There were still a few stragglers in the kitchen when Emma returned, and Dumbledore was one of them, watching her with knowing eyes. He asked to talk with her briefly before he left, and she felt nervous. Had Snape told her something she wasn't supposed to know?
"Severus seems to trust you a great deal," Dumbledore said, the two of them standing on the front porch of number twelve, watching a couple of young Muggle children play in the little park in the cul-de-sac. "I haven't seen him take so quickly to someone in years."
"Quick isn't a word I would use," Emma said, swallowing as one of the children fell off his toy tricycle. "After all, I spent seven years of school trying to make him at least tolerate me, to no avail. If you're going to ask why it is he trusts me, professor, I can't give you an answer. All I know is that he appreciates that I trust him. I don't know if you've noticed, but even in the Order, there aren't many people who do."
"No," Dumbledore said with a nod. She could feel him looking at her, but she didn't want to look at him. She focused on the crying child. When he looked her in the eye, she felt like he could read her very soul, and it was unnerving. "I have given Harry a very important but difficult task, and when he accomplishes it, I fear I will have to give him another."
"He's very young," she said softly.
"So are you, my dear."
"But I guess he's been doing this for a while," she said, thinking back to the stories of Quirrell and Harry fighting beneath the school, the whispers that he defeated a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets to save Ginny Weasley. If any sixteen-year-old could fight a war, it was Harry Potter.
Dumbledore tapped the fingers of his healthy hand on the railing and said, "I have a bit of a job for you as well, Emma." He pulled a small scroll out of his pocket, and she saw that inside the scroll were at least two more scrolls more tightly rolled. "Do you know where they keep the records of family trees at the Ministry?"
"No, no, don't tell me," Albus Dumbledore said. "I'm sure you know. Find a way to get in. Change the records in these scrolls to match these scrolls. These are...amended versions. I have a feeling that things at the Ministry will take a very sharp turn in the future, and I want to protect certain members of the Order."
Emma licked her lips and unrolled one of the scrolls to see her own name, her own family tree, but instead of her mother's maiden name being Jones, it was some name she'd never seen before, and the tree went back changed three generations.
"In the eyes of the law, Emma, you will no longer be Muggle-born, but half-blood," Albus said gently.
"It also says my mother's dead."
"As Kingsley told you, your mother is alive and perfectly well. He's already tinkering with the Muggle side of records. Do you think you can do this?"
She wondered who the other names were, but if Dumbledore thought it was important to make sure she was half-blood legally, then she supposed it must be important. She could always change it back when the war was over.
"I can," she said. "Do the other people know?"
"They will be made aware."
Emma nodded, slipping the parchment rolls into her sleeve, already planning a way to get the job done unnoticed, because as Severus said, she shouldn't be drawing attention to herself in times like these. Why, she didn't know, but if she was doing something so illegal, that was really all the incentive she needed.
"Yes, my dear?"
"What happened to your hand?"
He was smiling at the children, whose mother had come out with plasters and rubbing alcohol. He didn't look at her, and he unconsciously touched the sleeve-covered arm with a gentle motion.
"Don't trouble yourself with things like that, Emma," he said kindly. "I assure you, there is nothing you can do for my arm, and it's nothing you need worry yourself over. I dare say you have enough on your plate for worrying, what with the war and Remus and Tonks."
She jerked her head back slightly in surprise, but he just chuckled at her. He said a quick word of parting, turned on his heel, and he was gone before she could say another word. Emma stared at the empty spot for a moment, then looked up at where the mother and children were, who started and were looking over at her.
"I hope someone gets that car looked at," she said loudly to the mother, with a nervous laugh. "Sounds like a terrible backfire, doesn't it?"
The mother nodded slowly before turning back to her child's wounds. Emma hurried back into number twelve as quickly as possible so that nobody noticed her going into a house that didn't visibly exist.
"There you are, love," Fred said, kissing her cheek as she nearly tripped over the very troll-foot umbrella stand that Tonks always hit. "Ready to go?"
Emma nodded, letting Fred help her with her coat, careful to keep from squishing the parchment rolls in her sleeve. She kissed his cheek and took his hand, saying a quiet good-bye to his family – even George was sticking around for a bit longer – before taking Fred's hand and letting him Disapparate them back to Diagon Alley.
"What did Dumbledore want to talk about, love?" Fred asked when they got back to the flat, helping her with her coat off again.
"Oh, just something about work," she said breezily. "Nothing, really."
The following morning at the Ministry, Emma took a bit of time before going to her desk. She made a detour to the Auror office, where she saw Tonks bent over her desk, reading a report with bleary eyes. Emma sat down on her friend's desk and said, "Close your door, we need to discuss something private."
Tonks jerked her head up, confused.
"About the Bell case?"
Emma hesitated. No, it wasn't about Katie at all, but she couldn't say that. It was the only open case she was still technically doing legwork for the Auror department on. But then, she didn't want to lie, either.
For all she knew, it was. Tonks ushered her in, closed the door, and nodded, pressing her ear momentarily to the door to make sure nobody was obviously listening.
"I need you to help me," Emma said. "I need you to give me a reason to access birth records."
Tonks tilted her head questioningly. Emma mouthed Dumbledore's name. The parchment in her sleeve felt unnaturally hot and heavy on her skin.
"Right," Tonks muttered, tapping her chin. She then leaned over her desk, picked up a quill, and scribbled down a few names. "If anyone asks you," she muttered as she signed the bottom, "you're working on the Bell case, and I've asked you to track down the heritage of some suspect names we're chasing. We...think Muggles might be involved and we want to tread lightly?"
"Works for me," Emma said, smiling at Tonks and gazing at the list of names that she was ninety percent certain her friend made up on the spot. "You feeling okay after yesterday?"
"Fine," Tonks lied. "Just peachy." She gave Emma a weak smile and said, "I know he's safe, right? So...everything's okay. For now. He looked at me. That's something, if something small."
Emma tried to make her smile as non-pitying as possible, and she gave Tonks a clap on the shoulder before saying, "I certainly hope so. I've got to get to this, but maybe you can clear some space in your schedule for lunch sometime?"
"Not today," Tonks said with a frown. "I've got a Hogsmeade patrol today. I'll let you know."
Emma thanked Tonks again and made her way as quickly as possible to the Hall of Records, which held every official document on a person, and copies of pertinent Muggle records. For people like Sirius Black, it had prison records, an official statement of his innocence, and probably plenty of other things she didn't know about. Whenever an office opened an inquiry on a person, their file was pulled, and any added investigative information was added to it as the inquiry went along. Emma waved at the man at the door, flashed the note Tonks had given her at him quickly, and hurried into the room, heart pounding.
"Can I help you, ma'am?"
Emma looked down the first aisle and saw a woman with a large stack of files on it smiling up at her.
"Oh, no," Emma said, smiling back, gripping the list of fake names in her hand. "It's a pretty straightforward system, right? Year of birth and then alphabetical? I've got a list. You look pretty tied up with that stack, I'll call if I need help with something."
"All right, then, ma'am. Just let me know."
Emma nodded, heading for her own year of birth first, since she hadn't looked at the other names yet.
She searched through the line for the N's, looking for where Norwick ought to be, but to her shock, there wasn't a file there. For a fleeting moment she thought that perhaps the lady had her file, or that someone had taken it out of the office and they were already investigating her, but then the almost-obvious and terrifying answer hit her. She glanced down the aisle and licked her lips before she found the W's. She traced her finger up the Wi's, to the We's, Weasley, George, Weasley, Fred, and then she saw herself: Weasley, Emma.
Her file had been changed when she and Fred married. She pulled out the file and saw the marriage license right on top. At least she knew that all oft heir affairs would be in order legally, in case something did happen in the war. She flipped to the back of her file, past a couple of inquiries when she applied for the post at the Ministry, recommendations, test scores...
There it was. Her lineage. Emma licked her lips and pulled the scrolls out of her sleeve, unrolling the outermost one and quickly changing the one in her file to match it. On a typical piece of parchment, this would be the matter of a moment, but Ministry parchments were resistant to changes, so she had to use powerful spells and a lot of patience. Finally, though, her lineage matched the sheet she'd been given, and she put her file away before Vanishing the sheet Dumbledore had given her.
Emma then pulled out the scrolls and unrolled the next one in slowly, looking for the name.
Her heart began to pound when she saw Lee Jordan's name at the bottom. She'd quite forgotten that he was Muggle-born as well.
She changed his lineage sheet, as well as the sheet of a young Healer a couple of years older than them that Emma had only met twice, and then she thanked the woman putting away files on her way out and went to work, her sleeve empty.
"Did you find everything you were looking for?" the guard asked.
"Yes, thank you," she said happily. "I think I know where to go now."
He nodded at her, and she could fee her heart pounding all the way back to her office.
She had done it. She had succeeded in a proper Order mission. And it felt intoxicating.
Almost four weeks later, Lee dropped by in the middle of Emma's day off. The twins had let him up into the flat, and he sat down to tea with Emma.
"I suppose they had your lineage changed too?" he said, not looking at her.
Emma decided not to tell him that she was the one who physically changed the records. She had a feeling she wasn't supposed to say.
"Yes, they did," she said, stirring in sugar. "Apparently, my mother's a witch now."
She laughed weakly, but Lee didn't seem amused. He was still staring at his tea, almost sullenly.
"Lee, what's the matter?"
He shrugged, and stared at his tea moment longer before finally looking up at her.
"Don't take this wrong," he said, "but doesn't it feel like...giving up a bit? Lying about who we are, about our blood, doesn't it prove them right? Doesn't it say that those things do matter?"
Emma began to tap her fingers on the table.
"Lee," she said slowly, "think of it like a Muggle spy film. We're undercover. By a few lies now, we're making it so that those things won't have to matter for everyone else when we win. Someone has to make sacrifices now so that no one has to make them when the war is over."
"I didn't sign up to be a spy, Emma. I signed up to fight a war. To be a soldier."
She shivered slightly, thinking about Sirius's war stories, the battles, the blood, the horrific curses the Death Eaters didn't even think about twice before using.
"Be grateful, Lee," she said softly. "Your skills are more valuable this way, so this is how you fight, just like I'm fighting by getting information and shifting information around. I know what you mean, because sometimes, I want to fight too, but it's not a game. We do what we have to do to win."
Before Lee could reply, however, the door to the flat burst open and George strode in.
"Sorry to interrupt," he said, not sounding the least bit sorry. "I need to have a word with Emma. Go check out the new sweets, Lee, Tien's been improving them."
Lee looked startled, but he knew better than to argue with George, so he left his untouched tea and scurried out of the flat, closing the door behind him.
Emma got up to make George a cup of tea, more out of habit than anything else, but he stopped her, looking at her with his head tilted to the side.
"Did I hear you right, Emma? Did you say you want to be out there fighting?"
She sucked in a slow breath. There was a reason she hadn't mentioned any aspect of her mission to Fred, and it wasn't because she'd done anything dangerous, but because she knew he wouldn't feel right about the thrill she'd gotten from doing a mission, and how badly she wanted to do one again.
"Not fighting exactly," she said, shrugging.
"Emma, you know how much you mean to Fred. Could you imagine what would happen to him if he lost you?"
"Did he stop to think about what would happen to me if I lost him?" she demanded, looking up at George. "I know you to do missions and you don't even tell me you've left. Dumbledore gave me something to do, and I did it, and I really enjoyed it. I felt like I was doing something useful."
George licked his lips and just stared at her for a long moment. Emma knew he was trying to think of things that would convince her not to fight, ways to guilt her, and no doubt he was about to use Sirius as an example. She decided to head him off.
"Sirius told me once," she said softly, "that the most important thing, the most important thing, is that we do what's best for the war. And if I'm asked to go on a mission, I won't say no."
He shook his head and said, "I can't really judge you, because I know I would say the same thing in your shoes. But promise me you'll be careful, Emma? Sirius is dead. That's not allowed to happen to you, it's just not."
She smiled tightly, thinking of her conversation with Snape about death, and she hugged George, feeling the strange similarities and differences between him and his brother in the hug. George was more of a gentle soul, with a softer grip, but a warmer, more enveloping hold. He leaned the side of his head against hers and whispered, "Don't forget, Emma, how much he loves you. Never forget that."
"Now," she said, pulling away, smiling, "do you honestly think I could if I tried? Why don't you go ahead and send Lee back up and I'll warm his tea."
"Yeah, I should probably apologize as well for being so hard on him, as well."
George kissed Emma's cheek and went back downstairs, leaving her a moment to calm herself and her shaking hands. She'd just finished warming Lee's tea back up when he came in, smiling nervously.
"Sorry about that," Emma said with a laugh. "Sometimes George gets a little demanding." She licked her lips and stuck the cup in front of him.
"Do you know how many people whose records were changed?" he asked, picking up his tea. She watched him sip it for a moment while she weighed whether or not she would be allowed to say.
"I heard three," she said slowly. "So that must be you and me and someone else."
Lee talked for a bit about his work at WWN, and how sometimes he felt a bit useless for the war effort, but Emma assured him that someday his purpose would be clear, and he might not be wishing for all the added activity then.
He took off before lunchtime, and Emma put on a smile, because she didn't want Fred to start asking questions too. She'd dealt with too many questions that day.