Evie blearily cracked open an eyelid and was surprised to see Noah shaking her awake whilst Xavier searched through her belongings. Confusion soon turned to panic as she realised that her figurine wand was stashed away in the room somewhere. “What’s going on?” she asked as a distraction. Noah looked grim.
Evie’s blood ran cold as she took in the news. “What?”
“Eden didn’t come to breakfast, so we were suspicious. When we found she wasn’t in her room or the obvious areas, it’s become apparent that... Eden has gone missing.” Xavier said in his slow and formal voice. His face matched Noah’s. Evie gulped.
“What? How could that’ve happened? Wouldn’t a break-in be picked up on the scanner or something?” Evie quickly got out of bed, now fully awake. She wished she could be useful in some way. Noah looked even more tense at the mention of his precious machinery.
“Nothing unusual was picked up - that’s the thing. It’s worrying.” Evie could only look at him anxiously.
Xavier finished his searching a few moments later and he turned round to Evie. He didn’t seem to care about the fact that Evie had overslept for the thousandth time or her dishevelled appearance. His eyes were cold as he surveyed her.
“Do you know where she is, Evie?”
She’d been expecting this from him. Evie shook her head. “No.”
“Are you sure?”
This threw Evie off slightly. She threw a sideways glance at Noah, who was looking uncomfortable as he stood in the doorway. What should she do? Should she tell them about the mysterious conversation she heard the day before? Should she leave it for now and maybe tell Xavier at a quieter time?
This seemed to satisfy Xavier. Noah, on the other hand, gave her an odd look as if he had noticed her quiet scheming. She inadvertently gulped.
“Okay. We’re going to need everyone up and running so that we can conduct a full search of the base. God knows this place is big enough for someone to get lost. Be ready in five minutes.” With this, Xavier left. Noah dawdled with his exit until he was sure Xavier was gone, and rushed back in. Evie eyed him warily.
“What do you want?”
“Well you didn’t look suspicious at all there, did you?” Noah hissed. He looked angry. “Are you hiding something from us? Something that could help us work out what happened?”
His tone and manner made Evie harden. If he still wanted to argue, then that was fine, but she wasn’t going to react. “No, I’m not.” Immediately his face softened.
“Evie, I – I’m sorry. I overreacted the other day, and... I’m sorry that I was talking about you to Xavier. And I’m sorry about the... Issy thing. Um, yeah.” He rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassed. “I’m sorry.”
Evie felt her heart beat a little faster, against her better judgement. The sorrowful look in Noah’s eyes told her that she would be able to forgive him and stop the arguing once and for all. But... there were more important things to be doing at the moment. She sighed and closed her eyes.
“We can talk about it later,” she finally replied, giving Noah a small smile. He looked hopeful and smiled back. “Come on. We’ve got a bad situation on our hands.” The niggling worry that Evie had about what had happened was growing rapidly. Noah glanced at her as they walked.
“You sure you don’t know anything?”
Evie sighed. “It’s just all very suspicious.” Before Noah could question her more, they had reached the others. Evie took Robbie’s side, giving his hand a small comforting squeeze. It must be hard for him to relive this all once more, as they had with Adam just three months before. Issy looked at everyone suspiciously with her arms crossed, waiting for instructions. Xavier addressed the group.
“Everybody here knows by now that last night, Eden has gone missing. We have yet to do a thorough search of the entire base, which is what we’ll all be doing now. Issy, you do the ground floor and surrounding rooms. Robbie, you take the first floor, and Evie you take the second. Noah and I will be outside. No one else is to leave the base under any circumstances. Do I make myself clear?” Everyone nodded silently. “Good. Let’s pray that we find her.”
Evie set off towards the second floor. She had only been up there a handful of times and only for a few minutes at the most. It was one of the oldest parts of the building and was rarely used; Xavier only required for it to be used as storage. The entire floor was covered in dust and cobwebs, with watery sunlight filtering in through the grimy windows. Evie saw puffs of her breath form in the air; it was freezing cold. Every sort of manner of object seemed to be here – thousands of old computer parts and electrical wires ran amok through the floor, which instead of being separated into rooms was one giant floor. It seemed as if the walls had been knocked out decades ago. No matter how hard Evie tried to quell the thought, the abandoned feeling of the place frightened her a little.
She took a tentative step into the room and a cloud of dust greeted her. She coughed and spluttered, waving away the dust particles floating in the air. Evie sighed. “Best get to work,” she mumbled to herself. Eden’s life was at risk; there was no time for cowardice.
Evie picked her way through the room, working her way methodically through the rubbish and occasionally calling out for Eden. No reply ever came. Evie highly doubted that Eden would be in here, but searches had to be done. If Xavier found out that she hadn’t done it properly then she would be in serious trouble. An hour passed with no sign of life, the only movement being something falling from its precarious perch and landing on Evie. Before long she was covered in dust and bruises from things hitting her. She collapsed on a heap of ancient keyboards, frustrated.
Then, something extraordinary happened.
Out of the corner of her eye, Evie spotted something moving. Her heart quickened and she felt cold dread run through her as she slowly turned to face the mass. What she saw surprised her. Instead of being a person or worse, it was in fact... dust?
But this wasn’t normal. The dust was swirling and creating a pattern, before forming itself into a mini twister and simply staying there, as if frozen. It continued to twist and turn on the spot, neither losing or gaining momentum. It was strange, yet oddly beautiful. Evie moved her hand to touch it, inching ever closer... her ring finger reached the swirling mass. At her touch, the dust tornado instantly collapsed into nothing and was no more.
Evie was bewildered. What on earth was that and how did it start? She looked around the room; there was no sort of draft coming from outside. She’d never seen anything like it before, and in a closed room... a thought struck her.
Did I do that?
She didn’t have time to ponder the matter, because at that moment a blood-curdling scream came from downstairs. It was so loud that Evie felt a shiver go down her spine.
Someone had found something.
When Evie had finally picked her way through the rubbish and hurtled downstairs, everyone was already there. She saw Robbie’s leg whip round a corner, heading for the foyer. She sprinted in the direction where she heard soft whimpering getting louder and louder. When she finally reached the foyer, she gasped. Blood seemed to cover one of the walls, pooled in the corner. Chairs had been knocked over and there were obvious signs of a struggle. The conclusion was evident.
“The Hunter,” Xavier finally said. Evie thought she saw a flash of pain cross his face, but it was gone so quickly she could have imagined it.
The reaction was instantaneous. Noah was comforting Issy as best as he could whilst she sat on the floor, eyes wide and sobbing. Evie was past caring at this point – they needed to find Eden and bring her back safely... whatever it took. Xavier left and beckoned Noah to follow, who reluctantly left Issy’s side. Robbie hoisted Issy into his massive arms and carried her back to the main room, with Evie close behind. Noah and Xavier already had maps and blueprints out of certain areas of the Ministry.
“The Ministry? Why there?” Evie asked, not making the connection. Noah looked up at her as if she were mad.
“The Hunter is working for the Ministry – he was with the Aurors at the fight we had at Harry Potter’s. If Eden’s been taken, she’ll be there. She’s probably...” Noah shuddered. “She’s probably in the place where they keep all the Squibs. The labs.”
Evie blanched at the mention. When she had first met Noah, he told her about the places they kept Squibs and what they did. Robbie almost dropped Issy at the mention of them – it brought back his own painful memories. His face hardened.
“We need to get our Eden outta there.”
The team immediately set to work about how was the best way to launch a surprise attack, but Evie hung back. She kept thinking about the conversation she’d overheard with Eden and the unknown person just the night before, and how it was all either very tragic or very coincidental that she should go missing the next day. Her morals were conflicted. Perhaps her old self would have been willing to let it go and be happy with what everyone else was doing, but her time with the Resistance had changed her. She realised it now – she wasn’t willing to just sit back and go with the flow. Evie had the niggling feeling that, as self-centred as it sounded, this was something to do with her – something bigger than she suspected. The files on her mother, the incident with the Hunter last month, the unexplainable occurrences... Adam’s death and now Eden’s disappearance. The answer was obvious.
She needed to find out the truth.
She didn’t want the others to get involved and hurt themselves or worse. Despite the initial cold reaction, she had grown to care for these people and they had provided her with a place to go when the rest of the world was after her. They had protected her at the funeral and fought by her side on more than one occasion. It wasn’t fair for any of them to be involved in what the Ministry was after: her.
Evie snapped out of her reverie at the sound of her name being called. Everyone was looking at her as Noah asked, “Are you alright?”
“Y-yes. I just need to head to my room for a bit.” Evie sped off before anyone could question her further, and finally flopped onto her bed. She pulled out a pen and notebook from her dresser drawer and began frantically scribbling all of the errant pieces of information that just didn’t seem to add up over the past few months. She detailed her headaches and when they happened, her superhuman reflexes that she seemed to have developed since coming here, her visit to the Ministry and anything else that she could think of that was strange or out of the ordinary. She chuckled at her definition of ‘ordinary’, considering she was involved in an ongoing war between people who could do magic. So much had changed for her since she had turned seventeen.
Evie didn’t stop to pause until she had tacked each piece of paper she had written on up on her wall, creating a giant mind-map of events and thoughts. Scribbles and arrows were dotted across the haphazard pages connecting random thoughts together, whilst some were written in a different colour to highlight their importance. Evie stood back and admired her handiwork, taking it all in now she could see what was there. It seemed that was she had been thinking before was confirmed – there was something inexplicably linked to her... but what?
She’d need to head to the Ministry for more answers if she ever wanted to get to the bottom of this. Evie sighed at this eventuality. If she ever wanted to find out about her parents, why she was a Squib and why the Ministry were after her, she would have to go straight to the source itself. She thought about telling Noah or Robbie about this idea, but quickly dismissed the thought. There was no way she could tell anyone – she’d have to go alone, or they would either tell Xavier or try to accompany her and she couldn’t risk any more lives. Not even Issy’s, Evie thought to herself.
She’d be able to go looking for Eden too, to help her at the very least. She could find out where she was being kept and send a message to the others, and they could join her – after she’d done the necessary research. But when?
It was gone midnight when Evie finally left her room. During the day whilst everyone was busy she had gone to steal some more disguises that she had previously used, and also to get a gun. It was a small pistol – she figured it wouldn’t be missed in the hubbub of planning to rescue Eden. She’d been called upon to do some small tasks and to make sure that she understood her role in the upcoming mission tomorrow, but apart from that her absence was unnoticed during the day. She planned her imminent visit to the Ministry in great detail until she felt as if she were fully prepared. She had all of the things she would need that they usually used in preparation for a Ministry raid to keep them safe and hidden. She was ready.
She crept down the corridor as quietly as she could, not daring to breathe and remembering to step over the creaky spot in the floor. She held the makeshift wand in her hand, running her thumb over it - even if it was of no use, she thought of it more as a good luck charm than anything else. She smiled at the memory of her mother and father, and what they would do if they knew where she was and what she was doing. Would they be proud?
Eventually she reached the main room, and a certain unease settled over her. Was it really wise for her to just leave as Eden had? What would they do in the morning? What if she didn’t come back?
She shook the thoughts out of her head, not wanting to dwell on the negative. Evie decided it was best if she left a note to them all so they would know where she was if something went wrong. She hurried over to Noah’s massive work desk and grabbed the nearest piece of paper, hurriedly penning ‘I want answers. Don’t follow me.’
Satisfied with this, she left the note tucked under the monitor of Noah’s beloved computer. If something happened to her, she would miss him the most; she knew that now.
It pained her to leave the safe bubble of the base and into the unknown, but it was necessary if she wanted answers. If she ever wanted to get to the bottom of this, she had to do this alone.
Evie sighed and cast her gaze over to Noah’s computer. She hoped he would find her note, and forgive her.
She readied the Apparator. With a crack, she was gone.