"Thank you for agreeing to meet me, Bill."
Anders was wearing his smartest clothes (which meant a t-shirt that
didn't have the logo of some Quidditch team or Muggle band on it and a
pair of jeans with no holes in the knees) and had agreed to meet Bill
in Diagon Alley.
"That's alright, Anders." Bill put out his hand to shake Anders', a
little formally but in a friendly way none the less. "It's been a
while. How are you, ah, doing?"
"A lot better. I'm down to three doses of potion a day instead of
six. I've been eating and sleeping like a normal person. I'm on the
road to recovery." Indeed, the young Curse Breaker looked much more
healthy than he had done in months if not years. "But I need to get
back to doing something before my brain melts."
"Look, Anders... I have to apologise."
He was genuinely surprised.
"I hit you," Bill said simply. "I lost my own grip for a few minutes.
That's not like me, and I am sorry for both that and some of the ensuing
mess that's followed on."
"Did you?" His eyes widened. "I have absolutely no recall of that
whatsoever. Consider it forgotten. Look, Bill, let's be on the level
here. I want my job back."
He'd built up to that sentence for the whole three days since he and
Sylvie had - reconciled their differences.
"It may be difficult to get past..."
"Can we at least *try*?" Anders interrupted. Yes, he seemed
particularly confident and in control of himself, which given his
recent breakdown and the loss of his mother was admirable. "I can't
curse break, but I can translate. I'm a da*n good translator. I could
at least be doing something useful."
Bill stared at him for a moment. "I have to ask, Anders, don't hate me
"I'm done with hating." Anders smiled wryly. "Too much like hard
"You're... clear of that Charm, right?"
"As clear as I'm likely to ever get. Haven't had access to a wand
since mine broke. It hasn't been pretty, and I haven't had the
official word, but I have no desire to use it. Not again." Complete
"I can try and get you back into the translating teams." Bill thought
about it for a few minutes.
"ANYTHING you can get for me would be appreciated, Bill. My brain is
starting to seize up sitting at Wilf's all the time. I'm not the idle
type. You know that, I hope?" His blue eyes were bright, alert, eager -
the old Anders Grimalkin that Bill had met four years previously.
"I know that full well, Anders. Give me a few days to see what I can
do. I'll try and get some off-site work for you, you don't need to
come trailing into London every day."
"I don't mind. Something. Anything."
There was a pause.
"Mam's funeral is tomorrow," he said, almost casually.
Shock crossed Bill's face instantly. "My god, Anders, I'm so sorry. I
"I was expecting it. I've been expecting it every day for two years."
A sad smile flickered across Anders' face. "In a way, it's a relief.
But...I'd like you and Fleur to come. If you can. I...need the
support and I don't have so many friends."
"We will come," Bill said instantly. "We will be there."
"Thank you." Anders smiled, this time warmly. "Means a lot to me."
"Send me a note with the address and time." A hesitation. "Would it be
alright for me to let the people at the office know? There are some of
your colleagues who would come to show their respect."
"Really?" He looked surprised by this.
"Weird, isn't it? I thought everyone just more or less ignored me and
didn't know who I was."
"No, Anders. That's not the case at all. But if you'd prefer it to be
"No, I'd be grateful for more people."
He fumbled in his pocket and brought out a pouch of tobacco and some
rolling papers. "Can't quit," he said, mournfully. "Tried really
A definite grin. "Quitting one thing at a time is probably the best
way to try that."
Anders carefully rolled himself a cigarette and lit it. "So," he
said. "You can find me translation work. Possibly. If you can't, how
would you feel about my leaving the Guild and going out freelance?"
Bill's face showed his disappointment. "I'd regret it, frankly. Yet
at the same time, while the inquiry is lumbering onwards and the board
of directors mysteriously develops a dislike of you, it may be the only
real option you have."
"By 'board of directors', I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and
assume you mean Cedric?" Anders took a long draw on his
cigarette. "I've been considering my options, Bill, really I have and
I don't want to let you down - but like you say. It may be my only
"Wild, accurate stab." Bill scowled. "The boy has it in for you."
"'course he has." Anders smiled. "I nearly killed his fiancee." He
hesitated, and realised he had almost added 'and she spent two nights
with me a couple of days ago'.
"So is getting addicted to a Charm you know full well could destroy
"Two wrongs don't make a right."
"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
"And that's got what to do with it?" A smile.
Anders leaned back on the chair legs and blew a lazy smoke ring. Bill
hadn't seen him this confident and in control of himself in such a long
time. "I thought we were spouting proverbs at one another."
"Relevant proverbs. All this turn the other cheek business goes
against the grain."
"Too many cooks gather no moss."
Anders grinned. "The guy will get over himself eventually, Bill. In
the meantime, I want to prove to him that I am capable, that I am good
at what I do. I can't just roll over and die because he wills it. I
won't let it happen."
"Good. I'm glad you're taking that attitude towards it." Bill checked
his watch. "I hate to rush you but I have to get a move on. I'll see
you tomorrow, yes?"
Anders nodded. "Cheers, Bill. And Bill? I....I'm really sorry."
"Apology accepted, Anders. Truth be told, I blame myself for not trying
harder to get through to you when you started turning inward."
"It happened. That was then. I'm ready to move forward. In fact..."
Anders checked his watch. "I've got an appointment with my Healer at
St. Mungo's in twenty minutes and then I'm going to walk down this
street with my head held high."
"It's good to have you back, mate." Bill said quietly.
"It's good to BE back." Anders grinned infectiously and blew out
another smoke ring.