Chapter 2 : Iris Williams
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"We better hide our Dark Marks!"
I flipped both Scorpius and Aidan the bird, sliding into the booth opposite them. Every Friday night, my old dorm mates and I got together for a drink and general catch up. While I saw Scorpius nearly every day at our flat, Aidan Flint had a very demanding girlfriend who rarely let him see his old mates. The bird even put up a fight when Aidan told her about his Friday night plans. Apparently the shagging was phenomenal, otherwise he would have been out of that relationship a long time ago. Or at least he says. Though Aidan holds himself as though he has no heart, we all know it is hidden behind the Quidditch chiseled chest.
"Sorry I'm late!" I didn't have to look up to know that the loud crash of a barmaid's drink tray was because of Luca Milestone, our fourth roommate. He stumbled, quite literally, through life and for the life of him never owned a watch. "Oh Merlin, I'm so sorry! I will pay for those glasses."
"It's quite alright." The barmaid told him. I turned my head to the side to see the barmaid pull her wand out and wave it, the glasses fixing themselves and floating back onto her tray. Luca's face turned bright red, a huge contrast to his pale skin and blonde hair.
"I think that was Luca's way of asking you out, love." Aidan smirked, always one to ruffle Luca's feathers.
"That was not!" Luca stuttered. "Not that you aren't pretty, you really are, I just-"
The barmaid actually looked a little frightened as she scurried away, ignoring Luca's continued ramblings and Aidan's loud laughter at Luca's expense.
"Do you have to be such a prick?" Luca mumbled, sliding into the seat next to me. He pushed his glasses up his nose slightly, looking down at the butterbeer that had been waiting for both of us.
"Do you have to be such a pansy?" Aidan countered.
"Both of you, knock it off. You aren't children anymore." I interrupted before Aidan could wind Luca up any more.
"Yes Father." Aidan teased. I always had to act like the father of the group, otherwise I think we might have killed each other back in school.
"Be careful or he'll arrest you." Scorpius chimed in, getting a sharp glare from me.
"So tell us all about being an Auror, Potter!" Aidan grinned, leaning forward. Aidan was a semi-professional Quidditch player, so most of the interesting stories seemed to come from him.
"Nothing really to tell. Similar to being an MLE officer... but with a crabbier partner." I shrugged. Raine hadn't gotten any easier to deal with as the rest of the week went on. In fact, I think she just became more and more irritated with me as Friday came around. We got absolutely no where with the Peeping Tom case and James ran around, bragging about his Gringott's case, which seemed to put Raine in a more foul mood.
"Aurors as big of wankers as people say they are?" Luca asked, taking a tentative sip of his butterbeer.
"His partner is a real bint, isn't she, Al?" Scorpius chimed in. Luca and Aidan both looked at me with curious eyes. As I had found out, there aren't a lot of female Aurors.
"Is she hot?" Aidan asked and I rolled my eyes at him, having fully expected that question from him.
"She's a Nott. Raine Nott. Doesn't your family know them?" Scorpius answered for me. Aidan pursed his lips, flipping through his mind with the name. His eyes suddenly lit up and his face broke into a large grin.
"Yeah! Raine Nott. Went to Beauxton's. Father used to be mates with my Dad," Aidan used quotations around 'mates', which typically meant Death Eaters. "Bloody gorgeous girl. You hit the jackpot."
"I just need to get through my time with her without her Avadaing me." I mumbled. The barmaid came back and set down a large bowl of chips in front of all of us.
"Avada...Shagging... Could go either way." Aidan winked at me.
"Do you like it, though? Better than you had expected?" Luca asked and I had to think about his question. Did I like it? I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it. It was a bit more interesting than being an MLE Officer, but with Raine down my throat every second, I didn't have time to really enjoy it.
"I'll let you know in a few weeks." I popped a chip into my mouth.
"Oh bloody hell." Aidan ducked his head low, trying to disappear behind his pint of butterbeer. Curious, I perked up to search through the bar to see who Aidan had slept with that had just walked into the bar.
"Who ae we looking for?" Scorpius asked, grinning along with me as he searched through the bar.
"My girlfriend is here." Aidan hissed. It was then that I saw Aidan's girlfriend, Kendra Bates, standing at the bar with her eyes scanning the room. If it wasn't for the fact that Kendra was absolutely bonkers, she'd be a very pretty woman. Her thick blonde hair was always waving in the exact right direction and her shining blue eyes could brighten up an entire room. She even modeled for magazines like Witch Weekly. Her friends that were with her, who I didn't recognize, were just as pretty as she was.
"What the bloody hell is she doing here?" Luca asked, taking a chip and popping it in his mouth.
I couldn't help but be amused at Aidan trying to hide behind his pint.
"Probably trying to keep an eye on Aidan. Make sure he really is out with his mates." Scorpius was just as amused as me. We grinned to one another. It wasn't often that Aidan was at the receiving end of our amusement.
"Maybe it's time to break up with her, mate." I said, though we all knew Aidan wasn't going to do that.
Then she spotted him.
"AIDAN!" She gasped in excitement, as though she didn't know he was at this exact bar. Every Friday. I had to hide my snickers behind my pint.
"Kendra...what are you doing here?" Aidan asked through gritted teeth. She came bouncing towards us, her mates following behind her. There were two of them who looked more than irritated to have been dragged here.
"Thought I'd go out with the girls tonight since I'm quite sick of being alone on Friday nights." She frowned down at Aidan, who sighed, rubbing his eyes.
"Well I hope you ladies have fun!" Scorpius jumped in to help Aidan get the girls away. Kendra's eyes narrowed on Scorpius.
"Mind if we join you boys for a drink?" Kendra asked. We all stared at each other, no one willing to speak up. That was Aidan's job. He was the one that was supposed to tell her no. But when Aidan didn't answer, Kendra grinned and said "GREAT!"
"Kendra, don't you want to-" one of her friends, a small redhead started, but was cut off with a sharp glare from Kendra.
Suddenly we were cramped in our spacious booth. Kendra had scooted in next to Aidan, the redhead reluctantly scooted in next to me, and the third, seemingly Jamaican girl pulled a chair at the end of the booth. All of us guys were glaring at Aidan, who was red in the face from embarrassment. So much for guy's night out.
As it turned out, the night wasn't as bad as I had thought when the girls had joined us. In fact, I found that Iris Williams, the redhead who had sat next to me, was really funny and quite interesting. She was dragged out of her flat by Kendra who thought Aidan was cheating on her and needed proof. I told her that I wouldn't have been surprised if Aidan was, but he was surprisingly truthful this time around. Iris was the friend of the group that had to keep them all together. The glue. Much like myself. If she didn't, she was certain Kendra and Alicia, the Jamaican girl, would tear each other apart.
Iris worked for the Daily Prophet writing Gossip columns, which she admitted to knowing nothing about. She had a hard time making up stories about prominent people that might damage their image, so she was not one of the star writers. She was from Ireland and swore she didn't get any of the Irish luck people ramble about. She wasn't spontaneous, planned things until she was blue in the face, and liked things to be predictable.
She was basically the girl version of myself and I loved it.
"You did not go to Hogwarts!" I argued. "I would have remembered you."
"And why is that?" Iris laughed, sipping from her straw that she had dipped into her drink. She had a flirtatious twinkle in her eye that made my heart jump slightly.
"A redhead that I wasn't related to? Very rare to find in these parts." I joked, causing Iris to laugh harder.
"All natural!" She ran her hand through her hair and I found my eyes following her fingers. What if her hand was mine, running through her hair?
What? She's pretty, I can't help the thoughts.
"What house?" I asked her, trying to distract myself from my wandering eyes.
"Hufflepuff. I believe I was two years younger than you, though." Iris said, popping a chip into her mouth. The way her lips pursed as she chewed made my stomach flip.
"I still would have remembered you. Hard to miss someone as beautiful as you." I couldn't stop the words as they fell from my mouth. Both Iris and my own cheeks began to burn at how forward I was, but I didn't justify myself.
"Get a room!" I heard Kendra's voice from across the table. She laughed, burying her face into Aidan's neck. I wondered how many fire whiskeys I had missed. By the bloodshot eyes of Aidan and the wandering hands of Kendra, apparently a few.
"Says the one who can't keep her hands off of her boyfriend!" Iris countered, smiling at her friend. Kendra flipped Iris the bird, grabbing Aidan's collar and pulling him into a deep, sloppy snog.
"Gross." Lucas grumbled, looking away from the snogging couple. Alicia had the same expression on her face.
"We should make this the new Friday night tradition!" Kendra pulled away from Aidan's face with a resounding "SMACK" noise that made me cringe in disgust.
"No. Absolutely not." Scorpius took a large gulp of his butterbeer and then pushed himself off of the bench and stood up. "I'm heading out. Al, I'll see you in the morning. I'm heading to Rose's."
Before I had a chance to blink, Kendra and Aidan were back to snogging.
"I'm going up to the bar and going to have a real drink. Anyone care to join me?" Alicia said, getting up from her chair. Luca was on his feet and rushing towards the bar before she could move.
"Umm.." Iris glanced my way with a small smile and then looked up at her friend. "I'm good here with Al."
With a shrug, Alicia followed Luca towards the bar. Right as Iris turned back to me to continue our conversation, Aidan let out a rather loud groan that made both of us jump.
"Should we take our conversation somewhere else?" Iris suggested. I didn't want to assume anything. I knew it would get me in trouble if I did.
"Do you have a suggestion of where?" I asked, feeling my heart pounding in anticipation.
"Well... Scorpius did say he wouldn't be back at your flat until tomorrow morning..." Iris said slowly. I could see the color coming to her cheeks at her suggestion. I don't think she did this often, but I couldn't say I did either.
"S-sure! I mean-yeah, let's do that!" I stuttered. As I got up from my seat, nerves coursing through me, I knocked my butterbeer straight over, pouring it all over the table. "Oh bollucks!"
"Just leave it. We can blame it on those two." Iris giggled, gently pushing me away from the booth, grabbing onto my arm as we left for my flat.
That whole weekend was a blur of Iris Williams. We stayed up all night Friday night, talking and snogging a bit. When 6AM crept up on us and we realized we had been talking all night, she said she had to go home and get some rest. I invited her back to watch a movie later that evening and she gladly accepted. I spent all Saturday filling Scorpius in on Iris, who seemed a little skeptical about the redhead, but was glad I was "finally going to get a shag" since I hadn't in about a year.
Saturday night when she came over, things progressed a little bit more, but not to the point that we actually shagged. And I was okay with that. Iris was an interesting person and just sitting and talking to her was enough (with the occasional snog, of course). I learned that Iris always aspired to be more, but lacked the courage to move forward further with her career. She had gotten the job at the Daily Prophet right out of school and hadn't made a move to do much else. She learned that I didn't really want to be an Auror, but was stuck in the position because of extenuating circumstances.
I told her things I hadn't told anyone in a long time. She revealed secrets to me that were too strange to not be true. We laughed, we joked, we snogged, we had a good time. Iris was just a good time, something I hadn't experienced in a while. By the time Sunday midday hit and we realized we had spent the weekend together, we both agreed that we needed to get rest before the work day and we went our separate ways, vowing to owl to get together that week for lunch.
I dragged myself into the Auror's office on Monday morning, yawning with a large mug of coffee. I tossed my bag into the spare cubicle that would be given to my eventual replacement. I hadn't bothered to decorate since I would be back to my old cube within the next 6 months. Holding my mug, I popped my head around the corner to see Raine's cube empty, but a steaming tea cup signaling she was already in the office. I began to drag my feet around, searching for my partner.
"That is absolutely absurd!" I heard her voice float to my ears and followed it towards the corner of the office where we were seated close to and saw her back to me inside of an office. The office of the Head of the Auror's Office.
"We are looking out for your own safety, Nott." Came the voice of the Head of the Auror's office, Stanley Barlow. I didn't have to see his body to know he was sitting behind his desk. Whenever I saw him, he was always sitting down.
"Safety my arse. You're afraid, just like everyone else in the bloody Ministry!" Raine growled.
"You're the only pureblood in the Auror's department. It sparks a lot of....controversy with everything that is going on right now." Stanley remained calm, even under Raine's fire. "I just need you to sit on the sidelines for now. Until all of this blows over."
"So you put me with Albus Potter, the one person who couldn't keep me safe against a petty theft?" She growled. Ouch. That stung a little. I was pretty good with my wand. "I want my cases back. I'm a damn good Auror and you know it."
"I know you're a good Auror, Nott... but there are others around that are trying to prevent a civil war." Stanley sounded like he was getting more agitated with every word he said. "And keeping a Nott out of a war is in our best interest."
"What the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?" Raine asked, crossing her arms. I heard Stanley sigh. I was frozen, unable to move as I watched the scene unfold.
"Your family isn't exactly known for being on the good side of wizarding wars, Nott. When push comes to shove, you really going to stay with the Department?"
I was floored by this question. There was thick silence that followed his question as Raine was silent, obviously having the same reaction as me. Raine Nott may be a pureblood from a family of Death Eaters, but if there was one thing I learned in the last week, it was that she had a dedication that no one could mimic. She was hard working and was strong in her support of the Ministry and this department. To hear her getting questioned was one of the biggest insults I could ever hear.
"That's what I thought." Stanley sounded smug. "Now, don't you have an Auror to train? A peeping Tom to catch?"
Without a word, Raine spun around, going to leave Stanley's office. Caught off guard, I didn't have time to escape and was caught by Raine's narrowed eyes as she realized I was eavesdropping. She hesitated, but pushed past me and I rushed to follow her towards our cubes. She didn't say anything the whole walk back and I didn't exactly know what to say either. I wanted to apologize for eavesdropping, but I wanted to apologize more for what Stanley said. She didn't deserve that to be said to her.
She sat down at her desk, staring at the wooden top for what felt like minutes, though it was really only seconds. Her jaw was locked and her eyes were narrowed as she breathed heavily.
"Are you... are you okay, Raine?" I asked, taking a step into her cube as to not let anyone overhear me. She held up her finger to me without looking up, causing me to stop in my tracks.
"I don't need your pity, Potter." She growled, finally looking up at me with narrowed eyes, looking ready to kill me. Were there tears brimming on her dark orbs?
"I don't pity you, Raine... I just-I mean... What Stanley said was completely uncalled for. You're the most dedicated Auror I have ever met." I tried, but Raine rolled her eyes at my feeble attempt.
"Of course you call him Stanley. You're a Potter. He probably met you when you were still in diapers." Raine growled, grabbing the file in front of her and opening it violently.
"I've only met him a few times-"
"And this was all before you were an Auror, right?" Raine cut me off with a sharp look.
"Yes." I answered. She ran her hand through her hair, taking some of the pages out of the file and setting them in front of herself.
"Exactly." She bit. She studied the papers in front of her for a beat. I wanted to say more, but I saw James practically skipping down the way towards us.
"How's my baby brother doing, Nott? Living up to the high standards I have set?" James asked, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. Raine didn't look up at him.
"Exceeding any standards you would have set, James." She stated, grabbing a pen and scribbling something down on one of the pieces of paper.
"Can't do much on a Peeping Tom case, brother. Don't worry if you aren't doing so well." James told me, clapping me on my back. I felt the need to defend our situation. We really didn't have a lot to go on and the people who are reported him weren't the most reliable
"Can we help you with something?" Raine growled at James, who didn't seem as taken back by her actions as I would have been.
"Just came to chat. You coming to The Leaky Cauldron tonight?" James asked her. Raine sighed, putting down her pen and glaring at my brother.
"Do I ever?" She asked.
"Every Monday a few of us go to the Leaky Cauldron to have a butterbeer to try to get ready for the week. Invite Nott every week and she has never came." James explained to me. I glanced at Raine. She didn't seem like the type to socialize with Aurors outside of the office. "You're not going to get any mates if you hide in your flat all the time, Nott."
"Bugger off, Potter. We have work to do." Raine sighed, going back to her paperwork.
"I have never seen the lass with anyone at lunch. On the rare chance that I do catch her out and about, she's always by herself." James told me and I swear I saw Raine's cheeks flush slightly. "Can't always be a hermit, Raine!"
"Don't you have a case to work on, Potter? Heard you haven't made any progress on it." Raine asked and it was James's turn to get red in the face.
"I'll see you at dinner tomorrow with Mum, Al." He mumbled to me, disappearing into his own cubicle.
I studied Raine for a second. Not that I had taken notice, but Raine really didn't talk to many people in the office. If she did, it was for purely business reasons and never for personal reasons. In fact, the only thing I really knew about her after a week of working with her was that she went to Beauxtons, her family was filled with old Death Eaters, and her grandfather was dead. Only one of those had come directly out of her mouth. I couldn't imagine someone not having mates. James did tend to over-exaggerate things a bit too.
But what if she really didn't have mates?
"Are you really going to stand there like an idiot or are you going to help me with this case?" Raine growled and I immediately snapped forward, grabbing a chair and pulling it over to her desk.
"So... how was your weekend?" I asked, trying to get a feel for how social Raine really was. Maybe it was just with me she had a guard up.
"Potter, if this is your attempt at being friends with me-" Raine started, but I put my hands up in hopes of not getting attacked.
"Just asking!" I interupted her.
"I donít need friends," She mumbled, giving me a strange look before going back to the paper in front of her. I hesitated for a moment. Was James right?
"I didn't say you did." I mumbled back, unsure on how to respond.
We sat in thick silence, both of us scratching notes on our papers of random things we remembered each individual we had interviewed had done. Just subtle things, as Raine had explained to me last week. Like how Miss Cavanaugh had tried to look so put together, yet was a crumbled mess. Or how April Winfrey was a cleaner but had dust collecting on every single surface of her home. She claimed these details would come in handy, so I made sure I paid extremely close attention to everything. It was what I did best.
"I met a girl this weekend." I said, trying to fill the silence. Raine sighed, but let me continue. "Her name is Iris. She's really lovely. Funny and charming and-"
"Look Potter." Raine set down her pen aggressively on the table. "I don't care about your weekend or who you are shagging in your spare time. I don't care if you're smitten with some girl who is named after a flower. I care that we get this case solved. I care that they hire a new Auror so I can get back on my regular cases."
"But Stanley didn't sound like you'd be going back on your regular cases anytime soon." I told her. She was silent for a moment before she groaned, running her hand through her hair as she leaned back. She looked exhausted. More and more as I looked closely at her. Was the stress of having to work with me on these easier cases effecting her that much?
"I can take care of myself and Stanley. Don't worry about it, Potter." Raine got up quickly, grabbing her cloak in one motion. "Now let's go. I think I have an idea on these Peeping Tom case."
I followed Raine out of the office. I guess becoming friends with Raine Nott was nowhere in my future.
"And you didn't pummel Stanley for saying that to her?" Lily asked me, licking her ice cream cone. Lily, my younger sister, and I were sitting in an ice cream shop on the outskirts of the village she lived in. I had figured if anyone would be able to tell me about Raine Nott, it was Lily Potter. She may only be 20, but that girl knew her way around the magical world more than anyone I know. Working for the Department of Mysteries, she knew things that others never would learn in their lifetime.
"She tends to be able to take care of herself." I explained, grabbing a scoop of my marshmallow chocolate swirl ice cream. Lily raised her perfectly shaped eyebrows at me.
"Albus, I don't care if she is a Nott, no one should have to handle hearing that on their own. Especially when you had the opportunity to say something." She scolded. I rolled my eyes at her. There was no way Raine would have let me even put my two sickles into the situation.
"What do you know about her, Lils?" I asked as casually as I could, except Lily saw straight through it. She was as deceptive as I was, if not more.
"Got a crush, brother?" She teased and I rolled my eyes. I hadn't told her about Iris yet.
"No I'm just... wondering. James said some things-" I began and Lily blinked a couple of times, her tell that she knew something big. "What? What do you know?"
"I wouldn't listen to a word James says about Raine Nott." She answered, not looking me directly in the eyes. I could tell she was hiding something from me.
"Lily Luna Potter. Talk." I demanded. Lily pursed her lips, looking around the ice cream shop for anyone who might be listening, but the shop was almost completely empty, minus the sickening teenage couple in the corner who were spoon feeding one another.
"James just... is a little biased when it comes to her." Lily said slowly. I raised one eyebrow at her to continue. "He tried to shag her like... all of last year. Him and Ryan Wood had a bet going for a while about which one of them could shag their co-worker faster. I know Ryan won... but that doesn't necessarily mean that he didn't shag her."
"By the aggression that Raine shows James, I highly doubt it happened." I said, but couldn't help but wonder. That might also explain the hostility that Raine gave James and how low she thought of him. Raine only had low expectations of me because of James, who was actually a really good Auror.
"I'm just the messenger." Lily put up her hands innocently before taking a large lick of her ice cream. "What else did you want to know about her anyways?"
"Her family. What kind of relationship does she have with them?" I asked. I knew her grandfather wasn't her biggest fan when he was alive, but what about the rest of them? They still had ties to the old Death Eaters and with all of the rumors floating around, it would be nice to know where she stood.
"Her father was arrested by Dad a few years back for possessing an illegal time turner. The Notts were watched pretty closely after that. Under the microscope, they couldn't really do much. Any pictures taken of Theodore Nott do not have Raine in them, though. Makes you wonder if that relationship is a little strained." Lily recited everything as though she were reading it straight from a book. "Can't imagine they were happy when she decided to be an Auror, knowing what her family has done during the wizarding wars."
"Your family doesn't define you." I mumbled, something I had said a lot in school. When I had been sorted into Slytherin and not Gryffindor like the rest of my family, it became very hard to not receive scrutiny, wondering what was wrong with Albus Potter. People said I was adopted or that I was the black sheep. It took a lot of time for me to be able to move past all the comments and the stares. It was why Scorpius and I became such good mates. We both were stared at and whispered about because of our families.
"Well I know that, but its still a common misconception that people hold." Lily was always the one to stand up for me and make sure no one had anything to say when she was around, even if she was my younger sister. "The Notts don't exactly have a good name for themselves anymore. In a way, I kind of understand why your boss would keep her on easier cases. Safer for her."
"She doesn't see it that way."
"Doubt she would." Lily shrugged and we dropped the subject. In a way, I didn't want to know what else Lily might know about Raine. "I started to see this guy."
I looked up from my ice cream with a raised eyebrow. There was a slight blush to her pale cheeks and it was then that I knew she really liked whoever this guy was. She wouldn't have told me otherwise. There was a risk that James would find out and he would castrate anyone who got within 10 meters of Lily. He was the protective brother and I was the supportive one. Lily deserved to be happy and even though she did a lot of searching, I knew she'd eventually find the right guy.
"What's his name?" I asked and she looked at me with a small smile, glad I didn't freak out the way anyone else in our family would, I'm sure.
"Vince. Vincent." She told me. I didn't press her for a surname, knowing that would make her uncomfortable.
"Anyone else know? Mum? Dad?" I asked and she rolled her eyes at me, as though saying Why would I tell Dad?.
"Mum knows. And Hugo, but that's about it." Lily explained. Hugo was our cousin and was Lily's best friend. "We haven't been seeing each other too long. Only a few weeks... but I think things are getting serious."
"Don't tell me if you're shagging. I don't want to know." I cringed and Lily let out a big laugh. I loved her laugh. Made me remember how care-free she was.
"Just because you haven't had a shag in ages-" She began and I gasped rather loudly.
"You can't know that!" I said, exasperated, which only made her laugh harder.
"Everyone knows, Al!" She giggled. "Scorpius has a big mouth."
"That's it. I'm getting a new best mate." I folded my arms across my chest and Lily raised her eyebrows at me, a smirk playing on her lips.
"Raine Nott? Or would you go with Aidan or Luca?" She asked and I winced slightly.
"I have slim pickings, don't I?"
"Should really get out and get more mates, brother."
I placed some of my ice cream on my spoon and flung it at Lily. It hit her square in the nose. It was my turn to laugh.
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