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The warm glow of sunlight flooded his eyes as he blinked them open to a large crash and the sound of paws shuffling around, doing what they probably shouldn’t be. Disoriented for a second, he struggled to unearth himself from the tangle of bedsheets pooled at his feet and stumbled out of bed. Tripping in his languorous post-slumberous haze, he wound up in front of the ornately carved mirror and found his lips upturning in a familiar self-deprecating smirk. An untameable raven mop atop his head and too- large green eyes stared back at him. Rubbing his eyes one last time, and casting a lazy Scourgify, he walked into the kitchen , stretching like a cat as he went .

Almost instantly, he was hit in the knees by a soft warm body, and he couldn’t  help but crack a smile at the sight of his Crup, halved tail wagging in barely repressed excitement. Saturdays made Dawne twitchy and excited, and he could tell the dog was already itching to leave. He accidentally turned to look at the photo on the mantelpiece, and then suddenly, so was he.

Some days he thinks about taking it down, burning it, throwing it away. He’s come close multiple times. But he can never bring himself to go through with it. Because deep down, he knows that he’ll never look that carefree again. Flushed cheeks, black hair sticking up in every direction, looking completely content in the snow as he holds him. Merlin Harry, get a grip. he thinks. It’s too early for this shit. Pulling up the Occlumency walls he has specifically devoted to this cause, he shakes his head in resolution and marches off into the kitchen for a bite to eat and offhandedly Accios Dawne’s leash.

The minute Harry sets a breathless step back into his house, the Floo all but explodes, Ginny’s distressed shriek ringing through the house. “Harry, for the love of Dagda, Merlin and bloody Circe where the hell are you?! We have a situation on our hands and you need to get here now.”

“Well, you sure know how to make a man do your bidding, don’t you , love?” , Harry shot back, half eaten scone dangling from his fingers as he slumped into the worn blue armchair by the fire. “ Hi”, he grinned cheekily.

“ I do NOT have time for this mood , Harry James Potter! You will get down here NOW , the Curse- Breakers are going crazy, I have Potioneers screaming their lungs out and throwing all sorts of things - just GET HERE FOR THE LOVE OF MERLIN!”

“ Well, that isn’t ALL bad, is it?”, Harry asked , blinking nonchalantly at the harassed face of his honorary sister. Her answer was the chiming of the Floo closed and the burning image of red hair flaming.

Sighing heavily , and hauling himself up from the chair he said to the room at large, “ It’s going to be that kind of day, isn’t it?”

***

A quick shower, and  Apparition to the office proved that indeed, the place was in the middle of its descent into the murky depths of disorder for some unfathomable reason. Barely-buttoned shirt flapping around him, Harry made his way through the arches of the lobby and into the back where a flamingly furious Ginny was barking orders. “ What the hell is going on here?”, he demanded. “ Oh good, you’re finally here. It seems as though there’s been a hitch at the manufacturing plant, and one of the trainees used monkshood leaves instead of flowers for the purifying potion and now the whole place reeks, and is also in imminent danger of toxination” Ginny said tiredly.

“Has it been introduced into the aqueducts yet?” , Harry was already scribbling down notes in his (admittedly improved) scrawl in a patchwork notebook.

 

“No , thankfully not, although this is the third time Elise has made a mistake, you know. I mean the girl’s beside herself with worry , but if it were me, I’d fire her. And do button your shirt Harry, there’s no need to flash us all at every opportune moment”

 

Harry scowled, he hated this. “ I might just have to this, time ,Gin. Ugh, I hate letting people go, be a doll, won’t you and-

 

“You’re doing it yourself. Now.”

 

Silently plotting her murder, Harry made his way over to a crying Elise, unsure as ever, of what to do in social situations such as these. “ Er, Elise, can I have a word?”, he asked the still sniffling girl. She looked up, wet eyes becoming wetter at the sight of Harry’s sheepish expression, and burst into a fresh round of tears. “ Oh Mr. Potter, I’m s-sorry , I really am, I tried , I did, but all that stuff they taught us in Hogwarts about the leaves just slipped my mind  and-and-and , I could’ve killed everyone!” , she finished in a half-sob, half-shout. “ Er, yes you could have,” Harry said, seeing no point in cushioning the truth, “ Look, I’m sure you can understand why I can’t let you stay on, it’s too big a mistake for me to ignore. But I honestly think you’ll be alright with some more training, it’s just that with this whole Ministry issue, none of us here have really had the time to help; and I’d be more than happy to write you a recommendation to Neville Longbottom, he’s absolutely brilliant, he’ll have you sorted in no time, and then maybe you can come back, and re-apply?” She seemed to like this offer, Harry always thought the girl had held a bit of a torch for Nev in the few times they’d seen each other. “Think about it, and let me know, alright? No need to make a decision right now.”

 

That preliminary crisis averted, Harry turned to the matter of the aqueducts, and was just beginning to enter that space of nearly having the answer to something when his cell rang. Hermione’s perpetually harried voice filtered through, and she too sounded as if something truly dreadful had happened. “Harry you’ve got that Ministry meeting, honestly where are you, you’re already late, and by the way-” Harry cut her off right there. He had no time for a by the way- he just thought of a solution, and he had the best person to verify its quality right there on the line. “Yeah I’ll be there in five, Apparating now, but tell me, if I added powdered moonstone into a potion that’s been poisoned with monkshood leaves, that should counteract it, right?” “ Yes Harry, it should counteract it, but listen will you, the Ministry’s sent-” “Probably another incompetent idiot”, he finished for her “ Look ‘Mione, tell them that there’s been an emergency and I’ll be there as soon as possible, okay?” “ But Harry- oh, alright”, she said, after no doubt being poked in the side by Ron. Harry cut the call and went to do some immediate damage control.