Lisa didn’t think she would hear from Roger for a few weeks at the earliest. From what limited knowledge she had of the legal process, she gathered that the wheels moved fairly slowly. So on Monday afternoon, she was very surprised when Janice sidled over to her desk in the back of the Charms department and slyly announced that there was a wizard waiting for her in the visitor’s lobby.
“Who?” Lisa asked. She had been so absorbed in an ancient Latin text on Purging Charms that she hadn’t quite heard what Janice was saying.
“The handsome bloke you brought to the wedding,” Janice answered impatiently. “And you’d better hurry. You’re a little dull to keep one like that interested for very long, if you don’t mind my saying.”
“I do mind you saying,” Lisa said without heat, since her stomach was too busy doing summersaults. What was Roger doing at St. Mungo’s? He would barely have had time to research – or maybe…? Then she smirked at her own schoolgirl thoughts brought on by the memory of that very brief, very chaste kiss. Right, Roger couldn’t wait to see me again. Still, she thought, as she hurried to the lobby, that one little kiss was more exciting than any kiss she had received from Barry.
She was right to deride her hopes, since Roger was all business once he greeted her. “I spoke to your supervisor at the Department of Mysteries.”
“Mr. Johnson?” Lisa smiled warmly, remembering her kindly, intelligent boss.
Roger smiled back. “Yes, Mr. Johnson – who was quite taken aback that you had been gone for so long, now that it was pointed out to him.”
Lisa chuckled. Her colleagues at the Department of Mysteries were in a world apart sometimes.
“He wrote a letter on the spot to St. Mungo’s demanding that you be sent back.”
“He did?” She must have looked like a child on Christmas morning, but she didn’t care. She was going to leave the boring world of Charms research behind forever!
Roger’s smile broadened. “He did and here are your orders to go back forthwith to the Ministry.” He handed her a scroll with the Ministry seal.
“Forthwith,” Lisa murmured in a daze.
“I think you should gather any documents that you have before you leave today,” Roger warned. “I don’t think Mr. Anderson is going to like the fact that the Ministry took away his free employee.”
“The Ministry has been paying me?”
“Yes, Lisa.” He slouched against the wall. “Do you even know how much you earn?”
She tossed her head, stalling for time. “Of course I do.”
“Since when have you been a Legilimens?”
He smiled. “You’re not that hard to read, sweetheart.”
She wished he’d stop calling her that, since she was obviously not his sweetheart. But she was too happy to argue. She looked at her watch. “The day is over in ten minutes, I can clear out my desk now!”
“Excellent.” He stood up straight. “I’ll wait for you.”
“You will?” The day was getting better and better.
“I have more to tell you,” he said simply.
The smile had been in his eyes too, Lisa decided, as she quickly cleared out her desk. The news must be good, then. How different Roger looked today; he was looking a bit rumpled and dusty, like he had been around some dusty shelves. And he looked happy – not so cynical and on guard like he had at the wedding.
When she rejoined him, he was talking to the new Healer, Candace somebody. Phillip had been drooling over her for a month now. She was blonde and gorgeous. Lisa was never so conscious that the navy blue robes she had on were faded and ill-fitting and that her decision to forgo makeup this morning was not a wise one. But she forgot all of that when Roger caught sight of her and immediately turned away from the blonde to take the box of parchments out of her hands.
“Shall we Floo these to your flat, so we don’t have to lug them to the pub?”
”Oh, I forgot to ask if you had plans,” he said. “I wanted you to come out for a meal with me so I could tell you some of the other things I found out today.”
Of course Lisa didn’t have any other plans.
He took her to the Call to Ales Pub just around the corner from the Ministry. It was a crowded, smoky place full of wizards talking loudly about Quidditch.
Everyone seemed to know Roger, so it took him several minutes to weave his way to a table in the back. Once they were settled and had ordered their food, Roger gave her a careless smile that did something unexpected to Lisa’s heart rate.
“I have good news,” he said.
Lisa thought that it really wasn’t fair for a man to have such a gorgeous smile. Maybe it was his teeth, or maybe it was the way his eyes sparkled with intelligence. Whatever it was, it was making her nervous. “Oh?” She clasped her hands in front of her on the table. “What is it?”
“That look should be reserved for bad news,” Roger said. “Relax. It’s all taken care of with the cottage. It should be yours again in about three weeks.”
She stared at him.
“Lisa?” He put his hand on top of the tight knot she had made of her hands.
She swallowed hard, fighting sudden tears. “I just didn’t think I would ever see The Aerie again.”
“So this place was special?”
Lisa nodded and cleared her throat. “We moved around a lot and that was the one place we always returned to.”
“It’s been in your father’s family a long time,” Roger said.
“How did you know that?”
“I saw the deed.” He was watching her carefully. “And I saw your father’s will and your mother’s. Have you ever seen any of those documents?”
“I didn’t think so.” He patted her hands reassuringly. “The land was entailed to a blood relative. It was never your mother’s to will in the first place.”
Lisa felt a familiar stab of pain. “I reckon that’s why Mum never tried to sell it after my father died. She hated the place.”
“Why didn’t you know about your father’s will?”
“Dad died while I was in Africa – in the desert. I didn’t find out until a month after the funeral.” At his surprise, she added. “I think two or three owls died before one finally reached me. I was in a very isolated spot.”
“What were you doing in the desert?”
“Gathering magical sand for the Time-Turners I was repairing. It was my first assignment at the Department of Mysteries,” she answered. It was so much easier to talk about work than personal matters.
Roger seemed to realize this. “So, how many Time-Turners were broken?”
“All of them,” Lisa answered.
They were interrupted by their waitress with two steaming plates of food. “Thanks, Blanche,” Roger said, sending her the same charming smile he had given Lisa not ten minutes before.
It was a deflating thought to think that she was on par with the waitress.
Roger picked up the thread of their conversation. “All of the Time-Turners? How did that happen?”
“Remember when Harry Potter and his friends battled the Death Eaters at the Ministry?” Lisa asked. “There was a lot of damage to the Department of Mysteries – including the Bell-jar of accelerated time.”
“A beautiful device with a bird and an egg….” Lisa trailed off, thinking of the diamond brightness of the light it emitted. She grinned suddenly. “Do you know that one of the Death Eaters actually fell into it?”
“What happened to him?”
She shuddered. “His head went from a baby’s to an adult’s in about sixty seconds and then back again. Of course, all the blokes at the Department were so proud because at least one of their devices fought back.”
“Indeed,” he murmured.
“The Bell-jar was fixed by the time I stared working, but the man who was in charge of the Time-Turners had died, and no one knew how to fix them.”
“Should have saved one of them back, so the chap could relive his last hour and let someone else in on the secret,” Roger said with a grin.
“There were many days I thought the same thing,” she said, thinking of the two years she had spent researching. She smiled and started to eat the roast beef dinner she had ordered. Her eyes grew wide. “Wow, this is really good.”
“Best pub in London,” Roger replied, buttering a bun. “It doesn’t look like much – but it’s home.”
Lisa looked around at the smoky interior. The tables were scratched, the floor was sticky and most of the clientele were men. “You don’t seem the type to spend all of your free time with your mates in a pub.”
“I do have to eat, and since I don’t cook, I come here.” He smiled. “Besides, they let me play for the pub’s Midnight Quidditch team.”
“It’s an amateur league. We play only in the winter. The nights are so long, the Muggles are less likely to detect us.”
“You still play Chaser then?”
He shot her a pleased smile. “You remembered.”
She blushed, feeling tongue-tied yet again. They ate in silence for a few minutes. “I don’t know if I thanked you,” Lisa said primly to her plate. “For straightening out the details of the cottage.”
“Richard did the deed search, and I found the will on file.” Roger shrugged.
“That was nice of Richard.”
“Richard liked you,” he told her.
“He did?” She felt a warm glow of pleasure at this news. “But –”