Chapter 21 : Chapter XXI: Maelstrom
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Evie set off in the direction which she thought that the Auror headquarters were. She remembered them being just a few levels up from where she was; she’d studied the maps which Xavier and Noah had left lying around before she left. But as each passing moment went Evie’s uncertainty grew. She wasn’t entirely sure which floor she was on to begin with, and each corridor she passed looked exactly the same as the previous one. Evie squashed down the panic that was beginning to lodge in her chest and took a deep breath. Where do I go?
It took an hour for her to finally find where she was looking for. More than once she’d had to flatten herself against the wall and hold her breath so that she couldn’t be heard by a passing Auror or security guard. She’d been to the Ministry around three times before doing raids and had never once seen an Auror patrolling – perhaps they had increased security because they were expecting someone, or something.
They’re expecting us.
At this Evie had a sudden, horrible thought that all of this might be a trap. Perhaps the Ministry had taken Eden to deliberately draw the Resistance in, like a fly to honey. Dread encased her as she thought of the possibility. If it were true then it would bring Eden into question and her true loyalties.
Evie didn’t want to think about the possibility that Eden was not a true Squib. Even if she’d had her suspicions about her, she was still a part of the group. She pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind and entered the circular room that she was looking for - the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
The same wonderful and mysterious objects were still there, but Evie had no interest in poking around this time. She went straight to the Head Auror’s desk and immediately found the files she was looking for sitting on top of a mound of paperwork. Her own school photo once more gleamed up at her, alongside the rest of the group’s. This time, there was only one file she was interested in – her mother’s.
She carefully opened the document, the magical sealing enchantment having no effect once more, and slid the contents out. She saw the same pale face with tired eyes as before, but Evie had made sure to study the photo more carefully. She was pleased to see that she had the same face shape and eyes as her mother, but her heart broke at the expression in her eyes. It was clear to see that Evie’s mother, Julianna, had been through a lot of hardship in her life. Eventually Evie tore her eyes away from the image and moved onto the contents. There was little information that she hadn’t seen before; it seemed that they were having a hard time keeping tabs on her mother. Evie felt oddly relieved at the fact that she was hopefully keeping safe and not in immediate danger, but annoyed that there was more here for her to read about. She wished she could know every little detail about her parents to make up for the lost time.
The only new information was that Julianna had been spotted in northern Germany around three weeks ago. A prickle of fear shot through Evie as she wondered about her mother’s whereabouts. What was she doing in Germany?
There was also a small side note written in the margin of the file, detailing that Julianna’s parents, Pierre and Anastasia Archambeau, had disowned her the year that Evie was born. Hot tears sprung up behind Evie’s eyelids as she realised just how unwanted in this world she was. She gulped down a sob before taking a calming breath and searching for anything about her father in the file. She didn’t know if they were married or whether she was a result of a fleeting love affair, but she should at least know his name. After several minutes of searching there was only one sign of any name: Jeremy Whyte. It was a second scribbling, but this was faint – it was written in pencil, and someone had tried to rub it out. She wasn’t sure whether it would lead to anything, but it was a start. Evie put the file away, making sure that it looked as if it had not been touched. Anger was still coursing through her veins and she resolved to never meet her grandparents. She quickly exited the room – her time at the Resistance had been fruitful. It was as if no one had been there.
Evie hid for a moment as she thought about where to go next. She hadn’t really gained much from reading the file; the only thing she had was a name that she wasn’t sure was particularly connected to her mother. Still, it was better than nothing. She decided to head to the Archives department to see if there was anything about Jeremy Whyte or her mother in there.
It took her another half an hour to finally arrive at the Archives. It was one of the further down departments, and the air got colder as she went further down. A couple of times Evie felt her neck prickling as if she was being followed, but when she turned round no one was there. She put it down to nerves and paranoia, but stuck a little closer to the shadows nonetheless.
The archives door was huge and old, with ornate patterns dancing across the oak wood. It looked out of place against the cold, clinical black tiles of the Ministry. Evie pulled the door open, which seemed to have been charmed for it was like pulling at air, and slipped inside. She made no noise.
The room itself was huge and towering, with thousands upon thousands of shelves holding all sorts of records dating back from since the inception of the Ministry. Evie turned on her torch and shone the light upwards – she couldn’t see the top of the ceiling, the room was so huge. Her tiny torch allowed her to see that she was located at the ‘E’ files. Evie decided to pass through ‘S’ to see if there was anything about the Squibs, then to ‘W’ to find more about Jeremy Whyte.
She felt as if she had been walking for ages and was getting tired when she reached the ‘S’ section. Evie didn’t need to look hard to find anything about Squibs – they had an entire shelf to themselves. Some of the boxes on the shelves were overflowing with papers and files, whilst others were barely used. Evie sat down and pulled the nearest box towards her. It was filled with photos of people she didn’t recognise – all of them had big red ‘X’s slashed across them. She blanched and put the box back in its original place. Another seemed to be filled with strange gold orbs that glowed when she picked them up. Flames licked the walls of the sphere, looking menacing in the dim light. She decided to pocket one of them and carry on searching.
Evie approached the ‘W’ section with trepidation and slowed her jog, finally reaching the section. Her stomach was in painful knots and her heart fluttered excitedly. Ever since she had seen the name she had been trying to not get her hopes up, but seeing someone who could be her father written down on paper made it hard to quell. What would she do if he wasn’t her father? What if someone had just written it down as a mistake?
It was too late to turn back now. Evie hoisted herself up onto the ladder and moved herself across until she was in the right section. There, on the top of the pile, was a folder labelled ‘JEREMY WHYTE’. It seemed to be recently moved – there was no dust on it. Once she returned to the floor, she tentatively opened the file.
A picture of a handsome young man greeted her, with green eyes and dark hair. It was undeniable that Evie looked like him – their mouths and nose were the same. With a smile, she realised that she had found her father. She read on.
Name: Jeremy Whyte
Blood status: Muggle-born
Current status: Deceased – boating accident*
The file was clearly old as there was no mention of Evie in it. She felt saddened by the fact that there was a possibility her father didn’t know about her, or died when she was very young.
The small scribbled star next to the cause of death intrigued Evie. It was written in red ink, and as Evie searched for another scribble she found a match at the bottom of the page. In thin, loopy writing it said ‘Please turn over’. Evie picked up the corner of the page, heart racing at what she might see.
There was a noise.
Evie instantly dropped the file. Her head whipped round to peer into the darkness. She saw nothing.
She heard footsteps.
Her heart leapt into her mouth as she froze, praying that the enchantments she had would work. The footsteps drew closer. Evie felt fear pound through her being. Her entire body was alight with terror.
Another step. She needed to move, but her feet were rooted to the ground.
The German accent made her gasp with fright. She covered her mouth. The Hunter was here.
The heavy footsteps of the Hunter immediately followed. Evie sensed him catching up on her. She ran forwards, running on pure adrenaline, zipping between the soaring shelves until she was dizzy and lost. If she was caught, she was dead.
She kept frantically running until she heard the footsteps fall away. Evie slowed, drawing a long shaky breath. Her lungs felt as if they were on fire as sweat rolled down her forehead. The room spun before her eyes as she blinked hard. She wheezed once more and decided to keep walking. She couldn’t afford to stay still.
Each footstep felt like her last. Fear overwhelmed her as she stumbled once or twice, barely finding the strength to continue. But she had to. She needed to survive. The stitch in her side grew as Evie began to feel the panic mount. She could die in this very room and no-one would know.
Evie strained her ears for any sounds of movement, but heard none. She was alone.
“There you are, Ungeziefer.”
The Hunter was back. Evie ran as he lunged for her, ducking out of his way easily. It seemed her reflexes had come to the rescue once again. She heard a snarl from behind as she ran, feet slapping against the cold marble. Evie ducked and weaved between the rows of shelves, hoping for something, anything to help her. She prayed to find an exit.
The Hunter was hot on her heels. It seemed he had gotten a new wand as flash after flash of multicoloured light went soaring past Evie, scorching the wood and floor. Different boxes burst open as they were hit by a multitude of spells and scattered to the floor in tatters. The shelves swayed angrily as their contents teetered. Evie jumped as high as she could into the air to avoid an oncoming jet of purple light. The ground where her feet had just been melted into a puddle of molten lava. Evie panicked and ran impossibly faster. At one point she slipped over and hit the floor hard, feeling her hip bang against the hard base. She quickly got up again, wincing at the sharp pain that now resided in her side. It slowed her down considerably. Gritting her teeth, Evie pushed on, trying not to whimper.
The archives were like a maze. Each time she found one direction to follow, she’d end up in an entirely different place. She was beginning to tire and the pain in her side was getting worse. The Hunter was gaining on her, laughing as if it were a game. I can’t give up, not now.
Then, the worst possible thing happened. Evie reached a dead end.
She slammed into the wall front ways, quickly spinning round to see the Hunter leering down at her. Her invisibility defences were lost in the chase. The smile on his face was almost soft as he uttered the words that would haunt Evie.
“Got you now, little girl. Stupefy!”
A/N: Ungeziefer - vermin. We're nearly at the end now - thank you to everyone who has stuck with it! Just two more chapters to go...!
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