I would like to thank everyone who has helped me with this project, betas and reviewers alike. Of course I have to thank Jennifer who beta'd practically the entire thing but there were others Kari, Heather, Catherine and more that I have lost in the reposting but have not forgotten. I also have to thank Textual Sphinx who's one shot "A Letter from Exile" was drawn upon in Chapter Six, it is a great story and my chapters resemblance is humble hero worship.
I have to note, sadly, that this story draws facts from history. The camp Auchou is constructed from two Nazi concentration camps Dachou and Auschwitz. In this fic I often draw parallels towards the Death Eaters and the Nazi's, this vehicle does evil things but it is made up of real people.
"Ha'mevin yavin" -- those who know, understand. This story is dedicated to peace; we must remember the atrocities of war and let them help us to encourage peace. Lest we forget.
Prologue - Cover is Blown
Department of Mysteries, November 4th 1981
Algernon Rookwood was very nervous. He wiped his brow with his arm hastily, removing large beads of sweat from his face. His mark burned black, for the second time, and he fell over screaming - in agony or fear no one could tell. Later, he only knew one thing.
Cover was blown.
There were no windows or doors in Rookwood's small, dark office. He grabbed his desk to steady himself, his thick knuckles turning pale. For an instant he had thought about fleeing, when the mark burnt black the first time. Lucius had used it to contact him, to let him know he was no longer safe.
They had discussed this very eventuality. Algernon had hoped it wouldn't come to this yet his allegiance to the Dark Lord held him there and accepting of his fate. With a set of steely nerves he set about protecting all he believed in.
It was a difficult time, a dangerous time. A small child had ended Voldemort's reign of terror. A baby. A sacrifice. Death Eaters and other supporters were in a state of disarray and the wizarding world was pursuing its own "witch hunt." Accused were thrown into Azkaban without a trial or jury. Suspects were on a hit list. Auror's were 'wand happy' and Algernon was terrified.
He had to move quickly. His office in the Department of Mysteries was kept secret, buried in the bowels of the Ministry of Magic. This was one small advantage, and the only thing that had stopped Auror Moody from Apparating straight into it. He knew he had to hurry. His allies in the Department could keep the Aurors trapped in red tape for only so long.
Muttering passwords and incantations he pulled files from hidden drawers in his office and set about burning them. "Incindo" he whispered, and the parchments combusted in flames.
It took less than two minutes before his office was in a complete state of disarray. In the haste and confusion his process was sloppy. Midway through one task he would remember other hidden items, more important, and would rush to burn those too. The result was an office filled with small spot fires and thick with smoke.
He was running out of time. Grunting, he shifted boxes of Ministry reports manually, too panicky to remember incantations. The smoke meant Algernon found it difficult to breathe, and his eyes stung from the ash. Yet, he struggled on, and pulled forward another box.
On top of it sat a thin black folder, bound by a shiny silver replica of the Dark Mark. Algernon tried to burn it, but the box was fireproof. Eerily the mark glittered, as if alive, inside a case of burning flames. He looked closer - the mark, a snake that protruded from the mouth of a skull, flickered.
Algernon swore he could hear it hiss. He blinked disbelievingly; it could have just been the flames. His office was hot and the air breathless, such that, his head was swimming. Momentarily stumped, he flopped on the floor muttering passwords, trying to remember the one that would open it. He had hidden things well, very well, even from himself.
Curses and hexes were often used to protect items. He was head of research for the Dark Lord, along with being a top Ministry Member with access to top-secret information, yet he couldn't remember seeing this sinister folder before. He fumbled over the folder, trying to rip it open with his hands, like a savage attempting to tear flesh from a bone. The damn thing wasn't budging! He swore bitterly.
Pop! Pop! Pop!
Three Aurors Apparated into his office wands drawn. They surveyed their surroundings; eyes squinted from the smoke. At first they appeared to think they were too late, until Algernon heard one Auror call out. He had seen him still hunched on the floor madly burning files. Algernon spun quickly, wand drawn, not allowing himself time to wonder how in the hell the Aurors had gotten past the wards. He was ready for this and, before the Aurors had a moment to act, he rasped two curses over the remaining fires.