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Shade to Shade by Slide
Chapter 2 : The Plan
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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Chapter 1: The Plan



“Tent pegs?”

“Check…”

“Guy ropes?”

“Check…”

“What the hell are guy ropes? Ropes you tie up the local men with?”

“No. Hammer?”

“Check…”

“Why exactly is it we’re going camping like this?”

“Because we are. Sleeping bags?”

“Check.”

Sleeping bags? We’re going camping with sleeping bags? What happened to good old-fashioned beds?”

“They won’t fit in the tent. Tin opener?”

“Check.”


“Only because we’re taking stupid bloody Muggle tents. I’ve got some tents at home; just a quick apparition and I can go get them. Then we can camp in style.”

“Water flasks?”

“Check. And we’re not doing this to camp in style. We’re doing this for the full outdoor experience.”

“Why the hell did I agree to this?”

Finally, Caldwyn Brynmor tossed the water flasks onto the grass and looked up at the irritated and questioning shape of the person who was better than anyone he knew at driving him nuts. “Because, my good Tanith, it is a cheap and easy holiday with your best friends in the whole world without having to listen to death, slaughter and mayhem for a long weekend.”

Tobias Grey, lounged out on the grass in the back garden of Cal’s house, where all of their camping kit was assembled and being double-checked, raised his head and lowered the list of supplies he’d been reading out. “Listen to him. Also, listen to the word ‘cheap’.”

“We can have the tents for free. I’d just have to go home for them. They have beds. They’re small, they’re light, we won’t have to pay for them, and did I mention the beds?” Tanith Cole looked rather put out as she perched on the small wall at the edge of the patio and looked at the array of kit her two friends had been assembling.

The house of Will Rayner, foster-father to Cal Brynmor, was as typical a terraced house in as typical a village of the Peak District like Kittering as one could expect. Two floors, three bedrooms, none too generous in size, and a back garden which was bulging at the sheer notion of being filled with camping equipment.

“One of these days, Tanith, you’re going to have to try and cope without wizardly luxuries, and then you’ll be glad that I educated you in the way of Muggle survival.” Cal shifted somewhat uncomfortably as he reached for the list Tobias was holding and stood up, doing his own double-checking of their camping kit.

“I think that the day when wizardly luxuries collapse, Muggle society will be so long gone that knowing how to use a ‘guy rope’ won’t help me.” There was a pause, and Tanith glanced over at Tobias, who had by now returned to his relaxed sprawl on his back. “And I still think a guy rope sounds something you use to drag in prospective men.”

“Maybe you should get one for the next Hogsmeade festival.” Eyes closed, blond hair distinctly scruffier than usual and dangling in his eyes, Tobias’ ease was more than obvious. “Perhaps you could get a small horde following you."

“Oh, I can do that without any kind of poxy rope.” Tanith grinned slightly at Tobias’ good-natured snort, then looked up at the sound of an irritable throat-clearing from Cal. “Yes? Was there something I was supposed to be doing?”

“You were supposed to be sitting here sunning yourself and not getting in the way.” Cal sounded a small degree exasperated. “It seems you couldn’t manage that.”

“I did for a bit. Then I got bored.” She glanced back over at Tobias. “We should go to the Hogsmeade Festival again this New Year, I’m pretty sure of that.”

Cal turned away, shaking his head as he surveyed their sprawling equipment. “Yeah,” he muttered, quietly enough that they might presume he meant to be discreet, loudly enough that they would certainly catch his words. “Because that went so well last time.”

Tobias stiffened slightly. “Doubt I’ll be at Hogwarts again this Christmas. Last year was a bit of a… fluke.”

“And Will won’t be working this year. He promised he’d be around this time.” Cal shrugged. “Of course, that might change… but I’ll take the promise, for now.”

“We could, you know, do the amazingly impossible and go there from home? Hell, we’re all of age. It’s not like our parents can boss us around.” Tanith rolled her eyes.

Tobias and Cal exchanged glances. “I’m not sure my mother got the memo on that one,” Tobias said dryly. “She still wanted me to explain to her exactly what I was doing with this camping trip. You know – where am I, what am I doing, who am I doing it with, how long will it be.” He frowned. “I’ll talk to her. But I guess the over-protectiveness is normal, right?”

There was nothing but a slightly stiff silence from the other two, broken just by Cal far-too-obviously muttering the list of kit under his breath.

“So. We got everything on the list?” Tobias sat up abruptly, straightening his glasses from where they threatened to slide off his nose, and blinking slightly at the adjustment of blood flow to his head.

“Now comes the fun of packing. And… what was that?” Cal glanced up as a rather distinctive sound echoed in the sky above them. It was only mid-morning on a particularly glorious summer day, and having been left to their own devices for the better part of two days in this rather sleepy corner of England, sudden interruptions were definitely unexpected.

And usually unwelcome, with the current climate of… things.

“Relax. Owls.” Tanith gestured ahead, over Cal’s shoulder and towards the sky, where a trio of dark shapes could be seen fluttering about and heading in their direction. “Ought to be from Hogwarts.”

“Smart buggers, aren’t they, knowing that we’re here.” Tobias shook his head, clambering to his feet. “Exam results. Course books. We’ll have to go shopping… I’m sure I need a new set of Potions equipment, and the Arithmancy course book list is going to be as long as my arm…” He began to pace a little anxiously.

Cal grabbed him by the shoulder. “Camp first. Shop later.”

“Actually,” Tanith commented as the three birds – rather splendid identical tawny owls – landed in unison on the garden fence and straightening up as pompously as such an animal could, “letters first. Camping next. Shopping even later.”

“Or maybe, Toby, you should go for breathing.” Cal stepped over to the wooden fence, relieving the three birds of their burdens. Then he headed over to the back door of the house, pushing it open and nodding inside. “Water’s in the kitchen, boyos. Feel free to drink up, Scotland’s a long trip back.”

As the three owls fluttered into the house, Cal tossed the letters to the other two. Tobias had just about finished pacing, but was muttering indecipherably under his breath as fumbling fingers accepted the letter.

Cal unrolled his with little ceremony, sitting down next to Tanith on the patio. “Relax, mate,” he told Tobias. “What’s got you so worried? It’ll just be the booklist.”

Tanith was looking at their friend with a somewhat more thoughtful expression. “Don’t worry about the prefect badge,” she told him. “You know as well as I do that Miles was never going to be able to hold onto the thing. It’ll be back.”

Indeed, a shining golden badge had dropped into Tobias’ hand out of the letter as he’d taken it, but he hadn’t given it much of a reaction. “I wasn’t worried about that,” he said, shoving the prefect’s badge into his pocket and beginning to pace again. “Professor Snape told me I was pretty much guaranteed to have my badge back with Umbridge gone. It’s…” His voice trailed off into a mumbling monologue, too quiet to be overheard.

With a slight sigh, Tanith’s gaze dropped down to her own letter. Nothing in particular caught her eye – confirmation of her continued presence as a prefect of Slytherin House, confirmation of the abolition of the Inquisitorial Squad and thus her loss of status there, confirmation of her NEWT courses, a list of the books she needed for the subjects, captaincy of the Quidditch team passing on from the addled Montague to fifth-year Urquhart, and…

Shit! That Irish bastard!”

Head Boy and Girl assignments.

Tobias threw his letter down on the floor with more than mild frustration, his pacing picking up. “Of course O’Neal gets the job. He gets everything, doesn’t he? Never works, never makes an effort, just smiles his golden boy smile and everything falls into his lap!”

Cal was acting as if he couldn’t hear half of this, his head buried in his own letter as best he could. Probably, Tanith guessed, trying to plan how to manipulate Urquhart into keeping him in the Quidditch team after his last-minute appointment the previous year to the Beater spot with the appalling performances of Crabbe and Goyle.

Tanith stood up, stepping over to the blatantly irate Tobias. “Grey… just relax. It’s only the Head Boy position. It’s not like it’s…”

“You know how hard I worked for that?” Tobias turned on his heel to face her, his irritated cursing finally leading to him raising his voice at her. “You know how hard I made an effort as a prefect, as a student, pushing forwards, trying my best?”

“No, Grey, because I never paid attention to you for the last two years, especially not as I was standing by you in every single damn meeting and every time you played nice to Snape and Dumbledore.” The biting edge in Tanith’s voice was subdued, but definitely gave him the message that taking his anger out on her was not something he should consider.

He did take a step back, looking a little sheepish for a moment, but the irritation was still clearly there. “And Connor O’Neal, who never did anything but play happy little Hufflepuff, gets the job. Of course.”

“Cup of tea, anyone?” Cal stood up, looking between the two of them. No response, but he still headed for the back door. “I’ll just go put the kettle on…”

“O’Neal’s done a lot of good things for the school,” Tanith started, not entirely sure she was using the right tack to calm Tobias down, but beginning with simple facts first. “He’s a good student, and he’s a good prefect…”

“And is Hufflepuff’s latest golden boy since Diggory died.” Tobias rolled his eyes, resuming pacing. “Of course. So Hufflepuff get the sympathy vote. Because Diggory never lived to get the Head Boy spot, and so when, two years later, his successor appears, he gets the job, no question.”

“Hey, let’s be fair. O’Neal never had his prefect badge taken away from him,” Tanith stated flatly, the self-pity in Tobias’ voice irritating her after no more than a few seconds.

That’s not fair!” Tobias rounded on her, finally his anger somewhat justifiably levelled in her direction. “That was Umbridge, and you know it! You think I’d have stood a chance of Head Boy if I’d fallen in line with the Inquisitorial Squad now Dumbledore’s back?”

“So that was why you did it? I thought you were trying to stand on your high horse, play the victim, and maybe try to prove to MacKenzie that you could play fluffy Slytherin for her.” Tanith threw her hands in the air.

“This has nothing to do with that, and it certainly has nothing to do with Annie.” Tobias’ voice took on a cold, warning note, and it was Tanith’s turn to realise she’d pushed too far in the wrong direction. “I played ‘fluffy Slytherin’, like you said, I toed Dumbledore’s line, and what do I get for it? I get ignored. Like every other Slytherin.”

“You don’t hear me complaining about Jennifer Riley getting the Head Girl spot!” Tanith retorted.

“You never wanted the Head Girl spot! You hardly even wanted the prefect job! It’s just because Larkin and Drake are so inept that you got it in the first place!”

Tanith folded her arms across her chest. “It’s nice to know you have such a high opinion of me, Grey.”

Tobias rolled his eyes again. “Stop derailing the conversation. That’s not what I meant, and you know it,” he said irritably. “We haven’t had a Slytherin Head Boy in ten years. Van Roden deserved it through and through, and guess what? It went to a Gryffindor. Imagine that!”

Cal emerged from the back door at this point, holding a tray with three steaming mugs on it. There was a pause as he analysed the sight before him, then he stepped backwards, returning to the house. “I think I forgot sugar and milk!”

The other two ignored him. “Get a grip here, Tobias. Either this is about you, or it’s about everyone screwing over Slytherin House. You can’t have it both ways.”

“I can’t? I’m a Slytherin. I do a good job, and someone else gets rewarded. Used to be Gryffindors. Hufflepuffs are apparently ‘in’. Golden boy O’Neal, never had to ask for anything in his life, gets it all on a plate for him without even blinking, bam.” Tobias slapped his hand against the wooden garden fence, and it gave a quiet thunk sound in response.

Tanith paused, pinching the bridge of her nose and taking a deep breath. “Then why are you shouting at me about it?”

“Because I want to shout at someone about it, and you offered. Plus, you’re kind of used to it.” Tobias sighed, calming down significantly. “This just… it’s shit. It really is.”

“I know.” Tanith nodded slightly, moving back over to the patio to perch on the garden wall. “But… hell, Slytherin’s never going to get anything. I worked that out back in first year. I figured you’d have twigged by now.”

“What can I say? I’m a sucker for lost causes.” Tobias flopped back down onto the grass, sprawling out vaguely, giving her a brief sideways glance.

“Has the bombing stopped? Is it safe to give you tea?” Cal sounded dimly amused as he emerged from the back door, still holding the tray and moving about to distribute the mugs.

Tanith chuckled, picking up her letter again and accepting the tea mug. “Yeah. False alarm.” She took a brief sip of the tea, her eyes flickering back over the letter.

The mug paused as she lowered it when finally she read something to make her halt. “Where’s the report?”

“What?” Tobias raised his head, reaching for his own, slightly screwed letter.

“The report. It’s not here.” Tanith turned the sheet of paper over, as if double-sided parchment had become a new craze at Hogwarts. “Our class reports.”

Cal raised a sheaf. “I’ve got mine,” he said, blinking.

“Don’t have mine.” Tobias scanned his letter quickly. “Oh. It’s been sent home.” He shrugged, flopping back.

The mug and letter were set down abruptly as Tanith stood up. “Shit,” it was her turn to say.

“What?” Cal frowned, sipping his own tea.

“My parents will open that. They think privacy happens to someone else when it comes to school stuff. I didn’t think the letter was today!” It was also her turn to pace, gesturing a little frantically.

“What’s so bad about that?” Tobias blinked.

“They think I’m taking Astronomy, not Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Ancient Runes, not Transfiguration!”

Cal and Tobias exchanged glances. “So?” Cal asked at last.

“They think I’m doing these subjects because they think I’m training to become a Potions Researcher! Without Astronomy, how the hell am I meant to be any kind of Potions professional?”

“Oh.” Comprehension filled Tobias’ expression. “You think they’ll figure out that you’re…”

“Don’t say it.” Tanith winced, reaching down to whip her wand from out of her back pocket. “I’ll be back soon. Before we planned to leave, don’t worry, Brynmor. I just hope it’ll be in one piece.”

Then she raised the wand, closed her eyes, focused…

And the air of the world rushed in around her.

She’d apparated back home often enough since she’d acquired her license that it came almost as second nature to her. The sudden change in smells and sounds as she popped back into existence was normal; no longer the crisp air of the Peak District, but a muskier, more woody smell from the copse around the back of her house, the perfect location for apparition and any Portkey.

It was a walk of just a matter of minutes from the apparition site to the back door of her house, but she managed to stretch it out a quarter of an hour, pausing to enjoy the woodland shade, stopping around the lands behind her house to briefly admire the winged horses her father bred, and generally delaying the inevitable as best as she physically could.

The Cole family home stank of the old money that had built it brick by brick. Houses of its size were only occasionally found in the country, though the Cole home was not uncommon in its architecture or design. Muggles passing by would see the house, know it to be inhabited, but there was little written as to the nature and history of the place. The more suspect aspects of the estate, the winged horses and the occasional magical displays, were all hidden neatly by charms. A wizard could look upon the house and see everything as it was – a Muggle would look, see nothing important, and suddenly remember they’d left the kettle on if they bothered inspecting any further.

So the ‘back door’ was a rather wide set of glass windowed doors that meant it was effectively impossible for Tanith to sneak into the house. There was nobody in the kitchen to have seen her approach, but by no means did she suspect that this meant her arrival had been undetected.

Besides, she was technically supposed to be here to talk to her parents about the issue, not hide from them. If she wanted to hide, she could have gone on the camping trip and ignored their wrath until later.

Avoidance of issues had never held her in good stead lately.

“So,” a voice echoed from the corridor just as she emerged from the kitchen, far down to her left towards the stairs. She froze, mid-step, not daring to turn and face the speaker. “Our little Potions Researcher returns home. Only… I am all astonishment.”

Tanith stopped, closing her eyes, then turned to face her father. “So you read the report, then, dad.”

Daedalus Cole stood at the foot of the stairs, arms folded across his chest. He was a man of slim build, devotedly average height, and nothing particularly commanding about his appearance. His social position was, she recalled with some derision, that of the intellectual, never something particularly respectable when one is expected to hold dinner parties, and especially not when one has the reputation as being… eccentric.

Unfortunately, right now, there was nothing about Daedalus’ appearance which was not intimidating, least of all the deep frown on his face.

“I read it. I admit to there being some confusion on my part as to just what it is you mean to be doing, throwing away academic opportunities like this. For the most part, I am simply confused and hurt at my daughter outright lying to me for over a year.”

Tanith sighed. This wasn’t going to be easy. “Is mum in?” she asked slowly.

“She’s currently at the Drakes’. She hasn’t read the report. Yet.” Daedalus’ expression was still cold.

Well, there went any hopes Tanith could have had for using any kind of academic argument to sway over her Ravenclaw mother. That left resolution in Slytherin hands.

To be fair, she preferred it that way.

“I’m wondering how, exactly, you intend to carry on towards the career of a Potions Researcher with your NEWT choices,” Daedalus continued, though there was no doubt in Tanith’s mind that this was a lead-up to his conclusion rather than any genuine confusion. “After all, I do not see how Defence Against the Dark Arts and Transfiguration are going to help you. Herbology is a useful choice, as is, obviously Potions… but no Astronomy? How do you intend to be able to cope with ingredients and their affect upon a potion without understanding how, for example, the lunar cycle changes and influences the properties of a certain herb?” Daedalus raised an eyebrow, walking down the corridor towards her slowly.

Tanith froze, not usually finding herself in this position of being awed by her father – or, really, being awed by anyone. He had reached her by the time she found her voice. “Because… I’m not going to be a Potions Researcher,” she said slowly.

“No. You’re not. Because a Potions Researcher doesn’t take Defence and Transfiguration. In fact, you have a rather specific list of course choices here, young lady.” Daedalus lifted the report slightly, waving the piece of paper at her slowly.

“Can’t imagine what for. I just picked them at random.” Lying and continued aggravation of her father was what Tanith would usually call ‘living dangerously’, and probably not for very long. But she’d made this decision a long time ago, had weighed it up, and could smell the way this conversation was going to go, a way she objected to rather highly.

Daedalus paused, and there was a brief silence as he took a deep breath. “I also happened to have a brief conversation with Mister Van Roden a few minutes ago after reading this report. He said that he had given you as many texts as he could get his hands on to help you prepare for Auror training.”

Well… damn.

Tanith attempted an innocent smile. “Did he? I was sure there were some more books out there on investigative techniques that he hadn’t managed to send to me, and…”

“You’re not becoming an Auror.” Daedalus’ voice was still authoritative, but not quite so cold – it was definitely a more parental kind of imposing.

“I thought that was up to me?” Tanith retorted, somewhat sharply.

“I will always give you the freedom to make your own decisions, and your own mistakes. Only this is a mistake you won’t be able to pick yourself back up from, as you’ll be dead. So I’m intervening,” Daedalus said, his voice low.

“Dead? Auror’s a dangerous job, but I don’t intend to wind up dead.”

“Don’t get clever with me.” Her father fixed her with a glare. “These are dangerous times – even more so with the confirmation of… his… return. It’s not a time for you to run around to try and play hero. I thought you were smarter than that.”

“I thought you were more attentive than that?” Tanith felt the irritation churning in her stomach, natural rebelliousness combining with a sense of indignation. “You know I’m not going to be that stupid.”

“I thought I knew you. But then, I thought my daughter wouldn’t have lied to me for a year to cover up a truly ridiculous decision.” Daedalus began to pace in the corridor.

“My decision. Not yours.” Tanith glared.

“I have contributed a vast amount of financial support to your education. I have provided you with every resource you could need for your studies, I have provided you with a tutor who has educated you in ways that even the vaunted Hogwarts could not teach you. And you are my daughter. As such, I believe I have a degree of input as to the decisions of your life.” Daedalus paused briefly in his pacing to fix her with a sharp look.

“So you’ve gone and purchased a part of my life? How loving of you, father.” Tanith fell just short of rolling her eyes at him.

“Do not talk to me like that.” He drew himself up straight. “I do not need to hear any of your smart mouth. I am your father, and you will listen to me.”

“Why? You’re not going to listen to me!” She threw her hands in the air in frustration. “Yeah, I’ve made a life decision you don’t like. You’re just going to have to try and cope. Unless you want to do something ridiculously over the top, like disowning me, and I’m betting you’re not going to do that.”

She knew that there was a small chance that she had just effectively dared her father to do just that. However, she would stand by her bet; he might be tempted, but Daedalus Cole wasn’t that petty, nor did he seem to be quite that angry.

“I thought that there might be more to my disapproval than simply financial penalties,” Daedalus said, almost petulantly. “I had hoped that the disapproval of your father might help suggest just what an infinitely silly notion this is you have in your head. You have no concept of what you are signing yourself up for – a life of danger and death…”

“I have every concept. I haven’t made the choice lightly. And why the hell should your disapproval about something like this bug me?” She saw her father take a step back, as if slapped, and took this as a small victory. “It’s not as if you’ve ever made a decision that showed any kind of guts. Last war, you sat around and held dinner parties for Death Eaters and Muggle sympathisers both and played it safe!” Another flinch from Daedalus. “So if this is a decision you disapprove of, I should think that it’s the right one!”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” her father responded sharply. “Tanith, you’re making judgements about something you don’t understand…”

“Are you saying you didn’t just sit on the fence? Your friends were all Death Eaters…”

“And so will yours be! That is what happens in Slytherin house!” Daedalus snapped, and she was cowed into silence at last as her calm, reserved father finally shouted at her, something she had never witnessed. “Ariane Drake! Who do you think her father works for? Adrian Pucey! His mother barely wriggled out of being arrested sixteen years ago! Caldwyn Brynmor! His mother killed by an Unspeakable and his father escaping from Azkaban six months ago!”

“Now you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tanith said, her voice shaky. “Brynmor…”

“These are your classmates, your housemates, your dorm-mates!” Daedalus continued sharply. “Slytherin House might try to defend its honour when accused of breeding Dark Wizards, but the statistics speak differently. You aren’t hiding your plan to become an Auror, and you’re living with the next generation of the servants of He Who Must Not Be Named. Do you honestly believe that you have not just painted a target on yourself?”

She rolled her eyes, jaw set with anger at his accusations and a hefty degree of irritation at his warnings. “Seriously? Everyone in the House who has half a brain isn’t going to care, or certainly not object. Those who’re going to side with You-Know-Who? They’re the idiots! The Malfoys, the Montagues…”

“The Brynmors, the Doyles, the Harts, even the Buskirks.” Daedalus folded his arms across his chest. “Is there anyone in there you can honestly trust with your life?”

Tanith’s lip curled. “I have friends, Dad. I know you were willing to sell out either side to protect your hide…”

“You have absolutely no idea what you’re getting yourself into, do you?” His voice had lost a great deal of anger, and become one more of drained weariness. “Severus Snape! The accusations against him were never cleared up!”

She gaped at her father in astonishment. “Your paranoia really has reached crazy heights. Jacob was never stabbed in his sleep by his classmates or the head of our house! If there were problems with signing up to be a Slytherin Auror, you can bet he’d have told me what they were. He told me to sleep on it for a month and then come back to him when I first told him I wanted to be one!”

“Jacob Van Roden did not join the ranks of the Aurors just as war was breaking out. It’s been a halfway-respectable job for certain Slytherins of certain families.” Daedalus had resumed pacing, hands clasped behind his back, voice in more of a low, thoughtful growl. “His mother might have a dubious past, but nothing was proven against the Buskirks, so I imagine she’ll be…”

“You’re crazy. You’ve gone absolutely crazy,” Tanith told him flatly. “This is my life. And my risks. And you might be my father, and I respect your opinion if it comes to academia, or finances, or sometimes even people. But you are, and I mean this utterly, the last person I would ever turn to if I wanted advice on a decision it would take guts to make.”

His gaze met her just out of the corner of his eye with a small flash of anger. He didn’t turn to face her, but he seemed to have been deflated somewhat, from fury to an agonising resignation. “You have no concept of the decisions I have made for you, your sister, or your mother, do you?”

“You have no conception of me as your daughter. This is a shot out of the dark for you? That just goes to show how little you know me; how little you’ve bothered speaking for me since I started my NEWTs. If you’d even been around at Christmas, had even spoken to me about my courses, you’d have realised I was lying through my teeth about Astronomy.” She held her head high, her jaw set, meeting his gaze and trying to hide the shaking in her knees.

Further deflation. “I had a very important show in the Dordogne last winter…”

“It was in January. You didn’t need to be in France for all of the setup.” Tanith folded her arms across her chest. “Face it, Dad. If you even knew me halfway at all, you’d have known I’d been planning this for the last eighteen months."

“I suppose the fact that you wish to make this kind of foolish decision and that this surprises me is testament to how little I know.” But there was more bitterness than resignation in Daedalus’ voice. “That you think so little of me and the decisions I have made in the past shows that this unknowing goes both ways.”

Tanith, at last, hesitated. “What do you mean?”

Daedalus turned to face the window, the sunlight streaming in through the giant panes of glass, the winged horses in the paddock beyond silhouetted in the bright summer light. “I know a man, Cassius Vaughn. I worked with him briefly after the war. He’s now one of the Auror instructors. I’ll see if I can get him in contact with you about your application.”

Silence filled the room, broken only by the ticking of the massive grandfather clock, the long hand less than fifteen minutes away from ‘Feeding Time’, and Tanith took a few steps back towards the door. “Dad?”

“You can go,” Daedalus said, not turning around. “Enjoy your hike. Be careful in the Pennines; Altair mentioned there were reports of some activity, but there are such reports everywhere.” He let out a small sigh. “And ask your friend Tobias Grey to ask his father what happens to a man who jumps up and down in front of the darkness declares too loudly that he is its enemy.”

Another frown from Tanith Cole. “Robert Grey’s dead…” she said slowly.

Daedalus did glance around now, the sunlight accentuating every wrinkle and crevice in his cragged face and making him look much older than his forty or so years. “I know. And I’m not.”


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