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Shade to Shade by Slide
Chapter 4 : The Truth
 
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Chapter 3: The Truth



“You know there’s a tonne of forms and shit to sign when we’re done here?” Jacob Van Roden wore an expression of mild irritation masking faint apprehension as he swung open a heavy metal door, the creaks echoing through the cold, dim, stony corridor. The records department of the Office of Magical Law Enforcement had seen better days, days when it had been further tended to, particularly in the more obscure corners pertaining to decade-old files. Like the corner he and Tobias Grey were poking around in right then.

“I just need a proof of identity, correct? Next of kin rights?” Tobias’s voice hid a faint shake, and he wrapped his coat a little further around his shoulders as he stepped in first, allowing Van Roden to close the door behind them. “I’m allowed to see this. I’m entitled to see this.”

“But… a lot of bureaucratic mess.” Keys jangled as Van Roden slipped them back into his pocket. “I mean, technically this isn’t even opening hours. It’s not until next Wednesday that Boris will be on the desk and can process the petition…”

“Hogwarts Express leaves in two hours.” Tobias checked his watch briefly, then nodded in confirmation. “I’m not disappearing off to Scotland until I’ve got this sorted. It’s even more of a mess for me to get a petition to leave school grounds to apparate down here.”

“You could always… you know… not do this?” Van Roden reached out a hand to tentatively brush his friend’s shoulder. Even though Hogwarts alumni and Auror-in-training Jacob Van Roden was a couple of years older than NEWT student Tobias Grey, Grey still had the advantage of height over him, and didn’t seem deterred by the half-hearted gesture.

“I need to know.” Tobias did pause for a moment, though, and turned to face Van Roden. “Jake, you’ve seen me through a lot of mess, right? You can see me through this?”

“I saw you through prefect training and getting crap from Gryffindor Head Boys. Right now, I’m helping you because you know how to get in contact with me, I have the access to get you down here, and it’s, well, your legal right.” Van Roden looked distinctly unhappy. “For the record, I think it’s a bad idea.”

“My father’s killer was never identified… not legally. All the individual suspects were proven Death Eaters who were incarcerated. My mother agreed – and I can’t really blame her – with the establishment’s decision to let Dad end up in the pile of random casualties so as to not clog up the justice system. Pinning down every individual Death Eater for every individual crime they committed, when they were already doomed to Azkaban for life with no hope of parole, wasn’t really deemed feasible.” Tobias carried on striding down the corridor, peering through the slightly dim lighting.

“So why get it back up again? Either your father’s killer’s still in Azkaban, or he’s dead, or he’s one of the Death Eaters at large who’re being hunted anyway. Legally, it doesn’t change a thing.” Van Roden paused for a moment to consult the label at the bottom of one of the pearly orbs the size of his fist resting amongst the rows and rows of identical other orbs on the shelves set into the walls of the records corridor before he moved to catch up with Tobias.

“It matters to me. I know Mum watched the recording when I was little… it’s one of my earliest memories. I can’t have been more than three, probably right at the end of all of the legal mess after the war… Fitzpatrick, we must be getting close.” Tobias glanced up from the label Van Roden had been peering at.

Van Roden folded his arms across his chest, the flickering light of the candle dangling off the ceiling casting erratic shadows across his slightly craggy face. “So what brought this on, fifteen years later?”

There was a pause, and Tobias turned around, heading on down the corridor. “I… something reminded me. Or… someone. I mean, I’d seen Thanatos Brynmor before, in the Daily Prophet, but I wasn’t paying complete attention, and he looked different when he was in jail…”

“Wait, Brynmor? The Big T?” Van Roden scurried to keep pace with Tobias. “You don’t want to go poking there, Grey. I mean, really not. He’s one of the scariest out there. Lestrange, Malfoy, Avery, Robb… and Brynmor. Doesn’t play so well with others, so hardly a trusted lieutenant, but… scary.”

“I know.” Still Tobias didn’t turn around, but there was an edge in his voice which made Van Roden falter yet more. “Probably the scariest man I’ve ever met. And that even counts Altair Ritter…”

Finally, Van Roden grabbed him by the shoulder and yanked him around. “Alright, enough. You might have a legal right to do this, see all of this, but I don’t have to help you do it right now. I can make you wait until Boris’s shift, and make you officially petition, and go through the paperwork, and then it’ll be Christmas before you see this mess unless you can get out of Hogwarts for the day.” The young Auror’s expression was grim, uncompromising, and just about boring through Tobias’s own determined gaze. “So play ball. And explain.”

There was a long silence as the two men stared at each other, willowy Tobias facing off against the small and slightly-built, but sturdy in spite of it, Van Roden. He’d been called a Pocket-Sized Prefect while still at Hogwarts, and had often been underestimated on the basis of that stature. But that had usually been at the expense of those facing him, for he was relentless, intelligent, and had the quickest wand-hand Tobias had ever seen.

“The how isn’t hugely important… no, really.” Tobias raised his hands in submission, taking a step back as Van Roden raised an eyebrow. “But I saw Thanatos Brynmor. In the flesh. And it reminded me of the time, when I was small, that my mother watched the Saint Mungo’s recording of the Para-Healer unit that my father had been on. There had been a few Death Eaters there, I know, so it wasn’t clear who had killed whom. And my father’s killer was never legally confirmed. But now I’m pretty sure Brynmor was there. Masked. So I didn’t recognise his picture when he escaped Azkaban – but now I’ve heard his voice… I recognise it. From the recording. He had to be there.”

“You could check the files for that,” Van Roden pointed out. “If he was there…”

“I want to know if he did it. And if not, who did.” Tobias’s expression was blank, and utterly implacable. “So, that’s the explanation. Now, it’s my right to take a look.” He reached out slowly to gently lift the orb resting on the shelf that Van Roden hadn’t properly taken a look at, and noted with a faint start that the label underneath it did, in fact, read ‘Grey’.

“I… it won’t change a thing, Toby,” Van Roden said gently, his eyes narrowed with apprehension. “The knowledge will eat at you…”

“So will the uncertainty.” Tobias’s brow was furrowed as he stared deeply at the orb he held, tendons in the back of his hand taut from the visible effort of stopping it shaking.

Van Roden shook his head. “Vengeance… it doesn’t solve a thing, Toby. Trust me.”

One eyebrow arched with accusation and a hint of arrogance that Tanith Cole herself would have been proud of. “This is hardly the same as you putting Exploding Powder in Hooper’s pumpkin juice after he beat you for Head Boy, Van Roden.” Then he squeezed the orb, the apparently glass surface bending impossibly under the pressure, and grey dust erupted from the top of it.

The dust flickered in the dim light for a few moments, before swirling around to form up into shapes some several feet high. There was a flat ground, a tree, some broomsticks, some bushes… and, mobile, erratic, shapes of people.

“…no lasting damage here. This is a Cruciatus work.” A voice emanated from one of the dust shapes, now solidifying into that of a young woman, and echoed about the cramped corridor. The speaking figure was bowed over a prone form, which shifted faintly and was letting out a quiet moaning.

“Get a Sleeping Charm on him; we’ll get the Sententia to look at him when we’re back to Saint Mungo’s.” The second of six figures, one of the four that wasn’t prone, spoke, and with a voice which sounded familiar. As the dust began to pick up details, showing that the scene was this of a back garden of a desolated house, the door hanging open to show a smoky gloom inside, the speaker’s features became further defined to show a sharp nose, well-defined cheekbones, and a face which, for Van Roden, bore distinctive similarities to Tobias Grey.

For Tobias himself, he knew he was looking at his father in this old Saint Mungo’s on-the-scene training recording.

“Broken limbs here. This is relatively minor. Any bodies must be on the inside,” the third Para-Healer stated calmly, straightening up from the second prone form.

“And there will be bodies,” Robert Grey sighed. “Otherwise, why would there be a Dark Mark?”

“…to lure people here and cause more chaos?” another familiar voice asked as shapes emerged from the open back door of the small house. This familiarity was not comforting, however, and sent a shiver up Tobias’s back as he now recognised the voice of Thanatos Brynmor, the burly Death Eater stepping into the garden with two other white-masked companions.

The four Para-Healers straightened up, the fourth of them, who had been somewhat to one side and not actively paying attention to the injured parties, raising his wand instantly. But one of the masked Death Eater flanking what was thought to be Brynmor was quicker, his wand whirling up and green light filling the air.

The female Para-Healer’s scream pierced the light of the Avada Kedavra curse as her colleague collapsed to the ground with no sounds of his own. And then the chaos broke loose.

Curses flew through the air from Robert Grey and the third Para-Healer, tackling the Death Eaters and sending the other one flying back inside the darkness of the house with one well-aimed spell. But retaliation was swift, and Grey himself was knocked onto his back, blood spurting from a large cut in his chest.

It wasn’t enough to silence him, though, for as he hit the ground he looked over at his female colleague. “Run! Go! Get the brooms and run!”

The next few seconds of dusty footage were obscured as the Para-Healer followed Grey’s instructions, stepping right in front of the Recording Orb for a few long moments. When vision was clear again, the third Death Eater was back at the doorway with his companions, the two Para-Healers back on their feet, spells flying through the air.

Almost immediately, the recording began to shake, and the perspective changed. Tobias knew the training recordings of Saint Mungo’s were attached to the Para-Healer’s broomsticks, and it seemed the fleeing witch had been in charge of it. So scenes of fighting shifted away, being replaced by rooftops of houses, the echoes and noises of the spells flying around still filling the sound of the recording.

There was another small scream from the witch as another bellowing of ‘Avada Kedavra!’ filled the air, and the broomstick pitched downwards in apparent panic for a moment. The shift was brief, but it brought the fight back into the view of the recording, just in time to see Robert Grey keel over, surrounded by the green light.

Then a few seconds of the recording moving away – and then another scream, the recording going wild as the broomstick apparently veered wildly, before a flash of red light filled the dust.

Van Roden looked over at Tobias as the dust slowly swirled back into the orb he held, his expression one of distinct apprehension. There was a long silence before Tobias set the orb slowly down on the shelf, his expression absolutely deadpan.

“Identifying the Death Eaters in that case would have been difficult,” the Auror stated slowly, keeping his voice level and definitely officious. “Voices are harder to use for such things, even with spells to compare such recordings. It would be difficult to get a conviction off this.” He shook his head. “No wonder the mess never went to a judiciary.”

“I didn’t want information for a conviction. I wanted it for my own peace of mind.” Tobias’s brow furrowed slowly as he delicately pulled his hand away from the orb, leaving it to rest on the shelf, suddenly lost amongst the hordes of others, all identical to the naked eye.

“Well, there wasn’t even a good picture of which of the three masked Death Eaters cast the curse,” Van Roden said, a hint of desperation creeping into his voice. “Identifying the culprit…”

“…Is just a matter of recognising the voice.” Tobias didn’t look up, his gaze locked on some irrelevant spec of dust on the shelf. “Or, rather, the laugh.” Then he straightened up, cleared his throat, and turned to head back down the way they had come, towards the door.

Van Roden scurried to keep up with Tobias’s long-legged stride. “Grey? What are you…”

“I know that voice. I know that laugh. And it doesn’t make a difference, because the man is high on the Aurors’ Ten Most Wanted list – three or four, perhaps, vying with Idaeus Robb and Bellatrix Lestrange for attention. He’s going to be hunted, and arrested, and probably given the Kiss. Anything else laid at his feet is going to just be a drop in the ocean of crimes this man has committed.” Tobias’s voice was disturbingly level as he continued to stride down the dark, dusty corridor at quite a rate.

“Thanatos Brynmor… man, that’s so not healthy…” Van Roden rubbed his forehead as he continued to follow in Tobias’s wake. “Don’t get silly. You met him… you met him…?” This fact just seemed to catch up in the Auror’s brain as he spoke.

Tobias waved a hand dismissively. “Around…”

Again, the heavy hand fell on the student’s shoulder to whirl him around, and Van Roden’s face was deadly serious. “Do not screw with me, Tobias. This is serious. He is serious. He’s a dangerous man, and if you want to go out and chase him…”

“Do you think I’m an idiot?” Tobias finally looked incredulous, shaking his head. “Chase him? I’ve seen him. I know just how scary he can be. I know he could kick my arse six ways to Sunday with both hands tied behind his back, no wand, and a Silencing Charm on him. I am not going to embark on a task trained Aurors would find difficult.”

Van Roden narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “So… what was the point…?”

“I needed to know.” Tobias’s brow furrowed again. “I used to assume it was some Death Eater who was never going to get out of Azkaban, or had maybe been Kissed. But I didn’t have that peace of mind since Azkaban went to hell in a hand basket.” He shrugged off Van Roden’s arm, and turned back to shove open the door, stepping into the brighter light of the more polished wooden stairway, leading back up to the Magical Law Enforcement Offices.

There was a pause as Van Roden continued to follow his friend, head down, hands shoved in his pockets, the two of them emerging into the relatively quiet morning bustle of the actually active offices. “So… you going to tell Cal?” he murmured, one eyebrow raised tentatively.

Tobias let out a snort which sounded both indignant and shocked. “Hell no,” he replied, hesitating in his stride down the corridor, their voices now being hidden from the ears of those around them by the sounds of activity. “Do I look that stupid to you? Don’t answer that.”

Van Roden grinned at last, shaking his head very slowly. “It’s the right of Cal to know exactly what his mother and father did during the war, and as far as I’m aware, it’s a question he’s never asked. I hope, for the kid’s sake, he never does.” The grin soured slowly, and he glanced up at Tobias. “Just as I sort of hoped you’d never ask questions like these.”

They were through the busy offices now, the Magical Law Enforcement Headquarters surprisingly mundane in this section, with nothing more than bureaucratic papers flying around and administrative duties being carried out. It was on the higher levels that there were the training and briefing rooms, the case files, the investigation discussions, but for now, they simply emerged from the carpeted corridor into the opening lobby with its polished wooden floor, a simple reception desk, and the front door, through which sunlight streamed enthusiastically.

Tobias straightened up as he paused before the front door, pulling his jacket around him a little tighter. “A lot of people left a lot of things to rest after the last War, I’m beginning to figure out. Now You-Know-Who’s back, we can’t really afford to sit on things any more, in case it’s important.”

“And heaven forefend you pass up on an opportunity to make life difficult for yourself.” Van Roden rolled his eyes. “You better get going, anyway, Grey. The train’s not too long off, and I’d hate for you to have to explain why a prefect needed a Portkey.” He extended a hand towards his friend and protégé.

Tobias shook it firmly, a faintly amused expression about his face. “Difficult? You seem to be confusing me with Tanith, Jake.” Then he grinned, and nodded. “I’ll see you around.”

The trip from the Magical Law Enforcement Offices to King’s Cross Station wasn’t too long when you took Apparition into account, and it was only just comfortably ten to eleven by the time Tobias had retrieved his luggage from a Muggle locker at the station, and charged his way through to Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters.

He didn’t see many faces he recognised and cared much about in the final hustle towards carriages and compartments as he dragged his trunk along the platform, heading towards the Prefects’ Carriage. It wouldn’t have taken him long to join in the fuss, get a comfortable compartment with Tanith and maybe some of the other seventh-year prefects, and relax to watch the train draw away from the station. He’d have had time indeed, and could take it leisurely.

Instead, he stopped and stared at the train for long moments, brow furrowed, just taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the platform and the fuss. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to go to the station alone, bidding his working mother farewell earlier in the morning, so the sense of isolation in the crowd was not unusual enough to him to jar.

Then Tobias shook his head, stepping towards the Prefects’ Carriage, and gave a small, nostalgic snort. “Last time ever,” he mumbled under his breath, before hauling his trunk onto the train behind him, and moving into the corridor filled with prefects.

The place was filled with a buzz he hadn’t seen on either of his previous years of the journey up in this part of the train, and he narrowed his eyes in faint confusion before a hand grabbed him by the shoulder and dragged him sideways into a compartment.

“Oh… hey Tanith.” Tobias blinked at the sudden intervention, staggering slightly. “Thanks, it looks a bit crazy out there.” He glanced around the compartment, empty save the two of them, and moved to shove his trunk onto one of the overhead luggage racks.

“Yes… and I wanted to grab you…” Tanith looked tired, more tired than he’d seen her in a while, and was gripping a copy of the Daily Prophet in the hand she hadn’t used to yank him.

“…can’t keep your hands off me?” Tobias wore a grin which was a little too broad as he glanced back, and blinked as he saw her flinch unexpectedly. It had been a while since he’d been prepared to make jokes like that until recently… but any recent jokes of such flavour had usually been received in good nature.

“Not that funny.” Tanith took a step forward, raising the paper slowly. “I don’t suppose…”

“Hey, Tibs!” Tobias turned as he heard a small, petulant mewl from the cage sitting on one of the chairs, and he reached down to pull the door open and allow the now fairly podgy grey tabby cat to lunge up his arm and try to collapse on his shoulder, something for which he was a little too large. The effort was abandoned after a few seconds of yelps of pain from Tobias at claws sinking into his shoulder blade, before his pet Tiberius leapt onto one of the free seats instead, curling up to purr triumphantly.

“Yes… he’s been making one hell of a fuss while in the cage,” Tanith said, shaking her head with faint irritation.

“He doesn’t like being cooped up.” Tobias leant down to scratch behind the cat’s ear, rubbing his shoulder with the other hand. “It makes him tetchy.”

“It makes him whiny.”

Tobias glanced up, grinning again. “Thanks for taking care of him this morning. I didn’t want to cart him around London, and I wasn’t going to leave him in a locker at King’s Cross. Besides, I’m not entirely sure on my Apparition with a passenger, even one as small as him…”

They both turned as the door to the compartment was pushed a little further open to show new Head Girl Jennifer Riley poking her head in. She, too, looked rather more drawn than even the first day of school would normally require, and glanced between the two of them. “Good to see you both here… was wondering if we could have a chat? Got the others in the compartment next door… there’s all the stuff to consider.”

Tobias blinked in faint confusion, but he nodded as Tanith stepped towards the door. “Sure, Riley.” She tossed the newspaper onto the bench, forcing Tibs to move over one seat so he could begin gnawing at a corner of it, and headed towards the corridor, Tobias in tow.

The compartment next to theirs had clearly been claimed by Gryffindor prefects, though only Riley and Tom Everard were present, the other seats taken up by the rest of the seventh-year prefects. Tanith moved herself into the final spare seat as Tobias stood by the doorway, his eyes scanning the crowds. Everard and Riley, himself and Tanith, Cho Chang and Craig Sharpe, Lisa Grahams…

Tobias raised an eyebrow, glancing around but not really expecting to see anything else. “So O’Neal’s decided to not descend from on high and grace us with his presence?” he asked, unable to keep much of the bitterness out of his voice, and not particularly caring – it was a bit late at this juncture to try and pretend he didn’t resent the Irishman for getting the Head Boy spot.

Instead of the glares from the girls and the possible muttered agreements from the guys, his words were met with a shocked, stony silence, full of horror that couldn’t have been more ominous had it slapped him in the face.

It helped, then, when Lisa Grahams of Hufflepuff stood up and then actually slapped him in the face, before storming past him out of the compartment and into the teeming mass of younger prefects.

There was still silence from the other five as Tobias blinked owlishly, one hand raised to his now somewhat sore left cheek. Somewhere in the background he was dimly aware of the train beginning to pull away from the station, though nobody seemed to care. “What…”

Then Tom Everard stood up, and although Tobias was definitely taller than him, there was a wave of anger washing off the Gryffindor that made him more inclined to cower than face him down. “I don’t believe you… I don’t believe you…”

“Believe what?”

Riley had leapt to her feet by now as well, and shoved past Tobias roughly, knocking him into the doorframe. “I actually thought you were one of the good ones,” she muttered, before darting off in Grahams’ wake.

Everard was approaching now, only inches away from Tobias, and he could now see the shorter student practically shaking with a rage which he had never before witnessed. “You bitter, twisted little snakish…”

“Hey!”

Finally, Tanith had stood up, placing a hand on Everard’s shoulder. “Let’s calm down. Everyone!” A glare went out to the two remaining Ravenclaw prefects, both of whom just wore expressions of disbelief at the sight before them.

“Calm down? Are you going to…”

“Everard, sit down, and shut up.” There was a note of authority Tobias hadn’t heard in Tanith’s voice before, and it seemed Everard hadn’t either, for he backed off, face twisted in a scowl, and sat down, still glaring daggers.

Tobias lowered his hand from his sore cheek. “What the hell did I miss?”

Tanith sighed, rubbing her face with her hands. “You didn’t read the paper today with your business in town, did you?”

“I didn’t get the chance.” His stomach began to twist, a sense of impending doom creeping over him, and he felt all the blood rushing away from his head. “What did I do?”

Craig Sharpe reached over for a dog-eared copy of that day’s Daily Prophet, and thumbed through it a few pages before folding it up and passing it grudgingly over to Tobias. “Bottom one.”

Trying to keep his grip level, Tobias glanced down at the paper, turning it over and squinting a little. “Death Eater attacks in Cork… wizarding family casualties… O’Neal… oh, shit…” His eyes widened and he stared at them all, feeling distinctly light-headed. “This was last night? I… I didn’t know!” The exact words he’d uttered which had caused this mess echoed back in his head hauntingly. “…‘from on high’?”

Everard nodded slowly, his scowl more of a grimace but the anger visibly fading. “Yeah,” he said, voice thick.

Tobias sat down heavily in the seat Riley had vacated. “I think I’m going to be sick,” he muttered, head in his hands.

“The school wants to keep this a bit low-key,” Everard continued, wringing his hands together and returning somewhat more to his usual slow-to-anger self. “That was what we were going to talk about… damage control, until a new Head Boy’s picked…”

New Head Boy… any thoughts of hope appearing at the notion just made Tobias feel even more sick, and he could hardly look up at Everard, the obvious candidate. “Yeah. Don’t want panic. Hogwarts is meant to be somewhere the war isn’t going to break and traumatise us. The people who matter… will know.”

“The Hufflepuffs are in a state,” Craig Sharpe said, leaning back in his seat. “It’s like Diggory all over again. Two Quidditch captains, Head Boys-in-waiting, golden champions… all round nice guys…”

“We’re going to have to make sure the other four Hufflepuff prefects buck up their ideas to make sure Grahams isn’t carrying everything,” Tobias said, straightening up as best he could. “And… shit! Grahams!” His cheek tingled in memory of the slap, and he sprang to his feet, almost bumping his head on the luggage rack. “I’ve got to go explain…”

Everard winced. “I’d leave it until later…”

“No time like the present,” Tobias muttered, ignoring the Gryffindor and heading for the door.

He found Grahams and Riley, through the fuss of the rest of the prefects, in a compartment at the other end of the carriage. The door was only half-open, and in it sat the two girls, Riley producing a cascade of tissues from seemingly nowhere and proffering them to Grahams as she sobbed quite significantly.

Tobias wondered whether the Cruciatus would be less painful than this entire escapade, and he tensed himself for at least being shouted at as he stuck his head around the door to the compartment.

“Uh…” was about the extent of eloquent greeting he could manage.

Heads whipped around to face him, Riley confused and uncertain, Grahams deeply distressed and angry.

“Fuck off, Grey,” was the simple response from the Hufflepuff.

“I came to apologise,” Tobias said, trying to not shrink back. “I didn’t know. I hadn’t read the paper. I was just being bitter about not getting Head Boy… I didn’t know what had happened to Connor, and I’m really, really sorry…”

Grahams seemed unimpressed. “You’re still a bitter Slytherin wanker and I don’t want to hear it.”

Tobias straightened up, somewhat affronted, definitely defeated. But before he could say anything in return, Riley had stood and stepped over to him, moving to stand in the doorway between him and Grahams. “I’ll be right back, Lisa,” she said quietly, pushing Tobias out into the compartment, the Hufflepuff hardly seeming to notice.

“Thank you,” Riley said quietly once they were in the mostly-empty corridor, looking genuinely contrite. “And… I’m sorry about what I said. I don’t really think you’re that much of a horrible person to genuinely say… something like that.”

Tobias raised a hand to rub at his cheek again. “Um… no. I really wouldn’t have. Not if I’d known. I was just… pissy.” There was a pause as he considered her words. “You think I’m a horrible person at all?”

Riley had the good grace to look a little sheepish at that. “Well… I am a friend of Annie’s. And it’s sort of the rules that an ex has to be utterly loathed by the girl and her friends.”

Tobias winced faintly, glancing away and breaking eye contact. “I suppose being a Slytherin makes it even easier,” he said, this time real bitterness creeping in.

“It does,” Riley agreed, somewhat blandly. “But… if it’s any consolation? Sharpe’s a massive control-freak, and shit at it. And Tom’s lacking in a large deal of drive and motivation. I know ambition is something Slytherins have in spades, and organisation a forte of yours…”

Tobias blinked at her a little obliviously. “What?”

Riley shrugged. “Well… I guess all that will be Professor Dumbledore’s choice. I’m just saying.” Then, without another word, she slid the door open to the compartment still holding a distressed Grahams, and slipped inside.

Tobias stared at the closed door for a few seconds until he turned away, his eyes rolling skywards. It took a few long moments before he reached his final decision. “Yep. Fate hates me.”


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