It was a beautifully bright day in Majorca. Lenore Thomas let out a sigh of contentment and laced her hands behind her head, her sunglasses on the tip of her nose and her legs crossed at the ankles. No matter what most wizards and witches said about Muggles, one thing about them was certain: they sure knew how to relax.
Only the richest families in the Wizarding world found time to go on holiday, and despite her position as the Head of the Department of Mysteries, Lenore Thomas was far from wealthy. To her, that didn't mean she should avoid holidays altogether; it just meant that she had to take them on the rare occasion that she could.
"Thank you, Minister," she said, grabbing her drink and soaking up the sun-rays.
While Hermione Granger did not know it, she had presented the Seer with a unique opportunity to leave England. The bitter cold of midwinter always put Lenore in a slump, and if she was able to escape to a warmer climate, even if only for a little while, she was going to do just that. It only took a short conversation with her grandson to realize that Majorca was exactly where she wanted to be.
"You're going on holiday?" he asked. "Don't you have responsibilities at the Ministry?"
"Oh, they'll live without me for a few days. Now, tell me more about Spain."
She giddily sucked on the straw of her mixed drink. Gin wasn't something she had tasted before, but it was quickly becoming her favorite alcoholic beverage. Bubble wine just could not compare to the elixir of lemon, lime, and something sweet and fizzy that she could not pronounce.
A group of laughing Muggle women strolled by, their bottoms almost fully exposed as they snaked between the rocks and muscly men. Lenore, despite her age, was rather enjoying the view, so she cursed the girls as they swarmed around two Muggle men that she had been watching for nearly an hour. Wizards rarely were so toned. They relied on hexes and potions rather than brute strength.
If the Muggle women spent too much time there, she would simply urge them elsewhere. The girls were clearly quite drunk; they wouldn't recognize a little bit of magic.
Suddenly, there were no bikini-clad Muggles at all. Instead, she was peering into the Auror Office. Three women were in the room, nothing more than silhouettes. Though their distorted voices were hard to make out, she knew one of them to be the Minister for Magic.
"You can't seriously think I would hurt another Ministry employee."
"I wish those weren't the charges we were looking at, Minister, but they are," the second woman said. "None of Thomas's underlings seem to know where she is, according to the report I received. Since it's been more than forty-eight hours, we need to find out the truth about her disappearance. If you know anything you haven't told me, now's your chance."
"I don't." Hermione Granger was stubborn, but it was one of the many traits that Lenore loved about her.
"Fine, then. Moretti, shall we?"
"We? I'm the only Legilimens here, last I checked."
The second woman cleared her throat. "Right. Well, whenever you're ready, yeah?"
As the vision faded, Lenore let out a sigh. Her holiday was over.
Owls. More owls than she could count. Narcissa Malfoy knew that her more refined friends would certainly be asking questions about her son's tawdry affair with the Minister for Magic, though most of them did not describe the woman as such. By the time she received the eighth letter, she simply tossed it into the fire and stifled a sob. The news was the least of her concerns.
"Does he not think?" Lucius seethed. "Involving the Mudblood? The affair was bad enough, but does he not understand what the implications are for our family if this all gets out?"
Narcissa sat down, and though her eyes prickled with tears, she straightened her back and folded her hands. "I was displeased to hear of it too."
"Not displeased enough to inform me of his transgression," he hissed. "You should have told me as soon as you found out he was spending time with that woman."
"Your anger would have helped nothing," Narcissa said, airily. "I assumed their relationship was strictly professional."
Honesty was not always the best route with her husband. While Narcissa did not like her son's choices when it came to Hermione Granger, she knew that there was no stopping them from being together. Quieting Bellatrix's magic was only possible when two people loved each other more than Bellatrix could hate—and Bellatrix knew no emotion better than hatred.
"If I'd known earlier, we could have tossed that ruddy vase into the ocean and shipped him abroad! Oh, what I would've given to send Parkinson rummaging about the bottom of the North Sea! But here we are, defending the Houses Malfoy and Black once again because of our imbecile of a son." As though on cue, an owl tapped on a nearby windowpane. "Agh!"
Maridel the house-elf gloomily unlatched the window and untied the envelope from the owl's foot. Narcissa held out her hand and accepted the post, deciding it was best not to open it in front of her lamenting husband. Nora Durden had already sent a rather judgmental letter earlier that day, so she could not imagine the woman had anything helpful to add. It was, admittedly, quite strange, though. She hadn't responded to the first letter, so why would the woman send another?
"Draco is a grown man. While I can advise him, it is naive to think I can still tell him what to do. Besides, I didn't know of Bulstrode's little minions," Narcissa confessed. "My concern was the legality of it all, and I made that quite clear to him."
"Well, perhaps it wasn't clear enough, Narcissa." He slammed his palms on the table, earning a wince from Maridel, who was cowering in the corner. "And if he destroyed that vase as you so wisely encouraged him to do, there will be bloodshed. Whether it is his or theirs remains to be seen."
Narcissa sighed, not even a little unnerved by her husband's outburst. She was quite used to his violent mannerisms. "So we warn him and he flees. We will join him and remove Scorpius from Hogwarts if we must."
"Warn him?" Lucius scoffed. "How many times have you tried to contact him today? At least thrice, yes? Clearly, he isn't willing to listen to anything we have to say. I would bet he's too busy worrying about her."
"Then we will visit in person!"
"And if we are too late?"
Narcissa's face drained of all color. "Don't say such things, Lucius."
"All I am saying is that he has made some questionable choices. Assuming reporters have swarmed that filthy cottage of his, his whereabouts will be very public very soon. Parkinson may be a bumbling idiot, but you know as well as I do that Iadeth Travers and Thorfinn Rowle are not. If they want something and he has it, it could be mere moments before they start closing in on him. He would be hard-pressed to fight that battle alone, but if Bulstrode is with them, he doesn't stand a chance."
"You think they would dare to attack with witnesses?"
"You know the press can't stop those animals. They will kill everyone in their way if there is something they really want." The wizard's irises went dark. "I've seen them do it with my own two eyes—and worse."
No matter who those men were, Lucius swore to protect his family at all costs. Narcissa expected him to do just that. "You wouldn't make such excuses if you were not angry about the Muggle-born."
"Perhaps not," he said, softly. "Are you not angry, Narcissa? It looks like we are colluding with the Ministry. Our friends think we endorse such...disturbing affairs. If Draco survives this fight, consider the shame he will live with. Do you wish that upon him?"
"I wish it over death!"
Lucius was quiet for a long while. Finally, he croaked, "She is unworthy of her magic. His interest in her only encourages her and everyone like her. What does it say about us if we are to come to his rescue yet again? Given the circumstances."
Only during Voldemort's reign had Lucius managed to make her so furious. "Think what you will of her, but don't you dare let our son come into harm's way because of something written by Rita Skeeter. You swore to take care of this family after the war. Now, see to it that you do."
He sighed, defeated. "He's been causing us trouble since he was just a boy, hasn't he?"
"You will go then?"
"I suppose I don't have a choice, do I?"
Narcissa, nodded with a small smile. Just as her husband turned away, she stood and opened the letter that had been in her long, feminine fingers. If it had been from anyone else, the envelope would have gone straight into the fire, but Narcissa's curiosity got the best of her. Why would Nora Durden write a second time?
When she finally read the spindly text, she let out a gasp.
"It seems we will not have to worry about Rowle, after all."
"And why is that?" Lucius asked, warily, turning to face her.
Narcissa leveled her gaze with his. "He's dead."
Theodore Nott was not impressed with the way the Department of Magical Law Enforcement handled hostages. Rather than being taken to the Auror Office like any respected witness would expect to be, the Portkey took them directly to an interrogation room far too small for any single human, let alone two. The Auror that accompanied him there did not seem pleased to be in the room either, and she seemed even more displeased when another man showed up.
"Beatty? When did you get back?" the man asked with a frown. He wiped some grime from his front and jerked his head towards Theo. "One of Bulstrode's little friends?"
"A hostage of hers, actually—and I got back less than an hour ago. Not sure if the others are still sorting things out in Azkaban." Beatty pointed at her cheek. "Is that a spot?"
The man covered the pimple on his face. "Never mind that. D'you need any help with him?" Again, he gestured Theodore. It was almost like he wasn't even in the room.
"No, I've got it under control. Just waiting on Potter for further instruction." Beatty narrowed her eyes. "Where were you, anyway? Unlike you to use a Portkey instead of Apparition."
"Azkaban," the man said, turning away from them as he fiddled with his hair. "Can't exactly Apparate in and out of there, or else I would've. I hate the paperwork that comes with these stupid things." He scrunched a paper bag in his fist.
"Surprised we didn't bump into you."
"It's a big place," the man said matter-of-factly, still fingering his locks. "Has Melman been in here?"
Beatty shook her head. "Haven't seen him."
"Alright, then. I suppose I'll just go find him." He gave Theodore a nod. "Nice to meet you."
Then, the man walked out the door, leaving them alone in the tiny, dingy room.
"I'd like to speak with my wife," Theodore said, dropping his elbow onto the small table so he could rest his chin. "She'll be worried about me."
Beatty gave him an apologetic look and pushed her mahogany locks from her face. "I can't promise anything, but if Potter will allow it, I'll try to arrange something, alright? I can only imagine how much you miss her."
Theodore groaned. "Last time I was gone this long, I was doing a three-month stint in Azkaban."
"When was that?" Beatty asked, clearly curious, but seemingly unfazed.
"A while ago," he mumbled, deciding it was better not to reveal the details. Owing several debts to Draco Malfoy was enough of a sore spot without everyone knowing about it. "Can't say I was happy to be back."
He could not read the Auror's expression as she replied, "Well, hopefully, it's the last time you ever have to go there."
Several silent moments followed. Theo stared at the wooden table where he was sitting, wondering just how long it would be until the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement returned. He could not imagine that Potter had his best interest in mind. They had a rather colorful past.
"Surely, I can at least send her an owl?" he finally said. "I'm not under arrest or anything, so I don't see why I can't!"
The young witch seemed to be considering it for a moment. After a long while, she replied, "I'm sorry. I have to wait until he's back."
So, they waited longer. They had already been in the room for at least an hour, and the wait felt like forever as they sat in the semidarkness of the windowless room. At least Beatty had the sense to cast an Everlasting Charm on the candle so it wouldn't burn out.
By the time Potter finally peeked in through the door, Theodore's patience was wearing thin. He knew the rest of his afternoon would be wasted answering pointless questions as the Auror prodded him for information, eager to take down Bulstrode and everyone associated with her. The woman deserved a lifetime in Azkaban. That much, Theo knew. Unfortunately, he also knew Potter would want to know details that he simply wasn't willing to provide.
"Sorry for the wait," Potter said, closing the door behind him. "Thanks for holding down fort, Beatty. Go home and get some rest."
Beatty opened her mouth, seemingly to argue, but closed it again when Potter gave her a dark look. She sighed and her eyes darted towards Theodore as she pointed at her wrist. Theodore decided that he liked her more than he liked most Aurors, not that that was saying much.
Potter sat across from him as Beatty slipped out the door. He laced his hands. "It's been a while, Nott. You've been staying out of trouble."
"Didn't exactly want the family legacy to be long stays in Azkaban. Best to end the Nott line on a good note, even if I'm a bit late to the game."
"No kids for you and Pansy still?"
Theodore felt a sour taste in his mouth. His wife was dubbed barren when she was just twenty-five, and while he never held it against her, it left the two of them heartbroken. She often tried to convince herself that she never wanted children, but he knew the truth. Sadly, there were not enough potions in the world to give them the gift of parenthood. "We were never so fortunate."
Potter looked uncomfortable. "Erm—right. Sorry to hear. Um...what about Beatty? Treat you well, did she?"
"Indeed," Theodore drawled, crossing his arms. "Since when do you employ Slytherins, Potter?"
"How'd you know she was a Slytherin?"
"The brooch on her robes. A serpent," Theodore explained. "Pansy's mother wears one quite similar to it."
"Mighty observant of you," Potter noted. "You would've made a good Auror if you didn't decide to make Time-Turners for Lucius Malfoy."
Theodore scowled. He knew it would come up, eventually. "Didn't realize I was on trial again."
The Auror coughed. "Let's get to the point then. I don't want to keep you too long."
"Right. Well, Preachwell mentioned a vase. Let's start with that."
"A vase I don't have, first of all," Theo pointed out. "He might be under the impression my wife has it, but she doesn't. I don't want a bunch of Aurors running in there and scaring her. Do you understand me, Potter?"
"I understand." His face betrayed him. The wizard did not understand at all. "So what was so special about this vase? Was it a family heirloom? A Dark object of some sort?"
Theo snorted. "Dark object is an understatement. That bloody thing came from the pits of hell. Belonged to Bellatrix Lestrange, from what I understand."
Potter's back stiffened at the mention of the Death Eater's name. It had likely been a long time since he'd heard it. "And where is it now?"
"Destroyed, I hope."
"Is that so?" Potter leaned in. "If it's as powerful as you suggest, that'd take some pretty strong magic, wouldn't it?"
"I'd assume so," Theo answered, stretching his legs.
"So the person that was set on destroying it—I assume you had faith in their wandwork?" the Auror probed. "If you believe they could destroy it, they must be someone quite able."
"I see what you're doing, Potter, and it isn't going to work. I'm not stupid," Theo spat. "I'm not telling you who took it."
"So it was taken? You didn't give it to them?"
Theo flared his nostrils. "You can ask me a hundred different ways. I'm not telling you anything."
Potter looked deep in thought. "And what if it's not destroyed? What if this person is using it the way Bulstrode intended?"
"This person wouldn't dare," Theodore growled. "I'd swear it on my mother's grave."
Potter drew in a deep breath. Deceased mothers were something he could identify with, and Theo knew it. "We may need to retrieve it, Nott. In case—in case your friend failed."
"Never said it was a friend," Theo said, stubbornly. He raised his brows. "Look, if you really want to know more about that horrible vase, you're going to have to use Veritaserum on Bulstrode or one of her cronies. I'm not under arrest and if I really wanted to, I could Apparate home right now."
Potter sighed. "And then I could arrest you for obstruction of justice. Face it, Nott, you're not in the good position here."
"What're you going to do, then? Put me under Veritaserum? You know my trial would be thrown out in a second and you'd be facing more public scrutiny than Bulstrode herself." Theodore narrowed his eyes. "I know what you want Potter, but you have to trust me here. If there's even an inkling that that vase wasn't taken care of, I'll be knocking on your door before you come knocking on mine."
"I need you to understand something. That this is an urgent matter, Nott. I'll bring in a Legilimens if I have to. The Ministry's left us that nice little loophole for cases just like this, and they left it for a reason."
"Go ahead. Bring in your Legilimens. They'll find nothing."
"You're an Occlumens," Potter deduced.
"A bloody good one, so I've been told. Now, since you've arrested everyone you needed to arrest, I'd like to get back to my wife now."
Potter's face paled. "We've arrested almost everyone. There is still one that I worry about—" His face went from white to purple. "—and I can't protect you from him if you don't tell me where that damn vase is!"
Theo's insides twitched with horror. There were two men in particular that had come to mind. "Who do you worry about, Potter? Who were you so stupid to let get away?"
By the look on Potter's face, Theo knew he wouldn't like his answer. "Iadeth Travers. He—he summoned his broom and got away."
"Travers!" Theodore exclaimed, both angry and mortified. "He summoned his broom? Shouldn't you have expected as much, considering your little run-in with that dragon in fourth year?"
"Yes, I suppose I should've. Rowle is dead, though—and we're going to have the public on watch—"
"The public? The public doesn't stand a chance against that maniac! And my wife—surely, you've sent someone to watch her?"
The Auror's silence spoke volumes.
"You didn't!" Theodore seethed. "Do you have any idea what kind of danger Pansy is in? You have to let me leave, Potter. Forget what I said about not running in with a bunch of Aurors! Bring them all! Just get me home to her."
"Nott, you're sure that vase isn't in your home?"
"I'm bloody sure!"
Potter looked like he was trying to make a decision. "Okay. Let's get you both out of there safely. I'll bring my best. But afterwards, I need you to tell me who took that vase. Got it?"
"Yeah, fine, whatever, but we have to go now!"
Just as expected, Potter didn't get what he wanted before he ran to the rescue. For once, Theodore was grateful for the blind courage of Gryffindor House.
The clock was ticking. Seated across from the only Auror she truly detested, the Minister for Magic counted the seconds. The longest hand would tick forward a notch, then back two, then forward three. It was driving her absolutely mad, but she did not dare cast any wandless magic—not when Phoebe Humphries was eager to charge her with anything she could.
Suddenly, the door to the large office opened. Hermione held her breath, but to her relief, it was only the likes of Nelson Melman, a rather kind Auror who seemed to have no interest in her arrest. A fat sandwich was in his grip and as soon as he plopped into his desk chair, he took a rather large bite. Some mustard dripped onto his robes, and despite her situation, Hermione could not help but smile. Every arrest he made that she questioned ended in cleared charges, partially due to his inability to show up in court. He was the type of Auror that shouldn't have been following orders made by Phoebe Humphries. If Hermione had it her way, Nelson Melman would have a lot more power than Harry Potter was willing to give him.
Then, the door creaked open again, and her smile was wiped away.
A plump brunette quietly slipped inside, and by the grin on Humphries's face, Hermione knew she was in trouble. She suddenly wished she spent more time learning Occlumency with Draco when they were young.
"Ah! Just the witch I was looking for," Phoebe said with a smirk. "This is the suspect I spoke of."
The woman's eyes flickered towards Hermione. "Yes, I recognize the Minister for Magic." Her Italian accent was thick.
"Yeah, well, after this, who knows who she'll be. Melman, could you please come over here? I'd like another witness for this."
Melman did not look pleased, but walked over anyway, sandwich still in hand. He shook his head. "You know how crazy this is, right?"
Humphries gave him a cautionary glare. "Watch it, Melman." She turned back to the brunette. "You're looking for Lenore Thomas. You know the older black woman from the Department of Mysteries?"
"I'm familiar," the brunette said, acidly.
"Good, good," Humphries said, ignoring the witch's tone. "We think the Minister for Magic may have used a Memory Charm or possibly could have murdered her."
"Oh please!" Hermione exclaimed. Humphries had said the same things before, but still, it made the Minister's blood boil. Never would she kill an innocent person. "Murdered her? You can't seriously think I would hurt another Ministry employee."
"I wish those weren't the charges we're looking at, Minister, but they are," Humphries explained. "None of Thomas's underlings seem to know where she is, according to the report I received. Since it's been more than forty-eight hours, we need to find out the truth about her disappearance. If you know anything you haven't told me, now's your chance."
"I don't." She did.
"Fine, then. Moretti, shall we?"
"We?" the woman repeated, seemingly annoyed. "I'm the only Legilimens here, last I checked."
Hermione expected Humphries to snap back with something nasty, but she didn't. Instead, she cleared her throat. "Right. Well, whenever you're ready, yeah?"
The brunette drew in a deep breath and closed her eyes. With her wand in her hand, she appeared to be concentrating very hard. Hermione thought she was going to vomit as she watched the woman's mouth move, nearly in slow motion. "Legilimens."
Draco. They were young—dumb teenagers in love, but too afraid to say as much. He pressed his lips to her shoulder.
The moment did not last for long, because before she knew it, it was twenty years later.
They were in Flourish and Blotts. Unspoken sadness surrounded them.
The place was gone as quickly as it came. She felt the wind in her hair.
The lake. He was trying to talk to her, but she was avoiding him—avoiding the truth.
Her breathing hitched. The next vision was the one she feared most.
She read the text on Lenore's office door. Her feet carried her inside. She opened her mouth to speak, and then—
"Minister, I've been looking for you." The voice, unlike the others, did not sound so far away.
They were in the present again. Humphries looked furious. Melman idly chewed on his sandwich. Moretti had lost her focus and was staring, dumbfounded, at the source of the words.
Author's Note: I hope you are enjoying! As you can see, some major plot points are starting to slow down. In October, I will be moving back to my home state, so I may not be available for a few weeks at that time. Once I am done with that, I'll be back and eventually start working on the prequel. I love reviews and always respond to them, so please leave them!
Track This Story: Feed
Write a Review
JOIN HARRY POTTER FANFICTION
Get access to every new feature the moment it comes out.Register Today!