Chapter 5 : Control
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(Also, although it has been rewritten to the best of my ability, it's still awful. The original, beautiful, best version of 'Holding Out For a Hero' is owned by Bonnie Tyler)
I’d received a letter at seven o’clock on the night of the riot that I was to be present at work the next day, despite it being a Sunday. I’d get paid generously for overtime or fired if I didn’t turn up.
It was chaotic the second I walked in, even thought there weren’t even half the amount of people there as normal. Everyone was flustered, gossiping, giggling, and generally making more noise. I rushed straight to my office, where Jess shoved a pile of papers at me- “Mr Ryland told me you should add it to your final report, you know, the big one, and have as much done by a quarter to ten today because he has a big meeting on the hour and he needs it, shove everything else to the side and get it done-“-and it was then I was grateful I’d finished the report on Friday, so I quickly added all the documented evidence we had, careful not to add in any of my own details, and marched through to Mr Ryland at half past nine.
The fully completed document came to about an inch thick, and when I passed it to him he looked mildly stunned, then extremely grateful.
“I cannot... thank you, Rebecca,” Mr Ryland said, putting it in front of him. “Thank you very much.”
“You’re welcome. What do you want me to do now?”
“Go help Jess, I’m sure she’s bogged down with messages. But I want you to come with me to my meeting at ten o’clock, so be ready at ten to. We’re going to the Auror office that’s just down the corridor.”
“I will do, sir.”
Twenty five minutes later, we were doing just that. We were sharing the carrying of the paperwork we had to take with us, but we were both mostly unaffected by the load.
“Who are we seeing, sir?”
“Head Auror,” he answered softly. “I’ll tell you more once we’re there.”
I nodded, and shoved open the third set of double doors to reveal open plan desks, all neatly lined up like the ones in my old office, all facing the doors.
Mr Ryland breezed past them so I followed suit, and he rapped his knuckles on the door.
And then Harry Potter, the Harry Potter, was sat at the desk I was looking at with another man sat opposite him.
“Ah, good, you’ve brought someone too,” he said, nodding to me. He gestured to the man. “This is Keiran Bradley, one of my Aurors.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Keiran said hurriedly to Mr Ryland as we both offloaded the paperwork onto the desk, my report amongst it. He shook Mr Ryland’s hand, then mine too. I nodded shyly at Mr Potter.
“Please, sit down,” Mr Potter said to us all, and we did in a line facing him. “Now, are you sure that she can be trusted with this?”
“Certain,” Mr Ryland replied. “She’s excellent in everything she does. I’ve been watching her for some time.”
That was news to me.
“Good. Now, with the developments made yesterday, the future of this superhero is uncertain.”
Mr Ryland leaned in. “I heard the muggle Prime Minister gave the superhero a full pardon.”
“The police department did- it was on the news,” I said quickly, glancing at Mr Potter again. He nodded briskly.
“And, unfortunately, the Prime Minister cannot influence the police in any way. And, in any case, he approves of the superhero and wants to know why we don’t help in crime fighting more often,” Mr Potter sighed. “If only it were that simple.”
“What does that mean for how easy it will be to carry out any operations against them?” Mr Ryland asked. His hands were holding each other tightly in his lap.
“Well, it means it’ll be twice as difficult to justify to anyone using the Hit Wizards. It’ll also means that we’re now fighting a two-front battle: the muggle Prime Minister has insisted that if we do take the superhero down, we do it quietly because the muggles are fiercely proud of this guy; and we also have to figure out who the hell he is because trying to take him down as the superhero is going to be damn near impossible- the only time we see him is in full view of plenty of muggles. But our government just wants it finished fast.”
Mr Ryland nodded. “We’re going to start coordinating the departments to work with each other to get this done, and you two are going to be our go-betweens.”
Keiran and I glanced at each other.
“Are we going to be working together a lot?” I asked professionally.
“Probably not, no- just passing information through. The idea is that you’ll both sift out the relevant information and give it to your respective bosses, so we don’t have to waste time looking at something that’s useless to us.”
Kieran snorted. “So we’re secretaries?”
I frowned at the implication- shame for being a secretary?
“It’s an important job, Keiran, and everyone needs to pull their weight,” Mr Potter said, eyes narrowing.
“Of course, of course... I just wanted to be out in the field by now, sir.”
“I know. But this doesn’t mean you won’t be soon.”
Keiran sighed, ran his hand through his hair, then nodded. “What the hell. Sure. I’ll do it.”
Mr Ryland turned to me. I looked back for a moment, then nodded.
“-of course I’ll do it. Yes. Anything, sir.”
“Good. Now, it’s effective immediately, and there might be a bit of running around to each other’s department, but fortunately we’re just down the corridor from each other, so it’s not far.”
I turned to Keiran. His bright eyes met mine, so I smiled coolly.
“I’m Rebecca Lewis. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too, Miss Lewis,” he said, with an appraising smile.
Mr Ryland gestured to us. “If you two don’t mind, we have a lot to discuss, and I’d appreciate it if you could show Mr Bradley your report. And could you help him understand how you’ve laid it out?”
Nodding and standing, I shook Mr Potter’s hand. “It was a pleasure to meet you.”
“You too,” he said, and Keiran and Mr Ryland exchanged pleasantries too as we left together, with me clutching the report. He held the door open for me.
“Where do you want to work? I have an office-“
“My desk’s closer,” he waved off. “Come on.”
We sat at his desk that was amongst the neatly rowed ones, and I immediately flipped the report to the back.
“Now, I didn’t have a lot of time, but it’s in chronological order and I made an index, so the report is pretty easy to follow. I broke it down into several categories, such as the specific type of crime- murder, arson, assault- and you can find the various muggle reports- eyewitness statements, police reports, unofficial documentation- before the final summery report I wrote. The index also has the muggle reports labelled, as well as the official summaries, and I’ve also marked inconstancies in these reports. Is that all clear?”
“Yeah. So, say I wanted to find yesterday’s incident...?“
“Under ‘riot’, ‘arson’, ‘assault’, ‘eyewitness statements’, ‘ police reports’, ‘muggle photos’ and ‘inconsistencies’,” I read off. “I’ve also got a Contents page at the front, which matches all the different cases to their first page.”
He nodded. “I’m impressed. This is... organised.”
Shaking my head and rolling my eyes, I pushed it towards him. “Expect nothing less. Now, if that’s all you needed-“
“Actually, how does this thing update? Say if there’s a new case?”
“I’ll write it up in my copy, and it’ll automatically update your copy. It’ll add new pages as and when it needs them, as well as any changes I make to the index,” I shrugged.
He grinned at me, flicking through the pages. “That’s advanced magic... did you do it?”
“I was an O in Charms NEWT,” I said, raising my eyebrow. “Does that answer your question?”
“Good. Now, I’m going back to my department-“
“Random question: what are you exactly?”
I paused. “Human.”
“No, your title. What’s your title?”
“I’m Mr Ryland’s assistant.”
“...right. Well, like I was saying, Mr Ryland’s secretary will be needing some help this morning, and as I’ve finished this- you can look through it for yourself, of course-“
“Why don’t you stay here instead?” he asked, leaning back in his seat and slouching, encompassing the entire office with his gesture.
I didn’t smile when he winked, even though I could feel the corners of my lips twitching. “Are you always going to interrupt me?” I asked, amused.
“Sorry, Miss Lewis,” he said, smirking slightly.
“Call me Rebecca,” I said tiredly. “I’m not your superior.”
“You are in Charms,” he countered quickly.
“Excellent point. Probably in a lot of other ways too.” I stood up, and Vanished the chair neatly. “Now, I really must be going-“
“But you could-“
“You interrupted me again.”
“Goodbye, Miss Lewis. See you soon.”
I was sorely tempted to bludgeon him over the head with my report, but instead just smiled sarcastically.
I had been unable to afford the time to read the newspaper that morning, so I looked at it was on my lunch break. Jess had taken her lunch earlier, so I was alone in my musings when I skimmed the main article.
Ministry Declares Muggle ‘Superhero’ a Fugitive
Their angle was not favourable of me, or the Ministry. It claimed that in its previous editions, it had said ‘several Ministry experts have recommended investigating the allegations... this person is in fact a disguised witch or wizard breaking the Statute of Secrecy, and concerns over the welfare of our community have been expressed’. The article then blundered on about how the Ministry had been ignoring the warning signs for months and there were rumours of a cover-up because the fugitive was actually a highly-ranked official.
I very much doubted anyone would call being someone’s assistant ‘highly-ranked’, but it was certainly better than my paper-person job.
I had just immersed myself in dissecting the Minister’s statement word-by-word when Cheri swept into my office.
“Are you busy?” she asked, looking at the sandwich in my hand.
“I’d appreciate if you’d knock, Cheri,” I said as she watched me steadily. “And I’m on my lunch break, but I might have a spare hour after Mr Ryland comes back from the Auror office. Can I help?”
“Yes- I heard about your report for Monsieur Ryland. You finished it four days before he asked?”
“I... I did. Yes, I did do that.”
I tried not to flush, and smoothed down my skirt to look away. That was worthy of office gossip?
“I need your help. Monsieur Ryland has asked that I have a map made of where and when this ‘superhero’ attacks, but I need a copy of your report to do it.”
Without another word, I opened up my desk drawer where I had four copies stored and passed it to her. “Keep it. It automatically updates with anything I write, and I daresay a lot of people are going to need to know all of this stuff.”
“-Oh. Er- thank you-“
I sighed exaggeratedly as Keiran poked his head around the door. “Excuse me, Cheri. Keiran, what have I said about interrupting?”
“...don’t do it?”
“Correct. Now, Cheri, is there anything else you need? If I were you, I’d go to resources and ask for one of their really big maps, they have a few, of London. Say I told you about it, they should know what I mean.”
Cheri nodded. “Resources...?”
“Through the double doors opposite Mr Ryland’s office, and ask for Lucy Holt.”
She smiled at me- a full, kind smile. It was a little unexpected, but I returned it hurriedly. “Thank you, Rebecca.”
As she left, Keiran strode in.
“What do you want, Keiran? I’m on my break. And for the love of God, call me Rebecca.”
“I was just talking to Harry-“
“-yeah- and Mr Ryland has a message for you and... Jessica?”
“Yes, she’s his secretary.”
“Right, okay, then you two should know that Mr Ryland and Harry have gone to a meeting with the heads of all the departments and the Minister for Magic, so he probably won’t be back until late, so go home. And come into work at twelve o’clock tomorrow.”
“I’ll tell Jess,” I said, shoving the master report into my draw and tapping it with my wand to lock it. “Thank you.”
I could feel him watching me as I packed everything into my bag.
“Is there something else?” I said, pausing.
“Well, y’know. You’re just really hot.”
I couldn’t decide if he was being serious or not when I was watching him, so I carried on packing up. “...thanks, I guess?”
“You’re welcome. Do you want to go out for a drink? Harry’s told me to go home too.”
His eyes were expectant. To him, this was very simple.
I considered him. He seemed to be a few years older than my twenty, and his Auror training had clearly given him a slim but strong physique, with broad shoulders and defined muscles. His smile was confident and assured as he gestured to the door.
I wasn’t giving him anything that easily.
“Thanks for the offer, but I was thinking that I should help Cheri.”
“The blonde woman who just left my office. She has to make a very complicated chart, and I’m sure I’d be very useful to her. So maybe another day.”
“I have plans tomorrow. You’re eager,” I remarked playfully.
“Very eager,” he said, grinning.
I still managed to get away earlier than normal, even after helping Cheri- who was surprisingly friendly and complacent- but the moment I arrived in the flat, Elizabeth was abuzz with news, bouncing on the sofa as she told me everything. The Cute Guy she’d asked for notes from had texted her and asked to study with her ‘because she seemed to be one of the smartest in the class’, and she was absolutely over the moon with the day’s accomplishments.
“-did I mention he’s insanely hot? Like, I swear he was a PE major until this year, and he must exercise all the time.”
She couldn’t stop grinning over her cup of coffee.
“And he’s absolutely lovely. Gah, I really hope this turns into a study date. Leaning towards the ‘date’ end of the spectrum.”
“If you kiss him it will.”
“...I don’t know if I’d have the guts to do that! I was drunk at a party last time I kissed someone...”
“Okay, ask him out for a drink if it doesn’t. Worst he can do is say no,” I shrugged.
“Will you tell me if I look like absolute shit before I leave?”
“Only if you do me the same favour. This guy was flirting with me at work today, and he was good looking.”
“What kind of good looking?” she asked.
“Older than me, but not in a ‘more than five years’ kind of way. I dunno, he was just forward and interested, so I thought, ‘why not?’ ”
“Ooh, if it turns into anything you’d better get my approval. We don’t want you hanging around with some ugly, mean creeper. We could double date!” she said.
“First, you have to kiss your guy,” I said.
“Shit, I do.”
I kissed her on the cheek as I stood up. “I’m happy for you. Is it tomorrow?”
“Yeah, tomorrow morning before class. We’re meeting in the coffee shop on campus.”
“It’s sounding more and more like a date to me anyway.”
I patted her on the head and explained I had some paperwork to finish off, and logged onto my laptop as quickly as possible.
Checking I’d shut the door behind me, I began to scout through Elizabeth’s blog- she usually had quite reliable information- but there was nothing new, so I went back to my own feed. I’d signed up to having all the posts under the ‘superhero’ hash tag pop up automatically, and there was all sorts, including one that made my smile fade very fast. It was amongst posts of gratitude and arguments and useless speculation.
But WHAT IF our Superhero is a Supergirl? Like, there is no actual evidence he IS a man, is there? I’ve definitely not seen any.
Didn’t one of the people he’s saved say he has a low voice that one time? #speculation
BLEH, we really need to audio this shit to hear for ourselves
You mean this interview? [link] This was a house fire. His/her voice could have been affected by the smoke- I once had a pan fire and I couldn’t talk right for ages (I’m a singer, it was annoying)
or she could’ve heard wrong- I mean, he did nearly die
But he totally looks like a boy. [picture] His chest is flat!
He... sort of has pecs, actually...
Pecs = boobs + a good sports bra?
Oh come on, he’s obviously a dude! Because these... [picture] [picture] [picture] ...show a man. No girl could pick up A FULLY GROWN MALE ADULT that easily. And, let’s be honest, okay? Men are just more likely to be heroes- look at the comic books, they’re all strong, big guys.
I can’t hear your misogyny over the sound of Supergirl kicking your ass
But but BUT... I’m a Superfan. If my hot boy is actually a hot girl, who am I going to creepily obsess over in my spare time, with a bunch of people I’ve never met before? :’(
Do you... need a hero?
I NEED A HERO. I’m holding out for a hero until the END OF MY LIFE
#she’s gotta have class #and she’s gotta have sass
AND SHE’S GOTTA BE SMARTER THAN HER ENEMIES because it’s all well and good being a strong independent woman with awesome comebacks but she needs to have the brains as well as the boobs because sometimes full throttle epicness doesn’t cut it.
I stared at the screen for a long time.
The pictures were grainy and not really much to go on, but they had considered it and they were thinking about it and they were right, they were right about it and what if someone found out? What if someone from the Ministry found this post?
All my muscles were clenched and it was hard to breathe.
They wouldn’t find this post. I was in control of Mr Ryland’s muggle relations. If someone gave it to me to put in the report I could omit it because it wasn’t relevant or lose it because I was given an awful lot of work every day, something was bound to go missing...
I took long, deep breaths and forced myself to relax.
They wouldn’t find this post at all. How could they? They hadn’t the means or interest to look at something so trivial. For God’s sake, it was on some dumb blog by some stupid, easily distracted teenagers who would forget about it in a day. It would be buried by everyone else’s useless crap anyway.
My breathing was calm, so I turned the laptop off and slapped it shut.
I stood up, and walked back out to Elizabeth.
“I’ve done my work. Do you want to do anything tonight?”
I was in control of this. I could do this. I was okay.
A/N Suspense and stuff. :D
If any of my readers want a book recommendation, Esther Earl’s autobiography (mostly. I mean, there’s some other people that have contributed) has been released recently and... yeah. I think I’m going to keep rereading it until I know it off by heart.
I’ve been a bit sad and struggling quite a lot recently just... with, stuff, y’know? Anywho, posting early because Real Life people have been bugging me about it and there’s something definitely not-sad and not-struggling about posting my writing on the internet. Next chapter next week- Wednesday, and not any sooner! :P
This one is dedicated to Holly; I hope they can save you.
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