Anita/Astoria || You Gotta Do It Well

thisdevilwearswestwood:

Astoria just listens, jaw set, and nods when Anita finishes speaking. She’s still shaking, but it’s more manageable now, and she takes the box indicated and sets it on the table, rummaging through it. After a few minutes of searching, she swallows hard.

"If it is Alecto—if she’s alive—what are we going to do?" she asks quietly, not looking at Anita. "I mean, do we tell the others or do we handle it quietly and efficiently? Dispose of her ourselves, before she can hurt anyone else? If it’s her, she’s got someone in with the heirs," she adds. "We don’t know who we can trust. So if she is still alive, or if we find out it’s someone else, we’ve got to find a way to get rid of them before they can find out that we know."

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If Alecto is alive,” Anita murmurs, already rifling through the documents. “That is a very big ‘if.’ Should it become a concern, however…you must promise to let me handle it. Can you do that?” She flicked her eyes to Astoria’s, letting a bit of the old steel surface from where it had been lying dormant. “Do you trust me?”

Anita/Astoria || You Gotta Do It Well

thisdevilwearswestwood:

Astoria follows after Anita like she has neither a mind nor a will of her own. When she looked down at her hands they were trembling, though she didn’t feel it—it was as if she’d entirely dissociated from her own body and was watching a stranger’s. It was eerie, but more than that, it was downright annoying. If I’m only now going to start showing symptoms of panic and trauma, I’m going to scream.

The archives were more than a little impressive, and Astoria raised her eyebrows as she looked around, as if willing herself not to be such a mess. “So, what, did you cover up a murder or something to get this kind of access? I know Shacklebolt’s got his secrets but I’m starting to wonder if you’re not in on them too,” she commented, eyes following the movement of the papers.

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Anita notices Astoria’s trembling hands, but keeps walking until they are safely in the middle of the shelves, surrounded and secluded. Then she very carefully cups Astoria’s face.

"Listen to me," she says firmly. "This is a floor you have never been to in the Ministry - this is a blank slate. The eleventh floor was created after the war specifically for archives. You are safe here with me. I would not have brought you with me otherwise." She cleared her throat, letting her hands fall to Astoria’s shoulders. "Minister Shacklebolt and I are old friends. A story for another time, perhaps. Now to the tedious work."

She heaved a box off a shelf. “Grab the one to my left, and we’ll take them to the tables, yes?”

Anita/Astoria || You Gotta Do It Well

thisdevilwearswestwood:

Astoria raises her eyebrows but almost immediately plasters a false smile on her face, one that would be convincing enough to anyone who didn’t now her. She watches Anita’s behavior with a raised eyebrow, but she doesn’t say anything. Her knuckles go white, however, as the lift jerks into motion, and she takes a long, shuddering breath in.

The last time I was in this lift, she thinks, I was on my way to my sentencing. Not guilty by way of coercion and threat, with nothing added on to time served. Thomson and Lorelei had to catch me because I collapsed, she remembers, and she closed her eyes, willing her breathing to slow.

She doesn’t feel panicked, or anxious, but her body isn’t quite getting the memo and she wonders if she’s about to start hyperventilating. Luckily, the lift comes screeching to a halt and the doors open, and Astoria all but bolts out of them.

Anita walks calmly after Astoria, keeping close to her. “Very well done, pajarita,” she murmurs. “Very well done, all will be well.” She leads them to an empty desk on top of which a ruddy fox is curled up. “Anita Salceda, Astoria Greengrass - the Minister has told you to expect us, yes?”

The fox opens one eye, blinks it slowly, and twitches its tail.

"Thank you," Anita says briskly, and gently navigates Astoria to the shelves of the archive, towering and seemingly endless, papers rustling as they flapped from box to box, organizing and reorganizing as history continued to be made. "We’ll be near the middle, I should think," Anita lets Astoria know, and she leads the way, letting her smile settle into a grimmer, more focused expression.

Anita/Astoria || You Gotta Do It Well

thisdevilwearswestwood:

"And here I thought it was the torture," Astoria mutters under her breath, looking up at the man behind the desk skeptically before handing her wand over. She feels naked without her wand—she even brought it everywhere with her in Los Angeles. As soon as it is in her hands again, she follows Anita, walking briskly and looking ill at ease.

She had no idea if she really wanted to know the answer to this. If Alecto was alive, it was a betrayal, and it put them all in danger, and if Alecto was dead… how would she handle it if she finally could feel again, only to feel the crushing weight of Alecto’s death one more time? She took in a long breath before looking at Anita. “Where do we begin?”

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"I need you to look slightly less grim, querida,” Anita says quietly, if with a slight smile to Astoria in the hopes of gaining one in return. “Stay close to me. All will be well.”

She clears her throat as they enter the lift - thankfully there’s only one witch in it who gets off as they step in. “We begin in the archives,” she replies. “Things have been moved around since last I was here - we are going a bit underground, pajarita.” Keeping a pleasant little smile firmly in place, she fishes a blank business card out of her purse and holds it aloft as if to say, Here it is.

"Level Eleven, please," she says politely, and the lift shudders to life. Thank you, Shacklebolt, Anita thinks as the two descend into the bowels of the Ministry. We have taken different paths, perhaps, but I will not forget this.

Anita/Astoria || You Gotta Do It Well

thisdevilwearswestwood:

Astoria stumbles as they land in the Ministry, brushing her trousers and blazer free of ash and shaking her hair out. She has to jog a bit to catch up to Anita, and she looks around curiously. “It’s been years since I was in here the last time,” she mutters, “and it was usually with my head forced down and flanked by Aurors. You’d think an underfed girl of sixteen without a wand wouldn’t pose quite as much of a threat,” she adds wryly, looking around freely now.

The Ministry headquarters are massive, and though it’s no longer quite so heavy with uncertainty and fear as it had been during her trial, there still seems to be an almost palpable sense of loss. The Ministry suffered as much as the rest of us, Astoria muses, keeping close by Anita. Regardless of that loss, she doesn’t feel safe here.

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"Oh, I daresay you were not missing much," Anita says quietly. "Underfed teenage girls with a penchant for speaking their mind are surprisingly frightening, Astoria, wand or no." 

She leads the way toward the golden gates next to the security desk. “Two guests, Anita Salceda and Astoria Greengrass,” she announces briskly to the wizard behind the desk, who looks both women over briefly before holding out his hand for their wands. “It’s been a few years, hasn’t it, Eric?” she continued mildly as Eric grunted, weighed the wands on his little vibrating scale, and handed them back, along with two visitor badges. Anita smiled. “Come along, Miss Greengrass, we have our work cut out for us.”

 

Anita/Astoria || You Gotta Do It Well

thisdevilwearswestwood:

'Domesticated' is never a word that will suit you, Astoria thinks with a surge of immense fondness. Is fondness an emotion? She’s not sure—she’s fond of flying in the same way, so it’s hard to tell. She thinks back to a series of books she read as a child and has to suppress a smile. After all, you’re not a tame lion. “You should probably tell me what, exactly, your research is,” she points out. “This way if someone asks I can actually tell them something.”

In moments like these, Anita’s more her mother than her professor, and more her mother than Veronique has been in years (and in another life it would be hard not to resent Veronique for that, but at this point Astoria has stopped bothering to try not to resent the people who she feels don’t do right by her. It’s better this way.) “Lead the way,” she says, raising an eyebrow, and she grins. “I’ll play nice.”

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"Oh, it’s highly secret," Anita explains airily as they reach the fireplace. "I’m working on a new book, you know. Genealogies, specifically the pureblood lines. You asked to come along today as we will be delving into whatever the archive has on Elisabeth D’Argentcour - it is only natural you would be curious, and of course, I would bring you along, as you can provide personal insight to what can often be a very cold, very impersonal process."

Tossing the Floo Powder into the fire, she steps in, says very clearly, “The Ministry of Magic,” and spins away in a whirl of green flames and ash. When she opens her eyes, it is to the hall of the Ministry, smooth and sleek and and ripe for the taking. 

"Come along," she calls to Astoria as she, too, stumbles out of the fireplace, and the two make their way across through the shifting mass of people on the Ministry floor.

Anita/Astoria || You Gotta Do It Well

thisdevilwearswestwood:

Astoria hardly expected Anita to agree, let alone that they’d be able to do this today, but she’s pleasantly surprised. She arrives at Anita’s office when instructed, looking for all the world like an intern of some sort. She’s even wearing the glasses that she normally only uses when reading late at night. “Ready whenever you are,” she says pleasantly, not sure if she’s pleased that Anita’s taking her ridiculous paranoia seriously, or if she’s pleased that anyone is taking her seriously.

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Anita smiles. “Excellent,” she says briskly, and with a flick of her wand, the fireplace on the far side of the classroom roars with a sudden burst of flames. “Now, granted, the Ministry and I have had our quarrels,” she continues, her heels clicking on the stone floor as she leads the way to the fireplace, pouch of Floo Powder in hand. “But I am thoroughly domesticated now - all evidence points to total assimilation. Besides, Shacklebolt owes me a favor.”

Tipping some of the powder into Astoria’s palm and still smiling, pleasant as anything, she catches and holds Astoria’s gaze. “I am so glad you’ve taken such an interest in my research, Miss Greengrass,” she says smoothly, “and of course, you will not stray by my side, and we will not be going anywhere near those records that are just a few aisles down.” She winked. “Yes?”

Anita/Astoria || You Gotta Do It Well

Anita locks the door to her office, carefully instructing the doorknob to let any guests after two o’clock know that she will be unavailable until eight at the earliest. Giving her attire one last, quick assessment, she straightens, pleased, and turns just as Astoria enters the classroom. 

"Astoria," she greets the younger woman. "Ready to go?"

If any students would like any extra help, you may always ask.

thisdevilwearswestwood:

I don’t know. So far, the only things I’ve gotten back are anger and irritation. There was a very short flash of fear, and hope, back in Los Angeles, but it passed and hasn’t come back.

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I want to see the records from the team that went to collect her body. Think we can get access to those?

Hmm.

I have a few strings to pull, Astoria - meet me in my office after lunch, please.

If any students would like any extra help, you may always ask.

thisdevilwearswestwood:

This is going to sound wild, even for me, but what if Alecto Carrow is still alive?

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I mean, I have yet to see someone survive cyanide poisoning—at least, not with that much cyanide—but I suppose there’s a first time for everything, and it all just seemed too easy. She taught me all my tricks. I shouldn’t have been able to fool her.

Am I just being paranoid?

I will admit that it’s somewhat of a stretch.

But her name does seem to keep coming up. There are no coincidences. It is worth looking into, certainly. 

Does the potion allow for paranoia?

If any students would like any extra help, you may always ask.

thisdevilwearswestwood:

…how do you feel about breaking into the Ministry of Magic?

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Well, I will have to check my schedule, but I suspect I could fit it in somewhere.

If it’s records you’re looking for, rest assured I’ve been through all of them at least three times.

If any students would like any extra help, you may always ask.

thisdevilwearswestwood:

I’m going to graduate with flawless grades if only out of spite at this point.

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I have—suspicions. And I’m not sure if they’re coming from paranoia or logic.

That’s the spirit.

Well, let us hear them, then.

If any students would like any extra help, you may always ask.

thisdevilwearswestwood:

I know. I need to get ‘E’ or higher on my NEWTs for Transfiguration, Potions, Charms, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. I’ve got everything but Transfiguration in the bag.

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This is assuming we don’t all get murdered before we can graduate, though.

[With just a touch of wryness} Mortality is no excuse for letting your grades fall, you know.

Así es el mambo.

If any students would like any extra help, you may always ask.

thisdevilwearswestwood:

I’m not worried. Apparently ‘worry’ fell under ‘emotions’.

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Trust me, Anita. There are plenty of mistakes to go around. And there’s not a lot I did that I consider a ‘mistake’.

Well, I am.

But I suppose there is not much to be done on that account. The main thing is that you are back, and since you are back, you must get caught up. Only a few months left.

If any students would like any extra help, you may always ask.

thisdevilwearswestwood:

Yes, well, when the time comes, I’d rather we have people able to dirty their hands than question marks.

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Why?

You need not worry on that account.

Because I’d rather you make mistakes that are very different from the ones I made.