I'm done with midterms! That is the best thing about being in high school. After all the tests are done, the classes slack off for awhile before starting to learn again. During my free time I've been working on this chapter. A lot will happen.
This chapter will highlight the lives of Benjamin Lester and Jameson Tanner (Slit). There will be some Harry and Hermione, but I guess you say that they're not the ones being focused on.
Ben is 47. Emma Granger is 4 years younger and she had Hermione when she was 26 years old. Slit was 17 when he went in Operation CoJacks. The year was 1987 slash 8.
I think that's all for now. Read and possibly review?
The last time Benjamin Lester had ever gone on the tube was nearly a decade ago. He rode it when he was younger with his sister, but he could never get used to the loud grinding sounds of the railroad tracks or swaying and uneasiness that a standing passenger like him would have to endure.
Had it ever been this crowded?
A man pushed against him, momentarily losing his balance after someone else had knocked into him. By instinct, Ben, who had a grip around a bar above his head, grabbed him by the collar of his trench coat and pulled him back. He muttered a "thanks", and Ben gave a brisk nod.
Certainly not against his nature, his eyes took in his surroundings. Ben looked to his right and took note of an elderly couple, looking ahead and not supporting any sort of confabulation. He wondered if they were just content with being by their companion's side—no words were in need of being said.
In the front of the room was a group of teenagers. From the looks of it, they just got out of bed. One boy's hair was tousled and uncombed. Ear buds produced loud sounds in his ear, noise that only Ben, with his trained ear, could hear from far distance. The boy's head bobbed along with the music and his hands imitated that of the drummer.
The girl beside him--around Hermione's age, Ben thought absentmindedly--wore pajama pants and a pair of camouflage army boots. Her hair was dyed pitch black, and she had several piercings from what Ben could tell. She would have looked intimidating if it weren't for the green pigs printed on her pants.
The world changed. A lot.
Ben wasn't entirely oblivious to the world. Ask for the most recent conflict in whatever country and he could name it. But when it came down to a popular band or technology that was unrelated to espionage or the sort of work he was involved in, he was clueless.
It wasn't as if he never left Operation CoJacks Headquarters. He did. He had gone to Paris, Venice, Baghdad, and the island of Hokkaido...
...but only for the purposes of work matters.
Ben sighed, shifting weight from his left leg to his right.
He hardly remembered how he got into this business. It wasn't as if he wanted to be head of a spy organization when he was little. He wanted to be an author...and a science fiction one at that. Emma always loved to read his stories. But his mother and father didn't completely approve. So, he went into business (he later used entrepreneur as his cover-up) and eventually enlisted in the army in the year 1970.
Honestly, it wasn't important. What was done in the past had made him the man that he was today.
Now Hermione was still at that wedding with Potter and she said she'd be back in a few days, but who knows, she might be lying about that as well! She's done it before…eighteen years would mean she was a pro!
He was going to have a talk with Emmy. Ask her why they felt the need to keep Hermione's witch character in the dark. After all, here he was, riding on the Tube, to see Emmy.
Benjamin quickly looked down at his trousers and hastily pulled out his vibrating cell phone. He saw it was his crew at Headquarters.
"Benjamin Lester. Report?"
"Grant—headquarters—found in warehouse—all dead—Tanner—"
He felt a chill pass down his spine. Damn reception.
"EYES—dead—what—unknown—investigation starting—asking for your immediate presence."
The line went dead.
Ben flipped his cell phone shut, grinding his teeth. Slit had gone with the others to the warehouse and now, from what he heard, everyone was dead. Was Slit—
"Damn," he swore, pondering his next move. He glanced at his watch. The next stop was in fifteen minutes. If he got off there and reestablished connection, then he would be able to catch a ride and head back to Headquarters in short time.
Ben closed his eyes, willing himself to calm.
There were other times where he canceled a family gathering due to his "work" problems. One more wouldn't hurt but…
He stood up straight, gripping the pole that was holding his balance. Ten more minutes.
"The Muggle Prime Minister…he's…dead."
"What?" Hermione asked weakly.
Shacklebolt cleared his throat, "The Prime Minister and his bodyguards were hit by several Killing curses. Of course, no one survived. Also, it appears that Death Eaters had not only attacked areas in our world but also the Muggle world. Other areas targeted were isolated villages. We're trying to get those areas under control and avert the attention of the Muggle authorities. So far, we've succeeded.
"Prime Minister...dead! The Muggles must be hysteric," whispered Ron in awe. At this statement, Remus and Shacklebolt exchanged glances. This did not go unnoticed by Hermione.
"What is it?"
"We can make it seem as if the Prime Minister was not dead," announced Remus slowly.
"You have a plan...don't you, Remus?" She asked, stepping away from the couch. Her former professor allowed himself to be surprised of her acute observations and smiled slightly.
"I think we may."
He turned to Shacklebolt, shifting on his crutches. "Should we?"
"Tell us!" Hermione demanded.
"Only minutes of his death was reported. The Ministry was able to get the broadcast under their control and had cast a Memory Charm around the perimeter using the Ministry's best. Right now, no one knows that the Prime Minister is dead," Lupin explained. "Because of this, we have to continue the facade. So..."
He leaned on one crutch and with his free hand he pulled out a small vial containing, from what Hermione could see, strands of brown hair.
They can't be serious. "Is that—?"
"Yes, this is the Prime Minister's."
Ron stood up beside Hermione. "So you mean...you're gonna Polyjuice the Muggle Prime Minister?"
"This isn't possible," Hermione murmured.
Lupin continued as the girl didn't say anything. "Kingsley will. He has been working under the Prime Minister since last year. He knows all of the people working with the Muggle and knows how everything works. Aurors like him will be stationed at the office. How long we're going to keep it up...we don't know. But we can't let this out--it'll cause chaos among the Muggles. We need to keep everything orderly."
"But what about his family...and the family of the other bodyguards...will they just keep on living thinking that their father, husband, or son is alive while really, they're dead?" Hermione asked in a soft, incredulous manner.
"Miss Granger," Kingsley said, "we know that you are thinking of the personal consequences but right now, we must focus on larger matters."
"But they will know! The Death Eaters and Voldemort!" Hermione said, trying to think of every situation that would stop them from doing something so ridiculous…
"Yes, they'll know. But do you want to make it worse by having the Muggles run around, scared? That already happened a decade ago. We can't let them terrorize the Muggles even more."
Hermione wanted to say something else, but Harry's scream assaulted her ears.
"Harry," she whispered before sprinting to his room in Grimmauld Place.
They found him on the floor, in a daze and tangled in his blankets. Ginny had left her room and now stood under the threshold of his room, confused. Mrs. Weasley held her daughter by the shoulders, watching worriedly.
"Dear Merlin, what's wrong?"
"Wha--" Shacklebolt did not finish for he rushed to help Hermione untangle the young man.
She asked the question that everyone was trying to find out. "What happened, Harry?"
Harry was pale with beads of sweat clung to his forehead. Hermione brushed his bangs back in a gentle manner to sooth his quickening breaths. "H-he saw me..."
"He knows! He knew I was watching...he was talking--talking about something...he knows that I killed Snape!" Harry finished with panic in his last words.
"He's traumatized from his duel; he's never acted like this," Hermione muttered to Remus as she was crouched beside him.
Harry didn't seem to process that the two were discussing him; he merely sat there.
Hermione grabbed onto his shoulders and with the help of Ron and Remus, they put him on his bed. "Harry, take a minute. Calm down."
The boy slowly laid back as commanded and someone—Hermione—opened his hands that were balled in fists and was holding them. Harry took inhaled and exhaled through his nose.
His mind played the dream and the wedding again. They were attacked; the Death Eaters used the Polyjuice potion to sneak in. There was a battle. And…he killed Snape.
Harry opened his eyes, finding himself back in reality.
Then, once he gathered himself, he asked quietly, fighting down the dread that was building up, "The Burrow was not the only place attacked, right Remus?"
Remus nodded and limped with his crutches so that he was beside his godson. "What did you hear in your dream?"
"Wormtail said that some Death Eaters were positioned on Downing Street and that they killed...the Prime Minister," said Harry, looking to see that Remus confirmed it as a fact. "Then Wormtail informed Voldemort of the wedding and that Severus was dead. But Voldemort didn't seem angry...he said that I'm learning their game."
Harry shuddered slightly. "If they knew the Prime Minister was not going to be at that place than that means something happened at Slit's location!"
He turned to face Hermione. "Have you--"
She shook her head, "I don't know any more than you, Harry."
"Don't." Hermione couldn't take anymore of Harry's voice. It was so unlike his. Vulnerable. Panicky. "We'll deal with everything later."
Slit woke up to the rhythmic sound of IV drops dripping into the bag. The world before him swirled as his vision was gathered. He blinked several times as he took short breaths.
He was in the medic center at Headquarters. This area was usually for injured agents in the field or trainees in sessions. If it was serious, they usually took care of you while you were unconscious so you wouldn't have to feel the pain. After, they would leave you in a small area with curtains drawn around. Privacy.
Slit's eyes focused on the blue fabric curtain that boxed him and his gurney.
It didn't take long for Slit to remember what had happened hours ago.
He lifted his hands to eyes and observed them. These hands had held Elaine seconds before she was hit by that—that curse. These hands had reached out for her in the dark. But Slit couldn't reach her because she was already dead and gone from the world.
He let his hands drop to his side and his head hit the pillow. He closed his eyes and swallowed hard. By statistics, sixteen agents were killed per year and mostly on separate missions. Five had died on the same day and within minutes of each other. One of the fallen agents was Elaine.
Other agents who had died in previous years were merely fellow agents. Slit had talked to them before, but he was never really friends with any of them.
He and Elaine had a lot in common. And Slit remembered how it had led to their first meeting.
There was a small funeral for the Tanners.
Arnold Tanner was a great man who loved and supported his family while running a small tailor shop in downtown London. He was 45.
Lydia Smith Tanner was an exceptional woman who was brilliantly educated. But in the end, she chose to raise a family and did well with it. She was 39.
Amy Lynn Tanner was only a baby, but she knew how to bring smiles to everyone's face. She was only 16 months.
Slit sat slumped in the farthest corner of the room, a cup of water in his hands. He ran a hand over the scar near his ear, a reminder of the incident that would always stay with him. 17 and he was already experiencing hearing problems, the doctors said.
He could still feel the burning on his skin, the smoke in his lungs, but most of all, he saw the remnants of the car as his family slowly burned.
His nightmares would never cease.
Slit looked at his cup and at his reflection before staring at the person before him.
It was a girl who was around the same age as him. She had her long brown hair tied into a ponytail. She had barrettes in her hair. The girl was dressed modestly in a flowery skirt and a pink blouse. Slit didn't see anyone else around her.
"You're Jameson, right?"
Slit, he thought in his head. That was his new name. He decided so when he first woke up from surgery.
But even so, he nodded.
"I'm Elaine," She gave him her hand and he, almost hesitantly, took it.
Elaine smoothed down her skirt and took a seat next to Slit.
"I'm very sorry. You know, about your family."
She gazed at the boy who had his face set behind a mask.
"They said you were around my age. Seventeen, right? I suppose they thought you would be able to relate to me more…or will it be the other way around?"
Slit made eye contact with her when she said "they."
"They said my observational and mathematical skills would profoundly assist Operation CoJacks." The girl laughed nervously while Slit continued to stare at her. He then took a glance around and finally realized that he did not recognize a single person in the room. All of them, men and women, wore stiff suits and were somberly discussing serious matters.
Slit understood now. "They want to recruit me."
It was a statement, not a question.
Elaine gave a small nod.
"You know, I'm a bit scared. I never really…grasped that super secret spy organizations actually existed. Now they want me to join? Absolutely surreal."
Slit knew she would continue to talk if he didn't say something. He knew that she was forcing the conversation; this was not how she usually was.
"Did your family die?"
The girl jerked back, surprised at his blunt assumption. Her expression hardened, and Slit could now see the real girl behind this façade.
Elaine sighed, "My dad…he did. He apparently worked with your dad in the same branch. For my whole life, I thought he was a linguistics professor at the local academy. He even took me to his "work" one time. Did you always know—"
"Since I was 11. I don't know if my mum even knew…"
"I've heard your father trained you in all sorts of stuff…"
"He never used the word 'trained'. Said he wanted to expose me to everything in life."
"So your dad knew…that you'd become an agent too."
Slit shrugged, gulping down the last of his water.
"Well, my father died. A month ago. My mum too."
She cleared her throat.
"They said I would have a lot to learn. But you…well, apparently not."
Slit saw a man nod at him. He didn't even speak as he left the room. It was almost over.
Elaine continued to speak, "I think your dad wanted you to become this. Part of Operation CoJacks."
"I don't want to be part of an organization that will get my family killed," he replied in a hard voice.
"Not to be too harsh but…you don't have any family left."
Slit turned to glare at her, only to find her glaring back at him with the same fire.
The conversations around them were mutters and mumbles as the two teenagers held each other's gazes.
Elaine finally backed down though she did not seem disappointed or defeated. She gave a small jerk of a head saying, "That's Mr. L. He was the first person I actually talked to. He's the one who told me all about this. I think he knew your father too. He's nice."
Slit found himself observing Mr. L who was already looking at him. Finally, someone drew his attention away and the man turned his back on Slit.
"I don't think you can fight it. What's coming at you. I have no one else around so why not go with the people who want to help? I think I'm ready. To move on…"
Elaine trailed off, leaning back in her chair. Slit stared at his fist where he crunched the paper cup that he was drinking from before.
The two sat, waiting for the mass of people to disappear and let them be.
Slit blinked, pulling himself from his memory. Tears were pouring freely down his cheeks, but he made no move to wipe them away. In the past, he didn't cry; he thought it showed weakness. But now he did not care.
He lost a friend, and he was at his lowest.
It was okay to cry.
Memories of their first encounter, their first training sessions, and their first of everything…oh, he remembered.
Slit and Elaine…were….they were….
He may have never acknowledged it, but Elaine was his friend. And he was hers.
In another world, in another time, they could have been more. Much more.
Those Death Eaters. They killed her.
Slowly, Slit lifted his head and saw Mr. L in the exact place where he stared at moments before. Struggling to sit up straighter, he wiped away his tears.
"I thought you were going to see Hermione's parents."
Ben took this as an invitation and stepped forward so that he was at the end of Slit's gurney. "I was, but then I got the call…are you okay?"
Their relationship had grown in the decade they've known each other. What started as agent and trainee changed into something close to father and son.
"I wasn't hurt. I think I just passed out."
Ben nodded. Slit was acting strange. Quiet. He did not miss the tears that were on the young man's face. He remembered how he first met Elaine and how he pushed her into becoming companions with Slit who had lost his parents in an assassination. The two were matched; some days they were sort of friends and other days they were opponents. Elaine was a good agent and like many of his own before her, he would never forget them.
"Agents are on the case. They're investigating, they say. But—"
"You and I know they will not be able to trace the evidence. The Dark wizards did this. Not EYES. And only we know about them," said Slit, looking away.
Ben paused. "…we found the bodies of people suspected to be part of this EYES organization, hidden behind the warehouse. Seems like the EYES were partners with the Dark wizards, but the Death Eaters got a better deal."
"And they got rid of them."
His mentor nodded.
Slit sighed, suddenly feeling tired, "I knew it was a trap. Potter said it was a trap. But I thought…maybe the team could handle it."
Suddenly, he remembered the attackers' words. He sounded confused as he said, "…after they took down the team…they said something about the Weasleys…then Downing."
Ben frowned. The Weasleys. Hermione and Potter were there. Downing…the Prime Minister? "Are you absolutely positive? What you heard?"
Slit asked his question. "Are they really trying to kill the Prime Minister?" Ben waited for his agent's answer.
"They killed Elaine. Todd. Jenna. Emily and Taylor. They would have killed me if I didn't feign death. I'm sure that they are not playing games," Slit stated.
"What if it already happened?"
Slit nodded in the direction of the exit through the curtains. "Go and check before it's too late."
Benjamin wanted more than anything to make sure that what had happened in the mission would not happen to the Prime Minister. But he noticed Slit's reserved manner, his indifference.
He opened his mouth to speak, but Slit was already staring to the side. Resigned, he rotated and began to travel.
The head of Operation CoJacks turned around to face his fallen agent again. Tears had replaced the old ones on his face, but he asked in a voice unlike his own. "Will there…be a funeral for them? For Elaine?"
Benjamin Lester nodded. "Yes. Of course."
He had his team check the Prime Minister's office and the person in "danger" had answered himself. Ben quickly apologized to him when the Prime Minister had worriedly asked if anything was wrong.
So nothing had actually happened…yet. Ben sent some of his men to the office for security. Now he needed to worry about the wedding.
He still had to make sure if anything happened to his niece.
Despite the few times Benjamin contacted his sister by phone, he had the number memorized.
Each ringing that the phone produced caused his insides to squirm. Someone he loved was in danger. And the only way he could find her was to talk to the person who would know how to.
"Hello, Granger Dentistry Clinic, Dr. Emma Granger speaking."
"Ben?" She asked unsurely.
"Yeah. Listen, do you know how to contact Hermione?"
"Well, I don't know. She doesn't have a cell phone—"
Ben vigorously shook his head. "I mean in her world."
A pause. Something that has become common in his conversations.
"You know?" His sister's inquiry came out in a whisper.
"Yes, she told me."
Emma Granger sounded confused, "But…how?"
"Everything will be explained later on. For now, Hermione and her friend are in danger. She went to some wedding her world—"
"Bill and Fleur—"
"Yes!" Ben did not know who these people were but his sister apparently did. "Can you contact them in any way?"
"I—yes, I can."
He pulled back the sleeve of his blazer to check the time. "Then I'll be there shortly."
15 pages. Not too shabby for my return.
Also, if I am not mentioning something that was said in previous chapters, things that I left unfinished, tell me! I tend to forget to deal with those things.
Thanks to everyone who patiently waited for this chapter's release and I hope you guys enjoyed it!