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Innocent by MarauderLover7
Chapter 57 : True Selves
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 8

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On Friday night, a London family of two were sitting down to dinner when they received a surprise that certainly was not on the menu. An unidentified person forced their way through a side window and is believed to have been searching for valuables, when the victim, Donald Adams (34) heard a noise and went to investigate.

Mr Adams was shot once in the chest by the intruder and beaten before the intruder fled. “It’s just awful,” said neighbour Meryl White, “to think that something like this happened just over the fence. It’s like nowhere’s safe anymore.” While ‘nowhere’ is a gross exaggeration, statistics show that criminal activity in the area is indeed on the rise, with an increase of five percent in the last twelve months.

Mr Adams was found by his ten year old son, who alerted the police, and is in a serious but stable condition in the Wellington Hospital. John Fisher, from the City Police, encourages anyone with any information about the intruder to come forward. He suggested in his statement at a conference this morning that this crime could be linked to mass-murderer Sirius Black, who escaped early last year, and is believed to be responsible for no less than eight violent trespasses since then.

*                       *                       *

When Harry awoke the next morning, he felt well rested - he'd been too tired to dream, even - though rather confused; the bed he was in was smaller and lower than the one he'd used in the Manor, and higher and wider than the one he'd used in the cell. And neither of those had given him a view of a large red splotch on the otherwise white walls.

Frowning he reached for his glasses, and blinked as a large, somewhat faded Gryffindor banner came into focus.

A slow grin spread over his face and he sank back into his pillows, feeling more content than he had in a long time. The house had been empty for a while, but unlike the years Padfoot had spent in Azkaban, Kreacher had actually made the effort to keep things from gathering dust. The room even smelled more or less the same; like home.

His pleasure at that was somewhat dulled, but not completely replaced, by the events of the past few weeks, and he took a moment to sort through some of his stronger emotions. Fear and guilt were probably the most prominent; when that woman had suggested that Moony be put down, something in Harry had snapped. In the past, he'd always had some sort of warning before a bit of accidental magic escaped him, but yesterday, he'd had none; he hadn't even had a chance to grow properly angry before the woman had started to develop horns.

And then there was guilt about Peter. Harry had only been going off of what he'd overheard Snape and Mrs Malfoy saying - which, upon reflection was probably thick of him - and it had certainly yielded the results he was after - a confession from Peter - but Harry thought the traitor's terrified face, and shaking, unwillingly determined voice would be added to the list of things that were seared into his memory; they'd join Padfoot reading Reg's letter in the cave, and his parents coming out of the locket, and his parents' deaths.

Harry'd wanted a confession, sure, but he hadn't expected Peter to be so violently compelled to do it. It hadn't been natural, and it hadn't been fair and Harry was terrified that he'd used some sort of evil spell without realising it.

Getting out of bed wasn't a conscious decision; Harry was halfway to the door before he realised that he was no longer under his covers. He just knew he needed to talk to Padfoot and reacted accordingly. Padfoot's bedroom door was closed, and Harry knocked once, softly, hoping his godfather was awake.

“Yeah?” Padfoot called, in a voice that was barely more than a croak. Harry stepped into the room and found Padfoot and Moony both sitting on the bed - Padfoot was cross-legged against the headboard, and Moony was lying across the end of the bed, staring at Harry.

“Morning,” he said.

“Morning,” Harry said, pulling the desk chair over. He glanced between both of them and then frowned. “Did you sleep at all?” Padfoot said something but no sound came out. He cleared his throat and tried again.

“Nope,” he said, which didn't really surprise Harry. “We had things to discuss.”

“What sort of things?” Harry asked.

“All sorts,” Padfoot said. He wasn't being evasive - Harry knew if he asked for more information than that, he'd get it - but seemed instead to be giving Harry the chance to talk first. Moony was eyeing the door, as if considering whether to leave them alone to talk. Harry's curiosity overrode his desire to share, however.

“Like what?”

Padfoot looked amused and gestured to Remus, who began to tell him all sorts of things. It was obviously a shortened version of what he'd given Padfoot - it only really took twenty minutes, instead of several hours - but by the end of it, Harry was caught up with everything major that had happened to Moony since his and Padfoot's capture. It seemed, with Greyback’s arrest and then death, Moony had been extremely busy.

“Satisfied?” Padfoot asked.

“So his cell was silver?” Harry asked, grimacing. Moony nodded, and Harry shuddered. Greyback was real piece of work as far as Harry’d heard, but still... “And they’re looking for whoever-”

“Mad-Eye and Dora have the case,” Moony said. “And I haven’t really spoken to either of then – properly – for weeks.”

“Why not?” Harry asked. Padfoot looked smug, and Moony flushed, but Padfoot also shook his head at Harry, discouraging him from pressing the matter.

“He’s thick, that’s why,” Padfoot said, nudging Moony with his foot. Moony pulled a face at him, and slid off the bed, out of reach. “Oi-”

“I’m going to make tea,” Moony said, glancing purposefully between Padfoot and Harry. “Don’t hurry down. I’m sure it’ll take me a long time to find everything without my wand, and then I’ll have to find matches... and then I’ll probably have to fight with Kreacher about whether I’m even allowed to be productive in the kitchen...”

“Right,” Padfoot said, and Harry gave Moony a part-grateful, part-amused, part-annoyed smile; he wanted to talk, but now he got the distinct impression that he was being forced into doing so, and wondered if Moony and Padfoot had discussed talking and decided that he’d be difficult about it. Moony left, closing the door behind him. “So...” Padfoot said.

“So,” Harry said, forsaking his chair in favour of Moony’s abandoned place on the bed. Padfoot smiled slightly. They were silent for a few moments. It was a little tense, but not awkward, and not what Harry would call uncomfortable either.

“How was the Manor?” Padfoot asked finally, and Harry relaxed a little. Answering questions was something he could manage; he wasn’t very good at volunteering things.

“Strange,” Harry said, after considering which word could best describe his experience. “I mean, it wasn’t exactly fun, but it wasn’t awful-”

“What did you think of everyone?”

“I liked Dobby,” Harry volunteered. “Their house elf.” A look of comprehension dawned over Padfoot’s face. “He’s a bit mental-”

“Worse than Kreacher?” Padfoot asked, chuckling. Harry rolled his eyes. “Sorry, sorry,” Padfoot said.

“-but I still liked him,” Harry finished. “Hydrus was a git and Draco was... probably madder than Dobby, to be honest. He’s- it’s like he’s two people.” Padfoot looked confused, which made Harry feel a bit better about the whole situation. “Mr Malfoy was nice... I didn’t like it.” Harry chuckled. “You should have seen his face at breakfast yesterday, though.” He proceeded to tell Padfoot about Draco’s muggleborn revelation. Padfoot was a bit amused – as Harry’d predicted – but he looked more troubled than anything else. “I told him to ask about you – the white sheep thing.”

“I think that’s good advice,” Padfoot said quietly. He didn’t say anything more about Draco, but Harry knew he was still thinking about it. “What was Cissy like?” he asked, abruptly focusing on Harry again.

“Cold,” Harry said. “I don’t think she liked me much... except she hugged me yesterday, and wished me – or you, I suppose – good luck.” Padfoot’s eyebrows disappeared into his hair.

“Bloody Cissy,” he said.

“What do you-”

“She’s up to something... first there was her warning in Diagon Alley, then she asked to have Ma-McKinnon stay at the Manor, then she hugged you, and wished you good luck...?” He shook his head. “People from those blood-supremacy circles are very deliberate people; they don’t do anything, without considering every single possible consequence first... What in Merlin’s name are you up to?” he murmured, and then shook his head again. “Later.” He gave Harry a curious, almost sheepish look. “Do you know where McKinnon is? Whys she wasn’t at the-”

“No idea,” Harry said, apologetically. Then he remembered something she’d said and added, “Hey, why should I hate her?”

“Hate her?” Padfoot asked,  not quite meeting Harry’s eyes. “I don’t know, kiddo.”

“Think,” Harry said flatly, not buying it. Part of him hoped Padfoot would lie and say he had no idea – then, Harry would have a good reason not to go into depth about certain questions (he was dreading the ones about his dreams) – but he also wanted Padfoot to trust him, and tell him the truth.

“All right,” Padfoot said, and then watched Harry for a moment. Harry stared back, not sure what Padfoot was looking for. “Before you came and joined me in the cell, I had a... visit-”

“From McKinnon?”

“Right,” Padfoot said, nodding. “We spoke, and she... erm... attacked me-”

“Your ribs?” Harry asked.

“My- oh, yeah.” Padfoot chuckled. “Yeah, that was her fault.”

“What stopped her from killing you?”

“What?” Padfoot asked, looking queasy. Harry gave his godfather an uncertain look.

“Well, didn’t she hate you? You said, after September, that she’d probably have killed you if you and Moony hadn’t run for it. If she was down in your cell, and she’d already broken your ribs, why didn’t she just- I mean, why’d she stop?” Harry cocked his head. Padfoot looked calmer now.

“She didn’t want me to die,” he said eventually. “Not really.” Harry waited for more of an answer, but nothing else was offered.

“So then why would I hate-”

“She probably assumed I was upset about the whole thing-”

“Were you?” Harry asked. Padfoot looked surprised by the question, and then smiled a bit.

“Very,” he said. He didn’t sound it, but there was something sad in his eyes. At a loss of what to say or do, Harry crawled forward and wrapped his arms around Padfoot, who moved to accommodate him. “Thanks, kiddo,” he said, ruffling Harry’s hair. He seemed amused, but also pleased by Harry’s attempt to comfort him.

Maybe Draco’s right about magical hugs.

“Hey, Padfoot?” Harry asked, shifting so that he was no longer hugging his godfather, but was still curled up at his side. Padfoot put an arm around Harry, and stifled a yawn with his other hand.


“Do you know much about Kelpies?”

“The water demons?” Padfoot looked wary. “A bit I suppose... it’s probably Moony’s area of expertise more than mine, though...” Harry nodded thoughtfully, and Padfoot sighed, though he seemed entertained. “Do I even want to know?”

“Probably not,” Harry said. “Draco didn’t think it was a good thing.”

“Hmph,” Padfoot said; he obviously didn’t think Draco was all that reliable. “Care to tell me what ‘it’ is?” And so Harry launched into the story about the rat race, and how he’d saved Bosworth from the Kelpie, and Draco’s reaction to his newfound ability. Padfoot, however, didn’t seize the Kelpie topic as Harry had expected. Instead – startling Harry, who could not see how the two were linked – he said, “What did you do to Peter yesterday, to make him talk?”

“I don’t know,” Harry said. “It was just a hunch... something I overheard. Snape was talking to Mrs Malfoy, about some sort of debt. He said I could tell Peter to do anything, and that he would. I-” Harry hung his head. “I... don’t know what I did, I just thought, maybe, I should try-” Padfoot, oddly, looked relieved.

“He said the word ‘debt’?” he asked. “Not you interpreted things that way, but he definitely said the word ‘debt’?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure.” Harry shifted, feeling nervous all of a sudden. He wanted answers, but at the same time, he was scared of hearing them. “Do you know what it was?”

“You saved a rat from the Kelpie?” Padfoot pressed. Harry nodded. “I think, then, kiddo, that that rat was Peter-”

“He was there the whole time?” Harry asked, aghast. “I thought- his finger, though, and- He was gone.”


“On the morning of the trial, Hydrus was looking for something. Peter must have made a run for it-”

“It doesn’t matter now,” Padfoot said, looking amused. “But you saving him does. It would have created a Life Debt between the two of you – that’s what happens when one wizard saves another – which explains why he was compelled to obey when you told him to confess... that has to be it!”

“That’s a good thing?” Harry asked.

“A very good thing,” Padfoot said, still looking relieved. “Better than an accidental Imperius Curse, or some latent compulsion ability. Life Debts basically leave you with... a favour, or sometimes several, depending on how big they are. They only work when one or both parties are aware of the debt, but Peter knew about it because of James and Mad-Eye, and you’d heard enough from Snape to believe it would work.”

“It worked a bit too well,” Harry said, still feeling guilty, but also slightly better now that he knew he hadn’t used anything illegal.

“Ambiguous wording on your part,” Padfoot said, shrugging. “A Life Debt...” he said, almost to himself. “It must have been.” He suddenly fixed Harry with a very stern look. “Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I appreciate that, but don’t – if you can help it – get into the habit of using magic you don’t understand, on a hunch.” There was something strange in Padfoot’s expression, something wary, but also curious. “No powers we know not, all right?”

“All right,” Harry said at once. He understood it a bit better now, but what had happened to Peter was still awful enough for him to not be keen to mess around with magic he didn’t understand properly. “Promise.” Padfoot ruffled his hair. “Does...” Harry hesitated. “Er... does that include Kelpies?”

“Ah, the Kelpie.” Padfoot sighed. “You definitely talked to it?” Padfoot scratched his chin and stared down at Harry in a slightly concerned sort of way. Harry sighed and nodded. “I’m not going to lie, kid,” he said, with a small smile. “That’s... strange.”

“I’d sort of worked that much out,” Harry said, resigned. “I mean, Draco’s about as pureblooded as it’s possible to be, and even he seemed... I dunno... worried, or something.” Harry let his head fall back against Padfoot’s shoulder. “Why me?”

“What do you mean?” Padfoot asked.

“Why couldn’t Draco be the one to talk to Kelpies?” Harry asked. “Why does it have to be me? Why am I the one with another secret to keep, and another stupid title that I have to live up-” Harry clamped his mouth shut. He hadn’t been planning to talk to Padfoot about this yet – if ever.

“Title?” Padfoot asked.

“It’s nothing,” Harry said quickly. He tried to get a bit of space, but that wasn’t easy with Padfoot’s arm draped around him. “I-”

“Harry.” And with that, the use of his name – just his first name – with no awe, or expectation, Harry burst into tears.

*                       *                      *

“Hey,” Sirius said, gathering his godson into a tight hug. “Hey, kiddo, it’s all right.” Sirius would have felt better if he had even some idea of what had set Harry off, because then he’d have a better chance of fixing it. As it was, he had no clue what he’d done or said – or if it was even him – to earn this sort of response. “Kiddo, it’s going to be all right,” he said. “We’re all safe.” Harry sniffed, and glanced up, looking and smelling completely mortified, and wiped his eyes on his sleeve.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, as Sirius rubbed his back. “I don’t know what-”

“Think,” Sirius said in the same, flat voice Harry’d used on him before. Sirius had only given him bits of the truth in response to that, and privately thought he’d be lucky to get even a quarter of that from Harry.

“I guess I’m still tired,” Harry said, shrugging.

Rubbish, Sirius thought. He didn’t voice that thought, but he managed to catch and hold Harry’s eyes for a long moment. Harry was the first to look away, and the moment before he did so, Sirius could see the walls going up.

“No,” he said, and Harry flinched. Sirius wondered if it was his tone, or if he’d just unwittingly responded to something Harry was thinking. “Don’t you do that, with your walls and that ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m just tired’ rubbish. None of us are fine right now – me included,” he added, when Harry’s expression closed over. “In fact, I’d be worried if you were.”

“I am fine – this is nothing-”

“If you don’t want to talk about whatever that was just there, then I won’t make you, not until you’re ready, but for Merlin’s sake, don’t try to lie to me.” Harry said nothing, but there was guilt mixed in with the other components of his scent now.

“I just want to help,” Sirius continued, in a softer voice. “If you’re sick of keeping secrets, then you know what the solution is?”

“No,” Harry said quietly. He looked interested.

“Telling them,” Sirius said. “Not to everyone, obviously, because that’d be thick-” That earned him a reluctant smile. “-but I like to think I’m a pretty trustworthy bloke.” Another reluctant smile. Sirius waited, and let Harry take that in.

“Apparently I’m famous,” Harry said.

“Apparently? Kiddo, you knew-”

“No, I didn’t,” Harry said, pushing his glasses up. “Not really. I mean, sure, I saw the papers, and you told me about Voldemort, so I knew, but I didn’t- I didn’t know. I didn’t realise that everyone would know my name, or my titles. To you, and Moony and to the Dursleys, I’m always Harry. Just Harry, but now...” He sounded a bit panicky now. “Do you know how many times I had to introduce myself, while we were at the Ministry, or while I was at the Manor?”

“Probably loads,” Sirius said.

“Not once,” Harry said quietly. “I mean, I did, or I’d have looked like a prat, but I didn’t have to, because every already knew. There were so many people I’ve never seen in my life, and they already knew who I was, and they all... I dunno... expected things. They knew me, Pad-”

“No,” Sirius said gently, giving Harry’s shoulders a squeeze. “They know Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, or Harry Potter, the Boy Who Disappeared. They know your titles. They know a name from the newspaper, or from the history books-” Harry looked horrified to hear that he was in a book. “-but they don’t know you.”

“But I am Harry Potter-”

“And I’m Sirius Black, lunatic mass-murderer,” Sirius said, with a wry smile. “Although, today I’m ‘Siriusly Misunderstood’...” He gestured at the copy of the Prophet Hedwig had brought in earlier that morning, and Harry pulled a face. “They know my name - our names - and they know a bit of what’s happened to us-” Actually, they knew a lot about Sirius after yesterday, which he wasn’t entirely comfortable with, but he thought it was probably worth it. “-but they don’t know us. They don’t know that I go by Padfoot as much as I do by Sirius, or that I can’t stand the smell or taste of chocolate, or that my Patronus is also a dog, or that I hold the record for most detentions ever received at Hogwarts.

“And you know what? You’re Harry – just Harry. You’re the kid that talks in his sleep and – for some strange reason – likes Kreacher, and that got hopelessly lost the first time he used the Floo.” Harry smiled, and edged just a tiny bit closer to Sirius. “To hell with their expectations – I’d rather be your handsome, extraordinarily clever-”

“-modest,” Harry added, grinning now.

“-godfather than a murderer, thank you very much.”

“So... instead of being the Boy Who Lived I should... die?” Harry asked, looking confused, and a little entertained. Sirius poked him in the side.

“Don’t you dare,” he growled, making Harry chuckle. “Keep breathing, or so help me, I’ll-” Sirius hesitated, trying to think of an appropriate punishment, and Harry made a show of holding his breath. Sirius rolled his eyes and poked Harry again, making him gasp in surprise.

Talking was forgotten after that – Sirius figured it could wait until the afternoon – in favour of a game of ‘Bludger’, which started in Sirius’ room, and quickly spread to the rest of the house. Sirius cheated with Padfoot and Harry cheated with Apparition and tripping jinxes, so it was all reasonably fair.

And, when Remus came to fetch them for tea, almost two hours later, Harry and Sirius ambushed him rather spectacularly on the second floor landing.

*                       *                      *

Gawain leaned back in the chair in his office, defeated. It was three in the morning, and he hadn’t been to bed yet – he was still searching for his wayward trainee – and he was no closer to finding McKinnon than he had been the day before; after the trial, he had tracked McKinnon from Godric’s Hollow to a muggle shopping district, lined with stalls selling everything from jewellery to newspapers. He’d asked around, and everyone remembered seeing a woman with dark hair and eyes at some point, but none of them sounded much like the one he was looking for.

He’d surreptitiously checked the area for any traces of magic – there were none – and then he’d given up there and gone to Azkaban, on the off chance she might have tried to admit herself. None of the guards had seen her – surprising, but not unwelcome news – and so Gawain had headed straight for McKinnon’s house. The door had been unlocked, and so he’d let himself in. The house had been empty, but it had been obvious she’d been there – her suitcase, still shrunken, had sat on one of the chairs at her kitchen table. And then, only a few feet away, on the kitchen bench, had rested a small box.

It was that box which sat in front of Gawain now. It had contained two keys, and two pieces of paper. One was paperwork that certified McKinnon’s ownership of Number Thirteen, Grimmauld Place, and the other was a letter, addressed to Gawain. It had also contained her wand.

He’d only had the letter in his possession for a few hours, but the parchment was already soft from being handled so many times.

Gawain, it said, in McKinnon’s usual, neat hand.

I’m sure by now, Sirius is a free man, and well on his way to settling back into the wizarding world. With any luck, it will be an easy transition... no thanks to me.

I’m sure, if you had the chance to speak to me, you’d try to talk me out of this, but while I’ve listened to you in the past, I refuse to even hear your opinion on this matter. What I’ve done is unforgivable – literally – and I need to atone for that.

The box contains my house key, and my vault key. Sell my house, and everything in it – I’ve taken my most prized possessions with me – and add the earnings from that to my vault. Contact Sirius and tell him that he and Harry are entitled to as much money as they need. It cannot begin to compensate for what I’ve done, but it’s a start. Give the rest to St Mungo’s.

Do what you want with my wand. I won’t be needing it any more.

I’m sorry.


*                     *                     *

John Fisher was having a bad day. Things had been bad since he got out of bed and stubbed his toe, and had got progressively worse. The hot water system was playing up at home so he’d had to endure a tepid shower, he’d spilled his coffee on his best shirt at breakfast and had to change it, had had the aglet of his shoelace chewed off by the newest addition to the Fisher household – it was fraying now, something that John, being as neat and orderly as he was, couldn’t stand - and had somehow managed to get every red light at every intersection on the way to his daughter’s home.

Felicity had been out when he and his wife arrived for lunch, and so John had been forced to put up with Derek – his daughter’s lay-about husband – and his stupid guitar for almost an hour, alone. Sue, as usual, was entirely in awe of her son-in-law’s apparent skill – John doubted plucking strings on a guitar required any talent, and had said so, many times – and John had done best to ignore the tuneless music blaring from the speakers and had flicked through channels on the telly until his very-pregnant daughter waddled through the door.

Things were bearable after that – John escaped to the kitchen with Felicity, and helped prepare lunch – at least until midway through the meal, when conversation, inevitably, turned to the baby. Now, John was usually happy to talk about his soon-to-arrive grandchild – Anderson, his partner at work, was thoroughly fed up with all things baby – but John did not like the way this conversation was going.

“Do you remember that night a few years back, Officer Fisher?” Derek said, waving his loaded fork around. “With the motorcycle, and the flying car-”

“Hard to forget,” John said stiffly. Both he and Anderson had been forced to take a month’s leave for mental health reasons following that night, and had been required to sit through weekly therapy sessions even once they were readmitted into the force. John knew what he’d seen, but as far as everyone but his family was concerned, it had never happened; John had been stressed and tired at the time, and had obviously been hallucinating... and so had Anderson. John didn’t like people thinking he was crazy, and he was prepared to lie and say he’d imagined it if it stopped the sideways looks.

“Well, remember that name?”

“Elvendork,” John growled, and then his stomach sank. “No!” Appealing to his son-in-law was a waste of time, but he was convinced his daughter would see sense. “Felicity, you can’t be serious-”

“Oh, but Daddy, it’s so unique,” she said, and reached out to take Derek’s hand.

Or not, John thought miserably. Derek grinned like an idiot and nodded, and John cursed the man that had turned his sensible daughter into someone that liked ‘unique’ things. “But-but Elvendork?” he asked weakly. This was his grandchild!

“Ellie for short if it’s a girl,” Felicity said, smiling.

“And Dork for short if it’s a boy,” Derek said, and John couldn’t for the life of him work out if the man was joking. John sulked for the rest of lunch, and winced every time Sue hissed at him to get over himself.

Needless to say, John was in a foul mood by the time he arrived at work that afternoon. Anderson was investigating the London break-in, so John didn’t even have anyone to talk to while he worked through his paperwork.

Then, John's day went from bad, to strange.

“This is him, dear,” Julie, the department secretary said, pushing open John's office door. He put his pen down and looked over in time to see a tall, blond woman stepping into the room. The woman pulled a chair over from the corner and settled herself in it, on the other side of John's desk.

“Thank you,” she said, nodding at Julie. Julie glanced at John, who nodded, and excused herself.

“How can I help you?” John asked, leaning back in his chair.

“You're in charge around here?” she asked, smoothing the hem of her flowery dress.

“I am,” he said, a touch proudly. The smile he received in return was relieved.

“I saw your newspaper article,” she told him, clasping her hands in her lap.

“Do you have information?” John asked, grabbing his pen again. He suddenly felt like his day had just got a whole lot better.

“In a sense,” she said wryly. She paused, and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. John waited impatiently. “I'd like to confess.”

“Confe- I- Pardon?!” John spluttered. “Confess? You?” She nodded, and offered him something that wasn't quite a smile. His hand closed around his gun and she looked amused.

“That won't be necessary,” she said. “I've come to be arrested.” John didn't release his weapon, but he didn't attempt to subdue her either. Instead, he looked at her, properly. She couldn't have been very old - probably a few years younger than Felicity - and looked like she should be having tea with friends, or sitting in a park with her partner. She didn't look like she was capable of shooting and beating anyone... John's opinion of that changed when he met her eyes for the first time. They were brown, and tired, and... Haunted. Utterly defeated, but there was a bitter sort of hope in them. John's lip curled, and he adjusted his hold on his gun.

“Had a rush of conscience, have you?” he asked.

“I want to go to prison,” she said, holding her hands out. She placed them on John's desk, and after a moment, he realised she was waiting for him to handcuff her. John slowly unclipped his cuffs from his belt, watching the woman the entire time. She sat, quite calmly, wrists still on offer.

John secured her first wrist, and then waited for her to fight, or protest. In a state of stunned disbelief, John extracted himself from behind his desk – the woman looked confused for a moment – and then pulled the woman’s arms behind her back and affixed the second cuff.

“Thank you,” she sniffed, and when John took a look at her face, she was smiling; smiling and crying at the same time.

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