Later that Christmas evening, five Auror's one by one dropped by Auror Percius Clements's for a mug of spiced eggnog. The last to arrive at the bachelor home was Alastor Moody as he huffed and dusted the snow off his clock. Stomping his feet clean on the doormat, Alastor takes the mug offered and takes a sip letting out an appreciative sound at the kick.
"I suppose that the holidays are good for something," said the older salt-peppered veteran, Sara Vinovich from her seat at the fireplace.
"Yes, it makes meeting up that much more convenient," said, the round-faced flat owner, Percius Clements as he brought out another round of food.
"I don't know about all of you, but I quite like this," mumbled the handsome, Gideon Prewett. "At least there's drinks and food."
"You would," mumbled his large-nosed brother, Fabian Prewett.
"Well, I for one am grateful that at least we didn't have to scurry around in the cold," said, the worn gaunt Alphard Black as he took a sip of his warm cider to clear his exhausted throat.
"Well, shall we get started?" Alastor said as he cast a non-spying spell over the room.
"So, shall we begin?" Sara suggested as the others nodded their heads in agreement. "I was first on the scene at the Malfoy Manor and I can confirm that the dead intruders clothing matched those of our Death Eater's."
An inflection of breaths can be heard as Sara continues, "As for the identities of the wizards, they have all been found to belong to small wizarding families. No one of great interest was found among them."
"I suppose that's a bit of relief," Alphard coughed quite harshly earning puzzled glances.
"What I mean to say, that there is already a schism among the purebloods. If too much of a rift occurs, there's bound to be problems in the end," Alphard croaked as he reached into his coat pocket for his medicine.
"And what about you, Alphard?" Sara pointedly said. "You were there for your nieces' betrothal to that of young Malfoy. What did you see?"
Shaking his head, Alphard regretfully replied, "I did not recognize a single attacker. But I did, however, take note of the Princes."
"What about the Prince's?" Alastor curiously interrupted.
"Why I do believe that three of us attended Hogwarts with the Princes?" Alphard pointedly said.
"Aye," Alastor admitted. "I did attend with that sister of his, but I was in Gryffindor. And as she was fours above me, I did not interact much with her if at all. But from what I could see she was a real spitfire that one."
"Same here, but I was only three years below her in Ravenclaw," Percius interjected causing the Auror's to blink at seeing the younger-looking face of Percius in comparison to that of Moody's. After all, there was only a one-year difference between the two men.
Tactfully changing the subject, Alphard turns to the only female Auror in the room. "And what of you, Vinovich?"
"I was four years below him," Sara admitted. "Even then one didn't cross him without expecting retribution."
Sara paused and quickly did the math in her head. "I was also with the younger sister, but as she was five years younger than I at the time. I admit that I did not pay her much attention as she was a Slytherin and I was in Hufflepuff."
"I thought as much," Alphard sagely said as stared into the fire. "The Prince family member have always been powerful duelers. But the two Prince's most certainly have earned the right to that title from seeing them in action with my own eyes.
The sister often engaged multiple targets at once, while the elder Prince did the same with far more frightening efficiency There was no hesitation to his actions unlike the members of the ministry present nor any hesitation to maiming in order to clear the floor that much faster. And unlike the rest of us, his spells were quite lethal. I have no doubt that more than half of the dead Death Eaters were at his hands."
"At least we know the child is safe with them," Sara mumbled under her breath as the rest grew still and gravely nodded their heads.
"There is one more piece of information that we should all know," Alastor unhappily said as the others frowned at his stiff, a rather sober expression. "Scrimgeour knows about Riddle."
"What?!" The other five Auror's exclaimed. "How?"
"I don't know, but he seems to only know Riddle as his alias," Alastor confessed as the room grows taut with tension. The Auror's flinch as Percius jumps to his feet as the lights go on in his eyes.
"I remember, Elphinstone assigned Scrimgeour to the Rockwood case. It's obvious Scrimgeour found some personal effect of communication between Rockwood and another Death Eater. No doubt mentioning the alias in the letter!" Percius cleverly beamed immensely proud at having connected the two and two together.
"But this is a problem is it not?' Fabian slowly said. "A loose end can be very troublesome and unravel the whole rope."
"But Scrimgeour cannot be brought into the fold," Sara solemnly declared. "And though talented I will admit; he is a Gryffindor through and through." The two Gryffindor Auror's in the room, Alastor and Gideon protest.
"I mean no offense you two, but Gryffindor's tend to see the world as Black and White. But as Auror's, we must see the world as for what it really is gray."
Turning to look at the two Auror's, Sara continues, "Gideon Prewett, Fabian's Ravenclaw tendencies effectively counters your own rash tendencies to pull you into line. While you, Moody, you were raised in a household that produces Auror's. No matter what Gryffindor tendencies you may have, you've never seen the world as merely black and white."
"Then what do we do?" Gideon lamely asked. "We cannot simply leave Scrimgeour out in the cold to become a rogue."
"We have no other choice," Percius mused out loud. "But that does not mean we cannot make use of this to our own advantage."
The Auror's turn to gaze at Percius as he continues, "It's simple really, we allow for Scrimgeour to become the enemy of the death eaters. He'll be the light, while we remain in the shadows. And as the ministry actively searches for the truth via him, we shall remain untouched except for Moody as he is Scrimgeour's partner.
Then we are all in agreement?"
"Yes," in unison they said.
Nodding, Percius glances at the time and says, "Well, shall I bring out another round of food and drinks, or do you all have places to be?"
"Family dinner," Alphard gloomily said as he handed over his empty mug.
"Same," Gideon and Fabian said, before turning to rise to their feet and grab their own coats.
"Well, I certainly have nowhere else to be," Alastor grumbled as he refilled his cup.
"Well, I do," Sara said with a smile as she demurely rose to her feet to leave.
"Ah, I see," Percius wisely said. "It's to be us lonely bachelor's again, aye, Moody?"
"So, it would seem," Alastor drily concluded as the rest of the Auror's left through the front door to apparate away. The front door closed and Percius raised his glass in the air. "To Bachelordom!"
"Here, here!" Alastor murmured as he raised his own drink before gulping it down. Either way, it proved to be a fruitful night as both men drank their worries away and retold the tales of their wild youths. Which to be frank was rather surprising given that both men didn't seem the types to commit some of the acts that they did.