Disclaimer: I do not own the original canon nor am I making any profit from writing this piece. All works are accredited to their original authors, performers, and producers while this piece is mine. No copyright infringement is intended. I acknowledge that all views and opinions expressed herein are merely my interpretations of the characters and situations found within the original canon and may not reflect the views and opinions of the original author(s), producer(s), and/or other people.
Warnings: This story may contain material that is not suitable for all audiences and may offend some readers.
Summary (Title): Harry hadn't made the decision to move to another country lightly. He just had to do well on the first job he ever had to interview for. He wasn't certain that he was doing well at all.
Song Recommendation(s): "Sun" by Sleeping at Last
Author's Note (01): This story is a continuation of Through the Storm, but care has been taken so that this story may be read on its own. It's probably a happier story if you do not realize that Harry is essentially doing the grownup version of running away from home in this. Just go forth with the understanding that I hate both the epilogue of Deathly Hallows and the entirety of Thorne's play. Beyond that, all I have to say is that I realize that Dr. Anne Jarvis didn't become the head librarian of Cambridge until 2009, but I could not find her predecessor, so let's ignore that little hiccup because I'm about 78% certain that no one would have raked me over the coals for mixing up the real people appearing in the fanfiction. Also, I could not find a start date for Dr. Salwa Ismail as the head librarian of Georgetown University, so we're going to be pretend that she was there and holding that position in July of 2005.
Author's Note (02): This piece was written for a challenge in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry (Challenges & Assignments) on the FFN forum.
The Challenge Information:
Hogwarts House: Gryffindor
Club/Event: Fun with Fishing (August)
Lure/Bait: Spinnerbaits/Buzzbaits (Crossover: Criminal Minds)
Prompt: Job (Librarian)
Word Count: 2143
Fandom Tag(s): Harry Potter – JK Rowling; Criminal Minds
Relationship Tag(s): background mentions only
Character Tag(s): Harry Potter
Additional Tag(s): Epilogue What Epilogue; Implied/Referenced Child Abuse; Intelligent Harry Potter; Career Change
-= LP =-
The Universe Inside
-= LP =-
"I guess space, and time, takes violent things, angry things, and makes them kind."
– Sleeping at Last, Sun
-= LP =-
Harry breathed deeply before entering the building. There really wasn't anything worth worrying about on this trip. He already bought a new house and the wards had the necessary time to settle. While he needed something to keep himself busy, he didn't need the money that came from the position that had brought him to Georgetown University.
He had needed to get away from everything back in England, where there had been too many reminders of things he didn't want to remember. This university wasn't the only one with an opening in his field—libraries were always in need of librarians, after all—but the campus reminded him of Hogwarts. He just needed to not blow the interview.
"Hello," Harry greeted the woman seated at the front desk. She gave him an assessing look, one loaded with enough interest that Harry was uncomfortable. She tossed her head just a little to move her dark hair back without touching it. It was probably meant to be alluring but Harry wasn't certain if it was honest attraction or a trap. Too many years dodging witches who were determined to be Mrs. Potter had left him paranoid about flirting, even though this woman couldn't possibly have known about his celebrity status in a secret society in another country. Especially since he had legally changed his name to distance himself even further from it. "I'm Dr. Harry Black and I have an appointment with Dr. Salwa Ismail."
"Oh, you're here for the opening we have!" Her smile now was more professional, which was reassuring. Harry never quite knew what to do with other people's interest. Even Ginny's interest back in his sixth year at Hogwarts had made him uncomfortable—and he had been dating her at the time. He would never have been comfortable with the level of PDA she currently enjoyed from Dean and Seamus. Maybe his ex-girlfriend was not the thing he should be focusing on before an interview? "You look really young to already be a doctor. Are you like Dr. Reid?"
"I cannot answer your question adequately, ma'am," Harry replied, forcing himself to ignore the comment about his age. He already knew that he had managed to move quickly through his coursework. He had lasted only a year in training before he decided wholeheartedly that law enforcement was not something he could do, at least not within the magical world. To Hermione's delight, he had decided to return to school. His study method was simple: never sleep unless he absolutely had to and test out of anything he could. It had added up fairly quickly. "I don't know who that is. I do realize that I'm young for holding a PhD, but it is really not that impressive. I just learned to love reading young, I guess."
"And so polite! You would be amazed how many academics are either outright rude or so socially awkward they end up accidently rude." The woman continued her chatter as she turned back to her computer and began looking up something. Her fingers were quick on the keyboard and she was clearly used to multitasking. "Dr. Reid is our newest TA. He's attached to the adjunct professor over the Criminal Psychology courses. That would be Special Agent Jason Gideon, the man who—"
"—founded the Behavioral Science Unit, that's been recently renamed the Behavioral Analysis Unit. He's half of the team that developed the field of Behavioral Analysis as it applies to criminal psychology. The other half is David Rossi, who literally wrote the books on the field. Also very good procedural thrillers which may or may not be based upon cases he worked while employed by the FBI." Harry gave her a weak smile as she stared at him in confused surprise. He had to fight off the urge to blush. "I like reading and they were interesting. I also may have, ah, did my dissertation on the history of behavioral science across several fields. You're very lucky to have Dr. Gideon teaching. Is his adjunct status because he's still an active agent?"
"Yes—in fact, he and Dr. Reid were called away to Seattle just this morning," she replied. Her dark eyes were assessing again, but it was more like how his advisor had looked before sending him for testing or how Anne had always looked before suggesting yet another Library Science course. "You said you liked reading? Do you know how fast you read, Dr. Black?"
"I've never clocked it," he answered, barely holding back a shrug. The mildly flirtatious personality from before had shifted into a more authoritative one. He had the feeling that he may have been duped slightly. He couldn't say that he was surprised or even annoyed. It was a valid strategy for getting a feel for an applicant, even if it was a bit sneaky. "Fast? I had to learn to do it quickly with good retention when I was younger. The habit just carried over. Depending on the book and my pre-existing familiarity with the subject, it takes me anywhere from a half hour to three or four hours to get through it."
"Do you read much on unfamiliar subjects?"
"Well, I wouldn't say a lot, ma'am," Harry tried to dissemble without outright lying. The statement even had the benefit of being true. It was something he had picked up from Hermione over the years, and he had just never broken the habit of picking a topic at random to read through if he found a spare afternoon. It had probably saved his life a few times during the War, and it definitely kept him going during training afterwards, and the libraries at Cambridge were diverse enough that there was always something new to read. Away from the Dursleys, he had discovered just how much he loved learning as well as reading. There was a reason he had chosen the profession he had, after all. "Maybe occasionally."
Harry gave up any thought that she was just a nosy receptionist. This was clearly either a pre-interview or the interview itself. The woman was clearly a decision maker for the department. He recognized that exact tone from the years he had spent helping Anne fulfill her duties in the library at Cambridge. She also clearly had a nose for secrets that was probably even better than Mrs. Weasley's while on the scent of the twins' inventory—and didn't that memory hurt? Maybe he'd never be able to escape either of their deaths. Harry wouldn't win any points with Dr. Ismail by actively lying.
"Whenever I find time," he admitted. He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "I try to make the time every Sunday, but it didn't always work out back in England."
"Who is your favorite author?"
"That's not a fair question," Harry protested. "There's too many and it would change depending on field and genre—and what you're reading for."
"Comfort," she stated succinctly. Harry didn't even have to think.
"Shakespeare. Doesn't really matter what. He's—" magical "—incredible. His command of language, even if he created the word or phrase, is always wonderfully done and he has a way of connecting to the human soul. He could portray both the beauty and the horror of mankind, the complete uniqueness that is humanity. The artistic mastery of it stuns me anew every time, despite knowing every word by heart. It's comforting to know that something so perfect could exist."
"Good answer, Dr. Black," she said, rising from her seat. She extended her hand to him and he numbly shook it. After dropping the shake, she gestured to a kid who had to be a freshman or sophomore based on age. The boy took her seat. Another gesture had Harry following her through the shelves to a series of small offices. "I'm Dr. Ismail and I would like to extend my congratulations on your new position here at Georgetown. If you'll come with me, we can start the paperwork."
"You have a very impressive CV, Dr. Black. You are also polite, knowledgeable, not egotistical, and appear to have a personality that I feel will fit rather well with certain members of staff who are completely overqualified for the position they hold."
"You like that TA attached to Dr. Gideon."
"Quite so," she acknowledged and completely unashamed of that fact. "Dr. Reid can talk circles around everyone I have ever met, often without even meaning to do so, because of the breadth of his knowledge on diverse subjects." Her entire face softened at the mention of the TA, the same way that Fleur looked at little Victoire doing something adorably cute. "He has a dynamic sort of mind, the kind that can change the world if given even half a chance. You said that Georgetown was lucky to have Dr. Gideon here? I agree, because not only is he incredibly brilliant in his field but also because he's one of the few people who has managed to connect with Dr. Reid, to keep engage him and direct him away from roads which would destroy him."
"You know him as more than a colleague."
"Correct. I was his advisor for his Masters in Mathematics. He is a very sweet young man."
"And you hired me to—what?—be his friend?"
"No, Dr. Black," she denied, a smile twitching at her lips, "I hired you for the Doctorates of Library Sciences and Psychology that you managed to get in under five years after achieving your A-Levels. I hired you for the 123 courses you tested out of in a single term at Cambridge only to follow up the next term with an additional 105. I hired you because you still tested out of courses at the Masters level. I hired you because your dissertation was absolutely fascinating. I hired you for the 185 IQ that is included in your paperwork but not the CV you sent—"
"I don't believe intelligence can be adequately assessed and conveyed through numbers."
"But it is things like that which tell me that you will be a good fit here. Oh, and the way you carry yourself, of course."
"What's wrong with how I carry myself?" Harry asked. He quickly assessed how he was standing, recognizing that he had allowed tension to settle across his shoulders over the last bit of the discussion. That was because of his defensiveness, no doubt. Even after all this time and distance from the Dursleys and the wizarding world, he still readied himself for insults and blows. He flexed the muscles slightly to work them loose without changing his stance.
"You carry yourself like someone who has been on a very long journey to find a place he isn't sure even exists, like you have been fighting the universe for such a long time that stopping doesn't seem like an option." She paused as if she was debating her next words. "You look like you've been living with the weight of the world upon your shoulders and people just keep adding to the pile already there. You look like you could use some engagement of your own to keep you from heading willingly to your own destruction."
"I think I'm going to enjoy working with you, Dr. Ismail," Harry replied once he could do so without his voice breaking in the middle. No one had ever understood other than George, right before the end, how much he had wished someone had stopped him from completing that final march but how he would willing do it all over again because it had saved them all. It didn't matter if he had come back wrong and twisted because coming back at all meant that he got to be there when George had needed a friend. It meant that he had gotten a chance to fight for a little girl who had been so alone, even if that had been a fight he had lost. It had meant being able to be there for Ginny when she had needed someone to support her unconventional relationship with two men and the choice they had made to not marry when it would leave one of them out, despite the added burden of formally legitimizing every child they ever had. How is it that he had crossed an ocean to find someone who recognized how hard it had been for years?
"I know that I'm looking forward to it, Dr. Black," she answered with a toothy grin that Harry couldn't help but return in kind. "And I wonder if you are familiar with Star Trek, by any chance?"
They were soon deep in their discussion as they distractedly made their way through the stack of paperwork necessary for a new employee.
It felt a lot like finally coming home.