LL Chapter 12

A/N1: Yiggersentia is the BOMB. She has helped me outline the rest of the story and smacked me around to get this out faster and better than before. You have roughly seven more chapters to go before I release you from this curse – um – story. This may change depending on things such as length of chapter and/or development of…well…things to come. You may be able to prognosticate on this at the end of this chapter. In fact, I encourage you to do so ;)

A/N2: Recap, since it’s been for-honking-ever since I’ve updated: We’re on Day Three of the story, Day Two of consciousness for Severus. It’s late evening (not quite night) and after Severus has a rather confusing meltdown of memories, assimilating what he can remember of Lily, this trips his trigger on Dumbledore’s end-of-war planning, convincing him Dumbledore set the chess board to murder Severus in the endgame. This prompts another ‘episode’, which breaks the expansion magic of the garden and endangers Hermione. Once Severus wakes up from his episode, finds Hermione, pulls her out from the debris and finds her with a (now unmagicked and apparently useless) folder, his emotions start building again. Remus comes out to check on them, the fire brigade is heard in the distance, Hermione panics and takes Severus back to Hestry’s to find the rest of his medical folder (leaving Remus to deal with whatever happens at GP). Argument ensues, emotions run high, she kisses him to prove he’s not the evil he thinks Dumbledore thinks he is. Severus is surprised, kisses back, but resolves not to pursue her yet. Yay, frustration! And now back to our irregular and unscheduled programming, with a point of view we’ve not seen before. Forgive me that. We needed it:

Chapter 12

The flashing yellow and blue lights blinked in spiraling patterns off the wet brick and asphalt pavements before Grimmauld Place as Tonks peered through the greenery of the Apparation point. With Muggles there, Number Twelve sat neglected and ignored between Number Eleven and Thirteen and it was plain to see the Muggles couldn’t tell where the dust and smoke was coming from. Groups of fire brigade and building inspectors dressed in black protective suits with yellow reflective taping trooped out of Eleven and Thirteen, shaking their heads, calling for an evacuation until the source of the disturbance could be determined (or so she thought she could hear). [1]

A pop went off behind her, barely discernible over the roaring of the diesel engines of the LFB’s gigantic trucks from Kentish Town and Euston. That’ll be someone from the Ministry come to investigate, surely. She turned her head to look but there was another pop off in the distance. She leaned a bit out of her cover and eyed the lane—

“I imagine the show’ll be over soon enough. Savage is working the Mass Obliviate as we speak. Then you can tell me your…secret, and we can take care of this matter inside with a nice cuppa tea. What say you, Tonks?” [2]

Her head whipped around in surprise at the gravelly and familiar voice, “Dawlish! Wotcher!” She beamed at the hardened man smirking at her in the dim light, grabbed him in a quick hug, then backed away with a question, “It’s been ages, how’s Nadine?”

He straightened the sleeves of his trench coat and smiled more deeply, “Oh? She’s fine. She’ll be itching to hear what I came to investigate you for, I’ll tell you that.”

Tonks’ eyes gleamed as she started the verse, “Well, I’ll tell you what I can tell you when I can tell you-”

-I’ll tell you that!”

They said the end of the old interrogation joke to each other in unison and laughed a bit, then turned to face the flurry of fire brigade. [3]

Dawlish spoke first, “So how long have they been here?”

“Don’t know. I’ve only just got back, myself.” She looked back to him to see his hands stuffed into his coat pockets rather sheepishly.

“It’s a bit embarrassing to be beat to an investigation by a mechanized group of Muggles, even if they are London’s Finest.”

She chuckled, “Oh, Dawlish, don’t get your nose bent. They had nosy neighbors give them a heads up. You had to find out through channels and such. You may think I’ve forgotten what it’s like, having to sit on your fingers and wait on bureaucracy, but I’ve not.”

He rocked back on his heels and gave her an eye. “Huh. Yes, well, you know that post is still open, should you want it.”

She sighed and leaned against the iron railing, facing him part-way. “I’m a mother now. I can’t do that to Remus and Teddy.”

An eyebrow dropped on his face in confusion. “I never took you for the conservative set. There are plenty of working mothers out there, now. Just look at my Nadine.”

Tonks twisted her mouth in annoyance. “She’s a doctor at St. Mungo’s.”

He blinked. “Yes.”

“It’s different.”

He blinked again. “How so?”

She looked at him, arms crossed across her chest and thought about her answer before giving it, “You’re not…you’re not like Remus.”

Thanks to rumor and Rita Skeeter, he didn’t have too far to jump to take her meaning. “Ah. Indisposed once a month, is that it?” [4]

She nodded slowly, seriously. “I love them both and they both need me. We have all we need where we’re at, and Mum’s happy for the first time in a long time.” She looked up at Dawlish from the grass at her feet. “It feels worth it.”

He tilted his head. “The sacrifice, you mean?”

She nodded, once, “Yeah.”

“I hope they know that.”

She looked up at a window. He followed suit. It had a light and a man’s silhouette, but Dawlish wouldn’t be able to see that. He’d see the people peering out their window at the fire brigade, all curiosity.

“I think Remus does.” He should, after his own sacrifices were made. It only made sense that he’d make the connection, and Remus had always been a sensitive man. It was one of the most lovely things about him.

She broke her reverie and looked over to her former fellow Auror. “I know Mum does. I fought her the hardest from anybody when I enlisted, so she knows what I gave up.” Of course, Mum would know. She knew all about sacrifices, didn’t she? But…”But Teddy’ll never know.”

He latched onto her gaze rather unerringly in the dim light of the park. “Unless you tell him.”

She narrowed her eyes, shifted her stance and rested her arms on the iron rails in front of her. “Well, what good’ll that do?”

Dawlish sighed, if only a little. “If you keep it bottled up, it’ll become an issue, whether you mean for it to, or not.”

She looked over at him considerately, then nodded. Perhaps he had an experience with that and was trying to save her some trouble. It was a shame she was going to have to turn his kindness on its ear and not be cooperative on his investigation.

He spoke up with a different tone, “Ah, looks like London’s Finest is clearing out. Now how about that tea?”

She smiled and led the way. At least she could repay him with that bit of kindness.

/

Severus shifted away from Hermione, into the shadows and she stood, in a little bit of shock, letting her smile slowly drop from her face. Her shaking hand raised up and wiped away the tears dripping down her cheeks as a shiver wriggled down her spine.

All this time. All this time and he finally kissed her and…and it was more…so much more than what she’d ever expected…

And it wasn’t the right time.

She looked at him as he avoided her gaze, looking for all the world as if he hadn’t been just involved in a passionate embrace. It wasn’t the right time for him. That’s what he’d meant, wasn’t it? That he wanted her, but needed to firm out his place in the world before he could be with her?

Could she just allocate him some indeterminate amount of time, like that?

She sighed disconsolately. Hadn’t she, already?

She took a shuddering breath of cold October air that was quickly smelling of another bout of rain and looked for him in the darkness against the wall. A whispering growl came to her out of the night,

“Come along, we can’t wait out in the open for them to find us.”

She dropped her eyebrows together in confusion as she slipped between the shrubbery hugging the wall. “What do you mean? I didn’t have any problems before.”

His head snapped back around to look down at her first in discernment, then in disbelief. “I take it you just strolled in as you damned well pleased, with no regard for their security system or the Statute of Secrecy?” He huffed out of his large nostrils, “Typical Bloody Gryffindor.”

She frowned at his profile and huffed, “Excuse me. I simply took the most expedient means possible. Why make it harder than it should be?” Looking around to illustrate her point, she continued, “I saw no cameras and all the key locks opened to me just fine.” She muttered as she looked away, “The card-key locks didn’t fare so well, but that’s another story.”

He looked out, over the lawn, out at nothing—rather in a disbelieving attitude—and turned back to her, “No cameras!” He pointed over her shoulder, “Look,” She followed his direction, “There. What do you thinkthat is?”

She narrowed her eyes back at him and snorted in annoyance, then looked more closely to where he pointed, high up on the corner of the building facing away from them. A small, black dome glinted in the moonlight and in its revealed profile, she could just barely make out through the tinted glass…

“No.” A sinking feeling started in the pit of her stomach, “No, when did they get so small?”

A satisfied smirk spread across his face, “Been out of the Muggle loop, for a tic, eh?”

Well, he didn’t have to be so smug about it. “Oh, shut up. I couldn’t possibly have known that was a camera-”

“Which is the point of them looking like that, might I add.”

She threw up a hand in his direction, “Fine. You’re the expert on this place, then. Show me.”

His raised brow was followed by a self-satisfied snort. “I may have forgotten my own gods-forsaken name up ’til a few days ago, but I now remember many skills from my espionage days. Stay close, stay quiet, and for Merlin’s sake, don’t touch anything.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and flipped her right hand up to her forehead in a mock salute. “Aye-aye, Cap’n.”

He sneered back at her, “Tah.” [5]

Now that was just enough of his snarkiness. He didn’t have to act like she was such a nuisance! “Oh, would you just shut it! I was trying to help you.”

His face cleared as he mocked her in return. “Ah, yes, well done. You found out they were intravenously feeding me sugar and salt. Lovely. Very informative.”

“Git,” she growled.

“Tart,” he stated.

Her mouth must have dropped open a full inch. “What!”

He sneered again, tucked his jaw, “Oh, we don’t like name-calling when it’s the other way ’round, do we?” His eyes seemed to darken, if that were at all possible in the night enveloping them. He became serious, swallowed, and narrowed his eyes. “Then I suggest you stop doing it. I will point out my vocabulary is coming back to me. In spades. You’ll find yourself outstripped and open-mouthed in no time.” There was that eyebrow again. God, it was almost like he was back… “What? Oh, you’ve gotten there already? What a shame. Although I daresay I might enjoy the silence.”

And there he went, just when she was nearly happy for him, he pushed the button one more time. “You miserable bastard. I’ll have you know I’ve done nothing but work for your reinstatement for the past two bloody years when no one else has-”

He interjected in a low tone, “Don’t regurgitate that codswallop again. I was right here the whole time, apparently.”

She kept talking right over him, “AND I took over your potions duties for Remus and a surprising number of other charity cases I’d found in your personal effects.” At his surprised expression, she started naming off the potions she’d found in his journals so many months ago. “Boil cure potion, Elixir of Euphoria modification for bringing someone down off addiction to it, Draught of Peace…” She broke off when his head jerked to the side and he smacked the wall with the palm of his hand.
“What. What’s that look for?”

He stared at her, looked out, then back at her again, clenching his jaw. “What’s that look for, she says.” He snorted and took one step towards her. She shifted back a little to compensate. “You just take over my personal effects, my ‘charity cases’, as you call them, claim to try and have me reinstated – which is obviously not working, by the way – and then you don’t even bother to offer my personal effects to ME when I arrive. Shouldn’t a polite person—a decent person—surrender something that personal, over?”

Is that what was making him so shifty? So…jerky? He wanted his things back? “I—I guess-”

He leered, “You guess—

She talked over him again, “I guess it’s been a little hectic, what with you gaining your memory back.” He paced away, back to the brick wall. “It’s only been three days, Severus.” Good Lord, three days of even knowing he was alive! Couldn’t she have a little time to come to terms with that? Not to mention the rapid rate he was recovering from whatever it was they’d subdued him with here. Speaking of which, “How about we focus on the task at hand—trying to get inside—instead of bickering outside like an old married couple.”

He paced back and tossed over his shoulder, “I don’t bicker.”

She folded her hands in front of her, “Sure. And we’re definitely not married.”

He turned towards her with a focused expression, “In your brightest dreams, perhaps.”

“You know nothing of my dreams.” She was very proud of herself for delivering that statement to him, of all people, so calmly.

It must have had its necessary effect, for he stopped his pacing and stared at the door in front of him. His next words were distracted, at best. “Your right, I don’t. I do know they’ve changed the locks on this door, however.”

“What?”

“Did you not come this way earlier this evening?”

Her mind raced to fit the pieces together of what he was asking her, “They haven’t had time, that was less than an hour ago.”

He tossed his head at her in annoyance with a clicking noise of his tongue, “Did you, or did you not, come this way this evening?”

“I-” she looked around to confirm, “Yes, I did.”

He nodded. “Then we have more to worry about than we previously thought.” He backed up, stretched slowly down to a bush and broke off a twig long enough to reach the handle from where he was standing, then angled it over to touch it. Nothing happened, so he dropped the twig and slowly reached out with his hand- [6]

Her eyes widened and she reached out to him, “Wait.”

He sighed and turned to her. “What is it?”

He used to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, not to mention constantly up against the inner circle of Voldemort himself, and he was just going in after a bit of a prod with a stick? “Let me do it. Let me disable it with a charm or something.”

He shook his head. “That is illogical.” When he saw she wasn’t convinced with that stellar argument, he continued, “If this is a trap, and they know we’re here, then you will retain your magic and can get us out of here. If it is not a trap, no harm done. If it is an illusion, I can disable it manually much more easily than you would be able to on a damaged lock disguised as a firm one.” He smirked at his own lovely logic. “Are we clear?”

“Um, I think so.” He’d still not entirely convinced her of anything but his determination to do it his own way.

He stared evenly at her, “May I do this now?”

God, did he always have to be so arrogant? “Yes, sir.”

He flinched. Physically flinched. “Don’t—Don’t do that. Anymore.”

“What.” What had she done?

His lips curled open in front of his teeth to form a word several times in…what? Agitation? Disgust? She couldn’t tell…

“‘Sir‘ me. Just…don’t.”

She blinked with wide eyes. Dear Lord, was he going to be sick? “Right. Fine. ‘Severus’, then.”

He raised both brows, breathed out through his nose in a shaky relief and nodded. Why was he so…erratic? Almost like a radio station jumping around. She watched him closely, but he simply gave her a steady look, then reached out for the handle.

She felt the static energy raise the tiny hairs on her skin and opened her mouth to stop him—

/

Auror Dawlish strolled around the kitchen at Grimmauld Place while his old workmate conjured up the requisite tea. He looked around for clues…anything really. He had no idea what caused the pikey campsite out back, [7] but there was something in the way that these two were smiling too much that bothered him. Reaching over to finger the lace curtain, he started the pleasantries, “So, Remus, how’ve you been?”

He watched their reflections in the window before him. Remus knew this and smiled at him. “Not bad, considering I don’t get out much.” He shifted in his seat as if his hip hurt and accepted a cup from his wife. “Tonks does most of the shopping.”

Dawlish looked over his shoulder, “That sounds a bit stifling.”

Remus gave him a level look over the rim of his cup, “Yes, it can be.”

Silence prevailed as Tonks poured two more cups. He made his way closer to the sink basin and took a peek. Huh. Interesting. Didn’t they have a house elf?[8] One, two, three…six adults? Yes, there was the child’s trainer cup. There was a chance someone had used another cup, but why? Well, he’d get to that soon enough. He turned back to Remus. “So how about you tell me what was going on, since you’ve been here this whole time?”

There went that smiling again. “Ah, well, I was upstairs taking a nap with Teddy.” And that explained where the little one was, now. He looked to Tonks for…yes, another damned smile. Remus continued, “I don’t really know what happened outside. I felt the tremors and heard the noise, next I know the garden’s retracted and full of debris.”

Dawlish nodded. “What about anyone else? Mr. Potter? Mr. Weasley, perhaps? Where are they?”

Tonks finally spoke up and brought him his tea. About damned time. “Harry’s over at Ginny’s place. She’s recently received a promotion in a firm of Wizarding Solicitors and since he’s just now gotten back from his and Ron’s last expedition, they went out to celebrate.”

Interesting and unhelpful. Tonks, you are bloody well getting on my nerves and you know it. “And Mr. Weasley?”

Tonks blinked, smiled, “Oh, well, he was here, and then he left. Quite a bit before this mess, I’m afraid. Before I left, even.”

Dawlish turned his face away and rolled his eyes. After composing his voice, he continued, “Hmm. Anyone else around?”

Remus piped back in, “Well, of course there’s Hermione.”

“Oh, but I think she left with Ron.”

Tonks kicked him under the table when Remus replied, “Ron?”

“Oh, yes, and wasn’t that strange? They’re supposed to be broken up, you know. Molly’s been wondering if they were going to get back together what with Fleur expecting again, George proposing to Angelina and you know they’re talking to Percy now.”

Remus turned his head to the side with a bewildered expression, “Ye-e-s, I knew all that. Molly was just over for dinner three weeks ago.”

Tonks clenched her teeth. She’d never been very good at fast-talking when it wasn’t her own arse she was covering. “So. It’s interesting that Hermione left. With Ron.”

Remus looked from Tonks to Dawlish. “Yes, indeed it is.”

He nearly rolled his eyes at that. Husband and wife are not agreeing on something, here. “Ahem.” Time to use what little bit of surveillance he’d been able to employ. He pointed to the sink basin, “And who’s the sixth adult?”

“Eh?” Tonks walked up to the sink to see what he meant. “Oh, aren’t these cups just darling? Hermione was showing off again. She made a pair of cups out of leaves, look Remus.” She picked up the transfigured cups and held them up to her husband.

He quickly cottoned on and smiled. “She’s always playing around with Transfiguration Spells and what-not. You remember what she’s like.” [9]

Dawlish didn’t smile. “No. Can’t say that I do, really.” He took the cups from Tonks, placed them in the basin with the others and cast a silent spell with a twirl of his wand. A different color danced slightly over each rim where different saliva had been and Tonks sighed.

“I’d forgotten about that one.”

“Mmm. Apparently. So, who’s the sixth adult?”

As Remus opened his mouth, the growling voice of Head Auror Robards echoed out of a silvery lion Patronus flying into the room at lightning speed. [10] “Dawlish, Make haste to the standard Apparation point behind the Broken Oar in Bath, then forward to Tinnet Hall. You’ll know it for the chaos and smoke. Detain all magical beings you find there and await orders, there’s been a major breach in Secrecy. This is an All-Auror-Alert. Make Haste!”

/

Hermione woke in spurts, much like she had after Severus’ last attack…Oh. Oh, no. Not again. She moaned a bit and opened her eyes to peek at her surroundings but was surprised to find herself at wand point. She inhaled and focused past the tip of wood, over the arm, to a woman with an eye patch standing over her with a grim expression.

“Hold still, Miss Granger. I don’t know what kind of mess yer into here, but ye’v got a knock on yer noggin the size of a goose egg. I’d rather ye not move too much.”

Instead of what should have been a comforting speech, Hermione felt like she was majorly inconveniencing this person by being a possibly injured charge. She slowly raised her hand to her forehead to finger the bump and pain rolled through her skull, pulling nausea up from her stomach. No, don’t do it! Don’t retch, please don’t retch! She breathed slowly and deeply through her nose and mouth in a soothing pattern with her eyes closed.

A noise, someone moving up to talk to the woman standing over her, made her wonder what happened to Severus. She slowly opened her eyes and peered around the haze of rubble that dozens of people milled about.

There was Proudfoot, Savage, Dawlish, Williamson…all of them she remembered from the War…

She blinked and looked around as much as her aching eyes would let her as she concentrated on breathing and calming the nausea fighting to climb her esophagus. There were so many others, new Aurors, some of them from her year. They rambled about, but there seemed to be a purpose to one particular group. Some kind of commotion had quite a few hanging about close to the door where…

She swallowed thickly and croaked out, “Oh, Good God, what happened?”

Her eyes widened as she took in the remnants of the corner of the building. It looked as if Grawp had one of his tantrums and broken the side down. The entire back wall was…just…off.

And the door where she and Severus had just been?

Completely melted. She whimpered, “Where is he?”

The one-eyed Auror never wavered her wand. “He, Miss Granger?”

Hermione’s eyes snapped to the Auror above her, not too keen on the pain that caused. “You must know who I mean if you say it like that.” She took a deep breath and swallowed the gathering saliva in her mouth. “Why else is everybody over there?” She pointed weakly at the gathering, just to be clear.

The Auror frowned, nearly growled, “You mean, other than someone,” clearly and acidly meaning Hermione, “breaking almost every law set forth pertaining to humans under the Statute of Secrecy protecting the Wizarding population since 1629?”

“1692.” Oh crap. She really should try and help it when she corrected people. It had hired her very few friends over the years.

Excuse me?” And Eyepatch-Auror McGee wasn’t acting like she was applying for the job. [11]

Well, better to press on and prove herself than back down, now. She inhaled and sat up a little, but not before Old Eyepatch shifted and thrust her wand to make a point. Hermione made a cold face and continued, “The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy was written and ratified in 1692, not 1629, though I can understand the transposition of numbers.”

The woman sneered, “What does it matter what year it was?”

“Well it does matter, apparently, since you so kindly brought it to my attention in your own statement.” Honestly! She could at least get her facts straight if she was going to be a bully about it.

The Auror shifted her stance again and scrubbed a hand over the top of her braid. “Bloody ‘Ell, now I can understand why the Death Eaters had a bounty on yer head in the old days.”

“What?” Now that was unnecessary-

Eyepatch cut her off with a jut of her wand, “Nevermind. Ye have a lot of explaining to do, young lady, beginning with that man over there who looks an awful lot like someone who’s supposed to be dead-”

Hermione rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue, “You can say his name, he’s not Volde-”

“AND ending with how in blue blazes ye blew up this building, and why.” [12] They stared at each other after vying for dominance in who could finish their sentence first. Eyepatch continued with a flourish of her free hand, a hiss, and a scathing look, “There are Muggles right through those trees, Miss Granger. Someone smart as ye are should know how to cover her own arse.”

Just because she was right didn’t mean Hermione had to agree with her. She grumbled just loud enough to be heard, “Well, you haven’t caught me till now, have you?”

The Auror’s visible eye narrowed and her voice dropped in pitch, thickening with a Yorkshire accent, “Careful, little girl, yer talking to an Auror with access to a pensieve and I’m not afraid to use it in trial.”

They stared at each other, again, waiting for the next move in their little growling match. Hermione tactfully withdrew. “Well, then I think we’re at an impasse on explanations until I speak with my solicitor.”

Eyepatch straightened up and snorted. “Fine by me.” She nodded her head to the clearing group of people that revealed Severus on a stretcher trailed by a man in bright green robes heading towards them. Hermione swallowed again. “But that one comes with us.”

The man in bright green robes walked straight over to Eyepatch with Severus in tow. “No, he comes with me.”

Hermione was about to get up and check on him when the Auror stepped between her and the mediwizard, pushing her back down to the ground with a grunt. “Excuse me! I’m over this crime scene!”

The wizard raised a bored eyebrow and held a quill and scroll out, patiently explaining a statement Hermione felt was rote for him by now, “Except where there is medical attention necessary and this person, regardless of who he may or may not be, is in serious need of mediwizardry. Sign here, please.”

She peeked around the both of them and saw Severus’ hand on the levitated gurney. It was unmoving and a little dirty, but otherwise, fine. She tried to move around to get a better look, but Eyepatch saw her shift and nearly stomped her hand to get in her way, then snarled at the mediwizard in denial, “I will not. That’s Severus Snape ye have there.”

Hermione huffed in irritation, both at the situation and the Auror’s ridiculous attempts to keep her from Severus, “See? That wasn’t so hard to say, was it?”

Eyepatch’s braid nearly snapped around, the Auror turned her head so sharp to bite off a retort to Hermione, “Shut yer trap, little girl, I’m not done with ye.”

She sat back and rested a hand on the ground to her side, cocking a feeble grin at the older woman. “Oh, you are. You’ve got nothing on me. For all you know, I’m an innocent bystander.”

She got another growl in response. “Innocent my arse. Ye just happened to be on Muggle private property-”

“Davies! Quit your yapping and get over here!”

Eyepatch’s whole body stiffened at the authoritative voice yelling her apparent name. Hermione poked her head around—well, Davies—to see who it was and saw Gawain Robards, one of the Aurors seen visiting the school often in her later years at Hogwarts who just happened to also be the department head, standing and fuming several meters away. While it was nice to see someone angry at Davies, she also hoped it boded well for her and Severus.

Davies must have thought it would. Either that or she was simply prejudiced against Hermione, for she glared down at her as if she’d conjured him, herself. “Fine,” she growled, and did a quick nod to Robards before grabbing the scroll from the mediwizard and scratching into it with the quill.

He vanished the quill, rolled up the parchment and tucked it into his robes. “Lovely doing business with you. We should do it again sometime after the official Centaur Office opening. Ta-ta.” [13]

Since there was still such a high disdain for Centaurs within the Ministry, Hermione took that as a very subtle way of saying ‘never’. She hid a snort behind her hand but grew serious as the wizard directed Severus’ gurney to a clear spot and activated a portkey. With a pull and a pop, they were gone, and all she’d seen of Severus was his hand.

Obviously the St. Mungo’s medic wasn’t in too terrible a rush, so he must be fine. They’d said nothing of him being—she shuddered—worse than treatable, so by deduction, he must be fine.

He must be.

“Right.”

What? Hermione looked up to Davies who was now towering over her with a nasty smirk.

“I told you I’m not done with you yet, and I meant it.”

Before she could ask or retort anything, Hermione was hit was a Petrificus Totalus faster than she could open her mouth. Which, she had to admit even to herself, was rather fast. She was caught off balance, teetered a bit, and fell on her side.

Ungh, that was going to hurt. At least she could still see the majority of what was going on from her vantage point. Hermione felt her eyes start to dry up from not being able to blink. Fantastic.

With another sneer and the flip of her cloak, Eyepatch Davies stalked over to the reforming group of Aurors. Even with her ear drums frozen, she could make out the strongest parts of speech.

That, combined with body language and the fact that several Aurors were arguing over insensate patients from Hestry’s hospital…where was Hestry, anyway?

“-magical signatures-”

“-unregistered-”

“-Muggle-”

“-Who are these people?”

Uh-oh. This aught to be good. One of the Aurors had found Hestry and was frog-marching him up to the rest of the group. What kind of crap would he feed them and would they eat it?

Robards was the first to address them. “Dawlish, what have you got there?”

Ooh, goody, they were stepping away from the crowd and a bit closer to Hermione. Her head had started pounding again from straining to listen.

Auror Dawlish shoved Hestry forward none-too-gently. “Found this one sneaking off the grounds with a rather big cap case. I checked inside and it’s full of pound notes.” He presented this bit of evidence to his department head with one hand, then looked at his captive, “Now why would a Muggle proprietor be doing that when he should be all indignant that his property was just blown apart? Eh?”

Something about the way he said ‘Muggle’ clued Hermione in that he knew Hestry wasn’t, but why didn’t he just out and say it?

“Good question.” They both turned to look at Hestry, who raised his chin in defiance.

“I will answer nothing until I can speak with my solicitor.”

“Uh-huh.” Robards cleared his throat and continued in a curious voice, “In accordance with the International Statute of Secrecy, I am hereby requesting you state your status as a magical being, as you have been found a magical being and unregistered within our wands as an active member of the British Wizarding Community.” [14]

This amazing statement was met with a floundering mouth and bluster. “You’re all barmy! I ran this hospital for your kind.” His face contorted in disgust, “Magic. Wizards!” Hermione was shocked when Hestry actually spat at Robards’ feet. “You’re all sick, including that girl over there.” They all turned to look at her, now.

Fantastic. They would probably move the questioning elsewhere, since they knew she was here.

Oddly enough, Robards simply shook his head. “You leave me no choice but to cast an involuntary scan upon your person to determine your magical being status. Hold still, please.”

When Hestry did not, Dawlish twisted his arm behind his back. That held him. Robards ran the spell and smirked, “See, Squib? That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Hestry looked mutinous. Robards glanced around the small group of them from Dawlish to Hermione, and back to their captive. “Well, this just gets more interesting by the minute. We have a long dead man come back alive, a goody-two-shoes war heroine caught at the scene of some possible major law breaking, and a Squib heading up a Muggle nut house full of unregistered Magical folk what can’t speak for themselves. What d’you have to say for yourself, Mister-uh…?”

He took a fraction of a second too long answering to be completely convincing. “Hestry. Stanley Hestry.” Where was the suave and sticky swindler from three days ago?

Dawlish and Robards exchanged a look over Hestry’s shoulder that said they’d be checking on that. “Right.”

Robards continued. “Mister Hestry, then. What d’you say about all that?”

Poor Stan. He really was backed into a corner, wasn’t he? It was starting to sink in to Hermione that these Aurors knew a bit about what he’d been up to here, or were quickly putting two and two together. If she were not petrified, she’d have been smiling.

As if he could hear the tenor of her thoughts, Hestry locked eyes with her. In a poor attempt to redirect, he tried, unsuccessfully due to Dawlish, to point at her and railed, “She stole that man you speak of out of my care two days ago and probably didn’t know what to do with him.” His affront was Umbridge-worthy, really, and these men weren’t buying it. “I caught her trying to bring him back.”

That one almost had Robards laughing. “Oh. Oh, well, then that settles the ambush you’d set on the back door, then, doesn’t it?”

Hestry must have noted the dangerous amusement in Robards’ tone. “Um—Pardon?” [15]

Dawlish took his turn and leaned in over the arm he’d bent behind his captive, speaking quietly, “You had a magical trap set on the entry they’d used and that’s what’s caused this ruckus, in so far as we can gather. Why do that?”

“I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Oh, now he was denying it? Lovely. The Aurors must have been thinking the same thing.

“I’m sure,” drawled the holding Auror.

Robards nodded to him, “Dawlish, take him in.”

Hestry started his affronted act again. “You can’t do that! I’m an upstanding British citizen! I have rights! I know the law, and you can’t do this!” [16]

Apparently Robards had had enough and stood a little straighter. The set of his jaw alone would have made Hermione question talking back to him, but then the Head Auror employed an icy tone that froze even her petrified ear drums. “That’s where you’re wrong, Mr. Hestry. You fall under Wizarding Law, now. We can do as we damned well please with you until we know who caused this mess.”

“That’s unfair! It was her! I had nothing to do with this, I wasn’t even near—”

Dawlish must have Silencio’d him.

Robards smiled, “Ah, now that’s better.”

He looked from Hestry to Hermione, over to the debris and back, then nodded to Dawlish. “Take him in,” he cocked his head to the side, “Put him in Holding Cell Eight, I think.” He looked around again at the area, at the melted and mangled door, back to Hermione, then to Hestry. “That’ll be close enough to things to keep him occupied.” An eyebrow and a smirk passed between the two Aurors and Dawlish popped away.

The last Hermione saw of Hestry was a mask of fury, indignation and fear. Served him right, the bastard. Several more pops went off as medical staff took new patients via portkey to St. Mungo’s. She wanted to sigh in relief, knowing they’d all be taken care of properly, now.

Her attention was redirected as Robards knelt down, waved off the body-bind and offered her what looked like a pain reliever.

She thanked him when he helped her sit up properly, but warily accepted the pain reliever. “This doesn’t have anything else in it, does it?”

He smiled. Laughed a little. “You mean, you wouldn’t be able to tell?”

She took a deep breath. God, she ached in places people shouldn’t. It really didn’t matter at this point if there was anything else in the potion, as long as it stopped the pain. She shrugged and downed the bottle’s single dose.

She shuddered as it took effect, working from her stomach, outward, in very little time. As soon as her breathing leveled out, she looked up to the Auror and smiled weakly.

He smiled back and offered her a hand up.

She took it and when she was steady on her feet, she asked, “What was that bit about keeping Hestry ‘occupied’?”

He smiled again. “Oh, no need to worry about that.” Lovely. Why did she feel like she was just pat on the head? “Now. You’ll be summoned for questioning on this little incident in a few days, so don’t go haring off anywhere, all right?”

She raised an eyebrow, perplexed, “You’re not going to take me in to Holding Cell Number Nine?”

He grinned. “Hardly. I remember you from being stationed at Hogwarts in your sixth year. I don’t think you’ll be breaking any more laws today, or tomorrow for that matter.”

She sat her hands on her hips, remembering his goody-two-shoes comment, and huffed, “Did you all think I was a stuck up so-and-so?”

Robards’ face twisted in amusement for a bit, “Hmm. Well, I will say we had bets on how much of a leash you had the boys on. We were surprised when you all did a runner after the attack on the wedding.”

There was a perfectly legitimate reason for that! “Well we—”

He laughed and talked right over her, “And then infiltrating the Ministry? Talk about giving Scrimgeour apoplexy!”

“Yes, um, about that-”

He crossed his arms and cocked his head, considering her, “Perhaps I should warm up that cell after all.”

Panicking, she sought to give him some kind of assurance to let her go home, “No, no, I’ll not be going anywhere other than home tonight, I promise.”

A slight glimmer of light passed out of the corner of her eyes and he smirked, “You won’t, now.”

Realizing she’d just been tricked into some form of Wizarding Oath—how was that binding without consent or a wand? Well, there’d been the flash of light, regardless—she narrowed her eyes at Robards, “Oh, that’s just sneaky.”

He chuckled, “I’m not an Auror for nothing, you know.”

She grumbled in assent, “Apparently.”

Someone called to him from another grouping. He waved to them, but smiled back at her, “Off you go, then. I’ve got loads of paperwork to go before this night is through.”

She smiled at his long-suffering tone and looked the building over again. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”

He looked from her, to the building and back, “Somehow I don’t think you are. Not really.”

She shook her head sheepishly and watched him lope over to the waiting group of Aurors. It would be a long night for him, and she got to go home. She took a final look at them all and couldn’t help but think that there was something she didn’t catch about what went on tonight, but really, all that mattered was getting home and trying to get in to see Severus tomorrow. Closing her tired eyes in concentration, she pictured the park across from Grimmauld Place and soon made her way into the vestibule of her friend’s house.

The night was not to be over for her, yet. Tonks attacked her in the hallway with questions, “Hermione! What’s happened to your head? What are you doing here? Where’s Sev? What’s going on? The Wireless is going crazy with rumors of him being alive and at St Mungo’s!”

Remus pulled her back into the kitchen, “Easy, Dora, let the girl get an answer in edgewise.”

Hermione smiled at him as they made out to sit at the long trestle table. Lord, she was so tired. She blinked and a cup of tea was shoved under her face and a cold compress into her hand.

“Um, right.” Wake up, Hermione. They need to know, too. “Severus is at St Mungos.” She took a sip and gingerly placed the compress on her forehead. “Hestry somehow ambushed the door we were using and as far as I can figure it had some kind of energy reaction with one of his episodes or his magic or something. It blew the back of the building off.”

They both yelled in unison, “What!”

Hermione winced at the collective noise and held up a placating hand, “He’s fine, I think. St Mungo’s took him over from Davies who wanted to take him in for questioning. Oh, and I think I’m under accusation of breaking the International Statute of Secrecy. And Davies doesn’t like me very much.”

She barely heard Tonks reply, “She doesn’t like many people,” as she dropped her head into the hand with the compress, leaning her elbow on the table. Her mother would have killed her. No elbows on the table.

Bugger the table-elbows rule, she was tired. God, focus, Hermione.

“Still, Robards called her away and she put a body bind curse on me. That’s when they took Severus away and they found the other inmates. Dawlish found Hestry and Robards questioned him. They didn’t find out much more than we already know, like that he’s a Squib. Apparently that changed the tenure of the entire investigation and they accused him of holding unregistered magical people against their will.”

Tonks sucked in a breath, “Shite, he won’t live that one down.”

Hermione semi-glared for the interruption, “Yes, well, he accused me of stealing Severus and then trying to take him back, like a manky ole’ pair of shoes that didn’t fit. I don’t think they put much belief in that one, either, but we’ll see.”

Tonks smiled, “Ha! They won’t. Robards is smarter than that.”

Hermione made a face, wondering just how much smarter Robards was.

And of course, Tonks picked up on it, “What. What is it?”

She took a slow breath, “There were quite a few undercurrents I couldn’t read between the Aurors. I felt like I was in over my head and, well, I’m afraid of…” Of what, really? Not of how smart they were, that was silly. She looked at Tonks and Remus and realized for the first time since getting home that Remus was holding Teddy. She blinked. This…this was going to affect them, of course. Tonight was going to affect all of them. Severus, Hestry, her own actions…and that was it, wasn’t it? “I’m afraid of how big this will get.”

Before she could break into tears, she clambered off the seat and shoved to the window, overlooking the ruined garden and reflecting into the room. It was weird to see both at once, so she focused on the two people behind her. How could she have been so careless? All of this could be laid at her door. From the moment she’d found out about Severus’ location, she’d just run headlong into saving him without a care for anyone else and—and now?

Tonks stood up and spoke quietly to Remus, “I’m going to floo Harry and Ginny.”

He stroked his son’s back and looked up to his wife, “They probably already know.”

“Most likely. But I still think we should talk to Ginny.” She looked over to Hermione.

Remus followed suit. “Ah. Right. It helps to have a…” He looked back to Tonks, “What is she, now, anyway?”

“Trainee under Barrister Mallowfoot.”

“That soft old thing?”

“Yes, well, she’s not soft.”

Remus nodded. “You’ve got a point. Go on then.”

Hermione watched the reflection of them kissing gently before Tonks left the room. It was such a sweetly domestic scene and she’d just endangered that. She couldn’t hold back a wibbling sound from between her tightened lips.

“Hermione?”

She couldn’t talk right now! It wouldn’t be fair to cry at him when it was her fault she’d lost Severus to St. Mungo’s, her fault Remus had had to deal with—with—whatever earlier tonight, her fault that…Oh, God, too many things!

“Are you all right?”

No! She shook her head slightly to the left and tried to hold it all in.

“I think you’ve had a bit of a day. Perhaps you ought to go lie down.”

She made a choking noise to hold back a sob of agreement, sort of a laugh of helplessness. He was being so kind, when it felt like so much was about to be thrown at them. All because of her selfishness.

She was horrid. Simply horrid! She turned, eyes full and spilling over with tears, “I’m sorry. I’m—I’m just so sorry.”

Remus reached out to her with his free hand, but seeing him hold Teddy so sweetly was more than her guilt could take, “Hermione—”

She ran upstairs as quietly as she could and closed the door, sealing it from entry for the night. Tears would be enough companion for one so miserable as herself. [17]

End Chapter

A/N: All footnotes are posted below since linking to the forum was just a pain in the ass. I also load up the story to: denagray (dot) WordPress (dot) com

Please review (concrits welcome) and thank you ever so loving much for your continued encouragement!

Notes begin here:

[1] The London Fire Brigade was so much fun to look up. Their website had borough maps and everything, including where the busiest parts of town were. I’ve chosen GP to be in a rather busy part of town (all according to references given by JKR, so keep your shirt on) as far as fires go, so there are over five borough response teams close enough to answer something as big as a possible building instability or implosion. Euston is closest, followed by Kentish Town, Soho, and Belsize. Islington would actually be as close as Euston, but you’d have to go the next borough over and I wasn’t sure if they were like the American system where you stayed in your service area first, then went out of it only if you needed to. Youtube was wonderful for looking up and making sure what everyone’s outfits and trucks look like. I looked up Euston truck A236. Not much different from American by appearance…Ah, and it was a conscious decision not to include the CBRN (Chemical Biological Radioactive And Nuclear, kind of like the American HazMat). Too much to explain. I used to hang out with a few firemen and wanted to get into all this lovely detail but…no.

[2] The Fidelius Charm. Forgive me if I’ve misspelled it in past chapters. I’ll go back and check on this soon. Here, for my purposes, I’m assuming the OOTP is no longer a functioning entity and since in my story this is a receiving point and recovery house for those MIA from VWI & II, there are a rather many people who know it’s whereabouts. BUT since Dumbledore was the secret keeper, and he’s rather dead, the charm cannot technically be ended. Not to mention all those pesky neighborhood Muggles that would be all like “OMG! There’s a No. 12!” This is why it’s not a big deal for Dawlish to know the secret. I know there will be some that disagree.

[3] This joke means nothing, it’s merely a plot device to establish familiarity. Sorry.

[4] With werewolf prejudice as it is, I imagine the Ministry would give her a hard time, asking for a week off once a month, every month. Not to mention the general harassment. I think she could handle the general harassment, but the guilt over taking a week off every month and shirking her work load would eat at her. Thus the staying at home.

[5] This is obviously something the old Severus would never have said. I say “old” Severus because we are all made of impressions of people around us as we develop. He has recently been affected by his talk with Ron and is thinking about this (the trunk of his things Minerva gave to Hermione, his death announcement, Ron and Hermione not being an item) so I’m thinking this is just the kind of thing that might slip out. I also believe Hermione’s reaction is knee-jerk (as it would have been if Ron had said that to her). Both are strung out on emotions and very little sleep, right now, so yeah, OOC’ness.

[6] There are surprisingly few words that will substitute for the word “reach”. This paragraph was murder for me without sounding like “Sit, Spot, Sit.” :P “Reach, Severus, Reach.” I ended up using “stretch” and “angle” in place of two of them and just left the other two. Blek. D:

[7] Pikeys (for those not in the know) are something like gypsies and are generally low-thought-of. It is a term loosely used, so I’m told, nowadays and I’m using it here to illustrate Dawlish’s thought that something fishy and not quite trustworthy is going on at the moment. I’m also giving a slight nod to one of my favorite movies, Snatch.

[8] Yes, they do! And Hermione being part of the household, I imagine he has his nights off every once in a while. ;) And, of course, there’s the possibility that poor old Kreacher is scared of the big explosion that just happened and is hiding in his cupboard, leaving the work for later. Two possibilities for one! Amazing!

[9] Remus is referring to the Aurors being stationed at Hogwarts in 1996 and sporadically onwards, as well as numerous other occasions, I’m sure ;) Oh, and there is no date given for George and Angelina becoming married, so why not ‘now’?

[10] According to HP lexicon, Robards was made Head Auror in 1996 when Scrimgeour moved up to Minister (Kingsley becoming Minister in 1998). The current and traditional family crest for the common Robards name is a Lion Rampant, therefore my quick and easy choice for a Patronus. I know, I know, lexicon also states Harry went into the Aurory in 1998, but work with me here ;) And just for reminders, we’re in October of 2000 for this story.

[11] Eyepatch Auror McGee (aka Auror Davies, aka female Auror with eyepatch) is never named in HP canon and is referred to very little (once according to HP lexicon, but I remembered more and didn’t want to take the time to double check). I made up the rest. Hermione is just naming her to call her something in her head, here (E.A. McGee) but in the story, I’m calling her Davies. Make of it what you will and forgive me if it’s too strange. I think of Davies as having too much testosterone poisoning in an office full of boys.

[12] You know, there is very little explained on the origins of the phrase ‘blue blazes’ online, but I feel comfortable enough adding it here since there are some lovely old stories of magic treasure being buried in the cracks of hell, protected by blue flames all over Europe (and America, but not many people talk about those as magical). Look up The Living Fires in Lopatari, Buzau County, Romania. They can get up to 20cm high. Yet another nod to a favorite movie: Dracula. Mina calls the blue flames to open the gates for Dracula in the movie (those who read the book are shaking their heads, ‘No, Jonathan saw them in the forest on the carriage ride’)

[13] This is also a way of implying he’d like for her to lose her job, since shuffling someone to the Centaur’s Office is defined as a euphemism for a pink slip on HP lexicon. Or that they’re about to lose their job. And you’re probably getting annoyed by my indulgence with Tah’s and Ta-Ta. Sorry about that, but I just love how snarky and devious they are. I shall refrain from further use, I promise. Although I fully support ‘Save the Ta-Ta’s’.

[14] I’m implying that Aurors have a record of registered Magical Beings in their wands, sort of like the American NICS system. They can cast a spell and it answers one of three ways: Muggle, Magical and Registered, Magical and Unregistered. Hestry’s sneaking away from the scene of a crime and is found Unregistered. Oops. Ah, and in my little world, Squibs don’t have to be Registered with the Ministry. The parents have the option to have them raised as Muggles, but they cannot have criminal contact with the Magical world or they are subject to its rules (as shown here).

[15] Kind of in a “Bad Cap/Bad Cop” scenario, Robards just “accused” Hestry of setting the trap. Hestry didn’t immediately deny this, but his reaction let Dawlish pounce right in with the follow up “accusation” (re: declarative statement). Hestry isn’t exactly coming up with excuses or trying to blame someone else, here. My take on Hestry is that he’s surprised, shocked, backed into a corner and has had such a lifelong disdain for the Magical community that he’s not been able to participate in (being born a Squib) that he’s got the brain of a rabbit at the moment. Fight or flight. He was caught in flight, and can’t fight, so he’s pretty much stuck. Best keep to the evasive sentences as much as possible, right? Don’t worry, we’re not done with him, yet.

[16] A thousand points to the house of your choosing if you can get the Shirley Temple movie reference here!

[17] And there you have it, chapter 12. What do you think? I know, I know, WAY too many footnotes, but at least I don’t put them in the context of the story (like some trolls), n’est-ce pas? Please do give me feedback on where you think everything’s going now! Quite a bit of it is obvious now and there is a rather large lot that is yet to be revealed. All in good time, my loves, but I always love to hear opinions! Thank you to everyone who has been with me this trip so far (especially those that have stayed during this last long break) and Major Kudos to those who make it through my footnotes.

Music? I did have a few new pieces that I used this time ’round, but if you want the list please PM me. I won’t take up more room, here. Thank you!

SUPER BIG LOVIN’S TO YIGGERSENTIA: BETALICIOUS EXTRAORDINAIRE! All mistakes are mine :) And of course: I own nothing here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: