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- CHAPTER THREE -

The Detectives


Hermione’s eyes grew wide at the writing on the small note, and her head turned quickly when a knock came at the front door of her flat. She ran out of her room—the picture frame still in her hands—and she looked at Neville on her couch.

‘Are you going to get it?’ Neville asked casually, Hermione still looking terrified.

‘Hermione? What’s-‘

‘We need to get out of here, now!’ she urged quietly, another loud knock coming from the door.

‘Who is it?’ Hermione yelled, as she helped Neville up and he moved over to the window to look out.

‘There are two cars out there, and some men. Hermione, what’s going on?’ Neville questioned as he put the blinds back and turned on the spot.

‘Miss Granger? This is Captain Shoemaker of the London Police. May we come in please?’ a man voiced from the other side of the door. Hermione moved slowly to the door, and looked through the peep hole to see two men standing outside her door. They were wearing black coats and ties, but both had their pistols drawn, and were looking around the hallway.

Hermione could not let them inside. The police reported to the government, and obvious trouble could occur.

‘Umm . . . just a moment’ Hermione answered hurriedly, lifting up the floor board and picking up the box that contained her wizarding items, including her wand.

She quickly ran over to Neville, and helped him into the centre of the room. Crookshanks was still on the couch, but he watched Hermione moving about with his bright eyes.

‘Hermione, just run, I’ll keep them here’ Neville insisted.

‘No, we’re leaving together. Remember how to Apparate?’

‘Miss Granger, please open this door’ the man behind the door said again, this time sounding agitated.

‘Yes, just a second. I’m in my knickers’ she yelled. She could hear a commotion outside the door, and she quickly called Crookshanks to her.

‘Hermione, I can’t Apparate anymore. We haven’t done it in years!’ Neville declared.

‘Then just hold on’ she insisted. Crookshanks trotted over, and jumped into Hermione’s arms. Just as she stood up, the door burst open, and the two men barged into the flat.

‘Stop right there!’ Captain Shoemaker yelled, raising his pistol at the two, while his partner did the same.

Hermione was still quick with her reactions, and grabbing Neville’s arm, she thought hard of his house, and turned assertively.

It was like she had never Apparated before, and was experiencing it all over again for the first time. The siphoning squeezed on all Hermione’s sides, and she felt Neville next to her, bumping along while Crookshanks thrashed violently in her arms.

Her feet finally hit solid ground, just as her stomach was about to upturn, and they landed in Neville’s sitting room. Crookshanks scratched her arm viciously, and she let go of him. He instantly scooted away, and around a corner meowing harshly. Neville was in worse shape, and reached for a nearby rubbish bin as he was sick to his stomach.

‘Are you alright Neville?’ Hermione asked as she helped him to the couch. His face was pale and he had a cold sweat on his forehead, but he nodded and closed his eyes as he laid back.

‘It’s just been so long since I’ve Ap- . . . Apparated’ he admitted, breathing slowly, and wiping his face.

‘Do you want me to get you a drink?’ Hermione asked kindly, holding onto Neville’s hand. Ever since the end of the war, Neville’s health was never that great. With all his injuries—many like his arm that still hurt—he was easily winded, and constantly got sick from such common things as colds and flues.

‘I think . . . I think I’ll be alright. How did you know who they were?’ he asked, opening his eyes and looking at Hermione. She shifted in her seat a bit, and showed him the note on the back of the picture frame—which she had on top of her wizard items.

Neville read the note, and looked at Hermione. ‘V? Is this the same-‘

‘Yes, I’m sure it is’ Hermione professed.

Neville looked at the note for a moment, and then glanced at Hermione worriedly. ‘You know, V could be a Marker.’ Hermione sighed and stood up.

‘Neville, I already told you, he can’t be a Marker. You didn’t see what he did to those men.’

‘I know Hermione’ he insisted, putting his hand up. ‘But how else would he know about those police men showing up? Plus he knew about me, your cat, and that you had a wand and such. He knows too much about you.’ Hermione was pacing as Neville was talking, and she stopped and looked at Neville.

‘I know. It does worry me, but he’s saved me twice, from those Markers and now the police. Why would he be helping me escape if he was a Marker?’

‘Perhaps he has other plans for you.’

*

‘What happened?’ Captain Shoemaker asked surprisingly at his partner.

‘I . . . I don’t know! They were here a second ago, you saw them didn’t you Captain?’

The Captain looked around the sitting room for a moment, before turning to his brown haired partner, shaking his head. ‘No, we didn’t see anything.’

‘But Captain-‘

‘No Joseph, we did not see anything. You know what happens to folks who report seeing strange things like people vanishing. We came in, and the flat was empty.’

His partner looked at the floor for a moment in thought, before nodding. ‘Alright Stewart. So, what do we report to the Supervisor?’

Stewart sighed as he walked into the bedroom, and started looking at the pictures on the dresser. He glanced at the pictures, some of which included the woman with who appeared to be her parents, as well as some stranger ones with her and two boys in black cloaks.

‘We won’t be reporting to the Supervisor. The Chief wants me to report directly to the London Council on these matters now.’

Joseph looked shocked at Stewart, and approached the Captain. ‘You’ll be reporting right to the Council? That’s strange.’

Stewart nodded, and picked up one of the photographs, showing a younger version of Miss Granger, hugging a red haired boy in front of what appeared to be a huge castle nestled in the hills. ‘I think we’ve seen enough strange business these past years, we should be getting used to it’ he commented, handing the portrait over. ‘Any idea where that was taken?’

Joseph looked at the portrait, and scanned it closely. ‘Looks a bit like Scotland—before the fires of course. Sir, do you know why they want this girl brought in?’

‘Joe, she killed two Markermen. Who knows how a small girl like that did it, but orders were to bring her in.’ Stewart pocketed the portrait, and moved back into the sitting room. They checked the flat one last time for anything strange—only finding a piece of the floorboards loose, showing a hidden, but empty compartment. They left the flat and went back downstairs to their car.

‘It’s alright gents, no one home’ Joseph announced to the uniformed police. They both waved, got back in their car, and drove off. Stewart got into the passenger side of the car, and Joseph started it up.

‘Where to Stew?’ Joseph asked, with a bit of chuckle.

‘I told you to stop making that stupid joke’ Stewart answered. He hated people calling him “Stew”. Reminded him of his mother’s cooking.

‘Alright, alright. So, where are we going?’ Joseph asked again, fixing the mirror.

‘Take us back to the department. I want to know more about this Mary Granger.’

The two started off to headquarters, and while on the way Stewart punched up on the computer information on Mary Granger. Her government photo—the same one on her work ID—showed up on the small screen just above the radio, along with some small details about her.

‘Cute girl’ Joseph commented, giving the file a glance.

‘Yeah, but there isn’t much information about her. No parents, no education . . . it’s like she just appeared out of no where two years ago, and started working for the publishing office. I want to see what the database says at the department.’

The two arrived at headquarters, and walked up the stairs to their office: Investigation and Government Affairs. They dealt with special investigations that came from above. Cases before always dealt with people concerning national security or generally issues that best remained unquestioned. Stewart had experienced enough cases to make normal people question their sanity, however he always remained calm with the secrets he held.

Joseph was newer at his job, only getting it in the last year or so. He still thought in straight lines, such as reporting strange events or taking to regulations for regular police. Stewart knew better, and had to explain that sometimes rules had to be bent, or in some cases, forgotten all together.

Sitting down at his desk, Stewart typed up Miss Granger’s name, and found a similar file on the government database. The same picture, where she lived, and that she worked at the publishing office; that’s it.

‘Bloody hell, what in the world happened with this girl?’ Stewart voiced in frustration. He thought the government file would have more information, and it clearly did not. ‘I mean, how could she get hired at the publishing office when they don’t even know when she’s born!’

Joseph came around, and looked at the file while Stewart sighed, and lowered his head. ‘Well, it’s obvious she changed her name, but the question is from what.’

‘Yeah, well, I have to report to the Council in one hour, and I don’t even know her real name. All I have is her picture and the name she’s been going by.’

‘That’s a start at least. Once it gets on the broadband and the network, we’ll catch her up easy’ Joseph insisted calmly, going back around and sitting at his desk.

‘Somehow I have a feeling the Council won’t be too pleased with my information though.’

*


‘Do you have the girl Shoemaker?’ the voice asked. Stewart had only heard the voice of the Lord once before. He disliked calling him “Lord”, but everyone on the Council called him that. Some even added “Dark” before that, which seemed to suit him well.

‘No my Lord, we went to the woman’s flat but found it empty. We did a background check her, but found little information’ Stewart explained.

He, along with the other five members of the London Council spoke directly with the Lord of Britain—short formed to the Lord. They all sat at a semi-circle black table, in a dark room about the size of a small gymnasium. Spotlights focused on the table, and the rest of the room was black. Facing the semi-circle table was a large movie screen, on which the Lord would appear. You could never actually see his face—since he himself would stay in the darkness—but his voice was always the most terrifying thing about the man.

The Lord’s head turned to show a subdued—if not non-existent—nose, and he breathed in a hiss-like breath. ‘I am very . . . displeased with this Shoemaker. I want to know who killed these two Markers.’ Stewart fumbled with his thoughts for a moment, before quickly rearranging them.

‘We do have some information for you my Lord. She works at the publishing office, and lives at the address we looked at. Her name is Mary Granger, but it appears she had a different name before-‘

‘Granger’ one of the other Council members voiced. The silhouette of the Lord turned, and looked at the man.

‘You know this name?’ the Lord asked. The member of the Council moved forward into the light.

‘I do my Lord. Her real name is Hermione; Hermione Granger. She’s Mudblood filth’ the man spoke. Stewart had no idea what a “Mudblood” was, but it did not sound too pleasing.

The man who spoke was a Marker, in his early twenties, was one of the higher ranked ones that dealt with more . . . complicated situations. Stewart had turned some of his arrests to this man, and he could always remember the glint of sinister pleasure in his eyes when a new arrest would be made.

‘Ah . . . I remember, the Dead Boy’s friend. She is not dead then’ the Lord stated. Stewart had been to a few of these meetings before, and this “Dead Boy” had come up once or twice. He always wondered who they were talking about.

‘Should I send Markers to find her my Lord?’ the pale faced man asked.

‘No, she is not worthy of such a chase. Shoemaker will bring her in, and then he will turn her over to you Mr. Malfoy’ the Lord instructed. The pale Marker lowered his head in agreement, and looked over at Stewart with a displeased stare from his silver eyes.

‘Yes my Lord’ Stewart replied.

‘Good. Go, and bring this woman in. She is a threat that must be squashed. Bella, Malfoy will stay, the rest of you go.’

Stewart stood, bowed to the Lord’s projection, and left. The other Council members, a fat man with a pointy face scurried out first, and then the two other members walked behind Stewart. One was a woman, middle aged and looking thoroughly displeased with herself, and the other was the Director of the Broadband Network, or BN. He was in charge of all the media coverage in Britain—specifically in London. He was about the only member of the Council—aside from Stewart—that did not give such a . . . strange vibe.

Stewart went straight back to the office, and found Joseph still there.

‘So, how was it?’ he asked as Stewart took off his coat and sat down in his computer chair.

‘Well, they didn’t black bag me. I found out her first name used to be Hermy-own, or something like that.’

‘Hermy-what?’ Joseph asked, with a quirked brow.

‘I know, strange name. I should have asked for the spelling, though knowing those Markers they probably don’t know how to spell’ Stewart quipped, getting a shushing motion from Joseph.

‘Stewart, be quiet! At least get me to do this first’ he said, taking out what looked like small cell phone, and propping it up on his desk. A little red light flashed for a moment, before turning green.

‘There! Now, the name again was . . .’ Joseph started, typing away at his computer.

‘Hermy-something. Hermy-own, Hermy-scone, I don’t know’ Stewart said frustratedly.

Joseph went ahead and searched it only, and found a name close to it. ‘Here, from a Shakespeare play: Hermione. That sound close?’

‘That’s it! How did you find out?’

‘Please, what’s the best way to find anything on everything?’ Joseph asked, receiving a smile from Stewart.

‘God bless the man who invented Google. He had to be English’ Stewart declared, typing in Hermione Granger into the government database.

A file popped up, and Stewart clicked on it, with Joseph coming behind and leaning down.

‘Anything good?’ he asked, Stewart reading the information.

‘Hmm’ Stewart replied, scrolling down. ‘Raised in Somerset, parents were both dentists, died two years ago.’ He clicked on the parents names, and found their files as well.

‘Both parents were normal citizens until the riots before the reformation. One was killed by riot police, and the other was arrested and died in prison from a hunger strike’ Stewart read aloud.

‘Blimey’ Joseph commented, Stewart nodding.

‘Yeah. It’s strange, her education information is restricted, and it seems most of the important things—her friends, relatives, where she lived—all of it is restricted.’

‘Restricted even to you?’ Joseph asked.

‘Yeah . . . something doesn’t add up. I mean, I know information was lost during the reformation, but this is restricted.’

‘Perhaps we should contact the Markers, maybe they can release the information?’ Joseph asked, Stewart letting out a laugh and look at him.

‘Joseph, when have Markers released any information on anything? They bury information . . . and people’ he asserted. ‘No, this Granger girl, there’s something up about her.’

‘You still don’t think she offed those Markermen?’ Joseph asked, leaning back on a file cabinet.

‘Well . . . I mean, I’m not sure. We don’t even know how they died. We need to get to her, and find out more information. The government wants her found, so we need to focus on that.’ Stewart leaned back in his chair for a moment, and thought to himself. ‘Alright, we’ll start by asking neighbors and other tenants. Perhaps we’ll get somewhere there.’

‘Alright’ Joseph asked, giving a yawn and stretching his arms.

‘We’ll have to start tomorrow since it’s too late now. Be here early and we’ll canvas the area’ Stewart stated, the yawn now infecting him.

‘Hey, I’m always early’ Joseph maintained, smiling, and picking up his coat and his little cell-phone like device. He left moments later, and Stewart was left in the office by himself, looking at the picture of Hermione.

‘What is the story behind you?’

*


‘Neville?’ Hermione questioned, as she slept on the couch. It was night, and the two of them spent the entire day inside Neville’s house. A police officer or two came to the house and asked if Neville had seen Mary Granger, but he of course said no. They were tense moments for Hermione, but she braved through them in Neville’s basement, and at night, she came upstairs and slept on his couch.

She had heard a noise in the darkened house, and wondered if it was Neville upstairs in his room. It seemed like it was the wind—or perhaps Crookshanks still getting used to the new home—but she laid back down, and sighed.

She wondered what she would do, now that it seemed the government was looking into her past. They would find out about her name change, her real history, and then all hell would break loose. She put her hands to her face, and breathed slowly to try and calm herself.

‘You did well to follow my advice’ that same deep, yet calm voice sounded from the darkness as before. Hermione bolted up quickly and nearly shrieked when she saw the man who called himself V standing just on the other side of the kitchen. His wide brimmed hat was lowered, but you could just make out the edge of the ivory mask.

‘How did you get in here?’ she asked, clutching her chest as she gained her breath.

‘You seem to forget that magic has it’s uses—good and bad’ V replied calmly.

‘What are you doing here? Are you a Marker?’ Hermione asked abruptly. She did not intend to sound so forward with the questions, but the words escaped her mouth too quickly.

‘I, like Apollo, try to find my way in this chaotic world to help those such as yourself. As for a Marker, some would say I am a Marker of sorts.’

‘Alright, are you a good guy or a bad guy?’ Hermione asked simply, pulling the blanket closer to her. She was, after all, only in her pajamas.

‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so*’ V spoke airily.

‘That doesn’t really tell me the answer’ she asserted, hearing V breathe—something close to a chuckle.

‘Whether I tell you I am good or bad makes no difference, for I could say either and lie both times. I was merely saying it matters what you think I am, not what I tell you.’

Hermione of course, still had no answer; nothing definitive anyways. She sat up, and V walked into the living room. His black cloak hung just an inch or so above the floor, and his black boots made a heavy thud with each step.

‘Why are you here, right now’ she questioned.

‘To warn you once again.’

‘They aren’t coming now are they?’ Hermione asked worriedly, instinctively turning to look out the window. Luckily, she only found an empty street.

‘No, not now, but soon. You are not safe here Hermione, even with Neville and your beloved cat. You must leave the city, or they will capture you. Believe me Hermione, you do not wish to be captured.’

‘But they already know where I live, and what I look like! How did they find out?’ Hermione asked with a stressed voice.

‘It does not matter how they found out, only that they know. You must leave Neville and everything behind by tomorrow, or they will find you, and no one will ever see you again.’

Hermione was panicking in her mind with all the reality that was storming at her. She could not believe that only two days before she was at her flat, watching television with Crookshanks on her lap. Now, she was discussing leaving London—and possibly Britain—to a man in a mask in Neville’s living room at, she checked her watch, three a.m.

‘Why are you helping me?’ she asked V seriously. V stepped forward, and leaned down to look at her, his mask now fully visible. The black moustache followed the brim of the mouth, and the eyes were contrastive black to the white of the face.

‘Because you helped me once’ he spoke softly. Hermione’s mind was intrigued by this statement, and she began flipping through all the people she knew who could fit V’s profile. Of course, she quickly found that none of her past friends or acquaintances fit the profile.

‘I helped you?’ she asked, V nodding.

‘Yes, a long time ago, when we were both different people. Tell me Hermione, what are you doing at the moment?’

Hermione was surprised by the off topic question, but answered she was sleeping. Even she thought a man in a mask could see that.

‘Ah, of course. Would you be interested in seeing the performance I will be giving tonight?’

‘Performance?’ she asked worriedly.

‘Yes, music of course. I consider myself quite an excellent musician, and I would be most honoured if you would join me’ he expressed cheerfully, offering his hand.

‘I don’t think I should, I should get to bed and-‘

‘I promise it will be like nothing you have ever seen, and on my word, you will be brought back here afterwards.’

‘I’m sorry, but, I mean, I’m in my pajamas and-‘ Hermione began, however V quickly gave a whisk of his wand, and Hermione was suddenly dressed in jeans, a jumper, and a light Autumn jacket.

Hermione looked over her new clothes, and found them to fit rather well. She looked up at V, and could tell he was smiling—if only a little—under the mask.

‘Alright, but we must be back quickly’ she declared. She could not believe she was agreeing to go, but some part of her wanted to find out who this V was. She knew him from the past somehow; she just had this feeling about it. Plus, she had to admit, he did save her twice already.

Taking his outstretched hand—on which he wore a black, leather glove—her hand was soon grasped by V’s strong, and considerably larger hand. She moved over closer to him, and it was here again that she realized that he was a tall man. Perhaps the boots put on a few inches, but he was easily half a dozen inches taller than her. That eliminated some of her old friends, but most were still possibilities.

‘We will Apparate there, so please keep a hold, and focus on staying with me’ V instructed. Hermione nodded, and with a twist of his frame, Hermione twisting as well, the two of them Apparated with crack.

After another bout of siphoning and tube-like squeezing, her feet landed on the solid of a rooftop, which she realized a moment later, was in London. She looked about as V let go of her hand, and she glanced up and down the empty street that was below them, and to the skyline in front of her.

‘I’ve been here before’ Hermione commented, as she looked at the store fronts and other buildings on the street. V took a step forward, and Hermione’s eyes fell on him again.

‘Of course you have. Doesn’t that phone booth look familiar?’

Hermione looked towards where his mask was looking, and saw the red phone booth she remembered cramming into with her other friends years before.

‘The Ministry?’ she questioned, V nodding slowly.

‘Yes. Now part of Voldemort’s government’ V explained, Hermione’s mind filling of memories at the mention of Voldemort’s name.

Memories of that last day, with the fall of Hogwarts and the beginning of the fires across the highlands raced through her mind. She remembered how Voldemort swept through the castle—killing students and staff without mercy. The vision of Colin Creevy falling after trying to protect Remus Lupin, who had fallen after being blasted off a staircase, and then of Remus himself getting killed by that horrible green light moved in front of Hermione’s eyes.

‘Hermione, are you alright?’ V asked, his mask looking at her.

‘Oh, yes, I’m alright. You’re giving a musical performance here? I don’t see any instruments’ Hermione mentioned, not feeling to sure of her decision.

‘I see your sense of observation is still working well’ V quipped, taking out his wand. ‘But for this I will call upon much more than just a single instrument. Oh no, for this, it requires much more’ he boasted, raising his wand.

'Tell me Hermione, do you know the date?' he asked calmly, his wand still raised. Hermione boggled her mind for a moment before answering.

'Well, it would be . . . November the fifth.'

'Precisely, two years since Hogwarts fell' V pointed out quietly, taking a step forward and looking upwards, and a distant clocktower rang out three a.m.

'Remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason, and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot' he whispered, looking back down.

‘V, what are you doing?’ Hermione asked, as she looked about, wondering what he had planned.

'Life may change, but it may fly not; hope may vanish, but can die not. Truth be veiled, but still it burneth; love repulsed, - but it returneth**' he whispered again, his voice being carried by the light wind to Hermione's ears.

He took his wand, and began moving it about like he was a conductor for a symphony, moving it about slowly and fluidly. Hermione began to question V’s sanity, when she could only seconds later, began hearing music through the air.

‘I hear it!’ she declared, as the music built in volume.

‘Of course you do, but wait. Wait for the crescendo!’ he stated, as his conducting became more and more emphasized. Just as the music seemed to reach it’s loud point, and Hermione could see people from their flats leaning out to wonder where it came from, V came down with his wand, and a blue spark shot out and hit the red phone booth.

An almighty explosion came from below, and the phone booth blasted into thousands of pieces. The ground shook as the street began to rumble, and a blast erupted out of the pavement, and Hermione shielded her eyes as debris shot high into the air, as the music continued to play all around her. Hermione glanced at V, and he was still swishing his wand about, shooting off blue sparks towards the street below as the pavement continued to give away.

‘Verisignum!’ V shouted as he raised his wand in the air, and two massive bolts of white light rose above the rooftop—and the smoldering crater than now existed where the Ministry once was—and etched a white V high in the night sky.

It took a few moments for Hermione to realize that the man who saved her from the Markers, and the police, just blew up the entire Ministry.

Hermione had no idea who or what V was, but he was definately not a Marker.



Spell/Name/Verse Meanings:
Stewart Shoemaker - Stewart = Old English: stig - house, weard - guard, Shoemaker = A shoe maker, a small profession (Stewart Shoemaker = House guard of a small profession)
Joseph Placord - Joesph = Latin: Iosephus, from the Greek Ιωσηφος (Iosephos), from Hebrew יוֹסֵף (Yosef) - he will add, Placord = plac: Placidus - quiet, ord: Ordinatus - order, orderly (Joseph Placord = He will add quiet and order)
Apollo - Greek God, one of his symbols is that of protection.
*Quote from Hamlet, Act II, Scene II
**Quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley, English Romantic poet, 1792 - 1822
Versignum - L. verum - truth, signum - mark

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