Chapter 3 : The Nice Side
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"Grandmum knitted it for me!"
"It wasn't meant for you, James. It was meant for Roxanne!"
"And why do you think that?"
"I think the large 'R' is a giveaway."
I strolled into the Potter kitchen, watching as Mum tried to tug the lavender knitted sweater off of James, who wiggled around like a worm trying to keep the sweater on. With Mum being a good head shorter than James, he made her attempts completely pointless, but the determination of Ginny Potter was never to be challenged. I watched in interest as Mum punched James straight in the stomach, causing him to double over, having not been prepared. In one swift movement, Mum pulled the sweater off of James, holding it triumphantly in the air.
"I can't believe you punched your own son!" James cried, gripping his stomach as he stood up straighter. I grinned at the pair as Mum shrugged her shoulders casually.
"Don't blame me that you can't take a punch. Should talk to your father about more hand-to-hand combat training," Mum suggested, dashing out of James's reach when he tried to grab for the sweater.
"Bloody hell, I should never have come to family dinner," I said sarcastically with a laugh, coming into the room fully.
"Ah, Albus! Tell Mum to give me my jumper back!" James looked at me with pleading eyes.
"Who has the "J" jumper?" I asked, staring at Roxanne's jumper in Mum's hands.
"I do. I wanted two, so I took Roxanne's. She hasn't said anything about it." James answered with a shrug. Mum glared at James, moving across the room with the sweater. She pulled out her wand and with a wave, the jumper was gone. "MUM!"
"James, I am doing you a favor. Lavender is not your color."
"That bloody jumper again?" Lily asked, coming into the room. She was wearing her cloak from work that seemed to be covered in glitter. I didn't bother to ask.
"Roxanne would want me to have it." James grumbled, crossing his arms like a child. Lily just rolled her eyes, hopping up onto the nearest counter, her legs swinging once she made it up.
"Roxanne probably didn't feel lavender was her color either." I said, getting a dish towel whipped at my head from James. Roxanne was not the most feminine woman in the Potter/Weasley family. In fact, her Quidditch obsession made it near impossible for her to even understand how to do hair or makeup.
"Hello everyone!" I heard Dad's voice as he came into the kitchen, a large grin on his face at the sight of us all. He patted my shoulder and received resounding hellos in return. Mum waved her wand as the table on the opposite side of the room began to set itself, the food floating lazily over to it as well.
"DIBS ON THE WINGS!" James bellowed, running towards the table and towards the full chicken Mum had cooked.
"Why do you have to be such a cow?" Lily groaned. I couldn't help but grin at my siblings. Even as we got older, nothing changed.
"How are you enjoying the new job, Albus?" Mum asked, taking her seat opposite Dad. I didn't have to look up to know Dad was giving Mum 'the look' that said to not bring up a subject. Mum never listened to that look.
"It's fine." I answered aloofly. Mum raised an eyebrow at me and I knew that answer wouldn't be sufficient. "I'm learning a lot."
"From Raine Nott? She barely knows the right side of her wand." James laughed, shoving more potatoes into his mouth.
"So she beat you in the dueling competition last year with her wand backwards?" Lily countered, causing James to glower at her.
"Lucky cast. I'll crush her this year." James hissed and I rolled my eyes at his pride showing.
"She's actually a great trainer." I added, which was actually partly true. She knew her stuff, she just didn't portray it in the right way. If there was one thing I had retained, it was don't make a mistake or she'd make me regret it.
"I've heard she is a little... bitter about getting her caseload taken away." Dad said slowly, trying way too hard to not interject into the conversation.
"Harry-" Mum started, but I put up a hand to stop her.
"She is. Which is understandable." I defended Raine. "I'd be angry too if people thought my ability to be an Auror was effected by the status of my blood."
"What do you mean?" Dad asked, setting his fork down and giving his full attention to me. Lily was chewing slowly, trying to not look too interested, but knowing exactly where I was going with the conversation. Normally I never would have brought up the subject of Raine at the family dinner table, but then Stanley's words echoed in my head and the anger for my partner flared in me.
"She got her caseload taken away because she's a pureblood and even though she is one of the best Aurors that the department has, they think she would switch over to the opposition if a war came about from all of these troubles."
Father stopped, staring at me for a moment as though trying to decipher what I had just said. I said it all in one breath, so I wouldn't be surprised if he actually hadn't caught a word I had said. I wasn't the type of person who fought other's battles. I typically let them fight it themselves and especially in this situation, Raine could definitely handle herself. Yet I couldn't help myself. No one deserved the treatment she got and if telling my father did anything, then I could take the wrath of Raine for finding out I told someone.
"And you know this for certain?" Dad's voice held so much indifference that I couldn't tell what he thought about what I had just said. I glanced at Mum, who had her elbows peaked on the table, her hands held together under her chin, watching the scene unfold. Lily was trying her hardest not to be too interested, but she didn't hide it well. James was stuffing his face.
"I heard Stanley say it to her." I admitted. "When she was confronting him about our latest case."
Dad shared a glance with Mum that was un-readable. I sat silently, wondering if I had just opened a can of worms that couldn't be re-sealed. I didn't want to get Stanley in trouble, especially because he was a family friend, but Raine was my partner. On top of that, she was being treated unfairly for her blood status. I wasn't the type to abuse my relationships with people in higher positions, but yet here we sat, Dad trying to find the right words to say to me.
"I can look into it. If you'd like." He said hesitantly, having the same thought about not blending work and home life.
"I think she can handle herself. I just....wanted you to be aware." I told him. He nodded once, picking his spoon back up and looking down at his dinner.
"Tell them about her arse! She's got a fantastic arse, Mum." James perked up, laughing to himself as my cheeks flushed.
"James!" Mum scolded, used to hearing James talk about women's bums.
"Oh come on, Al gets to stare at her bum all day! No use in hiding the obvious." James waved his fork, small pieces of chicken flinging forward.
The Potter family, ladies and gentleman.
"You're late." Raine was leaning up against the coffee shop we had designated to meet outside of, sipping out of a styrofoam mug. I looked down at my watch.
"It's 8:02." I responded.
"That's late." Raine pushed herself off of the building with a sigh, brushing her dark hair out of her face.
"So why exactly are we meeting here? You didnít specify." I ignored her comment about me being late, following her as she started down the street of Diagon Alley. I was used to coming here, but it felt strange to be here on business. Being that school was in session, there weren't a lot of people around, especially so early in the morning. The streets had a few people going about, but not many.
"We are here to try to talk to Johnathan Cavanaugh." Raine told me, taking another sip of her coffee. "He owns a tea shop around the corner."
"Miss Cavanaugh's son?" I asked curiously. Miss Cavanaugh was one of our victims of the Peeping Tom. "What does he have to do with this? And why would we meet at a coffee shop if we were going to a tea shop right after?"
Raine stopped in her tracks, turning to me with an irritated expression. I almost crashed into her since she walks at a ridiculously fast rate and I have to jog to keep up. I stopped short, staring at her for an explanation. She reached into her cloak, pulling a familiar file out. It was our case file. She popped it open, revealing the first page to me.
"What are the one thing our victims have in common?" She asked as though I was a 5 year old she was teaching a lesson to.
"They all have some sort of relationship with the upper society in Chudleigh." I recited what we had discussed the day before. "How does that connect to Johnathan Cavanaugh?"
"Have you ever met him?" Raine asked, snapping the file shut and continuing down the street, taking a sharp left turn.
"Then you'll see why we are meeting him shortly."
With that, Raine pushed open a door to a small tea shop, the smell hitting my nose rather aggressively. The shop was dark, due to the sun not quite hitting the windows right to brighten up the room. Thousands of tins of tea rested on the shelves, some probably never touched. There were small, chipped round tables around the room with wooden chairs sitting around them. Behind the counter was a tall, thin man with large round glasses. He was wearing a crisp suit and looked as though he was actually a banker and not a tea shop owner.
"Johnathan Cavanaugh?" Raine asked, straightening up her back as she went into the room. She truly looked like an aristocratic pureblood the way she was holding herself at the moment. Her coffee cup was sticking out in front of her, a bit too far to not grab Johnathan's attention.
"Can I help you?" He asked, eyeing up Raine. He stared far too long at the coffee cup in her hand. I tried to linger back slightly, studying Jonathan.
"I have a few questions for you about the Peeping Tom that harassed your mother." Raine's voice demanded attention, something that I was familiar with, but something that Jonathan did not look like he was responding well to. In fact, I think I saw his eyes narrow on Raine when his arms crossed in front of his chest.
"You can't just come into my tea shop with my competition's coffee in your hand and expect me to help you." He growled. Raine didn't look phased at all as she glanced back at me with a small smirk. I wasn't sure what game she was playing at, but I'd try my best to follow along.
"I'll drink what I want, John." She told him with a small laugh. "I'm an Auror, so it will probably be in your best interest to answer my questions."
"Throw that out." Johnathan demanded, gesturing towards Raine's cup, but instead, Raine took a long drink from the cup. Johnathan's jaw clenched. He was obviously a man who was used to having the power in a situation.
"Why don't we have a seat at one of these tables?" I suggested, gesturing towards a table to my right. Jonathan barely looked at me, still glaring at Raine, who didn't look ready to back down.
"Once this girl throws out that coffee, I will talk to you."
Raine raised one eyebrow, challenging Johnathan to tell her again to get rid of her coffee. I really had no idea what Raine was doing, but she seemed so overly confident in her actions that I didn't ask about it. In fact, I tried to see what Raine was seeing in Johnathan's reactions to what she was doing, and though I am far too observant, I didn't know what I was looking for. Raine took a long drink from her coffee and then shook it to show it was empty before setting it down on Johnathan's countertop.
"Shall we?" She gestured towards the nearest table. With a clenched jaw, Johnathan took a large chair, placing it at the small table. Raine followed suit and I took the empty chair that was left.
"How can I assist you?" Johnathan growled, glaring at Raine. She didn't falter as she placed both hands delicately on the table in front of her.
"Your mother, she is a rather....abrasive woman, yes?" Raine asked, but she wasn't looking for an answer as she continued. "One could become very frustrated with her demeanor. Especially when they are around it for so long."
"My mother is a fantastic woman." Johnathan defended, but Raine just smiled slightly at his response.
"She wasn't so fantastic when you wanted to open this tea shop. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't she refuse to allow you any family money to open this? That would make me pretty mad. Especially when your family is filthy rich and could spare a few galleons to help our their only son."
The pieces of the puzzle started to form slowly together as I watched Johnathan's face growing red with each word Raine said.
"If that isn't bad enough, your mum gave a few galleons to her friend for a random fundraiser, coincidentally someone who was also a victim of our Peeping Tom." Raine continued, tilting her head as she watched Johnathan's reaction. "For a man who likes to control things and people, you probably felt really out of control by not being able to convince your mother to give you money for this place."
"Yes, I was frustrated, but not-" Johnathan began, but Raine held up a finger to signal she was not done speaking.
"It's understandable being frustrated, Jon. So maybe instilling a little fear in your mother would do her some good. Take her and her friend down a few notches. Sometimes that's not enough though, right? Found dear old Mum's financial book to see who else she donated money to and then made those people your victims." Raine was ranting now and I could practically hear Johnathan's heart beating. It was beginning to make sense now. "But then Mum's maid begin to suspect what you were doing, so you decided she would be a good next victim."
"That's....that's ABSURD!" Johnathan bellowed, pushing himself up from his chair, towering over the two of us. "Get out of my shop!"
"You would have the authority to do that, Mr. Cavanaugh, if it wasn't for your impending arrest." Raine got to her feet calmly, her hand in her pocket on her wand. I got to my feet as well, my wand pulled out immediately. "You made a mistake, Jon. You left this at the maid's house."
With that, she tossed a tea bag towards Johnathan, who caught it, staring down at the small bag with large eyes.
"You meant to scare her with that so that she would know it was you....so you had the power again...but you failed to realize that would also incriminate you."
Johnathan didn't say a word for a moment, staring down at the tea bag. He thought he was being subtle as he reached for his wand slowly, ready to avoid arrest. Though he was moving so Raine couldn't see him, he didn't account for me watching his hand slowly twitching towards his wand pocket. I raised my wand, pointed directly at his chest as his eyes darted towards me and I could see the cogs going in his head.
"Don't do it, John. You'll just make this worse." I warned him. His eyes glanced towards Raine, who hadn't even raised her wand yet, and then back to me.
"I didn't do it." He growled towards us, but Raine shrugged, pulling her wand out of her pocket casually, as though she were casting a cleaning spell.
"Well, that is for the court to decide." Raine waved her wand and suddenly Johnathan's arms were behind his back, bound by the zip ties that had appeared out of thin air.
As I followed Raine and Johnathan out of the shop, Johnathan swearing far too much for a man who claimed to be innocent, I noticed we had gathered a crowd. It seemed other nearby shop owners had grown curious and they were standing on the streets, whispering to each other as we came out. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the familiar flame of red hair that belonged to Iris Williams. She was looking curiously at me, talking to an older woman with a funny hat, and when our eyes met, a grin grew on her face.
"I'm going to call in a MLE Officer to finish this up. Sit down, Johnathan." Raine lightly pushed a restrained Johnathan into the bench right outside of his shop. "If you so much as move I'm going to curse you bald."
"Hi Albus!" I heard from my right and saw a grinning Iris, cheeks tinged pink. Raine was busy mumbling into her wand to pay too much attention to me.
"Hey Iris. What are you doing here?" I asked her, glancing at a few of the shop owners as they began to disappear into their shops.
"Interviewing Lady Devlin. Heard some noises and thought we'd both pop out." Iris explained. She glanced at Johnathan Cavanaugh and then leaned in towards me, speaking in a quieter voice. "What did he do?"
"I..." I hesitated, unsure what I could say. Though I trusted Iris, I also knew she was a reporter and that until the case was closed, I couldn't say much. "I'm not at liberty to say."
"Oh come on! Off the record." Iris teased, nudging me playfully. I felt my cheeks flush as I thought of our time together over the past week. I knew Iris wouldn't publish anything I said.
"Peeping Tom case." I whispered and Iris's face lit up in shock.
"Johnathan Cavanaugh?! His mum donates hundreds of galleons to the Prophet!" She whispered back excitedly. I felt panic bubbling in my stomach. Surely she wouldn't say anything.
"This is between you and me, right Iris?" I asked, watching her carefully.
"Of course, Albus. You have my word." She placed a hand on my arm and I felt all sense of what I was doing disappear.
"Potter." I heard Raine's voice from behind me and spun around violently to see her staring at me with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah? Uhm... er... Iris, this is my partner, Raine Nott." I said quickly, trying to make sure Raine didn't think I was just talking to anyone about what we were doing here. "Raine, this is Iris Williams. A friend."
Iris smiled at Raine, a nice, warming gesture. Raine on the other hand, frowned at Iris, eyeing her up. She didn't look impressed. In fact, Raine looked extremely bothered that I had even introduced them. With a sigh and a roll of her eyes, Raine gave Iris one nod. That was it. One. Nod. Iris looked a taken back as she glanced at me, unsure how to properly respond.
"Nice to meet you, Raine! I've heard so much." Iris attempted to brush off Raine's dismissiveness, but Raine didn't change her demeanor.
"You're a reporter. With the Daily Prophet." It wasn't a question, but a statement. I began to realize what Raine was thinking and immediately jumped to Iris's defense.
"She wouldn't tell anyone why we were here, Raine." I tried to reassure her.
"I just work for the Gossip Column. Nothing crime related, don't worry." Iris chimed in, but Raine didn't look convinced. In fact, she looked more suspicious.
"Great. Can see the cover now! "Nott arrests one of her own"." Raine recited, glaring at Iris deeply.
"I'll see you at the office, Potter. The MLE Officer is here." Raine was gone before either of us could register what just happened.
"I am so sorry about that, Iris. She can be a little....tough, sometimes," I tried to reason, but Iris gave me a reassuring smile.
"A lot of people hear reporter and immediately put up a barrier. I'm used to it." She waved a hand dismissively, but I could still see that Raine's actions had stung. I didn't push.
"How would you feel about going out to dinner with me tomorrow night?" I asked, hoping Raine hadn't gotten rid of any chance I had with Iris.
"I'd love that. Owl me details?" I smiled as Iris leaned in, kissing my cheek. I could feel the spot burning at her touch. I stood there for a good minute after she walked away.
"She's a looker. Good choice!" I heard an elderly woman say to me with a laugh as she walked by.
"Raine, can we talk?" I asked tentatively, popping my head into her cubicle. She had dozens of papers scattered over her desk and when she looked up at me, she just looked irritated.
"I'm busy, Potter. Speaking of which, grab a stack and start filling out our reports, partner." She gestured towards a few of the papers.
"That's what I want to talk to you about. You say 'partner', but you don't treat me like one." I needed to stand my ground and make sure I got out what I wanted to say. "And did you have to speak to Iris that way? I happen to like her a lot and you embarrassed me."
"Are we children, Potter? Are you really coming crying to me about trivial matters?" Raine put her pen down aggressively, but I crossed my arms. I couldn't back down now.
"We are talking about this, Raine." I growled. I watched as her jaw clenched as she stared at me for a moment too long.
"How do I not treat you like a partner?" She asked, crossing her arms in turn, speaking to me as though I was a child.
It was something and I'd take it.
"It would have been nice to know that Johnathan Cavanaugh was a suspect before you dragged me into his tea shop to arrest him." I started. "I can't be expected to always follow along with your games and know which way you are moving the pieces. You have to communicate with me."
"I had a lead and I followed it." She explained slowly. "I shouldn't have to explain everything to you. You should be able to keep up if you're a good Auror."
"But that's the point Raine. I'm not an Auror. And no bloody Auror would be able to know exactly what your plans were." I was angry now, my voice low so no one could overhear. Raine was putting up her barriers, something I was all too familiar with. "You're not used to working with someone and I get that, but you need to stop working against me."
"And your little girlfriend? You'd expect me to treat her with respect when she writes gossip about people like me?" Raine pursed her perfectly shaped lips, a glare set on me that would have normally made me cower backwards. I placed my hands on her desk, leaning forward in a pathetic attempt to look intimidating.
"Yes. I expect you to be nice to someone that matters to me. Someone that is a decent human being. Someone you are pre-judging, just like you have been pre-judged your entire life. I thought you out of all people would respect that just because we have a certain title doesn't mean we are all of the misconceptions that come with it."
Raine looked like I slapped her slightly. She blinked a few times, sitting back in her chair, putting distance between us. I kept my hands on her desk, wondering if I had gone too far. She had embarrassed me in front of Iris. Even if Iris didn't show it, she was hurt by what Raine had said. I had taken Raine's harassment for the past few weeks without a word, but I'd be damned if she turned that harassment on innocent Iris. It was obvious Raine wasn't used to being stood up to. In fact, I was wondering anyone ever stood up to Raine Nott.
"I think you should ask for a new partner, Potter." Raine growled and it was my turn to feel like I was slapped. "Someone who has the time to coddle you."
"I'll make sure to request someone who isn't a cold-hearted pureblood." I bit back. I turned and stormed to my own cube before I could see the look on Raine's face at my words.
I sat at my desk, hearing the bustle of the other Auror's around me. A few people laughed as I saw letters flying overhead into each cubicle. I tried to tune it all out. I tried to concentrate on the small circle on my desk that had been left by the person who used it last, the outline of a mug they had placed in the same spot over and over again, not even noticing they had worn away at the wood. My heart was pounding in my chest and my mind was spinning. I wanted to yell and to throw everything off of my desk.
I didn't typically feel this way or say these types of things to people. It wasn't in my nature to say things I didn't particularly mean or to make people feel poorly about themselves. I may have been a Slytherin, but that didn't mean I fit that stereotype. Much like Raine didn't necessarily fit the stereotype of a pureblood like I had just said to her. I felt my heart sink to my stomach. Though Raine had been cruel, it didn't mean I had to be as well. I was supposed to be above that. Or so I thought.
I groaned, leaning back in my chair as I heard my brother's booming laugh a few cubicles down. I didn't ever let my emotions take over. I was level headed and always thought with my brain. That was something I prided myself on. But as I replayed my conversation with Raine, I couldn't help but feel as though I was watching from the sidelines, unaware of what I was even saying. I felt the guilt seeping in as I could only imagine Raine's expression as I had left her cube.
I knew I couldn't just request a new partner. Raine and I may not always see eye to eye, but she was a good Auror and if I was going to get through the next 5 Ĺ months, I needed her at my side. Maybe I could even break down those thousand's of walls she had built up over the ages. The first thing I would need to do to do that would be apologize. While I couldn't do anything about Raine's behavior, I could do something about mine.
Thought it couldn't have been more than 15 minutes, when I peeked my head reluctantly into Raine's cube, it was completely empty.
"Think she went outside for a fag." Tevin Demetri, a tall and lean Auror, said as he walked by with a stack of files held out in front of him.
"She smokes?" I wondered aloud, having never seen her with a fag. Tevin shrugged as he kept walking to his cubicle.
It didn't take me long to find Raine leaning up against the wall of the courtyard on the first floor. There was a designated area for smokers, which was not very crowded for it being mid-day. There were a few men in dress robes who gave me a sideways glance before continuing their quiet conversation with each other. Raine didn't glance at me as I leaned against the wall next to her. Her stare on the opposite wall was distant and I wondered if she even realized I was there. Raine took a long drag of her fag before letting out a deep sigh.
"I'm sorry, Raine." I said, my voice quiet. Raine didn't respond, nor did she even look in my direction. "I pride myself on being composed and keeping myself together....and I let my emotions get the best of me and I took my anger out on you. I shouldn't have said what I said."
"But that doesn't mean you didn't mean it, right?" Raine's voice sounded far off as she spoke, still staring at the opposite wall with a blank look on her face. I blinked a few times. Did I mean she was cold-hearted? Probably. She was rather shut off. But I didn't mean she fit the stereotype of a pureblood. That was unfair of me.
"Just because you're a pureblood doesn't mean-" I began to explain, but Raine turned to me with one raised eyebrow and I stopped my speech with a sigh.
"I'm used to it, Potter. Really, I am." She told me, taking another long drag from her fag. "I know I'm closed off and that I say things people don't like to hear. It's who I am."
"Just because you have different ways of expressing yourself doesn't mean you are carrying yourself like a stereotyped pureblood." I tried again. I hesitated, but continued anyways. "And I don't think it's who you are....I think it is who you have envisioned yourself to be."
"And what does that mean?" She asked me, not defensive, but curious.
"I think you are very protective of your true self. I think....I think you are so guarded that it comes off as cold and heartless....but in reality, you're just protecting yourself." I stared at the opposite wall as she was when I arrived.
"And what am I protecting?" Raine asked after a moment of hesitation. I looked at her, seeing her eyes turned towards me, her eyebrows furrowed as she frowned. I found myself studying her face. Her high cheekbones had to have been something that was passed down from all the aristocratic Notts. She had a perfect, pointed nose that was slightly wrinkled. When she frowned, two lines etched into her forehead. Her dark eyes swirled together where I couldn't tell her iris from her pupil unless I looked far too close.
"You tell me." I said quietly. She let her fag dangle between her fingers for a moment too long as she blinked a few times at my words, letting them sink in. Before she could react, I reached forward and grabbed her fag, flicking it onto the ground. "These are disgusting."
"Hey!" She gasped, looking at her discarded fag sadly. "I could kill you for that!"
"If my theory about you is right, then you won't." I laughed, watching her step forward and stomp the small flick out. She looked up at me with one eyebrow raised.
"And if your theory is wrong?"
"As my dying wish, I request you obtain last month's rent from Scorpius Malfoy. Bastard still hasn't paid me."
Raine's face broke into a smile at my words, confirmation that my theory was probably right.
Author's Note: Hello readers! How do you like the new story so far?! Thoughts, suggestions, initial impressions? I would love to know!
I thought throwing you a little bit of Raine's nice side might soften you up a little bit ;)
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