Ushan Bones: The Life of an SoS Task Force member
Based on a true story as recounted by Zoë @SnitchesWitch
Justice for Melinda. Part Two.
A million thoughts ran through my mind when Nicholas, a fellow Task Force member, gave me the news. It was bad enough that Melinda had been left to die in the back of a Muggle vehicle. But now to hear that there was no trace of the Calamity anywhere?
The possible causes of death
As I made my way back to the rest of the team, I tried to think of what could have possibly happened.
Melinda had played Quidditch for years at Hogwarts. She flew everywhere on a daily basis. The chances on her falling off her broom were slim to none. And even if her broomstick was an antique, there were still spells in place to help prevent that kind of incident.
So if Melinda hadn’t accidentally fallen off her broomstick, and the Calamity wasn’t to blame, there was only one other possibility.
“Boss, there’s something you might want to see,” said Yin, the SoS Task Force’s Mediwitch.
I braced myself as I approached the body, now resting on the street. I hadn’t been on the field long enough to get used to such a sight, and part of me hoped I never would.
“Do you see this in her arm?” Yin asked, motioning for me to step even closer.
The one trace left
I could see something that looked like a very large bruise, only the colour was forest-green. It covered Melinda’s wrist and up her arm, almost all the way to her elbow. As Yin carefully opened Melinda’s left hand, I noticed the same thing on her palm. I had never seen something like it before.
“What is that?” I asked, tentatively running my finger over the arm. The flesh underneath seemed rough and hardened, almost l like stone.
“I’ve only seen something like this three times in my career, and always on dead bodies,” Yin said. Then, probably sensing my unease, she conjured a large cloth to cover Melinda’s Body. “This is what happens when someone uses a Protection Charm for too long, and whoever is attacking them breaks through,” she explained.
“The protective magic mixes with the spell used to attack, shatters the wand and spreads up the caster’s arm. If the fall hadn’t killed her, this certainly would have.”
“So someone attacked Melinda on her way home? Are you certain this wasn’t an old injury?”
“This kind of damage is lethal,” said Yin, leading me back to the Muggle vehicle. “Both the strength of the Shield Charm and whatever they used to attack her were too strong. We found some splinters of her wand on the car.”
She showed me a stick of charred wood, not longer than one of my fingers. I could see a silvery thread peeking over one of the sides. A Unicorn hair core.
“Who would ever want to attack Melinda?”
A grieving wife, and a department meeting
“Whoever it was, they were certainly powerful, judging by the damage,” said Yin. “We need to move the body back to headquarters so I can get a better look. And the Confundus Charm won’t hold much longer, so we should probably clear the area.”
“Of course,” I said, trying to focus on the tasks ahead. “You take care of Melinda. Let me know what you find.”
I turned to the other members of the team. They were standing to the side, speaking in hushed voices. They seemed as shocked as I was. As I approached, Nicholas turned to me and pulled me to the side.
“Melinda’s wife is at the Ministry, boss,” he said. “She doesn’t know what happened yet, only that Melinda didn’t make it home last night.”
I took a deep breath, trying to clear my thoughts. I really didn’t want to be the one to tell Anne that Melinda was dead. But I’d gone through the training, I knew the protocols. And as Melinda’s superior, and friend, I felt it was my duty to inform her wife.
“I’ll take care of it. You make sure the team clears the area before the Confundus Charm fades. Take whatever you find back to headquarters, no matter how small.”
“Right. Just one more thing, boss,” said Nicholas, anxiously twirling his wand between his fingers.
“We got a message from the Department of Law Enforcement. The Head Auror wants to see you. Now.”
Meeting the Head Auror
It was never a good idea to make the Head Auror wait. Although I hadn’t yet met him in person, many said he had a bit of a temper. And he was technically my superior.
I left Nicholas in charge of the team and Apparated back to the Ministry. The Department of Law Enforcement was one of the largest in the building, although almost half of the ‘offices’ were blocked to everyone but Aurors.
I made my way down one winding hallway after the next, making sure not to trip over any trap. Rumour had it Aurors liked to charm, or curse, objects in their free time, experimenting with different types of magic. And they tended to leave those objects lying around, waiting for the perfect unwitting test subject. My day was already bad enough, thank you very much.
I finally reached the Head Auror’s office, and just as I raised my hand to knock, the door opened. I was greeted with a face I’d seen on papers and books throughout my life. The messy, black hair, the glasses. The scar.
“Head Auror Potter,” I said, somewhat awed despite myself at finally meeting him.
“Please, come in,” he said with a smile. “I heard about your coworker, I’m truly sorry.”
He made his way around his desk and sat down, motioning for me to do the same.
“Thank you,” I said, not exactly sure what to respond. Or why I was there at all.
“How is the new Task Force coming along?”
“We have a great team. We are working on merging some Muggle technology with spells to help us track the Calamity, in fact.”
“Oh, yes, I heard about that project. Wizards Unite, is it?”
“Yes. It was Melinda Miller’s idea, in fact.”
“That’s the witch that was found dead today?”
I merely nodded. Even after seeing her body, it was hard to believe she was gone.
“That is partly why I wanted to meet with you, in fact,” he said, sitting up straighter, as if he was getting ready for serious business. “The Department of Magical Law Enforcement generally works with a different set of rules. We are a more…secretive group. But I feel it’s time we shared some information. Especially in light of what just happened.”
“What information?” I asked. Everyone knew Aurors were more secretive even than Obliviators, but we were working together to stop the Calamity, weren’t we?
“There have recently been a series of attacks. Similar to what happened to Mrs Miller,” he said, pulling a roll of parchment out of his desk drawer. “One of our Aurors died in similar circumstances, in fact. We didn’t find anything to indicate it was related to the Calamity, so there seemed to be no reason to involve the Task Force. But after hearing what happened to Mrs Miller…I think it’s time we started working together.”
“Do you know who did this?”
“Not yet,” he said, handing me the parchment. “Here’s what we know so far, although some of the information must remain classified. Which is in part why you are here today. I decided we need a liaison, someone who can have access to classified information on both sides and help us work together.”
“Temporarily at least. He should be here any minute now. He has been trying to join the Task Force since he heard about the Calamity in fact, but…
The new teammate
The door behind me opened, as if on cue, and a wizard stepped inside. Tall, red hair, welcoming smile on his face. I recognised him instantly of course.
“Hi, sorry I’m late,” he said, reaching out to shake my hand. “The kids switched my wand for a fake one again, and I didn’t notice until I was about to Apparate here.” The way he said it, it seemed he found it perfectly normal. “So I guess Harry’s told you everything by now. Been meaning to enlist since I first heard about the Calamity, kind of missed being an Auror if I’m being honest, but the wife wasn’t too happy about me going back on the field. Thinks I can’t take care of myself, she does.”
All of this was said in a rush, he didn’t even stop to take a breath. Then he plopped down on the chair next to mine and reached into his pocket for what looked like a Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. He popped one into his mouth and instantly grimaced.
“Grass again. I tell you, it’s like I’m cursed. I’m Ron Weasley, by the way.”