Epilogue: The Other Side of the Coin
Two weeks later, Harry Potter sat back in his office chair, reading the Daily Prophet with a secretive smile on his face. Minister Appoints Lucius Malfoy Head of Ministry Relations. There was a nice, moving photo of Shacklebolt shaking Malfoy's hand, the latter looking around with a smug smile on his face. A flashy banner in the background displayed the groundbreaking ceremony of the new wing of the Ministry – the Department of Ministry Relations, of which Lucius Malfoy would lead.
Harry's grin grew wider as he noticed Ron nudging him in the photo, then motioning to Lucius. There was a knowing smirk on both of their faces. The three of them had been seated on the stage as representatives of the Magical Artifacts branch of the Aurors. Ron had leaned over to quip that now Lucius Malfoy definitely owed them for life (which the elder Malfoy overheard and promptly leveled a dirty glare in their direction) when the photographer snapped the photo.
It was true, though. Harry, Ron, and Hermione all penned a truthful account of what happened overseas and made sure to include copious details not only concerning Lucius Malfoy's assistance, but also that of Justin Moretti and the American branch in general.
Not that Kingsley Shacklebolt believed them.
He summoned them to his office, cast several spells on them to ensure they were not Befuddled, and then demanded they have a seat and tell him the entire story.
Which they did.
Only then was he convinced.
Needless to say, Minister Shacklebolt frowned over the current treatment of Malfoy by his employees (though Harry thought he caught a muttered remark about Lucius Malfoy getting a taste of his own potions). However much as he disliked the man, Shacklebolt was nothing if not a proponent for fair and equal treatment for everyone. And after Hermione shrilly lectured him for nearly five minutes on such a topic, he caved.
Harry thought he was very prudent for agreeing with Hermione so quickly.
Shacklebolt revealed that he had been planning the expansion of the Ministry. The Magical Artifacts branch was something of a test to see how it worked. Since their successful mission overseas, Shacklebolt had been toying with the idea of opening the Department of Ministry Relations. According to him, the new department would help shape, maintain, promote, and market a positive image of the Ministry. Additionally, it would support other departments with communication material useful for recruitment. Begrudgingly, Harry had to admit the role fit Lucius Malfoy perfectly. He may be shunned by the Ministry, but a good portion of the wizarding world still respected his family's name. After hearing their story, Shacklebolt dismissed them, called Lucius Malfoy into his office, and offered him the position. All in one day.
Now that it was official, Harry wondered if it was a bit of a bad idea. After all, having Lucius Malfoy in a position of power once more could prove... dangerous. He could manipulate the media, sway potential recruits, and have his hand essentially in nearly every department in the Ministry.
Harry thought about it.
Well, it wasn't anything Malfoy couldn't do already. He still had influence (and money) plenty enough to sway people to his side. In fact, Harry wondered why he hadn't just bought his way back into society like he did after the first war.
His musings were interrupted by the appearance of that very man. Lucius Malfoy stood in the doorway to his office, looking around at the clutter with disdain.
"Is there something I can help you with, Mr. Malfoy?" asked Harry.
Lucius held up several sheets of paper. "I started working on the recruitment information for Hogwarts. As a thank you for helping me, I did the Auror department first." He walked over to Harry's desk and handed him the stack of papers.
Harry expected a simple, half-hearted attempt on the adverts. What he didn't expect to see was his face enlarged to fill nearly the entire page with the phrase Join the Aurors! Fight evil with Harry Potter! emblazoned above his moving image.
"W-what?" Harry sputtered. "You can't have this as our recruitment poster!"
"Why not? It's good advertising," Lucius replied with an air of innocence, his face smoothed into an impassive expression.
"This isn't what the Aurors do," Harry insisted.
"They don't fight evil?"
"You know what I mean!"
To his surprise, Lucius chuckled. "Relax, Potter. You agitate too easily."
"I agitate too easily?" Harry repeated, his voice rising slightly. "After all we did to help you restore your 'good name'."
Lucius withdrew his wand from his cane. "Potter," he commanded, "I said relax." He waved his wand and the papers morphed in Harry's hands.
Instead of the garish print adorning the fliers, now it proclaimed in professional lettering: The Aurors – a Division of the Magical Law Enforcement Department. Underneath, it listed a general job description and below that it headlined the Department of Magical Artifacts branch with another short description.
The other papers in his hands were pamphlets to be distributed to Hogwarts students. They recommended classes to take in the 5th year and 7th year with specific requirements listed on each for joining the Aurors after graduation.
Harry had to admit – they looked spectacular.
"Thank you," he began, looking up. But Lucius Malfoy had already departed. He smiled, setting the pamphlets aside to show Ron and Hermione. Maybe endorsing Lucius Malfoy wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Neal poked his head into Peter's office at the very moment Lucius Malfoy entered Harry's.
"Still working on the four from England?" he asked.
Peter looked up from his computer. "How did you know?"
Neal stepped inside and shrugged. "You have that look on your face. Since we just finished up the other case, there's nothing to occupy your mind with but the mystery of those four."
Peter pursed his lips. "Yeah," he admitted. "I just can't shake the feeling we're missing something."
"What?" Neal asked, settling himself down in the chair in front of Peter's desk. "NYPD verified their claim about Talmon, right?"
At the mention of Talmon, Peter's brow furrowed and his frown deepened. "They did," he agreed. "But something about that is fishy. For one, when I went back there to get a visual on the body, they said it had been moved to a funeral home."
"So the body had already been claimed and cremated by the time I arrived."
"Suspicious, but not illegal. Peter, the NYPD released the body."
"I know. But the NYPD have no pictures of Talmon's body. 'Lost in transition' or some other such nonsense."
"You think that it wasn't Talmon who died?"
Peter sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. "No, I showed pictures of him taken at that ball we all attended and all the officers confirmed his identity."
Neal leaned forward, intrigued. "So what's the problem?"
"It's all just a bit too suspicious."
"But Talmon checked out. And so did the four from England. Well, the three did."
Peter narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean the three did?"
"Peter. I checked them out personally. Their records came back exactly as they said."
"You said three. What about the fourth?"
"That Lucius Malfoy fellow?" Neal shrugged. "He had no record."
Peter pointed to Neal. "And that is what bothers me," he finished. He pulled out a sheet of paper from his desk drawer. "No record of birth, schooling, or health anywhere in the United Kingdom."
Neal thought a moment. "Malfoy mentioned his son was a school rival of Harry's. Maybe you could-"
"Cross-reference their school with the name 'Malfoy' and see if I get any hits?" Peter finished. "Done and no hits."
"Well..." Neal trailed off as he stuck a hand in his jacket and withdrew a business card. "Harry did say to call if we're ever in England. Fancy a trip overseas?"
"Impossible," Peter said immediately. "We don't have time for a vacation. And might I remind you that England is most definitely out of your two-mile radius?"
"I could go if I was escorted, right?" Neal asked with such innocence that Peter studied him with suspicion.
"What is going on?" he demanded.
Neal assumed an air of injured pride. "What makes you think anything is going on?"
Just then, Diana opened the door. "Boss, you're never gonna believe this."
"Try me," Peter said evenly, shooting a glare at Neal.
"Interpol called. They're requesting our help on a case they have. Well, they specifically asked for Neal, but Hughes explained it took three agents to watch him."
Peter felt a growing dread. "What case?"
"A 17th century tapestry was uncovered in a monastery. They're worried it might be a fake."
"And they need Neal for that?"
"They said that Neal was the last person to see it before it disappeared."
Peter was almost afraid to ask the next question, especially with Diana beaming with excitement and Neal grinning like a Cheshire cat.
He gulped, practically feeling an invisible trap descend upon him. "Where?"
"London!" Diana exclaimed. "We get to go to London!"
He knew it.
He looked at Neal, who wiggled Harry's business card with a smirk.
Maybe they could solve two mysteries while over there. Peter smiled at the thought.
"I guess we should inform Jones, then," he said at last.
Neal grinned. Diana squeaked and ran from the doorway. Peter sighed. He hoped this next case wouldn't be as eventful as the last one. But, somehow, he doubted it.
Author's Note: First off, no, I don't currently have a sequel planned. I just have no plot ideas at the moment. I have some ideas, but not enough to meld into an official story. If I do start a story, I will finish it first just like I did for this one before posting a single chapter online. Check my profile for updates, as that is where I will post information if I should decide to do a sequel (much like I updated the progress reports for this story for those of you who followed my profile from April to July).
Secondly, a few 'thank you's. A humongous THANK YOU! to my beta LetheSara, for putting up with my frantic Thursday night emails of "I need my chapter back by tomorrow!" and other such trivialities I agonized over for the last two months. You started out as a semi-beta and turned into a full-fledged beta and made my writing so much stronger because of it. Thank you!
Thank you to AliWC, my first reviewer and the only one to consistently review each and every chapter. Your words of praise I looked forward to every week, much as I'm sure you looked forward to each chapter.
For my two semi-regulars, Tzadikim and Afsu, thank you for all of your reviews as well! The three of you left reviews that pointed out some of the details I wrote that I was glad to see were appreciated, as well as plot twists and general discussion about chapters. I got a lot of enjoyment out of reading your theories and was glad to see at least my plot twists and turns weren't entirely predictable (which I was afraid of).
Also, thank you to Kickassia, Team Rosalie, enchantedlight, shrutip, and Lady Drama for leaving a review! I can watch the hit counter go up all day, but unless I get feedback I never know if people actually enjoyed this or they just gave up after the first chapter. Thank you for all of your reviews!
A weird shout-out to my very first "crossover" fan, who has read another of my stories before this one: Conan's best deduction. (You guys think I don't check who puts my stories on alert or favorites them do you? :P) I don't know if you liked my writing style and followed me or if it was just a coincidence that you stumbled across two stories in two different media, but you're the first person that I know of to have read more than one of my works.
Thank you to everyone who put this story on their favorites and alerts, even if you didn't review, because that meant I knew that at least that many people were looking forward to the next chapter I posted.
To the answers I promised the previous chapter: Justin is based on Justin Russo from Wizards of Waverly Place (don't sue me, Disney!) He's my favorite character on there because he's smart and clever and still makes a meaningful contribution to the show. Sure he's portrayed as a nerd, but everyone on the show is portrayed as dorky at some points. However, when things get tough or go haywire, Justin's usually the one to sort them out. I like that.
Atherton is based on Atherton Wing from the Firefly episode "Shindig".
Ian Harrington is a combination of the first and last names from two of my British friends (so no, I didn't pick "typical" British names, I actually know these people). Apollz (from Professor Apollz in Justin's memory) is the online alias of British friend who offered graciously to review my story to help make sure I didn't fudge up with any accidental American sayings/words when it was from one of the British character's points-of-view.
Thanks for all of the support, I had an absolute blast writing this story and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. (Gosh, this author's note is longer than the actual chapter, isn't it?)