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Innocent by MarauderLover7
Chapter 19 : Mirrors At The Ministry
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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“Keith?” Tonks said, a little surprised as she pulled open the front door.

“Hey,” he said, running a hand over his short, neatly styled hair. “This is for you.” He passed her a pale pink rose.

“Oh!” she said, blushing. She was fairly sure her hair was the same colour as the flower. “Thank you.” She hugged him. “I’d invite you in but I’m practically on my way out.”

“What time do you have to leave?” he asked.

She checked her watch. “Five minutes if I’m going to be there on time, and I don’t want to be late on my first day.”

“Oh,” he said, looking a little disappointed. “Well, what time do you finish?”

“Five today, and then I’m meeting Mum and Dad at the studio and we’re going out to dinner.”

“How about tomorrow?” he asked.

“Eight until five tomorrow as well, but I’m not doing anything afterward.”

“Would you like to go out?” he asked hopefully.

She smiled. “Sure.”

“How does Hogsmeade sound?”

“Meet at six?” she asked.

“Sounds brilliant,” he said, beaming.

She checked her watch. “All right, sorry, but I’ve got to finish getting ready.”

“Yeah, that’s fine,” he said.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Have a good day today.”

“Thanks. You too.” Tonks ducked back inside as he set off down the street. She put the rose in a vase by the sink where it had access to sunlight and crossed to the kitchen table where – after a moment of sadness - she vanished her half-finished breakfast.

Oddly, her appetite seemed to increase and not fade when she was nervous, and she was certainly nervous; her hair had been lime green for days. She grabbed her rucksack - which had a drink bottle and a sandwich in it - added an apple and swung it over her shoulder.

“Bye, Mum!” she called. She got a sleepy reply from her parents’ bedroom - Dad had already left but Mum probably wouldn’t be up for another hour - and then, pausing only to check her appearance in the hallway mirror, tossed Floo Powder into the fireplace and said, “Ministry of Magic!”

The flames began to clear and then she stopped moving altogether. Tonks stepped out, tripped on her hem and fell flat on her face in the Ministry atrium. A brilliant start to the day, she thought, dazedly, letting a twitchy little wizard help her off the polished wood floor.

“Thank you,” Tonks said, staring around. She’d been to the Ministry several times but it felt different coming as an adult and not a little girl clutching her father’s hand.

“Not a problem, dear,” the little wizard said. He flashed a badge at the witch at the security stand and she nodded and waved him through.

“What can I do for you?” the witch asked, spotting Tonks.

“I’m an Auror trainee,” she said, pulling her acceptance letter out of her rucksack.

“Good for you,” the witch said. “Hold still, please.” She waved a long, golden rod up Tonks’ front and back and then nodded, satisfied. “Wand, please.” Tonks passed it over after a moment’s hesitation. She felt bare without it and watched nervously as the witch placed it on a strange brass device. A moment later it had procured a small sheet of parchment. “Twelve and a half inches, pear, with a dragon-heartstring core. You’ve had it for seven years, yes?”

“Yes,” Tonks said. The witch copied the parchment with a tap of her own wand and impaled one on a spike behind the counter. She signed the second piece and passed it and Tonks’ wand back.

“Give that to Scrimgeour,” she said.

“Thank you,” Tonks said, stuffing both into her pocket. She hurried through a set of golden gates behind the stand and waited patiently for a lift to arrive.

“Level Two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters and Wizengamot Administration Services,” a cool female voice said. Tonks spent the lift ride trying to get her hair to resemble something other than one of the cacti her mother kept on the kitchen windowsill. She was met with limited success; she managed to change the colour from green to a golden blonde but the spiky texture refused to change. She didn’t bother trying to change her eyes much and left them a bright green.

The lift doors opened and Tonks stepped out - taking care not to trip - into a corridor lined with doors. She glanced at the windows through which she could see a rather vicious blizzard. It took her a moment to remember this part of the Ministry was still underground and it couldn’t possibly be real.

She followed the hallway around a corner and through a set of heavy oak doors and came out in a very claustrophobic section. There were about fifty people squeezed into a very small space; about thirty of those people were trainees, another ten looked to be qualified Aurors and the rest simply seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Line up!” a loud voice growled. A man, not much taller than Tonks limped past, wand raised. She got a glimpse of one, very blue eye and a lot of dark grey, tangled hair before his back was to her. “Line up!” he shouted, shooting sparks into the air with his wand. The babble stopped immediately. “Single file, against the wall! Now!”

Tonks hurried to do what she was told, as did everyone else; the thirty or so trainees flattened themselves against the wall, clearing the hallway and allowing the Aurors to better access to their respective cubicles.

“I had it, thank you, Alastor,” a man with bushy eyebrows, a mane of tawny hair and sharp yellowish eyes said stiffly. The Auror who’d shouted turned to look at him. For the first time, Tonks got a good look at him, and was more than a little intimidated; he was limping because he was missing a leg and had a roughly carved wooden one in its place. His face was had more scars and pockmarks than smooth skin and his mouth was little more than a grim line above his chin.

His most distinguishing feature, however, was a bright blue eye that seemed to be moving in its socket of its own accord; his other eye was small and dark and glanced around suspiciously, and it was then Tonks knew that this could only be Mad-Eye Moody, one of Britain’s most acclaimed Aurors.

“Appearances are deceiving, aren’t they, Scrimgeour?” he growled. Tonks glanced at the yellow-eyed man, who she knew must be Rufus Scrimgeour, the Head of the Auror Department. An ugly expression flickered over Scrimgeour’s face.

“Now,” she heard him snap, “when we call your name, follow Aurors Blackburn and Finch-” a stocky, blond man with a thick beard and a short, dark-haired woman nodded to them, “-to the end of the corridor, and they will give you directions. Are there any questions?”

“Who do we give these to?” a woman asked, holding her wand identification slip up.

“You’ll give those to Auror Moody once you’re down there,” he said, jerking his head in Moody’s direction.

“Allen, Jeanette,” Moody said. A heavy woman with short brown hair jumped and extracted herself from the line. “Brown, Michael.” A lanky man with a pointed moustache. “Bulkes, Burt.” A short, weedy man with a weak chin. “Clarke, Melvin.” A man with big blue eyes and mousy hair that looked like he should still be in Hogwarts. “Dale, Trixia.” A blond woman wearing bright pink robes. “Edwards, Nicole.” A very tall woman with a long black plait. “Gaspar, Jerimiah.” A man with dreadlocks. “Hill, Wesley...” And on they went.

Moody had clearly done this before; he knew exactly how long to wait between names and only once did he falter on a name and that was, “McKinnon, Marlene.” She was a tall woman with short, straight, brown hair. There was nothing overly distinguishing about her, but Moody wasn’t the only one who’d looked up; several of the other Aurors had leant out of their cubicles to get a look at her.

McKinnon’s eyes flicked around the room, and then, without any acknowledging of any of them, she walked after “Lowesly, Travis.” Moody - who looked like he’d seen a ghost - shook himself and called, “Moore, Hector.”

Tonks was one of four people left. It came as a relief when her name was finally called and she stumbled down the corridor. It was a dead end with only two doors; one was closed and said Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, where Charlie’s dad worked and the other was a broom cupboard.

“Tonks was it?” the female Auror asked.

“Yes,” Tonks said, offering her hand.

“Auror Finch,” she said.

“Auror Blackburn,” said the man. She shook his hand too. “In you go.” Tonks stepped into the small broom cupboard and glanced over her shoulder. Auror Finch nodded at her. Tonks kept walking, and just as she was about to hit the back wall, she found herself on a landing, looking down a flight of stairs. She descended slowly, making an effort not to trip, and came out in a large room, where the other trainees were huddled, chatting quietly.

There were two doors labelled Lecture Hall 1 and Lecture Hall 2 on the left and opposite those was a door labelled Examination Room and next to that Common Room. Along the back wall were another seven doors; Defensive and Offensive Combat, Stealth and Tracking, Warding and Protective Enchantments, Wizarding Relations and Law, Plants and Poisons, Concealment and Disguises and Fitness and Healing.

Tonks joined the other trainees in the middle of the room and listened to the nervous chatter - it was like she was eleven and about to be Sorted again. Moody limped down the stairs once the final trainees were through, flanked by Aurors Finch and Blackburn.

“Constant vigilance!” he shouted, making most of them jump. “That’s what we’ll be teaching you here- Put that away.” His blue eye was focused on one of the trainees, who’d procured a piece of parchment and a quill. She squeaked and stuffed it into her pocket. “It’s not an easy program,” he continued in his growling voice. “Some of you won’t make it to graduation. Some of you won’t make it in the real world.”

Not me, Tonks thought. I’m going to be an Auror. A good one.

“Allen to Lewis,” Moody said, “you’ll be in here, doing the physical testing first. Scrimgeour will be down in a moment. Lowesly to Yaxley, you’re mental and with me.” One boy sniggered at this. Tonks rolled her eyes and went to join the mental testing group on the right of the hall. Moody joined them a moment later and led them through the door labelled Examination Room. Inside was another room, reasonably large with a single, unlabelled door on the left, and extensive - obviously conjured - screening on the right. “Yaxley, you’re up.”

Yaxley was a woman with long blond hair and squinty eyes. She’d been a Slytherin at Hogwarts in Tonks’ year and had always liked to give Charlie a hard time about his second hand robes and books. Tonks hadn’t liked her much. Yaxley flashed a white smile at Moody who watched her without expression. The smile faded slightly and she walked through the curtains to the other side of the screen.

“Wait until you’re called,” Moody said to the rest of them as he too vanished through the curtains. Whispers broke out at once.

“What sort of tests do you think we’ll have to do?” a man with crooked teeth asked.

“Didn’t you read the pamphlet?” a woman said, rolling her eyes. “They do a series of tests and ask questions to assess our character. Once we pass that, we complete the physical examination. I’m Florence Prewett, by the way,” she said, waving to everyone. A woman on Tonks’ right - was it MacDonald? Makiller? - glanced up sharply but didn’t say anything. A moment later, she went back to staring at the opposite wall.

Tonks knew the name - Prewett had been a Ravenclaw in seventh year when Tonks was in fifth – but the face was unfamiliar. Without the name, she wouldn’t have recognised her at all; her dark hair was longer, her skin paler, as if she hadn’t been outside for a long time. Her eyes were a little haunted.

“Hector Moore,” said a man on Tonks’ other side.

“James Thompson,” said a Ravenclaw that Tonks knew from Hogwarts. He looked just as she remembered, down to the mole on his neck.

“Mary Wright,” said a woman who’d been on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team three years ago.

“Lori Patel,” said a woman Tonks had never seen before.

“Tonks,” Tonks said, shrugging. The woman who’d looked at Florence Prewett looked up again. Tonks looked at her curiously and she looked away, pale all of a sudden.

“Tonks?” Lori Patel asked dubiously. “Is that your first name or your last?”

“Last,” she said. Those who’d gone to Hogwarts with Tonks smiled amongst themselves and got back to introductions.

While Benjamin ‘Wandless’ Wellington who had been a Prefect in her first year at Hogwarts explained his nickname - a long and far-fetched story involving a dragon, a vampire and a Nose-Biting Teacup that Tonks wasn’t sure she believed - Yaxley re-emerged looking shaken, and Moody took Mary Wright into the sequestered area.

“How’d it go?” Florence Prewett asked eagerly.

“Anyone that asks me questions gets an immediate fail,” Yaxley said, flouncing over. She was shunned after that, left at the outskirts of the group and looked rather irritated about it.

When Wright emerged, Yaxley grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the main group. Tonks wondered idly if she knew Wright was a muggleborn and a Gryffindor to boot. They formed their own little huddle and talked - presumably, though no one could or wanted to hear what they were saying - about the mental tests. Wellington emerged and Tonks didn’t even have time to feel nervous before she was summoned.

“Good luck!” Florence whispered. Tonks managed to flash her a quick smile and moved woodenly - thankfully she managed to stay upright - over to the screened area. She pushed through the curtains and stopped.

What must have been half of the Auror office was sitting there, watching her. They were sitting in a semi-circle, facing a simple wooden chair. “Wotcher,” she said nervously.

“Sit,” Moody growled at her, limping over to pull the curtains closed.

“You’re Nymphadora Tonks?” a woman with an eye-patch asked.

“Yes,” she said, flopping down into the chair. Her feet were a few from the ground so she willed her legs to grow a bit; she wasn’t about to sit through this swinging her legs like a child.

“Wand identification,” a wizard missing three fingers said, holding his hand out toward her. She rummaged around in her rucksack and pulled out the parchment she’d been given in the atrium. It was a little creased but still readable. “Pear and dragon-heartstring. Twelve and a half inches. You’ve had it for seven years?”

“Yes,” she said again.

“Do you remember the day you bought it?” he asked. His voice was rather nasally.

“Yes.”

“Can you describe what happened when it chose you?”

“Sparks came out of the end,” she said nervously.

“What colour were the sparks?”

“Rainbow,” she said.

The wizard wrote something down on a clipboard and passed it to the next Auror - a witch - in line. “You received five N.E.W.T.s, yes?”

“Yes,” she said.

“O’s in Herbology, Transfiguration and Potions and E’s in Defence Against the Dark Arts and Charms, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Your Transfiguration mark is the second highest we’ve ever had,” the witch said, consulting the parchment in front of her. Tonks beamed. “Very impressive, very impressive indeed.” She passed the clipboard along.

The next wizard, an absolutely enormous man with a mop of dark curly hair, stood and retrieved a large mirror from behind his chair. Tonks didn’t recognise the language but it had the words tidn ih ebla mina ehtt ube cafru oyt on wohsi etched into the gilded frame.

“What do you see?” he asked in a deep voice that matched his appearance perfectly.

“Me,” she said timidly, glancing at her pale reflection. She willed a bit more colour into her cheeks.

“Look closer.”

Tonks did, and still saw only herself. “I don’t see anything-”

“Nothing?” a witch with a beaky nose said sharply.

“Well, no, not nothing,” she said, as the Aurors exchanged significant looks. “I see me, but you said I’m not supposed-”

The man holding the mirror snorted and turned it towards him. He nodded once and turned it toward the witch with the hooked nose and she frowned, nodding.

“What do you see?” he asked, turning it back towards Tonks.

“Myself,” she said flatly.

“Proudfoot,” Moody barked, tilting his head toward the back of the room. Another Auror got up and retrieved another mirror, while the curly-haired Auror sat down, glowering.

“What do you see?” the Auror - Proudfoot - said, holding up what was a significantly smaller mirror; this one was only about as long as the length of Tonks’ forearm to the tips of her fingers. This one had ees ottna wu oye caf ehtu oy wohsi etched into its equally elaborate frame.

Tonks glanced into the glassy surface. “Me?” she said.

“Is that a statement or a question?” he asked.

“Statement,” she said, with a little more confidence.

“There’s nothing different about you? You don’t look older or younger, or have different coloured hair or eyes?” he asked shrewdly.

“No,” she said. “I look like I do now.”

“You’re being completely truthful?”

“Of course!” she said, scandalised. “Maybe if you’d tell me what I’m supposed to be seeing-”

“Are you an Occlumens?” one wizard in Healer’s robes asked suddenly.

“No.” Tonks flushed. “I tried to learn when I was fourteen but I didn’t have the patience-”

“Miss Tonks,” said a bright eyed witch as Proudfoot sat down, “these mirrors are from a set of seven magical mirrors, made by a very powerful wizard named Narcissus. The mirror Auror Taure showed you is charmed to reveal one’s Animagus form. The one Auror Proudfoot had is designed to instil confidence by presenting your face as you wish it looked.” If wonder if that’s what inspired Snow White, she thought absently. “If you’re not seeing anything, then it suggests you’re perfectly happy with your current appearance - which defies human nature - and that you have no potential Animagus form. For a student as talented with Transfiguration as you seem to be-”

Oh!” Tonks said loudly. “I think I know why it’s not working.” Twenty three - Tonks did a quick head-count - pairs of eyes latched onto her. “I’m a Metapmorphmagus.”

One wizard - she would have bet her Comet Two-Sixty that he’d been a Ravenclaw - leaned forward in his seat and watched her intently, beaming. “Can you show us? Please?” Tonks scrunched up her face and turned her hair jet black and then had it go orange and back to the blond it had been.

“Impressive,” Moody said, “but I wasn’t aware we were testing her ability to disguise herself.” Tonks flushed and clamped down on the instincts that were trying to turn her hair pink with embarrassment.

The other Aurors looked chastised. “Well,” the witch with the eye-patch said, looking flustered, “that certainly explains it. Yes. We’ll just- Yes- Savage?”

“Are you able to perform a Patronus Charm?” an Auror with scar running from his left temple to his right cheek asked.

“I can get a fairly pathetic shield up,” she said, grimacing. “Nothing that would hold off a Dementor or Lethifold, I don’t think.”

“What happy memory do you use?”

Well that’s a little personal, she thought, slightly affronted. “The day I got my Hogwarts letter.”

One of the Aurors scribbled that down. “Why? Don’t you like it at home?”

Tonks blinked. “No, I love it at home,” she said earnestly.

“Then why were you so happy to leave?”

“I was happy to be learning magic,” she said.

“Did you stay in contact with your parents while you were at school?”

“Of course! I wrote weekly, sometimes more depending on how things were.”

“Any siblings?”

“No.”

“Just you and your parents, then?”

“Yes.” Questions were coming from all directions now and it was quite overwhelming.

“Who’s your favourite?”

“Excuse me?”

“Your favourite parent? Your mother or you father?”

“Neither-”

“So you don’t like them?”

“Let me finish,” she said irritably. They watched expectantly. “I love them equally-”

“Rubbish-”

“It’s not rubbish!”

“You must like one more than the other-”

“No, I don’t!”

“If you had to kill one of them, which would it be?”

Excuse me?!” No one said anything. “Why in Merlin’s name would I want to do that?!”

“It’s purely academic.”

“Neither,” she said, folding her arms.

“But say you had to-” one pressed.

“Why do I have to?” she demanded.

“Say they’ve done something awful-”

“Like what?”

“They’ve broken the law.”

“Then they deserve a trial not death,” she snapped. Moody watched her curiously.

“How much do you know about the war?” one wizard asked suddenly.

“Enough,” she said, confused by the sudden topic change.

“You know what Death Eaters are?”

“Of course.” Her aunts and uncles had been just that. And Sirius, her mother’s cousin.

“Say your parents were Death Eaters then... which would you kill?”

“But they’re not,” Tonks said, rolling her eyes. Everyone waited for a response anyway. “The Death Eaters in the war all got trials.” All of them except Sirius. “My parents would get the same.”

“But if they couldn’t,” one said.

“You asked which I would kill,” she told them. “I’m not inclined to kill either unless you can give me an adequate reason.”

“Say you’re made an Auror,” one man with a long ponytail said, “and your Head of Department instructs you to kill one of them. Which would it be?”

“If I’m likely to get those sorts of instructions then I don’t know that working as an Auror is something I’m terribly keen on anymore,” she said irritably.

Quite a few of them nodded. Moody was actually smirking. “Purely academic,” he reminded her. “But say you were given the order-”

“I wouldn’t do it.”

“You’d defy an order?” he asked gruffly.

“If a life was at stake,” she said flatly.

“Insubordination is not a quality we look for,” he told her.

“I shouldn’t think the desire to kill is one either,” she snapped.

“Watch it,” a witch at the back warned her.

Tonks rolled her eyes. “Any more questions?”

“You’ve been given a wand,” one of them said shrewdly, “and it’s only capable of performing one of the three Unforgivables.”

“Right,” she said edgily. Merlin’s beard, they’re a morbid lot, aren’t they?

“Facing you, is an enemy-”

“Not my parents?” she asked sarcastically.

“No,” the witch with the eye-patch said, stifling a laugh. “Just an enemy. He or she - it doesn’t matter which - has a wand too. Both of you are in a sealed room. You cannot Floo in or out, or Apparate, and your wand - rather obviously - will not allow you to create a Portkey. In order to escape, you must subdue your opponent. How do you do it?”

“My wand will only perform Unforgivables?” Tonks asked, wrinkling her nose.

“That is correct.”

“I’d subdue them in some other way,” she said. “Punch them, perhaps.”

“That’s assault.”

“It’s not preferable,” she told them, “but it’s a nicer alternative than using one of those awful curses.”

“You’re an Auror, out on a mission when your partner is rendered unconscious. They won’t respond to any spells and there is no one in the vicinity to help you. Without immediate help, your partner will die, but if you leave, the mission is compromised and the target will escape. What do you do?”

“Take my partner back,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because if a fellow Auror dies, then everyone in the department will be affected by their death in some way and won’t be performing at their best. Also, it takes three years to train the replacement, while it almost certainly shouldn’t take three years to track down the person - target - again.”

Tonks waited apprehensively for one of them to disagree with her, but Taure - the one who’d held up the first mirror - only said, “You’re approached by a known criminal while you’re off-duty. They want to trade legal immunity for information on another target. What do you do?”

“Have them surrender their wand,” she said. “If they genuinely want to help then they won’t need it. From there I’d take them somewhere safe - maybe the Ministry holding cells. If I was familiar with the case I’d question them myself. If not, I’d find someone better suited to the role.”

“Do you have a criminal record?”

“Do detentions count?” she asked, suddenly worried.

Several people laughed. “No. Your parents are Andromeda Black Tonks and Theodore Tonks, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Do either of them have a criminal record?”

“Not that I know of,” she said honestly.

“Does anyone in your family have a criminal record?”

Tonks closed her eyes briefly. “Yes,” she said.

“Who?”

They didn’t look surprised, she noticed. So they know, she thought glumly. They just want me to say it. “My aunt, Bellatrix Lestrange. Her husband, Rodolphus Lestrange. Mum’s cousin, Sirius Black.”

“They’re the only ones?”

“The charges to the Malfoys never stuck,” she said, shrugging.

Moody smiled wryly. “Have you had recent contact with any of your family?”

“I’ve never met the Lestranges,” she said, “and I haven’t seen Sirius Black since I was ten. I bumped into the Malfoys in Diagon Alley a while back, though.”

“Say the first thing that comes to mind. Muggle.”

“Grandparents.”

“Witch.”

“Wizard.”

“Hogwarts.”

“School.”

“Broom.”

“Quidditch,” Tonks said.

“Snitch.”

“Seeker.”

“Seeker.”

“Charlie.”

“Azkaban.”

“Dementor.”

*                     *                    *

“McKinnon,” Mad-Eye called.

Marlene made her way over to the curtains, relieved. The boy who’d been trying and failing to make small talk with her slumped but she ignored him. Mad-Eye gave her a curious look and allowed her to step through. Inside were twenty three Aurors, most of whom she knew by sight if not name. She dropped into the seat in the centre of the area and crossed her ankles.

“Wand identification,” a wizard said. She passed him the parchment she’d been given at the security desk. “Fir and dragon-heartstring. Fourteen inches. You’ve had it for seventeen years?”

“I have.”

“How did you know the wand chose you?”

“Pink and gold came out of the end.”

“In what form?”

“Ribbons.”

 “You received six N.E.W.T.s, yes?”

“Yes,” she said.

“O’s in Defence Against the Dark Arts, Charms and Potions, E’s in Transfiguration, Herbology and Muggle Studies, is that correct?”

“It is.”

Augustus Taure - Marlene had dated him when she was in fourth year and he was in third - stood and fetched a large mirror from behind his chair. Marlene frowned, trying to read the words tidn ih ebla mina ehtt ube cafru oyt on wohsi but settled for remembering them. She could look them up later.

“What do you see?” he asked.

Marlene frowned. It wasn’t her own reflection in the mirror. It was enormous, staring down its muzzle at her with gleaming tawny eyes. It had a sandy brown coat - perhaps a little darker than was normal and long legs that ended with deadly looking paws. “A- a lion. Lioness.”

Several of the Aurors muttered amongst themselves but when Marlene chanced a look at Mad-Eye, he was smiling. He waved a hand at another Auror - Marlene recognised Proudfoot and had a vague recollection of Sirius complaining about his name, saying it was too close to his Marauder nickname - who brought another, smaller mirror forward.

“What do you see?” Proudfoot said. Again, she had no luck with the words in the frame but memorised them, in the hope of researching them later.

“Myself,” she said, squinting at the mirror. “But I’m different. Younger.” Her hair was shorter, like it had been back in her Order days, and neater, and her eyes were brighter. Her skin wasn’t as pale - she’d still been playing a bit of Quidditch in those days - and the lines around her eyes and the corners of her mouth that she’d begun to notice in the last year, were non-existent.

Was she imagining it, or had Mad-Eye just given her a pitying look? Now, more than ever she was interested in finding out what the mirror actually did.

“Are you able to perform a Patronus Charm?” Savage asked. Marlene blinked; he had a new and rather ropy looking scar on his face that he certainly hadn’t had when she’d last seen him. Admittedly, that was at a Ministry function nine years ago - Sirius had forced her to attend - so it was probably reasonable to assume he’d changed.

“I haven’t tried for years,” she said honestly.

“Do you remember what form it was?”

“It used to be a dog,” she said. She’d always associated that with Sirius, for some reason, likely because his Patronus had been a dog too. “I think it’s probably changed by now, though.”

“Can you show us?” Savage asked.

Marlene hunted for a happy memory and was unsurprised to find there weren’t many of them. “Expecto Patronum,” she murmured, giving her wand a flick. Some silvery mist floated out of the end of her wand but not much else happened. She focused on her memory harder but it made little impact. The Aurors were glancing amongst themselves. This is just embarrassing, she thought, flushing slightly.

“No matter, Ms McKinnon-”

No matter? she thought crossly. I don’t think so. Expecto Patronum,” she snapped. The very same lioness she’d just seen in the mirror barrelled out and roared - soundlessly - before it flickered and vanished.

“Very good,” a witch with an eye-patch said. Marlene hadn’t seen her before, but she’d probably recognise the name when she heard it; she looked only a few years older than Marlene herself and so had probably trained with James and Sirius. Marlene chanced another look at Mad-Eye and his expression was definitely pitying. She turned her back on him and re-folded her legs. “What was the memory?”

“The day my little brother was born,” she said.

“You remember it?”

“I was eight.”

“Do you have any other siblings?”

“Yes.” But you’d be better off using past-tense.

“Who?”

“An older brother.”

“Who’s your favourite?”

“I loved them equally.”

“Loved?”

“They’re dead,” she said flatly.

“Parents?” Marlene nodded stiffly and stared at her hands. “Are you glad?”

Her head snapped up. “Pardon?”

“Are you glad they’re dead?”

“No,” she snapped.

“You miss them, then.”

“Obviously.”

“Do you have a husband?” Marlene shook her head. “Partner?”

“Interested are you, Glade?” she asked coolly.

Glade flushed. They’d never dated but that wasn’t for lack of trying on his part. He’d pestered her all through seventh year and she had received a rather humbling insight into what Lily’s first six years of Hogwarts had been like. “Children?”

“No.”

“Anyone?” Mad-Eye asked.

Marlene’s jaw clenched. “A few friends,” she said curtly.

“Who?”

“Alice and Frank. Mary. Neville.”

“Which of them-”

“You’ve been given a wand,” Mad-Eye interrupted loudly. The others looked at him, surprised. “It’s only capable of performing one of the three Unforgivables.”

“Is that even possible? A wand can’t be limited to three spells.”

“This one is. Facing you, is an enemy. He or she - it doesn’t matter which - has a wand too. Both of you are in a sealed room. You cannot Floo in or out, or Apparate, and your wand - rather obviously - will not allow you to create a Portkey. In order to escape, you must subdue your opponent. How do you do it?”

“Wandless magic.”

“You can do wandless magic?”

“No,” Marlene said.

“You can’t use something you don’t have,” Proudfoot said.

“I don’t have a wand limited to using the Unforgivables,” she said.

“It’s hypothetical-”

“So’s my ability to use wandless magic.”

“You’re an Auror, out on a mission when your partner is rendered unconscious. They won’t respond to any spells and there is no one in the vicinity to help you. Without immediate help, your partner will die, but if you leave, the mission is compromised and the target will escape. What do you do?”

“Create a Portkey to send my partner to St Mungo’s,” she said. “I’d send a message back to whoever’s in charge of the raid or mission or whatever you’d like to call it, letting them know what’s happened and requesting back-up. I’d then engage the target.”

“That’s risky.”

“The only life I’d be risking is my own,” she replied.

 “You’re approached by a known criminal while you’re off-duty. They want to trade legal immunity for information on another target. What do you do?”

“Take their wand and bring them back to the Ministry for questioning.”

“Do you have a criminal record?”

“No.”

“Where are those papers?” the witch with the eye-patch said fussily. “Madam Bones said she’d send them-”

“Your parents were Patricia Macmillan McKinnon and Curtis McKinnon, is that correct?” Mad-Eye asked, before she could find them.

“Yes.”

“Do either of them have a criminal record?” the witch with the eye-patch asked, giving Mad-Eye a suspicious look as she stopped searching.

“No.”

“Does anyone in your family have a criminal record?”

“What family?” she asked.

“When was the last time you saw Sirius Black?” Mad-Eye asked.

I should have known this would come up as soon as I saw you, she thought, glowering at Mad-Eye. “This morning,” she said in her frostiest tone yet. “He was in the paper.”

Thankfully none of them pushed it.

“Say the first thing that comes to mind. Muggle.”

“Harold and Heather,” she said with a sad twist of her mouth.

“Witch.”

“Magic.”

“Hogwarts.”

“Dumbledore.”

“Broom.”

“Nimbus.”

“Snitch.”

“James.”

“Seeker.”

“Davey.”

“Azkaban.”

“Sirius.” Several of the Aurors exchanged looks. Marlene could feel Mad-Eye’s eyes - both of them - on her back.

“Gryffindor.”

“Lion.”

“Green.”

“Lily.” Mad-Eye glanced at her and then away.

“Charms.”

“Flitwick.”

“Dark Arts.”

“Voldemort.” Quite a few of the Aurors made startled noises and the wizard who’d asked about her wand fell off his seat.

Savage consulted the parchment in front of him, obviously put off by her last answer and chose a safe word. “Chocolate Frog.”

“Card,” she said dully.


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