FIC: 'Taking a Chance' for miramiraficfic Recipient:miramiraficfic Author:shadowycat Title: Taking a Chance Rating: PG.for mild swearing Pairings: Alastor Moody and Amelia Bones Word Count: ~2000 Disclaimer: Neither of the characters portrayed here belong to me. They're the property of JKR. She has all the money and fame; I'm just in it for the fun. Warnings: None Summary: Two old friends have dinner together. Author's Notes: In Book 4: Goblet of Fire, Harry peers into Dumbledore's pensieve and sees Igor Karkaroff being hauled into court and interrogated by Barty Crouch, Sr. shortly after Voldemort's supposed destruction while Alastor Moody sits in the courtroom and watches. This story takes place the evening before those events occur.
Taking a Chance
The rapid tap tapping on the board in front of her brought a rather grim smile to Amelia Bones's face as she wielded her knife with efficient strokes. Most witches used their wands for almost anything they did in the kitchen. They even animated their cutlery to do its own cutting and slicing, but Amelia felt they didn't know what they were missing. There was something plainly therapeutic about cutting something into tiny regular pieces with a knife and your own two hands. Particularly after a day in court that didn't really go the way you wanted it to.
Ah, well, here her edicts held sway absolutely and any stray vegetable or wayward chop yielded to her authority with nary a whimper. Would that life was always so obliging.
Laying her knife aside, she picked up the cutting board and whisked the mound of vegetables into the pot simmering on the stove. Then she gave the soup a brief stir, adjusted the flame that kept it simmering, and turned away. Just as she was about to check the rolls in the oven, a knock sounded on her cottage door. She glanced up at the clock.
7:10. He was late.
Wiping her hands on a towel, she crossed the kitchen and made her way down the narrow hallway that led to her front door, counting knocks under her breath.
One, two, three...pause. One, two...pause. One more knock, followed by a longer pause. Her grey eyes flashed with amusement that she carefully kept from her lips, and she placed her hand on the doorknob and waited. Finally a shrill whistle pierced the silence and, with a flourish, she twisted the knob and opened the door, being careful not to open it too wide.
"You're late, Alastor. I was beginning to think you changed your mind," she said to the man standing in front of her door, gazing suspiciously into the nearby shrubbery.
Raising an eyebrow, Alastor Moody turned and regarded Amelia through the half open door. "Only a few minutes. I decided to take a new route. You can't be too careful, you know."
Amelia took a step back and held the door open while Moody came inside, still glancing behind him warily. "Do you have any reason to think you're being followed, or is this just more of your usual caution?" she asked as she shut the door behind him, turning the latch. "The war is over, you know." Turning around, she led the way down the narrow hallway towards the back of the house.
"Nothing is really over, Amelia," Moody spoke glumly as he followed her compact form back into the light and warmth of her kitchen. "He wasn't destroyed. I don't care what anyone says, I'll never believe it, and there're plenty of his followers still lurking out there in the darkness just waiting for him to return and start everything back up again.
"You know as well as I do that half of those swearing they were under Imperius are just lying through their teeth to save their sorry necks. And now here's Crouch trying to make a name for himself by bargaining with those guilty, murdering bastards who don't deserve to get off no matter how many other stinking rats they serve up on a platter. It makes my blood boil!"
Grabbing a bottle of wine and a corkscrew from the counter, Amelia thrust them both at Moody with a frown. "You won't get any argument from me, you know. Here, make yourself useful while I get supper on the table."
Moody accepted the bottle and corkscrew automatically and began to pull out the cork while his eyes drifted towards the table long enough to note with approval that the setting, for two, only included one glass.
As Amelia noticed the direction of his gaze, she gave a gruff burst of laughter, slid her hand into an oven mitt and took a tray of hot rolls from the oven.
"No, I haven't forgotten that you won't be drinking with me, Alastor, but surely you don't expect me to drink from that flask in your pocket? Merlin knows what you keep in that thing!"
Moody snorted as he pulled the cork from the bottle and filled her glass with cold clear liquid, not bothering to answer her directly as the answer seemed obvious. Instead he shot her a speculative look as she dumped the golden hued rolls into a wicker basket and turned to give the soup one more stir with her spoon.
"Are you planning to be there tomorrow?" he asked.
Her lips tightened and her monocle flashed in the lamp light as she put down her spoon and took up a ladle.
"No, I do not plan to be there. Sentence was lawfully passed against Karkaroff, and I'm of the belief that it should be carried out to its full extent, as you well know. Allowing criminals, especially these criminals, to get out of prison by casting aspersions on others only encourages lying. Karkaroff has spent long enough in Azkaban now to know what it's like, to realise just what he's facing. He's going to spout any name, make any accusation that he can think of, if it will get him out of prison and away from those Dementors."
She shivered involuntarily. "And who can blame him? Crouch knows that nothing these Death Eaters say can be trusted under these circumstances, but he has visions of grandeur dancing in front of his eyes. Damned pigheaded fool."
Amelia headed for the table with a bowl of soup in each hand. "Get the rolls, will you?" she added as she set the soup down carefully and took her seat.
Grabbing up the basket of rolls, Moody sat down as well, taking an appreciative sniff of the appetizing scent of fresh rolls and good homemade soup. "It smells grand, Amelia."
Her face softened and she threw him a smile as she spread her napkin across her lap. "Thank you. Now, let's see if we can think of something more pleasant to discuss during dinner, shall we? Talking about Barty Crouch and his single-minded pursuit of the office of Minister for Magic will only give us both indigestion."
Moody gave a short bark of laughter and nodded his head. "You're right about that."
Instead of picking up a spoon and dipping it in the soup, Moody paused and looked down at the bowl as if debating with himself for a moment while Amelia watched him tolerantly, making a silent bet with herself, which she won with Moody's next action.
Picking up his bowl, he held it out to her. With a laugh, she picked up hers as well, offering it for exchange. As he reached out to grab her bowl, she commented mildly, "You're so predictable, Alastor."
Her comment froze him in place, a bowl of hot soup in each hand, suddenly unsure which bowl to choose. The last thing he wanted to be was predictable. Predictable got you killed.
Amelia crossed her arms and shook her head, leaning back in her chair comfortably. "I know that caution is important and old habits die hard, my friend, but really, how many years have you known me now? I may not be the world's best cook, but have I ever tried to poison you? You watched me ladle out both bowls of soup from the same pot. When could I have slipped something into your bowl that didn't also go into mine?"
His face reddened. "It only takes a moment, and I was fussing with the wine," he admitted gruffly.
"Don't you trust me?" she asked softly.
"I haven't been here an hour yet," he mumbled.
Amelia laughed and shook her head again. "You really are something, Alastor Moody. I'm not sure just what, but I'll figure it out eventually. Now give me one of those bowls before you lose your grip on them and make a mess. You may not be in any hurry to start eating, but I'm famished."
Handing her a bowl, he put the other one down in front of him and began to eat with only a moment's hesitation. "It's delicious," he said, giving her a sidelong glance. "You're a damned fine cook, Amelia, and no one makes soup like you do."
She shot him a smile as she reached for a roll and picked up her spoon. "Thank you. I know this is your favorite. That's why I made it."
They ate in companionable silence for awhile, broken occasionally by general discussion about their respective days, and the meal passed pleasantly.
Finally, Alastor sat back in his chair with a gusty sigh. "I haven't had a meal that good in weeks. Thanks."
Getting to her feet, Amelia grasped the two empty bowls and began to clear the table. "You have been looking a bit thin lately. You're working yourself too hard. Aren't there any other Aurors in your office? Or do you still think you're the only one who can hunt down the criminals properly?"
He followed her to the sink, her glass and the now empty basket in his hands. "I do bring more in than the rest of them put together. If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. You know that as well as I do, Amelia. You put in some pretty long days, too, it seems to me."
"The length of my day isn't always my choice. You take on more than your share because you don't believe that anyone else can truly do the job. I worry about you, Alastor. You're becoming paranoid. That won't serve you very well in the end, you know. Caution is admirable, but it can easily be taken too far. Sometimes you have to take a chance and trust people."
"I'd have more trust in people if more of them showed they were worthy of it, but they don't. Over and over again, they just prove how right I am not to trust them."
He sighed. The last thing he wanted to do was argue with her. Setting down the dishes, he stepped back. "I should be going. I have a busy day tomorrow."
She laughed shortly. "Busy. You know all you're going to do tomorrow is sit there in that courtroom, glaring at everyone, while you mutter disapprovingly under your breath."
He frowned. "I am, am I?"
"Of course you are. That's what I'd do, which is why I'm not going, but, though I wish you wouldn't go either, I know better than to ask you not to. I am going to ask you something else though." Turning away from the sink she moved closer to him and looked up into his eyes.
"Oh?" He looked down at her seriously.
Fondly, she reached out and stroked his cheek. "Will you stay with me tonight? It's been so long since you have. I know we're both always busy, but let's face it, neither of us is getting any younger." She let her hand drift towards the still reddened gash in his nose. "Or any better looking."
"Speak for yourself. I happen to think these little mishaps give my face character," he growled softly.
"You don't need more character, Alastor," she said. "You've already got more than anyone I know."
His face softened. "You know if I was the marrying kind..."
"Neither of us is the marrying kind, but that doesn't mean we can't grab a bit of happiness along the way, does it? Please stay."
Sliding his arms around her, he pulled her into an embrace and glanced over her head at the clock above the stove. "All right, Amelia," he said as he stroked her wiry hair and tilted her face back up to his. "I'll stay. It has been much too long, and some chances are worth taking." With a smile, he bent to kiss her.