It was near sundown when the figure of Albus Dumbledore made his way through Hogsmeade. Given that it was a fine evening there were plenty of residents outside of their homes enjoying the cooling air. Children were laughing as they flew their broom, while others chased fireflies and the like. It was a fine summer evening indeed.
Loud boisterous voices could be heard from the Hog Head Inn as Dumbledore made his way around the back. A spotted goat let out a loud cry in recognition. The goat snuffled towards the edge of the wooden pen and squeezed its head through the bars. Dumbledore lets out a soft chuckle and gives the goat a quick scratch under the chin, before heading over to the back door.
Dumbledore loudly knocked twice and waited. Not long after the bartender with long, stringy gray hair and match beard glares at him with blue colored eyes hidden behind spectacles. "You're late, Albus!" Aberforth Dumbledore snapped as Albus Dumbledore made his way past his younger brother.
Aberforth slammed the door shut, before making his way back to the bar. He'd have to find a way to leave for a few minutes without anyone breaking into the barrels. Luckily, he had a new charm for that. With an evil gleam in his eyes, Aberforth returned to the bar.
Dumbledore quickly made his way upstairs and gently pushed the door open to reveal the six figures from the first meeting with the exception of Aberforth, who was not present for the moment. "My apologies for the tardiness this evening, I was delayed as I was sorting my apprentices," Dumbledore said causing quite a bit of surprise among those present.
"Apprentices?" Said, the elderly hunched up bald wizard, Elphias Doge. "I had heard from Madam Marchbanks that the Prince twins had passed the C.S.A.E. exam with flying colors. I wasn't aware they had applied for an apprenticeship with you, Albus."
"Their grandfather did," Dumbledore replied as he took the vacant seat across from Doge.
The square-jawed man with dark hair furrows his brow. "The Prince twins, huh?" Edgar Bones remarked with a bit of a frown. "And that is not at all suspicious given the Prince's statement on their heritage."
Doge snorts and says, "I know what you're thinking, Auror Bones. But it's not some cunning Slytherin ploy on behalf of the Prince's to remain in the public's good graces. And Madam Marchbanks prior to my decision had indeed spoken to me in regard to that the Prince twins were already crackling with power. For very good reason their grandfather forced them into the apprenticeship. Being only fourteen they're much too young to already be awakening to their full powers. The two of them need to be grounded for everyone's wellbeing."
"Is that normal?" Asked, the handsome redhead, Gideon Prewett.
"Normally, no," the rugged Alastor Moody replied to the surprise of many. "But in circ.u.mstances where a certain family is quite powerful as the Prince's, a certain set of circ.u.mstances can force the child in question to awaken much earlier than previously anticipated."
Gideon's eyes widen in understanding as his large-nosed brother, Fabian Prewett says, "Witnessing their grandmother's death."
"Aye," Alastor regretfully said. "The two of them were in the second row sitting next to the Black's and their aunt. They witnessed everything."
There is an awkward bout of silence until Edgar clears his throat and says, "My apologies Professor Dumbledore it was not my intention to suggest anything otherwise."
Dumbledore waves his hand and says, "Then shall we get to the matters at hand, gentlemen?"
"Nothing for my brother and I," Fabian replied as Gideon nodded his head in agreement. "All we've got is the usual whispers, but the underworld's been rather quiet as of late too. But then again with the World Quidditch Cup around the corner, they're probably concentrating on smuggling right now." The men in the room nod in understanding as they turn to glance at the Bones brothers.
The lighter brown-haired Jacques Bones says, "Ignoring the Quidditch Cup, the other ongoing topic among the Ministry members is that of the Cure, which has all of the foreign diplomats and including potion guilds of the rest of the wizarding world eagerly vying to receive the cure early, before the other. I've even heard that Master Belby is up for receiving the medal of Merlin of the First Order. And since, actual descendants of Merlin have been found to still exist there are whispers that Reginald Prince will be brought in to stand alongside the Minister of Magic."
"That is to be expected," Doge sniffed as he wiped his nose with a hankie due to summer allergies. "Nothing on my end beyond that the single attacker is to be sentenced tomorrow. He'll be going to Azkaban for certain. I'm just not sure about how many years it'll be for."
"Yes, well he was part of a group that killed two members of two powerful families and a fourteen-year-old. Neither the public nor the Wizengamot will have any sympathy for him," Gideon frankly said.
"And what of you, Auror Bones?" Dumbledore quietly interjected as they all paused to glance at Edgar Bones.
Edgar presses his lips into a thin line and says, "I'm not sure if it's anything really, but Albert Runcorn has been seen in the company of Antonin Dolohov and Walden Macnair as of late. It is not strange to be seen in the company of Macnair as he is seeking to enter the Ministry of Magic after having traveled abroad for several years and has since returned from the continent. But Dolohov, well, he's never been one to show much interest in the affairs of the ministry."
Alastor's eyes flash in recognition of the name and Dumbledore does not miss it. "Have you something to add to Auror Bone's account, Moody?"
Alastor unconsciously rubs the scar under his jaw. "I have a reason to believe that Dolohov is a part of this dark group that follows the Dark Lord," Alastor carefully said. "He was seen often in the company of Rodolphus Lestrange, who I might add is the elder brother of the recently deceased Rabastan Lestrange."
Alastor paused before adding, "I and Scrimgeour alongside Auror Clements have come to the conclusion that following Lestrange is the key to unraveling this whole mystery. But Rodolphus Lestrange is not easily seen nor much less followed. But Dolohov is and is much more careless given his arrogant haughty nature. I think if we play our cards right with Dolohov, we'll have begun to unravel the tapestry and find the source."
"Then I do believe we have our next step gentlemen," Dumbledore said. "I shall shake the tree from my end and see what falls. But I trust that Dolohov, Runcorn, and Macnair will all be under close watch from now on."
The men in the room nod as Doge says, "I'll personally keep an eye on the application of Macnair. If he truly wishes to join the ministry, I'll see where he's trying to get into and why. And keep an eye on Runcorn's actions within the ministry. If he's up to something, I'll scout it out."
"Just try to stay out of danger, old man," Alastor grumbled earning himself a glare from Doge.
"I'll have you know, Auror Moody, that I was already serving as a prominent ministry member when you were still in diapers!" Doge hissed indignantly.
"Exactly," Alastor muttered under his breath as various degrees of smiles appeared across the room.
Hiding a smile, Dumbledore says, "In that case, let us all depart. It is a lovely summer night. Let us enjoy some peace, while we still can." The men begin to depart slowly in pairs until only Dumbledore remains in the room. Without glancing at the door, he says, "You don't need to linger during a meeting and wait just outside the door, Aberforth."
Aberforth sneers and says, "So you'll be taking the Prince twins as apprentices?"
"Yes, I will," Dumbledore said not turning around to face his brother standing in the doorway.
Aberforth seems to weigh the pro's and con's in his mind, before saying, "I've seen the Prince girl. She doesn't remind you of anyone. Albus?"
Dumbledore rises from his seat and turns to face his brother. His baby blue eyes don't sparkle as he solemnly says, "Whatever do you mean, Aberforth?"
"Those of her eyes that seem to see too much," Aberforth ventured to say. "They do not remind you of another pair of such eyes."
Something flashes across Dumbledore's face as he hoarsely says, "Her eyes are midnight black indigo. They look nothing alike."
"Keep telling yourself that," Aberforth wolfishly grinned. "But keep looking and you'll soon see what I mean." Turning away, Aberforth marches away in satisfaction leaving Dumbledore staring after his younger brother.
Whatever did Aberforth mean by that? Feeling rather unsettled Dumbledore soon left. But all the way back to Hogwarts he seemed rather lost in thought. Was it merely one final last jab or was there something more to it?