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Chapter 3 : March 22, 2000: Ministry of Magic, London
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Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter series, nor any of the characters or plots. They belong to J.K. Rowling. And I make no profit from what I have posted here.
March 22, 2000: Ministry of Magic, London
Kendra flicked her pencil back and forth between her finger and her thumb, tapping out a staccato rhythm on the enormous front desk of the Department of Records. She was entirely focused on The Daily Prophet; her eyes skimmed over grim pictures of the Dark Mark floating menacingly above the Magical Republic of Ireland’s main administrative building and the ruins of a home owned by the family of a squib who had yet to be found. She flipped pages until at last she came upon what she was looking for, the obituaries.
Ever since she could remember, albeit not that long, she had read the obituaries every morning. Doyle had taken to asking her about them later, wanting to know who had the nicest article with the most family mentioned or the most accomplishments.
Today, the obituary for Martin Kale ran. He had been a father, a husband and a respectable healer; he’d created several cures for powerful, Dark Arts curses over the past few years. Everyone said he had the potential create a potion to counteract the effects of an Imperius curse, but better than previous attempts because this one would not harm a person not under the effect of that Unforgivable. He had also been a Muggleborn. This article didn’t mention it, but the back issues kept just under the counter of her desk, on the first wide shelf, said that he’d been beaten, cursed with the worst things imaginable and left to die, bleeding profusely. Kendra sighed and refolded the paper neatly, placing it on the top of the stack. Obituaries like this one needed to stop.
Kendra picked up her tea cup and walked back into the stacks of the Department, attempting to “familiarize herself with the organizational structure for rapid retrieval of requested data,” as her tremendously up-tight boss had instructed her to do. He stood at an impressive six foot seven and he possessed a sallow, unhealthy complexion and a prominent Adam’s apple. Atkins also had the uncanny ability to appear out of nowhere and stare over her shoulder as she dealt with particularly precious or fragile records.
Today was her fifth day working at the Ministry and she found the work incredibly dull. Most of her tasks involved cataloging data into a newly-designed format that was supposed to be miles better than the old one. To be completely honest, she didn’t really see the difference between them and she didn’t really care. She also had the task of retrieving the information requested in interdepartmental memos and sending out magical duplicates of the files. She felt vaguely like a human fax-machine.
Still, the job kept her busy and more importantly, it kept her presence here innocuous enough. No one questioned the fiancée of one of the newly trained Aurors moving to be with him. Her British Ministry work visa gleamed in its potion-dipped lamination. She’d tacked it on the wall just above her small, already cluttered desk, which had been hastily stuffed in the corner of the cavernous Record room. The visa was a forgery, of course, but the Organization was good at replicating just about anything and the Ministry of Magic was too busy dealing with attacks and disappearances to bother checking her against their records anyway. Besides, she’d recently altered the visa list to include herself when Atkins wasn’t looking. There were a certain number of perks in this job; Tonks no longer had a single blemish on her file, for example. And Harry’s illegal magic when he was twelve (which was actually Dobby’s) never happened, according to the books.
A small flapping noise echoed out from what sounded like the other corner of the stacks, but Kendra now knew better. She had recently learned that the room was originally intended to be the seat of the Wizengamot and was designed acoustically to be so, but that the chief warlock of the time hadn’t thought that it was grand or intimidating enough. Thus, the Department of Records got dumped here - with noises that came from the wrong directions. She’d learned that when she was sorting through building plans from the nineteenth century for Yaxley, a known Death Eater.
It was useful, she mused as she walked toward the front desk, to know exactly what information the Enemy was requesting, though she had no idea why this particular knowledge would be of use. She rounded the corner and saw the memo fluttering over the incoming tray. This one apparently had too much energy to lay itself neatly down like the rest did. She snatched it out of the air with practiced ease and flattened it against the desk.
To Whom It May Concern:
The Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects has a need of the following records: Mundungus Fletcher (WF), Amulets (Silver, second grade - MOF), and Eagle feathers (MOF) cross-referenced with protective talismans in American magic (MOF).
Secretary to Arthur Weasley
Kendra nodded at the order. One wizard file, three magical object files and a partridge in a pear tree. At least she’d be finding it for someone she knew. She started to turn to go and retrieve the records, but a small ding from the bell on the main desk stopped her. She whirled around quickly, in a manner that suited being an Auror, not a librarian. She automatically pasted her don’t-look-at-me-too-closely smile on and looked to the visitor.
It was Doyle. She relaxed her posture and pushed her glasses, a prop the Organization had supplied for her, up the bridge of her nose.
“You know, you’re really cute when you’re wearing your glasses,” he said, focusing his full attention on her. She felt an involuntary blush spreading across her cheeks.
She felt the need to carefully remind him that they weren’t in their living room, so she slipped his work name into her response. “What can I do for you, Auror Dixon?”
“Kacie, honey,” D replied, in kind, “Why are you always so brusque at work? Nobody’s going to fire you for showing a little affection for your fiancé. Isn’t that right, Atkins?”
Her boss had appeared just over her left shoulder, standing partially hidden by a bookshelf. Having been revealed to be eavesdropping, he straightened his sweater huffily and answered, “As long as it doesn’t keep her from filling requests quickly, I don’t care to know anything about your relationship.” The last word of his sentence was dripping with some unidentifiable emotion that might have been disgust, with just a twinge of something like bitterness. As she watched him shuffle back to his office with its pristine desk and tools for restoring old parchment and she saw him nearly trip over a stepping stool because of his refusal to stop looking over his shoulder at her, Kendra felt certain he’d never been in a long term relationship; the thought was vaguely sad. She felt a tap on her shoulder and turned back to Doyle.
“Much better,” grinned her sometimes goofy partner. “I need the WF on Calypso Carrigan and I need you to be ready at six.”
Kendra growled at herself internally and then allowed a sigh of exasperation to pass her lips. “I completely forgot! How could I have forgotten?! Today’s our anniversary! Why didn’t you say something before work?”
“Because you seemed like you were in a hurry. And because you know how I am in the mornings. I don’t know how I’d ever wake up without your insistence.” That was true, at least. Kendra had to knock on his door twice, flick the light switch on, and drag the covers into her room and lock it, so he couldn’t Accio them. All of this, compounded with the smell of pancakes and coffee could lure Doyle from his room in the morning. The problem was that Doyle was an insomniac. The base-healers said it was something from a previous mission that was buried deep in his sub-conscious, an image or images of something disturbing that led to nightmares and eventually woke him sometime in the night. Once he’d gotten back to sleep, he wanted to stay that way. It was a situation they rarely spoke of and Kendra wondered why he had brought it up. Probably to guilt trip her.
“Okay. I can fix this. But first,” she said, reaching for the clean, unwrinkled parchments slips on the counter, “the file.” Kendra worked quickly, neatly writing out Doyle’s request and the ones for the Office of Detection on its own separate piece of paper. Then, just as her boss had shown her a few days earlier, she placed them into the Summoner, one by one. Atkins explained that they’d never been able to standardize the means of summoning a single file without it. There’d been a previous assistant in the department who had used an Accio without thinking and pulled a whole, two-story shelf down on himself.
The Summoner lit up, sending trails of multi-colored fairy dust swirling off into the stacks. When she’d seen it for the first time, she clapped her hands in delight like a four-year-old and Atkins had given her a withering glare, but it was beautiful. Moments later, the files appeared and stacked themselves neatly on her “To Be Copied” tray.
As she used the complex charm needed to copy the files in their entirety, she said, “I’ll get off work at five, that’s about half an hour from now. I can hurry home, get ready and meet you at six at the restaurant. How about it?” She presented Doyle with the wizard file he’d requested; it was still warm, a side effect of the spell used to make it that reminded her of a Muggle copying machine.
“Sounds good. I’ll get ready here and Apparate to pick you up,” he paused when she looked at him questioningly, “I still have about an hour’s work to do. Don’t worry. I have my dress robes in my cubicle.”
“Okay. Well, let me finish up here.” She started to work on the other files for Arthur’s department, ducking her head and looking down at them. However, Doyle was having none of that. He placed his hands on the four foot high service counter, fingers splayed out for balance, pushed himself up high enough to lean over and kissed her cheek. Kendra’s face burned, not because she was sure Atkins was watching, but because Doyle always had that effect on her. She never really could explain why.
“See you later, alligator,” he called, over his shoulder and then left with a purposeful walk. His uniform navy blue robes swirled behind him and flicked out of sight when he turned the corner.
“After a while, crocodile,” Kendra murmured, a faint smile remained on her lips.
* * *
March 22, 2000: The Apartment, Croydon, 5:48 pm
Kendra leaned against the old wooden vanity in her room, carefully poking a bright blue earring through her earlobe. Doyle loved these in particular; he’d joked that they brought out her eyes which is a ridiculous thing to say to someone with brown eyes. She straightened up, adjusted the hem of her dress, and surveyed her reflection with a critical eye.
“You look just fine, dear,” said her mirror lazily.
“Thank you,” she murmured back, before deciding she needed to go slip her outer robe and shoes on. She was about as ready as she was going to get. Her dress robes were a deep blue and were quite extravagant. The Organization must have had future plans that involved her being lovely and Doyle being dapper, but those had not, as of yet, been revealed.
Tonight was important because it was the anniversary of her MD (meet-date) with Doyle, her partner and best friend. She didn’t know how they’d held on to this bit of information through Heaven-knows how many wipes, but she always felt a thrill of danger at it-since its remembrance seemed to be the only thing that they had ever successfully kept from the Organization.
As she shrugged on her robe, she remembered that she’d left the Order’s pendant on the vanity when she’d showered. She crossed the room and carefully locked it into place around her neck, smoothing it down with a hand.
"Ready," she breathed, and checking to see that her dagger was in its hidden sheath (one could never be too careful) and that she had her Ministry issued identification, she Apparated away with a loud crack.
* * *
March 22, 2000: Grimmauld Place, London
"Yes, but do you really think we can trust them?" Hermione whispered, as if afraid of being overheard.
"I think we can trust Mad-Eye's judgement on this one. He's the most suspicious of newcomers out of any of us. Do you think he'd let them into the Order if he didn't have some intel that made him believe they were telling the truth?"
"Harry's got a point, Hermione. Moody'd just as soon look at a stranger as curse him. He's got to know something," Ron said, not bothering to look at the door behind him as he spoke. "There's no way Captain Constant Vigilance got to be as old and as scarred as he is by being stupid."
"No, there isn't, Weasley, which is why I'm surprised you've managed to survive this long," Moody growled, from his position over Ron's right shoulder. Ron ducked his head quickly, but his bright pink ears were an obvious testament to his embarrassment; he muttered something across the table to Hermione about the fact that she 'shoulda told me'. Not bothered, Moody descended the final step on the staircase into Grimmauld's kitchen, where the three friends had gathered. "You lot still don't think the Organization is worth a damn, do you?"
Hermione bit her lip, trying to decide whether to speak up or just listen to the inevitable lecture. The desire to defend her position won out, "Sir, what do we really know about them? They came from America, from a government that denies they exist to help us with a war that most wizards over there don't even care about? It seems a little implausible, don't you think?"
"Let me tell you something, Granger. Twenty years ago, I was assigned a case, the capture of a Death Eater, Silas Loxley - slippery son of a gun, he was too. I chased him through Europe more than once, and into parts of Asia. Funny thing was, his stuff had already been rifled once I got to his hide-outs. Nothing obvious. Just things a little moved, in the same places I'd look, if I were looking for clues. And then, I caught them one day. A pair of them. From the Organization. Told me to call up the superiors, to give them their card and they'd know what that meant. Then, they delivered Loxley in a body bag straight to headquarters. They caught him in two weeks. Took me six months to get anywhere close. And they didn't have a scratch on them, either. Since then, I've heard whispers of 'em, now and again. They only work in pairs. They have code names.They don't remember anything but the mission at hand. But they're professionals. I don't know why the Organization sent us it's best. With all the half-bloods and muggleborns in the U.S., it might be enough to have 'em scared. But we aren't looking a gift horse in the mouth, Granger. We need 'em. We need all the help we can get."
Harry's mouth had twisted into what looked like thoughtful disgust, "You mean to say, without coming out and saying it, that they're assassins? Do wizarding governments even condone that?" He and Ron had just finished their own makeshift Auror training at the hands of Tonks and Shacklebolt since the Ministry, with all of the corruption, really couldn't be trusted; their ethics course, unlike all of the others, had been completely by the book. The highest law in any Auror's book was to capture, disable, disarm, stun or otherwise knock unconscious, but never to kill.
"I mean to say that they will carry out whatever their mission is to the letter. No matter what it takes. You don't live as long as I have in Law Enforcement and not hear about their handy work. Their fingers are in every pot if you believe the stories. But they never leave a trace behind. They're like the bogeyman; they get blamed for everything that goes wrong - or not according to plans, at least. Maybe it is them, sometimes."
"But sir," continued Hermione, "I contacted the United American Wizarding Government when we first heard from them. They said that they have no Organization on file. And there isn't any mention of them in any wizarding file in the Ministry or in any book in any library I have access to. I searched for weeks. They don't exist."
"Granger, the day that you start believing in things that don't exist in books will be a relief to us all."
Ron snickered behind his hand before she elbowed him sharply in the ribs. His laughter dissolved into muffled whimpers.
Moody made a noise that would've been a sigh for anyone else, but sounded more like a exhausted growl coming from him."The truth is, we don't know anything about them. Their orders could be to cause the collapse of the Ministry and take over the country. Or their orders could be to help us as faithfully as they know how. Or to finish this war at any price so it can't spread to the Continent or worse in their eyes, to the Americas. I don't know which. But I'd wager that they are here for what they say they are."
Hermione's brow remained as furrowed as ever. "We're gambling on the honor of trained killers?"
"No," said Harry, "We're gambling on the honor of trained spies."
Hermione shook her head slowly, as if trying to unclutter her thoughts. She just couldn't stop wondering which of the above was worse.
* * *
March 22, 2000: Carver's, London, 6:23 pm
K drummed her nails on the table and frowned. They weren't making that satisfying clicking noise that they normally did. It was probably due to the restaurant, Carver's, being formal enough to use linen tablecloths and real flowers and candles for ambiance. But it irked her slightly that she couldn't make contact, that her fingers made in ineffectual thumping noise instead. It irked her more that Doyle was, she checked her watch, now twenty four minutes late. It just wasn't like him. He wasn't quite as Type A as she was, sure, but he was, at least, punctual. And this dinner was important. Really important. What could be holding him up? Surely, the Enemy hadn't caught on to them yet. After all, K hadn't even been in England a week. That wasn't time enough to make the kind of waves that would catch anyone's attention. She and D hadn't even finished shoring up the Order's information lines, or really, finished casting the net of intelligence gathering from their own people. And they certainly hadn't planned or executed any field ops. She just couldn't understand why he would be late. Unconsciously, she drummed her fingers a little faster.
"Miss?" The waiter inquired, looking a little nervous. K didn't respond - she hadn't heard him. He cleared his throat quietly. "Miss?" he repeated, and then a little louder, "Miss?"
"What? Oh. Sorry, I guess I must've gotten lost in thought. What is it?"
"There's a message for you." He slid a folded note across the table to her and scrambled away. It was printed on fine cardstock, with a golden border. It bore the words "For Your Eyes Only."
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