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The Ever Changing Face of Death

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OW June 1998

 

            Hazel looked at her surroundings as soon as the bag over her head was removed. She had heard about the old families having ostentatious homes, but her idea of frivolous expense and theirs was apparently way off. The place looked like a medieval castle's oldest wing, with its wrought iron chandeliers full of candles and dreadfully dark walls. The furnishings looked to be old leather but hardly screaming comfort or even good taste. There was even some damage on the roof from the once lit candles. Either the Malfoys were stuck in the last millenium or all old families were too. What a scary thought. It was certainly more scary than being pulled in with her two companions  under heavy disguise done the muggle way because what could possibly hide one's appearance other than illusions, self-transfiguration or Polyjuice Potion. "Well, is it them, Draco?" Hazel turned at the source of the voice and felt her blood go warm. Lucius Malfoy. Biggest racist pig in the whole bloody country, minus a certain pink toad. Well, said Pink Toad was currently in a Ministry morgue somewhere, so yeah, he was the biggest racist pig in Wizarding Britain. Hazel watched as the peacock's spawn came up close to her. "Her face looks similar, but her eyes and hair are all wrong. That bitch may have had horrible taste in witch's clothes but she'd kill herself for cutting her hair so short. You sure there is no magic hiding her?"

 

            If she had had her hands free she might have actually given Draco a bloody hug. For the biggest racist at school, he was surprisingly observant because she had loved her hair. She had let it grow long from the moment she went to Hogwarts and then her Godmother had spent a whole two summers and one winter with her, usually brushing her hair or braiding it. It had become a part of her. She had felt so hollow cutting it short for the deception, like she had lost one more of her good memories. That was something the stupid war had done. Take, take and take. Her friend, her Godmother, her Familiar and now a part of her, all gone. She was desperately wondering if there would be anything left of her if they ever brought it all to an end as Dumbledore thought she could. The snatcher huffed beside her, "No magic. No wands either." Draco looked at her, unsure before turning to an old blonde woman that looked a bit familiar. "We can't call this in, not until we know for sure. The Dark Lord has been furious these last few weeks in his search for her. He might just kill us all for bothering him with a lookalike. What do you think, mother? Anyway she could be using makeup to hide her appearance?" 

 

            Ahh, that's where she recognized her. Narcissa Malfoy née Black. Funny, of the three Black Sisters she looked the worst off. Maybe being a Dark Lord's retaineer wasn't all it was cracked up to be. The woman closed in and held Hazel by the chin and cheeks. "Don't know. There is no makeup on her face and she looks way too tanned from what we last saw of her." Funny, tanning salons had been around since the late seventies. Then again, with how pale the Britain's European Wizarding population was, it didn't surprise her that they didn't know about them. They all could use a few long hours in the sun. The woman released her and went to speak to her husband when a Death Eater entered the chamber. "We got them Lucius. The shapeshifting whore and her mutt of a husband are dead. No kid though, must have been with the Grandmother. We still can't break the wards around her home." Hazel's body suddenly went cold. No. Please no. Not Dora. Lucius stood up quickly. "Get more of our men to that stupid muggle neighborhood. I don't care how long it takes! I want through those wards." Hazel waited until the Death Eater walked past her before slipping or her cuffs and punching the bastard in the family jewels. She used his body as a shield as she took his wand. It felt like it would complain but she refused to be denied. Not after losing Dora. 

 

            She casted a featherweight charm and stunner on the prick and kept his body between her and the rest as she casted every curse she knew. The snatchers next to her companions dropped dead from exploded skulls and missing limbs as she focused on the Death Eaters in the room. Narcissa was fast, probably as fast as Andi and Dora, but not faster than her. She had been training to cast as fast as possible ever since Tom disarmed her in the Chamber. Her meatshield took a lot of curses, including a few AKs, but the morons didn't think to use far more devastating spells. Either they didn't want to damage their home or they had been too used to using Unforgivables to scare people into submission. Too bad for them, she stopped being scared almost two years ago to the day. Funny how fear just left you when you have nothing really left to live for. A Piercing Spell shattered through Narcissa's shield and took her right through the heart. Draco barely cried "Mother!" before a stunner took him down, courtesy of Hermione. Lucius didn't last much longer after that, taking a cutting curse to the leg. Hazel shoved the corpse she held at him, cancelling its enchantments. The old Slytherin wheezed as a full man's weight fell on his chest before crying out in pain as she amputated his arm and crushed his wand. No emergency calls for the bastard. 

 

            Hazel swung her stolen wand and pulled the corpse of the old man before slamming her boot on his intact hand, earning a cry of pain. She screamed at him. "Why!? The Tonks and Lupins had practically left the Order and Andromeda has never raised her wand against you and your people so why go after her." Lucius spat at her and she responded with a piercing curse to the thigh, getting another cry of pain out of him. "Mad-Eye taught me a few things before your Dark Lord killed him in July. I can leave you just as bad as Rudolphos left the McKinnons. Give me a bloody reason Lucius and I will test it all out on you." The Slytherin looked her right in the eyes. "Why do you think? The Black Headship has been in Limbo for a year! It was Draco's by birthright but the Tonks stood in the way of it. I wasn't going to let a Halfblood Shapeshifter and her mongrel child inherit the fortune of the oldest Wizarding family in Britain." Hazel stared at the man. "You killed Dora and Remus, leaving behind a child orphaned, just because you couldn't stand seeing a few more barrels of Galleons go to another family?" Lucius growled at her. "Of course you wouldn't understand! You never had a family. You never knew what it meant to us. It's why we all are fighting this bloody war!" Hazel stared at the man as she swung her wand and a body dropped right next to Lucius. 

 

            "You are right. I never had my own family. So, show me what it means to care about one. Sectumsempra !" Lucius watched as the cursed cutting spell tore into his son's body, his blood covering the floor. The bastard's blood started pooling around him as the boy started to choke on it. Lucius hollered at her. "Stop. Stop! I'll give you anything you want. Just spare my son. Please! Stop!" Hazel blinked at the man, her face emotionless. "But you didn't when you had Dora and Remus killed. Or Mad-Eye. Or my Godmother. None of you ever stopped, no matter who begged. Funny, how you expect everyone else to play by a different set of rules but not your own." Hazel felt someone try to pull her wand arm away and she just banished them back. "You take and take until there is nothing left of your enemies. Too bad, Lucius. You just took something else from me so now I am done holding back. You wanted Draco to inherit your fortune and the Black's? Congratulations, you get to watch him bleed to death instead." Lucius turned at her. "The Dark Lord will kill you, you bitch! Mark my words, you will die like your accursed family." Hazel gave him a bitter smile. "That doesn't sound like a bad thing. Death seems so much more comfortable than living in this hellhole. Don't worry, I will give you the same comfort as your wife and son." Hazel aimed her wand at Draco's twitching body. " Avada Kedavra ." Draco stilled as the dark green curse struck his chest, causing Lucius to cry out his son's name. Hazel didn't care. She had seen Death Eater's do the same a hundred times. It was about time they got a taste of their own medicine. "No Snivellus to save him this time, old man. Your turn Lucius. Don't worry, I will be sending your beloved Dark Lord to you as soon as I can. I might even join him. Avada Kedavra ." The second beam of green light was the last the wand casted as it fell apart in her hands.

 

            She turned around and saw her two friends looking at her with horror in their eyes. They didn't have time for this. "Hermione, grab a hair from Narcissa, Ron take one from Draco while I take one from Lucius. We need into the Malfoy Vault at Gringotts to get the bloody sword so stop wasting time gawking at them." Hermione stood up. "You didn't have to do that! We could have let them live!" Hazel glared at her friend. "The hell I was! They killed Dora and her husband. They left my Godson orphaned and they wanted him dead. I wasn't going to let that happen!" Hermione screamed at her. "Then you're just as bad as they are!" Hazel blinked at the bushy haired girl. "This is a war, Hermione. There aren't any heroes and villains, only combatants and casualties." Hermione cried in front of her. "Your parents didn't die for you to become a monster. They wanted you to mean something. Something good." Hazel scoffed as she bent over and plucked some blond hairs from the dead man. "If they wanted me to have a good life, they should have raised me themselves. Them being dead means shit to me. Now let's get going. Gringotts ain't robbing itself." Hazel would spend the cart-ride going down the Gringotts vaults thinking about Teddy. He would end up like her if he was left alone. There was no way Andromeda could manage after losing her entire family in less than two months. She cursed under her breath as the Polyjuice Potion was neutralized by the bloody security system. She had planned to die when she faced Voldemort again. Now she had to somehow live for Teddy. He deserved better than the life she herself lived. He deserved to be happy. Staring down an albino dragon, Hazel swore he would have a happy life. She'd make sure of it.



-∞-

 

OW June 2007

 

            Hazel breathed deeply as she got pulled out of the memory and went to wash her face in the fountain. Was it 8 or 9 years since that day? She wasn't sure and a part of her didn't care beside the fact she had just celebrated Teddy's 9th birthday. In two years he should have expected to receive his Hogwarts letter and then she would be going crazy trying to figure out what to do. She couldn't teach there after the mess of corpses she left behind, both before and after the end of the war. Funny, how Shacklebolt promised things would be better once the Ministry was back in order. Those Hit Wizards and Aurors that came after her certainly didn't feel welcoming. She had killed most of Voldemort's Inner Circle, including the maniac himself, and a metric ton of his foot soldiers but apparently that wasn't good enough. None of the racist pigs would harm another soul and muggleborns could live without fear for the rest of their lives, but she was somehow a threat to the safety of the same people she saved. The moment the bastard tried to pry custody of Teddy from her hands as soon as Andromeda died was the last straw. She stopped caring about the people sent after her then. Auror or Neo Death Eater, those things stopped meaning anything different. The moment they tried to kill her or take Teddy from her, they were all the same; dead. 

 

            At least the Minister got his priorities right when the Grindelwald fanatics blew up the G8 summit meeting in London. There was no hiding magic from the live performance broadcasted to every corner of the world as the eight most powerful leaders got sliced, burned and just exploded before a video camera. The masses went ballistic as did the governments of the world, everyone throwing blame everywhere. Good thing she had long taken her son away from the urban centers as there was no chance they would have avoided drawing attention to themselves. In the years since the Battle of Hogwarts, she had a lot of trouble not making a spectacle out of every fight she was in. When Teddy was safely home, she could actually manage being stealthy, hence her exceptional record of unconfirmed deaths as a killer for hire. The war had taught her how to kill, so why not make a living from it. She made sure her targets were exactly the right kind of people too; racists, rapists, misogynists and terrorists. Sure, some of them were parents, siblings and children of others, but she didn't care. They were raised that way or they became that way. She never had trouble sleeping from those kills and she could look at her son in the eye and not feel any shame.         

 

            No, the world really went to shit when the first nukes were launched. Mutually Assured Destruction was a great deterrent until the first shot was fired. After that, there was no stopping it. Britain had taken a direct hit in London but at least she and Teddy were far enough away not to suffer any immediate effects. Things got bad, though, when the clouds set in. Winter came and refused to leave. The wildlife started dying as April turned to May with no end to the snowstorms. Hazel had to go out hunting for miles and miles, using every hunting trick she learned while out avoiding Death Eaters and Snatchers. She did what she could to clean and preserve every scrap of meat, every bit of fat. Thank goodness for stasis spells. Thank goodness her own magic didn't fail either. She didn't understand it at first when Teddy told her he couldn't shift anymore. She gave him her old Holy and Phoenix Feather Wand and he couldn't perform any magic with it. He could with the Elder Wand, even if it complained from being wielded by him. She had no idea how but Magic was apparently dying, leaving her as the only person left to wield it freely. She spent most of the time using it to safeguard Teddy from the cold and to keep his food preserved. At least her shitty childhood at the Dursleys' made her used to living on an empty stomach.

 

            Magic dying did have one benefit. Places that had once been warded or hidden away by magic began to appear in the world again. Or maybe it was just Britain. Hard to tell when she refused to cross the English Channel. Britain took one direct hit, but all of Europe took several. No way she was crossing over into that radioactive cesspool. The best thing to come of the fading magic was the current place she had brought her son to. Her Druidic texts called it the Isle of the Blessed, the inspiration for a version of Avalon. This was a place were the High Priests and Priestesses of the Old Religion gathered, taught their apprentices and held rituals. The death of the Old Religion soon after the demise of Camelot caused it to be lost to time, until just a few days ago. She had found some fish still alive in the ponds and had pulled them out of the water. Teddy had eaten well for the first time in a year. The little ball of sunshine had even asked her to eat from the food. She did, only because she had seen what she had really been looking for in the area. It was in far better shape than the one in the Department of Mysteries in 1996, that's for sure. She did notice some trace of goblins in the area though, which bothered her.

 

            Hazel had never gotten in the good graces of the Goblins after the break in at Gringotts. They had seized her Galleons and sealed her Vaults, after they threatened to kill her if she ever walked through the doors of Gringotts again. The fact she eventually walked right into the Bank, bypassed all their shiny new security and retrieved everything that they couldn't take from her Peverell and Potter Vaults, plus the money Andromeda had left for her and Teddy in her Will that she never did get withdrawn, had made them so angry that they sent Gringotts Retrieval Teams after her. She had no idea what exactly had changed but her Invisibility Cloak had gotten much better at avoiding detection since last she sneaked into Gringotts. She would freely admit that the Retrieval Teams were better than the Aurors and the Hit Wizards and had actually managed to take her down for all of a minute. The Bank got a box full of Goblin heads and a less than friendly worded letter soon after for the trouble they gave her. She still never did walk back into a Gringotts Bank freely, but the greedy and arrogant little blighters didn't bother her again, not even with threatening letters. The books in the Peverell Vault had been the main target of her visit. She needed to know what the hell had happened to her since she ate an AK straight to the face. No such luck. She did find a translation of Druidic Script and texts about a lot of interesting stuff, including the Isle of the Blessed and what it housed.

 

            The Unspeakables and the Ministry called it the Veil but the Druids called it an Archway. It was supposed to be a means of instant travel between two points with synchronized Archways, but leaving it without a destination was an effective way of getting people killed. They got their gruesome reputation from that, especially as the High Priests and Priestesses who maintained and operated them died out. The one in the Ministry took a nuke, so that one was never in Hazel's consideration. This one though would hopefully give her what she wanted. She ran her hands through her now long white hair and pulled it back into a ponytail before tying it. She got to work making Teddy what breakfast she could, including some salted pork and a few vegetables she found on the Isle before storing the meal under stasis. She quickly bit her way through her own supply of pork and some leaks as she reached the Archway. The Druidic Script was much more intact on this one, which she was thankful for. What she was about to do wasn't part of the designer's thoughts or ideas but she had no choice. If she did nothing, Teddy would die in this forsaken world, just like everyone else. When Dora had practically demanded she be Teddy's Godmother, despite Remus' objections, she knew what it meant. Teddy would be her responsibility if something happened to them. Her responsibility now included breaking a few laws of Magic. No pressure. Hazel took a deep breath as she sliced her index finger. Time to get to work.



-∞-



            Teddy felt something tickle his nose before he brushed it away. The sensation came back and he opened his eyes. A butterfly was staring at him from the tip of his nose, its wings beating softly. "Hello." The bug took flight and hovered in front of him as he lifted his feet over the edge of the sleeping cot his mother had made for him last night. He yawned as he scratched his side, his black hair getting a bit in his eyes until he brushed his hair back. He missed being able to shapeshift and take care of his hair, though he could still do it when his mom gave him a bit of her magic. She always looked tired afterwards so he only asked for it twice, the second time taking the appearance he wanted to keep. As far as he was concerned, this was the way he wanted to look for the rest of his life. Grandma Andi had shown her pictures of Mama Dora and Mom when they were younger. He loved that his mom had once had jet black hair, even if it had gone mostly white now, with a few odd jagged streaks of black crossing it. She couldn't change her hair to black anymore, at least not her original shade. So he changed his to match. She was his mom after all.

 

            Stepping out of his sleeping tent, he moved to the bigger one where his mom kept the bigger supplies and equipment she carried with her. There was a pan drying next to the bowl of water she used for dishwashing and he spotted a familiar looking box on the kitchen table. His mom had gotten him an old aluminium lunch box and she used it in the mornings for his breakfast. It had once sported some weird cartoon drawing on it before she just made it into a Hufflepuff themed box, emblem and all. He knew his mom had been a Gryffindor even if she said she never quite liked the Hogwarts House, but her Mama had been a Hufflepuff. Grandma Andi and Mom both were sure he would be a Hufflepuff one day so Mom made him the lunchbox and changed a lot of his clothes to match. He honestly loved it. It made him feel closer to Mama. He was also sure the Sorting Hat would place his Mom in Hufflepuff now too. Sure, she wasn't loyal to just anyone, even he could see that, with the way Grandma Andi shook her head every time something went bad. But she was a hard worker. She always had food on the table and she always made sure he was safe and loved.

 

            Opening the box, Teddy took the utensils and started eating, enjoying the meal that his mom had made. Grandma Andi had always complained when Mom cooked, but never about the taste. It always tasted good. Mom used to cook a lot and to be fair he knew he ate a lot too. Metamorphmagi apparently had a high metabolism. Mom said it meant we went through food faster. It was weird because mom never ate a lot, though she did eat more when things were ok. Teddy had to practically beg her to eat since things went cold. He used to like the snow, he still liked running in it when he was in his wolf form and making snowmen with Mom and Grandma Andi, but the current snow took magic and food away. He wondered if he'd ever like the snow again. At least this place Mom found felt like spring, though he could see the edges starting to be covered in snow. He could even feel some magic in the air. Soon he was done eating his breakfast, the biggest he had for a while, and he stepped outside. Mom called the place the Isle of the Blessed and it certainly felt like a blessing. His thoughts stopped when he smelled a familiar scent.

 

            "Mom!" The moment he found her she looked at him with concern. "You ok?" Teddy blinked at her. "I'm not the one bleeding, Mom!" Hazel looked sheepish. "Sorry, I forgot how good your nose is. I know you hate it but I need to do this, son. Please?" Teddy felt torn. He hated seeing his Mom hurt, especially when she hurts herself. She hadn't done it in years. "You aren't doing it to hurt yourself?" Hazel went to him and pulled him up into a hug. "No Teddy, this isn't me breaking my promise and hurting myself. You remember what I told you about some of the old magics?" Teddy thought back. "They didn't use wands, you had to make a prayer at times and sometimes you needed to draw something in blood?" Hazel nodded at him. "Exactly. What I am doing is old magic that needs blood to work. I know you hate it when I am hurt but we need this Ted. If I do this, we could say goodbye to the bad winter and maybe see some people again." Teddy hugged her hard. "Mom doesn't like people." Hazel laughed, which warmed her son's heart. He loved hearing her laugh. "True, but you like people and where we are going they won't have a reason to not like me. I hope."

 

            Teddy settled down and was placed on the ground. Hazel kneeled down to be at his level. He liked her green eyes, though she said his purple eyes were better. They were Mama's real eyes. "So, what do you want to do?" Teddy frowned. "Can I watch you work?" He could see that his question had surprised and worried his mother. "Promise me you won't use or study this magic until you are at least 17. Please?" Teddy nodded and Hazel ruffled his hair. He sat back and watched his mom essentially doing a lot of finger painting, only the paint was her blood and he could feel the magic building in the air. He had read some of her Mom's books from her family's vaults but he had trouble understanding what all the symbols meant. It was oddly relaxing. Mom only ever allowed him to watch her work when she was at home, mostly in the kitchen. Mom loved to cook. He hoped he could see her smile again over the stove or when she pulled out a meatloaf from the oven again. He thought about Grandma Andi. She had been gone for a few years. He really missed her and he knew mom missed her too. The two were very close. Grandma said she had even wished Mama and Mom had been the ones who got married.

 

            The man he knew was his birth father wasn't someone Teddy knew or really cared about. Grandma Andi complained a lot about him, about how he made Mama cry and how he ran off when Mama had been pregnant with him. He found it funny that Mom had actually personally dropped off his deadbeat dad on Grandma's front door after he ran away. That Remus Lupin didn't like Mom was something he picked up early on. When he asked Mom, she told him that she and his former dad never really got along. He had taught her magic once to keep scary Dementors away but he never came to visit her or care for her even though he was supposed to be like an uncle to her. Her Godmother had been there for her and his Mom had been hurt when she was killed. She killed the bastard who had killed her only family and after that Remus had turned cold to her, like the rest of the Order. Mom and Grandma never had good things to say about the Order either. They did their part to beat the bad guy and Mom finished him, but then they went bad and tried to take him from Mom. When Mom said she could Blood Adopt him by replacing Remus, he had jumped with joy. Mom became his real mom after that. No matter what happened, he knew his Mom loved him. He would never doubt that.



-∞-



            Hazel stored everything she brought with her back into her bag and casted the spells to make it easier to carry it all safely. The time had come. The Archway was one final symbol away from activating. After that, she hoped to say goodbye to this wretched world. She had everything that ever mattered with her, his hand gripping hers tightly. She kneeled down to look him in the eyes. "Ok Teddy, I want you to hold onto the Hallows for me. I know they don't like you except the Cloak, but you need to hold onto them tight. They will keep you safe, whatever happens. Got it?" Teddy nodded and took the wand and stone into his hands as Hazel wrapped him in the Cloak. She always knew where Teddy was, even with the Cloak on him. She took a deep breath and walked towards the Archway, slicing her finger open. She drew the last piece of Druidic Script and watched the Archway light up, until it became filled with an undulating wave of energy. Hazel sealed her wound and placed her hands onto the stone. She closed her eyes and focused her mind.

 

            She could feel the Archway groaning under the force she placed on it but she refused to let that bother her. She had a goal in mind and it meant everything to her. She'd use all the magic in the world for it if she could. Feeling the magic strain under her will she envisioned her target. The Archway seemed to stutter and groan. It kept saying the target wasn't there. Hazel didn't care. She forced it to keep looking, to find it, no matter what. She felt her arms starting to burn as her heart began to beat harder and harder in her chest. The Archway demanded her to stop, but she refused. She wouldn't stop. Eventually she felt the Archway giveaway, as if all the weight it pressed against her just vanished. She breathed deeply as sweat covered her face. She eyed the Archway and grinned. It had worked. There, where the stone Archway usually showed nothing but an undulating curtain of magic, was a clear image of the Death Chamber she remembered. A Death Chamber that had been destroyed by the nuke that took out London. The image meant she got her wish. 

 

            Hazel called Teddy to her. "Ok Teddy. I am going to take you in my arms and we are going to cross the Archway. Keep the Cloak completely over you and the wand and stone in your hands. I promise, whatever happens, you will be safe." Teddy hugged her. "I love you Mom." Hazel felt tears in her eyes. She didn't know she could still cry. "I love you too, my son. Hold on tight." Hazel lifted him up into her arms and took one last look around. She would be eternally thankful to the Isle of the Blessed. This one last bastion of Magic had given her what she needed to save her son. In thanks she and Teddy preserved some of the flower plants fully to bring them wherever they went. It was better than leaving the plants to wither and die in the encroaching snow. If she somehow made it through alive, she'd try and visit the Isle again wherever they were. The place deserved to be cared for.  She eyed the cloud covered sky and the darkness beyond the wardline. The world she had been borned into felt cursed from the moment she could remember living in the cupboard under the stairs. She remembered the beatings and the nights she felt hunger pangs. She remembered the promise of magic that left her hoping for a better world, one she only found in two people. She hoped the next world had something better to offer. This one would have nothing left once they were gone. She focused all of her magic onto Teddy. No matter what, he would be safe. She walked into the Archway and felt the magic sweep over her, leaving behind a cold and barren world.



-∞-



NW ---- ----



            Pain. If there was one thing Hazel was intimately familiar with, it was pain. She knew the pain of broken bones and torn muscles. She knew the pain of a hot summer's day on her back and the prick of thorns on her fingers. She could say she knew what the pain of the highly corrosive Basilisk venom felt like in her veins as phoenix tears pulled her back together at the same time. She became quite familiar with pain under the Cruciatus Curse wielded by the biggest sadist in the world. She knew the gut wrenching pain of watching her Godmother be taken away from her just before her eyes. When she went to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, she had been torn between letting herself die or living for Teddy. She chose her Godson and fought back with all her strength, tearing into Voldemort's forces before he managed to strike her with a Killing Curse. The one time she chose life, she had died. Only for her to then experience a pain unlike any other. There had been no spirits or Ancestors to welcome her, no pearly white gates or unholy infernos. Not even the calm of an empty black void. No, only a pain that seemed to tear through her entire soul. 

 

            She had been just as surprised as everyone when she woke up behind Voldemort, held in Hagrid's arms, as he gloated about having bested a 17 year old girl in combat to the entire school. She didn't know what surprised everyone the most, the fact that she was alive or that she casted the Killing Curse straight at Voldemort's back, ending the bastard once and for all. Her life began to change after that day. Her pulse had slowed down, hunger had been less frequent and her hair started to go white. The pain she felt after Voldemort's Killing Curse became a familiar one soon after. Aurors, Hit Wizards, Neo Death Eaters and the Goblin Retrieval Teams. Hell, even a lorry took her out one time. That last one had made her feel quite ashamed of herself and it had nothing to do about her waking up naked in a morgue with a toetag listing her as an unknown female. So it came as no surprise as she felt that familiar pain assail her again even as she kept her magic on Teddy. She did have to admit, this was the first time she blacked out from the pain. She briefly wondered if it meant anything.

 

            "Mom. Mom!" Teddy kept pushing into his Mom's side. Whatever his Mom had done, it had worked. They were through the Archway at the place his mom had chosen. He had felt his mom's magic wrap around him in a cocoon, the Wand and Stone reacting to it happily even as he began to feel cold. The next thing he knew was that he fell onto his side, his mom beside him, both of them safely across the Archway. He did what Mom taught him and checked for her magic and pulse. Teddy sighed in relief when he felt it before he remembered. Mom said the place had people in it. Mom hated people. If the people showed up before Mom was fully awake, bad things would happen. "Please Mom, Wake up!" He saw his Mom's eye open and he stared. He knew that empty gaze. It was the one she had when bad things happened. He stared back at her until the eye began to soften and a smile grew on her face. "Hi Teddy." Teddy teared up. "Hi Mom. We are through." Hazel felt every bone in her bone pop and snap into place as she stood up. She eyed him carefully and really smiled. She conjured a mirror and held it up for Teddy to see. "Looks like you're back to normal."

 

            Teddy blinked as he saw his hair and eyes shifting color before he closed his eyes and focused. He was back to his usual black hair and purple eyes as Hazel vanished the mirror before looking around. She stilled. "Cloak on, Ted." Teddy pulled the Cloak over his head quickly and stood behind his Mom as loud voices were heard echoing in the room. A bunch of grey cloaked figures came up, their wands drawn and aimed at Hazel, who eyed them carefully. She felt a small hand pull her by the belt. "Mom, please don't hurt them." Hazel sighed, reigning in her magic. Teddy had a point. They were here for a fresh start. Exterminating a bunch of Unspeakables wouldn't do her any good. Not that it wouldn't be too hard to consider. One of the Unspeakables came up and pointed her wand at Hazel's face after all. "How did you get in here? Make sure you say the truth or things will get nasty." Hazel eyed the woman. She was pretty sure anything she could do, Voldemort had already tried. He didn't find the link between their minds and not do anything about it. The man was an opportunist after all. Still… "I walked." The Unspeakable was probably glaring at her, though the face covering made it hard to see for sure. "One more remark like that and we will see who has the last laugh." 

 

            Hazel was seriously considering asking Teddy if she could at least wipe the floor with this one. Her near death had the expected result of recharging her magic, so she was good to go. A different voice interrupted her thoughts. "Michelle! I pay you and the rest to use your heads. If that woman literally walked out of the Veil, what makes you think you can take her on your own? Where the hell is that brain I hired three years ago?" A man in a grey cloak wound his way through the other Unspeakables before standing in front of Hazel. Unlike the others, his face was visible. He was also familiar. "Saul Croaker. Still keeping eggheads in line?" The gray haired man eyed her carefully as he came upon her. "I am afraid I don't remember having the pleasure of meeting you before. What's your name?" Seeing no point in lying, Hazel went with the truth. "Hazel Potter." The woman next to her scoffed. "Please. The Potters are all dead except for Harry Potter. Everyone knows that. Try again." Hazel sighed before banishing the woman wandlessly and eying Croaker. "What month and year is it?" Croaker frowned. "June 1991. Are you a time traveler?" Hazel ran her hand through her hair. "Since I don't remember ever being a boy or going by Harry, I'd say more like Dimension Traveler. You got a place to chat without wands being pointed at my face?" Croaker eyed her carefully before nodding and motioning her to follow. "Right this way."

            

 

-∞-



            "Nymphadora Tonks?" Dora sighed as she turned around to look at the man who called her name. She really needed to bother her Mom about picking a name like that for a daughter again. The amount of sexual innuendos and corny pick up lines aimed her way since Hogwarts had only gone up with every year. She hoped the Auror Academy would be better but knowing who else would be here, she highly doubted it. She eyed the man looking at her, surprised by seeing a grey cloak in the Auror Academy. Didn't Aurors wear red coats and Hit Wizards maroon? "Can I help you?" The man, his head covered partly by a cap, nodded. "You applied to the Auror Academy and are here to pursue a career in law enforcement, yes?" Nymphadora blinked at the man. "I assume that's the same for everyone here, sir." The man chuckled. "Indeed, but not everyone here is an Metamorphmagus." Dora focused her eyes on him as she slipped her wand out of her holster on her hidden side. The man grinned. "Not bad, but you telegraph your movements by your shoulders. Might want to practice that more." 

 

            Blushing at being caught, Nymphadora nodded. "Will do. Now what do you need with a Metamorphmagus? I literally just got here too." The man lowered his papers. "That you did. Your skill set would be quite well received in the Academy. You also got a note of recommendation from one Alastor Moody, who was at Hogwarts as a guest lecturer and to test out some of the Auror hopefuls. While you may find good work in the DMLE, I am here to offer you a different career. Should it be too much for you, you would be more than welcome to reapply to the academy, with our own letter of recommendations." Dora eyed the man carefully, noticing his stiff posture. He had training too. "What sort of work would I see with you and is this private or government business." The man motioned her forward and the two walked along the edge of the Academy running track. "It's Ministry business, all above board. You'd see some guard duty, scouting, intelligence gathering, enemy engagement and a lot less paperwork for it all." 

 

            Dora chuckled at that. "Mad-Eye did complain about the paperwork." The man nodded his head. "Moody's flair and aggressive tendencies make for a lot of paperwork, that's for sure. We tried to recruit him too but he failed our … higher level of stealth requirements. We still had the pleasure of him under our payroll for a few years." Dora grew concerned. "If he couldn't pass it, then I ain't likely to either. I am a clutz most of the time." The man eyed her. "That may prove true, but we would still like to try. Other than the work, you'd get a higher wage, in house living quarters if you don't already have a secure living arrangement and our own Medical, Financial and Legal services. Due to our more clandestine operations, we tend to keep things in house." Dora could see the benefit in that. No paper trail, no exposed employees and no need for transport. She hadn't secured an apartment yet because she wasn't sure if they would take her in at the Academy. She had passed most of her classes but she wasn't sure if she could deal with the entry qualifications. This gig did sound a bit better, though she doubted she could make it. She'd give it a try, at least. "Sure, why not. Any papers I need to sign?" 

 

            The man pulled out a small slip of paper. "This is just a confirmation that you are willing to try out as a candidate. The full contract will be available at the location once you arrive. Please be there by 7:30 in the morning two days from now and make sure you have your whole day and night free for the next six weeks. If you are still on after that, then we will adjust a more fitting schedule. Don't be late." The man gave her the paper and Dora read it, finding a simple agreement to take part in the training. She signed it and returned it. "So, where do I go in the Ministry for this job interview and training?" The man grinned as he took the paper. "Basement Level 9: Operations Division. See you there, Candidate Tonks." Dora watched him walk away as she stored her wand back in her holster. Level 9. What was it that her Dad told her about the Ministry Levels? Level 10 was where the Courtrooms were located and where he went to the most because of his work as a lawyer. He always complained about having to take the stairs from Level 9 and … the Department of Mysteries. Dora felt a slight shiver run down her spine. She had just been scouted by an Unspeakable. What the hell was she getting herself into?