How To Train Your Auror
Summary: After the tragic death of Ron, Hermione decides to take up his torch and become an Auror herself, despite Harry's protests. When she discovers that Draco Malfoy has also made the decision to apply himself to be an Auror, she must come to terms with her distaste for him in order to pass training. Can Hermione balance her new position, the death of Ron, and her now found alliance with Malfoy? And what dark secrets does he hold? Rated M for later chapters.
"Without You" by Oh Wonder
It was in the moments like these Hermione thought to herself, resting daisies on her late husband's grave, when all the world could melt away. She didn't have to be strong like Harry, or consoling like Ginny. She could let her tears fall softly down her cheeks without so much as an awkward condolence. 'Sorry for your loss.' 'Let us know if there's anything we can do.' Hollow words that didn't merit any real sustenance. It's just what one is supposed to hear when a loved one passed, wasn't it? She doubted anyone truly understood how terrible those simple words could be.
She kissed her fingers and pressed them to his headstone. "Rest, Ronald," she whispered. Her cell phone buzzed in her pants pocket, but she ignored it for now. She re-read the inscription at the base of the stone: 'A friend, A husband, A War hero.' So many masks he would wear day to day… So many masks for them all. She swiped at her tears with her knuckles and stood. Her phone hummed once again, and she took the time to answer it.
"Hermione." It was Harry's exhausted voice. He hesitated for a moment, and then continued. "Please, tell me you aren't serious."
"I'm serious of most things, Harry. You'll have to be more specific."
"Have- Have you been crying?"
So he could hear it in her voice? She shouldn't have been surprised. She took a moment to clear her throat and wipe at a few more stray tears before she answered him. "Visiting Ron today."
She could almost imagine his head bobbing up and down in understanding. "I see. -Hermione, I don't think he'd want you to do this."
"You know what." When she didn't reply, he sighed, exasperated. "An Auror position? Did you really apply for an Auror position in the Ministry last week?"
She closed her eyes, exhaled through her nose, and shrugged to no one in particular. "I'm applying for an Auror position, Harry. You'll see my credentials are quite in order. In fact, I dare say they go above and beyond a normal applicant-"
"My weariness doesn't stem from your credentials, Hermione. -What are you thinking? Do you really think this is what Ron would have wanted for you?"
Heat flared up from her core and she said her next words with a crisp, irritated tone. "He's gone, Harry. He can't tell us what he'd want for me. For any of us. But this is what I want for me. And I'm capable of this. I'm not weak-"
"-It's not that I think you can't do this. It's that I don't think you should. After everything that's happened in the last six months… I just…"
Hermione felt her heart plummet. She struggled to find the words to address his concerns. But if she was going to do this, she needed to be stronger. She knew that six months ago, she would have been bawling her eyes out at the thought of moving on or finding her place in this Ron-less world. But time had tempered her into something ridged and complex. The sadness was there, but it was layered with emotional steel. She wouldn't be the puddle of tears she had been for so long. She was going to be tougher than even she thought possible. "I have to do this. And The Ministry can't deny me. Not with them hurting for Aurors nowadays."
"Alright, Hermione. Alright." He sighed. "We'll… owl you when training starts. Just… be careful, alright? I'll be here for you if you need any help."
She knew he would. But she didn't want his help. She needed to do this on her own. "Thanks, Harry."
"Ginny sends her love."
"Send mine back."
The line on the other end went silent as he ended the call. Hermione stowed her phone back into her pocket and glanced around at all the graves in Willow's Point. For each headstone, a life was snuffed out. A life, that perhaps, was gone before its time. If she could just save one… just one…
She turned back to Ron's headstone and forced a smile. "I miss you, Ron. Every day. You were such a good soul. So, I'm going to do some good in your stead. I love you."
She left the daisies on his grave, humming something Ron had once said their first time meeting.
"Sunshine daises… butter mellow…"
It was in moments like these that Draco thought to himself, holding his newborn child in his arms, when all the world fizzled out to nothingness. A baby boy. So small. So delicate. He couldn't believe that fate had dealt him such a lucky hand. The way his pudgy fingers wrapped around Draco's thumb stirred an emotion within the prideful father that he hadn't felt in such a long time -remorse. Remorse for all of the stupid, selfish things he had done in the past.
He looked up to his wife, Astoria, who smiled warmly back at him. The nurse next to her checked her vitals as she yawned, exhausted from labor. "What shall we name him?"
Draco looked down at the tiny bundle and knew just the name. "Scorpius. Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy."
"What a wonderful name," the nurse said, patting Astoria on the hand.
He looked from the nurse, to his wife, and then said, "Might we have a moment alone?"
"Of course." The nurse excused herself, leaving the happy couple to themselves. But it would only be pleasant for a moment longer, he knew, because what he had to say next would surely not go over well. Astoria tucked a lock of her chestnut colored hair behind her ear, eyes heavy with dark circles.
"What is it, Draco?"
"Who says there was something to say?" he muttered, looking down into his son's grey blue eyes that so matched his own.
"I know you. What's wrong?"
Draco's stomach churned as he tried to play back his practiced speech in his mind. He had gone over it for weeks now, thought out every detail, but when it came down to it he knew, despite his cunning tongue, that he would not be able to put a pleasant spin on this. So he said simply, "You have to promise not to be angry with me."
"What?" Her eyebrows drew together in concern. "Why would I be mad, Draco? Is it another woman?"
He laughed, taken aback by the direction in which her mind went and shook his head. "No. Nothing quite like that. Something much worse, I'm afraid." His eyes wandered over Scorpius's chubby cheeks and tiny ears. No. He was doing the right thing, he assured himself. He stared at his son as he whispered, "Daddy's been accepted to be an Auror."
He didn't dare look up, but he knew from the silence that his wife was not pleased. Her body shifted on the bed, and she was quiet for a long time. "An Auror?" He swallowed and brought his gaze up to hers. Her green eyes shimmered disgust as the corners of her mouth pulled down. "When? When did you do this?"
"I applied three months ago," he answered honestly. "But I only received my notice three days ago. I wanted to tell you, really I did… but I knew you wouldn't be pleased."
"Well of course I'm not pleased," she said quietly. "How could I ever be pleased about something like that? Do you remember what our fathers would say about Aurors? Remember the phrase?"
"Aurors never age."
"That's right. Aurors never age. And do you know why they never age? Because they never live long enough to age!" She slammed her fists down on the bed. Scorpius squirmed in his father's arms and began to cry.
"Now look what you've done," scolded Draco.
"What I've done? It's what I've done, is it? What about what you've done?" Her voice rose as tears trickled down her cheeks. "You'd leave your family to die?"
"Who says I'd die? That's hardly any faith in me, Astoria."
"Faith? The only faith I have is that you've ruined this family," she said coldly. "What kind of life will Scorpius have if his father is dead in the ground with maggots crawling through his eyes? What kind of life would I have as a widow? Did you give any of this thought before you jumped into some idiotic pledge of loyalty to the Ministry?"
"Of course I did! Do you honestly think I did this to punish our family?"
"I don't have to explain my reasons to you."
"I'm your wife."
"And I'm your husband. You should support my endeavors." He kissed Scorpius delicately on the forehead and quietly handed him back to Astoria.
"This isn't an endeavor, Draco. This is a death wish." She tucked her newborn infant in the crook of her arms and looked to her husband. "I will not support this."
"Lucky for me; I don't need your permission." An anger spread like an egg being cracked over his head, and he strolled over to the door. "I'm to be inducted in three weeks. Can we not spend that time fighting?" It broke his heart to leave the room, but he had to before he lost his temper. He said nothing else as he left, and when the door shut behind him he brought his shaking hands up to his face to look at them. "I have to do this." He jabbed a fist out and punched the bricks of the Manor wall. The pain ricocheted up his arm and cried out in his shoulder, but he didn't care. He welcomed it. He gazed at his scraped knuckles and sighed. "I have to do this," he said again, as if to convince himself. He glanced back at the door, knowing he should go back to console his wife, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead, he turned and walked away to the staircase, his resolve never more shaken. He would do this. He had to. Astoria would have to forgive him. He had no plans of dying -not before he made amends for every terrible sin he'd ever done, and for the one that kept him awake at night.
As he took to the stairs, he hummed a wordless tune his mother would sing to him when he was down. He was going to need more than an old hymn, however, if he was going to get through this with his sanity intact.
How To Train Your Auror
Auror Training, Day 1
The room they kept the trainees in for orientation was small, dingy, and smelled thickly of mold. Twenty chairs, paired in groups of two at large work benches, offered seating to hopeful applicants. Hermione took a seat at the front, and, having been one of the first to arrive, prepared her desk. She brought out a quill, some ink, parchment, and spelled them all to work together to take whatever notes necessary. This had been frowned upon back at Hogwarts, but this was the real world, she thought dutifully, and she didn't think she'd have much time to take notes herself.
She pulled out a book from her bag and began to read as she waited while other trainees filed in. She didn't get much of a chance to skim her book, however, because someone plopped down in the seat next to her with a wide grin on his face.
"Allo, Hermione." It was none other than Dean Thomas. His white teeth sparkled in the light of the wall bewitched to look like a window overlooking a courtyard.
"Dean," Hermione grinned back at him. "I haven't seen you in ages. I didn't know you'd be joining Auror training."
"You're one to talk. Look at you." He gestured to her readied desk supplies. "Thought I'd catch you dead before I saw you join the Auror club." He blanched. "Sorry. That was… a terrible choice of words. I only meant that I didn't expect to see you here…"
"Well… things have changed, haven't they?" Hermione chewed on her lower lip in thought. Dean took her implication and nodded in response. She wasn't the only one who had lost a friend that day. He began to fidget with the bottom of his shirt. "So…" she said, trying to bring the subject back round. "You want to be an Auror as well."
"I've tried twice now. I'm brilliant when it comes to the field work, but you put a written exam in front of me and my brain sort of fizzles out. –Maybe, with you here, I might stand a better chance." He flashed her hopeful eyes.
"I won't help you cheat, Dean."
"Oh, come on, Hermione. You know I only meant to study is all."
She smiled down at her lap. "Well, I am rather good at that."
The two got to talking so that Hermione hardly paid attention as the room began to fill up with potential Aurors. When the 9AM bell chimed, she found herself feeling much like she had back in Hogwarts, awaiting lessons. A swivel of black robes came from the door in the back, and a handsome looking gentleman greeted the lot with a small, humbled wave of his hand as he approached the front. Tucked under his arm was a stack of papers, no doubt case files with each applicant. He sat them on the desk, then leaned back on the front of the desk and looked over his squires.
"Hello." He said, crossing his arms. "I'm Chief Commander, Auror Gregory Wallace Diggle."
There was a stir in the room as many of the younger candidates, fresh out of Hogwarts and the like, burst into gossiping chatter. Hermione had heard tales of Auror Diggle from the Dailey Prophet. He was a decorated war hero, and having been only slightly older than Hermione herself, was acclaimed one of the brightest Aurors of his time. Even Harry had conceded to his brilliance at one time or another. Hermione recalled Ron used to snort his nose up at him, which probably meant that Diggle was just as good as the papers claimed. When her thoughts sifted over her memories of Ron, her stomach instantly plummeted.
Diggle put his hand up, and the room hushed. "I'll be training the sodding lot of you most days. On the days that I'm unable, Auror Potter will sub for me. -Some of you may know me personally from this bunch." He glanced over at Hermione's table and waved a gleeful hand to Dean. "Some of you know me by my reputation. –But I want to make it clear now: however you know me, I am simply Auror Diggle here. I'm just a regular bloke, like you. Any brown nosing will get you nowhere but with shite on your nose, I'm afraid. –There are twenty hopeful Aurors in training this session. Only ten of you will make the cut. Over the next three months, we'll be buckling down on you, giving you vigorous hands on training, as well as testing your knowledge on skills and hand to hand combat. You might have passed the initial credentials, but that doesn't mean your position is secure. You'll have to prove that to myself and my counterparts. In two weeks, we will cut four of you. This is a dangerous position. There can be casualties. You must always be prepared." His voice was solemn as he picked up the first file on his desk and read out loud. "Right, we'll start rollcall. If you are late, for any reason that hasn't been approved already by myself or the Minister, you will be cut immediately. –Arsinth?"
A young boy, no older than seventeen with floppy brown hair, nearly jumped out of his chair as he stood. "Here, sir."
Diggle smirked, flashed the room a wink, and said, "Relax, Arsinth. This isn't a muggle military."
"Sir." Arsinth nodded, taking a seat, red flooding his cheeks.
Diggle read down the list, acknowledging each applicant with a firm smile or a warm nod of the head. When he called out Hermione's name, there was another round of whispers through the room. Hermione thought at first it was because of her reputation as a War hero, and perhaps some of it was, but a bulky bloke in the back with a face full of pimples muttered, "A woman Auror. What is this world coming to?"
Auror Diggle heard, because his head shot up immediately. Hermione, unsure if she should take her seat or not, stood awkwardly as he said, "What was that?"
"No. That was something." He rose from his leaned position on the desk and glanced around at the room. "Let me make one thing clear. Hermione Granger is a decorated War hero. The great Harry Potter would be dead if it wasn't for her, so if anyone has anything to say about a woman Auror, you can kindly take your opinions and shove them up your arse before you resign from the Ministry. –Hermione, you can sit down any time."
"Oh. Right." She felt her cheeks burn as she took her seat and stared blankly down at her spelled quill, which had written down Diggle's words as a footnote. If she wasn't so fumed over the entire ordeal, she might have giggled.
"Right." He picked up his stack of papers and went on. "Next on the list…" He hesitated for a moment, and Hermione pulled her eyes away from her paper to watch him find his voice again. "…Malfoy."
There was a squeak as a chair pulled against the floor, and then the sound of a body shifting from its seated position. Hermione turned her head. Surely she had heard wrong. But then her eyes drifted to the back, to where an all too familiar wizard stood proudly. He had aged since their last encounter as teenagers, and the grey eyes he was known for no longer held their bright sheen. Somewhere in the time between then and now, his shoulders had filled out, making him appear bulkier despite his lean frame. There were lines around his mouth, and his hair was longer. But the one thing that had not changed in all that time was his smirk that danced gracefully along his thin lips. "Present."
Diggle stared at him, unamused. "Mr. Malfoy, while your family has entitlement and status in the wizarding community, here you are simply one of my wards. You will address me as Auror Diggle or Sir if you wish to continue your training."
Malfoy's cheeks flared a brilliant shade of red, and he took his seat, mumbling 'Sir.'
After the War, she had always wondered what had become of the Malfoy family. They had managed to avoid Azkaban by claiming changes in sides last minute, but that hadn't let them off of the hook from those who knew better. It had been nine years since that encounter in the Malfoy Manor. Hermione still had the scars to remind her that there were still wizards who would look down on her for nothing more than her heritage. She wondered to herself how the Ministry had ever considered Malfoy's application in the first place.
She wasn't the only one.
Dean leaned over and whispered, "It must be a cold day in Hell for the Ministry to be that desperate. Never thought I'd see the day."
Hermione said nothing but inwardly agreed. Auror Diggle continued on with roll call until he had sifted through each applicant, and then clapped his hands together. "Wonderful. So glad to know you -even if I'll only know some of you for a very short time. Now, on to my next announcement -partners!" He brought a giant scroll up to his face and waved it around the room. "Based on your records from school, meaning your NEWTs, and your scores on your application exams, I've selected a partner that I think will compliment you on the field as you grow into full-fledged Aurors. Seeing as how most of you did extremely well, this was a very time consuming selection. You will be teamed with your partner until the end of Auror training. This is to ensure you not only learn how to grow yourselves, but to work and help each other grow." He began to read from the list. "Dean Thomas, Roman Romero. Walter Simmons, Leon House." He paused, looking to Hermione. "Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy."
Draco was sure he had heard wrong. But as the brunette turned in her chair and chanced a glance back towards him, he knew it was no mistake. Damn it, he thought. This wouldn't do it all. He was trying to atone for his sins, not have them slapped directly in his face every day. He jerked his eyes away from her and settled them on his quill and notes. No, he would need to make this work. This wasn't something he could back out of now.
He would partner up with Granger and pass this induction. Perhaps he could even show her up. Heh. Yeah right. As if that were possible.
"I'm sorry, Sir. You've made a mistake." Hermione sat patiently after everyone had filtered out of the room to break for lunch, sans Auror Diggle. He sat atop his desk loosening his tie. Up close, she could see the afternoon stubble on his pointed chin, which contradicted his stunningly boyish eyes. Green flecks, much like Harry's, glistened back at her.
"And what, pray tell, have I done to warrant such an accusation?"
"Draco Malfoy, sir. I can't be his partner."
"You very much can. I think the word you're looking for is wont. Is that what I'm hearing, Auror Granger?"
"N-No Sir. I just… we never got on in school. And…well… he was a Death Eater. How could the Ministry let someone like him into the Auror division?" The words tumbled out of her mouth before she knew she had said them, and she bit down on her tongue. Damn it. After all of her talk of diversity and acceptance, she couldn't stop her own prejudices from surfacing. Diggle looked at her with calm tenacity and smirked.
"Hit the nail right on the head, didn't you, Granger?" He stood up, rounded his desk, and took his seat. "I had the exact same reaction." There, he pulled up his briefcase and began to shuffle through it. He brought out a large manila file and slapped it on the desk. "I really have to give it to you- I didn't think you'd ask questions so soon. I had planned on asking you to stay after orientation, but this saves me the formality. -The Ministry isn't the forgiving sort, but seeing as how Mr. Malfoy was acquitted of all charges, it would be discriminatory not to take his application seriously. As it stands, he ranked the highest in written scores aside from one other person. Care to take a guess as to who that young lady might be?" He gave her a wink, making her blush. "It is no coincidence that I paired you up with Draco Malfoy. Not in the least."
"You, out of everyone that was in this room today, know him best. You might not know him on a personal level, but you grew up around him. You know his tells. His weaknesses. I can't investigate him myself. Believe me, I brought it up to the Minister of Magic himself. But I'm sure you have the same question boiling around in that brilliant mind of yours that's the same as mine."
Hermione sifted through her thoughts and then said, "Why would Draco Malfoy become an Auror? What would he gain from it?"
"Exactly. -What would an ex-Death Eater gain from becoming an Auror? Sympathy? Penance? Or perhaps something far more sinister?- That is where you come in, Miss Granger."
"Auror Diggle." Hermione tried her best to be as level as possible as she spoke. "I came here to become an Auror. To follow in my late-husband's footsteps-"
"-I am dreadfully sorry about your loss, by the way. Auror Weasley was a valuable asset to the force. While I didn't know him personally, my partner, Potter, spoke highly of him."
Hermione's heart began to race. His lament was unexpected and had caught her off guard. She nodded appreciatively. "Thank you." She was grateful he didn't say something along the lines of 'anything I can do to help.' That always made her want to vomit. As if anyone could actually help… they couldn't bring Ron back to life. "But that's off the subject. -I didn't come here to play babysitter to anyone else."
"Is that what you think I'm asking you to do?" Diggle shook his head, chuckling. "Miss Granger, you and I both know that this training is merely a formality for you. I'm assigning you your first case."
His words echoed in her ears. "My first… what?"
"While I can't officially give you a badge, as far as we're concerned on paper, I'm making you a full fledged Auror. Today."
"Sir.. I don't know what to say."
"Say you'll be my eyes and ears. Say you'll watch Malfoy and report back to me."
Lost in a blur of emotions, Hermione attempted to sort out her thoughts. Becoming an Auror now, without properly doing the work. Well, that was cheating, wasn't it? She didn't like that idea at all. All of her years at Hogwarts, she never condoned cheating. And she wasn't about to start now.
"I'm sorry, sir. I think I'll earn my keep. Same as the rest."
Diggle ran a hand through his sandy brown hair and sighed. "I see. Making me bring out the big magic, eh?" He reached into his briefcase once more and sat down a thicker envelope. Hermione's heart froze as she read what was written on top in bold letters. 'WEASLEY DEATH, CONFIDENTIAL'
"That's… that's Ron's… that's his file," she gasped, reaching for it. He pulled it back and waved a finger at her.
"Quid Pro Quo, young apprentice. I had a suspicion this might be your reason for applying for the Auror position, am I right? You don't think your husband's death was an accident."
Hermione balled her hands up and slammed them on the desk. She closed her eyes as wave after wave of emotions hit her like a current. Had she been that transparent? She tried desperately to convince herself that the real reason was to help people, but even she couldn't lie to herself at this point.
"You're probably wondering how I knew. And let me just say, I'm that good. So, I'll make you that offer again. A guaranteed Auror position at the end of your training, and everything I have on your husband's case for information on Draco Malfoy. His movements. His strengths. Weaknesses. What he eats in the morning. I'll be damned if we let a former Death Eater into this administration without reconnaissance first."
"Let me guess. You were a Slytherin in school."
"See. There's that bright young mind I need." He wagged the file in front of her face. "Do we have a deal, Miss Granger?"
Aaaaand, END SCENE. *Bows head*
I hope you enjoyed this first chapter. This is going to be a slight mystery story, as well as a growing relationship between Hermione and Draco. Their friendship/potential romance will take time, so I hope you will join me on this journey. Once again, thank you for your time, and please leave a review if you enjoyed this first chapter.
Also, I'd like to find a beta reader to look for corrections / plot holes in my story. If you are interested, please let me know. Next chapter should arrive by Friday, May 20th, 2016.
If you liked this work, please check out my completed story "Drinking Buddies."
A/N: This story is now complete! Please enjoy the rest. I'm making edits as I go to fix my past mistakes. If you catch any, please excuse them.
I also have a story in the works called "Sex Ed" and the sequel to this story called "How To Train Your Auror 2: Family Ties".