The cage-door of the lift rattled open and ex-Auror Alastor Moody stumped out. Half way along the corridor lay the office of the woman he was looking for: G. ('God') McMillan, Head of Auror Training. The door to the office stood open. Within, a sweet faced dumpling of a woman peered through her glasses into the recesses of a filing cabinet's bottom draw. Otherwise, both office and corridor were empty. 'Gertie!' letched Moody. 'Gertie Gusset! How are ye gel?'
Genevieve McMillan, terror personified to most of the Corps, straightened. Moody grinned lasciviously. 'Glorious, gorgeous Gloria . . .' Moody's wooden leg sprouted roots and blossom. He pulled loose from it and dropped to one knee. Resting his arm on his flower bedecked wooden leg, he assumed a poetic attitude and began. 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . . ' A expression of cretinous lewdity was accompanied by an sort of filthy hooting. The floor began to flow around him; Moody was sucked into the office, leg and all, and the door slammed shut behind him.
It was an ordinary, old fashioned sort of an office with a large partners' desk, a chair on either side of it, occupying the middle of the floor. Library style cupboards extended towards the high ceiling and filing cabinets were wedged into what space remained. Green plants hung from on top of them. The most exceptional thing about the room wasn't at all obvious. The large magical window opened. Where it opened to was another matter. In the event of the ministry coming under attack both the holder of the office and its contents would leave through them.
'Moody.' McMillan removed her glasses and glared at him. 'How's the leg? How's the nose? Any other extremities you'd like to lose today?'
'Actually,' murmured Moody, now flat on his back and attempting to peer up her skirt, I was wondering if we could have a quick shag . . . er . . . sorry, chat.'
'Certainly, Mr. Moody.' McMillan lowered the wand. 'We can discuss your long overdue admittance to Saint Mungo's.'
'On what basis?' Moody sounded genuinely curious.
As he pulled himself together, McMillan sat down at her desk and produced two glasses, a bottle of gin, a sliced lemon and a soda siphon from a drawer. 'Insanity?' she suggested. 'Paranoia?'
'Oh now, Gunhilda, you're just being silly.' Moody poured a glass of gin, added lemon and tonic from the siphon and sat down. He favoured his colleague with an urchin grin. 'If I was that paranoid, I'd still be pretty.'
'The name is Genevieve and you were never pretty,' rebuked McMillan mildly, 'even as a baby. Don't forget I have seen the pictures.'
'Well ok, maybe I'll give you cute. What d'you want?'
'Apart from you?'
'Alastor. . .'
'The Janus files.'
McMillan sipped from her glass. 'Never heard of them.'
'Course not. Just what is your security classification Jenny? You've got access to the Personal Information of every Auror in the Corp. Same for the Wizengamot.'
'There are no such files, Alastor. Someone's been having you on.'
Moody sighed. 'After Voldemort went down, if you will recall, there was a bit of a party? Amateur drinkers falling all over?' McMillan swirled her glass apparently dissatisfied. Moody persisted. 'You remember old Weatherby, teetotal, last one out of the office every night, lived for the job? Died three days before he was due to retire?' She had produced a metal bucket and was loudly shovelling small icebergs into her glass, apparently taking no notice. 'Weatherby was telling me all about them and then he went to the loo and, when he came back, he remembered nothing.'
'Really?' She took another sip of gin and tonic. Apparently satisfied, she sat back.
'And then you came out of the Gent's loo.'
'If the Ladies was crowded and the Gents was empty then there was clearly an inequitable distribution of resources so naturally . . . '
'You obliviated him.'
'I did nothing of the kind.'
'Ok, you threatened him.' From outside in the alleyway, where the day workers were packing up and going home, came the echo of laughter and the clatter of the lifts. Moody sighed. 'Look, it's ok love; I understand why you couldn't tell me. I was too much of a target. If they'd managed to get their hands on me . . .'
'You made yourself a target!' McMillan's glass slammed into the desk. Moody waited quietly as his one time colleague's fists unclenched 'I'm sorry,' she muttered.
'Jenny.' Trying to think of something to say that would not result in injury; Moody got up and went to watch the rush hour traffic through the window. 'Where does this go?' he asked.
'That's classified,' said McMillan brusquely and not entirely without satisfaction. While Moody had been invalided out, she had remained at the heart of things. As he continued to watch the street, she softened. 'Come on, I'll buy you supper. I know a brilliant . . .'
'Not until we've discussed the Janus files.' In the silence, Moody turned back from the window. 'I tried to stay out of your way, you know.'
On a scale of wartime tragedy, he supposed, the loss of a love affair was a trivial thing. Pretty little Genevieve McMillan had developed a taste for dry humour and dryer gin and had devoted her not inconsiderable talents and energy to a Ministry that alternately cut budgets and demanded more and the loss was all his own. Even after so many years the taste was sour. 'The files are about to be reopened,' he said.
McMillan blinked. Finally she decided to go along with it. 'Who told you that?'
'The birthday boy himself.' He watched as she worked it out.
'Janus,' she mused. 'God of new beginnings. Feast of Janus: January ninth. Ok. Who do we know who has a birthday . . . ?' Astonished, she swung to face Moody. 'Snape?' Moody nodded. 'But why would he give himself away by using "Janus"? He'd have to have been insane?'
'Double bluff perhaps or . . . well how rational was it to turn against You-Know-Who? Maybe he thought he could use it as some sort of proof of his loyalties if our side won.'
McMillan put her head into her hands. 'Shit.'
'Shit,' confirmed Moody. 'We took Snape apart and let Malfoy go. Snape couldn't afford to say anything or they'd have done far worse than kill him.'
She looked up. 'There's no way we can trust him.'
'That's what he said. We use what he gives us and. After it's over, if he's still alive, we do what we can for him.'
'Is that all he asked for?'
'He didn't ask for anything. He claimed that Dumbledore pleaded with him on the tower: that Dumbledore was ready to die so Snape could live and get the Death Eaters the hell out of the school. If Greyback was there . . .' Moody shook his head.
He returned to the desk and refilled both glasses and then sat down grinning suddenly. 'Look, I can believe the pigeons and the rats but Weatherby was claiming that Janus used Herring Gulls to deliver messages.' Moody took another slug of his gin. 'Gulls can be bloody vicious. Why not pigeons?'
McMillan smiled reminiscently. 'It usually was pigeons. There was just the one gull,' she told him, dragging the morass of paperwork off the desk into a draw, 'and as time went by it kept getting rattier and rattier. Well, who could blame it? After it took off most of someone's ear we sent it back with a note.' She chuckled. 'So the next report came by muggle parcel post and we were only just in time to foil an attempt on Fudge. Five minutes later and . . . It was attached to the leg of a stuffed vulture.'
Typical Snape thought Moody, and then it clicked.
McMillan smirked. 'That stuffed vulture. When Fudge survived even despite his own best efforts, Augusta had it made into a hat. Why d'you think our former dear leader goes a little green every time he sees her? What happened to the eye by the way? It's not moving.'
Moody plucked it out and showed it to her. 'Just glass. Crouch had the magical one charmed to record what it saw.'
'But it was checked!' McMillan scowled in exasperation. 'Snape told you, I suppose?' Moody nodded. 'I suppose that we should be grateful that he hates Voldemort more than he hates us. Look, I need to talk to some people. Will you wait for me?' Still scowling and without waiting for an answer, McMillan crashed out through the door which swung shut behind her.
'Forever, my love,' murmured Moody. For over an hour the old Auror contemplated the London evening sky, before settling down to wait. As night fell, he charmed the hard wooden thing he was sitting on into a recliner. Muggles did have some good ideas sometimes: he wouldn't be as vulnerable as in a bed but he'd be more comfortable until such time as she got back.
And she would come back.
Thoroughly battered but not quite broken, Alastor Moody hummed to himself and waited.
Sorry about the double post.While this remains a series of one-shots, I thought that they might make more sense if I imposed some sort of order.