The streets of Diagon Alley were completely deserted. No shoppers came there anymore; all of the livelihood had been sucked out of the shopping center and had been replaced by a dark aura. Diagon Alley, along with nearly every other major wizarding spot in Europe, was now under the control of Claridina Wretermoust.
Claridina walked the streets of Diagon Alley, paying no mind to the scattered remains of shops or the lifeless bodies of her own followers that had died fighting for her power. She stopped in front of what was once one of the largest Apothecaries in existence, and one of the only shops left standing and pushed open the door.
"My Lady," two of her followers said instantly, bowing their heads. Claridina did not respond and moved past them to the back of the shop.
"Evening, My Lady," said one of her more trusted followers, Maxwell Eppilep.
"Where's Carrison?" she asked, sitting down in front of a small coffee table that had a bubbling cauldron on top of it.
"He should be arriving any minute," Eppilep replied smoothly.
Sure enough, a moment later they heard the store door open and in walked a tall, burley man. "I'm sorry I'm late," he said, bowing as he spotted Claridina. "Potter's been keeping the Aurors late."
"I would expect nothing less from him," Claridina nodded. "What do you have for me today?"
"Nothing much," Carrison replied. "Same drill; rotating shifts patrolling, searches for you and your other followers. Right now they think you're hiding somewhere in Italy."
"Ah, if only I had the time," Claridina said, conjuring up a glass of wine and taking a sip of it. "And I suspect they still have no idea about your true identity?"
"None, My Lady," he said. "For all they know I'm an Auror living alone on the outskirts of Dover."
"And the others? No alarms have been raised for them either?"
"None," Carrison said. "The Ministry still has no idea there are any spies among them."
"I doubt their ignorance will go on for much longer, but we'll use it while we can," Claridina said. "What we must do now is work on creating my ministry. If I continue to let those fools go on with that pathetic underground nonsense, they might begin to think too highly of themselves."
"The sooner the better," Eppilep nodded. "But I must say, a ministry ruled by the woman who is painted as a monster will not be taken too kindly by the masses."
"And you believe I give a damn about the masses?"
"Of course not," Eppilep said calmly. "They're impressionable delusionals. However, you image has been so smeared by Potter and the Ministry that they don't know how to do anything but hate you."
"But what's wrong with that?" Carrison asked. "That just means she's been doing her job."
"No," Claridina spoke. "He's right. As dimwitted as the masses may be, they are essential to any reign. They're unpredictable, and if they continue to be molded by the enemies, we could have problems on our hands. Revolts, riots…no doubt I could easily stop them, but would it not be so much better for them to be with me?"
"Precisely, My Lady," Eppilep nodded.
"How is she going to make them like her?" Carrison frowned. "She destroyed everything!"
"We make them think," Claridina said, finishing off her glass of wine. "That I'm not the true enemy. We turn them against Potter."
"Potter's their hero, though," Carrison pointed out. "He has been for the last thirty years. Ever since he was a baby."
Claridina stood up and went to one of the desks that was standing by the staircase. She opened up a drawer and pulled out old newspaper articles. She handed them to Carrison. "Read those for me, Carrison."
"Undesirable Number One," Carrison read.
"And whose picture do you see under there?"
"Good, good. Now read the next one."
"Boy Who Lies."
"And to whom could they possibly be referring to there?"
"Excellent," Claridina said. "You see, Carrison, those articles were printed during Potter's teen years. He still had his hero rep., but it was so easily tarnished and Potter soon became less popular than rat dung."
"She controls the Prophet," Eppilep stated. "Print something convincing enough and it will believed."
"Gather the others," Claridina said to Carrison. "I want Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade reconstructed overnight. Repair the two schools we took over too, and the old Ministry office. Tonight, my reign truly starts, but I'm no longer going to be the enemy. No, that's going to be Potter's new job."
Carrison nodded and hurried out of the shop.
"My Lady," Eppilep said. "Forgive me for asking, but how are things with the girl?"
"I've been giving her space," Claridina said. "She still feels much anger towards me and I feel it is wise to let her cool down before I approach her again."
"Our we sure time is not our enemy in this case?"
Claridina laughed cruelly. "Maxwell, time is anything but our enemy in this case. It's not as if she can change her mind about helping us."
She turned to head out of the shop. "After all," she called back to Eppilep. "Her life depends on her following though with it."