Anti-Litigation Charm: It all belongs to JKR; I play for non-profit amusement.

Author's Notes: I have two OTPs, and they both feature in this fic; the SS/HG pairing is predominant, but there is H/D non-graphic slash as well. If this is not your cup of tea, please go elsewhere.

This fic is monstrously long. And when I say long, I really, truly mean it. It's my 2007 NaNo, and when November ended, I was 210 000 words in and nowhere near done. I finished it 123 days after I started and spent the next eight months editing it. And it's still nearly 600 000 words long. Yes, 600 000 words. You have been warned. ;)

It's been a labour of love. Maybe it would have been better if my inner editor had climbed a little further out of her box than she did, but *shrugs*, it is what it is. I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience—though I'm not sure I'll ever try to repeat it.

So expect lots of prose, and expect it to take a little while to get where it's going. Maybe it's OotP all over again, but I had a hell of a lot of fun writing. ^_^

Bigger lemons are generally het-filled and few and far between. There is the occasional bout of cursing (of the profane variety) and a good deal of cursing (of the magical variety).

This fic is complete and should be updated once a week as I give each chapter a final edit to make sure it's post-worthy.

Here's me squeaking in for the first week of 2009.

Neither HBP nor DH compliant.

Reviews make me smile. ^_^

The Problem with Purity

The Prologue

Andrew Stebbins was having a very exciting day. He worked in the Auror Department for the Ministry of Magic, but he was not a field agent; no, he was in charge of all correspondence that came into the department. He had been doing his job for nigh on thirty years, and the quiet and studious man acknowledged that he did it well.

He didn't mind confessing that before he had assumed the position, the place had been in shambles. Aurors might be brilliant at capturing evil-doers, but they couldn't file paperwork to save their lives; it was as if they hadn't heard of the alphabet or file cabinets. Within ten weeks of his being on the job, the horrendous backlog was put to rights. All memos, pardons, praise, complaints, Howlers (which he knew how to deactivate while preserving the words themselves), requests, logs, reports, advisements, copies of motions—and all other types of correspondence—were properly filed.

He had done away with the daft system that separated each piece of parchment into one category and had instead tinkered with the storage cabinets until they accepted multiple categories for the same material, allowing it to be called up under any appropriate heading. It had been he, too, who had put the simple Space Charm on the parchments so that they were all flat and uniformly shaped and sized when filed, but originally shaped and sized outside of the cabinet.[1]

He put the correspondence away by date of arrival and then by name of sender, and this assured that it was called forth smoothly; one had only to tap on the cabinet with one's wand and request memos sent by Rufus Scrimgeour between January and March 1994, for example, and they would appear when the drawer was opened. Any that were complaints would also respond to a request for such, and now no one had to stand at the cabinet guessing whether a letter that lauded the department but deplored a recent arrest was filed under praise or complaint.

Andrew was inordinately pleased with his handiwork, especially since more than one Auror had noted the efficiency over the years. Of course, the newer employees didn't even know there had ever been another system, but he still felt a glow of pride whenever a needed material was speedily found. It was a darn good thing he'd been able to whip the office into shape, too, because ever since You Know Who had returned, there had been an exponential increase in the amount of material that went through the Auror Department.

When he'd first been hired, it had been implied that he would sort out the veritable snarl of paperwork in the Auror office and then move on to other departments; to his not inconsiderable satisfaction, once they had actually seen what he was capable of, such a move had never been mentioned again. In fact, he'd even heard a rumour that Auror Scrimgeour, when he had been Head of the Department, had quashed attempts from several other departments to acquire Andrew.

He could still remember with fondness when Alastor Moody had requested a similar cabinet for the field files because it was the job of the Auror in charge of the case to seal and file those reports. Andrew had made certain ever since that each of the Aurors knew how to properly return those files to their cabinet, and he was always available to help sort out any filing mishaps.

But today wasn't even one of those days, when he could feel a bit as though he was rescuing an Auror from a filing nightmare. No, it was even better: for the second time in his life, he'd received a grade one, orange-proof scroll (so called because it was the most top security scroll in the world, its distinctive orange colour made from a dye that couldn't be used for anything else). Just the thought of holding this indestructible parchment made him almost bubbly with happiness—and bubbly, he acknowledged, was normally one of the last adjectives that could be used to describe Andrew Stebbins.

Feeling unusually exuberant or not, Andrew made sure to follow the methodology he had set up for himself, opening, categorizing, sorting, and logging all the morning mail before gathering it up to file, with the precious grade one scroll in pride of place on top, since it was virtually in a category of its own.

Emerging from his office, he greeted Kingsley Shacklebolt as he passed by. The man returned the salutation with a respectful nod before turning the corner, and Andrew guessed he was heading towards Auror Tonks's office. He liked both these Aurors because they treated him respectfully, unlike some of the high-and-mighty new recruits who thought he was worthless. When Kingsley had become the Head of the Aurors, Andrew had received a pay raise and an invitation to call the man by his given name; he had appreciated the latter sign of respect even more than the money.

He hadn't made it two steps further down the corridor before he was stopped by an abrupt, "What do you think you are doing?"

Turning round, he found a red-faced Rufus Scrimgeour, who seemed to be bearing down on him. Confused, he turned his head to left and right and verified that he really was the only one there; the Head of Magical Law Enforcement must have been addressing him, although he was at a loss to explain such a tone.

"I'm about to file these correspondences, Auror Scrimgeour," he therefore answered politely. He realized Scrimgeour was a busy man with many responsibilities, but surely he remembered an employee with whom he had worked for years before moving to the even more esteemed position he now held?

"I don't care about the rest of that twaddle. I mean this." The man strode forward and snatched up the orange-proof scroll, demanding angrily, "Why didn't you report it to me immediately?"

Andrew frowned. "There was no tag on it indicating that the Head of Magical Law Enforcement was to be informed when it arrived in the office. I was just about to file it with the other one—"

"There's another one?" the man hissed explosively. "Do you have any idea what this is?"

"Of course I do," Andrew replied, a trace impatiently, because this was his job, after all. "It's a scroll attesting to Pu—"

"Not here, you fool!" the other man snapped. "Come with me."

Growing more confused by the minute, Andrew nevertheless hastened to obey. Whatever was going on, it was clearly a misunderstanding of some sort because he was quite certain that he'd followed all the proper procedures. In his long career, he had not once misfiled a paper, and he was certain that continued to hold true, especially for parchment as important as this.

Once they were in the Head of Magical Law Enforcement's office, the secretary told to hold all Floo calls and keep everyone out, the door sealed, Scrimgeour turned towards him.

"Have you told anyone else about the scroll? Does anyone else know about it?"

"Of course I haven't," Andrew exclaimed indignantly. Of all the accusations for the Head of his branch of the Ministry to make! As though he, an employee of nearly three decades' good standing, would jeopardize his position with a loose tongue.

He was so outraged that it took him a moment to process the second question and realize that it was possible Auror Shacklebolt had seen the scroll, although he had not given the slightest indication that he found any of what Andrew was holding noteworthy. He had just started to conscientiously open his mouth to advise Scrimgeour of this possibility when the man interrupted him.

"Excellent." He smiled a grim little smile, and Andrew suddenly found himself faced with a man wielding a wand like he meant business.


[1] Alas, Andrew Stebbins's method of filing is not a brainchild of mine. The lovely people at Gmail came up with it first, and hopefully they don't mind that I borrowed it for my magical world, since I've been nothing but impressed by their "labels" as opposed to the "folders" used by everyone else.