Carruthers kept writing away at his desk, in his circumspect brown uniform, a model of wartime modesty.
"Hem-hem." Dolores cleared her throat a little more loudly this time.
He handed off a stack of paperwork to a secretary, and nodded to the next group of children, who stood in their coats, waiting to board the train.
Dolores took a shy step forward, over the chalk line on the station floor. "iHem-hem?/i"
"What did I say about crossing the line?" Carruthers asked.
She stepped back hastily, the toes of her best shoes just touching the line. "E-excuse me?" Her voice squeaked. "I shouldn't be here. There's been a mistake."
"Let me see that." He rose from his desk to read the tag affixed to her pink wool coat. "Delores Jane Umberton, age nine?" He checked the list on his clipboard. "You're right here. Delores Jane-"
"Umbridge!" she answered, her voice rising frantically. "It's iUmbridge/i! And it's not iDe/ilores, it's iDo/ilores. I told you; there's a mistake; my mum and dad-"
"It's a typographical error, Miss Umbarge," he said, patting her arm in what was meant to be a reassuring manner, though he looked over his spectacles irritably. "Your parents will be fine."
He checked her tag again. "And you're going to spend a lovely holiday in Bowmore-Ludmully-Upon-The-Marsh. The swamplands!"
A tear plummeted down her cheek. "Please ilisten/i," she begged, her voice a thin, reedy shriek. "I'm not even a Muggle! I'm a iwitch/i!"
The other children laughed behind her. "A witch!" a freckled boy hooted. "Let's see you ride a broom!"
"I'm not old enough, you ninny!" she snapped back, her protestation met with guffaws.
Carruthers cleared his throat. "Listen, Miss Umberger, I don't have infinite time for tantrums. The train's about to leave, and-"
The air-raid siren let out a high-pitched wail. Dolores stuck her thumbs in her ears just as Carruthers threw an arm around her, tugging her to the floor beneath his desk. Her heart thumped in her chest, and she could feel the man's arm trembling where it lay across her shoulders.
There was a loud crack! from the streets outside, and a rumble shook the floor, the benches rattling where they were bolted to the ground. A flash of light broke the darkness. Screams. Thick, noxious smoke billowed in the station entry, and the other children began to wail, where they sat huddled among their trunks and duffel bags.
Carruthers stood up. "Right," he said, with urgency. "We're going to get all of you on the train." He snatched Dolores' wrist and he tugged her along behind him, toward the waiting railcars.
"I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO GO WITH YOU!" she shrieked, dragging her heels. They left scuffmarks on the pavement behind her.
When they were on the train, Carruthers dumped her into the seat beside him. "No funny business," he chided.
Dolores collapsed, exhausted and defeated, and tears began to stream down her face, no matter how hard she tried to choke them back.
Carruthers sighed. "There now," he said "We're all scared. But we'll be in the country and away from this nasty business..."
Dolores shrugged him off and swallowed hard, wiping at her eyes as the train lurched out of the station. She craned her neck to see out the window, as London receded from her line of sight.
She fell asleep, cheek pressed to train window. When the train screeched to a halt, the wheels screaming against the rails, she jolted awake. Far from the city, the sky was blacker than anything she'd ever seen; the train was surrounded on both sides by tall grass.
There was a commotion at the door to the train. A brilliant green light. The children nearest the door slumped over, lifeless.
Three men approached, dressed in cloaks as black as the night sky. "It's the Krauts!" Carruthers shouted, drawing a knife as he forced himself between the intruders and the children.
Dolores squinted into the night, at the silver badges the men wore on their lapels.
A ring. Bisected by a line. Overlaid with a triangle. She screamed. "It's not the Germans, twit! It's-"
It was too late. Carruthers' body erupted in flames. He screamed as he was incinerated before her eyes, and the rest of the children on the train began scrambling away from the intruders in panic.
But Dolores found herself unable to move. "Grindelwald," she murmured.
The man in black caught her eye, and stalked forward, shoving the Muggle children to the side as he towered over her. "What's your name, little girl?" he hissed.
She turned her chin up at him. "I'm a pureblooded witch. You don't hurt pureblooded witches," she told him, her voice quavering as she spoke.
"Oh?" he asked, as he lifted her by the collar of her pink coat, sneering in contempt. "Is that so?"
Her feet dangled in midair. "It's..."she coughed, her eyes narrowing. "iAgainst the rules/i."
The man burst out laughing, his laugh cruel and thick in the back of his throat, and he pointed his wand at her. "We'll see about that."