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     In a dimly lit dungeon, Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt lay unconscious on the floor.  A mysterious, shadowy figure stood just outside the iron door to the cell that held them.  He was gazing intently at his victims making plans for what he could do as long as no one found out that they were missing. Everything was hinging on Roger and Penelope’s ability to convince the public that nothing was wrong. If they did so successfully, then they could affect drastic change in England and possibly across Europe. His thoughts were interrupted by Terry Boot coming down the hall.

    Cautiously, she approached him, tip-toeing as she got closer. “Boss, what can I do for you?”

    “Move Shacklebolt to another cell.  These are two of the most powerful wizards alive. We must keep them separate. Together they have the potential to overpower us all.”

    “But we’ve already confiscated their wands.”

    The shadow chuckled. “There are ways to create magic without a wand. I wouldn’t put it past either of these two to know how to do it. 

    Terry looked like she might argue, but thought better of it. Slipping her wand from her pocket she whispered “Levicorpus”. Kingsley’s body lifted up into the air, floating idly.  Terry waved her wand once more and turned to walk down the hallway with Kingsley’s body trailing behind her.

    Returning quickly, she asked “Anything else, boss?”

    “Go and get the others.  I plan to wake our guests soon and ask them a few questions.  Even separated and without wands there is the potential for either of them to cause problems. Kingsley in particular strikes me as a real fighter, so I’d like to have as many people possible to guard them while I do the interrogating.”

    Terry shuffled quickly down the hallway to retrieve the rest of the group.

    The shadowy, dark figure lifted his wand, pointing it directly at the unconscious form of Minerva McGonagall. “Enervate.” He whispered.

     

     

    Minerva McGonagall woke up suddenly, as if she had just been hit by an electric shock.  Her whole body throbbed with pain and her memory was fuzzy.  She tried to sit up, but found it impossible due to the ropes that were constricting her movements. They were wrapped so tightly around her arms and legs that they cut into her papery skin like razors. Her chest throbbed and ached from where she was hit with the stunning spells. Fear was starting to set in, but she fought to stay calm. Panicking would not help the current situation.

    Quickly, she scanned her surroundings.  It looked as though she were in some type of dungeon cell. Three of the walls and the floor were made with thick, rough stone that scrapped against her aging flesh.  There were no windows that she could locate and the front of the cell seemed to be guarded by large, metal bars. A faint glow around them suggested that they were shielded to block any magic she might attempt.  The only light in the room came from one small torch, just outside of the cell, which cast strange shadows across everything. Just as she was studying the front of the cell, trying to find a door, one of the shadows moved.

    “Hello? Who’s there?”

    Silence was the only answer she received.  Minerva knew that someone of great magical power was standing just a few feet away.  She could feel their presence radiating all around.

    “Please, just tell me why I’m here? What do you want with me?”

    A deep, mischievious laugh emminated from the spot where the shadow stood. The maniacal sound of it sent chills down Minerva’s spine. Once more she fought to maintain her composure. She would not allow her kidnappers to see her crack under pressure.

    “Oh, my dearest Minerva. That’s a complicated question to answer.  I guess the simplest response would be that for now we need your hair.”

    The shadow’s voice sounded vaguely familiar to Minerva, but she couldn’t quite place why.  It was certainly the voice of a man, definitely a younger man, but not childish.  His speech came across quite friendly, but she wasn’t fooled.  Every word dripped with the eminent threat of danger.

    “As you may have guessed by now, we have switched you and Kingsley with members of our group.  Of course, no one will know that as long as they keep taking the polyjuice potion that I’ve prepared for them.”

    Adrenaline shot through Minerva’s veins. She couldn’t seem to see Kingsley anywhere in the darkness. The fear that he might be dead almost paralyzed her.  “Is Kingsley still alive?”

    “For now. Like I said, we need your hair and his as well. That seems to be reason enough to keep you both alive for the moment.  Besides, there are a lot of questions that I have for the both of you.”

    “May I speak to Kingsley?” Minerva held her breath while waiting for the reply. She doubted that the shadow would acquiesce, but she had to try. If only she could get to Kingsley, she thought they might have a chance to escape.

    “You must think me a fool.  You will stay separate and for now I think you will just have to trust my word when I say that he is alive. I think I’ve given you sufficient reason to believe it.”

    Minerva tried to shift her body weight off of her left arm and shoulder, but only succeeded in causing a shooting pain through her chest.  The pressure that the ropes put on her joints made her feel as if she might explode.

    As she was trying to get more comfortable a group of people in black cloaks with hoods approached the front of her cell. She could tell they were all staring in at her and found herself feeling like a zoo animal on display.  The man in the shadows reached forward, putting his hand up to one of the bars on her cell, and suddenly they moved apart, creating something like a door for the group to enter. Only the mysterious shadow stayed out of the cell.

     “Now Minerva, we are going to cut you free of those ropes, but if you try to escape or attack anyone there are five guards standing just a few feet away who will immediately subdue you. Do you understand?”

    “Attack you? How can I attack you when you’ve taken my wand?”

    A deep sigh vibrated against the walls. “Don’t play stupid with me.  I know you are capable of wandless magic.  You might not be quite as powerful as Dumbledore once was, but I’m still not going to take my chances with you. So I’ll ask you again. Do you understand?”

    Minerva clenched her jaw tightly. “I understand.”

    One of the group members cautiously approached the spot where Minerva lay.  He roughly rolled her onto her stomach, waved his wands, and whispered “Diffindo.”  The ropes fell away from her aching body.  She groaned as she tried to move her limbs. It was agonizing, particularly in her right shoulder, which she feared might have some torn ligaments.

    “I’m going to sit up, if that’s alright.” No one said anything as she slowly lifted herself into a sitting position.  Her bones creaked and her muscles protested, but wincing several times she was finally able to sit upright against the wall.

    “Now Minerva.” The man in the shadow began “I need to ask you a series of questions. I know that you will be naturally inclined to not answer, but I assure you it will be easier for both of us if you do.  You see, eventually you will answer me whether you want to or not. If you try to refuse, I will be forced to use other methods. Those other methods could get quite painful and frankly sometimes they get messy. No one really wants to have to do it that way, so how about we just make it easy?”

    Blood was rushing to Minerva’s head and there was a slight ringing in her ears. She understood what was being said very clearly. Either betray everyone she cared about to keep herself safe or be tortured until she gave up. Thoughts shot rapidly through her mind.  She knew that she would have to feed them enough information to keep them satisfied, but not enough to really compromise anything. Maybe slip in a lie or two to throw them off. For the time being, it was the best she could do.

    When Minerva felt like she had her strategy in place, she whispered “What do you want to know?”

     

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