2012. That date changed what it meant to be an Auror, or at least that's what Granddad always said. Of course, it changed a lot more than that, though some changes came more slowly than others. What still was the US in Granddad's fading green eyes ceased to exist decades ago, and what was once known as Ireland was now Tir ná nOg. Those that even Dad called Muggles were now the Mundane. And even wizards were no longer a secret rarity, but merged with the swelling masses of Awakened.
Well, not too swelling. Still perhaps one percent of all the world, but orders more than there used to be, with orders more of variety in their ways. I could have gone to MITT (another thing that had changed- they added "Thaumaturgy" to Massachusetts Institute of Technology"), but it was tradition an pride that schooled me at Hogwarts.
"Snake Eyes! Toxics at four o' clock!" Squibs shouted, her voice hoarse from physical exertion. "Squib"-Another term that had fallen by the wayside. My companion only earned that moniker out of a fondness for old times. She was Awakened, as I was, but while I found my way through sorcery and a bit of conjuring, she channeled her powers into performing feats that no Mundane could do.
I spun around to face the two monsters before me. Though no light but that of the stars reached the bombed-out cellar we tracked our quarry to, it was clear as day on the astral plane. Squibs had already engaged one of the two beast spirits- horrors with appearance of mangy white-eyed chimeras, bloated with starvation. It had pounced on her, but she wrestled it until she was on top and battering the spirit with every ounce of her willpower.
"Incendio!" I roared, pointing my wand, my focus, not at the second chimera, but instead at the sallow wraith of a woman further away. Flames erupted and shot forth, engulfing her. A shimmering barrier held off most of the flames, but when the spell ended I could see the burns on her astral form. Not that I was fully intact either- my head and heart pulsed with pain, and I could feel a warm trickle slide from my ear down my jawline.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Squibs' chimera dissolve away. She had disrupted it, though likely Squibs would have been the one to fall if old Nick's own summoned spirit hadn't gotten it down to its last legs. Sad to say that it was Nick's last- he was just outside, growing cold in the moonless winter air. A spray of bullets was what did it- a spray I was sure to return with a bolt of mana. The man who shot Nick was never going to shoot again. Just as this woman would never summon another chimera, never raze another town, never poison another batch of nutrisoy…
Claws tore through my side. They might have been only a spirit's, but the pain and the damage were very real. I heard the laughter of the toxic mage, but couldn't tell if it was for the triumph of her pet or from nervousness. Cursing under my breath, I staggered as far away as I could from the beast, readying my wand for another assault. I could barely keep it level, but if it weren't for the quickening spells we had entered the fight with, I would have been torn to pieces by now.
"Expecto Patronum!" I gasped. My conjuring abilities were less than Nick's but as the silvery form of an ox materialized, I could feel that it was all I needed to buy a little bit of time.
"Get that witch." I commanded Squibs. I could see her heading near me, her grey eyes wide with concern. "I'll deal with this one."
My patronus gored the chimera when the toxic spirit attempted to make another dash at me. The monster screamed in pain. It was an unearthly sound caught between the roar of a lion and the yelp of a child. I shivered, fumbling through a blood-drenched pocket, trying to find a stim patch. Any more wounds, and I would be joining Nick in the great beyond. Any more spells, and I would be helpless as the drain of my spells knocked me out.
I grabbed a small patch and slapped it on my arm. Immediately, I could feel the fatigue wear away and the pain in my head dull, even if my side still burned. I muttered a small healing spell, closing the wound a bit. My guardian was still standing, keeping the chimera at bay. I gathered my concentration, affording one last glance at Squibs. She had the witch well in her grasp- a spirit was incorporeal, but its conjurer was still flesh and blood.
I inhaled deeply, centering every thought I had on my spell and target. My patronus dissipated beneath my gaze, caught by a lash of the chimera's tail.
"Secumsemptra." I intoned.
Every ounce of will was well-needed, and the chimera split in two, each half vanishing from the face of the earth. My headache returned, worse than ever, and I could feel something wet fall from my eyes down my cheeks. It wasn't tears. But in all, I had had worse.
I closed my eyes, letting my sense of the astral plane go and return to normal. No spirits. Just two bloodied Aurors and a toxic mage being slapped in mage cuffs. Nasty things, those were, but a marvel. A little piece of awakened moss that would glow when touched by magic. A little sensor in the cuffs that would send a jolt of electricity through its prisoner when hit by light. Magic and mundane, synergized.
"Kill me." Spat the witch. A tooth hit the stone floor. "Even my death means less cancer cell on Mother Earth."
"You're sick, Celaeno." Squibs sneered. I would have said the same, but less mildly. There was a reason we called her a toxic mage. Many fought to protect the earth, and for good reason. Some of those… turned twisted, whether through misplaced zeal or something else. And some twisted so badly that their every action reflected horror.
I grabbed Celaeno by the arm. "It's not up to us to decide your fate."
That was for Dad to decide.
We handed off Celaeno hardly two hours later.
"Good job, son." Dad said, almost giving me a pat on the back, but refraining. I still hadn't cleaned up, and some of the damage would have to heal without the help of magic. I felt like even a breeze might knock me over anyway. I checked my watch. The stim patch would only work for a while more, and then I'd be out cold as everything returned.
"Yeah, thanks Dad."
"I know you're tired, so go home and rest. I know it's been a long day, but don't forget to call your Grandpa."
"Dad…" How embarrassing to hear family interrupt with business.
"Well, you two go rest and clean up now. I'll ask Rosie to find someone to fill in for you in the meantime."
"Yep, no problem."
I pulled out my commlink and dialed up Grandpa.
"Hey Grandpa Harry. … … Uh huh." I grinned as my grandpa talked on. "'Course Grandpa. I'm doing you proud."
Author note: I decided not to crowd the story too much. If it's not clear, Snake Eyes is Harry's grandson. Since I decided this but didn't put it in, "Squibs" is Lyra, Draco's granddaughter. Nick was no one in particular, and thus completely expendable.