The first week of class was uncomfortable, to say the least, for the Auror T.A.s. No one mentioned the excursion to The Three Broomsticks, though it was clear that Raydor had not forgotten Flynn's unkind remark, nor had Flynn sorted through any of his animosity. Provenza kept his distance from Raydor, preferring to study her from afar as much as possible. Tao tried to act as if nothing strange were happening, desperately hoping things would work themselves out with time. Sanchez supported his Housemate, helping her find various classrooms and filling her in on certain traditions, but he kept close to his old teammates, also.

In the first few days of class, Flynn and Provenza were not shy about their doubts that Raydor could keep up with the workload. However, she quickly put to rest any doubts in her abilities. In Charms, the team's very first class of the semester, Flitwick had sprung a practical exam. He had coated the desks in an unidentified, skin irritating compound and allowed the students access any books or notes in his classroom to find the solution, promising to release each student upon their success. Raydor had been cleared to leave inside of ten minutes. After a few more similar incidents occurred, Flynn and Provenza quieted. It soon became common knowledge that a person did not want to find themselves facing Sharon Raydor's wand.

"Gentlemen," Raydor greeted on Saturday morning. Her purse hung on her arm and she sipped generously from a travel mug. Her attire was no different than that which she might wear for a day of teaching: blouse, blazer, slacks, and heels.

"I'd set the mug and purse aside, if I were you," said Tao. "Did you bring a change of clothes?"

"Why?" Raydor asked slowly.

"There's a reason Moody's got the nickname Mad-Eye," said Sanchez.

"I assumed that was because of his magical implant," Raydor reasoned.

"That only accounts for approximately 25% of the reason for the name," said Tao.

"6:58. Brace yourselves!" Flynn announced after checking his watch.

"Raydor, get your wand out and toss the bag, now!" Provenza barked.

Raydor set her purse aside by a few feet, then turned back to her team. "Would someone be so kind as to – "

"Brooms! Hit the deck!" Tao shouted, just as bells started to chime the hour.

Raydor suddenly found herself on the ground with the wind knocked out of her.

"Welcome to training, Raydor," said Flynn, rolling away from tackling Raydor and popping onto his feet. He hastily helped her up and pulled her behind a large boulder.

"This is not what I had in mind," Raydor wheezed. She straightened her glasses with a sour expression and kept her wand at the ready and eyes on the sky.

"Team check!" called Provenza.

"Tao!"

"Sanchez!"

"Flynn!"

Flynn elbowed his teammate. Raydor inhaled to call her name, but started coughing heartily instead.

"Flynn's got Raydor!" Flynn called.

While Raydor still felt angry at Flynn, she had to give credit where credit was due. He was certainly proving himself capable of putting aside personal differences to get a job done.

"Tao, how many?" Provenza asked from wherever he had found safety.

"I counted two," said Tao.

"They could just be support. Who's got an eye on the tree line?" Sanchez asked.

"Tree line's clear," said Flynn after a quick visual inspection.

"Don't be so sure," Raydor croaked after another coughing fit. She slashed her wand through the air, sending a shockwave toward the tree line. She and Flynn heard a distinct "oof!" as an unseen foe fell over.

"At least one on foot," Flynn announced. "Probably more."

"This is insane," said Raydor quietly.

"You wanna go back to Internal Affairs?" asked Flynn with a quirky smile.

Raydor narrowed her eyes, the appreciation she had been developing for Flynn beginning to diminish. "You wish," she said with a smirk. "Any rules here?"

"Yeah, win," said Flynn.

"We need cover before the fliers come back," Raydor pointed out after huffing angrily.

"We can't use the trees," said Flynn. "We know there's one hidden hostile. Knowing Moody, there's probably at least two more."

"Then we need to regroup with the rest of the team," said Raydor.

"We're a little pinned, in case you haven't noticed," said Flynn snidely.

Raydor looked across the grounds keenly, her eyes landing on the bright reflection of the rising sun on her metal mug. "We can blind the fliers. If we can force them to land, we can take their brooms."

Flynn followed Raydor's eyes. "And just how do you plan to blind two fliers with one mug?"

"Are you, or are you not, in possession of a wand?" Raydor asked smartly. "Look, here they come."

"Tao and Sanchez are in a position to possibly ambush," said Flynn. "Let's see if we can get the fliers landing there."

"They've made us," said Raydor, eyes glued to the fliers coming back for a second round.

"Lumos!" Flynn shouted. Bright light shone from his wand tip, and he mercilessly focused his spell on the face of one of the fliers. Raydor quickly began work on the second.

"We're not going to get them to Mike and Julio," said Raydor as the fliers zigged and zagged every which way.

"We need them out of the sky," said Flynn. "I'll cover, you improvise."

Raydor kept her light shining until the brooms were over a wide-open area, then slashed her wand again. The first shockwave knocked the fliers off their brooms. With yet another shockwave she slowed their descent toward the ground.

Provenza ran forward and quickly immobilized one of the attackers while Tao engaged in a duel with the other, who had been quick to regain their footing. Sanchez hit the other attacker with a Stunner. The fliers were neutralized.

Raydor turned to confer with Flynn about the hostiles on the tree line, but instead found him being levitated by an assailant.

"Alright, we recognize our mistake," Provenza said loudly, presumably to an unseen Moody, while Sanchez and Tao dropped their wands and hung their heads.

"Yes," said Raydor, "giving up too early!" Her wand blurred from movement and, by the time it stopped, Flynn was back on his feet while his attacker fell over from their legs being locked together.

"Raydor!" shouted a grizzly voice.

Raydor jumped and turned to see an irate Moody limping toward her.

"Just what do you think you are doing?" Moody raged.

"Saving Flynn, sir," said Raydor.

"Without consulting your team at all?" Moody asked.

"They surrendered!"

"To keep Flynn alive!" Moody argued. "There were two more enemies lying in wait! Had you pulled that stunt in real life, Flynn would more than be likely dead."

"I was simply told that our objective was to win," said Raydor.

"Losing a teammate is not winning!"

Raydor very much wanted to say more, but knew there was no way to refute Moody's point, and so swallowed her objection.

"He wants us to feel fear," said Sanchez lowly after Moody had limped off to talk with his assistants, "and he wants us to know what screwing up is and what it can mean. We never win. He makes sure of it."

"Thank you, Julio, but the fact still remains that I didn't think about the consequences of my actions, and I didn't think about the rest of you," said Raydor quietly. "Moody's right. I killed Flynn."

"You would have gotten flowers from me, in the real world," said Provenza. "If that's any consolation."

"You son of a – "

Tao quickly leapt in to cut Flynn off. "We're down to eight and a half minutes."

Raydor pivoted to look at Tao with wide eyes. "Until what?"

"Until Moody throws something else at us," said Sanchez.

"Yeah, he'll be nice and follow a schedule until lunch, then all bets are off," said Flynn.

"Lunch?" asked Raydor. "How long does training last?"

"We go until Moody gets tired of us," said Sanchez.

"And when is that, usually?" Raydor asked, looking at her watch.

"Sometime between now and the dawn of tomorrow," Sanchez answered.

"Seven minutes, forty-five seconds," Tao reminded.

Provenza started the team on a quick recap of their first fight of the day while Raydor looked concernedly toward the front gate. She soon cleared her head, however, and focused on what was happening before her. While the team talked, they addressed various injuries and checked each other over. At the end of ten minutes, Moody approached with brooms.

"You're a new team, and you clearly can't communicate yet," said Moody.

Raydor resisted the urge to bow her head to hide her face with her hair. It was with great effort she kept her chin up even as she felt her cheeks burning.

Moody shoved a broom into each of his intern's hands, then started heading for the Quidditch pitch. "Some team building seems to be in order. Provenza, Tao, Raydor, you're starting as Chasers. Flynn, Sanchez, Beaters. Your opponents have the same set up."

Raydor started to panic internally. She had not played Quidditch since middle school. Was Moody just determined to embarrass her as much as possible in front of her new team?

"Do normal game rules apply, sir?" Sanchez asked.

"For now," said Moody. The group had arrived at the pitch. "You've got ten minutes to warm up and talk strategy. Go."

Raydor looked uncertainly at her teammates. They either did not notice or chose to ignore her clear unease and simply gestured for her to join them in a small circle.

"Tao, time two minutes," said Provenza. "Alright, look, we haven't got a Keeper, so that's going to be our biggest challenge."

"I say Chasers should be primarily concerned with the Quaffle on both ends of the pitch. If the Beaters stay concentrated on the Bludger, they can use it to aid in keeping our goals clear," Flynn suggested.

"Before we go any further," said Raydor somewhat nervously, "I should tell you that I haven't played this game since I was fourteen."

"Just do what you can," said Tao.

"Moody's expecting us to get slaughtered, anyway," said Sanchez.

"Oh," said Raydor smally.

Provenza sighed heavily. "Look, Raydor, we were going to take a beating today, regardless. It's the first time Moody's had a crack at us since the whole deal with Johnson started, so quit it with the pity party.

"Now, I'll cover the West side of the pitch. Tao, cover center. Raydor, you stay East," Provenza commanded.

"East, right," said Raydor with a nod.

"Two minutes," Tao announced. He, Sanchez, Provenza, and Flynn all kicked off into the air almost immediately and Raydor, once again, hurried to catch up.

Flynn and Sanchez started hitting a Bludger released by Moody back and forth while Provenza went off to retrieve a Quaffle.

"Mike, what are we doing?" Raydor asked. She felt relieved that it was Provenza that had gone temporarily. While he had warmed up to her significantly from their first meeting, she still did not feel comfortable asking him for help. Tao, on the other hand, was always eager to share any information he could.

"You, Provenza, and I are going to play catch, essentially," Tao explained. "High-speed, don't-stop-moving catch."

"Okay," said Raydor with a nod.

As the three assigned Chasers started their exercise, Raydor's self esteem began to fall further. She dropped the Quaffle multiple times, or threw wide to her teammates. Once the actual game started, she only got worse. She felt her teammates getting more and more frustrated and, despite her best efforts, somehow managed to play with less skill than when she started.

When Moody finally called for a stop, Raydor was the first to the ground. She kept a small distance between herself and her teammates as they handed in brooms and were told by Moody that they had an hour and seventeen minutes, exactly, for lunch.

"Well, lunch is over in the Great Hall," said Flynn irritably, checking his watch. "Kitchens?"

"Sprout said she'd lock us up with the venomous tentacula if we gave students the impression that they're allowed in the kitchens this year," said Sanchez.

Flynn lolled his head back and sighed heavily.

"We don't have time to go any further than Hogsmeade," said Tao.

"Then let's go smooth talk Rosemerta and see if we can scrounge something," suggested Provenza.

"Rosemerta's not at her bar," said Raydor, "but I live in Hogsmeade. The least I can do for making your morning so miserable is provide a few sandwiches. Besides, it'd give me the opportunity to change."

The men agreed and the team set off. Most of the journey was spent recounting the extended Quidditch practice and determining what could be learned from it. It was only when the group began walking down a street full of cottages that conversation turned.

"I've gotta ask, Raydor," said Flynn. "Why don't you live on campus? The rooms are pretty nice, and as a T.A. you don't have to pay rent, food's thrown in, and there's no commute."

"I've got two very good reasons for not living on campus," said Raydor. "There's one of them now."

A little girl was running down the street as fast as her tiny legs would allow, a tutu billowing behind her. "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!" she shouted. As she came almost within arm's reach of Raydor, she leapt into the air.

Raydor caught the girl, wincing as she did so. Her arms were already sore from Quidditch. "Looks like someone's had some sugar," she said amusedly as she shifted the girl's weight onto her hip.

"Spin me!" the little girl demanded.

"Oh, I don't think I can spin you today, Emily," said Raydor apologetically. "Mommy's arms hurt."

"I'll get you one of the puppy band-aids!" said Emily, beginning to squirm to get free.

Raydor set the girl down and smiled as she watched her run back to the same house she had come out of. Her smile only grew wider when she observed the faces of her teammates. "I told you I was married," she said in form of explanation.

"You never told us you had a kid!" Flynn burst.

"I don't really want people treating me differently," Raydor explained as the group began to climb the stairs to her door. "And it's two kids. Emily's six and Ricky's nearly three."

"Sharon! There you are! Heaven's sake, I thought you said you'd be back earlier!" said a familiar voice. Rosemerta came into view holding a small boy with a pacifier in his mouth.

"I thought I would be, but I underestimated my training," said Raydor. "You've met these guys, haven't you?"

"Oh, I know them well," said Rosemerta with a smirk.

"Make yourselves at home," said Raydor to her team, gesturing to the mismatching couches in her living room. She took her son from Rosemerta and blew a raspberry into his neck, making him smile and squirm. "They haven't been any trouble, have they?" she asked the shop owner.

"Ricky threw a bit of a fit when he realized you weren't home after he woke up, but he settled in. Emily's been waiting by the door for you for over an hour. Nothing to worry about," said Rosemerta casually. "You in for the day or do you have to go back out?"

"I've got – " Raydor shifted her son's weight to one arm to look at her watch, " – about forty-five minutes before I've got to head back out. Are you okay to stay with them or do I need to see if – "

"I can get them for a few more hours, but then I have to open shop," said Rosemerta. "You get yourself some lunch and I'll check next door to see if they're available while I run a quick errand."

"Thank you!" said Raydor sincerely. As Rosemerta left, she turned back to her wary teammates. "Turkey sandwiches okay for everyone?"

The teammates responded in the affirmative and Raydor turned to go to her kitchen, son still on her hip.

"Please tell me I'm not the only one wondering what the hell is happening," said Provenza after a moment of quiet.

"You're definitely not," said Tao. "If Emily's six, then – assuming the traditional order of things was followed – Raydor must have gotten married when she was – "

"Seventeen," piped up a little voice underneath the couch Tao and Sanchez had sat down on. "Mommy and Daddy got married when Mommy was seventeen."

Sanchez looked underneath the couch to see that Emily had half-stuck herself underneath it from behind. "What are you doing?" he asked slowly.

"Looking for my puppy band-aids," said Emily as if the situation were perfectly logical. She wiggled out from under the couch, then walked around the side of it so she could observe all four men. "Who are you?"

Before anyone could answer, Raydor came back into the room. "What all do you want – Emily! Why do you have dust all over you?"

"I was under the couch," said Emily.

"Haven't I asked you not to do that?" Raydor asked, her eyes giving a clear warning to her child. Emily looked down at her feet uncomfortably. "That's what I thought," said Raydor. "Now, the proper way to find out who someone is would be to say hi, your name, and then ask for theirs. Well go on!"

Emily resolutely walked up to Provenza. "Hi, I'm Emily Raydor. What's your name?" she asked unabashedly.

"Provenza," said Provenza, clearly uncomfortable.

"That's a weird name," Emily commented.

"It's my last name."

"Don't you have a first name?" Emily asked confusedly.

"No," Provenza answered.

Raydor cleared her throat before Emily could say something else silly. The little girl then went around and introduced herself to Flynn, Tao, and Sanchez, then returned to her mother.

"What do you all want on your sandwiches?" asked Raydor. "I've got mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, that sort of stuff."

"I know what everyone likes," said Tao, pushing himself off the couch. "Let me help."

"Thanks," said Raydor with a smile.

"Moooooooom," Emily whined. "Spin me!"

"We talked about that already, Emily," said Raydor, heading to the kitchen with Tao.

"Hey, Emily," said Sanchez as Emily started to pout. "You really want to spin?"

Emily nodded with hope gleaming in her eyes.

Sanchez stood and held out his hands. "Here, hold tight." Emily did as asked. Sanchez closed his own hands around the little girl's, then lifted her off her feet and swung her around in circles until she was shrieking with laughter.

"Do it again!" the little girl demanded once Sanchez put her down. She began hopping around at his feet, swiping to grab his hands.

"I think your mom would want you to ask nicely," Sanchez pointed out.

"Please?" Emily asked. "Please will you do it again?"

Sanchez happily obliged and only stopped spinning around when Raydor, little Ricky following her like a duck, and Tao came back into the living room with several plates. Emily lay on the floor out of breath from laughing so much.

"Thanks, Julio, for keeping her occupied," said Raydor as she sat on the arm of one of her couches. Once settled, she swooped down to pick up her son and placed him on her lap before beginning to eat.

"Oh, it's no problem," said Sanchez. "I'm one of seven, and I've got plenty of cousins."

"Seven?" asked Raydor. "Wow, your mother must be a saint!"

"Seven brothers and sisters?" Emily asked, scooting to sit at the coffee table where a little plate with a cute pink pattern had been placed for her. "Mommy, are you and Daddy going to have seven kids?"

Raydor put a hand to her mouth to keep from spitting out part of her sandwich. "No, sweetie, we aren't."

Emily huffed before taking a bite of her lunch.

"I think you've actually got my sister Anna in your freshman Charms class," said Sanchez.

"I'd started to wonder if you two were related," said Raydor. "She seems to be a very nice girl."

"Clearly you haven't seen her with Raquel," said Sanchez, his lip twitching upward. "Raquel's a Junior, and she and Anna share most of their clothes."

Raydor winced sympathetically as she recalled spats she had had with her own sister over clothes growing up.

"So who's this guy?" Flynn asked, tickling Ricky slightly. He seemed to have warmed up to Raydor upon being offered food by her.

Ricky, much more shy than his sister, abandoned his attempts to grab his mother's food and instead scooted away from Flynn's touch and buried his face in his mother's chest.

"Ricky, can you wave hello?" Raydor asked between bites. The little boy only grunted. "Mommy will share her food if you can show Andy how you wave."

Ricky very slowly turned to Flynn and open and closed his fist a few times. Flynn returned the gesture with a wide smile. As soon as Ricky had completed his mission, he looked up at his mother expectantly.

Raydor pulled the pacifier out of her son's mouth, then tore off a small piece of her turkey and gave it to him.

"So what other things can we expect from Moody today?" Raydor asked the room at large. Emily was so preoccupied with her food that she was forgetting to pester those around her, and her mother wanted to take full advantage of the fact.

"Who knows?" Provenza responded sourly.

"The only things we really ever know about our training sessions is that we'll be attacked in some way, shape, or form exactly when Moody says they're going to start, and that we'll be dueling at some point," said Tao.

"And will every week be like this?" asked Raydor. "He won't ever give us an end time or let us off early?"

All the men simply shook their heads.

"He wants to basically over prepare us for the job," said Sanchez before stuffing the last of his sandwich into his mouth. "Long hours, hard work, not really knowing what's coming, that sort of thing," he elaborated after swallowing.

"Great," said Raydor unenthusiastically.

"Well you can always go back to Internal Affairs," suggested Provenza.

"Andy said the same thing earlier," said Raydor. "It's almost like you and he are trying to get rid of me."

"I would never do such a thing," said Provenza in mock outrage.

Raydor narrowed her eyes at him playfully.

"Uhhh, Raydor, I think someone may need changing," Flynn said, pointing his thumb at Ricky.

Raydor craned her neck to observe her son's face. "You just had to wait until I was home, didn't you?" she asked with a heavy sigh. She quickly popped the rest of her sandwich into her mouth, set her plate aside, then stood and headed toward the stairs.

"Wait, no!" Emily exclaimed, scrambling to get in front of her mother. "You can't go into Ricky's room!"

"Why not?" Raydor asked, hardly faltering in her progression up the stairs.

"There's a hippogriff in there! I trapped it earlier. It's so big!"

"Oh?" Raydor asked lightly. "And did this hippogriff break anything in your room before you trapped it in Ricky's?"

The pair of voices died away as Emily responded in the affirmative.

The men had begun exchanging looks when Rosemerta returned. "You boys are still here?" she asked.

"We've still got a few minutes before we need to head back for another beating," said Flynn.

"Well, if anyone deserves a beating, Andrew Flynn, it's you," said Rosemerta. "Your roommate could use one too, I suppose."

"That was uncalled for," said Provenza. "I've never done anything worthy of such a thing in my life!"

"Have you met yourself?" Sanchez asked cheekily.

"Ha ha," said Provenza drily.

"Where'd Sharon go?" Rosemerta asked after shaking her head amusedly.

"Ricky made a little surprise for her, so she took him upstairs," said Tao.

"That boy's got the best timing," said Rosemerta. "I swear he holds it until she gets home."

"You bribe him, don't you?" Provenza asked.

"I'll never tell," said Rosemerta mysteriously. "Do what you can to get Moody to let you all out at a decent hour. Sharon's working an event for me tomorrow and I don't want her to be too exhausted." Without another word, she left for another room.

"Class all week, training today, working tomorrow," said Flynn. "Raydor books herself a little tight."

"Sounds like a personal problem," said Provenza. He hauled himself to his feet. "We've got to get going."

"I'll see if Raydor needs help to wrap things up," Tao volunteered. He headed upstairs and padded quietly down the hall until he could hear murmuring.

"Are you going to be home tomorrow?" Emily asked.

"No, Mommy has to work tomorrow," Raydor answered sadly.

"What about the day after?"

"Well, Mommy's got to get up really early to go do some work at the candy shop – Remember how much you liked it there? – and then Mommy has to go to school."

"But I want you to stay and play with me," Emily pouted.

"I know, sweetie, but Mommy has to work," said Raydor, sounding as if she were in physical pain. "If Mommy doesn't work, you won't have any juice boxes or cookies or spaghetti."

Tao gently knocked on a slightly open door. "Sorry to interrupt," he said uncomfortably. "We've got to get going, or we're going to be late."

Raydor, who had changed into workout clothes and tennis shoes, looked at Tao from where she had knelt on the floor to be at eye level with her daughter. She sighed, turned back to Emily, and kissed her on the head. "You be good for Rosemerta, okay?"

"Okay," said Emily sadly.

Tao pretended not to notice Raydor wiping her eyes as he followed her out of the house.

By the time Moody finally released the team at 9 o'clock at night, he had drilled them on dueling, tracking, and a little bit of interrogation. The interns went to their respective beds, completely worn out from the harsh day.


Author's Note

Hello, lovelies! I hope you're enjoying the story so far. I'm eager to hear what you think of my interpretation of our favorite Major Crimes team in their early and mid-twenties. Leave a review, and have a great week!