On the second-lowest level of the Ministry of Magic is, Level 9, only accessible via the lifts from the Ministry Atrium. Unlike the rest of the Ministry, this level is even starker than the judgment hall. Black-titled walls are bare with no windows, no door either apart from a single black door at the end of the corridor that leads into the Department of Mysteries. The only source of light in the gloomy passageway are torches that coldly burn blue white rather than the warm glow of fire. Beyond the door is the entrance chamber a large, circular room. Everything in the room is black including the floor and ceiling. The only way back out is through twelve handle-less doors set to open at intervals only known to members of the Department.
Beyond there lies many curious sights, a long, rectangular room with a tank of brains that swim in green solutions and attack anything that attempts to touch them. A dimly lit chamber with stone tiers that lead down into a pit, whereupon a dais in the center stand a very old stone archway with a tattered black curtain hanging over it. The veil, which separates the world of the living and the dead.
But that is only the first of many, there is another door that remains locked at all times except to those that are permitted inside. A large fountain of Amortentia runs in the room, but for what purpose? Only known to those permitted inside.
There is a dark room full of planets floating in mid-air. Often times one finds themselves floating along to some unseen force. Whether there is a name for that power or not, the department has yet to share it with the rest of the wizarding world.
The next chamber is a long, rectangular room filled with beautiful, dancing lights that sparkle like gemstones. All sorts of time-related devices completely fill the chamber, clocks of every description, and Time-Turners. At the far end of the hall is a large crystal bell jar filled with sparkling light that goes in and out. Anything inside the jar grows younger and younger returning to pre-life state only to be reborn and grow older. The cycle is endless as life and death are forever intertwined.
At the end of the last chamber is a single door that leads to the most curious chamber of all. A long, cold chamber with high ceilings like that of a church full of nothing but towering shelves covered in small, dusty, glass orbs. The orbs glimmer dully in the light issued from the lit blue-flamed candles. The room is largely empty most of the time as only the subjects of the prophecy can touch said orb except for a singular exception the Keeper of the Hall of Prophecies.
In a heavy fur coat, a tired dark-haired man with dark eyeshadows and even more gaunt cheeks loudly coughed. Alphard Black wearily coughed into an already red-spotted handkerchief, before wiping his red flecked lips clean. Striding forward the tired wizard makes his way down the rows and suddenly stops at row forty-five. A soft like whisper can be heard as he frowns and turns to make his way down the aisle.
Down the long alley of shelves are tiny yellowing labels under each glass orb on the shelf. Some of them have a weird, liquid glow; others are dull and dark about to blow out like a candle in the wind. Alphard's heavy robes trailed against the ground as he frowned at not hearing anything again. Suddenly, he heard the soft whisper again just behind him.
Alphard whirls around and glances up to see a glowing like orb on the shelf above him. The faded old card reads, "Tom Marvolo Riddle (?) and the Prince (?)."
"Prince?" Alphard frowned instantly thinking of a certain child. Carefully reaching for the orb with his right gloved hand, he removes his left glove. Barely pressing the tip of his finger to the orb, he suddenly hears the voice of Cassandra Trelawany, the famous witch and seer.
"Two stars have fallen, both equal in might... Both filled with darkness and despair. But neither can live for the Hydra hides in the shadows... Long forgotten, long thought gone, but not all things that are forgotten are ever truly gone...The Hydra will consume them both.and the world shall finally perish and fall away into utter darkness..."
There is a pause as if Cassandra Trelawny is utterly, bewildered. "-Yet life and death will clasp hands in solemn accord, the Hydra must perish..."
Alphard blinks as the prophecy orb returns to its original liquid glow. Furrowing his brows, he returns the orb into place, before moving away lost in thought.
Was that an incomplete prophecy? No, it was complete simply Cassandra Trelawny did not know the ending. "Two stars have fallen, both equal in might," Alphard muttered to himself, easily pegging Riddle and the child. But what of the Hydra? The one that will consume them both-?
"But the Hydra must perish," Alphard loudly thought to himself as he pursed his lips.
The other unspeakables nod their heads at him, before returning to fiddling with the Time-Turners. He was rather distracted as he wandered out of the Department of Mystery that he didn't hear anyone calling him until he had left the lifts and was on his way out.
"Merlin to Black," a voice loudly said in his ear, causing Alphard to jump.
Alphard whirls around to see a tall, youthful, ruddy-faced wizard that had grown a neat brown beard to hide his weak chin. "Diggory," Alphard said recognizing one of the newer members of the Department of Regulations and Control of Magical Creatures.
Amos Diggory grinned and handed him, a sealed brown envelope. "Auror Shackleton asked that I hand this over to you," Diggory rather good-natured said. "And asked, if you'd meet her at the Leaky Cauldron later at six. Apparently, she has something to discuss with you in private."
"Thank you," Alphard gratefully said recognizing the brown envelope as being the requested information on the five individuals. But why did Shackleton want to see him? Was there something that she found that she dared not write about?
"So, you and Saturnia Shackleton, eh?" Diggory said with a side wink.
Alphard flushes and says, "It is strictly professional, Diggory."
"Mm, so you say," Diggory teased, before saying, "Well, my girl is waiting for me, I best see you later. With the quidditch cup to be held here, this summer, there hasn't been much time for us to go out. We've already caught smugglers coming in and that's only to increase the closer the summer approaches."
"Haven't asked her to marry you yet, have you?" Alphard flatly called out.
"I'm just waiting to find her the perfect ring," Diggory huffed, before flooing away.
Chuckling, Alphard tosses a bit of floo powder into the fireplace and says, "The Leaky Cauldron." Immediately he steps into the green flames and zooms away. Feeling a bit lightheaded, Alphard emerges into the grubby-looking bar. The hunched bartender wipes the bar as various customers drink away their worries and sorrows.
Tom, the old bartender nods his head at Alphard and says, "What will it be Black? The usual?"
"Not tonight," Alphard apologized. "I'll just have a bit of butterbeer." Tom sniffed, but quickly filled up a mug and placed it before Alphard. He finished his entire tankard and another refill before it was an hour past six. What could be taking her so long? Shackleton was never late, nor much less never kept anyone waiting for her. She'd have sent a missive by now asking to reschedule at a later time.
A pair of weary-looking Auror's wander inside and each asks for a fire whiskey. Tom quickly serves them as one of the Auror's gulps half of his drink down and says, "What a d*m shame."
"Tell me about it," The older Auror murmured in agreement as he sipped his fire whiskey.
Suddenly finding himself closely listening in, Alphard leans forward as he hears the younger Auror say, "Who would have ever thought that a Lobalug would have done Shackleton in?"
"A Lobalug would have done anyone in," the older Auror chided. "But what I can't understand is how a Lobaulg was delivered to her desk? All parcels coming into the ministry are checked before being delivered to their various parties."
The younger Auror shrugs and says, "If I didn't know any better, I'd hazard to say someone was trying to silence her. But Auror Shackleton was mostly a desk Auror. She rarely ever went out into the field and whenever she did, it was mostly follow-ups and those kinds of things. But still, to be sprayed in the face with a mouthful of venom, that's still an unpleasant way to go."
Alphard stumbles to his feet and numbly pays for his drinks, before flooing away. Shackleton was now dead and most definitely having been murdered. Just what did she find out? With that thought in mind, he hurried away to open the parcel in private. But to his dismay, there was nothing out of ordinary to be found in any of the five reports. Whatever had gotten Shackleton killed had died with her.