Chapter 66 : Dumbledore's Proposal
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Your world had come crashing down around you twelve years ago, your best friends and your fiancť gone all in one day. You and Remus had stayed close for awhile, you were the only two left. But you couldn't be near each other without being reminded of the pain you still felt so keenly. So you drifted apart, only sending Christmas and birthday cards and then not even that. You made new friends; ones that didn't know about your past.
You'd fought for Harry, as hard as you could. But Dumbledore insisted he stay with that horrid wench Petunia and her family. You were to have no contact with him. It killed you; you wanted to see how he looked growing from an infant to a toddler to a young boy.
But you neither saw him nor heard anything about him for twelve years. You knew he'd be entering his 3rd year at Hogwarts. You had his birthday marked on your calendar. Your godson, a teenager! And your only images were tattered old photographs of a tiny baby.
You were shocked when you found out. A disoriented Cornelius Fudge had burst into the office, shouting, "He's escaped!" It was five minutes before he could explain that Sirius Black, 'Voldemort's right hand man', had escaped from Azkaban.
Your heart skipped a beat. You'd never believed that it was Sirius who'd betrayed you all. You'd known him too well. But everyone else was convinced he'd been working for Voldemort, and that he'd escaped to help him return to power. Bull, in your opinion. You just hoped you'd be kept out of this particular case.
"O'Connell!" Fudge called across the room. You approached the Minister.
"I want you running this case."
"You knew him; you'll give us an advantage. You know how he thinks, where he's likely to hide."
"We'll catch him in no time with you on the trail."
"Sir, I can't work on this case."
"I won't do it. It's like betraying someone I loved and trusted."
"Kara, he fooled you all those years. It was all an act. The Sirius Black you knew was never real." He said this all in a condescending tone. It made you sick. "You're heading up the team."
"No, I'm not."
"This is the job I'm offering you, As your boss, I'm ordering you to take it."
"No. if you don't let me stay out of this, I'm quitting." He didn't say anything. "Goodbye, Cornelius," you said, striding towards the exit. He grabbed your wrist with his hand.
"O'Connell, don't be ridiculous." You wrenched your hand away.
"Goodbye." You walked out of the Auror department, leaving a startled Minister of Magic in your wake.
You still looked upon that day with fondness. After quitting, you moved back home to America, taking a job at one of the American ministry offices in New York.
It was there that you spent the next three years, until Harry was in the end of his fifth year at Hogwarts. It was there that you heard about Sirius' death.
Your boss had come in and announced the 'good' news. You tried to look happy, like everyone else did. But while they celebrated over the death of a mass murderer, you mourned the loss of the only man you'd ever loved. With his death you buried the small hope you'd always carried that you two could be together once again.
You didn't let yourself cry over it. Not until two weeks after, when the innocence of Sirius Black was exposed by none other than the English Ministry of Magic. It was the talk of the Wizarding community for weeks; everywhere you went, you heard 'I always knew he was innocent,' and 'poor guy, rotting in prison for no reason'.
It was at work one day when you heard "I feel sorry for his girlfriend."
"I heard about her. Used to work as an Auror in London." You had frozen, your fingers clasped around the necklace you always wore: your engagement ring on a chain.
"Are you alright, O'Connell?" one of the guys who'd been speaking asked.
"No," you answered. "I donít like people talking about me."
"You were Black's girlfriend?" the other guy asked. You nodded once before resuming the walk back to your desk. The news would be all over the office within ten minutes, you knew. Perfect, just perfect. You'd just had to open your big mouth.
"Is it true, Kara? You used to date Sirius Black?" You nodded wearily as your friend and fellow Auror, Melissa, asked the question you knew you'd be hearing a thousand times more in the next few days. "Really? Why didn't you ever say something?"
"The past is the past, okay?" you snapped.
"Okay." She left you alone. But no one else did. You were extremely glad when it was time to go home.
You unlocked the door to your small apartment and went straight to the fridge for a firewhisky. Rough day.
Sitting down at your small kitchen table, it was a full five minutes before you noticed the bright red bird sitting on your window.
"Fawkes?" you breathed in awe. Dumbledore's phoenix flew over and sat in front of you on your table. You noticed the letter attached to Fawkes' foot and opened it with interest. Whatever you were expecting, you didn't get it.
Dumbledore was asking you for a favor. He wanted you to- teach at Hogwarts? You had to make sure you'd only had one firewhisky, and then read the letter again. But you'd seen it right; Dumbledore wanted you to 'co-teach' Defense Against the Dark Arts.
At first you didn't even think about accepting. You were halfway through your polite declination when you stopped to think. Harry was at Hogwarts. And Dumbledore didn't offer a job to someone without a reason. You knew things were bad over there, with Voldemort back. Maybe he needed your help? You pushed the thought from your head. If he needed you he'd have asked years ago. Sighing, you decided you could figure out Dumbledore's motives later. For now you'd just accept, and not ask questions. At least you'd avoid the questions directed at you.
So you crumpled up the first draft and wrote again to Dumbledore, accepting the teaching position.
"Professor O'Connell," you said out loud. "There's something I never expected to hear." Shaking your head, you prepared yourself for bed. As you drifted off, you couldn't help but wonder what you were getting yourself in to.
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