1.  You should be out with your friends, boozing it up at the Leaky Cauldron or traipsing around post-war London. You should have helped plan your sister's surprise party -- which would have been yours also -- but you're not even in the same country she is, and you wouldn't fit in anyway.

Across the ocean, you turned twenty alone (independently, you call it) cramped in a dingy Berlin office, working. The local Wizarding school is listening to you -- really listening to you. They're a destitute collection with tempers that flare worse than Parvati's ever did. You cannot afford to take even a few hours off, lest they feel abandoned.

They're important.

More important than the new barrister's assistant who keeps eyeing you from across the board room table. More important than the smiles you shoot him when you think no one is looking. More important than both of your obvious loitering once the meeting is done.

His face lights up when you introduce yourself (though you know he's aware who you are). The office is eerily quiet when he shakes your hand and asks to take you out for a drink for your birthday. You didn't even know anyone paid attention, but apparently he did.


2.  Her French was good when you met, but now she speaks it as if she's lived in Aix-en-Provence all of her life. She converses with you almost solely in French, and you get the feeling it's a mask. When she speaks in her snooty British English, you see something flash across her face, something that looks like absolute disappointment.

August in Germany is nowhere near as beautiful as August in South France. You've arranged to take her to your hometown to prove it. But she's all work, all the time when you suggest it. She's distracted, and she bats away every idea you toss at her with relative ease. It's not until you offer to show her Rhonda the Riotous's tomb that she snaps in English, her features harsh.

This is one of those moments where you know there's a reason for how driven she is, why she seems like she's running away from something. It's frustrating, and you let it show. You ignore her for a week; she can come to you.


3.  You're certain he's asleep. You can hear his deep breathing and you know that he's out cold, probably dreaming by now. You know that you should wait at least a couple more minutes before rolling out of bed, but it's been weighing on your mind.

You've still got last minute preparations for not only your next prison visit, but your Ambassador's upcoming proposal to Durmstrang. Things are stressful, but you've managed to keep your head on your shoulders firmly. There is no room for failure or emotion.

The blanket slips across your bare hips; legs slide over the edge of your bed. You think you hear him stir, but he's only rolling over. With a breath you've been holding, you exhale, relieved. The floor is cold when your feet land on it. With a shiver, you stand up.

Mentally, you try to remember which boards in the floor creak. The last thing you want is for him to wake up. You don't want to explain that you're leaving him to feel closer to him; your 'relationship' is already strained.

Your toe hits something, and you hiss in pain as quietly as you can. It does not seem to bother him, so you hop lightly across the floor so that you can curse and not worry. But just as your fingers curl around the door jamb, the sound of shifting catches your attention.

"Where are you going?"

You pause for a moment, unsure of what to say. He doesn't even know about Theodore.

"I've got work to do."
 

4.  You should have known better; it was too good to be true. How could someone so passionate turn out so blasť? you wonder to yourself as you turn page after page in a leather-bound journal in her diminutive flat.

There's a crack outside the door, the jingling of keys, and the door opening. You can tell she's been to the prison; she is as emotionally cold as her cloak. She drops her keys on the table, and stops when she sees you. There is a momentary lapse in her window dressing when her mouth drops open, and she asks, "What are you doing here?"

The only answer is the sound of the book landing on the couch. Her expression turns imperturbable, as usual, but you can tell by the way she snatches the book that you're in for an ear load.

How dare you? and It's over! fill the air, and she's using this episode as her reasoning. But you can tell -- no, you can hear it in her voice -- that she's been planning this. There is no emotion when she asks how you could do something so cruel. There's real cowardice when you flinch. This from a girl who cried upon hearing that Muggles were Kissed by Dementors. This from a girl who wrote so fondly about her friends. This from a girl who was devastated at her parents' deaths.

This is from the witch who, also, so ardently defends those who used Unforgivable Curses.

Without a word, you straighten up, nodding. Some harsh words slip through your lips -- words you never meant to say -- and, if it was possible, she turns even more rigid.


5.  Things are not working out as you planned. Blaise is still in prison, and Theodore has vanished. The closest thing you've got to a friend is the boy you lost your virginity to, and you halfway suspect he's been following you around like a puppy dog in the off chance that you'll give in again.

Your sanctions proposal is slow going, and there are many members of opposition; most of them you originally counted as allies. While you're frustrated with the progress, the emissary you serve is thrilled at your potential. She's given you this project to work on -- without her. It's a lot of responsibility, but you enjoy the challenge; your dad would have been so proud.

Unfortunately, Ambassador Jones has also decided you need help. "One cannot run a show without someone to run, after all." She's assigned Etienne as your counsel and assistant. While he is a brilliant barrister, his personality is less than accommodating for you. You have a history, where you wish you didn't. It had been a terribly needy time in your life, and a mistake you could not afford then, and are still paying the price now.

"The main objective is to prevent these sorts of things from getting out of hand, and to set definitive rules for prosecution later on. The Wizarding World does not have a clearly defined set of rules beyond Do Not Show Muggles and Do Not Use Unforgivables, but clearly -- there is a case for everything," you tell him. Your Quick Quill is poised above a new sheet of parchment, scratching idly in your nervousness. This is the first time you've been alone since...

"I missed you, Padma."

And though it doesn't show on your face, it breaks your heart. Poor Etienne, you think, there is no way you can live up to what I had, but I'll still let you try.


6.  The fundraiser is tonight; you're watching her get ready for her big debut. For you, though, it's not about the Committee; it's about her. She is a bundle of nerves, even if she does not know it, and you slide your arms around her waist from behind. Her elbows are bony when she pushes you out of the way and hurries to the dresser. You make a jab that lunchtime is meant for eating, but she doesn't comment.

It took nearly a year to get her to commit again. You're lucky she gave you a second chance after the journal incident. You're lucky she even gave you a third chance after your first (and sadly, not your last) post-coital faux pas. You remind yourself every night that you should give her time to get over the past. War changes people, and now that you're in the thick of repercussions, you're aware of it.

Because of this, you tell yourself that she will get over it, that she needs to come to her own conclusions on this thing between her and Theodore Nott. It doesn't stop you from losing your temper, or making an arse of yourself. Sometimes, she lets the remarks slide, but more often than not, she runs cold and leaves for months. You've been off more than you've been on, so when the camera flashes in your face, you're surprised that you both look pleased to be seen with the other. Though, to your credit, you are insanely happy to just be there with and for her. She does not seem to notice.

"Let's just pretend for once," she whispers in your ear.

You're certain it's not pretend, and you can tell by the way she rests her head against your shoulder and takes a deep breath that tonight will be perfect.

But when you make love -- that is always what you think of it as -- you tell her just how much you care for her, and she does not return the sentiment and suggests that you do not move to England with the rest of the Committee.


7.  No matter how many times you tell him No, he does not accept it. You understand it, but you don't respect it. It's the reason why you did not prostrate yourself to Theodore the time you met in Barcelona. It's the reason why you did not open up to him when he arrived for his appointment regarding Blaise's case. You cannot tolerate needy people; you deal with enough 'children' in your profession.

You're tired of his head games, and, while you know it's because he knows he's lost, your temper rages at him so often you wonder why you don't just fire him. He spends more time in your presence berating you for not moving on with your life (and spending the rest of it with him) than he does discussing the influx of problems you have within the Committee.

The arrangement is growing tiresome, and one day soon, you will send him back to Germany or France.