Chapter 1 : CHAPTER ONE
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It was raining. Rose sat and listened to the water tumble onto the window; this was real rain, Magical Maintenance had nothing to do with it and for that reason, she liked it. She sighed lightly, stretching her arms above her head and twisting her neck from side to side to relieve the kink that had been building there. She wondered how Albus was really doing, holed up at the edge of the African continent. She’d been unable to talk to him for two months. He was undercover and therefore, unavailable for a chat with his cousin. James, the last anyone knew as of three weeks ago, was in St Petersburg, and Rose tried not to be concerned for him. He knew what he was doing.
At thirty one, Rose was already tired. The last few years had taken its toll on everyone. It had happened so quickly, so fast that no one was prepared. It began with a few disappearances, wizards and witches going missing from their homes. At first, the Ministry was worried Dark Magic supporters were rising again, as they had occasionally since Voldemort’s downfall. No indication was ever given that it was something else, not until the first public hanging had occurred.
Since the 10th century, the wizard and muggle worlds had been held separate from one another; the persecution of suspected witches during the Inquisition years in Europe in the 14th century only reiterated the need for the wizarding community to keep themselves secret. Fear, Rose knew, was a powerful weapon. History was filled with examples of how fear could rule a population and force them to commit acts they would never have considered otherwise. With the defeat of Voldemort, the wizarding world had relaxed, believing the danger to be well and truly past them.
Considering recent events, for the first time ever, Rose contemplated the possibility that Voldemort may have been on the right path.
History was beginning to repeat itself. The Minister for Magic, in conjunction with the muggle government, made the decision to integrate the two worlds once again, as they had been in ancient times, but nothing had gone to plan. The smooth operation they had envisaged had quickly turned violent; bashings, public outcry, kidnappings, accusation and then, the event that changed everything forever – the first death. Rose shuddered, remembering the meeting not half an hour earlier. Reports had come in from Al, and from others stationed throughout the world, that things were only getting worse: torture, scientific and medical experiments, subhuman treatment and rumours of internment camps. Rose was stunned that human beings could treat each other so horrifically, realising that it came down to fear and nothing more, nothing deeper, than that.
As a senior investigator for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Rose was well aware of the problem they were facing. The Ministry had, for a time, tried to keep the issue under wraps from the general public, much as the muggle Prime Minister had attempted, but word spread, and hatred gathered speed with all the ferocity of a bushfire. Vigilante action had become popular and every day there were more disappearances. They were at war once again, and this time there was no prophecy to guide them, no foretold saviour. The call to disappear again, to hide themselves, was rejected on all fronts. The Ministry believed the wizarding world had the right to live in peace, where they liked and as they liked. That sentiment was echoed throughout the community, and now, they found themselves fighting for their most basic of human freedoms. Magical creatures were also being hunted again; already, some were nearing extinction and just last week, Rose found out that there were rumoured to be only two unicorns left in the wild. Like the tiger and the elephant, they would be hunted until none remained.
The Ministry also feared war within their world. Many were beginning to believe that Voldemort had seen clearly. But unlike Rose, many were not keeping their thoughts to themselves. Wizards were turning against wizards, while all around them they faced danger from a threat bigger and stronger than they were. With the muggle population reaching over eight billion, they were sorely outnumbered and the Ministry were reluctant to use any form of magical force for fear of only cementing what muggles already believed. And the muggles were organised, far more organised than anyone first believed. Those who disappeared were never seen again. The Ministry suspected they were interred in the camps, but no one had been able to find any evidence of their existence.
The first major attack had occurred in Hogsmeade; three shops were blown to pieces and thirty seven people were injured, three dead. How the muggles managed to infiltrate the village was a topic still hotly contended. The first people blamed for collaborating were the muggle-borns, followed by registered squibs and anyone else thought to have close links with the muggle world. It had been chaos – Rose remembered standing on that street in Hogsmeade, the dead and dying all around her, unable to believe what had happened. Her own mother, a Ministry official, had been hauled off and questioned. It took moments for paranoia to bloom, seconds for suspicion and accusation to be aired and contrived.
The Ministry of Magic was, these days, more a paramilitary organisation than anything else. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement had doubled in size, with the Aurors taking many more than usual into their ranks. No longer employed to catch Dark Wizards, they now acted as the authority on warfare and every day consisted of strategising and formulating battle plans, reading and discussing reports, analysing data and trying to orchestrate the survival of their race.
After the meeting, where they had discovered there had been another mass scale attack on witches in France, Rose had felt sick, wondering when it would end. It was, as the Head of her Department had so bluntly put it, attempted genocide they were facing. He had made the decision to put more agents in the field, one’s like Albus, who would work at infiltrating the muggle terrorist organisation known only as For Humanity.
What started as a grassroots foundation quickly gathered monumental support as more and more muggles began to adopt For Humanity’s philosophies as their own. According to their manifesto, magical folk were not true humans, but a subspecies that needed to be eradicated. They considered witches and wizards ‘dangerous, abominations of nature' with no right to live free and dignified. They needed to be studied, taken apart and ‘cured of their magical malady.’ For Humanity had no apparent government affiliation but it was rumoured their weapons and equipment were supplied by various political groups from around the world. They were the most organised of all terrorist outfits, and the most numerous, with bases throughout mainland Europe, Africa and Asia.
Rose had been given her next assignment, which sat inside a cream coloured folder on her desk, already lost in the paperwork. She rubbed at her temples, reaching for it, pushing the meeting out of her mind so she could concentrate. She read it quickly, beginning to smile. At last, she was going to see some real action, get involved directly in the fight. She had been itching for it, wanting it, and although it worried her parents to no end, they had never told her not to throw herself right in. They were, Rose knew, working their own angles, gathering old friends and colleagues and doing what they could.
She would be going to Morocco: For Humanity had a base there, and Rose had been chosen to help infiltrate that base. She was to pose as a muggle, something she had never found difficult on her short missions around London and Scotland. The aim of the mission was to gather as much intelligence as possible, and to get out. She was not, under any circumstances, to reveal herself as a witch. It would certainly end with incarceration, or worse. They had already lost two agents that year and the Minister was determined not to lose any more.
Rose glanced at the clock. “Shit.” She scooped up her folder and bag and rushed from the office. Her mother was expecting her for dinner and Rose knew that failing to show up on time would send her parents into a tailspin. Hugo had been two minutes late last month and Hermione had already contacted the Ministry declaring him missing by the time he arrived. That sort of panic needed to be avoided and it was happening all the more readily; this whole situation brought back too many horrible memories for her parents and their friends, for anyone who lived and fought through the Wizard Wars. After the Hugo incident, Rose vowed never to be late. She skidded into the elevator before the doors slid closed, almost knocking over two little witches in bright blue robes.
The elevator stopped at level 5, and Rose stood back as the doors opened, letting her fellow passengers out. They smiled at her and she smiled back, surprised that such a simple human act could make her feel so jubilant. She always enjoyed the elevator ride at the end of the day and settled back against the wall, determined to savour that strange feeling of being suspended in the air. Before the doors clicked closed again, a boot was thrust between them. A very shiny boot made of expensive dragon hide. The owner of said boot slid the rest of their body inside and Rose noted the black pants, perfectly tailored, the dark robes open at the front and the black shirt, close-fitting and snug against his chest.
She closed her eyes, resisting the urge to sigh deeply. There was only one person in the entire Ministry who dressed like every day was a funeral. You’d think, Rose mused to herself, things being the way there were a bit of colour wouldn’t go astray.
“Are you alright?”
Rose realised she still had her eyes closed. “I’m fine.”
“Whatever you say,” he mumbled and she could hear the indifference in his voice. “Have you been briefed?”
Briefed? What was he on about? Oh, right. Scorpius Malfoy, top level Auror at age thirty one: of course he’d know about her assignment. He probably made the decision to send her to Northern Africa, just to spite her. Scorpius knew she hated the heat, and the dry, and the dust and wind. Rose opened her eyes, gesturing to the folder carried close to her chest. He nodded, his blue eyes as flat and cold as they always were.
“Just remember one thing while out there,” he began and Rose nodded, knowing she was about to get a lecture. He was brilliant at them, at being able to simultaneously make someone feel like they were accomplished and completely incompetent. “I’m in charge.”
“You’re…what?” she spluttered. He gave her a quizzical look. Rose felt her stomach drop; she ripped open the folder and read what she had neglected to notice in her haste and eagerness to discover where she was going. There, on the top of the first page, were the words that made her want to pass out.
Field Agent in Command: Scorpius Malfoy.
Field Agent. Her partner for this mission. The one she was to report to and work with. Why did the universe hate her? Anything would be preferable to this. Even spending time with the Scamander twins on a deserted island was a better option.
“We leave in a week,” Scorpius was saying. “Everything you need to know is in the folder, but I’ve scheduled a meeting for first thing tomorrow morning, in case you have questions.”
Yeah, Rose thought, I’ve got many, like why me?
“Of course,” she said instead. “I’ll read through the reports tonight.”
“I hope you’re ready for this, Weasley,” he said firmly. “I can’t have you with me if you’re not prepared.
Rose groaned, quickly covering it with a yawn and a nod. “It’s been a long day,” she said to his hard expression. Scorpius hated inattention, hated disobedience, and insubordination, anyone going against his word, discussion of any kind, and ideas from anyone other than himself and, Rose thought miserably, he hated her. He had made that clear on many occasion. He thought her undisciplined, flighty, likely to get herself and anyone with her killed. It was not Rose’s fault that she found herself in the tightest of situations, or that the bomb had gone off outside the Leaky on her watch. She didn’t bother to wonder why he had picked her for this mission. She made herself smile before fleeing the elevator to floo to her parents.
Dinner was the usual drawn out affair, with nerves and fear written across everyone’s faces. The response to her assignment was predicted: Hermione shook her head with worry; Ron went white but said she’d be fine with Scorpius there; and Hugo sighed.
“You get to have all the fun; you, Al and James,” he complained, and he spent the next half an hour being lectured by their parents that ‘war is not fun and people are dying.’
Rose slept terribly; her head was filled with images from the files they had been shown at the meeting that day, and she kept hearing Scorpius ask if she was prepared enough to do this mission. When she walked into his office at nine am sharp, she wished she’d stayed in bed. Every conceivable surface was dripping with parchment and maps, and there were photographs and news clippings pinned to the walls. Scorpius was standing behind his desk, his sleeves rolled up, shirt partially unbuttoned, concentrating on something in front of him. He looked up as she entered and nodded in what Rose assumed was good morning to you too.
He didn’t waste any time, getting straight down to business. Rose shed her outer robes and draped them over the back of a chair, tying her hair off her neck at the same time and wishing she’d worn short sleeves. It was hot in his office and she said so, earning nothing more than a raised eyebrow. If this was to be their main form of communication while on assignment she would scream. Scorpius motioned her behind the desk.
“We fly into Tangier and then move onto Marrakech via Casablanca,” Scorpius said, indicating the map spread across his desk. “There is a contact we need to meet in Casablanca, but the main group are stationed in Marrakech. I trust you read the reports?”
“Yes. Who is this contact?” Rose asked, her eyes sweeping from the map to his face.
“A muggle woman, a wizard sympathiser,” he answered. “Her name is Isobelle and she has provided us with all the information we have on this Marrakech branch of For Humanity. She works with the Tangier arm.”
“We can trust her?” Rose asked.
“Yes. She comes via Albus.”
She nodded. “Alright. Where do we meet her?”
“That’s on a need to know basis,” Scorpius said, folding the map with a flick of his wand.
Rose frowned. “Are you keeping things from me? Because this mission will never work unless you cut me in, Scorpius. I need to know as much as you do, in case something happens to you. Standard protocol, remember?”
He quirked his lips. “I won’t know until we get there and she contacts me. You’re coming to the meeting, so you will know all I do. Any other questions?”
“Yes,” Rose said, licking her lips, “About our cover...”
He smiled. “I don’t like it anymore than you do but it will work. Marrakech is a tourist destination. Parading as a couple is the most sensible and realistic option.”
“I understand that, but do we have to be on honeymoon?” Rose asked.
He raised his eyebrows challengingly. “The motel is in the perfect strategic position, right in the middle of the Medina, and it is a known haunt for the newly wedded. Are we going to have a problem?”
Rose sighed and shook her head, pitying the woman who did marry him for real.
“Good. Now, as you know, Albus is stationed in Tangier. We’ll meet with him briefly before flying out and see what he has managed to uncover,” Scorpius said, and she nodded. “Do you have any experience with muggle weapons?”
“None. Do you?”
He shook his head slightly. “No. We start training tomorrow morning; we need to at least look like we know what we are doing. There is no point approaching the group and offering our services without being able to confidently handle their weaponry. That would look instantly suspicious, especially in times like these where almost everyone is carrying a gun. Now,” he went on, reaching for a pile of parchment. “This is everything we have on the Marrakech group. Their leader is a woman named Cass who, from what I understand, is tough as nails. Her deputy is Joe, an Englishman who used to be a cop, so they have the advantage of his experience. Joe is responsible for training all their troops. They also employ mercenaries from Africa and the Middle East.”
“I see,” Rose said. She was studying the photograph attached to the file on Cass. She was a striking woman with shoulder length blonde hair and dark eyes. Rose skim read the file, seeing that Cass was believed to be responsible for the planning of at least thirteen bombings and was the brain behind the internment camps. Rose wondered what this woman had experienced to be carrying such hatred inside her.
Scorpius thrust a folder into her hands.”Your identification.”
Rose laid the folder on the table and eased it open. It contained the usual: fake passport, driver’s licence and birth certificate. Her name, she noted, was now Rebecca Madison. “Who are you?”
“Scott Madison, your husband,” Scorpius replied, sounding bored. “We were married two weeks ago in St James’s Church, in a small ceremony. You work as a retail assistant and I am a cab driver. We live in Croydon in a two bedroom flat. We have no children or pets and have both lost our parents.”
“Right,” Rose said, watching as he moved around the room, picking up bits and pieces of paper and putting them down again. He looked up, catching her mid-stare and smiled a little.
“It’s okay to be nervous.”
“I’m not nervous.” Was he being nice?
Scorpius sighed. “There’s a mobile phone in with your ID. My number is already programmed.”
Rose raised her eyebrows and he glared at her. “Listen, Weasley, do I have to remind you that I outrank you?”
“No, you don’t,” she bristled.
“That means,” Scorpius began, coming around the table to stand in front of her. “That you do as I say. I have no interest in you beyond this assignment, understand that. Understand also that if I believe you are not up to this task I will have you reassigned and will find someone else more capable to do this job. Do you want that, Weasley?”
Rose took a deep breath, looked him in the eye and resisted the strong urge to salute. “No, Sir.”
He turned away with a roll of his eyes, ordering her to start reading up on the general topography and layout of Marrakech. Rose gnawed her lip, glaring at his back. Trumped up, superficial mini-dictator. Morocco was going to be one hell of a ride, if they survived.
Alright, this is new territory for me. I am attempting to write an action/adventure story. There will be romance of course and some darkness (I can’t leave those out) but I’m still not sure about this story. I’m terribly afraid I will not be able to write this convincingly, so readers/writers of this genre, please tell me when I mess up. Reviews are always welcome; constructive criticism is more than welcome.
edited for typo's :P and chapter image added.
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