Based on a true story as recounted by Zoë @SnitchesWitch
Justice for Melinda. Part Six.
Time to think things over
I know who they are.
I closed the window and read the note again. Those five words gave me hope, but not enough information. What was I supposed to do now? Should I try to contact Weasley? Would he contact me? Why couldn’t he give me more information? There was only one reason I could think of for such a cryptic message: It wasn’t safe to discuss it openly.
So instead of focusing on what I couldn’t control, I decided to do something productive with my time. A tap of my wand and the message went up in green flames. Safety above all. Then I walked over to Melinda’s desk.
Perhaps Weasley had been right. We hadn’t known what to look for until now. But that Memory of her death…that might have given me not just future nightmares but also a clue. I knew more now than I had before. Maybe I could figure this out.
The attack on Melinda wasn’t random, that much was clear. What I’d seen left me no doubt: They had carefully planned and executed Melinda’s attack. She never stood a chance against the creatures that attacked her. One, perhaps two of them would’ve been enough to kill a witch that spent her career behind a desk. But they had sent four. And they had made sure she wouldn’t survive.
The beings that attacked her also killed an Auror in an attempt to retrieve something. A box.
Thanks to Auror Thompson -and Weasley’s less-than-lawful interrogation skills- I knew the Aurors were transporting that box to Gringotts. And whatever was in the box was important or dangerous enough to warrant secret plans, last minute decisions, and a decoy. Not just that. Someone at the Ministry had ordered those Aurors to protect the box at all cost.
The clue in plain sight
So the same beings were involved. The same kind of magic had killed Melinda and an Auror. And in both instances the beings had been after something.
They took a box from Portas and a piece of paper from Melinda.
A piece of paper. Not a sheet of paper, not a page from a notebook. I remembered it clearly, not folded but crumpled, held tight in her hand. The edges torn where she had ripped it off a larger sheet.
Melinda’s attack happened shortly after she left work. That probably meant that whatever was written on that paper, she had written it down right here, at her desk. And it also meant there was a sheet of paper somewhere in there with a piece missing.
With that in mind, I sat at her chair and looked around. The team had gone through everything. But they were careful enough to leave things back in the right place. So everything looked just like Melinda had left it the day she died.
There were two trays of paper on the desk. The Pending pile and the Completed pile. I quickly searched each of them, but found nothing.
Then I went through the drawers. There were many Ministry files filled to the brim with Melinda’s plans and ideas for the Wizards Unite collaboration program between Muggles and wizards. Some were official memos. Others detailed descriptions of how the Confundus Charm would work on Muggles as they used their phones. There were plans for visual filters so Traces of magic would look like something out of a Muggle game. I also found reports detailing her investigation on Locating Spells and how Task Force members would be alerted every time a Muggle interacted with a magical object or beast.
The torn piece of paper
The second drawer held copies of every Calamity-related incident. Every Trace, every agent sent to contain it. Every spell used and how it worked -or didn’t, in some cases. She had a list of each and every Memory kept in our records and a detailed description of what it contained. Melinda was into details. She believed in writing and filing every bit of information
And among those files there was a thin folder. It didn’t look quite as new and crisp as the others did. Melinda clearly used this folder often.
Inside were loose pages of different sizes. Some were pieces of parchment. Some were clearly torn from Muggle notebooks. Most of them had smudges of ink, even a blot or two. Melinda’s writing, always perfectly readable in reports, looked completely different here. Words were scribbled in every direction, with arrows pointing from one to another, graphics in some of the corners, runes in others. Some of the lines were underscored. Others were crossed out. Some words were large and bold. Others little more than a twisty line.
A strange message
But in that folder I found what I was looking for. A piece of paper with a corner torn off. The part missing roughly matched the the size of the piece of paper in Melinda’s hand. So whatever those creatures had been looking for, this is where she had written it.
I took the page out of the folder and used my wand to cast some light over it. It was hard to read the words around the torn piece. The ink was specially smudged here, as if she had written it in a rush.
I could make out a few words:
Professor Saul Croaker??? Dep
There were also a lot of dots all over that corner of the page. They almost looked like black freckles surrounding the words.
I couldn’t make sense of any of it until I saw a report dated June, 1996. Then it all fell into place.
I knew what they wanted. What was in the box the Aurors were taking to Hogwarts. I knew what Melinda had discovered. I knew why they had killed her.
And even though I still didn’t know why those creatures wanted the box’s contents so much, I understood what was happening. And where they would go next.
So I summoned a Ministry Owl, took a piece of parchment and a quill, and wrote a message to Ron Weasley. Five little words I hoped would be enough to get him moving.
I know what they want.