Disclaimer: I'm not making money off this, only having some momentary amusement…
summary: he couldn't remember the last time that he was truly happy, and she couldn't remember the last time there was some life in his eyes when he smiled. How had it gotten to this point, anyway? And could one case really just solve it all, or were her hopes just set far too high?
Chapter I: Of Partners
She sighed as she looked at the drunk passed out in the corner of the pub, at the far end of the bar, and couldn't help but let out a small sigh of pity for herself as she anticipated the glances she'd receive. She already knew the sorry looks she'd receive when the patrons of the bar realized that she was the one left picking him up and bringing his sorry drunk arse back home. "Bloody ridiculous, is what it is," she angrily muttered to herself, emitting a small growl as she determinedly made her way towards the pathetic sight.
"Harry," she nudged him, trying to gain some sort of a reaction from the bastard who wasting her lunch hour with his stupid antics. "Harry?"
"Huh?" he slowly raised his head, drowsily cocking an eyebrow. "Mione, is that you?"
"Yes… and don't call me Mione, you know I hate it. Now, come on, up and at 'em, time to go home."
"But I don't want to," he whined petulantly with a less than dignified slur as he hugged the counter. "I wanna stay, Mione!"
She sighed, raising her hands to rub her temples slowly. "Come on, Harry, don't do this again, not now, please," she begged. "Just follow me, let me take you home."
He nodded, an action that actually caused him to fall of the stool and onto the floor—he truly had terrible balance when pissed. "Ow," he groaned.
Hermione let out an exasperated breath as she slowly kneeled down, careful not to topple over in her tight pencil skirt, definitely not her attire of choice when having to pick up Harry like that. "Come on," she said, latching onto his arm and helping him get up off the ground. "Let's go, yeah?"
He nodded slowly. "Can we pick up drinks on the way though?—Harry's out," he explained with a small pout, stumbling, and nearly falling over on numerous occasions, as Hermione led him towards the exit.
"No, Harry, I'm afraid we'll only have time to pick you up some coffee, okay?" she patiently asked him as she helped him into the car, buckling his seat belt for him and taking care to lock the door before she closed it so he wouldn't drunkenly run off like last time she forgot.
"Oh… okay… another time then, yeah?" he asked her as she seated herself at the driver's seat.
"Sure, Harry," anything you want," she mumbled as she put her key into the ignition.
It was going to be a long day… a very crappy and long day.
"Potter?" he heard a distant and rough voice suddenly interrupt his thoughts, effectively pulling him out of his reverie.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"Pay some attention already—constant vigilance, Potter, constant vigilance," his department head, Buckley, told him, repeating his late mentor's infamous adage.
Harry let out a deep, frustrated, breath. "Vigilance turned on, chief."
Even Buckley couldn't help but quietly snigger at the retort; he always appreciated a little attitude here and there. Supposedly, that came from spending far more time than was good for the mental health with Alastor Moody, but he preferred to think it was just due to him being an exceptionally tolerant and "cool" boss.
"Did you even hear anything I said, Potter?"
"No, not really," was the bored, but blunt, reply that he received. "Honestly? I was just waiting for you to hand me over that case file so I could just get on with my day already."
Buckley openly laughed at that one. "You got moxy, kid."
"And you sound like a fifties film now—maybe even a character from `Casablanca'… you could even be Louie," Harry quipped.
"Why not Rick?"
At that question Harry couldn't help but let a lazy smile cross his face. "Really, Humphrey Bogart? Don't you think you're setting your sights a tad bit too high there, chief?"
Buckley shrugged. "It was worth a shot—and, here, there's your file, but don't say that I didn't warn you, yeah?"
Harry nodded distractedly as he got up off his seat. "Yeah, got it… I can go now, right?"
"As if it really matters what my answer is," Buckley grumbled moodily. "And your partner's waiting for you in your office."
That last mention most definitely piqued Harry's attention. "Partner?—I thought I made myself clear when I said that I don't-"
"You have no choice, Potter," Buckley stopped him, fully enjoying the dominance he had in the situation, who doesn't like a little power now and then anyway? He thought to himself with a shrug. "Besides, maybe if you were listening to what I was saying you'd know why. Maybe that'll teach you a lesson now… although I doubt it."
Harry grinned. "You know me too well, boss… actually, it almost makes me want to swoon," he announced as he batted his eyelashes obnoxiously at his superior, something that obviously terrified the man who looked as if he was on the verge of having a coronary, before making his way out the office.
When she stopped in front of his building she only let out a deep sigh, let the steering wheel go from the vice grip that she had held it with during the entirety of the forty-five minute drive to Harry's building, and let herself fall back into her seat.
Harry, who had done a sobering charm on himself during the ride, found himself only able to respond to the rather depressing sight with an "I'm sorry."
He watched her intently as she bit her lip, wiping away any emotion from her face before turning to fully face him. "It's okay, really. Besides, you needed someone to be there and I was available… but, really Harry, the bartender told me you were there binge drinking for four hours—you started at ten in the morning?!"
He shrugged. "Nothing better to do."
"No!" he roughly interrupted her. "No, Hermione, for you there is, not for me. Just—no lectures… please, okay? I don't need a mother hen or a conscience… I can't have that from you… I just can't, not now," he told her with a pained voice, his tone progressively getting softer with each word.
"Okay," she nodded. "But can you at least shave?… You have such a handsome face, Harry, one of the most attractive I've ever seen, there's really no need to hide it behind that ghastly beard."
He smiled tiredly at her, his eyes empty even when he was grinning at her. "For you, anything… listen, you want to come up for a spot of lunch or some tea? I mean I'm sure I can whip up something that's at least edible, even in my state."
"No, wish I could, but I can't. I really should be getting back to work, this is my lunch hour; another time, yeah?"
He nodded. "Okay, I'd like that."
"And, Harry, don't forget your coffee, I have a feeling you're going to need it," she smiled at him as she handed him the bag that had been sitting in the back seat.
"Thanks," he told her with a nod before leaving the car.
He let out a groan once he reached his office. Merlin, he hated partners—they were always so nosey, wanting to know what the hell it was that he were doing and whether or not it was against protocol.
Prats, the whole lot of them; annoying bastards that were just a nuisance—damn Buckley for going specifically against his wishes by assigning him a partner. Who really needs that bloody buddy-buddy system, anyway? After all, in reality, it got old after the first grade; everyone knows that for fuck's sake.
"Oi, Potter, no matter how long you stare at that door it won't just disappear, mate," Golding laughed, clapping him on the back as he walked past him.
Harry merely threw him what he hoped to be a threatening glare as he grabbed hold of the knob and prepared himself for the worst.
He'd never expected, however, that the worst would be quite so attractive. "Hermione?"
She smiled at him from her seat atop his desk, a look that she somehow managed to make elegant rather than a raunchy pose from some porno. How, however, was totally beyond him. "Hi Harry!"
author's note: so this is my new fic, not quite sure how often it will be updated, as I'm also working on a LJ fic, and I've never actually worked on two fics at once… but I'll try to update as often as I can…
p.s. note: every Auror will be named after a favorite author of mine (since I really don't have the energy to think of my own names, really, I hate doing that part), can anyone guess which authors I'm referring to?
This chap's authors: Buckley and Golding.