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Marauder Elite
Guess Who 
07|15|09 - 20:15
listening
Who: Alice and Emmeline
What: Go over some salient details
Where: The Vance residence
When: Sunday, 23 September, 11 am

Knock. Knock. Knock. Alice shifted from foot to foot, trying to distribute the weight of far more files than she probably needed to have brought over. She had interviewed a few of the other Order members about what sort of opponents they had met on the train when Cybele's Pearl was everyone's greatest worry, but it wasn't until word came to her that Emmeline might have killed a Death Eater that the young Auror packed up all of her files on all the Death Eaters and set a course for the the Vance family home. Eleven was reasonable for the weekend, she figured, though she was well aware that her sense of normal hours and schedule was not entirely reliable.

But the light was on, so that was promising, and from outside Alice could hear a faint shuffle evidencing life inside the house.
Comments 
07|16|09 - 00:40 (UTC)
It was Grihelda Vance who opened the door, dishcloth in hand, smiling politely at the stranger on her doorstep with a faintly quizzical expression. The woman looked familiar - Grihelda's mind immediately began running over past events and charity committees she had been on. As any respectable witch would understand, charity took a lot of paperwork.

"Can I help you?"
07|16|09 - 00:50 (UTC)
Alice smiled and tried to look as unalarming as possible. "Good morning!" She had to stop herself from making a face at her own voice, because apparently looking unalarming meant sounding like a seven-year-old. She cleared her throat and tried again. "I'm, er, Alice Longbottom, and I'm an Auror at the Ministry. No one's in trouble," she assured, "but I was wondering if Emmeline Vance would be able to help me out with a few questions. Is she in?"
07|16|09 - 00:57 (UTC)
Grihelda frowned, but only briefly.

"Emmeline," she said, with a wry smile, "is still in bed. I believe it's a teenaged thing. But I can wake her if you don't mind dealing with whatever creature will emerge from in there. I think she's had quite a late night."

Grihelda, by now, was used to Emmeline's unorthodox comings and goings. So long as she didn't wake them, or the rooster, they tended just to let her get on with it.
07|16|09 - 01:10 (UTC)
"Oh!" So much for coming late enough to not wake people. She glanced around at the house before her and the grounds. She always envied those who grew up in the country-- maybe that was what brought her to Frank-- and wondered if Emmeline knew how lucky she had been.

"Well, I'll risk it, if it's not too much trouble to you? I'd come back this afternoon, but I already have another appointment. An Auror dares anything, I guess," she offered, through a grin.
07|16|09 - 01:20 (UTC)
Grihelda laughed. "Well you're braver than most, then. Won't you come in?"

She ushered Alice into the living room, stopping to offer her a drink before going upstairs to rouse an exhausted Emmeline. Merlin knew what hour she had finally stumbled in at.

***

Still in her pyjamas and with her hair tousled, Emmeline padded down the stairs with a yawn, wondering who the fuck wanted her at this time on a Sunday and if they had any inkling of just how dead they were. Until she saw Alice, that was.

"Ummm...hi?" Emmeline stopped in the doorway, an expression of guilt crossing her face quickly followed by worry as her mind flashed over memories of flames and petrol cans and crackling heat. How the hell had Alice found out so quickly? And, more importantly, what was she going to do about it? She bit her lip. "Look, I can explain-"
07|16|09 - 02:59 (UTC)
Alice was caught mid-sip when Emmeline appeared. She paused, ready to put the drink down, but the girl began to make herself extraordinarily suspicious. The cup tapped against the table as the preface began.

"Good morning. You can explain, can you?" Apparently the message about not being in trouble hadn't gotten through to Emmeline. "Impressive, as I haven't even said why I came. Listen--should we sit here or is there a better place to talk? Once we're settled you can let spill whatever it is you're dying to tell me."
07|20|09 - 19:45 (UTC)
Emmeline frowned, looking around quickly for some coffee. She really wasn't sure what was going on. "Ummm..."

Fortunately for her, her mother reappeared with a mug of heavily sweetened coffee and a tilted eyebrow. "I'll just shut the door, shall I?" Emmeline blushed.

"Thanks." Christ, why here? No matter what she got up to, Emmeline always did her very best to keep her family out of it. It was the best way to keep them safe. And now an Auror was here, and sitting in the living room, and that was going to be difficult to explain away without sentences involving 'duelling' and 'arson', and presumably 'Dumbledore' and 'big, big trouble'. She waited until the door clicked shut before sighing and approaching Alice, perching on the arm of one of the sofas.

"Here is fine. Just...can you not involve my parents. Please. I'd have come to the Ministry."
07|20|09 - 23:09 (UTC)
Alice tilted her head quizzically. "Your parents are fine, Emmeline. Listen, as entertaining and satisfying as it would be to let you squirm here until we figure out what you're feeling so guilty about, I'm not sure it's the right thing to do."

The last phrase sounded for all the world like a proper noun. The Right Thing. But that was all right, as far as Alice was concerned. "So I'm going to propose something. You tell me what it is you did that would involve an Auror coming 'round and dragging you to the Ministry; I'll do what I can to smooth it over and make sure it's dealt with as painlessly as possible; and you help me close in on a Death Eater's identity without an unbearable amount of cheek."

She glanced at the nearest chair and sank into it. One leg crossed over the other and she looked up at Emmeline, letting the offer settle into the air. "What do you think?"
07|23|09 - 20:35 (UTC)
Emmeline stared at her for a moment, cogs turning in her head, before everything clicked into place and she let out a loud laugh almost like a bark.

"You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?" she shook her head, grinning widely and relaxing back with her coffee. "Okay. That sounds fine. You promise no trouble?"
07|23|09 - 21:06 (UTC)
Alice grinned. "As little trouble as I can manage. If you've been slaughtering villages something you're probably out of luck, but as long as it's nothing too drastic, we'll call it a deal." She ran through the mental list of items that had posted as new developments this morning, but she had been so drowsy at the time that she had only really processed one or two notices.

"So? Am I going to regret this?"
07|23|09 - 21:15 (UTC)
Regaining confidence quickly - too quickly perhaps - Emmeline allowed herself a faintly smug smile. "Just...don't investigate the Crabbe fire too closely okay?"

She took a large drink of coffee, before adding lightly, "I'm sure they're devastated, poor souls. All that destruction. Why, it might take weeks for it to get sorted. Tragic really."
07|23|09 - 23:24 (UTC)
Alice felt her whole body relax at the news. "Oh, that's a relief. A fire-- that's-- we can wrap that up easily. I'll try to stop by today and confirm that it was an accident." She traced her finger around the rim of her cup and tilted her head as she thought. "Hopefully that'll cut back on any possibility of them turning themselves into the poor victims here, too."

"Well." She drew out a roll of parchment, affixed to a board, and spread it along the table, and then leaned over to find a quill. After a bit of ruffling, Alice emerged, brandishing the almost downy feather. "While we're on with confessions and tragedies for the Death Eaters, perhaps we can revisit a duel on the train a bit ago. Do you remember what fighting you did?"
07|25|09 - 03:15 (UTC)
Alice dropped her smugness and burst out laughing. "If only!" She gathered herself and sighed. "Sadly, my boss has a son who called the dungeons home until... sometime recently. Last year? So I don't think he'll take to our blanket policy."

"Even if we can't match him to a name quite yet, we may be able to match him to a profile."

She drew her wand and lifted four files out from her huge stack of folders, opened each, and spread them out on the table. Each had a blurry drawing inside of what they might look like, but as they were all blurry and all masked and robed, the difference was negligible. "The Page of Morgana. The Marquis Macabre. The Plotting Prince. And the Knight of Night. These are ones that I believe are young but not hot-headed. I have notes on all of them from the past month, but I'm not always right about who does what. The Prince tends to work alone and is definitely more comfortable with Dark magic, though. The other three-- it's hard to tell. My hunch says the Page or the Knight."

She slid those to forward, toward Emmeline. In each folder were slips of parchment with accounts from each of the incidents that Alice suspected each criminal of being involved with, though most bore a red stamp announcing them as inconclusive. "But it's hard to know," she added, as a disclaimer.
07|25|09 - 03:30 (UTC)
Emmeline leant over to pick up the two files and take a long look at them. "Are those special technical Auror codenames for people, or have you been trying to catch Dark Wizards with fortune telling?"

It was a little impertinent, what with Alice being an auror and all, but Emmeline felt comfortable enough now that the older woman seemed pleased with the information she had to risk pushing a bit.
07|25|09 - 03:38 (UTC)
Alice tried to look serious for half of a second and broke into a grin. "Did you ever read The Adventures of Red Rusticus?" Only after the words had left her mouth did she note how ridiculous they sounded in context with trying to catch murderers. "I couldn't call them 'Death Eater A' and 'Death Eater B', could I? I'd always be mixing them up and grabbing the wrong file."

She set her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her hands. "Fortune telling's a good idea, though. Well-- once you get past the fact that it wouldn't hold up at the Wizengamot."
07|25|09 - 03:47 (UTC)
"And that it's a pile of bollocks," Emmeline murmured, raising her eyebrows as she looked down at the unclear drawings. Divination and Ravenclaws just didn't usually go together.

She sighed, lifting the file belonging to the Knight. "Why's this one so much smaller than the others?" The pieces really meant nothing at all to her. They could all have been directly torn out of The Adventures of whoever it was for all she would know.
07|25|09 - 03:58 (UTC)
"I started this system about a year ago, when it seemed like we had a set number of Death Eaters. Either I've gone mad or they have more. That one," she pointed, "is new. Or just very good at disguising his work as someone else's, or slipping through the shadows. But they don't want a stagnant number. They recruit."

Alice tried to remind herself that not only were most people not in her head at all times, but most of them weren't in the Auror office every day either. "Each of those pages is information on a case. I could be very wrong about the whole thing, but the way I have it, he's one of these newer</> recruits. If he was a Death Eater last Halloween, he wasn't active."
07|25|09 - 04:10 (UTC)
Emmeline nodded, adding almost without thinking, "Or he came from Europe."

She'd missed most of these cases, being abroad, and travel was on her mind.
07|25|09 - 04:24 (UTC)
Alice stared at the files, thinking over the comment. "Or Europe." She sighed. "These are all newer, at least." She pulled out the Melancholy Queen file, thick enough to be a small textbook, and flopped it twice before sliding it back in with the rest. "They get bigger. Sometimes the size is because the wizard is more active. Maybe he's been there longer. Or maybe he's just harder to pin down."

She let one arm dangle off the table and left the other to hold up her head. "The ones that seem newer may just be new styles of old Death Eaters. They may be foreigners. Or neutral purebloods swayed by V-Voldemort's growing power. Or right out of Hogwarts. It's impossible to know for sure. Any of it."

Sometimes she thought of scrapping the whole thing, throwing it on a fire, for all the good it had done her. Almost a year of the thing and not one clear result.
07|25|09 - 16:38 (UTC)
Emmeline grimaced. "Well if it helps, I'm almost positive that the one I fought is someone I was at school with. Maybe a couple of years above or below, but I'd know them. Not that my word is probably of much value."

It was ridiculous really. Emmeline could have said with almost total certainty that at least a couple of the Slytherin boys from her year - Snape, surely? Crazy Avery and probably Mulciber too - were Death Eaters. But how could they prove it?
07|25|09 - 21:37 (UTC)
Alice nodded. "It helps. A witness is a witness, and that's the best kind of evidence we have so far. I always hope that one of them will leave some physical trace of themselves, but it doesn't happen."

She sat up and tried to shake off the glumness that had settled over her. Of course this was hard. They were fighting powerful members of society who did a very good job of covering their tracks. Alice smoothed a hand over the parchment full of notes. "And your account-- I know it doesn't seem much, but this is a lot. When I'm back in the office I can look through everything again. We'll keep the information and sort it out with new accounts and new cases that come in. And maybe something will jump out."
07|25|09 - 21:45 (UTC)
Emmeline nodded, fingering the file pertaining to the Knight of Night again. "You shouldn't give them names like that," she said softly. "It makes them sound...compelling."
07|25|09 - 22:09 (UTC)
Alice looked down at the files. "Maybe," she ceded. "Sometimes I worry about how detached from the reality of it I can get, and other times I worry that I'll start feeling like I know these people better than they know themselves."

She shrugged. "They are compelling. They're fascinating. And horrible. I think the names make it a bit easier to spend ten hours a day thinking about anarchic murderers. But I'll tell you," she added, in a steely voice, "I never open that file, the Page of Morgana, without thinking about the infant he killed for being of the wrong blood. And there isn't a day that passes that makes me forget that I'm nearly positive that the Melancholy Queen stabbed Frank on our wedding day."
07|25|09 - 23:06 (UTC)
Emmeline bit her lip. "And we had one of them, and I let him escape."

That she does regret, far more than the Death Eater she defeated. If he's one of Alice's little profiles too, if he shows up as a fighter on the train and then goes on to commit some other atrocity, then it will be her fault. Not strong enough, not fast enough, not ruthless enough just to match them at their own game and go to whatever lengths necessary to bring them down.
07|26|09 - 06:36 (UTC)
"Let escape?" Alice shook her head. "None of us have every let any of them escape. To not succeed at capturing someone is not the same as waving them along. If we'd killed or arrested every Death Eater we fought, there'd be very few of them running around."

She leaned forward and smiled, defiant of all the possible regrets one could have. "What's important is that we're fighting at all. We'll get them all, soon enough. And in the meantime we'll do what we can."
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