Summary: "'If you were seen popping in and out of the Ministry from time to time, for instance, that would give the right impression,' said Scrimgeour. 'And of course, while you were there, you would have ample opportunity to speak to Gawain Robards, my successor as Head of the Auror office. Dolores Umbridge has told me that you cherish an ambition to become an Auror. Well, that could be arranged very easily….'"
Who is Gawain Robards? Rowling has offered no information about him beyond his name and profession. Here is documented his rite of passage. This is the story of a man who had lost hope in the world, in humanity, in himself, and his unexpected means of finding it again with some subtle, almost undetectable, help from the Boy Who Lived. Picks up the night following the Battle for Hogwarts in the Deathly Hallows, tracking Harry's unusual assimilation into the Auror ranks.
A note to the reader: I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan fiction writer or reader before this moment. I am not well acquainted with the intricate workings of the fan fiction realm. In fact, I must admit myself woefully ignorant of the entire process, and as I just now attempted to familiarize myself a bit with the area by looking at others' works, I must confess, I usually had to stare at the abbreviations and acronyms people use for about ten minutes before finally figuring out what they meant. To be honest, the entire idea of taking a perfect book and butchering the characterizations and plotlines always rather offended me. As such, I intentionally told this tale from the point of view of a character Rowling has told us next to nothing about in the hope that I can minimize any transgressions from the "truth" that is the Harry Potter series. This story was the result of insomnia, as I booted up my computer at three in the morning with the idea that if I couldn't sleep, I might as well commence compiling a much needed CV. My fingers, however, had a different idea, and this is what came out. I hope that someone can find some entertainment in it. Please feel free to drop me a line and tell me what you think or to correct any lapse in loyalty to the original books you may find.
Chapter 1: A Long Day at Work
Gawain attempted and failed to suppress a sigh as the grill closed and the lift began its descent. His eyes itched with an inexplicable tiredness. In truth, he had not been here much longer than he would have on any normal day of work, but he had found today dreadfully taxing; his exhaustion was only exacerbated by the knowledge that the day's chores were far from over. Not for the first time he asked himself why exactly he had ever chosen to go into this profession. But things had been different then…He had been different then.
The man standing next to him was a testament to that. He studied the figure of Kingsley Shacklebolt out of the corner of his eye, thinking back to how threatened he had felt when Kingsley had first started working in the Auror office. His arrival had triggered a bitter, although admittedly one-sided, rivalry with Gawain. Kingsley had never intentionally challenged Gawain's authority when he had joined the ranks of Aurors, but somehow Gawain had felt terribly pressured by the younger man's obvious potential. It seemed he had had reason, Gawain thought dryly to himself. The difference between now and then, however, was that Gawain found he really didn't care anymore.
He jerked back to the present when the lift shuddered to a halt, and a cool female voice announced that they were at the Atrium. Gawain followed Kingsley and the others across the emptying room toward the apparition zone, enviously watching the last few workers heading home to their families through the newly reopened floo networking. They would be celebrating tonight, drinking once again to the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One. Gawain and the others in the group heading across the Atrium were not so lucky.
As they passed it, he saw Kingsley glance at the vulgar monument that proclaimed "Magic is Might;" he made a disgusted sound and muttered to himself "first order of business tomorrow: that monstrosity goes." The group walked purposefully across the cavernous room, past the security desk and the now unused toilet stalls through which only that morning, Gawain had arrived at work.
Gawain's thoughts again began to wander, marveling at how quickly everything had happened. He had arrived at work this morning, flushing himself down that cursed toilet at eight o'clock as usual, not imagining that anything had changed. He had headed up the lifts to the 2nd floor as on any other day, turned the corner, and trudged through the heavy oak doors and into the Auror office. He walked between the rows of desks yawning and wondering vaguely where Williamson and Martins had been called off to as they didn't appear to be here. He veered off into his cubicle, only to find Kingsley Shacklebolt calmly lounging at his desk waiting for him. Lounging in the Auror office! As if he wasn't right below the Potter boy on the list of most wanted men!
Kingsley had not bothered with any salutation, simply greeting Gawain by informing him in his usual slow serene voice that he had taken the liberty of sending the two Aurors who had been on night duty to Hogwarts of all places, where he thought they would be more useful. Not waiting for more than a splutter in response, he proceeded to explain that there had been an epic battle at the wizarding school in the early hours of the morning and that Voldemort (Gawain had flinched) had been killed in a duel by Harry Potter. Gawain's head was still buzzing, to say the least.
The rest of the day had passed in a whirl of confused commotion. Gawain had stumbled through the day in a kind of trance, dazed with the impossibility of it all; he could barely remember all that had happened. Nine hours had passed. Nine hours of endless debates, planning the next course of action and all the while struggling through the confines of the crumbling bureaucracy.
The Wizengamot had been called to order and it had been quickly (well, quickly by bureaucratic standards) determined that a temporary minister would have to be assigned to take charge until public elections could be arranged. After hours of tedious deliberation, it was finally determined that Kingsley Shacklebolt was the ideal candidate. His temperament was such that he would not act rashly or in only his own interests, his history showed his commitment to the side of light, and his former standing in the Auror ranks and with the Order of the Phoenix would be met with enthusiasm on the part of the terrified wizarding community.
Despite expressing reluctance during the discussion, Kingsley took up the mantle graciously and proved decisive and capable. At last, things began to get done. Immediately a group of officials were dispatched to Azkaban to release the many Muggle-borns who had been imprisoned. Another delegation was sent to Hogwarts on various errands, be it to take those captured Death Eaters in to custody, tend to the injured, or begin repair works on the castle.
Kingsley was, however, cautious; Gawain supposed he would have to be, after twenty-some years in the Order of the Phoenix. It did not escape Kingsley's notice that those who were still present in the ministry had kept their positions by either openly supporting the Death Eaters, or at the very least, remaining impartial. Gawain and the others present had shifted uncomfortably when this had been pointed out. Gawain did feel guilty; it was, after all, his responsibility as an Auror to fight dark wizards, but after what had happened in the first war…well, he didn't think he could bear to go through that again. The days were long gone when he would seek to stand up against tyranny. He just went along with it now, kept his head down, and did his job as he was instructed.
And so Kingsley was hesitant to discuss certain security matters in the confines of the ministry. It was too difficult to know who to trust or to be sure that their conversations we not being overheard by the wrong ears. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named may be dead, but the war was not over yet. Many of his followers were still at large, and they were by no means out of danger. No one would forget the lessons learned after the first war in a hurry. Picking a few select officials in positions of authority whom he deemed trustworthy along with a couple Aurors as a precaution, Kingsley was resolved that they conference in a less vulnerable setting.
And it was this decision which had brought them here to the apparition zone. Kingsley looked around at each of them. After verifying that everyone who should be was present, he held out his left arm, encouraging them all to take hold. Kingsley had flatly refused to say precisely where they were going in case of any eavesdroppers. Instead he had insisted upon guiding the apparition to what he had dubbed "the secure location." None of the others present had any idea where they were headed. Kingsley had merely assured them that the place was the safest and most private he knew of and that it was equipped with every security spell known to wizard-kind. "Perfect for any clandestine operation."
Margaret Jenkyns grumbled something too low to hear and adjusted her eye patch. Margaret was a good spirited and lively woman normally, but she truly hated not being in the know. She rolled her good eye with an audible "hrumph," but she crowded around Kingsley and laid a hand on his shoulder along with everyone else. Gawain followed suit, taking a firm hold on Kingsley's forearm.
"Wands out, and remember what I said," muttered Kingsley quietly. "This place is not unknown to the Death Eaters; it is quite possible they will be waiting for us. We should be fine once we get into the house. Assuming there have been no changes in the security measures in the past year, they will not be able to follow." He gave one final check to be sure that all six of his companions had one hand on Kingsley's arm or shoulder and the other gripping a wand at the ready. "On three then: one…two…three!" And simultaneously, they turned on their heels and disappeared with a pop.