1. Ministry

Gawain Robards read the memorandum, put his head in his hands, and sighed.

He thought back to the day he'd been appointed head of the Auror Office.

'It isn't an easy job, Robbie,' Rufus Scrimgeour had told him.

'Unlike yours, Rufus,' Robards had said sarcastically.

That had been five years ago, on the day Rufus had become Minister for Magic. They had been difficult times; no one had known where Voldemort was, or what he was doing. Then, little more than a year later, Rufus and his two Auror bodyguards had been killed, and Thicknesse had taken over.

Robards had seen how quickly things were moving, and so had Kingsley Shacklebolt. They'd removed as many sensitive files as they could, and left the Auror Office empty and unmanned. When every Auror was summoned to see Minister Thicknesse, he had ignored the summons. Wisely, most of the other Aurors had ignored it, too. Only three of the Aurors who had entered the Ministry had ever been seen again. One was a turncoat, the others Imperiused.

When Potter had been recruited to the Auror Office immediately after the war, Robards had been pleased to have him. In fact, not one, but five of the young heroes of Hogwarts had joined the Office. Potter was keen and clever and Robards had no doubt that he would make a really good Auror. In fact, he was already a really good Auror.

Robards had expected that things would be easier once Voldemort was dead. In almost every way, they were. There were still a few Snatchers on the loose, and one or two people still claimed that they'd seen the Dark Lord. Which, of course, they hadn't, but on the whole things were less dangerous for everyone. Less danger, however, meant more complaints.

Potter, despite his ability, was hard work. He was restless and insubordinate; he constantly questioned everything. Why do we do this? This arrest form doesn't make sense! Our uniforms are old fashioned. Potter's demands for change were relentless. Robards regarded it as his duty to try to keep the lad's feet on the ground, to ensure that centuries-old working practices weren't swept aside in some mad dash for change and modernisation. It wasn't easy.

The big problem with Harry Potter was that he was Harry Potter, and he knew it. He was brave and committed to his job, and he meant well, all of which were very good things. Unfortunately, this made his requests and suggestions difficult to resist and impossible to ignore. Unless he did something very stupid indeed, Potter could not be sacked, not that Robards wanted rid of him. You had to hand it to the boy; he knew what he wanted, and he'd learned how to get it, how to use his fame, and who to contact.

Robards reread the short message. He was used to this type of memoranda; he'd even created a separate filing system for them. The Shacklebolt/Potter memos were all kept together. Memoranda on subjects from the black hex-resistant Muggle clothes all field-Aurors now wore; the lifting of the ban on non-humans becoming Ministry employees (which Potter had immediately used to get a werewolf of all things into the Auror Office training programme); the Portkey Handcuffs; and the emergency Portkey Identity Cards. Robards admitted to himself that the last two had proved to be extremely useful, actually saving Aurors' lives. The annoying thing was that the Minister's words were always identical. Attached to the report detailing whatever hare-brained new scheme Potter and his cronies had come up with, was a simple short note from the Minister: "Gawain, I think that this is worth a try, Kingsley".

Robards reread the report "The Need for a Specialist Muggle Liaison Team", and this time, he read it very carefully. He detected the hand of the Granger girl in sections of it. She and Potter had been instrumental in overturning the werewolf ban (it discriminated against blameless people who were simply suffering from an illness, apparently), and in drafting the new rules regarding Obliviation (altering a person's memories could, like the Imperius Curse, be used to alter their behaviour and must be avoided wherever possible).

Robards had spoken to several other Section Heads in the Ministry, and he knew that he wasn't the only one having problems with his staff. Many of Potter's cronies were causing trouble. Granger was creating a huge disturbance in Magical Creatures, demanding major changes in the rights of house-elves, werewolves and goodness knew what else. The Rights of Sentient Entities, she called it, it seemed that she wouldn't stop until the Being Division, with its hundreds of years of carefully crafted rules and regulations, was turned upside down.

Patil was encouraging people to ask her questions about research projects. She worked in the Department of Mysteries; it simply wasn't done. Johnson had completely reorganised Magical Games and Sports. They were all heroes, with medals to prove it. They were almost unstoppable, but there was too much change, too quickly, he was certain of that. Everyone in the Ministry knew how the Ministry worked. There were rules, procedures, forms to be filled in triplicate, there were systems which everyone knew, and they were being changed.

Returning to the report, Robards carefully read the conclusion. It suggested that a team of "between four and six specialist Aurors" should be tasked with dealing with mysterious Muggle deaths and with any case where the Muggle and magical worlds met.

The report suggested that a leader be appointed, and that this new "Lead Auror" should appoint the team. Robards wondered if Potter expected to get the job, and whether he would appoint his friends.

Robards blew his nose, leaned back in his chair and considered his options. Fortescue was invaluable where she was. Using Byers was out of the question; the man would never be able to pass as a Muggle. Tempting though that option was, it would get him in trouble with Kingsley. Williamson would refuse and ordering him to take the job would guarantee that he did it badly. Kingsley had worked with Williamson and knew what Williamson was like, so that appointment would not work either. Webb, however, was a distinct possibility.

Robards thought carefully. The memo said "four to six" and suggested that the Muggle policewoman Potter had brought into the Office should be on the team. That was sensible, because the woman was useless elsewhere. The Muggle was still a trainee, but she would never become an Auror. She could not complete the training course as she couldn't cast any spells!

And it said the new Lead Auror "should appoint" not "must appoint", so he'd appoint the werewolf, too! That would get rid of that particularly troublesome trainee. Making certain that she dealt only with Muggles might reduce the huge number of complaints he'd been receiving from wizards and wizards protesting about the appointment of "a filthy werewolf" to the Auror Office.

Robards smiled happily to himself. That was two problematic employees shuffled into a department where they wouldn't cause him problems with the wizarding community. In fact, he realised, there was another troublemaker he could get rid of. She was the only Muggle-born Auror and she'd make an ideal leader, at least in theory. The Head of the Auror Office hauled himself to his feet, picked up his walking stick, and limped to his office door.

'Auror Protheroe, my office, now!' he shouted across the room.