When you get woken up at 3 in the morning, it is never a good thing.
It was raining heavily, so I was drifting in and out of sleep anyway. I turned on the light, pulled a sweatshirt over my head and grabbed my wand. As I left my bedroom, I also snatched my Muggle pistol, sitting in its place, hidden inside a James Bond book.
‘Who is it?’
‘Agent Dalton, it is the MI5.’
I snorted. ‘Not bloody likely-’
The door- which was covered in two Muggle locks (Wizards raised in Muggle orphanages tend to use Muggle equipment more) and three spells against anyone without my wand coming in- simply disappeared.
Just like that. It was gone.
‘I told you,’ I said, crossly, folding my arms. ‘I have resigned.’
'We'll see about that.'
'You can't just force your way into my home, completely deny me of a door, and then tell me I'm working for your ridiculous cooperation, sending me around the world, spying on god knows who-'
'Actually, Agent Dalton, I can.'
'I ALMOST DIED FROM THE LAST MISSION! GETTING SHOT OUT AND FALLING OUT OF AN OLD CASTLE IN BLOODY WALES! I WAS IN ST MUNGOS FOR AGES!'
'You're a very talented field agent, Dalton. And one of our only women agents, which makes you more important to us then you think.'
I snorted. 'I'll show you important, you heartless maniac of a-'
He interrupted me. ‘Nobody resigns from the MI5, Agent Dalton.’
He was one man, tall, with a large nose and vivid blue eyes. My boss, Goldstein, was not an affectionate man, nor was he a kind man. He was a business man, as patriotic as you can get without being the Queen, yet his heart only beat for Britain, as he had no other love in his life. He had no other life than his love, which was serving his country.
I sighed. ‘Shall I put the kettle on, sir?’
He nodded, and walked into my living room, sitting himself down on my favourite chair.
‘So basically, Agent Dalton,’ said Goldstein, stirring his cup of tea, ‘The MI5 don’t recognise you as resigned. You’re only 26, for Christ’s sake.’
‘Exactly,’ I protested. ‘I’m 26. I want to have a life. You can’t make me serve you anymore.’
‘Well actually, Agent Dalton,’ said Goldstein, smiling slightly, ‘your contract, signed a few months after you were out of Hogwarts, aged 18, lasts for eight years. It doesn’t terminate until November, and, Agent Dalton, its July. We have full ownership of you for four months. So yes, we can make you serve.’
I looked at him, in his crisp black suit, his white shirt, and his dull grey tie. The only colourful thing about his were his eyes- even his hair was a greyish colour, every strand the same shade.
My clock read 2:42. It was a Saturday morning. Why on earth was he in my apartment, fully dressed? I was feeling awkward, to say the least.
‘Okay, fine, Goldstein. But I bet you didn’t come all the way here, at this hour, to alert me of a mere four months.’
‘You’re correct, Dalton. I came here to tell you to be in headquarters by seven, this morning. Pack enough clothes to last you two weeks; casual clothes, for warm weather. Remember to pack smart clothing as well, and anything else you’ll need to spend two weeks in the Quidditch Golden Village-’
‘You’ll be briefed on your assignment when you arrive. If you bothered to turn up at work in the past few weeks, you’d know perfectly well what’s happening.’
‘I’m spending two weeks in the Quidditch Golden Village?!’ I cried, excitedly.
‘It depends on whether you turn up or not. I’ll see you at seven,’ he said, crisply.
And then with a loud crack, vanished.
‘Bugger,’ I muttered.
I am so sorry. Before you blow up my apartment, please read this letter thoroughly and remember that I love you soooooooooo much.
I can’t come to your wedding. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! It’s to do with work; you know I wouldn’t miss it for the world, but unfortunately, this is bigger than the world. You know I've been looking forward to it since Kieran popped the question.
I wish I could tell you, but I can’t.
I’ll make it up to you. I promise.
I love you.
Send my best to Kieran,
Ps- I’ll make it up to you. I SWEAR.
‘What you writing there?’
I looked up, and smiled.
‘Oh Nate,’ I said, massaging my temples. ‘I only have to explain, by owl, why I can’t go to Kirsty’s wedding, because of this fucking mission.’
‘Bummer.’ He sat opposite me, and passed me a coffee. I eagerly sipped it; it was lukewarm.
We were on a Wizoplane, travelling at god knows how many miles per hour, but enough to get us from London to Washington DC in four hours. We normally travelled by Portkey, or Apparition, but because we’re crossing time zones, MI5 thought it would be safer to take the longer route, which obviously, pissed off Goldstein.
‘We’re wasting valuable time here,’ he repeated, as he walked up and down the small, oval lounge. There were six of us on board; Goldstein, me, Nate- who was also a field agent, and my best friend; Laurie, a 19 year old genius, the youngest of our unit and, whilst sweet and cute, had the social skills of a dead slug; Kate, a 30-something Scottish woman who worked as a secretary, and Johnson, Goldstein's assistant, the final man from our unit flying to America.
‘Oh calm down, yer mekkin’ me nerves go jumpy,’ said Kate, reading the Daily Prophet.
‘Agents Jordan and Dalton. Are you sure you don’t want to go over the assignment one last time?’ asked Goldstein, his eyebrows furrowed.
‘Yes, sir,’ said Nate, drumming his fingers on the table in between us. ‘We’ve got it.’
We had spent four hours being briefed on it this morning. The Quidditch players of the Quidditch World Cup 2030 were residing in the Golden Village, a state-of-the-art block for the Quidditch players to socialise and relax during the Cup. Only the seven players, a companion of each players’ choice, and the coach of each international team could stay there, and it was the place to be this summer. Quidditch celebrities, such as James Potter, playing as Chaser for England, were pictured in magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, with his other teammates, dining and practising in the lead up for the Games, in the past two weeks.
But, as of last Tuesday, players started going missing. There were no trends, Goldstein told us, nothing to link any of the missing players together, apart from the fact that they were Quidditch players. There were no traces of where they had gone, no fingerprints, no spells- nothing.
So Nate and I were going in to investigate. Nate was going in as the best friend of Harry Kent, the England Keeper, and I was going in as the girlfriend of the mentioned James Potter.
When Johnson handed us our portfolios, I had to bite my lip to prevent me laughing.
I was also told that I when we arrived, and both Nate and I went through our usual hair and make-up, my dark brown hair was going to be dyed blonde, my green eyes transformed to blue, and I was also going to be bumped up a bra size. Nate, on the other hand, was only having his dreadlocks cut off.
‘This is ridiculous,’ I said, whilst Nate howled with laughter. ‘When I had to seduce the President of Saudi Arabia, I didn’t have to change my physical appearance, just my skin tone-’
‘Yes, and look how well that turned out,’ said D. D was Goldstein’s boss. If Goldstein was in charge of this unit of the MI5- the International Affairs, it was called- then D was the name of the man in charge of connections between the Wizarding MI5 and the Auror office. And then a man called X was in charge of relationships between the Wizarding part of MI5 and the Muggle part of MI5.
‘We ended up freeing the vampires,’ I shot.
‘After exposing magic to the whole Saudi Arabian Muggle government. It took months to successfully wipe out the memory, Agent Dalton.’ What a barstard. I was suspended for four months of field work for that- it should have been a year, if the Minister hadn’t stepped in.
‘So giving Agent Dalton a different physique, apart from altering her face, will prevent a similar occurrence?’ asked Romany Lawrence, coldly. Romany Lawrence, Kate and me were the only females in the unit- and it was a big unit. And Kate wasn’t senior, she was just an assistant. Romany was a big one for feminism, and being not only a Muggleborn, but an orphan, like me, had a habit of acting like a work guardian, especially when talking to Goldstein.
‘It will also contribute to the act. It’s only a simple spell, and after the mission, Eve, I assure you, we can reverse it,’ said Laurie, earnestly.
‘Fine,’ I said, and Romany winked at me.
Four hours later, we had landed, right outside the WIA.
‘The WIA building is just outside Washington DC,’ recited Laurie, as we started getting our luggage out. Because we were in a different time zone, our wands weren’t yet registered; it would take a half hour for them to adjust, and that meant we had to do everything like Muggles.
‘I feel like a fekkin’ Squib,’ complained Kate.
‘And, like Hogwarts, they only see it as an old building warning them to keep out-’ continued Laurie, but then Johnson cut him off.
‘Unlike the MI5, which appears as the normal Muggle headquarters to Muggles, and one can only access our headquarters if they press the seventh button seven times with their wand,’ said Johnson, smugly.
‘However, unlike Hogwarts,’ said Laurie, ignoring Johnson, ‘it only appears as a small, shed-like room. They have dozens of space spells on it, as this is the only way to keep it so close to the Muggle Pentagon, without any Muggles being aware.’
‘I hate not bein’ able to use magic, me,’ said Kate, earnestly.
‘So do I,’ agreed Nate. ‘I don’t know how Muggles do it.’
‘Magic,’ I giggled, and Nate and Kate laughed.
‘I don’t get it,’ said Laurie, looking upset. Nate and I learnt that Laurie suffers from Asperger's syndrome, common among Muggleborn children especially. This made us very protective over Laurie.
‘That’s okay, baby,’ said Nate, in an American drawl, putting his arm around Laurie.
We boarded off the aeroplane by pop-out stairs, and stepped into glaring light. It was a hot, sunny summer’s day, only 11 in the morning in Washington. I got out my black Ray Bans from my rucksack, and put them on. Nate, in front of me, was attempting to roll up his white sleeves and dark denim jeans. I, on the other hand, packed in such a rush, the only clothes mildly appropriate to wear were baggy sand-coloured trousers and a cotton blouse, which were perfect for rolling up. Goldstein gave me a dirty look, but right now, I really didn't care.
Washington DC was way hotter than London.
‘Well if it isn’t my faaaaavourite Brits! And that’s spelt with no U, ladies and gentlemen.’ A man, walking out from the sleek glass building next to the Wizoplane, said this, with a thick American advert. He sounded like he was advertising sofa sales.
He was a tall man, and quite large, compared to skinny Goldstein. He was tanned, and wearing a white shirt tucked into jeans, with a large belt sticking out. I could tell by the absence of the ring on his finger that he wasn’t married; I could tell by his startling white teeth that this was a man that cared a lot about his physical appearance; I could tell by the pen marks on the side of his left hand that not only was he left-handed, but clumsy at writing, and obviously didn’t care about his physical appearance enough to wash his hand. This could show that by spending a lot of effort on his teeth, but not caring about the littler details, he had something to hide... His shoes were designer, but his shirt was a cheap cotton, and even though the sun was at its peak, he wasn’t wearing the sunglasses tucked into the top of his shirt.
I evaluated this in under a second of seeing him, and nodded at Nate, who was also making flash physical judgements.
‘Pete Bradley,’ said the man, his voice booming, shaking hands with Goldstein.
‘Anthony Goldstein,’ said Goldstein. Bradley was beaming, and Goldstein wasn’t even attempting a smile.
‘You’re an hour early,’ said Bradley, releasing Goldstein. ‘We weren’t expecting you until noon!’
Goldstein shrugged. ‘We’re always early.’
‘Well, isn’t that just dandy. Follow me, folks!’ yelled Bradley, making a patronizing arm gesture and walking in sync with Goldstein towards the building. Johnson was walking behind with Goldstein, gazing at the building, made entirely out of glass. Kate and Laurie were behind, and then there was Nate and I, taking up the rear.
‘We’re the kids in America, waaaaaow,’ I sang quietly.
‘I was thinking more along the lines of Party in the USA, but okay.’
Bradley didn’t stop talking, until we reached a room on the top floor. It was a massive room, rectangular, with three walls glass and one wall just metal. A table, with a rectangular clear glass bowl of water, sat in the middle of the table, rectangular to fit the room, and twenty seats were around it. Apart from seven, they were all sat in, but they rose when we walked in.
‘What’s the water for?’ asked Johnson.
‘It’s to remind of that, at the end of the day, we are neither Muggle nor Wizard, human or animal, but merely organisms, living off water,’ said a soothing voice from a woman. She was dark-skinned, and handsome-looking.
‘Everyone, these are the MI5 representatives. Please, take a seat.’ I sat down in between Nate and Laurie, mesmerized by the water. It reflected the midday sun, sending rainbows cross the gentle waves. The air was dead. Where did the waves come from?
‘So since the past Tuesday, five Quidditch players have been reported missing,’ boomed Bradley. ‘Johnny O’Hara, an Irish Chaser; Badu Ladhani, the Indian sub-Seeker; Qin Lang Tuo, a Chinese Chaser; Maria Da Costa, an Argentinian Keeper; and Lisa Scutto, a South-African sub-Chaser. They have left no trace of leaving, only an open window by their room-’
‘And most bedroom windows are open, due to the heat of the night,’ added a man.
‘Exactly. Their luggage and equipment remain, as do the rest of their roommates. Their roommates remain un-touched.’
‘We have evidence to show that they weren’t killed on site,’ said the dark-skinned woman, rising. ‘We have traced back every spell that has been used, and the only one used that could potentially injure, maim or kill was used by the Irish coach. When interviewed, he said he used a stupefying spell to wound a mouse; and when tracing back his wand, he was right.’ She stood up, and waved her wand. The windows blackened, and five clear holographic pictures appeared on the black windows, with their profile information next to them.
Scutto was a Muggleborn, so it clearly wasn’t a blood matter. That’s always the first thing we look out for. Then you look at the relationships; Ladhani was married, Da Costa was engaged, both to wizards. Their aged varied from 17 to 32, and their classes varied from Lang Tuo being described as ‘almost aristocratic’ to O’Hara coming from a working-class background. Scutto was a single mother, and Da Costa was beautiful. O’Hara had a criminal record; he spent a night in prison after a drunk fight at a pub aged 19, and Ladhani used to have an alcohol addiction. Lang Tuo smoked and Da Costa used to be anorexic.
They had nothing in common, from what I could see.
‘It’s as if the on-sub is deliberately trying to confuse us,’ said Johnson, drumming his fingers.
‘Exactly,’ said Bradley, enthusiastically. ‘Now with the Cup starting next Tuesday, we have three days to get to the bottom of this-’
‘How are you keeping this from the media?’ asked Goldstein, standing up, and walking to the profiles. ‘And what are you saying to the other Quidditch players?’
‘That they had to leave for personal reasons. It’s okay, all the teams have subs,’ said Bradley, brightly.
‘Is that really the urgency of this, Bradley?’ shot Goldstein. ‘That the show goes on?’
The Americans were looking at each other, uncomfortably.
‘Our priority is to keep the Quidditch World Cup a success,’ said one man, stubbornly.
‘The only reason why we’re here is because our ambassador told us, in casual conversation, how strange this is. No other countries know about it, and we wouldn’t have known about it, if Johnson didn’t decide to do a background check. And that was only because, by God, the man wanted to know if one of the missing people would benefit our chances of winning!’ Goldstein said this coldly, doing his best to intimidate Bradley. And it was working. Goldstein was all fired up.
‘It’s absurd how you haven’t looked into this-’
‘We have!’ cried Bradley.
‘That’s not good enough. I have a good mind to alert all the other governments about these missing people, Bradley. It’s clearly an organized crime, and judging by the mystery of their leaving, they’re intelligent. They don’t seem to have any national loyalty; the organization, or person, could be from anywhere on the group. You told me this morning that there was no way that anyone from outside the Golden Village could get in, so clearly it’s one of the players themselves or a member of staff working inside the Village.
‘Laurie, go to Security and go over every person who has access here, whether a player or a canteen clear. Everyone. If you find any metamorphagi, summon them here immediately. Johnson, send a statement to every other participating government about this. Convince them to evacuate all their people-’
‘Hang on,’ said a woman. She had flossy blue hair and pink eyes; I assumed she was a metamorphagus. ‘If you send everyone home, then the on-sub won’t have anyone to, what should we say? Kidnap? And then we have no way of tracking the on-sub.’
‘She’s got a point,’ said Johnson, nodding. Kate, next to him, was scribbling this all down.
Goldstein nodded. ‘Fair point. This will only be between the WIA offices and the MI5 offices.’ He then continued. ‘Johnson, instead, think of a media cover-up. We need something to tell the newspapers. They’re not stupid.’
‘We’ll work on it together,’ said the dark-skinned woman, nodding at Johnson.
‘Kate, send everything you’re writing back on an Express Owl to D. And send another copy to Romany Lawrence. Also, alert Harry Potter on the situation, but keep it brief. His son’s playing, and I don’t fancy having the whole bloody Auror office up here.’
‘And Agents Jordan and Dalton,’ said Goldstein, turning to us. ‘You are not to let anyone to know about this.’
‘Goldstein, we’re not 12 year olds,’ said Nate.
‘We better go now, actually,’ said the metamorphagus woman, standing up. ‘Follow me.’
Nate and I stood up, and, with our wands still useless, put our palms on her arms. There was no door to this meeting room; the only way in and out was by apparition or portkey, the latter how we got here.
‘I’m Zoe Malone,’ she said, after we apparated. We were in a big, spacey corridor, with a dozen doors on each side. The doors were black, big, and without a handle, lock or any decoration, apart from a single bright pink illustration on it. The one closest to me had a face on it; the one on Nate’s side had the outline of a body.
‘And welcome to prep!’
‘In Britain, we call it Hair and Make-Up. It’s meant to be ironic,’ said Nate.
‘Well you’re not in Britain anymore.’
Two women suddenly apparated in front of us, their cracks making me jump. They looked identical; curvy figures wearing a black shirt and skirt, with PREP written on the shirt pocket in the same bright pink. Their shoes were the bright pink, as were the hair bands keeping their identical blonde hair up.
‘Agent Jordan, follow Leona to Hair. After Hair, you will be going through Character Workshop-’
‘Zoe, we’ve done this plenty of times,’ I yawned. God, I was tired. ‘We really don’t need to go through workshop-’
‘God dammit, Agent Dalton, we are in America! And in America, we do things differently!’ she cried.
I was startled by her outburst. ‘Okay. Fine. That’s cool.’
‘Yay America,’ added Nate, smirking.
She gave him a dirty look. ‘Agent Dalton, follow Candace to Body. After that, you will have Face, then Hair, then Make-Up, then Clothing, and then Character Workshop-’
‘That’s ridiculous! Nate only has to do hair, and I have to do all that crap?’ I cried.
For the first time I have started this job, with the exception of Nate and possibly Romany Lawrence, someone looked at my sympathetically. Malone said kindly, ‘we’ve read your character profile. And from what we heard about you, you can’t get any different. Sorry, Agent Dalton.’
hi! so i'm so excited about this story. it's been in my head since the olympics, but only after watching skyfall, i started writing it.
i don't own james bond (ian fleming), party in the usa (miley cyrus), kids in america (kim wilde), nor anything else you don't recognize.
i also want to apologize if any reader thought that any jokes i made, entirely for humour, was hurtful, especially the british/american banter. as i'm of both nationalities, i just couldn't help myself. (and did anyone pick up on how the way bradley was handling the situation, kind of like the way fudge did?)