Chapter 70: The Team
She was a coward. A fucking bloody coward. After the werewolf had left his flat, Erela had her quick meal then left and stayed at his old treehouse again to give them both some space and to keep up with her lie that she was on a stake out mission for one of the most wanted. Her disappearing probably wouldn't make a difference anyway and it wouldn't hurt her if he didn't care. Okay, maybe a little. Maybe a sting.
Honest to god . . . the time away was for her to think clearly. No matter how many times she tried to convince herself, she couldn't lie to herself . . .
But that didn't mean she wallowed in self-pity the whole time, instead, she threw herself into her work. Erela continued to go back to the Ministry and watched her coworkers and got to know them more. She looked into records on who applied to become an Auror in the past fives years, who got accepted into the program in those five years, and who had transferred in. Thank goodness for the department only taking in a handful each year. Wisenburg's theory that it had to be someone she knew and was close to her, so she cut the numbers down even more.
That only left with her team . . .
Markus included . . .
He took an interest in her when they were accepted into training and helped her improve. He was half the reason she got in . . . Markus easily broke through her walls and became her comforter. Her knight. Her prince . . . but it couldn't be him. The guy they were after wouldn't get THAT close to her, would he? Although, it wasn't a terrible idea either. But she knew. She KNEW it wasn't him. Erela knew what Polyjuice smelled like from having to make them in potions class and having to make them during training and the occasional field missions in the beginning of her career, his breath never reeked of the awful brew.
For the time being, he was off the list. So there was her team . . .
While she was at work, she got to know her team some more. Only one of them and Markus went to Hogwarts and graduated sooner than she did, so they were off the list. She doubted her most wanted wouldn't choose someone who went to the same school as her, too easy and too obvious. The other three in her team were in their thirties and/or foreign. Three of them just might be the one . . .
The one of them was a local Auror and shared similar stories with the two foreigners: they took interest in being an Auror when they were in school, two of them applied more than once, had lost a couple of her mates on field missions, had families, been transferred around from team to team. With their age among Erela's group, one could say they were "mentors" and kept an eye on the less experienced Aurors.
Erela ate on her way out with her team to the lobby when Markus ran up from behind them and draped his arm over Erela's shoulder. Her heart fell at the sight of him, but she kept her face still and warmly smiled at him. "Hey."
"Hey," he responded back, his smile much warmer and welcoming than hers and gave her a quick kiss, a peck to not make others around them uncomfortable of their affection. "So we have a field mission we have to move onto tomorrow," he casually announced.
"Really? Where?" one of the oldest Aurors asked with little interest in his tone. Richard Stanon, the local Auror, a greying man whom often needed to trim his stubbled beard. A button topped with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and tucked into his pants and the suspenders to his sides. Markus often joked that the suspenders would be the death of Richard if he put them up or went to work without them. Richard always ignored the man's teasing remarks.
"Forest of Dean. Gulliver Punnet has been sighted there a couple nights back and hasn't come out since," Markus answered and ran his hand through his curling dark hair and lightly hugged Erela beside him.
"Oh my god, FINALLY," Elsa Ablow groaned. She was the other Hogwarts student that graduated around the same time Markus left. Elsa had blonde hair, often pulled back in a ponytail that never held up long. She was the most active of the team and the one that helped Erela to act more quickly on field missions and completely abandon a plan if it went wrong. In other words, she was the reckless one in the group. "What's the plan what's the plan?" she said with a growling tone clapped her hands together.
"The plan is to NOT give ourselves away and not attack right on the spot," Markus rolled his green eyes. Markus had always been the planner in field missions, he always kept his head whenever things got bad, so it only made sense that he be the head of their group. Well, at least two half the group, Richard was among the members that didn't care for someone younger than him being "leader".
"From what I've seen with this group, attacking right on the spot works," Elsa sassed.
Markus raised a brow at Elsa and raised Erela's right arm until it full on stopped at her shoulder. Erela winced at the pain. "I remember a troll incident damaging her shoulder the last time we did that."
Erela pursed her lips and pulled her arm away. Thanks for demonstrating without asking if she was okay with it . . .
"There really was no other way to approach that one," Elsa sighed and tightened her tail, messing up her hair more.
"Quit your bitching and tell us what we're going to do," Sean Rodriquez huffed. He was from the American Ministry and was transferred over when a higher payment was offered compared to what American division gave. He came to Europe with dark brown skin and the lack of sun has paled him in comparison. Dark hair and a mixed accent Erela couldn't quite pinpoint.
"For now, we're just posing as hikers, campers, something and set up camp a mile or so away from his whereabouts. He has his own little tent in the middle of the woods so he won't be hard to find. Especially at night," Markus explained. "And when I say pose as hikers, as in go as Muggle as possible." Markus looked around, "Where's Vuk?"
"Left early today," Elsa answered. "I'll go by and tell him what's going to happen. When do you want to meet up here?"
"Seven. We'll be gone for a couple days, probably, so over pack," he reminded her. Another thing about Elsa was that she was usually unprepared for the length of outings.
"Ffffffffffffffine," she sighed and nodded off. "I'll see you guys tomorrow."
"Too old for this," Richard grumbled and Sean followed after.
Erela pursed her lips and looked down at her feet for a moment then back up at Markus with a smirk. "You'll be okay with this and your other field thing?" he asked her.
"It can wait," she shrugged. "There's really been no progress. He hasn't made an appearance in days and I haven't seen any sign of movement," Erela lied. "I do really need a change of pace."
"Well, it HAS been a while since we did a field mission together," he rolled his eyes and they started off again.
"Nothing screams romantic than arresting a criminal with your significant other," she retorted sarcastically.
"And an adrenaline rush to rekindle the flame," he commented.
Erela felt as if her heart sank into her stomach when she said that. Had he noticed something was wrong? Had he noticed the passion on Erela's side had been absent for some time?
"Ela, what's been on your mind since you started this thing?" Markus asked and slid his arm off her.
She pursed her lips and scratched the tip of her nose. "Well . . . It's just that . . . I don't know . . ." she sighed. "My mind has been going back and forth on school days since I went to see the Professor Haxel. Suppose I've been in some kind of depression frenzy." Liar. Lying to him since running into Wisenburg that time. She was terrible at lying and she felt Markus began to figure that out.
"You're not painting the whole picture, Erela . . ." he said seriously.
No . . . she wasn't. If she did then he'd figure out the "case" she was on was a personal business. And then he'd say she should drop it and "give it" to someone else. And if he said that then that would mean she'd have to stop seeing Landon—
And there it was . . .
Erela grinded her teeth and gave Markus' arm a gentle squeeze. "I'll explain everything tonight, I just have to get my things from the hotel. Have to appear natural. I'll see you in a few," she lightly smiled and gave him a quick peck on the lips. She quickened her pace before he could say anything and she Disapparated.