A/N – It is probably not the best of ideas to start a new fic at the moment. But this is what comes of reading too much Jack Higgins and watching too many 60s movies. This fic will be unashamedly Lucius-centric, and will feature drinking, smoking and the main character displaying his coolness at every turn. At least, I believe it will – this little jaunt is entirely unplanned and perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek. I'm not promising anything at all.
Don't expect too much of my traditional characterization.
Disclaimer – I don't own anything. Don't sue.
Chapter 1: Introduction
It had been ten years since the first gigantic step in the war against Voldemort had been taken, since Harry Potter, as so many had so faithfully predicted, had defeated the Dark Lord in a spectacular battle at Hogwarts in his seventh year. Unfortunately, destroying the leader of the Death Eaters had only caused the organization to splinter into smaller sub-groups, all following a different leader, all of which claimed that they were the true successor to Voldemort's position. In the end, it had almost turned out to be more trouble than it was worth; or at least, there were times that Alastor Moody thought so. Usually that kind of cynicism only took hold at around three in the morning, after he'd downed the best part of a bottle – but on days like these, it was hard to avoid.
It was a damp, miserable, windy morning, just before five, and he had been dragged out of bed and down to the London docks to investigate a dead body found floating face down in the water –
What the hell has that got to do with me? Unless it's a full-blown Death Eater attack, I'm not interested...
But sir, we think – we're not sure, but we think – that it might be...his work. You know...
Yes, he knew. And that was the only reason he was out here in this godforsaken place – the chance that it might be him. The mysterious assassin he'd been chasing for months, without much success. The assassin had killed six times, all of them influential members of the Ministry, and it was making certain people in very high places extremely nervous, which meant that they, in turn, put pressure on him to catch the killer before they became the next target...
Unfortunately, there was not much to go by.
All the victims had been influential in the Ministry, but there was no other clear connection between them, other than their place of employment and their vehement anti-Death Eater sentiments. They had all been...dispatched...with the utmost efficiency, by the same method – the Killing Curse, fired from a distance of at least one hundred metres.
A bloody sniper. And a phenomenally skillful one, at that.
He suspected that a post-mortem of the poor bastard face down in the Thames would reveal the same cause of death.
Arthur Weasley, the Minister of Magic, received the news that the sniper had struck again with a strained sigh. Their world had existed in a state of intermittent war for so long that most of the wizarding population had grown accustomed to it, but this kind of news, if it was ever released to the public, could cause a mad panic, possibly even undermine the government and the people's confidence in it.
He didn't need this kind of stress.
Scowling half-heartedly, he looked at Alastor Moody and said, "Do you have any idea who this killer is?"
Moody only grunted. "He's a Death Eater, I'm all but certain of it, or working for them. I couldn't tell you which group, but no one else would bother to kill those six – seven now. The only thing they had in common was their sentiments."
"But couldn't the killer be trying to cast the blame onto the Death Eaters?"
The crusty old Auror shrugged. "Why? Other than the WIRA, who haven't been active since the Irish peace process, there are no other real threats to wizarding England. And the WIRA won't have anything to do with the Death Eaters – they see them as nothing more than murderers."
"Hmm..." Weasley ran a hand through his thinning red hair. "Anything else?"
Moody stuck his hands in his pockets. "He's very, very good, not just at the killing, but at the preparation – the organization, the clean-up afterwards. That suggests a veteran to me."
"A veteran?" Arthur repeated. "From the first Rising?"
"Yes." Briefly, Moody looked extremely weary. "And that means he's very, very good."
"Damn. Well, do whatever you can to find him, Moody. I don't care what you do or how you do it, just find him and stop him."
"And little quibbles such as human rights, parliamentary accountability...?" Moody was deeply suspicious of the new-fangled liberal notions that were crippling the freedom of the modern Auror Corps and the more covert Unspeakable operatives. Back in the good old days, counter-terrorism had had a much freer, harsher hand...
The Minister of Magic waved a dismissive hand. "Keep it discreet, and I'll make sure that this never happened." Since assuming the position of Minister of Magic, Arthur Weasley had, of necessity, become far more pragmatic.
Moody nodded solemnly, restraining the sudden desire to grin – pragmatic as he had become, Weasley was still less than comfortable with the dirtier side of law enforcement. Well that was all right – Moody would take care of all of that for him. With great pleasure.
"Well, kiddies," said Moody almost cheerfully as he looked at the team assembled to hunt the assassin, "we've got the Ministerial go-ahead. Anything we need – within reason – will be provided, so long as we catch the bastard."
There was a general murmur and hum of pleasure.
"So," he said, regaining their attention. "We'll go over it again. Seven victims in four months: all of them killed with a single curse fired from a great distance, and their only common characteristic their anti-Death Eater sentiments. I think we can put this down to a Death Eater killer, out to terrify the politicians into submission, perhaps even create chaos and undermine the government. The only problem is – who is it? Most of the known Death Eaters still out there aren't good enough for this. They're kids, and this has all the hallmark of a veteran."
"Most of the truly dangerous veterans have been put away by now," said Bill Weasley. "If not at the end of the first Rising, then at the Battle of Hogwarts – we caught most of them and locked them away for good."
"Then if he's still out there," Tonks said quietly, "that makes him very, very good. Have you talked to Snape about this?"
Moody nodded. "I have. He said that back then, in the very early days, he knew nothing more about his fellows than what he could work out on his own, from watching his peers, and that he only ever knew the man who recruited him and the two others who were the contacts from his group. Later on, as he became more trusted, he began to identify a few others, but as he spent most of his days in a potions lab..."
Old Arabella Figg grunted, less than gracefully. "Snape's not of much use, now – not after that bastard Nott exposed him. I'm surprised he can even think rationally, let alone remember a shadow assassin from the seventies."
"That's right," Moody said a little regretfully. He'd never liked or trusted Snape, but he had done a lot of useful work for the Order. Besides, much as he was all for cracking down on terrorists, no one deserved what had been done to him. There were some things that were too sickening, even for him. "He couldn't give us any names. What we need is an expert..."
"So," Hermione Granger said, "who is the greatest living expert on the Death Eaters in the first Rising?"
They tossed around a few names – Aurors (most of whom were dead), Unspeakable infiltrators (some of whom had defected, bringing disastrous knowledge of the Ministry's secrets over with them), and academics (which none of the group took seriously, having a healthy contempt for ivory tower experts) but could not come up with any viable suggestions.
And then Tonks said, "Well, what about Malfoy?"
Bill Weasley snorted, and Hermione gave him a Look, before shaking her head. "No, he's too engrossed with his new wife and son. He's got too much to worry about, protecting them and staying alive while all the younger Death Eaters try their hardest to kill him."
Tonks subjected them both to an ironic look of her own. "I was not speaking of Draco Malfoy..."
A/N – This may prove to be an interesting idea. Next chapter – Moody tries to recruit Lucius. And as for my own little dig at academics – I shouldn't have, because I'm studying a few political science courses myself, but I just couldn't help it.
WIRA – the wizarding IRA. A little something I made up.
And no, to all you conspiracy theorists out there, Moody is not creating/over-emphasising/exploiting these assassinations in order to gain more money and power for the Aurors or his particular group. I'd just like to get that out of the way first, in case anyone was disturbed by his pleasure at Arthur's open-ended mandate.
Feedback of any kind would be most welcome.