The Auror's Duty
Prologue: Cold Sunday
Sundays, she was certain, were only for eating big, family meals and playing Quidditch. Since she was a little girl, that had always been the case. Helping her mother with the potatoes, watching her brothers put on their 'uniform' robes, before hopping onto their well-used brooms and pushing off into the evening. She missed, quite frankly, those Sundays.
It seemed now, however, that it had been an eternity since she hadn't been working on a Sunday. Always, never failing, her fireplace lit up much too early in the morning, signalling an incoming Floo call, and beckoning her into work. How she hated being roused out of her much deserved sleep, and being summoned out to the field. She loved being a Auror; there was no hard feelings there, but sometimes she wished that she had chosen a simpler career path, like Muggle Relations.
Oh well, she sighed, and continued getting dressed, the sun only peeking over the horizon.
"What is it?" she asked, stepping out onto the second level, and striding through the great oak doors. A very ruffled Dean Thomas looked up from his papers and smiled at Ginny Weasley as she strode in, robes dancing about her.
"I'm glad you're here. The preliminary group has gone out and back; there are no witnesses in Hogsmeade, at least, not anymore. The student was out by himself apparently, but only for a few moments, as his two friends were following just behind. They've said that they didn't hear a struggle, or any noise at all, for that matter."
Ginny grabbed a nearby chair and pulled it up to Dean's desk. There were locations listed on the top paper, with notes hastily scribbled in. A photo lay buried about three pages down, and she gently pulled it out, meeting the frozen eyes of a young, brown-eyed boy smiling as someone snapped a picture in time.
Dean looked over. "That's him, Alex Ryerson. We've managed to ascertain that he has only one living relative, his father James Ryerson. We've located him as living here in London."
She broke away from the captivating stare of the child stuck in time. "Has he been notified yet?"
The other Auror shook his head. "No, he's a Muggle. We thought it best if you could tell him in person."
Ginny started. "Me? Don't Ash or Faun usually do that sort of thing?"
"They're both already on assignment, Ginny. You're going to have to do this one by yourself." She could see the fatigue in her companion's face, and she quelled her urge to argue. Picking up the file, she stood up.
"Thanks, Dean," she smiled, "but you should go home now. I know your wife is probably worried sick."
Dean grinned back, weary but relieved. "Thank you, Ginny. And good luck. Muggles can be... strange."
"Don't I know it." she muttered, as she walked away, file tucked under her hand and wand hidden away.
This was a part of London that she had never seen. Well, there was a lot of London she had never seen, but here it was different, strange. Maybe it was because she was alone, without her father beside her as in her youth, or her fellow Aurors as it usually was. Maybe it was just because of that brown-eyed boy, so mesmerizing and awkward, yet beautiful all the same. She hope that she could find him, and return him home.
Mr. James Ryerson lived on the second floor of one particularly grungy apartment building among an infinity of apartment buildings. Taking the stairs, she surveyed the escape routes around her, remembering and recognizing where and how fast it would take for her to leave. It was a skill, a habit, that she had retained from during the war, when every moment could be her last and every place could be her tomb.
Coming onto the landing, she made her way down the corridor, stopping at the fifth door on her left. She raised her hand to knock on the harsh brown wood, but it swung open before she could even make a sound.
"Oh!" exclaimed a short, square woman who emerged from the room, "I'm so sorry!"
Ginny smiled at the woman, before stepping back to let her pass by. "That's alright. I'm here to speak with Mr. Ryerson?"
The woman grinned at her as she left the threshold of the apartment. "He's right inside. James!" she called out, even as she walked away, "someone here to see you!" And then the woman disappeared down the stairwell, leaving Ginny to cross the open door.
There was a cool, dry air inside, as if the sun rarely warmed the apartment. Sparsely decorated, there was a old sofa facing a Muggle television, next to the square window facing the communal community square. A small table littered with books and papers was the centrepiece of the small living space, and Ginny remarked to herself that it didn't seem like a child lived here at all.
"I'm sorry for the clutter; I've only recently moved in." A voice startled Ginny, and she chided herself for not paying more attention. She turned around, and met the gaze of a middle-aged man leaning against the adjacent bedroom door. He was thin, with greying brown hair, dressed in jeans and a dress shirt.
"Mr. Ryerson?" she asked, and he confirmed her inquiry with a nod. "My name is Ginny Weasley, and I am here about your son."
The man's face changed, and his muddy eyes seemed to dim, as she spoke. "Alex? What it is? Is he alright?" He moved forward from the doorway, sat down at the table, and motioned for her to do the same.
Taking a seat across from him, Ginny prepared herself for what she had to say, and whatever his reaction might be. "I'm an Auror from the Ministry of Magic, Mr. Ryerson. Has your son explained to you what an Auror is?"
He nodded, and kept his eyes focused on her.
"Your son was visiting a neighbouring town on Saturday, with the rest of his schoolmates. He was kidnapped, and I've been sent to investigate." She hoped she didn't sound too callous, too insensitive; she had absolutely no idea how to do this.
James Ryerson's hands whitened as he gripped the edge of the table. "Kidnapped? By who? I-" he trailed off, and looked away, shaking slightly.
"We don't know who took your son, Mr. Ryerson, but I will try my hardest to find out who did, and I will try to get back your son."
A long moment passed, uncomfortable for her, as she watched the poor man gaze outside, watching the trees in the square sway in the wind. He turned to her, finally, and gave her a sad half-smile. "Thank you, Ms. Weasley. Will you be in touch with me? Should I go to this Ministry of Magic place as well?"
"I will be notifying you of any developments as they happen. Do you have someone to stay with you? Perhaps that lady who left earlier?"
His eyes looked down, despondent in the depressing atmosphere. "She's the landlord; I have no family other than Alex." He looked up then, and suddenly those brown eyes seemed to glow. "Please find my son."
She stood up from the table. "I will do my very best, Mr. Ryerson."
He nodded, defeated. "That's all that I can ask."
Ginny strode to the door, more determined than ever to find this boy, to find Alex and return him to his father. She put her hand on the door, and looked back one final time. The man had turned to the window once more, and her heart skipped a beat for him, sympathy overtaking her. She moved to turn away.
Her hand clenched the doorknob hard, as her heartbeat quickened for an entirely different reason.
The Auror withdrew her wand and was at the window before the man could even react. "Ponera!" she exclaimed, the tip of her wand barely missing his face. He fell to the ground, as the disguise that covered his body, the spell that had faltered for a fraction of a second and revealed him to Ginny, evaporated.
And then Ginny's breath was struck out of her chest as two very emerald eyes stared right up at her.
Next chapter should be up about a week from today. I'm really sorry, but it takes a lot of time and effort for me to write something that's not a vignette. :)