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Chapter 10 : Accomplishment
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“So… Do you know who I’m being tossed off to?” Anaxandra asked in a sour tone.
“Please, don’t put it that way,” Draco said with a twinge of discomfort. “You’re simply being transferred.”
He had led her to one of the cubicles with a particularly neat desk decorated with only one photo. Motioning for her to sit, he leaned against the desk with his arms crossed. Sitting provided a fair amount of relief for her aching stomach.
A beautiful brunette that occupied the elegant silver frame caught Anaxandra’s eye. She watched as the woman began batting her eyelashes, giggling and biting her lip playfully before looking in Draco’s direction and blowing him a kiss. Anaxandra could have sworn the beautiful woman gave her a disparaging glance before continuing to play with her hair and stare at Draco in a loving manner.
“Tossed off, handed off, transferred— it’s all the same,” she replied bitterly, resisting the urge to throw the expensive frame in the bin.
“Could you be any more stubborn?” Draco asked, rubbing his left temple.
“Is that a challenge?”
Slowly twirling around in the swivel chair, Anaxandra noticed the tall tower of perfectly aligned folders that sat at the corner of Draco’s desk. Each edge was flush with the next, no folder out of place and all tabs ordered in a way that they cascaded down the tower in diagonal rows. Spinning around again, she had noticed that something wasn’t quite right. Something was out of place.
Anaxandra hadn’t noticed it right away, in fact. The only reason she had even noticed anything at all was because the tab was a bit askew compared to the others, and when examined closely, stuck out like a sore thumb. Unlike the folders labeled with case numbers, this one had a name written in bold, capital letters.
Half of her wanted to jump up in the middle of the dull office and shout “thank you!” until her lungs were exhausted, but the other half of her was disappointed. The shouting half was excited that the profile of one of her informants was pretty much gift-wrapped and tied with a bow right in front of her, while the other half was upset for the same reason. Where was the challenge that she assumed would come with this? She thought it would be much more difficult, and now it was beginning to seem almost too easy. The thankful part of her was still squealing. The disappointed half was brooding.
“Draco,” a man’s voice called.
Anaxandra leaned sideways, disregarding the protest of her throbbing midsection to get a good look at the black-haired, bespectacled man that had called her soon-to-be ex-warden’s name. He peeked out of a door on the other side of the room, waving his hand in a motion to suggest that Draco should soon join him. Draco nodded to him, and then led Anaxandra through the sea of cubicles toward the large wooden door the other man was still sticking his head out of.
Following Draco through the entryway, Anaxandra was bombarded by the stares of many children’s photographs on shelves that lined the wall. They eyed her curiously, visiting each other’s frames and whispering quietly and urgently to each other. The man that all of these children slightly resembled sat behind a large wooden desk, clad in light green suspenders and white dress shirt. He was short and plump, the top of his balding head glinting in the light flooding in through the window that was behind him. A tall, bird-like woman stood in the corner of the room, her thin glasses sitting just at the tip of her nose, and quill poised to write on the stack of parchment that sat on a wooden stand in front of her. Her black hair was pulled in to a tight bun, and she looked at the three of them with an incredibly judgmental expression.
On the man’s desk lay three pieces of paper right in front of him, all neatly aligned and evenly spaced with tiny print filling each page. A very prominent red “X” marked the lower left corner of the papers, followed by a thin, black line that hovered above the bottom edge.
“You’re all here? So let’s be on with it then. Let’s cut some of the formalities, as I have an important appointment,” the brightly dressed man started, his fingers interlaced in front of him on his desk while he glanced at his watch. Draco made a soft “tut” and rolled his eyes. The beak-nosed woman began scribbling feverishly, the feather of her quill reduced to nothing but a blur.
“I, Gawain Robards, have brought you all here today because I have determined that Draco Malfoy is no longer fit to oversee his witness.”
Draco’s eyes remained glued to the floor as Anaxandra could feel her heart sink a little.
“I have decided that the witness and her case now fall into the hands of Harry Potter, lifting all responsibilities from Mr. Malfoy. This,” he held up the parchment on the far left, “dictates that the witness acknowledges being put under surveillance by a new Auror and must follow a different set of protocols set forth by me and will be informed of said protocols at the appropriate holding house.”
Nudging an inkwell and quill forward on the table, the man put the piece of paperwork down and looked at Anaxandra expectantly. She remained still as stone, rooted in her spot while formulating arguments in her head to dispute this whole ordeal, but she got the feeling that this was all non-negotiable. Anaxandra glanced over at Draco, who gave her the same reassuring look he had given her at the hospital. Reluctantly, she took the quill and scribbled something close to a signature on the blank line. If she was a pawn in this man’s game, she would not be playing by the rules. She would not give him her name.
“Good. Now these simply state that you two understand the terms and conditions of this witness transfer and will comply accordingly.” He spoke as if he was reciting this from a script; monotone and official. The woman was still wildly scribbling. There was no way whatever she was writing was going to be legible.
Both Draco and Harry Potter stepped forward and signed their respective pieces of parchment. Harry’s sloppy signature paled in comparison to Draco’s elegant one.
“It’s settled then. Effective immediately, Mr. Potter will take the lead on the case and shall serve as the new warden for the witness. It is also acknowledged that due to unfortunate circumstances, there will be twenty-four hour surveillance on the witness. Mr. Malfoy will take no part in any further investigation and all contact and discussion pertaining to the witness and her case will be prohibited.”
Gawain took all of the papers in a pile and neatly leveled them out before filing them in a drawer in his desk. Bird lady’s quill had come to a halt, and she stared at all three of them with her nose stuck up in the air.
“At this time, I ask that Mr. Malfoy exit the room and resume his normal work day while Mr. Potter and his witness leave for the holding house immediately.”
Everyone remained quiet as they left the room, with the woman being the exception. She clicked her tongue very quietly while watching the three walk out of the door, her arms crossed and nose in the air. Draco made a beeline for his cubicle, and Anaxandra’s new warden began navigating his way through the maze of workspaces toward the lifts on the other side of the office.
“Do you think I could have a moment before we leave?” Anaxandra asked, her eyes following Draco to his desk.
Harry paused, looking at her in confusion. “We need to leave—“
“Please,” she looked over at Draco’s cubicle once more, his image now absent from sight as he had sat down at his desk, then looked at Harry with pleading eyes. “I just need a minute.”
Pursing his lips in impatience, he said, “I’ll meet you at the lifts in five minutes. Any longer, and I’m coming back here to get you.”
Anaxandra couldn’t quite tell if he was really impatient or if he was trying to set a dominant role by showing that he had the potential of being aggressive. His statement didn’t move Anaxandra at all. He wasn’t particularly intimidating, and he seemed a bit soft around the edges. Of course she knew who he was, she just didn’t particularly care.
“Glad to see that I’m not the only one you deem worthy enough to disobey,” Draco muttered, as he swiveled in his chair to look at her. “And it's only been a grand total of three minutes. You know you can’t be here.”
“Yeah, I know, but I…” She glanced at the folder that seemed more obviously out of place than before. “I just wanted to thank you.”
Draco, obviously dumbfounded, looked at her and made a face. His expression was skeptical, and he crossed his arms, leaning back in his chair before raising an eyebrow. “Thank me for what?”
Not only would her discretion be put to the test, but her multi-tasking skills as well. Anaxandra began to focus incredibly hard. Her heart began to race as the folder began to slowly, but surely, wiggle out of place in the stack. She glanced back at an expectant Draco. “Are you really going to make me say it?”
The farther the folder made it out of the stack, the more the whole pile began to wobble. She concluded that she wouldn’t be able to get the whole folder, but she could try for just the first piece of paperwork, which she knew to be the person’s main profile-the most important information to her. That midnight reading really taught her a few things about Ministry file structures.
“Humor me," he said.
Anaxandra sighed. It was hard to lie and pull off a small heist at the same time. “For, you know, looking out for me.” She kept glancing at the pile of papers, trying to not look suspicious, but at the rate she was going, she already looked suspicious.
Draco relaxed a little, letting his arms fall to the arm rests of his chair. “I was just doing my job.”
The piece of parchment began wriggling its way out of the thin folder.
“What you did that day in Diagon Alley—”
“Again, I was just doing my job,” he interrupted her in a matter-of-factly tone.
She rolled her eyes, nearly forgetting to keep her concentration steady. “Can’t you just say ‘you’re welcome’ and admit that you wanted to save me from that giant oaf because you care?”
‘Half way out of the folder. Just a little more to go…’ She eagerly thought to herself.
"Your second rule: no friendship. Unlike you, I don't break rules, therefore no caring is taking place."
"Bollocks. You do care!" This statement made Anaxandra a bit uneasy. She said it as if she was so sure of herself.
“Merlin, I wouldn’t have intervened if I knew you’d be rubbing this in my face like a five year old.”
“You wouldn’t have let it happen anyways.”
“Are you a psychic as well as a Hunter?” He shook his head, and went to turn around in his chair to face his desk before Anaxandra did the first unthinkable action of the day. She lunged forward and wrapped her arms around him, enveloping him in a hug.
The paper finally yanked out of the folder and began folding itself in to a small square.
“Uhh,” Draco said into her shoulder, his arms suspended in the air, questioning if what was happening was real or not. “Synder?”
For the brief moment she held him captive in her arms, she breathed in his warm scent and it flooded her senses. It was the scent that reminded her of early morning tea, and meals by the warm fireplace. There were many arguments, witty comebacks, and embarrassing moments associated with that smell. For the past month, his scent was her familiarity. It was her consistency.
The sensation of his arms wrapping around her snapped her back to reality. As if the hug couldn’t have been anymore awkward, Draco lightly patted her on the back in a stiff manner, his arms never really fully wrapping around her. Anaxandra couldn’t blame him. She wouldn’t know what to do either if she was sneak-attacked by a hug. This was just a demonstration of her terrible improvising skills.
The tiny paper square floated its way to Anaxandra’s hand, slipping effortlessly into her outstretched palm. She released him while slyly sneaking the stolen paper into her back pocket. Opening her mouth, Anaxandra went to form the word “goodbye,” but nothing came out. Draco also looked as if he were ready to say something, but looked as if he decided against it. Her mouth closed. His eyes began to wander. It was like everything in the universe had shifted, and they existed next to each other after living in weeks of some sort of comfortable displeasure, with neither wanting to part ways. Neither of them wanted to say the words, or even gesture, to signify the breaking of bonds, obligatory or emotional. They were strangers again.
Draco drew a breath, being the first to break the silence. “I’ll see you soon.”
I’ll see you soon. But he wouldn’t see her soon, would he? There was to be no contact between them, as was stated just a few minutes before, therefore rendering the parting words untruthful. She didn’t think Draco would be one for lying, but everyone has their secrets. Maybe it wasn’t a literal ‘see you soon,’ but more like ‘I don’t really know what to say, but goodbye isn’t the word.’
Whatever the implication, it was a lot better than what Anaxandra had said, because she said nothing. All she could gather was a nod and short exhale. She left one hand in her back pocket, remorseful fingers lying over the folded paper and… what was this? Some sort of emotion was welling up in Anaxandra that was so strong that it catalyzed the second unthinkable action of the day. A tear slipped down her cheek. It was as if all the little moments between her and Draco— the night that she actually opened up to him, the ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s, the moments that his presence brought her comfort— all accumulated into a single tear that she quickly wiped away.
Draco’s expression softened, while the beauty in the picture frame gave Anaxandra a triumphant look.
Trying with all of her emotional strength to repress these cumbersome feelings, she said, “Yeah. See you soon.”
What she thought would be the easiest part of all, walking away, proved to be the most difficult. Anaxandra turned toward the direction of the lifts and of her new warden, her feet moving faster and faster with each step until she was at a slow jog. Doing the third and most unthinkable thing of the day, she looked over her shoulder to find the handsome blonde looking over the walls of his cubicle with an expression that reflected the emotions that were battling in Anaxandra right now. She looked forward again. Something began tugging at her chest the farther she walked, and with the distance growing between her and Draco, the line was becoming more and more taut until she arrived to a vigilant new warden and an arriving lift. The doors opened and she stepped through, giving Draco one last glance before the doors of the lift shut completely and she felt the tug of her heartstrings snap.
Progress had been made. Her resource had been used. Her first mission had been accomplished.
It was as if everything that had happened before this was a dream, but the closing of those doors had manifested everything into real events and now she was gone. The second Anaxandra left his field of vision, Draco felt an uneasiness. It was familiar, but has until recently left him alone. Why was this particular event, one in which someone who had been nothing more than a liability, inducing some form of sadness in him? He questioned if he could even call it sadness.
Turning back to his desk, Draco straightened the pile of papers at the corner and watched as the picture of Astoria twirled in her favorite party dress and winked, blowing him a kiss in the process. He brought his hand to the side of the frame, gripping it as he watched her empty eyes stare into his solemn ones and flash him a dazzling smile. Closing his eyes, Draco turned the photo face down and began writing up reports for his new cases.
He didn’t want to think about this anymore.
The sensation was a bit odd, but then again Anaxandra wasn’t used to using the Floo. Her first time, in fact, was when Harry took her through the busy atrium and instructed her on how to use it. The mechanism seemed a bit unreliable, but she complied nonetheless. With a toss of the powder and a clearly spoken destination (which Harry had informed her was “Peaks Cottage”), she emerged from a blaze of green flames at her desired stop.
It was nothing like the other holding house, with its merged rooms and minimal amounts of furniture. The large room was richly decorated with photographs, couches and other means of sitting, tall windows, and a long dining table adorned with ten matching chairs. Many of the frames held pictures of loving couples and newspaper clippings while the small bookshelf that was to Anaxandra’s right underneath a window, held a few books on various subjects.
A loud rushing noise came from behind Anaxandra, and she turned to see Warden Potter standing behind her, briefcase in hand. “Welcome to my home,” he said, gesturing to nothing in particular.
“Your home?” She asked, looking around and noticing that many of these frames held pictures of Harry, and that almost all of the books on the shelves were ways to defend against the dark arts. “This can't be right. Isn’t this against some rule or regulation?”
He tossed his briefcase on the couch and shook off his jacket to go along with it. “My boss wants you safe, and other than the Minister’s house, there is no safer place. If whoever tried to kill you knew where the last holding house was, they would find you again in one of the other official Ministry locations.”
“And you’re so sure they won’t find yours,” Anaxandra more stated than asked.
“I have a private floo network, only available to those who have permission. I have multiple charms on the house that keep it undetected from passersby. There is an anti-apparition charm on the house and I’ve brought it upon myself to live somewhere secluded. The Ministry doesn’t even know where I live.”
Looking outside, Anaxandra saw nothing but a large lake and densely packed trees. There were no signs of any other homes or people nearby. It was a smart tactic for those who wished to stay hidden, as her family wanted, enemy number one to all dark creatures, and as well as Harry Potter wanted, enemy number one to all dark wizards. This similarity made her feel like she was right at home again. The presence of the forest calmed her, and her mood began to lighten a bit.
“You can never be too careful,” Harry said, standing in the middle of the room. No truer words had ever been spoken.
A young woman about Anaxandra’s height with flaming red hair that was tied in a ponytail, walked in to the room with a large bag in her hands that at first glance looked like it would cause her to topple over, but she held it well.
“Harry, I’ve got to go! I’m late for practice-“
Upon seeing Anaxandra, the woman stopped and looked between her and Harry questioningly with her big, brown eyes, her foot looking as if it were preparing to tap in an annoyed manner.
“Gin,” Harry started, walking over to her and kissing her on the cheek. “This is, umm…”
Anaxandra didn’t want to say anything, but didn’t have much choice. She finished off for him by proclaiming, “Ana.”
“Ana. She’s the witness I was telling you about last night, remember?”
The woman referred to as “Gin”, which could only be short for a name like “Gina” or “Ginnifer” as the former would be a rather unfortunate first name, looked at him with quite the irked expression before putting on a fake smile and walking up to Anaxandra with an outstretched hand.
“Hello, I’m Ginny, Ginny Weasley. Harry’s girlfriend,” she said with emphasis on the last word, making sure she left some sort of impression.
‘Merlin, you can't be serious,’ Anaxandra thought, now quite irked herself. She shook Ginny’s hand, a fake smile also playing on her lips.
“Well, off to Quidditch practice. See you tonight, love,” Ginny turned to Harry, giving him a quick hug before jumping in to the fireplace and leaving in a blaze of green flames.
Harry looked over at Anaxandra apologetically and said, “Sorry. Gin can be quite jealous at times. But anyways, your belongings from the previous holding house have been brought here, and there are extra bandages and potions sent by St. Mungo’s if you need any. I read your case file, and most of the same rules apply from before. You’re welcome to make yourself at home, there will always be food in the fridge, and you can go outside if you’d like.”
“I can go outside?” she asked excitedly.
“Within reason. I’ll be here to keep an eye on you, but I won’t watch over you every second of every hour. I’m not supposed to let you go out at all, but I am going to put a tracking charm on you and hope that you don’t run. If you do, then I’ll have to take you straight to Azkaban.”
Anaxandra thanked him, glad that her new rules were a bit more lenient, and began looking out the window as soon as Harry started talking about the history of his home. With her arms crossed, she watched as a large brown bear walked up to the lake and began dipping its front paw in to the lake and swirling it around. Odd behavior for a bear, Anaxandra thought to herself.
Harry had given her a short tour of the house, informing her of where the bathrooms, her room, his room and office, and the kitchen were located. She declined his invitation to eat dinner and made her way up to her new room, her stomach in no condition to be stretched with food at the moment.
The hours had passed and it was soon eleven in the evening. Anaxandra stared up at her newly conjured night sky, watching the stars twinkle with each passing, and resting a hand on her bandaged midsection. The real stars shone bright here, but the thought of standing at the window for hours made her stomach hurt. The evening was pitch black and owls could be heard softly hooting outside of her window.
Anaxandra had felt the pressure of the folded profile in her back pocket, and decided that now was as good a time as any to analyze her findings. She unfolded the paper, turning on a lamp that sat on a nightstand next to her and smoothed out the creased piece of parchment.
Name: Jeffrey Alexander Tobin
Birthday: October 15, 1961
Height: 5’ 9”
Weight: 212 lbs.
Education: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
O.W.L Examination Scores: Charms- P
Defence Against the Dark Arts- E
Study of Ancient Runes- O
Care of Magical Creatures- O
History of Magic- P
Wanted For: The trafficking of illegal and dangerous magical creatures;
Suspected association with Death Eaters;
Flying under the influence
Current/Suspected Whereabouts: Tentsmuir Forest;
One thing that the Ministry didn’t know about Mr. Tobin was that not only was he guilty of all the accusations in his file, but he was also a Tracker. The job’s name also entails its main objective: track down whatever the client wants. It may be money to spend, a person to kill, a rare animal to sell— it could be anything, and only the most skilled wizards can become sufficient at Tracking. Lately, the man has been known to track down information and sell it to various buyers, many of whom resided in the realm of dark creatures such as goblins and centaurs. Anaxandra wondered what his current endeavor was.
She watched as the paper burst into flames in her hand, reduced to nothing but ashes in mere seconds. It was best to leave no evidence of her ever having it. The forests were easy to remember; she had been to them many times on assignments and had already suspected he may be there due to the large volume of ‘illegal and dangerous magical creatures’ he could sell. The only problem was that the four destinations described in the folder were so widespread that it would be difficult to track him down.
A gurgling sound rumbled from Anaxandra’s frustrated stomach, begging for sustenance. It was midnight, so she was sure that Harry wouldn’t be awake for her midnight ravaging of the fridge.
There was silence in the hallways, save for the sound of Anaxandra’s feet meeting the hardwood floor. There was no light that shone from underneath Harry’s door, but as she descended the stairs, she could hear low mumblings of a conversation. The light coming from the kitchen was shining into the dining room.
“She’s no trouble at all,” she heard Harry’s voice quietly insist from the kitchen over the sound of running water. “All she’s done is keep to herself in her room all day.”
Anaxandra paused at the bottom of the stairs just before the last step. She noticed that it creaked when she stepped on it earlier.
“You can’t tell me that you don’t think it’s a bit odd for her to be here, in your home?” an unfamiliar female voice came from the kitchen. Anaxandra was secretly relieved that it wasn’t Ginny.
“I do.” Well, that relief was short-lived.
“It isn’t exactly Ministry protocol to bring a suspect into your personal place of residence!” the woman exclaimed, while Harry shushed her.
“She’s not a suspect, she’s a witness. And how do you even know that? You work in a completely different department than us, Hermione. Oh, you gonna finish your biscuits?” a new male voice had joined the conversation.
“Just because I work in Magical Creatures doesn’t mean I don’t know the rules, Ronald. She could be anyone. The Ministry has no idea who she is, and—Ron! Yes I am going to eat them! And you said yourself, Harry, that she isn’t talking. You really don’t find it the least bit dodgy that Gawain is going to great lengths to keep this woman safe, and yet she has no information to give you? Think logically. What if she’s a criminal in hiding?”
“I agree with Hermione,” Ginny said, and Anaxandra could already see her seething at Harry.
"Jealousy isn't a good look on you Ginny. Hey!" By the sound of it, Ron had been smacked or hit.
There was a clanking of something like plates and the sound of water stopped.
“This girl obviously needs to be somewhere safe. She’s lost her family, her home, has been attacked and sent to St. Mungo’s—“
“Not to mention, she’s had to endure almost a whole month of Malfoy,” Ron said, sounding as if his voice were muffled by his mouth being full of, what Anaxandra assumed to be, biscuits.
“I know what it feels like to know that you have no home. When I was going through the worst times in my life, I had Hogwarts to run to. We all did. She doesn’t have anything close to that. Maybe you’re right Hermione, but what if you’re wrong?”
There was a silence that persisted, and Anaxandra took this moment to step on the last stair that made a loud creaking noise, alerting them to her presence. She walked towards the kitchen and let the light shine on her. The group of people all turned their glances towards her as she tried to take in their appearances. The red headed man from the Ministry that had the disgusting tendency to drool was present, his cheeks turning red when Anaxandra entered the room. He was sitting at the table with a pretty, frizzy haired brunette who refused to make eye contact with her. Harry stood at the sink next to freshly washed dishes and Ginny was next to him, her arms crossed and leaning against the kitchen counter. Everyone was having late evening tea.
“Everyone,” Harry started, gesturing to the group, “this is Ana. Ana, you’ve met Ginny already. This is Ron, her brother, and our friend Hermione.”
Anaxandra gave a small smile and waved at all of them. “Don’t mind me. I’m just getting something to eat.”
The fridge didn’t have much in it except for an apple, a carton of eggs, and a lump of cheese. There will always be food in the fridge. Yeah, looks like Harry forgot the word ‘barely’ in that statement. Grabbing the apple quickly, Anaxandra gave Harry a grateful look before slowly making her way back upstairs, and once the stair had creaked again to signal her ascension, she could hear Ron give a short snort and say, “Well, she isn’t terrible to look at—ow! Hermione! What do I look like to you women, a punching bag?”
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