Disclaimer: You can tell I'm not JKR because I wouldn't have backtracked on what I wrote as canon. For that matter, I'd have put just a little more thought into the world building and relationship building, and not have needed to backtrack.

The Calling

The director of the DMLE nodded as his "special consultant" entered and sat down. Both wizards raised privacy wards before either spoke.

"Thank you for coming so promptly. As you've probably guessed, I have another job for you. You'll like this one. It's Nott. Not your classmate. It's Roland, his uncle. The head of the family finally managed to convince" – bribe – "enough of the Wizengamot to let him out of Azkaban because his family needs him."

"Really? 'His family needs him'? That has to be the most pathetic reason yet."

"You know it. Here's the packet with everything we know: photos of the perp, wards, people expected to be in the house, the works."

"Collateral damage? Do we care?"

"The family has four children too young for Hogwarts. Any of them might be at the house. Try not to kill them. Your old classmate Theodore may be there. Seventy-thirty chance he'll be home during the morning hours, before dawn. He's part of why I said you'd like this one. We've never been able to convict him, but we know he's dirty. Besides Roland, I don't want Ted to live out the week if you have the chance."

"Got it."

"If you let me know a day in advance when you're moving, I'll do what I can to tie up the aurors. Give you as much time as I can."

"OK, good."

"Just make sure you don't get caught, same as always. There's only so much I can do to cover for you, and being caught with a corpse in the corpse's house will be too much."

"Of course. I know you can't admit you know anything about what I'll be doing."

"The Notts are likely to have a fair amount of gold in the house because of young Teddy's night job. That's the other reason you'll like this job. You'll finally get more than pocket change."

In theory a target's house could be looted, but the magical world was small enough that it was impossible to sell stolen objects for more than knuts on the galleon.

"Good to hear. My wife has been on my case again because I'm not bringing in much money, hardly anything considering how much I'm away from home."

"I know what you mean. I wish we didn't need to do things this way, but there is only so much I can officially ask aurors to do and there's too many people looking at the department's budget for me to pay for special jobs."

"It's OK. If I had to, I'd do the job even if I couldn't get any loot. This is what I was born to do."


Hermione Weasley and Ginny Potter met for lunch at Ginny's house. It would have been nice to go out and eat a meal that one of them didn't have to cook, but between tight budgets and small children, that wasn't a real option.

"I just don't know, Hermione. I don't know how much more I can take it. Harry's away working so much, it seems he's never home."

"He's obviously not never home," her friend snarked, gesturing toward Ginny's swollen belly. "He must be home at least five minutes every year or so."

"You think you're so funny. But you're almost right. I'd be a lot more upset about my pathetic sex life if I weren't so tired from chasing after three little monsters while pushing this belly. I swear, I should have seen the warning from all of Harry's adventures at school and married someone nice and boring."

"Don't say that," Hermione advised wisely. "Next thing you know, you'll be regretting marrying him, then you'll be crabbing at him all the time, then he'll find excuses to stay away even more. And besides, a few months ago weren't you telling me that Harry had gotten surprisingly law-abiding once he became an auror?"

"Well, yes, but it's still true. His children are going to be worse than he ever was."

"I sympathize, I really do, but part of me wishes I had your problems. I can't afford to take time off from my job, which means I can't let myself get pregnant."

"Ron still isn't getting paid?"

"Oh, he is, but not much. Certainly not enough to compensate for the number of hours he works and not nearly enough to support a family."

"Keep your chin up, Hermione. He's just an assistant coach now, but he'll get promoted someday. Even with the Cannons, he should be able to support you in a few years. Maybe sooner. If they promote based on team loyalty, he might be head coach next year."

The conversation moved on, shifting mainly to "Stop that! Put that down! Get that away from your sister!" as Ginny's children got bored with being good. Eventually Hermione went home to her (and Ron's) lonely apartment, leaving Ginny to put her small children down for the night and then go to her (and Harry's) lonely bed.


The ward map of the Nott's family home was incomplete, but good enough. Knowing the professionally-placed old wards, any half-capable burglar could have made his way through the new wards.

A capable assassin, one with special training in ward breaking, had no difficulty. It took twelve hours to ooze through without a trace, but he entered the house and disabled every human and house-elf before they knew he was there. The children and the wives and the sisters and the granny and the house-elf were bound and left in the large dining room with assurances that they would not be harmed.

Ted and his uncle Roland were brought to a different room. They were bound just like the others, but had not received any assurances of safety.

When the invader removed his mask for easier speech and Ted finally saw his face, he was shocked. "You! What do you think you're doing?"

"I'm getting ready to kill you. What do you think I'm doing?"

"You can't do this! You were a Gryffindor!"

"Yah, about that. Hogwarts was better training than we ever thought. Not the junk we learned in classes – I don't know about you, but I've never had to transfigure a caribou into a chamberpot, not even once – but the lessons the professors taught about how the rules don't matter, it's all about what the people in charge want. And how you can be a bully and not be punished if you have someone powerful protecting you. And the lessons about how some people are just scum and don't deserve to live. And how if something needs to be done, you have to do it yourself. Important lessons, and they led you to dealing in stolen items and your uncle to kissing your precious little half-blood Dark Lord's feet.

"But that's enough chit-chat. Now, Mr Nott, Mr Nott, it's time to talk about how the rest of the night is going to go."

"I was expecting this," Ted spat. "Here's where you say you'll let us go if we tell you where our gold is, right? I know how this is played: I tell you, then you kill us anyway."

"Oh, no. I'd never make a promise I don't plan to keep. No, what going to happen is, you're going to die. But there's dying hard and there's dying easy. My client isn't able to pay me. I get paid by my targets. I'm sure you can guess how it works. If you turn over enough of the Nott family wealth you can die easy. If you don't, you don't."

"You go to hell!" Roland said angrily. "I've taken the crucio from the Dark Lord himself. You can't match that."

"I almost hoped you'd say that. I'm sure my wife would like the money more, but the last three targets all just gave up without a struggle and I was worrying that I was getting rusty."

It was the work of a moment to get Roland Nott's mouth facing upward and magically propped wide open.

"Did you know that muggles have special healers that work only on teeth? Their techniques are very, very painful. I practiced until I could do the same thing with magic."

After a few tightly focused piercing charms and vibrating charms, Roland Nott was given the opportunity to reconsider his earlier refusal. As soon as his jaw was released and the silencing charm was lifted – it had been placed for the benefit of the children in the next room; it was one thing for them to know their relatives had been assassinated, but another for them to have to listen to it – Roland spoke around the residual pain to tell where to find the key to his personal vault. "Three thousand galleons! Take it, take it all! No more teeth!"

Three thousand was easily enough to buy Roland Nott a painless death.

Ted folded even easier. He seemed to be the kind of bully who was brave and tough so long as everything went his way but who was a coward at the core when things turned around.

The cash he kept in the house was enough.

On the way out, the assassin lightly stunned one of the women and then dispelled the ropes holding her. She'd be able to free the rest once she woke up. He'd just as soon let the adults in the Nott family starve to death, but he'd always had a soft spot for children.


Hermione was waiting for Ron when he came home.

"Hi, Sweetheart?" he said tentatively. The scowl and crossed arms didn't look good.

"Don't you 'Sweetheart' me, Ronald Bilius Weasley! Did you think, did you really think that you could keep it a secret from me forever?"

"Uh…" Ron thought rapidly.

"I got a floo call from the Cannons' coach this evening. He says you can go in next week to try out as an assistant coach."

"Uh, that's good…"

"No, it's not! If you're trying out for a coaching job, then you obviously have not been working as a coach for the past four years. What have you been doing, Ronald Weasley? I've been working sixty-hour weeks, keeping a roof over our heads and feeding your bottomless stomach. So far as I can tell, you've been playing around since you dropped out of auror training."

"No, Hermione, you've got it all wrong. I've been working, just not a regular job. I knew you'd worry, so I didn't want to tell you. Look, I got paid tonight. Look, enough to pay the rent for almost a year." Ron held out the bag with the fifteen hundred galleons that Ted Nott had had in the house.

"Oh, like I believe that you earned that much. You don't have the skills to earn that much in less than a year. Did Harry give it to you? Has Harry been supporting you all this time?"

Ron winced at the accusation. He knew that Hermione would never believe that he had been giving Harry money to help pay off the fine the goblins had levied against him. It was only fair, because all three had been involved in causing the damage, but they'd agreed to keep it a secret from their wives.

Ron's wife was still on a rampage, not even stopping for breath. He sighed. He had to suck it up. He knew the Director of the DMLE couldn't protect him. Not from arrest, and not from Hermione.

A/N: Yes, I've gone with canon pairings and some events from the so-called Book 7. It was needed for telling the story the way I wanted, but I'm not any happier about it than you are.

Omake: elisa-didlittle (FFN author 1156348) just couldn't buy the change to Ron's character and abilities. She wrote her own version of Ron going out to earn his living. See FFN story 10769243, Chapter 13.