While Draco worked to erase Craig’s memories of the very confusing events that had just transpired, Scorpius was hard at work, waving his wand through the air and making the damage to the flat repair itself. He fixed the window with relative ease and even managed to get some of the blood stains out of the carpet. He was just about to try prying the disc blade out of the wall when it suddenly began to glow.
A moment later, it had extracted itself from where it had struck and changed in mid-air before falling to the floor.
“Albus! Look!” he sounded.
Albus, who had been standing outside leaning over the balcony and staring at nothing in particular re-entered the flat. He was still pale and the blood from his various cuts had started to dry against his face.
Scorpius pointed to the floor. “That thing just transformed right in front of my eyes.”
Albus crouched down and picked the object up. It was a simple black chess piece.
“The Raven Queen,” he mumbled to himself.
“You okay?” Scorpius asked looking at his friend with concern.
Before Albus could even start to answer that question the phone start buzzing. His anger flared instantly to the point where he couldn’t stop himself from squeezing the phone as he answered it.
“When I find you –“ Albus growled but Nemesis cut him off.
“Don’t make empty threats, Albus. As long as I’m wearing your dream girl, you’d never risk trying to harm me so why don’t you calm down.”
“Calm down?! You think I don’t know what you’re doing?!” he yelled.
Luckily Craig was still under the effect of Draco’s spell as was just standing there with a goofy look on his face, completely oblivious to what was happening around him. Scorpius and his father however were looking very worried.
Draco’s theory about her trying to get under his skin was certainly being proven true.
“I’m trying to help you, Albus!” Nemesis hissed back.
“Yes! The Occulmens, the mind palace, those techniques so don’t have to dream! What happened in your fourth year doesn’t just haunt you, Albus, it broke you!” there was actually a hint of pleading in her voice. “You’ve buried those memories deep down inside you where you think they can’t hurt you anymore but they can. They will always hurt you until you face them.”
“I didn’t ask for your help!”
“No, because you’re stubborn,” she huffed.
“You really expect me to believe that this is all for my benefit?” he asked shaking his head.
“I can help you and myself at the same time you know. I’m good like that,” she said proudly. “And besides, it worked out pretty well this time, didn’t it? Craig Bowker is not lying dead on the ground, you saved him.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that the other one is dead!”
“True. But now you know, had you been given the opportunity, you could have saved him too. That boy is dead by no fault of yours, Albus.”
“That’s not how guilt works.”
“You know,” she sighed. “For someone with such a remarkable mind you seem to having a hard time seeing the logic of this.”
“Logic requires rationality and I seemed to be running solely on emotion right now!”
“Okay…I don’t know why but what you just said put some very erotic ideas in my head,” she said in a sultry tone.
“I’m hanging up!”
“You never did tell me who actually killed him?” she added quickly.
“I’m done handing you information,” he scathed.
“It’s a good thing I’m not done giving it to you, isn’t it? You get my clue?”
“Figured it out yet?”
“I’ll get there.”
“I know you will. Go have a stiff drink, Albus, you’ve earned it,” she said fondly before hanging up.
Once again, he felt compelled to smash that phone into a million pieces but that wouldn’t actually solve anything. Chances are that another one would simply arrive within a few hours. She wanted to stay in touch and he wasn’t going to be able to stop that.
“Albus…” Draco tried.
“No! I need to…go somewhere and do…something,” Albus looking so angry that he seemed to be visibly restraining himself from breaking everything again.
He charged out of the flat wanting to leave that particular part of London behind forever. Unfortunately, London, like the memories of his fourth year were a part of him and he would never be free of them.
He marched out of the block and down the road not heading anywhere specifically. After about an hour of wondering around trying to stop his own anger from influencing his thought processes, he decided to give up and actually take Nemesis’ advice.
He walked into a Weatherspoon’s to get a drink.
Commercial pubs operated differently to normal ones. They were about as far from the Leaky Cauldron or the Three Broomsticks as anything could get. Instead of a rusty, homey place that had been laid out and decorated by the landlord, these places were all modern and uniformly set up. Every part of the place was taken up by tables, chairs and booths. They doubled as restaurants offering good food at a reasonable price. And the booze was cheap. That’s why people would often congregate there before heading off to more expensive night clubs.
There was no music. Only a bunch of TVs’ that lined the walls with the volume turned right down.
Albus walked up to the bar.
“Whisky, double, with ice please,” he said without even looking at the barman.
“You got any ID?” the barman asked looking a little sceptical at his bloodied face and oversized clothes.
Despite the fact that he was approaching eighteen, Albus pulled out the stolen wallet and flashed it in front of him just long enough to see the badge.
“You’re a copper?” he asked with raised eyebrows.
“Yes! Don’t I look like one?” Albus snapped.
“You look like you just had a fight with a tiger,” the barman said. “and lost…”
“Well, that’s why I need a drink!”
The barman shrugged and went off to pour his drink. Albus glanced at the TV behind the bar. Yet another weather report about how London was going to be drowned the following day because of huge rain storms.
“Four-fifty,” the barman said handing him the glass.
Albus paid with the change that had been in the police officers’ pocket and realized there was enough there for a second one. He downed it in one and asked for another before the sting had fully hit his throat.
“You have an argument with your misses or something?”
“She’s not my girlfriend!” he said without thinking.
He paid for his second drink and wondered over to an empty booth. He pulled out the phone and dialled the number that Bloggs had given him.
“Can I speak to Mr. Swan please?” Albus asked.
“There’s no Mr. Swan here I’m afraid, I think you have the wrong number,” the voice on the other end said.
Albus hung up and put the phone on the table in front of him before taking a sip of his whiskey.
It was only a moment before the phone started ring and he answered it.
“I’m guessing you heard all of it?” Albus asked.
“Yes,” Bloggs voice replied. “Were you acting or are you actually on the verge of setting something on fire?”
“It’s hard to tell.”
“Well, she really knows how to push your buttons, doesn’t she?” he remarked.
“She knows how to push everyone’s buttons,” Albus sighed.
“You’re more right than you know. While you were infiltrating a police station…oh, and there’s a very pissed off chief inspector looking for the man who stole his clothes by the way, there was a development.”
“Yep. He left the ministry,” Bloggs confirmed.
“Where did he go?!” Albus asked, his pulse quickening.
“Well, that’s the weird thing…he didn’t really go anywhere.”
“What do you mean?”
“He left the ministry via the employee entrance, walked across the street, hopped on a bus and took it over to Kensington. Then he got off, walked a mile around the place, then jumped back on the bus and returned to the ministry,” Bloggs said.
“Wait…he didn’t stop off anywhere? He didn’t pick anything up or drop anything off?” Albus asked in confusion.
“Nope. We had eyes on him the whole time. Didn’t do anything, just went for a stroll.”
“That doesn’t make any sense! He wouldn’t just…” Albus’ eyes drifted to the TV again which was now show previews of the football match that was starting in an hour. “OH!”
“Err…It sounds as if you just had some sort of epiphany,” Bloggs voice wondered.
“Yes, I do that a lot. I was wrong!”
“Wrong? About what?”
“Well, technically I was right, I was just wrong about what I was right about, which still means I was right…I think.”
“Have you been drinking?” another voice came over the phone line. He recognized it as Eve, the werewolf.
“No…alright, there might be a glass of whisky in my hand right now but that’s beside the point!”
“Alright, what were you not right about?”
“No, I was right! But I was also not wrong! Never mind…remember we said there was something she was after that she could only get through stealth?” Albus said excitedly.
“It’s not the veil!” Albus stated. “She does want the veil but that’s not what she’s after right this second! It’s something else inside the natural history museum!”
“Wait, what?! Natural history museum?! How have you gone from the veil to that?” Eve’s voice asked, clearly confused.
“She said she was on the platform!” Albus declared. His anger from earlier had vanished in favour of this new revelation.
“Platform?! You’re not making any sense!”
“She’s said she was waiting for me on the platform! Platform nine and three quarters! But I didn’t show, so she sent me the phone instead, this phone by the way, and said I had forty-one minutes to save everyone onboard the train! But the train doesn’t leave at eleven-nineteen, it leaves at eleven on the dot! The bomb was set to go off at twelve! That’s one hour! The same amount of time she gave me to find Craig Bowker! I’ve been focusing on the tasks instead of the timeline! She needs an hour to get this thing!” he explained so quickly that it almost became inaudible. “How long was Tunney away from the ministry?!”
“Just under an hour,” Bloggs admitted.
“Did he walk past it?”
“Yes, and then down a bunch of other streets in a sort of horseshoe.”
“He was simulating how long he’d need to spend inside! This was a practice run!” Albus said.
“But what does she want from the museum?”
“No idea. But it has happened before. Muggles find magical artifacts, relics and such on archaeological digs and ship them back without any idea of what they really are. Usually the ministry finds out, sends some of their people to confund the scientists and change the records and then its like it was never there but I’ve heard things sometimes slip past them.”
“And she doesn’t want anyone to know that she’s after it?” Bloggs wondered aloud.
“Of course not. Just look at Riddle’s horcruxes. He put up massive amounts of protection around them but it didn’t stop them from being destroyed. The only time they were really safe was when nobody knew about them. And Nemesis is a lot smarter than Voldemort! She can’t be killed but this thing, whatever it is, can be which is why she’s taking such pains to keep it a secret and – OF COURSE!”
“We were wondering why she decided to show herself now? I bet you anything that this artifact she’s after has only just arrived in London! I bet you she was looking for it while she was building her sleeper agents and then she tracked it back to London and knew she couldn’t stay hidden anymore! I mean, obviously she couldn’t stay hidden, she’s wearing an international celebrity, people tend to notice them!”
“If you’re right and this was a practice run, then she is probably going to make her move to get what’s she’s after when she gives you the next task,” Bloggs warned.
“You’re right…and I’m gonna stop her.”
“I hope so…what? Oh,” Bloggs said obviously speaking to someone else. “The ministry is looking for you. Scorpius is there. I’m guessing he’s told your dad about what transpired and he’s a little concerned.”
“Seems likely. They’re about two steps short of putting me in a straight jacket after all,” Albus grumbled.
“Then you better get back there quick,” he said before hanging up.
Albus quickly finished his drink and departed the pub.
He made it back to the ministry pretty fast by cutting through the backstreet and was soon inside the red telephone box that marked the visitor’s entrance. He wasn’t in the Atrium for more than a few minutes before a couple of aurors approached and told him that his father was looking for him.
Albus sighed and followed them down to the auror office.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Scorpius were in his father’s office. They all had a moment of showing how relieved they were to see him before going straight back to scrutinizing his appearance and possible mental trauma. All except Scorp who looked a little guilty. He probably thought he had ratted Albus out of something. Draco was absent, but then he really didn’t like coming to the ministry unless it was truly urgent.
His mum had gone straight in for a hug when she’d seen him and shortly after Hermione made the blood stains on his face disappear with a wave of her wand. None of them yelled at him for the mistreatment of a muggle police officer but he was sure that would come later.
“Albus, I have to ask…exactly how much did you tell her about your fourth year?” Harry asked gravely.
“She doesn’t know about Delphi so don’t worry,” he answered absent-mindedly.
Now that he knew what she was planning, the only thing left was to figure out who she really was.
Once he made his move to stop her, she would be aware that he was on to her. She would alter her plans or possibly retaliate. He needed something that could even the score.
“If she knew about Delphi, she’d probably be breaking Azkaban open and skinning her alive by now,” Albus said in a monotone. His mind was drifting back and forth between the office and the vault.
Raven Queen…Queen of Ravens…that’s ridiculous, nobody can be queen of an avian species…
“Oh, well, there’s a silver lining,” Ron mumbled.
Ravens never leave the Tower of London; Queen Elizabeth was imprisoned there…for two months.
“Not really, she’d probably slaughter everyone else there as well, including the guards…” Albus said to no one in particular.
“What a charmer,” Ginny huffed and flicked her hair over her shoulder.
Lightning surged through Albus’s mind. Something…something about what his mother had just done had sparked something…
The world disappeared around him. Suddenly he was looking at a woman that bore a strange resemblance to his grandmother. Lily Potter. Red hair, green eyes…but she was taller, much taller and more buxom. Just like the silhouettes he’d seen of her in Hogwarts.
Almost as if he was in a trace, Albus reached into his pocket and pulled out the phone. Keeping it concealed from the others in the room, he typed a message with his thumb. A message that said what had just happened. The realization that had just struck him. The thing he’d been chasing ever since that shield had dropped over Hogwarts.
The thing he’d finally discovered. He clicked the send button and the message went away.
The message that said: I know who you are.
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