Ex-Auror Greg Lestrade is in a dark place. Badly wounded protecting a young Auror-in-training he is looking at a bleak future through the bottom of a bottle of firewhiskey until the Headmistress of Hogwarts offers him a lifeline.
Hogwarts has always been a home for the lost boys and girls and Greg is happy to return there. His expectations are low but new friends and the poorly-concealed interest of the handsome Transfiguration teacher make Greg realise he may not be a lost cause after all.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Greg Lestrade groaned and opened one matted eyelid. The summer sun blazing through the undrawn curtains hit him like a boxing glove.
Blearily he took stock. He was on the sofa of his bedsit at the arse end of Diagon Alley. Good. Naked. Also good. Alone. Not so good. He vaguely remembered hooking up with someone in the bar of the Warlock’s Head last night, someone who wasn't put off by his scars or the fact that he limped heavily when he walked.
He groaned as he remembered mocking laughter from the other man when he discovered Greg was too pissed to rise to the occasion and the door slamming as he left and Greg turned to his only current source of pleasure.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
He sat up, clutching at his aching head and glared at the door. Persistent bastard, whoever it was.
“Just a minute,” he croaked. He scrabbled on the floor, knocking aside a couple of empty bottles he didn't remember opening, and found his wand. His prosthesis was all the way across the room and the thought of attaching it in his current state made Greg feel nauseous. He Summoned his crutches and stood on his remaining leg, covering himself with last night's robes.
He hoped whoever was at the door would go away quickly because his hangover was reaching critical mass and he needed to piss.
He limped the few steps to the door and tapped the locks with his wand. As they slowly opened he kept his wand combat ready. You could never be too careful.
“That will not be necessary, Mr Lestrade. I come in peace.”
Of all the people Greg imagined disturbing him at this ungodly hour, Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts wasn't one of them.
“Come in,” he offered, standing aside as she walked past, her cloak billowing behind her.
He saw her lips form a thin line as she took in the squalor of his bedsit and, for once, Greg felt ashamed.
“It's the house elf’s day off,” he joked but she merely raised a sarcastic eyebrow. Greg hung his head. Professor McGonagall was the only person left in the world who could make him feel like he was eleven years old again and standing in her office in second-hand robes about to be told off.
“For heaven's sake, Gregory. Go and put on some suitable attire. Those robes are back to front. Once you're decent, we can talk.”
He couldn't flee but he limped as quickly as he could into the bathroom to relieve himself and splash his face with cold water. He put his robes on properly and ran a comb through his hair before risking a look in the mirror.
He'd looked better. One side of his face looked as though it had been used as target practice by a drunk knife thrower and nothing he had come up with could hide the lines of pain on his forehead. His once lustrous brown hair was now completely grey. His Healer had said it was due to shock and loss and Greg thought it made him look ancient.
He emerged to find his bedsit transformed to a clean, sweet-smelling.living space. There was a gentle clinking from the sink as a week's worth of dishes washed themselves and his bed had been remade with fresh linen. All the rubbish that he had meant to get rid of had vanished and Professor McGonagall was sitting primly on the sofa. A tray of tea and biscuits sat on the table in front of her and she poured two cups out as Greg came over and sat down heavily beside her.
“Thank you,” he said sincerely, his gesture taking in the whole apartment. “I, er…”
“You'll need to buck your ideas up when you come to Hogwarts.” she said as she passed him a cup of tea.
“Thank you. I-wait. What?”
She smiled at him, her dark eyes twinkling behind her glasses.
“I came here to offer you a job, Mr Lestrade. Paid employment. You are familiar with the concept?”
Sarcastic cow, he thought.
“You want me to come and work for you? Why? And why me?”
He slurped his tea as she considered her response.
“You need a job. You are prodigiously talented and all you are doing now is rotting away of boredom and booze in this pitiful excuse for an apartment. You may never be an Auror again but I would like you to come to Hogwarts and teach those who might eventually take up the mantle.”
Seeing that Greg still looked baffled she sighed.
“I want you to be the new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, Gregory.”
He choked on his last bit of tea.
“No way! That job’s cursed. Everyone knows it. And anyway, I might have other offers. You can’t just barge in here and rearrange my life like that!”
“Your current salary is nil, so we can forget about you having a better offer. The job was cursed, that much is true but the curse died with Voldemort. Professor Davidson has been in post for over a decade now.”
“What happened to him?” asked Greg curiously. She snorted with laughter.
“You are obsessed with tragedy, though it’s not exactly surprising given your current state. He is leaving to teach at Beauxbatons, that’s all. And I have a vacancy. The Minister recommended you very highly.”
Greg felt a warm glow at that. He’d always looked up to Kingsley Shacklebolt, his old mentor. It was typical of the man to remember those who had suffered loss while on active service.
“He did? That’s nice of him. How long do I have to think about it?”
“Till the end of the month. That should give you enough time to settle your affairs and attend the appointments at St Mungo’s that you’ve been avoiding. I expect your owl by then. Don’t let me down, Gregory. Hogwarts needs you.”
“I’ll think about it,” he promised her.
“See that you do. Now I must go. Don’t forget, you have till the end of July.”
He ushered her out of his bedsit where she Disapparated and he staggered back into the room and slumped on the sofa.
He might not approve of her tactics but Professor McGonagall had given him something he thought he would never have again.
Carefully he attached his prosthesis to what was left of his right leg and locked up his bedsit before travelling to St Mungo’s. She had also been right about that, though Merlin knew how. Greg knew that something cursed by Dark magic could never grow back, but that didn’t stop him hoping or resenting the fact that he was only three-quarters of a man.He also found the walking staff a proper encumbrance but couldn’t quite manage without it. Not yet.
Luckily Healer John Watson was available to see him.He showed Greg into an examination room and asked him to remove his artificial leg.
“I wondered if I’d see you again,Greg. “ he grumbled. “How have you been managing?”
“It hurts if I wear it too long,” admitted Greg. “And sometimes…”
“What?” John could sense the distress in the other man’s voice.
“Sometimes I think I can still feel it. My leg.”
“That’s perfectly normal,” said John soothingly, his quill making notes on the parchment as they talked.”It will get better with time.”
Another wave of John’s wand and a measuring tape flew across the room and started measuring Greg’s leg from all sorts of angles,
“Right, enough,” muttered John and it collapsed onto the floor.
John rolled up the lime-green sleeves of his robes and gently examined Greg.
“It’s perfectly healed. I will give you some cream for when it gets too sore. And I’m going to arrange for a new prosthesis.”
“How long will that take?” asked Greg.
“Couple of weeks. Unless you need it sooner?”
“No, as long as it’s ready for September.”
As he said it, Greg realised he had already made his mind up.
Hogwarts had its new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher.