Chapter 4 : It's All Water Under the Um-Bridge
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Lena flooed to the Ministry that morning and was greeted by an almost chilling atmosphere. She knew that people here were not exactly friendly to her but on occasion she would get a polite ‘good morning’ here and there. No, this was different, it was an ‘I don’t want to say anything because I don’t know what to say’ kind of silence. She slowly walked to her office and after putting her cloak away, walked into Colin’s office.
“Is it just me or is the weather much chillier today?” she asked the man behind the desk while nodding outside his office.
“I wouldn’t blame them, it’s all tensed up today,” Colin said as he rolled up his sleeves and took a pencil from behind his ear.
“Yeah, we didn’t find the guy, I know I was pretty upset about it too at first but it’s not the first time we’ve ever lost someone.” She said as she sat down opposite him and grabbed a mini truffle from the plate on his desk.
Colin shook his head and chuckled bitterly, “You did not hear, did you?”
“Well, now I’m here, you can tell me,” Lena suggested, mouth full.
“Well then, I guess it’s even better that you are seated,” he said after taking a deep breath.
Lena moved to the edge of her chair, Colin moved from his side and perched on the corner of the desk that was closest to her.
“Shacklebolt got fired last night.” The words dropped like a bomb to Lena. Yes, he could be insufferable most times but he was the best director the CDAU had ever had in years.
“Do we know who’s replaced him?” Lena asked, still in shock. The truffle was forgotten about and it had found its way back on the plate, half eaten.
“Unfortunately yes,” he replied.
“Well…” Lena pressed.
“Agent Willis, Agent Jordan, good to find you in the same room,” Lena did not need to turn to know that it was none other than Dolores Umbridge speaking to them.
After a few years at St. Mungo’s, Umbridge had been released and had claimed to be better than ever. She found her way up the Ministry ladders once more and got a position that was quite influential; Lena still had the shudders at the memory of doing her interrogation training with Umbridge.
“Ms Umbridge,” Lena breathed, how long had she been standing there.
“Follow me to my office please,” she said as she walked out. Lena noticed that she had now ditched the completely pink attires-well almost.
Shacklebolt’s office had been transformed into a very comfortable room. Where his spotless glass table stood was a white wooden desk, the stiff chairs had been changed for sofas and there were little flower pots at the windows.
‘Well, at least it’s not pink,’ Lena thought as she sat down, “and the cat portraits are all gone!”
“Care for some tea?” she asked.
“No thanks,” they both declined, both familiar with her method of dosing her drinks with Veritaserum. A trick she taught them in Interrogation Training.
“Alright,” Umbridge replied as she poured herself a cup of steaming tea. After sitting down, she continued, “Now, as you obviously have noticed Mr David Shacklebolt will not be returning to the Counter Dark Arts Unit any time soon for he breached the conduct of not disclosing classified information, which he did when he told you about the Fiero case and the creatures X.”
“The Creatures X?” Colin asked.
“Yes, that’s what head office has now taken to calling them,” she replied, “and you had no grounds to know of them due to your level clearance.”
“I thought, because we are investigating this case, we have a right to know,” Colin retorted.
“There is no such thing as true rights in this world Agent,” Umbridge chuckled, “but that’s all water under the bridge now, for I came to tell you that the case is closed.”
“What?” Lena asked.
“We have decided not to follow up with the case. Close all books and have all aurors on the case start to work on something else.”
“That’s just preposterous,” Lena breathed.
“No Agent Jordan, what’s preposterous is the Ministry wasting good government money on a case that leads to more dead ends, it’s been half a year. What we want is results and this is making this division look bad.”
“We only just got to understand the dynamics of this case Ms Umbridge,” Lena was leaning forward in her chair, “and with all due respect, I don’t think you understand what this case means to us as a division.”
“I understand that, and yes I might not understand it but I do understand clearly the money that has been wasted on this whim.”
“Whim!” Lena scoffed, “There are people who have gone missing, people who could potentially have all the answers to the questions we have been asking, people whose power we do not know. And now, when we can finally place a face to one of these people you come and shut us down?”
“Find me some concrete evidence to show that case 2947b is relevant enough for this Ministry to spend money on. Otherwise this case is closed, and that’s final,” Umbridge said curtly.
Lena sat back in her chair and took a deep breath, she had invested a large amount of time on this case and now it was gone, just like that.
“That is all,” Umbridge said after she took a long sip from her cup, “I’ll have the word spread in a few minutes.”
Lena nodded, got out of her chair and sauntered out of the colourful office.
“Do you believe her?” she asked Colin, who had spoken only a few words.
Lena stormed into her office and threw her wand on the desk. The sat down and kneaded her temples, trying to think what next. Just when she had finally placed a name and a face to the man who had murdered her parents, a man who could potentially be behind these heinous crimes, Umbridge came and shut the show.
There was a small knock at the door and a small man walked in.
“I’m sorry to disturb you but I need to collect all the files on case 2947b,” he said tentatively as Lena shot him a death glare.
“Sure, go ahead,” she said, getting up she grabbed her cloak and walked out of her office.
“Where are you going?” Colin asked her as she bumped into him on the way out of the CDAU division office. He was giving a box of files to another orderly.
“I think I must have missed something,” Lena said to no one in particular as she pushed past him.
Lena did not hear what he said next as she got to the apparition point and turned on the spot.
When she finally re-apparated, she was standing right in front of Mclean’s front door. She slowly took out her wand and pushed the door open. Yesterday had happened all too fast and Lena was convinced she must have missed something.
“Lumos,” she whispered, and the tip of her wand instantly lit up.
The place looked just like yesterday, the little table in the corner of the hallway, the tacky wallpaper, the same stuffy smell.
Lena slowly peeled off some of the wall paper and examined the wall behind it for clues. There was nothing, just dull brown colour. Lena inched towards the kitchen and looked around, the place looked untouched. The same cup on the counter, everything that had been tagged and numbered by the CDAU lay as it was. Lena was about to turn when she saw that behind one of the kitchen chairs lay a cloak.
She walked around the hole and picked up the piece of clothing, this was not there yesterday otherwise it would have been bagged and taken to the labs. That meant only one thing: someone must have come back, or they were still here. Lena dropped the cloak and tiptoed up the stairs, wand leading the way.
“Nox,” she whispered, and was covered in darkness, she did not want whoever was there to know she was coming.
Lena slowed down when she heard a slight scraping on the wall adjacent to where she stood, they must be in the bedroom. With stealth only an experienced auror would accomplish, she walked to the door and slammed it open, “FREEZE! CDAU!” She yelled as she flashed her now lit wand at the culprit.
Fiero looked at Lena and showed only a fraction of fear before sending a spell towards her and blasted the wall to run through it. Lena ducked and narrowly missed the curse. She now had a new born drive to catch him; she now knew for sure that he had all the answers. She ran through the hole in the wall and sent a spell towards him, it missed and instead smashed an old picture frame.
“FIERO! STOP!” She shouted as he ran towards the kitchen, he swiftly jumped into the hole and Lena followed.
She silently willed her wand to go off and walked in the darkness. He was bound to move soon, and then she would find him. Following instructions from her first year of training, she kept her back to the wall. Walking round the darkness with one palm touching the wall, the other with her wand at attack position, Lena found a corner and reeled when she felt a sticky substance meet her palm.
“Incendio,” she heard a whisper and Lena knew it wasn’t good. She jumped out of the way just in time to miss the hot flames that now engulfed the room. She and Fiero now stood inside the blazing inferno, he had his wand in one hand and an evil smirk dressed his face.
“Alright, you wanted me and now you’ve found me,” he snarled, “let’s get this done with now!”
Lena wasted no time replying as she sent a wave of ropes flying towards him, which dismissed with a flick of his wand.
His spell was the Cruciatus curse which narrowly missed Lena, she fired a stunner which he ducked too.
The heat started to get to Lena, the smoke had started to form, “What, already tired are we?” he taunted, “I thought for a second that we were the number one auror in the country!”
“You murderer!” Lena furiously sent out a killing curse, she was blinded by her rage and the laws had long stopped registering in her mind.
The curse missed Fiero and he fired back with a body bind curse that Lena blocked.
The smoke started to get thicker, Lena’s head was starting to feel light, “Confringo!” she yelled as the curse left her wand.
“Protego!” he countered, the smoke had ridded the concentration of both of them and none could form a coherent spell in silence.
“Expelliarmus!” she shouted.
Fiero blocked it and sent another curse which she managed to block silently.
Both stopped for a while, circling each other like animals in a cage, wands drawn at point, both waiting to attack or block a spell.
“Tired already?” he taunted once more.
“You killed my parents, I’ll rest when I kill you.” She snarled.
He laughed, a bitter laugh, “You know not what you are getting yourself into. I’m giving you a chance to leave now and forget this ever happened.”
“Never!” Lena yelled as she sent a curse blasting in his direction.
“This whole thing,” he said, “It’s bigger than me or you, if you cherish your life you will listen.”
Lena shot him a Cruciatus curse but Fiero easily blocked it, Lena started to wonder where he got his training from.
“It is not an option for you to choose!” he shouted furiously at her, “And if you ever come looking for me, I promise this time I will kill you!”
Before Lena knew what was happening, he sent his wand above her head and screamed, “Bombarda!”
Lena heard a crashing noise and the last thing she felt was something heavy hit her head before everything went black.
……As for Fiero, he had simultaneously incanted a shield charm and was left unharmed. Stepping out of the wreckage, he glanced at the crushed auror below him, she seemed to be alive, just unconscious.
“Somebody will find you,” he whispered to Lena as he stepped out of the ruins and out of the front door.
To everyone else on the street, there vibration could maybe have been a small earth tremor. Or more believably, it was probably just some construction blasts for the new supermarket they were building nearby. A few who were close to the house just saw a bald man with a long beard had just stepped out of old Mclean’s home, he was probably a visiting friend. He walked past the people, holding his cloak in his hands and even gave a small smile to a passing child. He turned into the nearest alley and disappeared from sight.
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