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Chapter 10 : Blue Room
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They had all left some time ago, though, i'm not entirely sure how long ago. Things seemed to swirl together in my brain that I found it hard to focus. I was a bit angry they left. I wanted this to be over and I was wondering how long they could prolong before the obvious dawned on them. It made me want to scream, but it was really echoey in here and it would probably make me ears ring if I did so.
I did not like this room without a door either. Now, I'd have rather the courtroom rather then this room with my executioners with empty stares. They did not trust me. Not really. They tried to be all nice, but then go and ask questions like what would I think if I saw someone shooting spells at a child? How can you answer that? They take the situation out of context and it's as if they have a checklist of dumb questions to get through. I answer just as dumbly because I feel like that is what the questions deserve.
I remembered tmy response to that question.
"I wouldn't think anything, I would need more information to why it's occuring." I said. She sighed and tapped the quill against the desk in frustration.
I gave equally vague asnwers to most of their questions. I know Sirius wanted me to be more direct, but their questions were ridiculous. They had a end result in mind and that was having headlines that proved the Ministry was an active threat against Voldemort catching some of their most loyal servants. Which is me me, obviously. I keep Voldemort stocked up on biscuits, didn't you know?
At first, I thought the smiling man, with his easy grin and winks would have been helpful, but he didn’t say much. He usually leaned against the back of his chair with his long legs stretched out before him as if he was sunning himself in the Bahamas.
God. It seemed pointless right now. I hated these walls. How I only had my head and the way it was swirling around without a clear thought of anything. I don’t even know what I was thinking. Or if I believed any of it. Or if I had thought about it before. I hated it. This silence in here except for the scuffing of my chair against the floor. A chair I moved simply to remind myself I wasn’t going deaf. I mean, obviously, I wasn’t. It’s not like someone could go deaf by sitting.
Don’t be ridiculous, I told myself. This place wouldn’t break me. Instead, I thought of Sirius and his promise to me that they couldn’t keep me longer than twenty four hours without evidence, proper evidence that is. That was their law. They only had this maddening room that, honestly, could make someone say anything to get away from the blue hue that broke up the darkness.
Finally though, after my thoughts tumbled around and got tied up in more knots, the door appeared. In the blue fog I watched the doorknob turn in steady precision. The sound screeched into my ears like a melody. Noise. Life. I had never been happier to be reminded of it. But I felt hostility to the man who came in. So much that I felt it bubbling inside like lava. I imagined a house falling on his head. I almost laughed at the though. Where's that tornado when you need it?
“Miss Hughes,” the drawl of the man I’d come to know as Stone said as he entered the room. The other, the smiling man I had yet to learn the name of, came in after him. They were the only ones this time. He glanced at the cup of water briefly and then back at me. “Sorry to keep you waiting.” I glared at him. He did not look sorry at all and I reckon he'd been in his office being positively gleeful about it, thinking he was going to reel one in today. Another tick on his proverbial bed post. I nearly snorted to myself thinking how Sirius would’ve loved the joke.
“It’s quite alright,” I replied with a mad glint in my eye. “I was growing rather fond of this chair.” I quirked an eyebrow at him. I had not warmed up to this man with his salt and pepper hair and his bushy mustache. In any other life I’d have reckoned him a Death Eater. But he was an investigator of a sort. So he said. But I didn’t even know if I trusted that.
He was just some bureaucratic mess. It made me think of the Ministry though. I think there is part of everyone that thinks the Ministry really is there to help and that you'll get fair treatment. They were elected because we thought we trusted them and who they'd hire to represent them. But perhaps there were so many hoops they had to jump through to get anything done and a ridiculous hidden agenda that they were basically useless. I didn't like this train of thought as I could see why Sirius was part of the Order rather than being part of the Ministry. Maybe they got things done and looked at people who were actually threats.
I stared at him and I imagined what I must look like. Unstable, unfit, were some adjectives I could conjure up. Probably with dark half moons underneath my eyes, and hair that hung limply around my pale face like a willow tree in fall. The brown haired man sat in one of the chairs opposite. His round face was calm and controlled. Dark eyes followed me, and I wondered again who he was.
“We have one request of you and if you can help us, you’re free,” Stone said. His eyes held power in them. They gleamed bright, coming alive like a fire. But I told myself I was imagining things. I glanced at the other guy who was, for once, frowning. I tried to think what had happened outside of my little prison here. What was going on in the world and if my picture was in the Daily Prophet. I hoped to god not. As much as I thought it would be hilarious to see it, in my more logical part of my brain I knew it would wreck me.
“If you could name someone that would definitely show us your allegiance,” the man said after a lengthy pause. I stared at him.
“Name someone?” I whispered, almost to myself. I knew what it would insinuate. I knew what it would mean. I would not. “I told you. I know nothing. I am no part of Voldemort as much as you want me to be.” This was getting old and I felt like a broken wireless radio.
“I wish for nothing more than that, but these are dangerous times. That kid died in the raid and you were the last with him.”
“He was dead before I got to him! I don’t know how many times I have to tell you that, but he was dead. I freaked out and I ran to him for no other reason than I’m just some hysterical female who cannot control herself!” I said my temper breaking. It was bound to happen like the coming storm. I had promised calm, logical, but the idea that I’d hand someone else into their hands was too much. I stared straight in his face. I would not name someone; even those I thought were part of it because naming would insinuate my guilt. I would never be free.
“I just need you to name someone you suspect. It’s a simple thing and no need to be worked up over,” he said.
“I don’t know! I’m just an intern at the hospital. Or was.” I added as an afterthought. After this? Who knows. “I’m not trying to be uncooperative, but I have no idea.”
“I will have a name!” The guy yelled, spittle fell onto my cheeks. Gross. He could have dragon pox and now I could be infected. Disgusting old man.
“Because yelling is damn helpful! It has somehow jogged my memory!” I yelped right back, heat rising to my cheeks. “Except not really, if you didn’t catch the sarcasm.” I deliberately wiped away the spittle on my face. I stared into the man’s eyes with defiance. The audacity of some people.
“What are you doing?” The smiler said. Though he was looking at Stone, I felt like was talking to me. Sirius swam in my mind and all his stupid warnings that I wanted to shove in his aristocratic face. It was easy for him to say play it nice and don’t fly off the handle. I wanted to kick him and his damn advice. He’d have been yelling too.
“I don’t know anyone, period. I don’t know what more you want from me.” I continued in a calmer voice though I could still hear the slicing edge to it.
“Miss Hughes, it would be in your best interest to stay calm in this situation,” smiler said, looking directly at me. I frowned at him. He’s been here this whole time; calm didn’t work out seeing as I was still here.
“I am calm! I’m just frustrated that you guys are in here wasting your time with someone like me. The real perpetrators are out there, and you guys are here, fluffing about with me!! You can’t keep me here without any evidence, which you have none, so I’d say it’s in your best interest to let me go.” Fuck being calm. Fuck playing it nice because it wasn’t working.
“Do you really think we have nothing?” Stone said.
“I know you have nothing,” I said in outrage. Unless they lied, which I wouldn’t put passed them. I’d had a weird amount of hope for smiler, but he was a passive door jam. I would not be baited. But perhaps I’d already taken the bait. I didn’t know, but I had to get out of here. I couldn’t stand this blue haze. This dream I was in, it was killing me. I tried to focus my mind. To remember my purpose and remember what I found. It was the only way out.
I suppose I always believed they’d look at me and realize their mistake. They’d apologize and say that it was dangerous times we lived in and couldn’t be too careful. I expected that woman to smile and crack that jagged glass like persona, admit they were paranoid, but that I was okay. I wanted that reassurance. I don’t know why. It must have been that weird, superficial trust in the Ministry. They were supposed to be good and seek out justice.
Obviously not. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do believe in government. But this was rubbish. This is where some subconscious trust in some flimsy organization leads us. I was coming to realize that part of me always believed that those rumours about them were merely from the cynics. Or that it only showed part of what the Ministry was. A part of something was never a whole. So I gave them the benefit. Sure they had their crackpots. The eccentrics. The ones who gave those blasted pamphlets out as if it was going to save our pathetic little souls.
No one could be saved.
That much was clear. They almost seemed like they didn’t want that, but would rather watch the flood waters as they rose and let their pocket books get fatter. They did not care about innocence; they just wanted to prove to everyone that they were doing something. Maybe they didn’t even care if you believed in the right things. Hell, belief almost had nothing to do with it anymore. I hated to admit that. I hated it.
I glared at them both. Good wizard, bad wizard. That’s what this was. There was no other explanation. They weren’t on my side. They weren’t anything to me. Just a waste of space.
“What day is it anyway? If my twenty-four hours is up than I want out of here, right now.”
“You’re not really in the position to be demanding things,” smiler said, with that annoying smile on his face. I imagined punching him to wipe it off his face. There was no secret joke he was in on. He must be some sort of observer. To watch my reactions to declare my guilt or innocence. I’ve heard of them, they worked in the Department of Mysteries. They were experts on the mind and persons. He was probably just posing as some auror for these purposes. God, you can’t trust anyone.
Stone laughed and pulled his chair closer to mine. I jumped at the sudden movement from him. His face was fierce and ugly. Deranged, though, I’m sure that was just my perception of it. The scowl only heightened his box like face, and the large pores that spread across his large nose. I’d have to write him a delightful howler after this telling him how his face reminded me of a boulder.
“Of course I have the right. I am a citizen wrongfully accused of murder and treason! I have every right to demand things; we live in a free country with democracy! I see you have forgotten that. If you keep me here longer than the lawful time without proving that I’m what you say I am, which I’m not, then I can hire an independent lawyer and fry your arses. Don’t think I won’t because it’s my greatest wish right now."
The air was filled with tension as we all stared at each other with varying degrees of hostility. It was so charged that I was slightly shocked the magic that was coursing through our blood didn’t cause the table to blow up into shards. Then I remembered that magic didn't work in this room.
“Tell me, Miss Hughes, what would you think if you saw what we did? If you were in our position, could we truly let you go if there was that possibility you were a spy? Spying on Ministry officials, let’s say? You live with one who has impeccable connections and who’d probably tell you anything you needed to know. You’re also friends with a man whose whole family is known for their strong beliefs of pureblood supremacy-”
“If you think that Sirius would have any part of that or lead others into-”
“Let me finish, I’m not quite done,” he cut me off. He was holding his hands together, suddenly quite calm. “As I’ve heard, you’re brother is a squib. Maybe they offered your family protection because we both know they’ll need it. You also got nearly perfect grades in NEWT’s and excellence in Potions. Something that I’ve heard he greatly desires. -- I could go on Miss Hughes of the case against you if you’d like,” Stone said. He smiled slightly, in a way that reminded me of tired waitresses who were still trying to get good tips.
I wanted to laugh. I know that's a terrible reaction, but I knew all a jury had to do was hear that and their fear would convict me faster than anything. I also knew something he didn't and that gave me the upper hand.
“So I suggest that you name someone, or you’re not getting out of here.” He finished off after a moment of silence. I noticed out of the corner of my eye smiler jerked, as if a wasp had bitten him. I ignored it though and looked at Stone straight in the face and stood up. I grabbed the cup that was still sitting on the table and moved it closer so that it was placed right in front of him.
“Veritaserum. Although it is quite indistinguishable when placed in water, if you swirl the contents around there is a slight separation of the two liquids as the potion has a more oily consistency. Most wouldn’t notice, but since you so kindly noted that I’m adept in Potions, it would make sense that I’d take note of it. The usage of Veritaserum is prohibited without the prior knowledge and consent of the drinker in wizarding law, at this point anyway. So, unless of course you suddenly feel like you’re above the law, I’d let me go now or I’ll make sure everyone knows about this.”
I hadn’t known right off what it was. But they had given me hours by myself with only this small cup for company. It would have been silly of me if I hadn’t investigated it. I’d dumped some out to make is seem like I’d taken a drink. I had hoped it would have made them take me at my word and let me go, but that hadn’t worked either. There were ways to fight the potion so I'm assuming they'd simply say I, a newly graduated student, had the powers from Voldemort to do so.
This was my last chance though. I saw that. I looked them both in the face, Stone looked angry, the other one looked quiet calm. His think glasses seemed to cover any true emotion from him though. I didn't like going this way, it felt like blackmail. But what choice did I have?
“What makes you think you have evidence of that? I could just dump this glass right out,” he said, after a moment of hesitation. There was victory in that, even if it was small. He knew as well as I did.
“You won’t because you know I’ve already taken some. You know they can easily test me, and you know what the results will show,” I replied. I wouldn’t tell him that the results would actually be negative if he chose to get rid of that glass. He didn’t really need to know that. I didn’t feel so bad about this lie, not compared to what my future would have looked if I didn’t do it. Life is rarely full of black and white answers.
They were quiet. Smiler lifted his hand and rubbed his eyes while Stone was absently playing with the glass in his hands. I walked beyond them to where I imagined the door would be. I waited for the decision to be made. I knew what they would do. They did not need another scandal. Not after they’ve been nursing their wounds from when they’d foolishly tried to claim the war wasn’t as serious and that it would be over before we knew it.
“Well, it’s been a pleasure working with you, Miss Hughes, we’ve reviewed you file and it seems like you’re free to go,” Smiler said. He stood up and Stone followed slowly. I smiled and as he walked towards the wall a door appeared like a tree out of fog. They led me out of the maze of corridors and back up the stairs. I almost couldn’t believe it was happening, just like this.
We reached the white corridor with the long black walkway that changed colour at each person’s step. The place was bustling and no one paid us any mind, all too busy trying to get somewhere. I breathed in the air deeply. It smelt differently up here, fresher, as if the possibilities were endless.
I still felt on edge. It seemed far too easy for them to just let me go like this. It’s not like I was going to complain or anything, but it wasn’t their normal reaction. They hated being proved wrong or challenged. They always had to be right. I wondered how many other rooms were full of people who had no connection to Voldemort. How many others they were wasting their time with. It was just so bloody pointless, in the end.
What were they really doing?
Nothing. Sirius’ voice from the end of sixth year floated in my head. We’d been using the Great Hall for studying. Peter, Sirius, and I had spent an hour working on an essay for DADA and we’d gotten bored and were throwing hexes at other students who were dotted across the Great Hall. Eventually we were tired of that as well and the conversation turned to the war as it always seemed to. The Daily Prophet that morning had featured some wedding of some prominent Wizengamot member. It had seemed out of place among all the other stories.
Our conversation turned to that and Sirius threw a rather nasty hex to a Slytherin student as they were leaving the Great Hall. One that Lily would have probably thrown a book at his face for. He probably deserved it, but with that, he grumbled about the uselessness of the Ministry. How they were doing nothing. Nothing, but propagating that life was still normal and safe.
It had been a normal comment from him, but it was particularly aggressive that time. One I’d hear repeated constantly throughout the year. That memory was poignant though. The way he’d channeled his anger at that Slytherin, how his face contorted, almost like a growling, raging animal going in for the kill.
I noticed we’d reached the atrium by this time. The memory faded away from me as I watched the people around me closely. I expected something to happen, but perhaps not. Perhaps my yelling and demands were actually being met and I’d be free. I’d have my life back. The silence hung between us like a thick sheet. They brought me to a grate and I looked into the dark abyss for a moment and was about to walk in when Stone grabbed my arm. He pulled me so that my face was square with his.
“Don’t think I won’t be watching Miss Hughes. We’ll be in touch,” he said quietly. He let go of my arm and I staggered back into the grate. I grabbed the little bit of floo powder and let myself become consumed by the fire.
I opened my eyes as I stumbled into the small flat. Amelia was sitting on the couch, with the Sunday Prophet spread across her lap. So that answered that question, it was Sunday. Unless she was reading an old paper but I didn’t think so. She jumped up when I came stumbling out.
“Oh god,” she said. She rushed over, her hands still grasping the Prophet in her hand. “Read this.”
Suspected Death Eater Tried by Ministry
I didn’t get farther than that as my eyes were fixated on the photo.
Note: Sorry (again!) for the long delay in getting to this. I've been so busy lately with traveling and starting school. I'm hoping that i'll be able to update more consistently from now on.
This chapter has not been beta'd yet. I was far too excited to post this and see what everyone thinks than to wait. Please forgive any errors that you find. But please point them out if you wish :)
All reconizable work is JKRowling's and i claim no ownership as it belongs to her. No copyright infringment intended. Also, the tornado bit and house falling on the MInistry official is a nod to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by Frank Braum.
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