Chapter 11 : We Are Family
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Living life is fun and we've just begun
To get our share of this world's delights
High hopes we have for the future
And our goals in sight
Disclaimer: I don't own anything that has to do with Harry Potter or the lyrics. I really don't know who owns the lyrics but I got them from Alvin and the Chipmunks and they definitely don't belong to me.
Birthday celebrations vary from family to family but for the most part there is a chronological order in which the type of parties go.
For example, when a kid reaches the milestone that is their first birthday there absolutely has to be a party (especially for the first-born). Obviously the kid in question won’t have any memory of said party but it gives the parents a chance to show off their child, catch with friends who they haven’t seen since their social life disappeared, and a chance for the relatives they have been subtly avoiding all year to finally see the baby. It will consist of tiny foods that parents with young kids can feed to their teething child and ‘grown-up food’ like chicken or cake—the latter of which the parents insist is for their kids even though they really only dare to give their toddler three bites for fear of them having too much sugar, and then proceed to eat the rest themselves. It’s the responsible move, after all. In the end the day will be like a giant play-date with lots of screaming, crying, and presents the birthday kid has no interest in because they don’t make as much noise as a pot does when hit with a wooden spoon which, coincidentally, is quite appealing to suck on.
Jump forward to the fifth birthday and it becomes a more kid-oriented event. The presents get appreciated and the ratio between kid and parent is more equal. It consists of aunts, uncles, and cousins who live nearby along with every kid in the Kindergarten class because at five the lesson of including people is very important.
Five years later, for the tenth birthday party, everyone is clicky and you are allowed to invite only the people you want to so long as you don’t make anyone feel bad. It isn’t co-ed any longer because there will be a sleepover at the end and it now takes more preparation to get ready because a birthday party is more than just a large play-date at this point. Parents from the guests are not allowed to stay because at ten you are all far too cool for that and you do grown up things like talk about boys and bob for apples. Everything stays G-rated because there are parents in the house but the giggling is incessant and the nail-polish a necessity.
At fifteen the party celebration changes once again as it becomes co-ed after the brief break and it is a big deal to have both girls and boys at your house. It will often take place in the basement, away from the parents because supervision is so un-cool, and fun games that the birthday person (they can no longer be called a kid) decided to play without their parents approval. They are very fun games like Spin the Bottle, Truth or Dare, and Seven Minutes in Heaven. If the party has to be supervised then it will be done by the Birthday Persons cool older sibling or cousin who is getting paid for sitting down there. They roll their eyes at the immaturity (they are so over those games) and read a magazine, constantly reminding themselves that they are getting paid for this.
Jump forward a lot of years (past boos, clubs, impromptu marriages, and hangover filled parties) and it’s time for the Big Forty. It is often a surprise party and will contain Firewhiskey as it did (quite) a few years earlier but this time around it will be enjoyed responsibly because it is a family-oriented party with kids running around. It will be outside or in a large house and families will be invited instead of individual people so that the kids can entertain themselves playing Harry Potter, tag, or telling ghost stories. After the families with young kids have left and the children in the house are watching a movie or asleep the other adults will stay downstairs, get drunk, and reminisce about how well they were able to hold their alcohol twenty years ago.
Jump another twenty years ahead and parties go one of two ways: the ones who have kids and family will probably have a small get-together, maybe even a surprise party that includes all their friends from over the years. They will eat cake, talk loudly, and make sure all of their friends know their kid and grandkids accomplishments. On the other hand there are also the ones who don’t believe in celebrating their birthday. They think that their birthday is just saying that they are “one step closer to dying of old age.” Cynical and unhappy, their family may still have a party but the birthdayee won’t enjoy it.
But despite the cycle that birthdays always go through, they do have a bit more individuality than I alluded to. Take Meg Ann for example, at thirteen she decided to have her first co-ed birthday party since she was eight but she didn’t have a basement party with spin the bottle that I had to supervise (thank Merlin) and instead my mum and I actually got to enjoy it a bit.
As always, Meg Ann’s party was big. We had originally been planning to have it in the park so that everyone could spread out but as it turned out, the weather didn’t want to agree with our plan so instead we all rushed around to get my mum’s flat ready. Tyler and Scorpius took Meg Ann out when she started getting stressed while Natasha, my mum, Peter, and I all put up decorations, made a huge birthday banner, and cleaned up the house so that everything breakable was safely insulated in a box in the closet.
The Weasley’s showed up just as the party was starting to really kick off. Music was blasting, the living room had turned into a dance floor, and drinks had already been spilled on the floor.
“Hey,” Fred yelled, just loud enough to be heard over the pop music. I looked up from where I was cleaning up a spilled butterbeer with my wand and smiled.
“Hey yourself,” I greeted him. “When did you get here?”
“Long enough ago for Roxy to find a gossip circle where she could give the inside scoop on Albus’ breakup. The thing still hasn’t simmered down, poor bloke.”
“My friends are on the deck if you want to join us,” I offered. “I really only came in to grab a few snacks.”
He agreed and followed me out onto the terrace that we had covered with a water-repellent bubble of sorts that created an invisible shield to stop the rain from drenching anyone who wanted a break from the madness. I could tell that Fred was uncomfortable around Tasha, Scorp, and Tyler but I couldn’t think of anything to ease the tension. He ignored Scorpius, Scorpius ignored him. Natasha tried to act civil but wasn’t all that good at it and Tyler pretended to oblivious to the entire thing making primarily one-sided conversation with himself.
A few minutes into it everyone began to loosen up and Natasha dropped her cold shoulder act. Fred and Scorpius still didn’t speak directly to each other and purposefully avoided eye-contact but they at least engaged in the same conversation that Tyler had started about the merits of butterbeer. There’s only so much you can talk about without starting an argument.
Once the conversation dried up (and we managed to keep it going for nearly twenty minutes) Scorpius excused himself under the pretenses of getting another butterbeer, seemingly unaware that his current bottle was still half-full and Natasha left only moments later because she had a visit with her dad. Tyler was soon engaged with a girl I had never met before and I turned my attention to Fred who still seemed uncomfortable.
“So how’s life?” I asked, propping my feet up on the glass table that was littered with paper plates and half-filled cups of Pumpkin Juice.
“Good,” he shrugged. “I’m still working in the shop, you know, trying my hand at inventing new products.”
“Which one are you working at?” I asked. “I stopped in at the one in Diagon Alley a few days ago and you weren’t there.”
“I’m managing the one in Hogsmeade right now,” he explained. “I was renting a flat with James and Sam but we found these rich French guys who were willing to pay double the rent if we let them move in so James is staying with his parents for a few months and Sam is staying with one of his teammates. It took a bit of convincing but I got my parents to agree to let me manage the store on a trial-basis. It’s been fairly quiet without Hogwarts students in on the weekends but I think I’ve done alright.”
I frowned, still focused on his earlier comment about the French guys.
“When did you guys move out?” I asked. He thought about it for a minute and then shrugged.
“About a month ago…it’s August, right?”
“The first,” I laughed and he nodded.
“Yeah, it was the beginning of July.”
“And you all moved out?” I questioned, still trying to put the pieces together in my mind.
“Yeah,” he agreed easily with another swig from his bottle. “We could use a bit of extra gold and three months really isn’t all that bad in the long run. Anyways, what about you? Does your dad know your doing Auror training?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t tell him,” I shrugged. “He may have found out though. Probably did come to think of it…Has your mum said anything to him?”
“I haven’t been home, remember?” he pointed out. “But I really wouldn’t know anyways. She probably hasn’t talked to him since you have. They tend to go a few months at a time.”
“Well aside from a wedding invitation or two I haven’t talked to him for…coming up on five years. And even then we didn’t exactly…talk.”
He nodded slowly, knowing me well enough to not reprimand me or try to talk me around. He had seen enough arguments between his mother and me to know that it was pointless.
“Do the people you work with know who your dad is?” Freddy asked. “I mean, is that why they recruited you?”
“Possibly,” I admitted. “It’s definitely occurred to me but we’ve been at piece with Bulgaria for a while now and since we don’t exactly have the best relationship…I really don’t know. I legally changed my name a few years ago which would make it harder for them to know. Still, I would recon Harry and Ron know.”
“Do you realize how much blackmail it gives me?” he asked with a slight smirk on his face.
I shrugged again. “Honestly I don’t really care if they know. I was going to tell Kyle when he asked but he made such a big deal about it that I couldn’t resist annoying him.”
“And that’s the Taylor I know,” Fred said, smirk now fully in place.
“It’s going to get out eventually,” I admitted to myself for the first time. “And most people won’t care. I’m just waiting for tag-team with Bulgaria or something. He doesn’t have the best reputation with the Auror department here and jumping from an Auror with no work-ethic to the head of the Bulgarian Defense Department probably didn’t sit well with his old colleagues. At Hogwarts I didn’t use it out of pride but I just don’t want to start out fighting a bad rep here. I’ve seen how hard it is.”
“Fair enough,” he conceded. “But I really don’t think James would care.”
“Did he say something to you?” I asked with a frown, wondering why he was worried about what I had (or hadn’t) told his cousin.
“Not directly,” he admitted, tapping his fingers on his butterbeer. “I overheard him and Kyle talking about it a little while ago. Kyle sounded pretty annoyed.”
“He’s been trying to guess it since the first day.” It was getting slightly ridiculous if I was honest but it was a nice distraction through boot camp. “He’s gotten pretty creative too. The last one was ‘McJoradan.’ I have yet to figure out why he thinks I’m Irish.”
“They won’t guess Johnson for a while,” he said. “We don’t look like we’re related at all.”
“True,” I agreed. “No one figured it out at Hogwarts and we were in the same house and year.”
“Do your friends know?” he asked, cocking his head to the side.
“Tyler does cause of the whole marriage thing and…I’m pretty sure he told Scorpius. One of us probably told Natasha…I don’t know. I think so. You obviously haven’t told your cousins.”
“I didn’t think you’d want me to,” he said, frowning a little. “And as soon as we got to Hogwarts we stopped talking so there was really no point.”
“Are you going to tell James,” I asked, biting my lip.
“Not if you don’t want me to,” he promised and I smiled in relief.
“Thanks,” I said gratefully.
“I hear you guys are getting on pretty well though. I so called it…and way back at Hogwarts too.”
“Oh shut up,” I shoved him. “It’s nothing like that. We’re not even friends.”
“That’s because you have to know someone for like two years before consider them your friends.”
“I do not,” I said, offended.
“You didn’t call Natasha your best friend until third year,” he pointed out. “You always look for someone to screw up so that you have a reason to not like them and you said it yourself, the reason you became friends with Tyler was because you were practically forced into it; Scorpius was part of the package deal. When was the last time you took a chance in trusting someone?”
“Trust is earned, it shouldn’t be given,” I said, glaring at him.
“Oh please,” he scoffed. “You always bail before people can earn your trust. You did it when we got to Hogwarts. As soon as we got there you looked for a reason to ignore me.”
“I’m not denying that,” I told him. “But to be fair, your family was pretty daunting and it all worked out in the end because half of them don’t like me and the other half I don’t like.”
“Dominique and Louis don’t make up half my family,” he rolled his eyes.
“Is Louis the blonde dick?” Fred laughed but refused to answer.
“James is in our little family and you like him,” he continued to try and persuade me.
“He’s fine,” I shrugged. “A lot better than your blonde cousins, I’ll give you that.”
“Yeah, he would agree with that.” He was still smirking and I was starting to get really annoyed. “He and Louis have a debate going about which one of them is hotter. He’ll be glad to hear your opinion on the matter.”
“Oi, I did not say James was hotter,” I announced, holding my hands up. “I merely said that he’s less of a dick.”
“So you think Louis’ hotter?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow. I narrowed my eyes at him.
“Blonde isn’t really my type. There’s a reason both of my best friends are blonde.”
“So James is your type then,” he smirked. I knew I could catch him.
“Not in the least,” I said, a smirk now in place on my own face. “He was head boy. I don’t think I could get over that.”
Fred’s face fell and his eyebrows scrunched together. I grinned, completely self-satisfied, and stood up. The party was beginning to wrap up and I was hoping to get a short nap in before I had to get back to the ministry. Tyler was otherwise…occupied so I skipped my goodbyes to him and instead gave Freddy a quick hug and went back into the flat to see how fast I could get away.
I had just climbed into bed at my own flat when there was a knock at the door. I groaned and stood up. People normally let themselves in so I was wary as I opened the door and surprised when I saw who was standing outside. Maybe I shouldn’t have been with the whole speaking of the devil saying but I was.
“Were you sleeping?” James asked, looking slightly guilty.
“No, I just got back,” I assured him and he nodded awkwardly.
“You want to come in,” I asked, waving my hand and opening the door wider to allow him to enter.
“Uh, sure,” he said, still sounding awkward. It was starting to get annoying. “Look I really don’t know how to say this…”
“Well I usually prefer people just spitting it out to be honest,” I said, sitting down on the couch and watching him curiously as he followed suit.
“My dad wants you to talk to Mr. Nott. He says that Nott wouldn’t do it for the department just for the sake of helping and he has too much experience to be broken. Veritiserum isn’t an option because he’s not a suspect and I know that it seems really wrong and—”
“I’ll talk to him,” I cut him off and he shut up immediately.
“Really?” he asked. I nodded.
“Yeah, Natasha’s actually visiting with him right now so he’ll be in a good mood. Well, assuming they don’t fight. If they fight we may want to put it off for a few hours.”
“Natasha’s last name is Nott?” he asked, looking surprised. “She’s the blonde one, right? The one Dominique hates.”
“The one and only,” I laughed. “Yeah, her dad’s been in and out of Azkaban since she was born. He really is a good guy though.”
“Uh, if you say so,” he said, clearly not believing me.
“I’m serious,” I smiled. “It may not seem like it but he is. He needs a few lessons in honesty but really, most people need a lesson in that. He just happens to get caught lying while most people don’t.”
“What’s he in for?” James asked curiously.
“Embezzlement,” I sighed. “He gets caught every few years so the goblins hate him but he has a lot of human fans and goblins are really rather unpleasant anyways.”
“I’ve never liked them much,” James admitted. “They kind of creep me out.”
“They creep everyone out,” I shrugged. “I avoid Gringotts whenever possible.”
“So Natasha is who you live with, right?” he asked.
“Yep, she should be home pretty soon. Do we need to get to the ministry now or is there time?”
“There’s time. I was expecting it to take longer to convince you to be honest.”
“Just out of curiosity, why did they send you, anyways?” I asked.
“Teddy had just gone home when they decided they needed you. I was the next best choice and I knew where you lived.”
“Speaking of living,” I said, just remembering. “Fred told me you guys moved out of your flat a month ago and you’re living with your parents. I thought you said you lived near by.”
He grinned guiltily.
“You were being friendly for the first time. I wasn’t about to shut it down. And I really did have a fight with my mum so I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to get back. When did you see Fred?” He changed the topic as soon as he could but I let it slide.
“My sister had a birthday party today and his whole family came.” It wasn’t a lie but I still felt a little guilty about not really telling him the truth. I knew I had trust issues but they were a lot easier to ignore when I didn’t have to face the person who had been used as an example of them ten minutes earlier.
“How old is she?” he asked.
“Thirteen. Mum’s decided she’s getting old and had a nervous break down about it a few weeks ago.”
“Wouldn’t that have happened when she realized how old you were? My mum freaked when I turned twenty because then everyone knew she was in her forty’s.”
“My mum had me young,” I laughed. “She’s only thirty-six.”
“So she had you when she was…”
“Seventeen, yeah,” I stated simply. “Most people think she’s my sister which always makes her feel better.”
James laughed. “Well that explains a lot.”
“What does that mean?” I demanded.
“Just that having a young mum suits you—and everything you did—a bit better.”
“She’s in her mid-thirties and she hasn’t changed a bit for Meg Ann,” I argued. “Meggy just takes after her dad so she never gets into trouble. Shame really, I was totally ready to help her beat all my records.”
“Records of what?” he asked.
“You know, most detentions, most times sneaking out of the castle, most classes skipped, whatever. Your grandfather actually still has us for most detentions because they started giving up on trying to reform us towards the end. It sucks really because I totally could have gotten him if we weren’t so good at not getting caught.”
“It was my goal to beat him in detentions my first three years at Hogwarts,” James admitted. I raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
“Nope, I even snuck into Filches office to count how many he had.”
“Is Filch ever going to die? I mean, he can’t even see anymore, he just relies on that darn cat and yells a lot.”
“Dad recons he’s immortal,” James shrugged.
“So did you do it?” I asked, referring to the number of detentions.
“No,” he sighed. “I got really into Quidditch in my fourth year and while we still pulled stuff it wasn’t things that got us a ton of detentions and since Sam was usually in on it we had to make sure it never messed with matches and practices which forced us to do it less.”
“And then you got named prefect and head boy,” I said. He nodded.
“Yeah but the prefect badge really aided us more than anything else. It got us out of trouble because I could say I was patrolling or that I had just confiscated whatever we were holding.”
“You really did follow in your grandfather’s footsteps, huh,” I said thoughtfully. “He got head boy too, right?”
“Yeah but he used it as a way to get the girl. I was head with my cousin.”
“Which one,” I teased. He laughed.
“Molly. She’s the only one in my year. Tall, red hair, used to wear glasses…”
“Did she go to a wedding recently?”
“Uh yeah, Byron and Lola’s.”
“I met her when I met Rose,” I said. “Weird, she didn’t strike me as the head girl type.”
“There’s a type?” he asked.
“You know—stick in the mud, suck up, annoying, obsessed with gaining approval, etc.”
“Is there a type for head boy too?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Sure,” I shrugged. “They’re annoying too but they usually have the whole nice-guy image going. They’re more laid back and they get girls to swoon and teacher’s to love them without being obvious suck-ups. Cockiness is the biggest must-have.”
“You do realize Scorpius was head boy, right?” he asked, cocking his head to the side.
“Oh yes,” I said darkly. “We had a word with him about that. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we were still in school since we could have used it to our advantage but alas, it didn’t work out. Still, at least he added to our unpredictability and Meg Ann said there were rumors going around about how he had imperiused Professor Sprout which was pretty cool.”
“So did I live up to your head boy criteria?” he teased.
“Yep,” I said and he looked offended making me laugh. “I twisted my ankle my fifth year and you wouldn’t leave me alone until I let you help me to the hospital wing. You missed breakfast for it. No normal person does that.”
“Oh yeah, I remember that,” he said after a moments pause, completely disregarding the second half. “Your ankle was swelled up to the size of a Quaffle but you argued the whole bloody way and tried to push me down the steps. Bit drastic really.”
I hadn’t wanted to go because I was scared of Madam Bones but I didn’t exactly want to admit that so instead I decided on adding something just as embarrassing.
“I had a crush on you for the rest of the year,” I grinned, watching as his cheeks turned bright red.
“You’re kidding,” he said, sounding composed despite how red he was.
“Nope,” I laughed. “It was really quite annoying. You weren’t my type and Tyler and Scorpius were as annoying as hell about it.”
“Your hair was different then,” he said, cocking his head to the side.
“Yep, I was well-acquainted with hair-dye by then.”
“Is that your natural color?” he asked, indicating my hair now.
“Nah,” I shook my head. “It’s a brownish red—closer to my mum’s color if you ever see her but she adds red to hers anyways.”
“I didn’t even realize that was you until now,” he said, still looking surprised.
“Good,” I laughed. “That wasn’t exactly my finest hour. Actually that whole year kind of sucked. I had to make out with a seventh year to get over you. He wasn’t even that good a kisser.”
“Well if it makes you feel any better I had a crush on you my seventh year,” he offered.
“Oh shut up,” I scoffed, thinking he was giving me a hard time.
“I’m serious,” he swore. “I ran into you while I was doing rounds and you made up some cock and bull story about how you left a book in the library and convinced me to let you off detention. And then, of course, I saw you the next day in the Gryffindor common room and realized you had totally played me.”
“Sorry about that,” I laughed. “But you were really being rather annoying. I would have taken the detention if you would have let me just leave but instead you got all nosy and refused to let me make my way back to my ‘dormitory’ on my own.”
“Yeah well thanks to you my romantic life for seventh year was non-existent.”
I cracked up and he eventually joined in.
“I can’t believe I didn’t know,” I said, shaking my head. “Who would’ve thought the head boy would have a crush on the screw up.”
“You weren’t a screw up,” James said and I rolled my eyes.
“Yeah right,” I scoffed. “I was like the opposite of everything you represented. You were the schools Golden boy who played Quidditch and got good grades and became head boy. You were destined for greatness. Everyone loved you.”
James laughed a little uncomfortably and then looked at me seriously, considering his next words.
“Want to know the truth?” he asked. I wasn’t sure what he meant but indicated he should continue anyways.
“I always hated that.” I looked at him questioningly and waited for him to explain. “That everyone expected me to follow in one of my parent’s footsteps and be just as great as them. I wanted to be an Auror because it was what my dad did but I hated that everyone assumed that I would be just as good as he was. It always felt like what I did well was expected and what I did wrong was just a little bump in the road.
“I wanted to do something drastic and get people off my back. I wanted to rebel and just start doing everything wrong but I could never actually do it because I knew it would disappoint my parents. By the time I had finished my third year I envied the people who could miss a party without anyone noticing. People always made comments about how I was just like my dad or just like my namesake and it drove me crazy. I had a crush on you because you were the first person who didn’t fall all over me but didn’t hate me either. I always had the extremes and you just…ignored me. It was a nice change.”
“Do you want me to ignore you now?” I offered. “Because I could totally act like I have no idea who you are if you want.”
“I’m fine, thanks,” he said dryly. “I think I prefer this to seventh year.”
“Good,” I grinned.
“Guess who’s going to Par-ee!” Natasha’s voice rang out as the door slammed. “That’s right…ME!”
“Sweet,” I called back, leaning my head back against the couch so I could see about half her body as she slipped her shoes off by the door.
She laughed happily. “I know it—Taylor. What is James Potter doing in our living room?” She stopped mid-thought and raised her eyebrows in surprise.
I wasn’t really sure how to respond so I decided to go with the obvious even though I knew it would annoy her. “Well at the moment he is sitting.”
Just as I expected she turned her gaze back to me and looked annoyed.
“Taylor why is James Potter in our living room?” she rephrased her question.
“He came to convince me to interrogate your dad,” I said honestly.
“It’s better to use the word ‘question.’ It sounds less threatening,” James told me quietly; clearly worried that Natasha would get upset.
“But it’s not really questioning,” Natasha said, not at all bothered that I had obviously agreed to it. “And he always calls it interrogating. He actually gets rather annoyed when people say ‘questioning’ because he thinks they’re diminishing his intelligence. Like he couldn’t see through what they really meant or something. Oh, I’m Natasha by the way,” she added as an afterthought.
“Yeah, you went out with Sam at Hogwarts, right?” he asked. She nodded.
“Yeah, bad mistake,” she said reminiscently.
“And a bad habit she can’t seem to break,” I added.
“Oh shut up,” she muttered, crossing her arms. “We were both bored.”
“Well it’s more original than drunk at least,” James said. I grinned and even Natasha laughed. “He tried to say he was drunk but then Fred pointed out it was the middle of the day.”
“No offense, but your friend isn’t very smart,” Natasha said, still grinning.
“Yeah, we recon he’s had too many bludgers to the head,” James shrugged. “You might want to get changed, we have to be there in twenty minutes,” he added to me. I sighed and got up.
“I’ll go with you,” Natasha said immediately.
“You’re going to go with me into our bedroom so I can change?” I asked. James wasn’t an idiot.
“Yep,” she said, grabbing my arm and pulling me towards the bedroom.
“Did you guys hook up or something?” she asked as soon as the door was closed. I laughed at the mere thought of it.
“Yes Tasha,” I said sarcastically. “It was totally hot and heavy before you interrupted us.”
“Well excuse me but you haven’t had a good hookup in months and there aren’t a lot of explanations for what he’s doing in our apartment,” she defended herself.
“Convincing me to interrogate your dad seems like a pretty good one to me.”
“You don’t need convincing to do that,” she brushed it off.
“I know that, you know that, and your dad probably knows that but the goody-two-shoes in the Auror department don’t know that,” I replied, pulling on a pair of purple robes.
“So nothing happened?” she clarified, looking disappointed.
“No, nothing happened,” I told her. “But what were you saying about going to Paris?”
“Oh yeah, I’m going to Paris in September,” she said, immediately happy again.
“You’re not doing business for your dad, are you?” I asked nervously.
“Of course not,” she waved away my worries. “I prefer to get the benefits without the sacrifices.”
“Good,” I said in relief. “Don’t wait up; I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.”
“Hey what are you interrogating him about?” she asked as James and I were about to leave.
“Can’t say, it’s confidential,” James answered before I could.
“Seriously?” I asked him. He nodded.
“Until the story breaks you can’t talk about it.”
“I’ll tell you after it breaks then,” I shrugged. Natasha looked like she was going to protest and then decided better of it.
“Have fun,” she called out instead and we left.
“That may be the strangest thing someone has said to me before I left for work,” James mused.
“That’s Natasha for you.”
* * * * *
“Don’t wake her up.”
“She’s going to get neck pains if she sleeps at her desk.”
“She hasn’t slept for over twenty-four hours.”
“We could at least move her onto a sofa or something.”
“I’m awake,” I mumbled, the statement half-true.
“You don’t sound very awake,” James replied, his voice louder now that he wasn’t worried about waking me up.
“There’s a sofa about twenty feet away,” Teddy added, his voice also recognizable now that they were speaking at a normal level.
“I’m fine,” I assured them. “Just waiting for my second wind. Actually, I think it would be my fifth. Either way, it should happen in the next ten minutes.”
“I wish I could let you go home but we may need you again,” Teddy said and I finally lifted my head up.
“Don’t worry about it,” I yawned. “I’m really fine. Besides, I promised Mr. Nott I wouldn’t let anyone try to frame him for this.”
James and I had arrived at the Ministry just as his Aunt Hermione had won us jurisdiction. I only caught a glimpse of her as she was leaving before I was hurried away by a group of Aurors who went over the goals of my ‘questioning session’ and gave me a list of the terminology I was supposed to use.
Since Mr. Nott wasn’t a high-risk prisoner they brought him to the ministry instead of having me go to the prison. I had been to the prison before and told them I didn’t care but it was apparently all part of some tactic to make him feel comfortable. Personally I thought he would be more comfortable in the visiting area on the Island of Azkaban since that was where I usually saw him but they seemed to disagree so he was brought to me instead. They put him in a small room on one of the bottom floors and watched us through a window that looked like a mirror from inside the room. A handful of Extendable Ears were liberally spread out so that scribes could record the whole encounter.
“Hey Mr. Nott,” I greeted him, tossing the cheat-sheet they had made me on the desk that had been pushed against the stone wall. It was clear they hadn’t had much time to make it feel comfortable as the only thing that made it feel remotely homey was the bright red sofa that he was sitting on. Unlike Muggle prisoners his hands were free. He had no history with assault and his wand was taken every time he had to serve a stint in prison.
“Taylor,” he smiled widely when he saw me. “Are you my interrogator?”
“I’m not allowed to use that word,” I told him seriously, indicating the sheet of paper. He laughed and pulled me into a hug before picking up the paper. He read over it, looking more and more bemused the further he got.
“Well they’re not taking any chances, are they?” he chuckled.
“I’m a first time inte—questionnaire,” I said, correcting myself quickly. “They don’t want me to mess up.”
“So what can I do for you,” he asked, sitting back down. They had given me full liberty with the approach I took so I decided to go with the honest one.
“I need to know everything you can tell me about Drake Godfrey and Margaret Ollivander.”
He drew back immediately. “Taylor, you’re not going after them,” he said, sounding concerned.
“No, I’m not,” I assured him. “But there was an attack on Godrey’s old headquarters and Margaret was killed. We’re investigating who started the fire.”
“That’s all?” he asked and I nodded.
“That’s all,” I assured him.
I couldn’t very well admit it with all the eyes on me but I had double-checked that it was really all they were looking into when everyone else was pre-occupied with the jurisdiction issues. He smiled, knowing I wouldn’t have promised him that without knowing for sure.
“Okay,” he said. “I don’t know how much help I’ll be but I’ll see what I can do. Godfrey’s been off the grid for ages. I heard from him about three years ago when he needed a bit of help. I gave him the head start he needed and he paid it all back with interest.”
“When did the payments stop?” I asked.
“A little over a year ago. I haven’t heard from him since and as far as I know, his business is completely shut down. I don’t know of any connection he has to Margaret but I do know Margaret was getting into more serious stuff,” he paused seeming to consider his next words.
“She’s really dead?” he asked. I sighed but nodded.
“We’re not going after her. I wouldn’t do that to her.”
There was a reason I had never even considered the MLE. I know people who are criminals but I’m not friends with people who use dark magic. If I worked for the MLE I would be going after my friends. With the Auror department, my friends are merely used as assets.
“Well I don’t know what she was doing exactly but I leant her a bit of money for it.”
“Did she pay you back for it?” I asked.
“She was in the middle of it when I got brought back in. I told her to hold off on the payments until I was out. It wasn’t much, just a few hundred galleons. I honestly have no idea what she was doing and I wasn’t going to ask but she wanted to move on from a few fake wands and she was talking about going into business with a few other people.”
“Do you have names?” I asked. He gave them to me and I turned the conversation to enemies but he couldn’t think of any.
“We helped each other out but we never worked together,” he pointed out. “We dealt with each other straight on. There was never a middle-man and it was never anything more than a favor for a favor.”
“Alright,” I sighed. “Well thank you. When do you get out again?”
“September 29th,” he said immediately.
“So Natasha isn’t going to Paris for you?” I asked.
“Not for business,” he promised. “She’s just covering for her mother and me at a family wedding.”
“Make sure they don’t try to frame me for this,” he whispered in my ear as I hugged him goodbye. “There are still quite a few people who don’t like me.”
“So is that what he whispered to you?” Teddy asked now.
“Yeah,” I replied. “He’s gotten pretty popular with the court but the MLE would love to get him for something big.”
“He doesn’t have to worry,” James assured me, pulling me up and forcing me onto the couch before plopping down beside me. “Dad hates the MLE; he won’t let them touch anything we’re working on.”
“I know I…checked up on the case a bit before coming in. They’ve been left completely in the dark. They didn’t even know he was interr—sorry, questioned about it. He’s safe.”
“Do you have a lot of friends who are criminals,” Teddy asked thoughtfully.
“Well that depends on how you define ‘criminals.’ And ‘friends’ for that mater,” I said.
“Do you have friends who have gone to Azkaban?” he asked and I thought about it.
“Well that brings us back to the definition of ‘friends.’ Like do ex-boyfriends count? Or my best friends dad? Or is it only people I talk to now?”
“She’s not going to tell you mate,” James laughed.
“It was a nice try though,” I admitted.
“Do you have an ex-boyfriend who was in Azkaban?” Teddy pressed, trying to get something out of me. I grinned, even that wasn’t specific enough.
“Well that depends on how you define ‘boyfriend’ versus a hook up. And who you would consider an ex. Would going to Azkaban be enough or would there have had to be an actual break-up? And would I have had to refer to him as my boyfriend or would we just be seeing each other exclusively? And what about the whole ‘was?’ Does that mean he has to be out now or could he still be in?”
“Fine, I give,” Teddy conceded. “And I’m going to take a nap in Harry’s office. Tell him to wake me up if he needs anything.”
“Will do,” I said cheerfully, fully aware that my fifth wind had now appeared.
“You’re not going to sleep any more, are you?” James asked.
“Nah. What about you? Have you slept?”
“I got a few hours in,” he said, rolling his eyes. “I went home and actually slept for the four hours we had for a break instead of going to a party.”
“I couldn’t miss it,” I stated, already able to tell that he agreed with Teddy on the matter. “I had to bring the cake. And someone needed to make sure Scorp and Freddy didn’t kill each other. They actually got on pretty well; Scorp might have a shot of making it through meeting your whole clan without dying or being castrated.”
By the time I was able to actually go home and sleep I was on my eleventh wind and had never been happier to see my bed. The case wasn’t solved but my part in it was done and all of the damage control had been taken care of. There was a suspect list, there were warrants out for peoples arrest, and Mr. Knott was due to get out on August 30th because of his cooperation. It had taken a lot of negotiating with the MLE but since the alternative was going to the courts who, as I mentioned before, were quite fond of Mr. Knott the MLE decided to take what they could get.
The rest of boot camp had been cancelled for the week and we were due to start up again on Monday. The days that we had missed were going to be added into our periodic training sessions that apparently occurred throughout the year. And, believe it or not, I had actually found that out myself. As it turned out, Natasha (and multiple other people) was right and the pamphlet as well as the packet I had been given upon the completion of my testing had a lot of useful information in it. I could have gotten by without it but it was one of the only things they had to read in the department and I needed something to keep me awake between my seventh and eighth wind. I had no intention of mentioning it to anyone, nonetheless.
A/N: The sad thing is, this was a pretty quick update for me. I'm sure there are a few typos so leave it in a review if you catch any and I'll edit the chapter so that it's easier to read. What do you think of Taylor and Freddy's relationship? Natasha and her dad? Natasha's dad? Scorpius' chances of survival after meeting the Weasley's? Or how about Taylor's ex who went to Azkaban?
Please leave a review, I want to know what you think about the chapters so I can improve the story. And in the meantime...
Chapter 12 Preview:
“Hey Teddy,” I said, knocking on his cubicle before walking in.
“I’m not telling you anything,” he said immediately, stuffing the papers he was pouring over into a drawer. I grinned but shook my head.
“I’m not asking about the case. I was wondering if I could take an early lunch.”
“Sibling off to Hogwarts?” he guessed and I nodded.
“Happens every year,” he said, shaking his head. “But go ahead. Half the department will be following you out. This is the first year I managed to avoid it.”
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