Chapter 6 : 6- The Edge of Desperation
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The unforgiving smell of the salty sea cascaded over Cecilia with every wave as she walked promptly through the harbour her army had settled in. With every day they grew stronger. Naldo had done more than his fair share in building their numbers with a combination of volunteers and Imperiused so that now it was the Wizards and Witches who outnumbered the Imperiused Muggles slaving away for them.
“Where is he?” She asked a blue robed member of the Nightcrawlers as she turned onto the seafront. He pointed towards the building of a large white cafe before bowing as she strode passed, her long brown hair billowing in the sea-breeze.
Two Wizards guarding the entrance to the building halted Cecilia at her approach. “Stand down.” She ordered. “I have business with Cadmir.”
The two guards looked at one another uncertainly. “Look,” Cecilia sighed. “I don’t care what Mosby has to say to him and I need hardly remind you that you’re in my territory now so stand aside before I order as many men as I’d like to force you out of my way.”
One of the Wizards bowed his head quickly with his partner catching on and mimicking him. “Yes ma’am. But, just so you know, it wasn’t the Minister who had business with him.”
Cecilia’s darkly brown eyes narrowed in a flash at the two making them recoil backwards. She marched past them and forced open the cafe doors. The shop was completely abandoned but for three people, two men and a woman, sat at the centre table. One of the men was stick thin with grey tinged skin and long silvery hair draping around his pointed face, his almond shaped silver eyes boring into the two people opposite him. Sat staring back at Cadmir Borlov were two stumpy lookalikes with short brown hair atop their paunchy heads and the exact same malicious grin on their round faces.
“Cade, Morgana,” Cecilia greeted as she moved closer to their table. “And to what do we owe the pleasure?”
“Just some information gathering.” Cade said in a cold nasally voice, still staring at Cadmir. “The latest mission from Mosby and the War Council has been handed to me and I do like to know what I’m walking into.”
“Handed to you?” Cecilia asked, a small smile creeping up onto her face. “I didn’t think the Council was that desperate.”
Morgana’s head jolted to face Cecilia so quickly at this comment, she was shocked not to hear any cracking sounds from the twin’s neck. “After Benjin’s failure, the Council decided that only those within our circle should head such important tasks and as Head of our own Auror Office they naturally saw my brother as the only choice.”
“Naturally.” Cecilia replied with a smile. “And what important task have they asked of your brother that requires him to take up the time of my second in command?”
“Unfortunately that’s a need to know basis, Cecilia.” Cade answered, finally tearing his gaze away from Cadmir to meet hers. “Unless, of course, you’d consider joining me.”
Cecilia raised an eyebrow. “The Council have already tasked me with the invasion of France, as I’m sure you’ll know as a… valued member of our circle.” She finished, catching Morgana’s eye with a hint of mockery.
“We could do it together.” Cade said, ignoring the blatant slur and standing from his chair. “Mosby has granted me an army comprised of all those who’ve joined us over the past few days and together I’m sure-”
“Comprised of untested and untrustworthy sneak-ins?” Cecilia interrupted though Cade merely smiled at her.
“Mosby has also given me command of a number of guards to make sure everyone stays in line.” Cade boasted but before Cecilia could press the matter further, he pressed “But imagine it Cecilia, with our armies combined we could flatten any Ministry who stands in our way.”
“So it is a Ministry you’re heading for.” Cecilia said, her eyes narrowed at the man who barely stood at her shoulder’s height.
“It is.” Cade admitted gracefully.
“Then I would have thought that Mosby would have given you the numbers you already need. Why bother joining our forces when we could follow our orders and conquer separately?”
“I would have thought you’d appreciate that I daren’t overestimate the Confederation, regardless of their current condition.” Cade’s bright brown eyes then turned to Cadmir. “Is that not why you have spent the past number of days preparing your already formidable force?”
“The French Ministry is home to all those who-”
“Come Cecilia,” Cade interrupted with an impatient sigh. “You and I both know why you really sail for France and I can tell you Potter isn’t there.” The grin from Cecilia’s face fell instantly at the mention of Harry Potter’s name. “From what Felicia has told us he never left Romania after his rescue of Chingis’ kid and remained to help the resistance there.”
Cecilia stared at Cade, her eyes wide and her mind whirring while Cade examined every inch of her whitening face. “You didn’t know, did you?” He said slyly. Cecilia didn’t answer. “Are you really so narrow minded on building your force that you’ve ignored all of our reports?”
Cecilia remained quiet though she noticed Cadmir’s head rise up at this last remark and stare at her incredulously.
“What could you possibly have in writing that would be so important that-”
“Giants.” Cade interrupted with an unpleasant smile.
Cadmir stood up at this. “What?”
“The Confederation have made an alliance with the Giants. They sent one to Kemstin to aid the Polish. I wish I could tell you it was killed during the fight but…” Cade shrugged. “What does it matter? In the end one Giant alone won’t make the difference?
“So what’s Mosby’s plan for-?” Cadmir started but Cade merely tapped his finger on his nose.
“Need to know.” Cade whispered.
“Well unless you plan on giving me any useful information, I believe you have no more business here.” Cecilia snapped at him.
Cade stared at her with narrowed eyes before indicating his twin to follow him. “Very well.” He said as the two began their way out. “I’ll be sure to give Potter your regards before I kill him.”
Cecilia didn’t dare grace him with a response as the stumpy siblings barged through the double doors and Disapparated with an echoing crack.
“You haven’t been reading their reports?” Cadmir said from behind Cecilia. It was the closest she’d ever heard him to being angry. “Look, I trust Mosby about as much as you do but ignoring freely given information is-”
“Do you truly believe for one moment that I haven’t read and re-read every single line of those blasted reports? Merlin knows I’ve had to with that atrocious handwriting and grammar; no wonder these people turned to crime.”
Any anger that Cadmir had towards Cecilia vanished instantly. “You wanted to know what he was doing.” He said.
“That oaf can’t help but show off what he knows regardless of what he can or can’t say.” Cecilia spat.
“So you knew of the Giants and of Potter and told us nothing?” Cadmir swept into view in front of her.
“If Potter isn’t there when we arrive he will be the moment he finds out about us.” Cecilia replied tartly. “As for the Giants...” Her eyes moved to glance up at him. “Well, there’s a reason Meng Jour was one of the first Selwyn contacted and I know it just as well as Mosby and Cade do.”
Cadmir’s grey eyes widened before pressing “But should he fail?”
Cecilia smiled and almost laughed as she looked up at her taller ally. “Then we’ll have to kill a few Giants as well as Harry Potter.” She said nonchalantly. “When, of course, we are ready.”
“The tests have been one failure after another Cecilia.” Cadmir spat in frustration. “At this rate we’ll never make it to France.”
Cecilia slowly delved her hand into her robe pocket and pulled out a small blue orb. The swirling colours within were hypnotising to watch though even Cadmir was aware of the true power of the Amythest Orb. “These Orbs are the reason the Scandinavian Ministry fell; the reason Potter’s little helper was able to defeat Marius Yvault. If we can disenchant the charm the Confederation use for inactivating them-”
“It would help us immensely.” Cadmir finished. “But the question of when or even if we can undo their enchantment is still one that holds us down.”
“According to the Ministry records, George Weasley was able to create that spell within twelve hours of discovering our little secret.” Cecilia said through gritted teeth as she stared into the swirling mass of colour within the crystal orb. “Are you honestly telling me that there isn’t a Witch or Wizard among us who, given no time-limit, can possibly break the spell?”
Although Cecilia didn’t look at him she could hear his uncomfortable shuffles. “We are trying some less conventional spells this evening. Perhaps they will expose more favourable results.”
Cecilia nodded signalling Cadmir to take his leave. He had just reached the door when he turned to face her and said “You do not wish to know what Cade wanted of me?”
Cecilia finally looked up from the Orb to meet his gaze with a flicker of a smile. “He wanted to speak with you after Mosby had ordered him to attack a Ministry; I can work the finer details out for myself.”
I suggest using their weaknesses against them, the flaws in their chains. I think you’ll find they have more than enough of them.
Cadmir’s final words to Marietta rang in her head as she sat huddled in the darkened corner of a large room. Her exploration of the entire Department of Mysteries alone had taken her two days but it was clear that Dolores Umbridge had not hidden her mother here nor anywhere else within the Ministry of Magic according to the building plan tucked away within her robes.
Were she in any other state of mind, she would have found the many contents of the abandoned Department a wonder to behold; from the glittering Hall of Prophesies to the infamous and ancient Death Chamber, but the crushing sensation pressing down on her chest appeared to have sapped the wonderment from her. Even in the darkened room she in sat where the subject matter appeared to be time itself was not enough to stir any form of curiosity within her. In truth, even the Dementors placed in charge of the security of the Ministry, whose mere presence drained the warmth from any atmosphere, no longer affected her as they once did.
But what was the flaw Umbridge’s chain? What was her weakness?
Does she even have one? A grim voice in her head asked. She has a weakness. Marietta stated to herself. She has to.
Forcing herself to get up, Marietta drew from her pocket a long, thin quill and her wand. With a single tap, the quill glowed a brilliant shade of bright blue before vanishing with her with a small pop.
When her Portkey had brought her back to her office, no sooner had Marietta’s eyes adjusted to the change in light when there was a series of loud thuds at her locked door.
She waved her wand and the door swung open to reveal a large, round man with a shag of black hair atop his triple chinned head.
“Goyle.” Marietta greeted flatly. “What does Umbridge require today? For me to write out your reports of my comings and goings for you?”
Goyle’s beady eyes twitched at the slant and his thick fingered hand opened and closed into fists. “Madam Umbridge has insisted on the latest list of illegal Portkeys used to attempt entering the country.” He said in a hoarse voice.
“Has she?” Marietta muttered. “Avalin!” Immediately a scrawny looking Witch opened the door behind Goyle. “Avalin here will see to you.” Marietta said with a feigned smile. Goyle stared at her for a moment before turning to follow the sallow Witch out of the office.
Waving her wand again once they had left, Marietta bolted the office door closed before reclining into her chair with a sigh. How was she going to track down her mother now? Using Portkeys within the Ministry building was easy enough to pass off as routine practice whether Marietta registered them or not, but to use them to journey out of the building would surely draw the attention of someone and if that someone ran to Umbridge or was Umbridge herself… well, the whereabouts of her mother would be the least of Marietta’s worries.
What is her weakness? Marietta thought to herself in frustration. Umbridge was cocky, but careful. She had few friends if any on the Council, though Marietta doubted that any would openly turn on Umbridge. She was manipulative yet those loyal to her seemed incompetent in Marietta’s mind.
Goyle knew the location of her mother, Marietta knew, for it had been his task to retrieve her when Umbridge had first threatened her. But even if Marietta got to Goyle, what would she do with him? Or, even more pressing, what would she do with him that Umbridge couldn’t discover?
Marietta massaged her temple, hoping to alleviate some of the pain pounding in her skull. What would an Auror do? She found herself thinking though she felt sick with herself afterward for Harry Potter then forced his way into her mind. It was thanks to him that Umbridge thought Marietta to be a traitor in the first place but now it was possible that both her and her mother’s life rested on whether or not she could think like him.
Well, for a start, Potter has friends, she thought bitterly though it was true enough. The intelligence of Hermione, the loyalty of Ron and the support of his wife Ginny were all at Potter’s disposal and that was just the tip of the iceberg for she hadn’t even started on the numerous Aurors that were at his command.
Marietta thought of what she had but that just made her feel, if possible, even worse. No friends, no family and although she did in fact Head her own entire Department of Wizards and Witches she trusted the lot of them about as far as she could throw them. Even the thought of approaching any one of them about taking on Minister Mosby’s Senior Undersecretary would be about as useful as contemplating suicide.
There were those on the outside who resisted Mosby’s regime but, thanks to the swift ruthlessness of the newly recruited Dementors, they were becoming fewer and weaker by the day. Not that any rebel would want anything to do with Marietta anyway; after all she was the one who had planted an Erumpent Horn beneath a Quidditch stadium full of people.
Marietta couldn’t help but laugh sadly to herself. So what she was looking for was someone with the skills of an Auror with no love for the Dark Wizards and was able to overlook Marietta’s past that wasn’t currently fighting said Dark Wizards in another country.
Marietta quickly brushed aside the tear of frustration that had just appeared when all of a sudden an idea struck the back of her head. She froze at her desk like a statue though the thought set her heart going with both fear and a small amount of excitement.
The idea was treacherous to say the least and the discovery of her plan would bring Marietta death without question from any Witch or Wizard in this place that caught her. But its success, its uncertain yet precious success would bring her an ally in the form of a highly trained and currently imprisoned American Auror.
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