The Unspoken Ally: Part Four

Title: The Unspoken Ally
Author: bridgetlynn
Fandom/Genre: Harry Potter/NCIS Fusion
Relationship(s): pre-slash Tony DiNozzo/Sirius Black
Content Rating: R
Warnings: canon-level violence, language, fanon accepted conspiracy theories

Friday August 6th 1993

British Ministry of Magic
Department of Mysteries – Level 9
Whitehall
London, England

Tony had wasted almost no time in the twelve hours since he arrived from Rome; he had only taken enough time to unpack and sleep in his own home the night before and was now once again covered head to toe in his Unspeakable robes. The fact that Croaker had been part of ordering his to return – after the man had been the one to set up his assignment in Rome in the first place – told him to report in right away and if he hadn’t arrived back into the UK until after ten at night he would have come straight here.

Standing in the elevator surrounded by the morning rush he couldn’t help but glance around him and roll his eyes at the sight of the wary looks that were being thrown his way by the other Ministry employees. It always amused him how scared Magicals seemed to be when they saw a set of D.O.M. robes; if they knew that even the secretaries in the department wore the damned things outside of the D.O.M. they probably wouldn’t be quite so nervous every time they saw them. The same could be said for the actual term ‘Unspeakable’ as well; everyone who worked for the D.O.M. from the lowest file clerk to Croaker himself was referred to as that outside of Level 9.

It was simple plausible deniability.

The lift announced ‘Level 9 – Department of Mysteries’ and Tony breathed a sigh of relief to be off the creaky, crowded magical elevator. He stepped through the doors and waited as one other person, robed as he was, stepped off behind him.

Once the doors had closed on the anteroom, blocking him from sight of any Ministry workers, Tony quickly pulled the hood off of his head allowing the obscuring spell to cancel and leaving him standing in what was actually just a plain set of black over robes – the equivalent of an overcoat. The only thing that gave them any further distinction, without the obscuring spell being active, was a small crest over the left breast – also in all black – of the Department of Mysteries. The biggest irony to the robes, also something that most Ministry employees didn’t know, was that no one who worked for the D.O.M. actually wore them for anything other than moving through the Ministry outside of Level 9.

The robes were designed for the protection of Department of Mysteries employees as they didn’t actually work for the Ministry, despite being housed there. A fact that seemed to have been conveniently forgotten or deliberately ignored over the years; Croaker still received orders from the Minister on a regular basis as though the Lead Unspeakable was someone that could be directed to do anything by anyone other than the Queen herself. Tony was convinced the only reason Fudge had never followed up on why those orders were ignored since his election three years earlier was sheer cowardice; apparently, Bagnold had pushed the issue on more than one occasion and had been shut down hard. There may have been memory modifications involved according to rumor.

Annoyance at having to to wear the ridiculous robes aside; they had their uses as the easiest way to keep an eye on what the Ministry was doing for the PM’s office was to exist in the belly of the beast, so to speak. So the Unspeakables perpetuated an air of unstable danger and spread rumors about “the locked room” and let the sheep of Magical Britain believe what they wanted about the Department.

“Hello Anthony,” a soft female voice, the person who had followed him off the lift, greeted him with a smile. “I didn’t expect to see you for a few more days.”

“Mrs. Portree,” Tony greeted Croaker’s long time secretary with a deep bow. The woman had run the Department’s highest Agent and office with an iron fist for at least sixty years resulting in most employees deferring to her as though she was Croaker himself. As far as Tony was concerned she was; she had married the man afterall. “Sir Portree said ASAP. Plus, Scrimgeour requested me too.”

She paused where she had been tapping out the code so they could enter the D.O.M. employee entrance, which allowed them to bypass the dangerous trap rooms set up off the anteroom in case someone broke in or just simply tried to go past the anteroom without an escort to the Public Entrance, and looked back at him, “Scrimgeour? He can’t do that.”

“Yes, well,” Tony replied shrugging, because he too didn’t understand how that had happened. “I figured if the big boss didn’t shut him down then maybe he wants me to have an ear to the ground.”

“Possibly,” she agreed, finishing the code and walking through the archway with Tony following into the Department.

“Now, go settle in at your desk, it’s in the same place as your squad refused to replace you, and check in with Agent Dunkirk – I’m not sure if Elias let him know he was calling you back. I’ll let him know you’re here and send you a notice when he’s ready to meet with you.”

Tony nodded and watched for a moment as she headed up the stairs to the second level before turning his gaze to the room he hadn’t stepped into for over two years now.

The employee entrance always reminded Tony of a smaller, circular, version of the lobby of Grand Central Station – if you placed the ceiling of Hogwarts great hall on top of it. The area they walked into acted as a staff lounge and dining hall with archways and stairwells (up and down) branching off of it, leading to the actual working areas of the Department.

Upstairs was the most straight forward portion of the Department. There were offices for Administration, conference rooms and the ‘Public Entrance’ for whomever had clearance to be escorted into the Department. It was also the only floor that anyone who was not an Unspeakable could access.

The researchers, or mad scientists depending on what they were working on at the time, were a floor below in a strictly regulated, highly secure, laboratory setting. The first time he saw the labs he was admittedly surprised, having seen the trap rooms first. When he expressed that surprise to another Unspeakable they had laughed and replied, “Do you think we’re actually insane? As if anyone could get a single thing done in a dark, dusty, cluttered work space. Besides, nothing in there is long lasting or fatal; even those time turners don’t go further than five minutes. It would take a lot of magical discharge to have those rooms be more than a annoying deterrent to thieves until our field agents could snap them up.”

Researchers in the D.O.M. fell into any category possible – it was pure R&D into various magical disciplines with the sole intent of advancement ‘for the good of the realm’ – be that magical or muggle. Tony knew, in fact, that there was an entire sub-division of the Medical Unit devoted entirely towards developing a working treatment, or cure, for various muggle diseases using magical treatment and that most of their failure came from finding a way for the medicine to work without the presence of a magical core.

Tony belonged to the Investigation Branch of the Department which was on the same level as the lounge. The investigative branch of the D.O.M. was where recruits that qualified for field operations were assigned. They handled investigations into magical crimes that either heavily influenced the muggle world or threatened the security of the United Kingdom. They also operated as spies and assassins when necessary. The squads, usually made up of 5 to 7 members, were assigned to a maze of bullpens and offices that branched off the circular room in multiple directions – interspersed with conference rooms, file rooms and evidence lockers. It had taken Tony almost an hour to find his squad room and desk assignment his first day of work – and now he knew he could get there in two minutes by taking the first hallway and then the first two lefts off that same hallway.

The thing you learned if you managed to earn a place in the Department of Mysteries – or Mi7 to the British Government – was that you will never hold another job in Magical Britain. You were changed too fundamentally by the time were an Unspeakable. You might have a ‘cover’ but you were always an Unspeakable. You could move around the Department; but you could never be truly employed elsewhere. It was for that reason that gaining a place in the D.O.M. was so difficult – you not only had to be highly qualified in your field of choice, but you had to place your allegiance to Crown, Country and Magic itself above the idea of a separate ‘Magical Britain’.

As far as an Unspeakable was concerned, there was no ‘Magical Britain’ – the statute of secrecy was one thing, but an entirely separate government that only cared about other magicals was quite another. To an Unspeakable there was only the realm of Great Britain. There was only the kingdom of the once and future king and the promise of Avalon. To an Unspeakable the safety and welfare of all her citizens was the only concern.

The one thing that could even attempt to take equal importance, or override an Unspeakable’s vows, was Family.

And unfortunately most Magicals these days, even those that don’t believe in the idea of blood purity, have the tendency to look at Muggles as though they are curious backwards creatures. And they usually include the Queen in that assessment if they even remember that they have a Queen.

It was difficult to become an Unspeakable; but it eventually became the easiest choice you had ever made as a citizen of the Crown if you had the strength of character to get that far.

Recruitment for the D.O.M. began while a student was still school age; usually following the results of their OWLs. The Department recruited from all over the United Kingdom including home-schooled students, Hogwarts and the three public magic day schools in Belfast, Edinburgh and London. That was how Tony’s path had started.

What made the Department unique in Magical Britain was their stance on squibs and muggles; because, the D.O.M. didn’t only recruit active witches and wizards. They also tracked GCSE and A-Level exams and tracked the high scores back to find squibs and even the siblings of muggleborns. If you knew about magic and you hit the correct criteria you were considered for a spot as a Potential.

Two weeks after completing his OWLs Croaker himself showed up at Paddington House, fully robed, completely obscured and looking dangerously intimidating, in London and told Tony simply, “You’ve got Potential young man. How would you like an internship?” The fact that his Uncle was standing behind the Unspeakable nodding almost frantically had Tony agreeing to the offer without asking for any details.

It turned out to be the best decision of his life.

After he took the secrecy vow that made him physically unable to speak of anything regarding the Department, to anyone who wasn’t an Unspeakable themselves, he learned that the reason his Uncle’s only ‘job’ now is politics and estate management, despite his hatred of anyone who just sits around doing nothing but play with their money, is because he was actually an Unspeakable himself. Lord Clive Paddington was in fact ‘Blackthorn’, one of the D.O.M.’s most active Ministry spies for Her Majesty’s government. He later learned that Croaker was Sir Elias Portree; his Uncle’s best friend, and someone he had known for years at that point.

Over Tony’s final two years at Hogwarts his duties included reporting back on the school’s stagnating curriculum, any intelligence he could learn about the families of certain students who had prior ties to Voldemort and literally anything he could find out about Dumbledore’s movements. It was the only time that Tony was actually happy he had more acquaintances then friends; there was no one he was close enough to that would notice his snooping. During the summers before graduation he spent a few hours a day on the public level of the Department and was assigned research papers and smaller experiments that were designed to increase his overall knowledge, teach him strategic thinking and, in some cases, test his patience levels.

A Potential is also physically trained and Tony had been incredibly glad that he had always been athletic, even after starting Hogwarts. The seven other Potentials in his ‘class’ had fallen into the magical mindset towards physical activity – even the two muggleborns. Three had chosen to drop out of the program before the end of the summer following OWLs simply because of the physical requirements.

By the time he had completed his NEWTs his class of seven had been whittled down to three – two Magicals and a Squib, with Tony being the only Hogwarts student. It was then that they were asked what they wanted to do with their lives. The squib, David, wanted to be a doctor. The witch, Elizabeth, wanted to be a spell crafter. And Tony wanted to be in law enforcement.

The D.O.M. would make that happen for them – and from that point on their paths back to the department to take up their roles as Unspeakables were laid out to them – from the Auror Academy and a Mastery in Defense Against the Dark Arts for Tony to Oxford University and Johns Hopkins Medical School for David.

That Tony also qualified as a Hit Wizard after the Academy and had been furthering his education by pursuing an ICW mastery in ‘Defense & Law’ (the equivalent of muggle law school) only helped broaden his bankable traits within the D.O.M. itself.

When he entered his squad room a few minutes after having left Mrs. Portree’s company he wasn’t entirely surprised to find it empty. The seven desks were in their usual formation around the room, his being the only one with a clean surface, when he entered the small room; the team he belonged to specialized in smuggling operations – from potions to people – and that had led to them being out of the office or even the country more often than not for the two years he had been an active member of the team before he left for Rome in the summer of ’91.

A glance at the team calendar hanging on the wall by the board displaying any active investigations told Tony that three of the team, including his team leader Agent Kelly Greengrass – Unspeakable ‘Ransom’ – was in France chasing down what looked like a lead on the exporter of a new designer drug that was combining cocaine with powdered pepper-up and selling it on the muggle blackmarket resulting in almost instant overdose for muggles no matter the dosage. The other three were testifying at the Parliament building.

That was Tony’s favorite difference to working in the D.O.M. over the Auror Corps; he didn’t have to deal with the Wizengamot. The researchers usually testified there, when called to explain some type of magical event, as the Wizengamot only cared about things that affected other magicals and Magical Britain specifically. The Investigative Agents testified to a special tribunal, pre-scheduled once a month for hearings with trial dates set as needed, made up of three Justices of the High Court that the Queen herself had cleared to be told the truth of Magic.

Tony immediately pulled off his outer robes and hung them up on the wall hook nearby, leaving him in a pair of dark jeans, white button down shirt, grey waistcoat and tie. More comfortable without the heavy robes he unslung his messenger bag from across his chest, dropped it next to his desk and set about the office to handle some ‘house-keeping’ duties until he received notice that he should head to Croaker’s office upstairs.

An hour later he had sent a note to the Agent in Charge of the Investigative Branch, Agent Robert ‘Shard’ Dunkirk, letting him know Tony was back in England, completed the list of floo calls left on the desk of Josh ‘Lionclaw’ Cross, the team second-in-command and was about to head to the phone bank in the shielded room to get a start on the phone call list when a letter appeared in his in-box. The letter was sealed with Croaker’s sigil so he immediately dropped the list back to Josh’s desk and grabbed his own letter, almost laughing at the contents.

Canis Star,
I’m waiting on you now.
Croaker


“Really old man,” Tony ranted as soon as he entered Croaker’s office not even ten minutes later; having been waived in without a comment by the Lead Unspeakable’s wife. “Do you have to address everything to Canis Star? I hate that stupid code name. If it isn’t pronounced properly it sounds like I’m supposed to be stuck in a fridge somewhere. How would you like it if I ran around calling you Sir Portree all the time?” he added, carefully not thinking of the real reason he hated the name and the weight it carried with it. Weight unknown to his boss.

“You do,” was the dry response he got from the older man sitting behind the huge wooden desk in the center of the room.

“In public yes,” Tony agreed. “But in private I always call you Croaker, your preferred form of address. You know our code name are only necessary when we’re robed in public. Most of us can’t stand to use the damned things,” he added, with a distinct tinge of annoyance in his voice.

“The Avalon Spring granted you the name of Canis Star and I’ll use it as I see fit,” Croaker responded, echoing the argument the two had been having since Tony’s full induction as an Unspeakable.

The Avalon Spring being the true secret of the ‘Ever Locked Room’. The room contained a natural spring said to be fed from the Lake in Avalon; and therefore, imbued with the spirit of Nimue herself. For a Potential to finally be sworn in as a full Unspeakable they entered the room, disrobed and submerged fully in the spring carrying nothing with them and let magic do the rest.

The experience was different for everyone – sometimes minutes passed, sometimes hours. No one ever spoke of what they experienced in the Spring – except to state for the record the name they had heard while under the water. That became their code name. Their secrecy vows became forever magically binding with the announcement of their new name as by that point, after sometimes more then a decade of training, it was a foregone conclusion that they were loyal to the Crown. And to date, going back hundreds of years, only four people hadn’t passed through to full status. One requested to be Obliviated and three left the room with no memories of anything to do with the Department – just blank holes where anything involving it had been.

Tony had, supposedly, been under for twenty-four hours – but if anyone had asked he would have said he was gone for a month. For Tony it seemed as though he passed through the water to simultaneously emerge in the middle of a foggy lake at dawn in the middle of a forest.

He swam to the shore, quite in shock, and found himself soaking wet and dressed in an outfit straight out of medieval times. He proceeded to spend the next month living in the forest and living off what the forest provided for him. He danced with fairy colonies, learned to fight and hunt from the High Elves, talked philosophy with a dragon named Beevil and interacted with countless other magical creatures. Then one morning at dawn he was awakened by a beautiful woman with long white hair who led him to the top of a hill where a large stone with a sword sticking out of it was placed.

She had sweepingly gestured around them with her arm and Tony followed her with his eyes, seeing much to his continued surprise, a large Castle with a sprawling village covering the countryside around it in the distance. He could even hear the sounds of daily life – farm animals, horse hooves, a blacksmith pounding away, vendors calling to shoppers and the clang of knights practicing with swords – from where he stood.

“Camelot?” he, only partially, squeaked out. “This isn’t a hallucination brought on by lack of oxygen is it?” he tried joking to dispel the sudden urge to vomit that had come over him.

The only response he got to his question was bell like laughter before she pointed at the stone; the look on her face exceedingly hopeful.

“I probably shouldn’t do that My Lady,” he informed her seriously with a reverent tone; somehow only just realizing that this had to be Nimue herself. “I’m only twenty-one and while I was raised well and brought up with the idea of being the Lord of an Ancient and Noble House; I am definitely not the rebirth of King Arthur. And if I, somehow, am…I’d probably be very bad at it. So maybe we’ll just skip this part?”

This time she pointed raised an eyebrow and jabbed her finger harshly in the direction of the stone.

“Okay, I didn’t think that would work. But I had to try,” he mumbled and with a deep breath reached out to grab the pommel and pulled. The sword glowed bright blue in his hand and he could feel the power flowing through it straight up from the earth itself; but it also didn’t so much as twitch in movement. Gratefully Tony pulled his hand away and looked back at Nimue and said, “I told you so.”

“Cheeky,” her high, yet pleasant, voice responded. “I have felt you in my soul since your birth and have watched you grow over these years and truly believed you to be of Arthur. You have come home to Avalon this moon cycle and now that you have touched Excalibur I know your truth even more Sir Knight. You are of Galahad who was the greatest of Arthur’s Knights. He was loyal, strong and true to the Realm for all his days. You too have that strength of loyalty – that strength of Magic in your soul. That is why I name you Canis-Star – a wolf is the embodiment of loyalty and family and a star is your very soul. Make with that what you will Anthony Paddington.”

“Please tell me you’re kidding,” Tony choked out, forgetting for a moment who he was speaking to. “I am not handling this well at all,” he added, staring at her in shock and questioning his decision to become an Unspeakable. He wanted to put bad guys behind bars; not swing a sword around and ride a horse.

“Fear not Sir Knight,” she responded with a soft smile. “I can feel him even now across the lands. The time is soon for our people to rise again once more and Arthur to walk amongst us. You will have a place at the table for you have proven yourself worthy time and time again in thought and deed.”

“That’s not what I was worried about,” Tony snapped back, running a hand through his hair. “So Arthur huh…as in the living embodiment of Arthur or actually back from the dead Arthur-Arthur?”

“Yes. The time is near,” Nimue replied and Tony nearly rolled his eyes at the non-answer. “But not quite yet,” she continued. “Our King still has trials to face. And you will need to guide him…without interfering directly. He will not learn unless he does for himself.”

“That’s horrifically vague,” Tony pointed out. “So question, do all Potentials get this treatment? Or am I special?”

“I can not speak of what others have encountered in their journey – but, you are one of only six to be taken here to this place of honor.”

“So that means there are six other Unspeakables who are apparently Knights of the damned Round Table out there?”

“Perhaps.”

“Perhaps? Thanks for clearing that up,” he hissed out. “Anything else?”

“One thing,” she replied, her tone becoming more serious than it had been even to that point. “Arthur’s maiden, his Queen, his very soul will be at his side throughout it all. That is how you will guide him and teach him. I know not who they are – but I know he trusts few more then she. You must protect and guide her – give her the knowledge and wisdom to help him become what he has the potential to be.”

“And you don’t know who this embodiment of Guinevere is?”

“Magic provides,” was her plain answer. “And also, Guinevere was a construct of two great women created by male bards for the sake of proving that women were a temptation and the embodiment of evil. Arthur and Lancelot’s wives were sisters but they didn’t share.”

Tony’s mouth quirked as he stifled a laugh, thinking she reminded him of his Aunt for a moment there. Almost immediately after he found himself stifling a yawn.

“You tire,” Nimue stated simply. “Come. You have acomplished all you have come here to do Canis-Star. It is time to return.”

She had led him back to the lake and into the water itself; supporting him as he grew weaker with every step. With a great pull she sank them both beneath the water and in a reverse of when he entered the Spring Tony found himself instantly emerging out of the water once again in the ever locked room and once again naked. The difference was this time he was clutching a small crystal pendant in the shape of a sword, around three inches long, in his hand.

He had pulled himself from the water and laid on the floor with next to no energy left and immediately fell asleep. When he awoke he was dry again and had to force himself up to dress. He left the room to find Croaker and the other Department heads still waiting for him in their robes. All he managed to do was look at them and croak out, ‘Canis-Star’, before once again passing out.

“Yes, yes, so you’ve said,” Tony responded to Croaker, continuing the long held argument. “I still think it makes me sound like a receptacle of some sort. Onto other things then, why am I back in England?”

Croaker frowned severely before replying, “Let’s go with the the easy answer first. Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban and Scrimgeour wants you to be available and around Hogwarts.”

“Why me? I’ve got zero authority in the United Kingdom in this instance; unless the Unspeakable’s have picked up Sirius’ case? I may have once been an Auror, and am currently an ICW licensed Hit Wizard, but almost the whole DMLE considers me a traitor for “looking to better pastures.”

“Scrimgeour trusts you not to curse first and ask questions later,” Croaker informed Tony bluntly. “Fudge has set Dementors on the borders of Hogwarts; supposedly for the protection of Scion Potter and the rest of the students.”

“But you don’t believe that.”

“No, I don’t. Neither does Rufus. He and Madam Bones have a few questions regarding the Black case – questions I know you also have – and they do not like the fact that they can’t get a straight answer for a single one of them.”

“Considering the run around my Father has been getting for thirteen years I highly doubt they have too many questions now,” Tony shot back at his boss.

“Keep in mind Anthony that thirteen years ago neither one of them were in the positions they hold now. And unfortunately, until Sirius escaped there was literally no reason for either of them to question a single piece of information. Your Father was the only person asking any questions. It was absolutely accepted that Sirius was guilty of every single thing he was accused of essentially on Albus’ word alone and Sirius’ supposed confession.”

“And now that he’s escaped? I’d think that would make him look worse to them.”

“Now that he’s escaped, well, let’s just say that Amelia got a bit of a surprise when she attempted to pull his case file so she could start a new investigation into his escape and was informed she didn’t need to know anything in the first to do the second.”

“Oh I bet that went over like a lead balloon with Madam Bones,” Tony replied looking mildly amused. “She’s a nice lady…when she isn’t pissed off at you and doing her best impression to reinforce stereotypes about red hair.”

“You’re lucky you were in Rome. Rufus and I had to listen to her for almost an hour about it.”

“Does this all mean you’ve talked them around to my family’s point of view?”

“It means that they are willing to consider all the options available. Amelia said that since she doesn’t have access to a case file…or a trial transcript for that matter…that she’s just going to have to re-interview Sirius herself. She’s somewhat afraid that the kiss on sight order is a way to cover something up.”

“Well that’s something,” Tony muttered and dropped into the chair in front of the desk finally. “So, I’m what? Supposed to hang out in my house in Hogsmeade and make sure the Dementors don’t suck Sirius soul out if he’s stupid enough to come to the one place they’re expecting him to be?”

“Well, that’s what Rufus and Amelia think you’re going to be doing,” Croaker clarified. “If he actually is that stupid then by all means, keep him alive as well.”

“That still doesn’t tell me why you’ve dragged me back to England two years earlier specifically. The Head Auror could have easily point blank ordered anyone who works for him to look for Sirius and not engage in deadly force.”

“We picked you because Sirius Black is you,” Croaker finally explained their reasoning. “He was career tracked the same way you were straight out of OWLs. He was my pick from his year, same as you were in yours. He was always meant to be an Unspeakable and if the war hadn’t been going on he would have been somewhere with the ICW working on his own masteries instead of hunting down death eaters before being thrown into prison for something he didn’t do!”

“So you do believe he’s innocent? You’ve never actually said; I wasn’t sure if you were paying lip service to my Father.”

“If Sirius Black were guilty of what he was accused of they never would have caught him. Hell, if he was guilty of what he was accused of he never would have been suspected in the first place.”

“And the reason you left him in prison?”

“Not by choice,” Croaker admitted. “I was shut down every single time I tried to bring the subject up. Remember, we might be in the Ministry building…but the movers and shakers in Fudge’s office like to forget that we work for the Crown and our loyalty lies with Her before it ever lies with the Ministry of Magic…right up until they need to rub our noses into our total lack of authority in DMLE matters.”

Tony laughed darkly at that and finally asked, “So what am I actually going to be doing. Chief Mason mentioned something about an artifact.”

Croaker paused and seemed to be considering his words, “And, that’s where things get really complicated. Rufus and Amelia only know about part of this; so, if and when you meet with them try and keep their attention on the Black issue.”

“Okay?”

“Albus requested a time-turner for a student,” Croaker finally just stated it, after visibly stopping to consider his words.

“I’m sorry…he what?!”

“You heard me. He requested a time-turner for a student. Specifically for a third year.”

“Well, you didn’t give it to him did you? Who in their right mind would give a time-turner to a third year? Sworn Unspeakables have to have separate masteries in Runes, Arithmancy and Charms at minimum to even get considered for a spot in the Space & Time Research Lab.”

“I did give it to him,” Croaker admitted with an expression that told Tony the man realized exactly how ridiculous that action was. “I had a reason.”

“I hope it’s a really good one,” he replied to his mentor. “I don’t want to hear about some kid blowing themselves, and possibly everyone else in the Castle up, because they completely overworked their very under developed magical core with a mostly unstable magical tool.”

“Can you attempt to remember I’m your boss Anthony?”

“I remember you’re my boss all the time in public; but this is one of those instances where someone needs to give you a strong and firm ‘No’ because otherwise you’re going to keep doing crazy things like giving a third year a time-turner.”

“Janet already told me no,” he responded, pointing towards his office door. “I’ve been sleeping in my study for a week! But I told you; things are complicated.”

“Then uncomplicate them,” Tony pointed out. “Because, the level of complication involved in agreeing to give a time-turner to a thirteen year old is kind of ridiculous to contemplate. What does a third year even need a time-turner for?”

“Technically, she will be fourteen in the middle of September. But I understand your point. She needs it to take all the available electives.”

Tony blinked, opened his mouth and then blinked again before finally speaking in an absolutely incredulous voice, “She needs it to take extra classes? I’m sorry, is independent study under the supervision of a professor not good enough for people anymore? It’s what I did. It’s what most of Ravenclaw does.”

“I asked Albus that myself. He had the audacity to point out that Ms. Granger is a Gyrffindor and then to tell me that the girl in question is Harry Potter’s best friend; as if those were reasons she should be exempt from going about her education the same as every other student in the school.”

“Something about that caught your attention. Beyond the obvious stupidity.”

“It did,” Croaker admitted. “I told him I’d need to think about it. That was two weeks ago. I asked Amelia if her niece, Susan, had mentioned anything about a Hermione Granger over the last two years and let’s just say what Amelia told me was interesting to say the least. Something is going on in that school Anthony and I need an in. Giving Ms. Granger the time-turner gets me that.”

“It does?”

“Yes; I told Albus that the only way he could have the time-turner was under strict conditions. Ms. Granger is to meet with an Unspeakable twice a month to make sure her physical and mental condition remain stable.”

“I bet the old manipulative coot had a response to that,” Tony replied with a sarcastic laugh.

“Oh he did. He assured me Madam Pomfrey was quite capable of seeing to Ms. Granger’s health and that none of our valuable employees needed to take time out of their busy schedules to visit his student.”

“A dangerous and regularly unstable magical artefacts effects on a teenager can be overseen by the school nurse? Madam Pomfrey had to send students to St. Mungo’s for anything more complicated then a Quidditch injury or a cold when I was in school. Hell, she’s supposed to send them there – she’s a mediwitch, not a Healer.”

“I pointed that out. Albus didn’t like it. I was actually expecting him to back out of his request but for some reason he didn’t. He finally realized I was absolutely not changing my mind on my requirements and he agreed.”

“So I’m going to be living in Hogsmeade at my house, keeping Sirius alive if he shows up and making sure this Granger kid doesn’t blow up herself or the space time continuum? Wouldn’t an actual Researcher who deals with time-turners be better for that last one?”

“If that’s all that was going on then yes. But as I said, something is going on at that school. Amelia said Susan and her friend Hannah were talking about a missing professor at the end of their first year and then there was a mess up at the school with petrified students last year. The issue lies in the fact that when questioned about these things by Amelia Susan and Hannah only seemed to remember the vaguest of details.”

“Petrified students?” Tony questioned, looking shocked. “What the hell did I miss in Rome?”

“In Rome? What did we miss here?! I want to know what’s going on at that school Anthony. I want to know how it’s related to Potter – and it has to be, Dumbledore was far too quick to use the fact that this girl is his best friend as an excuse – and I want to know exactly what chess game Albus is playing at the moment.”

“Yes sir,” Tony responded, finally looking completely serious. “When am I supposed to meet with her? And, it has to be asked, is she a Potential? Am I doing her initial swearing?”

“Let’s call her a potential Potential. From what I’ve managed to suss out she would probably be one, but it’s still a little too early to tell. Amelia’s niece paints Granger as quite rigid in her thinking which we both know does not translate well here. She’ll have to be mildly secrecy bonded to meet with you; you’ll never get her to trust you with any information if you’re shrouded in your robes and it’ll be safer for her in the long run that way anyhow if she can’t tell anyone even the mildest details of your meetings. Act as counselor and teacher; but not quite friend. At least not at first. Supposedly she respects authority to an almost dangerous level so ironically, unlike most teenagers, she’s more likely to trust you if you are ‘above’ her.”

“And if that doesn’t work?”

“Find her weak spot and exploit it,” Croaker told him. “I need confirmation about something I’ve suspected since even before the incident in ’81; and she could very well have the information or know how to get it. Even if she doesn’t quite realize it herself. And if we get a true Potential out of this mess then so much the better.”

“Right,” Tony muttered, not feeling too good about essentially being sent in to manipulate a child but understanding the reasoning of it all. “Alright, well, I better go prepare. How soon do you want me to meet with Ms. Granger?”

“She’ll get the time-turner from her Head of House the night of September 1st. That is a Wednesday this year. Minerva actually knows how to use a time-turner for reasons I can not get into so she’ll instruct Ms. Granger on how she may use hers. I would like you to meet with her no later then the fourth of the month.”

“So Saturday then. Alright. And check-in’s with you or my squad?”

“Monthly with me unless something comes up. I’m going to tell Ransom that you’re available to do research if she needs the extra eyes – but they’ve been alright without you since you left for Rome. They don’t want to replace you and as long as their closure rate stays as it does they don’t have to.”

“Sounds good,” Tony responded and stood. “I’ll head down and pack up then. I am going to stop into R&D and get someone to run me over anything I need to know about the time-turners though. I might be going in there to get information; but I would like to keep this kid from blowing herself and the Castle to kingdom come as well.”

“Do that,” Croaker agreed distractedly; almost as though the thought hadn’t quite completely occurred to him as an actual possibility despite knowing the danger of the devices.

It wasn’t until an hour later when Tony had sat back down at his desk in his squad room, with an initial packet of information to study about the time-turners, that Nimue’s words from two years earlier echoed once more through his mind.

“Arthur’s Queen…You must protect and guide her – give her the knowledge and wisdom to help him become what he has the potential to be.”

“Well shit,” Tony hissed and dropped his head back as his hands came up to clutch the crystal sword hanging around his neck.


End Note: Poked around at the next part I had donefinally got happy with it. Enjoy.

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