Information (Worth the Risk #50)

[ - ]
Printer ePub eBook
Table of Contents | - Text Size +
The note is delivered during a witness testimony. Hermione receives it from a clerk in the courtroom, and she scans it before focusing back on the trial. It’s already running late because the defense lost a witness earlier. Fortunately, they found her waiting outside the wrong courtroom, but, by that time, the Wizengamot had been ready for a brief recess, so everything got delayed. She had to send a message to Caroline to reschedule her afternoon appointments, though Ron was willing to delay his lunch so they could still meet.

The trial concludes shortly before one, which isn’t very late in the day save for the fact that she expected it to finish over an hour ago. It isn’t really that important since she still won, but she hopes the defense is more organized next time. When she leaves the courtroom, she doesn’t go straight to the staircase. Instead, she glances at the note she received earlier and makes her way to the public loos furthest away from the stairs.

When she reaches them, she sees the sign declaring that the men’s room is out of order. It’s an authentic looking sign, so she doubts anyone has even questioned it. It’s a nice touch, if nothing else. She looks around carefully before she enters the room. Her contact is leaning against the wash basin waiting for her.

“Sorry. The trial ran long,” she says as she shifts her files in her arms. “You know, you could have just come to my office. It probably smells nicer.”

Flint shrugs a broad shoulder. “This is better. Don’t want to be seen with you, ya know? ‘sides, smells like lemons in here. Better than most loos.”

“Why don’t you want to be seen?” He’s been one of her contacts since he got out of prison, and she can’t remember any other times that he’s gone to such trouble for secrecy. Meeting outside of her office doesn’t really compare to clandestine meetings in a loo, after all.

“Just don’t wanna,” Flint mutters. “People might see and realize I told ya something. Don’t want them to stop talking around me. It’s better when they forget I’m here, so I can listen.”

His reasoning makes sense, but she’s still not sure what makes this information different from most. When she met with him last time, it was in her office, and he didn’t seem to care. “Is it about Warrington?” she asks, deciding to analyze his motives later.

“Have something for you. Found out about it by chance, but thought it might mean something.” He removes a folded up piece of parchment from the pocket of his robe. “You didn’t get this information from me, if anyone asks. Can say you got it from Merlin in a dream for all I care, but don’t mention me at all.”

“Alright.” She takes the piece of parchment from him and puts down her files so she can open it. There are only two words written. “Astoria Greengrass? What’s this mean, Flint?”

“Dunno.” He’s lying. She can tell, but she isn’t sure if she should push him right now. He shifts nervously. “Could help. Remember, got it from Merlin.” Before she can ask him anything else, he leaves the room.

“Well, bugger.” She looks back down at the name and frowns. She knows of Daphne Greengrass, a former Slytherin that was in her school year, but Astoria doesn’t sound familiar. When the door opens, she looks up to see a young Auror look shocked at finding her in the men’s loo. She gets her files and smiles as she walks past him, acting as if there’s nothing wrong with her being in there.

On the way back to her office, she stops in to see Kevin. It looks like he’s just got back from lunch, so she’s glad she caught him. “What do you know about an Astoria Greengrass?” she asks after she shuts his door.

“Nice to see you, too, Boss.” He leans back in his chair and frowns. “Greengrass? Slytherin. Think she was a couple of years younger than us at Hogwarts.” He shakes his head. “Nothing really coming to mind. Haven’t seen the name anywhere as far as I can remember. Why?”

“Look into her for me. Be discreet. I don’t know why yet, but I need to find out more about her so I can figure out why.” She taps her thumb against her files. “Don’t mention her to anyone else right now. She might be nothing. I just want to make that determination for myself.”

“Which case?” he asks as he makes note of the name.

“Warrington.” She smiles wryly. “Hence the discretion and privacy right now. It could be another pointless lead. We’ve had dozens of those, it seems. Still, I want to know more.”

“Got it. I’ll see what I can find out for you. And don’t worry. Discretion is my middle name. It’s why I do so well dealing with those Pureblood types.”

“Really? And here I was thinking that Careful was your middle name. That’s what you told me a couple of months ago, at least.”

“What can I say? My mum liked a lot of names and couldn’t choose,” he says with a grin. “Oh, congrats on the case today. Heard it was a win.”

“It was, and the defense was a mess. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the disorganization hadn’t caused delays. After Marchbanks got done with him, though, I think he’ll be more prepared next time.” She opens the door. “I’ll be headed out to lunch now, but Caroline will know where I am if you need me.”

She leaves Kevin’s office and walks down the corridor to her own. Teddy’s desk is empty since he’s downstairs with Greg this afternoon. Soon, she’ll have to arrange for Susan to move into the outer office here once Teddy’s transfer is complete. She looks at Caroline. “Please let Ron know that I’m ready for lunch. Also, send a request down to HR to get any applications for the department from the last six weeks. I’d like to have those to begin reviewing by Monday. Did you book a table at Finnigan’s for me?”

“I did. I booked it for twelve, since you weren’t certain when the trial would finish, but I included a note to Mr. Finnigan telling him that you might be late due to work, as requested. Congratulations on the win, by the way. I’ll take care of alerting Auror Weasley,” Caroline tells her.

Hermione nods and starts to go to her office before she looks more closely at Caroline. “Is everything okay?” Caroline isn’t exactly ‘off’ today, but there’s something different.

Caroline blushes. “Everything’s fine, Boss.” She hesitates before she whispers, “I’m late. I’m not getting my hopes or anything, but your friend got me to thinking, and now I’m two weeks late. I don’t want to tell Howard yet, in case I’m wrong, but I went for a test during lunch.”

“Oh, that’s potentially good news.” She reaches over and squeezes Caroline’s shoulder. “I’ll think good thoughts for you. Let me know if you need time off to go to see your Healer.”

She continues on to her office and sits down, glad to be off her feet briefly. She slides off her pumps and flexes her feet before she starts working on organizing her files. She’s just finishing up when there’s a knock on the door. “Come in.”

Ron enters the office and rubs his belly. “I’m starving. Also, you should never just say ‘come in’ unless you know who is out there. Some evil dark wizard could have slaughtered the entire department and be standing out there with plans to get you next.”

“That’s an appetizing thought to follow a comment about starving,” she says dryly. “If it were ‘some evil dark wizard’, then the wards on my office would protect me at least long enough for me to use my wand and make him regret ever attempting to slaughter me. Torture is very good at making people regret pursuing dark paths of murder and mayhem.” She smiles sweetly as she stands up and gets her bag.

“Only you could discuss torture as if you were talking about the weather. It’s a wicked scary talent,” Ron confides. “And I am starving, slaughter or not.”

“If you were that hungry, we could have postponed our lunch, Ron. It’s not technically a working lunch, even if we’ll likely discuss work during it.”

“I think that I can wait an hour for food occasionally. Besides, I had an apple after Caroline sent me the note. Doesn’t mean that I’m not hungry, though. It just means that I love you more than food.” He sighs dramatically. “There aren’t many people who can say that, so feel special.”

“I do.” She nudges him in the ribs before they leave her office. “I’ll see you in an hour, Caroline.”

The lift is full of people when it arrives on their floor, but everyone is getting off, so it’s empty when they step on. Ron stretches and smiles. “Guess there’s one benefit to having a late lunch. Room to move on the lift is rare.” He does a stupid dance before he laughs. “See? Lack of food makes me loopy.”

“What’s your excuse the rest of the time?” She smirks as the doors open when they reach the Atrium. “Floo or walk?”

“Floo. We’ll probably miss the worst lunch crowd, but I’d rather get there soon to get our order put in, just in case. Did you book a table?”

She nods. “I asked Caroline to send a note to Seamus when I realized that I was going to be delayed.” They reach the nearest Floo, and she’s glad to see that there’s no queue for going out. The ones for arrivals are crowded, so she’s relieved they don’t have to wait for one of them. “I’ll see you there.”

After they get to Finnigan’s and are seated, she opens the menu and relaxes. It’s been a long week, both professionally and personally, and she’s glad it’s almost time for the weekend. She scans the choices and decides to get a bacon sandwich and chips. It’s not exactly healthy, but she’ll eat something healthier for dinner.

“Is it Friday yet?” Ron asks before he covers a yawn. “Or, actually, I need to be asking if it’s Saturday yet. Have to work Saturday morning. Stupid boss.”

“Yes, stupid Harry for making you work Saturday after you took Tuesday off.” She rolls her eyes.

“Stop being logical. I hate working weekends. The youngsters in the department should have to work weekends.” He nods emphatically before he leans back in his chair. “Course, I don’t have to work nights that often, so I guess I should just shut up, huh?”

“Might be a good idea, especially if you don’t want Harry to hear your loving adjective and make sure that you have the worst schedule in the department to teach you a lesson.”

“Point. He’s evil enough to do something like that. I call it your bad influence.”

“Thanks. Are you going to go order for us or are you going to make me do it?” Before he can answer, she smiles. “I want a bacon sandwich, chips, and pumpkin juice. It’s so nice of you to offer to order for us.”

“Offer my arse,” he mutters as he gets up and walks down to the bar to order. When he comes back, he puts a glass of pumpkin juice down in front of her before he sits. “Heard you won today. Harry wanted to be here to celebrate the win, as usual, but he’s swamped this week and couldn’t get away.”

“That’s alright. He can owe me lunch.” She takes a sip of her juice. “It’s been that kind of week for me, too. It’s been ridiculously busy, but I’m managing, so it could be worse. Still, it’ll be nice to have a weekend off.”

Ron takes a drink before he asks, “How’re things going with you and him?”

“Him?” She shakes her head. “He’s got a name, Ronald. Anyway, things are going well between us. Now, if you want to know how things are going with the children, that’s another story.”

“You told them?” He frowns. “Why didn’t I know about that?”

“Because I haven’t had a chance to talk to you about it?” She shrugs a shoulder. “I’d intended to wait for the right time, but I ended up telling them on Sunday, after they got home. Rose didn’t take it well, but Hugo didn’t seem too surprised. Rose is barely speaking to me, which is frustrating and awkward, but I don’t know what to do about it yet.”

“Ouch. She didn’t even go that far with me when I told her about Mel. Of course, I wrote her about it since she was away at school, so maybe that’s why.” He makes a face. “She’s got your stubbornness, doesn’t she?”

“Unfortunately. And your temper, which doesn’t make for a good combination. I guess I should be glad that she hasn’t had a fit, but I’d almost prefer that to the silent treatment.”

“Well, she used to have fits a lot when she was younger, but she’s getting older now. I can’t believe that she’s going to be a teenager on her next birthday. When did she grow up? I can still remember holding her wiggling little body at the hospital after she was born, and she’ll be grown up before I know it.”

“Hugo’s having a growth spurt, too. I have to get him new shoes, again, and I’ve noticed that his trousers are getting shorter. They’re both going to be at Hogwarts in a few weeks. Can you believe it? It seems impossible sometimes.”

“Let me know if you need extra money to cover the cost of his clothes,” Ron says. “You shouldn’t have to pay double because he inherited my genes and is growing so fast.” He nods. “Yeah, it’s going to be strange when they’re both gone. It was weird enough without Rose the last year, but having them both gone is going to be a tough adjustment. Worse for you, with the house and all.”

“I’ll need extra next month, probably. I’ll be taking them to get their books and supplies for school, and Hugo still needs to get his wand. I’ve intended to take him since his birthday, but he hasn’t been ready yet. He asks about it but then doesn’t want to go when I’ve suggested it. I’m hoping to take him by the end of the month, though, so he has time to get used to holding it before he goes to school.”

Ron snorts. “Get used to holding it? Yeah. I know you, Hermione. You had Rose practicing charms last summer, and I doubt Hugo will be any differently. It was driving Hopkirk crazy with all the notices and warnings.”

“It’s ridiculous that children can’t practice magic with parental guidance. I’m still working on amending that policy, but people are stubborn about reevaluating it. As for Hopkirk, she and I eventually came to an agreement.” She says no more because she knows that she bent rules to a point of nearly breaking when it came to those practice sessions. Still, it’s not like other parents don’t break them occasionally, too, especially when it comes to teaching children to fly before they go to school.

“I don’t want to know. Lalala. See, this is me not listening,” Ron says. “Oh, but if you’re taking him for his wand, I’ve got him for his broom. That’s an important day in the life of a child, and I want to help him pick the perfect one.”

“You can definitely handle the broom.” Their food arrives, and she picks up a chip. “Maybe Mel can get him a discount or something?”

“She might be able to. I don’t know if I’d ask, though. Don’t want her to think I’m using her for her connections.” Ron picks up his greasy burger and takes a bite. “I think Rose would get along well with her if she gives her a chance. They both like Quidditch, if nothing else.”

Ron talks with his mouth full, but she can understand him, which is definitely from years of practice. When he mentions Rose getting along with Mel, she nods. “It’s something in common, at least. I think maybe that it’s just hard on Rose that we’re moving on. I don’t know why, exactly, but I hope she’ll tell me if she ever starts talking to me again.”

“She will. She loves you a lot, after all.” Ron takes another bite of his burger. “You talk to Ginny yet or are things still weird there?”

“Still weird. Strained and awkward are also appropriate adjectives. She isn’t outright rude, but I can’t help but feel like she’s judging me.” She shrugs and takes a bite of her sandwich.

“Gin’s good at judging people. Funny how she’s become more like Mum than any of the rest of us. She even surpasses Percy, which is just sad.” He rolls his eyes. “When she found out that I was dating Mel, she went into some rant about Quidditch players sleeping around and how Mel was probably just after me because of my fame and a bunch of utter nonsense that was fucking insulting. I told her to bugger off, and she got over it eventually. Maybe you should do that, too.”

“Language,” she scolds. “Your mother is actually less judgmental now than she was when we were younger. Maybe it’s something that Ginny will grow out of, too. And trust me. If she ever confronts me in that kind of way, I’ll certainly respond firmly.”

“Yeah, Mum’s great. I think grandkids helped mellow her. Probably because she gets to sick back and spoil them while they drive the rest of us crazy.” He nods at her plate. “You gonna eat all those chips?”

“You have a plate of chips to finish before you start ogling mine,” she points out before she picks up a chip and eats it. He mutters under his breath before he starts eating again. She smiles and enjoys the rest of her lunch before she has to go back to work.