It was rather dark with dawn still a way's away as two cloaked figures arrived at the entrance of an old flat. The taller of the two taps his wand against the door, while the other whispers, "England." The door clicks with a soft creak opens just a smidgeon as the two push their way inside, before closing the door behind them.
Three wands are instantly pointed at the two figures as one of the figures sighs, "How many times have we told you not to come in pairs?"
"Sorry, but we were in a hurry," the taller wizard answered as he removed his hood to reveal his handsome features, Gideon Prewett.
"We were already running late and tired from a last-minute errand for the Order," the large-nosed wizard grunted, Fabian Prewett. "And if I clearly remember, both Gideon and I were shouted there too for being late!" The other three wizards lowered their wand at the response as that had indeed been the case.
The rugged Scottish Auror, Alastor Moody snorts. "And exactly what's the excuse this time around?"
"We heard something interesting," Gideon said with a gleam in his eye. "Dumbledore had us meet with the Bones brothers. And Edgar Bones had something of interest to note as according to him it is rather strange that there haven't been any move movements as of late."
"We know that already," Alastor snapped. "The Death Eaters are targeting either the Malfoy wedding or the Quidditch World Cup. And as the Minister of Magic Jenkins is more worried about the international visiting wizards, we've all been pulled for security. Not to mention that none of us are to be present at the Malfoy wedding except for Alphard here as he was the only one of us who's been so cordially invited."
"No, I was referring to the fact the underworld has gone quiet," Gideon finished with a grin and some relish at seeing the surprise on Alastor's face.
"The underworld?" The worn, slim face of Percius Clements asked. He'd been rather tired as of late as he'd been running on his own without a partner. He would be getting one sooner or later, but hopefully not from the latest batch of Auror's graduating from the academy.
Gideon glances at his brother, Fabian, who says, "According to Bones, there's something strange going on. Normally he'd hazard to say that one of the underworld leaders was planning something, but it's more like they're waiting for the other shoe to drop according to his informants. There's still plenty of petty and medium-sized transactions going on, but nothing big."
The contemplative silence is broken by a hacking cough from Alphard Black. The tired, gaunt man looked so much sicker than the last time they'd seen him. Everyone had every right to be concerned due to his worsening health, Alphard could become gravely ill at any given moment.
Wiping his mouth clean of red flecks, Alphard pauses to swallow one of the white floral smelling pills from his tin can kept in his pocket. With a tired sigh, he leaned back in the chair. "My apologies," Alphard croaked before hoarsely adding, "But I can't help but wonder if one of the underworld leaders is waiting for an attack to occur. However, the question is why? As far as we know neither side had fought with each other as of yet. And they both stand to lose as the underworld would ban any sales to known Death Eaters and the Death Eaters cannot risk losing valuable selling channels."
There is a bit of silence as everyone solemnly contemplates the question. "But what if there is something more to it?" Gideon slowly answered much to their surprise. "The loss of a family member to one of the underworld leaders. They'd never take that standing down and would certainly avenge themselves when the time was right."
"That does make sense," Percius slowly said. "But those dead in the attacks have very little connections to the underworld or distant family relations. Nor would any of the underworld members admit to having muggle relations."
"No, it still could work," Alphard rasped in a hoarse voice. "What if it was a minor incident for us? The disappearance of a random witch or wizard, which is a common enough occurrence in our field of work, but to the underworld that only holds two meanings, either said individual is doing a runner or they're dead, plain and simple.
In that case, it is possible that one of the underworld Potenate's will have realized in passing connection what could have truly transpired. But without any evidence, the underworld Potenate's can't very well cut off all loose ties for they themselves would be left in the dark and be vulnerable to enemy attacks."
"Mm, that would make sense," Alastor growled. "I heard it right from Elphinstone's mouth, that there have been three unofficial goblin deaths. The first two were two goblin guards killed in an attempt to rob Gringotts vault during the winter auction. And the second was an upcoming young goblin teller that went missing not long after. The missing goblin is presumed dead given that the ritual magic performed by goblin mothers on the first shed tooth was intact and said the tooth was later found cracked in pieces by the widow."
Gideon lets out an impressed whistle. "And the goblin managed to keep that under wraps, how?"
"A vow or gold, I would hazard to say," Fabian drily replied to his brother's question.
"I suppose that does explain why the goblins of Gringotts are now seen traveling in pairs," Percius murmured as he stroked his chin in thought. "Though the question is which side is responsible? I'd hazard to guess the Death Eaters, but the underworld is known for its ruthlessness."
"Still that does little to ease my worries," Alastor said as he shifted in his seat. "I'd rather not add the tangled poisonous web of the underworld at this time. We already have enough on our plates as it is."
"We may not be given a choice in the end," Percius mused. "But still, who are the present leaders of the underworld?"
They all turn to glance at Alastor, who wrinkles his nose in revulsion. "As far as we know, old Sanderson is still ruling London, Newport for the coast, Forsythe for Scotland, Lewis for the Welsh, and Murphy for the Irish. While the northern part of England's leader is always constantly changing, I'm not sure if Smith is still ruling or not."
Percius nods his head, before turning towards Alphard. "And you, Alphard, how's the new job going. I heard you transferred to the personnel filing office."
"Aye," Alphard smirked. "As my health is in decline, and for once I wouldn't mind a paper-pushing job. It's quite comfy down there."
"I have half a mind to believe that you did it all for the cushy chairs," Percius teased.
"Ah, yes, did I forget to mention that?" Alphard said with a wicked smile. "The desk chair is quite plush and comfy." Alastor rolls his eyes as Gideon and Fabian, both flash Alphard mischievous grins.
"I don't mind if any of you come to visit me with office warming gifts," Alphard paused to point at the two red-headed men. "Except for you two. I would prefer to be left with my dignity intact."
"Spoilsport," Gideon muttered under his breath as Fabian merely indignantly sniffed at being so openly called out as a troublemaker.
Alastor climbed to his feet revealing his large trench boots. "Then it that case, we best be going. With all, the Quidditch World Cup to be held this summer, I tend to find my days rather long especially with Scrimgeour on my case all the time."
"I did hear that the two of you now eat lunch together," Percius said with a chuckle. "Though more often than not the two of you are shouting at each other."
"Yes, well, I still can't stand the brat," Alastor admitted. "But he's not as bad as I had originally thought. He's got a mean swing and even faster spell work."
"That's rather high praise coming from you, Alastor," Percius chortled.
Alastor snorts and says, "Don't be getting all gooey-eyed on me, Clements! I still don't like the brat!" With a huff, Alastor stormed out to their amused faces.
"I reckon, he must not mind Scrimgeour as much," Gideon grinned. "I've actually seen them eat in peace as of late. Which many including myself would have sworn on Merlin himself that was an impossibility!"
"Yes, well, I still argue that they've been dosed with calming droughts," Fabian chuckled as he pulled his brother out the door.
Percius extends a helping hand to Alphard, who gratefully accepts the offered hand to climb onto his feet. "How have you really been doing, Alphard?" Percius sincerely asked.
"I've improved a bit as the office is relatively warm when in comparison to my previous position," Alphard said as he put on his cloak. "But the healers say that I'd be better off without any stress. But given what I know, I don't believe that is remotely possible."
Percius silently claps a hand on Alphard's shoulder, before giving him a brisk nod. The two of them extinguish the fire, before departing from the small flat. They quickly left the flat and apparated away to their own destinations, their beds. They would be able to get several hours of sleep before the sun arose. Not as much as they would have hoped for, but enough that they wouldn't be exhausted while at work.