Dumbledore stared out across Lupin's kitchen table, around which many members of the Order of the Phoenix crowded. Alastor Moody sat directly across from Dumbledore, his magical eye scanning the hut, though stopping every few seconds to give him it's complete attention. Kingsley Shacklebolt was seated next to the old Auror on his right and beside him, sat Bill Weasley. On the left side of the small table, squashed between Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin, on a chair much too small for him, which creaked and groaned with every movement, sat Rubeus Hagrid. Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape sat closest to Dumbledore, on either side of him. They all looked up at the old wizard, their gazes hungry with anticipation, seeking answers.
And rightly so, thought Dumbledore.
They all had received very little information when he had contacted them all individually. He had only told them the bare minimum, giving them only the information that each had need to conduct their own independent search. They were all now hungry for answers, and he would give them, once he heard what they had found out.
"So," said Lupin, glancing at the man at the head of the table before addressing his friends. "What about this weather, eh? Frost in summer? That's got to have some thing to with Voldermort."
"Yeah, 'n looks like yer got yourself a Dementor problem too Lupin." said Hagrid. "Causin' all that unnatural fog 'round the village. Dirty stinkin' soul suckers. Those poor people. The chill I got flyin' over it this arv."
"Yes," said Lupin,"Their've been here ten days now. Theres only two of them, so I have a feeling that they've been sent here to watch me."
"The Dementors will be causing you no more grief. I shed some light on the problem." Dumbledore said, smiling at Lupin. "Now, lets get down to business shall we? Thank-you all for coming tonight at such short notice. And a big thank-you to you, Remus. It is very kind of you to allow us to use your home on such short notice. The Burrow is rather crowded at the moment and there are many ears that need not hear what we shall discuss tonight. This was the only place of which I knew, that would allow the meeting to remain privite. I thank-you again Remus. As to the nature of this meeting, Severus, if you will."
Sitting down and folding his hands in his lap, Dumbledore turned his electric blue gaze towards Snape. Rising from his chair, Snape looked out over the table.
"Three days ago, the Dark Lord received information of a powerful existence in the far reaches of outback Australia. His Death Eaters returned from the Country with information of a power that caused fear in the muggles of the area and had caused much confusion within the Australian Ministry of Magic. They heard of sightings of many magical creatures and a strong magic that is present in a part of the bushland.
"This interested the Dark Lord, and hungry for more knowledge of this, he assigned three Death Eaters to find what they could. The Death Eaters original thought that there was no human connection, having found out that there was no wizards in the area save a half blood Squib, by the name of Aimee Riles. But the Dark Lord told them never to underestimate a persons power regardless of their status. I believe that two Death Eaters within the Ministry have been researching what they can on the woman, but I have no further information on what they have discovered."
Turning to Dumbledore, Snape added, "But I believe that the Dark Lord had a strong feeling that this Squib may have a lot to do with the magic and will try to recut her."
"Thank-you Severus," said Dumbledore, nodding at Snape to sit down, "Now when I was told this three days ago, I was instantly intrigued. Naturally, I am sure that the young women is responsible for the magic, squib or not, no magic just appears. There is always a source, whether it's conscious is another question.
"I have heard of witches and wizards that have such powers that are hidden, powers that build up over years of being controlled and suddenly exploding with great force. But," Dumbledore lent forward, placing his hands on the table. "Why is this interesting to Voldermort? He has many followers now, and his powers is extreme, he needs no help with terrifying muggles and wizard folk. What caught his interest?"
He glanced around the room, inviting them to answer him. They all stared at him waiting for him to tell them.
"Bill, hope you have the answer for us. Tell us about what you and your father have found out." said Dumbledore gesturing to the young red-head man. Reaching under his chair Bill pulled a small pile of parchment and placed it on the table.
"When Dumbledore told us that he needed us to find out more about this girl, Dad went straight to the Ministry and started searching through old records on squibs. He came across an interesting file called "Magical Muggles" which is dated back to the 1800's." said Bill, picking up the pile and flicking through it, before handing it to Kingsley.
"If you look through it, you will see it's a number of cases and studies that concern muggles that show small magical powers. Now straight up I thought, well that's just like muggle-borns. But when you look closer these cases are relevant only to a number of families, where each family member has the ability to change the shape of their eye brows or they can heal their own injuries within minutes. One family could see and speak to ghosts. Those sorts of trivial little things that other muggles find strange. Some of them hardly notice what they are doing and they are not recognized as wizards. Nor do they have wizard blood in their ancestry at all. They were only stumbled upon by accident, and there has been no more studies since. But there is one case that is partially interesting, if I could just," he searched back through the pile and pulled a tatty piece of parchment from it.
"This family lived in London and they all lived normal lives. Until their young son was bitten by a dog, not were-wolf, a dog and he began to take on many features of a dog. This family was researched when the boy was sent to St. Mungo's for treatment.
"It says here, "Excessive hair covers the body, ears are pointed, has a keen sense of smell, eye sight poor, etc, etc." Um, Yeah here it is, "No change in appearance, unlike a were-wolf, he is always dog-like." They took blood samples from his parents before they wiped their memories. They say here that in both cases, the blood took on elements of what ever they mixed with it, which is why the boy changed when the dog bit him. Their youngest daughter also had a slight metamorphosis ability. Um there was something. Er... here it is, "Noted to change her hair colour from blonde to brown based on her mood. Mother has memory of her grandfather having the same ability.""
Bill looked out over the table."When dad found this he thought it might explain the different magical creatures that were sighted in the woods or bushland, what ever it is. Maybe this girl is changing into the different animals."
Bill passed the parchment to Dumbledore, who took it, glancing at it quickly before placing it down again.
"I believe that Voldermort may have come across some similar information at some stage that may cause him to believe that this situation is the same. That the girl's family may have the same blood line."
"But Snape said the girl was a 'alf-blood squib, not a muggle. It says in this file that there no wizardin' blood in 'em." said Hagrid. " Nd how can that explain the magical creatures? They said the kid was changin' her hair not her species."
"Yes, Hagrid. The Australian Ministry of Magic has this young lady regerister with wizard lineage. But Kingsley I believe you may be able to shed some light on the situation. What have you found it the Ministry archives?"
Kingsley smiled as he placed a file in the middle of the table. "Oh, only the explanation for this whole mystery."
Dumbledore took the file and made to open it.
"Wait," exclaimed Kingsley, staying the old mans hand.
"Now before you look at the file I'll tell you what I went through to find it. When Dumbledore gave me the name of this girl and asked me to find out what I could about her, I straight away went to the World Wizarding Archives. This archive has everything about any wizard or witch in the world. Be they half-blood, full-blood, squib or muggle-born, their there. Now the name I had was Aimee Riles, and try as I might I could not find hide or hair of a file with that name. So I searched for squibs in Australia by the name of Aimee, still no luck. I had get her home town to narrow the search down, and it took Snape a day to get that out of the Death Eaters. So, this morning I returned to the Ministry and armed with a new lead, I eventually found it.
"She's not marked as a squib in the British archives, it says in her file that she show small signs of magic at the age of 12 months. Also she's under a different last name, the last name of her biological father. A name that is very familiar to those within the ministry." Kingsley paused, still smiling, his eyes sweeping the expecting faces of the Order members. "Her name on the file is Aimee Backborne. The daughter of the Auror..."
"George Backborne." gasped Tonks, "The Auror that turned Death Eater. You caught him yourself Moody."
"That traitorous, double-crossing bastard. I always thought he had a good head on his shoulders, but he proved me very wrong. He helped Voldermort murder three muggles and sold out the Longbottom's to the Lestrange's after he fell." said Moody, taking a swig from his hip flask. "Boy did he squeal when i caught him, "I did't mean to Moody. He was going to kill her Moody. I'm your friend Moody". Died after a week in Azkaban. Let's hope his progeny has a different outlook."
Tonks looked back at Kingsley. "But how does Backborne being the father of this girl explain what this whole thing is about?"
"Beacuse," breathed McGonagall, "Backborne was also an Animagus, a badger. I signed him off on it three year after he finished his Auror's Course."
Kingsley nodded, "So if this girl has the same blood line as the muggle family in Bill's file then she may have the ability to change into any animal we can think of."
"And it explains Voldermort's interest. By her age she would have been an infant when Backborne join the Death Eaters. He probably told Voldermort all about her." said Lupin "Is this what you think happened Dumbledore?"
The Order turned it's attention to the head of the the small kitchen table, where Dumbledore sat in silence. The file on the table in front of him lay open, he had his good hand on the parchment, his fingers tracing the script at the top of the page, over and over again. He sat, staring mindlessly at the repetitive nature of his hand as though in awe of it. His injured hand, which he had before cradled with care, now hung limp at his side.
"Are you alright Albus?" asked McGonagall, placing a hand on his, bring his fingers to a stop."You look as though you have seen a ghost."
Dumbledore just shook his head and blinked his eyes, as to wake himself from a dream.
"Backborne," he whispered before clearing his throat and turning his attention back to his companions. Concern was etched deeply into each of their faces as they watched him. Smiling at them, his blue eyes twinkling at their compassion, he squeezed McGonagall's hand before letting it go.
"I'm fine Minerva. Now," he said banging his hand on the table, causing them to jump. "Our little Metamagus will be in trouble soon. Since it only took us three days to figure out what she is, the Death Eaters won't be far behind, or they may already be on their way. So we had better hop to and get to her before she becomes another one of Voldermort's latest collection."
"Now, its a little after nine here," said Dumbledore, pulling his pocket watch from his robes and glancing at it. "So it would be early morning in Australia. Well, that should give us all night, she should be safe till evening. Kingsley, I need you to inform The Australian Ministry of Magic of the situation. We may need their help in keeping the girl safe. Head straight to our Ministry and get what you need. Then go to Canberra. Don't forget the girl's file. When your finished we'll need you back here to help with the protective wards. "
"On my way Dumbledore." replied Kingsley, rising from his chair and marching from the hut.
"Severus, I need you to go home and wait for word from Voldermort. Inform me the moment you hear some thing." said Dumbledore turning to the potions master seated on his right.
With a nod Snape too rose from his chair, and with a whirl of his cloak, turned and followed Kingsley through the door.
Dumbledore turned to the remaining Order members sitting in front of him. "Minerva, Remus and Tonks, I need you find this girl and keep her safe from the Death Eaters. You must explain what is going on and that you will do everything you can to keep her and her family safe. Give her the option of staying or coming back to England to assist us as a member of The Order Of Phoenix. If she decides to return with you I want you to bring her back here. But before you go we must set up some stronger wards to protect the hut. Moody could you..."
"It's done and dusted Dumbledore" scowled Moody, donning his coat and limping out the door.
"Bill, can you take a message to The Burrow, for them to keep an eye out for any new developments. I understand that you have work to go to. But could you send your father back we will need his help."
"Sure thing Dumbledore." Bill replied, gathering up his pile of parchment before also leaving.
"So, let's get to work." said Dumbledore. "Hagrid, Tonks and Lupin, can you start with the wards. Minerva, you and I will plan how you are going to find the girl and ensure that she trusts you."
At his word his remaining companions bustled around obeying his commands. Dumbledore stood staring at the table, thinking back to Kingsley's file. Seeing that name written on the parchment tonight had stirred a feeling in him that he hadn't felt in a long time. For the past three days he had been dismissing it all as coincidence. As the time past the coincidences were becoming increasingly common. It wasn't till that he saw her name that he finally had to admit that it was her.
"Albus?" McGonagall's concerned tone broke through his thoughts."Is everything alright?"
Dumbledore smiled at her. "I believe it's going to be Minerva. Yes, I believe so."
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