Chapter 19 : Constant Vigilance
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When Ron stepped out of the Headmistress' fire, he was still in his Quidditch kit, gloves, guards and all. He held his broom in one hand and had an untidy bundle tucked under his other arm. When he passed Headmistress McGonagall's desk, he found Harry and the Headmistress in comfortable chairs next to one of the ancient spindle-legged tables. The Pensieve rested near the closest edge, its surface flat, and as motionless as solid metal. The other office tables were doubly laden with delicate magical devices, apparently rearranged to make space for the Pensieve and three chairs.
Ron rested his broom against the wall, dropping his bundle beneath it. “Sorry I'm late, didn't even change my kit.” He looked at Harry, “Your wife, the ginger demon, is working on a bloody wonderful move. She speeds almost into the scoring zone, flips her broom so it looks like she's going to shoot the Quaffle straight at your nose. But, it's a fake, before she's come around, she's already passed it to a team-mate behind her, who gets an easy score on one of the outside goals.”
Harry knew the move, they'd talked about it. “When she probes for weakness, blind spots, or as part of diverting the Keeper, she'll mix in other flips and passes. A changing repertoire is hardest to defend.”
Ron had just thrown his gloves atop his clothes bundle. He finished unstrapping his knee guards, then took the chair between his best mate and Minerva McGonagall, “Well . . . everyone knows she's got a flip that does fling it at the Keeper's nose. It's bloody hard to defend. Seeing her coming at you, then off at some weird angle, grabs you attention, even if it's only for a second or two.”
“Clever girl,” Professor McGonagall had always been a fan of 'Ginny P'. “She's got an amazing repertoire of moves, I'll bet you one out of every four or five involve flips. All but the very best Keepers won't get that new move until they hear the score announced.”
That was enough Quidditch. Ron liked working on his Moody portrait and was ready to get to it. Gold from commissions kept him comfortable, but doing Mad-Eye was exciting. “So, what'd I miss?”
“Nothing, I've just been entertaining Harry with they exploits of our cleverest Horwarts mischief makers. So, I'll let you two get to work. You're not the only ones who think Mad-Eye is worth a listen.” She straightened as she stood; her tone turned formal, “Many of us agree Mad-Eye should be honored by your work Mr. Weasley.”
Ron knew the “Mister” was her way of letting him know this was no tease. “Why go?” He liked her. It was easy to be comfortable now she was a former teacher. “Don't you want to see what this one is?”
She laughed as she reached behind her placing her hands on the small of her back and stretching. “I bend less well these days."
Ron and Harry knew that when Umbridge's Aurors stunned her, the landing injured her back. Her Healer rescued her with great skill but no spell could erase her age or the wear of so much intense fighting.
Ron got his wand out, “No worries, keep your seats, I learned something from Oscar.” He changed the subject rather than explain, “So, Harry, what do you think this one is?”
“Don't know! It's the only unlabeled one. Maybe it's a shopping list for Diagon Alley. Only one way to find out.”
When they found the box of memories, each had been neatly labelled. Mad-Eye's memory was sharp so the experiences they found in each of the vials were detailed and only rarely missed even the small physical details, or what others said. Mad-Eye probably firmed his memory after each event planning to use them as lessons.
With these thoughts, their nostalgia for Mad-Eye flourished. Then, in the war, his severity took some patience. Now, they fondly remembered even how he barked commands. Harry uncorked the little flask and tipped it over the Pensieve. The seemingly-solid surface instantly liquified when the first, tiniest thread of memory touched its surface.
Ron stood, moved his wand over the Penseive in a circular motion. His lips moved in the lightest whisper of a spell. First, the whole surface of the Penseive began to shimmer. While it shimmered brighter and brighter, Ron raised his wand drawing the memory upward until it was a three dimensional image, distinct but not solid. The scene revealed a small flat. It had to be magical; Muggle flats don't have winter out one window and summer out the other.
The longer they looked, they more they could absorb the details. At the far end, past a small kitchen and a door that might be to a WC, a young man and young women lay together on a small bed beneath another window. That larger window revealed a gently rolling sea with no land in sight and a slurry of wispy-white clouds on a distant horizon. It gave the narrow flat the feel of a boat sailing outward on an endless ocean.
The young woman was shoeless and dressed for cleaning house. Her lover, for that's what he must be, could only be Alastor Moody; this was his memory. He was unscarred, more solid than handsome, but beaming with pleasure. His black trousers were rumpled and the tail of his shirt hung out like a Hogwarts fifth year late for breakfast. What seemed like Auror robes were hung casually on a chair stacked with pillows and blankets. Moody must have arrived while she was changing the bed.
The three watchers each felt a little odd. Given the couple's enthralled expressions, this was the memory of at least a snogging session. By the looks of her blouse buttons, you could put your money on more. This was perhaps a memory meant only for himself, something different than the memories he stored as lessons. Ron looked at Harry who grimaced a bit as he held his hands palms outward, signaling his intention to wait and watch before ending the session.
The young woman could have been a milk maid in a Dutch Masters' painting. Her round rosy-cheeked face was surrounded by voluminous blond ringlets. She was as tall as Alastor and solid too. She was a well-made peasant beauty; her pale blue eyes almost leaped from the softly-hued skin of her face. They flashed as she held Moody's face between her hands, gently stroking his firm cheeks and jaw. “Are you sure they won't send us out together now we've told them we're to be married?”
Moody looked into her eyes, he was ecstatic, it was so marvelous that her eyes shown like that for him. “Policy dear, they don't want a family destroyed on one assignment. But, they'll send us out together when they need a couple, lovers, you know, surveillance assignments where you can't get caught feigning a lover's kiss. Anyway, it's only eight weeks away. We couldn't avoid telling them any longer.” His smile grew, “You saw his face; he's been on assignment plenty, he knows we've been hiding it to stay together . . .”
As he spoke, they moved together and kissed, he reached over her to pull her close. Her hands and arms embracing him. They held each other tight for a long and passionate kiss. She relaxed her embrace but stayed close, her hands again caressing his face. “Well, I guess it would make sense if we had children but, otherwise, what would I do without you?”
“Clarisana; you're a powerful and talented witch, what couldn't you do? Me, I wouldn't know what else to do.” Pausing for a minute Moody held her eyes and smiled, “Sometimes it seems like I'm here to do this job, like being an Auror is what I'm born to be. But it's being with you that makes it wonderful.”
“I love you too Ali.”
The three quickly observers looked at each other, none had ever heard Alastor called by this private nickname. He started to kiss her again when she suddenly put a hand forward to stop him, “Wait, what time is it? Don't you need to be back? The youngest Aurors don't get the longest lunches.”
Moodly laughed, “No, didn't I tell you? They're so happy I got that poor spell-damaged wizard in Somerset back in St. Mungos without a Muggle fuss they gave me the rest of the day off. I'm not due back 'til second shift tomorrow.”
“You've got all night?” She sat suddenly and undid the last of her blouse buttons, slipping it off and throwing it over the nearby chair atop his robes. “So, what are you doing with you clothes on? We need to make love, and now. We'll have time to do it again after a nice cuppa in the morning.” She grinned, she was teasing now, “We won't have to get dressed until you go to work, who knows what will happen.”
As she reached back to undo her bra, the memory ended.
Ron stood as the memory sunk back to a still-shinning thread. He retrieved it with the tip of his wand. “You really think he kept that for himself, to savor?”
Harry had a different idea, “For when he was lonely, maybe. But, maybe he wanted us to know, to know about her, to remember Clarisana. Maybe he wanted someone to know they were in love."
McGonagall spoke slowly, her face covered by the palm of her right hand as she rubbed her brows and eyes. “Poor Moody, he must have hurt so. He mourned her his whole life. . .”
Harry looked at her with a quizzical squint and a tilt to his head. What was it she knew? “What happened to Clarisana? Durning the war her name was never mentioned by anyone we knew. Arthur and Molly could have been around, you'd think they'd'av said something. We just assumed he'd never married.”
“They never did. She died. I think not long after this memory.”
Harry handed Ron the vial as he continued to look toward McGonagall, “No! That's horrible.” Horrible or not he wanted to know. “What happened?”
Both men waited for her reply.
“It was stupid really, makes it even more tragic, I guess. She was assigned with two senior Aurors to intercept a shipment of magical creatures and potion supplies like bat wings and lacewing flies. It was magically disguised as Muggle toys and, if I remember right, there was a exceptionally powerful Confundus Charm on the entire big metal box thing, I forget what the Muggles call it.”
Both Harry and Ron sat straight, attentive to their once-professor's story.
“The hard part went well for the perpetrators. It was an excellent bit of magic, so the Muggles signed their forms thinking they had already done the inspection. No one ever looked inside. Once it was released, the Aurors followed the two berks hired to do the transport. If something went wrong, if someone really inspected, they expected it would be the hirelings' problem. But the hirelings weren't paid to keep their eyes on the lorrie behind them, so the Aurors caught the whole gang with their wands in their robes.”
She paused, seemingly searching her memory, before returning to the story. “They obliviated the lot and got all the contraband back to the Ministry. They were counting, recording everything. The senior Aurors were interviewing the prisoners. There were a couple hefty reputations at risk, so the office was following every rule in the book. It was a good raid, they didn't want to lose it.”
Again she paused, digging for the memory. “I think they sent two clerks to do the parchment-filing but I don't really remember. Regardless, Clarisana was the junior Auror so she was to stay until the whole inventory was done. She was probably relaxing at her desk thinking about a cup of tea, when one of the assistants dropped something – there are several theories -- it exploded.” McGonagall paused; her listeners waited silently. “Clarisana and the assistants were killed. What contraband wasn't destroyed was melted or charred. Only the magic in the walls saved everyone in the next rooms.”
An unexpected but familiar voice spoke from above, “Constant vigilance. You heard him say it uncountable times. To Alastor inattention would always mean death.”
Harry stood and faced his mentor, hearing his voice had crystalized the thought Moody's memory aroused. “Professor, were you listening when Moody told Clarisana something like he was born to be an Auror?
Dumbledor had been, “It was: 'Sometimes it seems like I'm here to do this job, like being an Auror is what I'm born to do'. You're thinking that this is it, this is what set his personality, the course of his life. Courage and integrity to honor lost love? To fight evil as a tribute to Clarisana?”
“Yes, he tells her he doesn’t know what else he can do. Right or wrong, that's what he thinks. So! What else could he dedicate himself to?”
Ron joined Harry at the great old desk to answer, “Constant vigilance.”
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