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"How did Czarny manage to coordinate this with both teams?" Moody asked, as they set off for the stadium at a jog. It was no easy task to run with a peg leg, but Moody was managing better than Barnes, who looked like he had never set a pace faster than a walk. It didn't help that they all had to concentrate on avoiding the trees of the forest in which the stadium was situated.

"Mostly bribery," Barnes gasped. "But also... each team'd get a close match. Exciting... for the fans. Good... for... exposure. And of course... no one knows that something... awful... will happen at 100-all."

"But why would he do something at this match, of all matches?" Tonks asked.

"It's crowded place, few exits," Moody said. "Appleby has one of the bigger stadiums in the country. And when things go wrong at an event this big, it's ten times worse than any other disaster. Especially when it involves innocent bystanders. It angers a lot of people." From his tone, it was clear that he was one of the said people.

"Important people... go to Quidditch games," Barnes added. "I heard that Amelia... Aubin... would be here today."

"Who?"

"Head of the International Quidditch Association," Moody said, "and married to the French Minister of Magic."

"High profile woman, then."

"Very."

"What's our game plan?" Tonks asked.

"Wait until we get inside," Moody said. Indeed, they were nearly there. The buzz that had rung in the back of the conversation became a roar as the trio burst out of the forest and into the clearing where the stadium waited. People were still milling around outside, some sporting capes with fluttering bat wings and others clutching silver arrows in hand. One of them had dark, curly hair that gave Tonks a jolt— until he stepped aside to let a group of teenage boys through, and his face was nothing like Jempton's.

Barnes flashed his credentials at the front gate, as did Moody and Tonks. Then they were in.

Tonks fought a surge of panic as she surveyed the stands. Up till now, she had approached this case like any other: something was wrong, and it would be fixed. Like cleaning charms on messy rooms, the type her mother always used. And just like with her mother's house-cleaning tricks, Tonks might not do it perfectly the first time around, but she would get it done. That was what the Auror office had commended her for, when she was training. Her willingness to get it done— even when it couldn't be accomplished with just the flick of a wand.

But here, Tonks saw something that might take more wand-flicks than she had in her. Twenty, maybe thirty thousand people, a sea of black and sky blue. And among them, one dangerous man and one important lady. Most likely less than an hour to find both. Less than an hour to stop a catastrophe.

Tonks felt Moody's hand on her shoulder, his version of "It's going to be okay."

"Mr. Barnes," he said, raising his voice over the crowd. At that moment they were jostled by a group of women in their late forties, all wearing matching hats to support the Arrows. They screamed as the two teams flew out onto the field and lined up, ready for the announcer to bellow their names to the fans.

"Mr. Barnes," Moody repeated. "We'll take it from here on out. It would be most helpful right now if you went to oversee stadium security."

"Of course, Mr. Moody," Barnes said. Still red-faced from the run, he scampered off.

"Now," Moody began, just as the announcer launched into his introduction.

"Welcome, witches and wizards, to Emmop Stadium! I'd like to introduce you to our visiting team... The Ballycastle Bats!"

Moody's rolled his eyes, even the large one. With a wave of his wand, the people around them fell silent. Tonks could see their mouths move as they cheered, and saw their hands blur as they clapped, but no sound came out. It was as if Tonks and Moody were in a sound proof bubble, and the rest of the world was hollering on the other side. In fact, that appeared to be exactly what he'd created. A sound bubble.

"Nice one," Tonks said.

Moody nodded. "As I was saying," he said, "we've got a lot of ground to cover. Amelia Aubin is one issue; she'll have a seat, probably a whole box, that's been reserved by either the IQA or the French Ministry. And of course we need to find our man before the score hits 100-all."

"But, Alastor," Tonks said, "why not cancel the whole match? It hasn't even started yet." Indeed, some man-made clouds were still spelling out the surnames of the Arrows as they were introduced one by one.

"Because then Czarny would escape," Moody said. "And probably go on to create another plan, a worse plan, one we might not be lucky enough to know about ahead of time."

"Listen to yourself," Tonks said. Moody raised an eyebrow, but she plowed on. "We don't know for sure it's Czarny, and we don't even know what's going to happen! Why would you risk all these people's lives, just because you might catch one bad guy?"

"Because," Moody said, "it's our job. These judgement calls are things you learn to make, over time."

"Judgement calls? Tell that to all these people!"

"Tonks," Moody said. He focused both eyes on her own, a gaze so strong she had to fight to return it. "I have complete trust in us— both of us. If we stop wasting time, we'll pull this off. So right now, I need you to put these people out of your minds, and focus on Czarny. That's the only way to do it."

For a moment, the crowd was not only silent, it was gone. Tonks saw only Moody. Had that been praise, hidden in there somewhere? Had he complimented her?

"Good," Moody said, taking her silence as a victory on his end. "Now, I need you to find Amelia and get her out of the stadium. She probably won't believe you, and she probably has her own bodyguard or two and will tell you she's safe. But you must get her to leave as quickly as you can."

Tonks nodded and looked around the stadium, which Moody brought roaring back to life with a wave of his wand. Thousands of heads bobbed in every color possible, moved and squirmed like a mass of ants about a picnic. She supposed she'd better start with the boxes that ringed the stands from both sides. But it might not be fast enough, and she knew Moody had thought of that.

"And what will you be doing?"

"I'm going after Czarny."

No surprise there. "Wouldn't two be better than one, against him?"

Moody shook his head, already scanning the stands. "We don't have time. This is how we need to do it."

The fans' screams grew louder as the referee flew up to the two teams that hovered in formation, ready to begin. He had a Quaffle in hand and a flash of a whistle in the other. Their clock was about to start.

"Good luck," Moody said, already turning. "And move fast!"

The crowd swelled as the referee lobbed the Quaffle upwards and the match began. A player clad in black immediately swiped it out of the air and headed for the opposing hoops. Two passes and one off-kilter Bludger later, the score was ten-nil.

Tonks got moving.


Amelia Aubin accepted a glass of water from the second-in-command of the Department of Magical Games and Sports. Even as he spoke eagerly of dates and brackets for next year, she kept one eye on the match. It may have been two low ranking teams, but she still noticed the sharp turns of the Arrows' main Chaser and the perfectly-timed coordination of the Bats' Beaters. She never underestimated the underdogs.

"You used to play, didn't you?" the official asked, when he finally realized that he was losing her attention to the match in front of them.

"Starting with my second year at Hogwarts," she replied. "Unfortunately, there came a time when my knowledge of Quidditch outgrew my actual skill. That's how I ended up here."

He laughed. "You're being modest, I'm sure. I remember when you played for the Requins."

"Your memory is faltering then, Rob." She added, grinning, "The only reason I got a contract was because the French league was in chaos. Player strikes left and right."

"I know at least that it all turned out well in the end."

"A league title and a future husband," Amelia admitted. "All in a day's work."

They turned back to the match, just in time to see the Arrows score. The player swung around the hoops, pumping his fist, before rejoining the match.

"40-40 already," Rob remarked. "This is going to be a quick match, if the Seekers are playing anything like the Chasers."


Tonks ran up step after step, legs now beginning to get sore with all the exercise. After three unhelpful stadium workers, she had had to find her way to the ticket box and convince the man there to let her see a supervisor. Several tiers of bureaucracy later, she had Amelia Aubin's box number in hand and a long flight of steps above her.

There was surely a lift somewhere, but Tonks wasn't going to waste any time trying to find it. She had just seen the Bats pull ahead 60-40, and judging by the screams of blue-clad fans, the Arrows would soon catch up. At this rate, she was putting her bets on Moody.

"Self-waving flag, miss?"

A stadium employee stood above her, a basket of souvenirs strapped his chest. Tonks shook her head and tried to dodge him, but he grabbed her arm.

"How about a program? A talking pin?"

"Not now," Tonks gasped. She shook him off and tried to continue her run, but her elbow caught his basket first. Flags went flying; a stack of hats bounced down the steps. Heads began to turn.

"Sorry!" Tonks shouted over her shoulder. She pushed on up the stairs as the Arrows made it 60-50, arrived on the level of the boxes when it was 60-60.

A security guard was hanging outside of Amelia's box, and he snapped to attention when Tonks skidded up to him.

"Nymphadora Tonks, Auror," she said, holding up her credentials. "I need to see Mrs. Aubin immediately."

"Could I see that, please?"

She handed over her ID and shifted from foot to foot while he read it, the whole thing.

"It's rather urgent," she added.

"Very well," he said, returning the ID. He did not notice as something silvery began to take shape behind him. "I'll bring you in."

"Actually, I need a moment," Tonks said. She turned on her heel and ran back to the steps, ignoring his puzzled look. She rounded a corner and crouched by the ground. Moody's Patronus, a now fully-formed tattered hawk, had followed. It opened its beak and spoke in his voice.

"I found our informant. He gave me a description of Czarny— tall and lanky, dark blonde hair. Mid to late forties. Is fairly certain he's here, but hasn't seen him yet. I'm betting he's in disguise. Informant also says that he has reason to believe Czarny's plan involves something with the match tickets. He's looking into it. Will keep you updated. Continue getting Aubin as far away as possible."

The Patronus dissolved, and Tonks glanced up to see two men walking down the corridor toward Amelia Aubin's box. She had heard their voices a moment ago, but had been too focused on Moody's message to glance up.

She ran back to the security guard, who had stopped the men, thank Merlin. If Moody was right, anybody could be Czarny.

"Sorry about that," she said to the security guard, who gave her a look and waved her in. However, one of the men turned around at the sound of her voice and she got a shock.

"Jempton?" she said. "Kenneth Jempton?"

"Tonks, what're you doing here?"

"Just... checking up on things," she said. "What're you doing here?"

"I was told I'd be able to speak to Amelia Aubin," he said, now turning back to the security guard. Tonks now saw that he had his bag with him, the one she saw him bring to work every day. The man beside him clutched a clunky camera.

"No media," the security guard said. "Strictly prohibited."

Tonks heard a few cheers from inside the box. Peering inside the open door, she saw through the windows that the scoreboard was flashing. It was now 80-70, Bats.

"They're with me," she said pushing past the security guard. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm in a bit of a hurry."

The security guard frowned as Jempton and the cameraman followed her inside. There were maybe ten witches and wizards there, all in nice robes and many of them holding plates of hors d'oeuvres or drinks. They all glanced up as Tonks entered, but Tonks had already caught sight of the woman who had to be Amelia Aubin.

She was one of only two people actually sitting outside and watching the match. While the man next to her chatted and gestured broadly, she smiled and nodded and continued to check on the Quidditch being played not twenty feet from her. Relaxed in her chair, a Golden Snitch pin shimmering on her robes, she looked entirely fit for her job. Her hair even glowed a deep red in the sun, like the Quidditch gods were smiling down on her.

Tonks made a beeline for the balcony. She got to the doorway just in time for Amelia Aubin and her friend to look up, just in time to see a cloud of bluish-green smoke erupt in the stands below. Her first thought was the score— but the scoreboard opposite her was only at 80-80. Either Czarny had jumped the gun, or this was a whole new problem.

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