Chapter 1 : Introduction
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I crawled out from underneath my desk and found Teddy Lupin doubled over in laughter with a few assorted people sticking their heads out from their cubicles to stare at the two of us. My cheeks flushed pink in embarrassment.
"What do you want, Teddy?" I asked him, glaring as I sat back up in my chair.
"What the bloody hell you doing underneath your desk? Didn't strike me as the type to snooze on the job." Teddy teased, the large smirk on his face something I was too familiar with seeing.
"I was picking up the rubbish that missed the bin." I mumbled, holding up a few pieces of crumbled up paper before leaning down and throwing them in the rubbish bin.
"You didn't get your family's Quidditch skills, did you Potter?" Teddy grinned. I felt my ears getting red with embarrassment. Yes, please mention another family trait that I did not get. I absolutely love to hear about that.
"Can I help you with something, Teddy?" I asked through gritted teeth. He leaned against the edge of my cube and I watched the flimsy padded laminate sway under his weight.
"Your father wants to see you immediately and to escort you to his office straight away. I told him there wasn't enough work for a MLE Officer to not be able to come immediately, but here we are." Teddy was still grinning at me. I felt panic bubbling in my stomach. Why would my father, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, want to see me?
"Did he say why?" I asked tentatively, grabbing my cloak and tossing it over my shoulders. Teddy just shrugged casually.
"'Course he didn't. Bloke doesn't tell me much, Al." Teddy didn't seem as bothered by this as a normal person might be. I grabbed a notepad just in case and followed Teddy through the winding, endless cubicles and past my fellow MLE Officers.
MLE stood for Magical Law Enforcement. MLE Officers are part of a subdivision of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement that deals with general law enforcement. MLE Officers deal with minor crimes such as petty theft or suspicious activities. Hardened criminals or dangerous crimes are dealt with by Aurors. By the time they can get sent to Azkaban for their crimes, it gets handed off to a different subdivision. There were a great deal of MLE Officers who covered all over Europe. A lot of witches and wizards believed that you became a MLE Officer when you failed Auror training.
Contrary to what most believed, I chose this route immediately after graduating. I had the grades to get into Auror training, but decided to go the more investigative route. Not to mention being an MLE Officer was safer than being an Auror. I was never interested in throwing my life on the line to catch a bad guy. I had seen what it had done to my father and his friends and wanted to make sure I wouldn't put myself in that kind of danger.
Everyone was shocked with Albus Potter, Harry Potter's 'youngest and brightest child', hadn't followed in his footsteps. Even my father was surprised at my actions. Over the past few years, I think he has come to accept my decision. I have become a great MLE Officer and have paved the way for numerous new, faster processes. Mostly with paperwork, but someone has to do it! Father tended to stay out of my affairs at work and I tried to not let people treat me special for my surname.
"Looking fantastic today, Wilma. New broach?" Teddy asked Father's secretary. She was a petite, older woman who seemed to have this job before Father was Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Her hair was permed into tight curls on top of her head and her glasses could cut through iron with their sharp corners. Wilma glanced up at Teddy and frowned.
"What do you need, Mr. Lupin?" She drawled. Her eyes lazily scanned over me, but she didn't acknowledge me.
"Mr. Potter needs to see me, M'am." I stepped around Teddy before he could make a bigger fool of himself.
"Call him your father, Albus. I bloody well know who you are." Wilma huffed at me, pushing herself up from her chair. "You can go, Mr. Lupin."
"Oh come on, Wilma! You can only play hard to get for so long!" Teddy laughed, giving me a pat on the back before exiting the room.
"Why are all Hit Wizards so thick?" Wilma mumbled to herself, disappearing behind a shut door. When she emerged, my father was behind her, grinning at he sight of me. I was immediately on my feet, holding my notepad close to my chest.
"You wanted to see me?" My voice squeaked. I immeidately wanted to slap myself. Though he was the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, he was also my father.
"Yes! Come in my office, Al. Wilma, please hold any messages until I am through here." He addressed Wilma and then walked me into his office, shutting the door behind us.
Father was always a modest person. He didnít decorate elaborately and he never requested anything strange be purchased and placed in his room. He had a simple, oak desk and a few bookshelves that held important books or memorabilia. The room was practically a mirror image of his study back at home. The chairs opposite his desk were large and comfortable, a statement I knew he had intended, even if others didn't understand the subtle gesture. He had a lot of hard meetings in this room, so the least he could do was make them comfortable while here.
I understood the little details better than most.
"What's this about?" I asked slowly, perching myself on the edge of the chair. I never got in trouble in my entire life. I always followed the rules and exceeded everyone's expectations. That was why this meeting scared me. Normally, my father handled the tough conversations with individuals.
"I've got some pretty sad news." He sighed, his smile disappearing as he put his hands on his desk. My heart immediately began pounding in my chest. Surely they wouldn't let my father fire me, right? "Owen Anthony is dead."
I stared in disbelief at Father. That could not be accurate. This had to have been false information. Owen Anthony could not be dead. He was one of the best Aurors I have ever met. He was James's, my older brother, mentor when he became an Auror. He had come to Potter birthday parties and Christmases. Dad had been Owen's own mentor when he came to the department. He was extremely close with our entire family.
"What? How?" I asked, feeling breathless.
"It's no secret of the troubles we have been having as of late. It's a big reason we have increased our MLE Officer count." Father began.
Everyone was well aware of the troubles that faced the magical community as of late. Last year, Azkaban was taken over by a group of prisoners. Though the uprising was squashed quickly, it didn't change the uprise that happened afterwards. Prisoners were killed and families were irrate that their loved ones were dead. There were even ridiculous rumors that some had escaped during this time and that they got covered up as deaths. The group that had attempted to take over Azkaban were well-known Death Eaters, adding fuel to the fire that started demanding the Ministry place a tracking system on all individuals who could pose a similar threat. What that came down to was the call for tracking of purebloods.
The Ministry had immediately stopped that idea in it's tracks, but so many were persistent. In the past year, there were constant protests that plagued the wizarding world. People even went as far as to refused to be around anyone of pure blood. Everything was slowly escalating and we all knew it was a matter of time before something truly bad happened.
I guess that something had happened.
"A Pureblood family was looking to purchase a home near a well-known activist for this... cause. The head of that household overheard the Pureblood family was viewing the home and went straight over. One thing led to another and a duel began in the middle of the streets." Father rubbed his eyes. I could only imagine the images rushing through his head of the times he dueled in those streets. "Owen lives right down the street and heard the noise and immediately went to help diffuse the situation...Before he could even take out his wand, he was hit by a spell and sent through someone's home. Died on sight."
"How's his wife?" I asked, picturing the petite blonde woman who always brought over freshly baked cookies.
"As well as expected." Dad sighed. "That isn't why I asked you here, though it does give a premise as to why I called you. With Owen gone, there is an opening in the Auror's Office that needs to be filled immediately. With the troubles getting more and more intense, we cannot risk just bringing up any Auror in training to fill Owen's position. The head of our Auror office actually requested someone specific. Someone that I had no say in whatsoever.... Albus, he requested that you become an Auror. Immediately."
The panic that was in my stomach earlier returned. I was being requested to be an Auror. Something normal MLE Officers dreamed of. Except for me. Not me. I didn't dream of this. I dreaded it.
"I don't think-" I began, but Father held up a hand to me.
"I know you never wanted to be an Auror, but with everything that is going on, they could really use your help. You're smart and you think in a way that others just don't. And it would only be temporary until we can find someone more permanent to fill the position. I will even put you with one of our best Aurors. We won't put you on dangerous cases. I will personally make sure that you receive a large pay raise for this." He was rushing through his words, like he knew my decision was to already say no. "They need you, Al. And it won't be for that long. I promise. Please."
Dad rarely begged for anything in his life. He was the type that worked extremely hard for what he wanted and would find a way to get it without having to beg for it. He had a good amount of pride, even though most didn't see that. So when he used the word 'please', it really hit me hard in the chest. I knew he had exhausted all options before turning to me for this. It was also why he was having this conversation with me. They stood a better chance of me saying yes if it was coming from my own father rather than the Head of the Auror's office.
"Fine." I reluctantly said. I saw Dad's shoulders sag in relief. "But not for long. 6 months tops. And my partner better bloody well know what they are doing."
"You won't regret this, son." Dad said, grinning as he stood up and put his hand out for me to shake. I reluctantly stood and took his hand, giving it a firm shake.
And that was how I reluctantly became an Auror.
"An Auror? Why the bloody hell are you an Auror all of a sudden?" Was what I was welcomed with when I pushed open my flat door. Scorpius Malfoy, my best mate and flat mate, was standing in the living area, obviously having awaiting my arrival.
"Hello to you too, mate." I mumbled, throwing my bag onto the table next to the front door.
"You didn't care to tell your best bloody mate of your aspirations to become an Auror? Last I remember, you were terrified of stepping foot in that direction." Scorpius had his arms crossed and I had to roll my eyes at his dramatics.
"I didn't aspire to be an Auror. I was asked." I sighed, flopping down onto the couch on my back, staring up at the ceiling. "Will I even be any good?"
"'Course not. You're afraid of your own shadow." Scorpius said, picking up the post that was on the coffee table and flipping through it casually.
"You're such a good mate." I said sarcastically. "How'd you even find out?"
"News travels fast at the Ministry. What time did you have your meeting to accept the position? I found out around 2."
"I had my meeting with Dad at 11."
"Slower than I would have thought, but Wilma doesn't like to gossip." Scorpius tossed a few pieces of mail towards me. "You mind if Rose spends the night?"
Rose Weasley. My dear cousin and Scorpius's long-term girlfriend. I still didn't like to acknowledge that the two of them were together.
"Again?" I asked, sitting up on the couch. Scorpius didn't glance towards me as he read through a letter in his hands.
"Yes, again." He said simply. I wanted to roll my eyes and make a comment about how we would have to make Rose start paying rent or that maybe those two should be flatmates, but the thought of trying to find another flatmate felt exhausting, so I didn't say anything. Instead, I opened the letter from Mum, inviting me over for dinner in a few nights.
"When are you two just going to bite the bullet and get married?" I joked, but when he didn't respond, I looked up from my letter to see his ears bright red. I immediately sat up straighter and raised my eyebrows. "You're not getting married, are you, Malfoy?"
Before he could answer, there was a loud bang on the window. We both jumped at the noise of the large barn owl that had flown straight into the window. I recognized the Ministry owl and got to my feet, opening the window for the bird and taking the letter off of it's ankle before watching is lazily fly away.
"We are not done with this conversation." I glared at Scorpius. Opening the letter, I didn't recognize the near illegible writing of the person who had sent it, but was able to decipher the words to read:
Be ready by 6AM.
"Who the bloody hell is Raine?" Scorpius asked over my shoulder. I must have been staring at the letter for too long and out of curiousity, Scorp had started to read it over my shoulder. "He sounds like a wanker."
With the impending doom that was my new job, I didn't sleep at all that night. I couldn't help but worry if this Raine fellow would be easy on me because I was Albus Potter, or if he would be hard on me because I was Albus Potter. It was always a 50/50 shot. I wondered if this Raine would be okay with being placed on less dangerous cases because of me. I wondered how much they knew about me.
I also wondered just how true to his word my father could be with all of the troubles going on.
So when my normal alarm chimed at 5:45 AM, I realized I had forgotten to reset it to meet Raine's 6AM deadline. I had been so worried about setting out the perfect clothes and making sure my bag had enough quills, ink, and paper, that the one thing I had to do was put into the back of my mind. Panic bubbled inside me as I leapt into action. Pulling on the clothes I had set out and barely having time to brush my teeth, I was somehow out the door at 5:57.
I stumbled into the Auror's office and looked down at my newly cleaned watch on my right wrist. 6:02AM. I was late, but hopefully Raine wasn't as punctual as his letter indicated.
The Auror's office looked very similar to the Magical Law Enforcement Officer's office, but with a lot less cubicles. Their cubicles also were larger and looked like they were made out of solid metal of some sort rather than the flimsy paneling the MLE Officer's were made of. As I walked past a few cubes, I noticed that the elaborate oak desks were mostly empty of people, with a few people filtering in here and there. They also had their names in large gold lettering on the outside of each cube.
I found "JAMES S. POTTER" and noticed that his was empty. Much like his bedroom growing up, the cube was messy. He had random papers scattered on his desk that I was sure he never touched. His calendar was a month behind what it actually was. He had a few photos of our family and himself with friends, but even those had a nice layer of dust on them. I rolled my eyes and went to continue, but saw "RAINE P. NOTT" on the cubicle next to James.
Tentatively, I peeked in, expecting to see a large man sitting behind the desk, but no one was in the cube. In fact, it was like no one had ever been in the cube at all. The desk was almost completely empty and the wall was barren of any pictures. If I didnít see the mug of steaming tea, I would have assumed no one occupied this cube. I backed up, wondering if he was waiting for me elsewhere when I felt myself crash into someone.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" I spun around to see an angry, dark haired woman standing there, glaring daggers at me. She only reached my shoulder, but the look on her face made me feel like the smallest person in the room. Her dark eyes only added to the intimidation that radiated off of her.
"Do you normally stumble around like a moron or am I just the luckiest person this morning?" She growled sarcastically at me, restacking the papers in her hands. I decided not to respond to the jab. Raine was looking for me surely.
"Do you know Raine Nott? I am his new partner and he's not at his desk." I asked the woman. She rolled her eyes, glancing down at the small watch on her wrist.
"You're late." She commented, giving me a raised eyebrow.
"Just by a few minutes-"
"Late is late, Potter. No matter who you think you are." The woman brushed past me and into Raine's cubicle, setting the pile of papers down.
"Oh bloody hell." I groaned in embarrassment. "You're Raine."
"The one and only." She sat down on her desk chair, placing her hands around the tea cup and letting the steam warm her olive face. "Sit."
She hadn't moved a muscle, but there was now a chair directly in front of her desk. I looked around to see if there was another Auror near who might have been playing a prank, but no one was in sight. I tentatively sunk into the chair, setting my bag on the ground next to me. Raine took a long gulp of her tea, not saying anything for a long while. Her long eyelashes covered her dark eyes as she stared down into her tea, strongly debating saying anything to me.
"Let's make a few things clear right out of the gate, Potter." She began, looking up at me with narrowed eyes. I found myself swallowing the lump in my throat out of nervousness. "I am not happy about this arrangement. I don't need a partner and I have never wanted one. I don't need one. I especially don't need one that is too afraid of their shadow and is pulling me off of big cases because he might piss his knickers."
"Now wait a minute-" I started but her hand went up to stop me. She wasn't finished.
"If it wasn't for the fact that this is a short-term solution and that Owen was a fantastic mate, this would not be happening." Raine continued, her voice like venom. "I also do not care if you are a Potter. If you are anything like your pompous git of a brother-" she gestured to the cube next to us "-then you will have my wand stuck so far up your arse that you won't be able to breathe ever again. I don't explain things more than once, so if you don't get this or anything else I might say the first time, I will not be repeating myself."
"Understood." I squeaked. She studied me reluctantly and then sighed, grabbing a file on top of the paper she had carried in. "I was working on a robbery at Gringott's, but someone got that taken away from me. This is our new case to get you warmed up."
She tossed me the file. It landed perfectly in front of me. I opened it, realizing it was much thicker than what the MLE files were. I suppose with how serious these crimes were, they had to have more details. Once I opened the file, I immediately looked up at Raine with a raised eyebrow. Her jaw was clenched tightly and I could only imagine it was because of the file in front of us.
"We're investigating a Peeping Tom?" I asked, trying very hard not to laugh.
"Peeping Toms escalate extremely fast from just watching their victims to breaking and entering the homes." Raine explained reluctantly. "The suspect has recently broken home invasion spells to start watching these women, so he is getting braver. Soon he will be in their homes and who knows where it will go from there."
"But this case... it is in the beginning stages. Don't you think it should be handled by an MLE officer and not an Auror?" I asked, closing the file and sliding it back to her.
"It is not our place as Aurors to decide what cases are meant for which office." Raine recited like she had heard those exact words on more than one occasion.
"NOTT! We Potters are surrounding you now! You can't escape us!" I heard my brother's boisterous voice from behind me. Spinning around, I saw James leaning against the edge of the cubicle. His hair was disheveled, he was dressed as though he were going to a bar for a drink and not to work, and the large grin on his face was far too mischievous for so early in the morning. We were always so opposite of one another.
"Bugger off, Potter." Raine groaned. I looked back at her to see the same narrowed eyes she had trained on me for the past 30 minutes now trained on my older brother. His grin just grew wider at her glare.
"I got your big Gringott's case, Nott. Care to brief me on it?" He asked, but the grin definitely said he already knew her answer.
"Figure it out your damn self." She growled at him, standing up and pulling her cloak on. I followed her lead like a lost puppy.
"You're so fiesty, Nott." James laughed, he then nudged me with his elbow. "She's our fiesty little pureblood. That's what we call her. Don't let her mean demeanor trick you, though, she's got a heart of gold... as long as you can chip the ice away."
"I don't have time for you today, Potter." She brushed past him easily and I did the same, getting a hard pat on the back when doing so.
"Good luck, little brother!"
I think I was going to need it.
When we arrived at the elaborately large mansion, I began to understand why this case was given to the Aurors instead of the MLE. There was a large, iron gate blocking the entire property. The large winding driveway spun around an enormous fountain that had Merlin spouting water out of his wand. The pillars that held the entire home up had swirling "C"s embroidered in each pillar. People with money didn't normally take well to MLE Officers. Raine didn't say a word as she lifted the large knocker that was in the shape of a serpent, letting it fall loudly on the door.
Moments later, the door slowly opened and an older woman, looking like she was ready to go to a fancy ball, stood there, a look of relief on her face at the sight of us. I couldn't help but notice her probably normally immaculate makeup was smeared slightly around her eyes and her lipstick was done rather poorly. I could even tell that her hair was a little messy in comparison to what she was used to. Obviously shaken up from the Peeping Tom, she tried to not let it show.
"Miss Cavanaugh. I am Raine Nott, Auror with the Ministry. Can we talk?" Raine asked, hands in the pocket of her cloak. Miss Cavanaugh glanced at me with a confused expression.
"And you?" She asked, looking at me.
"Sorry. Albus Potter, Miss Cavanaugh. Miss Nott's partner." I explained. Miss Cavanaugh nodded slowly, but still opened the door further to allow us in.
If I thought the outside of her house was elaborate, I don't think I ever could have considered the inside of her home. The ceilings looked like they stretched up forever and if James were here, he definitely would have tested it to see if he would echo. It was like I was in Buckingham Palace. Everything was oversized and there were expensive decorative pieces everywhere. I felt that if I walked, I might break one of them and spend my year's salary on replacing it.
"Please remove your shoes. My house elves work on keeping these floors immaculate." Miss Cavanaugh drawled. I could see the disdain in Raine's face, but she still reached down and untied her plain black shoes. I followed suit. "Right this way."
She led the two of us into her reading room, which was the size of my entire flat. She sat in a large chair next to the fire and Raine sat directly opposite of her.
"With everything that has been going on, the Ministry was smart to send a pureblood Auror into my home. Wouldn't trust anyone else." Miss Cavanaugh gave me a glance at her last words and I felt myself straightening up in my seat on the plush couch.
"Let's stay on topic, shall we?" Raine pulled out a notepad and I followed suit. "The man who you saw outside of your house: Can you describe him to me?"
"Extremely tall. Possibly had some Giant blood in him somewhere along the line. Large, dark eyes that were staring at me... as though into my soul. His face was almost a perfect square and his lips were oddly too large for his face. He had crooked teeth when he grinned at me. Jet black hair that stuck out from a bowler hat." She recited, her eyes clouding over as she recalled her almost intruder.
"Did you recognize him?" I asked her. She narrowed her eyes on me, obviously not happy at my interruption.
"Of course I didn't. We wouldn't be in this situation if I did!" She hissed at me. Raine cleared her throat and caught Miss Cavanaugh's attention again.
"In your original complaint, you stated you were certain this man was magical. What made you so certain?" Raine asked, leaning back in her chair. She looked bored of the conversation and like she might possibly solve the case while sleeping. I felt a tinge of guilt for getting her put on such a boring case.
"I have a protection charm on my property. No Muggle is getting through it." She said pompously, sticking her nose up slightly. I had to stop myself from snorting.
"Any chance the charm wasn't performed last night? Or that a squib could get through it possibly?" Raine asked, folding one leg over the other. I leaned forward, ready to take further notes. Except Miss Cavanaugh looked offended by Raine's questions.
"The charm is performed every night. There is no chance it was not performed. And I squib? Really, Miss Nott? Do you think I don't know how to perform magic?" Raine simply rolled her eyes at Miss Cavanaugh's tone.
"It's a question, Miss Cavanaugh. I'm not accusing you of anything-" Raine drawled, but Miss Cavanaugh huffed angrily and rather loudly.
"Your grandfather must be rolling over in his grave at your tone towards another Pureblood!"
I couldn't help it. I snorted rather loudly. It sometimes shocked me how people still thought that there was some sort of blood feud going on in the magical world. Some pureblood still thought they were royalty. Some who were not pureblood thought those who were deserved worse treatment than muggle borns had ever received. It was a battle of bloods status that they were all throwing us into and I somehow got stuck in the middle.
"The bloke hated me anyways. Good thing he isn't alive." Raine ignored my snort, but I was getting daggers from Miss Cavanaugh. "If you do not want to cooperate Miss Cavanaugh, that is fine. I have much more important things I could be doing than worrying about a man who has a thing for older women."
I think I was going to have to work with Raine Nott on her people skills.
"You two can leave. Now." Miss Cavanaugh growled at us. Raine didn't have to be told twice. She was on her feet and to the door before I could get up.
"That was a bit... extreme." I tried when we got out onto the property.
"People like Cavanaugh are the reason that all of the troubles are occurring." Raine hissed, glaring forward as she marched down the driveway. I had to jog to keep up.
"No, it's definitely the extremists causing this. Afraid of their own shadow." I said once I caught up to her. She glanced at me as though she had forgotten I was with her.
"There is a reason that they are so afraid. More than just the Azkaban incident last year." Raine explained as we exited the large iron gates and began to walk the sidewalk to a safe place to apparate.
"So you think there is some truth behind Death Eaters making a comeback?" I asked her. If anyone would know, it would be an Auror.
"I think we can't assume that we are safe. From anything." She answered.
Well I'll be damned.
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