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As soon as I appeared in the Atrium of the Ministry, I could feel the tension in the air.  

People were standing together in small clusters of three to four. They whispered and glanced over their shoulders while they quietly discussed what was flashing across the front page of The Prophet. It was almost like You-Know-Who had come back from the dead; the way people were behaving. Which I guess was understandable. It wasn’t every day a bloke broke out of Azkaban.

Hoping to avoid speaking about it with anyone, I quickly made my way towards the lifts. I jolted slightly when I thought I heard my name and was shocked to see a few people look or point at me as I walked past. I began to hear some of the things people were whispering.  

“Reckon she knows anything?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“Look at her coming in late. If she didn’t have anything to do with it, I’ll eat my wand.”

“His girlfriend at the time, mate.”

My heart constricted painfully at the mention of once being his girlfriend. I took in a sharp breath and felt like a bucket of ice water was thrown over me. I should have figured – especially with coming in at the time I had – people would talk. That they may suspect I had something to do with his escape. I know that if it had been anyone else who had broken out, the first person I would have interviewed would had been the spouse or partner of the escapee. But I wasn’t going to let them get to me. I hadn’t had anything to do with it – I had nothing to hide.

While I stood waiting for the lift, I felt someone grab me by the elbow and tow me aside. My stomach did a summersault and I let out a small squeak of surprise as I was dragged into a small corner, away from the curious glances of the other Ministry employees and guests. I looked into a pair of concerned brown eyes and watched my best friend tuck a stray piece of her short brown hair behind her ear.

“Before you say anything, I have to ask. Did you know anything about this?” Amelia Bones asked, her jaw set and her eyes pierced through mine.

I flinched and took a step back, away from her. Anger pulsed through every inch of my body. I honestly could not believe that she would have considered, even for a moment, that I had anything to do with his escape. I narrowed my eyes and crossed my arms tightly.

“Of course I didn’t!” I hissed.  

The right corner of Amelia’s mouth lifted while she nodded softly. “I knew you didn’t, but like I said,” she shrugged. “I just had to ask.”

I snorted and made to push past her; I was actually pretty pissed off. Before I could get too far, she grabbed my wrist and spun me back around.

“Look, Emmeline, I’m sorry. But that wasn’t why I needed to talk to you,” she whispered quickly.

I cocked an eyebrow and waited for her to continue. I knew I was behaving like a petulant child, but I was sort of giving her the silent treatment at the moment.

She exhaled loudly, clearly realizing that I wasn’t speaking to her and rolled her eyes. “Listen, Scrimgeour is on the warpath right now. He’s livid. And I heard him say - well, " her mouth twitched," maybe more like snarl your name when I walked by his office earlier.”

My stomach dropped.

“Are you serious?” I groaned.

“Dead serious,” she nodded.

I ran my hand through my hair and exhaled loudly. This was just perfect, I thought to myself. In hindsight, I probably should had went in to work first, before going to Remus’ then Hogwarts to see Dumbledore.  

“I know how hard it is for you to talk about him, Emmeline. And – “ Amelia looked around, presumably making sure our private conversation was staying just that – private. “They’re – they’re bound to ask questions about him, you, your relationship…” she trailed off.

She was right. They were bound to. I turned away from her, faced the wall and stared intently at a small marking that very much resembled an eye. I shuddered - It made me feel like the Ministry was watching me.  

Could I handle that all again? After he had been arrested back in eighty-one, I was questioned. For hours they interrogated me. Of course, as his girlfriend, I had to be checked out. They had to make sure I was not a Death Eater spy myself. It was horrible. And now that he’s escaped…

I'll never forget how I felt that day - scared, sad, angry, confused, and empty. I was at my parents' house, since there was no way I would return to the flat he and I shared.  

I was in the sitting room, wrapped in a blanket and sipping on some tea when they arrived. Aurors came knocking - to put it lightly - at the door. When I answered, Dawlish, who I've never cared for much since, and one of the newer recruits - Kingsley Shacklebolt, who actually has become a good friend -  came barging in.  

Dawlish tried to intimidate me. He threatened my job at the Ministry; he claimed he was in good with the Minister at the time. A bunch of rubbish in my opinion. I remember him slamming his hand down on my coffee table loads of times, like that would frighten me or something. The twat.  

Kingsley was a bit more professional. One of the reasons I respect him and have come to genuinely like him. He asked the questions I would have asked, if it were me doing the questioning.  

He wanted to know why I went to the Potters', that it seemed suspicious. How I could have basically lived with him and not have known of or seen any Death Eater activity. If I had suspected anything. Things of that nature.  

Finally Kingsley and that dolt Dawlish realized that I had nothing to do with Peter, James or Lily's murders and left. That was it; it was over as abruptly as it began and my name was completely cleared. Until now.  

I should have realized that it would happen again. I was, after all, the last person he ever had contact with. Well, the last person who is still alive that he had contact with.
I flinched slightly when I felt Amelia’s hand rest on my shoulder.

“Emmeline – “ she began. “It’ll be alright. Just – you don’t – You know you have nothing to hide. Don’t worry. It will all be okay,” she tried to reassure me.

Again, she was right. It would be. It wasn’t like I was going to get locked up in Azkaban, or anything like that. That wasn’t what I was worried about. It was going through all the intimate details of that relationship again after so long, and when it was entirely too painful to do so.

I exhaled loudly; my shoulders slumped.
“This whole situation is just nothing I would have ever anticipated,” I whispered.

“No one would have,” she answered just as quietly.

I looked down at my watch and saw that it was nearly one o'clock now. I knew I had to get to the office sooner rather than later, especially if I were to be interrogated  – I'm sorry, I mean questioned.

***
I stood outside of Scrimgeour’s door with my heart pounding and my palms beginning to sweat. I did not want to do this. At all.

I heard him talking loudly – probably to his Quick-Quotes Quill, as he normally does in the early afternoon. I took a deep, steadying breath and knocked quietly on the door.
Deep breaths, Vance. You're an Auror for Merlin’s sake. You can handle this. You've got nothing to hide.

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard him bark, “Come in!” from the other side of the door.

I inhaled deeply, squared my shoulders and kept my head up as I confidently walked into his office.

The look in his black eyes, as I stood in front of him, was anything but friendly. Granted, he usually wasn't the warmest man in the world, but right in that moment, he looked downright hostile. I felt my shoulders drop a bit as I lost just a tiny amount of that confidence I tried to strut in with.

He glanced towards the stiff dragon hide chair in front of his desk, “Sit,” he ordered firmly.

I gulped and tried to remind myself that I was not guilty of anything as I sat down. Even if his glare and tone of voice almost made me feel like I was.

 

 

A/N - Hey lovelies! Sorry for the uber short chapter here, but I (and my HPFFBFFSOULSISTERBRAINTWINFRAND; Em aka Pointless-Proclamations, who once again looked over this chapter for me, because she is amazing! Really, she's incredible. You should probably go check out her work, like right now. I'll wait... Ok good, you're back! Isn't she great?! I just knew you'd love her stuff!) felt that it was a great place to leave off. A bit of a cliffhanger, if you will. ;) As always, (even if I haven't been so great with responding to them lately. I'm going to do a binge respond day soon, promise!) your reviews mean so, so, so much to me. I love hearing your squees, CC and overall thoughts. What do you think of Emmeline so far? Is she coming off as a realisitc and relatable character?  How do you think it's going to go with Scimgeour? Where would you like to see things go? Just feed that hungry little box down there and all of your questions (well, probably just some of them; spoiler free zone and all) will be answered! ;) Thank you all so much reading! Tons of love! 

xoxo Meg

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