Title: Shadow Team
Series: Magic, Darkness, and Love
Fandom: Criminal Minds, Harry Potter
Tags: EWE, Not Canon Compliant, Haley Bashing, Weasley Bashing, Dumbledore Bashing, No One Is Safe From Bashing, Soulmates, William Reid Bashing, Canon Divergence,
Pairings: eventual Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid, Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy/Hermione Granger, Various Background Pairings,
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Derek Morgan, Emily Prentiss, Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, David Rossi, Penelope Garcia, Neville Longbottom, Jack Hotchner, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall,
Spoilers: Entire Book Series & TV Show
Summary: When Neville Longbottom retired from Shadow Team, Harry Potter places his newest recruit on it. Problem is that Aaron Hotchner doesn’t know where Spencer Reid’s loyalties lie and if he can trust him.
Warnings: Graphic Depictions of Violence, Murder, Character Death, Love Potions, Rape, Discussion of Rape, Discussion of Child Molestation, Ritualistic Murder, Discussion of Ritualistic Murder, Child Abuse,
Banner made by rivermooon1970
October 9, 1998
The Record Keeper had long ago given up his name and his destiny. The Book of Bound Souls had picked him the day he turned seventeen. Magic provided for him everything that he could ever want, all he had to do was think it. There were restrictions as Magic wouldn’t kill for him or harm another.
Being the Record Keeper for the book was more than fulfilling. Being what he was, he met more than half of the magical souls in Britain. Each large concentration of magical people had their own book, but it was the same book, in the same place at the same time just thousands of miles apart. It was one of the bigger magical mysteries of the world, but the Record Keeper never thought of it much.
One couldn’t come and visit the book before the age of seventeen, the arch leading to The Book wouldn’t allow them in. Once in his time as Record Keeper had he seen someone denied. It had sparked a look into why only to find out that a swap had happened as babies in St. Mungo’s and two families had been raising the wrong child for almost seventeen years. If the family had waited another day or two, they never would have known.
There were those who came to visit the book who did so proud and happy. They near ran into the room, and they would only stop running when the magical weight of The Book crashed on them.
There were those that would come in, and the Record Keeper knew that they didn’t care, they were there to make their family happy. Soulmates were special, and families that had them were a step above the rest of the families.
There were those that came in with the knowledge that they could never have a name in the book, they were downtrodden from a life of unhappiness only to find that Magic had blessed them.
There were those that came in and thought so highly of themselves that the thought never crossed their mind that they wouldn’t have a match in the book. The Record Keeper liked to see those leave.
Then there were the men and women who came in under a cloak. No one was denied entry to the Book. It was housed separately from the central section of the Ministry of Magic because of that. A side entrance but still under most of the protections that the Ministry was afforded. When one entered the antechamber that was protected by Aurors, one could be dressed however they wanted to be. No face would be revealed that didn’t want it seen.
The Record Keeper was used to those who never wanted their parents to know they were going to the Book to come under a cloak. Their faces were never hidden from the Record Keeper, but as he never talked to anyone who wasn’t coming to visit, he kept those secrets to himself.
The young man walking towards him had an air of sadness all over his magical aura. He had known hardship and pain. The Record Keeper knew that he had never walked in the light of Magic but that the dark would never fully claim him. He had been one of the true grey wizards of the time. He could feel the pure rawness of his magic as it wafted off of him. It was hard to not shiver as the young man stopped at the Book. He didn’t reach out and touch it like most did, wanting to get it over with. He didn’t push back the hood of the robe that was blocking his face from those who lived to take pictures of those coming to find their mates.
“I know I have a name in this book,” the young man said.
“I am sure that you do,” the Record Keeper said as he always did. Everyone was sure, it was why they came. But with this young man, he was quite sure that he did. He didn’t feel whole. He didn’t just have a soulmate in the book, but those were going to be forces of good in the world. Yet there was something more to it as well. There was a pang of sadness to it.
“Magic promised me,” the young man said as if he was just telling the Record Keeper the time.
The Record Keeper sucked in a breath of air. He could feel the truth of the statement. Not just a soulmate but a promised one.
“When did Magic promise you this?”
“When I killed my father. When I was sitting in a jail cell and crying because no one would tell me what was happening with my mother. Because I dared to be a Slytherin and not care that killing my father was a bad thing. Because I dared to be a snake speaker and not hide it.”
“Then open the book and take what was promised to you.”
The young man lifted the cover of the book, and a rush of Magic filled the room as the pages flipped. There was no rhyme or reason to the location of the name in the book. It wasn’t alphabetical or by birth order. The name appeared where The Book wanted it to. The Book stopped flipping pages in the dead centre of the book. The Record Keeper closed his eyes at the name that was given to the young man. He knew that name. He wasn’t as separate from the day to day workings of Magical Britain as many thought. He read the paper, listened to the Wireless. He knew as much as anyone else. He has subscriptions to every single magical publication that was put out including Witch Weekly.
The young man’s soulmate was a well-known fighter in the war and happily married to a woman he had met at Hogwarts. Their wedding had been one of the bigger weddings in London despite him being disowned for it.
“I have the right to deny him my name don’t I?”
The Record Keeper nodded as it was a law of the Book and not one that many knew. The young man had done his research into The Book before coming to him. He wasn’t shocked, given what his magic was telling him.
“You are a learned man. Why were you not in Ravenclaw?” The Record Keeper asked. He wasn’t as much interested, but he wanted to know.
“I was given a choice between standing out and fitting in. And I might have done better in Ravenclaw, but I was going to stand out no matter what. Magic gave me gifts, and I couldn’t hide them no matter what my father thought. So I chose to stand out and embrace it.”
“I will keep him from the book.”
“How?” the young man actually lifted the hood of his robe back, so that the Record Keeper could see his face fully and not just what magic was letting him see.
“Those whose soulmates have denied them the right to know them are stopped halfway down the room. I’ll go up to him and explain that fact. He’ll never know your name, but he’ll know that he had a soulmate.”
“You are very welcome. There is another way out of here.” The Record Keeper stepped away from his spot behind the book and walked towards a section of the wall. He laid his hand on one slightly discoloured part of the wall. The wall slid back, and a dark hallway was behind it.
“Where does it lead?”
The young man laughed and stepped up to it. He smiled and nodded at the Record Keeper before he stepped fully into the darkness.
“Lumos,” wafted back to the Record Keeper. He was shocked as a ball of light moved to settled above the head of the young man. When the young man turned the corner, and the magic enveloped him to transport him to Knockturn Alley, the Record Keeper closed the doorway. He stepped back to the book and looked at the name. He wondered how the man was able to love his wife as his soul wasn’t happy.
The Record Keeper touched the book, and it closed, ready for the next person. He summoned the stack of magazines and newspaper his owl had delivered to him that morning and settled in to read.
October 9, 2000
It was a busy day for the Record Keeper. It was back to back to back people coming in to see the Book of Bound Souls. There was always times like this. A rush of people who have finally made up their mind to check. There was no exact ratio of people who were in the book to people who weren’t. It was fluid as names were added as soon as they are born. It was always changing, but the size of the book never did, it looked no more than one hundred pages long.
The Record Keeper sat down on his bed in the back. There had been no one else for the past hour, and it was nearing midnight. The Book was open for viewing twenty-four hours a day. One of the benefits of being Record Keeper was the fact that once he laid down, he was asleep. He never had trouble sleeping and would be woken up as soon as someone stepped past the arch like he had slept an entire night.
He wasn’t tired though, not really. He wasn’t sure what was keeping him from actually laying down, so he moved out of his bedroom and into the area where he ate and drank. A pot of tea and a plate of biscuits appeared in the middle of the table. He grabbed two biscuits and a cup, pouring his cup of Earl Grey before heading out under the arch. The two Aurors on duty smiled at him. The one on the left nodded over towards where the Record Keeper saw a man sitting there. He looked to be in his thirties but aged from the war. He was sitting on the chair that had a direct line of sight towards the book. His deep eyes were focused wholly on the book.
“He’s not moved in three hours.”
“Go. Don’t let anyone in,” the Record Keeper said. The Aurors nodded and moved to leave. They took a stand in front of the doors after they were shut. The Record Keeper could see their outlines through the coloured glass of the doors. He didn’t step forward, instead just stared at the man. He stared and ate his biscuits and drank his tea.
An hour passed before the man moved. He stood up and like he didn’t even see the Record Keeper he stepped forward. He stopped again just at the arch.
“You have the weight of the world on your shoulders, young man.”
“Young man. No one has called me that since the end of the war.”
“To me you are young.”
“You don’t look any older than twenty.”
“I stopped ageing the second I became the Record Keeper. I’ll stay this age until the next Record Keeper is born and then I’ll be released from my duty.” The Record Keeper watched as the man took a few steps back from the arch. “Nothing is going to hurt you on the other side.”
“The pain is already inside of me. It’s whether I want to keep it or be released from it.”
“You think finding out if you have a soulmate or not will erase that pain?”
“No. I know I have a soulmate.”
“How do you know?” There weren’t many who came in and knew that they had a soulmate, not the ones that came alone.
The man looked at his watch. “My son was born two days ago now.”
“Yes. Thank you. But you knew that didn’t you?”
“That he was born, no. That I knew you were expecting. Yes.”
“And you aren’t asking?”
“I assumed that a donor was used. That it’s another man’s seed that impregnated your wife and you are going to do a blood adoption later.”
“See I didn’t know. I just…I went through a lot during the war. I assumed that was what it was. But it wasn’t. And I didn’t know until my son was born. We performed a ritual to get my wife pregnant. Magical children when born want to be held by their parents. Did you know that?”
“Yes. They barely abide another touching them until a magical imprint has been made.”
“My son did not bond with my wife. A test was done on his magic my son has none of my wife’s magic. Not her family magic, not her personal magic. I had a test of his DNA done, and he only has my DNA.”
“Many never figure out that the reason they can’t have a child is because they are not with the one they should be with. It’s chalked up to Magic just not wanting to give them a child. Even Muggle means can’t give them a child. That you were able to create a child using a ritual means that you are powerful. Come and see the name of your soulmate.”
“What if they are dead?” The man asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
“Normally the book won’t even open to save you the pain. But if you can’t have a child, your soulmate is alive. Magic provides, and if they had died, you’d have been able to have a child because the block wouldn’t have happened. Magic is not cruel.”
“What will knowing the name of my soulmate give me. I’ve been a poster child for happiness after the War. How can I face her after this?”
“Are you sure it’s a her?”
“Really?” the Record Keeper knew that he shouldn’t have pressed, but he really didn’t want the man shocked.
“Why?” the man asked. He turned to look at the Record Keeper. His eyes narrowed, and the Record Keeper wanted to start confessing his sins even though he had known. “What do you know?”
“I know the names that I’ve seen attached to other people. I remember them, but it’s like a dream. There are names though that I know and I know them like a memory that’s been seared into my brain.”
“What are those names?”
“Your soulmate has already been here. They have already read the book and denied their other half the knowledge of who they are. Most of the time it’s to save themselves from having to tell them in person.”
“How many have come and asked you to do that?” the man asked.
“In my time? Fifty.”
“How many of the other halves have come to the book?”
“And there is no appeal process?”
“Appeal?” the Record Keeper was shocked. No one had ever asked that. Of course, no one had ever shown up after their other had denied them the right. “No. There is no appeal. Why would there be?”
“My wife…my ex-wife as of six hours after the birth of my son. She’s in jail, awaiting trial for drugging me, rape, and imprisonment. I wanted to leave her, and she gave me potions to keep me there. She kept detailed records for our trying to have a child of every single time that we had sex. She’s never going to see the light of day, and I have a son that I wanted so bad, and all I can think is that I am happy that he has nothing of her inside of him. I was going to leave her when my parents died, and I got custody of my brother. When I got custody of my brother, I was no longer financially disowned. She saw the money. She was dosed with Veritaserum and revealed it all. She wanted my family’s money. A child would have secured her for the rest of her life, even if she divorced me.”
“You have to trust that Fate and Magic will bring you together.”
“Is there nothing you can tell me?” the man asked.
“He…was sad but that’s all I can tell you.”
“How would you feel finding out that your soulmate was happy with someone else. Of course, he was sad.”
“No, he was sad before he came here. Seeing your name was like another thing in his life that he had hoped would go well but knew that it wouldn’t.”
The man said nothing. He stood up and left and didn’t look back. The Record Keeper hated his job at the moment in time. He was bound to keep secrets, but he hadn’t wanted to keep one like that. Maybe it was time for him to go into the long night. He knew that Magic wouldn’t keep them apart, but the pain in the man’s body and mind as he had fled from what was supposed to be a happy thing was hard.
The doors opened again, and he turned to take in the three that entered. Those faces were known to everyone. The arch let them through, all together. The Record Keeper raised his eyebrows. The world was going to get a lot more interesting with those three.
The blond stepped up and opened the book. There wasn’t a single name but two. A triad. The blond smirked and looked back at the other two.
The world was going to burn.
Chapter One-Fall 2015
Aaron Hotchner sometimes hated his job, and at that moment he really hated it. He had been an Auror for two decades and the head Auror for the Shadow Team for eighteen of those years. He looked out the open door to where his team was sitting and working. They had no active case at the moment, so they were working on trying to find a case or even just working on helping other Aurors on cases. JJ was a bee running around still trying to unruffle feathers from the last case which had taken them to the heart of the manor house of a prominent family in London. It had been hard to get past the laws in place, but the team had been able to.
The Shadow Team answered to no one except the Minister and the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, and they followed the International Laws for most of their investigations. It was the only concession in the wake of the fuck up that was the last war that England had made to the ICW. The fact that the team answered to the Minister was a saving grace that the ICW had given Britain. When Harry Potter had taken over as Head Auror, he had made sure that someone on the team was his placement. The ICW had agreed, and so Aaron had got Neville Longbottom on the team.
Aaron looked at the files in front of him. It was a list of Aurors that Potter was close to in the rest of the Auror corps. None of them was a good choice for Aaron. He knew that he had no choice. Longbottom was close to retirement, a want to be sedentary and a want of children and being there for them. The writing had been on the wall for months, and Aaron hated to be blindsided. He was used to Longbottom, and the younger man was an outstanding human being. The team would be less for the loss of him, but Aaron didn’t want to make him stay, no matter what.
The knock on his door startled Aaron and when he looked up to see Longbottom standing there. Aaron looked out past him and into the bullpen to see that his desk was packed up.
“I knew this was coming.”
“I figured that you and the rest of the team did as well. Luna is ready for kids, and so am I. After what happened with mom and dad, I made myself a promise that I wasn’t going to be an Auror when we had children. Luna is pregnant. Two weeks. I told Harry, and he has already started the search.”
“We are going to miss you, Neville. Do you know who we are going to get?”
“Harry has been tight-lipped on that, even to me. I don’t know who.” Longbottom took a few steps inside and picked up the top file. He flipped it open. “None of them are going to be his choice.”
“What does every single one of those Witches and Wizards have in common?”
Aaron looked down at the files and thought about them. There were a lot of things that they had most in common. But there was only a single thing they all had. “They are all light.”
“Your team is full of light witches and wizards. The Auror Corps is full of light wizards. You know there are whispers of a coming dark. Harry hears more and more.”
“From Malfoy.” Aaron tried to keep the disdain out of his voice, but he knew it wasn’t all gone.
“The class that graduated yesterday was over half full of grey wizards.”
“I know. I’m well aware.” Aaron wasn’t sure where he was going with that. “Are you saying that Potter is going to put a grey wizard on my team.”
“I’m saying that the ICW is worried about Britain, you know this. I know this. Harry knows this and the Minister knows this. We need a different look at what is coming and if it’s as dark as we think it’s going to be your team isn’t going to cut it.”
“How long have you been planning this?”
“And when did Potter plan on replacing you?”
“In three months.” Longbottom looked at Aaron like he knew where he was going with that.
“Three months is the general time before a newly released from the academy Auror spends as an on-call Auror before he or she is placed with a partner. So you are telling me that Potter is going to place a newly graduated Auror on my team to combat this coming darkness?” Aaron was going to raise a few issues with the ICW if he was. The Shadow Team was sent on the darkest cases that popped up. An Auror just out of the academy was going to be killed by the end of the first case. If not sooner.
“He’s not told me anything. You know that Harry keeps big things close to his chest.”
“I’ll make sure that your resignation goes through with no issue.”
“You mean that you’ll stop Garcia from blocking it.”
“She doesn’t like her family leaving, but she’ll understand,” Aaron said.
Longbottom looked at Aaron like he didn’t believe him, but after a few seconds, he stepped out of the office and back into the bullpen. Aaron watched him as he said goodbye to the rest of the team. Longbottom had been on the team for eight years. Since Potter had become Head Auror in 2007. His rise through the ranks had been meteoric and a good thing. Despite the information that had come out about his personal life since he had become Head Auror, there was no better leader. Aaron was one of the few who had no issue taking orders from someone younger than him. He was quite happy where he was. He was pleased as the Head of Shadow Team and had no want of a higher up job.
Aaron buried himself in paperwork. He had made a note to ask Garcia for the list of new Aurors before he left for the day. The scritch-scratch of a quill on paper was the only sound in the room as he worked. A soft knock from his left just half an hour before it was time for him to leave for the day had Aaron smiling. He opened up the small box on his desk and found a letter there.
The school year is going well. So far I am liking my fourth year better than third. My housemates are still distant, but that’s okay. The pen pal that Headmistress McGonagall set me up with is really cool. Strangely enough, his name is Pen, and he works in research for the Ministry. I’m glad that she set me up with him. His family hated the fact that he was in Slytherin as well. As there are seven Jacks in the fourth year class at school, four in Slytherin, the fact that he knows that about me isn’t going to make it easy for him to figure out that it’s me. I’m being safe. Serene sent along the package from you. I’m jealous that you got to track down that last Wizard all the way to Africa. I love the potions ingredients though.
Aunt Emily sent along a note that you have more presents for me but that you’ll meet me on the first Hogsmeade weekend to give them to me. I look forward to it. I’ve got to get to studying, but I’ll write again tomorrow.
Aaron smiled and slipped the letter into another box that sent it home for Serene to take care of. Jack sent along letters nearly every single day from Hogwarts and had since he had gone there four years before. Aaron kept every single one of them. Serene had made a book of them. The Hotchner House Elves had kept Aaron sane in the aftermath of what Haley had done. There he was wifeless with a newborn and no other family. Sean had deserted right after graduation from Hogwarts, and their parents had been dead for years. Haley’s family hadn’t even stuck around after finding out what she had done. Roy had taken his wife and youngest daughter and moved to the United States to escape the stigma of what his eldest had done. Pure-blood women had flocked to Aaron afterwards, wanting to help him get over what had been done by trying to fill his bed and having a mother for his child. He had never told anyone what he had learned the day he went to the Book of Bound Souls. He had never even told Jack that his father had a soulmate out there that wanted nothing to do with him.
Life had changed for Aaron in so many ways following the birth of Jack, but every single time he even thought of leaving the Auror Corps and getting a steadier job where he was home more, something stopped him. Serene told him to trust his instincts. She had been much more than just a Nanny Elf for Jack. She had been the woman of the house. There was no one in that told her no, none of the other House Elves and surely not Aaron or Jack. She ruled the Hotchner Manor with an iron fist.
The day that Jack had gone to Hogwarts, Aaron had sat and waited and waited to get a letter from him about where he had been placed. By the time dinner passed, he had feared that the reason he hadn’t heard from him was because he had been placed in Slytherin. Aaron had floo called Serene and found her with a letter in her hand. She looked at Aaron, and it was a look that she dared him to say a single thing. The first person that Aaron told was Prentiss. Prentiss was the only Slytherin on the team. Aaron had been Gryffindor along with Morgan and Longbottom. Dave was the lone Ravenclaw with JJ and Garcia rounding them out with Hufflepuff. After telling Prentiss and then having Dave cover anything that would come up as far as a case was concerned, Aaron had apparated to Hogsmeade and then requested to speak with McGonagall.
McGonagall hadn’t been shocked to see him nor had she stopped him from seeing his son. The entire Hotchner family had made a name in hating Slytherins. Aaron’s father had made business deals with everyone but Slytherins or companies that were run by Slytherins. Aaron had never got a good reason on it all, but that hatred had been passed down to his little brother Sean in a big way. Sean had got into trouble at the school all the time for baiting Slytherins or just outright bullying them. Aaron had tried to talk sense into him before their parents had died, but it hadn’t helped. Then a Death Eater had killed their parents, and the Slytherin hatred had just got worse, even after it had been revealed the Death Eater had gone to Hogwarts and had been sorted into Hufflepuff. Jack had never even met Sean, but the history of the Hotchners vs the Slytherins was legendary. The only family with a hate on for Slytherins that was close was the Weasleys.
Jack had been hiding in a boys’ bathroom that Aaron remembered as being out of order for the majority of his time at Hogwarts. Something with Peeves but it wasn’t out of order when he had gone inside. Jack had been up in the window looking out onto the grounds. The only thing visible through that window was the Forbidden Forest. Aaron had spent a lot of time in that window.
“So. I think that you’d look handsome in green,” Aaron said. Jack had nearly fallen out of the window he had turned to look at his father so quick.
“No buts. Obviously, you belong there. Look at what the hatred of Slytherin got your Uncle. He’s been in and out of prisons across the world. He barely passed school because of detentions. Prentiss is a Slytherin, and I’ve never treated her as anything but a valued team member. You didn’t need to hide it from me.”
“I thought you’d be disappointed.”
“Why? You are my child, Jack. You have nothing but me inside of you, and I could never hate you for something that you can’t change. So come down from there and let’s go see your robes. I know that you turned down an owl as a pet but do you want to change your mind?”
“No. I have that box, and I’d rather write to you using it. I don’t need an owl. Maybe some weekend you can come up, and Headmistress McGonagall can approve me to go into Hogsmeade with you, and we can pick me out something.
Aaron laughed at what Jack had come back to school with. Even though Drakes were not on the approved list of creatures allowed as pets, McGonagall hadn’t been able to stop Jack from his pet, because the pure white Drake had bonded with Jack as soon as they had entered the shop. The Drake had been one of the last that Japan had allowed shipped to London as many were killed in the first war with Voldemort. Jack’s had gone unbonded with a human for over thirty years. Baster was the Drake’s name, and all of the students at Hogwarts had got a crash course in exactly how much a Drake would protect their wizard. Drake had probably been one of the few things that stopped other students from picking on Jack. Slytherins were still not looked on with the best light in the school. McGonagall tried, but there was too much history, but hopefully, in a generation or two, it would be better.
“Hotch,” Morgan’s voice called out and pulled Aaron from his thoughts. He looked to see that his team was all sitting at the large table in the corner that they used for working on cases. It was a magical table that worked much like one of those screens that Muggles used to interact with their computers. They were called a hologram screen or something like that. Jack knew better because he loved Muggle television and movies. Aaron even had a subscription to recording service for Muggle shows so that over the summer Jack could catch up on what he missed. All of the team were looking at the large entryway to the Shadow Teams area of the Auror offices. The wards on the door were stable and not just anyone could get inside.
Potter was standing at the door and interacting with the base wards, tuning a new person into it and Aaron could feel that he was removing Longbottom. Temporary access could be granted to any number of people when the team was in the office. When they were not, Garcia was the only member inside and no one else was allowed in beside Potter and the Minister. Beside Potter was a man that Aaron couldn’t see the face of because of the generic robe that all Aurors were assigned. Aaron’s team didn’t wear them except when going before the Wizengamot or the ICW. Garcia was the only who wore the robes every single day, but her’s was not the standard issue nor technically allowed, but Aaron never said a thing and neither did Potter.
The looks on the team’s face told Aaron that the could see the man’s face and that they weren’t happy, most affected was Morgan. The man looked like he was ready to kill. Garcia bustled in behind Potter and the other man moved out of her way. In her hand was a file and it looked substantial. She stopped when she realised that it wasn’t just the team there. She looked at the man and stopped breathing.
“Lord R-Reid,” Garcia stuttered and Aaron was up and out of seat before Garcia started to move away from them. Potter finished with the wards at the same time that Aaron stepped out of his office. Lord Reid had pulled his hood off, and Aaron recognised him in that instant. Lord Spencer Reid hadn’t been in the paper as much as he used to be when he was younger. He only gained a mention in the list of eligible bachelors with money in Witch Weekly, which Aaron knew too much about given the three women on his team read it religiously.
Aaron knew that Lord Reid was a replacement for Longbottom on the team. He knew it even without Potter adding him to the wards, without looks of anger on the team’s faces. Longbottom had said a grey wizard was going to be who Potter was putting on the team, but Aaron never figured that THE grey wizard was going to be who it was. Lord Reid had made a name for himself as the most neutral wizard post-war. He had worked in the Ministry since he had graduated early by a year in nineteen ninety-nine. The black robes that he was wearing made him seem taller even know Aaron knew they were right around the same height. His slight build didn’t help on that either. Aaron had never crossed his paths inside the halls of the Ministry even though he had been there for over six sixteen years.
Morgan had though. Morgan and Lord Reid had crossed paths several times when Morgan had been an Auror, but not since Morgan had joined the Shadow Team. From the stories heard, Morgan and Lord Reid had come to physical blows in the atrium when Morgan had demanded to know why Reid had questioned his judgement in a seizure that had been done inside of the Malfoy Manor. Morgan had thrown the first punch, and Lord Reid had ended it with a spell that still no one had been able to tell what it was. Morgan had been unharmed and unable to do anything until Potter had arrived to separate them, the Auror sent to take care of it. Potter had released Morgan from the spell and sent him back to the Auror halls to wait for him. Aaron had arrived just moments after that. He had been looking at Morgan for the Shadow Team for more than a year at that point, and it would be a year before Morgan would be asked to join the team. Morgan had been sanctioned for physically attacking a co-worker, and Lord Reid had been told to stay away from public locations until Mogan had calmed down. The items that Morgan had seized from the Malfoy’s had been returned to them. Family heirlooms that the ICW’s law superseded Britain’s when it came to the owning of. Morgan was spelt to silence on the items and whispers had started to spread about Lord Reid’s connection to the Malfoys.
“Potter, Lord Reid,” Aaron said as the pair started towards him finally. He didn’t smile, but that didn’t mean anything. He didn’t smile at work. He hadn’t ever genuinely smiled at work, even before his personal life had gone to hell. Aaron stepped away so that the two men could enter his office before he turned to look at the team as the two men passed him. Dave didn’t look shocked at all.
“I didn’t even know that he had gone through the academy,” Morgan said.
“I saw him on the list of graduates yesterday,” Prentiss supplied.
Aaron just glared at them, and they all turned back to act like they were working, except for Dave. Aaron pulled his office shut as he stepped through and bolstered himself for what was to come because it wasn’t going to be good at all. In the years since the incident with Morgan, Lord Reid’s close relationship with Draco Malfoy had come out. There was talk that they were lovers at Hogwarts, but given that Reid was two classes behind, Aaron didn’t believe that. Close friendship yes, lovers no. Lord Reid had no connection with anyone in that way. A Muggle-born woman had once made a comment that she thought he might be asexual. Aaron had spent hours researching that term afterwards. He had never heard it since but Lord Reid hadn’t denied it, he hadn’t confirmed anything either.
“Head Auror Potter, Lord Reid what can I do for you?” Aaron asked as he sat down at his desk. He closed the open file on top, the list of Aurors that Longbottom had told him wouldn’t be picked.
“Don’t act a fool, Hotch.” Potter frowned at him while Lord Reid was just looking around the room at each of the pictures on the wall and the accolades that Aaron had up there. He could see Lord Reid’s careful eye taking them all in and building an idea of him. Aaron wondered what he was actually thinking. There was no way to refute that Lord Reid was intelligent. He had graduated Hogwarts with thirteen OWLs and NEWTs the highest ever and had done it a year early with the horrible year that was the last year of the war there as well. “Auror Reid will be taking Neville’s place on your team.”
“Lord Reid is a researcher. He may have gone through Auror training, but the Shadow Team doesn’t take new recruits.”
“Lord Reid was a field researcher,” Potter pointed out, and Aaron knew that many for the Unspeakables were stuck in the research department and that many were called field researchers to explain why they were not in their office but Aaron also knew that there were actual field researchers in the Ministry. Knowledge wasn’t gained by looking at a report. Garcia had been a pure researcher in spells before Aaron had plucked her for a researcher for the Shadow Team. “He specialised in Dark Artifacts and the finding of them in our world. That gains him a place on any team.”
“Except mine,” Aaron said. He looked at Lord Reid and saw that the young man wasn’t really paying attention to them. His head was cocked to the side like he was listening to someone behind him.
“I already have ICW write off on this, Hotch. They sent someone to talk to him while he was at the academy.”
“You know that I hate politics, Potter. You know that ass kissing is not something that I want to do in my job.”
“Do you know how many reporters just having him on the team is going to keep away from you if you are called out again. He has orders of protection for several, including Skeeter. The others are scared of him.”
“Yes, because I need witnesses scared to talk to one of my people. We have enough issue of being called to order for trampling laws.”
“Did you know that in Britain it’s against the law to shake a carpet or rug on the street but that a doormat is allowed to beaten as long as it is before 8am,” Lord Reid said.
Aaron looked at Lord Reid before he looked at Potter. There was a smile on Potter’s face.
“Of course, that is Muggle Britain, but you wouldn’t believe the number of laws that are on British Magical law books that are just as stupid. One of your court cases was thrown out for that reason wasn’t it, Auror Hotchner?” Lord Reid was looking at Aaron finally, and his face was impassive.
“Auror Reid knows every single law in place in Britain, Magical or Muggle. He has an eidetic memory along with near perfect recall of every single conversation that he’s ever heard. The Wizengamot hates it when he sits in on items because he nearly always corrects them. You’ve not sat the Hotchner seat yet, even with being undisowned when you took over legal rights of your younger brother. I think that even you would crack a smile when the antics happen.”
“I doubt it.”
The smile on Potter’s face was wiped away, and Aaron knew that he wasn’t going to win. The ICW had already signed off on adding him. Potter’s rule on having someone on his team was absolute, and the only thing that Aaron could do was take it up with the ICW, but that would take months. Lord Reid had never shown an interest in being anything but what he was, why was he joining Aaron’s team unless it was wholly to make Potter happy. Longbottom’s friendship with Potter made that a perfect understanding of why he was chosen to be on the team but other than parties thrown at the new Potter Manor were the only time that Lord Reid and Potter crossed paths. At least that anyone knew.
“A six month trial period at which at the end if he hasn’t made a sizable contribution to the team, he goes and you place another person, or I will take this up with the ICW.”
“Great. I was willing to agree to a year, but you just cut the work in half. I’m glad. There are no Auror cases that are even showing a chance of being passed onto you guys.”
“I’m not done,” Aaron said.
Potter frowned and Lord Reid was still just staring at him.
“I want the full access to his work records and the court case into his father’s death unsealed for myself and my team.”
“I can’t do a damned thing about his work file, and you know it. You can guess what he was, but I can’t confirm or deny it. Take that up with Croaker. As to the file about his father’s death, that’s locked. I can’t even access it.”
“Then no. I will fight this with the ICW and keep him here in the office until I am satisfied. It’s might right to use my team as I see fit and he’s a researcher for all I know so that’s where I’ll stick him, helping Garcia.”
“I’ll gladly give you the recount,” Lord Reid said.
Aaron looked at him, and he wondered if he thought Aaron was an idiot. Many in the Department of Mysteries looked down on the Aurors as idiots. Idiots with a badge Aaron had heard more than once.
“If I can’t get the court records, I want to see it. I know that a memory of the event was taken from you. It would be the only testimony that would have saved you from prison for patricide.”
“You want to see the memory?” Lord Reid asked, he finally showed emotion, but Aaron couldn’t place it. The younger man sat forward in his chair and eyed Aaron up and down. “You really want to see it? There is no going back once you do.”
“Auror Potter, I agree to Auror Hotchner’s agreement for my employment with him. Six months of review before I am given full status and the account of what happened the night I killed my father.”
“This is either going to go well or horribly. Spencer, I am sending Draco to check on you tonight when you get home if you don’t floo us when you do get home.”
“Yes, Harry,” Lord Reid said, but his eyes never left Aaron, and his tone was placating. Potter stood up and left the office without saying another word. He left the door open and Aaron kind of cursed him for it. Lord Reid though stood up and moved to the door.
“I have a Pensieve in here. We don’t need to go out there,” Aaron pointed out.
“Oh, no. You want to see the memory, the entire team is going to see it. I know that Auror Morgan has always questioned it and Auror Rossi was not on the case when it was brought up before the Wizengamot. It’s better to just get it all over with.” Lord Reid reached towards the leather strap on his wrist, and Aaron saw that it was a dimensional pocket. Those were newer and not something that many had.
“I don’t think that they need to see it.”
“I know Auror Morgan’s mindset, Auror Hotchner. Don’t tell me that he’ll accept even your summation of events. And Auror Rossi is just nosy. You are the only Lord on the team so the Wizengamot won’t release the information to the whole of the team. It’s my memory though, and I can do whatever I want with it.”
The team was looking at them, and Garcia looked like she rather be anywhere other than where she was. Morgan was sitting beside her and Prentiss was on her other side, but her eyes were wide as she took in every single movement that Lord Reid made. That was going to take time to get out of the woman. She had been jumpy ever since she had joined the unit and she disliked violence of any kind, but she was one of the best researchers that Aaron had ever come across.
“Hotch?” Morgan asked.
“Head Auror Potter has placed Lord Reid on our team.” Aaron waited for the blow-up. For Morgan to explode in anger and for the others to get upset.
“Why?” Dave asked.
“The darkness we all know is coming,” Prentiss said in a tone that Aaron knew well. She was shocked. Whether it was the fact that Aaron agreed to place him on the team without consulting them or that he had even agreed. Prentiss was the best to understand Reid’s reasonings more than anyone.
“The ghosts you are chasing through the whispers,” Lord Reid said. He turned to look at Garcia. “Miss Garcia, I remember you from a few cases where your research was called into question. There is no reason for you to see what Auror Hotchner has demanded to see. You don’t need that in your head.”
“I…Hotch?” Garcia looked at Aaron.
“Go head to your research room. I’ll come and get you when we are done.” Aaron motioned for her to go ahead. She looked at Morgan before she left the room. Her love of knowledge made Ravenclaw the house that he could have seen her sorted into but that softness inside of her that cried for victims showed that Hufflepuff was the correct house for her. Aaron watched and made sure that the door was shut before turning to look at Lord Reid. The man had a vial in his hand. That was strange to Aaron. Memories stored like that were quickly lost.
“This is the memory that was duplicated in my mind. It’s been pared down to only show what is needed. Nothing is cut from in between just starting and stopping points.” Lord Reid handed the vial over to Dave.
“Aaron?” Dave asked.
“Lord Reid’s placement on the team was contingent on showing the memory of the night he killed his father. I was fine with him just showing it to me, but he demands that everyone see it.” Aaron moved to the cabinet at the side of the room and grabbed the projection pensieve from it and set it down in the middle of the work table. Dave stepped up and dumped the memory into it. As soon as Aaron activated it, the memory started up.
The visuals were dark, but heaving breathing could be heard before a pain filled scream overtook everything. The screams were inhuman. Aaron looked at Lord Reid and saw that the young man was looking at him. Staring at him, judging him. Aaron couldn’t take that. He looked at the projection again and saw that young Reid had finally broken out of the dark area of the house and was running in a corridor. It looked like the walls of an old Manor or even castle. As Reid got closer to the screams, he was able to figure out what they were. Aaron knew the screams of the Cruciatus well. He had heard it enough as an Auror, catching Death Eaters torturing their victims. On the top floor of the place, Reid stopped in front of wide doors. He started to bang on them with his fists, but the screams didn’t stop.
“LET ME IN! STOP! LET ME IN!” Reid screamed as he beat even harder on the door.
A pit formed in Aaron’s stomach at what he was going to see when those doors opened. The screams were not getting any less. He wanted to stop it. If those screams were who he thought they were, Aaron would love to go back and help Reid kill his father.
In the memory, Reid pulled his wand and started to fire spell after spell at the door. He was uttering them so fast that Aaron could barely understand him. Each spell hit the door, and Aaron was almost certain that the wall around it was going to crumble before the door finally splintered in and just fell. The sight that Aaron’s eyes took in made him shut them. He saw Diana Reid, and he saw William above her. And he saw blood.
“PROTEGO!” Reid screamed, and two things happened in the seconds after, the sound of a thump of a body against the wall or the floor and the screams turned to whimpers.
Aaron opened his eyes again in time to see a blanket being draped over the body of Diana Reid. Reid didn’t even touch his mother instead he went to the floo in the master bedroom and called for Severus Snape. Aaron was shocked when the face of the now dead man appeared.
“Reid?” Snape asked.
“Help, please.” Reid didn’t even wait for the man to say anything, he just ran back to his mother. The fire died back down, and it was a few minutes later that not just Snape stepped through the fire but Minerva McGonagall as well. The older woman went right for William and knelt down by his body. She felt for a pulse and shook her head no. Reid had killed his father with a protego.
“I have the Head Healer from St. Mungo’s on his way, Reid. Are you hurt?” Snape asked.
“No. Just mum.”
“Mr Reid, what happened?” McGonagall asked.
Aaron wondered when Reid was going to stop the memory. It was evident what happened.
“Normally the screams stop after ten minutes, but they didn’t this time, and I couldn’t take it. I came running, and the screams just got worse and worse. When I beat on the door it didn’t stop so I broke the door. He was…” young Reid looked away from his mother and towards his father. “She was on the bed, bent over it. Father was bent over mum and holding her hands with one hand. The other was holding his wand and pointing it at her. He was covered in blood. I cast Protego, and he flew away. I covered mum up and then called Professor Snape.”
Aaron listened as both Reids’ wands were checked for last spells by McGonagall and the Healer arrived. The Healer took one look at William Reid, his body laying on the ground with blood covering the groin area of his pants and shirt and nearly threw up. When he was more composed, Aaron watched him move over to Diana. The memory ended there. Lord Reid was looking at a spot on the wall just to the right of Aaron. Aaron had no clue what to say.
“Reid,” JJ said, and she sounded close. Aaron looked over at her and found her reaching out to him. A hiss filled the air and JJ jerked her hand back. A snake was wrapped around Lord Reid’s neck and was arched up ready to attack. Aaron didn’t know the breed off hand.
“Reticulated Python,” Dave muttered and pulled JJ back.
“Sauron won’t attack unless you threaten me. He warns but that is it.” Lord Reid turned his head a little and hissed something at the snake. The snake shrunk down to just about two feet in length. “He’s my bonded familiar, and I was going to introduce you all to him.”
“You speak Parseltongue?”
“I am a Parselmouth. I can understand every single creature that falls under the class of reptile in the world.” Lord Reid pulled Sauron off his shoulders and held him out to JJ. “You remember him don’t you?”
“I do. I never knew his name.” JJ took the snake from Lord Reid. Aaron was a little confused until he remembered that JJ and Sean had gone to Hogwarts for two years together before she graduated and Sean and Lord Reid had started at the same time. “He’s very beautiful.”
Sauron hissed in pleasure and slid up JJ’s arm to kind of wrap around her neck before moving away again. He moved down her other arm and onto Dave’s. Dave stayed still while Sauron moved up one arm and down the other. Prentiss stepped up and took Sauron from Dave. Aaron stepped over towards Garcia’s research room and knocked. She opened the door.
“We are meeting Lord Reid’s familiar. A Reticulated Python named Sauron.”
“Sauron?” Garcia asked.
“Yes, I know. It’s a very weird name.”
“Hotch it’s the name of the evil in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. What is a Pure-blood Lord doing naming his familiar after the Lord of the One Ring.” Garcia stepped away from Aaron and looked out. Prentiss still had Sauron, but Morgan had his hand out for the snake to sniff. The entire group was a little subdued. “What happened?”
“William Reid was Crucioing Lord Reid’s mother, Diana. He sent out a protection spell, and it reacted to his want to protect so much that it threw his father into the wall and it seems he died on impact.”
“Why didn’t the Wizengamot put that out? He’s lived with the stigma of a murderer for years, and it was…” Garcia looked like she was ready to run over and hug him. Aaron would almost give her money to do that.
“Lord William Reid was a bastion of good. One of the best prosecutors for the Ministry in getting dark wizards behind bars, Garcia. That he was Crucioing his wife and did it to such a degree that her mind fractured worse than the Longbottoms. They didn’t want to face up to what that meant and what it would mean for them at a time where there were no reported dark wizards left in Britain. This was just before Voldemort’s full return. That such a person would do what he did.”
“But why didn’t he…”
“From the moment that it was released that I had killed my father, in the court of public opinion I was a dark wizard. There was nothing that would change that. But I could prove what I was with time. No amount of proof would change what people thought. It was what it was.”
“And is that what this is?” Morgan asked as he looked away from the snake to Lord Reid. “A chance to prove.”
“No. This is something that I have to do.”
“Did Croaker put you up to this?” Aaron asked. He and that man had never got along.
“No. Auror Potter asked, and I did it.”
“Because the Department of Mysteries is not much better than the rest of Britain as it’s very insular. They care about themselves, and that is it. It’s pure academics with little to care about the actual workings of the rest of the Magical World. The Aurors know more than anyone else that something is coming. I used to hunt dark artefacts. The rise of the artefacts means a rise in dark wizards. The cases of the Shadow Team have risen as well.”
“Yes,” Aaron agreed.
“Why you?” Dave asked.
“Why not me?”
“Is it because you are Draco Malfoy’s best friend and Potter is in some weird three-way relationship with him and Hermione Granger?”
Aaron wanted to stick something in Dave’s mouth to shut him up. Dave hated kissing ass and Potter sticking someone like Lord Reid on the Shadow Team to make one of his lovers happy was stupid.
The rush of magic across the entire room was startling and quick. Every single light went out, every single chair tipped over. Before Aaron could whip out his wand and cast a light spell, a large floating orb of light appeared. It was above Lord Reid’s head.
“Wordless magic,” Reid said.
“Wandless too. I saw that your hands didn’t move,” Prentiss said.
“I carry my wand because it makes others feel better. I cast with it because it stops people from asking questions,” Reid said.
“What was that spell?”
“It was a combination of three different spells. I created the first to get back at those who bullied me in Hogwarts. Students have a tendency to tip back in chairs, and I figured out a flawless spell to tip their chairs back more to where they would fall. The light killing spell was just a Nox. The rush of magic was just ego.” Lord Reid made a clicking noise, and Sauron quickly dropped from Prentiss’s hands and slithered back to Lord Reid. The snake quickly ascended his body and wrapped around his neck. “I was the first Reid in Slytherin since the founding of Hogwarts. My father was using my mom to control me. He feared me. He just didn’t understand what he was doing when he kept hurting her to make me behave. I taught myself magic before I even started to walk. I could read before I could walk or even talk. My mother thought that it was why I was good at wordless magic.”
“What happened to her?” JJ asked.
“She is in St. Mungo’s and probably will be the rest of her life. I make sure that she is well taken care of and left alone with her books because that is mostly what she wants out of the world.”
“There wasn’t talk of you claiming your title that day,” Morgan said. Lord Reid turned to look at him. He was looking at him like he could read every single thought in his brain. Aaron though wasn’t sure how Morgan would react to what Lord Reid was going to say.
“As the last living Reid, he would have been claimed by magic as Lord the second his father was killed. The Wizengamot would be unable to stop that. If he had killed his father outright just to kill him, the Reid magic would have left him.”
“That’s not exactly common knowledge.”
“No, it’s not. The Ministry feels that the majority of the workings of the Ancient and Noble Houses need only be known by the Ancient and Noble Houses, creating what we see here.”
“So you knew that he was innocent?” Morgan asked.
“Innocent is such a broad term. I could have killed my father for backhanding me and still been able to claim my right. Magic only stops outright murder. So no, he didn’t know that I was innocent.” Lord Reid pulled his wand and handed it over to Aaron.
“That’s an interesting wood choice.”
“My first wand was taken from me the night I killed my father. I never got it back as it was accidentally snapped while I was in custody. Ollivander made this special for me and charged the Ministry for it. Bois de Rose wood with a core of the horn of a horned serpent, freely given upon death and fifteen inches. It will let you cast to get it’s magical signature as all Aurors have to do.”
“Won’t help much will it?” Dave asked.
“I use it in public, where eyes are on me. In a life or death situation, I will not.”
“You are rather forthcoming.” Aaron wasn’t sure he liked that. “Almost too forthcoming.”
“‘The ability of the Shadow Team to function as a unit is based on truth and trust. The ability to trust in each other and know the truth. I was there the day that the team was called to question on its actions in saving Lord Potter from the wizard who had him. There are personal matters that will stay that until the time comes that they no longer need be personal. But in matters of my magical powers, there is no reason to hide from my team.”
Aaron was a little shocked Lord Reid had been there that day in the Wizengamot. He didn’t remember much of that day, having been under a great haze of magic having nearly given his life for Potter. Haley had demanded he quit and he almost had but even with Jack on the way he hadn’t been able to leave. He had never been able to leave the Shadow Team.
“You were the one who started the vote for full support behind us after that weren’t you?” Dave asked. Lord Reid nodded.
“Let’s finish our discussion on your placement on the team. Rest of you go home. Garcia if that was an incident, we can look at it tomorrow.” Aaron nodded his head towards the file she had entered with.
“No, Sir. It’s research for me. New publications that the DMLE released. I was going to take them home and look them over.”
Aaron watched as the rest of the team grabbed their things and headed out of the office.
“Why don’t you notify Potter that you are fine?”Aaron pointed towards the fire used for all flooing needs of the team.
“Because Draco won’t be happy until I am home.”
“He’s protective of you.” Aaron pointed out.
“Yes, they all three are. Do you mind if I call a tea service? Potter kept me busy on getting everything squared away, and I didn’t eat lunch.”
“Neither did I. Why don’t we hit the pub a few blocks over. We can discuss what we need to discuss and eat at the same time. Better than eating too late or not at all.”
“Do you really want to be seen eating a meal with me?”
“The team eats most of their meals together. When on cases we bunk down here. If we are going to be cannon fodder for the press we better go ahead and start now.” Aaron was looking forward to a hot meal and to just relax. He knew it was better to do it out in public. While the truth was known about Lord Reid now, his first reaction was still distrust. He had probably not turned his back on him. “Will Sauron be fine in a Muggle pub?”
“I tend to eat in the Muggle world more than the Wizarding one. The Reid family is based well in both, having never quite given up their financial holdings in the Muggle world.” Lord Reid moved away from the desk he had been leaning against and looked at Aaron. “I’m shocked you would prefer.”
“The Hotchner family is totally Magical. So Muggles do not recognise me. I can eat in peace.”
“The unattached ladies still trying to fill the void left by your former wife?”
“Very much so.”
“She kept meticulous records, even before the birthing troubles started.”
“You…” Aaron swallowed.
“I was the only Lord who read her journals. The eidetic memory makes me their go-to person to be able to read a lot of information in a short period of time.”
“You were the one who detailed out when and where, how many times she dosed me, and how many counts of rape to charge her with?” Aaron asked. He had not been present at the reading and sentencing of her. He had been preparing a new place to live for himself and Jack. He had never set foot in the home that he had shared with Haley.
“I was. I was also the one that bought the house that you had lived in with her and turned it into an orphanage. The war created a lot of them. So a pub it is? I know of a good one that I bet you have never been to.”
“Anything sounds good to me.”
“Then follow me.”
Aaron followed Lord Reid out of the Ministry. Instead of turning left or right, he hailed a cab and held the door open for Aaron. Aaron stepped up and just as he was passing Lord Reid, something made him stop and look into the younger man’s face. Aaron inhaled as he looked closely at the eyes staring into his own. Aaron couldn’t blink, he couldn’t breathe. Instead, he just stared.
The passing by of another car pulled Aaron’s gaze away. He slipped into the car, and when Lord Reid slipped in beside him, Aaron didn’t even look at him. He didn’t listen as instruction was given on where they were going. Aaron had never felt anything like what he was feeling then. He wasn’t even sure what to call it. His initial love of Haley had been so pure. Before she had forced him to stay. Before she had tainted it. He had wanted to protect her and love her. It had started out innocent. This wasn’t anything like that. It was rough, and it swept through his body like a curse. Cars passed, and Aaron’s eyes didn’t see them at all.
When the cab finally stopped, Aaron pulled out his wallet to pay but found that Lord Reid had already handed over money. This time when Aaron was exiting the cab, he made sure to get out on the opposite side from where Reid was. Reid wasn’t looking at him at all but looking at the exterior of the pub. It was an interesting looking pub, and Lord Reid was correct that he had never been there before. He watched Reid pulled off his robe, showing leather pants and a white shirt with some type of weird black sash thing that wrapped around his neck and then crossed u-in the centre of his chest and wrapped towards the back. When he turned Aaron saw that it was connected at the back.
The interior was interesting. Aaron looked around for anything that was unsavoury, but there was nothing. Lord Reid went to a corner booth in the back and settled into a spot that didn’t give him a full sight of those coming in. Aaron took that seat and nodded his head in thanks. Lord Reid just smiled and nodded his head up to above the bar where Aaron could see a mirror that afforded Lord Reid a view of the bar.
“Interesting,” Aaron said.
“I eat here a lot. There is a warded apparition point in the alley across the way.” Lord Reid waved his hand, and Aaron felt spells weave themselves around them. He could pick them apart now that he was focusing. A Notice Me Not charm weaved in with an interesting spell that would block all of their words from going outward but pulled a few others in towards Lord Reid, Aaron couldn’t figure out which ones. There on the edge was a spell that would alert them to another magical being even getting near the door. “You can feel the spells?”
“Yes. I was looking for them this time.”
“You were one of the best Curse Breakers that Gringotts had.”
“You know a lot about us, and we know little of you.”
“I had three years to learn everything. My want of knowledge is my downfall as well as a gift.”
A waitress stepped up to the table and Aaron ordered whatever stout they had on tap while Lord Reid ordered a glass of wine. Menus were set down, and Lord Reid didn’t even look at his.
“So how does your memory work? What I know of memories like that, I can fit in a thimble.”
“I have near perfect recall of words that I see. I file them away according to importance. Food menus are easy to recall.”
A static charge ran up Aaron’s spine.
“A wizard entered the pub,” Lord Reid supplied. His eyes tracked the same person that Aaron saw, and when he looked back at the younger man, he was frowning. “And he’s not going to be a bother.”
“Your situational awareness is…high for even a dark artefact hunter.”
“I did not have the best childhood as you can imagine.” Lord Reid looked down into his drink and then back up. “My mother’s family was killed in the first war with Riddle. Father’s died off before that, he was a late born child.”
“Who raised you?”
“The House Elves. It’s not so uncommon in the bygone days. I researched it all while in custody. They weren’t sure what to do with me. So I had an Auror guard and access to the public library in the ministry. I read and read and read. When no living blood relation is left, it’s up to the courts, back then. I had a magical guardian who checked on my welfare, but I had a better life with the elves raising me than my father.”
“What happened to your mother, it was never really discussed.”
“She’s in the ward that the Longbottoms are in. Neville and I crossed paths visiting them when we were younger.”
“Who was your magical guardian and why didn’t they take you in.”
Lord Reid narrowed his eyes, looking Aaron hard. The waitress came up and took Aaron’s food order. Lord Reid ordered his usual, whatever that was. Another glass of wine was set down, as was a beer before she left.
“My magical guardian was the same as Lord Potter’s. Your opinion of him was never really made aware in the aftermath of the truth of the war with Riddle.”
Aaron delayed answering by draining his mostly empty glass of stout. The crimes and abuse that had come out post second war with Voldemort had been massive. Aaron had never publicly shared his views on it, but it had been one of the first things this unit had investigated.
“He never checked on you did he?”
“No. Thankfully, unlike the Potter estate, the Reid’s were very tight with their money. My trust was set up for weekly allowances based on the needs of me, handled by my Goblin manager. Tricknutt was an asshole, but he indulged me in reading. I could owl him with a letter three foot long and the books would be bought as soon as he could. Dumbledore had no access to my money and if something came up that I needed Tricknutt handled it, even when Dumbledore brought it up. Tricknutt was the one to make sure that my new wand was paid for by the Ministry. I shudder to think what my trust would have been had Dumbledore had full access. The Ministry is still paying back Lord Potter for restitution. The Dumbledore estate was given over to him, as you well know.”
“There were rumours that you had gone to the Aurors before you killed your father.” Aaron had heard them and tried to look them up but had found nothing. It had been another thing that Aaron had condemned the boy with. He had spent too much time his first year as an Auror looking into it.
“My father was able to hide what he had been doing to my mother for years. I went to the Aurors seven times before I killed him, I was brushed off. Called a stuck up brat who wanted more money from my father and he wouldn’t give it to me. Then in the aftermath of me killing my father, the fact that the Aurors had been told to push my claims under the rug so to speak. I was demeaned for not going to the proper authorities, and when I kept the stance that I had, the Aurors lied. Then the war started and in the aftermath of what Dumbledore had done was spread far and wide, the fact that I had gone came to light. Sirius Black’s own imprisonment without a trial came out. The truth of who had betrayed the Potters and a myriad of things. All at Albus Dumbledore’s hands. He told the Aurors to not listen to me.”
“I was never able to find out. His portrait is less than forthcoming, and the Ministry won’t spell it for truth, too afraid of what would happen.”
“Yet, here you are in the Aurors.”
“Lord Potter has been diligent in reform. Even the ICW is surprised on how much he’s been able to do. And what Lord Potter wants, he gets. He laid it out, logically, and convinced me. Logic has ever been my downfall.”
The food was delivered, and Aaron used that to look at the wizard who was at the bar, drinking what looked like brandy. He wasn’t even looking in the mirror but was focused on the two men playing darts.
“So that’s the only reason? Logic?”
“Yes, Potter laid out a logical reason for why I would do good on the team and why I was needed. Miss Garcia does really good at finding what you need about the items you find and rituals, but I already have most of that in my head. At least a cursory knowledge.” Lord Reid stopped, and his eyes darted down his arm and then Aaron felt a tongue flick on his fingers. “He’s intrigued by you.”
“He smells something that he’s never smelled before. Do you own a snake or a reptile?”
“I don’t, but my son has a Drake.” Aaron felt Sauron slid up his arm and he settled on his neck. Aaron didn’t move to start eating until he knew he was settled.
“Baster is his name, and sometimes when Jack is too active, he comes to stay with me, even during school. It’s not uncommon for him to show up at the Ministry. I’ll make sure to introduce them the first time that he comes to visit. He’s territorial with me.”
“Sauron shares well. I got him the week after I was deemed unable to be jailed for killing my father. He was a baby then. My House Elf at the time took me to Japan for him. I had to learn Japanese so he could understand my commands when I couldn’t talk to him in Parseltongue. He understands just as many languages as I do.”
Lord Reid stopped eating and set his fork down. His eyes kind went into a faraway stare, and he didn’t say anything for two minutes. “I’ve not counted for years. Twenty-five human languages and seventy-eight magical languages, including various Goblin dialects and of course regular and magical Latin.”
“Why?” Aaron blurted out, glad he hadn’t had been eating or drinking at that moment.
“You took thirteen classes, time turner aided I bet. When did you have time for studying other languages?”
“Do you really think I had a social life? I was ostracised for killing my father because he was someone light. The Slytherins were trying to stay under the radar. My friendship with Malfoy started his sixth year and my fourth. Before that, I spent more time in the library and in the common room. At least there I was safe. Longbottom might have had the most pranks on him, but I was a child alone, raised by House Elves and everyone knew it. I was fair game.”
“I’m shocked that you survived.” Aaron wondered how much of that was his brother. Sean was never shy about how much he hated Lord Reid. Aaron was wondering how much of his own distrust and even a little bit of hatred was based on his brother. Aaron pulled himself back mentally. Sauron shifted on his shoulders, his body lengthened, and Aaron knew he was growing in size.
“I had the will to survive. I wanted to show my father that everything that he thought about me was wrong. He told me that I would amount to nothing. That I would never be anything because I was a Slytherin. He took me to that damned place in Knockturn Alley that tells parents where their child is going to end up when I was four. He knew for seven years and tried his hardest to turn me into anything but. I think that he made it worse, and mother thought so too, but he wouldn’t listen to us. He wouldn’t look at what he was doing.”
“We’ve tried to shut those places down, but they squeak by because the zealots want them. They want to know what their children are. Because what houses they end up in used to tell so much on the life they were going to lead. The classes that are coming out of Hogwarts after the war are changed. Slowly but surely they are changing.”
“Is that why McGonagall is doing the Pen Pal program? Matching current Hogwarts students with graduated ones and having them write back and forth?”
“How do you know about it?” Aaron asked because it was supposed to be a small secret. Every single candidate had been cleared by the Aurors before it had been allowed. Potter had been the one to do it, but there had been a few that Potter had asked him to look at.
“McGonagall came to me. She asked me if I was willing to be in it. The young man that I write with is very smart.”
“McGonagall said in the letter she sent home she said that she was trying to match up students cross houses but Jack was paired with another Slytherin.”
“I think that most of the Slytherins were placed with other Slytherins to show them the difference. My child is a Slytherin. I enjoy getting his letters.”
“I’m glad. I’m glad you are able to turn anything of your childhood into a good thing. It’s a damned good thing.” Aaron was happy.
“So we can work together?”
“We can but the team…” Aaron trailed off. He would do what he could, but the others had to make their own decisions, and Aaron wasn’t going to force them into anything. They had six months before Aaron had to make a choice on keeping him or not. Aaron wanted him to work. He wanted him to be good for the team. There had to be a way to make them all get along.
The talking laid way to actually eating while their food was warm. Sauron stayed right on Aaron’s shoulders as they ate and Lord Reid feed him bits of his steak. Aaron settled down the longer they sat together. Aaron was fully settled into his seat by the time he was done eating and started on his fourth beer when it was dropped off. He really shouldn’t have because someone slipped into the booth beside him and then someone else across from him. Lord Reid’s face showed displeasure, but there was a crinkle to his eye that said he was happy.
“Lord Aaron Hotchner, may I introduce Lady Hermione Granger, consort to Lords Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy,” Lord Reid said as he looked at the woman who had slipped into the seat with Aaron. Aaron looked at the man who was beside Spencer saw that it was Malfoy himself. “You, of course, know Lord Malfoy.”
“Yes, yes. All well and good. You, Sir,” Malfoy said looking at Lord Reid. “You told me this morning that you were going home after the whole fiasco with you and the Shadow Team. So I showed up, and Nibby told me that you hadn’t been home. I had to track down Harry who was still at work and grumpy. Only to find out that he saw you leaving with Lord Hotchner then I had to track you down to a pub that you eat at way too much and not only find you here eating with Lord Hotchner, but you are letting Sauron play with him.”
“Don’t be bratty, Draco. We were just finishing up.”
“I’ll take my leave now. I do need to get home and write a letter to my son.”
“We didn’t mean to intrude on your date,” Lady Granger said.
“It was a working dinner, Hermione. It was that or a tea service in the office, and I missed lunch due to your husband.” Lord Reid smiled at Hermione as she took a drink of his glass of wine. Aaron watched as they had a small conversation with just eyebrows before a smile lit up her face. She stood up and waved for Aaron to get out. As he stood up, she kissed his cheek. Aaron felt the blush creeping up his face.
“Well, I just won an award of some kind,” Lady Granger said.
“What?” Aaron asked.
“Getting Lord Hotchner to blush. I think that hell froze over a little.”
Aaron chose not to say a thing about it and just pulled out his wallet to lay down a few Muggle bills. He was sure that it was more than enough to cover his beers and his dinner, but he just wanted out of there.
“Into work by eight tomorrow, Lord Reid. Standard is nine, but there are a few requirements that we need to go over and have done before we even think about taking on a case.”
“Lord Potter told me about the dress code and the laxity of it.”
“Yes well we have to try and blend in sometimes, and I hate robes.” Aaron nodded at the others at the table before bidding his goodnights. He stepped away from the table and out of the safety of the wards. He moved towards the door and stepped out. There was a chill in the air, so he hunched down into himself.
“Lord Hotchner!” Lord Reid called out. Aaron turned to see him standing there. He didn’t look upset, but Aaron wasn’t sure why he was there. “I don’t think that Sauron would like to go home with you.”
Aaron lifted his hand up and felt the snake hiding on his shoulders. He smiled and pulled him down. Sauron didn’t even phase back into visibility as Aaron handed him over.
“You can call me Reid.”
“Everyone on the team calls me Hotch. I’ve never stood on principle and made the team call me Lord Hotchner. I only pull it out on assholes.”
“What time do you do in?”
“Any time after seven. I like to get in early, get a leg up on paperwork.”
“I’ll see you early then. Have a good night, Hotch.”
Chapter Two-Fall 2015
Aaron rolled onto his back in bed. He knew there was something wrong in the house. He felt around for the wards on his house, and every single one of them felt normal. Just as he was closing his eyes to try and go back to sleep, the bed dipped. His eyes snapped open, and he saw that the room was still dark. He could only see the outline of a shape moving up the bed. He reached for his wand but as soon as his hand closed around it on the nightstand, the person’s hand landed on the inside of his thigh.
A bolt of arousal shot through Aaron’s body. The other hand landed on his other leg, and Aaron let his legs fall open. He groaned as those hands shifted up his legs, sparking pleasure every single place that they touched. He always slept naked. He had learned how to quick summon pants onto himself so that at least his groin was covered when he was a first year. So the hands skirted right up his legs and grabbed his hips. He was pulled down the bed just enough to have his head slip off of his pillow. He looked up and still it was only shadows moving.
Aaron stopped going for his wand and tried to turn on the lamp beside the bed. It was a magical lamp but turned on and off with just a touch. Ghostly fingers closed around his elbow and tucked his arm down in at his side. The body on the bed moved up and nestled in the V of his legs, groin to groin. Breath ghosted over his face. Aaron’s hands reached up and settled on the person’s chest, he didn’t know if he wanted to push them away or pull them closer. When his hands scooted up and settled, he knew that it was a man. Which wasn’t a shock because no woman had held an interest from his libido since Haley and what she had done to him. He joked with Dave that she had made him entirely gay instead of just bisexual.
“Kiss me, Aaron,” his shadowy bedmate demanded.
Aaron did as he asked, slipping his arms to the man’s back and pulling him down to take his mouth in a kiss. The man lowered down enough to kiss but didn’t move more than that. Aaron still had to lean up, and before he got to his lips, the man chuckled. Aaron took that as a challenge and wrapped one of his hands around the back of the man’s neck to hold him exactly where he wanted him.
The man kissed him like Aaron was his source of oxygen. Aaron slid his other hand down the man’s back and brought their groins into harder contact, starting a slide of cock against cock. The man pulled back and uttered a few words that Aaron was unable to understand, but magic warmed lube made the slide of their cocks easier. Aaron grunted as he was pushed back down onto the bed. The man’s arms bracketed on either side of him.
“Will you fuck me?” Aaron asked when the man pulled back for a breath. His body ached for it. He hadn’t had sex with a man like that since Hogwarts. He had been with Haley for so long and hadn’t thought about a man, he knew why but at the time, he had taken it as a sign that she was the love of his life. Afterwards, it had taken a long time and therapy with a Muggle psychologist for him to feel that he wasn’t tainted. He had gone to a Squib who had decided to live in the Muggle world so that he had been able to talk about magic and precisely what he had gone through. Dave had talked him into, telling him that he needed to do it for Jack.
“Not yet, my love. Soon. Can’t we just do this? Don’t I give you enough pleasure like this?”
“Oh, God.” Aaron squeezed his legs in just a little, holding the man still.
“That’s it, Aaron. Come on.” The man slipped a hand behind his head, tilting it up and kissed him hard. Every single focus of Aaron’s mind was on the man above. The man making him feel more alive than he ever had. “Give your pleasure over to me.”
“Please,” Aaron begged. The man’s rhythm picked up, and Aaron used what little strength he had left to pull the man’s cock down into his. He came with a cry that the man didn’t even try and muffle. Aaron was worried the House Elves would come running.
Aaron slumped down onto the bed and looked up into the man’s face. It was still just shadows. He reached out and found the man’s cock, still hard and started to pump.
“That’s it, my love.” The man groaned and then coated Aaron’s chest with his release. Shining eyes looked down at him, happiness dancing in them but Aaron couldn’t figure out what they were.
The banging of a hand on his door woke Aaron up from the dream that he had been having.
“Master Aaron, yous okay?” a voice called out.
Aaron threw the covers off of himself and sighed. Almost two weeks he had been having that same dream or variations of the same dream. He looked down at the release coating his groin and sighed again. “I’m fine Tuffy. Just…make sure I have a coffee please?”
“Yes, Master Aaron.”
Aaron knew that all of the House Elves watched him more than they really should. Tuffy had been his Nanny Elf when he had been growing up and when he had married Haley she had wanted to take care of the house herself. It hadn’t even crossed Aaron’s mind that she had another motive. While the potions hadn’t started then, she had known even then that she wouldn’t be able to hide potioning him to that degree with them around. Especially the Elves Aaron had grown up with. Haley also hadn’t liked the ancestral Hotchner Manor, and neither had Aaron, so the Elves had stayed there keeping it clean and maintained. He had moved into a smaller townhouse in the aftermath of his speedy divorce and Jack’s birth. It was only after Aaron had done a complete refurbish of the Manor that he had moved back into it with a two-year-old Jack and that was where they had lived since then. It had turned out to be a good thing with Baster.
Getting ready for the day, Aaron looked at the calendar on the wall of his office. He had someplace to be before the work day was going to start. He dressed in a suit like he did every single year. He knew that he was torturing himself and that he needed to stop but he couldn’t. He couldn’t not go every single year. Jack’s birthday had been two days before, and he had talked McGonagall into letting him visit the school and eating dinner with Jack. Jack had been happy to see him and had shown him the gift that his Pen Pal had sent him. Aaron still had trouble calling the man Pen. He knew that it had to be at least a nickname if not a fake one. Still, the man knew Jack well and had sent him a book on duelling Charms, Jack’s current obsession in education, the month before it had been Faeries. It changed as Jack took in all the knowledge that he could and then he had moved to a new subject. It had been that way since Aaron and Serene had taught him to read. The Hotchner library was vast, and it grew by at least five books a week. Jack hadn’t ever bought enough books to even put a dent into the Hotchner fortune.
“Is Master Aaron going to the Book again?” Tuffy asked as he entered the office with a tray of breakfast foods as well as a carafe of coffee and a cup of coffee already poured.
“Master Aaron needs stop. Yous are upset for days.”
“I will be seeing Jack this weekend. It’s the first Hogsmeade weekend, and he wants to see me even though I was just there a couple of days before. You know I don’t say depressed long with him around.”
Tuffy just eyed him and set down his breakfast before leaving the room muttering. Aaron let the House Elf have his mutterings. They had stopped being just servants when he had been a kid. Growing up, they were the closest that he had to family, and when Elegie had been born just as Aaron had got married, he had been happy. Elegie had grown up with Jack of sorts, and Jack adored him. Jack saw him as an older brother. It was a good family they had. A happy family.
Aaron sat down to look at a few files before he had to leave. The team hadn’t had a case that popped up in the time that Reid had been on the team, so instead of just paperwork, the younger man had been reading through all of the cold cases for the Aurors in general. Morgan didn’t like it. Morgan didn’t like anything that the younger man did. JJ had taken him in just like she had every single other male that was unattached on the team, which was all of them and mothered him. Reid hadn’t known how to handle it at first, so she had backed off slightly. Garcia was still frightened of him, but she didn’t squeak when he entered rooms anymore. Dave didn’t know how to react to him. Aaron had always been called a hardass and unemotional, but if he was unemotional, Reid was one of those things that Muggles called a robot. He never showed emotion. Even when Aurors had been called to the sight of what had been suspected to be a wild animal attack but had ended up being a werewolf attack. The Shadow Team had gone along as support. Reid had stood at the side of a body and used his wand to carefully inspect every single wound track on the body, never showing anything but curiosity.
“Master Aaron?” Queenie asked as she entered his office. None of the Elves had ever called him anything but that. He had tried to get them to call him Aaron, but it was too much in their mind as respect, and he couldn’t get them to change.
“Yes, Queenie?” Aaron asked.
“Jack wrote a letter and said that you’ve been eating in the office and that tonight I am not allowed to let that happen.”
“I’ve been having food delivered in and not just going a tea service. I’m eating just fine. Jack just knows I’m at work by where the letters come from. We’ve not had any cases pop up, so the newest member of the team has been burying me in backlog paperwork.”
“That’s Lord Reid, yes?”
“Yes, it is. Why?”
“I…” Queenie closed her mouth tight and kind of pulled her lips inward, Aaron knew that she was biting them. He let her think on what she wanted to say. “Lord Reid has seven House Elves.”
“I didn’t know that.” Aaron knew that the amount of House Elves someone had showed status. Having massive amounts was looked down on unless someone had many homes. Seven was a significant number, even for a Lord with a house the size of Reid Manor. It was about twice the size of Aaron’s own manor house.
“Tibby has been courting me.”
“Yes, I know. You told me when you wanted to seek to bond with another Elf. Tibby has been the frontrunner for two years now.”
“Tibby is Lord Reid’s Elf. Youngest of his Head Elf. Lord Reid’s Nanny elf, like Serene, was Jack’s.”
“Yes.” Aaron hadn’t known who exactly Queenie had been going and seeing. He didn’t care as long as whoever it was made her happy.
“Tibby is torn between leaving his Master and wanting me.”
“I see. And what do you want?” Aaron knew that the swapping of House Elves was standard, but he also knew that those Elves had raised Reid more than Elves usually did. They protected him and sheltered him. He could see an elf not wanting to leave him, for any reason, even their own love of another.
“I love yous, Master Aaron. I just…I want babies.”
“I know you do. Do you want me to approach Lord Reid about it?”
“No. Lord Reid has told Tibby that he does what he wants.”
“It’s not like you’d never see us again.”
“Lord Reid has another House Elf Paddy that is willing to swap with me. He wasn’t one of the ones who raised him. He was brought in to just help, and he likes it there, but he is-” Queenie cocked his head to the side. “He sucks at cooking.”
“Who cooks for Lord Reid?” Aaron asked.
“Libby. Nibby was mean. Named her kids with names that rhyme with her own. Lord Reid sent her to France to learn to cook.”
“I will be seeing Lord Reid at work today. I’m sure that we can come to some kind of understanding now. How about you cook some things for to take to Jack. Maybe some of those pastries that he likes so well.”
“Yes, Master Aaron.”
The House Elf left the room with a bounce in her step. She was happy, and Aaron wanted to see her happy. He was more than willing to let her go to the Reid Household and put the word out that he needed a cooking Elf. He turned his eyes to the cases and finished up his breakfast.
It was still dark out when Aaron left the house and apparated to the edge of Diagon Alley. He let himself into the wizarding area and slipped along the edges towards the building that housed the Book of Lost Souls. The Record Keeper wasn’t where he usually was. He usually met Aaron at the door frowning at him and then would shake his head.
Aaron opened the door and found that the Record Keeper was sitting down beside a man with a deep purple cloak wrapped around himself. The man looked up at him.
“Lord Hotchner, welcome.” The Record Keeper stood up and smiled at him. It was the same wan smile. There was no change in the status of his soulmate. “Have you met Lord Reid?”
“Reid,” Aaron said as a greeting when Reid stood up and took the hood off of his cloak.
“Aren’t you a little old to be here?” Aaron asked before he could stop himself.
“I come to talk to the Record Keeper. His memory rivals my own for some things, so it’s a fun bit of conversation.”
“He comes every year on his birthday,” the Record Keeper supplied. Reid frowned at him, but the Record Keeper didn’t even falter at the look on Reid’s face.
“Today is your birthday?” Aaron asked. Garcia was going to be put out that she didn’t know that. Personnel files didn’t have a date of birth, just a year. It wasn’t exactly something that many cared about, but Garcia loved birthdays. She loved to celebrate them. Even with her not being that close to Reid, she would want to do something. He thought about sending ahead a message but instead held himself back. Reid hadn’t brought it up. Aaron didn’t want to alienate him.
“Yes. I turned thirty-four today.”
“Well, happy birthday. I’m glad I ran into you. I wanted to talk to you about Tibby.”
“Tibby? My House Elf?”
“Yes. I was made aware today that your Tibby is courting my Queenie.”
Reid moved towards the exit. “Until next year, Keeper.” He looked at Aaron as he lifted his hood. “Have you ate breakfast?”
“Yes. I do not escape my house without eating. Serene would strap me down until I ate. But I am more than willing to drink coffee while you eat.”
“I woke up early, and Libby fed me then. I’m just a little hungry. There is a lovely doughnut shop a few blocks over. Serves Muggles and Magical. How about a sweet and some coffee for the both of us?”
Aaron followed Reid to the edge of the Magical space. As soon as they crossed into Muggle space, Reid pulled the cloak off. It disappeared into thin air, and he was dressed in a pair of slacks and a thick sweater. Different than Aaron had ever seen him dressed. Aaron was dressed differently as well.
“So Queenie is yours? I know that she’s the only Elf in the house to cook. I can see why she is leery of leaving. I think that I have a good solution. An Elf approached me a while back. She was one of the Elves that was let go in the aftermath of my father’s death. A Reid Elf. She was too young to bond with me and had to follow her parents. I was unwilling to take her on, but I did arrange for her to go to Italy to learn to cook. She’s looking for someone to bond with. I’ll send her a message, and when she has a chance, she can contact you. I’d, of course, pay the price for Queenie’s services to your family. Tibby is rather enamoured with her, and I’ve met her a few times. I wasn’t aware that she was yours. Then again I’ve never cared for who any of my Elves had tried to court or date.”
“Date you can actually get your Elves to date?” Aaron asked.
“Just one. Quirinus. He’s an odd little duck. He is the maintainer of my massive library. He finds me new books, old books, anything that I want, Muggle or Magical. He dates and dates and dates. I am half afraid that a female will come with a child and demand that it is his.”
Aaron laughed. He wanted to meet that Elf. Maybe get Elegie to meet him so that he would actually go out and do anything. The doughnut shop was right where Reid had said it was going to be. Reid bought him a cup of coffee and a croissant with a honey glaze and then they started to walk back into Diagon Alley to head to work.
Aaron wasn’t shocked that they were the first into work. He moved to his office while Reid took the desk that he had assigned himself. There were always more desks than people as some cases had specialists pulled in and sometimes they had foreign observers who liked what they were doing were watching to learn how to implement a team like it in their country. Russia had been the last and not only did they have the head of their investigative force but his translator as well.
Reid was in the farther corner away from the others. Aaron hadn’t liked it, but he hadn’t forced the man to move. It wasn’t going to help get the others used to him. Aaron turned to the files that Reid had finished the day before. He hoped that they had an actual case soon so that Reid would stop with old cases that were unsolved by the regular Aurors.
Potter came into the room and went right for Aaron’s office. Aaron watched him as he walked. There was a case. A bad one.
“Aurors are meeting the rest of your team at their houses. I have a portkey right here that will take you to the house. We are going to Rutland.”
“Rutland?” Reid questioned. He was about ten steps behind Potter. “Rutland has the lowest crime rate in the country. The last ONS survey stated that the adult population is the happiest in Britain.”
“Yes, well. The crime rate has skyrocketed. There was a small collection of homes in the farmland area, and all of them were slaughtered. Men, women, children, even the animals.”
“Reid, are you ready?”
“Yes, Sir.” Reid moved back to his desk and grabbed what Aaron was sure was a messenger bag. Aaron had seen him pull things out of it before, but he had not paid much attention to it. He never wore it in and out of the building, but he had pull it free of his wizard space bracelet when he was settled into work. “You said we, Auror Potter.”
“I did. The Minister wants to know everything, and so I get to be the glorified messenger as he doesn’t want to bother the team as they are gathering information.” Potter didn’t look upset even though his words were very upset. He looked worried. He pulled out a metal rod, the new generic portkeys that Aurors used to get to cases. “Fifteen seconds.”
Aaron gripped the rod while Reid just barely touched it with a single finger. Potter just looked at the finger and then grinned. Aaron had long ago got used to the feeling of being portkeyed somewhere. Still, when they landed, his stomach revolted but Reid, Reid looked as if he had just stepped through a door. Potter was wearing the same look that Aaron was sure that he was wearing.
“I still don’t understand how you can not puke, Reid,” Potter said as he pointed over towards what looked like a farmhouse. “Rutland’s population of Wizarding folk is small and now all dead. Seventeen adults and five children. All children are under the age for Hogwarts, but they all went to the primary school that Hermione had started up. No one new had lived in the area for five years. Five years ago the Capaldi’s moved to the area. It’s a newer community. Here, Reid.”
Reid took the files that Potter pulled out his pocket and expanded. Reid started to look over them. Aaron watched out of the corner of his eyes as Reid’s eyes scanned the page. It was freaky, even to Aaron. It was like he was inhuman when he read like that.
“How were they found?”
“The children didn’t show up for school and calls from the Headmistress of the primary school they all go to went unanswered as did the floo calls. The deputy headmaster came out himself. He found the first house and then went to every other one.”
“Seventeen adults. Yet eight houses,” Aaron pointed out.
“The Abraxas’ were a triad,” Reid called out. His eyes were looking at the house, and he had stopped reading. He shrunk the files and stepped into the centre area of the houses. He turned in a circle then crouched down. He laid a hand down Aaron wasn’t sure what he was doing. There was a crackle of magic, and then a purple mist started to seep from the ground that he was standing on. It swirled and swirled around him.
“Oh fuck, SPENCER!” Potter called out before he grabbed Aaron and pulled him back away. “Do you have a broom you can access?”
“Get on it, now!” Potter unshrunk a broom and hopped onto it and took to the air. Aaron followed. He had never done Quidditch at school, but he had been excellent at flying. When Aaron reached the same altitude that Potter was at, he looked back down to find Reid, but he wasn’t there. Aaron followed the cloud of smoke and found that Reid was floating at the same level as them. Potter was writing quickly on a scrap of paper, and it disappeared.
“What is he doing?”
“He’s land scrying.”
“It’s a personal technique that he created with Hermione. I don’t rightly understand what the hell it does but…” Potter trailed off and pointed down.
Aaron looked down and saw that the purple smoke had turned into something else. There was a deep purple line that ran down the centre of a large circle. It split it into halves, but the circle was a lighter shade of purple as was the other three sets of lines that cut through the circle. Aaron watched as the lines seemed to pulse like it was alive. The smoke was still forming a funnel that was keeping Reid in the air.
“Why are we up here?”
“Because it’s going to get dicey anywhere inside that circle and I’ve never known exactly how big it goes outward, so I always go up. Hermione does the same shit. Her brain works a lot faster, and she doesn’t always warn. Reid never does. Fuck.”
Inside the large circle, nine Xs appeared. One in each of the centres of the wedges created by the lines and then one in the dead centre where they all met.
“So you don’t know what any of this means?” Aaron asked.
“No. Those are black Xs, and that means rape. Red means just death those come later. Nine of the adults were rape in those spots. Well, Hotch. This is totally your case.” Potter looked relieved while more upset at the same time.
The Xs seemed to burn themselves into the ground, and then the mists started to raise up again. Aaron couldn’t see any bodies from the ground, but up in the air, he could see the five children’s bodies. Forming above those bodies was five red Xs, purple mist shot out from each one, several places from each one and formed an upside down pentagram. Filling the circle with it. That settled down with green lines on the ground and even on the roofs of the houses.
“The lines are just showing why the bodies are laid like they are of the kids.”
“We are still missing eight adults.”
“No. Reid will reveal those next.” Potter looked sicked and truthfully, Aaron wasn’t sure that he could control his stomach. This hadn’t been heard from since Voldemort’s first war. In the second war, he had gone for just straight death.
Aaron looked at Reid as he heard the pops of Apparition. He turned to look to see the rest of the team had apparated just out of the circle. They were decked out for war. Morgan, Prentiss, and JJ’s eyes were all looking at the circle and the items inside of it while Dave was looking up at him.
“You can’t leave the circle. Not until he is done.”
Aaron nodded and then he saw that Malfoy was there with them. He said something to Dave and then apparated away.
“I was able to share an image of where they needed to apparate to land outside of the circle with Draco. It was safer as the portkey point was inside.”
“Morgan is going to bitch about that.”
“I could have let them land in the centre and had every single bit of their magic drained, and they would have been off duty and in St. Mungo’s until it built up again. Just make sure that Morgan knows that. You know for a team of dark wizard hunters, a few of your team see a little too much into dark and light.”
“I know, but they are good at what they do.”
“They don’t like having a grey wizard on the team do they?” Potter asked.
“No, but they are dealing. Reid is a lot different than Longbottom.”
“Reid different than every single wizard and witch I have ever met and that is saying something as I have met a lot of them.”
Eight bright yellow spots formed at the edges of the circle, one in each section. Aaron couldn’t see a body in those spots. He flew to right close to one, staring down. The ground was dark. Like it was a marsh.
“Okay. This is…I’ve never seen that symbol. Ever.” Potter sounded astounded but scared as well.
“Ritual atomization. They were drained of their blood, stripped of their flesh. The blood was laid in a circle and then the flesh piled in the centre. The meat was laid in a circle around that, and then bones between there and the edge of the bloodline and then magic was used to strip it all down to atoms. This is dark. We aren’t just hunting a single dark wizard. This is…a coven. I’d say at least seven members.”
“Do you have it all marked?”
“Yes. I will not be dropping the outer circle. That darker line in the middle is a ley line, Potter. Every single magical place on the exterior of the circle will need to be checked for dark magic and cleansed. Once we have completed what we need, I’d contact the Goblins to do the cleansing of the area or this will turn into a forest so dark that nothing will live here.” Reid looked away from Potter and at Aaron. He reached into his messenger bag. “Until this area is cleansed, I have to maintain this circle, Hotch. The exact locations will stay like they are. The Xs have not damaged the body but painted the ground underneath.”
Reid tossed over a small pouch. Aaron opened it and found that it was stones on strings. Aaron raised an eyebrow.
“Those will allow the rest of the team to enter and not face the consequences. I can land now that I am not casting, but I can’t leave the centre spot. I am the only thing holding in the darker aspects of this.”
“Why was this done?”
“I have five theories, and three of them are impossible given the rape. That leaves two. The first is that they resurrected someone in this spot that I am standing. I’d call that a ten per cent chance. The other three are three per cent chances. So there is a seventy-one per cent chance that someone else is walking around with the magical power of seventeen people.”
“A power collection ritual?” Aaron asked. That was stupid. There were easier ways.
“There are easier ways, yes but see this one is…” Reid pursed his lips. “Get the rest of the team in here while I disconnect enough to land.” Reid closed his eyes and easily dropped down a few inches. Aaron moved down and landed in front of where the team was. There weren’t enough stones for everyone. He looked at Potter who landed beside him. There wasn’t one for him at all or Garcia.
“We don’t need them. We are protected by the sheer fact we were inside. We can move in and out freely. The only reason we had to go up was that it charges the ground and would literally fry us.”
Aaron handed over the stones to the four members of the team. Morgan just eyed it while Dave put his on the second that he had it in hand and then stepped over. Prentiss was next while JJ stayed on the outside with Morgan.
“Are these personal stones?” Dave asked.
“Yes. Magical stones manifested by Reid’s magic,” Potter said. He held up his wrist and showed that there was a stone on a bracelet that was half purple and the other half was pink. It wasn’t like two stones had been stuck together but that two stones were swirled together. It was beautiful. “This is one that Reid and Hermione made together. It allows me to move freely in and out of either of their ritual spaces. Those stones, once the bond settles, will never be able to be used by anyone else. They can be set into a different necklace, reshaped, or a bracelet. Draco’s like this was set into the hair clip that he wears every day. Hermione’s with Reid’s is in a ring she wears. I don’t know where Reid’s is.”
“Hotch what is going on?”
“Ritual magic harvesting outside of a set ritual space. Seventeen murders and nine rapes. The dark purple line is a ley line while the others are just dividing up the circle. The green lines are the lines making the pentagram that the five dead children make up. The yellow circles are where eight were broken down into their most tiny parts, I think Reid called them atoms. The black Xs are the locations of the rapes, and the red is the deaths of the kids. The nine who were raped, Reid do you know where their bodies are?”
“No. I don’t know if they are alive or dead, but I hope that they are dead.”
“What the fuck?” Morgan demanded. He looked at Reid. “Why the hell would you want them to be dead?” The dark-skinned wizard stepped up towards where Reid was still in the centre of the circle. Prentiss grabbed him and kept him from a distance where he could hit the younger man.
“Do you not understand what ritualistic rape does to someone?” Reid asked.
“Rape is always hard, no matter whether it’s ritualistic or not.”
“The Aurors haven’t investigated a ritual rape in twenty years,” Potter pointed out to Reid. Reid nodded and looked at Morgan. “It was found out that those who commit it, damn themselves.”
“Yes, they do, and in this case, the rapes were all done at the same time. Five men and four women were raped. All by men. Four and four in the outer area and the fifth man in the middle.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I have the time of deaths for the children and they were all killed at midnight. The rape happened an hour later at one.”
“What the hell is this spell?” Morgan asked.
“It’s a spell that was developed between Lord Reid and Lady Granger seven years before, there was a big deal about it, Morgan.” Dave stepped up to Reid and was reading over his shoulder. “It shows the caster, magically, exactly what happens at sites. It’s hard to do inside of the cities as it catches everything and sometimes it muddles things too much but out here and on a ley line…The witch or wizard who casts it knows everything, they feel everything that happens. It’s an echo, but it’s akin to torture.”
“The eight adults that were killed to set the circle were killed at eleven. The children were forced to listen and watch, as were the other nine adults. Then the kids, and then the rape. The magic from the first deaths fed the circle to make it sacred. The death of the children started the magical sink that funnelled the magic into the person in the centre. These families…they were the last of lines weren’t they?”
“Yes,” Potter said. He closed his eyes. “They were a few of the families that Voldemort nearly wiped out in the war. They lived out here to escape it all. I have started a search to see if any members can be found. This area was chosen because it was a place where even Muggles are rare. I set up the space to keep Muggles out. I was hoping that it would be the start of a new community.”
“Their entire family magic was snuffed out in this ritual. If the rape victims are alive, they are locked in their minds, reliving the moment of their rape and their magic loss. They will be no way to save them from it, even killing the man who took on their magic won’t release it. Seventeen magical lines were lost last night.”
“How do you know so much about this ritual?” Morgan asked.
Aaron glared at him, he knew where that line of questioning was going.
“The ritual was created in the late 1100s by the man who called himself the Hallowed Knight. He had a coven of seventeen participate in it. It was cast three times before he was caught and killed. It was one of the biggest scandals at the time in the magical community. It was attempted three years ago in Africa. The ICW found out then that the black diamond needed to hold the magic had been bought in the United States by someone either under a glamour or polyjuice. There is a worldwide bulletin on the setup of the ritual. I would say that the kids were kidnapped just after arrival from school and the adults were taken when they got home. I have the book on the ritual at my home as well as the breakdown of how and why it was created. There were two more diamonds bought at the same time. The first was recovered at the site of the ritual, broken. The other two were never recovered, and no trace of those who had done the ritual was found.” Reid looked at Morgan as the rest of the team scattered around.
“Morgan, go help, Dave. Potter, do you mind taking Prentiss around the woods outside of the space and see if we can find an entry or exit point for the people.”
“Sure. I’ll message the Minister and let him know that Rutland is on lockdown for the time and get Aurors into two cities and see if anyone weird was around.”
“Hotch…” Morgan trailed off as he looked at Reid.
“Do you ever question where Garcia gets her information, Morgan?” Aaron asked.
“Good. JJ had said that she’s watched him read tens of books in an evening at the library in Hogwarts when he was a kid. He remembers everything. Just because he knows about an obscure ritual that was only used three times almost a millennia ago doesn’t mean that he did it.”
“No, it’s not.”
Morgan huffed and turned to leave. He followed behind Dave as the man moved around the circle.
Aaron sat down in the booth at the restaurant that JJ had picked for them eat at but it was a long way from where they needed to be, and while apparition was nice it was tiring. She was just as worn out as the rest of them. Her place as the Healer on the team was a big one. She helped with victims as well as any injuries that the team received. She and Reid had talked for an hour over the bodies of the children after ample pictures had been taken. The wound inflicted on the children had been more for fear than anything else. To make the children scream and cry out for their parents, the ones that had been alive at that point. They were going to be in Rutland for at least a week while the area was combed and the site was taken care of.
“We have a house that’s two miles down the road. The older lady who owns it is willing to rent it out to us so that we don’t have to commute back and forth,” Aaron said. He had already made a time to go and visit Jack in Hogsmeade the next day. He had talked to Serene, and she had everything ready for him.
“That’s good,” Dave said.
“I am more than willing to have Libby come and cook for us,” Reid supplied. The table was just big enough for all of them to sit at and Reid had slipped into the booth first, using the wall to hold himself up. He looked beat.
“The chef you employ?” Morgan asked. Before Aaron could even say a thing, JJ and Prentiss both glared at him. Morgan was in the seat across from Reid while the women had filled up the rest of Reid’s booth. Leaving Dave and Aaron to fill in Morgan’s booth. Since they were technically on the clock, none of them had alcohol. The restaurant had a good selection of hot teas, so most of them were drinking it. Reid had chosen chamomile. It was an odd choice as Aaron had never seen him drink anything but wine or at the office coffee.
“No, a House Elf. She was my mother’s favourite cook, and I had her trained in France to be a chef.” Reid didn’t even open his eyes to answer. He pulled up his cup to take a sip. “We gotta eat and eat well to stay on top of this clusterfuck.”
Aaron raised an eyebrow at the cuss word that Reid used. A pop and a stack of mail appeared on the table in front of the younger man. He opened his eyes and looked at the top three with barely a glance before he put them up but the last one he smiled at. He tucked it between his body and the wall before looking around at the rest of the team. His eyes focused on the returning waitress who had their two appetisers. Morgan was the first to dig into the one closest to them, and Reid just glanced at it before he looked to the other. The first was steak fries covered in cheese and bacon, while the second was stuffed mushrooms. JJ picked up the tongs on the mushrooms and used them to pick up on and set it down on Reid’s plate. Aaron stared at her wondering why she did that. When she was done slipping a second onto his plate, she set them down. There was enough for one each. She dug into the fries next but used the fork that had come with them to take a double portion of those. She mouthed “germaphobe” to him. Aaron was a little shocked at that. Morgan was looking at JJ like she had grown a second head.
“Don’t like the fries?” Morgan asked.
Aaron felt his legs shift as Dave shifted around then there was a grunt from Morgan he glared at Prentiss.
“Quit acting like a neanderthal,” Prentiss said. She used the tongs and reached across the table to set his mushroom on his plate. “I know that your mother taught you better.”
“Sorry,” Morgan muttered. He stuck to what he had on his plate while the rest of them emptied the appetisers. Aaron stuck to a little bit of each. Queenie would be very upset if he ate horribly. The menu had a vegetarian stir-fry on the menu that he was going to get.
“So how long are we going to be here, do you think?” JJ asked.
“It’s going to take a week to get this space ready for cleansing. JJ and Reid will work on all magical signature collection tomorrow. It’s going to be hard to go through all the land and do a good search for the other bodies, if they are there and if not we can get a good search started with the rest of the Aurors. It got too dark too quick to get too far today. After magical signature collection is done, we can use magic to do a night search tomorrow night.”
“Then we need to get a good night’s sleep.”
“Hence chamomile,” Reid said raising his cup up and taking another sip. Aaron watched as the liquid in the cup rose up as he put it down. It was interesting how much magic Reid put out in his everyday life.
The waiter came back and took their dinner order. The waiter said that he had put a rush on it. Talk around the table turned to daily lives, dates that Prentiss and Morgan had been on. Aaron watched Spencer out of the corner of his eye as he read the letter he had tucked aside. JJ didn’t even try and read over his shoulder as Prentiss would have. Morgan would have as well.
Tuffy appeared at Aaron’s side just a few moments after their food had been delivered. He slipped a letter under Aaron’s plate and popped away.
“Jack’s evening letter?” Dave asked.
“Yes.” Aaron set down his fork and opened the letter.
Classes this week were fun, but nothing significant happened. Pen mailed me another book this time on the variances between magical schools on all seven continents. I really enjoyed it.
I’m writing because something weird happened in school today. You know that the entrance to the girl’s area of the Slytherin rooms doesn’t allow boys through. Girls can go into the boy’s, but boys can’t go into the girls. Tonight, Jerry, a kid that is in the same year as I stood outside the girl’s dorm for two hours. We all went to dinner, and when we came back from dinner, Jerry went right back to the dorm. I was starting to get worried, so I went over just as Jerry stepped through the block. Jerry turned around and looked at all of us as he screamed ‘I knew I was a girl!’. I was dumbfounded. I tried to step through but was stopped. A few minutes later, McGonagall came in along with Professor Higgs. They took Jerry with them. When they came back an hour later, Jerry was moved to the girl’s dorm. I didn’t know that the dorms responded to gender other than physical.
I’m writing to ask Pen if he can send me information on it but you have anything that would be awesome. Tuffy let me know you are on a case before you told me so if you can’t get away to see me tomorrow, that’s fine. You are doing important things.
Aaron was a little shocked, and he wasn’t sure what he was going to say to his son. He had had a student in his first year at Hogwarts that denied her entrance to the girl’s dorm. It was rare for a student to get to Hogwarts feeling like that. Magic had safe rituals for gender reassignment that worked only if the child honestly felt that way. Only Muggle-borns were the ones to not have it done before Hogwarts. Aaron felt bad for Jerry. Aaron hoped that whatever information Pen was able to get for Jack would be enough to satisfy him. Getting much information on it would be hard.
The noise of the team washed over Aaron as he thought about Jack’s Pen Pal. It was easy to understand why Jack liked him, he indulged him in a way that Jack didn’t get at school. Jack had already started to look into what classes he was going to keep and drop after his O.W.L.s based on what he wanted to be. Every time the boy showed it to him, Aaron was shocked at the list of occupations that were on the list. Curse Breaking was at the top, and it had been since Jack had even thought about what he wanted to do. Aaron had gone into it because it pissed his father off, even more than marrying Haley had done.
Aaron wasn’t sure what he thought of Jack becoming a Curse Breaker. It paid good money. The Goblins always paid good money for people who helped them with getting more money. Curse Breaker was the name of the job, but it entailed so much more. Aaron had kissed more asses in the job than he did in his current one but he hadn’t needed to be nice. Goblins didn’t pay their workers to be nice, they paid them to get the job done. Aaron just hadn’t had it in him to be an asshole. He had set up more wards in his short career as a Curse Breaker than he ever had.
The British Magical education system had left some holes in some matters that many needed to keep up with home security. The Goblins saw this coming and figured the best way to keep themselves in money as well as protect those who did business with them so that the Goblins could continue to make money off of them. So Curse Breakers started to get an excellent on-site education after being hired. Aaron had been snatched up because he had gone through Auror training. Aaron had done it because it was one of the few after Hogwarts educational opportunities out there that wasn’t a more educational field. He had gone through it and had let the Ministry know that he wasn’t going to become an Auror. They had been upset, but he had been allowed, he knew that it was the hope that he would change his mind. He had just not when they thought that he would.
“So is Jack still wanting to become a Curse Breaker?” Dave asked.
“He’s taking the same classes as you, correct?” Morgan asked.
“Yes. All ten and loving all of them. The new time turners that are available to students who have the aptitude can do more than just an hour or two. Jack’s does five. He likes it better than last year. Less chance of forgetting to go to a class.” Aaron closed up the letter and slipped it in a pocket. He looked at JJ who smiled at him and at Prentiss who looked happy about Jack. Reid was looking at him a little weird though. He had ordered some kind of pasta dish with a white sauce. Half of it was eaten, and he was just pushing the rest around on his plate. Aaron wasn’t going to comment on it, but he would make sure that he ate a good breakfast.
“I’m done,” Reid said. He dropped his fork down and drained his tea. The letter was slipped, not into a pocket but his wizard space bracelet. Aaron wondered precisely what he had in there and why some things were in his messenger bag. Reid was a mystery.
“I’ll go to the house with you. Potter said that he locked it with a spell and no human keys would work. I have no clue what the sleeping situation is like. We might have to conjure beds. I just want a bed.” Aaron slipped out of the booth and nodded at Dave. The man would pay for the bill before he left. JJ and Prentiss let Reid out, and he slipped his bag over his head before moving towards the door. Aaron followed behind him.
Reid was barely walking in a straight line. Aaron would have sworn that he was drunk. He stepped up to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulder. This wasn’t Magical exhaustion, or it wasn’t just Magical exhaustion.
“Reid, what’s wrong?”
“I need sleep. I’ve been up for two days. I wasn’t expecting to have to use so much magic today.”
“Why have you been up for two days?” Aaron was shocked. He hadn’t acted like it. “You aren’t going to be able to apparate?”
“When we get to the house, you are telling me everything.”
“Yes, sir,” Reid’s words were a little slurred. Aaron sighed and pulled him in a little tighter before he pulled Reid along with him when he apparated. They appeared on the back porch of the house. They had all been there long enough to be able to apparate there. Aaron unlocked the door, and Reid moved almost on automatic. Up the stairs. Aaron followed behind to make sure that he didn’t fall down.
“Do you know the worst part about what considered a magical assisted memory?” Reid asked as he leaned in the doorway of an open bedroom. There were three bedrooms. Aaron looked in all of them briefly. The two smaller had just enough room for a conjured bed, but the master bedroom didn’t have enough room. Aaron looked at Reid who was looking at him as he looked in the bedroom. There was something there in that gaze like Reid was learning every single aspect of him.
“My mind races sometimes and I can’t stop it. Sleep potions are addictive. Sometimes I just have to work myself to exhaustion.”
“How blunt do you want me to be?” Reid stood up straight, and his eyes opened up. He was reading Aaron’s face. “The only thing that has ever worked has been sex. But not having a current partner makes it hard. I used to work until I collapsed and then slept and woke up and repeat as necessary. I don’t do this all the time, it’s random. Like I can’t quiet the words in my head.”
“Maybe we can try and find something. Has anyone ever read to you?” Aaron asked.
“No. Not since mother went to St. Mungo’s. My House Elves knew how to read, but as I read a lot of Muggle science fiction and fantasy as a child, they had issues with weird words.”
“What are you reading now?” Aaron asked. Reid pulled a book out of his bag and handed it over. It was a hardback book with the dust jacket removed. Aaron tipped it to its side to read the spine. “Dragons of the Hourglass Mage sounds interesting.”
“I only read complete sets. Dragonlance though has always been an exception. The books have been published for many years. This is the last book that I have to read. I’m picky. And I really like Raistlin Majere. The main character of this one. Do you like Muggle Fantasy.”
“I don’t read as much fiction as I would like but I do. Is this Dragonlance good?” Aaron flipped through and found where Reid had left off.
“I really like it.”
“Good. I’ll read you to sleep.”
“You don’t have to do that, Hotch.” Reid looked like a strong wind would knock him over.
“I need you at your best, and it’s not like I mind. Why don’t get we dressed for bed and I’ll make sure the others know which room we are in.”
Reid eyed him but moved to the bathroom. Aaron changed quickly and used magic to do his nightly ritual. He hated cleaning himself with magic, but he would do it on occasion. With a baby Jack it had been necessary a lot of the time. There was only a single king bed in the room. The thought of sharing with Reid didn’t upset him. The team shared rooms all the time but never a bed. Aaron scribbled a note on a spare piece of paper from his pants and stuck it to the door with his and Reid’s names on it. He shut the door and spelt it to be locked. He would know if it was popped. There was a lot of protocols in place when they were on a hunt like they were and it was going to be up to the others to do the rest.
Once ready for bed, Aaron got onto the side he was still used to going to sleep on. He sat up with his back against the headboard. Reid came out of the bathroom in a pair of purple sleep pants with a white t-shirt on. Aaron smiled at him.
“Are you okay with that side of the bed?”
“I sleep in the middle so it’ll be fine.” Reid slipped into bed, under the covers and cast a localised warming charm over the blankets over him. The fact that he actually used his wand before laying it on the nightstand spoke to how tired he was. Aaron picked up the book and started to read. He watched the younger man out of the corner of his eye as he fidgeted and his eyes seemed to just never rest. He went from his side to his back, to his other side and then his stomach and back again. So Aaron reached out when he was back on his stomach for the third time and laid a hand on his back, rubbing. Reid released a breath and his eyes closed. Aaron kept his hand there, rubbing. Three pages later, Reid was breathing deep and dead asleep. Aaron kept reading though but kept the marker where he had actually figured out that Reid stopped hearing him.
When Aaron could barely keep his eyes open, he closed the book and scooted himself under the covers. His watch would wake him up at the right, and he hoped that Spencer stayed asleep through the night.
Aaron opened his eyes when sunlight warmed his face. He looked to see that the sun wasn’t an actual sun but some kind of orb floating above the bed that mimicked the sun. He looked at it, and it flared just a little bit brighter. He thought that he should be worried, but he wasn’t. Aaron settled down, and that was when he realised that he hadn’t stayed on his side of the bed in the night and neither had Reid. Their legs were tangled, and Aaron was wrapped around Reid. Reid’s long hair was up in a weird bun at the back of his head, and that told Aaron why it wasn’t tickling his nose.
Trying to disengage himself from Reid, Aaron realised that he had moved all the way over to Reid’s side of the bed, which still had the warming charm going and it was just perfect. He stopped moving when he found that Reid’s breathing wasn’t deep and even anymore. He had to be awake.
“Morning, Hotch,” Reid said, his voice didn’t sound rough from sleep at all. Aaron groaned. “It’s fine. You sought out warmth while asleep. And I slept the entire night through. It was nice. Do you like my alarm?”
“It’s a really old charm. It went out of practice as many families over the years started to have the mother and the father getting up at different times, so the more personalised alarms were created. I think that your alarm is going to be going off soon.”
“I like yours. You’ll have to teach it to me sometime.”
“Of course. Thank you for last night. It was…much better than I thought it would be.”
“Next time you get your little manic stage going, come to me. We can see if it works on day one instead of day three.” Aaron untangled himself from Reid and sat up in bed. He looked at his watch and saw that the younger man was right. His alarm was about to go off. He silenced it and looked down at Reid who was rolled onto his back and looking up at him. It was the same damned looked that Aaron saw when he caught Reid looking at him.
“I saw you reading the letter from Jack last night and I…” Reid scrunched up his face. “My Pen Pal does really damned good at not making sure that I can figure out his true name. I’m thinking at this point I should have just told him I was no longer a researcher, but then I didn’t want my Pen Pal to know exactly who I was given the shit storm that had followed the team since I was placed on it. So when I wrote to Jack, I told him my name was Pen.”
Aaron nodded, unsure of why Reid was telling him that when the names he had used clicked in his mind. He looked at him.
“I’m fairly certain. He said his dad worked for the Ministry but won’t go farther than that. But in last night’s letter, he mentioned one of the House Elves, and you mentioned him to Rossi nine days ago at two fifteen that Elegie still hadn’t adjusted to Jack not being home anymore.”
“That’s…huh.” Aaron wanted time to digest it all. That his newest team member was Jack’s pen pal. That they had been writing since the second day of school.
“I bring this up for two reasons. One I didn’t want to have you think I was keeping it from you it was just last night I put it together. And two, I need to go to Hogwarts, and Jack mentioned that his father was going to come and see him if work allowed today. I need to see if Madam Pince has a book or if she can figure out where it is.”
“There is a book at Hogwarts that you didn’t read?”
“No. There is a book that is very rare and is only allowed access on specific occasions and Hogwarts holds one of the best collections of books like that in the world.”
“How do you know that?”
“Hogwarts by itself is so magical that it protects the books on its land. The Ministry has always used it as a place to store books like that. I have access to it, but the collection is so massive that I’ve not had the chance to read all of them while working. The book I am looking for is one of the rarest, and I need to see if Hogwarts has it.”
“About the case?” Aaron asked.
“Yes. You can have the bathroom. I’d rather go earlier than later, and if we go early, you can snag Jack for breakfast.”
“I can. Do you mind if I call one of my Elves here? She’s supposed to have some sweets for Jack.”
“No, go ahead.”
Aaron went into the bathroom to get ready. He wasn’t going to call Serene to him before that. She had had all of Queenie’s sweets ready and waiting. Aaron rushed so that Spencer could have time. The air was chilly, so he wore a pair of black jeans and a simple pullover. He usually shrunk his kit and clothes, but he was interested in Reid’s Wizard space way of carrying things around. It was newer, and Aaron wasn’t as sure of it.
When Aaron exited the bathroom, he found Reid out of bed already. He was dressed in a pair of jeans, dark purple, and a cream coloured very thick sweater. He was sitting at the vanity and brushing out his hair. Aaron watched him as he mimicked braiding with his hands and magic replicated it on his hair.
“Why were you at the Book yesterday morning?” Reid was looking at him using the mirror as he worked on his hair. Aaron had never seen him with braided hair before he usually left his long hair undone. Sometimes he would pin it back or just sweep it behind his ears. Aaron used the distraction of the hair to think. He had never told anyone, but Reid had seen him there.
“I go every year on this date.”
“Why this date?”
“It was this date fifteen years ago that I found out that I had a soulmate and that he had already sealed the records. I go back and check every year. I hope that one day I go back and find out that he has unsealed it.”
“Why do you think that he did it?” Reid asked as he turned in his seat.
“By that point, it was well known that I was…deeply in love with my wife. I’m sure he did it to protect himself. I went after the divorce was settled and Jack was safe. I had to know. That I had something worth living for besides my son. It was after that but before it was widely known what I had gone through. I hope that one day he changes his mind.”
“Why go back every year? Why not just…wait for him to come to you?”
“Because he has to go back to the book to unseal it and I know that he could just come to me, but I want him to know that I am willing to meet him. I know that it took me a long time to get over what Haley did to me. In the end, the Healers are still unsure about exactly how much I’d ever trust someone else in a romantic situation, but I’ve not told them that I know that I have a soulmate.”
“And are you ready? Do you want to know who your soulmate is?” Reid asked.
“I don’t know. I really don’t. I think about it, and I think that I’m ready to try dating, and then this fear sets up inside of me. That whoever it is, is going to be like Haley. Then I think that going into a relationship knowing that he’s my soulmate would take the romance out of it.”
“But you’d feel better knowing that your soulmate wouldn’t hurt you like that. Wouldn’t take your choice away.”
“Do you think that he watches you?”
“I hope not. I hope he’s not pining. I hope he’s not just watching me day in and day out, waiting.”
“The others are still asleep. Did you want to leave now?” Reid stood up from the bench and moved forward. Aaron stopped breathing as the younger man reached behind him to grab something from the table. Aaron watched him out of the corner of his eye as he opened up his messenger bag and Aaron was shocked when it was a dimensional space inside. It looked like a trunk or something like it. The flap was closed, and Reid smiled up at him. Aaron found himself lost in his eyes again. It was hard to look away, and Aaron felt like he should lean forward and kiss him.
Startled by that thought, Aaron swallowed harshly and looked away. As he did, he saw the frown on Reid’s face. Aaron didn’t even want to entertain that. While some relationships were allowed inside the Auror Corps, between a boss and a subordinate on the same team was not. He shouldn’t have slept in the same bed as him. Aaron stepped away from him.
“Sure. I’ll write a note and tape it to Dave’s door.”
Aaron conjured paper and quickly settled in on the bed to write the note. He listened as Reid searched through his bag for something but wasn’t quite sure what he was looking for. He didn’t look up to watch.
They were on their way before the sun even started to rise. Apparition to Hogsmeade was draining to Reid and Aaron could see it. He watched him covertly take a potion and hoped that it wasn’t anything terrible.
“So does anyone know that you are coming?” Aaron asked. He pressed the little bell that would alert the school that someone wanted in.
“Yes, I sent Tibby to Madam Pince as soon as she was awake and in the library. I am sure that he gave her a shock just like he used to. As I was a Lord in my second year, I was allowed to have a House Elf to help me with my mail and things. It wasn’t well known but Madam Pince, and he became good friends. It was nice as he would go and get books for me sometimes when I didn’t want to leave the Slytherin area of the castle.”
“Which means when you knew that someone was waiting for you,” Aaron said.
“Headmistress McGonagall is on her way down.” Reid pointed at where she was.
McGonagall looked the same as she always did. Tight, pinched face with a stern expression. Her eyes narrowed at the both of them.
“Lord Reid, I am sure that Madam Pince is expecting you. I had hoped when you graduated that it would be the last I saw of you sitting in the library surrounded by books. But no, here you are again. For the third time this year.” McGonagall opened the gate and allowed them both to enter. “Lord Hotchner, Jack is waiting for you in the front hall. I saw that someone else was with you and didn’t allow him out.”
A screech was heard, and Aaron didn’t even react at all, but Reid ducked down and then started to look around. Baster flew right at Aaron and landed on his shoulder, nuzzling in at his neck before turning to look at Reid. The Drake exhaled, and Aaron could feel the weight of his magic settle on him, so he knew that the Drake was trying to feel Reid out. A hiss was heard before Sauron appeared on Reid’s shoulders. Aaron hadn’t even thought about him. Where had he gone in the night because Aaron would have known if he was in bed with them?
“And there is Sauron, lovely. Now here is to hoping that those two get along better than Sauron and Glimmer.”
“Glimmer?” Aaron asked.
“A familiar that another student had in my time here. Glimmer was a Persian Longhair Cat who hated Sauran. The bad thing was that Sauron won, every single time and without hurting the cat but still it was always bad.”
“DAD!” Jack’s yell pierced the air and McGonagall sighed.
Jack came running down the hill and stopped when he saw Reid.
“Who are you?” Jack asked.
“There is the Hotchner tact. I’ll leave you both to do what you need to do. I’m sure that two Lords won’t get into trouble.” McGonagall turned and left with those parting words.
“Jack, this is Lord Spencer Reid.”
“Oh, the new guy on the team. Cool. Jack Hotchner.” Jack reached his hand out, and Reid looked down at it for a second before he actually held out his and shook Jack’s hand. Aaron was a little shocked. “I’m pleased to meet you, Lord Reid.”
Reid looked at Aaron before he pulled a book out. Aaron saw the title and saw the question in Reid’s eye. The title was long, but he could understand that it was something to do with gender. God, Reid had actually found a book for Jack in the less than twelve hours since he had got the letter. Aaron nodded.
“You can call me Spencer, Jack. Here.” Reid handed over the book, and Jack looked at it puzzled. He read the title and then looked up at him in shock. “And last night I found out that you are my Pen Pal here at Hogwarts.”
“You are Pen? Really? That’s sooooooo cool. Are you going to eat breakfast with dad and me?”
“I was going to do some research in the rare books section of the library.”
“But you can do that after you eat breakfast. I’m pretty sure that I could get a letter to Tibby.”
Reid frowned at Jack but it wasn’t an upset frown, it was a frown that said he was just playing.
“Fine. Breakfast with the Hotchners.” Reid motioned for Jack to go first and the boy did. Reid got into step beside him, and they talked the entire way up to the castle and all the way until they were seated in the great hall. There were not a lot of students awake and eating breakfast, but the few that were, Aaron, could tell were Quidditch players. Reid took a seat at the head of the Slytherin table, but once again it allowed Aaron the seat that gave him an entire view of the Great Hall. Aaron felt weird sitting down at the Slytherin table. He had a different view of the Great Hall than he had ever had before.
Breakfast appeared on the table before any of them could order anything. Aaron snorted as he took in his regular breakfast of oatmeal and orange juice and saw that Jack had the same. His son smiled at him before he dug in. Turning to look at Reid, Aaron was shocked to see that he had a full English sitting in front of him and what smelled like a cup of Earl Grey tea, a very big cup. Sauron slid from around Reid’s shoulders as a fourth plate appeared with small chunks of ham on it. He lengthened a little and curled around the plate to start eating.
“Who is he?” Jack asked as he looked at Sauron. Aaron listened as the two started to talk familiars and Drake flew off to land on one of the light fixtures in the upper area of the hall. As soon as Spencer was done eating, he bid his goodbyes and went off towards the library.
“It’s so cool, Dad that Pen is on your team.”
“Yes, it is.” Aaron was happy that Jack’s Pen Pal was someone to be trusted, but he also understood now why McGonagall had paired the two of them. Jack was going to be Lord Hotchner one day and who better to help him understand it all than Reid.
The other children started to pour into the Great Hall, and when they did, Aaron talked Jack into heading outside. They walked around the grounds and at one point were interrupted by the arrival of Tuffy with the box of goods for Jack that Aaron had forgotten to send for. The Elf had glared at Aaron but doted on Jack. Jack looked through the box and picked a sweet before having Tuffy take them to his room.
The walk ended at the Quidditch pitch, and Aaron talked Jack into a fly around it. Aaron lost track of how long they played around. Catching the Snitch that Jack had produced from a pocket on his robe. It was a fun morning for him, despite the horror of the case they were working on.
Jack was chasing the Snitch and caught it in a daring move that Aaron had not seen outside of professional Quidditch to the sound of clapping. Aaron spun on his broom so fast that he made his own head spin a little to see Reid standing at the edge of the field. Jack flew down to him, and Aaron followed.
“We can get a third broom for you, and you can help me. Dad’s winning.”
“I can’t fly.” Reid didn’t look upset.
“But you have to have lessons in your first year,” Jack said.
“I did, and it was learned that I shouldn’t fly.”
“Why?” Jack looked confused.
“His mind,” Aaron said. He thought about it, and it made sense. Jack spun to look at him. “Reid’s brain works a little different than ours with his memory and his ability to process information and brooms respond to our wants. We don’t give verbal spells to have it move left or right, it’s a unique spell that sort of allows them to read our minds to give us perfect control. Reid doesn’t think about one thing at a time, his mind is looking at a lot of things, and for flying that means five steps ahead of where he is at the moment but the broom thinks that he wants that then so step five becomes step one and it’s the wrong one. I can see where you don’t want to be on a broom.”
“And that’s why I learned to sort of fly without a broom. I heard the stories about Longbottom and his first flying lesson. I think that I took over his spot as the worst first lesson ever. I was tested alone and given a passing grade as I could control the broom and control it well, I just had trouble focusing on what I needed to do at that moment and not, like your father said, five steps ahead. So I’ll decline, but I did bring a few books out to read over while you two play.”
“We need to head back as soon as you are done.”
“And I’m not. Madam Pince allowed me to take a few books out of the library as long as I returned them undamaged. She told me that fresh air was good for me. She always ushered me out on weekends to get some fresh air, so I am not shocked.” Reid moved over to one of the bench sets that the team would sit on during a match. He pulled a stack of books from his bag and settled in to read. Aaron and Jack took to the sky again and played for a while longer. A few other kids arrived, and they were friendly enough with Jack that he invited them to play. There were two Ravenclaws, three Hufflepuffs, and a single Slytherin in the air with them before the Gryffindor team arrived to practice.
None of the kids was going to give up the pitch though. It was a free fly time as no one had scheduled to use it. Aaron started to step in, but Reid did first.
“Actually, Captain, the other are right. If you want to practice you have to schedule it. And you cannot kick free players off the field if they are already on it and you want to practice. You have the pitch scheduled in two hours.” Reid pointed at the paper that showed the schedule. The Captain of the Gryffindor team just glared at him.
“I’ll get the Headmistress,” one of the other team said and took off running.
“No need,” McGonagall said as she shifted from her cat form into her Witch self. No one had seen her under the bench where Reid had been sitting. “Lord Reid is correct. You can ask them to let you practice, but you cannot kick them off the field. This is the third time that you have done this when another Gryffindor hasn’t been on the field to play. I do not want to hear that you have done it again.”
The kids all looked at Reid, and the fear on their faces wasn’t hard to miss. Reid though was looking at the books again, flipping the pages at a lightning fast pace. Aaron watched as McGonagall sat down beside him and picked up a book to read. Reid smirked and settled in a little farther. Aaron wondered, again, exactly what his life in school was like.
Chapter Three-Fall 2015
Aaron felt the blankets move down his body. He grinned into his pillow as hands ghosted up his calves. Lips followed behind, and Aaron didn’t even fight the erection he was getting. The man was already naked, Aaron figured out as his body settled along Aaron’s back.
“Good morning, love,” the man whispered in his ear as he settled in at Aaron’s back, his cock pressed into Aaron’s crack.
“It’s always a good morning when you are here.” Aaron didn’t fight it anymore. He gave into what his dream lover wanted with no questions asked. The man chuckled into his ear, and Aaron felt him move. He wasn’t sure what to expect but for long, soft, fine hair to drape along his body wasn’t it. He turned his head to see the delicate wisps of hair. The man placed a kiss on the back of his neck before he set up a rhythm of thrusts that was so slow, it started to drive Aaron nuts.
Aaron shifted to where he was kind up on his arms so that he could thrust back, trying to make the man go faster. The man went with it, bracing his arms just on either side of Aaron’s, picking up the pace to match Aaron’s. Words were whispered all over Aaron’s skin. Aaron couldn’t understand them, but he felt their meaning. Faster and faster, harder and harder the man and Aaron thrust into each other. Aaron’s cock dragging on the silk sheets under himself. An indulgence that he’s only started to do once his dream lover had stated a preference for them. Aaron didn’t analyse that because he didn’t want to. Sleeping on the sheets did feel fantastic.
“Fuck, Aaron. You’re perfect. Come for me. Let me see it,” the man begged. The man’s rhythm was faltering, and Aaron knew they were both close. He came with a cry, muffled into his pillow. Seconds later, the man’s teeth scraped his neck, and he bit slightly as he came. Aaron slumped down and grabbed the man’s arms, upsetting him so that he laid along Aaron’s back.
“I’ve got to wake up soon,” Aaron said. He stopped waking up with his orgasm days ago, allowing himself a cuddle with his lover. The man settled in there, his panting breath ghosting over Aaron’s neck and cheek. Aaron didn’t want to wake up because waking up meant going back to the case. It meant tracking dead bodies across the whole of the island. Wales and Scotland had been added in three days into the case.
“Soon but not right now. Now you are mine, and I’m not letting you go until I am done with you.”
Aaron smiled and just laid there, soaking it all in. He hoped he was dreaming of his soulmate. That magic was giving him that much of him. H felt whole in the time he laid like this with him. He felt safe, and that was saying something because he hadn’t felt truly safe with anyone in an intimate setting in a very long time.
The sound of knocking on his room door had Aaron waking up. It was a gentle one though.
“Yes?” Aaron called out as he covered himself up and sat up. The team was staying in a hotel that catered to Muggles and Magical folk. Aaron had transfigured the sheets himself. JJ had demanded the team get at least one good nights sleep after having the last three interrupted. Dead bodies scattered all over meant that they were found at any time. The previous had been on the Isle of Skye, but Reid had forbidden them from being able to staying on the island, so they had packed up and moved to Lochcarron in the main of the Scottish land. Aaron didn’t question Reid, and he didn’t tell the team that Reid was the one to force the issue. Aaron just told him he felt better not staying on the Isle.
“The last body was found in Sleat,” Dave’s voice called out.
Aaron got out of bed and conjured a robe to wrap around himself. He opened the door, and Dave stepped in. The man took a look at the bed and grinned.
“Is that why you wanted to stay here? Have you finally found a lover? Where is she?” Dave pushed past Aaron and checked in the bathroom. He frowned when there was no evidence of anyone. “Or was that some self-love?”
“The body, Dave. The body.”
“First reports from local Aurors seem to indicate that the body was drained of blood just like the others. Reid and Prentiss are already on site. She and Reid were meditating when the alert went out. I’d say you were,” Rossi looked at the bed. “Indisposed when it went out. Morgan and JJ are getting dressed. I’m going to take JJ with me and head to the coordinates.”
“Morgan and I will head over as soon as I am ready.” Aaron cursed at himself. He had missed the alarm. He moved to the bedside and grabbed the alert badge. He found the message.
“Reid asked that you not go to the scene. I didn’t ask why but he wants you two at the DMLE and have all the bodies prepped. He’s looking for something, and I don’t know what.”
“Do you trust him?” Aaron asked.
“As far as work goes, yes. Personally? I wouldn’t meet him in a dark alley but that more of the stigma attached to him. I know that what he did was justified, but the reports that I have read out of the DoM makes me question what he would do in some situations. That spell that he and Granger created is wonderful, but it’s not light. No light Witch or Wizard has been able to cast it. While grey wizards can. No dark has tried to my knowledge.”
“Granger is grey?”Aaron asked. He had never thought that. Potter was light, and Malfoy was undeniably grey, but he had always assumed that Granger was light too.
“You’ve never paid much attention to the scandal around them being soulmates. I know that it made news at the same time as the whole trouble with Haley stayed away from the news for that reason but Granger as a grey wizard was shocking. It took a long time for her to even get anywhere inside of the Ministry but she did, and she’s done damned good as a solicitor. The rumour is that she’s stepping down and going into private practice.”
“You gossip worse than the women.”
“Gotta keep listening. It’s the only thing that saved me when Voldemort took over.” Dave moved back to the door. “I’ll leave you to get ready and take JJ to meet up with the others. Reid already sent notification ahead, and someone is expecting you.”
“Good.” Aaron wondered why Reid hadn’t wanted him to be on the island. He could understand wanting Morgan away from him. The man questioned every single move that the younger man made but he never had. The only thing he could think of was that he was worried that someone would try and block his wanting the team to see all the bodies and wanted to make sure that Aaron was there to make sure that didn’t happen.
Aaron indulged in an actual shower before he went to find Morgan. After that, he checked them all out of the hotel, finding that Reid and Prentiss had already done it for their rooms.
The eight bodies were all ready for them as soon as he and Morgan apparated into the safe zone inside the Ministry. The autopsy Healer was there waiting for them. Morgan grumbled at being stuck on Ministry duty but said nothing outright to Aaron’s face.
“Aurur Reid had us scan the bodies, Hotch. We found something odd. There are letters carved into their tongues. Eight bodies and sixteen letters. So far we have a single uppercase a, a lowercase a, two uppercase h’s, one lowercase, and then the rest are lowercase two e’s, two i’s, one m, two n’s, two o’s, and two r’s. Auror Reid is inspecting his body now and will arrive with the letters as soon as he can.” The autopsy Healer showed them the bodies and the letters. Aaron wondered at the placement of the letters and the fact that only three were uppercase.
“This is weird, man,” Morgan said as he looked at the bodies, all lined up in a row. “What the hell did we step into?”
“I don’t know. This is…worse than anything we have dealt with, and you are not helping, Morgan.”
“I just…I can’t trust him.”
“Why?” Aaron asked.
Before Aaron could even answer, Reid and JJ pushed through the doors and entered the room. Behind JJ was the last body, floating. She settled it on the final slab in the line.
“Is there a wall somewhere that I can do some work on?” Reid asked. The Healer pointed over to a blank wall. Aaron and Morgan followed Reid over to the wall. He cast a hand out, and the letters appeared on the wall along with an s and a w. Almost faster than Aaron could process the letters shifted around.
Whore was the first word that Reid left alone once it was put together. It slid down and then the two uppercase h’s were next. The next word was is. Mine followed. The letters that were left, it didn’t take long for Aaron to put them together.
“‘Aaron is mine whore. HH’,” Morgan quoted.
“You are the target, Hotch.” Reid looked at him.
“But who?” Aaron asked.
“HH. Haley Hotchner because despite years in prison, she has always demanded to be called Hotchner.” Reid’s words held little emotion, and Aaron wasn’t shocked that he knew. Reid had taken a personal stake in protecting Aaron from the actual information about what she had done to him being leaked.
“Why do you know that man?” Morgan asked.
“Because I have kept my eye on her. Her crimes are horrible and damaging.”
“Morgan, go to the prison and make sure that she is there.”
“Who is this whore she is talking about?” Morgan asked.
“I can only assume that she knows that I have a soulmate.” Aaron hadn’t wanted that information out there, but he trusted his team with it. He trusted that the team would take it as it’s meant.
“Whoever that is, needs to be taken into custody,” Morgan said.
“I’ll take care of it,” Aaron said. His heart was in his stomach. He needed to go to the book. He needed to make the Record Keeper understand that his soulmate needed to be protected. “Reid, with me.”
“There is no way that she knows,” Reid said, but Aaron just started to walk out of the room. He kept on walking, barely paying attention to who he passed in the halls. Out of the Ministry, he went and right to where the Book was. The Record Keeper was there, and Aaron wasn’t sure if it was the look on his face that stopped the man from stopping him, but he was allowed through the arch. Reid stumbled into the back of him, and it was the only reason that he knew that the man was there.
“Auror Hotchner, once you touch that, you can’t go back,” the Record Keeper said.
“Why is today different?” Aaron asked as he stopped in front of the book. “Why are you allowing me in here today?”
“Why are you different today?” the Record Keeper asked.
“My ex-wife threatened him.” There was no way that his soulmate knew that. So between last Friday and that point in time, his soulmate had come in and told the Record Keeper it was fine.
“She can’t know who he is since I am the only one in the world besides him that does but you will be exposing him. Can you know who he is and not go to him because that is the only way to keep him safe?”
Aaron looked at the book and laid his hand on it. He closed his eyes and thought about it. He wouldn’t be able to stop himself from going to him. So that meant that he had to protect him in other ways or wait until they found out who was doing the killing for Haley and stop them. Potter would make sure he was protected. Aaron would make him stay at the manor, where the Elves could defend him. He had no clue how he had to talk him into it.
“How did she know about Hotch’s soulmate?” Reid asked.
“It’s not exactly a big secret that he come here every single year on October 9th. It’s not made the news, but there are those that know. There are those that track everyone who comes in and out. That is why you wear a cloak that hides who you are when you come here and talk to me.” The Record Keeper’s voice was calm, but there was a hint of something to it. “What would you do Auror Hotchner, if your soulmate was there in your life.”
“Kiss him. I have already decided that I’ve not been ready, and I’m sure that anyone who really watches me knows that.”
“I was talking with Reid before and no. I’ve been a mess and…” Aaron turned to look at Reid who was just looking at the Record Keeper. “I have been nowhere near ready to even think about adding anyone to my life.”
“Are you going to open it?” the Record Keeper asked.
“You say that there is no way for her to know but what if she does. What if someone has seen how he is with me and has figured it out. Obviously, if I keep coming back, that means that I don’t know who it is. They could kill him, and I’d never know.”
“The question becomes then, Auror Hotchner, are you going to reach out and take what’s yours or let someone else scare you away from him?”
“How do I even know that he wants anything to do with me? What if he’s decided that I am not worth waiting for?” Still, Aaron opened the cover of the book. It started to flip through the pages on its own and settled on a page.
Aaron Maddox Hotchner is promised to Spencer Tristan Reid.
Aaron wasn’t sure what he expected. That name wasn’t it, but as he stood there, looking at their names sharing the page, he knew that shouldn’t have been shocked. The dreams had started after Reid had joined the team. Magic had thrown them two different ways of meeting, either as Aurors on the same team or as Jack’s Pen Pal. The saying was that magic provided.
Reid had probably gone to see the Book the day he turned seventeen, and it wasn’t a shock that he kept going back. Yet the Record Keeper had never told him that Aaron went back as well, both on the same day, just hours apart probably. Fifteen years of chances had passed them by, but Aaron was truthful in that he hadn’t been ready.
The man in his dreams, lithe like Reid. His hair was like Reid’s as well. He had not paid much attention to it. He had not read too much into anything that he dreamed because he didn’t want to start to look everywhere. And he would have, he knew it. He would have looked everywhere for him. Run himself into the ground to look for him if he had allowed himself because he never would have looked there beside him.
Sauron’s willingness to go to him and stay with him while Reid was doing spells and tracking. That first night, eating out and Sauron deciding that he liked to just stay on him. Aaron’s own comfort at having the snake on him. The whispered words that he didn’t understand in the dream. Probably Parseltongue. Everything fit together and made sense.
Anger was the emotion that Aaron told himself he wasn’t going to allow when he found out who his soulmate was finally and he was right, there wasn’t a shred of anger inside of him. He took a deep breath and ran his hand over Reid’s name. He thought about the fact that maybe he should start to call him Spencer in his head. He could feel the younger man’s eyes on him.
Aaron turned around and took in Spencer’s body language. There was a lot of worries there. He looked like he always did on first glance, confident and entirely sure of his place where ever he was but he wasn’t. His wand wasn’t in his hand, but Aaron could tell that he was ready for anything. He looked scared. Aaron felt horrible that he was making Spencer feel scared. No one had been able to do it since his father, and here he was afraid.
“Come here,” Aaron said softly. He held out his hand, and Spencer’s eyes just darted down to look at the hand and then back up to his face. He didn’t move forward at all. Aaron wondered if he should step forward or wait him out. The younger man didn’t seem to want to move, but Aaron wasn’t sure what he would do if Aaron actually took a step towards him. So he waited. With his hand stretched out.
A minute went by and Spencer still just stared it.
Aaron was just about ready to make the first move when Spencer took a small step towards him. His eyes darted up to Aaron’s face before going back down to his hand. A few seconds and he took another step, his eyes moving up and then back down. Another more confident step followed. Spencer didn’t take Aaron’s hand in his own when he got close. Instead, he tucked himself right into Aaron’s body. Like he belonged there and he did. Aaron wrapped that arm around his waist, holding him close before trailing the other up to his hair. He forgot that Reid had not only braided his hair that morning but had spun that into a weird bun-like shape. The women were always commenting on his styles that he used. Aaron found the pin that was holding the bun in place and pulled it out.
The braid fell down Spencer’s back, and he followed it down and pulled the little band that was tying off the end. He had watched Spencer undo his hair enough since the start of the case to know that it would automatically undo the braid. JJ had made him teach her that as soon as she had watched him do it once. Aaron buried his hand in Spencer’s hair as soon as he could and used it to tip the younger man’s face up to where he could kiss him.
It was better than Aaron’s dreams. Spencer’s hands grabbed the edge of the pullover that Aaron was wearing had held him right there. Aaron didn’t try and turn the kiss into anything else. It was just a press of lips. It felt so right though.
Aaron pulled back and looked into Spencer’s eyes. Every single one of those looks that he used to get made total sense at that moment. They had a lot to talk about but in the middle of the room with the Book of Bound Souls and the Record Keeper watching wasn’t the time or the place.
“The question becomes, what are you going to tell the team?”
“Until the idiot who is doing what Haley wants is dead, nothing.”
“What are you going to do if it’s Haley who is doing this?”
“She can’t have escaped Azkaban.”
“I know of seven ways I could get out of there. Three of which would work after even five years of being there. Azkaban doesn’t do anything but make its inmates crazier.”
Both Aaron and Spencer’s badges went off with a notification. Spencer moved his hand and his appeared right there. Morgan wanted the team at Azkaban as soon as possible, minus JJ. JJ had gone to the island prison once, and the team vowed never again.
Aaron squeezed his badge and sent back the okay that he got the message.
“Jack’s safe at Hogwarts, but I would alert Headmistress McGonagall that Haley has escaped and if she can’t get to your soulmate, she might try and take Jack and run.
“How are you so sure that she’s escaped?” Aaron asked. He didn’t want to think about Haley getting her hands on Jack.
“Because why else would Morgan want all of us there? I’d make sure that Elegie goes to Hogwarts just to be safe. He knows Jack the best.”
“Jack asked about his mother for the first time when he was five. I’d not let him out and about, and the Elves always made sure that he never heard anyone talking about her. It wasn’t hard as all of his trips out and about were with me. Still, I spent five years figuring out what I wanted to tell him. I told him that his mother had done some terrible things and that she had gone to a place where people who do bad things go. He seemed to accept it, and that was it. Then in primary school, when Jack was eight, an older kid asked how he felt about what his mother did to his father. A teacher overheard it and sent Elegie for me as soon as possible. I was working, but Dave covered, and I came. I explained it all to him, leaving out the word rape. Eight is too young for that side of it, but I told him that she made me stay with her even though I didn’t want to be anymore and that it was wrong. So I had an eight-year-old son who was scared of what was inside of him because it wasn’t common knowledge that Jack shared nothing with her. I waited until we got home and told him the total truth of that part. I told him that the way that I look at it, Haley had been his surrogate, which Garcia actually helped me with the term for that. Muggles do come up with some fascinating terms. He accepted that, and when someone asks him now about his mother, he tells them that he didn’t have one. That if the woman who carried him had actually loved me, she would have never done what she did.”
“Jack’s a smart kid.”
“He’s smarter than me, and I wonder where he does get that from,” Aaron said, but he truly meant it. He really wondered if Magic had provided Jack with another part of the parent that should have been his other father.
“We had better go.” Spencer stepped out of Aaron’s hold, and Aaron didn’t want to let him go, but he did. “Tibby!”
“Master Pence calls?” a House Elf asked from behind Aaron, and he spun around to look at him. He was dressed like no other Elf that Aaron had ever seen. He looks like a hippie, in shades of purple.
“Go to Queenie. The Hotchner household will be down Elegie as he’s protecting Jack at school. If you want to take your sister as well, please do.”
“War wards?” Tibby asked.
“No war wards but-”
“Why are we here?” Tibby asked as he looked around, interrupting Spencer. Aaron wondered at what Spencer was going to do, but before he could even think about it, Tibby looked at the Book and then the Record Keeper. “Finallys. Stupid man get his head out of his ass. When the wedding?”
“I am not even going to answer that Tibby. Go to Queenie and make sure they understand that Haley has escaped Azkaban.”
Tibby’s eyes widened, and then he was gone, no pop or sound at all.
“Is that the standard for Elf dress in the Reid household?”
“Kind of. They wear whatever they like. Qan is dressed like a female Gypsy at the moment, and Qan is a male. They tend to wear purple which I am sure you have found out is my favourite colour but other than that, they wear whatever they like. They have a fund that they buy their clothes from. As close as I could get to them taking a wage. They tend to buy for me more than themselves. Tibby and Libby will make sure that your house and Elves are safe. With Elegie at Hogwarts I know that you are down to three and that while they can be fierce, I know Elegie is the best at defensive magic. And I’m sure that Tuffy will be paying more attention to you than anyone else. So it’s best.”
“How long have your Elves known that I was your soulmate?”
“Since the day I came home after seeing your name when I was seventeen. I bound them from ever telling anyone or even doing anything underhanded to get us together. I’m sure that somewhere in Tibby’s mind that bonding with one of your Elves would at least get us to meet but he truly does love her. He’s been pining after her being gone every single time she leaves.”
“Who else knows?”
“Why do you think that Draco crashed our date?”
“Date? You…” Aaron laughed and thought about it. It had been a date. “Hermione?”
“No. Draco has known for longer, but I’m sure that Draco has done enough hinting over the years that both Harry and Hermione are sure that you are my soulmate.”
“Is that why Potter put you on the team?”
“Possibly? Partially. He does think that I’ll do well here, but the Ministry rules are not allowed to touch soulmates. Neither of us can be moved off the team.”
“I know. Potter really is sly isn’t he?”
Spencer laughed, and it looked there was something that he wanted to say, but he didn’t. He turned to the Record Keeper and bowed. The Keeper bowed back and smiled at Aaron. He stepped back and waved them towards a wall. Aaron cocked an eyebrow as Spencer moved towards it. A doorway appeared.
“This will take us to Knockturn Alley. Come, Aaron.” It was the first time that Spencer had called him just that. It was nice, hearing his name on Spencer’s tongue. He followed behind and found the point where he was portkeyed to another location. He looked around and found that he was in a section of Knockturn that he didn’t recognise at all. He never went there unless he had to and then it was mainly for work. “This is how I usually leave.”
“Well, there is no reason to go here anymore.”
“Except to visit and talk with the Record Keeper. I truly do enjoy talking to him. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I do it. He’s lonely.” Spencer stopped walking, and Aaron almost ran into him. The younger man’s body went taut. Aaron looked around and found three men standing there.
“Come with us, Lord Hotchner, and we won’t have to kill the newest member of your team,” the one in front said.
“I think not,” Spencer said. He looked back at Aaron for a second. “Which one do you want?”
“The fuck toy thinks that he can take two of us!” one of the other men said with a laugh.
“I know that I could, but I was going to let Sauron have one of you to play with.”
The man who was the farthest back fell down with a grunt, and the two other men turned to see a huge snake wrapped around their friend. Aaron barely recognised Sauron as he was so large, at least twenty feet long. Aaron moved forward, taking the man closest to him with a left hook. The man wasn’t expecting it and went down in a heap. A Patronus formed in the middle of the alley and took off out towards Diagon Alley while Spencer hissed something at the man left standing. Aaron couldn’t tell the shape of the Patronus, just that it was huge. The man turned white, and Aaron could only watch as he was totally frozen. The white was from cold. Sauron held onto the man he had until Spencer crouched at the man’s side.
“The ICW has been looking for you for a few years. I can’t wait until I see you Kissed.”
“Reid?” Aaron asked after he cast a few spells to keep his man bound and gagged.
“Lord Hotchner, meet George Foyet, Haley’s lover who she promised to marry after you were killed in an accident. See Georgie here wanted your money and so did Haley but where she thought that your death would be the end of it, she didn’t realise that Foyet planned to rob her blind and abscond to South America, one of the countries that don’t allow extradition.”
Seven Aurors appeared around them, kitted out for battle. Potter was at the front of them. He looked down and saw who Sauron was wrapped around, and a wicked smile appeared on his face.
“Lords Hotchner and Reid, may I have your Wizengamot vote in the matter of George Foyet?” Potter asked.
“The capture of Foyet has been an Auror priority one since your wife was incarcerated. An emergency Wizengamot meeting is to take place to decide his fate after giving him Veritaserum and getting the entire truth from him. You two need to go to Azkaban because that place is a wreck, Auror Morgan’s last count was seven missing, but he’s still going through all the records of who should be in there. Does Sauron have a good hold on him?”
“Good. I’ll transport them directly into the chambers and let Sauron handle him until we get him chained and suppressed. Can he get to you where you are?”
“He’ll call on one of my elves, and they’ll bring him close enough to where he can get to me.”
The other Aurors were working on getting the frozen man moved and the man that Aaron had knocked out.
“So this is a good day. At least partially.”
Spencer stood up from where he had still be crouched at Foyet’s side. The Aurors left with their two charges, and it was just the three of them and Foyet. Spencer waved a hand at the man, and he passed out.
“Aaron and I will be heading to Azkaban as soon as you take Foyet.”
“Aaron huh?” Potter asked. He looked at Aaron and smirked, but there was a hardness there. “Good luck and I’ll start the paperwork. I’ll make Draco’s day with this. I might even be able to talk him into giving me head.” Potter disappeared with Foyet, leaving them alone.
“How long until the death talk from Malfoy?”
“I don’t know. Right now he’s a little preoccupied.”
“Your secrets are mine as mine are yours.”
“Of course.” Aaron wanted to get closer to him, but he didn’t, just in case, there were eyes on them.
“Hermione is pregnant. Twins. No clue on the father as the babies are not far enough along to where their magic is profound enough to be easily separated from their mothers. Draco is being a mother hen. Harry is just glad that Draco decided that running the Potter and Malfoy holdings was a job enough for him as it means that he can pester Hermione and not have to make Harry mad with his worrying.”
“Malfoy as a mother hen. That is an interesting visual.”
“I am going to have to do a dinner with everyone. And you. You won’t be able to not come to it.”
“We can talk that later. Let’s go to Azkaban.”
Aaron hated Azkaban. Her’s hated it since the first time he had visited when he had done Auror training years before. One of the Dementors floated up to meet them. Aaron was in front as he was the senior member of the team. Spencer was wearing a cloak again. Aaron wanted to ask about the cloak, but he didn’t.
“Welcome back to Azkaban, Speaker,”
Aaron looked at the Dementor, he knew they could talk but usually chose not to. Then he realised the Dementor wasn’t looking at him.
“Thank you. It’s been a year since I visited Haley Brooks here. What happened in that time?”
“Her only visitors have been her sister and father. They visited four months ago. The father has visited every three weeks since then.”
“We need to see her now.” Reid pulled back the hood of his cloak and the Dementor le them past him. Aaron thought about the fact that Spencer had been visiting her in prison. Had that been when she figured out who he was? Did she know?
“Why did you visit her?”
“It wasn’t just me. Yearly a massive group of mind healers visit. I have that degree and go with. I was assigned Haley and yes I used it to my advantage but not in the way you think. The current estimation is that there is at least ten per cent of males and upwards of fifty per cent of females that have been in or are currently being potioned to be with someone. There is a fascination with love potions. Or lust potions.”
“I know that legislation was passed in the aftermath of my situation that any lust or love potion used on someone with the benefit of having a child will go away for line theft.”
“Because we saw where it would go. Ginevra Weasley tried it, but Hermione caught her. It was settled out of court. That’s why the Weasley family and Harry split. Ron took his sister’s side, and Hermione took Harry’s.”
Spencer stopped walking outside of a cell. Aaron hadn’t even realised that they had got that far.
“Poor thing.” Spencer looked at the Dementor, and he opened the door. Aaron watched in horror as Spencer hugged Haley. “This is why I pushed for real guards. Spitehex, I need Potter here now.”
The Dementor nodded and flew away. Aaron watched as Spencer sat down in the cell and wrapped his cloak around Haley, her eyes softened, and Aaron saw her body go lax.
“This cloak shelters one from the effects of Dementors.”
“Why are you doing this?” Aaron asked. He didn’t understand at all. Spencer hated Haley. Spencer ignored him and pulled Haley into his lap.
“Spell or potion?” Spencer asked.
Haley didn’t answer but instead raised her hand up. Aaron saw something on her finger that shimmered. Spencer pulled it off. Aaron watched as Haley’s face shifted to Jessica’s. Aaron cried out. The sound of footsteps came towards them, and he looked back at the noise. Potter was coming towards them with Malfoy in tow. Malfoy had a second cloak in hand and was wearing a deep green one. Potter had no such cloak on.
“That is not Haley Brooks,” Potter said as he drew level with Aaron.
“I want the Wizengamot pulled into a meeting now, Draco. This is the second time that someone has escaped like this, to the deaths of others.”
“It’ll be done as soon as I get to London. Do you want one of your Elves?” Malfoy came close and draped the cloak around her as Spencer pulled his away.
“No. I won’t ever subject them too this. Have Nibby prepare a guest room and ask Bast to come to me when he can.”
“Yes.” Draco looked at Aaron before he turned on his heel.
“She is leaving with me, Harry and I will kill every Dementor in this place if they stop me.”
“You have no reason to fear.”
“Aaron, carry her out.”
Spencer stood up as Aaron leaned over and picked up his ex-sister in law. She whimpered in his hands as he tucked her close. Spencer wrapped the cloak around her more and then it looked like he set something down on her stomach.
“Harry brought Sauron. He’ll protect you both.”
Aaron carried her out and into the apparition point on the island. The boat had gone by the wayside, but the point was well guarded. He expected the Dementors to put up a fuss, but they didn’t. Aaron felt Spencer wrap an arm around him before he was pulled away.
They didn’t land where Aaron thought they would. There was a line of House Elves on the front porch of a massive Manor House. Aaron had seen pictures of Reid Maor, but this wasn’t it.
“Nibby, make some of the tea that mom likes and bring it to the front parlour. Qan, Paddy, no one comes inside.”
“Who is this?” One of the Elves asked. He was dressed in a suit with a pair of glasses on his face.
“Quirinus, meet Lord Aaron Hotchner, Aaron meet Quirinus, protector of the books. Have the reading books set up. I don’t want Jessica without someone reading to her at any point. No one pops, no one makes a noise that’s loud. She was inside of Azkaban with no crime committed for a year.”
“Miss Diana protocol, you’ve got it!” Two of the elves popped away, Qan and Paddy Aaron was sure. That left Quirinus and Nibby.
“He be stupid head still?” Nibby asked.
“Do your Elves hate me?” Aaron asked.
“No.” Spencer glared at the two left and neither shirked under it. “They want to see me happy. Go do what you need to be doing. Nibby food.”
“Yes, Master Pence,” both Elves said before they popped away silently.
“Pence? Do all your Elves call you that?”
“Yes. Except for Nibby when she is upset. She will pull out my whole first name when I get hurt.”
“This doesn’t look like Reid Manor.”
“Because what you see is a glamour. It keeps people away, kids especially. We need to talk to the team, do you want to wait until after Jessica is settled or have them here?”
“This is your house.”
“And your team.”
“Where was Morgan?”
“Spitehex said that he left the island due to bad memories. He is with the others. I can send Qan after them.”
“Will my Elves be able to pass through?”
“I should lie and tell you no but yes. Ever since I found out Queenie was yours, I added all the Elves of yours to the house. If you want to have them all come here for protection, you can. Who would look for them here?”
“You are serious aren’t you? Most wouldn’t care if a House Elf died protecting a house.”
“Because they don’t give a fuck about life. Call all your Elves.”
“Master Pence?” A soft voice called out.
“Bast. Thank you. This is Jessica. Take her to mom’s rooms, please. Help Aaron get her settled in.”
“Follow me, Master Aaron.”
The House Elf lead him through the front door and up to the top floor of the manor. They passed many closed doors, but there was one that was open and he could see a little bit of the bedroom beyond the antechamber. Dark purple silk sheets were on the bed. Bast stopped in front of a door at the end of the hallway. The door opened when Aaron got close.
“She be safe in here. Nothing to harm herself and Master Pence will set up the blood wards so that her magic is bound and she can’t hurt herself. I’ll watch over her until he can set it up.”
“You are Bast?” Aaron asked as he laid Jessica down on the bed. He could feel heavy wards, charms, and spells on the room. He made sure to keep his own magic tight as to not mess with them.
“Yes, Master Aaron. I cares for Lady Diana. I stay with her at St. Mungo’s. I care for Lady Jessica too.”
“How do you know her name?” Aaron asked. He would haven’t been shocked if all of the Elves knew the entire Brooks family with how thorough Spencer seemed to be in everything.
“Master Pence made sure that we would know crazy lady’s magic in case she ever got out. Jessica feels close but not the same. So family. There were two children in the family, Jessica and crazy lady. Mom was a Muggle, father was a Wizard. So only father and sister feel like her, and this is no male.”
“How is Diana doing?”
“Good today. She been in a good mood and is happy. Sitting in her room reading. I can hear her if she needs me. I take care of Jessica, and if Diana feels good, I might bring her with me tomorrow.”
“She comes home?”
“Short visits. She likes the gardens. Have you seen them?” Bast moved to the window and pointed. Aaron pulled the curtain back when he crossed the room and saw the massive walled-in garden. It looked like it had all four seasons displayed. Aaron wanted to go down and visit as soon as possible.
“They are stunning. Who cares for them?”
“Qan does. Master Pence had him train with the best.”
“That’s good. I’m glad that he does that. I am ashamed to say I never thought of that with my own.”
“You good man. You care for them. Now though Queenie doesn’t have to choose.”
“What do you mean?” Aaron asked.
“You and Mater Pence are going to be making a single household. Queenie and Tibby be bonded, and all live in a single house.” Bast said it like it was the most simple thing in the world. “Best be going down now. I care for her, Master Aaron. I help her get better.”
Aaron backed out of the room and saw Spencer standing at the side top of the stairs on the other end. In his hand was a magical communication stone.
“No, Garcia, Hotch is fine. He was settling Jessica into her bedroom. Roy Brooks needs to be found. He can tell us why he swapped his two daughters. I can either send a House Elf to pick you up or send coordinates for a close apparition point to the Manor.”
“I’ll ask the team. Morgan is upset that Haley has escaped. He’s not going to trust a House Elf.”
Aaron sighed. He wondered what revealing who his soulmate was would actually help. Would Morgan trust Reid more or hate him more?
“Garcia, tell the team that travel by House Elf is non-negotiable. Tuffy will be there in half an hour to pick you guys up.” Aaron laid his hand over the stone and cut off the connection. “I don’t give options in cases like that.”
“Yes, but that is you. I can’t order them to do a damned thing, especially Morgan. Call your Elves here.” Spencer was back to closer how he had been that first day, closed off and unhappy. Aaron slipped the stone in Spencer’s pocket and pulled him close. Spencer resisted for a second and then stopped.
“We are safe here. No one can see us, no one can stop us.”
“The second floor is all guest lodgings. If you prefer we can set this up as our base as we hunt Haley. I can allow the team to come and go as they please. Call your Elves so that we can get this place mostly locked down.”
“Spencer,” Aaron called out as his soulmate stepped away, going down the steps. Spencer stopped and turned to face him.
“I can’t give in right now, Aaron. Because if I do, we are going right back up and into my bedroom and we aren’t leaving until I know every single intimate detail about you. My Patronus is a dragon for a reason. I hoard what I love, and right now that’s four things, books, clothes, your son and you. I will do anything to protect you. I would do anything to protect your son. I want you to understand that I will kill her. I don’t care that she threatened me. She could do that for years, but she has laid a claim on you that is not her right. Magic gave you to me, and I am done waiting. She is in my way, and I will make sure she won’t live to stay in it.” Spencer didn’t even wait for him to answer. He started down the steps leaving a shocked Aaron just standing there.
After Aaron had finally gained his wits back, he shook out the images of him and Spencer in bed getting intimate like he said.
“Tuffy, Elegie, Serena, Queenie,” Aaron called out. The Elves appeared seconds later, three looked leary of where they were while Queenie looked scared.
“No allowed up here, Master Aaron. Is only family.”
“Well, for right now that is us.”
Two more Elves appeared behind his Elves. He recognised Tibby, and it had to be his sister Libby beside him.
Queenie looked at him with a shocked look on her face. Aaron crouched in front of her.
“Haley has escaped Azkaban and is trying her level best to do a dark ritual, and the end goal of that is to kill my soulmate. I won’t let her and neither will my mate. For right now Elegie you and Paddy will be on Jack watch. I want one of you with him at all times. If you need help call on any of my Elves or Spencer’s.”
“Why you boss Master Pence’s Elves around?” Queenie asked.
“Because as soon as you want, you and Tibby can bond. Don’t have to worry about splitting houses. Which house we all live in is up in the air, but Master Pence is my soulmate.”
“Oh!” Aaron’s Elves all said at the same time.
“Paddy will join you soon Elegie. Go. Go now.”
The Elf popped away with no sound, and the rest nodded and went back to their own duties. Tuffy stayed there though. He always knew when Aaron needed him.
“You will go to the office and bring the team here. I want the Manor locked down. I don’t want anyone getting in. I’m sure that Serena and Queenie are gathering everything we need but make sure that all the alerts are set up.”
“Yes, Master Aaron. Master Pence be good for you. He loves you like you should have been loved.”
“I’m glad you like him.”
“He want Queenie happy and Tibby happy. He do anything to make them happy so they can be together. He be good for you and Jack. Tuffy go now and work. We gonna be busy moving in here.”
“Who said we are moving here?” Aaron asked. Tuffy blushed a little.
“Master Pence dragon. This his lair. Hard to get dragon out of lair. Plus more grounds here. Jack can be boy. Master Pence would set up pitch if he wanted. Gardens are here. Big enough for all of us to live in and have fun. Be happy here, Master Aaron.”
“You know I’m starting to think all of you Elves think you know better than me what is good for me.”
“Because we do. Gotta go!” Tuffy disappeared with a smile on his face. Aaron chuckled and stood up. He debated between going down and finding Spencer and snooping. He decided on snooping. He moved back to Spencer’s bedroom. There were no wards that Aaron could feel himself tripping. He looked at the anteroom. It had a large table in the corner that could tell served as a holdall for books. There was a desk beside it, and Aaron moved over to it. There was paper and quills. Aaron picked up a piece of paper with writing on it. He saw that it was to Spencer’s mother and set it down.
The bedroom was sparse, but all of it was deep in colours. The wood that made the bed was dark chocolate in colour. The sheets were indeed a dark purple as he thought. Aaron pictured Spencer, naked, splayed on the dark colours and he felt himself react. His soulmate knew what made him look good. Whether it was the clothes that he wore or the furniture around him. There were two doors in the room. Both on the same side and Aaron walked to the first and found it was a large bathroom. There was a sunken bath that looked like it belonged in a spa instead of a house. It was a room of indulgence with actual plumbing inside. There was a shower in the corner, but it didn’t have glass around it. It was just there in the corner. The same was for the sunken bath. There was no privacy at all in the bathroom.
Aaron felt a not too soft tug on the back of his clothes. He turned, and his heart leapt into his throat. There was a Ukrainian Ironbelly Dragon. It wasn’t that small, but it wasn’t full sized. It was a fully corporeal Patronus. It gently grabbed the edge of his sleeve and pulled him along. Aaron had never seen a Patronus act like that. He allowed it to take him all the way down and into the dining room. The table had all of their work scattered over it. And above was a magical map of the world with a focus on where the bodies had been found as well as the ritual site.
“You could have just sent an Elf.”
“He’s much better at finding people. Also, I could feel that you were in my bedroom and if you don’t want Morgan catching us fucking, you’d better stay out of there.”
Aaron was listening to the Elves bickering about the food they were going to make. Queenie and Nibby were good-naturedly bantering back and forth with Tibby just watching in fear as his mother and the Elf he loved got along. It was at least quieter in the kitchen. Aaron needed to think and with Morgan posturing every single second with Spencer, and it was getting on Aaron’s nerves. Sauron was still up with Jessica, and so Aaron hated leaving him alone but his anger was right there under his skin, and he didn’t need to blow up.
“Reid is now ignoring every single word that Morgan says. Morgan is close to blowing up, and Tuffy is just glaring at Morgan.”
“Where are Reid’s Elves?” Aaron asked.
“Gone. Reid told them to scatter. Paddy is of course with Elegie watching over Jack. I agree with Morgan, Hotch. You need to fess up to who your soulmate is. They are not safe.”
“How? That information is only in my head and his. If I reveal him, there is no chance of safety. He’s safer hidden.”
“There are other ways of finding a soulmate.”
“What-” a loud crash from the dining room had Aaron up on his feet, and he took off out of the kitchen with Prentiss on his heels. Dave, JJ, and Garcia were along the wall at the back of the room and all looking at the other end where a dragon was. It wasn’t a Patronus like had snagged him before. Aaron knew that breed. Peruvian Vipertooth. There were none that were in the English Isles that Aaron knew of. “Dave?”
“I think that Morgan found Reid’s snapping point. I don’t know what he said to Reid, but this is the result. I wasn’t aware that dragons were an Animagus breed.”
“Morgan, I’d sit still and not do a damned thing. Peruvian Vipertooths primarily eat goats and cows, but they adore the taste of humans.” Aaron moved closer, and he heard the utterance of Dave, trying to get him to stop. Morgan looked scared as hell as Aaron drew level with Spencer’s head. “What did you do?”
“I ask-” Morgan stopped when Spencer growled at him. “I told him to tell me where he was hiding Haley. Hotch, man, none of this started until he was on the team. He has to be hiding her. I don’t care that his father was hurting his mother; obviously, Reid is taking after his father. Look at what he allowed her to do. He condemned a woman to live in prison to protect Haley.”
“How can you hate someone you have never known, nor even tried to get along with that much, Morgan?”
“What the hell is wrong with you, Hotch?” Morgan demanded.
“Spencer,” Aaron said.
The dragon huffed and didn’t even look at Aaron, so he laid a hand on Spencer’s shoulder.
“Don’t bite him. I’m sure that all that anger makes him taste bad.” Aaron tried to pull back on Spencer a little, but he stayed right there. “No one believes him, Reid.”
The silence in the room told Aaron another story. He looked up at Prentiss, JJ, Garcia, and even Dave. There was hesitance to the looks on their faces. There was only a single way to fix it all and Aaron knew it.
“You all want the name so bad, don’t you? You want to make sure you are protecting my soulmate. From whom? Haley?”
“From Reid. Hotch, I don’t know what he has you believing.”
“What would you do with the information about my soulmate?”
“I’d make sure they were protected! From everyone.” Morgan looked at Spencer.
“Out of every single person on this team, Morgan. I have the least to fear from Spencer.”
“That’s the second time you have called him by his first name,” Prentiss pointed out.
Before Aaron could answer Nibby entered the room and glared at Spencer before looking at Morgan.
“That be it. Stupid wizards and their stupid idiot brains. Master Aaron take him away. I won’t have him in my house making my Master mad. He goes by your hand or mine.” Nibby moved over to Morgan and put herself between him and Spencer. “Go nows, Master Aaron.”
“Morgan, stand up.”
“What the hell is this?”
“Easy, Spencer would never hurt her, and I agree. You are stupid enough to make a threat against him in his own home. He’s been nothing up upstanding with you. Dave take him back to your place, I think that maybe everyone else should go as well. Tempers are high right now.”
“I don’t think that leaving you with him will be a good idea,” Dave said.
“Prentiss, Garcia, get Morgan out of the room. JJ, stay behind. You too, Dave.”
Aaron kept his hand on Spencer’s shoulder as Morgan was led out of the room.
“Aaron?” Dave asked, but as soon as the doors shut, Spencer turned from his Animagus form back to human. He didn’t even say a word as he left the room. Aaron looked at his retreating form. He wasn’t sure what was going through his mind.
“You two are bound for silence.” Aaron waited for them to make the oaths and swear on their magic. “Spencer is my soulmate. He’s known since the day he turned seventeen and has done his level best to protect me from afar. Haley’s journals that she kept, he was the only one to read them. He’s kept an eye on Haley in Azkaban and stayed away from me until he figured I was ready. Dave you and I both know that I’ve not been ready to date or anything remotely like it. He’s used to getting treated like shit from everyone else in the world, he thought that you guys finding out the truth of why he killed his father, even on accident would make at least this team see him different but I guess that is not happening. So you two will know, and once Morgan has calmed down, I’ll tell the rest of the team, but they will be bound as well. What did Morgan think Dave that me finding my soulmate would what have me see Spencer in a different light?”
“Morgan has been afraid that Reid has been seducing you and I told him that it was insane that Reid would rather go after Prentiss. Those two get along well.”
“They do. I could tell from the start I was attracted to him, but we both kept it professional. Potter put him on the team for the reasons that he stated. I don’t think he knew that Haley was going to escape and go on a rampage to keep me from my soulmate. I thought that no one knew that I visited the Book every single year on the date I found out that I had a soulmate. Which oddly enough was Spencer’s birthday. He…” Aaron trailed off as he watched Sauron slither into the room, full sized. The snake easily navigated around, showing how secure he was in his domain. Aaron watched him shrink as he got closer and then he started up Aaron’s pant leg. Aaron held out his hand when Sauron got to his leg, and he moved to start up the arm. By the time he settled on Aaron’s shoulder, he was under two feet long. “I think that Sauron would like me to go with him. Dave, get him to see reason. Potter and the ICW will fight to keep him on the team as Potter is correct, we are all light Wizards and Witches. There is darkness coming, and we need help fighting it. He’ll be the one removed, and right now I see him as a threat to my soulmate. If he makes a move even before he knows, I can’t say what I’ll do.”
“I’ll make sure that he’s not a threat.” Dave looked shocked while JJ was just stunned.
“I don’t know what to say. He’s good, despite being a grey Wizard.”
“I know that the last war with Voldemort didn’t help in the opinion of grey Witches and Wizards but why are they seen as just as bad as dark ones?” Aaron asked. He didn’t understand it. Worldwide there were more grey than light and dark put together.
“It’s the Ministry. Look at the staff here. Over ninety-five per cent are light. The grey ones that are employed come from high rankings families. It’s part of why Voldemort was able to take power like he did. Grey wizardry is still seen as evil, and it allowed many to be jaded. He pulled from grey wizards and dark more because they are seen as evil. Just as Muggles see gay men as evil. Right or wrong, it’s the view. And when those who are being cast aside try and speak up, try and show it, they are battered down. We are a society that has allowed our Government to shelter us to the point that we see growth as evil. Potter’s generation is fighting that. Slow but then they are still just coming up in the world. Give us a decade and see where we are.” Dave’s speech ended, and Aaron knew that he had been thinking about it for a while. “You take care of Reid, we will take care of Morgan.”
Nibby was there to see them out an Aaron was thankful. He started up the stairs and moved to the bedroom only to find it empty. He began to move out when he heard water running. Aaron opened the bathroom door and found that Spencer was in the shower, leaning against the wall, head hanging limply on his shoulders and almost scalding hot water running over him if the steam was anything to go by.
It only took seconds for Aaron to make up his mind. He stripped naked and moved towards his soulmate. As he stepped over the subtle change until the water changed on its own and seemed to cool down. Aaron plastered himself along Spencer’s back, wrapping his arms around him.
“I have Vipertooth antivenom on my person at all times. I’ve only ever bit one person, and it was a rapist. He dragged a woman into an alley and knocked her out. I changed for the first time that day and bit him before I even knew what I was doing. Aurors were on the scene as quick as lightning, but they did nothing. They watched him die painfully with his pants around his ankles and a bloody knife in hand. I wasn’t even questioned about it. I guess they thought the evidence spoke for itself.”
“I wouldn’t have blamed you if you did bite him, though it would have proved his point.”
“You told Rossi and JJ right?”
“I did and bound them to secrecy. I will tell the rest of the team tomorrow. We need to have this settled before anyone can even try and separate us. Your dragon sees me as yours, and he’ll do anything to protect me.” Aaron trailed a hand down Spencer’s belly and stopped just above the swell of his cock. The slight tension in Spencer’s body relaxed, and Aaron cupped his cock. Aaron grinned as he started to stroke it. Aaron had never done anything like this, so he went with what he liked. “I’ve been dreaming for weeks.”
“About?” Spencer asked. The younger man pressed back into him, slotting Aaron’s cock between his ass cheeks. Spencer moaned as Aaron started to rock into him, stimulating his cock as he stroked Spencer’s.
“A lover. Waking me every single morning with sex. It started when you joined the team. I wake up with my release cooling on the sheets, and I feel better than I have in a long time. I want this, Spencer. I’ve wanted you from the moment we had our little dinner date as you call it. You gave me the space I needed to wrap my head around everything. You’ve told me you love me and I understand that you do. I am not there yet, but I want to be. I will get there. Right now, all I can give you is that I trust you. I trust you with my body. I trust you with my mind, my heart, and my soul. I trust you with my son.” Aaron used his other hand to hold Spencer exactly where he wanted him, his hand picking up speed. After several minutes, Spencer came with a cry, his knees going weak, Aaron was the only thing holding him up. The water shut off on its own and a drying charm turned on. Aaron chuckled into Spencer’s neck. “You have the best bathroom in the world.
“Being learned has its perks. Setting up things like this is easy if one has the knowledge. Did you look in my closet?”
“No. Should I have?” Aaron was enjoying the warm air of the drying charm as it worked them both over.
“I don’t know where exactly you were when my Patronus found you. I’ll have to do some cleaning out to make room for your clothes.”
“So it’s a done deal that we are moving in with you?” Aaron wasn’t going to fight it. He hated the Manor even after the remodel, but it was still the family home he had grown up in that he hated.
“You hate the Manor. You only stayed there because you felt safe there. That I learned from Jack in his last letter. Plus that place is too small for all the Elves.”
“We won’t need to replace Queenie in my household. How will Libby take to having her in the kitchen?”
“Oh, I plan on sending her to Italy still. She’s willing to learn, and we could do with some new food in the house. I don’t think that Libby will mind. Queenie has her eyes on babies so Libby will still be needed.” As the charm wore off, Spencer turned around in Aaron’s arms. He pulled Aaron into a deep kiss. Aaron gladly gave into it. This was so much better than his dreams. He reached up and found that Spencer’s hair was just as soft as he thought that it was going to be. He buried his hands in Spencer’s hair and held his head right where he wanted him. Aaron had never grown his hair long as was the fashion of Lords. On Spencer, it looked perfect.
“Sending my House Elf for training?”
“You like me bossy.” Spencer’s hands trailed down Aaron’s sides, and his thumbs pressed into the skin on the front of his groin.
“I do. I like it when you throw your intelligence around. I get aroused, and it doesn’t go away.”
“What do you want to do right now?”
“I want you to do what you said. You getting intimate with my body. Making your possessive self happy.” Aaron thought about what his dream lover had been doing to him in the dreams. He wanted that, only in real life and with Spencer.
“We won’t leave the bed, and we need to eat. So want do you want to eat?”
“What options do I have?”
“My Elves have never not found something that I want. So anything really.”
“Fruit? A big plate of it that we can snack on all night.”
“And cheese. Libby makes this pepper jack cheese that I just love. It would go wonderfully with a fruit plate.” Spencer kissed Aaron’s cheek and then slipped from between him and the wall of the shower. Aaron watched him move over towards a door in the side of the bathroom. Aaron used his image in his head to figure out that it went to the closet. Aaron followed him and found that he was sure he had stepped into Dave’s closet. There were clothes everywhere, and a lot of them were purple. There was a small area dedicated to robes that ranged from every day for the Ministry and some that looked like they cost just as much as a first born would have gone. There was also one that Aaron had seen him in at the Malfoy ball that spring. He had seen pictures.
“Are you sure that you have anything you can get rid of?” Aaron saw Spencer pulling a robe off of a hanger in the back. It was a little big for Spencer in the shoulders, but it was silk and dark grey colour. Spencer held it open, and kind of waved it at Aaron.
“Based on the size of robe I have seen you wear in the few times you’ve been in the Wizengamot over the last few months, I think this should be a perfect fit. If not, tomorrow we can have Nibby take care of resizing it.”
“It should be weird that you have a robe in my size.”
“You are not exactly comfortable in your skin, as it were, and there is no way that you’ll be comfortable with an Elf in the room if you are naked. So a robe is the only other option for tonight and in the morning.”
“You go naked in front of the Elves?” Aaron asked. He stepped up and slipped into the robe, just the thought of being naked in front of his Elves was disturbing.
“They raised me, and that meant helping me change as a kid. Father wasn’t exactly caring at all and mom was unable to help. Nibby, Libby, and Tibby are the main ones, but the others have come in before while I am showering.”
“That’s going to stop. I can’t…” Aaron felt his erection wilt a little, so he pushed that out of his mind.
“It will.” Spencer pulled a second robe off, purple in colour of course and slipped it on. He stepped up to Aaron and kissed him again. His hands slipped between the robe and Aaron’s skin. “Let’s go to bed, Aaron.”
“Why did we put robes on to go to bed and have sex?” Aaron asked.
“Because you’ll want a robe close and summoning a robe would have had a ninety per cent chance of getting you a robe in my size. My shoulders are not as broad as yours.” Spencer pulled on Aaron, kissing him as they made their way into the bedroom. Aaron allowed Spencer to spin him just a little so that he was the one being pushed onto the bed. Aaron shrugged out of the robe, and when he slid back onto the bed farther and shifted to where he was in the middle of the bed, Spencer tossed it on the small hanger on the wall by the bed. The only thing there was his robe and a necklace of some sort. Aaron filed it away to ask about later as Spencer crawled onto the bed and straddled his waist, robe still on. It was a match for the colour of the silk sheets on the bed.
“So did you like the colour purple and it happened to make you look, spectacular or did you start to like purple because it made you look spectacular?” Aaron asked as slid his hands up Spencer’s thighs, feeling the silk under his touch. He was finding that silk was his new favourite thing in the world.
“I’ve liked purple since I was two.” Spencer leaned forward, bracing a hand on the bed right at Aaron’s head, looking down at Aaron. “So tell me about these dreams. What have you and your dream lover done?”
“Frottage only. I could never talk him into more.”
“He sounds like he was a good teacher.”
“I’ve not had a lover in…” Aaron didn’t want to say her name or anything to do with her.
“The gossip surrounding you and your unwillingness to do what all Lords need to do and take a spouse or even a lover is well documented. You can’t tell me that you haven’t jerked off in the past fifteen years.” Spencer leaned down a little more and breathed in Aaron’s space. “Show me what you like.”
Aaron closed his eyes and breathed deeply before he exhaled. He let go of Spencer’s leg and reached to grip his cock. As soon as he touched his cock, a thin coating of lube encased his cock. Aaron found his rhythm easy, his hand wrapped around his cock tightly, almost to the point of being too hard. Spencer leaned back up, and Aaron could feel his gaze on his hand, on his cock, and it made it all that much more. He got himself right to the edge before a hand stopped him.
Spencer took over, replicating the exact pressure and speed. Aaron opened his eyes to watch. It was the first time that anyone had touched him sexually in over fifteen years. His breathing hitched and just for a second there was a fear there. His lungs tried to expand even farther, and he couldn’t exhale. Spencer let go of his cock and draped over him.
“Let go,” Spencer whispered.
Aaron grabbed his hips and rolled them in the bed. Spencer settled underneath of him, and he looked exactly as Aaron thought that he would. Aaron shifted to his knees and reached down to grip his cock. The look on Spencer’s face the second that he got what Aaron was doing was worth it.
“You’ve claimed me.”
“Is this how you are going to claim me?” Spencer smirked at him. Aaron came over Spencer’s stomach. The younger man pulled him down and wrapped his arms around him, holding him right there.
“No. It’s not the only way. I just haven’t figured out the rest.” Aaron was sure that not getting out of bed for the rest of the day unless they had to was going to be one of the better days he had had in a while.