Chapter 2 : The Field
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Bridget’s lips were twisted into a thin line of disapproval as the young girl in front of her played with her hands nervously. Her long red curls were hanging forward on her face as a sign of self-deprecation and she was mangling her fingers from nervous energy. A couple of her brightly polished nails were chipped and she wore no lipstick; slovenly, in Bridget’s opinion.
Lily avoided eye contact as much as possible as she sat through the audible sighs and angry-sounding pen marks that Bridget was making on her probation sheet. She thought she’d done well enough – kept her head down and worked hard, making polite conversation with the people around her and she even brought a cake she’d baked in a couple of Fridays ago. Nothing she did would ever earn the approval of her supervisor, she accepted with a heavy heart; Lily would just need to work harder than everyone else. She’d been doing that her entire life.
“How do you think you’ve done the last three months, Potter?” Bridget asked with a sneer. Her voice sounded uptight and displeased, and it snapped Lily out of her melancholy reverie. She snapped to attention and sat up straight.
“I think I’ve been an asset -“
“It was a rhetorical question, Potter,” Bridget sighed with disdain. Lily strongly suspected that she had every intention of asking that question just to make her seem like a fool. She flushed angrily. “I think we all know how you’ve done. And for God’s sake, don’t refer to yourself as an ‘asset’.”
This ambiguous remark made a knot of tension gather in Lily’s stomach like a coiled serpent, growing tighter and tighter. Was Bridget implying that she had failed her probation period? A hot mixture of anger, confusion and upset rushed through her as her eyes stung with tears. Lily had never failed at anything in her life, and the reasons for this dismissal seemed ridiculously unjust. She looked down so that she could avoid her superior’s grimace at her and clenched her hands and legs together, noticing a wrinkle in her suit through her blurred vision.
“It seems,” Bridget announced dryly after what seemed like an age to Lily, “That your performance these last few months has been passable according to Ernie.” Lily’s head shot up once more as she tried and failed to mask the flood of elation that spread across her features. The hazy vision from her tears cleared as she tried not to let a big grin make it way onto her lips. This display of happiness seemed to make the corners of Bridget’s mouth turn downwards even further than usual as her eyes glittered with malice.
“Be grateful that he’s taken a shine to you, or you’d be out the door on my watch. Get out.”
She didn’t need telling twice. Counting her lucky stars under her breath, Lily quickly stood up and crossed the room as quietly as possible, hoping she could vanish into nothing under the heat of Bridget’s parting glare. As soon as she had closed the door behind her she let out a sigh of relief, letting all of the tension from the last few days run out of her mind. The effect was instantaneous; she felt like a weight had been lifted from her slender shoulders.
Lily raced back to her desk as fast as her shoes would allow her. She was officially a member of the team! Any lingering doubts that she’d had about her ability seemed to vanish along with her tension as people gave her strange looks when she giggled out loud. Okay, rein it in Potter. Lily assembled her face into a look of seriousness, which threatened to make her giggle all over again.
Her happiness was short lived; as soon as she returned to her desk Ernie came waddling over. She cursed under her breath. As much as Ernie came across as friendly and jovial to everyone at the office, and she was grateful for his good opinion of her, there was something just not right about him that gave Lily an uneasy feeling. With every patronising comment and suggestive joke the small, niggling fact that she knew she could get her dad to help her out was always pushed firmly away. Working life had its ups and downs and Lily always felt ashamed for even thinking that her family connections could bring her sanctuary. She had not been brought up that way.
By the time Ernie heaved himself forwards and leant over the desk, she had already adjusted her seat slightly further back than usual as to not be too close to his proximity. He grinned and Lily returned the smile with half the amount of enthusiasm.
“Been given the good news, then, Miss Potter?” Ernie said expectantly, with perhaps the slightest smug lilt to his voice. She nodded silently. “Great! Excellent! Welcome to the team once more!”
“Thank you, sir.”
“You’re welcome, my dear...” Lily’s skin crawled at the evocative manner of his words. She simply smiled again and considered she was lucky to even have a job. “Anyway, there’s the small matter of putting you up with a partner, I’m sure you’ve been looking forward to it!” Ernie read her face. In truth Lily was extremely excited but apprehensive at the same time and had actually given it quite a lot of thought.
Perhaps Lily had something of an overactive imagination, but she’d envisioned her with another girl in the department so they could be known as the best team in the department, work brilliantly together and also become best friends, almost like sisters. Lily had always wanted a sister. She realised how childish her dream was but a tiny part of her wished for it.
“He should just be on his way... here’s the man! Scorpius!”
Hundreds of memories came rushing back to her like water flooding through a broken dam. A blond boy, walking alone in a corridor; Lily trailing behind him, two years younger and too scared to speak. A blond boy surrounded by friends; one shouting abuse as she walked past in tears. Lily as a Prefect, walking in on him and some girl; him shouting at her to bugger off. She’d left, mortified and unable to look him in the eye.
It was these thoughts which were running through her head as she saw Scorpius approach. She stupidly thought he looked older from when she had last seen him two years prior; some stubble and dark shadows had appeared, but tall and blond as she remembered. He wore smart dark trousers and a suit top without a tie, unbuttoned once at the collar. The sleeves were rolled up casually. She realised she must have looked like a rabbit caught in headlights, and so quickly rearranged her face into something resembling calm and collected.
“Hi, Lily.” Scorpius stuck out his hand for her to shake and she took it. His grip was firm and assured. He looked bored, as though he wanted to be somewhere else. It stung a little.
“Scorpius has transferred over from the Auror department, Lily! He’s worked at the Ministry for a while so he can show you the ropes when it comes to field work.” A flash of anger passed over Scorpius’ face as Ernie announced this. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know why.
Lily focused on his unsmiling mouth as Ernie wittered on; that same expression was how she always saw Scorpius when he looked at her in school. That unsmiling face and gentle frown had intimidated her for her entire school career. She was pretty certain he didn’t really know who she was.
“... so, Lily, you’ll be familiar with the case I’m talking about and will need to introduce Mr Malfoy here to the basics of it before you leave. Just a nutter with some illegal Bowtruckles, isn’t it? Nothing you can’t handle. Better get a move on!” Ernie wheezed before clapping Scorpius round the shoulder and turning round to face the rapidly growing amount of colleagues that desperately needed his attention like animals fighting for food.
An awkward silence followed. Scorpius was picking at his fingernails in an uninterested manner and Lily still felt as if she was simultaneously made of ice and on fire. She felt a blush creep up onto her cheeks. She knew she wasn’t the best with guys but there was something about Scorpius Malfoy that... scared her.
At last she spoke. “The case... I’ve been doing paperwork on it for the last two weeks. It’s a –“
“I know.” Scorpius’ sharp voice was like a whip. Lily was silent once more. “A neo-Death Eater, probably just some loony with a wand. Always a bad combination. Reports of strange noises from his hideout, so we’ll need to bring someone from Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to deal with whatever it is. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was just making the noises himself, to be honest.” The entire time he spoke he looked in the distance, as if scanning the room for a more interesting person to talk to, but he suddenly focused on Lily with a piercing glare. “Let me take the lead on this. You’re so green it hurts. If I could keep you here on the desk, I would, but you’re Ernie’s new favourite so I’ll have to drag you along. Just stay out the way when we get there.”
Lily was too angry and shocked to speak. How dare he just assume that he was immediately better than her just because she was new? His remark on her being Ernie’s ‘favourite’ also irritated her. It must have shown, because Scorpius rolled his eyes and walked off. “I’m going to get someone from Magical Creatures,” he called after him. They both knew he could easily send a memo, but he obviously didn’t want to be around her any more.
Dejected, Lily reviewed the notes she’d carefully compiled together over the last fortnight. Knowing it would be her first proper case she’d written meticulous notes; it seemed trivial in comparison to Scorpius’ easy confidence that he could do it on his own. A grim determination set over Lily: she would prove him wrong.
By the time Scorpius returned with a young bloke from Magical Creatures Lily had her coat on and wand ready. He looked eager to come along, but Scorpius was in the middle of telling him he might not even be needed. She held her head high. “I’m ready.”
Scorpius stopped talking and looked at her in annoyance. “We need to look at the case file.”
“Thought you said you already knew about the case so well?” Lily took pleasure in Scorpius’ anger at her statement. “We’d better get going.”
Twenty minutes later the three of them were standing outside a dilapidated old house reminiscent of the Victorian era, its roof half caved in and the windows boarded up. Is facade was covered in graffiti, and the garden was beyond overgrown. It was the perfect hideout.
“What’s the plan?” asked the young man from the other department. He gave Lily a hopeful smile, clearly also daunted by Scorpius. “My name’s Clive, by the way.”
“You head round the back, I’ll take the front,” Scorpius whispered. He beckoned for them to crouch behind the low stone wall at the front of the house. “You can stay at the front with me,” he added to Lily. She huffed silently.
A low groan that made the floor around them shake made them all froze. Lily and Clive turned to each other in horror, realising the situation was a lot more serious than they anticipated. “Is that what I think it is?”
“What the hell is it doing here?!”
Scorpius, ignoring their concerns, quickly moved forward in a stealthy fashion. It had begun to snow, as big snowflakes became more and more thick, blurring their vision. Clive reluctantly moved round to the back as Lily watched Scorpius quickly remove the enchantments the wizard had around the house. The rumble was getting louder still. She was running forward when Scorpius kicked open the crumbling door effortlessly.
The wizard was waiting for him. Scorpius was flung backwards and Lily dodged out of the way as a curse shot in her direction. It left a sizzling mark on a wall behind her. She quickly evaluated the situation. Scorpius was duelling with the unkempt and unwashed wizard, who had long matted hair and filthy clothes. There was a mad look in his eyes, but he appeared to have not duelled in months as Scorpius was getting the better of him. Clive was nowhere to be seen. The noise of whatever was at the back had turned into a bellow, confirming Lily’s suspicions: it was an Erumpent, and an angry one at that.
Thinking back to her reading, she recalled that Erumpents had an incredibly thick skin and so most spells would bounce off them as well as an exploding horn. Any situation involving an Erumpent was lethal.
Terror gripped her as Scorpius duelled on, finally delivering a stunning spell that incapacitated the dark wizard. “Death Eater scum!” he spat out at the unconscious body before collapsing, gripping his leg. Lily ran over, quickly casting a shield charm over the fallen wizard as well as a Full Body Bind curse before attending to Scorpius. He had a deep gash in his thigh and what looked like a burn mark on his arm, as well as cuts and bruises. His face was white. “I’m fine,” he gasped out as Lily realised how much blood he was losing.
“Vulnera sanetur... tergeo...” Scorpius’ wounds began to heal as he looked surprised. “Maybe bringing you along was a good idea.”
“I need to go and find Clive. There’s an Erumpent out the back.” She replied, ignoring him. Lily brushed the snow off herself and headed towards the garden, crashing through the undergrowth and feeling emboldened.
“What? An Erumpent?!” his voice turned to angry panic. “You can’t deal with one of those on your own! We need backup!”
“There's no time! I have a plan!” she shouted before disappearing round the side of the house. Scorpius swore, his injuries still too severe to move.
Lily crept round the crumbling brick walls and almost gasped at what she saw. The Erumpent was like a huge, armoured rhino currently looking for somewhere to graze as the snow fell. Past the beast lay Clive, motionless and his leg bent at an unnatural angle. She would need to get Clive to safety without disturbing the massive Erumpent.
Silently, she cast a Disillusionment Charm over herself. When she looked down and her hand had disappeared, she edged slowly into the garden, clinging to the side of the fence as if it were a lifeline. The Erumpent appeared to hear her, but as she froze when it turned round, it seemed satisfied that there was no threat and returned in its search for food. Lily held her breath.
Clive was beginning to come round. Lily could immediately tell he had a head injury – he looked dazed and confused, and unsure of his surroundings. She knew it was only a matter of time before the Erumpent caught his attention.
Working more quickly now, she hurried over to Clive. He was moaning and his eyes were unfocused. Lily panicked – this was something beyond her capability.
Silently, she levitated Clive who began to protest. The Erumpent cast its gaze over to the scene. It was getting agitated. They needed to leave, fast.
“Malfoy!” she shouted as she half levitated, half carried Clive’s body. She heard her own voice strain as the panic grew. As she turned back, she saw the Erumpent getting increasingly restless. “It’s going to charge!”
His cries of telling her to hurry and Clive’s leaden body were the only things she was focusing on. As soon as the Erumpent hit anything, it would explode.
“I’m trying! Protego maxima!” Lily screamed as she felt the heavy steps of the Erumpent shaking the ground. She was going to die, and on her first job too...
The Erumpent hit her shield with such force that Lily was knocked to the ground. A huge explosion decimated the house to rubble as the Erumpent exploded. Debris rained down around them and bounced off of the charm as she and Clive were protected from the oncoming onslaught. Then, silence.
Lily glanced over to where Scorpius lay. He had managed to cast his own shield charm but was partly buried under the remains of the house. Lily hurried over and began to clear piles of brick away from him. He grimaced at his leg, but gave her a look that seemed to be one of grudging respect.
“Well, I think it’s fair to say that you are your father’s daughter.”
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it and it wasn't too boring! Thank you very much to (sol) over at The Dark Arts for the stunning banner. I can't stop watching it!
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