“You had no damn right to barge in there and question him before we’d even arrived!”
By the time we hit our floor, Lupin and I were at each other’s throats.
“It’s not my fault it took you a good ten minutes to get there,” Lupin scoffed, strolling ahead of me down the corridor.
Fuming, I clenched and unclenched my fists, very well aware that we were both overreacting. Ghosts of past fights hung over us, and they were coming out to play now. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what the rest of the department thought.
“You just wait, Lupin, you’ll be thrown off this case in a heartbeat. It’s mine,” I snarled, striding through the cubicles purposefully.
Uncle Harry’s office was at the end of the room, and I could see a good few heads poking out of cubicles, watching us go past. The rest of my team stopped at their respective desks, leaving Lupin and I to march right up to the door. He beat me to it, and rapped his knuckles on it in a rhythm that annoyed the heck out of me.
We stood in silence, each of us shooting wary glances at the other as we breathed heavily.
The door was wrenched open, and Uncle Harry only had to take one look at our faces before he stepped aside, allowing us to trample right on in.
“Let me guess,’ he started, shutting the door with a thud, “the Scraton case.”
He smiled wryly, taking his place in his seat (leather, much more expensive than mine and doesn’t squeak) and surveying the two of us. I couldn’t help but feel a little like a naughty schoolkid, brought into the Headmasters office. Sure, I was here by choice, but I wasn’t exactly on my best behaviour.
“It’s my case,” I said stubbornly, resisting the urge to pout. That would only make me look incredibly immature, which surely wasn’t going to help much.
Lupin glowered at me.
“It’s my case, as Harry well knows.” He crossed his arms over his chest as he waited for Harry to step in.
We both turned our gaze to the black haired man, who chuckled slightly.
“The case belongs to you both,” he said simply, before leaning back in his chair.
There was a moment’s silence, and then all hell broke loose.
“WHAT?” Lupin thundered, instantly losing any inkling of maturity he’d been showing, his face quickly turning a dark shade of red.
“You can’t be serious!” I exclaimed, a little politer than Lupin, but not much.
“I’ll kill him!”
“I can’t work with her, she’s bloody insane-” Lupin retorted, turning to face me.
“I am not, you ass-hat!” I shrieked, my fists clenching.
“You are so, it was your fault-” Lupin started, only to be cut off.
We both stopped mid-insult, and turned, slowly, in unison to face Uncle Harry, who no longer looked so calm and forgiving. His eyes were stern, his mouth a thin line.
“You will share the case. That is my final word,” he said firmly, walking over to the door and opening it.
We didn’t need a bigger hint than that. I shuffled out of his office, glaring at Lupin’s back as I did so.
This was officially the worst case I’d ever been assigned.
“And what was his research focused on?” I asked calmly, my Quick-Quotes Quill scratching away on my notepad (I refused to use parchment, much to messy) floating next to me.
The wide-eyed D.O.M employee stuttered, her eyes flicking from my stern gaze to the notes my quill was jotting down.
“M-memories,” she said softly, looking rather distraught, and fairly so. I suppose for those who were not Aurors, dealing with these things must be rather confronting and nerve-wracking.
How embarrassing, if you ask me.
“Can you be more specific?” I probed, keeping an eye on Lupin as I did so.
He was off interviewing some other staff, as were the other members of my team. I was used to commanding my team on my own, but as Harry had told us to share the case, we were sharing command as well. Somehow, I doubted this would end in smiles and a group hug. Coffee being thrown in someone’s face, now that was a more likely outcome.
“Memory recovery. We have all these memories, you see, stored up, but only from people who donated them. There’s a theory that, if done correctly, objects or people could give up their memories-”
At that point, I tuned her out, not interested in research ramble. The Quick-Quotes-Quill would get it all down for me anyway, handy little thing.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as Lupin smiled at the elderly lady he was interviewing, and gave her a pat on the arm. That made me scoff. Of course he’d be one to butter up the witnesses. I was much more professional.
“- he’d succeeded on a cat, and was trying with humans, but I don’t have the clearance to know if he achieved his goal with that-”
I cut the girl off, deciding I’d heard enough.
“Thank you, Miss...Peterson,” I said, having to glance at the notes next to me for her name.
The girl scurried off looking relieved, and I snatched my notepad and quill out of the air, stalking over to Lupin.
“You done?” I said snidely, raising my eyebrows at him.
He looked up from the sheet of parchment in his hand, smiling slightly.
“I’ve been done for a few minutes, actually. Slow once again, Vic,” he said, the nickname slipping out of his mouth.
I saw him tense slightly as the word sounded, as did I. ‘Vic’. One syllable, three letters. Such an easy thing to let slip, but it torn down the professional wall we’d been building between us in a heartbeat.
The memories, the emotions, they came flooding in. I’d personally much preferred the competitive edge.
“Well, er, I’m just going to...er... head on home,” I said vaguely, my cheeks reddening, to my great shame, looking at the watch on my wrist and realising that, indeed, it was well past five.
Lupin hadn’t said a word since he’d uttered my nickname, but his face was as white as a ghost. We stood in an awkward silence for a few moments.
“Goodnight.” I found myself saying eventually, just to break the silence, nodding to Lupin as I turned on my heel.
I didn’t see his reaction, as I was already hightailing it out of there as fast as I could. Had I really just wished him goodnight? Merlin, I needed to get it together. One minute, we were arguing and competing. As soon as he utters ‘Vic’? I’m suddenly a puddle of emotions.
God damn it.
Glancing at my watch once more, I picked up my pace. I was very nearly going to be late for my date if I didn’t hurry.
I never wore dresses. I hardly ever put on make-up, other than a light coat of lip gloss and some mascara. I hadn’t been on a proper date in over a year, and dressing up felt rather foreign.
Honestly, why does one need to dress up and put in so much effort? Surely, when dating, you’d want your prospective partner to see you for, well, you, rather than the plucked, shaved, primped and shiny version.
I felt incredibly self conscious, sitting at a (currently) empty table in a fairly fancy, but not overly so restaurant, waiting for him to arrive. I smoothed out the wrinkles in my dress once again, already missing my comfortable pants and shirt ensemble. Heels I could deal with, they were one thing I did wear to work (and had been ribbed about it quite a lot in my earlier years).
He was only five minutes late so far, but it irked me no end.
The ‘he’ in question was one Hector Carlston, a Healer at St Mungo’s. We’d met for coffee last weekend, and had agreed to a dinner date tonight. To be honest, I felt no real connection to the guy. Kat had put me in contact with him, apparently he was a friend of a cousin of hers, or something like that. The effort she’d put into this was the only reason I was sitting here, in a slightly uncomfortable, hard backed chair.
Five minutes quickly became ten, and I started to get more and more irritated.
If I’d had it my way, I wouldn’t be sitting here at all. Kat had mentioned to me a few times that she “didn’t want me to end up alone”. You’d think, being the sensible person that I am, I’d brush it off, no woman needed a man beside her these days.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t done that. I’d noticed the pitying glances, the awkward atmosphere when everyone at the table, apart from me, had a date. Oh, sure, there were single people about, but it was almost expected that I’d at least be dating. Serious relationships were another level entirely.
Here I was, waiting for my (late, and rudely so) date, only here for social reasons. A social obligation, I suppose.
There was some jazz music playing from a speaker above my head, and I distracted myself by listening. Around me, happy couples ate, and a few families. Once again, I was sadly alone. Funny, I’d never even noticed such things until Kat had pointed it out to me. Whilst she hadn’t meant any harm by doing, in fact, she’d intended the opposite, it hard, nevertheless, harmed me. Now, I was overly conscious of such things.
I’d snap out of it eventually, I had to.
“I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry!”
Startled, I turned to see Hector, rushing through the crowded restaurant as quickly as he could towards me, his face flushed.
I smiled, arranging my face into an surprised, yet sympathetic expression.
“It’s alright,” I said vaguely, as he sat down opposite me.
“A patient came in at the last minute, nasty case of Spattergroit, couldn’t leave-” he prattled on, providing endless excuses, and, once he’d exhausted that, started describing the various ailments he’d cured today in great detail.
Sighing to myself, I smiled, and nodded, and sipped my wine delicately, This was dating, after all. I had to just soldier on. After all, this was only the second date, surely he’d run out of work related things to talk about soon enough.
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