“Xavier wants to see you in his office when ya can.”
Evie gave Robbie a confused look as she looked up from her book, to which Robbie shrugged in response. As far as she was aware, it was only Noah who was ever allowed in Xavier’s office – Robbie told her once that he had been with them for three years and had not once been in there. It was a private place and Noah never spoke about it, so Evie wondered whether she was in trouble. Her stomach seemed to drop when she thought about the fact that she’d been to her old house – had he found out? Had Noah told him?
She put down her book and began walking to Xavier’s office, fingers trembling slightly. If he’d found out, she was done for. He’d chuck her out without a second’s hesitation… then she’d be in a sorry position. After a few wrong turnings she eventually reached a heavy looking door made of metal. She knocked on it, and the sound reverberated off the walls.
“Come in,” Xavier’s deep voice called from inside. Evie timidly pulled open the door and took a few tiny steps in. “I don’t bite,” he added with a small smirk. Evie laughed nervously out of politeness and sat down on the faded chair that Xavier beckoned to.
There were a few moments of silence as Xavier observed Evie, who was looking round the room. The room was well lit, and Evie was reminded of all the shows she used to watch where suspects were interrogated in police stations. The office itself had a utilitarian feel about it and was cold and bare, as if Xavier hadn’t quite finished unpacking everything. She noticed a few boxes in the corner of the room covered in a fine layer of dust. Two metal bookcases flanked the salvaged wooden desk in the centre of the room, stuffed to the brim with all sorts of novels and textbooks. It was clear Xavier liked to read. There was an absence of any decorations or ornaments, bar the single item on Xavier’s desk – the Hunter’s wand, in a glass box, on display like a battle scar. Her stomach twinged as she thought back to the forest, and what that wand had done to the two people in the room. Xavier noticed her discomfort.
“Without a wand, he’s just like one of us,” he said. His eyes were fixated on Evie, She looked away nervously. “We’ve given him a taste of what it’s like to be on the other side for once.” Evie, unable to think of an answer, only smiled politely in return. She could not ignore the fact that Xavier scared her; she wondered if he could pick up on it. He began to speak again.
“Evie, I called you here because I wanted to ask you about the… unusual happenings recently. We’ve all noticed them, and I’m assuming that you’ve noticed some strange things that seem to be occurring with yourself. Noah and I have been discussing what the possibilities are, but I wanted to talk to you about it as well.” Xavier’s face was serious and unsmiling. Evie suddenly had the strong feeling of being sent to the headmaster’s office for misbehaving.
He’s been discussing me, has he? Evie thought to herself angrily. “What exactly has been discussed?”
“Noah told me that you’ve been getting headaches a lot of the time, bad ones. We also discussed the incident at your guardians’ funeral with one of the landmark trees falling down when it had no reason to, as well as the heightened reflexes you seem to experience. Why,” he added, “is there something else?”
It took a fraction of a second longer than it should had for Evie to quickly respond, “No, nothing.” She thought of the makeshift object sitting under the mattress in her room at the very same moment, but still said nothing. She prayed that she wouldn’t blush and give herself away. She also felt guilty for suspecting Noah of breaking his promise, but she was still angry at the fact that she was being discussed. There was a second awkward silence as Xavier expected her to say more, but Evie wouldn’t budge. He eventually sighed and moved on.
“I want to know what you think of all this. Is it new to you?”
“I’ve never experienced anything like this until I found out that I was a Squib,” Evie replied calmly. She didn’t want to give too much information away to a man she barely knew, and who frightened her almost as much as the Ministry. “About the tree thing, I don’t think that was me. I think it was one of the wizards who shot a spell at it in an attempt to stop us.” Evie tried to convince herself that this was the truth; she still wasn’t sure what had happened with that tree, despite trying to puzzle out an answer. Xavier didn’t look convinced.
“I disagree. I think you might be underestimating yourself and whatever abilities you may have. It’s clear that you have some – although I’ve never seen them in a Squib before,” Xavier said, fascinated. “I’ll be honest and say I don’t know what’s going on there, but for now we should leave it. What about your reflexes?”
Evie was slightly disturbed at the amount of thought that had been given to her. Had this been discussed with Noah as well? She scratched the back of her neck nervously and moved quickly on. “Well, it’s an issue. There seems to be a link between them and emotions – when I’m angry or scared, it happens.”
Xavier took in this information. “Issue? I don’t see it as an issue at all. We can use this to our advantage, Evie. We can train you in combat and you’ll probably become the best fighter here.”
Evie shook her head, determined on this topic. “No, I’m not learning how to fight.” Xavier looked surprised.
“Of course you need to learn how to fight. How else are you going to defend yourself? How else are we going to be able to defeat the Ministry? Besides, with someone with such talents as yours, it would be a waste.”
Evie held her ground, now annoyed. “Talents? Hardly, they’re irritating to say the least. I’ve gotten by before, I’m sure I’ll be fine in the future.”
Xavier sighed and leant back in his chair, surveying Evie. She didn’t like the way he stared at her. “Evie, don’t be so reckless. ‘Getting by’ isn’t what we do here. We fight, we fight to take down the Ministry, our enemies, for a better future. We do not ‘get by’ and hope for the best. I’ve noticed that you’ve been slightly… lacking in combatant skills,” he added, his expression stony. “I’m therefore going to assign you combat training lessons with Eden. They would normally be with Issy, as she’s the better fighter, but I’ve noticed some, er, animosity between the two of you.”
Evie felt silenced. She didn’t want to learn how to fight, not in the slightest. She thought about all the times that they’d been in a bad situation recently, and she’d survived them all. Maybe it was the adrenaline that would have been coursing through her veins at the time, or other people helping her, but she was able to hold her own… even if it did involve unorthodox methods.
“And what if I don’t want to?” she asked boldly. She was aware that she sounded extremely spoilt but she didn’t care. Xavier gave her a serious look.
“Then you die.”
But that’s even possible when you've learnt to fight! Evie thought to herself stubbornly. Still, the way that Xavier was looking at her told her that he wasn’t about to back down any time soon. She sighed childishly.
“Good,” he replied, smiling. “Your training will start next week. You may leave now.”
The feeling of being in a headmaster’s office came back to her as she sulkily got out of her chair and walked out of Xavier’s office, pushing open the door carelessly so that it slammed shut. Xavier rolled his eyes and went back to his papers. He had more pressing matters to deal with than a young girl’s tantrum.
Evie was walking round the corridors, lost for the fifth time. The mottled and damp walls still looked the same to her, and she wistfully thought back to her childhood home, her warm bed and where electricity and running water worked all the time. She huffed once more as she was unwillingly thrown back to the dank reality when she heard footsteps.
When she turned round, she saw Noah jogging to catch up. He smiled at her, but she didn’t return it. “Heard that Xavier asked to see you. How did it go? Did he scare the shit out of you like he does with everyone else?”
Evie couldn’t be bothered to deal with Noah when he had been the reason why she had to go to the awful meeting in the first place. “Oh, it was wonderful,” Evie said sarcastically. “Just spiffing.” With this Evie walked off. Noah, who sensed that something was wrong, caught back up with her again. He grabbed out towards her arm but she snatched it away. This game continued until Noah eventually caught her in both arms so that she couldn’t escape. With a jolt she realised that this was the closest they had physically been, but instead of caring she wrenched herself out of his grip and gave him a death glare. He looked completely and utterly bemused at her behaviour. “What the bloody hell is up?” he asked finally.
Evie decided to just have it out with him. “Why have you been discussing me with Xavier? Why didn’t you ask me about it? That stuff is private!” she was yelling slightly now, and looked away, not wanting to meet Noah’s eye. She could see him growing angrier.
“I’ve been talking about what’s been going on to Xavier, if that’s what you mean,” he replied coolly. “It wasn’t a personal slight against you.”
“Some of the stuff you told him was stuff that I didn’t want him to know!” Evie hissed back. Noah’s expression was now unreadable.
“How was I supposed to know?” he finally said. He sounded hurt. “You didn’t tell me not to!”
“Yes I did!” she cried, wanting to tear her hair out. Men! Evie thought to herself vehemently. “It was just between us two. I thought I could trust you to keep it to yourself, but apparently not.”
“I’m not used to keeping secrets from him, Evie!” Noah was now shouting. “I’m supposed to be second-in-command! If I don’t tell him these things he might never trust me again! It could have been a security matter!”
“Well I hope it was worth it, because you’ve chosen your side. You’ve lost my trust.” Evie glared at Noah. His expression seemed to change several times before settling on hurt. Evie could almost laugh; he was the one in the wrong. She had considered him the person she could turn to the most out of everyone, and he had blown it. Noah hung his head.
“I’m sorry.” He said quietly to the floor. “But that doesn’t excuse what happened between you and Issy.”
“I beg your pardon?” Evie was confused at the sudden change of topic. Noah’s face hardened.
“Issy told me all about your argument with her. It was a bit harsh to talk about her family, wasn’t it? I told you that in confidence. Bit hypocritical actually, considering that just what you’ve shouted at me about.” Noah was now the one with the accusatory tone, the angered features. His hands were balled up in fists. “I expected better of you, to be honest. I didn’t realize you’d sink that low.”
Evie almost exploded at the unfairness of it all. Issy was the one constantly insulting her, making little digs at everything she did and making snide comments about her family and past. Evie snapped once because she was provoked, gets physically attacked and now gets the blame for it?
“Are you sure you’ve even got the whole story there? I doubt it, considering Issy’s wonderful reputation that she’s made for herself,” Evie spat. She was absolutely furious with the two of them. “Issy was the one who provoked me. I said some things I shouldn’t have, I admit that, and then she launched herself at me, attacked me! Did she manage to miss that part out? It looks like it from the look on your face,” Evie snarled as Noah’s expression went back to unreadable. His eyes looked stormy. “Ask Robbie if you think I’m lying. Do you even know what she said to me to begin with?”
“Do enlighten me,” Noah replied in a dangerously quiet voice. He looked as if he could spit venom as his eyes narrowed and he took a step closer. Evie did not move as his towering frame dwarfed her own.
“She told me to stay away from you.”
A look of shock passed Noah’s face which was then replaced with surprise. His facial expressions softened, but Evie was having none of it. Having said her piece, she turned on her heel and stormed off without looking back.
“Save it.” Evie raised an arm in frustration as she turned a corner and disappeared out of sight. Noah ran a hand through his hair agitatedly, wondering whether she’d ever come back to him.
Ministry of Magic, 9 P.M
Minister of Magic’s office
“You have failed me once more, Emerson.” Hector wasn’t giving away any hints, but Emerson knew he was furious with him. For perhaps the first time, he paused as he tried to think of an answer. Nothing came.
“There was an unexpected issue,” he finally replied after several minutes of silence. “It is a new kind of magic that I have not seen before.”
At this, Hector seemed interested. “Tell me what happened.”
“We were at the Potter location, in the nearby forest. I was… dealing with two of the Squibs, including the girl. She got angry it seemed, and then seemed to explode with white light. I have not seen anything like it.” Emerson tried to leave as much out as he could, but he had a feeling that Hector could see right through him. His back was turned from him, looking down at the window towards the Ministry. His hands were clasped behind his back tightly. Excruciatingly slowly, Hector turned round and took a seat at his vast mahogany desk. Hector prided himself on being a calm and collected sort of man, but sometimes it was a struggle to maintain it.
“Tell me more about this light.”
“It was odd, that is for sure. There was a lot of energy from it too, and it knocked both her… and me unconscious.” Emerson seemed to detest the fact that he had shown a sign of weakness in front of his employer. Hector said nothing and gestured for him to continue. “It was very powerful. Perhaps it is an artificial kind of magic. When I woke up once more, night had fallen. The wandless filth had taken my own wand it seemed. It’s as if they’ve never heard of wandless magic,” he sneered. “Stupid animals.”
“And where did you acquire your new wand?” Hector asked, his glittering eyes flickering over the dark wood of the wand which Emerson was lazily twirling in his hands. Emerson smiled darkly.
“Let us just say that it was won.”
Hector didn’t pause to think of the implications of his answer. “What do you think it means?” Emerson finally asked after a long pause. Hector snapped out of his reverie and looked at his assassin.
“I have several theories right now. What I believe to be the most likely answer is that the magic in her body is increasing. I suspect that it’s reacting somewhat badly to her system – what you experienced was a by-product of magical energy which had built up and finally released from her body at the trigger, this being your extreme antagonistic behaviour. She is growing stronger.” At this Hector stopped, and the spark of an idea seemed to float across his brain. “Perhaps this may have implications… perhaps…”
“What?” Emerson finally asked, frustrated at the fact that the Minister tailed off and stared into space, deep in thought. At the question Hector snapped back to reality. His black eyes glittered.
“It doesn’t concern you. You cannot be trusted.”
“I mostly certainly can, Minister!” Emerson roared in outrage. His face was twisted into a look of fury. How dare he be questioned, the best assassin in the world?
Hector did not give in. “You cannot be trusted with even the simple task of murdering a Squib. Emerson, you have disappointed both I and the Ministry. It seems that your thirst for blood got in the way of you actually fulfilling the deed.”
A flash of guilt crossed Emerson’s face, so fleetingly it could have been imagined. “I cannot help it if the disgusting creatures flaunt their existence in front of me!” Emerson hissed, leaning forwards in his chair. “They needed to be taken care of.”
“Inspiring, but unnecessary.” Hector leaned forward in his chair as it creaked slightly, holding Emerson’s gaze with his glittering black eyes. The tension in the air was thick, suffocating. “I will be keeping a very close eye on you from now on.”
“There is no need, Minister,” Emerson spat. He glowered as his eyes expressed pure hatred. “I am not afraid of you or your threats.” Hector smiled.
“You will be.”
There was a pause as each man stared at each other in a bid for power, to which after a few moments Emerson finally gave in. He launched out of his chair, desperate to move. “I do not have time for this, Minister. I need to get back to hunting down the vermin.”
“Very well. Before you go, there is the small matter of payment to be discussed,” Hector called to Emerson’s retreating figure. He smiled when the Hunter stopped in his tracks.
“And what needs to be discussed?” Emerson asked slowly without turning round.
“You shall not be paid until all the excess are dead and the girl is here.” Hector was calm when Emerson swung round angrily and glared at him. If looks could kill, he would have been dead several times over.
“If that is my penance, then fine.”
“It is more logistics than anything. Despite your failure to get the girl, you have provided me with some enlightening information. We may have to, as they say, ‘up our game’”.
“Do you have a plan, Minister?” Emerson asked. Hector’s eyes glittered.
“Let us just say that the vermin problem will be taken care of... and soon.”