Chapter 3 : Chapter Two
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“It’s not fair!” Arista ranted, storming across the room with the sheet pulled tight around her. As she stepped around the bed her foot caught in the excess fabric and she stumbled, crashing into a trunk at the foot of the bed and banging her shins. “Damn!” She screamed, struggling up and rubbing at the bruises ruefully. Of all things, she certainly had not needed that.
Once she recovered enough to stand up again, she strode into the adjacent bathroom and pulled on a robe that hung by the bath. Fuzzy pink slippers sat innocently under it, and she slipped her feet into them. Thus clad she set off for the kitchen and a strong cup of black coffee.
Five minutes later she sat in front of a mirror, glaring at it and sipping her delightful French roasted brew. The mirror kept up a constant flow of chatter, as though filling in the gaps left by Arista’s silence.
“There there, now it can’t be all that bad, can it? Your sweet heart and you had a lovely night last night, oh yes, I witnessed it all,” Arista’s frown deepened, “and he’ll be back soon enough. Why don’t you take advantage of this, child? Take a long hot bubble bath, fix a real breakfast, reapply your makeup. That mascara is running horribly you know.”
“You don’t understand.” Arista grunted, still staring idly at her reflection. She had to admit, the mirror had a point. A lip stick smear decorated her chin, and her eyes were blue from eyeliner (not mascara as the mirror thought. Arista at least had the sense to apply waterproof). Her blond hair was tousled and beginning to frizz.
“Oh, I understand. You just want to feel sorry for yourself. You think ’Oh, its my wedding, everything is supposed to be just peachy.’ Well, there’s a hitch in your plan, get over it. At least you’re married to him, not like some girls. You know he has to come back, when you’re married you can’t just shag and leave. Hmph.”
“Shut up.” Arista whispered through clenched teeth, standing and retreating to the bathroom.
As she slammed the door, the mirror shouted gleefully, “That’s the ticket girl! Stand and hold your chin high! My, she’s a feisty one.”
The mirror’s comments had hit a nerve, though not for the reason it might think. Arista was worried that Dillon wouldn’t come back, that he didn’t love her as much as he pretended, or that he merely loved his job more. Rationally, she knew it was none of the above. There was just no way to say no to the Ministry, especially when they began to panic over recent events.
The Dark Order was quiet in its endeavors, but when it choose to strike, the hit was hard. Only three months ago a building that had belonged the International Wizarding Defense League had exploded, killing forty, including several esteemed Aurors. Dillon had worked overtime for weeks before on a lead his department had, though the clues had not been connected in time. After the attack Arista saw him only once throughout a period of three weeks. Five months before that happened, there had been the Crying Murders, and the following trials. It was a nightmare.
The problem was the Dark Order itself. Before now the Ministry had learned to deal with power hungry Dark Lords who worked over time to gain themselves followers, using means of intimidation and stealth. Since the invention of a shield that would block Adavra Kedavra, great leaps and bounds in suppressing evil dynasties before they occurred happened. The pattern of good verses evil was broken, for evil had lost its most feared tool. Then, about fifty years ago, the foundations of the Dark Order were laid.
The Order was unlike any other terror group in magical history. They used a highly sophisticated means of communication (which the Magical Law Department had yet to unravel) to contact each other and send vital information. The group spanned across all of Europe and into Asia, the Americas, and Africa. There was no set leader, which allowed the fast growth of the Order, though a rigid code of rank was followed. Scariest of all, however, was the invention of magical mass murder devices, or MMMDs. Facing a MMMD was like facing an Adavara times one hundred. The smallest had the capacity to kill anyone within a twenty foot range. The Department of Mysteries remained baffled by the science (for lack of a better word) behind them. Any attempt to gain a MMMD for study had had ultimately failed. The mystery of the Dark Order remained in tact.
So, perhaps Arista was not only worried that Dillon would leave her. She was also worried for his welfare. The specifics of his work remained top secret, as Dillon phrased it, ‘This works on a need to know basis, and frankly, you don’t need to know.’ Arista guessed enough however to know that he played a key role in investigations, and often ended up on the front lines, the place for Aurors, not inside intelligence. Even those trained in extensive hex blocking and surviving often died on the types of excursions Dillon went on, and for all his genius, he was also untrained and reckless, giving Arista definite cause for worry.
“You’re late.” The man with the fang earring said, lowering the newspaper he read (which had strange, moving pictures) and glaring.
“I ran into difficulties.” Dillon answered smoothly. “Now, you said you had a lead. Explain.”
“She’s going to be coming through the Sea of Crete in two days, at nine a.m., on her way to Athens. Full of ’em, though hidden in the bay. Not traveling legally. They’ve a buyer, though, soon as the ship docks they’ll be gone.”
Dillon nodded slowly, piecing it all together. Two days was enough time, he was sure, if he didn’t have other things to worry about. Arista, though...she would pose a problem. There was a slim to none chance that she would remain alone and uninformed at the cottage for the two days he needed to bring this one in.
The man on the left, who was wearing tinted glasses and a gold watch on a chain hanging out of his blazer pocket smiled. “This would cinch it. We have to intercept.”
“I know.” Dillon replied tersely. “I’m working out how.” He drummed his fingers impatiently against the table, concentrating.
“You got security, man. I can get five guys, at least, there in an hour if I have to. This is easy stuff.” Fang ear said.
“I know. Give me a minute.” Dillon thought a few more seconds, then nodded. “All right. Got it.” He dug a bag of thirty galleons out of his pocket and laid it on the table. “Thank you gentlemen. You will hear from me soon.” Then, without a glance backwards, he exited the building, his hands in his pockets.
Then men would hear from Dillon soon, though how soon was hard to tell. He always kept his word, but was vague, qualities that his contacts found both pleasing and annoying, depending on the day. Most put up with his strange comings and goings, the odd muggle places he asked them to meet at, and the hours he kept with only a slight sneer now and then. For all his oddities, Dillon was a useful friend to have, and more than once had proved his loyalty.
News of his wedding had startled even his closest friends. It had been assumed, and with solid proof, that Dillon was not the marrying type. He had the occasional fling, but tended to use women more than respect them, and romantics were out of his league. He was intense, with a penetrating gaze that unnerved the timid, and more problems than answers. With the very fact of his marriage being surprising, the knowledge of who he was marrying sent most who knew him to the bottle to contemplate the mystery of fate. After all, the name Steshi was hailed through the country as high class and honorable, with enough Ministry Awards to fill a swimming pool.
Dillon smiled slightly, remembering his first meeting with Arista, as he strode down the side walk, towards an empty place he could apparate from. She was a brilliant student at school, always questioning what the Professor taught and blowing things up. Though finesse was not beyond her, she had a propensity for larger, explosive magic. Many a glass had shattered when Arista lost her temper. He winced slightly. She was not going to be happy when he arrived back home.
Walking faster, Dillon ducked into an old warehouse. The light was dim, but there was no one around, and that was all that mattered. Muggles, Dillon thought with irritation, they always seem to be in the way. It was true. Hiding from the muggles was a task that took up plenty of worker’s time. He checked his watch, tapping it once and whispering, “Arista.” The screen remained black, so satisfied, he disappeared, zooming back towards the cottage on the beach.
Inside, Arista paced back and forth. She had changed into deep blue robes that brought magnified the icy blue of her eyes, and fixed her hair and makeup. At the moment her face was twisted into a mask of concentration and distaste as she walked the floor, glancing out the window every now and then. She was just about ready to collapse into a chair when she saw him. Dillon. Walking up the steps to the front door.
It swung open before he reached it, and she glared, arms crossed and face set. “You’re horrible.” She hissed, refusing to listen to the little voice that told her she should just let it go. Instead she slammed the door shut again, causing Dillon to take a hasty step back. He had been reaching forward, and almost caught his fingers in it. Frowning, he opened the door and followed her inside.
Arista was no where to be seen, and he imagined she had stomped back to the bedroom, probably locking that door with a complex charm. He was quite right in his guess. Arista was in the bedroom, and the door was locked with every spell she could dredge up in her memory. It was cursed as well. He would be negatively surprised if he tried to force it. Breathing slowly to keep from crying, she curled up and pouted. She had been worried, and hurt, and now that she saw him she realized she was angry. Part of her regretted the anger, not sure he deserved it, but the other half thought he did. It was the day after their wedding, for goodness sake.
Slamming closed a draw, Arista muttered, “One moment we’re exchanging vows, the next he’s flashed away to meet with some cronies of his and talk about saving the country. It’s not as though that’s important.” She stopped mid-slam, realizing what she’d said. “Not as though...that’s important.” She repeated, sighing. “Oh. Well I guess it is.”
Flicking her wand, she removed the spells on the door, leaving it just plain and wooden. Taking a seat on the bed, she fumbled with the new ring on her finger, staring into its depths. The diamond was a fair size, and set on a gold band with little runes encrypted into it. She smiled, knowing the ancient blessing spells that Dillon had instructed the jeweler to put on it. That was an old tradition, yet one she liked, almost as much as she liked the feel of the ring on her finger. Diamonds... pretty yet the strongest rock known to man. So much symbolism could be derived from their association with marriage.
A light knock came on the door and Arista glanced up. She started to say something, then stopped, watching the door. The knock came again, then the handle turned-slowly-and the door opened a crack. As nothing happened it opened a little further until she could see Dillon peering through the crack, wand ready in case she had a nasty surprise waiting for him. He knew all too well how much she liked vicious hexes. Once he had sprouted vines from his fingertips and bounced for a day because she laid a Bouncing Bulb hex on him. It had been a most embarrassing experience, magnified by the fact that he didn‘t know the counter curse, and had to have her take it off him. She did...only after watching him suffer for a while.
“Aris?” Dillon asked, watching her warily and using the nickname he hoped would melt her heart a little. She looked the opposite direction, out the window. Though feeling more forgiving, she was still ill disposed towards him.
Sensing that the worst of her anger was gone, he crept into the room and over to her. Standing behind her on the bed, he whispered, “Aw, come on Aris, it’s not like I planned it.” Bending down he wrapped his arms around her, and she relaxed some, leaning back against him.
“What was it this time?” She finally asked, sounding stuffy.
He groaned. “You know I can’t answer that.”
“Then why do you ask?”
“Because I wish you could.” She was still fingering the ring fondly, and he watched her for a moment, an idea forming. It was about the right size, and jewels held magic well, he certainly knew that...
“Aris, let me see your ring.” He asked, pulling out his wand.
“What!” She asked, turning around to look at him. Her ring? Why would he want that back?
“I just want to try something.” He soothed, and she handed it over hesitantly. He held it up to the light, studying it, and thinking. Flourishing his wand, he tapped the stone once. It glowed briefly, then stopped. Dillon smiled.
“Repercutio Rotaria.” He commanded, voice hard. He swished and flicked his wand, touching the stone again. It glowed once more, then faded, though the formally white stone remained tinged with gold.
“There.” He told her, handing the ring back. “It’s a mood ring, but it will reflect my emotions. If I’m happy, its gold, for example. He grinned guiding it onto her finger then kissing her fully.
“Obviously, I’m happy.” He whispered. She laid her head against his shoulder and murmured into it.
“So am I.”
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