Mr. Harold Potter and Mlle. Léonie Avon (I take no credit for Léonie’s name – it’s straight from Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades) – 1951 and 1958
“Nice of you to join us, Miss Williams.” There is a hardness in the man’s voice as he cynically welcomes the late member.
“Good morning. I'm sorry I'm late – got held up in traffic. The Floo Network gets so crowed this time of day.” Amusement is clear in her voice.
He seems slightly flustered as he says, “Well, take a seat.” She does, and spends the rest of the meeting listening intently – too intently, he can’t help but think. Nobody’s that interested in the history of the auror department.
From the start, she stands out. Maybe it’s simply because she’s older than the rest of the recruits – about his own age. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that she was ten times better at everything than they were. Heck, she’s practically as good as he is, and he’s been head of the Auror office for five years!
“Why are you even bothering with training?” the head training auror, Alastor Moody, asks her one day. “You don’t need it.”
She flushes, but not with pleasure. He sees the exasperation in her eyes, and rolls his own. “I – I didn’t know anything coming in,” she is quick to say. “I'm just…rather quick on the uptake, I suppose you could say.”
“Riiiight,” Moody says, drawing out the syllables. “And I’ve never chased down a dark wizard. Go talk to Potter. He said he had some questions for you.”
Harold jumps about ten feet in the air when he sees her open the door. Hastily, he slips the novel he was reading under his desk and pretends to look professional. “Miss – Miss Williams. What can I do for you?”
“Moody sent me in. He said you asked for me?”
“What? Oh, yes, yes, of course. Sorry…I didn’t get quite enough sleep last night…Aha!” He emerges from the masses of paper on his desk, clutching one sheet triumphantly. “Take a look at this.”
Her eyes widen as she reads. When she looks up, there is an immensely satisfied look in his eyes. Ever since she arrived, she has been a thorn in his side. One-upping her is gives him a feeling of unholy glee.
“I fail to see what this has to do with me,” she says as she hands the paper back to him. Her mask is good, he thinks. Very good. But it can’t fool him.
“Oh, I think you know exactly what it has to do with you, Mademoiselle Avon.”
“That’s not my name.”
“Oh?” Suddenly, he’s on the other side of his desk, grabbing her arm in one of his hands. “What’s this, then?” She hisses as he pulls her sleeve up roughly to reveal a pickle-shaped scar right where her elbow bends. He assumes it’s a hiss of fear, of anger, of anything but the pain that’s in her eyes when he looks back up.
There’s a moment filled with silence, which she breaks with a heavy sigh. He lets go of her arm, which she massages for a moment. Then her mask is back in place as she smiles brightly and apologizes. “Sorry about that. It still hurts a little when touched.”
He cringes. Causing her physical pain was never part of the plan. “Sorry.”
“Oh, it’s fine.” When he remains silent, she asks, still in that obnoxiously bright voice, “So, what are you going to do with me?”
“Well…” For some reason his throat doesn’t want him telling her. “Technically, I should arrest you. Spying for another nation and all that.”
“You have no evidence.
Silently, he holds out a pile of papers. She glances at them, and when she looks up her eyes are appreciative. “You’re good.”
“I fancy I might be a bit ahead of you.”
“I didn’t actually send anything.”
“Why should I believe you?”
She leans towards him, her eyes intense and sincere. “I swear it on my mother’s grave.”
For a moment, they’re just staring at each other. Finally, regretfully, he breaks the silence. “Why are you here?”
“The French ministry has heard certain…rumors.”
“Dark magic. I can’t tell you the details, but it’s serious.”
“Dark magic? That’s ridiculous. I would have heard something.
“Well, according to my sources you had. You were supposed to be part of it.”
“WHAT?” She laughs, and his heart stops. Shut it, he orders, but he can’t help but wonder what it would feel like to feel that every day for the rest of his life. It doesn’t sound too bad. SHUT IT, he orders himself again. Be professional. “Why are you telling me this? Aren’t you supposed to die a dramatic death before you give up any secrets, or something?” Smooth, Harold. Real smooth.
She rolls her eyes. “Anyone spending an hour with you could tell that you’re innocent.”
He runs his hand through his hair and tries to look all cool and mysterious. “Maybe I'm just an amazing actor.”
She snorts. He gives up all thoughts of professionalism and snorts back. When Moody walks in five minutes later, he finds them there, snorting at each other and rolling on the floor with laughter. They pause for a moment and try to compose themselves. They fail the instant their eyes meet. Moody just shakes his head and leaves them to it.
Their first date is that night. It is easy, getting her to go out with him – far easier than he expects.
“Want to start over?” he asks her at one point. “Pretend we’ve never met?”
“Sure,” she says, and sticks out her hand. “Hi, I'm Léonie Avon.”
“Harold Potter,” he says, shaking her hand. They laugh. “This is ridiculous,” he says. “Can I take you out for dinner?”
At first, it’s strictly a just-as-friends affair, but when it’s the third night in a row they’ve gone out to dinner, they’ve stopped pretending. Harold, relatively quiet and always focused on work, is pulled out of his shell by her like by nobody else. He’s heads over heels over heads over heels in love.
Then, three months into their relationship, they get the news: Léonie is to return to France. Her bosses, still believing that Harold has something to do with dark magic, are suspicious of her silence.
“I’ll be back soon,” she tells him. They’re on the dock; her boat is just a few feet away. “Don’t worry.”
He forces a smile. “I'm not worried. Of course you’ll be back soon.”
But their kiss feels like a final goodbye.
Paris is dreary without you. It’s strange; it used to be my favorite city in the world, yet now as I look at it, all I can see is London. Dear, dear London. I miss it every day, almost as much as I miss you. I wish they would just go ahead and fire me so I could come back to you. As it is, I'm afraid I’ll never be able to get out.
There, I said it. Much as we have hoped otherwise, I may not be able to leave France again. They watch me very closely now. I’ve even been tailed a few times. If it were not for my brother, I would just drop everything and leave, but his wife is in the process of divorcing him and he needs my support. I will do everything in my power to return to you soon, though.
As always, all my love,
Harold sighs and puts down the letter. His life has been bland in the months since Léonie left. He finds he still wakes up some mornings expecting to see her beside him. It’s absurd, of course – he’ll probably never see her again. Still, he can’t help but hope.
An owl knocks on the window, and when he goes to open it, his joints creak. In muggle terms, he’d be an old man now. Magic will keep him alive another couple of decades, though.
He sighs when he sees the seal on the letter. Though he loves corresponding with Dumbledore, he hates the paperwork that always comes in the official letters. This scroll, however, is thin, and the message short and to the point.
Harold, it starts.
Please come to Hogwarts immediately. I have some very important news to share with you.
“Tom Riddle came to see me today.”
“Riddle? He’s a year or two younger than me, wasn’t he?”
“Two years younger,” Dumbledore says, his face grim.
“Right! He was prefect when I was Head Boy. How could I forget him? A perfect student.”
“Oh, yes, indeed. Prefect, Head Boy, star of the Slug Club, won the award for Special Services to the School, everything. But since he left school…I'm afraid he’s gone bad. Very bad.”
Harold leans forward, his attention caught. “You want me to go after him?”
“I want you to be very careful around him. He’s changed from who he was at Hogwarts, Harold. I'm afraid he’s turning out to be a very dangerous man. Have you heard anything about a Lord Voldemort?”
“That’s Tom Riddle’s new name. Keep your eyes on him. He’s a dangerous one.”
Léonie stares at the letter in her hand, puzzled. Harold’s owl just delivered it. Searching for clues, she turns it over, to find another quick note jotted on the back.
She sighs, exasperated with herself. How could she have been so stupid! Now, if only she can remember the key to the codes they had made up that night…
“I’ll write, I promise,” she had told him. “You write too. I want to know everything. Every single thing. All your cases. Everything.”
“Some of that is confidential, you know,” he said. “Not for you, of course, you know it all, but if it got to your superiors…”
“Well, what if they can’t read it? We could use a code.”
“And who taught you all the codes you know?”
“I suppose we could make one up.”
She had stared at him. Only her Harold would want to make up a whole new complex code just so he could talk with his girlfriend. And only she would be mad enough to agree.
Needless to say, neither of them got much sleep that night.
An hour later, Léonie has the translated letter.
Dumbledore called me to his office yesterday. He told me of a Dark Wizard who is gaining power. He was born Tom Riddle, and was a star student when I was at Hogwarts. Since then, however, he's apparently fallen into Dark Magic, and now calls himself Lord Voldemort. Could this be what your supervisors were talking about?
Lots of love,
She raises her eyebrows. Her advisors would love to know about this. It might even be good enough for them to let her go. Her brother’s divorce is almost done, anyway. Her imagination leaps ahead, to Harold and the ring he had promised her when she returned, to the home they would build together, to the children they could have.
Even years later, Harold and Léonie were always ashamed to say that a part of their hearts were always grateful to You-Know-Who.
A/N: In case you care, I took a bit of liberty with the dates here. James’ dad would have been at Hogwarts significantly before Voldemort for him to have been an elderly father. It doesn’t really matter, but I’d feel bad if I didn’t let you know.
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