He'd known few people who'd sent such an advertisement to domestic bliss out to the world: they'd attended Hogwarts together, married each other and loved each other. They child, that kid, god – what a poor thing. He'd grow up tough, at any rate, and he supposed that one day that child would need to be tough. His parents battles, not quite won, not quite lost, and he couldn't imagine a damn way this kid wouldn't want to get his vengeance. One day, Merlin knows how long in the future, that little baby – now just another victim of the war with no parents to speak of – would be standing up there and fighting. To the death, if he had too.
He might well have to. God, he didn't know at this point. He never was one for standing up and making predictions. He just remained alert and ready. Still, it wasn't over yet. He knew that. The kid, that poor child, well he was going to have to toughen up quickly if he wanted his opportunity to fight. And he would, this kid, he wouldn't stand by.
He could remember them now. He couldn't think of two better people: tough, of course – they were all tough, but still holding onto the tenderness that he'd lost years ago, somewhere along the line. They were people-people, easily socialising with the others, easily falling in love and easily falling into favours. They were popular. The gravity of this loss to the wizarding world was being felt throughout the country – they'd touched so many lives, so many people, so many moments that were creeping at the edge of his memory longing to be dwelled on. He didn't dwell. He wasn't the type to sit and become sad, no – he became angry. He felt the irritation and the wasteful loss. He felt the names piling up and the grim example they set for others.
He didn't show emotion, that wasn't what he did, but this time he was dangerously close to feeling more than he intended. He'd known them well, of course he had. They'd been to the same meetings, listened to the same grim news together and sometimes – as rare as these opportunities had been – they'd celebrated together.
He could picture them, with all the clarity of his new vision, the very picture of love's young dream: lazy kisses left on the corner of lips after good news, sinking into one another after another crippling blow and the way they'd glowed with the prospect of a new family. Battling through the summer months with that great expanse of a belly must have been near impossible (and what a vulnerability) what with everything else that had been filling up their minds, but the strain never seemed to show.
Insanity. God, what a bitter after taste the word left now. They didn't recognise him, he'd known they wouldn't, but it was still something undeniably stirring about looking into their familiar eyes and seeing no recognition of everything they'd been through together. He'd heard them discuss it at the last meeting, fleeting whispers about how it had felt to see the madness. They didn't bother warning him though, no doubt assuming that he was tough enough to stare the madness straight in the face and walk away untouched. Or thinking him so unfeeling as to not to visit at all.
He wasn't untouched, anyway you looked at it. There were small victories. He'd been personally involved in apprehending them, not without its price in itself. He didn't care about his own injuries, his own bed waiting for him in St Mungo's – God, what did they matter – when the whole truth of the matter was laid out in all its cruel glory.
The Healer was walking towards his end of the ward, no doubt to question why he'd asked to seen them and then not even pulled back the curtain separating them from the other poor bastards. There were a lot of flowers. As if a bunch of roses could do anything to change the sheer magnitude of the pain they'd experienced.
He'd always told them information was dangerous. He'd always told them to be alert, to be ready. He'd always told them not to be lulled into a false sense of security.
It seemed like he hadn't told them enough.
"I'm done." He barked at the Healer before she could reach him. Then he turned around and he walked out of the ward. And he wasn't going to come back.
So he snuck a final look at two of the people he'd loved, who he'd worked with, fought with, joked with from behind him. He didn't turn around.
He was done.
Merlin knows he'd been to his fair share of trials, and a good deal too many in the past couple of weeks, but even the atmosphere in this one was so glaringly different in this one; an all too uncomfortable reminder about how angry everyone was. The silence radiated the hatred and the anger. The sobbing didn't help.
The tension was tangible when they were brought in. The four monsters whom he'd fought tooth and nail to corner, who'd taken such a vital part of himself with him. Still, the joke was on them. He had better sight than he'd ever had now, piercing spinning sight about the way the world was and was always going to be. Not that he'd even been fooled by the crap some people spun about happy endings and blissful living. That didn't happen, not in his world. His world was one without comfort, without trust, and now – thanks to the people now tied to those chairs – without two of his best aurors.
There was no regret. He hadn't expected any better. The boy was putting up a good show of fear – there was a chance it wasn't all performed after his spell in Azkaban – but there was nothing that would shift the jury's opinion this time. Thank god. He'd limp right out of the court room if he thought, even for a moment, that there was a chance the scumbags could walk out of this situation as free men.
He let one eye stray to the father. Unfeeling bastard. Maybe he'd mastered being tough a little too well; maybe he should have spent a little more time at home. The prophet loved it – domestic issues played out in courtroom ten when in reality they'd lost the focus of what people really cared about. They wanted blood. They wanted payment.
He sat next to the father and for a split second the piercing blue gaze shifted to his direction. The connection only lasted for a split second before the older man turned away and stared at the son, barely older than a kid himself, as he screamed and begged.
Both eyes watched the dementors dragged them out. Both eyes felt that grim sense of satisfaction that came with justice (at least this time).
After a little longer the crowd began filing out of the courtroom.
"Hows the eye?" one witch asked him, he grunted in response and pushed his way out of the courtroom. The anger was still there. He watched the witch who'd question him for a second, before flicking his gaze around the crowd to find him.
"Justice," He barked when he found the man with blue eyes, that silver beard, "surely even you must approve of the dementors in this case..."
He clunked along the corridor to stop off at his office for the last time. Of course, he'd never been lulled into the sense of security when You-Know-Who had fallen. He never let himself be pulled into the celebrations and the distinct pleasures everyone else seemed to be revelling in – he'd been in the office hours after the news had broken and since then had been working relentless to finish what had already been started. Now, just a couple of months on and the knowledge that he was soon to be retiring wringing around his head it felt like the world really had changed this time.
They'd already removed the name plate off his office door, he noted when he was a corridor away, and no doubt there'd be someone ready to take his place within a few weeks. Good on them, he thought, there was no room for sentiment here and he'd have found it irritating more than anything else if they'd left a trace of his presence behind somehow – there was no need. This war was over and he was not needed anymore.
His office door was in view now, left slightly ajar by some foolish Auror who hadn't learnt his lesson yet. Doors should be locked, as securely as possible, and nothing should be left haphazardly waiting for someone to step in. That was asking for trouble.
It was better to quit whilst he was ahead, if you could call it that, and there wasn't much left of him that hadn't been broken and fixed again. Dark Wizards, well, they'd be more. They hadn't quite finished with ones around at the minute yet. Most had been rounded up, but the frustrations of not being able to prosecute those who'd taken part in murder had been a little too much. God, he hated Death Eaters that walked free. Months of chasing, a capture and then what? A list of names and they were home and dry, be damned with all the work that had gone into securing them in the first place.
Justice? Ha. The wizarding world wouldn't know what a justice system was if they were bludgeoned to death by one, but it was all irrelevant now. He was walking out of his office one last time and retiring with what he had left of himself.
Of course, he would remain alert. He had no intention of ignoring his own advice: not for a moment would he forget the fact that there were worlds of evil out there, waiting for him, and that he'd made a lot more enemies than most.
He thought of that kid, that poor kid, with parents madder than a couple of nifflers in Gringotts and he entertained the idea that one day he'd teach that kid how to avenge his parents. One day, he'd teach that poor kid about the horrors of the world, about the savage things that people could do, he'd teach him how to hold his wand high and use his power. He'd teach him how to be tough. He'd show him how sometimes you had to do things you don't want to do, lose people that you never wanted to lose. Remember, kid, information is dangerous; always be alert and ready; never be lulled into a sense of security: constant vigilance.
This was written for the 'unamed' challenge over on HPFF. The idea, basically, to write a story without mentioning any names. Uploading here post-editing, because I can.