Chapter 1 : Prologue
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I’m lying on the floor of the Grand Archive, the place where all memos ever written in the Ministry of Magic come for their final rest. My body is covered head to foot by layers and layers of said memos, and I feel pretty much like a skier hit by an avalanche. Also, my left ankle is starting to itch. Stupid tracking bracelet.
“Are you okay down there?” I hear Cesaria say in a bored, bored voice. By the sounds of, she didn’t even bother to get up from her desk; in fact, I suspect, she never stopped working on her French manicure. Ces wouldn’t interrupt such an important task for a minor thing like a co-worker almost perished in the line of duty. Besides, she’s doing her right hand now, and that kind of thing requires all the concentration a person can muster.
“I’m fine,” I say. It comes out as a muffled mhhffn-like sound, but that’s good enough as far as Cesaria is concerned. She mumbles something along the lines of Very well, then, and a heavy blanket of silence descends upon the room.
I try to move an arm, slowly and with extreme caution. The last thing I want is to damage some incredibly valuable one of a kind eighteenth century document and get another nasty record in my file. My file, as you can tell by an aforementioned tracking bracelet on my leg, doesn’t exactly describe me as the quintessence of all things perfect.
Some fifty yards away the heavy Archive doors open. I sigh. Those doors are my nemesis, you see; every time someone decides to enter the- Yup, here it goes, a sudden burst of hurricane-quality wind, much like the one that upturned the six hundred and eighty-four stacks of memos I’ve been painstakingly organizing by date, department, topic and registration number for the last two weeks.
And just look at it now, all mixed up, and messy, and crumbled. I must admit, for a moment there I considered the possible advantages of throwing a tantrum, but that won’t do me any good, now, would it? Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever actually thrown a tantrum before, and I’m not quite sure how one would go about it.
In any case, this latest rush of wind blows most of the memos away into the far corner, and I manage to sit up, somewhat dazed by all the stars and pretty colours in front of my eyes. Oh God, I hope it’s not a concussion. I blink, and the prettiness somewhat subsides; I’m back in the ghastly underlit room the size of one of those major cathedrals. There isn’t much to look at here. There’re papers all over the floor, there’re filing cabinets lined against the walls, there’re some shaky ladders, there’s Cesaria’s desk upfront, and… well, that’s it, really. In fact, I’m not even sure if the Archive has a ceiling or not; it seems like the cabinets and ladders just gradually disappear into black nothingness.
Oh, wait. Now there’s also an old lady in ancient paisley patterned robes by the door. She looks around, uncertainty written all over her face, pushes a pair of tiny gold-rimmed glasses up her nose and, after a moment or two, spots Cesaria.
“Good afternoon to you, dear. I’ve been wondering if-” she begins fussily, reaching into her handbag.
“Would you like to file a complaint?” Ces cuts her off, frowning at the nail she’s just finished. I make a couple of steps in the direction of the front desk and stop. The whole point of me working in the Archive to avoid unnecessary interactions. Besides, it’s Cesaria’s job to help visitors, and she’s been doing it for ages. It’s going to be just fine, I’m sure.
The lady fumbles in her handbag some more and finally produced a piece of paper so old it’s turned yellow and started curling around the edges. She holds it out to Cesaria, her fingers shaking, her shoulders crunched, her face so apologetic, it breaks my heart. Ces, however, is not what you might call an empathetic person. She leans back in her chair and looks the old woman up and down, the way a upscale jewellery store clerk might scrutinize a particularly dodgy looking teenager.
For a second or two, the awkward little smile on old lady’s face wavers, but then she gives a little cough, blinks a couple of times and decides to give it another try. “Em, well, I rather hoped you’d kind enough to-”
“Would you like to file a complaint?” Ces interrupts again, now with distinct ‘I dare you’ tone to her voice.
Okay, that’s it. It takes me less than three seconds to cross the room. Ces raises an eyebrow at my sudden appearance, or maybe at the state of my hair after the memo incident. I don’t really care. All of a sudden I feel like I’m lighter than air and brighter than the sun.
“Let’s have a look, shall we?” I reach for the piece of paper in the old lady’s hands. “I’m guessing you need a copy of an-”
“No!” she exclaims, jumping back a yard or three, then stops, horrified by her own rudeness. “Sorry, dear, I just thought your face looked… familiar.”
She adjusts her glasses again and looks at me like a Great Granma might look at a child, trying to figure out if it’s little Jenny, or little Alex, or some random neighbour kid who isn’t supposed to talk to strangers.
Then it clicks.
“Aren’t you that Death Eater girl?” She doesn’t actually say the ‘Death Eater’ part, mouthing it instead, as if the words might summon a couple of Lord Voldemort supporters into the room. I sigh.
“Yes, that’s me.”
Molly Weasley, the Last of the Death Eaters.