Crossing Lines

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Story Notes:

ABC Challenge #2 - Y: Youth for ran_huo

Originally Posted: March 3, 2006

There’s a line that just shouldn’t be crossed.

He knows wrong and right, has spent the majority of his adult life in an occupation where shades of gray exist amidst black and white. In this case, lines are becoming blurred and it’s more difficult to focus on the facts. Rules are sometimes made to be broken, of course, but many are intended for a reason. Not that there is any rule about this. There should be, he thinks, because then he wouldn’t be tempted to cross the line.

Too young, his mind whispers as he watches her. She’s barely twenty-two, thirteen years his junior, and he knows it’s wrong to even think what he has been thinking for months. She is wise beyond her years, though, and he fails to notice her youth until he feels himself nearing that invisible line.

Kingsley has never been affected this way by other women. He’s not celibate, in theory, but work always comes first. There was training after school, having to prove that a Ravenclaw could be a successful field operative and didn’t just belong in an office, which meant long hours of studying, practicing, and being ready for anything they threw his way. After he finished training, there was this assignment and then that assignment until they all piled up.

He’d not had time nor had he wanted a relationship. He eventually found release with someone he picked up in a pub and that became his habit over the years. He’s not even very ashamed to admit he doesn’t remember any of their names since they all knew what it was about and had no delusions otherwise. He can remember all of his cases, successes and disappointments, but he can’t remember the last woman whose bed he left in the middle of the night.

It’s not right to want her. She’s not even his type. Far too bossy and controlling, smugly intelligent with a tendency to see things too well, too accepting especially considering the experiences she’s had and the prejudices she’s faced in this world she helped save, and insecure in ways others don’t notice but he observes because watching is a large part of his job. He knows he could end up hurting her because he’s him and she’s her and it’s just not something that makes sense no matter how much he looks at her recently and wonders ‘what if’.

It’s been too long since he had a woman in his bed, he decides every time. Yet he goes to the pub and can’t stop seeing her face in his mind. If he were a different type of person, he’d think he was feeling old and that her youthful exuberance is what attracted him. He’s not that way, though, regardless of his faults, and he knows it’s her and not her youth that has his focusing his attention on her far too often. She intrigues him, he’s attracted to her, and he wants her no matter how many hours he spends trying to convince himself differently.

Her cheeks are flushed when she glances at him. He looks away quickly, knowing that she can’t have seen him looking because he’s a top auror and good at his job. No, not just good. He’s one of the, if not the, best in the department and has a long list of successes to support that claim. While playing secretary to a Muggle, he managed to save quite a few people as well as gain access to knowledge that helped them win the war against Voldemort. He’s capable, intelligent, strong, and honest. He knows this is dangerous, knows he needs to stop this before it’s impossible to go back, but he finds his gaze moving back to her unconsciously.

He is surprised to find her looking at him in a way that makes it impossible to look away. Kingsley watches her lick her lips as her gaze lowers and the flush in her cheeks takes on an entirely different meaning as awareness crackles between them. She’s too young, he tells himself again, and he’s a dirty old man for looking at her as if she’s a woman when she’s just a bratty opinionated child.

A lock of her hair falls from the messy knot she’s made and brushes against her nose. There are freckles on her nose, he notices, and a few more scattered on her cheeks. He’s not her boss but they work closely together, he reminds himself as his fingers itch to reach over the table and brush her hair back. It’s a complication he doesn’t want, that he doesn’t need, and he shouldn’t be considering it as a possibility just because she might be attracted to him. It’s a sin of youth to find an older man with his profession and work record attractive, to want to shag someone dangerous and daring, though the voice that won’t shut up argues that she’s not looking at Moody with that lusty gaze and flushed face and that she’s not like that, not at all.

Hermione. There would be no forgetting her name, he knows, and that probably scares him more than anything else. It’s been months since he realized he wanted her, since he noticed that somewhere along the way she’d become something more than a gawky kid with uncontrollable hair and firm opinions, since he acknowledged that she had a sort of beauty to her that he finds appealing and a keen intelligence that appeals to him even more. He’s not used to this, doesn’t quite know what to do, but he knows it needs to stop.

She looks at him again above the file she’s reading. She wears no powder or cosmetics like so many others her age, and she looks better for it, in his opinion. There is ink on her cheek and her fingertips from her quill, and her lips are chapped. Her nose is slightly upturned and her lips are a bit thin, but it works in a way that is pleasing to the eyes.

She blinks at him as he doesn’t look away for once and he watches as she smiles shyly. It’s not a friendly smile, not a distant smile, not a childish smile at all. It’s a woman’s smile at a man she finds attractive, an invitation, shyly offered by someone who is scared of rejection and not at all experienced at this sort of thing, someone whose bed he’d not be able to leave in the middle of the night and whose name he’ll never forget.

Kingsley knows then, a sudden realization that would have knocked him on his arse had he been standing, that he’s already lost. He ignores his own open file and reaches across the table to gently brush the stray lock of hair away from her face, his knuckles brushing against her cheek as he crosses the line and doesn’t look back.

The End