The goblins sent over a business agreement to the Broadmoors the next day via owl, one that just disclosed the sale of the shares to an independent party. Hermione gave them 15,000 galleons in exchange – enough to look legitimate – and the goblins had the papers for her to sign the next day. She felt vaguely uneasy about the whole thing – she didn't feel guilty for intimidating Death Eaters into selling her their stake, she refused to – but she did feel rather off about how she'd gone about it.

Breaking and entering. Death Eaters in the dead of night. It'd been an insanely risky plan. If one thing had gone even slightly awry, she could have died, and no one would have known what had happened to her. Maybe Snape was right, and she did have too much Gryffindor inside of her.

It was with this uncomfortable self-introspection that Hermione arrived at the Wizengamot on Tuesday, only to discover an uproar. Wizards were shouting from their seats, accusations of dementor-hunting and greed flying across the room, and Dumbledore was desperately trying to get people to settle down.

Hermione slipped into her seat silently, wide-eyed, and watched the chaos reign.

Order was finally restored by a giant BANG and blinding orange light, and once the light faded and everyone could see again, they were silent.

"If you would please take your seats," said Dumbledore, "we may begin."

Sulkily, the Wizengamot did so. Hermione was reminded of children caught sneaking out of bed.

"The Wizengamot recognizes Amelia Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law," Dumbledore began. "Madame Bones, you have a report for us?"

She did indeed, and she had come prepared. Armed with graphs and charts, Amelia Bones immediately outlined the costs associated with guarding the prison and the additional funding that would be required. To maintain safe guard-to-prisoner ratios, they would need twelve guards on shift at all times. With eight-hour shifts, that equated to thirty-six full time guards, not counting the four extra guards needed to help cover if someone else took off. They would also need two cooks to handle food for the prisoners, as well as an administrative staff to maintain safe access to the prison from the bottom.

"In short, we will need to hire forty-five people full time, minimum," Amelia Bones said succinctly.

"Minimum?" Amycus Carrow objected loudly. "Surely you don't think we'll need more than that."

"Oh, it's quite possible," Amelia Bones said sharply. "The dementors didn't just act as guards – they drained the magic of the prisoners, keeping them weak and docile. Unless there's a way to keep the prisoners' magic suppressed, we are going to end up with prisoners teaching themselves wandless magic and trying to escape all the time."

There was a murmur around the floor, wide-eyed looks exchanged. Nobody wanted to deal with escaped prisoners all the time.

"We've asked the Department of Mysteries to cooperate with us," Amelia said, nodding her head towards the Unspeakable representative, "and they've agreed to begin work on some sort of magic-dampening or suppression device. Until such a time, however, we will need to be alert and proactive at managing threats."

She proposed the formation of a new sub-department in Magical Law Enforcement: Azkaban Administration, Services, and Security. The new department would oversee the logistics of running the prison, ordering necessary supplies, hiring and scheduling guards, and conducting security and safety tests. A new department would, of course, require more funding, but it would allow enough people to focus solely on the prison that they needn't worry about the rest of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement being too distracted with Azkaban responsibilities to be doing their real job.

"What, you can't multitask?" drawled Burke. "Hit Wizards and Aurors can't take a shift at the prison from time to time?"

"Given they're currently investigating the person responsible for the attack on Azkaban," Amelia said curtly, raising an eyebrow, "I would daresay not."

They put it to a vote, which passed 34 to 15, and it was decided that a new sub-department would be formed for the management of Azkaban. Amelia Bones nodded satisfactorily at the result, then promptly returned to her seat.

"Next, the Department of Mysteries has a report for us," Dumbledore said. "Representative, if you would."

The Unspeakable came forward, clad in the anonymizing robes Unspeakables always wore. When they spoke, their voice was altered.

"After some testing, we have concluded that the dementors were killed with Fiendfyre," the Unspeakable said. "The damage to Azkaban itself seems to be a type of free transfiguration, generally only known to masters or alchemists."

Lucius Malfoy raised an eyebrow.

"Good to know whatever took care of the dementors can't threaten the wizard populace in general," he said, sarcasm dripping from his tone. He paused dramatically. "Oh, wait…"

"Fiendfyre is nothing new," August Longbottom snapped. "It's at least a threat we're familiar with."

"Did the Department of Mysteries figure out how someone reached the island and got inside the prison?" Geraint Weasley wanted to know. "I thought the island was Unplottable."

"It is," Amelia Bones said sharply. "That doesn't mean it's impossible to find, just that it can't be charted on a map."

"So do we know how the culprit got to the island, then?" Weasley asked.

The Unspeakable paused, then shook their head in the negative. Hermione's eyes widened.

"If the Department of Mysteries has no further information or updates," Dumbledore said, "you may retake your seat, representative."

Hermione watched as the Unspeakable climbed back up to their seat in the back row, astonished.

The Unspeakable had lied. They had lied to the Wizengamot.

She was certain of it.

The Department of Power within the Department of Mysteries tracked the flow of magic in the ley lines. They measured it and watched it and documented it over time. And they knew that there were days where it was safe to travel in the lines, provided one could manage it. Hermione was absolutely positive they would be aware of the ley line running through Azkaban's island, as well as what day and what time the attack had happened.

Hermione had expected the 'how' and 'when' would be figured out and shared eventually. She never expected the Department of Mysteries to lie.

Why would they cover this up? What motives did they have?

"We need to convene a committee to investigate the person who attacked Azkaban," Bulstrode said, his voice deep. "Someone out there running around like that—"

"She only attacked the dementors," one of the regional representatives objected. "She didn't hurt people."

"We must proceed with the assumption this person is still a threat," Dumbledore said, pushing his half-moon glasses up his nose. "Someone using Fiendfyre, a notoriously Dark spell, to weaken security at the facility where most of Voldemort's followers are being held… such a person is a great cause for concern."

"We're sure it couldn't be Pettigrew in drag?" Geraint Weasley quipped, and there was scattered laughter.

"Madam Bones, would you share what information your team has discovered?" Dumbledore requested. "What do we know about the person we are dealing with?"

Amelia Bones got back up, a piece of tattered parchment in her hands.

"Not much," she said, scowling. "The paper got most of it right – all the prisoners report it was a woman. Some of them report she had a helper with a Patronus, some of them don't. The prisoners all repeated that she showed no interest in any of them, but only in hunting down the dementors with a vengeance. She had a masterful control over the Fiendfyre as well – the prisoners often had straw in their cells, and somehow, none of it caught fire during the attack."

"What did the helper look like?" Lucius Malfoy wanted to know.

"A male, slightly taller than the woman, but that was all," Amelia said. "The Fiendfyre being so close to the prisoners made it difficult to see anything but the fire, apparently."

"And no one escaped during this?" Augusta Longbottom inquired. "The Valkyrie didn't bother to free anyone?"

Amelia Bones paused.

"The Valkyrie did not free anyone," she said slowly. "There was an escape."

There was immediate uproar and conversation, and Dumbledore banged his gavel, returning the chamber to silence. He nodded to Amelia, who nodded gratefully.

"We have reports from three prisoners of another person at the prison," Amelia Bones said. "During the Valkryie's attack on the dementors, someone else showed up on a broom, clad in black robes. They went directly to one of the cells that had been blown open and helped the prisoner from that cell onto their broom."

"Who?" MacMillan demanded. "Who escaped?"

"Yes. Who was it?" Thoros Nott wanted to know.

"We are not releasing the prisoner's identity to the public," Amelia said sharply. "In an effort to suppress panic and not worry people, but also because it's a key part of the investigation. The prisoners report the Valkyrie returning to the blown-open cells before the new figure flew away and having some sort of a confrontation. If there were two unknown parties with differing motives at Azkaban that night, that complicates things."

"There has never been an attack on Azkaban," Phaedra Lestrange protested. "Now we're supposed to believe there were two separate ones in one night?"

"There was one attack on Azkaban, and one escape plan," Amelia Bones corrected. "From what we can gather, the escape plan was dependent on the Azkaban attack plan, without the Azkaban attack team knowing there was an escape plan."

Sirius Black huffed.

"It took me years to figure out how to escape Azkaban," he complained loudly. "And some lucky sod gets broken out? That's unfair, is what it is."

Dumbledore shot Sirius a reproving look.

"If the prisoner who escaped was the one whose cell was blown open, how can you be sure that the Valkyrie didn't do it purposefully?" Muriel Prewitt wanted to know. "That seems oddly coincidental to me."

"We suspect the escape team used Felix Felicitas prior to their arrival," Amelia Bones said, pinching the bridge of her nose. "One of the remarks made that night seemed to indicate as such."

"How do you even have reliable testimony of any of this?" Royce Fiddlewood objected. "The dementors drive everyone in there insane."

"You would be surprised how many have maintained their minds," Amelia Bones said darkly. "Or at least part of them. Dark magic seems to help and offer some protection to those who practiced it. Dolohov was especially rational and forthcoming."

"Are any of us in danger?" Thoros Nott asked, voice booming. "The escapee might hold a grudge against any number of us, and might be family to some. We have a right to know if we might be at risk."

"We are telling no one the identity of the escapee," Amelia Bones said, her tone final. "Not their family, not their friends, no one. But I wouldn't worry about anyone being in danger. Reversing the insanity and damage a dementor can do takes time. And some parts of them may never heal."


"So they know we were at Azkaban," said Tom Riddle, shrugging. "So what? They don't know it was us."

"I know, but I still don't like it," Hermione said, sighing. "It feels dangerous. Like they have a lead and they'll catch us eventually."

"This is better than alarm over Voldemort returning, isn't it?" Tom pointed out. "That was your goal, wasn't it?"

Hermione made a noise and sat back on her pillow, while Tom raised an eyebrow at her. There was something surreal about seeing the young Dark Lord sit cross-legged on her childhood bed.

"It was," Hermione said grudgingly. "I just—I wish I knew who the escaped prisoner was. I feel like I'm missing something, like I should be able to figure it out."

"How?" Tom asked. "You didn't know anyone. You didn't know about the escape plan. How could you have known?"

"I don't know," Hermione said, frustrated. "I just—I feel like I overheard something, like I accidentally eavesdropped on someone mentioning something once, and I just can't put it all the pieces together."

"Well," Tom said patiently. "Is it really any of your concern?"

Hermione shot him a look. "A dangerous prisoner escaped because of me, Tom."

"You certainly contributed, but someone else had made that escape plan, did they not?" he pointed out. "The person arrived determined, you said. All they knew was that you were going to kill the dementors, and they decided to take advantage of the lax security the same night."

Hermione groaned.

"Think of it this way," Tom said. "Even if it is a dangerous escaped prisoner, they're likely to owe you a debt of gratitude, aren't they? You helped them escape living hell, Hermione. They're not going to come after you to kill you because of that. They'd probably want to thank you."

"I don't know how I feel about being thanked by evil dark wizards," Hermione grumbled, and Tom laughed.

"Better than being despised by them, believe me," he quipped, eyes glinting. "It's much better to have the firepower on your side."