I do not own Harry Potter, if I did, I would not be writing this. This incredible creation belongs to the amazing J.K. Rowling.
A Friend to Government Pigs
Chapter One: Interview
May 31st 1998
"Do you have the documents?"
The man chuckled, the sound echoing behind his golden mask. "Of course, your connections are very well placed, Milady. I knew you had supporters in the Ministry, but not in such a useful department." He had a voice that was quiet, whispery and plainly subservient to the woman before him.
The chamber they were sitting in was dark, the only light coming from the candle on the desk in front of him and the window the lady was sitting by as she stared out of it. He was honored to serve a woman of such grace, cunning and intuitive power. Her black hair fell down her back like a river over the back of her chair, highlighted by the light from the moon outside of her window.
"You're a flatterer; I have no need for that." The woman turned her chair away from the window calling a magelight with a snap of her fingers before laying her hands on the desk before her. "Now, hand them here. I'm sure those researchers from the Septenary have something for me to work with. After all, the old man's been at it for over forty years now. Surely, he'll have discovered something about what we're looking for." She flipped through the papers as she continued to speak. "I'm quite impressed with the plan you've concocted to get these papers, really I am, no need to be modest. Getting what remains of You-know-who's supporters who stayed away from the final battle to burn down the shops run by mudbloods, and keeping them all in Diagon Alley by shutting down the floo to add to the chaos is no small feat. But the icing on the cake is that well-timed reopening of the Septenary's floo to get these papers. I applaud your strategic gifts."
"Many do, Milady. The real trick is knowing your opponents on a more… personal level. Perhaps we could work together in the future? I've found this an enjoyable venture." He hoped that would be possible.
The woman smiled, her face eclipsed in shadow, but the corner of her red mouth could be seen as it turned up in a smile on her pale face. She tucked her deep black hair behind her ears before she spoke again. "As have I, perhaps we should discuss this in more detail at a later date. See if we have similar ambitions. After all, changing the world and showing them the light is no small feat." She smiled, "Now, what can you tell me about the book you hired the boy to steal?"
"I can't open it."
"I've tried everything I can think of, but it can only be opened by a spell that I don't have at the moment. I believe the old man kept it under lock and key, so to speak. I believe I was unable to reach it before the shop was reduced to ash."
"Well, that's obvious," the woman remarked drily. "I take it it's not in here then?"
"I checked. We just got a bunch of diagrams, some notes on the lifespan of dust bunnies, a few essays on literary symbolism, a star chart that compares our knowledge with that of centaurs and a recipe for carrot cake. They're not very well organized."
"Well, perhaps there is another way to get the spell." She drummed her long fingers on the desktop and bit her lower lip in thought. "If I recall correctly, the archives in the Ministry have information on many dangerous and illegal books that they've been trying to find for years. If you care to make another plan…"
"Absolutely, the dark magic in this book is worth the effort. Trust me." Behind his golden mask, the man smiled.
It was a quiet night at the Leaky Cauldron. If one cared to peek through the window of the pub they would find it dark and bordering on eerie if not for the two women playing chess at a small table in the back corner illuminated by a couple of candles as the clock began to chime for the midnight hour. Both were wearing ratty housecoats and completely oblivious to the noise, absorbed in their game and conversation.
"Audrey, you're going to be just fine. Mr. Dawson is a really nice guy; he's really relaxed about the crazy stuff that goes on in the Ministry. He's perfectly comfortable with the fact he's in charge of the bunch of oddballs who work security for the Ministry. Hell, there's one bloke called Oddball. I'll introduce you; you'd like him, he's a right strange guy."
They let a guy called Oddball work for the Ministry?
"Lucia, you're not helping." Audrey said drily as her queen moved across the board to take the enemy bishop. "I'm still nervous about throwing in my lot with the Ministry at this point. And who says I'll end up working security with you? That's my second choice."
Lucia's glass-green eyes appeared sympathetic as she flipped her long blonde hair over her shoulder. "Aud, I have doubts that the Floo Regulation Department will want an angry citizen among them. They're dull, cowardly and you won't enjoy it there at all. You are an all but publicly acknowledged hellion." She paused and examined the chessboard. "Not all of your bosses are going to be like Septimus." She nudged her rook forward. "I can understand why you're nervous about joining the Ministry, really, I was when I first got hired, but things are getting better Audrey. Really they are."
Audrey looked up at Lucia before swearing loudly as Lucia's rook felled her queen with a fierce scream. "How can you say things are getting better? Look at what happened last week! Our home and business is literally up in smoke and ashes, and now we're living at the Leaky Cauldron. Which I might add, we have to pay for while trying to rebuild our lives." Audrey rubbed her sore shoulder as she then ordered her knight to take the king. "Checkmate!"
Lucia swore this time as her king was brutally stabbed by the opposing piece. "Hey, with both our salaries from the Ministry, and Uncle Septimus trying to find a way to sue the Ministry we'll have the Septenary back in no time at all. Depending on whether or not we're all going to be cheap about rebuilding the shop or not, I truly fear the thought of Uncle Septimus with a hammer."
An image of the Septenary rebuilt in all of its shabby glory, then falling in upon itself flashed through Audrey's mind. For some reason, it spontaneously combusted as well. "Yeah, that was a scary image… Thanks Lu."
The young woman smiled, a mischievous glint in her eyes. "You know I enjoy giving you all those horrifying images right? The look on your face is just so funny."
They were quiet for a few moments as they looked around the room while Audrey tried to still her mind and calm her worried thoughts without success.
"Have you seen Septimus today?" Audrey asked quietly as she began to pack up the chessboard.
Lucia sucked in a breath and drummed her fingers on the counter. "I haven't seen him since we moved in here. He's still up in his room. Grieving."
"Yeah, he wasn't doing to well last time I spoke to him."
"I heard, ranting about his half formed revenge schemes." Lucia got to her feet and pushed the chair in and leaned against the table with her hip. "I wouldn't worry about him too much, you know how he gets."
"Right, of course," Audrey bit her lower lip nervously.
June 6 1998
The office was cold and drafty. The starch white walls made Audrey feel as though she had finally been sent to the nut house. That trip was long overdue.
"So, Miss Causey," Henry Dawson stated at the other side of the desk. "Why do you want to work as Ministry desk security?" He began to flip through the file in front of him. He looked over Audrey critically as her face reddened. She was small and skinny and her robes were too big. The bags under her eyes could tell stories of late night panic and dreaded nightmares. Audrey knew she was not an ideal candidate for security work in this period of history. "Your past work experience indicates one who would be more fit for a job down in the Department of Mysteries or in the Ministry Archives."
'I wanted to try and find that rumored Death Eater sympathizer in the Floo Regulations department, but apparently they're not hiring at the moment.'
"Well sir, I care deeply about the safety of our government officials in these troubled times. I wish to do my part in ensuring that we recover from wartime hardships, and I find this job to be the best way I can do my part." Audrey replied with an almost sincere smile, which never quite reached her pale grey-blue eyes.
The man nodded, Audrey guessed she gave a good answer, even if it made her want to wash out her mouth with soap.
"Who told you about this job?"
"One of your employees, Lucia Selwyn, she's a friend of mine."
"Miss Selwyn?" The interviewer chuckled, "I like her, she's feisty; how long have you two known each other?" The man flipped through the folder on his desk containing Audrey's resume, a recommendation from Septimus she had yet to read, and a few papers written by people she knew well who praised her moral character. One of them owned the most violent bar in Diagon Alley; she was not sure what that one said exactly.
"We've been friends since first year sir. She was very informed about the wizarding world and told me everything she knew about it and things I needed to know on a social level, in exchange I told her about how muggles did things and how I had grown up. We both bonded over our strange upbringings."
"That's nice that you both have maintained a friendship that long and through this whole mess. What pureblood friends I had before the war I don't have now."
"That's sad sir."
Dawson snorted and waved his hand in front of his face, "No big deal, they couldn't play cards that well anyway. Anyway, back to business. Your former employer, a Septimus Lowell, has written at least three pages praising the work you've done for him as a shopkeeper and an Apprentice Researcher. He says that your 'work has always been above and beyond the call because you throw yourself into everything you do in your work and in your personal life.' He says you are 'the more people friendly persona of the Septenary' and he wishes that he could've done more for you during the two years you've worked for him and 'writing this out so that the damned government knows the good thing they're getting,' is the very least he could do." The man closed the folder, "Obviously, Mr. Lowell thinks very highly of you."
Audrey's face turned a bright, noticeable crimson. Septimus Lowell had saved her life and the lives of countless others during the war. He had brought together people sympathetic to the Muggle-borns' plight and managed to get many of these Muggle-borns out of the country with help from those who were sympathetic. Audrey, despite the risk involved, defied Septimus and stayed behind to aid him and her fellow Muggle-borns. They had a nasty row before he gave in. Leaving a man who she loved like a father had never been an option.
Audrey had paid dearly for her compassion. The events that led to the end of the conflict kept playing through her head like a film. Constant, continuous thoughts of smoke, ash and screams played through her dreams. Audrey could not regret the things she had done, but she regretted the continued hold it had on her life.
"Also, this Sam Scully says you are and I quote, an incredibly intelligent woman who if given the right tools and opportunity could become an indispensible part of any organization." He paused, "He also mentions you are a deft hand with various forms of spellcraft."
"I graduated with straight O's on my N.E.W.T.s, sir. I hope I'm as good Scully says I am."
"Straight O's? The only O I got was in charms class." Dawson chuckled, his manner light and teasing. "Did you sleep at all that year?"
"Not as much as I would've liked at the time." She chased a lot of younger students out of her corner of the library so she could study in peace. Audrey shivered, that spot in the library had been burned away by rogue spells during the battle.
"Miss Causey, I have a few more questions for you and then we can finish this up and get you on your way."
Audrey felt the smell of ash and dark magic fade from her senses as she drifted back into the present reality. "Fire away sir."
The head of security smiled. "Why did you leave your former place of employment?"
"No choice sir, we had some structural problems. Our intention is that it is going to be a temporary arrangement." Audrey replied simply. She was not about to explain to this man that she had lost her home and workplace during a riot in Diagon Alley, and almost lost her life in the process of saving Septimus'. She had no need for the sympathy. "I'm hoping to get a job here to help fix the Septenary and continue my apprenticeship fulltime when construction is complete."
"Off the record Miss Causey, to settle my own curiosity, how long does an apprenticeship in magical research last?"
"Seven years usually, seeing as the number seven has many magical properties, and also it's supposed to be lucky. Though some will do three years seeing as the number three also has magical properties, though to a lesser extent. An apprentice studies the craft from their mentor, or mentors if you're working at a larger facility. Part of their education is charts, the study of old languages, numerology, and how our use of magic has evolved from earlier times to its modern uses. Many researchers usually focus on one subject," Audrey loved answering this question. "I've been working for Mr. Lowell since the summer of my seventh year and continued throughout my school year and the holidays."
"Thank you for answering that. Now let's get back to business. Have you ever been involved in any criminal activities?"
"Um… could you define criminal activities?"
Numerous acts of illegal broomstick enchantment could not possibly be on her record if she did not get caught doing it. To her knowledge, it was on her file one time and it was a minor offense under difficult circumstances.
A look of understanding crossed Dawson's face. "I'll rephrase, have you ever been arrested?"
Audrey winced and her hair started to slip into her face. "Once, I'm waiting to get to court to get myself cleared of the crimes of theft of magical power, treason, direct disobedience to the law, and illegal broomstick enchantment. Among other things I was accused of during the war," Audrey answered as she brushed her mousey brown hair out of her pale blue-grey eyes. "You could probably find the files here in the Ministry."
"I see. I'll wager that could take some time with this political mess we're in." The department head stood with a smile, and rolled his shoulder with a loud popping noise. "I feel like a walk, how about you Miss Causey?"
"That sounds fine." Audrey stood and brushed the front of her black robes.
Merlin's beard, there was a hole in the knee of her robes!
"Good, good, follow me then." Henry Dawson walked out the door of his office with Audrey following closely so she wouldn't get lost again like she had on her way to the interview. She had almost not made it on time, but found somebody to ask for directions, who had turned out to be Dawson who had stepped out for some lunch and was running a bit late.
The Ministry corridors on the second floor were long, and open so that one could hear everything going on in the many different departments on this floor. The remains of the Auror department were shouting and swearing admirably about the fact that they had missed the known Death Eater Dominicus Selwyn, Audrey's friend Lucia's first cousin. They were also spiritedly debating the morality of letting volunteers accompany them on the hunt for Death Eaters. Some of the older Aurors were saying that the new volunteers could be put to use in Diagon to help look for the source of the riot that had cost so many their shops and livelihoods'. Audrey wasn't happy about her shop and home being burned to ash, but she didn't want government agents in there mucking things up.
Audrey watched them out of the corner of her eye as she followed Henry Dawson into the lift. The grates moaned loudly as they closed and the lift began to lower itself to the Atrium. The ride was dull and uneventful; Henry Dawson was talking about the many benefits of making a career out of being a security guard for the Ministry. To Audrey, it sounded like something he had said many times before to employees, new and old many times. Perhaps this was a monthly lecture to his underlings.
The grates opened and Audrey followed Dawson onto the main floor of the Ministry. It was a grand, spacious fixture that took Audrey's breath away each time she saw it. The hustle and bustle of the numerous employees could easily have been nonexistent due to Audrey's intense study of the architecture over her head. When she had arrived earlier the underground structure was the last thing on her mind, the first thing on her mind was escape routes, just in case.
Audrey's eyes wandered until they found the fountain in the Atrium center. What was left of it at any rate. She and Septimus had melted down during their escape in mid-April. They thought it was ugly. It still hadn't been repaired yet.
"We're looking for a talented artist at the moment. Someone who can build something to represent the new era of peace." Mr. Dawson explained as he put his hand on her shoulder to start her through the crowd. Audrey turned back for another look at the twisted remains before she wished them the best of luck; she believed this new era was going to take time to define as one that was less blood oriented.
He had navigated them both successfully through the thick crowd of workers and led Audrey to the front desk where Audrey had registered her wand an hour before. The man smiled and waved at Henry Dawson as he and Audrey walked by.
"Bored, Walker?" Dawson asked politely.
"As much as can be expected sir!" The man replied as Dawson laughed as he continued to lead Audrey along.
"We have many different posts around here Miss Causey. The front desk here in the Atrium in the most well known, but we also have recently added posts all over the Ministry. We have a post by the Minister's office, the Archives, and quite a few in the Department of Mysteries depending on what they are doing down there. These are just the main ones, mind you, but we've recently expanded our little empire to include the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and all the other floors." Dawson smiled, "You seem to be a smart girl who I could put anywhere without too much trouble, you'd probably find just observing the people and the things that go on in here to be absolutely fascinating. I know I do."
Dawson turned back around to face Audrey as soon as they had entered the secondary security office, on an off wall of the Atrium away from the high traffic area where the fireplaces were located. The smell of tea and coffee filled her nose as Dawson turned to face Audrey.
"This is our little area, we have a couple of showers and a changing room down those stairs there to the right and warm drinks in our meeting room here. I like to foster a sense of community in my department, we're a team and a sort of family here and I hope you will be happy to see us that way." Dawson held out his hand, and Audrey took it politely as they began to shake hands. "You are my most promising candidate and I'll send you an owl within the next few days for a follow up interview where we will discuss your hours and get you a uniform. Have a nice day Miss Causey."
"Thank you for your time, sir!" Dawson held the door open for her as she left and Audrey managed to contain her excitement until she stepped out of the Leaky Cauldron's fireplace and proceeded to do a victory dance up the stairs.
Author's Note: And the ball starts rolling from here. Canon characters appear next chapter.
I'm doing this editing project for a couple of reasons. The first one being I want to finish the story completely now that I have time. The second being I always felt like this story could have been a lot better. I was in high school when I started. No major plot points have changed, but I now have everything plotted now and there were things that needed to be added here for later. Finally, I really wanted to get back into my writing, I have a lot of free time to finish this whole project and move on to some original projects.