Pulling his cloak tighter about himself as he spun out of Apparition, Auror Potter bit back a curse at the mist engulfing Knockturn Alley.
“Of course it’d have to to fog up now - not like we’ve been waiting thirty-nine days to catch these tossers.”
“Eh, could be worse,” his partner replied. “At least it’s not raining - I’m still getting jokes about ballet in the elevators and Hermione’s also on my case about doing yoga to prevent any future sprains. I’m getting it from both ends here.”
A salacious grin crossed Ron Weasley’s face. “Course, I’m also getting it from both ends from Hermione, so I ca-”
“That’s more than enough,” Harry interrupted. “Stop before I have to report back to Kingsley that my partner was tragically lost in the firefight that also led to my sudden and harsh Obliviation.”
“Don’t know what you’re so worked up about, this is a milk run. We’ve got the intel, we know they’re on a schedule due to the ingredients, just a quick drop in, bag and tag, and we’re back at the precinct to fill out paperwork. What could go wrong?”
“Dunno, just have a feeling about tonight.”
“A bad feeling?”
“Not sure, but considering our luck?”
Ron paused, then his wand snapped out of his holster and into his hand. “Fair point. Let’s get moving.”
As they dashed out of one of Knockturn’s innumerable side-alleys into the square where the drop was going down, Harry was fully prepared to encounter several thugs at wandpoint. Ideally, they would have been in the middle of their transaction and easy pickings for the two Aurors, but he was fully prepared for a firefight.
What he wasn’t prepared for, was two groups of men tied up on the ground next to several crates of illegally imported mooncalf dung.
“Ron, you seeing what I’m seeing?”
“Yeah, but I can’t explain it. Did we miss a memo or something?”
“Or something. Approach, but carefully, something feels off about this.”
As they drew closer, Harry kept his wand out and his senses alert - it looked like a perfectly wrapped crime scene, but he could swear he could feel eyes on his back.
“Is this a prank by Bones and Thomas? Not that I’ll complain about criminals making it easy on us, but normally they don’t wrap themselves up in a neat little bow.” Ron whispered.
“Maybe this is Kingsley’s way of telling us we’ve been moving too slowly?” Harry replied with a smirk.
A close inspection of the thugs revealed they were all stunned and wrapped in some kind of wire, with their wands placed on top of the crates safely out of reach. As Ron waved his wand over the crates, he said in a loud voice “Yup, looks like it’s all here! Guess Christmas came early for once,” and continued in a whisper “Just got a ping, eight meters behind us and three stories up. Turn on three?”
“Yeah, I think you’re right. Guess we’d better not look a gift Hippogriff in the mouth!” Harry replied in a half-shout as he flicked out three fingers, hidden by his Auror cloak, and counted down.
“Stop in the name of the Aurors!” they both shouted as they turned. Or, Ron shouted - Harry got about halfway through the command, saw their mysterious watcher, and choked on his laughter before he could finish the sentence.
Ron turned to his partner “What’s up with you? Did they hit you with a Tickling Charm from that distance?” Turning back, he saw the figure was already gone from the roof where they’d been watching. “Merlin’s balls! Did you get a good look at them? All I saw was a black cloak and some pointy ears.”
As Harry attempted to get his giggling under control, he replied. “No spellfire, partner. And yeah, I got a good enough look.”
“Well that was weird. Wonder who that bloke was?” Ron said with a scowl.
Harry beamed at him as he replied “No Ron, what that was, was wonderful.”
Harry Potter was a man of simple pleasures. Draco Malfoy could keep his albino peacocks and 300-Galleon wines - Harry loved Full English day in the Ministry cafeteria.
“So, I don’t get it. Is he part-bat? Like, the body of a man with the head of a bat?” Ron asked before scooping a big bite of tomatoes on toast.
“No, he’s just a guy who dresses like a bat. For intimidation.”
“So what are Manbat’s power’s then?”
“ Batman doesn’t have any powers. That’s what makes him so great!” Harry exclaimed.
“Unless you count being rich as a superpower!” Dennis Creevey added as he slid into a seat across from Hermione.
“Good point Dennis. Batman is rich enough to do what he wants and what he wants is to stop crime. Sound like anyone you know?” Harry said with a smirk.
Hermione lowered her Daily Prophet long enough to chime in “I think we’ve seen that Magical Britain doesn’t have a great track record with rich men trying to circumvent the law.”
“You can’t be the Batboy though Harry, you were with me when we saw him.” Ron said.
“True - honestly, I’d been thinking it was you Dennis - you’re the only other one in the department I know who’s a big enough comic book nerd to think of it.”
“Nah, can’t be me - Batman’s rich, remember? I’m still hoping I’ll get a raise just so I can move a street closer to Diagon. Besides, who says it has to be somebody in the department? In canon, Batman was a layabout with no job.”
“Canon Batman also has technology to help him figure out intel before the police do. Unless some Seer has been spending the last few years developing new scrying methods, I don’t see how anyone outside the department could have known about that drop before we did.” responded Harry.
Hermione finally put her paper down fully and joined the conversation. “You know, I remember reading an analysis a while back that found that Batman could have done way more good for Gotham if he’d just donated his money instead of using it to fund vigilante justice. Surprising amount of math behind it for analysis of a comic book. And should you really be throwing around the idea that someone in the Auror department is out there committing vigilante justice? What if it gets back to Kingsley?”
“Eh, Kingsley’s probably a fan of vigilante justice if it gets the job done. Who knows, maybe it’s him out there in spandex and bat ears?” Harry leered.
No one else at the table replied - they all seemed suddenly preoccupied. As he looked at them, Ron and Dennis wolfing down their meals, Hermione suddenly extremely interested in her Daily Prophet and its article on the Malfoy family’s most recent dinner party/charitable gala, he realized that the entire cafeteria had gone quiet.
From behind him, he heard Kingsley’s smooth baritone ring out loud enough to reach the corners of the room. “I’m sure I didn’t just hear one of my Senior Aurors suggesting that the Auror Department is anything other than vehemently determined to catch this criminal. Vigilante justice will not be tolerated - let’s leave the policing to the Aurors, everyone.”
As Harry slumped over his empty plate in misery, Kingsley continued in a lower voice “You’ve got night shifts walking Horizont Alley for the rest of the weekends this month Potter - maybe it’ll teach you not to openly undermine the rule of law?”
As he carried his lunch out of the cafeteria, he threw out the parting words “And for the record, if I were a superhero, I’d be bloody Iron Man.”
Still slumped over the table, Harry said “Ginny’s going to murder me and it’s all Batman’s fault.”
The one upside to the night beat in Horizont Alley was that it gave him plenty of time to think. Harry had already managed to rule out all of his graduating class from Hogwarts as possible Batmen or Batwomen and was halfway through the years directly above and below him. Most purebloods were out of the running immediately, just due to the lack of exposure, but he didn’t want to rule out any who had close contact with Muggleborn or Halfblood friends who may have introduced them to the comics.
Horizont Alley was always a slow spot for crime, considering that it was mostly homes and had well-lit streets, but it’d been especially quiet this month. While on patrol, Harry had kept an eye out for any suspicious figures on the roof, just on the off chance the Batman was patrolling this area too. This paid off when, in the middle of cataloguing any instances he’d seen Katie Bell sharing Muggle candy with Lee Jordan and the twins, he saw pointy ears and a cowl peeking over a roof two streets over. With a manic grin, he wove a quick mobile Anti-Apparition ward around himself, then pointed his wand at the ground and fired off an overpowered Impulse spell, shooting him into a gentle arc towards the roof. He landed with an audible thump and immediately dropped into a dueler’s stance , looking around for his quarry.
“Batman, or Batwoman, I’m not here to fight you. You have no idea how long I’ve waited to be able to say that phrase and not wake up from a dream a few minutes later. Can you come out and we’ll just talk, man to Batperson?”
The red jet of a Stunner and the sound of footsteps on roof tiles was his only answer - ducking into a roll under the spell, he spun out, following a caped crusader in bat ears over the rooftops of his city, cackling madly as he celebrated his incredible, insane life.
Forty minutes, six blocks, and several broken roof ornaments later, Harry finally managed to trap his quarry with an overpowered Incarcerous. A quick Disarming and he was able to catch his breath before beginning his interrogation.
“Firstly, I just want to say: I love what you’re doing. You’ve got style a plenty and if you’re going to pick a superhero, Batman’s costume isn’t far off from wizard robes once you pull the cape around yourself. Great attention to detail on the costume too, you even went all out with a codpiece. That being said, I’ve gotta know: who are you?”
“I am Batman. I am the night. I am justice.” came the reply, in a rough, gravelly voice.
“Wow, 10 out of 10 for commitment. Though I thought the voice was tacky in the movies and it doesn’t sound any better on you. Probably murder on your vocal cords. Wait, what am I saying, it’s probably just a spell, right?”
“This won’t end with me. Batman is a symbol. Even if you take me down, another one will rise.”
“Not in Magical Britain buddy. I’m pretty sure it’s just you, me, and Dennis Creevey who even know you’re not dressed like your average Muggle. Hermione too, but she’d never admit that she reads comic books. Now then, let’s get that mask off and see if my suspicions are correct-”
As he stepped forward and ripped the cowl off, his voice rose “Lee Jor-Malfoy?”
Shaking his head to reset his perfectly coiffed hair, Draco Malfoy responded “As usual Potter, you’re three steps behind everyone else. I should have been placing bets against you for years.”
“What...but...how?” Harry stuttered. “How do you even know about Batman? Why in the name of Merlin’s saggy tits are you dressing up as him and stopping crime? Also, I can’t talk to you while your voice sounds like that. Finite Incantatum ”
“Granger really ought to do another pass over the laws she drafts for loopholes.” Malfoy continued, now in his normal voice. “My mandatory ‘continuing education on Muggle culture’ only required a certain number of checkouts from a Muggle library, it didn’t specify the contents. Hell, I would’ve been watching movies every month if I could’ve kept the VCR from shorting out inside Malfoy Manor. Might have also helped if the Ministry evaluator knew anything about Muggle culture. Early on in one of our weekly sessions, I mixed up Batman and Superman and they didn’t bat an eye.”
“Ok, I take it back. I’m definitely dreaming and this is my worst nightmare since the one where Lockhart regained his memory and got the publishing rights to my life story. You trying to skeeve off on your probation by reading comics books, that I can understand. You liking Batman, of course, because who doesn’t? But why in the world are you out here taking down criminals? Before tonight, I would’ve placed bets you were the one buying that Mooncalf dung!”
“Really Potter? You don’t see the parallels? A handsome, wealthy bachelor who’s lost his parents? An overwhelming sense of responsibility to set things right and a dark, tortured past? Impeccable charm and style wrapped around the iron fist of justice?”
Harry threw his hands up as he started pacing back and forth.
“Ugh, stop it. You’re ruining Batman for me. And your parents aren’t dead, they’re just utter pricks.”
“Quit quibbling over the details. Face it, I am Batman.”
“This is insane. I would make a much better Batman than you - I’m also rich, handsome, and an actual orphan, plus I was never on the side that wanted to commit genocide.”
“Bruce Wayne was part of the League of Shadows before he became Batman. We both have regrettable decisions in our past, but rise above them to become true heroes. Meanwhile, you’re part of the establishment . You could never be Batman.” Malfoy sneered.
“I don’t need to be Batman because we’ve actually managed to turn Magical London into a functioning city. Gotham is an utter mess, but most of my time as an Auror is chasing down lost Kneazles and settling disputes in Diagon Alley. We don’t need a Batman!”
“...you don’t understand how boring my life is Potter. I can’t get a job with the Ministry, no one wants to buy Potions from a disgraced traitor, and all I have to look forward to is monthly charity galas where people bitch and moan over how Voldemort lost.”
Harry paused at this, before turning to face Malfoy again and snapping his fingers. “The parties. That’s how you’re getting your information, isn’t it? All your old friends still have their sticky little fingers in the various pumpkin pasties that make up what’s left of crime in Magical London. All you have to do is stay quiet and nod at every slur and they tell you everything you need to know to take them down.”
“See Potter? I’m out here doing something no one else could. Now, you could turn me in and go back to chasing cold leads and long stakeouts. Or you could let me go and I'll keep doing my job.”
“Your job,” Harry snorted. “The right thing, the legal thing, would be to take you down to the station. Plus it would keep you from dishonoring the cowl of the Batman any further.”
“Well Potter? What’s it going to be?”
In the end, there was only one decision Harry could have made.
“Congratulations Potter,” Kingsley drawled. “You actually made it a full month without any...extracurricular activities in Horizont. You’re off that beat until you inevitably break the rules. Again.”
“Nah, those days are behind me boss. I’m on the straight and narrow now, everything above board!” Harry replied with a cheeky smile. “I’m off, gotta go talk to Hermione about a project.”
As Harry strolled away, Kingsley Shacklebolt felt the beginnings of a headache forming - it wasn’t the first time Harry Potter had caused this feeling and it always spelled trouble and lots of paperwork.
“Potter, what are you up to?”
“Nothing to worry yourself over, I promise! Just asking Hermione about how to adjust the shape of a Lumos charm.” Harry shouted over his shoulder as he boarded the elevator.
Kingsley watched him go, debating whether it was worth the effort to chase him down now or just wait for his latest scheme to blow up in his face and stick Potter with the cleanup.
“I’m getting too old for this shite.” he muttered as he strode off towards his office.