And I wonder if I ever cross your mind
For me it happens all the time Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
He felt numb.
It had happened again. Of course it had happened again. He had such luck, it seemed.
At first he’d been angry. Fuming. That anger had soon turned into grief, followed by guilt, and now this horrendous feeling of nothing. Of emptiness.
It had been his fault. He knew that much. If he hadn’t argued with Marlene that day, she wouldn’t have gone to visit her parents, and she’d still be here now. Instead, their last conversation had been the most horrendous argument...
All because of Araminta. Araminta, and her infuriating air of secrecy, and the way she seemed so blissfully oblivious to the affect she had on him. Thanks to her, he’d argued with his best friend, and once again been the cause of someone’s death.
He felt a surge of hatred at the thought of her. Hatred that she still refused to tell him anything. Hatred that she’d kissed him back but was now doing all she could to avoid him. Hatred that she hadn’t come to see him yet. She knew where he lived, she knew Marlene had been his best friend; why was she not here?
But mostly, he hated himself, and the fact that despite all he’d been through since Louisa had died, that no matter how much he’d tried not to let himself fall further down that slippery slope, no matter how emotionless he tried to be, it was when Araminta was around that he felt most alive.
Unsurprisingly, both Gideon and Fabian’s cubicles were still empty on Tuesday. Araminta winced as she passed Marlene’s, its emptiness serving as a ringing reminder of the McKinnons’ demise.
She walked straight past Sirius’s cubicle, resisting the temptation to so much as glance in to see if he was there. She refused to let anything or anyone distract her from her destination. And as much as she was dreading this, as much as she craved sympathy and support, she knew she had to do this by herself.
Besides, she doubted Sirius’ presence would provide much comfort, if any. After all, he barely knew her, he had no reason to even try to understand her.
And he wasn’t Gideon.
She walked right up the corridor to Moody’s office and knocked softly on the door.
He looked up from his desk as she opened the door.
“Gamp!” he barked. “Thought you were working with Black this week?” He frowned, and looked at her more closely. “You alright?”
“I’m fine, sir,” she replied, smiling weakly. She crossed the room to the desk, took her wand out of her pocket and placed it on the desk, the handle facing him. He looked at her quizzically. “I was hoping to speak to Professor Dumbledore, sir, and I was wondering if you could arrange a meeting with him for me this afternoon? I don’t know any way of getting in touch with him other than owl, and that’s both slow and risky...”
“Anything you have to say to Dumbledore, you can say to me.”
“I-” She hesitated. “It’s about the McKinnons, sir-”
“In which case you can definitely tell me.” His expression hardened. “Gamp, do you know something?”
“I...” She faltered again. “I have to speak to Professor Dumbledore, sir. It concerns...”
She looked around the office, but wasn’t satisfied. She took a slip of parchment and a quill from the desk and wrote four words on the parchment in minute writing, then slid it across the desk for him to read.
Order of the Phoenix.
His eyes widened as he read what she’d written. He picked up his wand and set fire to the parchment. Then he vanished the ashes it created. He got to his feet and grabbed his cloak.
“He is only approachable by Floo through a safe connection, or by one’s presence at the gates,” he said quietly. He pulled his cloak over his shoulders and picked up her wand and slid it into his cloak pocket. “In these times, I no longer trust my own fireplace. That means a trip to Hogsmeade. Come with me.”
He led her down the corridor, back past the empty cubicles. He barked at Scrimgeour, his second-in-command, to take charge of the department while he was out. He whisked her to the Atrium as quickly as possible, refusing to allow either of them to engage in conversation with anybody else. When they reached the fireplaces, he turned to face her.
“I know of few other witches or wizards who would sacrifice their wand as you did,” he told her quietly. “It suggests to me that I can trust you – and let me tell you now, Gamp, there are very few people I trust these days. I hope that trust is not misplaced.”
“I assure you, sir, it is not,” she replied calmly. Her eyes met his – to look away would suggest she were hiding something.
He nodded sharply.
“Wait for me just outside. Do not go anywhere.”
She nodded back at him, and stepped into one of the fireplaces.
He was quick behind her, and took her arm none-too-gently in his.
“I’m taking you Side-Along, to make sure you actually get there,” he hissed.
He tightened his grip on her arm and spun on the spot; she allowed herself to spin with him, as they Disapparated, landing at the top of Hogsmeade High Street.
She had to hand it to Moody, she thought, as he pushed her forwards, forcing her to walk in front of him; despite the fact that he had her wand, that she had been the one to give it to him willingly, he still refused to allow her to Apparate by herself, or walk beside or behind him. She supposed that was why he was still alive, though. After all, he had surely beaten the average life expectancy for an Auror by at least twenty years.
They reached the gates to the school, and Moody pulled his own wand out of his cloak and shot a Patronus through the gates. It was too fast for her to identify its form.
After a few minutes, a tall, lumbering figure she vaguely recognised from the wedding as being that of the gamekeeper, Hagrid, approached the gates.
“Professor Dumbledore says ter go straight ter his office, sir, says there’s no password at the moment,” he told Moody as he opened the gates.
“Thank you, Hagrid,” Moody replied brusquely, pushing Araminta through the gates.
The walk through the grounds to the castle was a silent one, which she didn’t mind; she liked having the chance to admire the grounds. The main door swung open for them as they reached it. She craned her neck, trying to catch a glimpse of the Great Hall as they passed it, but Moody refused to slow up, so she turned her focus back to the marble staircase in front of them.
She had no idea where she was going, and so allowed Moody to steer her, along corridors and up flights of stairs, until they came to a gargoyle. It jumped to the side as they approached it, and the wall behind split into two, revealing a moving spiral staircase. She stepped onto it before Moody could nudge her forwards. He stepped on behind her, and it took them up to a door with a griffin-shaped knocker on it. The door swung open before she could knock.
She gasped, seeing the room behind the door. Her eyes darted from one instrument to another, her mind working at triple speed to try and determine their purposes.
Moody steered her forwards to the large desk and sat her in the seat in front of it, before placing her wand on the desk, with the handle pointing away from her.
She finally looked at the man behind the desk.
Albus Dumbledore was sitting back in his seat, his elbows on the arms and his fingers pressed together under his chin. His eyes were on her, his expression unreadable.
“Dumbledore, this is Araminta Gamp, an Auror in my department,” Moody said gruffly. “She works under Gideon Prewett. She says she has information regarding the McKinnon murders.”
Dumbledore leaned forwards, and picked up her wand.
“This is yours?” he asked.
“She handed it to me the moment she walked into my office, Dumbledore,” Moody said. “I’ve not had one witch or wizard before do that.”
Dumbledore’s eyes widened.
“Interesting...” He looked back up at her. “Why did you do that?”
“I knew I would be asked to surrender it at some point; there was no reason for me not to do so straight away.” Her voice was calm, but her intestines felt like they had pulled themselves into a tight knot.
Dumbledore said nothing for a moment, but placed the wand back on his desk.
“Alastor.” He looked up at the Head Auror. “Would you leave us please?”
“No,” she said suddenly, surprising even herself. The two men looked intrigued as they turned to her “I ... I mean, I don’t mind if he stays,” she explained. “I have no doubt you will wish to consult him yourself. My only wish is that I be allowed to talk without interruption.”
Dumbledore stared at her for a moment with those piercing blue eyes, before nodding.
“Very well,” he said, raising his own wand. Araminta flinched, but he was merely closing the door behind her. He placed it down on the desk, then placed his elbows on the desk and rested his chin on his fingertips.
“You may speak,” he said.
She drew a deep, shuddering breath, and looked down at the carpet, before raising her head to look directly into his eyes.
“You are the head of the Order of the Phoenix,” she stated.
“You are aware of the network of spies, belonging not just to your Order, but to the Ministry, and also to Lord Voldemort?”
“I have information for you, with regard to one of his spies in the Ministry,” she continued. “One in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I know who it is.”
“Go on,” Dumbledore said, inclining his head.
She drew a deep breath, before holding out her left arm and pulling up the sleeve.