Chapter 15 : New Beginnings
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He strolled through the visitors’ lounge, exchanging the customary pleasantries with the many foreign dignitaries he encountered, until he found himself face to face with his most bitter rival.
“Vladimir, I trust you have enjoyed your stay?” he asked, struggling mightily to conceal his disgust.
“I must thank you for your hospitality, Horatio,” Vladimir responded with an equal amount of barely concealed disdain.
“Now Vladimir, don’t you think it’s a shame that not every world leader was able to attend? I was looking forward to seeing Mr. Podolski from Poland, and that Hungarian fellow.”
Vladimir stepped back nervously, sensing that a group of Aurors was starting to close in around him. “Yes, that is rather unfortunate. I wonder what held them up.”
Hotspur scoffed, “Don’t patronize me, Vladimir. I know damn well where they are, and I hold you personally responsible for their disappearances, as well as the attempt on my life, I might add.”
He then motioned to the Aurors, “Arrest him.”
“You can’t do this! I am a sovereign head are state! You are violating every international protocol!” Vladimir protested as the Aurors began to restrain him.
Hotspur handed him a scroll of parchment, “Here is a list of political prisoners that are known to be held by your regime. When they are released, you will be too. But until then, enjoy your stay in Azkaban.”
Vladimir hung his head in resignation, cursing the day he chose to cast his lot with that ambitious fool Tom Riddle.
Tom Riddle set down the portkey the had taken him from Malfoy Manor to here in the woods of Albania, reminding himself how good an idea it had been to establish this portkey during his previous trip to the country.
He took stock of everything that had just occurred, and from his perspective, he was right where he wanted to be. He felt a slight twinge of regret that the plot he had pitched to Vladimir had not panned out, but he knew all along it was overly ambitious. Although he did ultimately yearn to seize power in his home country, he knew that there was much work to be done to reach that point, and realistically, he was at least a decade away. As things stood right now, he now had the information he needed, a great place to hide, and a loyal group of followers.
He looked out at the group of wizards that had followed him to Albania, knowing that they made a pretty formidable group. He had ordered Malfoy to remain home and gain influence at the Ministry, but aside from that, all of them were here; both his Hogwarts classmates who would follow him everywhere, and his new Russian friends, who saw no alternative but to follow him after the failure of their mission. Well almost all of them; Dolohov had informed him of Anastasia’s untimely demise. Riddle regretted that she may have been a powerful ally, but on the other hand, she always was a bit too independent for his liking. In the meantime, Riddle could sense some uncertainty among the group, and it became clear to him that he would need to address them.
“My friends,” he began, as they eagerly gathered around him.
“While it may not be clear to you yet, today was a momentous day for our cause. For today was not the failure of mission, but merely the beginning of the next phase. For too long, we wizards have been divided by petty differences like language or nationality. But today begins a new age, where we will be united by the power of magic, and our struggle to preserve it for those who are worthy to wield it.”
The wizards hung on his every word, building an enthusiasm that was completely erasing any disappointment they may have felt.
“In previous ages, we have wasted lives in pointless struggles between nations or kings. But now, we begin a much greater struggle; a struggle to defeat death itself.”
Now there was some applause and shouts of approval; he knew he had them.
“No longer will we be known as English or Russian, for now we will be the enemies of death, the Death Eaters. And no longer will I be known by this filthy mudblood name. For I am no longer Tom Riddle. I am Lord Voldemort!”
The newly branded Death Eaters erupted in applause, more eager than ever to do his bidding. Riddle was pleased. There was much work to be done, but for now, he had a diadem to find.
Augustus Wellington paced in front of his office window, completely exhausted, but very relieved at how everything had played out. When Anastasia had sent him a frantic owl the night before the opening ceremonies, explaining in detail everything the Soviets were planning, he thought for sure that it had to be a trap. However, he had a hunch that it since it was far too obviously a set-up, it just might be real, and ultimately, it appeared he had been correct. Their exchange of communiques had revealed that beneath all her trickery, there did seem to be something of a conscience, and whatever ill feeling she may have had towards the West, she couldn’t bear to subject anybody to Riddle. She had signed up to serve her country, not to commit genocide.
The tireless Mrs. Norrington walked in with a stack of documents.
“The latest reports from the field. Marie Lecavalier reports all is well with the French delegation, and I took the liberty of making dinner reservations for the two of you tonight, just looking out for your best interests.”
Augustus shook his head; he was often annoyed by Mrs. Norrington’s interventions into his mostly nonexistent personal life, but in this case, he wasn’t going to object. But right now, there were more pressing concerns.
“And what about our guest?”
“I’ll send her right in.”
Mrs. Norrington opened the door as Anastasia walked in, wearing a plain Muggle outfit, yet somehow still managing to give off her femme fatale aura.
Augustus turned to face her, “Perfectly timed disapparation from a moving aircraft, I have to say I’m impressed.”
“Please, I could do that blindfolded,” she teased as she took a seat across from him.
“But tell me one thing,” she prodded, “That device of yours wasn’t actually going to bomb Moscow, was it?”
“Good heavens no! What do you think I am?” Augustus answered to her relief.
He explained further, “What you were flying was an enchanted Muggle aircraft that was simply loaded with fireworks. To be perfectly honest, the real Albatross project is still in the development stages, and it’s at least six years away. We showed the Ministry a replica because I suspected we had a leak, and it appears I was correct.”
“Well Abraxas Malfoy is your leak, I could have told you that,” Anastasia explained.
“I see,” Augustus said with concern, “Unfortunately he’s too well connected for me to do anything about it at the moment, so for now I’ll just have to keep an eye on him.”
“Well I’m sure you can find an unconventional solution, I mean told you we were going to kill Dumbledore and the Minister, and your plan was to have Moody and MacDonald take their places?”
“And Moody handled himself spectacularly, he’ll make one hell of an Auror,” Augustus said proudly.
“And what about MacDonald, I trust he’s recovered?”
“Oh he’s fine,” Augustus reassured her, “That ‘Dumbledore Special’ of yours really was quite ingenious, a poison that feeds on magical power, making more deadly the more powerful the victim is, I can’t believe I didn’t think of that first. But anyway, like you assured us, when given to a Muggle, the only symptom is nausea. He had a rough night for sure, but he’s pulling through it.”
Anastasia smiled in relief, “And your man Queensbury, is he ok? I had to get a little rough with him to play the part.”
Augustus couldn’t help but chuckle, “He’s recovering nicely as well. That was his first field operation, and he’s not going to forget it anytime soon.”
“And I’ve been dying to ask you,” she continued, “How did you ever find out about our base in Russia in the first place?”
Augustus grinned, pleased to know he had gotten one over on the Russians, “My brother is a squib and he works for MI6 at the Moscow embassy. It seems your lot has a leak on the Muggle side of things.”
Anastasia nodded, despite her defection, she couldn’t shake her professional diligence.
“Well anyway,” he continued, “the terms of our deal still stand; a new life here in exchange for your wand.”
Anastasia felt a slight twinge of regret as she handed her wand across the desk, :You still don’t trust me, do you?”
Augustus smiled, “One does not stay alive very long in our business by trusting people”
Anastasia reached for the large envelope Augustus had handed her, which contained a British passport identifying her as “Anne Miller,” a librarian from Doncaster.
He explained, “The arrangements have been made your new flat is ready, and we even stocked it with groceries. In any case, I’m glad we can put this whole business behind us.”
“As am I, but I fear we have not seen the last of Tom Riddle.”
Moody and Duncan prepared to leave the Ministry after their debriefings, having been handsomely awarded for their services. Moody had finally been awarded his official Auror badge, and he was also presented with the adoption papers for a magical Siberian husky. Duncan meanwhile, was given the only reward he had requested, a very large bag of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.
As they prepared to part ways, Moody was about as emotional as possible for his personality.
“Well MacDonald, it’s been an honor serving with you.”
Moody extended a firm handshake that quickly turned into a bear hug. As Moody walked away, Duncan reflected that he had never met anyone quite like that, and he was really going to miss him.
Still struggling to process everything he had been through, Duncan took a long walk, stopping on Westminster Bridge to take in the view of the Houses of Parliament and feel the cool breeze coming off the River Thames.
His reflections were interrupted by the sudden appearance of a mysterious blonde walking up behind him.
“So I wanted to apologize about the whole knocking you out and leaving you on the ice thing, I hope you understand it was nothing personal,” she told him.
Duncan shrugged, “Eh, what’s a little assault and battery between friends?”
She walked up next to him to share the view as he turned to ask her, “So why did you do it? Give up your magic, come over to our side and all?”
Anastasia paused to gather her thoughts before explaining, “All my life I’ve been working for power, for myself, for others, and I guess I always though being powerful would make me happy. But when I look at you, an ordinary Muggle with no powers so to speak, but you’re the happiest person I’ve ever met. And it took Tom Riddle to make me realize how empty and lonely that quest for power really is.”
Not sure what to say to that, Duncan asked, “So what are you doing to tomorrow?”
Anastasia had to pause to answer the question; for the first time in her life, she owed no obligation to anybody. “I…I guess I don’t know.”
Duncan smiled as he handed her an address on a crumpled up piece of paper, “Well then you’re going to have to experience a traditional Scottish lunch. Be at the Rotten Haggis Pub at noon, and don’t be late.”
Anastasia smiled as she departed to investigate her new flat, “I’m looking forward to it.”
Duncan seemed to have an extra spring in his step as he walked all the way back to his pub, flipping the sign in the window from “closed” to “open.”
Moments later, his old friend Hamish stumbled through the door, out of breath from a brisk walk.
“Duncan, you lazy bastard, where have you been?”
Duncan shook his head and laughed, “Hamish, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
A/N: This is the end of my most ambitous story to date! Thank you so much to everyone who has read this story, and thank you even more if you left reviews! I felt very honored from the recognition this story has received, and I apreciate all of you so much for sharing such a great communities where we can share our creativity.
And as sort of an epilogue note, if you want to know more about what happens with Duncan and Anastasia, read the epilogue of my story Their Finest Hour
Spoiler alert if you don't want to read that: they get married and Mary MacDonald of the MArauders era is their daughter