Disclaimer: I do not own the wonderful world of Harry Potter.

Author's note: This is my second foray into the world of Ginny Weasley and Remus Lupin pairing. I have finished another story with them during Ginny's time at Hogwarts called Against the Grain, so if you're into the pair and haven't done so already, you might want to check it out.

This story is set after Hogwarts; Ginny is going to be about 23, Remus will be about 41.

Chapter One: The Ministry

"He's seeing someone in his office now, you can wait out here for them to finish," the curt, prematurely grey-haired secretary for the Head of the Auror Office explained without taking her eyes off the report she was clearly pretending to be working on.

Ginny stood in front of her desk for a long moment, battling with the immediate instinct to snap out and inform her that if Rufus Scrimgeour asked to see Ginevra Weasley at seven in the morning, he should be ready to see her at seven in the morning. And to also add that it is rude not bothering to look someone in the eye while speaking to them.

After having literally bitten her tongue Ginny finally stepped back and made her way to the empty seats against the far wall.

Scrimgeour's secretary didn't bat a mascaraed eyelash.

Sometimes you have to choose your battles, Ginny thought with an uncanny amount of restraint, for her at least. This was not the time to blow up at her boss or his secretary, lack of caffeine or no. She slumped in the chair farthest from the unpleasant woman's desk without satisfaction as immediately the polished wood seemed to cling to every exposed piece of her warm skin. After unsticking herself a few times and becoming as comfortable as she possibly would be, Ginny started to feel the anxiety of this meeting growing inside her like a parasite.

She knew exactly why she'd been called in; she'd been expecting it for days but since Scrimgeour had been abroad lately working in Germany with the European Auror Liaison Office (or EALO) trying to gain foreign support for the ever increasing threat of Voldemort and his ever multiplying faction of Death Eaters, he'd been a little busy.

Ginny looked up at the magical ceiling fan, allowing herself to be calmed by the spinning blades as she miserably recalled her previous mission and the events that led to her being asked to come in early on a Friday morning (too early to wake up any earlier to get herself her much needed coffee in the AM, though it would have surely been worth the pain.)

The raid had been in the works for months. It was a small Death Eater safe-house on the outskirts of northern London. Intelligence had discovered its existence last July but it wasn't until reconnaissance and surveillance teams were called in did they realized what a significant find they'd made.

In Ginny's seventh and final year at school the battle that had been building for eighteen years finally erupted on the fields of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Voldemort and his force of miscreant creatures and power hungry, pureblood supremacist followers challenged the protection of the school and Albus Dumbledore's leadership in the wizarding world. Voldemort had long had his sights on the school because of what it represented: not just a symbol of incorruptibility but also a place which raised muggle-borns, half-bloods and purebloods as magical equals.

The battle lasted three grueling nights which have been held in honour each year since on the fourth, fifth and sixth of May for those who fought and fell defending their friends, family and ideologies. Both sides lost many but in the end it came down to sheer passion and will to live that won the battle for the Aurors, the Order, families, staff and students. Though it is impossible to speak of their success without mentioning the alliance between Dumbledore and the magical creatures which inhabited the forest. If the Centaurs, Thestrals and Acromantulas had not joined the fray, Voldemort's Giants and Ghouls would have devoured every last one of them without mercy.

The battle had been fought and won, but Voldemort had not been defeated. He and Harry met in a ferocious combat that would be remembered for generations to come. But neither came out victorious. Voldemort's army was severely injured and his followers were scattered, but with his malice and determination still alive, the war went on.

In fleeing, Voldemort had learned a valuable lesson: in open battle, strength could be overcome, enemies' powers could be underestimated and even the slightest overconfidence and miscalculation could spell utter ruin. He decided to change his tactics: recruiting in secret, subtly manipulating those in power, staying away from any of Britain's watchful eyes. He was succeeding, gaining back his full strength in the shadows. There was no way to track him as he never stopped moving and his erratic destinations, which made sense to none save him, always left the Order one step behind. Wherever he touched down turned to evil and disarray. Groups sympathetic to his cause were popping up all around the country, somehow coming together to spread fear and mistrust throughout the communities.

No one knew who they could trust and people were soon growing too afraid to even try. Was it worth the risks of their loved ones? Stories of families being ripped apart were daily reminders. It was just a matter of time before those responsible banded together and assembled their own recruiting bases, growing ever more independent yet loyal to their Lord. The safe-houses started popping up two years after the Battle of Hogwarts. All over the country potential Death Eaters were being trained, tested and educated to the will of a man, if he could be called that, most had never even met. The development was quick and soon these simple facilities were turned into near impenetrable safety zones for all who pledge allegiance to the pureblood cause. Some because they truly believed in it, but most merely for the allure of power.

With their weak minded Minister bought off by promises of leadership, gold, and safety, progress was made even more difficult by the passing of new laws and regulations, instated simply to do exactly what they were doing. Requests to raid any of the known locations of such safety zones took weeks, sometimes months, to process and by that time it was always too late.

They always knew.

This meant two things. There were leaks in the Ministry, but in times such as this, the Ministry would always be infiltrated. It was simply too difficult to keep tabs on every employee and their families and whether through fear, blackmail or greed, some were bound to turn sides. But it also reassured the Auror divisions' suspicions that there was a central location for Death Eater intelligence: a specific headquarters of sorts that would be able to pass along information to all the subsequent branches across the country. It also accounted for the monetary mysteries that kept surfacing.

Despite appearances, most of the pureblood society in the wizarding world had had their family fortunes squandered generations ago. Very few pureblooded families in Britain, save perhaps the Malfoys, Zabinis, and Longbottoms, had the acclaimed galleons to back their names. Some were lucky enough to remain land-rich, but most had no option but to integrate into muggle-born and half-blood society or rot away in squalor, filth, and pride like the last of the Gaunts. Both options would prove distasteful and unsuitable for one of the old bloodlines, so they would leap at the chance to have their children or themselves join those seeking to abolish the mixing of the bloods and reinstate the purebloods to their "proper" place.

But the money had to come from somewhere and it had to be regulated. Where better a place than London, right under their very noses? It was the center of Britain's magical economy with St. Mungo's, Gringotts, and the Ministry. The Aurors knew they would find it in their backyard, but Fudge's new policies made it impossible to even openly begin the search.

Then the disappearances started again as they always did when Voldemort began to grow more confident. First from smaller towns, members of the community would simply vanish, sometimes from bigger cities, and well established wizarding communities, all from areas Voldemort or his people had been known to have passed through. But when Ministry members began to disappear without any response of action, Dumbledore intervened.

No one knows for certain what was said on that fateful day when those two men of power were alone together in Fudge's office, no one except Cornelius Fudge and Albus Dumbledore. But when the two emerged, Scrimgeour was given the okay and resources to begin his search. However vain, greedy, and power hungry Fudge may have been, Dumbledore could instill in him a fear unequalled by any Dark Lord. No amount of gold could fill the hole in his spirit that Dumbledore always managed to expose.

Ginny remembered the day well: Kingsley Shacklebolt, commander of the Auror field-agent division entered her office with an uncharacteristically happy expression. "We've got the green light. You're on the team that's going in," was all he said before leaving to spread the news around to the rest of the bureau.

Ginny sat in her closet sized space, mouth open for a long period, trying her hardest to let his words sink in until finally she leapt from her chair and let out a little whoop, dancing around her limited space, knocking reports and quills off her desk. Similar exclamations of joy could be heard throughout the office; some had been waiting years for this break to come.

She also had an extra reason for being so ecstatic: Kingsley had put her on the team that was finally going to get to find the London house and secure it.

Ginny had only been an agent for just over a year, having finished her training last September. With the recent run of things, she'd only been out for three field assignments in that time, none of which were particularly eventful as they had always shown up after their targets had cleared out. All that could be done was secure the empty buildings and file the painfully redundant paperwork Fudge had deemed necessary.

Not this time.

She knew Kingsley trusted her through and through. He'd known her father since she was just a baby and he'd spent many evenings in Order headquarters when it had been re-established in her fourth year. They'd even fought side by side in the Battle of Hogwarts. Picking her for this mission was a great demonstration of his faith in her and she made a promise to herself not to let him down.

But there she sat in Scrimgeour's office, waiting to be called in. Ginny knew in her heart that if she hadn't done what she had, they would have lost more than one agent. In the midst of a battle, risks had to be taken, decisions had to be made without hesitation when there wasn't enough time to consult the authorities that weren't there in real-time. Ginny understood and took full responsibility for what had happened and given the chance again she knew she wouldn't have done anything differently.

The door on the far side of the office opened and out came Rufus Scrimgeour with Mafalda Hopkirk, head of the Improper Use of Magic Office. They were just finishing up their conversation. "We'll set a date for your people to meet with my Aurors sometime next week."

"Thank you for your time, Rufus," Mafalda returned and they shook hands in parting as she walked passed Ginny and left the office.

"Miss Weasley is here to see you," the secretary intoned sourly, causing Ginny to wonder how she'd ever gotten her job. That's Agent Weasley, to you, Ginny thought crossly.

"Yes, thank you, Miranda," he replied, looking over to where she'd been sitting for the last five or so minutes. "Agent Weasley, why don't you come in?" he requested, holding the door open for her.

Ginny stood up quickly, eyes watering as she felt the back of her thighs lose a layer of skin to the cruel plastic seat. She contained the few choice words she kept especially in mind for situations such as this, feeling that her mother would be very proud of her. She passed the foul woman's desk and received a dirty look. Ginny had to forcefully control herself from sticking out her tongue.

She entered the office following behind after he had shut the door. It was a simple room, one very polished desk with two chairs facing it. The walls were lined with newspaper clippings, going back from before Ginny was even born. Behind the desk was a framed Auror certification similar to the one hanging in hers. A simulated window looking out the wall showed the beginning of the day to be clear and bright. Scrimgeour sat down behind his desk and motioned for her to do the same.

"Well Agent Weasley, I'm sure you're aware of why I called this meeting today," he began. Ginny's heart began to pound in her chest and she felt her face flushing under his gaze.

This was only her second time speaking with the man. The first had been when he'd handed her that signed certificate on her graduation day. She knew from her connection in the Order that if they ever managed to get Fudge out of his comfortable position, Rufus Scrimgeour was the top contender for his post. She made sure to give him a steady, confident look whilst trying not to feel like she was thirteen, back in Hogwarts getting lectured by her professors in their offices.

"Yes, sir."

"Hmm," was all he said for a moment, seeming to consider what was going to follow. Ginny swallowed nervously. "Kingsley has nothing but good things to say about you and your performance over these last few months."

"Oh," Ginny replied, thrown off kilter for a moment at the unexpected praise, "I appreciate his kind words. He's been an inspiring commander to work under." He gave her a long look before nodding in acknowledgment. He was clearly a man of few words.

"Well Weasley, I've read the reports from your last mission so we both know why you're here," Ginny tried not to sigh, they both most certainly did. "But I would like to hear your account of things."

Ginny adjusted herself in her seat, too jittery to sit comfortably, she held herself on the very edge of the chair. She'd been going over the mission from morning to night ever since she'd gotten back from it, thinking through every detail, every action. Everything she wanted to say came pouring out in a rehearsed flow of that night's chronology. "There were five of us assigned to the raid. Myself, Agent McKinnon and Agent Dunn were from Kingsley's division and our curse-breakers were Agents Johansen and Nicholl. With the intel we'd received from the scouts in Surveillance over the last few months, our five man team was more than enough." Ginny paused because from here on in things got messy.

"We were going to Apparate a mile from the location just before dawn and continue on foot. Our two breakers would work quickly on the wards that were reportedly in place and we would be in before anyone even knew we were there. The reports made known to us that there were ―at most― four people in the safe-house at all times. We had them outnumbered and the advantage of surprise. They shouldn't have stood a chance. Once we disabled the Floo and set up our own Disapparation wards; they'd have nowhere to go but with us back to the Ministry."

Scrimgeour listened attentively. Ginny knew that he knew all this already, he'd read the report, but she wanted to get everything out exactly how it had happened.

"When we reached the location, everything went wrong." Ginny suppressed a shudder as she remembered the exact moment they realized they'd been set up. "We got there at the right time and the house was quiet and dark, but when Nicholl started up on the first of the wards, hell broke loose. There were new defenses all around the building that we weren't prepared for. She was thrown back as soon as she touched it. Light exploded from inside the building and for a brief, crucial moment we were all blinded. Eight Death Eaters, robed and masked, came out and began to fire a volley of curses at us. It was so obvious they'd been in wait. Somehow they knew we were coming and when." Ginny tried to keep the bitterness from her voice. It was not the first time there had been leaks in the office.

"We had to stay around Nicholl while McKinnon, our primary Healer, got her back to consciousness. Lucky for us it was just a stunning ward, but until her and Johansen brought it down we were stuck out there. They'd erected their own Disapparating wards so the tables had turned; it was us who couldn't get away. The battle continued. They finally had us so overpowered that they came out from their own wards to surround us. Even with Nicholl back in the fight, we had no chance. Dunn was hurt and eventually Johansen was down. One of the masked men threw something at us, it was small and didn't look like much, but it exploded in a burning flash of hot, white light. We had no defense." She remembered their helplessness.

"There was a lot of confusion as we tried to keep our backs to each other and not hit our own team members. Somehow in the fray, Agent Dunn was grabbed by one of them. I tried to get a hold of him but as soon as he was taken, the group who attacked began to retreat back to the protection of their wards. We were no longer a threat: Johansen was down, McKinnon and I were exhausted and Nicholl was struggling with what looked like a dislocated shoulder."

"With a member of your team now taken, how did you react?" Scrimgeour asked, speaking for the first time since she'd begun the narration.

"I was furious, sir," Ginny admitted with unabashed sincerity. "I wasn't going to lose another team member to those monsters," she explained, pushing away the painful emotions and memories that came with those words. "I wanted to go after him. I wasn't going to let Dunn disappear like the others. You know we've never found anyone who's been taken."

"What was Agent McKinnon's reaction? He was your team leader, am I correct? And with Agent Johansen's status, you were down two men when they already had you outnumbered nearly two to one."

This was where things got even more difficult. It was getting to the point where Ginny's presence in Scrimgeour's office was going to be brought up.

"Agent McKinnon did not want to pursue. We were clearly defeated. Johansen probably needed to be brought to St. Mungo's and Nicholl was working on staying conscious, even after McKinnon had realigned her arm into its socket. With the wards still up, we were beyond screwed," Scrimgeour cleared his throat at the expletive.

"I told McKinnon that I wasn't going to leave Dunn behind. We had no time to contact headquarters and get another team to back us up. He could have been taken anywhere by then. McKinnon was hesitant, he didn't want to take the risk but Nicholl was on my side and finally, McKinnon agreed. With Johansen down and McKinnon tending to him, it was Nicholl and I who had to start tearing down the new wards. I had only the minimum training for ward breaking, but with her experience and both our perseverance, we pushed through."

"And did you manage to get through all of their wards?"

"We broke through many of them, but the more wards you've got around a building, the more complex they become, all having to work together. Nicholl and I reached a standpoint where we couldn't bring anything more down. It was a very sophisticated Disarmament Ward: anyone carrying an unchecked wand could not pass."

"That sounds like a level D Ministry issue," Scrimgeour added pensively.

"We thought so too, sir."

"Hmm, please continue."

"Yes, sir. Well at this time we realized we weren't going to be able to get passed it and so we had a choice to make. Some of the wards were only disabled while we were physically holding them back with our own magic; once we left they would be reactivated. It took two of us to hold them off, so only one of us would be able to go in and, as it stood, they would be unarmed. Agent Nicholl was the only experienced breaker that we had left, and Agent McKinnon couldn't leave Johansen so the decision was simple. When McKinnon found out what I was going to do, he tried to stop me, but I'd already dropped my wand and was inside the building's protection. He tried to come after me but with only Nicholl left battling the wards, she lost power quickly and most reestablished themselves."

There was a thick silence in the office. Scrimgeour's piercing expression was impossible to read but Ginny did not blanch. She knew what she'd done had been insane and reckless, but she was still sitting there to defend her actions.

"You entered a Death Eater safe-house unarmed, without any form of back up against your team leader's orders." It wasn't a question, merely a restating of fact. "What were your thoughts at this time, Agent Weasley? This was your first combative mission as I understand."

"I was thinking a lot about my training, about working with Alastor Moody in defensive combat. He always made a special point to remind us that witches and wizards too often become conditioned to believing that their only weapon or protection is their wand. He'd constantly remind me that it is the mind, the body, and the will to survive that protect us, and my heart was pounding with the will to come out of this alive with my friend and partner. I thought that even if I couldn't free him maybe I would be able to catch where they went, or even apprehend one of the Death Eaters. I was thinking that while there was breath in my body I could do something, anything."

"How did you get inside the building?"

"They figured they'd had us pretty badly beaten, and they weren't too far off the mark. If I hadn't pushed, I'm sure we would have already retreated by then. This actually worked to my benefit because as far as guards on the outside went, it was quiet. I decided to go around the back of house through the trees and find a subtler way in other than the front door. The back was completely cluttered with overgrowth and a derelict fence that I had to climb over, but once over my path was clear. The back door was locked with magic and I wasn't able to get through it without alerting the whole house to my presence. For a short while I nearly succumbed to defeat as I thought I'd surely failed, but a crack of light coming from the second floor caught my attention. I looked up through the spaces between the wooded planks that made up the balcony above me and saw that the door leading out to it. The smell of cigarette smoke told me that someone had been up there recently and was potentially still nearby on the inside. I used a window's ledge to give me a step up so that I could reach the bottom of the railing's spindles. With some improvised maneuvering on my part, I managed to hoist myself up to the second story. I quickly climbed over the rail and pressed myself against the wall beside the glass door so as not to be seen by anyone looking out. I waited in absolute stillness in the shadows for any sound from inside before I chanced a glance through to the inside. A man of about forty was leaning against the far wall twirling his wand in the air. His mask was off but I didn't recognize him. He looked bored and inattentive or else he would have noticed the door opening."

"And how did you get passed him if he had his wand on him?"

"Well, I..." Ginny tired her very hardest, but still she blushed. This was a part of the tale she had not told a soul, not even her best friend Luna. "Itookoffmytop," she blurted as quickly as possible.

Scrimgeour stared at her perplexed for a long minute. "Excuse me?"

She took a deep, embarrassed breath before continuing. "There was no way I wasn't going to get my face cursed off if I stepped inside and surprised him, so I, uh, sort of distracted him... by taking my shirt off."

Scrimgeour's face turned bright red as he choked on his own saliva. "That worked?" he coughed out finally.

Even in spite of her embarrassment Ginny had to resist the urge to grin. "Well, sir, it wouldn't have been the first time a man has been distracted." She swore she saw Scrimgeour's eyes flicker down to her chest in wonderment. "It was over pretty quickly, he nearly tripped over himself by the time he realized that I was infiltrating the house, but by then I was on him and knocked him out with a respectable punch to the face. I caught his body before he hit the ground and dragged him out to the balcony. I claimed his wand, covered up, and bound and gagged him before continuing inside."

Scrimgeour was clearly still trying to regain his Head Auror composure. "What happened next? Agents Greene and Bleams arrived sometime around then, did they not?"

"I was in there for about twenty minutes before anyone arrived. During this time I managed to incapacitate four others and find where they were keeping Dunn. I disarmed his jailors relatively easily as I'd donned one of the women's cloaks and had set off no alarms. But I couldn't move him. His injuries were too severe; he'd been badly tortured. My arrival was soon discovered somewhere within the house. I hadn't been able to hide most of the men I'd knocked out, so I barricaded the both of us inside the small room. By this time I was already weak and using a wand that wasn't my own. I knew that the first place they would check was their prisoner's room so I hadn't much time. I thought we were done for as they were working fiendishly to break through my feeble protections. Soon there was a hole in them large enough to send curses through. I got hit with the Cruciatus as I was blocking Dunn. I went down. My shields were destroyed. Any second they would have gotten at us with a furious vengeance. If Greene and Bleams hadn't gotten through the wards in time with McKinnon and Nicholl…" she trailed off. She'd spend more than enough time trying not to imagine what could have happened.

"It was lucky for everyone involved that Kingsley sent the pair in when your team didn't report on schedule." Ginny had thought long and hard about just how lucky she'd really been.

"Well Agent Weasley, your mission was to raid the safe-house and apprehend those inside. We now have four Death Eaters in custody and due to your quick action, with no loss of our own." Ginny wasn't about to feel relieved because she had a sneaky suspicion the 'but' was still coming.

"Ginevra," he began, using her first name as a sign of familiarity, "as an Auror and sympathizer to your cause I commend your selflessness and steel bravery. Your actions of selflessness saved the life of one of your teammates," But… "but as Head of this department and with the responsibility of each and every Auror in this division, I must say what you did could be seen by many as reckless. There's no doubt it was dangerous to enter their safe-house by yourself without your wand, even foolish. Our resources are spread thin already and it would have been a great blow to lose not just Dunn, but you as well. Even Johansen, if he'd been injured severely enough, would have been another loss. It was a thing of chance that all of you came away in one piece," he finished remorsefully.

"You're right, sir. I know what I did wasn't in the best interest of the Ministry, but I don't think I could live with myself if I had walked away from a fellow man, from a friend."

"Agent Dunn wouldn't have been the first Auror you've known to be taken, would he?"

Ginny didn't exactly know what to make of his change in tone, so she simply nodded in agreement. She'd known more missing people now than she cared to.

"You were quite close with Agent Donahue, were you not?"

For a moment Ginny could do was stare in blank surprise. She finally collected herself together enough to reply. "I―yes, we were close. I had been… involved… with him when I began my training." She was taken aback at how her private business managed to reach all the way up to her boss and the fact that they were speaking of it now. The last person she wanted to be talking about was Edward Donahue.

"He was reported missing nearly three months ago," Scrimgeour offered, looking for any sort of reaction. By now Ginny had become quite adept at suppressing them in relation to him.

"Yes, and like the others, there's been no news or sighting since then," she replied evenly. Scrimgeour gave her that detested look of sympathy.

"Well Weasley, here it is. Every Auror you have ever trained or worked under sings nothing but praise for your performance, ethics, and determination. You haven't had much real field experience, but all the work you have so far been a part of has yielded the highest results. Kingsley Shacklebolt doesn't have as much faith in a lot of his senior Aurors as he does in you. It's not difficult to see why. You have defended your actions well and it's obvious that you were working solely towards the benefit of others in the line of duty. If it was up to me, I would shake your hand and this meeting would be over," he sighed. Ginny already knew what was coming, "but as it is, this is not up to me anymore. Yours and your team's report has made its way to the Minister and he has taken it upon himself to advise me what he expects to be done."

During the brief pause Scrimgeour allowed, Ginny tried to brace herself for the unpleasantness to come. "You are to be given three months suspension."

"Three months?" Ginny cried before she could help herself, nearly falling off her seat. There must be some mistake. Scrimgeour nodded his head with regret.

"Ginevra, I know it's hard to hear. For your first infraction it is quite a severe punishment, but looking at it from a Minister's point of view, he's got a fairly new Auror who disobeyed direct orders and went on a suicide mission by herself into a Death Eater safety den." Ginny was having troubles coming to terms. What am I going to do? was all that kept rolling through her head.

"Shacklebolt has been fighting diligently in your defense, but once Fudge's mind is made up…" He didn't have to finish. Fudge's mind had been the bane of the whole department. "You will be given half your wages during the suspension, and the rest of this month's full pay." She was barely registering what he was trying to tell her, but nodded along anyways. This was a big blow.

"Look Ginevra, I know this is going to be tough. You've got a lot on your plate and you've been through much recently. I think now this might be something you can take advantage of, after losing Agent Donahue and almost losing your partner Agent Dunn, you might want to spend some time away from the front lines. Spend some time on yourself, with your family, whatever you need to do. At the end of these three months you're going to be back here doing the work you're so clearly meant to do," he stood from his desk and Ginny mutely followed suit.

He extended his hand and she lightly shook it, pulling away after a moment as he held on longer than needed. "I wish you the best of luck, Agent Weasley."

He went and opened the door for her as she brushed past him, not thinking of anything except getting out of there. As she passed the secretary's desk she heard that snide voice call out to her. "You forgot to sign in!" but Ginny was already out and into the hall before the last sound of her voice faded away.

Her feet took over in lieu of her occupied mind, travelling along the memorized path to her own office where she diligently avoided any other early risers in the bureau. She knew everyone would hear the news this morning and she absolutely did not want to see the same looks of pity on each of their faces.

She slipped into her office unnoticed and quietly shut the door. She sat at her desk for a moment before have to stand and walk around, trying to figure out what she would bring home with her and what she was going to do for the next ninety days. She paced around the office a number of redundant times, not even sure what she was looking for. Her eye caught on something flickering on top of her desk. There was a folded copy of the day's Daily Prophet and as she smoothed it out to look at the cover, she was greeted with the baby faced grin of the Minister for Magic.

She stared at his gleaming, squinting eyes for a long, long time, trying to find proof of a soul underneath. But the longer she stared, the more that sickening feeling in her stomach began to grow. Soon she was shaking with just barely contained fury, clenching the sides of the paper into tight fists until that sick feeling of acrid rage burst forth. She snarled, tearing his face into two pieces and whipping the paper across her suffocatingly small office space, sending pages floating all around.

"BASTARD!" She screamed apoplectically, kicking over her chair and grabbing a bottle of ink from her desk and throwing it at the closed door with a satisfying explosion of dark ink. She next sent a, perhaps ill aimed, kick at her desk and fell to the ground with a furious string of curses and painful tears as she gently cradled her now injured foot.

Her only possible relief was realizing that at least her day could not possibly get any worse.

Then again, it was only eight o'clock in the morning, she had a long way to go until it was over.


Author's note: This story has been posted for a while now, unfinished. It has been in the back of my mind for years having never had the opportunity to get to the ending I always had planned. I'm currently editing it from the start to get a bit more continuity and sharpening done on the original chapters before adding new content. Please bear with me and thanks for the continued support!