Chapter 1 : We All Sleep Alone
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Somebody all alone faces the night
You got to be strong when you're out on your own
Cause sooner or later we all sleep alone
We All Sleep Alone – Cher
Gideon raised his eyes from the Quidditch article in his hands as Alastor Moody stomped into his cubicle.
“Moody,” he greeted the older man, silently cursing his presence, which undoubtedly meant work. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
Moody rapped on Gideon’s left foot – currently clad in a black dragon-hide boot and propped up, along with the right, on the desk – with his wand. Gideon rolled his eyes, removing his legs from the desk and setting his chair down on all four legs.
“At least look as if you’re working,” Moody grumbled. “I’ve got a job for you.”
“I’m ecstatic,” Gideon said dryly.
Moody rapped him round the head with a folder.
“New recruit,” he barked, dropping the folder onto Gideon’s desk. “Gamp!”
A young woman entered the cubicle; tall and svelte, with long, thick black hair. Her ice blue eyes fell on Gideon, who made no attempt to hide his gaze as he looked her casually up and down. At least the work was easy on his eyes.
“Gamp, this is Gideon Prewett, he’ll be your mentor. Prewett, Araminta Gamp. You’re to take her on your patrols, train her up.”
Moody turned to leave the cubicle and Gideon, an eyebrow raised in curiosity, spoke up.
“Why me? I’ve barely been qualified a year.”
“You’re one of our best.” Moody gave him a pointed look.
After he left, Gideon switched his focus back to the woman, snatched up the folder, swung his chair back on two legs, and placed his own on the table.
“Araminta.” He tried out the name. “Feel free to take a seat.” He indicated the seat on the other side of his desk with the folder and she obliged. “So, what’s that for short? Minty?” He smirked.
“You can call me Araminta,” she replied sharply, in a hostile tone.
His smirk faded slightly.
“Feisty.” He wiggled his eyebrows, and flicked the folder open. However his eyes remained on her. “So, have you finished training? You just beginning it? A year in?”
“You’d know if you just read the folder,” she replied in a clipped voice. “I’ve just finished training. The Ministry seem to want to give new Aurors as much experience as possible. It would seem as though they feel your numbers are diminishing.”
Gideon winced; they had certainly lost many members of the department over the last few years.
“How old are you?”
“Read the folder,” came the sharp reply.
“-the folder. Yeah, yeah, I know.” Gideon threw the folder back onto the desk, irritated at her brisk attitude. “So, what kind of stuff am I required to do here? Are you just shadowing me?”
“You can probably find that in the folder,” she replied lazily, looking down at her nails. “That’s pretty much it. Idea is you show me the ropes. This involves going with you on patrol duties, and also doing all the boring office work.”
“Beautiful. I need someone to fill in my forms for me-”
“I’m not your secretary,” she snapped, getting to her feet. “I’ll be here at nine tomorrow morning.”
She swept out of the cubicle.
Gideon smirked again, the mischievous side of him looking forward to dealing with her the next day. Glancing at his watch, he realised he only had ten minutes until the Order meeting, so he got to his feet and shrugged his cloak on, tucking Araminta’s folder into it.
Several minutes, a brisk walk and an Apparition later, he found himself standing outside the old Potter house in Godric’s Hollow. The elderly Mr and Mrs Potter had allowed Dumbledore to use their house as Order Headquarters several years ago. When they’d died, their son James had inherited it and as he already had his own cottage around the corner, where he lived with his wife and young son, he had allowed it to remain as Headquarters.
Gideon rapped three times on the door and waited for it to open. After half a minute or so, it opened an inch or two, and half a face peered through the gap.
“Evening, Lils,” he grinned, relaxing as he always did at the sight of her vivid emerald eyes.
“What’s my Patronus?” she asked sharply.
The door shut, and he heard a chain slide, before Lily pulled the door wide open.
“Evening, Gid,” she said, smiling back at him. “How are things?”
“Oh, same old,” he said airily, shrugging his cloak off as he stepped into the hallway; Lily shut the door behind him. “It’s just about surviving, right?”
Lily nodded. As she was currently in hiding and could only leave her own house to come around the corner to her parents-in-law’s old abode or to go to Hogwarts, he had no doubt that she understood.
“Come on through, we were just waiting for you.”
Gideon followed her through to the kitchen, where about twenty others sat round the large wooden table waiting for them. Lily took her seat beside her husband, and Gideon sat between Dorcas Meadows and two empty seats.
“Are we all here now?” Dumbledore asked.
“Marlene sends her apologies; her grandmother is still ill,” Lily said.
“Do we know that for sure?” Moody growled.
“Yes, we do,” Gideon snapped angrily before anyone else could say anything, eyes boring into Moody’s.
“I can assure you, Alastor, Miss McKinnon is no more a Death Eater than I am,” Dumbledore said calmly. “Now, I have word from Fabian and Dedalus.”
Gideon turned sharply to look at him.
“They have, regretfully, failed in their mission; as I previously suspected, the giants are still faithful to Voldemort. They are, however, both safe and well, and will be home within two weeks.”
Gideon sighed in relief at the knowledge that his twin was unscathed; he had heard nothing from him since he had left three months previously. Catching his eye across the table, Lily returned the happy smile he gave her.
The rest of the meeting passed much as usual; while the Order had succeeded in capturing the odd Death Eater, their numbers were being severely reduced and everyone knew they were running on borrowed time. The latest casualties were Hector Kettleburn and his wife and children.
After the meeting, Gideon was one of the several members who stayed for a meal which Lily had prepared. After eating, they retired to the living room. Gideon stretched out on a couch and set about flicking through Araminta’s folder.
“Here you are, mate.”
James Potter handed Gideon a tankard of mead.
“Cheers.” He took a swig of the mead, before placing it on the floor beside him. “Hey, James, how many people are homeschooled these days, would you say?”
James frowned, and sat down on an armchair opposite him. His son Harry stumbled across to him.
“I’m not sure,” he said slowly, picking Harry up and setting him on his lap. “It’s not common; naturally, most people send their kids to Hogwarts, and why not? It’s probably one of the safest places in the country – aside from the several hundred underage, half-educated, hormonal witches and wizards all living in close quarters, of course.” He paused. “I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t aware that there were homeschooled wizards and witches any more. Even Death Eaters send their children to Hogwarts.” He jerked his head in the direction of Sirius Black, who was lounged haughtily in another armchair, listening to their conversation.
“Some Death Eaters don’t like to send their kids to Hogwarts,” he chipped in. “Not with Dumbledore as head. The Carrows never went, if you remember.”
“That would explain a lot,” Gideon murmured; Sirius caught his eye and smirked a little, before looking down at the floor.
“Why are you interested?” James asked curiously, bouncing Harry on his knee.
“I have ... an apprentice, shall we say,” Gideon said in a mock pompous voice. “She’s British, but I’ve never met her before. Homeschooled, according to this.” He waved the folder, taking another swig of mead.
“An apprentice?” James frowned. “That’s new.”
“They want them trained up quicker, apparently,” Gideon explained. “We’re losing people faster than we can replace them.”
Sirius nodded. He too was a newly qualified Auror, but had not been assigned a mentor himself; he had gained enough skill and experience through the Order.
“What’s she like then, this apprentice?” James asked keenly. Always lively and mischievous, he hated being forced undercover and had taken to feverishly questioning others, like Sirius and Gideon, about even the most mundane goings-on as a way of living his life through them.
“Bloody gorgeous,” Gideon smirked. “Bit hot-tempered though. No nonsense with her. I’ll lighten her up a bit, no worries there. Name’s Araminta Gamp. Bit of a queer name.”
“Who are you to judge?” James raised an eyebrow.
“Fair point.” Gideon pulled a face and downed the rest of his mead.
Lily entered the room, and perched on the arm of James’s chair. He snaked his free arm round her waist, as hers wrapped round his neck; she lowered her head to kiss him, before planting a second kiss on Harry’s forehead. She then looked up at Gideon.
“Will you stay the night?” she offered. “I hate to think of you in your flat by yourself. Sirius is staying...”
“I’m fine, thanks, Lily,” Gideon interrupted, getting to his feet. He had been overcome with a sudden, yet all too familiar wave of bitterness. “I should be going. Thanks for dinner; I’ll see you at the next meeting.” He nodded awkwardly across the room at Sirius, before swiftly leaving.
Once at his own flat, he hurled the folder across his living room angrily, kicking a stray coffee table over. At the sight of Lily and James’s simple, yet touching display of affection, he had been swamped with the insane wave of jealousy that overwhelmed him every time he found himself in the company of a couple.
He bent down to pick up the photograph which had been knocked to the floor with the table. His eyes fell on the figure in the frame, and he inhaled a sharp breath, before throwing it across the room; it hit the wall and fell back to the floor with a smash.
Gideon slumped to the floor in tears. The feeling of loneliness seemed to increase with every week that passed. His life had become a mere waiting game; with little left to live for, it was just a case of seeing how long he could last as the odds against survival increased.
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