The sky was filled with thin, smoky clouds, but still the sun managed to glimpse through here and there, creating a mysterious and eerie light. Narizza looked displeased out of one of the tall, narrow windows in the hall. Her errand this day needed complete caution, and she would prefer to do it covered by the darkness. A rainy day could have done the trick, but she did not feel right about doing it with the circumstances this day. If it was to be done today, then it would have to wait until the darkness had set in. Unfortunately she had a meeting to catch as well, and since the weather did not seem to let her do both, she decided to wait with the former. Having to change plans made her irritated. Few things made her tremble, but she preferred to be in control, and if something forced her to step down from that possition, then it could get to her quite badly. She shook her head, closed the thick curtain and walked away from the window. At least now she would have more time to prepare for the meeting.
While walking across the room and up the heavy stairs she thought about the man she had arranged to meet. It would not take a lot of her to make him talk, he was too unfamiliar with this sort of a situation. However, it never hurt to prepare, so therefore she turned right at the top of the stairs and to the room by the end of the long corridor. The big room with the dark green wallpaper and wodden furniture situated above the kitchen had served as her workplace ever since she moved back in the residence a couple of years after her parents’ death. She walked pass a few rows of bookshelves and two antique sofas before sitting down on the chair in front of her huge bureau.
It was the only part of the room where chaos had overcome order. Covered by scribbled parchment, blank parchement, open books, closed books, known objects and unknown objects, it contained everything she was working on at the moment, everything she needed information about. That was her job, collecting information. Not that she would really call it a job, in practice, it did not earn her money and there was no one telling her what to do. Still, it was what made up her days, and she was darn good at it.
She reached for a piece of an article from the Daily Prophet and held it up. A picture of a small, bold man standing in front of a building with a big grin on his face covered half the sheet. She felt humored, it would probably be the first and last time he would ever be pictured in a paper, so he might as well be smiling. The article was torn from the newspaper right over the bold man’s left sholder, and you could see a piece of another man’s arm. There was no way of telling who it was, but Narizza knew, she was the one tearing it out in the first place, leaving out the man she could not bare to see more than necessary.
The bold man was a Ministry employee, working in the Department of Magical Transportation, and the article was about a discovery he had done that made it easier for the Aurors to catch criminals by tracking the Floo Network in a more effective way than before. The man next to him was from the Auror office, thanking him for his help. It was all a joke, to Narizza at least, the bold man might feel differently about it, but to her it was transparent. After years of effective work, the Aurors had all the tools they needed, and if there was to come something new, then it would probably be from the Department of Mysteries, and not from a brainless Flee Network controller. The reason for the article to be posted was simply to let people know that the Auror office was cooperating with the other Departments and crediting them.
The Auror Office had recently gotten a lot of negative reviews in the press for being too harsh and stubborn when it came to doing things their own way. Twenty years ago that would have been great, but with years of peace and quiet, people did no longer look at them as freedom fighters and peace keepers, but more like someone taking their job a little too seriously. Narizza understood it was not easy for them though, when the criticism started a few years ago, they had started to seem more peaceful and spread the word that they were just trying to protect the people. Then they got criticised for that too and started to flex their muscles again– like when they around six months ago started their not-so-secret neo-Voldermortism fight. Then when that got too stern, people complained about their seriousness again and now they seemed to be back to spreading peace yet again.
Narizza had first noticed the article because of the alleged Flee Network advancement, but as soon as she had seen through it, it made her think of somethink else. Somethink that might help her with a problem she had been pondering on for while now. She needed som delicate information, not secured information, but still it was hard to obtain. Because sometimes asking a question could be more dangerous than giving the answer. Neither her nor her associates could be the one asking about this, and ever since they made the unforgiveable curses traceable, she had to rely on her human skills to get somebody to do her dirty work if it was to be done without dire consequences. Not that something like that was usually a problem, her persuading skills were quite great, but the problem was to find the most fitted individual for the task. With the bold man from the Department of Magical Transportation, she might have found just that.
The next hour she spent going through news paper scraps, genealogy lists, letter exchanges and Ministry reports. Most of them were irrelevant to the evening’s meating, but more general to the case as a whole. She finished up and got ready to leave, but as she raised up from the chair, she noticed a letter laying underneath a thick book. She recognized it just by the small piece sticking out from under the book, and immidiately wondered why she had not gotten rid of it. It was a stupid mistake, writings like that should not be laying around, even though the chance of anyone getting into the house, not to say her office, was minimal. She reached for it and was about to burn it up with a quick movement, but hesitated. Somehow she felt a little bad about not helping her niece more, would not she have been relieved if someone was around to help her when she was going through it? No, she shook the feeling away, the girl needed to go through this alone, the experience would help her deal with it, and maturing her. Perhaps she could help her later, in fact she intended to, but the first impressions needed to come from her own experiences.
A red flame bursted up as she lit the letter on fire and threw it in the fireplace behind the bureau. Narizza straightened up, flattened out her dress and went out of the room and downstairs. By the end of the stairs she called for Zealous and he appeared the second after.
“What does the mistress desire?” He asked politely.
“I have a meating, Zealous. I’ll be gone for a few hours.” The house-elf seemed saddened, as always when she was leaving, but he nodded accepting and got her coat. Then she went out the door, down two steps of the stone stairs and disapparated.
Narizza went down the steep stairs below the sign in the dark, narrow back alley. The steps went down trough the ground, surrounded by stone blocks. At the bottom were a wodden door with an old sign with “open” inscripted with almost unreadable letters. She opened it and came into a filthy pub. It was not too big, with just a few tables other than the bar. There were not many people in the pub, like it had been years ago. Before the war, before the society got so dominated by the laws and rules. Narizza went over to the bar.
“Miss Mortons,” nodded the barman, a disgusting example of the wizarding race. He was short and muscular, but still a little fat, had long, black greasy hair and was equipted with an awful attitude towards people he felt superiour to. Tecnically that was not too many though, Narizza considered him a brainless idiot.
She just nodded back.
“The usual, Miss?” She was one of the few people he actually was polite to, and he had learned a long time ago to always call her Miss, not Mam’ or Mrs.
She nodded again.
He gave her a glass of fire whisky. She had a sip, but heard someone coming through the door and looked around. It was him. She went away from the bar and to a table in the back. The newcomer sat down opposite her.
“G’day,” the bold man said in a low voice.
Her lips bended upwards. “Good afternoon, Wilkes.”
He looked fuzzled, “shh, not so loud. I can get big troubles if someone sees me here.” He was right, Ministry employees wasn’t supposed to go to places like this.
“I’m sorry, then. Although you did ask to have the meeting here.”
“Yes, yes. ‘Cause no one shall know that I met you, ‘right?”
“Of course. I will not tell anyone.” At least not anyone who could punish him for it, and that was probably the most important to him.
“Good. ‘Cause I would never talk to you if not-“ but he did not finish the sentence. He did not have to either, she understood what he ment. If not she had information about him.
Her hard work and preparations to get to where she was right now had been important, but not as important as the next steps. Anyone else could easily screw it up, but she knew how to go forward. It was essential that she finally got the information she needed, they needed. It would not have been so hard if it had not been for the risk of appearing suspicious. Even with the smallest speculation, the Ministry could do something preventive. That was the way things were right now, the information it’s self was usually not that secret, but because of the fear that someone might have bad intentions, unreasonable questioning was always taken seriously. With this suspicion going around, it was hard to get a job within in Ministry as well, if a person was suspicious in any way, they thought it would be better to not have him. Still, the council had a couple of men inside. The problem was that non of them could get to know what they needed. Malfoy was the one highest up, he had gotten the job because his family had changed allegiance during the war. They should only known, Narizza thought. But even though he officially was inn now, he could not ask around like Narizza wanted him to. If he did, they would become suspicous of his loyalty. That was something they could not afford.
She looked over at the man in front of her. His eyes stared right at her, his gaze was mixed between nervous and a little scared look.
“So, er, you wanted to se me.” Narizza continued to just look at him, she wanted to play with his anxiousness. The statement was clearly ment as a conversation starter, but as she did not answer him, he opened his mouth again: “The message, ehm, I got the impression you had something you wanted to tell med about, er, about my brother?”
Narizza’s lips bended upwards again. Four days ago she had sent a letter with one of her assoisiates at the Ministry. He was to delivere it to Wilkes, with the order to leave it on his desk and go away before the man could recognize him. The delivery had went well, and Wilkes had gotten the message that simply said that Narizza would like to have a word with him, with the cause that she knew his brother well. It was not signed, but she had put on a return adress, of course not her real one, and he had sent his answer the day after. She had agreed to the place he wanted to meet in a second letter, and also given him a vague hint of who she was. Using his familiy was an easy way to get him interesed in cooperating with her, and she had thought of it the second she saw his name in the Prophet article. That she knew his brother well had been an exaggeration, but she did know about him, and given how Ministry people usually wanted no one to know about the black sheeps of their familiy, then finding Wilkes was the opportunity she had waited for.
“I saw your article in the Dialy Prophet,” she said in a neutral tone. His face changed a little, he had obviously been unsure about what this meating would be about, but he had probably not guessed that she wanted to talk to him about his fifthteen minutes of fame.
“I, yes, that was, yes,” he had problems with finding what to say.
“Quite interessting, how you could help them out like that.”
“Well, it wasn’t actually that much helping, I’ve never really helped them, you see-“ Narizza felt amused again, he seemed to think she was mad with him for helping the Aurors. What an idiot, this would be easier than she had thought. She interrupted him in the middle of the sentence.
“- I personally think it is great that the Departments help each other out.” He looked like something really heavy had just been taken off his shoulders. “Must have been interesting for you as well, I am sure you spent quite some time at the Auror’s office.” The heavy burden was back, he might be an idiot, but he was not completely brainless, he understood something was coming.
“Not that much time, really,” he tried carefully.
“Oh, but with all that praise you got in the paper, they must have appreciated you very much. I am sure they would just love it if you would pay them a little visit again soon.”
“Er, I really don’t-“
“In fact, I am invited to a party this week, and I believe a friend of mine is coming, Mr. Hargrow, you might know him, is he not your superior at the Ministry? Perhaps I should tell him about your great accomplishment.” He seemed confused, and she knew she had him right were she wanted him. “I might even tell him a little more about you, about your family maybe.” His eyes got right open. She got silent for a little while, waiting for him to try to clear his mind and say something stupid.
“Er, if I was to visit them Aurors, what would you, er, suggest I’d do there?” Perfect, exactly what she had waited for. She could not possible have selected a better man for the job. He was proud enough to give in for her threath, dumb enough to do as she wanted him to, but probably smart enough to do it without trouble. She leaned forward a little, and then she told him to ask one of the junior employees there about how their work was going these days. Then he was to ask briefly if they had been through any breakthroughs lately, and then he wound finish up by asking how their cooperation with the foreign authorities was going, and if they had done anything new in that direction. Everything was to be asked in a casual tone, but suspision was not what something she feared with this mission, why would anyone suspect anything from this nobody?
“When you have gotten your answers, you write it all down, go personally to the adress you sent your last note, and put it underneath the door. Understood?”
He nodded determined, it seemed like the mission was not as bad as he had feared. Of course it was not, Narizza though, it was important, but not difficult, if so she would never have used him. All he had to do was to go and have a simple conversation with a co-worker and write a synopsis.
“And your, er, conversation with Mr. Hargrow?”
“That will depend on how fast you work.”
“But tomorrow is the only workday before Saturday!” She nodded verifying. Then she took the last sip of her fire whiskey, got up and picked up her coat from the chair.
“I guess you would have to do it tomorrow then,” she declared and strode out of the bar.
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