Question (Worth the Risk #41)

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Lunch with Luna passes quickly. Their table is full throughout the meal with various friends dropping by to say hello and catch up. Everyone knows that Luna could be gone tomorrow if she decides on a new project to pursue, so they take advantage of her presence while she’s around. Hermione doesn’t mind because it’s less time that she has to sit and think about everything.

Teddy would likely hex her if he knew that she is still spending so much time analyzing their relationship. It’s not as if she’s doing it intentionally; it’s just who she is and she can’t change that nor would she. While she has made the choice to see where things go with Teddy, that doesn’t mean she’s just going to prance around without a worry in the world. It is nice that they talked and decided together, so they know how they feel about things.

When she realizes that it’s nearly one, she leaves Luna at Finnigan’s with friends and takes the Floo back to the Ministry. On her way to her office, she stops by the lab to speak with Corner about an older case that’s been set for trial starting next week. He’s the best lab tech that the Aurors have, so the best time to catch him is when he’s coming in first thing in the morning or right after lunch. They talk about the case briefly and make arrangements for his testimony before she continues on to her office.

Caroline is back at her desk working on files when Hermione enters the outer office. She glances past Caroline to see that Teddy isn’t at his desk. Instead of going straight to her office, she lingers for a moment. “Did you have a pleasant lunch, Caroline?”

“I did, thank you.” Caroline smiles, but it seems that she’s still upset about Luna’s proclamation. Hermione has no idea what to say about that to offer comfort, so she decides the best thing to do is to say nothing. “Ted put the owl from Lawson in your box before he went to lunch. Potter has scheduled a meeting tomorrow morning to review the Warrington case. I’ve already put it on your calendar.”

“Thank you. What time is the meeting?”

“Nine. You had a free block of time, so there was no need to reschedule.”

She nods. “Alright. Will you add a note for Tuesday at 10 regarding the Benson trial? Corner will be testifying during that time. Also, I need the file from Collins on the sexual harassment case when you get a chance.”

She went into her office and left the door partially open for Caroline. After she put away her bag, she sat down and added Harry’s meeting and Corner’s testimony to her private calendar. She knows that Caroline will remind her, of course, but she likes having information within reach anyway. When she looks at her schedule for next week, she makes a face. It’s going to be another busy week, which means she really needs to focus on having a relaxing weekend.

“Does it look that bad?”

“Probably worse,” she mutters before she looks up to see Teddy leaning against her door. “Back from lunch already?”

“I just went down to the canteen to grab a sandwich. Caroline says you need this?” He held up a file. “I also wanted to speak with you, if you have a few minutes, Boss.”

“I do need that. Thanks.” When he mentions needing a few minutes to talk, she glances at her desk. “I can give you a few, but not much more than that.”

He enters the office and closes the door behind him. “It’s about work,” he specifies as he walks to her desk and puts the file in front of her. After he sits down, he fidgets and runs his fingers through his hair, which has slowly turned dark purple. “I’ve been thinking about everything we talked about last night and my meeting with Goyle yesterday. What would I need to do if I decide to terminate my internship and transfer to Protective Services?”

The question doesn’t surprise her. They had a long talk last night after Hugo went to bed about everything he learned from Greg. It was obvious then that Teddy was interested, but she didn’t expect him to want to discuss it officially already. After taking a moment to think about his question, she slides her shoes off and leans back in her chair.

“There’s paperwork to complete and an exit interview regarding why you chose to end an internship. Administrative likes to keep up with those cases to make sure that no department is taking advantage of interns or making circumstances unbearable,” she explains. “Protective Services will have paperwork for you to complete, and there’ll likely be an interview process that you have to follow. Even if a position has already been offered verbally, they’ll have to go through the proper procedures so that everything is official.”

“Wow.” He shakes his head and smiles crookedly. “I expected a lot more hoops to jump through and restrictions. It took me bloody ages to get accepted into the internship program, you know?”

“You’ve already jumped through most of those hoops during that process. It’s one of the most stringent application programs at the Ministry, comparable to Auror Training. There might be departmental specifics that Greg can tell you about, but I doubt it’s anything major compared to what you’ve already gone through.”

Teddy nods and fidgets more. “I haven’t decided completely. I think it’d be the best choice for me, but it’s a big change. My really smart and beautiful girlfriend says that I shouldn’t decide impulsively, so I’m trying to think about it and all. I just wanted to know the policy.”

She arches a brow. “Girlfriend? Well, it’s fortunate that you listen to her, at least.”

“Oh, I do. And maybe girl isn’t appropriate, but it sounds better than womanfriend. You know that the proverbial ’they’ don’t have adequate titles for mature partners in a relationship.”

They’re coming close to crossing a line, so she knows it’s time to pull back. “Once you make a decision, just let me know and I can get you the necessary paperwork.” It’ll be difficult to lose him because he’s good at his job, but, selfishly, it’ll be easier for them if they don’t work together so closely. Besides, she wants him to do something that he loves as much as she loves law, and she knows that this isn’t it.

“Right. I will, Boss,” he says as he stands up, obviously understanding her silent message. There are so many lines that it’s difficult to keep track and to know all the boundaries. She has trouble with it, so she imagines it must be even worse for him. He catches her staring and leans closer. “I really want to word-I-can’t-say-at-work you right now, just so you know.”

“Ditto,” she tells him before she ducks her head to hide a smile. When she glances back up, he’s grinning and his hair is burnt orange as he turns away. He leaves the office and closes the door behind him. She stares at the closed door for a moment before she sighs and goes back to work.