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Chapter 2 : March 18, 2000: Croydon
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Disclaimer: I do not own the settings, characters or the plots of the Harry Potter books, though they may be referenced herein; those belong to J. K. Rowling. Furthermore, I have made and will make no profit from this writing. I just enjoy it.
March 18, 2000: Croydon
Kendra leaned forward in her chair, digging her elbows into the table and allowing her head to slip slowly through her hands. Doyle could sense that she’d passed up frustration and headed straight on through to exhaustion. It was written all over her face. She’d lain her head down with her hair splayed over her part of the Order’s packet; her eyes fluttered closed. The fire crackling in the corner cast strange shadows over the room.
Doyle sighed, and said aloud, “C’mon, Kendra. We should get some rest. First day of work tomorrow, and all.” Gone was the English accent, replaced with an untraceable American one.
“No,” answered K, slapping her palms on the paperwork and pushing herself up. “No, we’ve got to get this finished. The teams need their orders and we need to get rid of the leftovers.”
Leftover was the term for memories the leaders of a team have of distributing orders. As per the rules of the Organization, one couldn’t retain memories of anyone’s mission but one’s partner. That way, if any individual were captured, they couldn’t give up more than one person. And Kendra was right. After the meeting with the Order and several hours of pouring over these documents, they needed to off some memories.
“Okay, we will finish these stacks and go immediately to sleep. It’s three a.m. here, and you’re on God knows what time schedule,” Doyle rapped out, sounding every bit the senior partner. He crossed from the window to the center of the room and sank into the chair opposite her place at the desk.
Kendra saluted sloppily, “Yes, sir! Very good, sir!” She ducked her head and shuffled the papers into recognizable stacks, creating a file for each team. “Should I get to work on my ‘Love, Aunt Katie’ letter?”
“Certainly. The phrase book is over there,” Doyle responded, pointing vaguely toward a bookshelf crammed with titles. Kendra sighed. Finding the right one might take until dawn.
March 17, 2000: Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place
K and D stood in the foyer of the Black Residence, behind a now transformed Tonks with violently pink hair. She made a hush gesture and led them down a hallway, deftly avoiding an umbrella holder shaped like a troll’s leg. There was a light creeping from under a doorway on the right, and she motioned them toward it.
Then, two things happened in rapid succession. Tonks, in stepping backwards to allow them room to enter, crashed into a table in the hallway, sending an unlit lamp clattering to the floor. Immediately afterward, someone started shrieking up a storm.
“FILTH! BLOOD-TRAITORS, WRETCHED MUDBLOOD-LOVING INEXCUSEABLE FILTH! I WON’T ALLOW IT IN MY HOME, I WON’T—”
Just then, a sandy-haired man K recognized as Remus Lupin rushed past them and was heard shushing whomever it was and metal rings grated on a curtain rod. The shrieking ceased.
“What was that about?”
Tonks made a face, “That was my,” she screwed up her face for a moment, thinking, “great-aunt. She’s gone but her horrible portrait’s stuck out there. Come on, let’s get to the meeting.”
Doyle offered Kendra his hand as they descended a flight of stairs into what appeared to be the kitchen. There was a table, which looked like it might comfortably seat twelve, in the center of the room. Perhaps as many as twenty people were crowded around it. They stared over at K, some with curiosity and others with a somewhat suspicious attitude. Alastor Moody’s magical eye fixed on her, and looked her up and down. K held her breath until it whirled off in another direction and Mad-Eye gave a fraction of a nod. Doyle gave her a gentle little push forward and dropped her hand to go sit between a woman she recognized as Minerva McGonagall, the new Headmistress at Hogwarts, and a tired-looking Arthur Weasley. A murmur rose from those present, having gone back to their conversations.
Kendra looked the table up and down, feeling like a new student in a school cafeteria; she finally received a beckoning from the Weasley twins in the form of a couple of identical wolf-whistles and come hither hand gestures. Smiling, she pulled up a stool, not beside the last one but directly between them. Remus and Tonks had already taken seats on the other side of the table.
“Been to a meeting like this before?”
“Of course she has, you dolt. She’s a spy.”
“Allow us to introduce ourselves.”
“But I know who you are,” Kendra cut in. She turned to the twin on her right, “You’re Fred and your brother is George.”
They both gaped comically. “You can tell us apart,” they said in unison.
She smirked. “Of course I can, you dolts. I’m a spy.”
“Do you know everyone here?”
Kendra looked around. Mad-Eye at the head of the table, Arthur of his left, Doyle, McGonagall, Bill Weasley, Remus Lupin, Tonks. Molly Weasley, Harry Potter, Ginny, Ron Weasley, who was holding Hermione Granger’s hand. “Yes. I must’ve studied their pictures or something.”
“You really can’t remember how you know us?” asked Fred incredulously.
“No, I really can’t.”
“Wicked,” mouthed George, quieting down since Moody had thumped the table in some kind of call to order.
Professor McGonagall cleared her throat and began, “This meeting has been convened to fill in our two newest additions to the Order. Remus, if you please?”
The man in question stood and pulled from his pocket a small, silver pendant and a delicate glass sphere, in which white smoke swirled passively.
K heard Doyle mutter, “Remembrall.”
“Not quite a Remembrall, actually,” Remus corrected, “Hermione has charmed it to only turn red when an Order meeting has been scheduled. It’s been engraved as though it was a gift, same with the necklace. The date on the engraving will change to the date of the meeting, but the year will always read 1998, so that the times don’t appear to be in the future if someone else looks at it.”
Seeing a problem, K spoke up, “Since I presume the necklace is for me, how will I know if the date has changed? Should I just check it really often?”
Hermione shook her head. “No, the necklace will grow hot when a meeting’s been arranged.”
“Does everyone have something different that informs them of meetings?” asked Doyle, probing for more information.
“Yes and no,” Remus dodged, “Now, on to your assignments. As Dan knows, Hermione and I have been acting the part of spymasters from the time of Dumbledore’s passing and Snape’s departure.” It didn’t escape K that he’d used the same name for her partner Tonks had, Dan. So that was going to be his name in front of these people. Got it. But Remus was continuing his train of thought, “—we’ve been managing sufficiently, we both think we’d be better served in other areas.”
“And because things have been getting past us,” Hermione interjected. “Snape, like it or hate it, knew a great deal about the workings of the Order. If he really has given us up, like we believe, he must also have passed that information on to the Enemy. We need a fresh perspective.”
“Which is why you’re here,” concluded Tonks, clearly addressing K. “Danny here contacted Mad-Eye first, under the orders of whomever you work for. And now he and you are finally taking your place with the outer Order.”
“Yes,” Remus continued, “Dan made his case to a few of us directly. We have confidence in your team and we need you to take these.” He produced a shabby suitcase from under the table and withdrew a slim file. Kendra took it and laid her folded hands on top of it on the table.
Remus shook his head, and gestured toward the file, “Actually it’d be beneficial if you opened it now.”
K knit her brow, but obeyed. The first line read ‘For Your Eyes Only: Kelly’ and she suppressed a smile.
“What?” said Fred, looking confused.
“It’s blank!” said George, mirroring his twin.
“No, it isn’t. It’s been charmed,” Kendra corrected, “I think only I can read it.”
Tonks nodded, “That’s right. What we wrote is only visible to you. Remus and I put our heads together and created it.”
“I’ll read it later. Thanks. As to this information gathering, anything specific you want us to address?”
“Actually, we do need your help with-” Hermione started, but was cut off abruptly by Harry.
“-general stuff only. You know, Death Eater movements, possible raid plans, the like. Maybe even distractions.” He appeared unfazed by jumping into the middle of the sentence, as though he did this sort of thing often. K fought to keep suspicion out of her features.
“Excellent,” said D, stepping in to fill the silence before it became awkward. “We can handle that.”
“Good, then we’ve covered everything,” Mrs. Weasley began with a certain finality. “I’ll just get dinner served.”
“Let me help you,” offered Hermione, rising from her chair with a scraping noise of wood on stone.
K met D’s eye. These were people who knew something they weren’t sharing. Partners were supposed to share information.
“What should we call you?” asked George, handing her some silverware.
“Well, the only letter I remember is K. So how about Kelly?”
“Not very English, is it?” remarked Fred, seemingly searching for details.
“No, I’m going to keep the American identity.”
“What’s it like, being a spy?”
“Um, I honestly can’t remember, Fred.”
Tonks received a stack of plates from Hermione, took one and placed the rest in the center of the table. “Must be hell trying to work, not remembering prior missions. You probably always feel like a rookie.” She shuddered as though she’s stepped out into the cold.
“S’not so bad,” K responded, thinking on it. “I must’ve studied tons for this one though. I remember—well, it seems like a lot.”
“Remus said there’d been a job set up for you at the Ministry.”
“Yeah, I’m going to work at the Department of Records. Desk clerk. I’m basically going to be a glorified librarian, but maybe I’ll get to look up something for a case you’re working on.”
George’s face hit the table, his eyes shut. On the other side of her, K saw Fred fake snoring.
“Oh, come off it, boys. Not everyone can run a joke shop,” admonished Tonks with a smile. “She’s got to have an innocuous career to cover for the not-so-innocuous one.”
“That’s boring, not whatever you called it,” Ron commented, reaching for the mushy peas.
“Well, that boring is going help us hide. So we can help you and maybe win this war.” Doyle hadn’t raised his voice, but it echoed around the cavernous stone ceiling.
Behind him, Moody harrumphed. “Stupid bloody Americans! Always thinking you can come in and fix everything. Maybe two years ago. But the Enemy has got a hold on this country so deep you couldn’t hear a boulder hitting the bottom of that well. You may have good training but that’s about all you’ve got. No experience, no memories, no bloody back-up from this Organization of yours! What use are you?”
Moody’s magical eye whirled angrily around in his head, as he bit out, “I’m just saying it! You’re all thinking it. Aren’t you?”
Nobody spoke for a long time. Ginny, who had flinched through the majority of the speech, leaned into Harry for support; her boyfriend’s jaw was set in a grim line. Molly Weasley paled, and Professor McGonagall pinched her lips together.
K drummed her fingers on the table, then stood to address Moody, “Have you ever heard of the Abraham Lincoln brigade? Anyone?”
Ron nudged Hermione in the ribs, and looked at her questioningly.
“No, Ronald. I don’t know everything, all right?”
D and K locked eyes briefly. These people were under too much pressure. They were hissing and snapping like vipers.
K cleared her throat and began, “The Abe Lincoln Brigade was made up of American volunteers. They assisted the Republic in the Spanish Civil War against Franco and his allies, Hilter, Mussolini, and Grindlewald. That’s a name you ought to recognize. They were young, inexperienced. And they didn’t succeed. Franco took Spain. But they delayed the inevitable. Spain never joined World War II, not enough resources. We’re your Lincoln Brigade. We’re not here to be the big shot war-enders. We’re here to distract the enemy; maybe buy you some time, so that you can end this.”
There was a pause, while the Order members considered this. No one moved. They were all waiting for something.
“The Lincoln Brigade,” Harry mused in a low voice; the corner of his mouth turned up in a half smile. “I like it.”
Fred clapped K on the shoulder, “Looks like you pass.”
D looked vaguely disappointed, “It was a test?”
“Sort of,” Hermione piped in, “We needed to see what you were in this for. If you were seeking some kind of glory, we’d have sent you home.”
Tonks grinned, “Looks like you always knew you were going to be back-up dancers.”
“Well, shall we eat?” asked Arthur, with a smile. He turned to D, “Now, I hear that you are Muggleborn. Can you tell me how a telly works?”
March 18, 2000: Croydon
Kendra took a deep breath to steady herself; it had been a long time since she’d Side-Along Apparated with someone.
“Where are we?” she asked, a little disoriented. Again, she found herself in an alleyway, but now it was dimly lit. She wondered if it was the same one she’d woken up in.
“Croydon. It’s a little ways from London, a commuter town.”
“Sounds good. Also, I think that went well,” she said, pulling her coat tighter around her and flipping her collar up against the wind.
“And I think my parents loved you,” Doyle answered, throwing his arm around her shoulders. “It’s this way. My—well—our flat now.” He led her up the steps of a corner building, up two flights and down the right hallway. The wallpaper in the corridor looked like it came from a historical bed and breakfast. Even the doorknob was an old-fashioned looking oval.
The apartment was cramped, but in an odd way cheerful. There was a large window overlooking the street and an overstuffed loveseat in the corner by a fireplace. A massive desk dominated the room, with a chair on either side of it, and neatly labeled file folders. To her left, there was a small kitchen with a teakettle on the stove.
“Your room is at the end of the hall. We’ll have to share the bathroom but it’s kind of cozy.”
“There’s no place like home?”
“That’s the spirit. Now, I’ve already warded it. It’s keyed to the both of us with the usual password for visitors. Dragon and Unicorn’s parents dropped them off at school. Purple and Green have set up shop and established contact with me. The other teams are in transit, so we’ll deal with them when they arrive.”
“Of course. Are there any other props?” K plopped herself on the sofa.
“Your clothes came in from the dry cleaners steadily, once a week for three weeks. Oh, and the neighbors brought our dog by yesterday; it seems he got out while I was at work. Merlin is a very well trained Collie. Merlin?” He’d hardly raised his voice, but the dog in question came trotting down the hallway.
“Merlin,” Doyle began, in a very strict tone, “Ta mère.” His gesture was unmistakably toward Kendra. Merlin the Collie walked forward in a very businesslike fashion, sniffed behind her knees and then jumped on the couch to sniff at her neck.
“He’s memorizing your scent.”
“So Polyjuice can’t fool him. Sweet. Should we get to work then?” She moved to the desk, pulling out the Order’s folder and opening the Organization’s. There was a pause while she considered something that appeared to have confused her quite thoroughly. Then she scoffed, “I can’t believe you got me a dog.”
Several hours later, K was dozing on the sofa; her sealed and coded letter to the girls placed neatly on the floor, next to an empty mug with a tea bag and a spoon in it. Doyle snapped his notebook shut, and decided it was time for bed.
“C’mon, Kendra. Let’s get you to bed,” he said, picking up the files and the letter and moving them into the safe. He cast a rather complex charm to close the safe and levitated the phrasebook into its place inside a volume of The Once and Future King. K still hadn’t stirred, though. Doyle sighed, crossed the room and scooped her up. She didn’t react apart from a light sniffing noise and leaning into his chest. He knew she was sound asleep because she absolutely couldn’t stand being carried anywhere. If she were awake, she’d have yowled like a startled cat and flailed like someone falling from the fifteenth story. He took her to the end of the hall, pushed open the door and laid her on top of the covers. Merlin hopped up next to her with his little canine eyes fixed on the door.
“Rest well, Sleeping Beauty,” he whispered, clicking off the light and closing the door behind him.
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