Harry and his blond companion came running down the hallway. Almost out of breath they turned the corner and ducked into an empty classroom.
"Did … did we lose them?"
"I think so Daph." Harry sat down beside his girlfriend and put his arm around her. The adrenalin of the chase had started to wear off and she was starting to shake. She was exhausted and scared and he was not far behind. Anyone who had just witnessed what they had would react the same way.
"Do you think they recognized us?"
"I'm not sure. I think we were far enough away and hidden in the shadows. I never actually saw anyone behind us. We should stay here for a while though. These classrooms haven't been used for years."
They spent the next few hours huddled in the corner of the classroom. They spoke quietly about what they had seen and started to brainstorm about what they could do about it. They knew if the truth ever got out it would shake the foundations of the wizarding world.
Harry finally just shook his head in frustration. "Daphne, they'll never believe me! The Minister, the Press and the Death Eaters who pull their strings have completely destroyed my credibility. No one will believe anything I say."
"What about Madame Bones? I know Susan pretty well – we were friends growing up. I can try and arrange for her aunt to ask to see us. That way you won't be questioned when you arrive at the Ministry."
"It's a good idea. Thanks Daph, I don't know what I would do without you. You're brains will help pull us out of this just like al the other times. You're the brains of this relationship." He smirked, "I guess I'll have to be the one with the looks."
She laughed and cuffed him playfully on the head, "You prat. I appreciate your praise, but you're just as smart as me. We really don't have time for this. How about we call it a draw and say we tie on the brains and the looks this time."
Harry laughed, "This is a first. OK, we'll call it even." He took her face in his hands and kissed her tenderly. "I guess we can go now."
Hand in hand the two teenagers left the classroom empty once more.
Two days later Harry and Daphne walked hand-in-hand to the Ministry of Magic. After checking in at the front desk and being issued visitors passes they took the main elevators to the DMLE floor.
After a fifteen-minute wait, the couple was shown into a large office and met Madame Bones. The witch looked at the two teenagers and motioned them to sit down. She offered them and they accepted a cup of tea and some fresh crumpets.
Amelia took a sip of her tea and looked at the teens, "Mr. Potter, I've actually been meaning to meet with you for some time. When my niece suggested I contact you I thought it was a strange request, but the more I thought of it, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity for us to have a chat. I have heard a lot of stories of yours and Ms. Greengrass' adventures from my niece and I have a lot of questions."
Harry and Daphne looked at each other. They knew Amelia was known as being above reproach and incorruptible. They had just been talking this morning over breakfast that they had wanted to talk with Amelia Bones for a long time.
Harry glanced back to Madame Bones, "We'll answer any questions that you have."
A noise behind them caused the two teens to spin around. Sitting behind them was a middle-aged wizard. His face was worn and creased as if he had seen far too much in life and it left its mark on his features. The sound Harry heard was an anachronistic habit he seemed to have – he was lighting a muggle cigarette using a muggle lighter.
"Who are you?" Harry asked the wizard. The older man didn't seem to react to Harry. He just sat back and continued to smoke his cigarette.
"Harry, that man is here to observe. I can't tell you his identity, however he is from the Department of Mysteries and a long-term colleague of mine."
Harry looked over at Daphne. She glanced back at the man and back to Harry and nodded.
Harry sighed, "Alright, where to you want to begin?"
The meeting lasted several hours. During the entire time the strange man did nothing but chain smoke and stare at the teens.
A number of figures sat around a table. Each wore a black cloak and had their face shrouded by a hood.
One of the figures lit a cigarette, "He and the girl know. I'm sure they didn't tell Amelia everything they know."
This agitated a number of the men around the table.
"Impossible, how could he?"
"This is disturbing. How could this happen?"
"We must put a stop to this!"
"They should be eliminated!"
Many around the table agreed with the last statement.
The Cigarette Smoking Wizard shook his head. "No. Potter is a joke. Alive he is the subject of ridicule. Kill him and you make him a martyr."
The one figure at the head of the table that had remained silent leaned forward into the light. His face was obscured by his hood but the twinkle in his eyes was evident, "Our colleague is correct. Let Harry Potter tell his 'tales'. No one will believe him. I recommend that we keep 'allowing' him to find out certain facts – not enough to let him know everything mind you."
The Cigarette Smoking Wizard smiled beneath his cowl and lit up another Marlboro.
A/N – I've been watching the X-Files DVD collection and an episode about the Cigarette Smoking Man inspired me to write this.
This is a one-shot. I won't be writing anymore of this. I have two stories on the go already and I don't want start working on another – I just needed to get this out of my system.
However, if anyone wants to take this on as a first chapter of a story just let me know and be my guest. So, maybe I can call this a challenge. I designed this chapter to ask questions but not provide a lot of answers.