Chapter 9 : Adalie
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On her left, Adalie could easily make out the familiar alleyway with the hidden entrance to Marche Central, the major wizarding shopping district in the city. She entered it carefully, casting furtive glances to the left and right before turning her back to the passersby and producing her wand. Pointing it at the oddly-colored stone a few paces in front of her, she raised it sharply, drawing a circle in the air and twisting her wrist to the right. In front of her an almost transparent curtain shimmered and the young witch stepped forward through it, finding herself immediately immersed in the chaotic atmosphere of the wizarding community. Adalie quickly waved a wand over herself, transfiguring her Muggle outfit into more suitable wizarding attire.
Since her parents were killed almost a year ago while vacationing in the Swiss Alps, Adalie had spent most of her days here or in another wizarding locale, trying to absorb what years of isolation and a strictly English household had deprived her of. Over time it had finally started to sink in. The language. The manners. The reason so many children walked about come late August in matching outfits of powder blue. She had gone home to celebrate each milestone. Still, each celebration was private and immensely lonely. As they slowly stacked up, Adalie began to think on her late parents with increasing bitterness. Why had she not gone to school like the others? Why had she been left with no idea what they were saying for so long? How did her parents expect her to live a life like theirs, full of servants and riches, but no connection to the outside world?
It had been sheer happenstance that she had encountered a native English speaker on one of her visits. Leaving the nearby dress shop she had literally run into Blaise Zabini, a British expatriate who had abandoned his homeland after some sort of conflict between pure-bloods and the rest of wizarding society. She had heard talk of such things amongst her parents in front of the fire late at night, always in hushed tones. As with everything else of the sort, they had left her entirely in the dark. Blaise didn’t like to speak about the details, and she never pressed, especially after he graciously invited her to meet his friends back in Britain for the first time.
Meeting Draco Malfoy, Astoria Greengrass, and Pansy Parkinson had been a godsend. Finally these were people who didn’t hide amused smirks at her mannerisms and figures of speech. They listened to what she had to say. The night Pansy had shared the bitter tale of her past with Draco and now-unrequited feelings was one she would never forget. Finally, if only through letters most of the time, Adalie had a friend.
Adalie’s thoughts were interrupted by the sudden arrival of a group of three gendarmes of the French Ministry, wands drawn.
“Mademoiselle Shafiq! Arretez-vouz immediatement!”
“Moi? Qu’ai-je fait?”
A crowd of intrigued onlookers began to gather at the scene.
“Nous avons des documents a partir de la Grande-Bretagne. Vous etes en etat d’arrestation,” the gendarme in the center announced authoritatively as the others moved to restrain her.
“En etat d’arrestation?! Pour quoi?!” Adalie protested.
“Venez avec nous. Tout sera explique.”
Adalie found her arms held by the two men who had remained silent during the confrontation. In front of her the remaining man nodded curtly and without warning the bewildered witch was sucked along as they disapparated.
Several hours later, Adalie sat alone in small room with black walls inside the British Ministry of Magic. After being shown a pile of papers she could not begin to understand back in France, she had consented to be taken to Britain by portkey under the escort of the gendarmes who had detained her. It had all happened so blindingly fast she knew whatever mistake had been made, it must be serious. Thus, it perplexed it her that she had been sitting in this room at an empty table without a word from anyone in the nearly three hours since her arrival.
Suddenly however, the door she had been brought in through opened. Adalie noticed a dark-haired wizard who appeared to be about her age enter the room. With a flick of his wand he conjured a chair for himself and sat down across from her. His face was stern and marked by an oddly-shaped scar on his forehead.
“So,” he began, “you’re Adalie Shafiq…”
Adalie remained quiet, unsure if the man intended to continue.
“I know you understand English,” he said firmly.
“Yes. I’m sorry, I…I am Adalie.”
The man nodded.
“Ms. Shafiq,” he started, producing a thick wallet with a badge she didn’t recognize and laying it on the table, “I’m Harry Potter, Auror, and Head of the Major Crimes Division for the Ministry’s Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”
Adalie’s eyes widened. She had heard much about Harry Potter from her friends. He was apparently the one responsible for ending the conflict that had driven Blaise to France. She averted her eyes. He must be a very powerful wizard to have conquered someone so powerful when he was so young.
As if he sensed that she was not going to volunteer anything more on her own, the wizard pressed forward. “First things first, I’m sure by now you know why you’re here?”
“No,” she replied hesitantly.
“They didn’t tell me anything. They just–”
“They gave you the papers right?”
“Yes, but…I don’t understand.”
“What don’t you understand?”
“I…I don’t know anything about any Tobias Hughes.”
“Okay…” Harry said skeptically. “Let’s assume for a minute that’s true. We’ll go all the way back to the beginning. You’re the last of your family, correct?”
“Now, your family used to be a prominent one here in Britain, right?”
“Of course, but–”
“But they left in the 1950s.”
“And moved to France. That was your great-grandparents?”
“But they never really joined up with the wizarding community there, did they?”
“No,” Adalie answered bitterly. “We were never really a part of much of anything.”
“You seem upset about that,” Harry prompted.
“It was difficult. My family…eventually just my parents…were very demanding.”
“They forced me to begin school at home when I was seven. I spent ten hours a day on magical theory until I could receive my wand when I turned eleven. Then it was twelve hours a day between theory and practice.”
“What sorts of things did you practice?” Harry asked, leaning forward.
Adalie was confused. “Well…everything, I suppose.”
“Does that include manipulating the elements?”
“What about dark magic?” he asked pointedly.
“I…” Adalie hesitated. Her parents had warned her never to speak of it. It was the most powerful magic they had told her, but there were those who feared it. Those who could not handle the benefits it offered. To them, admitting her knowledge would cause her trouble. In their ignorance, they told her, these people would view it as dangerous.
“Go on,” Harry pressed.
“I’m not sure. I learned a lot of different spells. My parents never put them in categories…except for Transfiguration.”
Harry angled his chin down sharply, staring at her over his glasses. “Don’t…” he said warningly.
“What?” Adalie asked innocently.
The dark-haired man slid back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling, taking a deep breath and releasing it quickly before leaning forward once more. “Ms. Shafiq, you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with me. Do you understand?”
“Good. Then I’ll ask again. What about dark magic?”
Adalie tried to remain strong, but her will was fading under the man’s harsh stare. Why was he asking her these questions if he already knew? What was she really here for? The wizard’s green eyes were watching her carefully, seeming to note her every breath, her every twitch. It was disquieting. She looked away.
“Somebody told you not to talk about it,” Harry said confidently. “Who was that?”
Adalie crumbled. “My parents.”
“And what did they not want you to tell me about your experience with dark magic?”
“That…that I could do it. They said…people like you thought it was dangerous. That you wouldn’t understand.”
Harry nodded. “Have you practiced dark magic since they stopped giving you lessons?”
“No!” Adalie shouted quickly. “It always felt…strange…to me. I never liked it. My parents made me do…cruel things with it. To the pests at home.”
Harry sat back as if weighing her words. He looked hard at her, though this time is was strangely reassuring. “It’s okay. I understand about spending your childhood differently than you wanted to.”
The young witch regarded him carefully.
“I’m glad you stopped, Adalie,” Harry said. “For some witches and wizards, it gets very hard to stop. You must be strong-willed…to be raised around it, taught it, in a family likes yours. And then never to use it again…” he mused.
Adalie shifted her eyes uncomfortably.
“We’ll get back to that,” Harry said eerily. “So tell me when you started coming to Britain so regularly.”
“Oh…maybe six months ago…” she offered nervously. Adalie watched as Harry whipped out a thick file and flipped through the pages.
“Six months ago,” he repeated, seemingly satisfied.
“What brought that on?”
“My parents…they passed away suddenly on a trip and I started to try to get out into the world. But I was lost. I had rarely left our estate. My parents never let me learn French. So I spent a lot of time back home in Marseille trying to do things. Learn. And meet people.”
“And you came all the way here from Marseille to meet people?”
“Not at first. I just happened to run into a man who had moved there from Britain. It was early in my learning French and…he spoke English. We talked. He just understood the way I was. The way my parents had raised me…we became friends and–”
“We’re talking about Blaise Zabini now?”
“Yes, I…how did you–”
He tapped the file. “I know a lot. Keep going.”
“Well eventually, I suppose it was probably seven months ago, he told me he was coming back to visit some friends from school. That they’d like to meet me. And so I came with him and it was like before…they understood me. And so I came back with Blaise the next month…and then some on my own.”
“What sorts of things did you do?”
“It was mostly dinners and then conversations after. Different houses. We never really went out. I supposed they were like me. Isolated.”
“Ever think to ask why that was?”
“No. They were kind to me. I didn’t want to pry…”
Harry snorted. “To be clear, now we’re talking about Draco Malfoy, Astoria Greengrass, and Pansy Parkinson?”
“Sometimes Astoria’s sister. A girl named Millicent. Once Draco’s parents.”
“Draco’s parents? When was that?”
“I…I really can’t be sure. A few months ago, maybe?”
Harry waved a hand dismissively. “Nothing to worry about.”
Adalie crossed and uncrossed her legs.
“Cold?” Harry asked.
“A bit,” she answered, biting her lip.
The dark-haired wizard produced his wand and instantly the air around the felt more comfortable. “I’m used to it,” he commented. “Sometimes I forget.”
“Sure. Now how many times would you say you visited Britain in the last six months?”
“Goodness,” Adalie started, looking off as she tried to count in her head. “Ten at least. Maybe fifteen?”
Harry glanced at the file again, running his finger down one of the sheets. “Fourteen actually.”
“So which trip did you finally ask your new friends what they did?”
“It didn’t strike you as odd that they never talked about work?”
“I suppose not. I mean…I could tell they were wealthy. And isolated like I said. I just assumed they were like me.”
“You just assumed they didn’t have jobs.”
“But you never asked why?” Harry pressed.
“No…I mean…you have to understand. I grew up without any friends. I finally had some. I just…I thought if they didn’t want to talk about it they had good reasons,” Adalie defended.
“Oh and they do,” Harry replied emphatically, producing several sheets from inside the file and shoving them toward Adalie in a stack. “We’ll take them in order. First, do you know what that top sheet is a picture of?”
Adalie saw a picture of a forearm with a strange tattoo. The ink appeared black and the image was of a menacing skull with a strange snake protruding from its mouth and twisting around itself. “No!” she said immediately. “What is that?”
Harry harrumphed. “That’s a picture of your friend Draco’s forearm not long after the war ended. As for what’s on it? That’s the Dark Mark. Voldemort’s Mark.”
Adalie covered her mouth in shock. “I…that’s Draco’s arm? But…why? And who is–”
“Who is Voldemort?” Harry asked, incredulous. “The darkest wizard of all time. A sickening blood purist who almost destroyed our world twice. He murdered my parents when I was a year old. Did the same to who knows how many others or ordered it done by his followers,” Harry continued bitterly. “That mark on your friend’s arm…that’s just one part of the price of admission to his inner circle.”
Adalie sat silently in shock. Blaise had made what he had called a conflict seem so…small. And Draco had been so welcoming. She wondered if her parents were caught up in this too. She knew they had strong attitudes about blood purity from the lengths they went to trying to instill the same in her. All their hushed conversations by the fireplace suddenly seemed so much darker.
Harry pulled the picture of Draco’s arm away and spread out the others in front of Adalie. They appeared to her to be school pictures as she saw Astoria, Blaise, and Draco all wearing the same robes and colors. “These are pictures showing the people you’re so close to as Slytherins. The Slytherin students aren’t all bad. Some of them helped us in the war. But for the most part, they were all at least sympathizers with Voldemort and his agenda.”
“But I never–”
“I’m sure,” Harry said skeptically.
“Really!” Adalie insisted. “We always talked about simple things.”
“Well, why don’t you tell me what you talked about on April 7th?”
“I don’t remember any specifics…it was just another dinner.”
“Yet you didn’t go back to Marseille until April 12th…”
“That’s right. Pansy had given me some recommendations of places to visit around Britain. Nice places to shop in your Diagon Alley and a little town called Hogsmeade…I was just enjoying myself. Trying to learn more about the place since I’d started coming so much.”
“How about the night of April 8th?”
“I was traveling–”
“Seems a bit odd that none of your new friends…isolated like you said…no jobs, wouldn’t come with you.”
“I told them I wanted to explore on my own.”
“And where were you exploring that night?”
“I was here. In London.”
“I’m sure I spent some time there too. Of course. I don’t understand. Why do you care about all this?”
With a sudden flourish, Harry produced a wand from his robes and set it down on the table between them. “Recognize this?”
Adalie saw her wand lying in front of her. “Of course…it’s mine…but I still don’t understand.”
“This,” Harry began ominously, “is just the last piece of confirmation I needed to have you brought in. Because according to our tests, this is the best fit for the wand that was used to murder Tobias Hughes.”
For a moment, the brunette witch sat frozen in stunned silence. First there had been the revelations about her friends. Now she learned there hadn’t been a mistake in France. The authorities in Britain were actually charging her with a crime. Killing a man. She watched as Harry drew the wand back carefully to his side of the table before placing it back in his robes. He was watching her keenly, through slightly squinted eyes.
“B-but…a murder?! I thought this was some kind of mix-up!” she protested. “I don’t even know the person you’re talking about!”
Her accuser drew his head back slowly, cocking it slightly to the right. He appeared to be considering his next move carefully. Wordlessly, he rose, grabbing the file he had produced earlier and thumped the door loudly with his fist. With every pound, Adalie shook slightly. She wondered what would happen now. Would she be carried off to a dark cell someplace?
The door opened, revealing a red-haired wizard, this one taller and brawnier than the one she had been dealing with. Adalie chewed her lip nervously as they whispered amongst themselves. Harry Potter had blown somewhat hot and cold with her. Her new antagonist’s appearance however gave rise to concerns that he may prefer to stick to a single, blunt approach. A few minutes later, Harry fixed her with a hard stare before thrusting the file into his associate’s chest and marching out the door.
The red-haired wizard ambled up to the table, casually flipping through the file he had been given, nodding here and hmm-ing there before taking a seat across from her. He shut the file and tossed it down, leaning back in the chair. She braced herself for his attack, but was instead greeted by a hand thrust toward her.
“Name’s Ron Weasley. I’m an Auror too.” He fumbled about in his robes for a moment as if searching for something. Flashing Adalie an embarrassed grimace, he sucked in air through his teeth and threw his hands in the air. “Afraid I’ve forgotten my badge, so you’ll just have to take my word on it.”
Slowly, Adalie reached out to accept the handshake.
“Harry’s been giving you a time of it I’ll bet,” he started. “He’s my boss…gets a bit gruff at times, but don’t let it fool you.”
Adalie was puzzled. Assembling the knowledge she’d had from her friends with the information Harry himself had provided, it was clear that this man’s predecessor was a talented wizard.
As she looked up to meet the new wizard’s gaze, she saw an almost jovial expression. “You’re worried because he’s the one who killed Voldemort,” he said knowingly. “Well…he also married my sister, so I can tell you his bark’s worse than his bite. Long as you tell the truth anyway…”
She shifted her eyes back and forth.
“Scared, huh?” he asked, his face showing what looked like genuine concern.
Adalie slowly nodded. “I…it’s just that I haven’t had anything to do with this! And I’ve been whisked off here…he showed me pictures of my friends…told me my wand was a murder weapon…” She covered her mouth and sniffed to prevent herself from breaking.
“Bloody hell!” Ron exclaimed, shaking his head. “Hauled off and accused you of the murder…really?”
She nodded again.
“Well, Harry’s never been the tactful one. Sorry about that,”
“I…I suppose I understand…under the circumstances.”
“Yeah,” Ron said, nodding slowly. “Been a long time since a sitting member of the Wizengamot was murdered in peacetime.”
“Right…you’re from France. It’s our court over here.”
Now she understood the dark-haired wizard’s intensity.
“Well, here’s the rub. I’ve got to ask you straight out. For the record you know,” Ron added. “Did you kill him?”
“No. I don’t even know him.”
Adalie watch as Ron scribbled something on a scrap of parchment.
“Excellent,” Ron replied before taking a glance at his watch. “Thing is, Harry’s gone for dinner and I’ve got to stay here with you. Got to look like I’ve done something as well,” he added, seeking sympathy with a cocked eyebrow. “I can just ask you some simple stuff until he gets back. Save us both loads of trouble, if you don’t mind.”
“I guess not…”
“Right. So Malfoy then, you’ve been to his place right?”
“A few times.”
“Seen anything weird while you there?”
“You know, just anything out of the ordinary. Creepy object, dodgy looking papers…”
“Not that I remember. I mean we were really just in the dining and sitting rooms.”
Ron groaned and scrunched his face.
“What?” Adalie asked, concerned.
“Not the best memories of that place. Nasty spot to be during the war.”
She immediately remembered what Harry had shown her. “Because of Draco?”
Ron scoffed. “Malfoy’s a right foul git, but he was the least of it. Place was Voldemort’s headquarters. The worst of the worst happened there. Almost to us.”
Adalie shivered, unsure exactly what to say. “Sorry…” she offered. It seemed like the best idea, for whatever the word was worth.
The red-haired wizard waved his hand dismissively. “Not your fault. We knew what we were getting into.” He paused. “So nothing at the Malfoys then. Did you get particularly close with one friend in particular?”
“Pansy,” she volunteered immediately.
“You ever get to talk away from the others?”
“A lot actually,” Adalie admitted, her face animated.
Adalie paused. “Well…I don’t want to betray her confidence…”
“Of course not. Just generally then.”
“Okay. I mean, we talked about the differences between here and France. She seemed fascinated with Marseille. The wizarding community there is less concentrated and she liked the different fabrics of my robes. That they had some patterns. We talked about wizards…well, mostly Pansy. I only really know Blaise and Draco,” she finished, stopping herself suddenly. “I’m sorry,” she said, blushing. “I just…I don’t get to talk often. Certainly not about my friends. Only to them.”
“It’s alright,” Ron reassured her. “What’s that like, being alone so much of the time?”
Adalie frowned. “Well…it’s different now because I know most people aren’t that way. I suppose as a girl I knew, part of me anyway, but I convinced myself my parents had their reasons. Looking back it makes what they did feel so much more cruel. Does that make sense?”
Ron nodded. “I can see where it would hurt. Don’t have any personal experience mind you…I came up with five brothers and a sister so I was never alone. Curse in itself really.”
Adalie stared off longingly. “Yes…well, I suppose the grass is always greener.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a loud thumping.
“That’ll be Harry,” Ron said, gathering the file and stepping away.
This time the whispering between the two men was more animated. Ron seemed to be trying to make a point, gesturing repeatedly after which Harry would immediately scowl and say something abrupt. After a few minutes, Ron stepped outside and closed the door. Adalie buried her face in her hands, truly confronting the depth of her plight for the first time.
As the heavy, sound-proof door clicked shut behind him, Ron braced for impact.
“I needed answers, Ron,” Harry growled.
“You think I don’t know that? She bought it. Trust me. She just doesn’t have them,” Ron defended.
“Damnit!” Harry shouted, fighting the urge to pound the wall. “So you think she’s not it?”
“You really want that answer?” the red-haired Auror asked.
Harry shook his head. “No. You’re right. I don’t.”
“How long until you have to make the recommendation?”
“We’ve had her seven hours. The French only gave us ten.”
“What’s Neville say?”
“Charge her. He thinks we’ve got enough.”
“Enough or he thinks it’s her?”
Harry tilted his head and frowned. “He thinks it’s her. A hundred percent.”
“So you’re going to do it then?”
“I have to. I mean Neville’s right. The hard evidence, the background…even some of what she’s told us herself adds up.”
“Harry if you–”
“Don’t,” Harry interrupted sternly. “This,” he continued, gesturing between them, “can’t be an issue when we testify.”
“Wait a minute mate. You’re not asking me to–”
Harry fixed Ron with a firm stare. “Never. But when it comes to it being expressed…”
“Right,” Ron nodded.
Harry ran a hand through his hair, leaning back and staring at the ceiling. “I think it’s best you take her. I’ve got to see Hermione about the papers.”
As the heavy, sound-proof door re-opened, Adalie pulled her hands back, sniffing heavily and wiping her reddened eyes. It was the red-haired wizard who re-entered, a certain heavy gloom having settled over his countenance.
“Go on,” he said, gesturing wearily for her to stand. “Hands behind your back again.”
Fighting back a second wave of the emotions that had overtaken her in his absence, Adalie complied. She scarcely heard as he muttered the incantation, the final flourish of his wand generating the slightest rush of air that tickled the back of her neck. A moment later she felt the cold, invisible steel encircle her wrists.
“W-wha…what’s going t-to happen to me?” she asked meekly.
“Trial soon,” Ron said simply. “For now, you’re headed to Azkaban.”
A/N: As promised we’re right back in the thick of things. This chapter came out a bit longer both because I wanted to introduce Adalie and I felt you needed an adequate feel for her both as a whole character and inside the interrogation. I also felt it would help to show the team’s interrogation techniques and feelings about the case and about Adalie as we enter the home stretch. There are some aspects of that I obviously left deliberately unresolved, but hopefully you’ll feel it’s all tied up by the end of the story and in terms of the sort of “justice procedure” in the new age Ministry, hopefully you’ll feel any really burning questions are tied up at the end of the next chapter.
More importantly, thank you for reading! I know I haven’t said that nearly enough in my notes to this story, but your continued clicks have been greatly appreciated! I am chugging away to finish this bad boy by the challenge deadline and so just seeing those few of you who are faithfully following along has been an absolutely vital inspiration to press on through the fatigue or any creeping doubts. I hope you’re all satisfied by the end!
Translations for those interested:
Arretez-vouz immediatement! – Stop immediately!
Moi? Qu’ai-je fait? – Me? What have I done?
Nous avons des documents a partir de la Grande-Bretagne. Vous etes en etat d’arrestation. – We have documents from Britain. You are under arrest.
En etat d’arrestation?! Pour quoi?! – Under arrest?! For what?!
Venez avec nous. Tout sera explique. – Come with us. All will be explained.
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