The cover of Coven Weekly waved at Amy Santiago from the dashboard of her car.
"Oh, screw you," she said to the magazine.
The cover image of Hermione Granger stopped waving, and the image of her husband Ron Weasley made an impolite gesture.
"Sorry," Amy muttered. Wizarding images were so particular. She turned the magazine face down at first, then rolled it into a tube and unrolled it again to straighten it out before shoving it into the glove compartment. "Didn't mean it."
She locked the door and nodded to herself in satisfaction. There. All nice and tidy. No one would know there was anything maj about it.
Stepping out of the elevator, she watched Jake pop up to greet her. He must have spent the night here—he certainly hadn't stayed at her place—as he had flannel pajamas on, his hair stuck up at odd angles, and she hoped the dried crud at the corner of his mouth was toothpaste. Possibly drool. But more likely toothpaste. Probably.
The really sick thing was he looked cute like that.
"Told you I'd beat you in, Santiago." He jammed his hand against his hips, striking a classic Superman pose. "I was not about to let you battle the evil forces of IA without someone to back you up."
"It's magical affairs, not internal affairs." She rolled her eyes at him, covering up how much he made her smile. "Did you spend the night in the locker or evidence room?"
"The evidence room." He hitched his thumb toward the back hall. "I used the furs from that exotic animal exportation case to create a nest."
"Nice," said Charles.
"Yeah, I pretended I was Spock, stuck in the ice age on Vulcan."
Amy waved her hand in front of her face. "Oh, so that's what that smell is."
"Title of your sex tape." Jake used his fingers to do a classic wand swish and flick.
Gina—who was dressed in a wolf shirt, jeans, cape, and tiara today—looked up from her crystal ball. "Burn, girl." She then looked at Jake. "Zero points for originality though. Come on, Jake. Can't you spruce it up just a little? Take it up another notch."
"Not without some duct tape and slime."
"Oooh. Good choices."
"Okay, so maybe I am a little concerned about the meeting today," Amy said.
"No shit," Rosa said, looking up from her desk. "You've been on eggshells all week."
"Yeah, I don't get it." Charles tapped a Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean from the box and examined it carefully. "We're always getting inspected. No one believes we can do our jobs liaising with the No-Maj police." He popped the bean into his mouth and crunched down. "Jellied pig testicle! Yes!" He quickly made another entry in his bean blog, noting its color, flavor strength, and viscosity.
"Yeah, Amy. Why are you so uptight about it?" Jake picked up his wand, muttered a quick charm, and his toy dementor flew a circle over his desk. He buzzed it around Amy's head, and she swatted it away.
"I like tests—"
"Duh," the entire squad chorused.
"—but I've never been inspected by Magical Affairs before. What if I say something wrong?"
"Like what? Call Chief Wuntch a witch?" Jake held up his hand and Charles High-Fived him. "Everyone knows she's one. No one cares about that sort of thing anymore."
"Unwarranted use of magic before a non-magical person is still on the books, Jake. Even if no one pays attention to it anymore. And it's MA. They can do anything they want to!"
Terry pushed back in his chair. "Aren't they headed by that weird guy? The one that likes to roll around in the pig pen now and again?"
"Oh, man, yeah," said Jake. "He blames the No-Maj for 'America’s Downfall'." He framed the words in air quotes. "As if any of us are interested in that."
Gina leaned forward in her chair. "I heard he tried to have Captain Holt demoted."
"Yeah. 'cuz the Captain's husband is a No-Maj." Diaz crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back. "The guy's an ass."
"Wait. I thought Chief Wuntch wanted the Captain demoted?" Charles said.
"No, Wuntch wants Holt humiliated, but still reporting to her," Gina said. "I get regular reports about their relationship from the other admins. Everyone agrees it's a weird situation."
"And Gina knows all about weird," Jake said. "Anyway, we've got enough problems with the occasional kneazle, poor enunciation during drunken spellcasting…and cleaning up from that Death Eater thing."
The ghost of Scully wavered into being and glared at him, the bullet holes in his torso dripping silver ichor around him.
"Damn. I always forget that he's still here." He sat up straighter and yelled at the ghost. "You know, you should probably leave before the Magical Affairs person—"
"Analyst," Amy said. "A Magical Affairs Analyst determines if the use of magic was valid."
"Seriously?" Jake rolled his hands around in the air. "They don’t have an accountant do this stuff? Couldn't they find someone else to do the job?"
Amy smiled wanly. "No?"
Jake shook his head and cut his hand through the air decisively. "Anyway, Scully. You shouldn't be here whenever—whoever it is arrives."
Terry took that moment to yell, "Remember, no magical items on display. We are a common, ordinary, police department."
The silvery specter of former detective Scully and his big gaping holes of death nodded his understanding as he sank into the floor, leaving behind a pile of foot powder.
"At least he smells better this way," Jake observed. "Before he died, he used to really stink up the place."
"Good point," Charles said. "Still, don't you think it's odd to have a ghost on staff?"
"Not as odd as it could be." Jake glanced significantly over his shoulder at Gina.
"You know, it's really a pain that we have to do this," Gina said as she scooped her crystal ball off her desk and plopped it into a green and yellow bag. "My art cannot be contained by a mere shopping bag." She started plucking the raw crystals off her desk and added them to the bag, and followed it up with an assortment of feathers, seashells, and herbal breath mints. "This is really disturbing my chi."
Amy could feel Gina's glare so strongly that she had to check herself for frost. "Sorry, everyone. I didn't mean to put you all out."
"You should have thought of that when you rescued that kid." Rosa growled as she stuffed her wand into a drawer.
Aghast, Amy rounded on her. "I couldn't let him choke to death."
"Yes, you could."
"It was a hot dog," Jake said. "A little Heimlich maneuver, he pukes the thing up, and you're good to go."
"Ewwww." Amy grimaced at the thought of someone being ill all over her.
"Just saying you didn't have to get all sparkly over it."
"I was not sparkly! I slipped and fell into him, that's all."
"That's good, Santiago." Captain Holt said as he came out of the office. "Make it a humorous story about coincidences. That should be satisfactory for everyone concerned." He paused and looked assessingly at her for several breaths, then turned to Terry. "Make sure she rehearses that before Wuntch gets here. Santiago can be a terrible liar. Get Peralta to work with her. He's good at making up stories."
"Okay, okay," said Terry. "Everyone relax. Amy's interview isn't until 1:00 p.m., and Captain Holt and Chief Wuntch will both be here for it." He glanced over at Amy. "No pressure, Santiago. Just make sure you explain it in a way that doesn't get you kicked out of the department."
"Yeah, that would put a crimp in our relationship-ish thingee if you weren't in the office all the time," Jake said.
"So you're just dating me because I'm your co-worker?"
"Not exactly. You're kinda hot, too." Jake pulled an ancient bag of popcorn out of his desk drawer and dusted it off. "Besides, watching you try to lie your way through this is gonna be good."
Chief Wuntch arrived just after lunch with the MA analyst in tow. She smiled easily, completely unlike her escort, and was dressed in a white silk shirt, pantsuit, and fabulous boots that made her at least three inches taller than Amy. She was stunning.
"Alyssa Jones." They shook hands, and Alyssa nodded at Holt's office. "I'll do my interview there."
She strode forward, and Amy fell in behind her, but before Holt and Wuntch could join them, Jones motioned, and the door slammed closed behind them. "I don't think Captain Holt and Chief Wuntch need to be here for this part of the interview, do you?"
The temperature in the room literally dropped five degrees. Amy wished she'd brought her winter-weight sweater. She thought she heard the theme for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly being whistled, but when she glanced from Holt's office to the bullpen, no one was looking at her.
That meant it had to be Jake. She was going to kill him when all of this was done. She shot a glare in Jake's general direction, but he was too busy tossing popcorn into Charles's mouth to see it.
The interviewer leaned over to her, catching her attention. "Please sit down." Walking around the desk, she took over the captain's place and nodded significantly at the chair across the desk from her.
"Okay, sure." Amy gingerly sat at the edge of her chair. "It's really pretty simple—"
"Yes, yes, I'm sure." Alyssa leaned forward and placed her hands on the desk, before darting a glance out at Holt and Wuntch. "Can you give me a little backstory on what's between the two of them."
"They're...good friends." For people who hate each other "They've worked together for years, and this is just...joking. Um. They kid around with each other a lot."
"So they have a long-standing relationship. I see." She tapped her notebook, made a note, and tapped it again. "Would you consider them to be extraordinarily close?"
"No, not extraordinarily close. No." She cleared her throat; she really didn't want to talk about the captain at the moment. "Don't you want to ask some questions about the incident at the park?"
"I think I may have everything I need on that already." Alyssa reviewed her notes. "You and your partner—"
"The two of you were following the trail of the basilisk, and that led you to the park."
"Yes, I saw that the animal was within ten feet of the picnic area when I spotted it, and it was making its way toward a cooler being used by the family that had rented the shelter."
"And this cooler is where the hot dogs were stored?"
"I see." Alyssa made a note, then looked back at where Wuntch and Holt were standing outside the door. "So you used magic to shove the cooler into the boy when he started choking on the stone hot dog."
"Actually I tripped while I was running and fell into it." Amy thought that sounded pretty good, and worth the two hours she'd spent saying it. "I never used my wand."
"I see." She tapped her notebook twice, and Amy noticed it had changed color right before Alyssa made some notes. "As I said, that's everything on the park." She leaned forward, and her eyes flashed with a red glow. "Now, can you tell me about the photographs on the subway?"
"I'm...sorry? What are you talking about?"
"We've had reports that some of the photographs used by this department in a recent publicity campaign...moved." Her lips drew back enough that Alyssa's smile went from charming to predatory. "As you know, use of magical imagery outside of the maj community is still forbidden."
"Drop the Little Miss act, I know you’re in on it. And those two were the ringleaders." Alyssa waved her hand at where the captain and the chief stood just beyond the door. "If it is true, you were involved in a potentially serious breach of the No-Maj Disclosure Act of 1783." Her pen glided over her note book, recording what she was saying. "Your captain was on the PR team that recently plastered the face of a known witch on a bus as part of an advertising campaign." She looked up and stared at Amy. "And you were the face on that bus, weren't you?'
Amy died a little bit inside. "Yes, but it wasn't—we never—"
The door burst open, and both Chief Wuntch and Captain Holt came in.
"So you are the mole who has it in for us," Wuntch ground out. "Well, you got the wrong information, witch."
"Excellent work, Santiago." Holt turned to Alyssa. "All of the photographs were strictly done by a No-Maj contractor. There was never any possibility of accidental magical release." He crossed his arms over his chest in satisfaction. "That rumor was a set-up to get you here."
"A set-up? For what?"
"We know that someone in Magical Affairs is attempting to brand both Chief Wuntch and myself as insubordinate to the magical congress, and in doing so, call into question the validity of the office of the No-Maj community liaison."
"Why would they want to do that," Amy asked. "We're all safer if the No-Maj authorities know not to get involved with magical works. The death toll would be tremendous without us."
"Exactly," Holt said.
"Maybe they should die," Alyssa said. "If they are too stupid to stay away from magical creatures."
"Oh, and there we go! Thank you so much for saying that." The chief's voice dripped with Southern hospitality as she slid forward like a shark through water. "I'm going to enjoy asking you a few questions myself."
"What?" Alyssa stood and grabbed her notebook, backing toward the door. "No, I specifically was told that you two were in collusion on a 719."
"Whoever you are working for sent you on a wild goose chase."
"I think this little interview has gone far enough." Chief Wuntch said loudly.
Amy knew the interview was over because Rosa was escorting a wobbly Alyssa out of the building. She tried to remember what was said after Holt mentioned the 'wild goose chase' but it was a big wall of red. Someone had done a brain whammy on her, but she'd probably be fine in the morning.
If, you know, the room would ever stop spinning. "The room is spinning," she stated, just in case no one had noticed.
"Thank you for your work, Santiago." Captain Holt helped her over to the chair next to Jake's desk. "I'm sorry we couldn't bring you in on the matter, but it was better if you had no knowledge of our set up."
"He means you can't bluff," Rosa said bluntly. "It's why I always invite you to poker night."
"And why she never goes," Jake said as he got out of his chair. "Should I take her back to her place?"
"The room is spinning, Jake. Don't you think you'd better sit down?"
"Yes, Peralta. Please escort Santiago back to her house."
"Got it. Here," Jake said, grabbing Amy by the arm. "Let's get you home."
"Did Holt really work with Wuntch on the sting?" Amy adjusted her rear-view mirror as Jake glanced around the car. She felt a little betrayed that Holt hadn’t said anything to her, though she was still proud to be part of the operation.
"I guess, even though the world didn't end, like it should have with those two on the same side." He ran his hand over the dash. "It's weird for a vehicle to be this clean. It's like it just came off the lot. You have got to have a candy bar wrapper stashed someplace in here." Jake riffled through the glove compartment. "Nope, nothing but maps and—what's this?"
Oh no! She forgot all about the magazine. "Nothing. Give it here."
"Coven Weekly?" Jake cracked a smile. "My grandma used to read that."
"Mine, too." Amy grabbed for it, but Jake pulled it away.
"What are you reading this for? There's a gotta be something more interesting than this on the Internet."
"It's my mom's. She gave it to me."
"Yes. No. Kinda." Amy sighed and leaned back against the upholstery. "My mom bought me a subscription for my birthday, and this was the bonus issue. Said the articles would give me some great ideas for a...wedding."
"Like...you and me?"
Amy winced and nodded. "She's not subtle, Jake."
"My grandma isn't either. She bought me one of those Reader's Digest things with articles on how to get a job one time. So why'd you bring—" Jake flipped it to the cover and spent a moment staring at it. "A full issue on Hermione's wedding?" He glanced over at Amy. "You know we aren't them, right?"
"I don't know what you are talking about."
"Sure you do. Smartest girl in school, marrying the...whatever he is." He shook his head and rolled the magazine into a tube, then hit Amy with it gently before tossing it in her lap. "Get your own life, Santiago. Don't live hers."
"Ow." She rubbed her head.
"And don't tell anyone I said this, but you did the right thing saving the kid. We don't just let people die, whether they have magic or not."
"I think I remember Captain Holt saying the same thing."
Jake shivered. "Don't mention stuff like that. It creeps me out when we do the same thing."
"Should I drop you at your place?"
"Nah, just keep going. How about I stay at your place tonight? You could have a memory hangover in the morning and need some good hot chocolate."
She smiled at him and nodded. "Hey, the car isn't moving anymore."
Jake laughed. "It never was." He leaned in and kissed her, running his hand through her hair. "You'll always be my Hermione."
Amy started the car, and the cover photo of Hermione and Ron continued to wave at them as they headed down the not-terribly-magical street.