A/N: Happy Friday! Thank you to all the new people who have started reading this story. It has been lovely to read your comments. Glad you're enjoying it. There has been a major influx in the past few weeks!
Chapter 138: Rushed Confusion
"What?" Rita and Gloria gasped as Severus was struck by the shock of it.
"I am so sorry to interrupt, but you needed to be made aware of the developments," Moody said. He spoke quickly. "She has been arrested and the charges placed against her are mounting quickly."
"Under whose authority?" Euphegenia Dunmeyer demanded as Moody walked quickly to where the group was standing and the doors to Poppy House were shut behind him.
"Bartemius Crouch Senior," Moody answered. "Frank Colins was located in a trunk in the minister's home. And she was arrested on the spot, though she had not been home in several days."
"And you have that on good authority?" Euphegenia asked.
"Madame, she has not left the ministry of magic in three days, except to go to Krepost to fetch Grindelwald," Moody answered. "I have heard it from her own lips that she was the one that went and came back and her number two, Mr Beals, has brought forth her itinerary, but as it stands, he will not speak for her."
"He has no loyalty whatsoever," Dunmeyer stated and shook her head. "Beals will not connect himself with anything, it was shocking that he would act as her secretary. My theory is that he, himself, is working for someone else."
"As to I," Moody confessed. "And I believe that she knew this all too well and she kept him at a distance most of the time. She did not trust him like she trusted others."
"Who went with her then, to Krepost, and do they have clearance for such a journey?" Albus asked. "Cornelius Fudge went and has been by her side for most of her tenure as Minister though he was absent most of today," Moody answered. "He does have clearance for the journey."
"Indeed he does," Albus sighed.
"You don't trust him, do you?" Euphegenia asked.
"No, not really," Albus said. "But he is well liked and rumoured to be in line for the minister's position. I believe Millicent has every intention of nominating him when her tenure is finished. She has been training him for the role and with her in custody, he is the likely choice to act as minister in her stead."
"Yes, I am aware, but we have larger issues. Who gave Crouch the authority to preside over his son's case?" Euphegenia asked.
"I believe he simply took the opportunity to question his son because of his position with the Wizengamot and you were not present madame," Moody said.
"Convenient, but who was there with him?" She asked.
"Myself and Rockford," Moody answered. "Junior was convincing enough to his father, but that is to be expected. I believe he had punishment in mind for his son's behaviour, possibly even to cast him out of the family, or send him directly to Azkaban to make an example of him, but after Malfoy's accusation and Juniors cooperation, Senior decided to be lenient toward his son if he gave up all the information he could. Barty junior turned over the Minister of Magic after he faced his own accusations and spun some tale about his innocents or his forced involvement by the Dark Lord. Senior seems to believe his son's explanation but he has ordered an investigation as Bagnold did state at the press conference that she would be launching an inquiry into the death eaters and Crouch was prepared to uphold the order. I believe that Fudge will uphold the order as well, once he is located. Now, all of us in the know, know damn well that Junior is not telling the whole truth, if any truth whatsoever, and we also know very well that Senior has his eyes on the ministers position too, though perhaps he wishes for the Chief Warlock position and that's why he acted without your involvement. It is all too suspicious for my liking and was acted upon far too quickly. I don't believe it for one second because Bagnold claims she's never seen the truck before but so much has happened today that they arrested her without question." He explained. "Somehow Crouch has been made aware of Grindelald's demise and that is spurring him on. But, the question remains, where is Fudge and what is Beals involvement in all of this?"
"There will be an investigation. Was this before or after the press conference?" Dunmeyer asked. "We have to find those men and question them and Crouch will not be allowed to continue with his inquiries without my authority."
"The arrest came after," Moody answered. "And I believe you are correct Madame, and should make haste to the ministry before things get truly out of hand."
"They sounds like they are already very far out of hand," Albus commented.
"These men acted when they knew that most of us would not be present," Dunmeyer stated. "There will be hell to pay."
"Madame, I beg you, stay calm. They are digging their own graves, there is already outrage and word is spreading very quickly that Bagnold is not entirely innocent in todays preceding," Moody said. "But people know Junior is very much a guilty man and they are questioning his father now. It could push Senior to retaliate because his reputation is more important than his son, in his eyes."
"And in what condition was Colins found?" Euphegenia demanded with a dismissive wave as she needed to gain all the facts but knew that much of the chatter was deception as it stood.
"No condition to speak of ma'am, which is strange, but he was taken to the hospital and he has a guard of aurors there," Moody answered. "He was relatively untouched, aside for the fact he was blindfolded, and from what he has said, he was only taken this morning. Picked up on the train."
"Before or after the secret tribunal?" Albus asked. "He was there, or was that Junior?"
"Junior says it was him," Moody responded. "Colins claims he was at home with his family until approximately noon. Then he boarded the train and next thing he knew he was jumped from behind and stuffed in a box. He had no intention of even being at the ministry of magic today. He was on his way to Bath to meet with some cousins."
"And Junior knew this," Euphegenia stated.
"Apparently the only people to know were Colins' wife Samantha and their cousins in Bath."
"So why Colins?" Bagnold asked.
"I believe that Crouch mistook the Collinses of Rosenshire for Frank Colins and he took him because he thought he might get closer to Severus, but it worked out all the same as Colins gained admittance to the secret tribunal and Anthony or Jeremy would not have been so lucky," Moody explained.
"That would make far more sense," Euphegenia said with a nod. "We should put the Collinses of Rosenshire on high alert. I leave that to you, Severus," she added.
"Of course," Severus said with a bow and looked to Gloria for confirmation.
"It will be done gently as Susanna does not need this kind of shock in her current condition, and you only speculating at this time. Get Crouch to confess to what you say, then we will be more diligent in our warnings towards our dear friends," Gloria said.
"Yes, I agree, that is very wise," Albus added. "We need not worry them if there is no proof they were meant as the target."
"I agree, but we will give them cause for concern and precaution," Gloria said.
"Yes, good, but what I need to know is who grabbed and planted Colins in Bagnold's house?" Moody asked. "Barty Junior was at the Ministry posing as Colins until he was ousted by Malfoy. The polyjuice potion needs particulate matter from the person who is being impersonated, therefore, Crouch had to have seen or met with Colins."
"Then he wouldn't have gone after the Collinses or Rosenshire," Severus stated. "He didn't have time and he was watching Frank Colins knowing full well he was getting into the tribunal."
"But Frank wasn't going to be there, he was going to be in Bath. How did Crouch gain access if Colins was never supposed to be there in the first place?" Gloria asked.
"It had to have happened this morning, and by Bagnold's directive. She would have known that Colins wasn't going to be at work today, but when he showed up, she left him in," Moody offered.
"Speculation at best Alastor," Euphegenia said. "And all that it tell me is that I need a face to face with Millicent and every other person involved."
"I'll find Fudge for you, and Beals," Moody vowed.
"I'm so sorry Severus, I wish I could stay, but I must get to the bottom of this," Euphegenia said and prepared to leave.
"You will return for dinner?" Severus asked.
"I will return for the photo that Miss Skeeter wishes to take of the order, but I cannot say at present if I will be able to stay for dinner," she responded.
"Moody, bring her back. I expect you as well," Severus ordered.
"I'll do my best, Sev, but we do have to get to the bottom of this," Moody said and together he and the Chief Warlock fled Poppy House.
"What do you think?" Rita asked as an awkward silence fell in the hall.
"I think Barty is lying," Severus said.
"Which?" She questioned
"Both," he responded. "This doesn't make any sense. What would she have against Frank Colin's and why would she be so careless; unless she is working with Junior. Today has not gone according to any of her plans."
"You think this is a framing?" Albus asked as he moved toward the door. "Don't worry, I wouldn't miss dinner for the world." He added with a wink.
"What purpose would it serve otherwise?" Severus asked. "Why Colins, why today?"
"Because there is just so much drama going on as it is," Gloria said. "What's one more thing to add in over reaction and to confuse people even more. When too many things are happening one loses sight of what is really going on."
"Exactly my thoughts, my love," Severus said. "So who is the real fool today?"
"We, all of us, very well could be the fools today," Gloria replied.
"Then we will get to the bottom of this," Albus said. "I will return to you later this evening but I think my time would be better spent in assistance to the cause, and leading the media away from Poppy House to deal with more important things. I'll rally some troupes and bring them around here tonight, you would do well to do the same. Formal invitation laced with the great demand that they attend at all costs. Sign my name, and I'll back your troubles."
"I will sign my own name, thank you, but I will write that you will be in attendance and that you insist upon seeing them," Severus countered.
"Good and proper," Albus said and winked.
"Do you think Millicent will accept your help at this point?" Rita asked.
"That is doubtful after today," Severus added.
"Innocent is innocent as far as I am concerned, and I do not believe that she is guilty of this crime. It's just taken place far too hastily. Someone is trying to cover their tracks, or perhaps a great plan on Junior's part. I will come back with news," Albus said and left.
"I expect this to be a long evening. Perhaps I should retire to the kitchen to make sure all of our guests are well fed tonight," Gloria said as she looked to Severus who had began pacing.
"I need you in the drawing room," Severus said. "Sirius, come with, me. I'll return to you shortly," he added and fled up the stairs.
"He'll be alright," Sirius said as he looked to Gloria. "I'll calm him down."
"I trust that he has a plan?" Rita asked as she stood alone with Gloria.
"Generally he does, though he makes them up on the fly on occasion," Gloria answered.
"Go back to your parlour and your guests. I'll not be spreading anything until we have more information, but I should probably sneak out and see what I can dig up," Rita said. "You know, with all my underbelly channels and whatnot."
"Wait, take Sirius when he has finished with Severus. He was very deeply embedded in things before the Potters died. He may have channels of his own. But give them a few minutes to sort things out."
"That is likely a good idea, I'd be running after whispers and chasing down lies at this point, just to keep me running in circles and not focused on all the good and true news that I have already gathered," Rita said.
"Maybe that is all this is; an attempt at discrediting everything that has already happened today," Gloria said.
"That would make more sense then any of that other business," Rita spoke thoughtfully. "At least I was present for most of todays happenings, you can't argue with that," she added. "Do you have somewhere I can sit and work on my writing?" She asked.
"Yes, of course, but first allow me to introduce you to our Rosenshire friends," Gloria said and steered the reporter into the company of the parlour.