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Chapter 3 : Don't Let Me Get Me
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I can't take the person staring back at me,
I'm a hazard to myself,
Don't let me get me
Don’t Let Me Get Me – Pink
Araminta hated Mondays. There was nothing worse than having to drag herself back into work after the weekend and then spend the day working with people in just as foul a mood as she was.
And to top things off, you’re blessed with the wonderful presence of Gideon Prewett, she thought to herself, in an attempt to brighten her mood. It didn’t work, as the sarcasm only emphasised how miserable this particular Monday was.
She wasn’t entirely sure, she admitted to herself, why she disliked Gideon so much. After all, she’d barely known him a week – though she wouldn’t even go so far as to say she knew him. He was still only an acquaintance.
And one that succeeded in getting on her nerves, whether he intended to or not.
It wasn’t that she was trying to not get on with him, she reasoned, as she paused to have her wand tested in the Atrium. After all, it would only make things easier if they did get on. But somehow, his desire to know everything about her from the start had irked her. People had to earn her trust, they couldn’t just gain it by pure virtue of being her mentor.
Besides, she continued, he doesn’t need to know a thing. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him ... and he’s certainly better off not knowing some things.
“Eleven inches, chestnut, dragon heartstring?”
Araminta pulled herself out of her thoughts.
“Yes,” she replied, taking her wand back from the man behind the desk.
It would certainly be wise to keep herself out of those thoughts while she was in Gideon’s presence.
An unfamiliar female voice as she reached Gideon’s cubicle stopped her in her tracks.
“No it won’t, Marls; it’ll be fine and you know it.” Gideon’s own voice was reassuring.
Araminta frowned in confusion.
She turned the corner and poked her head into the cubicle. Gideon was lounging back on his office chair as usual, deep in conversation with a woman who was perched on his desk, with her back to Araminta.
The woman scoffed in disbelief at Gideon’s latest comment.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Gid; have you met my mother? I may be the bride, but you can sure as hell guarantee that as long as mother has a say, it’ll be her wedding, not mine-”
“You let her walk over you too much,” he said disapprovingly. His eyes fell on Araminta. “Ah, Minty!”
Araminta’s bad mood was just made worse.
The woman turned to face the door, blonde hair flying in all directions.
“Marls, this is Araminta, my apprentice. Araminta, this Marlene McKinnon, she’s a fellow Auror.”
Marlene smiled warmly. Araminta smiled back, much more weakly.
“Nice to meet you, Araminta!” Marlene got to her feet. “Well, I should be moving on,” she told Gideon. “I wouldn’t want to keep you from your riveting paperwork-”
“Don’t get too cocky, McKinnon, your desk is full to the ceiling of the stuff,” he replied cheekily.
“In that case, I’ll put it off a bit longer by going to see Sirius.”
Gideon scowled. Marlene’s expression softened and she sat back down on the desk, reaching an arm out to him. Araminta stiffened.
“Oh, Gid,” Marlene said softly, her thumb stroking his cheek gently. “Darling, don’t you think-”
He glared at her. She sighed, leaned over and planted a soft kiss on his forehead, before getting up again.
“Dinner at mine tonight?” she suggested.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
He flashed a grin at her, which she returned.
“See you at seven, big boy. See you round, Araminta.”
Marlene swept out of the cubicle.
Araminta raised an eyebrow in curiosity, sitting down in the seat she now affectionately thought of as hers.
“Girlfriend?” she asked, slightly afraid of the answer.
Gideon let out an amused bark of laughter.
“Hardly! Future sister-in-law, more like. She’s marrying my brother,” he elaborated. “Well, she’s supposedly marrying him; they wed in four weeks’ time and he’s not back from Central Europe yet so Merlin knows how things are going to pan out.”
She cocked her head, ignoring the part of her that felt relieved.
“So, you’re having dinner with your brother’s fiancée? Wow, that’s romantic.” Her voice dripped with sarcasm.
Gideon sighed with exasperation.
“She’s my best mate, has been since we were six. It’s thanks to me that she’s even with Fabian. She’s at home by herself while Fabian’s away; I live alone. No point in us both being lonely when we don’t have to be. Besides, she’s a better cook than I am.”
Araminta frowned, suddenly intrigued.
“You live alone? I would’ve thought you’d have a girlfriend or something...”
“Why’s that?” Gideon smirked cheekily. “Clearly my good looks and charm-”
She scoffed, irritated with herself.
He eyed her curiously.
“You just ... didn’t strike me as the kind of person to be content with being single,” she said, finding it difficult to articulate her thoughts.
“Just in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in a little bit of a war right now,” he commented. “Not quite the climate to be starting out a relationship in.”
“So you just sit around on your own, being lonely, just because you’re scared?” She raised an eyebrow, surprised at his attitude; last week he had seemed so confident and assured.
“I’m not scared, I just-”
“You obviously are-”
“I’ve lost too many people, okay?” Gideon snapped, eyes flashing. “The more people I get close to, the more people I’ll lose in the end. It’s easier to just not get close any more, and just treasure the people I’ve got.”
Araminta was stunned. It was the last reply she would have expected. A moment passed before she found her voice.
“So you’d rather stay lonely than attempt to live your life? What happens if this war carries on? If You-Know-Who takes over? Then what are you going to do?”
Gideon’s deep blue eyes caught hers in an intense gaze.
“I’d rather die than live through a Voldemort-run regime,” he stated bluntly. He looked down at his desk.
“Your friends and family clearly mean so much to you,” she said dryly.
“My brother? Getting married. My best friend? Getting married. My sister? Already married with a brood. The friends from Hogwarts that I have left? Near enough all settled down with children. I’d feel awkward round them – I already do – and they don’t need me in order to live happily.”
“I doubt that,” she struck up quietly. She was intrigued by his inner torment, and unsure as to why she felt so desperate to know more about him, having scorned his same curiosity only half an hour previously.
He snorted. “And how would you know that?”
“Because ... just because somebody is married doesn’t mean that’s all they need to be happy. Everyone needs friends too, and I’m sure they count you as a treasured friend.” She paused, the part of her that wanted to know more fighting with the part of her that wished to remain aloof. The former part won out. “Have you ever had a girlfriend?”
“Yes, I had a girlfriend,” he said gruffly.
Araminta frowned; there was something curious about his phrasing-
“Look, we’ve got work to do,” he continued, turning to his in-tray.
“How many children does your sister have?” she asked, desperate to probe further.
He sighed with aggravation.
“Must you be at your most talkative at the only time I want to work?” He smiled slightly. “Six, with a seventh on the way.”
“Molly wants a girl. Six boys. She’s hoping seventh time lucky.”
“How old are they?”
“Bill is ten, Charlie is eight, Percy is four, five in August, Fred and George – twins – are three, and complete menaces, and Ron is just one.”
“Quite a rabble, then.”
“She really wants a girl,” Gideon repeated. “Unfortunately, given that ambition, she chose the wrong man to marry; there haven’t been any Weasley girls for the last three or so generations.”
“How old is your sister?” Araminta asked curiously. “She must be a fair few years older than you, to have sons so old already-”
“Thirty-one,” he replied. “From what Fabian and I gathered, we were a mistake.” He grinned. “What about you, then? Any brothers or sis-”
“We should be getting on with some work,” she interrupted hastily, eyes dropping to the desk.
“No. No, we shouldn’t.”
Gideon placed his hand over her notes. She looked up at him, unsure whether she was irritated with him or with herself.
“I’ve told you what you want to know; you can’t just sit there and refuse to say a thing in return-”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise this was an exchange,” she sneered, berating herself for letting the conversation become so private. “You want to answer my questions; that’s fine. I don’t necessarily want to answer yours.”
“We’re meant to be working together, you can’t just sit there like a fucking clam!” he growled. “I’m not even asking you about your past, unlike you, probing about my relationship history; I’m just asking about your family, as you now know about every single one of my nephews-”
“I have none!” she cried, glaring at him. “My parents are dead. Does that make you happy? Do you feel like you can carry on with your life now?”
Filled with sudden rage, again at them both, she stood up sharply, knocking the chair over, and stormed out of the cubicle. Several heads were peering round their own cubicles, curious as to the source of the noise.
“What the fuck are you staring at?” she yelled at them.
She span round and stormed off round the corner, where she slumped against the wall. She let out an aggravated scream, furious with herself for losing her temper so quickly.
How the hell does he manage so get me so riled? she asked herself.
“That was quite impressive.”
Araminta looked up to see Sirius Black leaning casually against the opposite wall.
“If Gideon were more laid-back he’d be horizontal. I think I’m the only person he’s ever shouted at before, and that was only once.”
She glared at him.
“What do you want?” she demanded.
“I’ve just said, haven’t I? Gideon never yells at people. I was interested in the only other person who’s managed to get him to.” He paused. “I should introduce myself. Siri-”
“I know who you are,” she snapped. She scowled and looked down at her nails.
Sirius stood in silence for a moment, watching her.
“What?” she finally asked roughly, glaring up at him.
“I was hoping for an introduction,” he replied, the mirth in his voice obvious, despite his straight face.
She glared at him, infuriated.
“You know my name,” she spat.
“Do I?” He raised an eyebrow.
She let out a second aggravated shriek.
“Suit yourself.” He shrugged. “Anyway, feel free to keep on getting a rise out of Gideon; Merlin knows he needs a bit of excitement in his life. Aside from the odd laugh, he’s been emotionless and near enough lifeless for the past two or so years.” He paused. “And his patrol duty in Diagon Alley starts momentarily, so if you intend on going with him, I’d scuttle back round the corner.” He winked at her, before continuing down the corridor.
Araminta sighed exasperatedly, but pushed herself upright.
“Well this is fan-fucking-tastic,” she muttered to herself, as she headed back to the cubicle.
Gideon had his outdoor cloak on when she returned.
“Nice excursion?” he asked, in a pleasant voice which told Araminta that while he would not berate her for her outburst, he would not let her forget it easily either.
She contemplated several retorts, each more rude than the previous, but eventually settled for an icy glare, which, to her irritation, did not seem to bother him.
A few minutes later they were strolling down a very deserted Diagon Alley. Gideon had not said anything more to her, and the silence was uncomfortable.
They reached Gringotts and stationed themselves either side of the entrance.
The silence continued. She fidgeted awkwardly.
Gideon began whistling loudly. A Celestina Warbeck song, terribly out of tune.
Finally she cracked.
“Can’t you say something?” she burst out.
Gideon raised an eyebrow.
“Why?” he asked, amused.
“Well, we can stand in silence, then! What a wonderful idea.” Her voice oozed with sarcasm.
“If it’s a choice between silence and your rudeness, I know which I’m picking.” He took a deep breath and turned to face her. “Look, if you want to start being polite, then great. I’m up for having a good working relationship. Merlin knows I could do with an easy ride at work. But if you can’t cope with being civil, then we can both stand in silence.”
“Yeah, that’s a great idea. Let’s be best friends for life by Friday! What happy clappy mumbo jumbo rubbish.” She scowled, her temper rising again.
Gideon rolled his eyes.
“If you must be like that you can find someone else to mentor you.” He paused. “You knew exactly what I meant. Anything I’ve said in the past week, you’ve had an issue with. Is it that hard to at least try to be polite? I can’t imagine I’m that annoying.” He raised an eyebrow, glancing sideways at her.
“You have no idea,” she murmured, unable to stop herself.
Gideon heard her.
“What the hell is your problem?” he demanded, staring at her coldly; the intensity of his gaze made her shiver. He took a deep breath. “Suit yourself,” he continued, shrugging. “Fuck off.”
“I – what?”
“I said, fuck off.” He glared at her coldly. “Go on. Scat.”
Araminta hesitated, before scowling at him and Disapparating.
Once in her flat, she let out a loud scream.
Why must you be such an idiot at general social interaction, Gamp?
Picturing Gideon’s face on the wall, she threw every item possible across the living room at it. Then she sank to the floor.
I’m going to be in so much trouble.
“I just don’t get her. I mean, if we were arguing anything remotely sensible, I’d just put it down to a personality clash. But this ... it’s not a clash, it’s a fucking collision.”
Marlene raised an eyebrow.
“Knowing you,” she said over her wine glass, “you’ve done nothing to calm the situation-”
“Well what am I supposed to do?” He leaned forwards in his chair. “Seriously, I’ve tried not retaliating; it does nothing. I’ve tried arguing back; it does nothing. She’s just inherently rude.”
“You can swap with me if you want.” She took a sip of wine. “I’d sort her out.”
“You two would be in a full on cat fight within the hour,” he said dryly. “Who have you got, anyway?”
“Kingsley Shacklebolt. Remember him? Ravenclaw, year below us.”
“I remember. He was a good kid. Good laugh.” He paused. “I hope to Merlin she doesn’t turn up tomorrow.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“Because we can really afford her not turning up.” She rolled her eyes. “Look, I really think you should be persevering with her. Wheezy would want-”
“I know what Wheezy would want,” he snapped, burying his head in his hands. He took a deep breath, before letting it out slowly, a chuckle escaping at the end. “Wheeza would have driven her out by now. Nothing like a straight-talking Auror to sort out such snobbery.”
“Indeed.” She reached across the table and squeezed his hand affectionately. “Things will work out, Gid. You’ll see.”
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