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Seeley Pichardo

And the spies came out of the water

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Seeley Pichardo

‘New safety measures, aurors in the forest… please do not disturb them.’

 

Seeley had heard the words of Headmistress McGonagall very clearly on sorting night and it wasn’t that she had a death wish - or expulsion wish - as the case might’ve been.  But, she did have an ambition and after a long summer of considering it over the blonde had largely decided that she couldn’t allow herself to give up on the dream. Not the one that she’d been working towards since the moment she’d come home from gymnastics class and told her father she wanted to be a ninja instead.  The day that head girl badge had arrived by owl post it had cemented all her hard work into some sealed file, ready for delivery to Desmond’s grandfather himself if he’d have it.  

 

That didn’t mean the seventh year didn’t have a few more questions first and with a whole task force roaming about the grounds on any given Thursday she couldn’t let the opportunity go to waste.  That didn't mean she was going to be stupid about it.  The forest was off limits but McG hadn't said anything about catching them elsewhere.   

 

Seeley was patient; practiced hours she’d put to work observing her schoolmates in the corridors paid off now as she waited on a set of stairs for a changing of the guard.  Her opportunity to find the right auror to speak to was imperative.  There had been a select few that had wedged that slice of doubt into her brain and she reasoned that only one of those few could potentially pry it back out again.  So when @Julian Trice emerging from the edge of the forest fell into her line of vision she was on her feet and swiping her wand around her head. 

 

“Dissimulo” Fading into the background, a shimmer of displaced air was the only tell as she jogged down the lawn intent on trying to catch up with the man before he could leave the school entirely.  

 

In hindsight, it likely wasn't one of her better ideas to sidle up behind a fully trained - and notably dangerous - auror, invisible and then in the next second to pipe up with the words, "Mr Trice, I've been waiting for you." But, she couldn't resist the opportunity to show off.  Stealth she might have excelled at, tact however, she did not.   

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Julian Trice

Going camping in the Forbidden Forest was like cooking bacon without any clothes on; bound to harm you in ways and places you’d have a hard time explaining to anyone in polite company. Mostly because you really couldn’t misinterpret the name. That, and because it was adjacent to Hogwarts, a hellscape of a place he’d honestly thought his career path would take him away from. Not keep bringing him back to it like the world’s most toxic relationship.  But there he was, off a twelve hour shift that had consisted of him and two other WCU blokes alternating between taking field notes, an impromptu rap battle with the son of some Centaur clan leader, and a discussion that had gone quite heated over the benefits of male mani-pedi’s; Julian firmly on the side of having someone rub his feet and sort out his gnarly cuticles, because if you couldn’t enjoy the little things in life, what the flack could you enjoy?


Apparently not even a goddamn cigarette, because one minute he was hunching in on himself to try to get his bic lighter to catch, and the next, he was coughing out a lungful of smoke and whirling about to see who’d had the temerity to sneak up on him so efficiently. For one heart stopping second, he’d though the Minister herself had caught him out, too impatient to allow Harry to sack him for his alleged dog murdering side quests, and here he was smoking on school grounds to boot. The voice should have given it away, but in his defense, he’d not gotten much sleep before his shift, and was barely running on fumes as is. 


The cigarette had been meant to get him a little more alert, and had gotten the job done…just not in the way he’d meant it to. 


“Ma’am.” Julian started, coughing into his sleeve, which gave him time to see just who had nearly caused him to drop dead, and scowled like the short girl in-front of him was his ex-wife who was coming round to ask about those alimony checks getting lost in the mail. When he could finally dash the wetness from his eyes without losing too much dignity, Julian eyed the girls robes, noted the colors and noped out of the situation before she'd even started. He knew how Hufflepuffs were, and they were not a good time, thank you very much. (looking at you @Jacqueline Frost @Adrina Althaus-Valerio😒) The hair on his forearm still hadn't grown back from when the shouty one had gotten lucky with her aim. He was not trying to revisit the trauma, kthanks.

 

"Nope. Off the clock, literally off it...for about ten minutes now." he quipped, going for a second round of trying to get his nicotine fix. 


 

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Seeley Pichardo

Thankfully, Seeley had the sense to reverse the disillusionment charm the moment the man had started hacking up a lung.  If she was going to get caught out on the lawn with a dead auror, she wanted to be sure any witnesses saw that she hadn’t had an actual thing to do with it.  Not really. 

 

It wasn’t her fault he was easily startled.  Seeley backed up a few steps, putting more room in between herself and the man in the spirit of unpredictability (and a solid alibi) and pulled a face at the word ‘ma’am’.  Even her mother didn’t like to be called that.  

 

“Oh please, it’s not like I’m about to ask you to save my life.  I can handle that just fine.” She shot back quicker then she intended, recognizing a getaway attempt when she saw one.  But she hadn’t sat out here all afternoon for nothing and the hufflepuff popped her wand out of it’s holster and crossed her arms over her chest.  

 

He didnt even have to kick his fix for her benefit, she’d seen far worse debotchery whenever her father’s old bandmates came to visit or that one time @Professor Santiago showed up at the docks, she wasn’t fussed.  “I want your job.” She said next and then paused, arching an eyebrow for dramatic effect because why not before taking a breath and continuing.  “Well, not your job exactly, I’m not out to take it or anything, but I’m graduating this year and I figured you were a better source then anything I got in my advisory meeting.”

 

She really should have taken more advantage of the proximity to Harry Potter when she’d had the chance, but...

 

The teenager sighed.  A stare-down commenced, because honestly if a grown man was about to try and walk away from her she wouldn’t hesitate to drop him and deal with the consequences later.   

 

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Julian Trice

Julian didn’t care how old he managed to get, being clapped back at by a witch not even out of her teens would always be a little jarring. Not because he was being talked back to so much as every time it happened, he was right there stooping to their level with a douchey comment of his own like he’d missed the seminar on adulting. Thankfully, he’d managed to learn a decent amount of self-control ( despite all appearances to the contrary) and tended to not let whatever was in his brain come tumbling out of his mouth at any given time.

 

This wasn’t one of those time.

 

Ju snorted out a petulant ‘Have it!” on a blue tinged exhale before he could stop himself, because the job had been…well, it had been rough. And didn’t look like it had any plans on letting a wizard just effing live, and here this girl was probably with stars in her eyes thinking it was all a bunch of standing about as bodyguards for one of the few witches Julian genuinely didn’t think needed it. Despite himself, her entreaty for ‘the truth’ about it all brought him up short despite his very real need to get the hell off school grounds like yesterday.

 

He’d been Seeley at one point, complete with stars in his own eyes because @Gerald Arden had made no bones about being a Big Damn Hero, but more importantly, he’d not skimped on what that meant either. At the time, Ju knew the older Slytherin could have told him he wasn’t cut out for anything but looking good like most people did, but he hadn’t and here they were. He'd been grateful for the chance to speak his peace and not be dismissed like so many older people did to teens. He'd sworn he wouldn't be one of those sorts who said things like 'you'll understand when you're older' because that was every effing lie ever. What the hell was the use of putting off for some distant future that wasn't promised when you could just reveal the ending  and hopefully make it as painless as possible on the countdown? Ju sighed, eye rolling like he was 15 and this was some witch begging him to dance and turned to face her.

 

 Seeley didn’t seem put off by his scowl or the fact that he’d been sizing her up pretty blatantly, his brows nearly disasspearing into his hairline when he noted the wand clutched in her fist. Flacking Hufflepuffs.  

 

“You’re serious.” And that astounded him too, because he’d thought she’d been about to start throwing hexes and swears at his head, once she’d gotten his guard down enough in some revenge move for her fellow housemates, not an insider’s view into a possible career choice.

 

“Fine, but first, tell me why you’re not going through official channels for the welcome packet, and I’ll tell you what you want to know.” He eyed her, thinking of Jack and the sucker punch he’d invited, and quickly amended. “Within reason." 

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Seeley Pichardo

In a way it was a dance, not in any literal sense but in the way that someone had to take the lead and the biggest mystery was who would make the biggest grab for it.  What Seeley had going for her, was that she had never been afraid to make a grab for what she wanted and letting any wizard - no matter how old - take charge wasn't something she let happen lightly.   Her thumb traced against an etching in the wood of her aspen wand and she didn't flinch one bit at the scowl that broke into a look of surprise when she demanded explanations.  

 

The stars in Seeley's eyes have faded nearly a year ago along with the light in the eyes of the man that @Alex Sanders had killed.  Until then she had been a kid, anxious and willing to fight the good fight just for the sake of it but not really knowing exactly what that meant but she had reconsidered a lot since then.  Now, she still felt the drive and had no direction and that felt dangerous.  

 

"Why?" She reeled back, annoyed that he would even ask that question given the state of his own reputation, and she'd learned a thing or two about reputations.  "Because no welcome packet at the academy is going to really tell me what it's like.  I've already seen more then that."  She shrugged.  "I used a smiting hex myself to stop a werewolf last year before you lot probably even got up out of your desk chairs." Brown eyes rolled, not quite as hard as they could have but still, it was a hard habit to stop.     

 

It wasn't that she wasn't thankful that someone had come to save them in the end, but there were still images she struggled with.  She worked to pull the attitude out of her voice and find a more conversational tone to continue with.  "If I wanted the party lines I could have gotten them from your fearless leader myself over dinner when I was dating his grandson but I don't.   I've done everything that looks good on paper and it packaged bloody brilliant right up to this fancy badge..." she flicked the thing on her robes before continuing  "...but then you stroll up in here and start flinging curses around and I had to think twice about the only thing I've wanted to do since I was five years old." She probably did sound every bit of the relatively petulant teenager that she was at the moment but she was grasping at floating straws trying to keep the man from leaving.  

Edited by Seeley Pichardo

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Julian Trice

And there it was. He’d been waiting for her to move talk round to his apparent condoning of unforgivables, and Seeley hadn’t disappointed. It was long past the point where mention of it stopped his breath, but there was still a ways to go for him not feeling intensely irked at the topic and letting that show in his very stance. 


He was off the clock and now had to deal with this? Nope. Julian could feel the scowl forming on his face and did nothing to hide it, or the less than impressed set of his shoulders. “Find a new job then, kid. Because it’s not coloring inside the lines, and never was.” 


He’d thought so at first too. That it was as simple as doing the leg work, catching the perp and going home to his wife once quitting hours rolled around. But it had been so much more than that, and above all, not something they even thought to prepare you for at the academy. There weren’t classes on making split second decisions when the lives of people who mattered were on the line in the face of carrying out the mission to completion, or even seminars designed around making sure you were aware of the ethics of a situation. There was just you, your wand, what you could recall of protocol and making sure everybody lived for that second hopefully NOT ill-fated pizza party.  Julian had learned all that long before the albatross of torturing a wolf ( but still a man a bby @Ryker Leigh❤️) was hung around his neck like the world’s worst pimp chain. 


The paperwork, while never-ending and draining as all hell, was secondary. 


Julian pointed up towards the castle. “Look. I know everybody saw what they saw, and I wouldn’t have done it if there was another option, but there wasn’t. It was a lose-lose situation, and this badge-“ he flicked the chain it was attached to around his neck. “Comes with having to deal with it no matter how scared you are, or how objectively wrong it might be anyway. It means more than just handcuff photo-ops and commendations for excellent service. You have to make and live with your decisions in the field, Miss Head Girl, and know if you can or not before even attempting it.”

 

 From where he was standing, it didn’t look like she could. Then again, she hadn’t stormed off in a fit of fury over his words either, so he’d call that a win. He was watching that wand though…😒


“And for me,” he continued. “that meant either having to tell a parent I let his child get mauled, or hobbling an out of control wolf. I chose the out of control wolf, and I’d do it again given no other option.” He sighed, taking a long irritated drag before blowing it out in a huff. For hells sake he was done to bloody death of being called on his fails.

 

“You’re catching bad people doing worse things, getting your guy and stopping the flackery will never be as clear cut as making yourself look good on paper is. Tipping truth serum down a perps throat despite his protests is unethical as hell, but necessary in pursuit of saving lives, and if you're so concerned with the sanctioning of unforgivables, I'd say make peace with it if you're serious about this path, because they clearly don't remain in the safe zone of 'controversial essay topics.'” If she couldn’t grasp that, then he really hoped she did look into another line of work. 
 

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Seeley Pichardo

“Do you really think I want to sign up for arts and crafts hour?” The incredulous look snapped back at the man who could have most definitely hexed her to the ceiling (or the clouds, as the case were).  Seeley didn’t care how many times he’d been given the rundown; she needed to hear this explanation with her own ears to make any sense of it and maybe she wasn’t anyone of any standing but she’d made the effort to chase it out of him.  In her opinion, that spoke for something.

 

The scowl she was being given didn’t phase her, she dished our worse looks herself.  “I don’t care about getting physical or taking on something tough.” Her eyes narrowed back and she bit down on the edge of her bottom lip while she considered what he’d said.  She was ready to hear him out but that didn’t mean she was prepared to buy everything he tried to sell her.

 

“You aim to tell me there was no other option?” She interrupted but the word ‘scared’ coming out of him caused a halt in the beginnings of her tirade.  Fear wasn’t something she allowed herself to feel often and while she had definitely had some inkling of it then, she told herself later she hadn’t had time to feel scared.  Her senses overwhelmed by the sounds of all the screaming and the spells flying; the racing movement of everyone else trying to get out of the way. She found her eyes landing on the badge he’d batted around his neck momentarily before finding the fortitude to speak up again.

 

“I might be young but I am not an idiot.  I know there are more spells then what Foster teaches us in class.”  She still refused to come on board with the idea that an unforgivable was all he had in his arsenal.  “I don’t believe for a second that was your only choice but I am not your conscience. I just wanted to hear there was a choice.  That someone wasn’t forcing your hand.” Which wasn’t exactly what he’d said but she was going to read between the lines. In the end it would be her own decisions she’d have to make and he’d said that much, Seeley could accept that.  

 

She had a much harder time accepting the version of truth Julian passed at her next.  “But they did get bit anyway.” She was less confident now and the tight fold her arms had across her chest loosened.  “I let it happen.” Her own guilt creeped out right there in front of this stranger. It was unexpected on her part, usually so well practiced at locking such things up tight.  However, the determination etched on her expression slipped and faltered into something significantly more uncertain. “So many of them and no one else was helping.”

 

Dark blonde eyebrows furrowed together in frustration and she exhaled a shaky breath she didn’t know she was holding onto.  The moment of weakness was just that, a moment before Seeley pulled her focus back together, physically shaking her head at the mention of truth serums, unforgivables and their so-called ethics.  She saw the two examples as worlds apart.

 

She wanted to stop the bad, to come out victorious against odds that didn’t seem to be in her favor; the thrill of it had always charged her on but handling the failure when it came had never been her strong suit.  “Make peace?” She wondered if he was able to really ‘make peace’ with his own but she didn’t ask. Something else had wormed into her mind as the conversation turned and she couldn’t shake it. Even if there seemed to be much they weren’t about to agree on, he was bound to have advice on something sooner or later.  

 

“I can make peace with a lot of things, but I failed people that trusted me and then turned around to have someone I love…” she stopped and corrected herself.  She refused to use that word.

 

Cared about turn around and tell me I didn’t care about them enough just because I tried to help other people.  How do I make peace with that?”

Edited by Seeley Pichardo

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Julian Trice

At her insistence that there were other ways he could have tried, Julian ground the cherry of his spent cig down on the underside of his lighter and flicked the butt away to give her his full attention, jaw clicking every few seconds as her words worked like a pulley to grind his teeth. His dental hygienist was going to drown him in fluoride if he didn’t knock it off.

 

He felt justified in it though, because it was frustrating to know there weren’t many people he could explain this to without them having experienced a similar horror, only compounded further by the irritating fact that it was all well and good and easy apparently, to talk about what he could have done versus what he did. But he’d bet his meager bank balance they’d all be singing a different tune if the roles had been reversed. For this though, he refused to give ground on it anymore. There’d not been enough time in the moment. Couldn’t she understand that? There was no luxury of ruminating over it with a withered triangle of sandwich, and a weak cup of earl grey when other people’s lives were on the line, and she’d have to suffer the crushing weight of that, and much more if she even bothered to look at the academy’s financial aid packet after this.

 

“Of course there’s more spells, and I know a fair amount of them. I’m also telling you right now,” he bit out, taking  a few more steps into her space, only to be shut down with accusations from left field. He hadn’t told her to make peace with her failures’, because that was a lifelong endeavor nobody could hope to fulfill before they kicked it, and would have corrected her seeing as his back was still up too, when the abrupt change in finger pointing threw him for a loop, and Julian stepped towards her immediately feeling the need to comfort and deny that she’d failed her friends. That was another thing the academy didn’t teach; how to process the guilt of leaving loved ones behind to protect others. Not being there before. Not predicting the flacking future even…

 

He was not cut out for being some teen girls shoulder to break down on though, and he certainly wasn’t the sort who made a habit of ruining people’s lives because they wanted answers to questions they didn’t even realize they’d regret asking. Especially when the answer ran along the lines of compromising who you were for them only to become miserable as a result, or you left them behind and got on with saving the world. She was far too young to be told that love sometimes didn’t work out how we wanted, no matter what path you took.

 

“Time.” It was as simple as that, and yet still a little more complex than his words suggested. Seeley looked smart enough to get all the things he wasn’t saying. Like the fact that it wasn’t wrong to not want your loved ones in danger, it was the part where those same loved ones forgot to recognize them as capable enough to handle the storm on their own, and come back. Sounded like her ex hadn’t gotten the memo.

 

“And a whole lot of therapy. Possibly an expensive booze habit even. For the record though-“ he started, patting down his pockets for a crumpled napkin just in case she started in on the tears. “appreciate that they let you know now, instead of fifteen years in.”

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Seeley Pichardo

Her brown eyes didn't lose focus when the flash of his burnt out cigarette trailed towards the ground from where she was intent on critiquing whatever, in any, emotion decided to show its ugly presence across his face.  A flinch of regret, a hint of apology; something to prove the man wasn't heartless.  That was the general opinion on campus anyway, that they were all as such and she didn’t want to believe it.  What would that mean for her if that was who she wanted to become?  Because as cold as she came across, as closed off as Desmond probably accused her of being now just to help himself deal; Seeley had never been heartless and that had probably been the problem.  It would have been so much easier if she was.  And everything she'd watched happen, and heard and felt and tried to manage, in that hall that night would have that much more easier to forget if she was that indifferent.  


In the end she did get the emotion she was searching for, the validation she hadn't exactly realized she needed, that it was okay to feel something at all.  That aurors on the whole weren’t obligated to be numb and soulless robots working blind orders.  The infringement into her personal space she hadn't really noticed, she was more surprised by the fact that she herself had let out something so personal to a stranger.  The admission of her personal failings had been bad enough but to talk about Desmond flushed her face and drew her eyebrows together in worry and even regret.   

 

Julian seemed to understand more than enough with what she'd blundered out then she almost wished he did and his one word declaration was a word she'd heard before.  Seeley snorted and rolled her eyes, a sigh slipped out.  "You sound like my father."  And her mother,and her Aunt Aida too for that matter.  They'd all told her one by one that time would make her feel better about it all.  "Time is supposed to make it all feel better, I'd rather keep distracted instead."  She scoffed.  "Feelings can bugger off.  I'm not going to therapy and drinking isn't exactly an option for me if you don't realize... but maybe I'll look into that after graduation.  Thanks for the tip." 

 

Seriously, O++ mentoring skills on this man, right here.

 

She waved off the tissue and shook her head, she wasn't about to cry, she wasn't one of those girls.  But the last comment the snuck out of the man that was offering it to her did more the pique her curiosity and a blonde eyebrow arched in question.  Honestly, she'd been raised better, to speak more respectfully in front of adults, espeically ones that probably... possibly... could get back to her father if they wanted to but she was well past caring what consequences her slips in composure might earn her at this point.  Act first, think later.  "Fifteen years?  I take it then, this doesn’t all get easier?”  

 

She was screwed.. And he had… baggage, but she wasn’t going to ask about it.  “Is it even worth trying then?”  


Maybe she should just call it a day with Fletcher then too because what use was any of it if that was bound to implode just the same?  Seeley relaxed some, having moved on from grilling the auror on actual auror related tasks now and apparently settled on something less job oriented but definitely something that wouldn’t have come up in any school sanctioned Q&A.  “I'm just doomed to turn out like you, middle-aged and miserable and… alone?” She shrugged and gestured towards him weakly,  entirely guessing on that last part, of course, but his last comment had all but spelled it out for her.  
 

Edited by Seeley Pichardo

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