Chapter 6 : V: Herein, part 2
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Daniel Craig as Scorpius Malfoy
Julianne Moore as Lily Potter II
Tom Hollander as Calton Finley
Christopher Egan as Capt. Larion Michal
Liam Neeson as Retired Commander Lionel Michal
Thandie Newton as Major Devorah Tremain
Vincent Cassel as Col. Priam Roux
Ewan McGregor as Cordus Roper
Allison Miller as Deliah Michal
Some of you may notice that the cast list is mostly gone. I have transferred it to my site (link on my author's page) where it will be accompanied by pictures and profiles (still constructing them ATM). Just click on the 'cast list' tag there to see the entire list!
Okie, while I'm on the matter of OCs, I know some of you are getting a bit worried, so many OC's! She's gonna drown. Don't worry. We are nearing the introduction arc of Wasteland. Yes, chapter's 1-10 are all introduction chapters. The real story begins in chapter 11. Please bear with me! We'll reach there sooooooon!
Standard Disclaimer: Anything you recognize in the story is not mine, but JK Rowling's. This story was inspired by a number of books, movies and other medias, but most specifically, the Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert. Thank you Mr. Herbert!
Scorpius Malfoy was the stuff of legend. Veteran of the Liberation War. Prodigy of Commander Teddy Lupin. Commander of the Cryllians. He was a force to be reckoned with. A prince of men. A patriot.
Larion Michal had heard stories about him all of his life. First from his father’s lap, then from the Cyrllian classrooms. He was no nearer to Commander Malfoy than a man was to God, yet there he was, walking his path, following his footsteps.
He’d received the summons at three o’clock in the morning. Someone came knocking on the door of his house, waking his wife and he from a dead sleep. A messenger brought a letter. The Cryllian snake as its seal. At first he thought it was an immediate deployment order, but as soon as he opened it, he found a different kind of order. An order to The Hill.
“What could it be about?” Deliah asked as she helped him put on his dress uniform.
“All I know is that it’s personally signed by Commander Malfoy.”
“You’ve barely recovered from your injuries. Decline it.”
“The healers have already cleared me for duty. I’m fine Deliah. Besides, I cannot decline an order from my Commander.”
“Of course you can. Simply say no.”
“This is my life, Deliah. Our life. I’m going to the Hill.”
A young solider with his whole life ahead of him, Larion’s mind was full of idealism and the misted visages of honor and valor. To serve and to obey. To protect and to defend. He was a soldier, a soldier’s son as well. Larion knew duty all too well; his wife did not. Deliah knew nothing of the sacrifice a soldier had to make: missed dinners, passed birthdays, entire months apart. Nonetheless, she married him and promised that she would learn. It had merely been two months after their wedding, and already Larion was being called off. He wished he’d had more time with her. More time in unadulterated bliss. But as a Cryllian, his time was never his; it was his Commander’s and the Wizarding Community’s. Deliah would simply have to make good on her promise. Learn and understand.
“Don’t worry. It says nothing about a deployment. Just says here for me to come to The Hill. At the very worst, it could just be a debriefing.”
She fastened the last button, handed him his service cap, then stepped back. Reluctantly, she let him go. She did not look at him as he left. Not as he looked at her.
He went with the guards to the apparition point and reported to The Hill base. Major Devorah Tremain, head of the Office of Intelligence was there, seemingly waiting at the foot of the apparition point.
Larion noticed that he did not have the ordinary countenance of a Senior Cyrllian Officer. Warmer, he’d suspect, based on the smile on her face. The Major outstretched a hand to him, one which he took, and beckoned him to follow suit as they ascended up the deep obsidian steps of the towering Hill.
“We’re sorry for the early hour. I know the sun’s not even up yet, but the Commander likes an early start on things, you understand.”
“All well and good, ma’am. I really don’t mind.”
“Good. Can I offer you some coffee or anything stronger?”
“No ma’am. I’m just fine.”
“You certain? You’ll be needing your strength in that room.” The Major smiled, turning back at him, seeing his face misted with badly masked curiosity. “You seem confused, Lieutenant. Allow me to explain.
“You have been summoned to the Hill to attend the Cyrllian Tribunal. All of the Cryllian elite will be there discussing the Wizarding Community’s defensive status and the Watch insurgence. Commander Malfoy requested you especially. He was quite impressed with your work at the Northern Raid.”
“Simply doing my duty, ma’am,” Larion nodded.
“Perhaps beyond duty. You volunteered. Considering your brilliant record in South America, especially that successful attack on the Watch Argentinean Sector, I should say that you’ve seen more than your share of them. Quite possibly more than any in your rank.”
“I would do more if it were asked.”
“Very good. Spirited. Like your father before you.”
He was surprised. “The Major knew him well?”
“I served under Commander Michal in the Liberation Wars. I was a fresh recruit then, young and idealistic. I looked on to him like the wolf to the moon. His injuries were all too unfortunate. A great and grievous loss. But man stands on more than his two legs, he stands on principle as well. With the work Lionel Michal has accomplished in his lifetime as a soldier and as a civilian, he stands taller now than when he had use of both of is legs.”
Humbled and greatly touched by the Major’s words, Larion found no words to thank her for such kindness. He merely mustered a nod, one with firm admiration and gratitude. From then on, he followed only in silent resolve. Part for want of nothing more to say, but also in anxiety. He had never attended a Tribunal, nor had any one else in his rank. He wondered how he came to deserve such an honor, or if his last name once again granted him praise beyond his true measure.
They stopped upon a dark door. Locked and guarded with five men on each flank. The men stood at attention on the Major’s very presence. Without a word, they began unlocking the Goblin made bolts, tracing the code among the crawling carvings.
The Tribunal was already in session by the time they arrived, the Commander on the High Seat at the head of the round table. Colonel Priam Roux, Commander Malfoy’s right hand, had the floor, standing in the middle of the room, raised in a pedestal.
“The situation in the North has cleared somewhat,” the Colonel spoke in his strained English, his French accent only hinted in the undertones. “People are still at an uproar, but we’ve managed to isolate the problem and provide some good press on what’s been happening. As far as they know, it was a routine training exercise and not a Watch encounter.”
“Any resistance?” Commander Malfoy responded.
Major Tremain guided Larion through the room as quietly as possible. As she took her seat, she signaled him to wait in the wings so to speak, to stand by the wall behind her, remain quiet and observe. Like the good soldier that he was, he did as he was told.
“Some, but as we said, sir,” Col. Roux went on. “We’ve contained the matter.”
“Good. We don’t need anyone causing panic. Well done. I trust the matter of Sector Five is being handled with the same efficiency?”
“Sir. Area was clear by the time we reached it. We searched all possible escape routes, but found nothing. Unfortunately, we’ve found evidence that there could have been someone living in the house for some three days before we arrived. Could be a homeless person who strayed in.”
“Impossible. Malfoy Manor is practically a fortress. My grandfather made sure of it. Even Lord Voldemort used it as a strong hold during his reign. I doubt that anyone could get in or out without knowing what strings to pull. Form a team and investigate further,” he dismissed Col. Roux, who saluted and went back to his empty seat.
With promptness, Major Tremain stood up and took the Colonel’s place in the pedestal.
She cleared her throat and cast a spell with her wand, projecting the information on her matter in front of the Tribunal. “A third security breech during another prisoner transfer. Prisoner Simon Rigfort, real name Rodion Katchimov, escaped while en route from The Hill’s holding facility to Azkaban. His transport was intercepted in Blackpool as soon as it docked. Five Cryllians dead. None obliviated. No captives.”
“Do we know who they are?” the Commander leaned forward.
“No sir. No traces, just like the others.”
“What was the charge on him? Katchimov?”
“Again sir, just like the others. Treason. He was found screaming ‘toujours por’ at the steps of the Synod recently. Miss Potter was the one who alerted us. He was kept at The Hill before being transferred to Azkaban for interrogation.”
“That’s what we think, sir.”
“Sweep The Hill’s security. I want every record of system activity checked and rechecked. Double the guard too. Make extra preventive measures. Wards, dragons, what ever we need. Either he is a diversion or he is the active. Either way, I don’t want to take any chances.”
“We found no mark on him, sir. None of us think he’s part of the Watch.”
“No chances, Tremain.”
“Yes sir,” the Major saluted, stepping back and returning to her seat.
“Lt. Michal!” the Commander called.
Major Tremain shot a look at Larion, gesturing him to take the pedestal. He did so with trepidation. Larion stepped forward from the shadows and cautiously took the place in the middle. All eyes on him. All attention given to him. The Commander’s intent eyes, piercing through his deceptively calm exterior. Larion wondered if they could hear his heart, racing in his chest, or hear the trickles of sweat as it covered his hand.
“Sir, yes sir,” he saluted towards his commanding officer..
““How long have you been in Covert Operations?” he asked, leaning back in his chair.
“Since I first came to The Hill, sir.”
“You were part of the team at the Old Hogwarts raid,” the Commander nodded. “You volunteered to join, even though you’d recently just recovered from considerable injuries from the mission in Peru.”
“I don’t believe you know, but I hand picked that team months before the actual mission. Your name was already in the list.”
Still, Larion remained quiet.
“I admire that in you. I admire your dedication and your sense of duty. Being a soldier means more than taking commands. It’s a matter of justice and consciousness. So, let me ask you, Lieutenant, People at the Synod seem to believe that we are overreacting, that we’re being too unreasonable with this budget increase. What would you have me say to them?”
Larion thought carefully. Lionel Michal had been a military father and taught him to always follow orders. Give honesty when honesty was required. As he looked at Scorpius Malfoy, his Commander, he knew that it was exactly what was being required of him. He simply hoped his opinion wouldn’t be judged too severe. “Sir. Well I’d tell them, respectfully, to go to hell...”
Sounds of disapproval waved through the room. Perhaps those were not the most appropriate of words to be used. Larion regretted his lack of tact and remained silent.
“Go on,” the Commander said, as he stepped down from his raised chair and walked towards the pedestal where Larion stood. His eyes were intent on the young soldier.
“Well, sir. I may not have fought during the Grimmauld Incident, but I can safely say, sir, that any man under your command knows its events like he knows his own hand. The Watch had the place surrounded in ten minutes. They came in from the rear and left flanks right at the change of guard. They’d taken it at twenty. Our men didn’t even get there until the worse had already happened and they’d taken you and Mrs. Malfoy hostage. Seventy-eight dead. Most of them from our side. Innocents, soldiers. All lives lost in mere minutes. Had we gotten there sooner, mobilized quicker, we could have saved Mrs. Malfoy and all the other innocent lives they took. Had we gotten better intelligence, the whole incident never would have happened. With the money they give, we can save more lives. We can be on the offensive and crush them before they get a chance to land a blow.”
The Commander held a stone face, even at the mention of his wife's name. Her death. It took a strong man to remain in such composure. Larion respected him all the more for it.
“You sound like your father, Larion," the Commander cleared his throat. "He was a great friend of mine. Still is.”
“Thank you sir,” he beamed with pride. “I’d be happy to have even half of the passion he has for the Wizarding World.”
“His presence has been missed,” the Commander continued. “His Passion, as you put it, is missed most of all. Passion and duty. Qualities like that run in the blood. His blood runs in your veins. His passion pulses through your body. But passion is useless without action, and a mere glance at your service record can assure that you have never been lacking.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“The list I mentioned earlier. This team I brought to the Northern Raid, is about to expand. It will have one mission, to destroy the Watch where it stands. It will have the sole priority of doing anything and everything possible to eliminate their treat. It will have all the resources of the Hill to complete their task. And as with every team, they will need a leader. Congratulations Captain Michal. ”
Larion fell silent as the Commander gave him his new insignia and the badge for his new post. The Senior officers gave a resounding hurrah for him.
He did not know what to say. He stood there, silent, his eyes on his Commander.
The Commander smiled. “I’ll expect you and your family to have moved into Fort Lupin within the day. Once again, my heartfelt congratulations.”
Salute. He stepped back, the insignia clasped in his hands.
Lily Potter threw down the file on Cordus Roper. She hadn't even met the man and already she'd had enough of him. His reputation preceded him, of course. Former lead writer of the Daily Prophet Opinions section. No partisan loyalties. Middle class with a viable income. There was not much to say about him, but upon reading his articles, she found that he had a lot to say.
Even her morning coffee did nothing to improve her mood. She already had a full schedule as it was without more headaches coming on. Her meeting with the Goblin High Moot had to be canceled, all because of this Mr. Roper. But what could she do? Albus's orders.
"Let Dominique handle it," he said. "You’re more valuable to me here."
She washed her hands of it. Lily had spent years forging a trust with the goblins and she knew that they would not take kindly to a mere delegation. If Dominique failed to convince the goblins to sign the treaty then she'd promised her brother that it would all be on him. He merely laughed and walked out the door.
A knock came on her door and her secretary, Carlton Finley came nervously in. "You called me, ma'am?"
"Yes Mr. Finley. Please, sit down. Coffee?"
Finely did as he was told but not without the spot of hestitance. It didn't surprise Lily. Not often did she invite people for coffee in her office. Not even her secretary.
"No, ma'am. I'm quite alright," he politely declined, his hands on his lap like a schoolboy in the Headmaster's office.
"Suit yourself," Lily poured herself another cup. No sugar or cream. "Mr. Finley, as you well know, I have an appointment with the new Chancery Correspondent today. No doubt you've already seen his file," she gestured to the folder on her desk. "I'd like to ask you what you think of him."
"Excuse me ma'am?"
"Your opinion, Mr. Finley. I am asking for your opinion on his appointment." She took another sip.
It seemed like Finley had not often been asked of his thoughts on matters. It took him a great deal of concentration and thought before he finally figured out a suitable response. But even then, his voice was as uncertain as his manner. "Not that I doubt the judgment of the Chancellors, Ma'am," he said tentatively, as if expecting reprimand. "But is approving this Mr. Roper truly wise? Taking into consideration is...critical tendencies."
"He comes at the highest recommendation. Popular with the people. Young. Opinionated. It's to be expected."
"Yes, of course. But his ideas. His articles. They don't really adhere to the needs of the Synod as of the moment. There's enough turmoil as it is without the Chancery correspondent publicly opposing their rulings."
"Quite right," Lily nodded. "In all confidence Finley, I don't much disagree with you. His credentials do lean him towards the opposition. The balance of power is fickle and I fear he may tip it against our favor. The people see him as a window into independent thought. An other man able to judge the government without truly knowing the thoughts behind the actions. When will they learn that the only judge man's actions will ever have is History," Lily smiled.
"And what of God, ma'am?"
"Oh, I'd forgotten about him. Yes, Finley. God will judge us. Pity he doesn't share his ruling till Judgment Day." The rain fell hard, the music of London - people scrambling on the streets in search of shelter – playing outside her window. What drops of water could do to disrupt an entire populace. She laughed. "Thank you for your candor, Mr. Finely. But I am sure the Chancellors have some design for him."
God only knew what that reason was.
Good PR aside, Lily didn't see a single advantage to taking this Roper man on. She'd looked over his portfolio well. An editorial man. Even fancied himself a moderate leftist, but a leftist nonetheless. Why Albus even approved Mr. Roper clearance to the Synod building was beyond her. But what could she do? They were Chancellors and she was nothing but the Chancellor's herald. She knew her part and she would play it well, no matter what the dunces in the Synod thought.
"He's due at any moment, ma'am," Finley looked at his pocket watch. "Shall you require my services further?"
"Yes. Please stay Finley. Take some notes. I don't want him twisting any words for his own amusement."
"Of course ma'am. Naturally."
Lily poured herself another cup, the coffee pot almost empty. She checked her watch and sat down in front of her desk. What she would do for a cigarette right about now. The seconds ticked by for what felt like hours. Once again, she would be perceived as the villain. Of that, there was no question. Albus had always been the inspiring one of the two of them. Lily was merely the shadow that followed to step. She did not mind it. These days Lily didn't much care for her popularity in Politics. It was no secret that most at Synod despised her, envying the power she held with no position attached to it. Miss was still the prefix to her name. Not Syndic. Not Chancellor.
The knock sounded on her door.
"Shall I, ma'am?"
"Abandon faith, all ye who enter." Lily drew a sharp breath, nodding to him.
The door opened and a young man passed through. From the look of him, one would not believe the dangers he held to the Chancery. But to one who knew how to look, such a threat could easily be seen. He had charisma oozing from his pours. Handsome and with what some would call a winning smile, Lily knew that this Mr. Roper could easily get his way though charm and persuasion. She knew the type because she had been the same not too long ago, before she became the jaded politician she was today.
"Mr. Roper, I presume." Lily held out her hand and gave a firm handshake. "Please have a seat. This is my assistant, Mr. Finley. He'll be joining us for today's meeting.”
Roper collected himself, took the seat and proceeded to take out his dictation quill, testing it on the bit of parchment he had tucked in his sleeve. "I honestly would have been here earlier, but the Press Room is a hard place to get out of."
"I can imagine. Every newspaper in the world, in one tiny little closet."
"Exactly," he laughed. "I was actually surprised that you were not there, ma'am. From experience, I know that you make it a point to be at every press release."
"You've done your research, haven't you?" Lily quirked an eyebrow. "I had a full schedule this morning. A meeting with the Chancellors."
"Of course. And I don't mean to pry, but would that be on the Goblin Matter?"
"Don't be so hasty, Mr. Roper. We'll get to business in due time. Meanwhile, may I offer you some coffee?" She signaled to Finley, the assistant immediately darting up (not even awaiting Roper’s response), pouring the journalist a cup of coffee.
All the while, Roper did not break eye contact with Lily. He held her gaze and received the cup off handedly, taking it as black as she took hers. "I don't see why we can not mix business with casual conversation."
"Casual conversation lessens the urgency that business has. To mix it would be to undermine the importance of business and to overrate that of chit-chat's."
"Then, what do you suggest we talk about in the meanwhile? While business is not yet an option? The weather? It is quite raining outside."
"I like to get to know the people I am working with, Mr. Roper. To build trust and camaraderie."
"Please, Miss Potter. Don't think I'm naive. I know you've read my file. I don't expect the Chancery to take on anyone they don't know anything about. And being a well-known public figure, I practically know everything of note about your career. All things considered, wouldn't that chat be more or less redundant?"
"Fair case. Well then, Mr. Roper, why don’t you tell me something else? Something that isn't on this file."
"Do you doubt the efficiency of your informants?"
"No. I simply don't trust third party judgments."
"And what would I get madam, for telling you these deep dark secrets of mine?"
"My trust perhaps?"
"Again, Miss Potter. Don't think me so naive. Trust doesn't come with a secret."
He was no greenhorn, and now Lily knew that for certain. She eased in her chair, shifted her weight from one side to the other, leaning on the armrest. "Touché," she smiled. "To business. Ask what you may."
"Just like that?"
"Believe me Mr. Roper, if you'd told me some secret of yours, I would have trusted you less."
Roper gave no signs of hesitation, leaning forward and starting off his dictation quill. Lily too subtly signaled Finley to start taking notes.
"Well Miss Potter,” he cleared his throat. “I think you already know that I...and my paper of course, are quite keen to be informed as to the progress of the Goblin negotiations. If any."
"The negotiations are like any in this world: not without compromise. We continue to ask for more a higher monetary subsidy, but they raise their interest rates."
"Surely it is to be expected, what with the declining Magical Metals market. Their banks are the only things they have left and one can't blame them for trying to make a little more profit while they’re at it."
"That is a matter of opinion.” The sharpness in her voice was betraying itself.
Roper pulled out some pieces of parchment from his satchel, newspaper clippings. He slid them over to Lily. It was of her Aunt Hermione. A bold and clever move. “I believe it was your aunt, Mrs. Hermione Weasley, who once said that members of a non-wand society, Goblins find less and less job opportunities in the Magical world. Their own sources of income are the Magical Metals market and their banks. And with the size of their community, don't you think that a 3% increase a reasonable compromise?"
"Not at the cost of the people." Her voice raised.
"Is there a chance that the position will change now that Legate Michal is handling the negotiations?"
"Next question please, Mr. Roper."
"Very well, ma’am,” he nodded. "Regarding Chancellor Malfoy's motion to increase the budget for the Cryllians."
"What of it?"
"As it is, Miss Potter, the Cryllians already hold the largest portion of the government's budget."
"And you don't value national defense?"
Roper pulled out another newspaper article, this time it was her own face staring back at her.
"Your own words, 'There is no threat to the Chancery. Any attempt of Watch to destabilize the status quo will be to no avail. We will be prepared and we will bring these terrorists to justice.' Dated June 15, 2057. Not even a week ago, Miss Potter. If the military was so prepared to handle them then, what difference did a week make?"
"I'm afraid that's classified information Mr. Roper,”
"Is it Miss Potter? Or is the Chancery simply keeping secrets? It all falls under a simple question, really. Yes or no. Are we, or are we not under attack?"
"This meeting is over." She pushed the article away, and promptly stood up. She snapped at Finley to escort her valued ‘guest’ to the door. A flustered Roper stood up, aware of his unwanted presence, when by an act of Providence the door itself opened revealing his salvation.
"No need for that," Albus laughed as he entered his sister’s office.
Lily’s jaw tightened at the very sight of him. He’d know doubt been privy to the goings-on of the meeting and decided to make a sudden visit. Playing hero once again. She slowly she backed away from her chair, pulling it out as If to offer it to him and went beside the window. Finley silently tried to offer her his chair, but she refused. Below, the rain was still harrowing and shelter seemed impossible.
"Chancellor Potter. I wasn't expecting---"
"Of course not Mr. Roper. One never expects a surprise. Please do sit down," he offered, as if it were his office, as he sat behind the main desk. "Carlton, may I have a cup of tea please? Milk. Not lemon."
"To what do we owe the pleasure?"
"You didn't expect me to neglect our new friend, now do you Lily? Meeting Marlow's prodigy is well worth a few minutes of my day. Albus Potter at your service."
"Cordus Roper, sir."
"Splendid. May I call you Cordus?"
"Of course sir."
"Well. We've heard great things about you, Cordus. Haven't we, Lily?"
"Of course.” She did not look back. “The highest regards."
"And I hope you don't mind but I couldn't help but overhear the latter part of your conversation.” He took the cup from the assistant’s hand, stirring it with magic. “The fact of the matter is, Cordus, that Scorpius's motion for the budget increase is a precautionary matter. I understand that the Cryllians are already well funded as it is, but one has to understand in times like these one can never be too careful. The Watch's threat may be small now, but we've already made the mistake of underestimating them. Never again. This Chancery will not suffer another Grimmauld Incident, so whether under attack or not, the fact remains that we are on the defensive. We are blind. The money given to the Cryllians will not only be used to defend the Government, but will also go into Intelligence. Like Lily said. We shall be prepared for their coming, if ever the occasion arises. Excellent tea, Carlton."
It was dangerous to be blasé about such a heavy matter, but Albus Potter was nothing if not a dangerous man. As Lily looked onwards out of her window, listening to her brother go on in such a fashion, she couldn’t help but feel a chill run down her spine.
"I didn't mean to question any judgment on the Chancery's part ---"
"I understand. You just wanted the people to be fairly informed. I don't blame you. And do understand Lily's reluctance to answer such questions. The vultures of the world would use anything against us at this moment. The opposition in the Chancery is strong and you can understand our desire for a strong front."
Politics was a business of masks and rhymes: chose the right one and the world was yours. Albus was the Pied Piper of their time.
Roper left soon after, probably singing her brother’s tune. As soon as the doors closed, Lily turned sharply at him, the fire ablaze in her eyes, indignation written plainly on her face. But before she could speak, before she could even collect herself, before she could send Finely out, her brother was already one step ahead, as always, a complacent smile still on his face.
"I’ll show myself out. You're welcome, Lily."
He went out and closed the door.
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