Awesome chapter image by Sarah_Bee107 @ TDA
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of Rowling’s work. However, all OCs mentioned herein belong to me.
Chapter Fourteen Rebellion
Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war-John Adams
Artemisia pulled the brim of her hat down, guarding against the raindrops pelting her cheeks. A cold, autumnal mist settled about her shoulders, leaving her shivering in her boots. Warm, damp bodies pressed upon her as the theater crowd left a popular matinee.
They’d never find their man at this rate.
A sense of claustrophobia assaulted her and with difficulty, Artemisia forced it away. Turning her left shoulder into the crowd, she kept one hand clasped on her discreetly pocketed wand and waded through the theater goers.
“Lovely performance!” one dandy gentleman was crowing.
“Proper Shakespeare at last,” another agreed.
“Oh, bother this rain.” A large lady wearing several yards of elaborate brocaded fabric batted about her hands uselessly. “Are there no cabs to be had?”
As if in response to her complaint, a stagecoach trundled over the cobblestones, the large wheels churning in the sludge that clogged the street.
Artemisia smelled the sweat rising off the horses, saw them straining their mouths against the bits and fussing between the traces.
The large woman was helped into the conveyance by the driver and in a moment, they had sped off. For an instant, Artemisia was afforded a clear view of the broad London street. The crowd parted and she noticed a tall, stone-faced girl with cropped black hair standing on the other side of the gutter.
They exchanged curt nods.
Establish a perimeter. Flush out the Fox.
Artemisia understood what she had to do.
Breaking from the crowd, she took to the gutter, her boots steeped in muck. The rain quickened as her partner Pervall joined her. Walking side-by-side down the avenue, they kept a distance of two feet between them when possible. Riders trotted their hacks down the road, scattering urchins and peddlers alike. Beneath her feet, Artemisia felt the subtle pulse of London.
It was different from Paris, yes, less beguiling. Brash. Honest. And undeniably English.
A hint of a smile touched her lips, but quickly faded when Pervall paused.
Artemisia watched as the woman touched her left hand to her nose.
The Fox was twenty paces ahead of them, but otherwise separated by a wagon bundled high with firewood. He wasn’t an impressive wizard by the looks of it, but had somehow managed to garner the unusual sobriquet of “Fox”.
Without a word, Artemisia separated from Pervall. It wasn’t enough to bag the Fox out in the open like this. Too many Muggles. An alley would do, or a secluded doorway.
Keeping her eyes on the Fox, she approached him in a wide circle, casting nonverbal Dispelling Charms to drive the Muggle pedestrians into the gutter. The Fox was haplessly swept up by the changing crowd and he moved away from the wagon, crossed the gutter and slipped down a side-street.
The smile returned to Artemisia’s face. Jolly good. She’d be back at the Ministry in time for tea.
She followed the Fox down the side-street, waiting until the din from the crowds lulled to hum a before extracting her wand from her pocket. Halfway down the lane, she stopped and pointed it directly at her quarry’s back.
The Fox turned around, revealing himself to be a short, chubby balding man of about forty. He looked at her with curious eyes.
“Yes?” His plain, American accent jarred her slightly.
“You are hereby placed under arrest by the Auror Office of Great Britain for suspicion of sedition. Kindly surrender your wand.”
Fledge hesitated. “I beg your pardon?”
Artemisia shifted her stance so she that could see the rest of the ally behind Fledge. A tall shadow at the other end told her that Pervall had gotten there already.
With any luck, they would be able to make quick work of this.
“Your wand, please,” she said, this time a bit more firmly.
Pervall moved closer, her boots striking the cobblestones.
Fledge whirled around, his eyes now wide. “I say, what’s all this? I’m not rightly guilty of anything.”
“Filthy spy,” Pervall spat, her wand now pointed directly between Fledge’s eyes. “Bloody American.”
Artemisia sensed the growing anger in her partner’s voice and it made her uncomfortable.
Fledge, although suspected of feeding information to the newly formed Continental Army in the colonies, had been convicted of nothing.
“You’re to be brought in for questioning,” Artemisia said, realizing that Fledge wasn’t prepared to come quietly. Damn it all!
Pervall raised her green eyes over Fledge’s pudgy shoulder and glared at her.
Artemisia knew that she’d have to stun the man.
But Fledge, surprisingly, was quicker. In a sudden whir of flesh and reddish fur, he had transformed into a fox. With a saucy flick of his tail, he bounded down the alley, deftly hopping over puddles and darting between moldy barrels.
“Merlin’s bones, Lufkin!” Pervall shrieked. “Stun him! Stun him!”
“Damn it,” Artemisia growled to herself, casting a sloppy stunning spell after Fledge. He dodged it easily.
Pervall was already racing down the alley, sending spells careening after the beast.
Artemisia leapt after her and together they splashed through the gushing rainwater leaving the air stinking with ozone from misfired spells.
“We’re going to lose him,” she moaned miserably, watching as Fledge jumped from the lid of one barrel to another.
But their quarry paused a moment too long to flash them a cocky smile and Artemisia cast the first spell that came to mind.
Fledge was jerked by the scruff of his neck backward and straight into her outstretched arm.
“Levicorpus!” Pervall cried in return and Fledge was suspended by his right hind-leg from midair.
Artemisia released him in time to avoid his snapping jaws and doubled over her knees, entirely winded.
“Nasty little bugger,” she panted.
Pervall smiled grotesquely. “What do you expect from a traitor, Lufkin?”
Artemisia, for her part, did not reply.
It took an hour for Artemisia and Pervall to hand Fledge off to guards outside the courtrooms. Once they did, the man was promptly put into a holding cell with six other criminals awaiting arraignment. As a parting gesture, Fledge spat on Artemisia’s boots.
Pervall banged the bars of his cell with a roar, causing the other inmates to cower at her rage.
“It is fine,” Artemisia mumbled under her breath, tugging at her partner’s sleeve. “We ought to be upstairs. File our reports.”
Pervall wrinkled her pert nose as they climbed the stairs up from Level Ten. “You are getting better, Lufkin,” she commented airily. “That was some creative spell work.”
Artemisia shook her head dismissively, her hand sliding over the polished banister. “If only he hadn’t transformed, We had a tip that he was an Animagi.”
“Still.” Pervall threw an arm around her shoulders. “We got the dirty American bastard. He won’t be selling secrets across the sea anymore.”
Artemisia laughed weakly, her heart dropping a notch as she did so. What an utter farce. She’d been an Auror only since September and already she had been assigned the task of hunting down five suspected traitors to the Crown. This rebellion…this trouble in the colonies had made the Ministry paranoid and this business did not suit her at all.
Though God forbid she mention such to Pervall. Perhaps then she’d be lodged next to poor Fledge.
“Do you think he is guilty?” she asked lightly as they entered the Atrium. It was quiet this time of the day, with the companies of Aurors having already departed for the colonies in the morning hours. Artemisia disliked the silence of the place, the way her footsteps echoed over the hard, cold stones.
It made her feel watched.
“As sin, surely,” Pervall replied. “He’s a Yankee.”
“I know.” Artemisia nibbled at her lower lip, tasting stale sweat. “But doesn’t it strike you as odd? Not six months ago we still called the Americans our brethren. What has changed?”
Pervall raised her sharp, black brows. “Dammy, Lufkin. Are you daft?”
“In June, the Muggle Yankee rebels killed nearly one thousand redcoats at Breed’s Hill. If you ask me, they are the merciless whoresons, not us.”
“Quite right,” Artemisia replied half-heartedly. She shouldn’t even tempt Pervall with the discussion. Although she liked her partner well enough, the woman wasn’t the swiftest.
Sure, she could cast the right spells at the right time and hunt down the most villainous of criminals, but she knew nothing of the world.
And it was minds like hers that were ruining England.
Fortunately, Dick Hart was the Head of the Auror office and he had a good head on his shoulders, if not the best. Much to her surprise, Artemisia had fallen in with the man in a few short weeks and he had become an unlikely friend. They thought alike most of the time and when they didn’t, a good, lively debate was in order.
Who would have guessed that she would find the man she had dueled with companionably?
Certainly not Artemisia.
Passing through the Atrium, the two Aurors moved to another staircase that led down to the Second Level.
Pervall was still fuming about Fledge’s final gesture of disrespect.
“Such insolence,” she growled. “Do you know what I heard Lufkin? The Frenchies are looking to join up with them. Damn their blood, I swear. Treacherous snakes.”
“The French?” Artemisia bleated.
Now this was most assuredly a topic she wished to skirt.
Artemisia dropped her hands into her pockets to disguise their trembling. She could find herself in a right bit of trouble for not disclosing her marriage to Maxime to the Ministry. The Auror office was very particular when it came to the wizards and witches they hired. Those married to foreigners were always treated with the most careful scrutiny.
And as it was, Artemisia had not disclosed her marriage to anyone. Not even dear Tarquin and Papa. From what she knew, Maxime’s family was aware of his new wife, though not the least bit curious. In his letters, her husband briefly mentioned his sister Charlotte, though he never sent any tidings from her.
Of course, Artemisia had considered telling Dick of her wedded state, although she was always conquered by mindless fear in the end. With the Ministry in a state of such vigilance and paranoia, she could not afford to tarnish her standing.
“Oh, Lufkin! The list is up!” Pervall was standing at the bottom of the stairs outside the Auror office, gazing keenly at a long scroll of parchment that had been tacked to the wall.
Artemisia felt her stomach flip over. She clenched her fingers into fists inside her coat pockets.
Every day, more and more Aurors were being shipped to the colonies. And every day, Artemisia expected to be called.
Now that would be simply intolerable. At home, she could politely avoid discourse about the war and keep her opinions to herself. However, in backwater Boston, things would be markedly different.
“Which companies are they sending now?” she asked quietly, cold sweat beading her brow.
Pervall pressed a bony finger to the parchment and examined it. “The Forty-Fourth, but I heard last week that they were bound for Canada. Ah, there is a substitution! I was wrong. The Forty-Fourth is going to Nova Scotia. We, my dear, are marked for New York.”
Artemisia’s knees trembled and she sank down onto the last step. “What?”
“New York City, Lufkin. We’re both going to New York. I’ve heard tell that it’s a great deal like London. Oh, how very exciting! ”
Artemisia filed her report on Fledge in haste and fled the Auror office, heading down to the tiny tea room off the Atrium. It was a popular gathering spot for politicians of all standing, although Artemisia often found herself there after hours, straining to overhear what Ministry gossip she could.
Today, she kept to herself in the corner and had a house elf bring her a scalding hot pot of tea and some scones. And as she stared into her china cup, she saw her face reflected in the amber liquid, saw her panicked frown and wild, wide eyes.
Oh well, she had known this was coming for a long time.
But now what? How long would she be in the colonies for? And Merlin’s blood, what would happen there?
War, yes, war would happen.
There was no avoiding it.
Artemisia wrenched off her hat and flung it aimlessly across the small room. She had expected to hear it hit the floor with a thud, but instead, a muted gasp sounded.
“Violence,” Dick Hart laughed as he twirled her hat in his hand. “Such unnecessary violence.”
“Sir!” Artemisia hopped to her feet, blushing. “Forgive me. I-”
“I assume you have seen the new list then?” Dick placed her hat on the table and lowered himself onto a chair across from her. “You know, I could have guessed you would give me trouble, Auror Lufkin.”
Artemisia dropped back into her seat and stared at her hands. “I won’t sir,” she replied. “Not if it is my duty.”
“Dammy, Artemisia, you are not that mindless.”
She said nothing, but poured him a cup of tea. Dick sipped it, pursing his lips against the cup.
“You are bound for New York City in a week. Most of the Muggle forces of our army have concentrated there. They were forced to withdraw from Boston after Mr. Washington built his earthworks and pointed heavy artillery at the town. Imagine! Our great army running from a few ragtag rebels.”
“The King and his ministers must be incensed.”
“Hmm, it is all a grand farce.”
“Quite my sentiments,” Artemisia dared.
Dick surveyed her calmly. “Indeed. You are an odd one. Although I must say, the war is not popular.”
Artemisia played with her spoon, tracing circles around her saucer. “You think I am seditious, sir?”
“Good Lord, no…well, not unless you intended to kill me with that hat.”
Artemisia’s blush deepened. “I must sound entirely ungrateful. A year ago I would not have dreamed of a career as an Auror. And now that I have it-”
“You are not satisfied?” Dick steepled his fingers.
“I am!” Artemisia replied readily.
“But you do not support this war?”
She hesitated, mulled over his question. It was a dangerous one.
“I support England in all her endeavors.”
Dick smiled widely. “Very well. I can see that I have backed you into a corner. I’ll leave off. But I’m afraid I cannot have disgruntled Aurors in the colonies. This is no time for uncertainty.”
“I understand, sir.” In one gulp, Artemisia downed the rest of her tea, her eyes stinging as it burned her throat.
“And yet you’ve worked well for the department,” Dick continued. He laid one of his hands flat on the table, palm upward.
Artemisia felt her eyes widened. “You are awfully considerate, sir.”
“Not entirely.” Dick took one last sip of his tea and then turned the empty cup upside down on its saucer. “I like to think that I am pragmatic. You should strive to be the same. Emotion does you no good.”
Dick rose slowly, his smile fading a little. “No more complaints then?”
Artemisia withheld a sigh. She knew she could not pick and chose her assignments. If this was the best that the Auror office had to offer now, then she would have to accept it.
“None, sir,” she replied.
The colonies awaited her.
After her meeting with Dick, Artemisia found herself in a sour mood. She finished up her work at the Auror office and headed home to her flat just as twilight began to fall. On the shadowed stairs outside her apartment, however, she noticed that her door had been left ajar.
Of course, she had locked it that morning.
Instinct kicking in, Artemisia withdrew her wand and hugged the wall on her way up the stairs.
The glow from a single candle spilled out into the hall, silhouetting a solitary figure standing in her parlor.
Artemisia strained her eyes against the darkness. “Who is there?”
The figure started and whirled around, a long traveling cloak dusting the floor.
Artemisia dropped her wand. “Maxime!”
Author’s Note: Argh! Sorry it took me so long to post this chapter. I actually had it finished last week, but I was away for the entire weekend on a short vacation. And of course, being my usual nitpicky-self, I could not post this chapter without obsessively reading it over twenty times, haha. ^_^
Thank you so much for taking the time to read! If you have a spare moment, please leave a review. I cherish all feedback.
The next chapter should be posted no later than August 25th. I hope you have a great week!
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