The moment they arrived outside the Ministry building, Shacklebolt sent a Patronus into the building and they hurried to security so that they could be cleared. It took five minutes for them to get to the CDAU, that’s the Counter Dark Arts Unit and Lena could see through the windows that the sun had started to come out. She was still disturbed from what she had just seen to think properly.
The whole floor was abuzz, with people shouting orders and aurors getting their cloaks and rushing to the Floo systems.
“Alright, listen up everybody,” she could hear Ron Weasley yelling, he was head of tactical missions, “the Squib-napper case has been reopened to a priority level one. I want every free operative on the move, send a code yellow to all other free operatives in the field, I want all the victims’ houses stripped from top to bottom! That means down to the foundation itself! Team Phoenix, follow Nott, Team Banshee, you come with me! Move Move MOVE!!” He said as he himself got his cloak and disappeared in the green flames of the Floo system.
All the aurors that were listening dropped whatever they were doing and followed the red haired man, Lena had to wrestle her way through the mob of witches and wizards to finally get into Shacklebolt’s office, which was at the opposite end of the hallway.
The office was much calmer than outside, this time, the quiet was more comforting. Shacklebolt walked over to his desk and hung his cloak behind his chair.
“Sit down,” he said gravely to the two. Lena wondered what he was about to tell them.
They sat down and Shacklebolt moved to lock the door and draw the curtains to his glass walls.
“Now, what I am about to show you, I don’t think I’m authorised to, seeing as you two don’t have the required clearance, but you are my right hands and it is a necessary risk to take,” he said as he sat down. Pulling out a file, he waved his wand and duplicated it and passed it to the two of them.
Lena slowly flipped through the pages, the first was of a missing squib in Denmark, then there was a blurred out picture of a wizard, then there were many pictures much like the creatures they had seen in the hole in that house.
Lena abruptly stopped flipping through her file, “Sir, what’s all this about?”
“The missing squibs, the whole case is a cover,” he replied, “Order of the Phoenix just gave the Ministry level clearance on this half a year ago, we are still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”
“Sir, please explain,” Colin pressed.
“As you might have figured out, the squibs being abducted are not random, they-”
“All disappeared from the Magical world from 75 to 80,” Colin finished.
“That’s right,” Shacklebolt replied, “and it’s because they are not squibs.”
At those words, Lena’s head shot up to look up at him.
“What are you saying?”
“The squibs…” Shacklebolt continued, “they are Purebloods.”
The words dropped like grenades around Lena, she leaned closer to the desk, as though trying to listen better.
“Purebloods that had been taken into hiding by the Ministry when the Dark lord was still rampant,” Shacklebolt explained.
“That makes no sense,” Colin said, “Voldemort did not attack purebloods.”
“These were the purest line of purebloods,” Shacklebolt explained, “they had never mixed their blood and were afraid that the Dark lord would find them and force them to join him, which they did not want that and requested the Ministry to protect them.”
“So, they decided to pose as squibs?” Lena asked.
“Yes,” came the answer, “they had their records altered and all was well until two years ago when Elisha Deadwood disappeared.”
“Wait…I thought that the first disappearance was in January,” Lena queried.
“The Order had that withdrawn,” Shacklebolt explained.
Lena was nodding, in the past two decades, the Order of the Phoenix had risen to the ranks of holding the highest intelligence and security clearance levels. They now controlled what people knew and what stayed secret. With Minerva McGonagall as the General Commander, it was a tight ship and getting anything from them was next to impossible.
“Are there any suspects…” Lena asked, “anyone the Order might think is behind them?”
Shacklebolt was shaking his head, “None,” he said, “None they can prove anyway.”
“Huh?” Colin asked.
“Well, we’ve been following Ferro Fiero,” he continued, “there is no proving he’s the one behind the abductions but this man had gone off the grid for nearly thirty years and when does he decide to resurface? Around the same time Deadwood disappears and he’s been going on and off the grid randomly, all but at the same time someone is about to go,” Shacklebolt waved his wand to flip their pages for them so that they could get to the page he was talking about.
The moment the page opened, Lena’s head froze. It was him. He had the same crescent shaped scar, the same marks- now she knew that they were tattoos, the same grin slapped across his face. It all started to come back to her, that night with her in the cupboard. The night her mother screamed like never before, the first time she ever heard her father get angry the night when-
“Jordan!” Shacklebolt brought her back to reality.
“Are you okay?” Colin asked, she nodded feverishly as she flipped the pages back to the underground creatures, right now, they seemed more pleasant to look at.
“What about these creatures….” She said, trying to get her voice back to normal.
“Those, Jordan, are the real mystery,” Shacklebolt replied, “We found another one at the house we raided in March,” Shacklebolt continued, “the Order believes that they are Children of the Dark.”
“Children of the Dark?” Colin asked.
“Ancient dark magic rituals, now completely forbidden,” came the reply, “but even they are not sure of that.”
“How do you mean?”
“Children of the Dark are not exactly human, and the tests on the last one we found proved the opposite.”
“You mean that it was a human child?” Colin pressed.
“No, not quite, it was human, yes, but there was no telling the age of it, it’s like, the things are immortal.” Shacklebolt replied, “the only way we can know the whole truth is if we find the abductor.”
“That’s just messed up,” Colin commented lowly.
“That’s all I know,” Shacklebolt replied, “and even if I knew any more, I don’t think that I would have been physically allowed to tell you.”
Lena nodded, she knew about the Secrecy charms that were cast to swear someone to silence.
“That will be all,” Shacklebolt suddenly said, as if going back to his usual brash self.
“Wait, sir?” Colin asked.
Shacklebolt looked up at him.
“Since we know that the abductions are systematic, I propose we find the others before they are found.”
Shacklebolt was nodding, “True, only problem is, their names are with the Order.”
Colin sighed, he knew what that meant. Shacklebolt waved his wand at the door and it clicked unlocked, the two walked out and Lena went straight to her little office in the corner. After casting a few freshening charms, she picked up her cloak once more and headed for the door, nearly colliding with Colin, who was about to walk in.
“Whoa, where to?” he asked.
“We have a case to crack, don’t we?” she asked.
“Yes, but Weasley will let us know once they have found something,” he replied.
“I know,” Lena said.
“Then where are you going?”
“To the Order,” she replied calmly.
Colin scoffed, “They’ll never let you in,” he advised, “just save yourself the trouble.”
“I’m sorry Colin, but in case you haven’t noticed, there are people going missing, being taken by some man we don’t know about and worse, there are creatures trapped in floors for God knows what!” she hissed, “We don’t know for sure who’s responsible right now and the only true lead we have is the Order. If what I’m doing is wrong, then so be it, but I will not sit here and wait for another person to disappear before I do anything, I need to know exactly who these people are and why this is happening now.” With that, she pushed past him and started to walk away.
Once outside the building, she started off to the Order the only way anyone could get there: Apparition. Once she had turned on the spot, she found herself staring at the tall, grey building that was three times the size of the Ministry. To the muggle eye, the building was a large, empty field that had “PRIVATE PROPERTY: KEEP OUT!” hung all around the barbed fence, but to someone with magical ability, someone like Lena, she was staring at a tall, dominating, scary-looking building.
Now, security was the worst part of this place, protected by the Goblin Counsel, breaking in was not an option, walking in freely was not an option either, one had to have a direct order from McGonagall herself for them to get in, so right now, that was the toughest job Lena had.
Glancing at her watch, it was only a few minutes after six, hoping the goblins were in a good mood, which they never were, she walked over to the side where the secret entrance was. She placed her wand at what appeared to be solid wall and muttered an incantation, the wall slid to the side and Lena was let in. Walking into the dark hall, she approached the very end, which was sealed off with bars.
“Hello,” she called.
“Who goes by?” someone asked as they approached the bars, it was a short man with a large nose and leathery ears.
“Lena Jordan, I’m with the Counter Dark Arts Unit,” she showed him her credentials.
“What is your password?” the goblin asked.
“Uh, I’m afraid I don’t have one.” Lena explained, “I was hoping you’d let me in to ask a few questions on an on-going investigation.”
“Sorry,” he said curtly, “no password, no entry.” He started to walk away when Lena called out to him.
“This is a Ministry investigation and your lack of co-operation would serve as an offence to both the Ministry and the Crown.” She said, “I just need to ask Ms McGonagall a few questions.”
“Who would like to ask me a few questions?” Lena turned around to see McGonagall standing behind her. The last time Lena had seen her in person was in her third year at Hogwarts, McGonagall was serving her last year as headmistress before going off to head the Order of the Phoenix. She looked like she had not aged a day older, the same signature pointed hat, the same stern looking face and the same square glasses that framed it.
“Goodmorning Ms McGonagall,” Lena could not help but feel a little apprehensive.
“Please, it’s still Professor,” McGonagall replied coolly, “and from looks of it, I don’t think you’ve had a very good morning yourself.”
“Goodmorning Professor,” the goblin said, “she said she needs to ask a few questions, but I can’t let her in without a password.”
“It’s alright Grunkwield,” McGonagall said, “you can let us in.”
The goblin gave Lena a disapproving look before swinging the gates open. The two women walked in and turned into the next corridor. The entry hall was a contrast to the glum security check in hall. There was light pouring in from the high ceiling and the centre of the floor was tiled with a large phoenix that kept flapping its wings and bursting into flame. There were a few people walking around, going through files and whispering orders and a lady sitting behind a large desk who was vigorously banging on a typewriter and answering calls from the large phone. They climbed into one of the large elevators and it took them up to the top most floor, presumably where McGonagall’s office was. This part of the place was completely empty, there were portraits lining the corridor, some of which Lena could recognise, others she could not, and there was a black door at the end of the red carpeted stretch, with a lady sitting behind a desk at the side of the door.
They approached the lady, a middle aged Indian woman who was typing on a smaller typewriter. At the sight of the two, she looked up and smiled.
“Goodmorning professor,” she said, turning to Lena, she smiled, “good morning.”
“Hello Ms Patil,” McGonagall said, “this is agent Jordan with the CDAU, send up some refreshments, will you?”
“Of course,” came the reply.
McGonagall opened the door to her office and gestured for Lena to sit in one of the chairs by her desk, taking her hat off, she placed it on the hanger behind her and did so with her cloak too.
“So, Ms Jordan,” she said as she took her seat, “may I ask what brings you here today?”
“I’m here for the squib abductions,” Lena said, she took her file out and pushed one of the pictures of the missing people in front of McGonagall, “I’m sure you’re aware of what is happening.”
McGonagall looked at the picture, and then at Lena, her mouth twitched at the sides, as though wanting to smile, “You know,” she said after some time, “I never knew the day would come when I would see an unsmiling Jordan, your father always made a laugh at everything.”
Lena ignored her, “The Stubbs had been reported missing for the past three days,” she continued, “and this is not the first squib attack in the past year, now, I have reason to believe that you have information on the list of squibs that have had no record from 1975 to 1980, and I would very much like to take a look at it.”
“So that you can predict when next the attacker will strike,” McGonagall observed, “Well done.”
Then suddenly, the table was filled with an assortment of food and drink, “Care for breakfast Ms Jordan?” she asked.
“No thank you,” Lena replied curtly, “About the list.”
McGonagall waved her wand and the food disappeared, she opened her drawer and pulled out a red file, setting it in front of Lena, she said, “There you go, now, is there anything else you wanted?”
Lena was shocked, she had just been given the information like that, “Yes, one question,” she replied, completely masking her emotion, “Now, why is it that this list has been in the custody of the Order, when you have known all along that we might have needed it?”
“Are you accusing us of anything?” McGonagall asked.
“No, I’m just asking a simple question.” Lena retorted.
McGonagall took a deep breath and smiled, “Well, if you must know, it’s because the Ministry never asked.”
Lena felt like she had just been told her life was a whole prank. Of course the Ministry could not have asked because they would have been denied access, but again, they had never thought about asking.
Lena nodded, “Thankyou,” she slid out of her chair, “have a nice day.”
Lena was near the door when she stopped in her tracks.
“Is there anything else Ms Jordan?” McGonagall asked from her seat.
Lena turned around, she opened her mouth to speak but stopped, then, after a sigh, she asked, “What can you tell me about Ferro Fiero?”
“What do you want to know?” McGonagall asked.
Lena was shaking her head, “Never mind, after all, it’s got nothing to do with this case, does it?” she shrugged, Lena was an expert liar.
“Ah, Ms Jordan, everything has something to do with something,” McGonagall said cryptically, “If so, then I won’t keep you any longer, you can go.” She gestured to the door.
Lena was opening the door when McGonagall called to her.
“Yes,” she replied.
“I would like you to know that my office is always open to you,” the woman behind the desk said, “The password is Conundrum.”
Lena nodded and said, “Thank you,” curtly as she shut the door behind her.
Fifteen minutes later, Lena was in her office, going through the file that McGonagall had given her. Most of them were presumed dead, the others Lena could recognise as they had already been taken, and a few had absolutely no record of their living places.
Suddenly, her door flew open and at the entrance was Shacklebolt, he looked just about ready to breathe fire.
“Jordan! In my office, now!” he barked.
Lena slowly put her file down and followed him.
“What the hell were you thinking going to the Order!” he yelled no sooner had she closed the door behind her.
“I was just following a solid lead sir,” she replied, “we need to know what’s going on and they seem to have all the Intel.”
“Intel,” Shacklebolt repeated, “you mean this?” he slammed a red file on his desk, the same file that McGonagall had given her, “Yes, these came in just now after I received a call from the Order saying that they are being accused of non-co-operation by the Ministry.”
“Well, we need the Intel,” Lena countered.
“That doesn’t mean you can go prancing in and out of the Order making demands!” he shouted, “You need to understand that there is an order in which things must go, if you need something, you go through Willis, who goes through me to go to Potter at head office who goes to the Minister who then, can file a petition to the Order!”
“And how long do you think that will take huh?” Lena retorted, “Two, maybe three days, and until then, we just have to stay put and wait for another family, maybe two, to disappear? Who knows what’s happening to these people, for all we know, they could be dead!”
“We don’t know that for sure!” Shacklebolt said, “We are all trying to do our jobs to the best and the last thing we need is for your emotions to get into the way.”
“Are you saying that I’m too emotional to do my job?” Lena asked.
“Maybe I am!”
“Okay,” she said in a low tone as she slowly walked towards Shacklebolt, “I am emotional, that I won’t deny, but that’s what makes me a good auror, that’s what gives me the drive to do my job to perfection and if that’s not good enough for you, then too bad,” she started to walk out of the door, “You can fire me if you like, but I seriously hope you don’t.”
“Jordan,” he growled.
“Take a break,” he said, “what you did today was unacceptable, go home. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Lena nodded, “Thankyou sir.” And she closed the door behind her.
Deciding to Floo back home, Lena walked out of her living room fireplace and threw her cloak and coat on the tiny couch. Her home was not much, just a tiny muggle apartment she managed to fit a fireplace into. Walking to her front door to collect her mail, she was greeted by her cat who started to rub himself against her legs.
“Hi Julius,” she said fondly as she picked him up and walked to the fridge to get some milk for him. Flipping through her mail, it was the usual, bills, bills and more bills, she was going to forward them to Gringotts later. The last envelope caught her attention, it was bright red, like the file McGonagall had given her, gingerly picking it up, she tore it open and out fell a tiny piece of paper that looked like it had been hastily ripped out of a book.
It was a note, in scrawly writing, it was written: Do you believe in living death?
Sighing a frustrated sigh, she discarded it, many kids in the neighbourhood liked to play pranks like this and drop weird mail in random houses. Walking back to the fridge, she got the jug of milk, “So, Julius, care for some more-” her jug fell to the floor with a crash as she saw who stood right in front of her.
Right there, looking her dead in the eye, stood Albus Dumbledore.
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