It was raining as three figures stomped their way through numerous puddles across the cobbled streets. "I swear all it's been bloody doing as of late is rain," huffed, the handsome redheaded man, Gideon Prewett. "I swear that I'm this close to moving overseas!"
"Shaddup! All you've done is complain since we left!" Snapped, the big-nosed man, Fabian Prewett.
"Will both of you be quiet already!" Growled, the middle-aged man with a tiny new scar trailing from the space under his nose to his lips, Alastor Moody. The brothers at least have the decency to look ashamed, but only for a moment.
"And why are we going to the Hogs Head Inn again?" Gideon asked as Alastor let out a desperate sigh.
"Because we're going to join the Order of the Phoenix," Fabian patiently explained as if to a child, which his brother could be at times.
"I know that!" Gideon snapped. "What I mean, is seeing as we already belong to another organization, can we be in both at the same time?"
"Why not?" Fabian shrugged. "It's not like we're going to be taking contrary oaths. The order's purpose neatly lines up our own."
"Yes, now would the two of you be quiet!" Alastor rumbled as both men quiet as they approached the back of the Hogs Head Inn. "Dumbledore said to go in through the back and knock on the door."
"Did I mention I hate goats?" Gideon muttered under his breath as they were all assaulted by the smell. Trying not to breathe, they all made their way through the back, before knocking on the door.
Not long after the door opened to reveal the bartender with long, stringy gray hair and beard glares at them with his piercing blue eyes from behind his spectacles. "They're waiting for you up the stairs into the loft," The bartender snapped, before slamming the door shut after them and returning to the bar.
"He's still as friendly as ever," Fabian drily commented as they went up the creaky stairs to the loft. With care, he pushed the door open to see four figures already waiting inside.
The standing men in the corner were two similar-looking men with square jaws. The older one had dark brown hair, while the younger of the two had lighter brown hair, Edgar and Jacques Bones. Edgar Bones nodded at the Prewett brothers as he was on familiar terms with them given that he was an Auror too. As for the younger brother, Jacques Bones, they knew only him as a member of the Department of International Magical Cooperation.
Sitting down in one of the two armchairs in the room, a hunched up bald wizard sniffs as he wipes his nose. The elderly wizard, Elphias Doge was a good friend of the wizard sitting across from, Albus Dumbledore, whose silver hair shines in the firelight. Seeing that everyone was present, Albus Dumbledore clears his throat and rises to his feet. Moody the last one to enter the room locks the door and casts the rather useful spell learnt, Muffalito.
"Thank you all for coming here this evening," Dumbledore said as his solemn blue eyes lacked their childlike twinkle behind his half-moon spectacles.
"Here, here," grumbled, Elphias Doge.
"I'm sure that we all know each other, but still allow me to present everyone," Dumbledore said as he pointed first at the three Auror's closest to the door. "Starting from the left, Auror Alastor Moody, Auror Gideon Prewett, and Auror Fabian Prewett." The other three men nod their heads at them.
Pointing at the two brothers on the other end of the room, Dumbledore says, "On the left, we have Auror Edgar Bones, and on the right his younger brother, Jacques Bones, and member for the Department of Internal Magical Cooperation."
All eyes turn the last person in the room the old man in the chair. "And fellow esteemed colleague, Elphias Doge. Member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Special Advisor to the Wizengamot," Dumbledore said as they all inclined their heads at the old shriveled wizard.
"Thank you for being so patient," Dumbledore said as gravely eyed them. "I have gathered you all here tonight, because I fear dark times are coming. There already have been several coordinated attacks and the ministry of magic has yet to find the culprits."
The Auror's in the room instantly stiffen but remain tactfully silent. "Though I do not believe that the Auror's department is to blame, but rather that the ministry itself has been infiltrated."
"That is some serious accusations there," Edgar Bones rumbled as his brother at his side furrowed at his side.
"I understand gentlemen," Dumbledore said. "I have no intention of diminishing the ministry of magic's power. But rather I fear that we are not dealing with the usual suspects. But dark wizards' intent on power."
"Have you any proof beyond the attacks?" Jacques Bones coldly asked. "Because though I sympathize with the tragedies and losses of the victims. That does not imply the ministry had been compromised."
"I beg to differ, Mr. Bones," Alastor Moody flatly stated. "I've been an Auror for too long and I have a sense for these things. But allow me to show some proof, one word, Rockwood."
"What does Rockwood have to do with anything?" Jacques crossly frowned.
"Everything," Alastor said. "Rockwood was an unspeakable that disappeared roughly two years ago. And none of you find that odd?"
"And how would you know that, Moody?" Edgar interrupted. "Neither my brother nor I were aware."
"Simple, Scrimgeour was assigned to the investigation," Alastor candidly replied. "And would you like to know the connection that he found in Rockwood's personal belongings?
A note referring to a Dark Lord. Exactly the same name heard by the witnesses at both the Malfoy Manor and at the Caithness village, where Auror Vinovich lost her life. Now, tell me, if there isn't a connection?"
Both Bones stiffly nod in acceptant of the answer as Dumbledore intervenes, "Thank you, Moody." Alastor sniffs as Dumbledore takes a step forward causing his dark blue robes to swish. "I have gathered you all here to share information between all of us and if need be to intervene."
"Then what are you proposing, Professor?" Edgar frowned. "Because this goes everything I know about rouge, vigilante groups."
"Don't be stupid, Auror Bones," Elphias Doge snapped. "I was here when Grindelwald took to terrorizing all of Europe. Do you think it was the members of the ministry that stopped him? No, in the end, it was solely one man, and he is standing right before us.
We are not here to avenge anyone, but to prevent future deaths! That is what we are here to do! I will not stand by and watch friends and family members die once again, because I had not the power to intervene!" Not realizing he'd risen to his feet; Doge has the decency to flush as he sits back down.
"Our deepest apologies, Wizengamot, Doge," Both brothers said as they nodded to the old wizard. Doge waves his hand at them as they knew they have been forgiven.
"Then will you all accept to be put under the Fidelieus charm with me as the Secret Keeper?"
"Aye," Alastor said first, followed by the Prewett brothers, and then by Doge.
"We'll accept, Professor," Edgar finally agreed. "But don't give us any cause to regret."
"Thank you," Dumbledore whispered, before lifting his voice to chant a long, complex incantation. A strange like binding spell is felt by all seven members of the room including the figure standing outside of the door as something inside them is bound to remain unspoken. Dumbledore glows brightly for a moment as golden light power pours over him, before the glowing sparks fade away.
"It is done," Dumbledore reverently said as he lowered his wand.
"We best be leaving in pairs at most," Alastor rasped. "I don't believe that the fireplace is hooked to the floo network."
"That is indeed correct," Dumbledore replied.
"My brother and I best be going, first then," Jacques steadily said. "With the Quidditch World Cup rapidly approaching, the department is rushing to issue portkeys and ensure the legalities of everything that is being transported in and out of the country." The two brothers gave them a brisk nod, before going out the door.
Slowly rising to his feet, Doge said, "A pleasure gentlemen, I'll be seeing you all later," before going on his way. The Prewett brothers were next with Alastor being the last to go.
Dumbledore stares into the fire as he listens to the crackling of the flames. Long shadows are cast over his flames causing his twice-broken nose to look more crooked than usual. "I know you're there, Aberforth," Dumbledore quietly said.
The door is pushed open to reveal the tall, broader shoulder man. "Ever the chess master, Albus," Aberforth spat. "Do they know that you're sending them to their deaths?"
"They are serving a worthy cause," Albus said without being able to turn to face his younger brother.
"Worthy cause?!" Aberforth spat. "Now, where have I heard that before?"
Clenching his fists, Aberforth hisses, "A worthy cause! I remember what your cause brought us last time, your cause cost us, Ariana's life!
Dumbledore remains silent as Aberforth's lips turn into a pained sneer. "There, I thought so. As usual, you have nothing to say for yourself, Albus."
Aberforth turns to storm away, before pausing to glance at his brothers back. "You always have to be right about everything, Albus. But look where's that's brought us?" Before slamming the door shut behind him leaving his older brother to musings. He had customers to attend too. And unlike his brother, he most certainly was not loaded with money.