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Broken Pieces

He played the conversation over in his mind — one more time.

Denial wasn’t an option.   After four months that had approached bliss, she had told him unequivocally that she was leaving.   He’d left the restaurant as quickly as possible because he didn’t want to break down in front of her — he still had some pride.   He’d popped back to England after spending the night walking the beaches in Cyprus to find that every trace of her was gone to - wherever.   Her leaving was a fact, like gravity, like magic, like exhaustion, like the pain in his hands after beating a particularly unsympathetic oak tree outside of her former flat.

Withdrawal — he’d honed that into an art-form.   When you have magic, a bit of money, and don’t mind being a bit uncomfortable, there are a lot of places to retreat where you can guarantee that you’ll be left alone.   Of course, the off odd chance that you might be killed in an avalanche or be collateral damage in a low-intensity war was just part of the downside if you really, really wanted to be alone.

Anger — now that he was taking his blessed daily dose of Bupropion he wasn’t subject to the rages that he’d become famous for as a teenager, but he could still launch into a pretty good rant.   The problem now was that his anger didn’t have a target apart from an uncaring universe that allowed him to fall in love with a woman who had just left him.   That realization, that he loved her, had sunk in on the second day.   He was angry that she’d left, but he wasn’t angry at her.   He missed her — the way she’d sing quietly when doing a mindless task, the way she smelled when he embraced her, the way she fit into his side when they were doing something trivial like watching a practice Quidditch match from the stands.   He missed watching her eyes open after a kiss.   Missing her was excruciating.

Bargaining — he wasn’t very good at that, but he had put in a good hour of prayer after dawn on the third day when he returned to St Athanasius’ monastery in Cyprus.   He wasn’t sure that he believed in God, but he didn’t mind praying with the brothers, who seemed to have settled those questions of belief long, long ago.   Abbot Anthony would let him join the brothers for a meal and spend a day or two at the monastery before he’d retreat to his place on the top of the mountain.   In the end, he’d felt a little bit ridiculous pleading with a God he wasn’t sure existed about a problem that he was fairly certain was his to solve, not God’s.   That didn’t stop him from lighting a candle, though, or staying for prayers before the noon meal.

Depression — he knew a lot about that.   He didn’t fear it any more, but he did give it the same healthy respect he paid to the other things in his life that could destroy him if he wandered too close: dragons, rip tides, unstable rock faces, and certain dark creatures.   He knew that he needed to sleep if he was to avoid the mania that came from days of sleep deprivation, and he likewise knew that he couldn’t rely on the usual chemicals or potions, so he would exhaust himself with physical activity, eat a Spartan, albeit nourishing meal, and then collapse in a nylon mesh hammock he’d installed in a place that usually received breezes in the night.   After a week, he’d settled into a rhythm.   Midway into the second week he woke in the middle of the night with a burst of clarity: he now knew what anchored the magical fields that surrounded Denali, a problem he’d been trying to solve for three years.   As he scratched several lines of arithmagical equations onto a notepad, he barked a rough laugh, a sound he hadn’t made in quite a while.   His unconscious mind had solved a vexing problem, it just happened to be the wrong vexing problem.

So he’d processed denial, withdrawal, anger and depression; he’d be damned if he was going to move from depression to acceptance, but that problem was going to have to be put off for a while he fixed another niggling problem for his neighbours.  


The strange hermit known to the monks as Brother Harry would come and go, but that wasn’t without precedent; a number of hermits had, over time, semi-attached themselves to the monastery.   He’d be a regular visitor on a weekly basis for a few months, and then be absent for half a year or more.   The brothers took little notice of it — they weren’t going anywhere, and whoever he was, he had the confidence of Abbot Anthony.  

He appeared again one morning, waiting until morning prayers were finished to seek an audience with Abbot Anthony.   The Abbot was no slouch in the smarts department and understood how the Denali magical field could be adapted to the problems faced in the Troödos mountain range.   The next day the Abbot assigned an unusual surveying assignment to Brothers Cyril and Basil and a week later after they’d dug very particular holes in the rocks, Brother Harry came and filled the holes with cylinders he’d brought down from his hermitage.   If the brothers noticed the correlation between their construction project and the fact that the Turks on the other side of the mountain stopped firing their mortars, they never said anything about it.   They’d been praying for years that the random barrages would stop, and that prayer had finally been answered.   Nothing mysterious about that; they’d been living with answered prayers for years.


Throwing yourself into work when you don’t want to face your emotions can be a good thing.   The fact that the work happens to be finding kidnapped children and their kidnappers is just a bonus — the work is a painkiller that happens to be available in eighty hour doses.

In the first two weeks, they’d recovered the magical children along with some Muggle children the Muggle authorities didn’t know were missing.   In the following month, they rounded up eight of the ten core leaders in the gang responsible for the heinous crimes.   The remaining scum had crawled under a rock somewhere and weren’t cooperating with the strike team’s efforts to apprehend them.

Gabrielle sighed, picking up a pen to fill out the remaining paperwork.   Once she filled out this last batch of papers, she’d go to her pitifully empty flat and sleep, something she hadn’t done for a while.   She looked up before the door opened, deciding in a flash that she probably didn’t need to pick up her wand.   The District Superintendent pushed the door open.   If she were still an Auror, she’d be expected to snap to attention, but she was a specialist, a civilian, on contract, so she could remain seated.   She decided to compromise, putting down the pen and sitting erect at her desk.

"Yes, Madame?" she said in her best school-girl French.

"I am most pleased with your results, Mademoiselle, but it pains me to think that you have been working for what, the past six weeks without a break?" she said in measured, even tones.   "Today is Wednesday.   I want you to go home, now, and not return until Monday.   Are you clear on my expectations?"

"Just what am I to do between now and Monday, Madame?" Gabrielle asked.

"Anything other than working on this case — go back to England and see your nephew and nieces, visit the beach, go shopping — anything other than this case.   Is that clear?   The Ministry has deposited several pounds of gold into your account, it wouldn’t hurt if you spent a little of it in France," the Superintendent drawled, her lips curling with the ghost of a smile.

"Yes, Madame," Gabrielle said, closing the folder on her desk.   It would still be there on Monday, wouldn’t it?

"It’s not just for you, Gabrielle; you’ve been running my Aurors ragged.   I would like to have something left to supervise when you leave us," the Superintendent said.  Her face softened, and she put on the more familiar, softer face Gabrielle had known as a little girl. "I am proud of you, daughter; you have brought honour to us once again."

"But of course, Madame Superintendent," Gabrielle said with a smile.

The Superintendent nodded and swished her platinum hair to one side, pulsing with a quick glow of Veela energy before she walked out of the room.   Gabrielle felt honoured by the display, which was equivalent to a loving hug from a favourite aunt.  

Gabrielle Apparated to a safe spot outside of her flat and walked up the flights of stairs leading to her room.   She put her satchel down, kicked off her shoes, and collapsed into the bed, falling asleep before she could turn over into a more comfortable position.

When she woke, whenever that was, she’d go looking for Harry.


It didn’t take long to wind up his affairs on Cyprus.   What little food he hadn’t eaten already he left in the monastery kitchen where it was sure to be eaten by the brothers.   He had a brief chat with Abbot Anthony, who again thanked him for installing the shield covering the south side of the mountain and Disapparated from the monastery courtyard.   In Crete, he found the British consul who was able to post a message for him; with any luck by the time he arrived at his flat in London he’d have a reply.

He let himself into the basement flat at Grimmauld Place , smiling  when he lit the lamps — there waiting on the table for him was a neatly penned reply from his oldest and best friend; he would be dining with Mr. Longbottom and Mrs. Granger-Longbottom tonight in response to his inquiry.   He stripped off his clothes, which were more appropriate for the balmy Mediterranean than London in autumn, took a shower and then settled down for a brief nap.

He awoke in time to browse through a couple of stores to find   appropriate gifts; a bottle of a rather clever Muggle compound that helped potted plants retain water and a book of Sufi poetry that he’d first discovered when visiting the Turkish side of the island of Cyprus.   He arrived punctually, receiving hugs from both newlyweds and deposited his gifts, which were initially rebuffed and then eventually accepted.   Neville had read about the Muggle compound, but hadn’t found it when he’d asked for it at the local ironmonger’s shops.   Dinner was pleasant enough, although by unspoken mutual consent none of them said anything about Harry’s most recent departure or the events that led up to it.   After coffee was served, Neville excused himself, explaining that he had a flat of orchids that had to be re-potted if he had any hope of them blooming before Christmas.  

Seeing the glint in Hermione’s eye, he knew he was in trouble.     He attempted to distract her by diagramming the Denali field, writing out his analysis of the various magical forces anchoring that field, and explaining how he’d adapted that discovery to protect the monastery on Troödos.   That was good for about half an hour, as Hermione couldn’t resist the temptation, but when the last diagram was drawn, her visage changed and the glint returned to her eye.   With a practiced flick of her wand, she silenced the room.

"You’ve been trying to distract me, haven’t you?" she asked.

"Yeah, because you’re going to explain to me in excruciating detail what an arse I’ve been, aren’t you?" he replied.

Hermione nodded.

"Look, if it will save any time, I’ll admit that I screwed up big time, although for the life of me, I’m not sure how," he said.

"Adults don’t run away from their problems, Harry — especially when it’s conflict with someone they love," Hermione said gently.

"She told me that she was leaving me — out of the blue," Harry said in his own defence.

"Did you inquire into why she was leaving?" Hermione asked patiently.

"Yeah, something about running out of cash," Harry said.

"Did Gabrielle ever strike you as being particularly concerned about money?" Hermione asked.

"No," he answered, shaking his head.   "If she could pay her bills, she was happy."

"Did she explain what the job was?" Hermione asked, already knowing the answer.

"Tracking something, I suppose," he said.

"Children," Hermione said quietly, unconsciously rubbing her side.


"Yeah, a bunch of magical children have been kidnapped," Hermione explained.

"For ransom?"

"No, for the sex-trade."

"That’s disgusting," Harry said indignantly.   "Why didn’t she tell me that?"

"Because you didn’t give her a chance to, Harry!" Hermione exclaimed, twinging sympathetically with the pain spread across her friend’s face.

"I didn’t want to cry in front of her," Harry said after a moment of silence, reaching up to brush his eyes with the back of his hand.   "Everything I love leaves me."

"Oh, Harry, that’s not true," Hermione said, moving beside him on the sofa.

"Oh?" Harry said, looking up into her eyes.   "Do you want the list?   Well, first there’s Mum, and then dad of course, then Sirius, Albus, Hagrid, Ginny, even you."

"I didn’t mean to leave you, Harry!" Hermione exclaimed.

"I know that, Hermione; just try explaining it to the little boy who sleeps in the cupboard under the stairs," Harry said, wiping his eyes on his sleeves.

Hermione shifted around on the couch so she could place her arms around him.   Some part of him noted that she was so much thinner than she’d been five years ago, and she’d been pretty lean then.   The tears flowed freely, prompting Hermione to summon a box of tissues.

"Thanks, you’re ever practical," Harry said, crumpling the used tissue.

Hermione sniffed.   "You know, Gabrielle came to me that night.   She knew that you two had just had a fight, but she didn’t understand what she’d done wrong," she said.

"So she came to the longsuffering friend for an interpretation," Harry quipped.

"She asked what she could do to fix things.   I suggested showing up at your flat, naked, with her bits covered in dark chocolate.   What?   Why are you looking at me like that?" Hermione asked.

"I don’t know which is more disturbing; visualizing Gabrielle like that, or the fact that you suggested it," Harry said, raising his eyebrow.  

"Oh, stuff it," Hermione said, pushing his shoulder weakly.   "That was one of Ron’s stock fantasies — it was the first thing that came to mind."

"So it wasn’t drawn from personal experience?"

"I’m not answering that question!"

"I happen to know that Ron favours milk chocolate, it’s Neville that prefers dark chocolate," Harry said with a wink.

"I am a happily married woman, Harry Potter, and I have no complaints in that area of my life," Hermione said, trying hard not to smile.   "You haven’t been intimate with her, have you?"

"No, not for lack of trying on her part, though," Harry said.


Harry leaned back on the couch, stretching out his legs.   He didn’t talk until he’d run his fingers through his hair, trying to frame the words.   "Blame Ginny, I guess — or rather blame me.   During the war, after we got back together, we’d talked about getting married, I’d even bought a ring, but I wanted to wait until after Voldemort was dead, and I wasn’t sure that I was going to survive.   Ginny didn’t want to wait, but I didn’t want her to be seen as damaged goods if she survived the war and I didn’t," he explained.

"I’m not sure I understand," Hermione said.

"Ginny was a pureblood without much to offer in the way of a dowry, so if she was going to have a hope of marrying well after the war, at least to someone other than me, who didn’t care about pureblood snobbery, she needed to be intact."

"That was why you waited?" Hermione asked incredulously.   "That’s barbaric."

"There are a lot of things in the Wizarding world that haven’t changed much since the Dark Ages, Hermione," Harry said drolly.

"So what does that have to do with Gabrielle?" Hermione asked.

"I loved Ginny; I knew I wanted to marry her — and with her I was waiting until we could get married, so I guess to be consistent, I’ve applied the same standard to every girl I’ve met after Ginny died," Harry explained.

"There have been tonnes of them, I suppose," Hermione said sarcastically.

"Not really — but there have been a few; girls who were far more interested in me than I was interested in them — on any terms," Harry said quietly.   "Until Gabrielle — I didn’t figure out that it was something more than infatuation until after she’d left."

"Do you know why she brought up that conversation that night?"

"No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me, aren’t you, Hermione?"

Hermione smiled.   "She wanted to talk about how to make a long-distance relationship work until she came back."

"She was planning on coming back?" Harry groaned.   "Just shoot me, what an arse I’ve been."

"If it’s any comfort, Gabrielle’s been heartbroken, both by the fact that she hurt you and by the fact that you two are apart," Hermione said.

"Excuse me if I fail to find the comfort in that news, Hermione."

"She wants you back, stupid," Hermione said, cuffing the back of his head.

"Okay, thanks, that’s framing it in terms that I can understand," Harry said with a smile.   "You have a plan, of course."

Hermione smiled sweetly.   "Of course."


The Superintendent walked away from the Apparation point shaking her head.   She hated the budget meetings in Paris, but if she sent one of her subordinates, she always felt that she’d be short-changed.   She ducked into a bistro, emerging moments later with a steaming coffee, her second of the day.   As she walked into her office she noted a smartly dressed young man chatting amiably with her secretary.   His accent was Parisian, but his clothes reeked of England.   Michele stood as the Superintendent sat down behind her desk.

"Madame, this gentleman wishes to speak with you, but he does not have an appointment," Michele said.

The Superintendent smiled once she saw the stranger’s face.   "Monsieur Potter does not need an appointment to see me, Michelle."

"Yes, Madame," Michele said nervously, dropping a small curtsey.  

The Superintendent gave her visitor chair a backhanded wave.   "Won’t you come in, Monsieur Potter?"

"Why thank you," he said politely, laying his coat down beside the chair before sitting down.

"What brings you to Marseilles?" the Superintendent asked sweetly.

"I’m looking for one of your employees," he replied.

"Mademoiselle Delacour is not on station at the moment," the Superintendent said flatly.

"I’ve already gathered that much," Harry said wryly.

"I expect her to report for duty on Monday," the Superintendent volunteered.

"I hope to not wait that long," he replied.

"You will have to live with the disappointment, Monsieur," the Superintendent said sharply.

"Can you tell me where I might find her before Monday?"

"No — for the simple reason that I do not know where she is.   She has worked very long hours for almost two months and I ordered her to take a small holiday.   I have answered your questions, now you will answer mine," the Superintendent said.   "Why do you wish to see Mademoiselle Delacour?"

"We have known each other for years, and recently became — good friends.   I am afraid that we had a misunderstanding before she left England," he said politely.

The Superintendent said nothing, closing her eyes briefly as the air about her began to shimmer with silver light.

The dark-haired man was unfazed.   "Please stop," he asked.   The Superintendent remained silent, staring at him as the aura around her began to blaze.   She felt his magic surround her and begin to squeeze, taking her breath away.   "Please — stop," he repeated.

"Very well," the Superintendent said with a crisp smile.   The tension in the air dissipated as her aura faded to nothing.   "I can see why she is so taken with you; you are a most unusual man, Monsieur."      

"Gabrielle said much the same thing," Harry said with a smile.

"I would like to make a proposition that would be in our mutual best interests," the Superintendent began, breaking into a warm, broad smile.

"I’m all ears," Harry said.


She didn’t bother coming back to her flat on Sunday night — she was driven to hit as much territory as she could during her unexpected holiday, traversing a couple of continents and dozens of time zones over the long weekend.   It was Monday morning, 4:00 am to be precise.   She was exhausted after a fruitless search.   Her plan was to reach the International Apparation point in Paris, where she would take a quick breakfast before Apparating to Marseilles; she could shower in the changing room at the office.

After breakfast and a rather long shower she felt somewhat human, which caused a bleak smile.   Not bad for someone classified as ‘near-human’ in the xenobiology references.  Her smile left when she saw a note on her desk in Michele’s loopy handwriting.   "The District Superintendent wishes to see you at 9:30 a.m. in her office."

Oh shite.

Gabrielle went back to the changing room to make sure that everything looked perfect.   It wouldn’t change anything, but at least if she looked good, she’d have an edge going into the District Superintendent’s office.   It was not lost on her that when she returned to the Justice Ministry that the first part-Veela tracker to ever be certified by the Ministry would be working for the most highly-decorated and highest ranking part-Veela in the Ministry.   The fact that said Superintendent was a distant relative did not help matters at all.   She knew that whatever infraction she’d committed (and she’d committed a number of them in the past seven weeks) she’d get no slack from the District Superintendent.

9:25 a.m., well, I might as well get it over with.

"Good morning, Michele, I’m here to see the Superintendent," Gabrielle said.

"Go right on in, Madame is expecting you," Michele said coolly.   Gabrielle made sure that the door closed behind her.

"Please sit down, Mademoiselle," the Superintendent said, not looking up from a stack of folders.  

"Yes, Madame," she said meekly.

She sat in silence, suffocating quietly, trying to centre herself and project a calm demeanour.  

The Superintendent cleared her throat, daintily.  

"I’ve been catching up on my paperwork, and I’ve been noticing an odd correlation, Mademoiselle," the Superintendent said crisply.


"There have been a number of injuries in the strike force, and a number of requests to transfer out of the strike force," she said.

"It’s a rough job," Gabrielle said.

"That’s what I thought at first, until I noticed where the injuries were occurring," the Superintendent said.   She opened the first folder.   "Jacques Fuso, dislocated shoulder, listed as a sparring accident.   Do you know anything about that?" she asked, looking up from the folder to pierce her with her gaze.

"He was sparring with me, Madame," Gabrielle said.

"How was he injured?"

"His hand was upon my breast, Madame," Gabrielle explained, wincing a little as she remembered the incident.

"That type of contact has been known to happen during sparring," the Superintendent replied.

"His hand was inside my blouse, Madame," Gabrielle answered.

"I see," the Superintendent said, moving that file to one side of the desk.   "Gerrard Monet, burn marks to the face and scalp."

"The mirror in my locker had a peeping charm upon it, Madame," Gabrielle said, nibbling on her lower lip.

"Antoine Marlowe, broken fingers."

"Monsieur Marlow seemed unable to move past me in the hallways without placing his hands upon my buttocks, Madame.   I gave him a warning; he did not think that I was serious," Gabrielle said primly.

"Do we need to go over the rest of these, Mademoiselle?

"No, Madame," Gabrielle said.   "The men operating under your command appear to believe that Veela were placed upon the earth to satisfy their carnal desires.   Those who have bothered to inquire into my recent history believe that the remedy for a broken heart involves a dalliance with them, a belief that I have gone to great lengths to disabuse."

"I see," the Superintendent said.   "The fact remains that none of the qualified Aurors wish to go out into the field with you any more, despite your phenomenal accomplishments to date.   I have a large stack of transfer requests awaiting my signature."

"I do not know what I can do beyond tendering my resignation, Madame," Gabrielle said coolly.

"That will not be necessary.   I have requested that a specialist be detailed from Paris to accompany you into the field for the duration of your assignment," the Superintendent said.

"A specialist?" Gabrielle asked.

"A hit-wizard," the Superintendent replied.   "Do not roll your eyes at me, Mademoiselle."

"I have worked with the Parisian hit-wizards before; I am not optimistic," Gabrielle said, trying to control her facial expression.

"This one has come highly recommended," the Superintendent said.   "If you are unable to work with this one, however, we will have to reconsider our options."

Gabrielle knew that she’d been dismissed.   She stood and moved to leave.

"As you have no partner at the moment, you are not allowed into the field.   You may catch up on your reports for the remainder of the day.   The specialist is scheduled to arrive at 5:00 p.m. today. I would appreciate it if you could meet with him as soon as he arrives.

"Yes, Madame," Gabrielle said, restraining the urge to slam the door upon her exit.


The reports were all completed by noon.   Gabrielle walked out of the building to catch a quick lunch and then went to the gymnasium to work out, beating the heavy bag until it burst a seam.   That wasn’t nearly satisfying enough to slake her rage, so next she went to the range, trading her usual wand for a thicker battle wand.   She heard the door open behind her several times, but no one had the courage to approach her while she was simultaneously seething and shooting. She felt a warm tingling at the base of her spine, but she ignored it, marking it up to fatigue.   Changing wands, she set up a combat scenario with mannequins, repeating the scenario until there were no mannequins standing. She heard the door open once again, but it never closed.

"The range door is supposed to be closed at all times, can’t you read the signs?" she called over her shoulder, not bothering to turn around.

"No, you must forgive me, I am new to the range," he said.  

A shiver ran down her back as the tingling burst into flame.   He was here!   She turned around slowly, pointing her wands to the ceiling.   "Where the hell have you been?"

"Since Thursday evening, I’ve been here, and in Paris," Harry replied, eyeing the wands carefully.   He let the door close behind him.

"I’ve been to Alaska and Crete and Cyprus and Alexandria and Singapore and Saigon," she spat.

"Saigon?" he asked incredulously.

"Okay, that one wasn’t your fault; while I was in Singapore I decided to hit Saigon so I could pick up some cinnamon for Molly and while I was there I scanned for you a couple of times," Gabrielle said.

"I’m sorry," he said, staring at her without blinking.

"For what?"

"For being an arse," he said quietly.   "For leaving in a huff; for not giving you a chance to explain.   For doubting you."

"Do you have any idea what utter hell the last seven weeks have been?   I’ve been busting the vilest punks in Marseilles while simultaneously kicking myself for what happened that night.   I’ve been such a bitch that I’m this close," she said, holding her fingers apart by a centimetre, "to getting fired."     She threw down her wand.   "Get over here, now," she commanded.

Harry sauntered over to her, standing before her with his hands behind his back.

Gabrielle stamped her foot.   "Not like that," she cried, pulling at his elbows, flipping his arms around her.   "Like this," she said with a sigh.   She breathed deeply, hoping that this was real, that it wasn’t a fatigue-induced hallucination.   If it was a hallucination, it was a beauty — everything was correct — sight, sound, smell, touch.   It was bliss.   She began to glow; a shimmering aura of silver light surrounded her and then began to envelope him.   She mentally kicked herself for slipping, but then decided that she didn’t care any more.

The door opened again.   It was the District Superintendent.   "Ah, Monsieur Potter, I see that you have found your partner," she said sweetly.

Gabrielle broke the embrace, feeling sheepish.   "Partner?   This is the hit-wizard from Paris?"

"Yes, Mademoiselle, his credentials were issued this morning," the Superintendent said with a slight smile.

"Monsieur Potter, your Tracker appears to be greatly fatigued and probably could not detect a rotting corpse in a bakery, given her current lack of sleep.   Your first assignment is to accompany her to her quarters and make sure that she receives adequate rest before she returns to duty on Wednesday," the Superintendent commanded.

"Yes, Madame," Harry replied.


Two hours later they stumbled back into her flat, having gorged at a small Thai restaurant not far from the office.   She dropped her satchel and stood unsteadily by the door.   "Where are you staying?" she asked.

"I’ve got some rooms at the Barclay until I can find a flat," Harry said.

"Oooh, nice digs, but a bit above your per diem, isn’t it?" she asked.

"I’m not going to worry about that for the moment," he said.

Gabrielle bit her lips.   "Sleep with me?   Just until I fall asleep?   You do have your orders, after all," she said with an impish smile.

Harry nodded.   "Just until you fall asleep," he replied.

She nodded and then disappeared into her bathroom, coming out a few minutes later wearing a long cotton nightgown with three-quarter length sleeves.   "The bedroom is this way," she said, leading the way.   "Do you prefer the right or the left side?"

"Uh, the right," he said.

"Why am I not surprised," she said, pulling back the comforter as he kicked off his shoes.   As he slipped into the bed, she turned her back to him.   He slid next to her, throwing one arm over her.   She wriggled into him and sighed.   "Just until I fall asleep," she said.

"Just until you fall asleep," he echoed, marvelling in how right it felt to spoon with her.  

As she relaxed she began to glow again.   Harry never noticed, as he was already asleep.


He woke with a start.   Morning light was filtering into the bedroom window.   The other side of the bed was empty.   He heard rustling in the kitchenette.

"Were you expecting a package from Hermione?" Gabrielle called.

"Not really," he replied.   "Why don’t you open it — I’m going to use your loo."

"Got it," Gabrielle called as she continued to rustle in the kitchenette.

When he came out of the loo he noticed that she had a dressing gown on over the nightgown and was wearing flip-flops for slippers.

"You were expecting bunny slippers?" she asked.

"Not exactly.   What was in the package?" Harry replied.

"Large bottle of dark chocolate sauce from Ghirardelli’s" Gabrielle said, struggling to keep a straight face.

"Put it in your cupboard, we might need it some day," Harry said.

"Some day?" Gabrielle replied scornfully.

"Yeah, some day," Harry said.   "What’s for breakfast?"


Copyright © 2006 — J Cornell — all rights reserved.

Okay, not my usual fare, but I enjoyed writing it.   The basic plot and back story could easily fill 50-100,000 words, but I wanted to see how compact I could make it, trying to come in under 15,000 words, which is about the size of my usual chapter.   What this means is that you telegraph some things (the recovery of Neville’s parents) and other things you just mercilessly prune (like how the last two gangsters were hiding from Gabrielle, and the fact that they’d taken three part-Veela children hostage).  Did you see the partner assignment coming?   If so, raise your hands.   Very good, thank you.   You can sit down now.

As usual, my thanks go to my wonderful Beta, Runsamok, who I’m tempted to nickname "Quickdraw," but will refrain from doing so, because mum always said you didn’t do that to ladies.   Thanks also to those who provided feedback on my LJ, where the first drafts of all of my writing see the light of day.

For those of you who have not kept up with current affairs, the island of Cyprus is divided between the Turks, who are relative newcomers to the island, and the Cypriots, who speak Greek, notwithstanding the fact that they are an independent nation, admitted to the EU apart from Greece.   The highest mountain in the Troödos range has a radar station on it, but other mountains in the range do have monasteries.   There is an uneasy truce between the Turks and the Greek Cypriots, which breaks out into shooting from time to time.

Write what you know, we’re told again and again.   I’m not a wizard, so the magical bits I made up, but the geography is more or less correct in this story, and I credit a great deal of my present lot in life to my daily dose of 150 mg of Bupropion (Wellbutrin XL) which broke my three year clinical depression in one day.   I thank God for the men and women at Glaxo, but we’ll talk of that another day.

No chocolate sauce was harmed in the writing of this story.

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Author Notes:

Disclaimer - see the first chapter to see why I don't need no stinking disclaimer.