Chapter 1 : A Shadowy Threat
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“Ah, Minerva made it after all, have you? I was just thinking you’d forgotten our meeting for something a bit more exciting.”
“My apologies, Kingsley. There was a fuss at the school. One of the older students was having terrible nightmares and it upset the first years greatly. I had to smooth it over before I could leave.”
Kingsley took a long drink of his firewhiskey. “Of course. Nightmares. Who doesn’t suffer from those these days?”
Minerva studied Kingsley’s face for a moment before summoning herself a healthy portion of firewhiskey. “Are you feeling well?”
“I’m fine, just a bit tired is all. As you can imagine, I haven’t been sleeping that well lately. Been having quite a lot of nightmares in fact. I’m certain it’s due to the trials. You can’t imagine the horrific things I’ve had to experience through my pensieve over the last few months. Add to that the burden of deciding whether to give someone the Dementor’s Kiss or not and you have a recipe for sleepless nights.”
“That seems quite natural, Kingsley. I imagine anyone in your situation would feel the same way.”
The two lapsed into silence, sipping their firewhiskeys, and watching the glowing embers in the fireplace. Finally, Kingsley spoke up.
“Well Minerva, I can’t imagine you came all this way to talk to me about my nightmares. What can I do for you?”
For a moment, Minerva stared down at her glass. “I’m concerned about some things that I’ve been hearing as of late. Whispers of hate crimes against Pureblood families, even ones who weren’t involved with the Death Eaters. One of my students, young Jade Zabini, I’m sure you know her older brother Blaise, told me that her cousin’s house had been graffitied a few nights ago. Apparently, it said Purebloods, Atonement is coming in bright red letters, almost as if it had been written in blood.”
“I have heard a few similar stories and I’ve even had the Aurors look into it, but we haven’t found any evidence that it’s anything more serious than a few hoodlums causing a stir.”
“I’ve also heard rumors that the MacMillan family has completely up and disappeared as well. No one’s seen them or heard from them in several days.”
“The Aurors have checked into that as well, Minerva, but they found that there was a note left at the apothecary they own down in Diagon Alley telling the employees that they would be on a family vacation for an undetermined amount of time. Everything was fine at their home as well. Nothing out of order. No signs of distress. No reported threats or attacks prior to the disappearance.”
Minerva shook her head in disagreement. “I don’t believe that note for a minute. You know as well as I do how devoted Ernie was to that shop. There’s no way he would just up and leave on vacation without letting his employees know in advance. Not to mention the idea that he would just leave for an indiscriminate amount of time. I just can’t imagine it. Maybe from someone else, but not coming from him.”
“I agree that it’s a bit suspicious, but without evidence there’s nothing I can do. Frankly, my hands are tied. I’ll admit that that the timing is concerning, particularly with the graffiti popping up all over the place, but like I said, the Aurors feel certain it’s just a group of hoodlums out to cause a few scares. I’m sure that before you know it Ernie and his family will return suntanned and perfectly happy after a long vacation and then you and I will laugh at how paranoid we were.”
“The thing is, Kingsley, I’ve heard rumors that it’s more than just a few hoodlums, that it’s a small, but militant group of wizards who feel that we will never be at peace while purebloods exist. At first they were content to harass any of the remaining pureblood families, but the word is that they are planning attacks. I feel that members of our community could be in danger and I believe it is our duty to stop this before it gets any worse.”
A single guard by the name of Michael Corner stood guard outside of Kingsley’s office. He was fairly new to the ministry security detail, only having completed Auror training about six months previous. He had been assigned the evening shift at Kingsley’s office because in theory, Kingsley wasn’t supposed to be there that late, so Michael was really only supposed to be there to make sure no one tried to steal classified documents while he was away.
The corridor in front of Michael had been bustling with people earlier in the day, but now it stood empty and dark. In fact, it was so quiet that he could hear everything that was being said inside of the office that he was guarding. He listened in silence as he fiddled with a large, gold coin in his pocket. A smile slid across his face as he heard Kingsley tell Minerva that the small group was not a threat. He knew that to be false. In fact, Michael knew that in several minutes, they would both find out that this small group was indeed a threat, but at that point he imagined it would be too late for them to do anything.
As if out of nowhere, four witches and wizards cloaked in all black, appeared in front of Michael. He nodded silently to each of them as if their arrival had been expected. He motioned towards the door and they all seemed to understand what he was trying to communicate. As quietly as possible, Michael rested his hand on the doorknob and slowly began to twist it.
“What would you have me do, Minerva? The Aurors have found nothing to make me believe that this is a credible threat. I can’t just waste endless funds chasing ghosts.” Kingsley’s voice was rising, the frustration he felt was clearly evident.
Minerva was just about to respond when she heard the door click behind her. Instantaneously, she spun and pulled her wand, but it was too late. A look of shock crossed her face as she was hit by two different stunning spells. She vaguely registered a loud grunt behind her and the sound of a glass shattering on the floor as Kingsley was hit. With her last moments of clarity, she saw four people step forward cloaked in all black and wearing coverings so their faces couldn’t be seen.
Quickly, the mysterious four stepped inside of the room. They were all aware that their stunning spells had set off silent alarms throughout the building. It would only be a few minutes before a group of highly trained Aurors arrived to see what had happened. That left them with a little less than five minutes to get everything in order. They began spreading out around the office, each of them working on a different task.
One of the four members roughly yanked a tuft of hair out of Minerva’s head while another used a razor to scrape some hair off of Kingsley’s chin.
“Quick Terry. Dump the hair in here. Careful not to mix them up.”
The member who had been identified as Terry did as she was told, tossing a bit of hair into each vial. She watched as the two potions bubbled up and changed color. The Headmistress’ turned a bright red, almost the same color as the Gryffindor crest, while the Minister’s turned a deep shade of purple. As soon as the potions settled, Terry whispered forcefully “Rodger! Penelope! The potions are ready. Quick! You have to drink them now! We’re running out of time!”
Out of the shadows stepped, Roger Davies and Penelope Clearwater, no longer wearing the dark robes they had used to conceal their identities. They each downed one of the vials and doubled over as the spasm inducing potion began to take hold. The group watched in awe as Penelope’s skin went from youthful and taut to fragile and lined. Gray was appearing in her jet black hair. Her dazzling smile narrowed into the characteristic tight lipped frown of Minerva McGonagall. Roger stood a few feet away, his pale white skin darkening to a rich brown color. His hair seemed to be growing backwards, sinking down into his skull until his head was perfectly smooth. He shot up about a foot taller and those watching could see his shoulders expanding to match the broad stature of Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Roger turned to the fourth member who seemed to be fussing with a bag. “Anthony, we need the robes now!”
“The knot won’t come undone! I can’t get the bag open.” whined Anthony.
“Oi! Are you a wizard or not?! I swear you’re practically useless.” Roger whipped his wand out of his pocket, muttered a few words, and instantly the bag was open. Anthony flushed a bright red, but said nothing. He snatched two robes, a set of square eye glasses, and one diamond earring out of the bag. He passed them roughly to Roger and Penelope who dressed at lightning speed.
Once they were dressed, Penelope and Roger immediately set to work putting the room back in order. With a wave of the wand, the glass of firewhiskey that was in ruins on the floor flew back together. The chairs turned upright and the pile of papers that littered the room returned themselves to a nice orderly stack at the corner of Kingsley’s desk.
Just as they were finishing up, Michael stuck his head into the doorway. “Time is up. The Aurors are here. I will do my best to stall them, but I can’t guarantee anything. I’m going to shut the door and pretend like nothing has happened. Hopefully, that will delay them long enough for you to get out of here. Good luck. Tell our boss that I await my next assignment.”
Terry whispered “Incarcerous” and ropes shot from the tip of her wand, binding the unconscious bodies of Minerva and Kingsley to each other. She pointed her wand at them again and said “Levicorpus”. The tightly bound bodies floated up into the air. She quickly stepped into the fire grate, pulling the bodies down in front of her.
Anthony tossed a handful of floo powder into the fire and watched his partner disappear with the bodies trailing behind him. He turned to address Rodger and Penelope, who were now transformed into exact replicas of Minerva and Kingsley.
“Now you two remember what you’ve learned. You’ve dedicated the last 6 months to studying everything about these two people, from their mannerisms to the way they speak, so that you won’t blow your cover. Remember the entire movement is relying on you. We’ll be in touch soon.”
Loud voices were coming from the hallway. Anthony could hear Michael being ordered to open the door. He threw a handful of floo powder into the fire and stepped into the flames just as the door creaked opened.
Michael noticed a flash of green light in the fireplace as he opened the door, but thankfully all of the other Aurors were too preoccupied to notice. Looking around the room, he noticed that everything was back in place. Fake Kingsley and fake Minerva sat in their seats looking quite surprised by the army of aurors taking over their office. It was as if they had been interrupted in the middle of a completely normal meeting.
John Dawlish, who was leading the group of Aurors, stepped forward tenatively. “Begging your pardon, Kingsley, but we have alarms set in the ministry building to register if any attack type spells are used. It triggers a silent alarm and a group of Aurors immediately deploys to the location to secure the area and stop any threat if necessary. A few moments ago, one of the alarms was triggered right here in your office. If you’ll excuse the intrusion I’m going to have to take a look around.”
Fake Minerva watched carefully as Dawlish moved around the room. He was using spells that she didn’t recognize, but she could only guess that he was trying to determine what had triggered the alarms. Fake Kingsley was shifting in his seat a bit and her eyes were drawn back to him. Suddenly she noticed his earring was missing from his ear. Panic set in. The real Kingsley never took his earring out. She prayed that Dawlish would be too busy to notice. Quietly, she tried to signal to Fake Kingsley about it.
Looking down, Fake Kingsley realized what she was motioning at. Bile rose in his throat. If their entire plan was blown because of a stupid earring, the boss would certainly have his head.
After a few moments, Fake Kingsley cleared his throat and addressed the Auror in a polite, but curt manner. “Well, Dawlish, as you can see, neither Minerva nor I are facing any grave danger, but I am glad to see that the Auror department is still living by the words of Mad-Eye and practicing constant vigilance.”
Dawlish turned to face Fake Kingsley and Fake Minerva. He studied both of them for a few seconds. His eyes seemed to linger on Fake Kingsley. Finally, Dawlish seemed to decide that everything was alright and motioned the Aurors out. “I apologize for the intrusion Kingsley, Minerva.” He said, bowing to each in turn. “Good night.” He stepped out, quietly shutting the door behind him.
On the other side of the door, Dawlish paused. “Corner, keep an eye on them and this office. I don’t know what triggered that alarm, but if you notice anything suspicious, contact me immediately.”
“Of course, Dawlish.” said Michael. He watched as the Auror Emergency Response Team disappeared down the dark hallways. When everyone was finally gone, Michael let out a small chuckle. Everything had gone exactly as planned, if not better. The boss would most certainly be pleased with the results. All that had to be done now was to keep Roger and Penelope from screwing up at their new roles.
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