Edmund watched his Auror team leader pace restlessly in the parlor of the rented home. He had learned just to let the man pace.
On their first mission together, otherwise routine, Edmund Smythe had been faintly star-struck and nervous to be working on the team. Eugene Bentwhistle, who had been on the team for two years already and who was ten years older than Edmund, had taken him aside and explained.
"This is why the Ministry don't let married folk work together," Eugene sighed. "But these two won't work with anyone else. You and I are mostly cleanup but they'll give us all the credit. Keep your yap shut and be honest in your reports. That's all anyone asks. But especially them."
Edmund had nodded. Everything happened exactly as Eugene predicted. The team leads had figured out the problem in a discussion that Edmund had only understood half of, even though he was there, and they had identified and captured the culprit without any help from the rest of the team.
It wasn't quite what Edmund had expected when he joined the Aurors, but he kept his eyes open and paid attention. And wrote honest reports.
This mission wasn't going well.
First of all, they had a new bloke added to the team at the final mission briefing before they left the Ministry. Why anyone would place a new graduate from Auror training on this team was beyond Edmund's understanding. Embry Wellhaven was just so green. Although Edmund had to admit he hadn't been any better his first year on the job. But Edmund had worked his way up to undercover work, paying his 'dues' on routine missions in the DMLE.
"Oh, great," Eugene muttered. "Another 'E' name. I'll bet he was the only one in the graduating class and someone thought it would be clever if he was part of this team."
"More than likely," Edmund agreed with a nod. "I'll keep an eye on him."
"Good man," Eugene replied, clapping him on the shoulder.
Secondly, the weather had turned bitterly cold and wet. It was early Fall but there was the possibility of sleet in the weather forecast.
Thirdly, it was a Muggle small town and they needed to keep their overt use of magic to a minimum.
"Even if you can do wandless and silent spells, only do that in an emergency," the Head Auror said briskly. "You've all been chosen for this since you have a Muggle upbringing and can blend in with the locals."
Well, that explained Embry. Partly.
"Good luck!" the Head Auror said as he left the room.
Edmund watched the two leads exchange looks that was, for them, an entire conversation. His grand-dad and grand-mum could do that, after years of living together. He'd like to find someone to do that with someday.
Harry Potter and Severus Snape. Edmund never thought he'd be working with two of the heroes from the War Against Voldemort. Yet here he was. And he and Eugene were being given credit for the work they largely did.
Oh. He understood it. He saw the adulation and fawning that happened when they were in public. Snape would largely ignore it but Potter would blush and stammer. Edmund realized without being told that they hated their fame passionately.
The team was set up as a group of cousins that were visiting each other on holiday. Someone in the admin office had found a small rooming house for lease and they took over the entire house for the week.
Potter and Snape would disappear early in the morning, evidence of brewed coffee and porridge bowls being the only evidence of their existence. Embry turned out to be a dab hand at breakfast and would make rashers and eggs, while Edmund made toast. Edmund knew better than to let Eugene even near the kitchen -- that was always a disaster.
That night, Potter and Snape came back and sat around the table with them.
"We need the three of you to serve as a distraction tomorrow supper time," they were told. "We can get into the building but there's a human guard that needs to be taken out with minimal fuss."
"We're on holiday," Eugene suggested. "We can go to the pub about an hour before you need us, pretend to drink heavily, then come out to the front of the house and have a loud row. Football is always a good subject to row about."
Embry watched as they looked at each other, then nodded.
"Good idea. That should work nicely," Snape said. "We will give you charmed Galleons to let you know if you need to come earlier than we've planned."
Of course, that's the day it starts to sleet. Embry cast his strongest warming charms on himself and the other two before they set out for the pub. The pub would be cool, being the middle of the day, so the warmth would be welcome.
They ordered pints and, helpfully, there was football on the telly. They started picking on each other's favorite teams, jovially at first but more seriously as time went on.
The Galleon in their pocket vibrated, so Eugene stood up and poked Embry in the shoulder.
"Take it outside!" Edmund ordered roughly. "I can't afford for you two louts to act up in a public place."
Eugene stalked out of the pub and Embry hurriedly followed, still shouting at the other man. Edmund threw bills on the table to cover the tab and nodded at the publican as he followed the other two.
Eugene let Embry catch up at the location Snape had indicated. Embry grabbed Eugene's shoulder and turned him so they were facing in the lane. They were shouting about teams and players at the top of their lungs, waving their arms wildly, the sleet coming down on them.
Edmund took his time walking down the street, to give Eugene and Embry time to work up a head of steam and attract attention. Although the sleet was going to keep away any casual watching, unless it was from inside.
At some point, the Galleon buzzed three times, a signal that the distraction was no longer needed.
"All right," Edmund shouted at both the others, grabbing the back of Embry's coat for emphasis. "That's enough! I'm cold and wet and I need a cuppa. Break it up!"
"Bah!" Eugene said in disgust and walked off, away from their lodgings.
Edmund gave Embry a rough shove in the proper direction.
"Git! Before I freeze my bollocks off!" Edmund said loudly, to carry on the charade.
Edmund escorted Embry back to the house. Eugene was forced to take the long way around, sliding in the back door. "Merlin! I should have put an Impervious on my shoes. My feet are soaked through," he winged.
"Take the shoes off and dry your feet before you try to warm them up," Embry ordered. "Just blasting a warming charm at them will cause more harm than good."
"How'd you know that?" Eugene asked as he peeled off the shoes and the socks.
"Took the extra training classes to be a medi-wizard," Embry replied. "Figured it couldn't hurt."
"Good thing," Edmund replied, handing Eugene a towel he had warmed. "Start with this."
"Ooohhh..." Eugene moaned as he wrapped the warm towel about his feet.
At that point Snape came back. Without Potter. Edmund suspected that did not bode well.
"Everything go all right?" Edmund asked.
Snape nodded sharply. "Potter's well hidden, keeping watch."
"Is he under protection?" Eugene asked looking out the window at the ongoing sleet. "It's nasty."
Snape shrugged. "He has a cloak. We have to wait until they make a move. Or it gets dark."
"Dark-ish already with this sodding weather," Embry commented.
"He'll let me know when the suspects are in the house," Snape admitted.
"Embry, heat up something to eat," Edmund decided. "And be prepared to deal with hypothermia when Potter gets back."
Snape looked relieved at the preparations. He ate the food Embry put in front of him but instead of sitting, he paced back and forth in the parlor.
A stag Patronus came through the wall. Edmund had heard about Potter's Patronus. It was more impressive in person. They're here! it said.
"Now!" Snape ordered.
They were out of the house in moments. The sleet had fortunately stopped but it was cold and bitter.
Embry and Eugene guarded the front of the house and Edmund followed Snape around to the back. Potter had knocked out two suspects and Edmund followed a third that was heading for the back alley. He shot a Petrificus Totalus at the suspect, which brought him down in the slush.
Another team of Aurors appeared on the back yard.
"These three," Snape pointed. "We'll tally up the evidence and head back when we're ready."
A nod and everyone else disappeared in a whirl of Apparition.
Snape chivied Potter into the house. Potter was so cold, his hands were blue.
"C-c-c-could't cast warming c-c-c-harm," Potter stuttered as the relative warmth of the house hit him. "Would have m-m-m-elted slush and given me away."
"Brat," Snape said softly. "You should have called sooner."
"T-t-they weren't all here," Potter replied with a shrug that turned into a full body shiver.
Remembering what he had just learned from Embry, Edmund stepped in. "Clothes off first. Dry off." He looked at Snape. "Get Embry in here. He's had some medical training and this is more than I can do alone."
Snape nodded and hurried off.
Edmund found some clean bedding in a closet. "Here. Dry off first. Pat, don't rub. Don't do warming charms yet."
Potter, fortunately, obeyed. He stripped to his knickers and wrapped himself in the bedding to dry off. Embry came in.
"Sorry," he huffed. "Lookie-loos out front. Snape is growling at them." He reddened, realizing Potter was there.
Edmund nodded. They'd all done something similar over time. "I suspect this one should go to St. Mungos, but, well, that probably isn't going to happen," he said. "Got him to strip off and found some bedding to dry him off. But his fingers were blue when we brought him inside."
Embry nodded and went over to check on Potter. He ran a diagnostic over Potter and peered at the results.
"You really should get to a healer," Embry sighed.
Potter looked mulish.
"But we'll start with some basics," Embry said. "Potter, sit on the chair there. Edmund, convert something to some basins, one big enough to hold both his feet. Another for his hands."
Edmund dumped the contents from an ashtray and a vase and then transfigured the ashtray to a large basin and handed it to Embry.
Embry cast an Aguamenti and directed the water that came out of his wand into the basin. "Feet in," he directed Potter. Embry helped Potter put his feet into the basin.
"Cool water will feel warm to a hypothermia patient," Embry explained to them. "Warm water will warm the extremities too fast and can cause tissue damage, or worse." He took the second basin, filled it and put it on a table that he dragged in front of Potter. "Hands in here."
Potter hissed as he put his hands in the water.
"Stay there," Embry said firmly, pointing a finger at Potter.
Snape came back inside.
"Potter really should see a healer," Embry said. "But I have him warming up slowly." He pointed at Snape. "Don't help. Do the rest of your job."
Snape looked at Potter, who nodded at him. "Thank you." He turned and went back to work with Eugene in gathering up the evidence.
Embry made Potter stay seated until the cool water turned room temperature. He cast another diagnostic charm.
"It's better but you still need to take it easy," Embry said. "We'll get you some dry clothes and you need to go straight home. And sleep. Nothing else."
Interestingly enough, Potter reddened a bit but nodded.
"I'll have Snape go off to get the clothes," Edmund offered. He went off to find the other two in the basement of the house, cataloging the illegal potions ingredients.
"Embry says Potter can get dressed in dry clothes and should go straight home," Edmund said. "I can take over here."
Snape nodded and went upstairs. Eugene filled him in on what was done and what was still to be done. There was enough that it took them another two hours to finish up. Embry joined them to help, Edmund assumed Snape and Potter had left.
"Everything all right?" Edmund asked. "Potter, that is?"
"Yes," he nodded. "They both refused to take Potter to a healer but promised they would if anything looked wonky."
Eugene shrugged. "Always been that way," he admitted. "Has to be pretty serious before they see a healer for anything."
"Head Auror told me he was looking for someone with some medical training," Embry admitted. "That must be why."
"I could stand to learn some of that," Edmund admitted.
"I have some books I can recommend," Embry replied.
"Less talking and more cataloging," Eugene muttered. "I'd like to finish this up and get out of here."
"Right," Embry nodded, turning back to the work.
They were given two days off and then another two days doing desk duty -- it took an entire day to write their reports of the mission. That was largely because of the large collection of ingredients they had to further catalog and identify.
Embry sent Edmund a list of books and he spent some time reading and then asking questions.
Potter and Snape came back on the fifth day.
"Good work," Snape said. "The suspects have given us the names of their suppliers and we're in the process of taking down an entire smuggling ring."
"Another will take its place, eventually," Eugene replied. "Hopefully, this will at least slow things down."
Potter nodded, then poked Snape in the shoulder.
"And, we'd like to treat you all to lunch," Snape said. "In appreciation for your hard work."
Even Eugene looked startled at the offer. That had never happened before.
"We'd love to have lunch with you," Edmund said.