth it all.”

 

“That’s what your grandfather said too,” she smiled. “So why are you researching the Second War?”

 

I considered evading the question but knew it would only lead to an argument.

 

“Scorpius and Rose are both getting ready to meet each others families. James said he would be on Scorp’s side of the whole thing if I read up on the war.” I was expecting her to reprimand me or give me advice about how it shouldn’t affect my opinion of the Malfoy’s or Scorpius (which I already knew) but she surprised me by zoning in on something completely different.

 

“Who’s James?” she asked as our drinks were set in front of us.

 

“James Potter. He’s Rose’s cousin. I went to Hogwarts with him but he was a year ahead.”

 

“So is he the boy you’ve been into for the last month?” she asked casually and I choked.

 

“What?” I asked as calmly as I could after my coughing had subsided. My voice was hoarse from the coughing and I took a sip of the water knowing I shouldn’t have been surprised that she said it so easily. When I came back from break my sixth year her first question when I got off the train was—“Who’s the guy?” I hadn’t even said anything yet. It was really creepy.

 

“Is he the boy you’ve been into for the last month,” she repeated slowly and I cocked an eyebrow.

 

“What are you on about?”

 

“Oh really Taylor, I taught you that trick,” she scoffed and I shrugged. “How do you know him?” she pressed.

 

I sighed but answered; glad she had decided to let it go at least partially. “He’s in training too. His dad’s the savior guy and our boss. He runs the whole department.”

 

“Are you friends?” she asked, raising an eyebrow quizzically.

 

“Of sorts,” I shrugged and she let it drop completely. I would talk when I wanted to.

 

“Can you pick up Meg Ann’s cake from Stellar Bakery on Thursday?”

 

“Sure thing,” I agreed easily.

 

“Perfect,” she said. “And I just thought you should be pre-warned…the Weasley’s are coming.”

 

“Which Weasley’s?” I asked. “I didn’t think Meg Ann was friends with any of them.”

 

“She’s friends with Roxy,” she said carefully.

 

“Please tell me you didn’t invite the whole family,” I groaned.

 

“I thought you and Fred were better!” she defended.

 

“We’re better, doesn’t mean I want him at my house,” I exclaimed. “Beside’s, Scorp got the day off.”

 

“Well maybe it will be a chance for them to bridge the gap,” she suggested optimistically.

 

“And maybe it will just grow wider and the night will end in a food fight,” I retorted and then thought it over.

 

“Don’t go getting any ideas,” she warned me.

 

“I was just thinking of the possibilities,” I defended myself.

 

“Hey nice job at the Ministry by the way.”

 

“Oh thanks. Drat!”

 

* * * *

 

Thursday saw a relatively easy boot camp. We arrived at ten in the morning where we learned about crime scenes, the questioning of witnesses and suspects, and leads. They gave us a lunch break and we were expected back at four to practice the techniques on our mentors.

 

“You want to grab lunch and practice?” James asked me as we were leaving. Kyle pushed passed us hurriedly, mumbling something about how he was so late. I looked at James questioningly.

 

“His girlfriend,” he informed me. “She’s not a very understanding, patient, or, well quite frankly, likable kind of person. He tries not to cross her.”

 

“Okay then,” I said, having seen enough screwed up relationships to know that it’s often best to leave it alone. James knew him well-enough to know whether he should be concerned. If he wasn’t, I wasn’t going to waste my time on it.

 

“So lunch?” he asked.

 

“Oh yeah, sure,” I shrugged. “Where do you want to go?”





“Butterbeer Café?” he suggested and I wrinkled my nose. “Or not,” he laughed. “I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who doesn’t like that place.”

 

“I like it,” I defended immediately. “But, well Tyler’s a bit of a picky eater. He pretty much eats at the Butterbeer Café, at pizza restaurants (a Muggle thing), or…well that’s pretty much it so when I’m not with him I tend to stray away from those places.”

 

“So what’s your favorite place?” James asked. I thought about it for a minute before asking,


“Have you ever been to Betsy’s Sandwich Shop?” He shook his head no. “It’s a tiny joint on the far end of Diagon Alley so it’s a bit of a hike…”

 

“We have three hours,” he shrugged. “Let’s do it.”

 

We flooed into Diagon Alley and started making our way up, far past Weasley’s Wizard Weezes and my mum’s store, into the more rundown side that most people avoid since all of the nice shops are closer to the Leakey Cauldron.

 

“You come up here a lot?” he asked and I shrugged.

 

“Tyler used to live up here,” I told him. “He knew Betsy but she actually past away a few years before he showed us because he hates the food. It’s run by her son now.”

 

“So, who’s Tyler?” he asked.

 

“Just a friend of mine from Hogwarts,” I shrugged.

 

“Does he know Scorpius too?” he asked. “I think he mentioned him at lunch.”



“Yeah,” I smiled. “He and Scorp are cousins but Tyler was in my grade. We’ve been friends since third year.”

 

“Was he in Gryffindor? I mean, is that how you met him?”

 

“No, he…well, this is going to sound weird but he’s my ex-stepbrother,” I admitted, laughing at how stupid it sounded. We joked about it all the time but it was the first time I had ever said it to someone outside of our family.

 

“So your parents were married and got divorced?” he clarified.

 

“Yep,” I laughed. “My dad married his mum third year. It was kind of a become friends or…well I guess be enemies. Anyways, they were only married for a few months but we spent Christmas break at their house and after that there was really no going back, you know? It was just one of those things that you can’t live through and not become friends so when they got divorced it didn’t really make a difference to us. His mum hates me because of my dad.”

 

“So is he more like a brother or a friend?” he asked thoughtfully.

 

“Well…I guess a friend mostly because of the whole divorce debacle and the way it worked out but he’s one of those people that I know will always be there no matter how bad I screw up and yet we’ve screwed up so much together that we’d never be anything more than friends,” I thought about for a second and then asked, “Does that even make sense or am I talking gibberish?”

 

“No, it makes sense,” James shook his head. “He sounds like my cousins.”

 

I considered for a minute before nodding.

 

“Yeah, cousin works,” I decided. “Or maybe even half-brother so long as it’s on my dad’s side. My mum adores him way too much for him to be her son and I’m pretty sure he couldn’t be related to my mum’s parents.”

 

We walked in silence for a few minutes until we finally reached the corner that Betsy’s was on. It was an older building with stone steps that lead to the small, square porch. The shop itself was a bit tilted towards the road but I had been in it enough times to know it wasn’t going to fall. It was painted a light pink with a deep purple roof but inside everything was dark browns and light creams.

 

“What can I get you guys?” a peppy guy with ginger hair, round glasses, and a white baker’s hat that was falling to the right side of his head asked.

 

“I’ll have…the Extreme Egg Salad,” I decided. James looked at the menu for a few minutes before deciding on the Special Surprise. I grinned and the guy behind the counter whistled.

 

“That’s brave mate,” he laughed and James looked confused.

 

“You never know what’s going to be in that,” I told him. “It’s different every time. I’ve never gotten up the nerve to try it.”

 

“I’ll give you a bite if you share yours assuming it sucks.”

 

I considered and then nodded. “Sure,” I shrugged.

 

The guy rang us up and we forked over the sickles.

 

“There’s a cool fountain another block down if your up for it,” I told him and he nodded, looking a little nervous even though he tried not to let on. I knew this area must have been foreign to him. Strange as it was, this area was probably foreign to Meg Ann too. I would have to bring her sometime. It was easy to forget how different our childhoods and Hogwarts years had been.

 

There were a few people milling around but most of the shops were shut down. It wasn’t Knockturn Alley bad but it wasn’t Downtown Diagon Alley good either. It was a pretty forgotten and left alone area. A lot of the shops were closed down and the houses and flats were the type that would include a drunken landlord or at least a few wanna-be struggling artist neighbors who really had parents who could pay for their rent. It was more my scene with colored hair, funky robes, and make-up clad people.

 

“I didn’t even know this was here,” James said, frowning as the fountain came into view. It was made of marble, hundreds of years old, but it was still used by the local people. “Does it still work?”

 

“I’m not sure,” I admitted. “I haven’t been here for almost a year but it was running then.”

 

James flicked his wand and the fountain began running again. I watched, mesmerized, as the water flowed down over the sculpted plants and kids before falling back into the round pool below. We sat on the side and unwrapped our sandwiches, James a bit more apprehensive than me.

 

“I say we try it at the same time,” I said, indicating his Special Surprise.

 

“And we have to finish the bite,” James added. I grimaced but agreed and pulled a large piece off of his bread.

 

“One,” I counted, eyeing the piece pinched between my right index finger and thumb.

 

“Two,” James said, unwrapping it a bit more so that he could bite off a decent amount.

 

“Three,” we said at the same time. I popped my piece into my mouth and he took a bite. I didn’t even have a chance to look at his face as I started gagging. Mustard. The condiment that never should have been invented. I made a face as I swallowed it and looked up to see James’ amused face.

 

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” he said and I just shook my head, wishing I had water to get the taste out of my mouth. He, apparently being the smart one, conjured up a goblet and filled it with water before handing it to me.

 

“I hate mustard,” I explained. With that taste gone I started thinking about the other part of the sandwich. “Aside from that it wasn’t too bad though.”

 

“I like it,” James shrugged. “But I really don’t think I want to know what’s in it.”

 

I nodded in agreement and tore off part of my own sandwich for him to try. We spent the next hour testing each other on the techniques we had learned, laughing as we tried to come up with crazy scenarios that we would be put in and created fake suspects and witnesses that we pretended to be while the other tried to get a confession.

 

“Why does my favorite store to shop at matter?” he asked as we made our way back downtown so we could floo back.

 

“It’s retail psychology. The stores you shop at say a lot about you. How much you spend, the atmosphere you like, the type of image you go for, the importance or lack there of for your appearance, etc.” I explained. “It matters.”

 

When we got back we practiced the techniques on our mentors and it was actually really fun. We even got to try some Muggle tactics like the whole good cop/bad cop things they do in TV shows. Just so everyone knows, Kyle sucks at being the bad cop. He kept laughing when he was supposed to be scary.

 

I thought that was pretty good practice and was fully ready to call it a day when we left but apparently the Dark Wizards in the world disagreed with me. That night I was in bed gossiping with Natasha before we turned out the light when a patronus in the form of a stag came running through our wall.

 

“Attack in Knockturn Alley. Boot camp cancelled, report to the ministry immediately.” It vanished seconds later and I continued to stare at it.

 

“Well are you going?” Natasha asked excitedly.

 

“Oh, right,” I said, shaking my head to clear it and running to our wardrobe to change.

 

“Don’t die!” she called after me when I was leaving a minute later.

 

“I’ll do my best,” I laughed, pulling a sweatshirt over my head and grabbing my wand on the way out.

 

I walked into the Auror headquarters just behind two others and was followed shortly by three more. Harry, Ron, James, Teddy, and the blonde with the pixie cut I had seen on my first day were all in Harry’s office already, talking over each other.

 

“Here’s the situation,” Harry said when we were all inside. “There was an attack on Knockturn Alley with Fiendfyre. It should be under control now but I want Caspian, Eduardo, and Charlie to double-check everything and make sure nothing has been missed. Mari and Ryan go with them I want every bit of evidence you can possibly pick up. Nothing gets missed.

 

“Teddy, take Taylor and James to the scene and run them through everything. We went over interrogation techniques today so I want you talking to any possible witnesses. Put your training to use. Lionel and Cherry start looking up every record we have on any Fiendfyre in the past twenty or so years. I want a suspect and I want as much done before we get in a battle with the MLE as possible.”

 

“Why would we be in a battle with the MLE?” I asked as James and I followed Teddy.

 

“Because they want to get their hands on something like this,” Teddy said grimly. “It’s our jurisdiction because Fiendfyre is dark magic but they want a big break to get them back in favoritism with the press. Right now they’re dealing with a few things in court about mishandling raids and what not. Don’t you read the paper?”

 

“Some,” I shrugged. “But what claim do they have to this.”

 

“None,” James said. “Aunt Hermione’s already on it for us but Lucy Bones arrived at the same time I did and she’ll be fighting for MLE. Aunt Hermione will win but it could mess up the search for a bit and we need immediate reactions for this.”

 

“We’re flooing,” Teddy announced, holding out the floo powder for James and I before taking a handful for himself.

 

The street was demolished. Buildings were burnt down to nothing but ash and a few charred objects. People, mostly sketchy people, were standing nearby, kept away by a rope that created an invisible barrier. Smoke made the light that was cast by more than twenty wands eerie and foggy. I shuddered as I noticed two corpses.

 

“We can deal with bodies later,” Teddy said, following my gaze. “That’s a bit much for your first time on the scene. Let’s start with the civilians. Remember, you want to make sure they don’t lie to you, make them trust you, and whatever you do don’t try to force an answer out of them. They need to tell you what they saw, not tell you what you want to hear because it will rebound against you. You can watch and step in when you feel ready.”

 

I followed him over to the line of people and listened as he spoke to an older woman who had her arms wrapped tightly around herself. I watched the people, looking for someone who would talk without knowing what they were saying was important. Finally, I spotted her, a girl around fifteen who was wrapped in her mother’s arms and a red blanket. Her face was dirty with a bit of ash on her cheek and red around her eyes. I slipped away from Teddy and walked towards them.

 

“Hi,” I said, being as nice as I could. “I’m Taylor,” I said, holing out my hand for first the mother, and then the girl to shake. “Did you guys see the fire when it was still roaring?”

 

“It hit our building,” the mother said. “We lived just over there,” she pointed near the end of the row of buildings that had been hit.

 

“Can you tell me what happened?” I asked. “From when you got back to your house today to when I came over here.”

 

“I got back late,” the mother said and I inwardly sighed. She would know what to say and what not to. I wanted to talk to the girl. “Hayley was already asleep and I had just gotten off work. I fixed myself something to eat and went to bed. Next thing I know someone’s screaming and then Hayley was there, grabbing my arm and telling me we had to run. When we got outside our building was being lashed with flames. Auror’s showed up just as our building collapsed and put the fire out. Going home obviously hasn’t been an option.”

 

“I’m really sorry,” I said. “We’ll do our best to find you a place to stay for the night. If you wouldn’t mind I think Teddy would appreciate it if you recounted your story to him. He’ll want to know more details of the fire since you saw it happening. He’s the one with the blue hair just over there.”

 

She nodded. “Come on Hayley.”

 

“Actually,” I said quickly. “I was wondering if I could speak with Hayley for a moment. I just want to make sure we’ve got all perspectives covered.”

 

“It’s okay mum,” Hayley nodded at her. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

 

Her mother smiled and nodded before walking towards Teddy.

 

“I don’t know what happened,” she said once her mother was gone. “I just heard a strange sound and here that’s never good. I looked out my window, saw the flames, and panicked. I knew I had to get my mum out and then we came outside. I really don’t know much more than she does.”

 

“Hayley, you have make-up on your face,” I said calmly. Her mum may have been oblivious but I wasn’t. “I’m not going to get you in trouble, I promise, and your mum can continue believing that you were in bed but I’ve snuck out before and I know you weren’t in bed. The clothes instead of pajamas under your blanket are a give-away too.”

 

“Look, my mum’s waiting,” she said, trying to get away.

 

“Hayley please wait,” I stopped her. “I can either talk to you now or I can make you talk to me later but I don’t see any point in dragging your mum into this. I know you didn’t start that fire but I need you tell me what you saw so that I can find out who did.”

 

She studied me for a minute before nodding slowly. “Okay,” she agreed. “I was out with my friends, we were—”

 

“Don’t tell me,” I cut her off. “Trust me, it’s irrelevant and I don’t want to risk knowing and having to lie to my boss.”

 

“Okay,” Hayley said, the ghost of a smile appearing on her face. “Well when I got back there were these three people down on the other end of the street. I had flooed in using that fireplace over there,” she pointed to a particularly dirty one across from her old building, “and I didn’t really think much of it. There are a lot of sketchy people around here, you know.

 

“Anyways, I didn’t really want them to see me, just in case, so I stayed where I was, knowing I could floo back out if I really needed to. But then they all took out their wands and they cast some spell that I couldn’t hear at the building right in the middle. It was an old shop that had been shut down for years. No one knows what goes on in there now. You can hear movement and people talking from time to time but everyone avoids it.

 

“The building just burst into flames, huge ones and then it started to spread but it wasn’t normal, it was like it was alive or something. There were all of these shapes and animals and a snake started chasing two people who were running from the building. The three people who started it just laughed and apparated away. I didn’t really stop to think after that, I just ran inside and woke up my mum and I grabbed this blanket on the way out so that it would hide my clothes. A few minutes after we got out Aurors showed up and put the fire out. I don’t know who called them, I certainly didn’t think of it.”

 

“Hayley, the three guys, do you remember anything about them? Did you see their faces or their hair or how tall they were?”

 

She shook her head.

 

“They were all wearing clokes,” she remembered. “Dark ones that helped them blend in. I don’t know if it was all guys either, I didn’t hear their voices. Two of them were pretty tall though, and one of them was a good foot shorter. But I don’t know how tall they were. I’m really bad at guessing stuff like that.”

 

“And the people who ran from the building,” I pressed. “Did they get caught in the fire?”

 

“I don’t know,” she shook her head, biting her lip nervously. “I ran in to get my mum and when we got out they weren’t there anymore. They were two guys though. One had lightish hair and blue eyes. The other one had black hair green eyes. They were both taller than I am.”

 

“Okay,” I agreed. “Go back to your mum. Thank you,” I added as an afterthought.

 

“This is what we know,” Harry was saying a few hours later when Teddy, James, and I joined everyone in the conference room.

 

“Three people started the fire, two people fled the building they were attempting to destroy, and the building they were attempting to destroy used to be an apothecary.”

 

“A sketchy apothecary,” I mumbled under my breath.

 

“How so?” Teddy asked. I winced, not meaning for them to hear.

 

“Well it was run by Drake Godfrey,” I said, shrugging a little bit. He continued to stare at me, as did a few others.

 

“Drake Godfrey,” I repeated, confused by their faces. “He’s, like, one of the sketchiest people out there. The apothecary was a cover for a million of his dealings. He sells drugs, makes fake wands, and has an ask-with-the-right-price-and-we’ll-deliver type business. I’ve never known him to dabble in the dark arts but he’s been on the MLE radar for a while. I’m sure they have a file on him.”

 

“Dugger,” Harry said, indicating one of the people sitting nearby him. “Go over to the MLE and see if you can get your hands on that file. I need it ASAP.”

 

“But the Apothecary was shut down,” Ron said questioningly.

 

“Yeah about…five years ago probably,” I agreed. “He went off the grid. No one’s really sure what happened to him but it sounds like no one’s interested in going near the place.”

 

“Run a business like that and you get a lot of enemies,” Eduardo said.

 

“That’s assuming he’s the target,” James put in. “The place was shut down. We don’t know who’s been taking refuge in there or what they were doing.”

 

“Bad news,” Dugger said, re-appearing moments later and interrupting the Godfrey: target or useless lead debate. “MLE got wind and they won’t release any files.”

 

“Is Hermione here yet?” Ron asked, running his hand threw his hair agitatedly.

 

“She’s in with the MLE representative,” Teddy nodded. “I saw her half an hour ago. Should we switch the file release to first priority on her list?”

 

“No,” Harry shook his head. “James is right; the likelihood of him being the target isn’t high. We need to get full control of this case before we worry too much about him. What do we know about the two guys who ran out of the building?”

 

“Three witnesses described similar people,” Teddy said. “The same hair color and eye color though the height differed. Some said they were as short as 5’5” and another said they were around 6’. But everyone agreeing on hair and eye color says something.”

 

Yeah, either they are all really good at remembering or someone got to them and they knew that’s what they were supposed to say, I thought. I didn’t say anything though, I was being cynical and there was no need to point out the possibility on the first night when we were clinging to rubber bands.

 

“No one had a name though?” he asked and everyone shook their heads. “Alright,” he sighed, “Alright.”

 

We worked all night. There were three people who perished in the fire and we eventually got the names but they had no connection to one another as far as anyone knew: Malcolm Braddock, Elias Borgin, and Margaret Ollivander. The last one had come as a shock to me.

 

“You know Margaret Ollivander?” Teddy asked, noticing my reaction to the name.

 

“Yeah,” I said sadly. “She made my first fake wand. Well, my first really good fake wand at least. She was a genius, learned from her dad. Her brother Gideon took over the family shop when Garrick finally passed. They didn’t talk for a while but I suppose he might know something.”

 

“We already have people keeping an eye on him,” Teddy assured me. “But he hasn’t been open to talking by his own free will so we have to wait for Hermione to clear everything up before we bring him in. How well did you know Margaret?”

 

“Not well,” I admitted. “I only met her once. Natasha set the whole deal up through her dad.”

 

“And her dad is…”

 

“Theodore Nott.” I said. “Once we get jurisdiction or whatever you should really talk to him. He knows Margaret and he used to deal with Godfrey.”

 

“How many connections do you have?” Teddy asked. I shrugged. I had never really thought about it before.

 

“Okay,” Teddy sighed. “While Hermione’s working out jurisdiction there’s nothing you can really do so go home, get some sleep and someone will come get you when you’re needed again. It might be an all-nighter tonight too so make sure you get at least a few hours of sleep in, yeah?”

 

“I actually have to go help with my sister’s birthday party,” I said, forcing myself to stand up instead of allowing myself to go to sleep at Teddy’s desk. “But the thought of sleep is nice.”

 

“Couldn’t you get out of it?” he asked, looking concerned. “I have a feeling you’re going to be used a lot on this case.”

 

“I can’t,” I said, shaking my head. “It’s a family thing. Don’t worry about it; I’ve gone 74 hours with only a few minutes to dose off here and there. I’ll manage.”

 

 

 






A/N: Well I'm excited because things are finally starting to pick up. Yeah, about time, I know. But leave your comments, favorite quotes, criticism, or just thoughts in the REVIEW box and I'll try to post the next one quicker.

 

Chapter 11 Preview:

 

“You didn’t call Natasha your best friend until third year,” he pointed out. “You practically look for someone to screw up so that you have a reason to not like them and you said it yourself, the reason you became friends with Tyler was because you were practically forced into it and Scorpius was part of the package deal. When was the last time you took a chance in trusting someone?”

 

“Trust is earned, it shouldn’t be given,” I said, glaring at him.

 

“Oh please,” he scoffed. “You always bail before people can earn your trust. You did it when we got to Hogwarts. As soon as we got there you looked for a reason to ignore me.”

 

“I’m not denying that."
 
 
 


Chapter 11: We Are Family
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Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?
 

 

Living life is fun and we've just begun

To get our share of this world's delights

High hopes we have for the future

And our goals in sight 

 

Disclaimer: I don't own anything that has to do with Harry Potter or the lyrics. I really don't know who owns the lyrics but I got them from Alvin and the Chipmunks and they definitely don't belong to me.

 




Birthday celebrations vary from family to family but for the most part there is a chronological order in which the type of parties go.

 

For example, when a kid reaches the milestone that is their first birthday there absolutely has to be a party (especially for the first-born). Obviously the kid in question won’t have any memory of said party but it gives the parents a chance to show off their child, catch with friends who they haven’t seen since their social life disappeared, and a chance for the relatives they have been subtly avoiding all year to finally see the baby. It will consist of tiny foods that parents with young kids can feed to their teething child and ‘grown-up food’ like chicken or cake—the latter of which the parents insist is for their kids even though they really only dare to give their toddler three bites for fear of them having too much sugar, and then proceed to eat the rest themselves. It’s the responsible move, after all. In the end the day will be like a giant play-date with lots of screaming, crying, and presents the birthday kid has no interest in because they don’t make as much noise as a pot does when hit with a wooden spoon which, coincidentally, is quite appealing to suck on.

 

Jump forward to the fifth birthday and it becomes a more kid-oriented event. The presents get appreciated and the ratio between kid and parent is more equal. It consists of aunts, uncles, and cousins who live nearby along with every kid in the Kindergarten class because at five the lesson of including people is very important.

 

Five years later, for the tenth birthday party, everyone is clicky and you are allowed to invite only the people you want to so long as you don’t make anyone feel bad. It isn’t co-ed any longer because there will be a sleepover at the end and it now takes more preparation to get ready because a birthday party is more than just a large play-date at this point. Parents from the guests are not allowed to stay because at ten you are all far too cool for that and you do grown up things like talk about boys and bob for apples. Everything stays G-rated because there are parents in the house but the giggling is incessant and the nail-polish a necessity.

 

At fifteen the party celebration changes once again as it becomes co-ed after the brief break and it is a big deal to have both girls and boys at your house. It will often take place in the basement, away from the parents because supervision is so un-cool, and fun games that the birthday person (they can no longer be called a kid) decided to play without their parents approval. They are very fun games like Spin the Bottle, Truth or Dare, and Seven Minutes in Heaven. If the party has to be supervised then it will be done by the Birthday Persons cool older sibling or cousin who is getting paid for sitting down there. They roll their eyes at the immaturity (they are so over those games) and read a magazine, constantly reminding themselves that they are getting paid for this.

 

Jump forward a lot of years (past boos, clubs, impromptu marriages, and hangover filled parties) and it’s time for the Big Forty. It is often a surprise party and will contain Firewhiskey as it did (quite) a few years earlier but this time around it will be enjoyed responsibly because it is a family-oriented party with kids running around. It will be outside or in a large house and families will be invited instead of individual people so that the kids can entertain themselves playing Harry Potter, tag, or telling ghost stories. After the families with young kids have left and the children in the house are watching a movie or asleep the other adults will stay downstairs, get drunk, and reminisce about how well they were able to hold their alcohol twenty years ago.

 

Jump another twenty years ahead and parties go one of two ways: the ones who have kids and family will probably have a small get-together, maybe even a surprise party that includes all their friends from over the years. They will eat cake, talk loudly, and make sure all of their friends know their kid and grandkids accomplishments. On the other hand there are also the ones who don’t believe in celebrating their birthday. They think that their birthday is just saying that they are “one step closer to dying of old age.” Cynical and unhappy, their family may still have a party but the birthdayee won’t enjoy it.

 

But despite the cycle that birthdays always go through, they do have a bit more individuality than I alluded to. Take Meg Ann for example, at thirteen she decided to have her first co-ed birthday party since she was eight but she didn’t have a basement party with spin the bottle that I had to supervise (thank Merlin) and instead my mum and I actually got to enjoy it a bit.

 

As always, Meg Ann’s party was big. We had originally been planning to have it in the park so that everyone could spread out but as it turned out, the weather didn’t want to agree with our plan so instead we all rushed around to get my mum’s flat ready. Tyler and Scorpius took Meg Ann out when she started getting stressed while Natasha, my mum, Peter, and I all put up decorations, made a huge birthday banner, and cleaned up the house so that everything breakable was safely insulated in a box in the closet.

 

The Weasley’s showed up just as the party was starting to really kick off. Music was blasting, the living room had turned into a dance floor, and drinks had already been spilled on the floor.

 

“Hey,” Fred yelled, just loud enough to be heard over the pop music. I looked up from where I was cleaning up a spilled butterbeer with my wand and smiled.

 

“Hey yourself,” I greeted him. “When did you get here?”

 

“Long enough ago for Roxy to find a gossip circle where she could give the inside scoop on Albus’ breakup. The thing still hasn’t simmered down, poor bloke.”

 

“My friends are on the deck if you want to join us,” I offered. “I really only came in to grab a few snacks.”

 

He agreed and followed me out onto the terrace that we had covered with a water-repellent bubble of sorts that created an invisible shield to stop the rain from drenching anyone who wanted a break from the madness. I could tell that Fred was uncomfortable around Tasha, Scorp, and Tyler but I couldn’t think of anything to ease the tension. He ignored Scorpius, Scorpius ignored him. Natasha tried to act civil but wasn’t all that good at it and Tyler pretended to oblivious to the entire thing making primarily one-sided conversation with himself.

 

A few minutes into it everyone began to loosen up and Natasha dropped her cold shoulder act. Fred and Scorpius still didn’t speak directly to each other and purposefully avoided eye-contact but they at least engaged in the same conversation that Tyler had started about the merits of butterbeer. There’s only so much you can talk about without starting an argument.

 

Once the conversation dried up (and we managed to keep it going for nearly twenty minutes) Scorpius excused himself under the pretenses of getting another butterbeer, seemingly unaware that his current bottle was still half-full and Natasha left only moments later because she had a visit with her dad. Tyler was soon engaged with a girl I had never met before and I turned my attention to Fred who still seemed uncomfortable.

 

“So how’s life?” I asked, propping my feet up on the glass table that was littered with paper plates and half-filled cups of Pumpkin Juice.

 

“Good,” he shrugged. “I’m still working in the shop, you know, trying my hand at inventing new products.”

 

“Which one are you working at?” I asked. “I stopped in at the one in Diagon Alley a few days ago and you weren’t there.”

 

“I’m managing the one in Hogsmeade right now,” he explained. “I was renting a flat with James and Sam but we found these rich French guys who were willing to pay double the rent if we let them move in so James is staying with his parents for a few months and Sam is staying with one of his teammates. It took a bit of convincing but I got my parents to agree to let me manage the store on a trial-basis. It’s been fairly quiet without Hogwarts students in on the weekends but I think I’ve done alright.”

 

I frowned, still focused on his earlier comment about the French guys.

 

“When did you guys move out?” I asked. He thought about it for a minute and then shrugged.

 

“About a month ago…it’s August, right?”

 

“The first,” I laughed and he nodded.

 

“Yeah, it was the beginning of July.”

 

“And you all moved out?” I questioned, still trying to put the pieces together in my mind.

 

“Yeah,” he agreed easily with another swig from his bottle. “We could use a bit of extra gold and three months really isn’t all that bad in the long run. Anyways, what about you? Does your dad know your doing Auror training?”

 

“I don’t know, I didn’t tell him,” I shrugged. “He may have found out though. Probably did come to think of it…Has your mum said anything to him?”

 

“I haven’t been home, remember?” he pointed out. “But I really wouldn’t know anyways. She probably hasn’t talked to him since you have. They tend to go a few months at a time.”

 

“Well aside from a wedding invitation or two I haven’t talked to him for…coming up on five years. And even then we didn’t exactly…talk.”

 

He nodded slowly, knowing me well enough to not reprimand me or try to talk me around. He had seen enough arguments between his mother and me to know that it was pointless.

 

“Do the people you work with know who your dad is?” Freddy asked. “I mean, is that why they recruited you?”







“Possibly,” I admitted. “It’s definitely occurred to me but we’ve been at piece with Bulgaria for a while now and since we don’t exactly have the best relationship…I really don’t know. I legally changed my name a few years ago which would make it harder for them to know. Still, I would recon Harry and Ron know.”

 

“Do you realize how much blackmail it gives me?” he asked with a slight smirk on his face.

 

I shrugged again. “Honestly I don’t really care if they know. I was going to tell Kyle when he asked but he made such a big deal about it that I couldn’t resist annoying him.”

 

“And that’s the Taylor I know,” Fred said, smirk now fully in place.

 

“It’s going to get out eventually,” I admitted to myself for the first time. “And most people won’t care. I’m just waiting for tag-team with Bulgaria or something. He doesn’t have the best reputation with the Auror department here and jumping from an Auror with no work-ethic to the head of the Bulgarian Defense Department probably didn’t sit well with his old colleagues. At Hogwarts I didn’t use it out of pride but I just don’t want to start out fighting a bad rep here. I’ve seen how hard it is.”

 

“Fair enough,” he conceded. “But I really don’t think James would care.”

 

“Did he say something to you?” I asked with a frown, wondering why he was worried about what I had (or hadn’t) told his cousin.

 

“Not directly,” he admitted, tapping his fingers on his butterbeer. “I overheard him and Kyle talking about it a little while ago. Kyle sounded pretty annoyed.”

 

“He’s been trying to guess it since the first day.” It was getting slightly ridiculous if I was honest but it was a nice distraction through boot camp. “He’s gotten pretty creative too. The last one was ‘McJoradan.’ I have yet to figure out why he thinks I’m Irish.”

 

“They won’t guess Johnson for a while,” he said. “We don’t look like we’re related at all.”

 

“True,” I agreed. “No one figured it out at Hogwarts and we were in the same house and year.”

 

“Do your friends know?” he asked, cocking his head to the side.

 

“Tyler does cause of the whole marriage thing and…I’m pretty sure he told Scorpius. One of us probably told Natasha…I don’t know. I think so. You obviously haven’t told your cousins.”

 

“I didn’t think you’d want me to,” he said, frowning a little. “And as soon as we got to Hogwarts we stopped talking so there was really no point.”

 

“Are you going to tell James,” I asked, biting my lip.

 

“Not if you don’t want me to,” he promised and I smiled in relief.

 

“Thanks,” I said gratefully.

 

“I hear you guys are getting on pretty well though. I so called it…and way back at Hogwarts too.”

 

“Oh shut up,” I shoved him. “It’s nothing like that. We’re not even friends.”

 

“That’s because you have to know someone for like two years before consider them your friends.”

 

“I do not,” I said, offended.

 

“You didn’t call Natasha your best friend until third year,” he pointed out. “You always look for someone to screw up so that you have a reason to not like them and you said it yourself, the reason you became friends with Tyler was because you were practically forced into it; Scorpius was part of the package deal. When was the last time you took a chance in trusting someone?”

 

“Trust is earned, it shouldn’t be given,” I said, glaring at him.

 

“Oh please,” he scoffed. “You always bail before people can earn your trust. You did it when we got to Hogwarts. As soon as we got there you looked for a reason to ignore me.”

 

“I’m not denying that,” I told him. “But to be fair, your family was pretty daunting and it all worked out in the end because half of them don’t like me and the other half I don’t like.”

 

“Dominique and Louis don’t make up half my family,” he rolled his eyes.

 

“Is Louis the blonde dick?” Fred laughed but refused to answer.

 

“James is in our little family and you like him,” he continued to try and persuade me.

 

“He’s fine,” I shrugged. “A lot better than your blonde cousins, I’ll give you that.”

 

“Yeah, he would agree with that.” He was still smirking and I was starting to get really annoyed. “He and Louis have a debate going about which one of them is hotter. He’ll be glad to hear your opinion on the matter.”

 

“Oi, I did not say James was hotter,” I announced, holding my hands up. “I merely said that he’s less of a dick.”

 

“So you think Louis’ hotter?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow. I narrowed my eyes at him.

 

“Blonde isn’t really my type. There’s a reason both of my best friends are blonde.”

 

“So James is your type then,” he smirked. I knew I could catch him.

 

“Not in the least,” I said, a smirk now in place on my own face. “He was head boy. I don’t think I could get over that.”

 

Fred’s face fell and his eyebrows scrunched together. I grinned, completely self-satisfied, and stood up. The party was beginning to wrap up and I was hoping to get a short nap in before I had to get back to the ministry. Tyler was otherwise…occupied so I skipped my goodbyes to him and instead gave Freddy a quick hug and went back into the flat to see how fast I could get away.

 

I had just climbed into bed at my own flat when there was a knock at the door. I groaned and stood up. People normally let themselves in so I was wary as I opened the door and surprised when I saw who was standing outside. Maybe I shouldn’t have been with the whole speaking of the devil saying but I was.

 

“Were you sleeping?” James asked, looking slightly guilty.

“No, I just got back,” I assured him and he nodded awkwardly.

 

“You want to come in,” I asked, waving my hand and opening the door wider to allow him to enter.

 

“Uh, sure,” he said, still sounding awkward. It was starting to get annoying. “Look I really don’t know how to say this…”

 

“Well I usually prefer people just spitting it out to be honest,” I said, sitting down on the couch and watching him curiously as he followed suit.

 

“My dad wants you to talk to Mr. Nott. He says that Nott wouldn’t do it for the department just for the sake of helping and he has too much experience to be broken. Veritiserum isn’t an option because he’s not a suspect and I know that it seems really wrong and—”

 

“I’ll talk to him,” I cut him off and he shut up immediately.

 

“Really?” he asked. I nodded.

 

“Yeah, Natasha’s actually visiting with him right now so he’ll be in a good mood. Well, assuming they don’t fight. If they fight we may want to put it off for a few hours.”

 

“Natasha’s last name is Nott?” he asked, looking surprised. “She’s the blonde one, right? The one Dominique hates.”

 

“The one and only,” I laughed. “Yeah, her dad’s been in and out of Azkaban since she was born. He really is a good guy though.”

 

“Uh, if you say so,” he said, clearly not believing me.

 

“I’m serious,” I smiled. “It may not seem like it but he is. He needs a few lessons in honesty but really, most people need a lesson in that. He just happens to get caught lying while most people don’t.”

 

“What’s he in for?” James asked curiously.

 

“Embezzlement,” I sighed. “He gets caught every few years so the goblins hate him but he has a lot of human fans and goblins are really rather unpleasant anyways.”

 

“I’ve never liked them much,” James admitted. “They kind of creep me out.”

 

“They creep everyone out,” I shrugged. “I avoid Gringotts whenever possible.”

 

“So Natasha is who you live with, right?” he asked.

 

“Yep, she should be home pretty soon. Do we need to get to the ministry now or is there time?”

 

“There’s time. I was expecting it to take longer to convince you to be honest.”

 

“Just out of curiosity, why did they send you, anyways?” I asked.

 

“Teddy had just gone home when they decided they needed you. I was the next best choice and I knew where you lived.”

 

“Speaking of living,” I said, just remembering. “Fred told me you guys moved out of your flat a month ago and you’re living with your parents. I thought you said you lived near by.”

 

He grinned guiltily.

 

“You were being friendly for the first time. I wasn’t about to shut it down. And I really did have a fight with my mum so I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to get back. When did you see Fred?” He changed the topic as soon as he could but I let it slide.

 

“My sister had a birthday party today and his whole family came.” It wasn’t a lie but I still felt a little guilty about not really telling him the truth. I knew I had trust issues but they were a lot easier to ignore when I didn’t have to face the person who had been used as an example of them ten minutes earlier.

 

“How old is she?” he asked.

 

“Thirteen. Mum’s decided she’s getting old and had a nervous break down about it a few weeks ago.”

 

“Wouldn’t that have happened when she realized how old you were? My mum freaked when I turned twenty because then everyone knew she was in her forty’s.”

 

“My mum had me young,” I laughed. “She’s only thirty-six.”

 

“So she had you when she was…”

 

“Seventeen, yeah,” I stated simply. “Most people think she’s my sister which always makes her feel better.”

 

James laughed. “Well that explains a lot.”

 

“What does that mean?” I demanded.

 

“Just that having a young mum suits you—and everything you did—a bit better.”

 

“She’s in her mid-thirties and she hasn’t changed a bit for Meg Ann,” I argued. “Meggy just takes after her dad so she never gets into trouble. Shame really, I was totally ready to help her beat all my records.”

 

“Records of what?” he asked.

 

“You know, most detentions, most times sneaking out of the castle, most classes skipped, whatever. Your grandfather actually still has us for most detentions because they started giving up on trying to reform us towards the end. It sucks really because I totally could have gotten him if we weren’t so good at not getting caught.”

 

“It was my goal to beat him in detentions my first three years at Hogwarts,” James admitted. I raised an eyebrow in disbelief.

 

“You’re joking.”

 

“Nope, I even snuck into Filches office to count how many he had.”

 

“Is Filch ever going to die? I mean, he can’t even see anymore, he just relies on that darn cat and yells a lot.”

 

“Dad recons he’s immortal,” James shrugged.

 

“So did you do it?” I asked, referring to the number of detentions.

 

“No,” he sighed. “I got really into Quidditch in my fourth year and while we still pulled stuff it wasn’t things that got us a ton of detentions and since Sam was usually in on it we had to make sure it never messed with matches and practices which forced us to do it less.”

 

“And then you got named prefect and head boy,” I said. He nodded.

 

“Yeah but the prefect badge really aided us more than anything else. It got us out of trouble because I could say I was patrolling or that I had just confiscated whatever we were holding.”

 

“You really did follow in your grandfather’s footsteps, huh,” I said thoughtfully. “He got head boy too, right?”

 

“Yeah but he used it as a way to get the girl. I was head with my cousin.”

 

“Which one,” I teased. He laughed.

 

“Molly. She’s the only one in my year. Tall, red hair, used to wear glasses…”

 

“Did she go to a wedding recently?”

 

“Uh yeah, Byron and Lola’s.”

 

“I met her when I met Rose,” I said. “Weird, she didn’t strike me as the head girl type.”

 

“There’s a type?” he asked.

 

“You know—stick in the mud, suck up, annoying, obsessed with gaining approval, etc.”

 

“Is there a type for head boy too?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.

 

“Sure,” I shrugged. “They’re annoying too but they usually have the whole nice-guy image going. They’re more laid back and they get girls to swoon and teacher’s to love them without being obvious suck-ups. Cockiness is the biggest must-have.”

 

“You do realize Scorpius was head boy, right?” he asked, cocking his head to the side.

 

“Oh yes,” I said darkly. “We had a word with him about that. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we were still in school since we could have used it to our advantage but alas, it didn’t work out. Still, at least he added to our unpredictability and Meg Ann said there were rumors going around about how he had imperiused Professor Sprout which was pretty cool.”

 

“So did I live up to your head boy criteria?” he teased.

 

“Yep,” I said and he looked offended making me laugh. “I twisted my ankle my fifth year and you wouldn’t leave me alone until I let you help me to the hospital wing. You missed breakfast for it. No normal person does that.”

 

“Oh yeah, I remember that,” he said after a moments pause, completely disregarding the second half. “Your ankle was swelled up to the size of a Quaffle but you argued the whole bloody way and tried to push me down the steps. Bit drastic really.”

 

I hadn’t wanted to go because I was scared of Madam Bones but I didn’t exactly want to admit that so instead I decided on adding something just as embarrassing.

 

“I had a crush on you for the rest of the year,” I grinned, watching as his cheeks turned bright red.

 

“You’re kidding,” he said, sounding composed despite how red he was.

 

“Nope,” I laughed. “It was really quite annoying. You weren’t my type and Tyler and Scorpius were as annoying as hell about it.”

 

“Your hair was different then,” he said, cocking his head to the side.

 

“Yep, I was well-acquainted with hair-dye by then.”

 

“Is that your natural color?” he asked, indicating my hair now.

 

“Nah,” I shook my head. “It’s a brownish red—closer to my mum’s color if you ever see her but she adds red to hers anyways.”

 

“I didn’t even realize that was you until now,” he said, still looking surprised.

 

“Good,” I laughed. “That wasn’t exactly my finest hour. Actually that whole year kind of sucked. I had to make out with a seventh year to get over you. He wasn’t even that good a kisser.”

 

“Well if it makes you feel any better I had a crush on you my seventh year,” he offered.

 

“Oh shut up,” I scoffed, thinking he was giving me a hard time.

 

“I’m serious,” he swore. “I ran into you while I was doing rounds and you made up some cock and bull story about how you left a book in the library and convinced me to let you off detention. And then, of course, I saw you the next day in the Gryffindor common room and realized you had totally played me.”

 

“Sorry about that,” I laughed. “But you were really being rather annoying. I would have taken the detention if you would have let me just leave but instead you got all nosy and refused to let me make my way back to my ‘dormitory’ on my own.”

 

“Yeah well thanks to you my romantic life for seventh year was non-existent.”

 

I cracked up and he eventually joined in.

 

“I can’t believe I didn’t know,” I said, shaking my head. “Who would’ve thought the head boy would have a crush on the screw up.”

 

“You weren’t a screw up,” James said and I rolled my eyes.

 

“Yeah right,” I scoffed. “I was like the opposite of everything you represented. You were the schools Golden boy who played Quidditch and got good grades and became head boy. You were destined for greatness. Everyone loved you.”

 

James laughed a little uncomfortably and then looked at me seriously, considering his next words.

 

“Want to know the truth?” he asked. I wasn’t sure what he meant but indicated he should continue anyways.

 

“I always hated that.” I looked at him questioningly and waited for him to explain. “That everyone expected me to follow in one of my parent’s footsteps and be just as great as them. I wanted to be an Auror because it was what my dad did but I hated that everyone assumed that I would be just as good as he was. It always felt like what I did well was expected and what I did wrong was just a little bump in the road.

 

“I wanted to do something drastic and get people off my back. I wanted to rebel and just start doing everything wrong but I could never actually do it because I knew it would disappoint my parents. By the time I had finished my third year I envied the people who could miss a party without anyone noticing. People always made comments about how I was just like my dad or just like my namesake and it drove me crazy. I had a crush on you because you were the first person who didn’t fall all over me but didn’t hate me either. I always had the extremes and you just…ignored me. It was a nice change.”

 

“Do you want me to ignore you now?” I offered. “Because I could totally act like I have no idea who you are if you want.”

 

“I’m fine, thanks,” he said dryly. “I think I prefer this to seventh year.”

 

“Good,” I grinned.

 

“Guess who’s going to Par-ee!” Natasha’s voice rang out as the door slammed. “That’s right…ME!”

 

“Sweet,” I called back, leaning my head back against the couch so I could see about half her body as she slipped her shoes off by the door.

 

She laughed happily. “I know it—Taylor. What is James Potter doing in our living room?” She stopped mid-thought and raised her eyebrows in surprise.

 

I wasn’t really sure how to respond so I decided to go with the obvious even though I knew it would annoy her. “Well at the moment he is sitting.”

 

Just as I expected she turned her gaze back to me and looked annoyed.

 

“Taylor why is James Potter in our living room?” she rephrased her question.

 

“He came to convince me to interrogate your dad,” I said honestly.

 

“It’s better to use the word ‘question.’ It sounds less threatening,” James told me quietly; clearly worried that Natasha would get upset.

 

“But it’s not really questioning,” Natasha said, not at all bothered that I had obviously agreed to it. “And he always calls it interrogating. He actually gets rather annoyed when people say ‘questioning’ because he thinks they’re diminishing his intelligence. Like he couldn’t see through what they really meant or something. Oh, I’m Natasha by the way,” she added as an afterthought.

 

“Yeah, you went out with Sam at Hogwarts, right?” he asked. She nodded.

 

“Yeah, bad mistake,” she said reminiscently.

 

“And a bad habit she can’t seem to break,” I added.

 

“Oh shut up,” she muttered, crossing her arms. “We were both bored.”

 

“Well it’s more original than drunk at least,” James said. I grinned and even Natasha laughed. “He tried to say he was drunk but then Fred pointed out it was the middle of the day.”

 

“No offense, but your friend isn’t very smart,” Natasha said, still grinning.

 

“Yeah, we recon he’s had too many bludgers to the head,” James shrugged. “You might want to get changed, we have to be there in twenty minutes,” he added to me. I sighed and got up.

 

“I’ll go with you,” Natasha said immediately.

 

“You’re going to go with me into our bedroom so I can change?” I asked. James wasn’t an idiot.

 

“Yep,” she said, grabbing my arm and pulling me towards the bedroom.

 

“Did you guys hook up or something?” she asked as soon as the door was closed. I laughed at the mere thought of it.

 

“Yes Tasha,” I said sarcastically. “It was totally hot and heavy before you interrupted us.”

 

“Well excuse me but you haven’t had a good hookup in months and there aren’t a lot of explanations for what he’s doing in our apartment,” she defended herself.

 

“Convincing me to interrogate your dad seems like a pretty good one to me.”

 

“You don’t need convincing to do that,” she brushed it off.

 

“I know that, you know that, and your dad probably knows that but the goody-two-shoes in the Auror department don’t know that,” I replied, pulling on a pair of purple robes.

 

“So nothing happened?” she clarified, looking disappointed.

 

“No, nothing happened,” I told her. “But what were you saying about going to Paris?”

 

“Oh yeah, I’m going to Paris in September,” she said, immediately happy again.

 

“You’re not doing business for your dad, are you?” I asked nervously.

 

“Of course not,” she waved away my worries. “I prefer to get the benefits without the sacrifices.”

 

“Good,” I said in relief. “Don’t wait up; I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.”

 

“Hey what are you interrogating him about?” she asked as James and I were about to leave.

 

“Can’t say, it’s confidential,” James answered before I could.

 

“Seriously?” I asked him. He nodded.

 

“Until the story breaks you can’t talk about it.”

 

“I’ll tell you after it breaks then,” I shrugged. Natasha looked like she was going to protest and then decided better of it.

 

“Have fun,” she called out instead and we left.

 

“That may be the strangest thing someone has said to me before I left for work,” James mused.

 

“That’s Natasha for you.”

 

* * * * *

 

“Don’t wake her up.”

 

“She’s going to get neck pains if she sleeps at her desk.”

 

“She hasn’t slept for over twenty-four hours.”

 

“We could at least move her onto a sofa or something.”

 

“I’m awake,” I mumbled, the statement half-true.

 

“You don’t sound very awake,” James replied, his voice louder now that he wasn’t worried about waking me up.

 

“There’s a sofa about twenty feet away,” Teddy added, his voice also recognizable now that they were speaking at a normal level.

 

“I’m fine,” I assured them. “Just waiting for my second wind. Actually, I think it would be my fifth. Either way, it should happen in the next ten minutes.”

 

“I wish I could let you go home but we may need you again,” Teddy said and I finally lifted my head up.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” I yawned. “I’m really fine. Besides, I promised Mr. Nott I wouldn’t let anyone try to frame him for this.”

 

James and I had arrived at the Ministry just as his Aunt Hermione had won us jurisdiction. I only caught a glimpse of her as she was leaving before I was hurried away by a group of Aurors who went over the goals of my ‘questioning session’ and gave me a list of the terminology I was supposed to use.

 

Since Mr. Nott wasn’t a high-risk prisoner they brought him to the ministry instead of having me go to the prison. I had been to the prison before and told them I didn’t care but it was apparently all part of some tactic to make him feel comfortable. Personally I thought he would be more comfortable in the visiting area on the Island of Azkaban since that was where I usually saw him but they seemed to disagree so he was brought to me instead. They put him in a small room on one of the bottom floors and watched us through a window that looked like a mirror from inside the room. A handful of Extendable Ears were liberally spread out so that scribes could record the whole encounter.

 

“Hey Mr. Nott,” I greeted him, tossing the cheat-sheet they had made me on the desk that had been pushed against the stone wall. It was clear they hadn’t had much time to make it feel comfortable as the only thing that made it feel remotely homey was the bright red sofa that he was sitting on. Unlike Muggle prisoners his hands were free. He had no history with assault and his wand was taken every time he had to serve a stint in prison.

 

“Taylor,” he smiled widely when he saw me. “Are you my interrogator?”

 

“I’m not allowed to use that word,” I told him seriously, indicating the sheet of paper. He laughed and pulled me into a hug before picking up the paper. He read over it, looking more and more bemused the further he got.

 

“Well they’re not taking any chances, are they?” he chuckled.

 

“I’m a first time inte—questionnaire,” I said, correcting myself quickly. “They don’t want me to mess up.”

 

“So what can I do for you,” he asked, sitting back down. They had given me full liberty with the approach I took so I decided to go with the honest one.

 

“I need to know everything you can tell me about Drake Godfrey and Margaret Ollivander.”

 

He drew back immediately. “Taylor, you’re not going after them,” he said, sounding concerned.

 

“No, I’m not,” I assured him. “But there was an attack on Godrey’s old headquarters and Margaret was killed. We’re investigating who started the fire.”

 

“That’s all?” he asked and I nodded.

 

“That’s all,” I assured him.

 

I couldn’t very well admit it with all the eyes on me but I had double-checked that it was really all they were looking into when everyone else was pre-occupied with the jurisdiction issues. He smiled, knowing I wouldn’t have promised him that without knowing for sure.

 

“Okay,” he said. “I don’t know how much help I’ll be but I’ll see what I can do. Godfrey’s been off the grid for ages. I heard from him about three years ago when he needed a bit of help. I gave him the head start he needed and he paid it all back with interest.”

 

“When did the payments stop?” I asked.

 

“A little over a year ago. I haven’t heard from him since and as far as I know, his business is completely shut down. I don’t know of any connection he has to Margaret but I do know Margaret was getting into more serious stuff,” he paused seeming to consider his next words.

 

“She’s really dead?” he asked. I sighed but nodded.

 

“We’re not going after her. I wouldn’t do that to her.”

 

There was a reason I had never even considered the MLE. I know people who are criminals but I’m not friends with people who use dark magic. If I worked for the MLE I would be going after my friends. With the Auror department, my friends are merely used as assets.

 

“Well I don’t know what she was doing exactly but I leant her a bit of money for it.”

 

“Did she pay you back for it?” I asked.

 

“She was in the middle of it when I got brought back in. I told her to hold off on the payments until I was out. It wasn’t much, just a few hundred galleons. I honestly have no idea what she was doing and I wasn’t going to ask but she wanted to move on from a few fake wands and she was talking about going into business with a few other people.”

 

“Do you have names?” I asked. He gave them to me and I turned the conversation to enemies but he couldn’t think of any.

 

“We helped each other out but we never worked together,” he pointed out. “We dealt with each other straight on. There was never a middle-man and it was never anything more than a favor for a favor.”

 

“Alright,” I sighed. “Well thank you. When do you get out again?”

 

“September 29th,” he said immediately.

 

“So Natasha isn’t going to Paris for you?” I asked.

 

“Not for business,” he promised. “She’s just covering for her mother and me at a family wedding.”







“Make sure they don’t try to frame me for this,” he whispered in my ear as I hugged him goodbye. “There are still quite a few people who don’t like me.”

 

“So is that what he whispered to you?” Teddy asked now.

 

“Yeah,” I replied. “He’s gotten pretty popular with the court but the MLE would love to get him for something big.”

 

“He doesn’t have to worry,” James assured me, pulling me up and forcing me onto the couch before plopping down beside me. “Dad hates the MLE; he won’t let them touch anything we’re working on.”

 

“I know I…checked up on the case a bit before coming in. They’ve been left completely in the dark. They didn’t even know he was interr—sorry, questioned about it. He’s safe.”

 

“Do you have a lot of friends who are criminals,” Teddy asked thoughtfully.

 

“Well that depends on how you define ‘criminals.’ And ‘friends’ for that mater,” I said.

 

“Do you have friends who have gone to Azkaban?” he asked and I thought about it.

 

“Well that brings us back to the definition of ‘friends.’ Like do ex-boyfriends count? Or my best friends dad? Or is it only people I talk to now?”

 

“She’s not going to tell you mate,” James laughed.

 

“It was a nice try though,” I admitted.

 

“Do you have an ex-boyfriend who was in Azkaban?” Teddy pressed, trying to get something out of me. I grinned, even that wasn’t specific enough.

 

“Well that depends on how you define ‘boyfriend’ versus a hook up. And who you would consider an ex. Would going to Azkaban be enough or would there have had to be an actual break-up? And would I have had to refer to him as my boyfriend or would we just be seeing each other exclusively? And what about the whole ‘was?’ Does that mean he has to be out now or could he still be in?”

 

“Fine, I give,” Teddy conceded. “And I’m going to take a nap in Harry’s office. Tell him to wake me up if he needs anything.”

 

“Will do,” I said cheerfully, fully aware that my fifth wind had now appeared.

 

“You’re not going to sleep any more, are you?” James asked.

 

“Nah. What about you? Have you slept?”

 

“I got a few hours in,” he said, rolling his eyes. “I went home and actually slept for the four hours we had for a break instead of going to a party.”

 

“I couldn’t miss it,” I stated, already able to tell that he agreed with Teddy on the matter. “I had to bring the cake. And someone needed to make sure Scorp and Freddy didn’t kill each other. They actually got on pretty well; Scorp might have a shot of making it through meeting your whole clan without dying or being castrated.”

 

By the time I was able to actually go home and sleep I was on my eleventh wind and had never been happier to see my bed. The case wasn’t solved but my part in it was done and all of the damage control had been taken care of. There was a suspect list, there were warrants out for peoples arrest, and Mr. Knott was due to get out on August 30th because of his cooperation. It had taken a lot of negotiating with the MLE but since the alternative was going to the courts who, as I mentioned before, were quite fond of Mr. Knott the MLE decided to take what they could get.

 

The rest of boot camp had been cancelled for the week and we were due to start up again on Monday. The days that we had missed were going to be added into our periodic training sessions that apparently occurred throughout the year. And, believe it or not, I had actually found that out myself. As it turned out, Natasha (and multiple other people) was right and the pamphlet as well as the packet I had been given upon the completion of my testing had a lot of useful information in it. I could have gotten by without it but it was one of the only things they had to read in the department and I needed something to keep me awake between my seventh and eighth wind. I had no intention of mentioning it to anyone, nonetheless.

 




A/N: The sad thing is, this was a pretty quick update for me. I'm sure there are a few typos so leave it in a review if you catch any and I'll edit the chapter so that it's easier to read. What do you think of Taylor and Freddy's relationship?  Natasha and her dad? Natasha's dad? Scorpius' chances of survival after meeting the Weasley's? Or how about Taylor's ex who went to Azkaban?

 

Please leave a review, I want to know what you think about the chapters so I can improve the story. And in the meantime...

 

Chapter 12 Preview:

 

“Hey Teddy,” I said, knocking on his cubicle before walking in.

 

“I’m not telling you anything,” he said immediately, stuffing the papers he was pouring over into a drawer. I grinned but shook my head.

 

“I’m not asking about the case. I was wondering if I could take an early lunch.”

 

“Sibling off to Hogwarts?” he guessed and I nodded.

 

“Happens every year,” he said, shaking his head. “But go ahead. Half the department will be following you out. This is the first year I managed to avoid it.”
 


Chapter 12: One, Two, Three
[View Online]  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?

A B C, it's as easy as

1 2 3, as simple as

do re mi, A B C, 1 2 3

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or the Jackson Five lyrics

 




Everybody lives with a mask on.

 

I grew up with a single mom and a dad who made half the world hate him while the other half thought he was Merlin’s long-lost grandson. I was always the type of person to put my heart and soul into whatever I did. When I was living on the farm I was obsessed with the animals and I would cry for hours when one of them died. By the time I got to Hogwarts I was still relatively innocent. Relatively.

 

My mum was pretty amazing. She did whatever she had to do to take care of me and she always made sure that it seemed like she had everything under control—even when she didn’t. She made our crappy trailer into something that resembled a Hollywood movie set. She turned her job as a waitress into something fun by making up stories about the people she served. She read to me every night and worked her shifts around my bed time. She even removed everything electric and remotely flammable from the trailer when I was two and started displaying my magic by causing things to burst into flames when I was upset. No matter how bad things got, she always seemed to have it under control.

 

Astoria was a lot like her in that way. The Malfoy’s may not have been living the life of a rich and dignified pureblood family but the rich and privileged purebloods they associated with had no idea what their real living conditions were like. When they went into the Wizarding World Astoria was always dressed perfectly, her make-up was impeccable, and her demeanor as proud and put-together as ever. They lived a life that would make their parents cringe but if you didn’t know, you would never have guessed. She always told me that the first step in making your situation better was fooling the people around you. After you fooled them, you could start fooling yourself.

 

I learned that nothing lasts forever pretty young. It didn’t break my innocence or anything; it was just a fact of life because no matter how awesome my mum was, it was impossible for me to grow up without a few scars. When I was thirteen I went through a faze of decidedly not caring. I ignored people who talked to me, I rolled my eyes at my teachers, and I drove my mum up the wall. It took spending Christmas break with Tyler third year to realize that not caring really wasn’t a realistic and long-lasting option so instead we made a pact: since we couldn’t stop ourselves from caring we would do the next best thing and make everyone else believe that we didn’t care.

 

We had each other, we had our friends (who eagerly joined in our little agreement), and we had the people (like my mum, Natasha’s brother, and the Malfoy’s) who knew us well enough to know that our act wasn’t real—and that was all we needed in order to pull it off. When we were alone, we acted like our usual crazy, reckless, and slightly insane selves but as soon as we were back at school or around other people who we didn’t trust, our masks went back on. I did what I wanted when I wanted and as far as most people at Hogwarts were concerned, I was a wash-up—destined to live a life full of alcohol, with no job, and by myself.

 

The thing about masks, though, is that eventually they have to come off.

 

Sometimes people are conscious of the masks they wear and purposefully take them off. Other times people don’t even realize the act that they are putting on and let their mask fall off without noticing a change. But most people, whether conscious of their act or not, don’t take off their mask until it begins to wear and tear.

 

It might get caught in a storm and be ripped off violently (like if a new student shows up and tells the whole school about the bad-boy’s fear of spiders). It might be slowly pulled off by those around you, piece by piece until you emerge without realizing it ever disappeared (like when a loner makes one friend that turns into two, five, eight and suddenly they have a whole a group). Or it might just deteriorate as you get older and your image changes. Both the image that you portray and person you are inside find a happy sort of balance where who you act like is as much a part of you as the person who you are inside.

 

Masks are usually used as a means of protection but the key is not to forget who you are without the mask or at least be able to figure out who you are when your mask finally dissolves into nothingness. Whether it’s a mask to protect you from sympathetic looks in the hall when your ex-boyfriend is snogging his girlfriend in public two days after you break up or a mask to convince your parents you’re ready for a dog when you don’t really know a thing about them, eventually the mask has to be let go. If it’s the ex-boyfriend problem you have to be able to cry and then move on and if it’s the dog thing you have to let your pride go and read up so that you aren’t cleaning up pee for the rest of your life.

 

Your boyfriend doesn’t need to know that you were hurt when you saw him and your parents don’t need to know that you knew less than you seemed to but you do need to figure out how to deal without the mask so that it can eventually be tossed to the back of your brain with all the rest of your little white lies and screw ups.

 

But no matter what, you have to know when to use a mask and when not to—when to be protected and when to just let go.

 

* * * * *

 

May, 2023

 

“Why did people consider a protein charm to be—”

 

“There you are!” Natasha was interrupted suddenly as Fredward Weasley suddenly decided to grace us with his presence.

 

We both looked up from our books in annoyance and he took a seat without bothering to ask. Probably because he knew we’d say no. Or maybe because he likes getting hit with stinging jinxes as he has been every other time he came and interrupted my study sessions for the past…oh, four years?

 

Natasha gave me a look that clearly implied I should get rid of him. Unfortunately Fred and I were on a two month streak of not hexing each other and I didn’t want to be the one who broke it. It was a pride thing!

 

“What do you want Fredward?” I asked instead, hoping that getting to the point would make him go away faster.

 

“What, no small talk?” he asked in a mockingly offended voice. “No ‘how’s the family’ or—”

 

“Fred I hold none of Taylor’s qualms about hexing you so get to the bloody point,” Natasha snapped.

 

“You know, Natasha, that would be a lot scarier if I wasn’t used to getting hit by Taylor’s jinxes because the truth is yours just aren’t as—”

 

“Fred,” I warned darkly, reaching the edge of my patience.

 

He clearly recognized the danger zone because he stopped with the purposeful annoyance and got to the reason he had been stalking us for the last week and a half. He chased us up a tree three days ago. Natasha hates climbing trees.

 

“Look, there’s no way to spin this so I’m just going to say it straight out: we need your help.”

 

“Who is ‘we’ exactly?”

 

 Natasha, clearly having dismissed the idea of helping him already, sent me a look. I ignored her and tapped my quill thoughtfully. Helping other people first can come in handy because then when you need a favor they’re paying you back and you don’t have to be indebted.

 

“Well, me and the other Gryffindor seventh years,” he said, jiggling his leg the way he used to when we were kids and about to get in trouble.

 

“What in the world could you need our help with?” Natasha scoffed, laughing the idea off.

 

“Can we talk about this somewhere more private?” Fred asked, looking around nervously.

 

“No,” I said, sharing a look with Natasha. “If you want our help spill it now or we’re out.”

 

“If you all need our help, why would they send you?” Natasha asked and I couldn’t help but agree with her. It wasn’t a secret that Freddy and I didn’t get on well. We weren’t dueling or hurling insults at each other 24/7 but there was no denying that we had issues and everyone in our house and year would have to be blind, deaf, and idiotic not to know that.

 

“Well I was the only one who really had an in,” he shrugged. “Dominique would be dead by now and you would have dismissed the others right away.”

 

I cocked an eyebrow thinking it over.

 

“We wouldn’t have dismissed Franky,” I said, referring to the tiny but extremely conniving boy. “We’ve made some good deals with him.”

 

“Franky was too scared,” Freddy shrugged.

 

“Is there a freaking point here?” Natasha demanded, throwing her quill down angrily. Studying tends to make her grumpy.

 

“We need to come up with our seventh year prank,” Fred whispered quietly, leaning his head in towards us after once again checking over his shoulders to see if anyone was listening.

 

“You want us,” I said, indicating Natasha and I after the shock had diminished some, “To help you,” I pointed at him, “Figure out a good way to continue a Hogwarts tradition.”

 

“You know, it sounds a lot stupider when you say it,” Freddy said, his leg jiggling again.

 

“Everything sounds stupider when Taylor says it,” Natasha waved him off.

 

“Are we allies on this or not?” I snapped at her and she quickly sobered, nodding at me.

 

“Sorry,” she muttered and then cleared her throat. “What’s in it for us?”

 

“The pride of knowing that you helped with the greatest prank in Hogwarts’ history,” Freddy declared.

 

“And you think that’s good enough?” Natasha scoffed and Freddy glared.

 

“I know you’re entire family has been in Slytherine for generations but aren’t you supposed to be less selfish than them since you’re in Gryffindor?” Freddy shot at her.

 

“I would bet you my entire Gringotts account that there are selfish people in all four houses Fredward,” I said in a bored tone.

 

While Freddy and I hexed each other, he and Natasha argued any time they were forced to be in each others presence without adult supervision. Freddy would insult her family, Natasha would insult his hair, and then everything would snowball.

 

“But before we make a decision on whether or not we will help, why don’t you tell us what this amazing prank is, yeah?” I suggested lightly, not bothering to lower my voice because I knew it would annoy him that we weren’t taking this seriously.

 

“Well that’s the thing,” Freddy said, his leg now jiggling at double its previous speed. He looked around shiftily and leaned in as he spoke as quietly as he could while still allowing us to make out his horrified tone as he said, “We don’t have one yet.”

 

Natasha and I looked at each other and laughed. Freddy sat back up and didn’t even bother looking offended. If he had come in expecting us to agree without taking the Mickey out of him and enjoying every moment of the groveling then they really should have sent Dominique. At least she had such a low opinion of us that nothing we did would ever surprise her. Unless maybe we went to Azkaban because although she often told us that was where we would end up, I never really got the feeling she actually believed it.

 

“Fred, if you don’t have a prank then why were you whispering?” I asked.

 

“Because if word gets out then my reputation will be ruined,” he hissed. “But we’re having Pranking block. Get it like—”

 

“Don’t finish that sentence.”

 

“Right.”

 

“So you can’t think of a prank but you want our help when you do think of one?” Natasha clarified, frowning a bit.

 

“Well not exactly,” Fred said hesitantly and I glared at him to indicate I was sick of his roundabout style of explaining. “We want your help coming up with a prank. I know you guys have this social awareness thing going for the last two years but don’t you want to do something that’s just for the heck of it again?”

 

“The last time we did a prank ‘just for the heck of it’ you ended up being lifted out of the lake by the Giant Squid,” Natasha pointed out, a smile tugging at the sides of her mouth. Freddy, to both of our surprise, smiled twice as wide as her.

 

“But see, that is exactly the genius we’re looking for,” he begged (or just said. Personally, I prefer insisting that he begged). “Except maybe something that won’t land us in detention for the last two months of school because there are ten eye-witnessed but the same sort of originality because nothing we think of is big enough for our last prank. Don’t you want to leave a lasting impression on the school?”

 

“Nope,” Natasha said, turning back to her book.

 

“C’mon Taylor,” he turned to me, knowing Natasha was a lost cause at this point. “Wouldn’t it be fun? For old times sake at least? We’re about to graduate, what have you got to lose?”

 

I bit my lip and glanced from him to Natasha uncertainly.

 

“Fine, I’m in,” I decided impulsively. Natasha sighed but nodded when he glanced over at her.

 

“If she’s in I guess I’ll do it,” she sighed. “But it has to be epic. I don’t want people to think that we’ve gone soft.”

 

“Deal,” Freddy said immediately, jumping up from his seat. “We’re having a meeting tonight at one.”

 

“How’d you know I’d say yes?” I called after him. He turned around at the edge of the bookshelves that would block him from view and grinned at me.

 

“Whether you like it or not, I do still know you Taylor,” he laughed. “You really haven’t changed all that much.”

 

“How close were you two before Hogwarts?” Natasha asked curiously once he had disappeared.

 

I sighed. “Close enough that we know how to make the other tic and have more than a few memories that end with us hiding in his attic. But forget that because I just realized why Tyler’s probably been so AWOL the last few days, assuming all the houses do a prank and it’s not some Gryffindor thing.”

 

“You think he’s helping them?” Natasha gasped dramatically and clutched her hand to her heart. “He’s been ditching us for his housemates.”

 

“It makes sense since Flint is probably organizing the whole thing, being a prefect and all he would make the most sense. Tyler’s always been pretty good friends with him,” I thought out loud.

 

“Oh, our prank is so going to crush theirs,” Natasha said, an evil grin taking over her face. I half expected her to rub her hands together and start cackling. Thankfully she didn’t and I was able to go another day without checking her into the mental hospital. Oh how much easier my life would be if I had just dealt with her psychological issues then.

 

* * * * *

 

It didn’t take long for August to pass and September first arrived much sooner than I was expecting. It was a Tuesday so I couldn’t go with them to the station but I said goodbye to Meg Ann the night before and promised I would try to sneak out for an early lunch if I was able to so that I could see her off. I promised my Peter, actually, because I knew if I told Meg Ann and didn’t make it she would be upset and if I told my mum and didn’t make it I would be confirming her suspicions that my job was sucking all of the life out of me.

 

Boot camp had immediately gone back to normal after the initial part of the case was over and we were all forced back. Teddy alone was kept on the case because he had been begging for them to take him off the bench. Since it was all stuff that didn’t contain (much) risk Harry agreed and Teddy was heading the investigation. He refused to tell me anything which really blew. I got them all of their leads; shouldn’t I be allowed to know what was happening? Clearly, the people ahead of me didn’t see it that way.

 

Our last day of boot camp had been a Wednesday which meant we were stuck with Murphy for hours.

 

“Shut up you lot and you’ll see that I’m actually giving you a good deal,” Murphy had said towards the end of the day. “We’re only going to use half the track and when you get back to the spot you started in you’re done. The group that gets done first can stop; the second group owes me a lap around the track. The last one around for the second group owes me a second-lap. Let’s go.”

 

“What are we doing?” I asked James quietly as we were unceremoniously dismissed without any real directions. Again.

 

“I forgot you haven’t done this,” he muttered, looking around quickly. “Okay, come stand with me, I’m starting. When the jersey gets to you just sprint to me.”

 

“What?” I said again but Murphy had already blown his whistle and James was sprinting, racing neck and neck with Ryan.  He handed it off to Jack half way down the long stretch of the track and Jack took off, sprinting to Kyle. Kyle then ran all the way down the long stretch and handed me the jersey.

 

“Run!” he said as soon as I took it.

 

Still not knowing what I was doing I handed the jersey back to James who ran again. The cycle continued until I was down at the far end. We were a bit ahead of the other group but not by much. Kyle got to me a few seconds before the guy he was racing—Ish Vicki Dickie (I made a mental note to add his name to mine and Natasha’s ‘Weirdest Guy Names Ever’ list when I got back)—got to Abigail and I made sure not to look over, knowing that split second would do us in because, even after weeks of training, she was still in better shape than I was.

 

“We did it!” James exclaimed practically tackling me with a hug when I got back to him. Kyle immediately joined in and we formed a big, and slightly awkward, group hug.

 

Jack rolled his eyes at us but nodded his congratulations. I had learned quickly that he wasn’t a very touchy-feely person. Kyle and James seemed to have made it their mission to make up for it. And then some.

 

“What are you waiting for?” Murphy asked when the other team seemed to be moping around. “My permission?”

 

Grumbling, they all took off, none of them wanting to have to run it again. Ryan was the first back and Abigail was a little after him. The other two Aurors came in behind them, crossing the line at the same time. Murphy let them off their second owed lap in favor of bleachers. Just so we’re clear, I officially pick track over bleachers any time, any day.

 

“Stretch out,” he called when we were finished. “Meet me in the middle of the field.”

 

“If Murphy were to be murdered today do you think we would be put on the suspect list?” I muttered to Kyle as we made our way over. Kyle pondered my question for a minute.

 

“Probably,” he finally said. “But I’ll help you do it and then we can change our names and live in another country.”

 

“China seems like a safe bet, they don’t like people leaving.”

 

“China it is,” Kyle agreed. “I’ll just need a shrinking spell. Hey, you’d fit right in!”

 

I smacked him just as we each took a seat on the ground.

 

“Wouldn’t killing him be useless?” James asked, sitting down on the other side of Kyle. “We’re done with BC after today.”

 

“We’d be helping future generations,” I said when there had been a long enough pause to make it obvious that Kyle didn’t have an answer.

 

“Right,” Kyle agreed immediately. “Think of all the little kids we would spare from this torture chamber.”

 

“Besides,” I added. “We didn’t play Quidditch so our brains still recognize torture.”

 

“Quidditch is only torture if you’re scared of heights,” James said.

 

“Or bludgers,” Kyle defended me and I laughed, turning my attention to Murphy as we listened to his last speech for a few months. Forever if we were lucky. Scratch that, if anyone knew I thought that and he did die I would be a suspect. Or at least feel really guilty.

 

But we have been done for a few weeks now and he has yet to die so I figure I’m relatively safe.

 

“Hey Teddy,” I said, knocking on his cubicle before walking in.

 

“I’m not telling you anything,” he said immediately, stuffing the papers he was poring over into a drawer. I grinned but shook my head.

 

“I’m not asking about the case. I was wondering if I could take an early lunch.”

 

“Sibling off to Hogwarts?” he guessed and I nodded.

 

“Happens every year,” he said, shaking his head. “But go ahead. Half the department will be following you out. This is the first year I managed to avoid it.”

 

True to his word the platform was indeed filled with people I knew, including James and Harry who were a few family’s down from my own. Peter had even gotten out early for to see Meg Ann off for the first time since she started Hogwarts. Why Peter could miss five years straight (when I went to Hogwarts on my own) and I couldn’t miss one I didn’t understand but my mum’s logic has always been off.

 

“Hey boo,” I said, tugging on Meg Ann’s ponytail.

 

“You came!” Meg Ann exclaimed, throwing her arms around me. “I thought you had to work.”

 

“Early lunch break. It turns out I wasn’t the first to think of it,” I said, indicating the people around us who were clad in work robes as well.

 

“The Ministry is never as quiet as it is at 11 on September 1st,” Peter agreed. “Even the weekends have more people.”

 

“You’ll come see me in Hogsmeade, right?” Meg Ann asked, looking at me worriedly.

 

“Of course I will,” I assured her. The year before I would sneak into Hogwarts every month or so to see Scorpius and we would stop by her dorm to check on her at the same time. This year I couldn’t get in through the heads dorm (which is the easiest way into the castle if you know where it’s located) so I wouldn’t be able to see her as easily.

 

“Send me the dates and I’ll be there. Promise,” I told her.

 

“Okay,” she said, smiling in relief as the train’s whistle sounded and she was rushed onto the train by mum and Peter. She waved from the window and we all waved back until the train disappeared and I apparated to my mum’s store with her to grab a few slices of pizza before going back to the Ministry. That weekend was the best I had, had in a long time and I was enjoying my relaxation time until Natasha ruined Sunday, reminding me of our previous engagement I had forgotten about during the madness of training and Hogwarts getting ready to start.

 

“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” she started, biting her lip as she lay sprawled on the rug with her book now lying on her chest. “But should we make a date with Rose? I’m leaving in a few weeks and you don’t seem very busy right now. The longer we put it off the more drawn out this whole ordeal will be.”

 

“I’m free next weekend,” I suggested. “Maybe Saturday night? I can do Friday but I would prefer not to.”

 

It took a few drafts for us to be satisfied. Natasha had written the first one but I had tossed it out before she had even finished. It was a bit hostile starting with,

 

Rose Weasley,

 

We have to do a weird friendship thing to satisfy Scorpius so come over Saturday and we will try to tolerate you. If you have plans cancel them and if you’re late—

 

I cut her off after that and tried my own version, sounding as friendly as possible.

 

Rose,

 

Natasha and I were just talking about the girls night we’ve been trying to plan and were hoping you would come over for it. We were thinking Saturday but we can do whenever. If you want—

 

“That sounds so fake,” Natasha rolled her eyes. “And don’t make it sound like she’s doing us a favor. We’re doing her a favor.”

 

After many more trial letters we eventually compromised on,

 

Rose,

 

Hey! We were wondering what you were doing next weekend because we’ve been wanting to get together and it seems like things have started to calm down a bit. We were thinking Friday or Saturday night but it’s flexible. Let us know what works.

 

Taylor & Natasha

 

It was still awkward and neither of us was really satisfied but we had spent an hour trying to get it right so by the time we actually completed the last one we were both fed up and decided to send it. How much crazier could she think we were?

 

Her response came back the next morning and by Wednesday we were set for Friday night, much to my dismay. She didn’t say why she couldn’t do Saturday but Natasha convinced me it would be rude to ask. Still, Friday was my night to lie around and do nothing, now it would have to be moved to Saturday which royally sucked since Saturday morning is supposed to be productive, Saturday night going out, and Sunday morning sleeping in late. It screwed up my weekend. But I let it go. Kind of.

 

“What is your cousin doing Saturday?” I demanded, crossing my arms as I stood in front of James.

 

“Which one?” he asked.

 

“The one I have to spend Friday night with because she apparently ‘can’t do’ Saturday,” I snapped.

 

“You’d have to ask her, I don’t keep track of her social calendar,” he said calmly. What did it take to get this guy to show emotion?

 

“I would ask her but Natasha thinks it’s rude,” I sulked, slumping down in my chair. “I don’t want to do Friday, I want to do Saturday. Friday is my night.”

 

“Then tell her you want to do Saturday,” he suggested with a shrug.

 

“I can’t, we already said she could choose. Why the hell did my mum have to teach me manors? I should have gone with Natasha’s version, at least then we could have told her it was Saturday or the highway,” I mumbled to myself.

 

“Natasha’s version?” James repeated. “You made multiple versions of a letter?”

 

“Well we couldn’t very well send the letter’s we wanted to write. Natasha made it sound like we were planning to kill her and mine were apparently too fake. Our final letter sucked anyways but our hands started to hurt after an hour of trying to write a decent one.”

 

“You spent an hour trying to figure out what to write?”

 

“Are you going to repeat everything I say?” I asked in annoyance.

 

“Sorry, it just seems a bit extreme,” he laughed.

 

“Well it had to sound normal, she already thinks we’re clinically insane,” I pointed out.

 

“If you want to change it to Saturday she would cancel her plans,” he said after a few beats of silence. “Believe it or not, this is really important to her. It’s better that you’re nice to her and change the day than you give her a hard time and keep it on the day she wants.”

 

“I’m sorry,” I sighed. “I will be nice to her, I promise. I just really like my Friday nights. I get to eat junk food and lie around doing nothing. It’s great after a long week at work and then I’m rested for everything I have to do Saturday.”

 

“She would be fine lying around,” he said. “It’d probably be more comfortable than taking her to a club.”

 

“We’re not taking her to a club,” I laughed. “We were just going to chill at the flat, maybe go get some ice-cream down the road or something. I figured we should do at least part of it with Muggles present so that nothing bad happens.”

 

“So you have already decided you don’t like her?” he asked, sounding disappointed.

 

“I haven’t decided anything,” I said, surprised by his comment. “Who said I didn’t like her?”

 

“No one,” he said, too quickly.

 

“Was it her?” I asked, unsure whether I should be offended or amused. Normally I’d go with the latter but in this case I knew it wasn’t the best way to start things off.

 

“She’s just nervous,” he said again. “Normally she’d go to Albus for things like this but like I said, they’ve been having a hard time. She’s not the type of person to have a lot of people she can talk to and between the fall-out with Albus and the Scorpius drama it’s been hard for her.”

 

“I don’t not like her,” I said. “But we have had a little too much fun with her. It’s just a weird situation for us too. We haven’t even considered being friends with one of Tyler or Scorpius’ girlfriends for four years and the last one ended badly. But I promise we’ll do our best, yeah?”

 

He nodded and we turned back to our work.

 

* * * * *

 

“I’m so glad you got these masks,” Natasha said, giggling as she fingered the furry head. “If we can’t make up stories at least we can still get under her skin.”

 

“You know, maybe we shouldn’t greet her with them,” I said uneasily. “James said she was really nervous about this whole thing and I don’t want to scare her away.”

 

“Oh is that what James said,” Natasha teased. I made a face but didn’t comment. “Look, don’t worry about it. She was in Gryffindor; she should be brave enough to handle this.”

 

“I think she’s being pretty brave just coming here,” I sighed. “I don’t think I would ever go to my boyfriend’s crazy friends houses. Especially if they tried to convince me that he had fake teeth and…I don’t remember what else we said.”

 

“Think of it as a test then,” Natasha suggested. “If she really likes Scorpius, she’ll stay.”

 

“And if she doesn’t stay Scorpius is going to be crushed and pissed at us,” I pointed out.

 

“Are you saying that we can’t use these?” Natasha asked in disappointment. “I know I complained it was killer for my hair but the benefits outweigh that little downside big time.”

 

“I’m not saying we can’t use them,” I said slowly. I had bought them for a reason after all. “I’m just saying that maybe we shouldn’t trick her into thinking we’re really taking her to the club and going to force her to make out with guys whose names are on our list. Maybe we should just…tone it down a bit.”

 

“Fine,” Natasha sighed dramatically and fell backwards onto the couch, watching as I stirred the pot that held our dinner for the night. “As long as we get to wear the masks I’ll go with it.”

 

“She’s here,” Natasha said unnecessarily when a knock sounded on the door. I turned the heat off on the stove and took the mask she handed to me. She flicked off the lights while I positioned my head. The flat was completely dark but I made out the fingers she was holding out from the light under the door. She counted to three and I opened the door, yanking Rose in before she had a chance to take anything in. Natasha forced the mask over her head, effectively squelching Rose’s scream of surprise.

 

Our intention had been to freak her out, hopefully make her think we were trying to murder her or something (the details weren’t completely thought out) but it was ruined when we both started laughing and Natasha, knowing our cover was blown, turned the lights back on. Rose pulled the mask off immediately and Natasha and I followed suit. All our hair was messy, half of it sticking straight up from the static. Never one to miss a chance for a crazy photo Natasha grabbed her camera and pulled me over towards Rose.

 

“Pose,” she said and I made a face, blowing a kiss at the camera while crossing my eyes.

 

“That’s one for Witch Weekley,” Natasha laughed, tossing the camera down on the chair. “Oh, I was kidding!” Natasha exclaimed, catching sight of Rose’s face. “I forgot you actually have to worry about that. It’s what I always say when we take ridiculous pictures.”

 

“She suggests Tyler doesn’t use protection so he can get his first kid over with too,” I told Rose. “But if he actually did it she would kill him.”

 

“True,” Natasha agreed and Rose smiled, genuinely for probably the first time since I met her.

 

“We should take a picture of ourselves with the masks on and send it to Scorpius,” Rose suggested, indicating the gorilla masks that were lying in a heap on the floor. “We could even dress slutty and make him think we actually went to the club. Have Firewhiskey in hand our something.”

 

“I like the way you think,” Natasha said, a grin slowly taking over her face. Suddenly she froze and I knew what was coming as she turned to look at me, horror clouding her eyes.

 

“Wait, no I don’t!” she yelled, her voice even louder than I was expecting. “UGH, TAYLOR!”







I raised my eyebrows skeptically and she huffed into our room, slamming the door on her way.

 

“Uh, did I—?” Rose started, looking a little confused.

 

“Don’t take it personally,” I cut her off. “She hates your family, not you. She’ll be over it in a few minutes.”

 

“Right,” Rose nodded, pushing herself away from the table and walking back towards me. “Can I do anything to help?”

 

She was less fazed than I was expecting but I found out quickly that she wasn’t a very talented cook so I stuck with having her chop vegetables for the salad after the water boiled over onto the stove.

 

“Tasha, dinner’s done,” I called out and Natasha opened the bedroom door, completely over what had happened earlier.

 

“If we’re not allowed to make things up, do you think we’re allowed to interrogate her?” I asked Natasha quietly when Rose excused herself to use the loo.

 

“I don’t see why not,” Natasha shrugged. “I mean, it’s not like we have anything to talk about besides Scorpius.”

 

“Yet,” I reminded her, doing my best to stay optimistic which was pretty foreign territory for me. I prefer being the buzz kill. “We don’t have anything else to talk about yet.

 

“Fine, yet,” Natasha conceded, rolling her eyes.

 

“So Roe,” I said once she sat back down. “We have a proposition for you.”

 

“What’s that?” she asked pleasantly.

 

“We ask you a question we want to know about you and Scorpius—you know, stuff we either want your half of the story on or that Scorpius just won’t tell us—and you in turn can ask us any question about him you want to know and we’ll tell you the truth.”

 

“Fine,” Rose shrugged, not even taking a few minutes to consider it. “What do you want to know?”

 

“When did you realize you liked him?” Natasha started off. “Specifically, not the ‘seventh year’ crap.”

 

“Well it was seventh year…but we were out by the lake, studying for exams and he was just kind of goofing off, didn’t care that people were gawking at us or anything. It was like he was completely oblivious to the people watching and didn’t care that he was making a fool of himself. He didn’t try to show off or get embarrassed and he didn’t care that he looked like an idiot. When did he tell you guys about us?”

 

“That he liked you or that you were together?” I asked.

 

“Both, I guess,” Rose shrugged.

 

“Well he didn’t tell me he liked you, actually, I figured it out when I snuck in to see him one night…you did know about that right?”

 

“Yeah,” Rose laughed. “You guys weren’t exactly discreet.”

 

“Just double-checking,” I said, holding my hands up in surrender. “Anyways, Tyler was working, Natasha was off in some country, and I figured it out when he kept talking about you. He told me you were together the night after you went out on your first date. Or at least, he said you had just gone out. It was like…mid-Frebruary, I think?”

 

“I didn’t know anything until I got back,” Natasha said. “That was in May. You guys were already together but he said he didn’t want to tell me in a letter because he knew I’d get upset. Taylor was too chicken to tell me.”

 

“I wasn’t too chicken,” I protested. “I was looking out for your mental health. Merlin, always have to see things in a negative light. Anyways, who really kissed who the first time? Because he said he kissed you but I don’t really believe him. He’s never been one to make the first move.”

 

“Well I kissed him before we were…anything really. He kissed me first after we had gone out. Does he have a stuffed Scorpio?”

 

“Yes!” Natasha and I chorused.

 

“He keeps it in his closet,” Natasha informed her. “It’s on the top shelf but it’s really there. He took it to Hogwarts but kept in the bottom of his trunk because he didn’t want people to know.”

 

“It reminded him of home,” I laughed.

 

“Did you guys keep your relationship a secret or tell people from the start?” Natasha asked.

 

“We sort of kept it a secret,” Rose said slowly. “But not to the point where we were sneaking around Hogsmeade or anything. We just didn’t really tell anyone. If they asked I would tell them and if they saw us together then they saw us together. We just didn’t want to make a huge announcement about it because it would just draw more attention when that was the last thing we needed. How long have you known Scorp?”

 

“Technically since I was a baby,” Natasha said. “Our parents knew each other and they used to get us together when we were little but I didn’t become friends with him until third year when Taylor and Tyler became tight.”

 

“I knew him when I was little because we grew up in the same area but I moved when I was four and he moved the next year. I started talking and hanging out with him his first year but we really became friend the next year too. He and Tyler were close so one kind of came with the other,” I shrugged.

 

The questions continued and it switched from light-hearted to serious and back again a few times. She said that she had never been a part of the Scorpius teasing with her cousins but she had known it was happening. Her parents had thought she was joking when she first told them about Scorpius over Easter but Teddy had been all for it. She and Albus weren’t talking because she didn’t like his (now ex) girlfriend and the Scorpius ordeal had nothing to do with it. They had been caught making out by two professors: Professor Trelawney (Divination) and Professor Jones (Defense Against the Dark Arts).

 

She, in turn, had learned that Scorpius, despite going to parties with us, had never to our knowledge, gotten high; he really was way more sensitive than he let on and crossing his arms while he was sitting down was usually a good indication that something was wrong; Astoria was much friendlier than Draco who only talked when he had something to say; and Scorpius spent at least fifteen minutes on his hair in the morning but his muscles (the small arm muscles that you can only see if his shirt’s off) really are au-natural from helping his dad during the summer and holidays and not from the gym like Tyler’s ultra humongous biceps.

 

“Anyone up for ice-cream?” I asked hopefully once dinner had been finished for a while.

 

“How about Frozen Yogurt?” Natasha asked. “I’m going to the beach in a few weeks.”

 

“I like Frozen Yogurt,” Rose piped so I agreed. The Frozen Yogurt place was a bit more of a hike but it did taste better than Eileen’s Ice-cream.

 

“Have you guys ever played One, Two, Three?” Rose asked.

 

“I love that game!” I shrieked in an embarrassingly high voice. Thankfully it was late enough that most of the families who filled the tables were already at home and the place was deserted except for the guy manning the counter who was far more interested in his magazine than in flirting anyways.

 

“What’s One, Two, Three?” Natasha asked. She and her mum weren’t close and she grew up playing with her dad and brother. When she got to Hogwarts she was a girly-girl looking Tomboy and I was the opposite. In the eight years I had known her I still hadn’t managed to teach her all the games my mum and I play.

 

“Okay so guys are going to pass by us and you have to pick who you’re going to marry. You get three chances so you can take the first guy who walks by or if you don’t want him then you can wait for the second guy but if you don’t pick the second guy you’re stuck with the third,” Rose explained. “Once you say no to a guy, you can’t go back to him unless he walks by again during one of your turns and after you pick a guy, or get stuck with Guy Number Three, the next person goes and gets three guys of their own.”

 

“Got it,” Natasha nodded. “One of you start and I’ll figure it out.”

 

“I’ll go first,” I offered and we all stared out the window.

 

“Guy number one is crossing the street now,” Rose said and we all watched as an old guy hobbled across the cross-walk and started down the street passed the window we were staring out of.

 

“Aw, he’s cute,” I said and Natasha gave me a disgusted look. “Oh, I’m not picking him!” I laughed. “He’s old guy cute, not marriage worthy cute. Besides, I’m not that much of a gold digger.”

 

“Poor guy doesn’t seem like he has a lot of gold,” Rose said.

 

“Second guy walking our way,” Natasha said and we all laughed as a little boy and his mother hurried by.

 

“Yeah pass.” I cringed and crossed my fingers as a group of people drew nearer, hoping for a good number three. “Yes, yes, yes!”

 

Natasha and Rose both laughed as I pointed my finger at the guy in the middle of the pack. He looked to be in his late twenties but he was hot. Unfortunately, he saw me pointing and gave us a worried look, causing all three of us to start laughing.

 

Natasha went next. The first one she passed on because he was bald and she can’t stand bald guys. The second guy she took and then got annoyed because the third guy, who wound up being Rose’s first guy, was insanely hot. My second round was significantly worse and my number three (I so should have gone with Guy Number One) was a bit…strange and wound up walking into the Frozen Yogurt place.

 

“Go talk to your future husband Taybear,” Natasha teased as he ordered and got his cone. Just for fun, I winked when he turned around and he tripped over his own feet, the ice-cream covering his too-big red sweater.

 

He wasn’t terrible looking, the green eyes were a nice asset to have, but he was in serious need of a makeover far surpassing my ability. His shaving was patchy leaving him with blotches of hair at around his face that he must have missed whilst pre-occupied by the Christmas sweater he decided to wear in September that had reindeer on it. Of course, the plaid shorts didn’t help his cause much and the skinny legs…okay, he was just sooo not my type.

 

After I winked he nearly ran out of the store.

 

“I bet he’s going to call his mummy to tell him that a girl winked at him,” Rose giggled.

 

“Guys, don’t be mean,” Natasha chided. “He’s probably terrified that he got her pregnant from making eye-contact.”

 

We all laughed again and got caught up in the game once more, sometimes getting lucky and sometimes getting very, very unlucky.

 

“I accept, I accept!” Natasha screamed as the guy she had missed when she settled for a skater walked by again, this time carrying a bag from the local bookstore. “Wait, he reads books?” she asked, wrinkling her nose. But then he saw us and smiled and Natasha shrugged.

 

“Oh well,” she decided. “He’s cute; I can look past the fact that he’s smart. Sorry Rose, guess we’re sharing.”

 

“As long as I get him first I won’t complain,” Rose said. “I want to end up with the blonde in the end.”

 

“The one with the girlfriend?” Natasha asked.

 

“Yeah, I figure I’ll give him time to dump and get over her while I’m with Bookie.”

 

“Fair enough,” Natasha conceded and we left our pounds on the table before walking with Rose to an alley where she could apparate back to her parents’ house.

 




A/N: I would really love some reviews so that I know what you're thinking so far. I have a lot of readers and a lot less reviewers but I'm going to keep posting unless I get a flamer because I love writing this story.

I have been a chapter or two ahead with this story but I decided that I want to take it in a different direction so it's going to take a little while for the next chapter to be posted since I haven't started on it yet and I have two major research papers due in the next two weeks but it will be up as soon as I get the chance to write it.
 


Chapter 13: Defying Gravity
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A/N: IMPORTANT: I am truly sorry but this story has become too much for me to take on right now. I’m in my freshman year and this story has lagged on way longer than I anticipated. I do want to finish it and I’ll probably re-write it to make the pace faster but for the moment I am putting this story on HIATUS and changing the status to abandoned. Have a good holiday and new year everyone!



 

Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?

Something has changed within me

Something is not the same

I'm through playing by the rules

Of someone else's game

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or the Defying Gravity lyrics from the musical Wicked.

 






 

My mum grew up listening to Muggle stories and watching Muggle movies.

 

When I was little she used to read me the same stories she grew up with and I lapped up every word. One night, when I was five, I asked her when she was going to lock me up in a tower. She asked when I wanted to be and I told her not until I had a wand. She asked why and I told her it was because I wanted to be able to kill the dragon myself. She wanted to know why I wouldn’t wait for the prince to take care of it and I said it was because he was on a horse and I didn’t want the pony to get hurt. White horses were my favorite.

 

She had laughed after I said that, not knowing how she was supposed to react. Finally she said,

 

“What about your prince? Don’t you want him to be safe too?”

 

“No,” I told her. “He should be able to survive the dragon by himself.”

 

It was just a silly little five-year-old thought at the time because I bought into the whole prince riding up on a white horse to whisk me away to his fancy castle thing. But I didn’t like the idea of him saving my life, much preferring the fantasy of taking the dragon on by myself.

 

When I got to Hogwarts I took the offensive with all my relationships. I initiated the stuff with guys, usually at parties or when it was clear that they were into me so that I didn’t have to worry about rejection. I would hook up with them, no questions asked, but if they wanted a relationship they had to ask me out.

 

“Why should I date him if he doesn’t have the guts to ask me?” I used to tell Meg Ann who would sit on her bed and listen to me talk, taking in every word of my very screwed up view on love and boys.

 

I always tried to be on offense when it came to ending relationships as well. I’ve been dumped twice but the first time happened when I was sixteen. He dumped me because he was graduating and didn’t want to keep it going while I was still at Hogwarts. I wasn’t upset that the relationship was over, I was upset because I was planning on breaking up with him two days later.

 

Okay, I’ll be honest. It’s not as though I’ve never fallen for a guy. The first guy I ever really fell for I met when I was just twelve years old. He was a Muggle and lived in the town a few miles from the Davenport’s house. He was the guy who I fell for over and over again every summer when I saw him. We had a summer romance right after my fifth year but that ended when I went back to Hogwarts and I didn’t see him again after that. I heard he was getting married, but I don’t know the girl.

 

The second occurrence was two years later, a few months after I turned eighteen. He was a year older than me, an ex-Slytherin, and worked part time at a Quidditch supply shop. We hung out and hooked up and were pretty much together…unofficially. It was the perfect relationship for me at the time. We were at a party over the summer, just a month after I graduated, and he stated simply that he didn’t want to date anyone else.

 

“You can if you want to,” he said. “I’m not trying to force you into anything; I’m just letting you know that I don’t want to see anyone else.”

 

Of course, four months after that he got an internship at some broom-making company and it all sort of went downhill. He wasn’t into the danger of my career and I found his totally and completely dull. We had other things to talk about, of course, but we decided to stick with the whole ‘just friends’ thing before he left.

 

Both experiences were painful but I wasn’t destroyed, always cautious with how much I let them in. Drake, the Slytherin, was all about the here and now—more like me at the time. We didn’t really talk about our past and instead focused on what was going on now and what we wanted to do in five years. What was done was done and it was never a relationship that got stuck in the past, allowing me to have fun without having to deal with super emotional stuff.

 

The summer romance with Robbie was just that, a summer romance. I never told him I was a witch and I never wanted to. I wasn’t allowed to use magic out of school anyways and I was in touch enough with the Muggle World not to slip up.

 

Robbie knew more about my past than Drake but it still wasn’t intense. I don’t do intense, I don’t do big falls, and I don’t take chances when it comes to romantic relationships. My friendships are few and far between and mean the world to me. To lose one of my friends would be ten times worse than losing any guy I dated. They know everything about me and I take them seriously. My romantic relationships are relaxed and there when they are convenient.

 

When I asked my mum about getting locked in a tower I had a lot of friends who came and went on the farm and in town. I wanted to fight but I also wanted the prince charming with the white horse and a castle. By the time I was fifteen I had friends that I knew I would have for life and boyfriends who came and went. In ten years, my whole philosophy had changed from five-year-old fantasy to fifteen-year-old teen cynicism. Now, almost five years later, I wasn’t sure which side I was supposed to be on but I knew that I hadn’t completely moved away from the cynicism yet.

 

* * * * *

 

“Okay; I have my luggage, my purse, my sunglasses, my fake excuses for why my parents aren’t there, my money, and my Firewhiskey. I think I’m ready,” Natasha said, scanning our bedroom and living room quickly.

 

I stood up from my place on the couch and gave her a hug. She looked ready to travel in skinny jeans, close-toed pumps, and a cropped jacket. Her blonde hair was in a slick, high ponytail and big, dark sunglasses were perched on her nose. It’s a good thing Magical Transportation doesn’t require security like Muggle airports or she would be screwed.

 

“Have fun,” I told her as we pulled away. “Meet and hook up with a lot of cute boys for me. And get me something Greek, would you? Greece has been on my list forever and I still haven’t seen it.”

 

“Will do,” Natasha promised. “And if you get time off work come join me, yeah? We could use a vacay and I’ll be there for a month at least.”

 

“Are you still planning on going to America in November?” I asked, leaning against the open door. “Mum said you were thinking about hitting New York with her.”

 

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Natasha shrugged non-committal. “It’ll either be America or Spain; it kind of depends on Damien. He’s touring with that Dance Company, you know?”

 

“Yeah, well see you when you get back. Write me if you want me to pick you up, I’ll probably be at the ministry anyways.”

 

“Okay, don’t have too much fun without me.”

 

“I never do, darling,” I laughed. “Love you.”

 

“Love you too,” Natasha yelled over her shoulder and I let the door shut, feeling a little guilty that I was actually relieved she was gone. A little bit relieved, not majorly relieved. But I was exhausted from work and there are times when Natasha, as much as I love her, just doesn’t get it.

 

Her dad pays for her part of the rent (and mine too, I just put money away to cover it when something gets a little messed up. Usually when he’s on trial or when someone he works with gets caught while Mr. Nott is still in prison) and she has full access to her parents vaults whenever she wants or needs it. My mum may not be poor like she was when I was little but I’ve always wanted to do things on my own and I was never able to understand how Natasha could be so fine living off of other people’s money.

 

Sure, she works for my mum but I’ve been doing that since the store opened and she joined me pretty quickly. It’s not like it doesn’t take up energy or anything it’s just…not something I would ever consider doing for the rest of my life and I know she doesn’t want to be a salesgirl forever either. She just needs something that she loves to do. Damien (her older brother) used to say that the only way she would ever really put her heart and soul into something was if she started it herself. Though what business she would start I wasn’t really sure.

 

She can’t cook worth a damn. She hates cleaning. She likes fashion but doesn’t have the patience to make pieces. The girl was hopeless.

 

The pocket watch I had been using since I stayed at my mum’s house started going off from the bedroom, indicating it was time to start getting ready. I dumped the rest of my tea down the drain, rubbed my red eyes in a lame and useless attempt to feel more awake, and stepped into the shower with the water as cold as I could make it so that my body would be shocked awake even if my eyes still felt heavy.

 

I had originally thought that after boot camp finished we would be forced to back to the same paper-filing duties of Auror trainees but I had been (thankfully) mistaken. Apparently, as soon as we finished with our instructional whatever everything got kicked up a notch and all of the Aurors around us took every opportunity to test us, sending hexes when we walked by their office or storing Boggarts in our desk drawers. The mentors had all gotten together as well and every week there was a new task we had to face, sometimes together and sometimes on our own.

 

But despite my paranoia from the random hexes, the soreness in my wrist from hours of paperwork and spell practice, and the bags under my eyes from not having a chance to get a goodnight sleep in a few weeks, I still wasn’t prepared for what they threw at us this time: Group therapy.

 

Now, I’ve been to a therapist before. In fact, one of my mum’s best friends from America, Tipper, is a therapist and a pretty good one from what I’ve heard. But I also know about the whack jobs. You know, the ones on TV who keep talking about how you feel. Like in the Muggle movie when the mum and daughter switch places and the daughter has to take her mum’s place and has no idea what to do so she keeps asking the depressed guy how he feels and he keeps saying “depressed” but she just nods and tries to look sympathetic.

 

I mean, let’s face it; having a sixteen-year-old who’s mad at the world for your therapist is not a very good way to go.

 

But as it was James, Kyle, Abigail, Jack, and I had to troupe out of the ministry with our mentors and apparate into Diagon Alley where we were interrogated by a middle-aged lady who had no sense of when to shut up. The interrogation started with James and went something like this:

 

Therapist: So James, your father is the head of the department…

 

James: (Stating the obvious) yeah.

 

Therapist: That must be a lot of pressure…

 

James: Not really.

 

Therapist: But how does having everyone’s high expectations affect you?

 

James: (ruffling his hair while his eyes dart around the room) err…it…motivates me—Yeah!

 

Therapist: (leaning forward and looking concerned) and how do you feel about the negative comments.

 

James: (leaning forward and resting his arms on his knees) they motivate me even more!

 

Me: (internally crack up and try desperately to act like I’m taking this seriously)

 

Abigail came next and it went something like this…

 

Therapist: Abigail.

 

Abigail: Hi

 

Therapist: …

 

Abigail: …

 

And then she switched over to Jack who she could easily interrogate about his home life:

 

Therapist: Jack you have a lot of weight on your shoulders.

 

Jack: Not really.

 

Therapist: You are taking care of your younger siblings while in a committed relationship and training for a very dangerous and demanding job. Are there times when you feel overwhelmed?

 

Jack: Sure.

 

Therapist: Do you want to share some of those times?

 

Jack: Uh…(obviously trying to come up with some story)…well there was this one time when my sister needed to go shopping and so we were in Diagon Alley and then my brother smashed a window and I had to go to work in two hours.

 

Me: (internally snort at the lameness)

 

Therapist: (Apparently doesn’t know how to tell when a person is lying) and who did you lean on for support?

 

Jack: My girlfriend.

 

Therapist: And how did her support make you feel?

 

Jack: (Looks extremely uncomfortable and quickly changes the subject).

 

Kyle’s was by far my favorite.

 

Kyle: Well, I’ll save you a bit of time here. So, my parents are divorced and it made me feel extremely sad but it’s okay now because I know they’re both happy. My girlfriend and I have been together a long time and it is hard being in such a committed relationship with such a demanding career. She makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I have lots of siblings but being outshined isn’t really an issue because they’re all idiots. My dad has a radio show and he talks about us all on air which makes me feel good because I know he’s thinking about me and family love is extremely important.

 

Therapist: …

 

Mine came last and went just like this:

 

Therapist: Taylor you’re the newest recruit.

 

Me: Yep.

 

Therapist: How does that make you feel?











Me: Err…

 

Therapist: Do you ever feel nervous?

 

Me: Sure…

 

Therapist: How does your family feel about your career choice?

 

Me: Uh, they’re…supportive.

 

Therapist: And how does that make you feel?

 

Me: Supported?

 

Therapist: And how does their support make you feel?

 

Me: Supported.

 

It was so totally and completely cliché I couldn’t believe it. The therapist wore too much make-up, she had a clip-board that she took notes on, and her go-to question was ‘How does that make you feel?’ The mentors were talked to as well and Teddy was hammered on being married and expecting a child while being a young mentor but they all handled it with ease, giving obvious answers and often times lying through their teeth.

 

“Don’t forget to bring your bags to the ministry,” one of the mentors said just before we broke for lunch.

 

“What bags?” I asked.

 

“Oh yeah, I always forget about the newbie’s,” he said, smirking. “So bring a bag filled with clothes and any other necessities to the ministry at two.”

 

“Why?” I asked.

 

“We can’t tell you, it’s an Auror initiation ritual since they banned us from using the Imperius curse way back in the 1940’s.”

 

That crept me out a little.

 

“Just don’t show up without anything packed,” James added. “I made that mistake my first time because I assumed I didn’t really need anything since my dad wouldn’t tell me what was going on.”

 

“Thanks for the tip,” I muttered but went back to my apartment and packed a duffel-bag filled with clothes and toiletries, assuming that was what they meant by necessities.

 

When I got to the ministry, ten minutes before two, everyone else was already there and Harry was bringing in what I assumed was a portkey as I couldn’t think of any other reason for him to be holding a dirty fishing boot. Still not knowing what we were doing I followed everyone else’s lead, placing a single finger on the sole and keeping my left hand firmly clasped around the handle of my polka-dot bag.

 

My perfect record with portkey’s ended with this trip and I wound up falling to the ground, taking James with me. James then knocked Kyle down, who knocked Teddy down, who knocked some girl I don’t know onto her back.

 

“Where are we?” I asked curiously as I pushed myself to my feet.

 

“We,” Teddy said dramatically. “Are at one of England’s numerous safe-houses so that you can learn how to survive off of what they give you and continue your defensive training. There are safe houses all around the world that you could end up at if you have a mission go wrong.”

 

“So where is this one?”

 

“Don’t know,” Teddy shrugged. “Harry gets to pick where they send us and we have to get by with what they give us—just like you would in a real mission if they send you a portkey to get away.”

 

“Come on then,” the girl who Teddy had knocked over said briskly. “Let’s see how out of date this one is.”

 

We had to trek down a hilltop towards a pink cottage that was in the valley between two large hills. The house looked as though it had been hit with a jelly-leg jinx that allowed it to be morphed and twisted before being hit with a freezing charm. It glittered in the sunlight and had two towers on either side. It wasn’t particularly large but the brightness combined with the fact that it was the only house around made it seem very out of place.

 

“Aren’t safe houses supposed to blend in?” Abigail asked as we walked.

 

It didn’t look very far when we arrived but we had been walking for ten minutes and it wasn’t getting any closer.

 

“If they’re in the middle of a town or, you know, visible then yeah,” a guy who I didn’t know said. “If they are loaded down with protection charms, in the middle of nowhere, and can’t be seen unless you were told it’s location by the secret keeper, a.k.a. Harry, then it doesn’t really matter.”

 

“First come first serve,” the girl who Teddy knocked over announced when we arrived after a 30 minute walk. Everyone immediately began to run in different directions, leaving me and the blonde pixie in their dust.

 

“So you’re the new girl,” the blonde said, looking me up and down. She was a few inches shorter than me, as unusual as that is, and I realized with a start that she was the one I saw walking out of Harry’s office.

 

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” she went on.

 

“I’m guessing it’s not all good,” I muttered and she laughed. It was as small and high as I had been expecting and she shook her head.

 

“It was pretty varied,” she admitted. “I’m Marigold, by the way, but you can call me Mari. First come first serve is overrated,” she announced as I followed her to the right. “You see, the idea is that everyone looks at all the bedrooms and then picks the best one but that never works out because everyone always picks the first one they come across so waiting could land us with the worst room or with the best. Depending on how many bedrooms there are we may have to share.”

 

“Are most safe-houses…well, houses?” I asked.

 

“Not most, no,” she said. “In fact, most are in the city somewhere but you’ll see a few others in your training as well as a bucket-load once you’re in the field. Personally I think they get a bit overused but not many people seem to agree with me. They think I’m reckless because I prefer to battle it out instead of taking extra time to plan everything.

 

“Once you get your opportunity, you take it. I don’t like waiting for everyone to agree on the best solution because then you lose your opening and miss your chance. Harry usually agrees with me but Ron and Ms. Clearwater, the two Assistant Head Aurors (whatever the heck that means), are big on plans and not taking ‘unnecessary chances.’ You’ll figure out what type you are soon enough. I’ve been trying to figure it out since I heard you were in but your file contradicts itself quite a bit. The only thing I’ve managed to be definitive on is that you won’t be good at checking in. You’re too much of a scatterbrain.”

 

I wasn’t sure whether or not I should be offended by her statement but knowing Natasha for almost nine years, I decided it was best to just take her words at face value and not question it.

 

“I have to admit I was a bit surprised that they accepted you. Normally they don’t do records because they’re worried about the MLE trying to get their clause into our work but I can see why they made an exception for you. You’ve got some experience under your belt.”

 

“If by experience you mean getting in trouble while I was in school, then sure.” I shrugged her comment off but my stomach was starting to feel queasy, wondering just how much she could have found out.

 

“Oh no, I meant when you went off grounds. I mean, most of it was just flimsy theories of having too much fun like ‘Suspected of causing MLE officer Brad a concussion whilst trying to escape from a party on 2nd and 3rd street, underage’ or something. But you’re defense was pretty good at making all of that sound completely implausible. He should have been paid well.”

 

He was, but I wasn’t about to say anything. The records were supposed to be sealed but I knew better than anyone that being sealed didn’t really stop people from finding out what was in them.

 

“And then there were the few times you got caught but you were let you off remarkably easy. What was it, community service and a fine at most in terms of sentences?”

 

“Something like that,” I mumbled, really not wanting to talk about it.

 

“Well I guess if you really did all that they said you did, it would have been impossible for you to get away completely clean. The graffiti was my favorite, I have to admit. I usually prefer to think of it as art rather than vandalism though I suppose your messages weren’t exactly supporting peace and love, were they?

 

“What really intrigued me, though, were the gaps I couldn’t fill in. I searched top to bottom but some of that stuff is hidden deep. Either way, your hot head definitely got you into some trouble. But I think that’s why they put you with Teddy, because your record proves that you can be impulsive and a bit reckless when your emotions get the best of you. Teddy’s very even-tempered and good at the little things. Well, it looks like we’re bunking, do you mind?”

 

I shook my head, feeling overwhelmed by her information overload. Our room was in one of the towers—large and circular with three beds. One was a queen-size directly across from the door and the other two were bunk-beds. The top one was a single bed and the bottom one was a double bed that went perpendicular to the top one. I took the bottom bunk and Mari took the queen. The bedroom was decorated in green and gold, a slightly ironic color scheme considering, but it worked. We dumped our bags with minimal unpacking and then started to head downstairs.

 

On our way down I learned that she was a Scorpio; her favorite color is red; she was in Slytherin; she has one younger brother who is in his seventh year at Hogwarts; she is 32; her trainee is Jack (she got him when he transferred to England); she has a fiancé, Clearance, who is a journalist for Quidditch Weekly; and she, like me, knows absolutely nothing about the sport.

 

“And what’s with those black balls?” I asked as we walked down the steps and back into the kitchen.

 

“I know! They’re going to cause permanent brain damage at best. And you know approximately five people a year die from it?” she replied.

 

“Do they die from the balls or the game in general?” I asked.

 

“I don’t know but Clearance did an article on it and all I remember after reading it is that an average of five people a year die; personally I think that is too high for any sport.”

 

“Agreed, it’s stupid,” I replied and she nodded as we rounded the doorway.

 

“Oh good, they’re still alive,” one of the three guys I didn’t know said.

 

“Shut your trap Travis,” Mari snapped. “Not having ‘house rules’ for the first five minutes won’t cause us all to die.”

 

“We’re supposed to treat this like a normal mission,” Travis said coolly. “And during a real mission you don’t take thirty minutes to unpack.”

 

“I do,” Mari said, sitting down on one of the stools by the counter and popping open a butterbeer.

 

“Well, those of us who haven’t gotten caught in a safe-house before don’t,” Travis replied through gritted teeth. Mari acknowledged his comment only with a roll of her eyes and a swig of her butterbeer.

 

Travis had the potential to be very good looking. He wasn’t tall but he wasn’t exceedingly short either, landing somewhere between Abigail and Jack. His eyes were a dark brown and his hair was kept short in a military-type cut. His skin was a shade darker than Kyle’s but it was just as flawless. Unfortunately, his perfectly tailored robes, shiny shoes, and generally polished appearance made him appear more uptight than handsome. Then again, I’ve never been a fan of people who put so much obvious effort into how they look. You can at least spare an extra five minutes to make it look less forced.

 

“Well,” Teddy said, clapping his hands together in an obvious attempt to diffuse the tension. “What do you say we start talking about how we are going to survive these next three days? Billy, any ideas?”

 

“Err—” Billy said, clearly caught off guard as he looked up from his game of Exploding Snap with the third mentor I had yet to meet. He didn’t get a chance to answer before his cards blew up and he cursed under his breath, focusing back in on the game.

 

“Oh for Fucks sake,” Travis exclaimed, slamming his butterbeer down on the counter and walking over to the table that was playing host to the card game. Teddy waved his wand at the golden liquid that had sloshed onto the granite counter top and waited patiently as Travis picked the cards up from the table and yanked the rest out of the two player’s hands. “We’re supposed to be teaching those five how to act in a safe-house in case they need to use one during a mission. Playing Exploding Snap doesn’t do shit.”

 

“Chill out mate,” Billy said, not even bothering to try and get the cards back. A wise decision since I have a feeling Travis is the type to get angry when he isn’t listened to. “We were just passing a bit of time. Weren’t we Pattrick?”

 

“Sure were,” Patrick nodded. “But I think that before we get started on rules we should introduce ourselves to Taylor. I’m Patrick, James’ mentor.”

 

Patrick had flaming red hair that could be seen from a mile away but it was darker than most of the Weasley’s hair. His eyes were a sparkly blue and his arms and face were all covered in freckles.

 

Billy, it turns out, is Abigail’s mentor (strange, I know) and Travis is Kyle’s.

 

“But what if no one feels like making dinner,” Billy pointed out the flaw in Travis’ cooks-and-cleaners plan (that is seriously what he called it).

 

“For Merlin’s sake, we’re only here for three days,” Marigold groaned. “So this is how it’s going down: tonight, Jack and I make dinner, tomorrow morning Billy and Abigail make breakfast, tomorrow night James and Patrick make dinner, next morning is Kyle and Travis, and Taylor and Teddy have Wednesday night. We leave Thursday morning and everyone’s happy. Planning done.”

 

“Wait,” Abigail exclaimed. Marigold groaned and turned back around, her hands braced on both sides of the doorframe.

 

“Yes?” she asked, sounding so forcibly calm that it was obvious she was annoyed.

 

“We haven’t checked the defensive spells yet and don’t you think we should clean this place up?” Abigail said. “It’s a bit dusty, no one’s stayed here for a while and I don’t do well with—with,” she paused in her speech for a moment to sneeze and gratefully accepted the tissue Billy offered her. “I don’t do well with dust.”

 

“Then I suppose you should dust,” Jack said, clapping her on the shoulder and following his mentor out of the kitchen.”

 

“But defensive spell check,” Abigail called after them. In the end, it seemed only she and Travis were concerned about defensive spells though I would be willing to bet that was mostly because the chances of being attacked while we were here were slim to none.

 

I decided not to let the few allotted hours of rest go to waste and followed Marigold upstairs, stripping off my robes and climbing into bed.

 

“Tired?” Marigold asked, looking amused.

 

“Exhausted,” I countered, yawning and turning over.

 

Shouts could be heard from some of the guys who had gone outside after our pointless meeting but I was able to block it out and fell asleep within a few minutes. When I got up a few hours later Marigold had left the room and the sun was beginning to set though it wasn’t yet dark. I changed into a new pair of robes and went downstairs to see what Marigold and Jack had made.

 

“Hey, do you have plans tonight?” James, who was sitting beside me, asked, talking quietly enough that we wouldn’t be overheard but not so quietly that it would make people suspicious.

 

“Yeah, I’m going to this huge party just down the road—it’s supposed to be a real rager,” I replied sarcastically, unable to stop the smirk from forming on my face. We’re in the middle of nowhere, what in the world would I be planning on doing? James just grinned, completely unembarrassed.

 

“Meet me the front at ten,” he said quietly and I raised my eyebrows but he had already tuned back in to the heated debate that was going on about two Quidditch teams that had a match coming up. I caught Marigold’s eye and she rolled them at me. I grinned back and finished the bowl of lentils that were really good for food that had been sitting around for who knows how long.

 

“I’m turning in early,” Marigold told me as I stood up to start helping clear the table. “I’m a pretty deep sleeper so don’t worry about waking me whenever you come in.”

 

“I think I’m going to be up for a while,” I told her. “A three hour nap gave me a bit of energy.”

 

“Have fun with James,” she said quietly as she brushed my side. I laughed and raised my eyebrows at her when she turned around in the doorway but she just grinned and winked before going up to our bedroom, leaving me and the other seven non-dinner makers to clean up.

 

At ten to ten I went up to the room Mari and I were sharing to put on boots and grab the few clothes I had brought that were meant for colder weather. I still had no idea where we were but it was cold.

 

I was outside before James so I sat down on the turquoise steps and waited until he came out, a broom held in each of his hands.

 

“I’m not flying,” I told him, skipping the pleasantries.

 

“Why not? It’s fun,” James said tossing the brooms down onto the grass and taking a seat beside me on the top step. “You haven’t really given it a fair chance.”

 

“I have given it plenty of chances and I don’t like it,” I stated, leaning back on my arms.

 

“You don’t like the height, that doesn’t mean you don’t like flying,” James said stubbornly.

 

“You can’t fly without height.”

 

“No, but if you don’t look down you won’t notice the height,” he shot right back.

 

“I’m not flying,” I repeated and he rolled his eyes.

 

“Chicken,” he muttered childishly. I couldn’t help it—I started to laugh.

 

“Are you going to start flapping your wings and clucking at me? If I did things just because people called me a chicken for not, I would be dead right now.”

 

“Flying won’t kill you,” he shrugged.

 

“No but the ground that I hit after falling off the broom can. I have no interested in breaking my neck at nineteen. Sorry.”

 

“Come on Tay, just try it,” he tried to convince me. “I won’t let you fall, I promise.”

 

“Nope,” I shook my head.

 

“You are too damn stubborn for you own good,” he muttered, running a hand through his hair.

 

“You sound like the Davenport’s,” I grumbled, annoyed now.

 

“Well then they’re smart people.” He put on his most charming smile and I looked away but couldn’t help smiling too. It was creepy how contagious his good moods were.

 

“About some things,” I admitted slightly grudgingly.

 

“Just one flight,” James persisted, picking up a broom and holding it out to me. “You’re going to have to fly at some point in the field and it can’t hurt to get more practice in. We’ll stay as low as you want to.”

 

I sighed but took the broom, straddling it and pushing off so that my feet were just grazing the grass.

 

“Happy?” I asked in annoyance. He shrugged and kicked off himself, going as high as he used to for Quidditch and flying in circles, turning upside down and making steep dives just for the fun of it. I stayed where I was and watched.

 

“If I promise never to try and get you to play Quidditch, will you go on one ride with me?” James asked stopping right beside me.

 

I considered it for a minute, wondering if there would ever be an occurrence where people would try to get me to play.

 

“You’ll never so much as ask me to play?” I clarified. “And if other people try to convince me to, you’ll get them to lay off?”

 

“I’ll do my best,” James promised, patting the back of his broom. I kept my eyes shut and it made the entire experience a lot more fun, it wasn’t unlike riding a rollercoaster and since James actually knew what he was doing, it wasn’t nearly as scary as it was when I was in control. It was a new concept for me—being comfortable when I didn’t have complete control.

 

Just as the last light in one of the bedrooms turned off I agreed to try my own broom, using the full moon as our source for light. The overall darkness made it easier for me to ignore how high up I was and while I was about as graceful as a foal I did feel better. I still prefer walking, no questions asked, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I had made it out to be in my head. At least with James starting from the beginning it wasn’t.

 

“Loosen your grip,” he instructed as we hovered a few feet off the ground. “You’re more likely to slip if your hands get sweaty from holding it so tightly.”

 

More likely to slip?” I repeated nervously, trying to let my grip relax a bit.

 

“I told you I’m not going to let you fall,” James tried to calm me down. “Now think of it as though your levitating yourself, when you want to go down just tilt the handle a little bit down like your lowering a pillow and when you go up, just tilt it a bit up. To go forward you lean forwards and to slow down you lean back. Got it?”

 

I nodded and he let go of the back of the broom, leaving me to hover on my own.

 

“Okay, go forward,” he instructed and I did as he said. When I accidentally started to speed up too quickly James was there to grab onto the back of my broom and stop it before it could send me rocketing back to the ground.

 

“I think I’m good for the night,” I said a little shakily after another close call. James didn’t protest and instead lowered himself to the ground, waving his wand at both of our brooms which immediately whooshed around to the back of the house.

 

“See, it wasn’t too bad, right?” James asked. Still feeling a little off balance I let my knees buckle and lied down on the moist ground.

 

“It was fine…I mean, I didn’t die or end up in St. Mungos,” I said, paraphrasing

Scorpius’ words to me about his lunch with James. Not having been there, James didn’t notice, but I didn’t need him too.

 

“You never gave it a fair shot,” James reiterated. “You were too worried about falling.”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” I waved him off. “Throw my fear in my face. So what about you? What’s the great James Potter afraid of?”

 

“Nothing,” James shrugged.

 

I rolled my eyes but I’m pretty he didn’t notice. “Yeah right, everyone’s afraid of something. What form does your Bogart take?”

 

“That I’m not telling you,” he said, pointing his finger at me.

 

“Why not?” I asked, offended. “You know my biggest fear!”

 

“Yeah, but mine’s different. Loads of people are afraid of heights.”

 

“Come on,” I begged him. “I promise I won’t make fun of you.”

 

“It’s not that,” he said hesitantly and I suddenly realized why he was so nervous about it.

 

“It’s something the press could use, isn’t it?” I asked accusingly and he sighed.

 

“No one finds out, okay?” I nodded, remembering all the stories that had come out about me the first time I visited America—all of the theories, all of the accusations, all of the press.

 

It wasn’t exactly the same but I had still dealt with press and I still knew how bad it was when you felt like you couldn’t trust people and held everything in. I didn’t know why I cared so much, and honestly I wasn’t in any hurry to figure it out, but I wanted him to talk to me, to know that I wasn’t going to run off to Witch Weekly with the latest scoop; to believe that I wasn’t one of those girls.

 

“My boggart is centaur,” he admitted and it took all of my self-restraint not to laugh. “And that doesn’t mean that I’m prejudice or—”

 

“What caused it?” I asked, cutting him off before he had a chance to defend himself like he was at a press conference.

 

He sighed and ran his hand through his hair again. “Nothing. When I was little I was scared of horses and first year my friends and I all snuck into the Forbidden forest where we saw a whole heard of them and it freaked me out even more than horses did.”

 

“So is that why you took Arithmancy—”

 

“Instead of divination, yeah,” he nodded, messing up his hair for the millionth time that night.

 

“Huh, I took it because the lady freaked me out. Natasha always had the craziest stories about her. When Scorp started taking the class he realized that all he had to do in order to satisfy her was make up a bunch of really painful ways to be tortured or killed so we started researching it in the libraries. Seriously, our knowledge on the subject is scary. Meg An slept in my mum’s room for a week after she read a letter I had gotten where Natasha was talking about all the one’s she had found in her dad’s office. He has a bunch of books his dad used to have—you know, Death Eater stuff. It was really pretty creepy.”

 

“Even worse is that they did all of that,” James said darkly.

 

“Yes, but I don’t like to think about that,” I said lightly. “Especially when we’re outside, it’s dark, the moon is full, we’re in the middle of nowhere, werewolves are hungry, and there are probably dark wizards who would love to come and find us right now.”

 

James looked at me, amused. “Scared?”

 

“I prefer apprehensive,” I grinned before turning serious. “But I actually looked up some stuff from the war. Most of it is really biased though and I was thinking, since I have to read a bunch of books about how great your dad is we should go to Knockturn Alley and find books from the other side. Books written by people who supported Voldemort,” I told him.

 

The idea had been in my head for a while but I knew none of my friends would do it. It was too close for comfort for Scorpius, Tyler would be too scared, and Natasha wouldn’t be interested. She hates everything about the war and thinks and talks about it as little as possible. I kind of followed her lead about the whole thing after we met, never having heard of it before.

 

“Are you crazy?” James said. “I can’t go down there, what if someone saw me?”

 

“We just have to make sure no one knows,” I shrugged. “You can even take Polyjuice Potion if you want. But come on, if you’re going to make headway with your family you have to know about the other side of the matter. They may have been wrong but it was a war. Everyone who’s fighting in a war—willingly—thinks that they’re right. Sure, years later it’s pretty clear who’s right and who’s wrong but in the moment people only know what they believe, they don’t know what society is going to think thirty years later—or even hundreds of years later in some cases.”

 

“I’ll think about it,” James sighed. “But I wanted you to read the books so that you could make headway. If you want to convince my family that Scorpius is a good guy then you have to know your facts.”

 

“If I’m going to make headway?” I repeated in surprise. “No way, our agreement was that I would study up and you would be on his side.”

 

“I will be on his side,” James promised. “But I don’t know him like you do. And Rose will need an ally through this whole ordeal. How did that go anyways?”

 

“It was good,” I admitted. “She knows how to lighten up. We had fun.”

 

“Good,” James said, looking legitimately relieved.

 

“But you’re not changing the subject that easily. I owe you absolutely nothing in this situation and I don’t know your family well enough to have any sort of pull.”

 

“You know my dad,” James countered. “And Uncle Ron, and Fred, George, Angelina, and Roxie, and you were roommates with Dominique—”

 

“It doesn’t matter,” I cut him off. “I was never friends with Dominique and things have been tense between Fred and I for years, partly because of my friendship with Scorp.”

 

George, Angelina, and Fred already knew my views on the matter and it hasn’t changed anything for them. Besides, we made an unspoken agreement a long time ago that I wouldn’t press the matter of my dad being a prat and they wouldn’t press the matter of my friendships. It was a boundary that we created when Fred and I finally started speaking again in Seventh year.

 

“And as for your dad and Ron,” I went on. “They’re my bosses, James. If they were anyone else I would have no problem giving them an earful for their shit but there is a line there. I get that it’s different since he’s your dad but to me he’s just my boss.”

 

“And the guy who saved the world, right?” James asked, laughing hollowly. It was easy to detect the bitter undertone.

 

“I don’t care that he saved the world,” I said honestly. “He’s my boss, that’s it. I’m not so cowardly that I won’t stick up for my friends just because he’s famous but yet again I point out that he’s my boss. There are boundaries.”

 

“You have a lot of boundaries,” James stated, the bitterness still apparent.

 

“They’re helpful,” I said simply, stopping myself from picking off a chunk of nail polish just in time. “Look, we better get inside before they realize we’re gone and send for re-enforcement.”

 

I was done with the conversation and had no wish to get in a legitimate fight about it. Thankfully, James didn’t seem eager for a battle of wits either.

 

“Yeah, that’d be bad.”

 
 


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