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Chapter 32 : The Missing
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Disclaimer: The story title is a song originally recorded (under that title) by Bob Dylan. The world, characters and canon events belong to J. K. Rowling. Everything else belongs to me. It is illegal to publish and distribute fanfiction without J.K. Rowling's permission. You may not copy, post elsewhere, change or edit any part of this story. You may not claim it as your own.
In the weeks following the death of Mr Potter, those leading into the month of June, it was almost too easy for James to forget that he was gone. Not living in the Potter home anymore, for one thing, made things seem just as they were even before the dreaded note from the hospital. In a part of James’s mind, both of his parents were still alive and well, drinking tea and eating truffle, reading the newspapers and discussing the state of things.
Of course, logic would always kick in with a sudden jolt, when he would realise with dread that his father was no longer around. He would experience these things rather frequently, usually whilst considering something he had always taken for granted before. When he had a question about something to do with the Dark side, for instance, and resolved to ask his father the next time he was over for tea, only to come to the sudden understanding that he couldn’t, not ever again. Or when he was checking in on his mother, and he would find himself occasionally glancing out the window towards the garden, where he fully expected his father to be - even when he was clearly there because his father was dead, to comfort his mother.
Such experiences occasionally boggled his mind. Vaguely, he wondered if Lily had experienced this same thing when she lost both her parents at once. Perhaps she, too, had gotten ready to go and visit them, only to stop and end up crying when she remembered they were no longer there.
But James, of course, never cried. He would instead grit his teeth, irritated with himself for fooling himself once more. He wasn’t the only one, however, and there was some comfort in that. Twice now, Sirius had called through the mirrors, asking if James wouldn’t mind joining him for tea with his mum and dad.
“Or just Mum,” James would remind him.
And Sirius would heave a sigh. “Right,” he agreed reluctantly, clearly frustrated.
And then there was Mrs Potter. She, too, seemed to go through bouts of expectedness, where, at certain times of the day, she would begin to go about the old routines, and then suddenly come to her senses after a few steps. Of course she didn’t have to make breakfast anymore. She rarely ate in the mornings, herself, but John had eaten bacon and eggs every day for the last seventy years. And as for dinner, she could not break the habit of cooking for two, and often ended up feasting with Mipsy. Or inviting James and Lily, or Sirius, or all three, over to join her.
“I keep forgetting to fetch that blasted newspaper from the front step,” she scowled to Lily once, frustrated. “John always had it before I even got out of bed.”
“Mipsy is here for a reason, Mum,” James would say. And she would respond that she simply forgot. She was so used to having the paper brought in, already read by her husband over breakfast and waiting for her to scan by mid morning, that it never even occurred to her to assign the house elf with this new task.
(Lately, however, they all dreaded looking at the paper. The Potters were a well known family, though perhaps not as important as the Bones family.
The news of John's death had graced the front page for a day. Rita Skeeter made up her own tragic tales of how the funeral had gone to be published on the inside, though James couldn't recall seeing her there. She certainly wasn't invited.
Lily, who had worked with the overbearing woman in the past, was livid.)
What was worse was that both of the elder Potters had always been very self sufficient. Mipsy had been taken in after James’s birth, because things suddenly got harder for them with an infant around at their age. They never moved fast, and some chores fell by the wayside as Mrs Potter found her focuses shifted to her newborn son, James. Nearly two decades later, Mipsy was still around, and still used mostly as more of an assistant than a servant.
With John suddenly gone, Mipsy was now taking on the tasks that he had enjoyed to do himself. The gardening, for instance, or now the paper. While this was no problem for Mipsy and she never complained, Eve Potter wished for her company more often than ever before, and she occasionally struggled to balance it all when she never had to before.
Sometimes James would step into the garden of his own small cottage, and watch Lily kneel over her flowers and hum to herself. He would sip his coffee and listen to the birds chirp; the sky was clear and blue and the weather was pleasant. He was unsure of where the Dementors went, but they seemed to have retreated when the rest of the Dark side backed off.
It was like the calm before the storm. It was somewhat unsettling, yet impossible not to enjoy. Even in the wake of the death of a loved one, James could smile at his wife’s graceful figure and think that it was a wonderful day to be alive.
His three friends continued to visit and share meals with them. He felt happy. He had everything he wanted, in the midst of a war, after all. He had friends and family, he had money. He was with the girl he loved, and he felt he was doing something in the war to be proud of.
It was while he was thinking about the war’s progress and chewing on a small bite of cake (Lily had gotten remarkably better at baking the Muggle way) that Peter Pettigrew suddenly brought about the realisation at how far they had come so far.
“It has already been nearly a year since we left Hogwarts,” said the young man brightly. Peter often wore casual business wear these days, usually coming straight over from his side job as a salesman in Diagon Alley. His attire sometimes made it hard for James to look at him and see the same boy, the one who’d always lacked confidence during their school years. Some of Peter’s chubbiness had faded away over time… When had he gotten to look so grown up?
James only looked at him, lost in thought. But Sirius grinned brightly and elbowed Remus, who was in the middle of taking a bite beside him and who nearly stabbed himself in the face with his loaded fork thanks to the prodding. Remus cast Sirius a scandalised look and brushed the crumbs off his shirt.
“We ought to have a party,” said Sirius, ignoring him.
“And invite who, Sirius, ourselves?” asked Lily with a laugh. “Half our class is more likely than not Death Eaters at the moment. And you, at least, never displayed any sort of fondness for the other half, save for the people sitting at this table.”
For a moment, Sirius only stared at her. Then he turned to James. “Prongs,” he said in a businesslike tone.
“Yes, Padfoot?” replied James, equally elegant.
“Would you please tell Evans that if she is going to spend time with us Marauders, she can’t be ruining all our plans?”
James rolled his eyes and turned to Lily. “Evans,” he started to repeat.
“Shut up, Potter,” she interrupted him with ease. “One of these days, you won’t be able to call me Evans anymore. And then what are you going to do?”
James appeared to think about it, scratching his head and rumbling his hair. “One of these days,” he countered. “When you say Potter, you’ll be talking to yourself as well. Did you ever think that that would happen? Who knew that, all those years, you’ve been saying your own future last name with such disgust?”
“Lily Potter,” she murmured, cutting her fork through her cake. “Lily Evans Potter.”
Remus smiled. “Have you two made any plans or set the date yet?” he asked.
“He hasn’t even got her a ring yet,” scowled Sirius in disgust. “Of course he hasn’t set a date…”
“He’s a terrible husband,” observed Peter in a mournful tone, though he was only teasing.
James narrowed his eyes. “Fiancée,” he corrected icily. He rather thought he would be a fantastic husband, whatever he was right now.
“You’re terrible at either,” grinned Sirius, kicking James under the table. He turned to Lily. “Has he told you what he plans on naming his future children?” he asked her brightly.
Lily immediately paled. “No,” she said hesitantly.
“No!” said James loudly. “Don’t tell her that!”
The other three burst into laughter, and Lily felt herself filling with dread. “How bad is it?” she asked fearfully.
Remus had to wipe away tears from his eyes. “Oh… Just silly little conversations we had as first years,” he choked out. James looked livid.
Sirius was practically rolling on the ground, clutching his sides. “Remember when those Muggle police pulled us over on the bike, James? Right before seventh year?”
James didn’t answer. He knew what was coming, and he only stared at Lily with a stony expression on his face, hoping she wouldn’t run away screaming when she heard it for herself.
“Remember when they asked for our names?” Sirius pressed on.
Because he was taking so long, and could barely be understood through his gasping and laughter, James frowned and finished the story. “Yes,” said James irritably. “And you stole my baby names. You told them Elvendork.”
Horror broke out across Lily’s face.
“And you said,” gasped Sirius, laughing himself into hysterics. “‘What’s nice about that one is it can be used for a boy or a girl!’”
James, now struggling not to laugh himself, turned sheepishly to Lily. Peter and Remus were already hiding their faces, in their arms, behind their napkins, or under the table, trying to contain their own laughter.
“You are not naming our future child Elvendork!” Lily insisted, eyes wide.
A chuckle escaped James. “We’ll see,” he promised.
The next Order of the Phoenix meeting was to address more about the approaching giants. It would be any day now, judging by the current speed at which they were moving. Of course, it was unpredictable as giants were. Sometimes they would get distracted by a small oceanfront town. Sometimes, they would even get distracted by their own selves, and vicious fights broke out among them, causing the lot of them to sit aside for days, even a week or more, nursing wounds and honouring their newest chief, or in their language, the Gurg.
Thus far, the giants had switched Gurgs nine times since they first began their journey towards England about a year before. Their progress was slow, and their numbers had already dwindled greatly simply by their own doing. They weren’t half the threat they were when they were first reported as being on the move. It seemed that, just as with the werewolves, Voldemort’s plans of using disposable creatures to do his fighting had backfired.
Gideon and Fabian were still monitoring the progress of the giants, and because their path and estimated arrival time changed fairly constantly, the Order meetings were still important for hearing the reports - even if nothing else currently seemed to be going on with the Dark side.
Things were going well enough, in fact, that much of Hogsmeade had opened it’s doors once more. Where, before, many of the shops had boarded up doors and windows and temporarily halted business transactions, due to the fact that there were literally no customers anymore, there was now hope. People actually walked the streets again. Hogwarts was considering allowing a year end visit to the town, with extra supervision, of course.
Caradoc Dearborn arrived early for the meeting. He had a couple of errands to run, and it was a nice day in June, he figured he might as well enjoy it prior to the meeting. He first stopped and had lunch at the newly reopened Three Broomsticks. The place was surprisingly crowded, and it appeared as though many people had missed the small pub while it was closed.
He had to drop off his dress robes at Gladrag’s Wizardwear for a patch job. He’d accidentally torn the sleeve at the Potter funeral, and he didn’t quite have the funds to buy brand new robes. One didn’t exactly make money working for the Order, after all, and the commitment to Dumbledore’s group made any other job more or less part time.
He also had plans to mail a birthday card to his brother, and as he didn’t have an owl of his own, the Post Office was also a place he planned to stop. Of course, he never made it quite that far.
Caradoc did not notice how one of the fellows in the Three Broomsticks eyed him carefully. In fact, he never even recognised the dark, mysterious man. Unlike some of his fellow Order members, he was not a Ministry employee. Whereas Alastor Moody would have known Augustus Rookwood as the stooped, curious fellow who worked in the Department of Mysteries, Caradoc had no idea and never really even looked twice at the man.
He thought nothing of it when, shortly after standing up to pay for his lunch, Rookwood did the same. He paid no attention to the fact that Rookwood threw a handful of coins upon the table, not even bothering to fully count it or get his change. Caradoc did not notice how the man seemed to be in a hurry, or how the beady eyes never left him.
Because the streets of Hogsmeade were decently busy and crowded after it had been so long, Caradoc also didn’t notice that the man followed, at a distance, to Gladrag’s.
It was only after he dropped off his robes and left the building, and was digging in his pockets for the card he meant to send out by post, that he became aware of a shadow lurking in the narrow alley. He stopped his cheery whistling and pushed his cap back on his head slightly, as he peered carefully at the movement. His hand slowly reached for his wand, as if fearful of frightening the thing into attack.
It did not matter, of course, for the shadow’s intention was to attack from the moment he had caught sight of Caradoc. He was faster.
“Imperio!” he hissed, his voice gravelly.
Caradoc hadn’t even stood a chance. His hand had nearly reached the inside of his cloak, nearly reached his wand, when he was stopped short by the spell. Instead, he dropped his hand numbly back to his side and smiled pleasantly instead.
Walk casually into the alley, so as not to draw attention, demanded a sudden voice.
Okay, he agreed with ease. And with a quick glance to be sure nobody was watching him, he started up his whistling once more and headed into the darkness.
Dumbledore drummed his fingers impatiently against the wooden lectern they had always used to hold their papers and other information whilst giving reports. There was one nearly identical to this one in Hogwarts, and most of the Order seemed to assume that Dumbledore owned them both, and kept this one here specifically for meetings.
“Caradoc is late,” said the old man.
The rest of the Order looked around as if to confirm the third empty chair among them. Then they looked solemnly back at Dumbledore.
It was easy, this time, to make excuses. The threat of Voldemort wasn’t hovering over them all. The Dementors and their depressing auras weren’t heavy in the air, making people automatically assume the worst about everything.
“Perhaps he forgot,” said Alice.
“That isn’t like him,” disagreed Dorcas, who, along with Benjy, the Prewetts, and the deceased McKinnons, had spent her Hogwarts years being good friends with Caradoc.
Frank shrugged at Dorcas. “Mistakes happen,” he answered for his wife. “With no sign currently of the Dark side, I think it would be fairly unlikely that anything bad has happened to him…”
Dorcas and the twins exchanged frowns, but didn’t argue the subject. Their glances were noticed by Dumbledore, however, for it seemed impossible to ever get anything past the wise old man.
“Perhaps Caradoc is safe and sound,” the Professor said. “He may well be cheerfully ignoring us and choosing to enjoy this beautiful summer day instead. However, he is one of us, and when one of us hasn’t shown up in the past, we have gone to check on that person. I think it would be best if we postpone our planning to counter the giants and see if we can’t find our friend.”
Gideon and Fabian were on their feet and ready to go before Dumbledore was even finished talking.
Caradoc had been trained against the Imperius Curse. He knew how to fight it - all of the Order members knew how to fight it, and were perfectly capable of doing so. But this one had caught him off guard. They had all been warned during their training that it would be different if the curse was cast on the field. That it would come out of nowhere, and they wouldn’t expect it. They wouldn’t have the time to mentally prepare themselves against it as they did when knowingly practicing against it.
It took quite a while for Caradoc to gain the strength to fight back. As Rookwood Disapparated with him, ordered him to shut his eyes so he couldn’t see, ordered him here, ordered him there, Caradoc did it all without protest.
But now there was a feeling of unease growing in his mind, as they entered a dark house deep in a forest. He didn’t know where he was anymore, and he was forbidden from looking. In fact, he wasn’t even sure who he was at this point. He tried to count the number of steps in all three flights of stairs that they climbed, but couldn't wrap his mind around the task while still under the spell.
They entered a room smelling slightly of mildew and dust. The floorboards creaked. Caradoc shivered.
Sit down in the chair, said the same familiar voice he had been listening to for the last hour.
Now this was too much. How was he supposed to sit when he wasn’t even allowed to open his eyes to see anything? Oddly enough, it was the small but startling fear of falling those few short feet if he missed the chair that caused him to suddenly pause and have stronger doubts.
I can’t see where to sit, he thought to himself, several times, almost in a panic.
Do NOT open your eyes repeated the voice. Sit, it insisted again.
But Caradoc didn’t sit. He hesitated some more, his eyes shut. Standing in the narrow doorway, waiting impatiently for his obedience, Rookwood scowled. He pulled his wand out and aimed it at Caradoc, who stood fidgeting in the centre of the dark room, in front of the small chair.
“I said sit,” he growled angrily.
Quite clearly, Caradoc replied, “I said I couldn't see the chair.” He opened his eyes then, and pulled his wand out of the inside of his robes.
Rookwood, momentarily stunned by the defiance, faltered a moment. The spell that Caradoc sent his way was nonverbal, and all Rookwood could really do against it was throw up a quick shield. As soon as the spell had been absorbed, he dodged a second spell, and then quickly flashed a nonverbal spell back in return.
Caradoc’s wand flew from his fingertips. He lunged, making to grab for it in mid air as it sailed towards Rookwood.
Seeing what he was trying to do, the stooped man stepped forward quickly and flung his leg into the air, making impact with Caradoc’s chest. They both were thrown off balance by the collision, both of them falling backwards onto the hard wooden floorboards in the dark room. With a clatter, the wand rolled away into a dark corner; Rookwood hadn’t caught it in the sudden scuffle.
Caradoc had the breath knocked out of him. He gasped for air now; he had heard his wand, and he quickly got to his knees and threw himself wildly towards it.
“Crucio!“ came the sudden shout.
And he was stopped short again, curling into a ball on the ground in agony. It was as if the very blood in his veins were on fire. When the spell was lifted after what seemed an eternity, Rookwood stood over him and stared sternly.
“You’re going to make this difficult, aren’t you?” he said impatiently.
Caradoc didn’t respond. It was all he could do to slowly relax his arms and legs, where they fell limp upon the floor as he gasped for breath. The spell was, perhaps, gone, but the ache remained and he didn’t dare to move again.
“Now, I said to sit in the chair,” growled Rookwood, leaning closer, whispering the threats into his ear.
With great difficulty, Caradoc managed to get to his knees and haul himself to the chair. Instantly, he felt a tightening around his chest and legs, holding him there. He struggled against it, ignoring the lingering pain of the curse, but he was helpless.
“You will wait here,” said Rookwood. “You will not make any noise.” With that, he shot a silencing spell towards the prisoner. “I will be back shortly. With somebody who would like to meet you, most likely. You should be honoured...”
Much to Caradoc’s displeasure, he did not forget to retrieve the wand from where it had rolled into the corner. And without it, there was nothing Caradoc could do as he was magically bound to the chair. He listened hard as Rookwood’s footsteps retreated down the flight of stairs, and he wondered vaguely where he was. He could guess who was interested in speaking to him, and could probably get it right on his first try.
Who else? The Dark Lord. Lord Voldemort. He was a member of the Order. The Order’s cover was slowly being pulled away, first with the McKinnons. He still thought Edgar’s murder was a random act on a prominent person, rather than an attack on the Order. But now it was his turn. Perhaps he had been watched in the past. Perhaps they had figured out that he was one of them. Maybe this was why the Dark side had suddenly fallen back and stopped attacking - because maybe they knew they needed to take out Dumbledore’s small army first.
“Dear God,” he mouthed, for the silencing spell didn't allow him to make any noise. He glanced towards the ceiling. It was so dark in the room, he could make out little more than the ghostly white cobwebs across the rafters. “Please don’t let me say anything I don’t want to say…”
Caradoc’s flat in London was empty. He certainly wasn’t there, oversleeping or lounging around, forgetful, as they had hoped. Gideon and Fabian inspected the doors and windows, and there were no signs of magic or forced entry of any sort. They looked closely at the floors, because if Caradoc had been attacked by somebody, perhaps a dirty footprint or something may have been left. There was nothing.
The flat was tidy, though crowded, with fifteen of them crowded into it. There was nothing on the counters, and no dirty dishes in the sink.
“Hmm,” said Fabian, taking note of it. He peered into the garbage, but there appeared to be no remnant of any food or anything. “The sink is dry, so he hasn’t recently done his dishes. There’s no food scraps in the rubbish bin.” He turned to the rest of the Order. “Do you suppose he’s gone out for lunch?”
Peter rolled his eyes. “Couldn’t he have just cleaned his dishes by magic? Who cares if the sink is dry, honestly?”
Fabian scowled. “Shut up, Pettigrew. Even magical cleaning creates soap and bubbles. Would you like me to demonstrate the Scourgify charm on your mouth?”
Peter pursed his lips together tightly and stepped slightly behind James.
“Well, maybe Peter has a point,” said James quickly. “Caradoc could have used magic to dry the sink up, as well…” he finished lamely.
“Right, Potter,” snorted Fabian. “When was the last time you saw anybody take the time to dry their sink? Water dries quickly enough on it’s own. Most people aren’t that anal about it… Caradoc certainly isn’t. In fact, normally I don’t think he’d have done the dishes at all until later in the evening, after he’s had dinner as well.”
James only shrugged, casting Peter an apologetic look.
Dorcas entered the room then, carrying what looked like a plastic wardrobe bag. “This was on the bed,” she said. “It’s empty. I don’t think Caradoc owned anything worth keeping in one of these, save for his dress robes.”
Gideon’s eyes suddenly widened. “He tore his dress robes at James’s father’s funeral,” he blurted suddenly. Everyone turned to look at him, and so he further explained himself, looking sheepish for his outburst. “Well, technically, it was after… He came over to our sister’s house with us. To Molly’s. We had tea and stayed for dinner… Anyway, he ripped the elbow when we were arm wrestling. Flexed too much,” he added under his breath, trying not to laugh.
James tried to ignore the fact that, while his family was mourning the loss of their patriarch, other people were getting along just fine, having fun and playing around. It would be ridiculous for him to become upset over such a thing, of course, but it suddenly hit him like a ton of bricks that, no matter who leaves the world, life does go on just fine without them.
(It was almost a sad realisation.
He could tell by Sirius’s suddenly vacant expression that he had, perhaps, had the same thought.)
“Very good, indeed,” interrupted Dumbledore. “So we have deduced that Caradoc most likely did not eat lunch, or at least not here, and that perhaps he went out to have his robes patched.”
Elphias Doge, Dumbledore’s long time friend who often remained silent, conversing mostly with Moody, Dedalus Diggle and Dumbledore, and previously Edgar, suddenly spoke up.
“Well then,” he said. “We need only to figure out whether he went to Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. And I’d bet anything he went to Hogsmeade, what with the Order meeting happening and all.”
“Ah,” agreed Dumbledore lightly. In the aftermath of their discoveries and the theory that Caradoc was likely just running errands, he did not seem upset or worried in the slightest. “To Hogsmeade we go, then.”
His face was almost too terrible to even look at. At first glance, Caradoc had to look quickly away, which caused a rather smug glint in Voldemort’s red eyes.
“Caradoc Dearborn,” said the evil man. His voice was high pitched and raspy, like nothing Caradoc had ever heard before. His blood, which had previously been on fire from the Cruciatus Curse, instantly ran cold at the sound of it. “Look at me!” the voice demanded.
A sheen of cold sweat broke out upon Caradoc’s forehead, just around the rim of the cap that he always wore. He couldn’t look, however, as terror gripped him. Even Voldemort’s breath, his snakelike face so close to Caradoc’s own, was like ice.
Voldemort straightened, then. “I said, Look at me!” he hissed, pointing his wand in Caradoc’s face.
To his horror, Caradoc felt his face suddenly turning towards Voldemort against his will. He tried to squeeze his eyes shut, but couldn’t. He tried to avert his gaze elsewhere - over the demon’s shoulder, for instance, or off to the side - but couldn’t.
The face was pale. The eyes were red and cruel, heartless. This man showed no mercy, ever. He had nothing to lose, and he didn’t care. And that realisation, perhaps, was more frightening than anything else. There was nothing to save Caradoc. There was nothing Voldemort would be willing to trade. There was no reason to keep Caradoc alive; in fact, there was more reason to kill him, now that he might possibly know where he was, and could pass that along to the Order.
But he’d kept his eyes shut, he thought wildly as he was forced to stare upon the Dark Lord. He had no idea where he was. He couldn’t tell anybody anything.
“Hmm,” mused Voldemort, after staring Caradoc in the eye for a moment. He straightened and stroked his smooth chin thoughtfully. “Would you be willing to join my service in exchange for your life?”
Caradoc scowled, feeling suddenly brave at being offered something that he hated. “No,” he spat out in disgust.
“Your choice,” said Voldemort carelessly. “You will, however, provide me with what I need before you are disposed of.”
Dumbledore’s face suddenly appeared in Caradoc’s mind. It came out of nowhere, nearly taking him by surprise. Marlene’s face came next, and that was the jolt that gave him what he needed. Hadn’t he been the one who had trained the newest members in Occlumensy? Hadn’t he been the one to teach them to clear their minds to defend themselves against Voldemort’s weapon of Legilimency?
“No,” he suddenly growled through gritted teeth. He focused on the dark, wooden room around him. It looked like the attic of an old house. He memorised the intricate patters of the wooden floors. He took in the violet skies as dusk began to settle over Britain. He noted that there were exactly thirty one cobwebs up in the rafters.
All of these things swam before his mind now, cutting Voldemort’s trespassing off.
Voldemort drew back then, looking irritated. He surveyed Caradoc for a moment and then twitched his wand. “Crucio,” he said lazily.
The fire erupted in Caradoc’s veins again, and he tried to stifle his cry. After several long seconds of enduring it, however, his pain tried to escape through his screams. Voldemort brought the wand closer, pressed it against the side of his head. At the touch, the pain seemed to suddenly focus there.
Caradoc thought his head might explode. He wondered, if the wand was pressed hard enough against his skin, whether the curse might not do serious damage. Perhaps it would even kill him. A frantic thought, a vision of him suddenly jerking his head towards the wand, forcing it to press even harder, forcing it to possibly kill him, passed through his mind.
He was never suicidal. He had always loved life. But if it was death or betrayal of his friends and the Order and the rest of the magical world, he would rather take death.
As if suddenly aware of his thoughts, Voldemort pulled the wand away.
Caradoc, still tied to the chair, could do nothing but pant in agony. Even the sweat rolling down his forehead burned his skin. He was too weak with pain to even look up and meet the Dark Lord’s face again. Not that that was a bad thing.
“Severus,” said Voldemort then, breaking the silence. At the name, one of the Death Eaters, tall and thin and cloaked, stepped forward. Caradoc was surprised to see at least five Death Eaters in the room - he hadn’t noticed them at first when faced with Voldemort.
“Fetch me a vial of Veritaserum,” said Voldemort softly.
Severus bowed and left the room.
Caradoc’s mouth hung open slightly, too out of it to even think to shut it. He frantically tried to wrap his mind around what was happening. He tried to remember what he was supposed to be keeping a secret. He tried to remind himself what could happen if secrets of the Order were leaked out.
And then he realised that the Veritaserum would leave him with no options. He would truthfully answer whatever question was asked of him. And with his arms bound behind the back of his chair, he couldn’t even think of a way to fake drinking it and put on a show.
His breathing quickened in desperation as he heard the sounds of Severus coming up the stairs again. When the Death Eater entered the room, Caradoc’s eyes zeroed in on the small vial of clear liquid. Desperate, silent sobs racked his frame, suddenly, as he realised now what was going to happen.
He refused to open his mouth, and so, with the assistance of Voldemort’s wand, it was opened for him. The potion was poured in. He tried to spit it back in Severus’s face, but he was forced to swallow. And after they waited a moment for the potion to take effect, the questions began to come.
“Now, Dearborn. I would like for you to tell me who is in Dumbledore’s Order of the Phoenix.”
“He was here,” said Rosmerta, the waitress at the Three Broomsticks. “Had a shepherd’s pie and tea. Straight as an arrow, that man,” she added wryly.
“Did he have anything with him?” asked Fabian.
Rosmerta appeared to think for a moment. “He had a folded bit of clothing. A robe, perhaps. It was black.”
Several minutes later, they were standing on front of an old man, likely a descendent of Gladrag. They were surrounded by robes and socks and scarves and various other bits of clothing.
“Oh yes, I remember him,” muttered the man irritably. He pulled out a folded parcel and dropped it lightly onto the counter. “Wanted a patch job. He told me he’d pick it up in a couple of hours, that he had a meeting to attend to. Never came back.”
The Order members exchanged glances. Dumbledore examined a pair of striped socks.
The man behind the counter didn’t appear to grasp their worry. He surveyed them all with his hands on his hips for a moment and then said in exasperation, “Somebody owes me money for this patch job!”
Benjy dug in his pockets and threw some coins at the man. “Thanks,” he said hurriedly, grabbing the parcel from the counter top.
Moments later, they were all outside. In the light of one of the street lamps, Dumbledore suddenly turned towards the alley. At first, nobody noticed him, but as their leader began to walk steadily towards the dark area, all worried chatter ceased and everyone watched curiously.
Dumbledore smacked his lips in the darkness. Then he reached a hand out, shook back the sleeve of his robe, and touched the side of the brick building. He sniffed the air carefully, and at last turned to look at his group.
“Somebody has used magic here,” he said.
You might recognise the whole "Elvendork" thing from JKR's short 'prequel' to the Harry Potter series. Though hilarious, I take no credit for that.
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