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Whispers in Corners

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It is unnecessary to visit the scenes. They bring him there anyway, and he lets them because it helps cement the shroud of mystery surrounding his so called ability. Can't be too obvious, even with occultism – if it’s too precise, too easily accessed, they would grow suspicious. Or so he imagines anyway. Suspicious, or greedy. He can't have either, because both greed and suspicion breed trouble – questions and curiosity and in the worst case, investigation. So he takes the offered vagueness and makes it seem like a necessity, like a rule.

"What is your husband's name?" Harry asks, eyeing the room. It seems normal – your average bedroom; bed big enough for two, decorated sparsely with closets and a drawer, two small beside tables at each side of the bed. Bland curtains, no portraits or paintings – pictures on top of the drawer, on beside tables. Children and grandchildren. People have certainly died in worse places.

"David," the woman – Edna Wilkins, an elderly woman with white hair and beige shirt, bony hands and a wedding ring she keeps fiddling with – says, while wringing her hands and looking around. There’s a sheen of moistness in her eyes, like she expects to cry any moment and is getting ready for it. Probably is too. "David Timothy Wilkins."

"David," Harry murmurs. He feels a moment of self doubt - should he speak the name slow and thoughtful like scenting it out, tasting the syllables? Again unnecessary, complete and pure theatrics. But it was expected – and would have been yet another way to strengthen the mysticism. The wizard he had been would've laughed himself sore, witnessing it. But then, the whole scene would've made that young soon-to-be-Auror laugh.

"Right," Harry says again and then tucks his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. The ring is heavy and bulky, but it slips onto his middle finger with practiced ease, almost jumping on. Probably is too – all the Hallows are like that, they delight in being used. The Wand in particular, but the ring is certainly not far behind, always eager to slip around his finger. Not all the way, though, just past the first joint, that's far enough and easy as anything to remove.

The wizard rubs the cracked stone gently with his thumb in the cover of his pocket, ready to turn it. Letting his fingers stop, thump ready, he looks at the old woman. "Are you ready, Mrs. Wilkins?" he asks gently and when she hesitates, tugging at her wedding band like it was burning her, he smiles kindly. "How much do you know of my… methods?"

"I… I heard that you can talk to them, and that it is… it is real, but that is it," she says, and brings her shaking fingers up, to touch her lips and then quickly withdrawing, like wishing to cover her mouth, but not at the same time. Nervous twitches, Harry is getting used to seeing those. "Will… will I see him?"

"No. And I'm afraid you won't be able to hear or sense him in any way. He won't possess me or anything like that either, so he won't be speaking through me," Harry adds, because people expect that. Unless he warns them they look at him, expecting to see familiar gestures and postures and he can't deliver. "He will come here, and I can talk to him and I can tell you what he is saying. I will be, in a way, working as a translator between the two of you."

"Oh. Okay," Mrs. Wilkins says and frowns, giving him a glance that has a hint of suspicion in it. He doesn't work in the so called self-explanatory forms of a medium or mystic, he knows, but there is only so much stupid pretence he can manage. He won't ooh and aah and make dramatic gestures and speeches about reaching out to touch the beyond, and though it would've been beneficial, he won't bolster up his act with eerie voices and hands thrown up, eyes spinning backwards. He does still have a sense of self respect, after all.

"I will call him now," Harry says, because if he gives it time she will ask more questions and he's not there to explain to her the intricacies of necromancy. Not that he could, even if she asked. So instead he smiles, closes his eyes and thinks of the name, David Timothy Wilkins, keeping in mind Edna Wilkins, the flat, the house, willing forth the right spirit – so many dead share names, they get confused unless he is specific.

The Gaunt ring with its cracked Stone of Resurrection turns on his finger easily and silently. Once, twice, three times in total.

When Harry opens his eyes, there are three people in the room. David Wilkins is an old man – dead for about two months, according to his wife, grey haired with a moustache and milky blue eyes according to the photograph she had shown Harry. The spirit looks young, though – a handsome dark haired man in his twenties, in fact, with a horrible haircut and not a hair on his face, wearing the uniform of a fireman. Probably had been in his life – people often identify themselves by their duties, the dead especially.

"Oh, you silly little nag," Mr. Wilkins says to his wife fondly, and Harry smiles. The man seems exasperated, but not angry. It's good to summon the sort of dead who weren't too cross with him for doing it.

"He's here, Mrs. Wilkins," Harry says, indicating the spot where the young-old dead man stands, with his helmet tucked beneath his arm, a smudge of soot on his cheek. "And he's calling you a silly little nag," Harry adds, because the truth is in details, echo of supernatural reality in details.

Edna Wilkins gasps loudly, her shaking hands coming up quickly and covering her mouth as the tears spill down her wrinkled cheeks. "Oh, Davey."

As he begins to intermediate the exchange of platitudes and last goodbyes between the separated couple, Harry knows he will get well paid for this particular job.

It's a testament to his new life that he doesn't even find it wrong or disgusting to ask for that payment anymore.

 


 

 

He lives in a small flat above a noisy pub, with a single room and kitchenette and barely no bathroom to speak of. Being a medium pays well, but only when he finds the right customer. And since he doesn't go out looking and the amount of people who know about him is small and limited it's a rare day he gets a good customer.

Harry doesn't mind, though. Being a medium is new for him, new and rare and strange and he doesn't yet know what is and isn't safe to do. He doesn't really need that much either. He has a roof over his head and after some spells the flat is clean of rats and roaches and all other pests. It takes some delicate transfiguration to make the mattress usable, and the kitchenette more functional, but he doesn't mind. It gives him something to do, in between.

And there is a lot of in between. It would've been easier if there hadn't been – if he’d managed to settle himself down to actual job instead of the one he had somehow gotten for himself. But he had tried. Working construction wasn't for him – too skinny, not to mention that most of the time he had no idea what to do, no concept of what went where or why. Assisting at a shop had been easier, but not that good either. He was a bit awkward with customers and with an eleven year old's maths – and no practice at it since – he is not good at counting, not at all. And everything else since was just one failure after another.

As far as honest legal jobs go, he is useless. And the rare few he might be some good at, he doesn't want to try. Gardening, housekeeping, cleaning… he’s had enough of all of that for a lifetime and will not resort to any of it, not unless there is absolutely no other choice. Too many bad memories.

Not that any of them matter much here.

It had started by accident, the medium thing. Harry had been looking for a place to stay, meeting some people renting out the cheapest flats in London. Poor, worse, bad. Then he ran into Oliver Fergusson, a middle aged man with shifty eyes who kept looking around the flat he was showing like he was expecting it to attack him – giving especially nervous looks towards one spot where carpet covered the wooden floor. It had made Harry curious, and when the man left Harry alone to answer the phone, the wizard pulled the carpet off, to reveal nothing at first, and then finding brown smears between the floorboards. Dried blood.

The Stone of Resurrection found its way to his finger almost by itself, but Harry had been too curious, too bored, to not do it. He hadn't known he could summon people he himself had no personal connection to, not until that point. Not needing a name is a new thing too, a surprising one. But as he thought of the stain and the flat, wanting to know who had died there, the dead appeared. A young woman in her twenties, beautiful.

"I was a drug addict," she explained to him without a shred shame or worry, standing on the carpet hiding the spot where she had died. "I ran out, and people do some stupid things when they're in need. I ate all the meds I had, washed it down with all the alcohol I had and in the insanity that followed, I stabbed myself six times. Thought there was something in my chest, something moving. Not my proudest moment, I know, but a way to go is a way to go."

"Ah," Harry said, and tilted his head. He asked a couple of curious questions, learning her name and what she had done for a living and that she wasn't bitter about life, not anymore. She preferred death – the urges were gone, the bitterness of not knowing the future, of not having a direction, all needless things. Death was more peaceful.

Harry didn't take the flat, and as he left he clapped Mr. Fergusson on his shoulder. "Don't worry. Annie isn't around anymore – she prefers the afterlife." And as the man stared at him with wide, borderline terrified eyes unable to say a thing, Harry slipped out, thinking about the Stone and summoning the dead and mostly about looking through the papers for another flat. By the end of the day, he had forgotten Oliver Fergusson completely.

Two days later, Fergusson somehow tracked him down. A call waited for him when he came down from his room in the cheap bed-sit, from the landlord. Fergusson was nervous and twitchy on the phone, but also oddly excited. "If you don't have… if it was just possible, I… there is this woman. Her daughter died recently. If you could…"

Harry went out more because of curiosity than anything else. It turned out that Mr. Fergusson's friend, Sofia Gilmore, had a delinquent daughter, Tina, who had stolen all her jewellery and money and ran away with it. Tina had been found dead – a car crash – a couple of days later, but no one found the money or the jewellery she had taken. Harry didn't wonder why Tina ran away after meeting Mrs. Gilmore – she was a cold eyed, stiff faced woman with a permanent sneer on her face and a deep rooted loathing towards her daughter.

Harry had, however, done as she asked, and summoned Tina to the woman's kitchen. Tina came to him not as the sixteen year old she had been, but as an eight year old girl in torn jeans and a mud stained blouse, grinning widely with a gap in her teeth. Mrs. Gilmore's sneer got only wider and sharper as Harry kneeled by her child-teenager daughter, but Harry hadn't much cared.

"I put it in a secret place. I didn't need it all, but Mum didn't deserve any of it. They were my Grandma's, you know, and she was real nice. Mum though, she's no good at all," the little girl said, leaning to Harry's side and giving her mother a sideways looks. "But I don't really care anymore."

"Money means nothing in the afterlife," Harry agreed, ignoring the look the older Gilmore was giving him and wrapping his arm compassionately around the spirit. "Where did you put it?"

Tina smiled. "I gave half of it away – the money – to my friends who needed it. The jewels, though. Those I hid." It took some coaxing to get her to reveal the location, and she wasn't too happy knowing that Harry was about to tell it all to the mother she didn't like too much, but like all spirits she was disconnected from material needs and it is the principle rather than the jewellery itself that made her cross with him.

"You will find the jewellery in your neighbour's pond," Harry said after Tina left. "Tina wrapped it in a plastic bag – there's a branch in the side of the pond, with a cord connecting it to the bag. The money is gone, though."

Mrs. Gilmore didn't thank him and called him a charlatan, but Harry got twenty pounds for his troubles. It wasn't exactly a lot and by the look Mr. Fergusson gave the woman he at least had expected more, but Harry thanked the woman nonetheless. He was at that point getting very short on money and really, he hadn't lost anything in the process or needed to put much of an effort to it either. He considered it a fair deal, in fact.

After that, the word somehow spread. Mrs. Gilmore and her case became not an oddity that Harry had humoured just this once, but just the first of many. In the beginning, when he got a customer per week and barely got paid for it, Harry didn't take any of it seriously. He used it as a way to kill time in between hunting for a flat and having absolutely nothing to do – and the boy he had been was satisfied with the thought of helping people move on and make their last goodbyes or whatever it was they wanted when they asked him to summon this or that dead loved one. But it was more entertainment than work then.

It had become more – privilege, work, duty – when a distraught father came to him, having heard of him through the grapevine and having no other place to go. Tom Andrews was a wealthy single father of a six year old boy, desperate for answers after police had given up on the boy. "They say he was kidnapped," the man told him, wringing the knees of his neat suit in a desperate grip. "But there was no ransom note, no word, nothing. It has been four months now."

Harry nodded and without further ado – without realising that he should have taken his time to prepare the man – tried and instantly managed to summon young Eddy Andrews. "Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy!" the boy cried, trying to jump into his father's lap without completely realising that his father couldn't see him, and that he himself wasn't really there.

The entire event was miserable. Mr. Andrews broke apart in front of Harry, and Harry couldn't get Eddy to understand what was going on. Very little answers were discovered either – Eddy had no idea what happened to him, just that he had been walking along the road one moment, and soon after he was meeting his mother in the nice, golden place. Eddy babbled about Mrs. Lorelai Andrews happily most of the meeting, while Mr. Andrews wept, first with grief and horror and then disbelieving joy, as Harry tried to translate Eddy's babble into something coherent.

"Thank you. Thank you," Mr. Andrews sobbed, after two hours had gone by and Harry had also summoned his wife and grandfather out of sympathy, and spent the time trying to intermediate the utterly bizarre family meeting. The wife and the grandfather had more answers than the excitable son, and between them they had figured out that the sudden death was most likely due to a car Eddy had heard coming. Harry was paid a thousand pounds for the whole thing, and after Mr. Andrews left, still sobbing, the wizard was thanked by Mrs. Andrews and Mr. Andrews the senior. Eddy kissed his cheek, before three of them returned to the golden place.

A couple of days later, Harry read from the newspaper that Edward Andrews had been found, buried in a shallow grave in a park near his school – it looked like he had been hit with a car, according to the papers, and though they were still looking for the driver, Mr. Andrews, the grieving father, finally had his answers. Harry went to the funeral and offered the grieving father a smile, which the man answered through his tears.

After that, Harry had stopped looking for other jobs, and settled into the form of being just a medium - or a psychic, which is also what people call him. As far as employment went, it was bad. Customers were rare and not all of them could pay well, and some weren't too satisfied when the dead simply refuse to talk with their living loved ones. It barely paid the bills in the beginning and the money hadn't been really worth the looks he got in the neighbourhood where he finally found his small flat. Those had only gotten worse since.

But it is a hundred times better than some of the alternatives and even while his magic would make him exceptionally good and successful thief or a burglar, it is simply not within Harry to go down that road. Being a medium is rather ridiculous – and he is cheating every step of the way. Anyone could've done it with the Ring after all. But still. It's something.

Sometimes it's even the good type of something.

 


 

 

The payment from summoning David Wilkins lasts him for a couple of weeks, paying the bills for the previous and the following month. Harry's learned to pay ahead rather than after, because while he can do food, clothing and most all other necessities almost out of thin air, he can't do a house or a flat if he's kicked out. And he’s come close to that a couple of times.

But eventually the money runs out, it always does, and for a while no job seems forthcoming. Of course there are the random people in the neighbourhood who have heard of his talent, and pay him some handful of pounds for some minutes with their dead fathers and mothers, cousins and ex-lovers, but that isn't enough to pay the rent or the water bill. He still has time, of course, but he prefers to have a little bit of extra, rather than nothing at all. Insurance, one could call it, and Harry is learning to be somewhat suspicious of how well or badly things might turn out. A testament of living in a poor neighbourhood.

When the job comes, it comes through the usual avenues, but in a fairly unusual way. The pub downstairs holds a message for him, which the manager hands to him when he's passing through in order to head out. "Neat looking girl, expensive suit and nails and all," she says, as Harry unfolds the note. "Should pay well, d'ya reckon?"

The wizard smiles. She’s nice to him because he pays his bills something like on time, but he knows aside from that she can barely stand him. She's superstitious, even more so now, having met him.

"Maybe," Harry answers and then concentrates on the paper. People leave him notes all the time – phone numbers, meeting places and sometimes names, business cards. This one is different. It is a photocopy of a driver's licence of one George Dawson, and nothing more.

"Interesting," Harry says, smiles at his landlady, and then heads back up and to his little flat again. He knows a challenge when he sees one, and George Dawson seems like a challenge. After closing and locking the door, he places the paper in the middle of the cheap coffee table, and then pushes his hands into his pockets. The Ring, as always, slips on his finger smoothly and turns with ease.

He ends up summoning nearly ten different George Dawsons on the first try. He hadn't gotten a good enough look at the picture, it seems. It's always difficult like that, when going with a name and nothing more. Frowning, Harry dismisses them all gently, before looking at the photocopy again. George Dawson, born in the nineteen eighties. A young man, stoic faced in the picture, wearing a clumsy pair of glasses. He really should've learned to pay more attention to pictures by now, Harry admonishes himself and then looks up again.

George Dawson, the one he actually wants, is a young man in a cheap suit with mousy brown hair and a forlorn look about his face. "Figures," he says and falls to sit in Harry's cheap armchair. "Just figures."

"I guess," Harry answers, not really knowing what figures, but figuring that he'll find out soon enough. He picks up the photocopy again and turns it around. The backside is blank. He'll use that.

"So, what do they want to know?" Mr. Dawson asks, frowning at him. "Did I give anything away, did I betray them? You'd think a bloke would be free from all this bollocks after death, you know?"

"We'll keep it short and then you can go back," Harry promises and sits down with the copy paper and a pen. "Why don't you tell me everything?"

Mr. Dawson gives him a look. "No specific thing, then? You don't know what they want either? Figures," he sighs, and then begins to rattle out his life story with the practiced, bored ease of someone who has had to do weird tasks for a long while. He doesn't even seem surprised or annoyed at being summoned, just exasperated, and his attitude makes Harry even more curious. The dead know more than the living, but people usually tend to be at least a little surprised.

George Dawson was born in Birmingham and he had studied computer sciences. He graduated a little bit early and then had gotten hired by the government thanks to having a good memory and an eye for details. He mostly worked with the CCTV network, maintaining and debugging the system. He worked for a man he called that smarmy bastard, though he still isn't sure what the man's actual name had been. His job had been boring. Up until the point he had recorded, analysed and forwarded a file about a couple of politicians talking with a couple of foreigners, and then found himself with a bullet in his head.

"Sniper," Mr. Dawson says, making a shooting motion with his hand. "Right through the head when I was kicking back at home, watching telly. Never saw it coming."

"And in hindsight?" Harry asks, because the dead tend to linger some time after they die, sometimes for as long as their funerals. The ones who are murdered usually figure out who killed them before they move on.

"Hm. Not much I found out. Too far away, couldn't find him," the dead man sighs, shaking his head. "But I figure the tape was pretty important, since it got me killed. I don't really mind, though. Got to see my dad again. That's been nice."

Harry nods, and writes it all down on the copy paper with a cheap, broken pencil. "Thank you," he says, eyeing the list of bullet point facts he's written down. It's all very important somehow, he knows that. He doesn't follow politics and has no idea who the people whose names he wrote down at Mr. Dawson's dictation are, but they mean something to someone. It's interesting, even if not to him.

"Well. I'm done. Do you have any personal messages you might want to add?" he asks

"Not really. I hate my mum and got no friends," Dawson says, scratching his chin thoughtfully. "My life was kind of pathetic."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Harry says, and then folds the paper. "Thank you for your time. You can go now."

The spirits nods and stands up. "Tell the smarmy bastard that he should take a look at that hot tech working on the fourth floor. There's something not too right about her," he says and shudders. "Kept giving me the willies at my funeral." With those parting words, he salutes and then fades away, leaving Harry alone in his small flat.

Harry nods to himself, and writes it down as requested. With that done, he looks at the paper again, wondering what to do next. He's not sure who wants this information, or if he even got the information they wanted. It has the after taste of a test, and Harry has bad experiences with those. And of course, dealing with someone without knowing where they kept their brains…

Harry ends up tucking the photocopy into his pocket. He will keep it, for now. If whoever brought it to him comes back, he will deal with it. Until then, he will wait.

He doesn't have to wait for long.

 


 

 

Her name, according to herself, is Acraea, but the way she says it is proof enough that it isn't her real name. She smiles at him distractedly, keeping most of her attention on her phone and only giving Harry a glance over it, before pointing at the car, telling him to get in, that she's to take him somewhere.

"No thanks," Harry says, and turns to away.

"I have to insist," Acraea says, and when he glances over his shoulder she's holding a gun on him.

There are dozens of ways for Harry to negate the gun. A shield, a summoning spell, apparation… Except there is a chance she could very well fire before he manages to as much as pull out a wand and even the Elder Wand can't save him if he can't get it in time. Apparation might've been quick enough, but it wasn't worth the risk of getting shot and then splinching while trying to apparate while wounded.

"Right," he says instead and turns to the car. Since whoever wanted him had the capability of sending a woman with a gun to fetch him, they probably had the capabilities for more. Shaking his head and brushing his hand against the pocket where he has the Elder Wand, he gets into the car, where he is quickly joined by Acraea and her gun. She keeps it trained on him, even while she works her phone with her other hand, and as the car moves away and down the street, the gun doesn't as much as waver.

With a single spell he could've turned the car and its occupants into a flaming ball of fire. Keeping that in mind, Harry looks out of the window, trying to figure out where they are taking him, and why. Down the street, across a crossing, to the left, to the right… towards the long row of warehouses not far from where Harry lived. And then, after weaving between the warehouses for a while, they drive inside one of them.

A man waits for him there, and after one look at him Harry decides that this man is most likely Mr. Dawson's smarmy bastard. There is an air around him, that would've painted him as such even without the suit, the haircut, the expression – the umbrella he has resting against his shoulder. An aura, even, except Harry is not actually a mystic, and doesn't believe in auras. Not that type, anyway.

"Well, then, Mr. Potter. Nice of you to come by," the man says, umbrella swinging down, metal point touching the cement floor. "I hope the drive was pleasant."

"Endurable," Harry says, tugging the photocopy from his pocket and unfolding it. "He was right about you," he says, and then hands over the paper. It is probably unnecessary – important, unimportant and, in the end, probably just a cover, a test. What he found out is not what he is here for; he's here because he could find it out.

"Ah, yes," the man says, smiling and almost looking pleased with Mr. Dawson's opinion of him. "I'm afraid you can hardly take a step in life without leaving footprints on someone's ego. For me it is something of an occupational privilege."

"Not a hazard?" Harry asks mildly and the man only smiled a little wider. Shaking his head, the wizard lets it pass. It's not important. "Who do you want me to call and what do you want to know?" he asks, figuring they might as well get it over with

"Cutting right to the chase, aren't we? I like your straight forwardness," the man says, and leans on the umbrella, tucking the copy paper into his pocket and just looking at Harry for a while. "Harry James Potter. That's the name you wrote down when you rented your flat, and yet there are no corresponding records elsewhere. Harry Potters are a dime a dozen, but the particular Harry Potter you are supposed to be does not exist. Such things do make one wonder."

"Many things do," Harry answers. He doesn't bother defending himself, and just faces the man's gaze steadily. Inside he berates himself. He's been too obvious and too accurate. Of course he made someone curious – in this world even something as simple as acting as a medium is beyond extraordinary. He should've been more vague and made mistakes to breed doubt. He should've been vigilant. Now who knew how many people with too many resources and too many theories knew something about him and even if that is only a fraction of what it is, it's a fraction too much.

The people of the modern era won't burn witches on stakes. No, they will dissect them in laboratories, and it is not a fate Harry likes to contemplate. There were so many easier, nicer ways to go. He knows it better than most, having talked about it with over a dozen people now.

"Relax, Mr. Potter," the man says, amused and, yes indeed, smarmy in the way he pronounces the words, the way he smiles. "You are not the first person with… supernatural abilities I have encountered. Granted, your ability is something new, genuine and powerful as far as my research can tell, but not exactly unheard of." He chuckles. "I am not here to trap you."

"Liar," Harry answers, but relaxes because he can hear an echo of something in the man's voice. Disinterest perhaps. This is not a man who wants to know how things work or how something is done. No. "What do you want?" Harry asks, this time with interest instead of hostility.

The man chuckles again, shifts his footing and somehow ends up looking even more at ease and casual than before. "I often find myself in need of the services of a good medium," he says. "But mediums, unlike Harry Potters, are not a dime a dozen. Especially not the truly good ones."

"So you want my services?" the wizard asks. "I already knew as much. But…" he trails away. "You want more than just one session. You want several."

"You would be well compensated for your time," the man says, and looks over Harry's shoulder just as the sound of high heels echo in the empty warehouse. Acraea approaches them, with a folder in her hand. She smiles, hands it over to Harry, and then pulls out her phone again, typing away even as she returns towards the car. "Your down payment," the man says with a smile. "Open it."

Harry does. There are papers there – the topmost is a birth certificate. Then medical records, school records… "Hm," the wizard hums, thoughtful. They are all well-made and though all the details are completely wrong, they still seem true. Harry Potter, son of Jane and John Potter, born in London – honestly. The date is completely off too, though Harry doesn't know exactly by how much. It's not that important in any case.

The bank account is nice, though, even if empty. But what's most interesting is the paper in the bottom. It is a vague and confusing document, but it makes what he's been doing randomly and beneath all possible counters into a legal occupation and trade making him a certified medium. "I didn't think there was such thing as using supernatural powers professionally."

"Yes, well. With that you are entitled to read cards and give horoscope readings over the phone if you so choose to. Not exactly what you do, I understand, but the closest one can get in this day and age," the smarmy bastard says, looking quite satisfied with himself. "Now what do you say?"

"To what?" Harry asks, and closes the folder. "All you've said is that you'd like my services. You haven't said when, where or for how long."

"You would work me part time – or should I say, on a freelance basis - whenever I need it," the man says. "I don't require you all the time, but every once a while when something… unpleasant happens. I suppose it would be something like once, twice a month, depending on my need, of course."

"Of course. And if I have other things to do when you need me?" Harry asks.

The smarmy bastard smiles, soft and sharp at the same time like a blade wrapped in honey. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, shan't we?" he asks. "Of course, if you would be as kind as to indulge me above all others, I would happily do some small favours to ease your way."

"After giving me a fake identity and offering me money, what's there left?" the now professional Medium asks, more amused than confused.

"Clientele," the man says. "Work for me, indulge me, and I will make sure you will have enough well-paying clients to keep you busy – aside from myself, of course."

"Of course," Harry murmurs, and then tucks the folder underneath his arm. There's no decision to make, not really. "What is your name?"

The man laughs with what seems almost like delight. "Well, now, that would be telling," he says, amused. "I know better than to give my name to mediums. They have a deplorable habit of finding out more than they ought to, if they have a name to go with a face."

"I suppose," the wizard answers, shaking his head. Probably best not to tell the man that he doesn't even need a name, if he has something else to go by. He's already given away too much. "Well then, Mr. Bastard. Do you have something for me to do now, or can I go back home?"

His new employer laughs again, now with amusement that at least seems honest. "Nothing for now, but I suspect soon enough I will come back calling. Thank you for your time, Mr. Potter," he says nodding his head almost low enough to call it a bow. "Acraea will take you home."

"Thank you," Harry answers with a smile of his own, and turns away. "Oh," he stops and glances at the Smarmy Bastard over his shoulder. "Was there anything of importance in the case of George Dawson or did I waste my time for your sick pleasure?"

"I don't do things without a cause, Mr Potter," the man answers, taking the paper out and glancing it over. "You will be paid for your troubles soon enough."

"Cheers," Harry says with a nod, and heads away. Acraea is waiting for him in the car, and the drive back to Harry's flat is short, passing by quickly as Harry leafs through his new papers.

"Here," the woman says when the car stops, and hands over a neat cardboard box. "Your new phone. Keep it with you. Always."

"Right," Harry murmurs, accepting the box. He has no idea what he will do with it, but he can figure that out he supposes. If nothing else, it is easier to accept it at this point and then forget it later if he can't. "Thanks."

It is perhaps one of the most interesting days he has had since his stumble.

One of the most productive ones too.