Based on a true story as recounted by Zoë @SnitchesWitch
Justice for Melinda. Part Five.
A bitter memory
The moment Nicholas told me about the Displaced Memory a shiver ran down my spine. I knew exactly what he meant. And I knew I’d give anything not to have to see it.
But it was a trace of magic caused by the Calamity, and as head of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, I had a duty to fulfil.
So I Apparated back to that Muggle alley where Melinda had died.
And when I looked up at the sky there she was.
The figure was faint, but it was clearly her flying closer. She was leaning down against the broomstick, her body parallel to it as she tried to fly faster. And there were four other figures flying behind her.
I tightened my hand around my wand, wishing there was something I could do to help her. But it was too late. She was dead. This was nothing but a memory.
As the four figures came closer I understood why Thompson hadn’t been able to describe them.
The unknown killers
The four attackers were fast, much faster than Melinda. In a matter of seconds they had her surrounded.
They were all wearing black robes, hoods covering their heads. And as much as I tried to focus, I couldn’t see their faces.
It didn’t really look as if they were disguising themselves with a spell, as Thompson had suggested. It seemed as if their very bodies were made of shadows and darkness. As if they were made out of black smoke.
Then they all attacked Melinda at once. She cast a shield charm around herself, but it wouldn’t hold long against such powerful enemies. And I already knew how the story would end. Still, I forced myself to watch on. I focused on the task ahead and tried to find any details we might have missed. Any clue as to what had happened that night.
The four attackers circled closer, the lights from their wands bright, sparkling as they hit Melinda’s shield. But her charm was fainting, drawing closer and closer. Then she screamed, and her wand shattered in her hand. And she fell.
Helpless and alone
They descended almost as fast as she did, wands drawn as they touched down and walked closer. Melinda was lying in the back of a Muggle vehicle. They circled her, kept their wands trained on her. I could hear her breathing, gurgling.
I could feel the tears running down my face as I watched one of them approach her. One of Melinda’s hands was wrapped around what was left of her wand, the green mark already spreading from the palm of her hand and up her arm.
But there was something in Melinda’s other hand. A crumpled piece of paper. The man, or woman, or creature, whatever it was, it reached for the piece of paper. With what was probably the last of her strength Melinda tried to move away, but the assailant pried her fingers open and took whatever it was she had tried to guard with her life.
Then, without a second look, they Apparated away.
I raised my arm, a tight grip on my wand, and cast the Confoundable that would vanish the Displaced Memory.
We remained silent for what felt like hours, nobody moving, separated from the Muggle world by a Confundus Charm.
A sliver of a clue
“Let’s get back to work,” I finally whispered. My team Disapparated one by one, certainly relieved they were able to leave. Everyone had loved Melinda. And we had just watched her die, all over again. I’d never felt so helpless, so useless.
I closed my eyes and tried to erase the lingering images from my mind. Then I Apparated to my office. I had a job to do.
I touched the tip of my wand to my head and pulled a silvery strand away. It was important to preserve that memory intact. The rest of the team would have to do the same. Every single detail had to go into the Task Force incident file.
Eventually, I would have to delve back into it, take a closer look. Find something that would help me stop those monsters who had killed my friend. So I made a copy of the memory and poured it into a small container. With trembling hands I opened my desk drawer and carefully placed the bottled memory inside. I couldn’t go through it again today.
A matter of trust
Then I decided to make one last copy. I placed it in another container and used just about every security mesure I could think of to make sure only one person would be able to access it. When I stepped out of my office, I saw our headquarters empty for the first time since the Task Force had been formed. I walked to the window and summoned a ministry owl. With a flick of my wand I put a label on the bottle. Ronald Weasley. Then I sent the owl away.
For some reason I trusted him to help me.
He had taken a risk that morning, bringing me along when he visited, and illegally questioned, an Auror. I could have turned him in. I could have had him arrested. So if he trusted me, I would do the same. He was smart, he was resourceful, and he had more powerful contacts within the Ministry than my entire family combined.
If I was right, he would make a great ally.
And less than an hour later, I found out I’d been right.
That same ministry owl tapped on my window. It had a small roll of parchment tied to its leg. The note was short. Only five words. But it was better news than I could ever have hoped for.
I know who they are.