“No, I don’t know about any international operation taking place inside my jurisdiction,” the muggle police inspector said in annoyance, “all I know is that I have two bodies in the morgue, ones extra crispy and the other has a lamp post where his face should be!”
Garrick, Lady Talbot and Auror Chang marched through the station, following the angered muggle and pulling off their cover identities perfectly. By all rights, they would have been happy to just let the muggles lock Al and Scorpius up for the next half-century after this little stunt but unfortunately they were both major parts of the Tri-Wizard tournament and so that wasn’t possible.
“Our agents were attempting to capture the suspects, not kill them,” Garrick stated.
“Agents, ha! Those are kids!” the inspector scowled.
“Due to the nature of the operation we were forced to recruit the youngest people available.”
“That’s irrelevant,” Chang said. “You’ve already been contacted by your superiors and informed of the situation. Release them!”
“Fine! They’re all yours, but I’ll be taking this up with the chief!”
“You do that.”
The inspector led them to the holding cells where the four students were being kept. It was in the basement and actually did resemble a dungeon. Behind the dirty steel bars, Al, Scorpius, Blakely and Scarlet were sitting against the walls with no idea that they would be free in a few moments. The two girls were huddled together, sharing a blanket that one of the officers had given them.
“Told you I’d be in prison before I found a girlfriend...” Al remarked.
“It’s not the first time we’ve been locked up,” Scorpius said.
“True, but it might be the last.”
Blakely and Scarlet let out a whimper.
“Sorry,” Al mumbled.
“It’s all right...” Scarlet said, shivering slightly. “That’s the second time you’ve saved my life.”
“No, really...thank you...I don’t care what people say about you two...I’ve seen it with my own eyes...you’re...you’re...” she couldn’t continue as the sobs were making it difficult for her to speak.
“That’s how it usually is. Nobodies there when it actually happens and then after, all they can do it listen to how we tell it. It makes us seem pretty guilty,” Scorpius managed to smile.
“You’re not. You saved us,” Blakely said, also getting teary eyed.
“Don’t mention it...good thing you asked us to come over when you did.”
“What?” Scarlet asked looking slightly confused.
“You sent us that note asking us to come to yours. You said you wanted to talk about something,” Scorpius said.
Both Scarlet and Blakely were now looking extremely baffled.
“We didn’t send you a note.”
Scorpius looked at Albus, matching Scarlet and Blakely’s expressions. The note wasn’t an act of chance, it was a warning.
“No, you didn’t...but somebody did and whoever it is, they seem to want you two alive,” he said.
“What do you mean?” Blakely asked.
“Whoever sent that note, not only copied Scarlet’s handwriting perfectly, but sent it just moments after those men broke into your home. I think we have an ally out there...someone on the inside, someone that knows what’s going on,” Albus said, his deductive brain already working its magic.
“Who?” they all asked at the same time.
“I don’t know, but I think we should keep this to ourselves. Spreading it around might compromise whoever sent the note and if they’re trying to help up, I don’t want to put them in danger.”
They only had a few seconds to ponder who it might be before Chang, Lady Talbert and Garrick, lead by the muggle inspector arrived outside their cell. They all glared at the students in silence as the inspector opened the cage and then stormed off in a huff.
“So...how was the mall?” Garrick growled in his natural sardonic tone.
“I don’t recommend the octopus,” Scorpius remarked, earning himself another wave of daggers from the headmasters. Albus was trying not to burst into laughter.
“I want a restraining order!” Lady Talbert huffed while pointing a shaky finger at Al and Scorp. “Those two say at least fifty yards away from my students at all times!”
“Ma’am, they saved us!” Blakely objected.
The Salems headmistress just stuck up her nose and folded her arms across her chest.
“And then almost killed you!” Chang hissed.
They were stood outside the processing office, waiting to get their possessions handed back to them from behind a large glass window.
“If it weren’t for the tournament, I’d have you to in chains and cages by the end of the day! What the hell were you thinking?!” Chang growled.
“I was thinking that two of my friends were almost murdered and I wanted to know why,” Al said, unphased by Changs threats.
“You are a student, not an Auror!” he scathed through clenched teeth.
“Well you don’t seem to be one either so I thought I might as well take over!” Al snapped back, getting in his face.
Scarlet and Blakely went wide-eyed and Scorpius looked wary.
“Listen to me you little shit -”
“I’m done listening to you! Two attacks on students inside of a week and you’ve done fuck all about it! Come to think of it Chang, where were your men...weren’t they supposed to be guarding them?”
“They were called away!”
“By who, you?”
Chang took a step back and some of his anger died. “We don’t know...”
“That’s convenient!” Al huffed.
“Enough you two, we’ll discuss this back at the school,” Garrick said, intervening. He could see Al’s rage building and a muggle police station really wasn’t the best place for an outburst.
“Cars are waiting outside,” Chang mumbled before walking away, followed quickly by Lady Talbert, Scarlet and Blakely.
Garrick, Scorpius and Al started walking behind them when someone called out. “Hey, you!”
Al turned around to see a small, geeky looking Japanese policeman trying to signal him from behind the glass. “You have to sign.”
“Right,” Al walked back over to the glass. Through a small slot at the bottom, the cop passed him a clipboard and pen. It was all in Japanese but the cop had marked the place he needed to sign. He did so and passed the clipboard back.
“One lighter, one pack of cigarettes, one wallet,” the cop said, handing all a large bag full of stuff, “one HK USP .45 Match,” Al’s eyes went wide for a second.
Inside the bag was the gun that the Japanese thug had dropped before merging with a lamp post. They had used the cover story that Al, Scorpius, Blakely and Scarlet were undercover agents so the cops had just assumed that the gun belonged to Al.
He didn’t hesitate in taking it. After recent events, a little extra protection might go a long way. Luckily the bag wasn’t see-through and the others had no idea what was in there.
The cops had just done what no wizard or witch in their right mind would ever do; they had just given Albus a loaded gun.
“Ooww!” Albus yelled, rubbing the side of his face where Rose’s hand had just connected. She was red faced, breathing heavily and had marks on her cheeks where her mascara had been running.
She, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Watanabe, Han and Shiroi were standing in the Headmasters office, awaiting the return of the four students. Standing a few feet away from them were several men in their mid to late fifties, wearing expensive looking suits.
“WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!” she screamed, looking like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. “How many people did you kill this time?!”
“Two...” Scorpius mumbled and looked down at the floor.
“One,” Al corrected. “The truck killed the other guy...”
Hermione gasped and held up her hands to her mouth.
“That’s it! This tournament’s over! You two are coming back with us!” Harry growled.
“That isn’t your choice to make, Mr. Potter. Only the minister can cancel the tournament and he has already refused to do so,” one of the business men, obviously a ministry official, said sternly.
“Are you out of your bloody minds?!” Ron blurted.
“You haven’t even had the second task yet and already people are dying! You can’t let this go on!” Harry shot back.
“This government will not bow to the actions of criminals! The tournament will continue!”
“Then you’re just leaving the door wide open for these guys to -”
“We will stop these people before they can do any more harm,” the ministry official turned to Chang. “Inspector, has your investigation revealed anything new?”
“We’re trying to identify the two men that were involved, but they have no discernable marks, they weren’t carrying any personal possessions and due to the manner in which they died,” Chang flashed a dirty look at Al and Scorpius, “facial recognition matches will be difficult.”
“Sorry, next time we’ll try and drown them instead! It’s not like there would be any Aurors around to stop us!” Al scathed accusingly.
Hermione let another gasp of shock and Scarlet and Blakely went pale. Albus and Chang just continued to burn looks of hatred at each other.
“We’re having extra security placed around the school and are cross-checking the backgrounds of all the construction workers that are current here. All transport in and out of the school will now have to be authorized by ministry personnel,” another ministry official said.
“This is unbelievable!” Harry hissed. “Fine, if my son is staying here, then so am I!”
“I’m sorry but we don’t have the means to accommodate anyone else. The school is already running over capacity,” Han said, sheepishly.
“But feel free to buy a ticket for the tournament and stay in a hotel, Mr. Potter. I’m sure people will be a lot more at ease having you nearby,” the ministry man said, sounding so polite that he had to have been insulting him.
“I will, thank you,” Harry faked a smile.
“You two can sleep on board the air ship tonight,” Lady Talbert said softly to Scarlet and Blakely.
“No, they won’t. They’re staying with us,” Al stated.
“Excuse me?” Lady Talbert asked, no sure if she heard him rightly.
“After everything that’s happened, it’s pretty damn obvious that it’s the champions that are being targeted here. And so far, it’s the champions that have had to fight off the attacks. If we had been even ninety seconds later, these two would be dead. If you think I’m letting them out of my sight now, you’re very much mistaken!”
“I’m sure they will be perfectly well protected without you,” Shiori’s condescending voice just had to enter this at some point.
“No, they won’t. In case you didn’t hear, they almost took a permanent dip a little while ago!”
“And then they almost became road kill because of you, so tell me, who are they truly in danger from?” she scorned.
“Headmistress,” Blakely spoke up. “I think he’s right, we should stick together for tonight...safety in numbers.”
Shiori tried but couldn’t hide the surprise on her face. She obviously hadn’t been expecting them to defend Albus and he couldn’t fight the urge to give her a smug grin.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to them,” he assured Lady Talbert.
About twenty minutes and a lot of evil looks between Al and Shiori later, Rose, Scorpius, Scarlet, Blakely and Al returned to their dorm under an escort of Aurors. They weren’t joking about beefing up security; there were at least ten or twelve of them, walking around the perimeter of the house and probably even more up at the main building.
They all seemed pretty ‘on edge’, as if their jobs were riding on them protecting the Champions.
“There’s a room upstairs that you can use. You’ll have to share a bed I’m afraid,” Rose said, showing Scarlet and Blakely around.
Albus was busy sitting at the living room table, scribbling something onto a piece of paper.
“That’s okay, we’ve slept together before,” Blakely smiled and Scarlet went bright red. “I mean, we haven’t slept together or anything...we just...we’ve shared a bed...” she stammered, trying to correct herself.
Scorpius looked on with a curious expression.
“Okay, well, I’ll show you were the bedroom is,” Rose said awkwardly.
“It’s upstairs and to the left. Rose, come here a second,” Al interrupted.
Rose rolled her eyes and walked over to him while Scarlet and Blakely went upstairs to find the room. He handed Rose the piece of paper that he had been writing on. He had drawn a strange looking Japanese dragon that was intertwined with a dagger.
“When that guy stuck the gun in my face I got a pretty good look at a tattoo on his arm. It was moving so it was definitely magical. This is what it looked like, see what you can find out about it,” he said quietly.
“Inspector Chang said they didn’t have any discernable marks,” she said, looking confused.
“I know, which makes me think that he’s either hiding something or that the tattoo vanished when the guy died.”
“Well, then why didn’t you tell them about it?”
“Because I don’t trust the Aurors,” he warned. “Just see what you can find out, but keep it to yourself, okay?”
“Okay,” she nodded and walked towards the front door.
A few seconds later, Al and Scorpius heard Rose’s annoyed voice yell out: “I don’t need an escort up to the school, thank you!”
When she was gone, Scorpius came and sat next to Al.
“Hey, you don’t think that Scarlet and Blakely are...more than friends, do you?” he asked in a hushed voice.
Al raised his eyebrows and wondered for a second.
“I don’t know, maybe...it’s a sexy thought,” he grinned.
Al opened the door to see his father, Ron and Hermione standing there, looking a little worried.
“Al, there’s some people that want a word with you,” Harry said.
“If it’s the devil, tell him his rent is in the mail,” Al quipped.
I.I.A.: International Investigations Agency. The wizarding worlds equivalent of the C.I.A. Created shortly after the fall of Voldemort and since then, accused of using methods that are less than moral. They had stepped in and taken over Harry’s cases on several occasions, never telling him why, just handing him a piece of parchment with the signatures of some very powerful people on it. None of the ministry’s departments liked them.
These guys were spooks and if they were investigating this, then the shit had well and truly hit the fan.
Harry led Al and Scorpius to a small, empty class room in the main building. Inside were three men, all looking more like Wall Street bankers than spies. One was a tall black man with a short mustache, the second was a shorter man with horn-rimmed glasses while the third, standing away from the other two near the back of the class room wore a pair of dark sunglasses.
“Al, this Agent Colsen,” Harry said indicating the black man, “and this is Agent Despat,” the man with horn-rimmed glasses shook Al’s hand. The third man didn’t get an introduction. “This is Scorpius Malfoy and my son, Albus Potter.”
“Mr. Potter, we just have a few questions we’d like to ask you,” Colsen said in a heavy American accent.
He picked up a brief case that was sitting next to him, opened it and pulled out some files. He detached a few bits of paper from the files and handed them to Al. They were pictures.
“You recognize this guy?” Colsen asked.
Al looked at the black and white, non-moving photograph of a Japanese man in his late twenties, wearing dark glasses and a white suit. He was standing in front of a café in a busy city street.
“No,” he said honestly. Scorpius looked at the picture and then shook his head.
“What about these two?” Colsen handed him a second picture.
This one had two women, one Japanese, the other possibly Chinese or Korean. Both were incredibly beautiful, the kind of women you’d expect to see in a men’s magazine with an air-brush finish. The Korean one had hair very similar to Fleur and Victorie; Platinum blond and perfectly straight. The other had jet black, but equally well groomed hair that fell down to her stomach. They were both wearing expensive looking Kimono’s. They had been photographed coming out of the same café as the man.
“Nope,” Al and Scorpius said. They would remember if they had seen those two.
“The woman that attacked you in the bathroom,” Agent Despat asked. He was French. “You said she had superhuman strength and wandless ability...can you remember what kind of energy that she used?”
“Big, green and hurt like hell,” Al remarked.
“Did you have any side-effects? Do you remember what it felt like?”
“Like being electrocuted. My whole body seized up...but it wore off a few minutes later.”
“Do you remember any of her fighting maneuvers?” Colsen asked, interested.
“All right, what the hell is this?!” Harry blurted suddenly. Al was about to do the same.
“We just want to hear what he knows,” Despat said.
“You want some knowledge; why not give us some in return?” Ron barked.
“We want to see what he knows first!” Colsen shot back.
“All I know is that somebody is sending super-powered ninja’s and thugs that don’t seem to exist to knock off the Champions of this tournament!” Al piped up. “Maybe you guys can tell us who and why?”
Colsen sighed and then looked at Al.
“The first guy we don’t have a name for. He’s just known as The Seraphim.”
“An angel?” Scorpius said looking confused.
“Guardian angel...he’s a bodyguard,” Despat corrected.
“The two women, we only know the first names of. The one with the white hair is Ariel. She owns dozens of businesses around Japan but her main focus is on pharmaceuticals. She owns large shares in three major companies. The other is Saya and she’s the big mystery. We can’t find anything on her before five years ago. It’s like she just dropped out of the sky.”
“Wow, I’m stunned...I’ve gotta lie down!” Ron said sarcastically.
“Me too,” Harry chirped. “You mind telling us just what the hell this has to do with -”
“Ever heard of the All Seers, Harry?” the third man spoke.
For a second, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Scorpius and Al stared at him blankly, then Harry started to chuckle. It was absurd.
“You’re havin’ a laugh! You gonna show us a picture of Keyser Soze next?” Harry laughed.
“It’s a myth, they don’t exist,” Hermione agreed.
“Oh, they’re very real, Harry. And you, and your son are standing in their backyard,” the third man warned.
“Who do you think paid for this school?”
“All the cost for the construction of this school go through about five different companies but eventually they all lead back to Ariel,” Despat said.
“Excuse me,” Al held his hand up. “Who are the All Seers?”
“They’re a king-pin myth. One group of people, known as the All Seers, that control all the crime, both magical and non-magical, in all of Asia...some say the world,” Hermione explained.
“That’s impossible...no one can control all the crime in Asia,” Scorpius said.
“Apparently they can. Because...from what we’ve heard...they have superhuman abilities,” the third man said.
It suddenly dawned on Albus. As ridiculous as it sounded, it actually made sense. The ocean of money that could be made from the tournament...of course they would want it. And who else had the brains and the balls to pull off something like this.
“Shit...” Albus whispered to himself.
“It gets worse...” Despat stated.
Harry wasn’t laughing anymore. In fact, he, Ron and Hermione had gone pale.
Colsen leaned forward, looking uneasy. “We intercepted a floo transmission two days ago from one of Ariel’s businesses to an unknown address. They have someone...a mole; inside this school, right now...and their orders are to make sure that you don’t survive the tournament.”