Dora showed up at Remus's office and, upon hearing that Alan Garvey believed he was having an affair with a younger woman, laughed, breaking the tension that had been building between them. When Remus asked her why she was there, she told him that she'd gotten an idea of how to help Joe Levinson... courtesy of her dear Aunt Bellatrix.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
"From Bellatrix?" Remus repeated.
Dora nodded. "How much time do you have before your first class?"
"I'm quite early. I have over an hour."
"Is there someplace we can get breakfast? Where it wouldn't be too obvious if I cast a Distracting Charm to keep people away?"
"Well, we could just lock the door; Alan--"
"I'm starving. I just got off a shift."
He took her to an greasy-looking little restaurant that the boys favored when they got town passes. The food wasn't particularly good, but it was solid and filling. Dora waited until it had all been brought before she looked around carefully, drew her wand, and cast a Distracting Charm.
"Fudge gave Aurors a few new rights last night," she said, digging into her eggs. "And I can use them to get Joe to St. Mungo's. He'll have to have his memory modified, but we knew that might be the case. It's a bit of a risky idea, but as long I put on the best performance of my life--and you do as well--we should be able to do it."
"I'm not sure I follow."
"Up until now, when we were tracking dark wizards and witches, we were expected to avoid engaging them anywhere Muggles could see. Statute of Secrecy and all. And it made sense--mass Memory Charms are tricky business at best. And most dark witches and wizards avoid Muggles like the plague anyway, so it's not an issue."
"What happened last night?"
Dora dabbed at the corners of her mouth, then began to eat a pile of kippers. "We almost had her," she said, coming up for air. "We almost had bloody Aunt Bella."
She swallowed what she was eating. "Sorry. I've been a bit busy."
"Eat as you like. I won't complain about table manners."
She nodded. The story came out between gulps of food and strong tea. "First of all," she said, "Bellatrix has run mad. I don't mean she's a bit eccentric. She's raving. Cunning enough to get away, but mad enough to put herself exactly where we knew she'd be.
"She came after my mother."
"Is Andromeda all right?"
"D'you think I'd be having breakfast here with you if she weren't? I'd have told you first thing. She--"
Remus held up a hand. "I'm sorry. Foolish question."
"I am, too. I'm still a bit..." She paused, apparently unable to think of a word. "My brain is still running quickly."
"All right. So Bellatrix came after Andromeda?"
"Yes. Right outside St. Mungo's. On a Muggle street. Mum was on the night shift, so there weren't many people around, but there were a few. Most of them drunk as lords. And a few... ladies." Dora blushed. "The point is, they were all there. I was partnered with Dawlish, and we went there, just on the off-chance, and there she was. Lurking in the shadows. Mum came out. I tried to warn her off, but we hadn't got there fast enough and we couldn't very well Apparate, so I just shouted, but Aunt Bella grabbed her and said something. I thought it was a Curse, but Mum just stumbled away and she said she was fine. I ran after Aunt Bella. I wanted to get her before the edge of the Apparition wards around the hospital.
"She grabbed one the Muggles. One of the ladies. Some of the sots tried to help her. I was going to pull my wand on her, but Dawlish stopped me. The damned rules."
"And Bella hadn't already drawn her wand?"
"She's mad, but she knows how to play the game. She had her wand out, but she had it charmed to look like a perfectly normal knife and she pointed it at the girl's head. I had to come up slowly. Even if I could have drawn my wand, she would have been quicker, if you see what I mean."
"And she said... this horrid baby voice... " Dora wrinkled her nose, and her voice raised its pitch. "'Wook at the ickle baby freak, all grown upsy now, aren't you?'" She shuddered. "Then she started dragging the woman backward. She made it to the edge of the Apparition ward. Then she threw the woman at me. And I tripped." She fumed to herself. "Dawlish went after her, and as soon as I found my feet, I did, too, but she was already gone. If I'd been able to get to her before she grabbed the girl, we'd have had her.
"I went back and reported to Kingsley, and he was furious, and the upshot of the whole thing--the part I need to tell you, for Joe--is that Fudge was in at the break of dawn, and he was fuming. I promise, this isn't going to make the Daily Prophet. And he had a decree. It licensed us to stun any Muggles on the scene immediately if we saw one of the escaped prisoners, and to injure the Muggle if necessary to get past him to make the capture. The mass Memory Charm is chancy, but Fudge decided that he'd rather have us bring them back in than worry about such things."
"That's sensible," Remus said. "If Bella was able to escape like that. I'm still not certain what it has to do with Joe."
"All we need is to have a Death Eater attack him," she said. "I stun him, go after the Death Eater, and they take him to St. Mungo's. At which point, Mum finds the Curse he's under and cures him."
"And which Death Eater do you plan to have collaborating on this?"
"You, of course." She buttered a bite of a roll. "I'd make it up entirely, but we're always sent out in teams now, and Kingsley's so busy scheduling us all that he'll never be partnered with me. So we'll definitely need a Death Eater. And they do all have masks. You could pass for one. I'll leave my partner to get Joe to St. Mungo's, and I'll come after you, but you'll escape."
"Could you just say you came across him, and diagnosed a Curse?"
"Right. That wouldn't pique Scrimgeour's interest at all, or cause a lot of questions to be asked from every side." She leaned forward. "We can do it this way, and they'll never know the difference."
Remus nodded. He already knew he would go along with her plan--it was as reasonable as anything else they'd tried, though if she hesitated and her partner came after him, and they found him in a Death Eater's mask...
Well, he supposed he'd have to move quickly.
"Then we--" She stopped talking suddenly, and her hand went to her abdomen. "Oh, God. I shouldn't have eaten so much."
Remus's eyes traced her face, and he noticed the glimmer of perspiration in the hollows of her temples, and for the first time, he noticed a rather wild gleam that had been growing in her eyes as she spoke. "Are you all right?" he asked.
She shook her head.
He reached across the table and took her hands, not thinking about it. "What is it?"
"I ate too fast is all."
She closed her eyes, then slowly opened them again. "I met my aunt when I was five," she said. "I was outside the apothecary while Mum was buying things inside. I didn't like the smell. And a woman came up to me. She was very pretty. I remember thinking that she was so pretty and I thought I looked a bit like her, so perhaps I would be pretty as well someday. And she came straight to me and knelt down in front of me, and she smiled. Such a pretty smile. Like Mum's. And she said, 'You know you're a monster, don't you? I'm going to kill your Daddy, you know. And then I'm going to kill you.' Then Mum came out and screamed at her, and picked me up and carried me off. And Aunt Bella laughed. I didn't know she was my aunt at the time. I found that out later. By accident. I overheard Mum talking to Sirius, and she said that the witch from Diagon Alley was her sister.
"And I let her get away.
"So yes, I'm a bit disappointed in myself. I never should have followed the rules. I know who she is."
"You had to make a quick decision."
"I made the wrong one."
Remus squeezed her hands and hated himself for a moment of wanting to take those hands and kiss them, each finger in turn. She was upset, and he was having fantasies about taking advantage of her. Wonderful emotion, really. "We'll catch her again," he said. "And you did it the way you had to do it. You're free to use different means now."
"Right." She took a deep breath and pulled her hands away to dab at her face, and found a rather tired and very beautiful smile. "And we can help Joe like this," she said. "We just need to get him out of the way of other people, if we can."
"He and Miriam are taking a holiday cabin over Valentine's day," Remus said.
"Perfect. I'll see Miriam tomorrow morning for book club. I'll find out where it is."
"Are you all right, Dora?"
She nodded. "Yes. Thank you. I thought I had it under control when I left work this morning. But telling you... it just came back. And I didn't tell anyone at work about what Aunt Bella said to me. I didn't think they really needed to know. I suppose that's what keeps coming back to me."
"And your mother... how is she, really?"
"Upset," Dora admitted. "She won't tell me what Aunt Bella said to her at all. I don't know if she's even told Dad. She was putting herself back together when I left. There was no Curse, though." She sighed. "I think it might be best if we didn't mention it to Sirius. He's angry enough without something new."
"I wholeheartedly agree."
They finished breakfast, making plans to obtain what they would need, then she walked him back to his office, where Alan was getting things together for his first class of the morning. He looked up sheepishly. "Look, I, er... I apologize if I've overstepped my boundaries a bit. I suppose I just..."
"It's all right, Alan," Dora said. "We needed to talk."
She hugged Remus--he held her for what seemed a long time in company, though Alan didn't seem to consider anything untoward--then waved a good day to Alan and disappeared down the corridor.