AN: Lots of talking, no punching. Alas.
The self-proclaimed Dark Lord Voldemort and last Heir of Slytherin lounged languidly, a glass of 1945 Château Margaux in hand, as he listened to the soothing crackles of the Malfoy family fireplace blazing beside him.
The Dark Lord sighed in contentment. Dark red. Mint and spice on the nose. Juicy, fleshy and chewy in the mouth. Oily with a marvelous depth of complexity, brilliant structure and definition, great power, and flavor notes of coffee, cappuccino, and vanilla.
A handsome face turned towards the cultured voice beside him, his noble features illuminated softly by firelight.
"Ahhh Abraxas, my old friend," drawled Lord Voldemort as he let loose a charming smile. "Come, come. Sit. What is it you need of me?"
The Malfoy Head bowed his head respectfully as he took a seat across from the Dark Lord. Sharp cheekbones and piercing eyes met the wandering gaze of his old friend and dark master.
"I come bearing information my lord, about that Unspeakable you fought in Diagon Alley," continued Abraxas, running a hand through his family's infamous platinum blonde hair.
"Ahh. Yes. Him," replied Voldemort, as he took another long sip from his glass. "Tell me, old friend. What have you discovered?"
"I'm afraid not as much as you would like my lord," said Abraxus as he pulled out a file from the depths of his robes. "Just a codename and a lot of black ink. You said to inform you if I discovered anything, no matter how small."
"Yes, indeed. Continue."
"Apparently he goes by the callsign, Ares."
"The Greek God of War? Interesting."
"That's not the only interesting thing my Lord," continued Malfoy. "My source in the Department of Mysteries was able to get a complete copy of this Agent Ares's file."
The distinguished blond motioned towards the empty file spread out on the expensive table between them.
"Other files we've been able to procure on other operatives have been a lot more revealing. Names are blacked out of course, but there are records, documentation. Medical paperwork, training certifications. There is always a paper trail," drawled Malfoy. "But Ares. His is empty."
Voldemort hummed thoughtfully as he took another sip of wine, "Your contact in the Ministry. Is he one of mine?"
Abraxas Malfoy shook his head in the negative.
"No, my Lord," said Malfoy. "Not yet. He is one of my… projects."
"Ahhh. Blackmail is it?"
"Yes, my Lord. He is a half-blood masquerading as one of the pure-blood," explained Malfoy with a snarl of contempt. "It would be quite the scandal if his wife's family were to find out. Why they might just take out their anger on his lovely daughter."
The Dark Lord nodded in understanding, "Ahhh. Then I shall place my trust in your skilled hands. Sometimes if you cannot obtain their loyalty, it must be acquired forcibly. Excellent work my friend."
"Thank you, my Lord. I am sorry I couldn't find out more."
"Nonsense. You have always been my most reliable advisor," smiled Voldemort, the whites of his teeth gleaming in the firelight. "How is young Lucius? Has he returned from his travels abroad?"
Abraxas gave a proud smile, "Indeed, he should be returning home just in time for his twenty-fourth birthday. Did you know he took first place in the 1977 Summer European Dueling Circuit? He is quite the skilled dueler."
Voldemort nodded appreciatively, "I'm quite excited to make his acquaintance."
"As is he. He seems quite receptive to our beliefs. My Lord. I believe he will become a great asset to our cause in the near future."
"With such a glowing recommendation, how could I deny him a place in my inner circle?"
Abraxas smiled, "Thank you, my Lord."
Voldemort tipped his glass towards his companion, "Now. On to our next topic of discussion."
"Hogsmeade. How goes our plans to burn it to the ground?"
Harry sat awkwardly next to the large Unspeakable beside him, the briefing room empty save for the two of them.
"Soooooo…" drawled Harry slowly, looking the larger man up and down curiously. "You're my new partner yeah? Castle was it?"
The bulky Unspeakable nodded wordlessly, his attention focused on the small book nestled carefully in his oversized hands.
Harry sank his chin into his fists and slouched into his chair, "Huh. Not much of a talker are you?"
The Unspeakable put down his book and glanced over at Harry, his face concealed by his hood.
Harry raised his hands in surrender as he could practically feel the judgmental gaze of his companion.
"I know, I know, I'm sorry. I'll let you read in peace…"
The time traveler leaned back into his chair and gazed up at the ceiling in boredom. Hurry up and wait. The bane of his Unspeakable career.
His newly assigned partner and current state of inaction was courtesy of the '78 Sigma Squad Captain, Atlas. While he had already been introduced to the squad at large, there were still a few things left to take care of as a 'new' member of Sigma.
Tracking charms, identification spells, emergency portkeys. There was a great deal of work involved in incorporating a new recruit. He had already spent half the day getting poked and prodded by the guys out of R&D. Add in his impromptu initiation by the rest of the squad earlier that morning made for one tired wizard.
Tired he could live with. Being bored? Torture.
"So whatcha reading?"
Castle sighed and vanished his book from his hands, "I think I understand why Valkyrie desperately wants to choke something every time your name gets brought up."
Harry brightened visibly at his companion's rumbling response.
"Awww… I knew she was warming up to me!" smiled Harry, as he rocked back in his seat and propped his feet on top of the table, stuffing a ham sandwich into his mouth.
Castle cocked his head to the side in disbelief.
"How does Valkyrie making death threats constitute her warming up to you?" asked Castle, his deep voice booming in the small confines of the Unspeakable team room.
Harry shrugged and waved a hand dismissively, "They all start that way. She'll come around eventually. The death threats are just a phase..."
The time traveler froze, momentarily lost in thought, before glaring suspiciously at his sandwich, "Or they really do try to kill me… Huh. Maybe I should check my food for poison, just in case."
Castle bobbed his head, obviously rolling his eyes beneath his hood.
"Y'know, for a guy who's completely covered under a cloak, your body language is oddly expressive…"
"Weird isn't it?" interrupted a third voice as another hooded Unspeakable strolled into the room, "I'm fairly sure Castle did interpretive dance before joining the Department, but he refuses to either confirm or deny my theory."
The newest Unspeakable thrust his hand out in a friendly handshake, "Field Operative Archer, at your service."
Harry raised a brow at the new arrival before he grasped the other man's hand and shook firmly, "A pleasure."
Archer stepped back and lowered his hood, revealing a youthful-looking blonde with warm brown eyes. A five o'clock shadow graced his cheeks while a jagged scar cut across the bottom of Archer's lip.
"Really? A facial scar? Don't you think that's a little tacky?"
Archer touched his fingers to the aforementioned scar, "You think? I thought it looked pretty intimidating… "
Harry chuckled, "If you're going for intimidation, at least grow the beard out. You look like a baby faced Auror fresh outta the academy. A disguise is supposed to draw attention away from you, not make people laugh."
Archer snorted in amusement, "And what about your disguise? Because last I remember, you had black hair, not red. You look like a bloody Weasley if you ask me…"
The time traveler ran a hand through his magically transformed hair, his locks no longer jet black but fiery red. "Ehhh, I like to mix it up. Besides, it's a distraction. My enemies will be so fixated on trying to determine whether or not I'm a Weasley or a Prewett, that they'll never question why I'm there in the first place. It's foolproof."
"Huh. That could actually work..." mused Archer thoughtfully.
Castle groaned in exasperation, "Oh Merlin. Just what I needed. Two resident idiots."
"Oh quiet, you overly muscular intellectual, you," replied Archer flippantly, "I'm bonding with the new guy. No need for baseless insults."
The blond Unspeakable turned back towards Harry, "Speaking of bonding, the Big Boss wants us to bring in your Auror buddy for a debriefing. Seeing as Captain Atlas is off on a recon mission with Loki and Valkyrie, the Dragon left it up to us to bring him in. Said you'd be in charge of the operation."
Archer nodded towards Castle, "If you ask me, I think we should have Castle here distract the Auror with his superior dance skills while me and you stuff 'em in a bag from behind, what do you say?"
Harry chuckled while he rolled his eyes. It seemed apparent that Archer was the 1978 version of himself, ridiculous quips and all. It made him wonder who Archer could possibly be. He had to admit, his knowledge of the various witches and wizards alive thirty years ago was a bit lacking. "Or I could handle this solo… I'm sure my source in the DMLE would prefer not to be tagged and bagged by a bunch of Unspeakables in the night. Besides, my contact's identity is secret. I'd prefer to keep it that way."
Archer shrugged, "Hey, works for me. I'm fine with having the afternoon off. You sure you don't want to bring Castle along for the ride?"
"Well, the Boss did assign me to Sigma for a reason," replied Harry thoughtfully. "What do you say, mate? You mind being on standby while I bring my source in? I doubt there'll be any hiccups but better safe than sorry."
Harry glanced over at the large Unspeakable, the man giving a noncommittal shrug.
"I'll take that as a yes. I'll message you with the details as I get them," replied Harry as he rose abruptly to his feet, "Well. Guess my boredom has come to an end. It seems I have an Auror to kidnap, au revoir gentlemen."
The Unspeakable turned on the spot and disappeared with a near-silent crack.
Archer stroked his chin thoughtfully before glancing over at Castle, "Interesting, isn't he?"
Castle shrugged and pulled out his book, opening it back up to his previous spot.
A secondary crack saw the reappearance of Harry into the briefing room.
"Forgot my sandwich," chirped the Unspeakable, snagging the half-eaten ham sandwich off the table, before disappearing once again with a significantly louder crack.
Castle turned a page of his book, shaking his head in exasperation. Idiots. He was surrounded by idiots. Maybe he should've gone with his backup career. Musical theater would have been much more relaxing.
Amelia fumbled with her casual robes trying to straighten out the wrinkles, as she sat alone in the corner of the Hog's Head. It wasn't often that the Auror went out socially and Amelia couldn't help but feel horribly awkward sitting alone at the bar. Chasing dark wizards through Knockturn Alley? No problem. A magical duel between dragon smugglers and the DMLE? Just another day at the office. Waiting at a bar for a man she met just a few weeks ago? Amelia almost hoped for another Death Eater attack, just so she could burn off some of her nervous energy.
"Will you be orderin' anything Miss Bones?"
Amelia jumped at the voice, before staring wide-eyed at the grizzled form of Aberforth Dumbledore.
Aberforth cocked an eyebrow at the lone redhead, "A drink perhaps?"
"Umm," replied Amelia, as she glanced over at the bottles behind the counter. "Butterbeer?"
The old bartender gave her a judgmental look, before reaching under the table and retrieving a black bottle that was most definitely not butterbeer.
"Here," grunted Aberforth sliding the bottle across the counter. "Belhaven. Scottish Ale. Enjoy."
Amelia stared incredulously as the bearded bartender turned on his heel and left. She glanced down at the bottle and gave it a tentative sip.
"Ugh," gagged the Auror, the alcoholic beverage bitter to her taste buds. Amelia slowly pushed the drink away from her as she twisted her face in disgust. She had no idea why people enjoyed drinking. It all tasted horrible to her.
Amelia perked up as she heard a familiar voice behind her. Turning towards the bar entrance, she couldn't help but roll her eyes at the exuberant waving of the Unspeakable, his eyes shut in a ridiculous grin.
"Hey Harry," acknowledged the redheaded Auror, motioning to the open seat beside her.
The Unspeakable strolled up next to her before pausing deliberately, his eyes narrowed in thought, "You look different."
Harry cocked his head sideways, analyzing her features, "Did you do something with your hair?"
Amelia froze, "No?"
"Huh. Weird," shrugged Harry, taking a seat next to the Auror, "So… What's up?"
Amelia blew the hair out of her face as she glared lightly at her companion, "What's up? Don't you mean sorry for disappearing for a whole week?"
Amelia glanced around the bar, before hissing quietly, "After stopping a bloody Death Eater attack!"
Harry gave the redheaded Auror a sheepish grin, as he motioned a single finger towards Aberforth. The wizened old bartender nodded absentmindedly, already sliding a frothy mug of beer across the table.
"Not good enough…" Amelia punched Harry lightly on the shoulder, "Prat."
The Unspeakable winced, rubbing his shoulder. "Merlin woman, you win, no need to get violent..."
Amelia cast a concerned gaze at Harry, the wizard using his good arm to take a long swig from his beer.
"Are you still hurt?"
Harry shook his head negative, "Nah, just had me a little accident with a cabinet and some fire."
The Auror gave her companion an incredulous look, before staring pointedly at Harry's drink, "Let me guess. You were being drunk and disorderly?"
The dark-haired Unspeakable grinned mischievously, "More like breaking and entering, but hey. You didn't hear that from me."
Amelia groaned, "Oh Merlin. Don't tell me I'm going to have to arrest you…"
"You'll never take me alive, Copper."
Amelia groaned. "You're not fooling anybody with the witty remarks, it's a good thing you're at least a skilled dueler, I don't think you'll make it as a two-bit comedian."
"Ouch," winced Harry dramatically, "And here I thought I was coming off as cool and mysterious…"
"Please," scoffed Amelia, as she tucked a stray lock of red hair behind her ear. "Don't make me laugh. "
"But what if you sound like a hyena? Because that would only encourage me more…"
Amelia crossed her arms over her chest and glared silently.
"Okay, fine," surrendered Harry, raising his hands in the air. "I'll cut back on the one-liners. But I reserve the right to make an exception for the truly clever ones from now on. Besides, how can I go on living if I can't amuse myself with copious amounts of sarcasm and witty remarks? It's how I cope. You can't take that away from me!"
The redhead Auror chuckled at her companion's antics and took another tentative sip of her drink. Her face scrunched up in disgust a second time. Nope. Still gross.
"You know, when we first dueled, I knew you were good," continued Amelia, flicking her hair out of her eyes. "But I didn't realize you were that good until after Diagon Alley. What are you, the second coming of Albus Dumbledore, or what?"
Harry laughed out loud, his shoulders shaking in merriment, as he pulled out his wand and waved it lazily. A wave of power passed through her body raising the hair on her arms, as a faint buzzing noise started in her ears. A privacy ward, and a fairly advanced one to boot.
"Me? The second coming of Albus Dumbledore?" chuckled Harry, shaking his head, "Please. I'm nowhere near as powerful as Hogwarts' illustrious Headmaster. Albus could've taken those Death Eaters solo while simultaneously giving a transfiguration class. I'm a savage brute in comparison. A ravaging bull in a china shop so to speak. I'm good, but I'm not Dumbledore good. I just got more experience in mass combat than most. I appreciate the comparison though, thanks."
Amelia raised an interested brow, leaning forward in her seat as she did so, "That's a bit modest coming from you don't you think? Where's the cocky wizard who knocked out a trio of Death Eaters drunk?"
Harry shrugged nonchalantly as he drank his beer, "You got to know your capabilities. I'll admit, I'm on the upper part of the curve when it comes to magical power, but there's a distinction between above-average strength and the likes of Dumbledore or the Dark Lord. I just make up the difference with skill, training, and a lot of luck."
"So what? You're just another average wizard?"
Harry gave a cheeky grin, "Now, now, I didn't say average. I said above average…"
"Don't make me hit you."
The Unspeakable chuckled, "Anyway, while I'm not on Dumbledore's level, give me my old squad and I'm pretty sure we could give him a run for his money."
"Oh yeah?" replied Amelia, her eyes lightening up with interest. The Unspeakable's personality was a whirling mess of secrets, scars, and sarcastic remarks. She could only imagine the life that molded him into the wizard he was today.
"Oh hell yeah," nodded Harry, a nostalgic smile gracing his cheeks. "Me and the mates would've made him pay for a win, no doubt about it. Before we got disbanded, we were the best in the Department, bar none."
The Auror nodded interested, "Sounds like you were quite impressive. Why did you leave?"
Harry's face darkened, his grip tightening on the glass handle of his mug. "Ehh. Nature of the job. Falcon and Váli were dead. Templar lost his wand arm. I was stuck on injured reserve. Only Duchess made it out relatively okay and that's not getting into her mental and emotional problems."
Amelia cringed at the emotional landmine she accidentally stumbled upon, "I'm sorry. It must have been hard."
Harry locked eyes with Amelia, his dark green eyes piercing her misty steel, "I try not to dwell on it. We had some bad intel. And the operation wasn't exactly sanctioned. I have no one to blame but myself."
Amelia winced as she took another sip from her drink. It was still awful, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the awkward situation she found herself in. Serious Harry just wasn't normal. Witty and a general pain in the ass, yes. Dark and brooding? It was a side of the Unspeakable she had never seen before.
Maybe there was a reason he was overly cheerful all the time. And nearly always had a drink in hand.
Harry let loose a deep sigh, before plastering a smile on his face, "Enough with the depressing talk. We're not here to talk about me. Let's talk about you."
Amelia nodded vigorously, desperate for a change in subject.
"So, the boss wants to talk to you," stated Harry, cutting right to the chase. "As soon as possible."
The redheaded Auror's eyes widened, "Wait. What?"
"You know. The Head Unspeakable? My boss in the Department? The head honcho? The big kahuna? He wants to talk to you."
"Why would he want to talk to me? I'm just a patrol Auror," blabbered the witch. "I'm not even high on the totem pole…"
Harry took another hefty swig from his beer, smacking his lips in satisfaction, "No idea."
Amelia stared at Harry incredulously.
"Although," drawled Harry, dragging out the word, "It might be because I vouched for you…"
The petite Auror shook her head in confusion, "Vouched for me?"
Harry nodded, "Oh yeah. The boss wanted to obliviate you into last week. Literally. We already took care of your partner Scrimgeour, so you were the last loose end we had to take care of. The boss doesn't like leaving loose ends. Makes him cranky."
Amelia paled visibly, "Loose end. Right…"
"Don't worry about it," continued Harry leaning onto the bar. "If the boss was going to obliviate you, he'd have already done it. This is probably just a courtesy meeting thing."
"Or my obliviation appointment."
Harry nodded thoughtfully, "That's also a possibility."
"Like I said, don't worry," chuckled Harry, patting the smaller woman on the shoulder. "If you forget who I am, I'll be absolutely devastated. Or at the very least, mildly upset. Possibly even perturbed."
"I'm glad to see I mean so much to you. Arse."
Harry laughed out loud, his eyes squeezed shut in amusement, a genuine grin upon his lips. "You're too easy sometimes. You ready to go?"
"Well, I did say as soon as possible. Did you forget?" Harry fake gasped, his eyes widening dramatically, "Amy. Don't freak out. But I think you might have been obliviated…"
Amelia punched Harry in the arm, hard.
"Owwwww! Damn it woman! No punching!"
The distinctive crack of apparation pierced the air as two figures materialized into existence in a darkened atrium. One was dressed in an unassuming dark brown robe, her face concealed within the shadows of her hood and a flurry of magical charms to hide the wearer's identity. The other stood nearby in the unmistakable silver cloak of the Unspeakables.
"Welcome to the Vault Miss Bones. Official home of the Unspeakable Field Operative branch of the Department of Mysteries," said Harry gesturing towards the ancient marble halls in front of him.
A massive hallway loomed in front of them, devoid of seemingly any life within. Flickering magical lights littered the stone walls, not quite bright enough to illuminate the void, casting eerie shadows that seemingly danced to a wind that didn't exist.
Amelia had to suppress an uncomfortable shudder as their footsteps seemed to echo louder than what seemed physically possible. The unnerving silence was suffocating.
"Forgive the dreary atmosphere, we actively try to discourage visitors down here," apologized Harry as they steadily made their way into the darkness. "Politicians hate making the walk down here. Part of our security features. Thankfully, that means we're left mostly alone."
Amelia nodded uneasily. "Doesn't really make for a cheery work environment. Where are all the people? It seems way too… empty."
Harry laughed, "That's because it is. No one really uses this way in. It's our public entrance so to speak. Reserved for the rare visitor or newest batch of recruits. It's supposed to accentuate the difference between the two Unspeakable branches. We're the scary ones. Research and Development likes to give off the mad warlock vibe. Floating brains and prophesy orbs. Bunch of mad lads if you ask me, but they're the best at what they do. Whatever that is."
"You don't know?"
"Sure I do," replied Harry as the corridor suddenly stopped, opening into a small double-gated room, with five cloaked figures draped in the distinctive shimmering cloaks of the Unspeakables. "They research and develop stuff. Mysteries and things."
The Auror suppressed the urge to groan and roll her eyes.
"Halt," commanded the one of the Unspeakables standing in front of an ancient-looking arch, the inside hazy with magical power.
"Hands where we can see them. Step forward for identification," came the distorted voice of the lead figure, the remaining four Unspeakables moving into flanking positions, their wands raised.
Harry stepped forward, his hands raised revealing open palms, "Agent Ares escorting VIP for debriefing per orders of the Dragon."
The time traveler snapped his fingers as an official parchment materialized in between his fingers.
Without missing a beat, the other Unspeakable summoned the set of orders into its hands and quickly cast a series of identification and authorization spells. Finally, the Unspeakable nodded and motioned towards the shimmering arch. "Step through the gate please."
Harry nodded quickly marching through the haze before disappearing from view.
Amelia hesitated briefly, before sucking in a deep breath that filled her lungs to the brim, before lunging through the portal.
A feeling similar to ice being dumped over her head came across the auror as a wave of magic swept from the ceiling and penetrated to her toes. Amelia gasped for breath as she stumbled forward before a hand shot out and caught her at the shoulder.
"Steady there, you alright?" asked Harry, his features hidden behind the protections of his hood. "Not a great feeling, I know. Ancient wards always leave a nasty kick."
Amelia steadied herself and shivered at the lingering sensations the ward left on her, "I'm fine. I'm good."
Finally looking around her surroundings, the redhead was shocked at the sudden atmosphere change. Whereas the entrance had been foreboding and seemingly filled with ancient malice, the atrium before her was nothing of the sort.
Massive columns that seemed to disappear into the sky was covered in a shower of natural-looking light. Wizards and witches bustled through the busy lobby, dressed in a variety of uniformed robes. The distinctive silver robes of the Unspeakable intermingled sparingly within a much larger group of crimson and light green.
"Who are they?" asked the Auror as the two weaved their way through the massive room, motioning to the red and green figures working around them.
"They're the support crew," shrugged the wizard. "They do all the rear echelon work that allow us field operatives to focus on the mission at hand. There's a lot of backside logistics to handle that they take care of. Most of the time. Department of Personnel loves to never be in their damn offices, the lazy bastards."
Amelia nodded intrigued, "I hadn't realized the Department of Mysteries had so many people working for them."
"Me too…" muttered Harry softly.
"What do you mean?"
The Unspeakable jerked awkwardly before replying, "Ah I just mean there's people working here then I'm used to… In my time we didn't have nearly this much people in the regiment. I've been off the active roster for a while."
The redhead nodded slowly, glancing curiously at Harry. Her auror instincts were telling her something was just a bit… off… about the way the Unspeakable replied.
"Anyway, here we are!" proclaimed Harry as they came to the end of a somewhat dingy-looking hallway, gesturing to an oak door. Upon it, etched onto a gold plate in flowing script read; Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus.
"Uhh. Why is the Hogwart school motto on your boss's door? Never tickle a sleeping dragon?"
Harry laughed, "It's an old joke on the Boss's nickname. The Dragon. Legend has it some daring recruit permanently attached it back in the day and the old man has never actually seen the sign. He never uses his office door you see, always apparates in. No idea if the story is true, but it's good for a laugh eh?"
"I guess.." replied Amy, thinking about the explosive reaction the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement would have if she or one of her colleagues had attempted something similar.
"Follow my lead okay? Don't let the old man intimidate you too much. He's good people, just a mite old fashioned."
Amelia gulped before nodding briskly. She took in a deep calming breath and followed behind the Unspeakable as he knocked twice and entered the room.
Cramped. Ancient. Messy. Power.
The office was such a dichotomy of impressions and feelings that it was hard to get an accurate idea of the room's atmosphere. Ancient tomes that emanated immense power were thrown haphazardly next to what looked like empty crisps bags. Conflicting messages seemed to be the underlying theme when it came to Harry and his associates. Nothing was ever as it appeared.
"Yo, what's happening old man?" exclaimed the Unspeakable, pulling down the cowl of his hood before waving at the hooded wizard sitting in front of them. "Amy, Boss. Boss, Amy."
The hooded wizard in front of her groaned aloud as he dropped his face into his palm, "Disrespectful whelp. Must you sound so American? It's not proper."
"Uh sir!" replied Amelia, snapping awkwardly to attention. "Auror Second Class Amelia Bones sir!"
"Yes, yes Miss Bones. I know who you are," responded the wizard, motioning for the two to sit in the chairs in front of them. Harry spun his wand out from his robe sleeves and swiftly transfigured the two rickety wooden chairs into a comfy looking loveseat and plopped down. Amy gulped and also took a seat.
"Let me properly introduce myself Miss Bones. I am the Sub-department Head of the Department of Mysteries, Head of the Unspeakable Field Operative branch," stated the wizard, a sensation of power emanating from the man. With one fluid motion, the wizard lowered his hood and revealed a familiar-looking ancient visage.
"L-lord Flamel?" gasped the pure-blood witch at the most noble and esteemed hermit/alchemist of the wizarding world sitting in front of her. "How-wha-why? I thought you had left the wizarding world? You're an Unspeakable?"
Turning to her companion she continued shocked, "Lord Flamel is your bloody boss?"
Harry put his arms out, palms up, and shrugged.
"Ahem.." coughed the ancient Unspeakable, focusing Amelia's attention squarely back on him. "Yes, yes. It is I, the Immortal Alchemist, Most Ancient and Noble Lord, the Sleeping Dragon, and all that hogwash. It is important when you are as old as I am to find a hobby."
Amelia choked on air. A hobby?
"Alas, my identity is not the reason I have summoned you today. Just know that you will be magically sworn to silence," said Nicholas solemnly, staring down at the auror through small wire spectacles. "I have grave concerns about the current radical political climate in the wizarding world. Harry here insists that you could be of vital importance to the war. He also claims you can be trusted. What say you?"
"Hmmph," grunted the alchemist as he flipped through some scattered parchment on his desk, before settling on a stack haphazardly sticking out of a manilla folder.
"According to your file, you were deemed to be a candidate with some potential. Excellent charms work, acceptable transfiguration, and defense skills. A particularly good work ethic, with a stated ambition to become the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Substandard interpersonal communication skills however and a tendency to adhere blindly to the rules."
Harry nodded along in agreement as Nicholas went on before interrupting, "Might want to nix that last one boss. Amy follows the rules, yeah, but she's exceptionally clever when she needs to break them. I highly doubt conducting a personal criminal investigation into her command team is standard operating procedure in the Auror handbook.
"Indeed," accepted Nicholas. "All in all, your file was put into a two-year hold for review, pending positive development in problem areas."
"Potential candidate? Wh-what are you talking about sir?"
"Recruitment of course," replied the Branch Head. "We find you. Not the other way around. Perhaps at the end of all this, we can reevaluate your file sooner. However, in the interim, you will be reporting to me for the duration of your investigation into the DMLE."
"Recruit-? What? Can you do that sir? I don't exactly fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Mysteries. I was not expecting any of this…" Amelia shook her head, the beginnings of a headache slowly creeping in.
Nicholas leaned back into his chair and snorted. "Of course you fall under my jurisdiction. Everyone in the Ministry does. The emergency war act of 1776 gave my department all the authority and powers we needed. It's not my fault the legislation to end those emergency powers dictated the successful defeat of those pesky colonists. If you desire to see the appropriate documents and by-laws, I'll have a representative from legal meet with you later."
The ancient alchemist's looming gaze pierced her own.
"You are in a critical position within the DMLE. Recent intelligence alongside reports of your investigation from Ares has placed you into a vitally important role in my department's war on the Dark Lord. There are traitors in our midst. That is unacceptable. Your investigation will be officially sanctioned and properly supported. You will have the power of my department behind you. Ares will see you briefed on the explicit details in the future."
"I understand this is a delicate and dangerous situation. I will not fault you if you decide this is too much to handle, I will not force your continued participation. However, if that be the case, I must insist you submit to prompt obliviation. I cannot afford to unnecessarily risk the lives of my people."
Amelia could feel her heartbeat rapidly as blood raced throughout her body. Her life had taken such a radical turn ever since she responded to that emergency call at the Hogs Head all those weeks ago. Death Eaters, Unspeakables, Dark Lords, Immortal Alchemists. Now there were traitors, plots, and intrigue. It was almost too much to take in at times.
A gentle squeeze on her shoulder triggered a startled reaction from the auror, shaking her from her stupor. Green eyes stared back at her as she locked eyes with the wizard sitting next to her. "Hey. I got your back remember?"
Amelia nodded, the overwhelming sound of her beating heart in her ears slowly dissipating.
"Good. Can't have our future intern getting cold feet now," said Harry with a wry grin, an air of false condescension in his demeanor. "I'd hate to have to find a new auror to annoy."
Amelia rolled her eyes but smiled softly. Beneath all his bluster and scars, Harry really was a good friend. Annoying and an asshole more often than not, but a person she could rely on, nonetheless.
"I accept the task wholeheartedly sir. How can I help?"
Nicholas raised a single white eyebrow in interest, the barest hints of approval tugging at his lips. "I see. Then Miss Bones, let us make it official."
The ancient wizard stood, prompting Harry and Amelia to follow suit. A lazy wave of his hand sent a wave of magic rippling across the witch's body, transforming the brown robe she wore into one of shimmering silver. "Auror Second Class Amelia Bones. You are henceforth officially uplifted into the ranks of the Department of Mysteries Field Operative Branch. You will be assigned the temporary rank of Recruit and your handler will be Agent Ares. Until the mission is complete, you are for all intents and purposes, one of us."
Amelia felt a looming sense of despair cross over her as she noticed a familiar glint of mischievousness cross the alchemist's eye, akin to the look Harry sometimes showed when he was about to say something he knew would annoy her.
"Welcome to the team… Agent Intern."
Harry roared with laughter.
Amelia could feel her soul die a little on the inside. She could see where Harry got it from. Morons, the lot of em.
AN: Here you go, slow update but you guys already know that's how I roll. Thanks for all the wedding congratulations, I was honestly touched by some of your responses. I appreciate it. Got to spend the last few months in quarantine as one long honeymoon and it was pretty damn awesome. Wrote some more, 20k word worth. Granted it was for an entirely different project but hey, I made sure to give WTT some love too. Hope you enjoyed, it's no masterpiece but it's always fun to write.