Bludger took her eyes away from her task and looked at the sleeping
beside her. It seemed a shame to wake him. He was deep in sleep, and
the first time in three days, she had gotten a glimpse of THE scar.
woolen stocking cap had been tugged back when he had shifted down
makeshift pillow a few minutes ago, and now she could see, in the
of moonlight on his forehead, the beginning of a jagged cut striking
from under the thick wool rim. Interesting. It was smaller and
(and more frightening) than she had imagined.
But what really distracted her from her job was not the appearance
his forehead, but the fact that he was snuggled right up against
He was a right cuddler, this one. It happened every time he slept.
started out a respectful distance, maybe a foot and a half or so,
under their shared scratchy wool blanket. But within fifteen minutes
falling asleep, he would close the gap. Right now, he lay flat on
back, and she could feel the contact all the way down the side of
bodies: his solid shoulder and his elbow jabbed her ribs a little
it was worth it, for she got the warmth of his hip, and the full
of the outer side of his long leg. Even his foot flexed toward her,
if she stretched out, she could sort of rest her toes on the top of
She resisted a wild thought to kiss him right now. His face wore
and three day old stubble. Kissable, nonetheless. She could plant a
light one—maybe he wouldn’t wake up. Oh well, she sighed. We’re
supposed to get involved with colleagues. She was a professional
all. Eyes to the task, Auror! she reminded herself. Patience.
And one day, I will have my revenge, she thought. Your days
She had lain on her stomach for two hours now, since midnight,
through the night scope. No movement whatsoever. Even the sheep were
asleep and huddled up against the south side of the beautifully
dry-stacked stone wall that lined one side of the field. No secret
No Death Eaters. Her eyes were tired and her concentration was
should wake him up.
He stirred a little and turned on his side, pressing a knee into
hip and resting his forehead and the bridge of his nose against her
Bludger smiled and wondered if she should tease him that he
snuggled with male colleagues, too, on overnight surveillance
She wouldn’t cuddle with Mad-Eye even if the temperature dropped
sub arctic levels. Padfoot, definitely. Mad-Eye, no.
“Greenhorn,” she whispered, nudging him a little. “Wake up, it’s
“Okay. Okay. I’m up,” he mumbled, rolling away from her and feeling
his glasses. She heard him fumble in the darkness, the soft
sound of the tea canister being opened and water pouring. “Tea?” he
“Calor maxima,” he murmured at his teacup, and she could hear the
come to a boil. “And don’t call me ‘Greenhorn’. I told you, that’s
my code name.”
As if a code name would conceal your identity. “I
but everyone else calls you that. And it irritates you so. Gotta do
for entertainment around here.” She shifted herself into the warm
of ground he had just vacated, and readjusted the blanket. The cold
to pierce the very weave of her clothing. She placed a quick warming
on the blanket.
“Well, it’s a leftover from my teen Auror years—a nickname. Don’t
it,” he ordered firmly. He settled in beside her on the mossy slope,
his stomach, in the depressions their bodies had created in the soft
over the last three days. Cradling the tea mug in both hands, he
his head to the scope. “I take it nothing’s happened.”
“Three days and three nights now of nothing.” She shook her head.
our insider gave us a bad tip or they’ve sent us here too early.
think if the Death Eaters were going to act, it would be tomorrow,
the solstice—when the circle’s magic is at its most powerful.”
“Yeah, but then there would be all those Muggles around:
or Paganists or whatever they call themselves.”
“Perfect spot for a mass killing of Muggles, then.”
“Maybe. They could kill Muggles en masse any time, though. I think
is something bigger. Maybe Lucius has found somebody who knows how
harness the magic from these stone circles.”
“Then shouldn’t we all be covering Stonehenge, instead of this
one in the middle of Cumbria with all its wimpy stones? Surely
is a far more powerful circle.”
“Believe me, Stonehenge is covered. Mad-Eye’s put about ten Aurors
that job.” He looked over at her for a moment. “I’ve got a theory,
Castlerigg is the only circle that is supposed to have all its
stones. The more well-known circles have been partially knocked
and the stones have been broken or even stolen over the years. This
be the only one with its magic still intact. So…anyway, I talked
into sending a couple of us up here, to protect this circle.” He
back to the scope.
“Hmmph. That’s a lightweight theory, I’d say.” Bludger shivered and
the covers up under her chin. “You know, it’s a lot warmer
south at Stonehenge. We could be getting a lot more sleep if we were
shifts with ten other people, maybe even Apparating home for a
Remember baths?” Her partner chuckled softly. She continued,
then we’ll miss all the action when the Death Eaters show up.”
“Come on, Bludger.” He grinned good-naturedly. “Who wouldn’t want
spend three days in this gorgeous mountain setting: no tourists—just
occasional Muggle fellwalker and lambs playing in the fields.
it isn’t a lightweight theory.”
He gave her a brief lesson on what was known about stone circles,
how scholars had tried (and failed) to better define the magic that
from the relative positioning of the stones with the sun. Little was
ancient wizards of the Druidic cultures didn’t leave records,
or pictorial. Castlerigg Stone Circle, however, was the only circle
the magic was strong enough to register a pattern on wizard
“So how do you know all this rubbish? Your hoity toity Hogwarts
They didn’t teach us that tosh at vocational magic schools, you
“Watch out, Bludger, you’re revealing personal information about
And I didn’t learn it at Hogwarts. I happen to have a friend who’s a
encyclopedia, a proper academic. It’s her theory that sent us
She told me all about it just before we left on Sunday.” He smiled
“Okay,” she challenged. “So, what if you’re right, or she’s
And twenty Death Eaters show up here instead. Are you prepared to
them all on?”
“I am if you are.” He spoke grimly. Bloody hell, she
Fine. I’m game.
“Unless,” he continued, “we call for back up.” He smiled at her
with an expression like he was going to surprise her with flowers or
“With this.” He pulled out of his robes a small rectangular silver
It glinted dully in the moonlight, and she could see it had a flip
and a hinge.
“I don’t get it.”
“It’s like a mobile fireplace,” he said wondrously, and handed it
her. “This is just the prototype.”
She turned it over and opened the flip top. “It looks sort of like
Muggle cigarette lighter.”
“Except it’s magic—there’s powder in that little wheel,” he reached
and pointed to the tiny, rough edged cylinder that would be flicked
the thumb. “You can talk to any wizard’s fireplace in the country.
“Is this ministry-issued equipment?”
“No. It’s being developed privately, by a clever bloke who tinkers
Muggle stuff.” He said it proudly, as if he were the clever bloke.
“Isn’t that against the law?”
He coughed as if he were trying to keep from laughing. “Yeah. Well,
inspired by a Muggle product, and apparently that’s allowed.”
Bludger flipped the top open again and flicked on the flame.
“Whoa! Stop.” he cried softly, turning from the scope and moving
hand to close it. You’ll wake my friend.”
“Every…Everything alright?!” came a sleepy male voice from the
Bludger looked over at Greenhorn, and he nodded. “Go ahead,” he
“put your lips into the flame and speak.”
The flame was green and cool when her lips touched it. She spoke:
to wake you. Everything is A-okay. Over.”
“Who the hell is this?” came the voice, fully awake now, and
could just see the chin, mouth and tip of a longish nose moving in
flame of the lighter. Cool.
She brought the flame close again, eerily imposing her own lips
his image. “Uh…my partner was just demonstrating your new
“At…2:30 in the morning? Dammit, let me speak to him.” Bludger
guiltily and passed over the lighter.
Greenhorn cleared his throat, and leaned into the flames, while
one eye focused steadily through the scope. “Sorry, mate. Just
you to know that we’re out here, making the world safer, so you can
The face let out a breath of relief. “Oh, bugger off. I thought you
in trouble. Who’s the woman, and why are you awake right
The mouth–in-flames spread into a roguish grin at the second
Bludger thought she could see freckles on his features. He was cute
least the part she could see was cute).
“I’m working, thank you. And watch your language. She’s a
“Oh-ho. You’ve never told me there were female Aurors. And
one looks young and attractive—she’s got good lips anyway. Where do
sign up for your job?”
Greenhorn snorted. “When your Significant Other gives you
“Yeah, well… when I’m coherent I’ll come back with a crushing
The mouth yawned. “Don’t wake me again, you idiot, unless it’s an
Have fun with Miss Lips.”
“She can hear you, you know.”
“Oh.” The mouth went sheepish. “I guess I need to develop a volume
on this thing. My apologies to Miss Lips. And…be careful, mate.
“Thanks, I will.’ Greenhorn snapped the lighter shut, and pocketed
“So, who was that exactly? I mean, what is his name?”
Greenhorn shook his head. “I can’t tell you. He’s wanted by the
Eaters, just as much as we are.”
“Oh,” she sighed, resignedly. Bludger was occasionally irritated by
‘no-exchange-of-personal-information’ policy of the Underground
League. It was for their mutual safety, of course. Some Aurors had
children even, and a captured Auror could endanger everyone if
into revealing information.
“He’s cool,” concluded Bludger, as she burrowed back under the
Greenhorn nodded. “He’s a good bloke. And a good friend.”
They fell silent for a while, and Bludger lay on her side, watching
partner’s profile through her half-closed eyes. He had not been what
had expected, this Boy Who Lived. She had expected a cocky,
celebrity, or a haunted and brooding cynic. But he was so damned
serious most of the time, but generally easy-going.
She found it difficult to believe he was the one who had destroyed
at age nineteen. Nineteen! She reminded herself of his
among Aurors: he was quick-thinking, fearless and ferocious in a
and could suddenly exhibit the most extraordinary powers. She would
to see that.
Bludger shifted uncomfortably in the mossy hollow. She could not
despite her exhaustion. She knew she was approaching that stage of
that bordered on delirium. Turning on her back, she clasped her
behind her head, and deliberately rested her elbow against his arm.
not? she thought. He had cuddled up with her (okay, so he
actually conscious of it). Besides, the comfort of human contact is
infrequent in this business. Worse, he had not flirted with her, not
bit in the last three days. She couldn’t let him get away with that.
Usually, Bludger discouraged flirting from her male colleagues—it
their respect she wanted. But this young man…he was 21, right? Most
men flirted with her like a house on fire. Either he had more than
female attention in his off hours or he was utterly devoted to
She suspected it was the latter. Yes, thought Bludger,
his private smile just ten minutes ago. That’s the object of his
the walking encyclopedia. Bludger felt a trace of irritation,
her exhaustion. She wanted to ruffle his even-tempered exterior, to
his unspotted fidelity to this witch, whoever she was.
“So what is your code-name, anyway?” she asked, though she
“Quickie. You know that.”
“And that is because of… your timing in the bedroom?” She was being
now. And delirious.
He turned his head ever so slightly in her direction, away from the
“It’s because I’m fast. A fast draw, a fast flier, fast deliverer of
simultaneous hexes.” Then he added wryly, turning back, “And that
is entirely unoriginal—I’ve heard it a dozen times already.
“Hmmph,” she answered again, withdrawing her elbow from his arm. He
impossible. He refused to flirt, even with such a blatant
“So what’s the story behind your code name?” he asked, after a
“My Stupefy slams into you like a bludger from hell,” she
defiantly in his direction. She’d like to hit him with a
about now. “The Death Eater who gets hit with that doesn’t get
for a looong time.” Then, without skipping a beat: “So, is she your
“The babe with stone circle theory—the academic.”
“Oh! No. She’s seriously attached…has been for ages. Anyway, if she
do you think I’d be telling you?”
“No. I suppose it would be endangering her life, to tell me
it.” Her voice dripped with sarcasm. She knew she should shut up and
to sleep, but she plunged forward recklessly: “Who would want
be the girlfriend of Harry Potter anyway? That would be like signing
own death warrant.” She gave a short bark of laughter.
She saw him wince—his brows furrowed behind the eyepiece of the
and his mouth hardened. She had done it now: found a sore spot.
immediately regretted her joke.
“You’re exhausted, Bludger,’ he spoke curtly. “You just used my
name. Go to sleep before you violate Auror protocol again.”
She could hear the hurt in his voice: a genuine profound pain. Oh
why had she said that? Perhaps he didn’t allow himself a
for that very reason. Perhaps he had even lost a girlfriend to the
Eaters. She knew all about the pain of losing the love of your life.
was why she became an Auror; it was why she was here: to
the horrible death of her fiancé.
She rose on her elbow. “I’m sorry,” she almost whispered. “I
have said that. Not just your name. I mean…about being your
He didn’t answer right away. She saw him blink once or twice into
scope. “Okay,” he said softly. “Now go to sleep.”
She lay back down. “Goodnight, Greenhorn.”