Resignation (Worth the Risk #49)

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It’s been a horrible morning. The stacks of paperwork on Hermione’s desk are in danger of toppling over, and it’s not even noon yet. Ogden is out for the week, which she didn’t find out until she arrived. The lack of notice wasn’t his fault, exactly, because she understands that he didn’t find out about a testing process with St. Mungos until yesterday, but it’s still a bother to cover his workload for the week. Fortunately, he’s only been working on two cases, and she had assigned a second to both. She just has to review the files and keep up with everything on top of all her current case load, which is possibly worse than it has been since she joined Magical Law.

Not only is she covering for Ogden, but she heard from Rita and received a very thorough list of possible criminals to investigate regarding stolen children and the trafficking of human beings. It’s disgusting to know that that many names could even be considered, but it’s also infuriating because it’ll take ages to pursue all those leads. Perhaps she’s foolish for having hoped she’d just be sent one or two names, but it would have been nice to have some good news in that case.

Then, of course, there’s the current state of her personal life. It isn’t bad enough that work is stressful at the moment, but now she’s dealing with a relationship and issues with her children. No, not children. Child. Hugo seems to have accepted the fact that she’s dating Teddy relatively well, though she’s not entirely certain that he really understands that some people might tease him or say negative things once they find out. It’s Rose who is the problem.

There’s a knock on the door before Teddy looks in. “Hey, got a minute, Boss?” he asks hesitantly. It seems that everyone around is aware of her bad mood today, though she’s tried not to snap at anyone.

“Sure. Come in.” She motions to the empty chair opposite her desk. It’s good to see him, and she wants to get up and give him a hug, but she knows that she can’t. “Do you have your report?”

He nods. “Right here. I just finished it and wanted to go ahead and give it to you. There’s good news, of a sort. I managed to find out that Beth is from Liverpool, and she’s an orphan. She wouldn’t give me more than that, but it’s a start.”

“Another orphan. It’s not surprising, really, since it’d be easier to steal a child without family, but it’s nice to have confirmation. They’re still trying to name the other victims, so I’ll let Ron know to have them focus on missing orphans,” she says as she takes the report from him. She glances at it and blinks when she reads the first page. “Wait, this isn’t your report.”

“It is. I mean, it’s not just the report.” Teddy sits down and sighs. “I made a decision last night. Before you ask if I’m sure, I am. I think I knew what I wanted to do before, but I took time and really considered it, like you suggested. No regrets and all that, right?”

She looks down at the transfer forms and nods. “Right. Well, if you’re sure, I’ll go ahead and get this processed later today. When did you want it to go into effect?” she asks as she looks back at him. “I’ll need a few days, at least, to get your cases reassigned.”

“Is two weeks good?” He leans forward and frowns. “I don’t want to leave you stuck or anything, Hermione. I just think this is the best choice all around, and I really like it there. Even if we weren’t doing that-thing-we-can’t-talk-about-at-work, I’d have wanted a transfer.”

It’s good to hear that. Despite his earlier comments, she’s been concerned that he might transfer just because of their relationship. She doesn’t want him to be unhappy at work or doing something that he dislikes. She sees him staring at her and nods. “Two weeks is good. We’ll work on transitioning Susan into the internship, and I’ll see about hiring someone else to replace her now that she’s joined the program. With NEWTs concluded recently, there might be someone fresh out of Hogwarts who’s interested in applying with the department.”

“Alright.” He watches her curiously. “Is something wrong? Caroline said that you’re not having a good day.”

She snorts. “I’m sure that Caroline said something more like that I was acting bitchy, but thank you for trying to protect her.” She shrugs a shoulder and looks around the office before she focuses on him. “I told the kids yesterday. About us. I prefer not to discuss my personal life while at work, but it’s such a busy day that I don’t know when I’d have time to really talk with you. Rose didn’t take it well. At least, I don’t think she did since she went up to her room and has barely spoken to me since. Hugo guessed that it was you, and he seems okay, but I don’t know. It’s a bit of a mess.”

“Bugger. Why didn’t you tell me?” He runs his fingers through his hair and frowns. “You should have written me or Floo called me. I’d have come over to see you or written back or something. You shouldn’t have had to deal with all that on your own.”

“Well, it’s not like I planned to just blurt out that we’re dating,” she mutters. “It certainly wasn’t the perfect time that I planned. Afterwards, I was just surprised and anxious about Rose, so I didn’t consider writing.” She shakes her head and sighs. “That’s a lie. I thought about it, but I didn’t really know what to say, so I didn’t send a note.”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel worse or anything. I just wish that I could help,” he says softly. “Maybe she’s just shocked about it and needs time to deal? It’ll be okay, Hermione. We’ll get through it together, yeah?”

“That’s what Hugo said, oddly enough. That she just needs time. He can be pretty clever sometimes.” She looks across the desk at him and smiles wryly. “Yeah, we will. I hope.”

He looks relieved. “Oh, good.” He ducks his head and sighs. “I mean, I thought that maybe you were trying to tell me it’s over. Since Rose didn’t accept it and all, I didn’t know what you’d do.”

“Thanks for that vote of confidence,” she murmurs. “Did you really think that I’d just end things immediately because Rose reacted badly?”

“I didn’t know what to expect, Hermione. You never wanted to talk about that possibility, and I know how important your children are to you,” he says as he looks up at her. “I’ve been scared that they’d hate us dating, and you’d break it off.”

She wants to be angry with him for doubting her that way, but she can’t because he’s right. There’s always been the possibility that the children wouldn’t react well, and she knew that she’d have to put their happiness above her own. It’s not something that she wants to consider, though, so she’s avoided talking about it. She tucks her hair behind her ear. “I don’t want to give up on us, Teddy,” she admits quietly. “I’m going to give Rose time, and we’ll see what happens. In the long run, dropping the relationship to suit her probably wouldn’t be a very good example of being an adult anyway, and might give her ideas about her own authority that would be difficult to live with." She shakes her head. "Unless I'm just rationalizing."

“That sounds like a good plan, especially the part about not giving up on us.” He hesitates before he admits, “I’m really glad to hear you say that. You’re so important to me, and I’ve been scared for weeks that it’d all be over too soon.” He holds up a hand before she can speak. “It isn’t that I didn’t trust you when you said that you were willing to give us a chance. I just know how much you love your children. And for what it's worth, I don't think you're just rationalizing.”

“Thanks. You don’t have to explain. I can understand about worrying and being scared. You’re important to me, too, and I am serious about giving this relationship a chance.” She considers it before she says, “Maybe you should come over for dinner this week. Say Friday? You can make pizza like you planned, and we can let Hugo and Rose get used to us.”

“Really? Yeah. I’d like that a lot. If you’re sure?” He smiles. “I’ll cook, and hopefully Rose will be more accepting by then. She might be upset that you didn’t tell her sooner, but she loves you, so she’ll get over it. I know she’ll be okay.”

“That’s probably part of it. She was upset when she thought that I’d told Hugo before her. Though she's still angry about Mel, too, and there she doesn't have the excuse of it being someone like you--younger, I mean, and someone she sees as as much her friend as mine. I don't quite know what to think.” She shakes her head and looks at the clock. “I really need to get back to work, but we should have lunch this week. I’d like to see you outside of work, even if it’s just lunch.”

“I should get back to work, too. My boss isn’t happy when I slack off,” he says as he stands up. “While I know you had a lapse and let us talk, I figure I better not push my luck and try to word-I-can’t-say-at-work you, but I would, if I could. For the record and all.”

“Yes, it’s good not to press your luck, especially when your boss is in a bad mood.” She smiles and nods down at the paperwork on her desk. “I’ll take care of this for you and arrange for the transfer in two weeks. I assume that Greg is open to the transfer, so it should go smoothly.”

“He is, and it should.” He blows her a kiss when he reaches the door to the office. “I hope your mood improves, Boss. Don’t forget to stop for lunch. I have to go back downstairs, so I won’t be here to make sure you eat. Promise you’ll get something, even if it’s just from the canteen?”

“Promise. Now get back to work and stop slacking off,” she says before she blows him a kiss. She shakes her head and smiles as she gets back to work, feeling a little better than she did before his visit.