It was still dark only an hour or two until dawn as a cloaked figure with great big trench boots makes his way through the outskirts of London. Slipping between late muggle party goers and those that simply had too much fun and passed out on the streets, benches, and even on top of a car. The man easily slipped between the shadows as even trio of rowdy drunk men spotted him but thought nothing of him beyond that of a party-goer still in costume.
The man stopped at an old rickety flat with the door pointed away from the street. The man flicks his hand causing his wand to slip out of his holster and fall into his ready hand. The tip of his wand begins to glow as he traced a rune on the door and says, "Gladioli." The door opens with a click as the man rushes in one final glance, before slamming the door firmly shut behind him.
Four wands are all pointed at him without any hesitation as the figure removes his hood to reveal the face of Alastor Moody. Despite seeing the rugged Scottish Auror's face none of the wands go down as the much slimmer and worn face of Percius Clements says, "How many drinks did we share on boxing day?"
Alastor's scrunches his face in thought, before saying, "We had at least three spiked eggnogs, an entire bottle of fire whiskey, then some rum and finally some muggle liquor called, Absinthe."
"That sounds about right," Percius said with a nod as he lowered his wand and the rest of them did.
A loud coughing fit from Alphard Black causes them all to worriedly glance over to the tired dark-haired man with gaunt cheekbones and deep eyeshadows. It was sad to say, but he seemed even thinner than before. And worst of all, his coughing fits were growing more and more frequent each meeting.
Reaching into his pocket for his medicine, Alphard with shaking fingers opens the tin can and pops in the flower smelling pill into his mouth. Giving them a weary smile, he croaks, "I do believe we're all finally here even though we're a bit late though."
"I wasn't able to lose Scrimgeour until an hour ago," Alastor huffed as he walked over to his usual seat. Pausing his eyes reflexively glance at the empty seat of Vinovich, before gruffly saying, "Anyway, it's the first time we've had time to gather for quite a while."
The faint fire in the fireplace crackles casting long shadows over their faces. The silence grows as only the crackling is the only sound for some time. After what seems like many minutes, the large-nosed Fabian Prewett clears his throat. "Ever since Caithness, the Death Eater's dropped off again. We've seen this happen before and know that they're planning something big again."
"It's the Gringotts's Auction," Percius drily said. "It's obvious as they'll be plenty of opportunities with all the guests there and the security running thin."
"Then why the doom and gloom?" Gideon impatiently growled. Ever since, Vinovich's death, Gideon Prewett had been a lot more prone to being rash. Nothing too worrisome, but still something to be concerned about given what they did for a living.
"The ministry is not allowed to interfere with the running of Gringotts," Alphard rasped as he stared at the moving shadows on the floor. "It is part of the goblin and wizard treaty."
"Even if there is going to be an imminent attack?" Gideon whispered in disbelief.
"Especially then," Alphard drily said as he raised his dark gray eyes to meet that of Gideon. "Goblins don't trust wizards for very good reasons. We are not prone to keeping our words, but then again so are they. It's a mutual distrust to be perfectly honest."
"That's true enough," Alastor said with a bit of a thick Scottish burr. "Me Da back in the day was prone to saying to double-check every single word in a contract either verbal or non-verbal because a goblin only kept their word to the exact definition of the word."
"Same," Alphard and Percius mumbled as they glanced at each other with weak grins.
"Then we're going to be stuck watching them attack Gringotts?!" Gideon said in desperation.
"It's not as bad as it sounds, Gideon," Percius chided him for losing his cool. "Gringotts has been broken into multiple times over the centuries, but how many can say that they've made it out alive. I can count the number on one hand. And even then, afterward, every single one of thieves was found except for one.
And besides this is not necessarily a bad thing for us," Percius paused as if in thought. "If the Death Eaters antagonize the goblins, they'll be sure to not only pay for it but become enemies as maybe for the first time in centuries the will goblins aid the ministry in the capture of a group of criminals."
The group is silent for a moment, before Fabian says, "Then I suppose that is exactly what we will do. Is there anything else?" Everyone glances at each other, before shaking their heads.
Fabian and Gideon get up as Fabian adds, "Well, we'll see you all later," before both brothers rushed off into the night.
"I best be going as well," Alastor grumbled, "I gave to go out with brat in a few hours to highlands. Apparently, he's got a lead."
A brief smile flashes across Alphard's face as he says, "It would appear you're finally properly being a partner to Scrimgeour."
"Never!" Alastor vehemently protested not completely able to hide the look of pride in his eyes, before leaving and shutting the door behind him.
The two men are quiet as the fire crackles until Alphard says, "You've gotten cold, Percius."
"And what do you expect?" Percius coldly snapped back. "My partner is dead, would you have me smiling all the time again?"
"No, but not like this," Alphard said as Percius glances away not meeting Alphard's gaze. "Do you blame her for not warning us about, Vinovich?"
Percius bites his lip in reply as Alphard sighs, "Percius, you know that farseers aren't like regular seers, who make prophecies about the future. Farseers can only accurately see one possible future nor the changes that occur afterward once the present is changed. She couldn't have known no more than you and me."
Seeing Percius's unchanging face Alphard shakes his head tiredly. "Percius, I believe you confuse the fact that she attends Hogwarts at the moment as some sort of weakness. She is a CHILD, Percius! She should not even be speaking with us nor much less planning on how to save the entire wizarding world. That is the responsibility of us a.d.u.l.ts, not that of a mere thirteen-year-old child!"
Percius blinks at the angry outburst from Alphard, who tiredly leans back to rest against his armchair. "And she is not playing either, Percius," Alphard said in exhaustion as he closed his eyes. "Have you not yet wondered where the basilisk skin that is to be auctioned came from?"
"I have not," Percius sheepishly confessed. "But what does that have to do with her?"
"A basilisk was the monster hidden in the Chamber of Secrets."
"What do you mean to tell me that the Chamber of Secrets, really exists?"
"But how in Merlin's name did she manage to kill a deadly creature like that?!"
"I don't know," Alphard wearily admitted as he opened his eyes to meet the incredulous gaze of Percius. "But what I do is that she somehow all alone managed to lure the beast out of the castle into the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night without being caught nor killed only to lead it to a nest of Acromantula's."
"A nest of Acromantula's?" Percius said in disbelief.
"You heard correctly a nest of Acromantula's."
"But how is she even still alive?!"
"I don't know, but would you rather she wasn't?"
"No," Percius finally said as his eyes filled with moisture. "I suppose I just wanted someone to blame for Vinovich being gone. And she was the easiest option-."
Alphard gently reaches over to pat Percius on the shoulder and says, "It happens to the best of us that we often lash out at those closest to us." The two men are quiet for some time until Alphard glances at the time and says, "Dawn is almost upon us, we best be going now."
"You're right," Percius said as climbed to his feet and offered a hand to aid Alphard to his own. Utterly exhausted, Alphard accepted his hand, before putting on his cloak. They each quickly left together, before splitting up and apparating away. Not long after the sun broke through the horizon as a new day began.