Author's Note: The Potter universe and all its characters, places, names, etc. are not my creation, all credit belongs to JKR. I'm only providing my own storyline and using her sandbox to play in.
Chapter 11 - Surprises, Again
"There is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
Ron stood quietly in the open doorway and watched his wife working diligently at her desk. That was something he was still getting used to, being able to call Hermione his wife and not a friend, girlfriend or fiance. She was his wife, and he had thanked his lucky stars every morning that it wasn't all just a dream, or a large and intricate joke that the universe was playing on him. He smiled as she frowned a little and peered closer at the parchment that she was reading and making notes on. Ron knew that look well; it was a clear sign that she had found something that didn't quite make sense to her. The bit that she had just read had either confused her for the moment, or she had found something so incredibly wrong with it that she was about to circle it and make notes in the margins.
It happened to be the latter. Hermione was certain that she had found a mistake in an old set of laws that governed the buying and selling of house elves, and was reaching over to grab her quill when she noticed that some of the light that usually streamed in from the hallway was being blocked.
"Ron!" she squealed happily as she stood up, a bright smile appearing on her lips. "What are you doing here?"
Ron grinned and stepped into the office, pulling out a small bouquet of various flowers from behind his back. "What, a bloke can't visit his wife at work sometimes and take her to lunch?"
Hermione looked up at the small clock on the side wall and saw that it was indeed already well past her usual lunch break. She took the last few steps around her desk and wrapped her arms around his neck, leaning up a little to kiss him warmly. "Yes, of course you can... I was just surprised is all." She took a whiff of the flowers that he was holding and her smile grew bigger, threatening to run out of room to expand.
"How long were you standing out there?" she asked, still enjoying the initial rush she got from seeing him there in her office. "And how did you get in the building?"
Ron chuckled and shrugged. "I would've made an appointment to speak with the Department of Magical Creatures House Elf Liaison, but then I realized that I didn't have a legitimate issue to bring up, so I just had Dad waive me in."
They both laughed a little at the silliness before he went on. "And I was only out here for a minute or two. I was just watching you for a moment, you looked so into whatever it is that you're reading that I didn't want to interrupt. You had your 'thinking' look on," he said with a smile, trying to recreate the look on his own face, then shrugging when he figured he couldn't do it justice.
Hermione giggled at his antics, a part of him that she absolutely loved, and wrapped her arms around him for a quick hug before freeing him of the bouquet and finding a clear spot on her desk to summon a vase on. "This was really sweet of you Ron..." She was truly touched that he had been thoughtful enough to surprise her like this, and a surprise it was. She could hardly fathom that this loving and thoughtful man that she was now married to was the same boy that she had gotten into numerous fights and disagreements with just years before. A small smile crossed her face as she realized that Lily Evans had likely felt the same way after James had grown up and the two had gotten together.
"I figured it was a nice enough day out, and we could enjoy lunch somewhere outside instead of being cooped up inside all day. Besides, there's only so much of the lovebirds that I can take in a morning."
She grinned at that statement, knowing exactly what Ron meant. In the last few weeks since the wedding, George and Angelina had really stepped up how quickly their relationship was going. They did nearly everything together, and Angelina had all but moved into the flat above Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. Hermione's new mother-in-law had had to resort to magicking a dish towel to smack George upside the head a few nights previous at dinner when the two had fallen into staring at each other across the table with grins and tuning everyone else out.
Ron was looking around at the very small office. "It's very... cozy in here, isn't it?"
Hermione looked around the small office and the back to Ron before shrugging. "I think it's perfect, actually. It's not like I have more than one person coming to see me at a time, and I don't have any staff. Besides," she said in a quiet tone, "it's actually a little bit bigger than some of the other sub-Department Head offices."
Ron grinned. "I guess knowing the Minister personally has some perks."
She giggled a little. "maybe, but I think it's more likely that he's doing everything he can to entice me to stay at the Ministry and not lose me to Professor McGonagall and Hogwarts."
"Is that what you've decided you want to do then?" he asked her warmly, knowing that she had been debating about which career path to choose ever since McGonagall had given her the offer to teach over the summer.
Hermione looked over at her desk and at the small stack of parchment that she had gone through many times in the past few weeks. "No… I don't know Ron," she said after a long pause. "I do want to go back there and teach, I know that I'll have fun doing it, but I think the work that I can get done here is important too. There's also the fact that I would need to study for a mastery in Arithmancy in order to teach it since it's an advanced subject, and that usually takes five years. I could finish it in less than that I suppose, but then I wouldn't have the time for a full-time job. I wouldn't want to put all the pressure on you, and…"
Ron stopped her from continuing on by gently putting a finger up to her lips, and following that with a kiss. "Don't stress about it, okay?" he said quietly, smiling as she leaned into him. He wrapped an arm around her before continuing. "Whatever you decide to do, I'll be behind you, Mine."
Hermione melted a little further into him at hearing that. "Mine?"
He grinned down at her. "I thought it was pretty clever, though it puts me at risk of sounding like a two-year old sometimes…"
He was rewarded with a gentle kiss and a giggle. "I like it," she said softly. She always loved it when he was so protective and possessive of her, and the new pet name he had come up with was beautiful. Tapping the vase with her wand, she filled it up with enough water to keep her flowers alive before slipping her hand into that of her husband's.
"You said something about lunch?"
Ron nodded. "There's a cafe a few blocks away that I found, with sidewalk seating."
"In muggle London?" she asked in surprised. "Are you really my Ronald Weasley?"
The two of them were laughing happily as she closed her door behind them.
The door next to Harry opened and closed, admitting yet another customer into the small second-hand shop that he was currently hiding in. He forced himself to use his peripheral vision to look over the new arrival like he had been learning, and not move his entire head. Of course, that didn't really matter at the moment, because he was under his invisibility cloak.
When Nigel had told him earlier that afternoon that they were actually going out in the field instead of just training in the Auror's fieldhouse or reading up on reports and flies on the Ministry's most wanted, Harry was all smiled. While he knew that the paperwork and studying was important to his success in his new job, he was glad to be out and about doing what he thought he knew best. He was even more excited when they had apparated into the small courtyard behind the Leaky Cauldron that led into Diagon Alley.
Nigel had given him a two-minute head start into the shopping district for what he was calling a 'concealment' exercise. All of Diagon Alley was the playing field for the private game of hide-and-seek, and he was allowed to use 'any means' to stay hidden from his partner and mentor for as long as possible. This was good news for Harry, as Nigel didn't know yet that his trainee had been carrying around one particular family heirloom since his first day on the job. Harry was looking forward to revealing that particular secret to what was sure to be an annoyed partner.
That wasn't going to happen today though. Almost as soon as Harry turned to leave the store and find another vantage of the street, he was hit in the head with one of the near invisible message spells that he had learned on his first day. He shook his head a bit to recover from the sudden interruption of his thoughts and listened to Nigel's voice as it played around his mind.
"Harry, new directive from HQ. Gringott's sent word that your old friend Draco is currently there and making a rather large withdrawal from his account. Get up here."
His eyes narrowed as he heard what was going on; he'd been wondering where Draco had been hiding since he had eluded his Auror protection earlier in the year. A thought crossed his mind for a moment, and he wondered if the sudden change in plans was just a ploy to get him to come out of hiding, but he figured that Nigel wouldn't stoop to such a tactic so early into their 'exercise'. Even if it was, Harry felt like they couldn't lose out on an opportunity to see what Draco was up to.
Luckily, Gringott's was just a few storefronts away from where he was currently, and he didn't have to wait more than a minute or so for someone to leave the shop so that he could follow them out onto the street and still stay completely hidden under the cloak. He quickly walked up the marble stairs to the building and noticed that the two guards posted just outside the entry doors were carefully looking his way. He didn't know if the goblins could see through his cloak, or just that there was a magical signature there, so he decided not to take any risks. He carefully flipped open the wallet-sized pouch that held his badge and let them take a good look.
The two guards nodded almost imperceptibly before compltely ignoring him. Harry filed away the new information he had learned in his mind and walked into the lobby of the bank. He found Nigel in one of the teller lines to his right, and stepped up to him quickly.
To his credit, the older wizard barely flinched as he was surprised by Harry voice talking next to him out of thin air. "That's either a really good Disillusionment Charm or a fancy Invisibility Cloak you've got going there, Potter."
Harry smirked a little, unseen. "I was hoping to save it for a surprise, but I guess this is as good a time as any. Where is he?"
Nigel's eyes flicked over to the back of the lobby, where Harry knew the cart room and vault access to be. "Down at his vault at the moment."
"Are we supposed to bring him in?"
A small shake of the head accompanied Nigel's answer. "Bryant has given us the case, so it's our call. We could bring him in if we wanted and try to get some information out of him, but we probably wouldn't get anywhere, and we couldn't hold him forever. Better to try and tail him and see who, what or where he leads us to."
Harry nodded. Nigel was right; they would never get anything out of Draco through an interrogation. "Alright. I'll stay under here and follow him when he's about to leave."
"Be careful," the other man said. "We haven't gotten you any training in this sort of thing yet, and I'd hate to lose a partner so quickly. Keep your eyes and ears open for any clues, but don't take any chances, Harry. We'll find him again if you lose him."
Three hours later, a very peeved Harry unceremoniously flopped into his seat in the good-sized cubicle that he and Nigel shared in the main workroom of the Auror department. Nigel looked up from the report that he was working on and tried not to show any of the humor he was feeling. "Lost him, did you?"
Harry shot him a withering look. "I followed him as he did his shopping in the Alley, which it turns out there was a lot of. Then he decided to jump around through three different public Floo destinations, in an attempt to cover his traces. For whatever reason, he didn't feel like apparating."
Nigel brought his fingers together like a steeple as he leaned forward. "How did you manage to follow him that many times? Did he not realize that all the fireplaces he used activated behind him a few moments later?"
The younger wizard blinked. "I just jumped into the flames right after him each time, still wearing the Cloak." Harry's right eyebrow rise a little as he took in the surprised expression on his partner's face. "What?"
"You... that's not supposed to be possible!" Nigel stammered out. "How in Merlin's name did you even think to try it? Everyone knows that a Floo signal can only carry one thing or person at a time."
Harry stared at him for a moment before shrugging. "No one ever told me that I couldn't, so I just did it. Maybe the whole theory is wrong?"
The way the other man was staring back at him amused Harry. It was as if he had just stated that the sky was green. It wasn't the first time that he had supposedly done the impossible, and he thought it wouldn't be the last. From his experience, most of the Wizarding population of Britain seemed to just take things as they saw it or heard it, not bothering to ask why or test out their own theories. It was a bit grating on him, but he was also saddened knowing that because of this 'flaw', many witches, wizards and their families had died under the terror reign of Voldemort and the Death Eaters, because of the un-true belief that you couldn't fight back against them and live.
"Well," Nigel started, finally able to say something, "Doing the impossible aside, what happened then?"
Harry sat back and recounted everything he had noticed. "His last Floo ended up at the public Quidditch park in Cardiff, and from there he walked on foot a few blocks with everything he bought. He disappeared walking down a residential block of nice family homes, and I don't know how," he ended with a frustrated tone. "Draco didn't have a wand in his hand and he didn't turn to apparate away. I doubt he's bothered to learn enough to cast a spell wandlessly..."
Nigel frowned. "Rule number eight, Harry. Never assume anything..."
"It makes an arse out of you and me,"Harry finished the phrase with a small smirk. His new mentor had been drilling some of his favorite rules of the job into their conversations, and this was one that Harry had picked up quickly. "Fair enough. So say Draco's improved enough from his time at school to be able to cast a Disillusionment Charm wandlessly and silently. Did he do that so he could apparate away after, or is he hiding out in one of those houses?"
"That's a good question, and it could go either way I guess. If it were me in his place, I'd take the extra step to ensure I was free of anyone. Knowing his type I would think not, especially if he was sure he wasn't being followed."
"I agree. So, we might have a lead on where he's been all this time. What next?"
Nigel grimaced. "You're not going to like the answer..."
"I wish that you would change that pout into something else dear," Molly said as she sat with her daughter at the kitchen table, peeling potatoes for their dinner. "You have such a pretty face, and pouting just doesn't suit you at all."
Ginny looked over at her mother with a scowl. "I think you'd feel the same way if you didn't see Dad for over a week."
It was now the very beginning of October, just four and a half weeks into her and Harry's new jobs, and they had seen each other only ten times. Ten, in about thirty days. To Ginny, that felt like an eternity, especially after the amount of time they had been apart earlier in the year. Between Harry's demanding training schedule and her own time limited by all the pre-season work the Harpies had to get through, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the two to have time together. Even on those nights where they were able to get together, they hadn't been able to do much more than cuddle and chat for a while before one of them would fall asleep. Even their soul-speaking ability couldn't easily help them, since at long distances it took a lot of energy and concentration to have a proper conversation.
Molly sighed and admitted a little defeat in the matter. "I know its been difficult dear," she said softly. "I suppose your father and I were lucky since he got a job at the Ministry. He never had to do much running around.
Ginny finished working on her pile and sent them flying off to the pot of boiling water on the stove before deftly plucking Teddy out of his high chair and holding him on her lap. The little boy squirmed happily in his spot and started babbling softly. She couldn't help but smile a little; Teddy always seemed to brighten her mood a little when she was down.
"I just wish there was a way to talk to him more often, Mum. We're exchanging some letters on the days that we can't make it back home or to each other, but it's a poor substitute for being able to talk one on one. I'm pretty sure that poor Enid will begin to slow down if we keep up the amount of messages."
A soft hoot came from the perch on the counter near the back door into the garden. Ginny looked over at Harry's owl and saw an expression that could only be interpreted as 'Just try me'. Both Weasley women smiled a bit as they looked at each other.
Ginny sighed again and sat back in her chair, keeping her arms firmly around the wiggling toddler who was now attempting to slide to the floor. "Our jobs are just a little bit more involved than I ever imagined, Mum. I didn't realize that there would be so many extra sponsor meetings, press conferences, photo shoots, everything. September is going to be my least favorite month of the year now."
Finally relenting, she set Teddy down on the floor, where he immediately began pulling himself up onto both legs to try toddling around the table. Molly waved her wand a few times to lay down Cushioning charms as she listened to her daughter.
"And then there's this night shift schedule that Harry got stuck with. I get that he's the new guy there, but nine nights in a row? Kipping under his Cloak for 12 hours a day watching a quiet suburb street?" Ginny left the question hanging.
Her mother sighed a little, looking on as Ginny kept her focus on Teddy. She could tell that her youngest was very annoyed, even bordering on cranky because of the lack of good sleep that she knew Ginny wasn't getting. Molly wished that she could give her some sort of advice that would help, but she was honestly stumped herself, not having been in this particular situation herself. The only thing that she knew would help remedy the problem was...
"Well, only eight nights now..." Harry said from where he was standing by the back door. Both women turned quickly at hearing him, and within a few seconds Harry found himself arms-full of a very happy Ginny. She had squealed his name so loudly in excitement that it was still ringing a little in his , he looked over at his Mum. "Huh. You'd think that she was happy to see me or something..."
Ginny leaned back from him a bit and slapped him on the arm, but was unable to hold back a giggle. "I can't be happy to see you?
Harry's grin grew wider as she kissed him on the cheek. "Quite the opposite, love. I'm just as happy to see you." He felt a tug on his pants and looked down to see Teddy standing there, his legs wobbling a little, holding his arms up high in the universal sign for 'pick me up!'. Harry quickly gathered his godson into his arms and gave him a hug.
"I'm very glad to see you too, Harry," Molly said as she gave him a side-hug. "I see that someone over there finally wised up to the fact that no one can work every single day without some sort of break."
Harry nodded. "As much as the department really wants to know where Draco is going and what he's doing, it was past time to go at it from a different approach. Plus, there are a few other cases that need to be looked into, too. That's what I'll be getting into on Monday."
Ginny's eyes lit up. "You have the whole weekend off? You'll be able to be at my first game tomorrow!" she said excitedly as she pulled him over to sit on the bench at the table.
"You know I will," Harry said as he leaned over to kiss her cheek, "and so will Teddy, Mum, Dad and whoever else in the family wants to. I stopped by the stadium to pick up some more tickets before coming here."
There was another squeal as Ginny wrapped him up in a tight hug, and a happy giggle as Teddy found himself a bit squished in the middle of it. She had been worried about how many people would be able to be there for the game, since the team players only got a certain amount of tickets to give out for free.
The Weasley matriarch looked over Harry appraisingly. "You'll be in for a long weekend of getting back to a normal schedule young man. Do you think you'll get enough sleep tonight if you were asleep most of the day today?"
"I should be alright, Mum. I figure a good dinner and maybe a little time outside flying will get me to sleep easily enough."
I'm sure I can figure out some sort of physical activity for you to do tonight, Harry... he heard from Ginny in his mind. Trying not to blush too hard, Harry looked over at his fiance and saw a sweet and innocent look on her face.
"Are you sure about bringing Teddy tomorrow?" she asked him.
Harry thought for a moment before nodding. "I think it'll be alright. It's supposed to be a nice enough day weather-wise, and he'll get to be there for your first professional game."
Molly nodded as she worked over the stove getting dinner ready. "It'll be good for little Teddy. Exposing a child at that age to new things is only beneficial."
"Besides," Harry said as he reached into his pocket, "the little guy here needs to take advantage of his season pass." There was a little clattering as he laid down what looked like six long ticket parchments, though these were made of thin metal and emblazoned with the Harpies' logo and the years of the upcoming season. Four of the passes were inscribed with names, one each for Harry, Teddy, Arthur and Molly, while the other two were blank and usable by anyone.
"Harry, you really didn't have to…" Molly said as she looked over and saw the pile of passes.
Ginny was looking at the row and seat numbers that were printed on the tickets, a small grin on her face. "These are some of the best seats in the place, looking right down the middle of the field. What did you have to do for these, Harry?"
Harry shrugged and smiled. "All that fame that I dislike comes in handy once in a while. Once they found out that I wanted six of them, they were tripping over themselves to find some good seats."
Both Weasley women laughed a little, though Ginny kept an eye on her beloved. "We'll have to keep an eye on you Harry. We wouldn't want people injuring themselves when you walk into the room…"
Some nice moments between our couples and a little more intrigue in Harry's life? What do you all think Draco's up to? Let me know in the reviews, I'd love to find out what's going through your heads.
THANK YOU for reading each installment of Post Script, and for all the wonderful reviews, follows and favorites - they all help and inspire me to keep writing more often.
Apologies for any mistakes in this chapter, I am still currently beta-less. (PM me if you want to talk about the job ;) )