The First Day Is The Longest
The Ministry was as crowded as it was every morning. Ron made his way through the crowds of the Atrium and away from the fireplaces that lined the wall. He made for the lift and stepped in and the grate closed behind him. There was a lot of people crammed into the lift, some with tottering piles of parchment so tall that he couldn't see who was behind them. He stood beside a woman who smelt faintly of Doxy eggs and a man who was wearing an odd assortment of stripy robes that only came down to his knees and a pair of lime green tights. There was a man in the corner who had a drooping midnight blue pointy hat and a patched jumper. Ron turned and stared at the golden grate as it slid open and a cool voice entered the lift.
"Level Seven, Department of Magical Games and Sports, incorporating the British and Irish Quidditch League Headquarters, Official Gobstones Club and Ludicrous Patents Office."
Ron watched as the patched jumper man pushed his way out of the lift and strode down the corridor and two people stepped in. One Ron noticed was wearing a Chudley Cannon's t-shirt under a pair of black open necked robes. He was around the same age as Ron. In his arms he held a rather large stack of files and papers.
"Did you hear that Hordley got booted off the team for that Firewhiskey incident?" He asked the petite woman who had stepped in with him and wasn't wearing robes but a pair of jeans and a muggle top that had an assortment of colour on it. She was a few years older than him.
"Yeah." She nodded. "Katy told me this morning, but she said that he denied it so he isn't being suspended."
"Maybe Mark's pulling my leg then."
"You should just pay back his bet." The woman said to him with a smirk.
"It was a stupid bet." The man said defensively.
"You're just angry that the Cannon's lost." She laughed and Ron saw the man shrug his shoulders. "When haven't they?"
The man made a face and turned and caught Ron's equally indignant face.
"It doesn't even matter because I'll never be back." The man muttered darkly. The woman laughed at him and said her goodbyes as the lift stopped and she stepped out at Level Six. Ron watched as more people got in. A man who was wearing a bangle around his neck that looked as if it was choking him and an old woman wearing a tartan trilby that made her white hair stick out in a sort of diagonal angle. She spoke very loudly to the Canon's fan behind the stack of papers.
"Thorton!" She boomed and the stack nearly toppled over.
"Ah Mrs James." The man said in a tone that fully expressed his dislike. "How are you."
"Fine." She snapped. "Why?"
"Just being polite Mrs James." He shook his head and the old woman grumbled something to herself.
"Right well." She snapped at him turning her hat covered head in a fashion that nearly made the papers fall again. The man lunged forward and grabbed the papers as she talked to him in an overly loud voice. Ron saw the man in the stripy robes give a grimace as she went up an octive and thankfully she stepped out at Level 5. No one of major interest got in at Level 4 and as the lift jolted at Level 3 and everyone made to get off, Thorton dropped all his papers. Ron turned and helped him gather the papers up.
"Ah thanks." He smiled gratefully. Ron gave him a smile and handed him a bunch of files and parchment that was curling in the corners. "Jacob Thornton."
Ron smiled at him as they stood up and Jacob stared out of the side of his stack.
"Ah." He nodded. "Should have known with the hair."
Ron smiled slightly as the lift stopped. His father had told him that he would be recognised a lot in the Ministry, sometimes for being Ron Weasley - son of Arthur Weasley, sometimes for being Ron Weasley - the eighteen year old who took down Voldemort. It was going to take some time getting used to.
"Level Two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters and Wizengamot Administration Services."
"I'm off here." Ron nodded and so did Jacob.
"Me too." He walked carefully trying to peer around his papers. "Are you here to see your dad?"
"No actually." Ron shook his head. "Starting in the Auror programme."
"No way!" Jacob exclaimed. "Me too."
Ron eyed his papers for a moment and Jacob started to laugh.
"Don't worry about these." He laughed and stopped at a door with a golden plaque on it saying. Secretary For Underage Magic. "I've been working in and out of different departments for about a year now until I finally decided to take a plunge and go into the Auror business. That's how I know your dad."
Ron nodded and waited as Jacob handed the papers to someone behind the door.
"Thanks Jacob." A woman's voice called out as the door shut behind him and they continued up the passage and through a pair of oak doors into a room full of cubicles.
"Any idea where we're going in this place?" Jacob asked. "This was the one place I haven't worked at."
Ron shrugged at him and peered around the first cubicle. There was a man who was scratching his long beard and staring at a map which was tacked to the back wall of his cubicle beside a picture of a rather ugly female troll.
"Margy." He called and a head jumped up from the next cubicle.
"Yeah." She said breathlessly and she had ink smudged down her chin and a roll of parchment in her hand. They started to talk for a moment and Ron noticed that Jacob had walked off past the rest of the cubicles. Ron noted that there was some empty ones and Ron felt the ominous feeling in his stomach that they had been filled last year. Ron caught up with Jacob and they turned a corner and passed more cubicles full of people who were all talking and laughing with each other. Violet memos flew through the air and there was a slight puff of smoke from a cubicle and then a distinct. "Sorry." Then a peal of laughter and a young woman staggered from her smoke filled cubicle and followed by her next door neighbour who looked rather annoyed.
"In here." Jacob said and pulled Ron down a small corridor away from the room of cubicles and there was a door to a room. Outside a bunch of chairs which half was already occupied. Ron sat beside Jacob and looked at the girl in front of them. She had a familiar head of hair and then she looked up and beamed at him.
"Ron." She grinned.
"Trebeca." Ron smiled back. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same question." She laughed. "This was the programme I was going for."
"Oh." Ron smiled and she smiled back before turning to Jacob and holding out her hand.
"Jacob Thronton." He introduced himself and Ron struggled not to laugh as his chest puffed out slightly. He was definately starting to like him. Trebeca gave out a little giggle and the door they were sitting beside opened and a man in black robes strode out.
"In we go." He had a sort of smile that reminded him of George, McGonagall and Snape at the same time. Everyone stood up and followed him into the room. There was a large table and they all sat down around it. Another man was standing in the corner who looked alittle more approachable. The man stood at the foot of it and looked around them all.
"So this is the new batch of Aurors?" He spoke and Ron looked around nervously at the other people in the room.
"By the time training is over there will probably be only half of you here but I do hope that you'll all prove me wrong." He spoke in a sort of drawl that reminded him of Malfoy. "I'm Hutch and I'll be looking over you. You guys are Trainee Aurors. The lowest in the ranks at the minute but soon you'll all be trained up and out into the real world. This is not a holiday camp, this is not a place to mess around. I am your superior and you are to follow every order I give you to the letter. None of you have had any experience in this field" His eyes flicked to Ron for a moment before he continued. "It is hard, harsh and tiring. You will be forced into situations of life and death and you have to rely on your team members and on your instincts."
The other man stood up and smirked at the stricken faces of some of the other trainees.
The man cleared his throat and smiled at them all. "My name is Armitus Spencer and we'll both be mentoring you but it'll mostly be me as there is such a small group of trainees."
Everyone stayed silent and he nodded before taking a seat.
"Ok then." Hutch smiled at everyone. "All present and correct. Let's move on."
Ron looked around his cubicle. He had been given a cubicle! Ron felt as if the smile wouldn't wipe off of his face. He had been told to settle into the place as it would be his if he made it through training. The blank grey walls stared at him and his desk was completely empty. Ron smirked and had already decided which posters to move from his room. Trebeca's head popped over the cubicle and grinned at him.
"Cool isn't it." She smiled and Ron smiled back and sank into the chair behind the desk. There was a tray for in documents and one for out. In one of his drawers there was a pad of violet paper with Ministry seals on them waiting to be written on and sent off in the shape of an aeroplane. A hook was behind him for his cloak and nails in the wall from the previous owners things had hung. He heard a "Ohh." from next door so he walked out of his cubicle and into Trebeca's.
"Look." She said showing him a bunch of things. "Previous owner's stuff. Someone must have forgotten to collect it."
She looked at the bunch of random things and suddenly a photgraph made Ron's heart jump into his throat.
"Tonks!" He yelped softly and grabbed the photo from Trebeca's hand. He stared down at the picture of Tonks and Lupin standing somewhere where snow fell around them.
"What is it?" Trebeca was asking him and Ron sighed.
"Friends of the family." He said sadly. "Died at Hogwarts."
"Oh." Trebeca muttered quietly.
"Harry's Godfather to their baby." Ron murmured miserably as he watched Tonks and Lupin smile at each other.
"She had a baby." Trebeca said sadly looking at the picture where Tonks and Lupin was laughing. "Who's Harry? Your brother?"
"Mmm." Ron said numbly looking at the happy faces. "Oh my friend... um Potter."
"What?" Trebeca laughed. "You're friends with Harry Potter?"
Ron nodded and riffled through the papers until he found more pictures with bent corners and little rips in the edges. There was one of the Order much like the picture of the original Order, the people grinned up at him and shuffled up the picture so more people could peek into the frame. Ron smiled down at the photo as he saw his parents and two eldest brothers grin up at him. Just along the back row stood Tonks, her hair a flash of pink as she stood between Sirius and Lupin. It was a pang to his heart that he realised that a lot of the people in the photo were now dead.
"I can't believe that!" Trebeca was saying as she sat down in her seat, watching Ron eagerly as he stared at the photos.
"I'm going to take these." Ron told her distractedly and she nodded still smiling at Ron. Ron walked back to his own cubicle as Trebeca followed him asking questions in which he answered half heartedly.
"How do you know him?"
"Hmm?" Ron asked, his attention still with the dogeared photographs.
"Harry Potter." Trebeca whispered conspiratorially. "How do you know him?"
"Best mates since first year." Ron answered charming the edges of the longest photo of the Order at the corners and he stuck to his bare wall. Standing back and he admired it. It felt wrong to be admiring it but he couldn't help it as they all shuffled along and began to silently talk to each other. Trebeca was sitting in his chair talking away and Ron perched himself on the edge of the desk, his eyes still fixed on the Order. Jacob appeared behind him.
"We've got to go. Some routine physical."
Ron nodded and followed him and Trebeca out of his cubicle.
"Ron's best friends with Harry Potter." Trebeca told Jacob who suddenly got very nervous.
"I know." Jacob responded and couldn't meet Ron's eyeline. "I mean everyone knows."
Trebeca frowned and looked between Ron and Jacob.
"Where have you been Beca? This is Ron Weasley." Jacob laughed nervously. Ron looked from his anxious face to Trebeca's frown and felt his ears grow hot. "I'm sorry." Jacob continued, "I didn't really want to point it out at first."
"It's fine." Ron sighed. Apparently his reputation preceded him.
"Well I didn't go to school here." She told them with a shrug and continued. "I wasn't really here for most of the war."
"Lucky you." Ron mumbled, too quietly for the other two to hear him properly.
Jacob frowned. "Where were you?" He asked and Ron slid into step with the pair as they got to know each other.
"My father lives out of the country so my mother sent me there. I mean I was aware vaguely of what was going on but not the everyday stuff."
Jacob launched into an explanation of Ron's relationship with Harry and the things they had done over the years. Ron sighed to himself and thanked Godric they reached their destination and Jacob was forced to quieten.
Ron stood against the wall as the woman in greenish robes waved her wand over him. A faint spiral of smoke floated over his body. It turned slightly pink around his arms but was a milky white everywhere else.
"What's wrong with your arms?" She asked as she scribbled away on a long piece of parchment.
"I was attacked and trapped in the brains in the Department of Mysteries." Ron told her honestly and she rose her eyebrows. Spencer nearly choked on his water as he stood by the door while Hutch, who stood beside him leaned in to listen. Ron hyked up his sleeves and showed the scars that stood out against his pale skin but still quite faint compared to what they had been.
"How were you in the Department of Mysteries?" Spencer asked with a splutter. Ron looked at him and then back at the green robed witch.
"You were with Harry Potter when he broke in?" She asked and ran her wand over the scars. Ron felt a prickling sensation.
"Yeah." Ron nodded, figuring he best be honest with his past.
"Destroyed a whole batch of Time Turners." The witch muttered shaking her head.
"So you've had experience with Death Eaters in the past then?" Hutch asked and took another sip from his cup.
"More than my fair share I'd say." Ron murmured as the witch waved her wand again and wrote something on her parchment.
"Want to elaborate?" Hutch asked curiously and set his cup down on the filing cabinet.
"Well." Ron shrugged. "You know at Hogwarts, and stuff."
"Stuff?" The witch asked with a slight sneer as if she didn't believe him.
"Well all that stuff with You Know Who." Ron shrugged again and she looked at him behind her glasses with wide eyes. Spencer sat down on the table in the room and looked at Hutch.
"Ron was with Harry Potter for the past year and fought with him in the Battle Of Hogwarts. Your brother was killed there wasn't he?" Spencer interrupted. "Minister Shaklebolt was very clear when he told me. You have had a lot of experience."
Ron gave a quick nod and watched the clock tick behind the witch.
"Where is he then?" The nurse asked obviously referring to Harry. "Thought he'd be a sure start for Auror."
"Still in school. We missed our NEWTS last year." Ron told her as she rolled up his other sleeve.
"Why aren't you there?" Spencer asked looking at him from behind Ron's thick file. "How have you got exams?"
"Took them in the Ministry." Ron answered. "At the end of the Summer."
Hutch rose his eyebrows and Spencer nodded before looking back at the file in his hand.
"Well." The witch said stepping back. "You seem to be in good health, your arms are the only worry but they don't appear to be hazardous." She passed the notes to Spencer who accpeted them and slotted them into the already bulging file.
"Good good." He said and left the room, Hutch following wordless behind him, the witch ushering Ron out of it as well.
He found Trebeca in the hall waiting for him.
"So what's he like then?" She asked him immediately and Ron rolled his eyes, wishing he hadn't even mentioned any of it in the first place. He was beginning to realise that just with Harry not there with him, he would still be getting all the attention.
"Mrs Tonks." Ron called into the house. He knocked on the door and pushed the door open. "Mrs Tonks."
Ron listened and he heard someone talking in the kitchen.
"Mrs Tonks?" Ron called again and the kitchen door opened.
"Oh." She said and rubbed her hands on her apron, she reminded Ron immensly of his own mother. She looked terrible though, rushed off of her feet and in need of a good sleep. Ron also had to blink a few times to get the image of Bellatrix Lestrange out of his mind. Ron inwardly cringed. His mother had killed her sister.
"Mrs Tonks?" Ron asked and she nodded.
"Yes." She walked closer to him. "You're Molly Weasley's boy?"
"Yes." Ron smiled. "Ron."
"Ah Ron come in." She smiled and Ron nodded following her into the kitchen where a small boy with bright pink hair was grinning up at him.
"Hey Teddy." Ron laughed as he upended a glass that sitting beside him.
"A bit like his mum with the clumsyness." Mrs Tonks smiled fondly at her grandson and ruffled his pink hair before vanishing the spill with a swish of her wand. Ron smiled at her and she set a cup of tea infront of him. "What can I do you for?"
Ron looked up at her and smiled slightly. "Well, I just joined the Auror programme."
"Well done." Her face flashed with a spasm of hurt and then she smiled. Ron heard the pain in her voice. She sat down opposite him. "Very brave Ron."
"Thanks." Ron blushed and looked at her. "Today we were given our cubicles and well my friend was - allocated Ton - Nymphadora's cubicle." Ron paused, Mrs Tonks paled and Ron felt guilty into the depths of his heart. "And there was some of her things left behind, I haven't looked through it all, in case it was private, but there was a few photos and things."
"You're very sweet Ron." Mrs Tonks smiled and accepted the pile of papers in Ron's hand. "Thank you very much."
"It was the least I could do." Ron shrugged.
"Thank you." She said again and looked through the papers for a moment with a sad expression. She wiped her eyes and set the items beside her on the table. On the top of the pile was the picture of the Order. Mrs Tonks smiled and picked it up.
"Your brothers are in this photo." She said softly and ran a finger over the space where Tonks was smiling up at her. She smiled softly and pushed the photo towards Ron. "I want you to have this."
"Are you sure?" Ron asked, shock chilling him as the members of the Order waved up at him again.
"Yes Ron." She smiled at him. "It is the least I could do for you send you were so kind."
Ron smiled at her and tucked the photo into his robes before taking a sup of the scalding tea in front of him. On the floor near his feet Teddy poked at his shoes and crawled off around the kitchen.
"So how are you coping with Teddy and all?" Ron asked and bent down to pick him up and set him on his knee. He knew that Harry had been around to visit a few times in the past few months but nothing overly commited. Mrs Tonks shrugged and smiled as Teddy pulled at Ron's hair and before his own eyes Teddy's hair turned the same shade.
"Woah." Ron exclaimed and looked at the orange hair on his head. "That's amazing."
"Yeah." Mrs Tonks laughed. "He does it when he meets new people. He likes you."
Ron smiled at Teddy as his hair turned back to its original pink colour.
"He likes the colour pink." She mused and drank from her cup. "I hope this doesn't show a path for the future."
Ron laughed and ran his hands through Teddy's hair and made it stick out at the top. Mrs Tonks smiled at him.
"It's hard." Mrs Tonks was telling him. "I have little family left and with Harry at school, most days it's just me and Teddy."
"If you want a break." Ron told her. "Just drop by the Burrow and me or mum will be happy to help out."
Mrs Tonks looked at him with sad eyes. "Thank you Ron."
Ron smiled at her and settled back into his chair and pulled his cup gently away from Teddy so he could have a drink and chat with Mrs Tonks.