Aurors are kind of like teenage girls.
When a teenage girl decided that she's obsessed with a male celebrity she will stop at nothing until she has learned off by heart every last detail there is to know. She follows their every move religiously. She plasters photos of them all over her bedroom and writes their name over and over in her little notebook, usually encapsulated with her own name inside a pretty love heart. And, most importantly, she will never be satisfied in life until she has seen him face to face.
Well, that's kind of how aurors feel about criminals. And Voldemort is kind of like my Justin Beiber.
He had always had some twisted allure for me. It was like the ultimate puzzle – where is Voldemort hiding and how do we catch him? Because I was positive that he was still alive. A bastard with that much brain power and magical ability isn't going to be defeated by a toddler, no matter what kind of weird magic is being thrown about and I was ready to argue my point of view until the sun went down with anyone who challenged it.
So, naturally, when the rumours of his return to full power started circulating I sat up and paid attention. I had barely finished auror training and I was working in one of the minor areas of the Voldy investigation, exactly where I wanted to be. The entire ministry was living in denial about Harry Potter's claim that Voldy had risen up – except for the auror department. If anyone had really been paying attention, it would be pretty obvious that at least some of the Ministry took their jobs seriously.
The auror department suddenly had four extra people working on the Voldy case. An entire section of the offices had been reassigned and cordoned off from main access. Only the higher ranking aurors from the Voldy case specifically were allowed to enter the space. Reported sightings of Voldy and/or deatheater behaviour now had to be followed up within 72 hours of the initial witness statement and the report had to filed in no more than five working days – whereas before the Triwizard final, eye-witness accounts might not have been properly investigated for four or five weeks.
Rufus Scrimgeour, the head honcho of the auror department could be seen around the offices much more frequently and occasionally he would take a special interest in a particular aspect of the investigation, be it a witness report or a location search.
The Hypothetical Disaster Prevention Department – HDPD – had dedicated three of it's top researchers to the Voldy case. It was their job to come up with potential events or disasters that might occur, for example if Voldemort rose to power tomorrow, and they would research all of the possible advantages he might have and all the possible resources he might try to tap into and then they would try to make a plan to counter the disaster.
They would build up insanely detailed reports on how the department should deal with these hypothetical disasters so that if they did by some coincidence occur then we would be somewhat prepared, and every few months the reports that had been compiled had to be updated and the research had to be redone and the conclusions had to be revaluated so that none of the info was ever outdated.
Though there was a nucleated group of people who were directly in charge of this opporation, a lot of the grunt work, like trawling through newspaper archives to find relevant articles and such, was handed down the chain of command, so I spent a large portion of my time researching topics and areas of interest, though I was never told what imaginary scenario they were trying to prepare for at any one stage. That knowledge was restricted to a very very small number of people.
It was my dream to be on that team. I could think of nothing I would like to be doing more than sitting in a room with badass aurors just making up shit that Voldy might do and trying to come up with a counter-strategy.
When I signed up for the auror program I expected there to be more... action. I was prepared for dramatic chases through Diagon Ally and crazy spell work and general awesomeness. The reality was far from the dream. I never realised how much desk-work it took to catch the bad guy. Every piece of information had to be verified twice over before anyone acted on it. Any and all occurrences had to be documented down to the last detail, you practically had to count the nose hairs on the witnesses before submitting the report to your boss. Half the time they were more concerned with covering their asses than catching some dark wizards. But I still loved it.
And sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes some investigation or deadline or something would keep some of us back really late into the night and we'd order some food from some house elf food delivery service and the older aurors who had been around during the war against Voldy would come out with some incredible stories. I lived for those moments.
And yet, most of the time I was stuck filing witness accounts. Like today...
I had a desk in a row of four of five other desks all pushed in together, each occupied by a relatively new auror. There were no dividers or guards to conceal your space so you had absolutely no privacy. It wasn't until you started to work on the important stuff that required some discretion that you were given your own personal sectioned off desk. But they just lumped all of the newbies in together. We weren't even all working on the same case. Maria, the girl directly next to be was involved in the small section devoted to the running and maintenance of Azkaban prison. Thadeus, the guy who entered the program two years ahead of me, had been sucked into the investigation about shops that sold dark artefacts and the clientele that these shops attracted.
Today I was forced to work away from the desk, however. I was copying documents, which involved the very boring task of magically duplicating the piece of paper, than running a magical comparison between the original and the copy to make sure there were no mistakes. I wasn't allowed to do more than one at a time because apparently it's easier to miss typos and mistakes if you try to do it en masse. I had seven large piled of different documents to copy and there simply wasn't room on my desk to accommodate this task. I was forced to find a secluded corner of the office and conjure up a large enough table for me to lay out everything properly.
It was mind numbing work. I needed to take a break every twenty minutes or so just so that my brain cells could be reminded what stimulus felt like. I drank copious amounts of tea which was an excellent way of forcing myself to take a break because whenever the cup was empty I stood up to make myself another. And as well as that, the liquid intake was rapidly replenishing my bladder so I had to get up to go to the bathroom frequently.
It was on one of my many trips to the mini kitchen set up in the corner of the office that I bumped into Nymphadora Tonks. I had just flicked the kettle on when she landed her mug on the counter top beside me and took a tea bag out of the box.
"Hi, Tonks! How's it going?"
"Oh, you know, same old same old. Where have you been all day, I haven't seen you at your desk?"
"Copying," I rolled my eyes. "If you have anything urgent to say to me you better do it soon because I think the monotony is killing my soul." She laughed.
"Yeah, I hated copying when I was new. But we all have to do it! Pity the You Know Who investigation is moving so slowly..." She nonchalantly poured boiling water into both of our mugs.
"You're telling me! I just want to grab Fudge by the ear and yank it until he agrees to admit that Voldemort is back so that we can have some proper funding and do some real auror work!" Tonks barely flinched at the name. She gave me a side long glance as she added milk to her tea.
"So you believe all this, then? You Know Who being back and all?"
"Hell Yeah! I mean, Albus Dumbledore may be many things but he is not the gullible idiot that they are trying to make him out to be... I can't imagine he's the kind of person who would just believe anything he's told. There must have been some sort of compelling evidence for him to even be persuaded that Voldemort had returned, let alone stake his entire reputatiom on that belief. And if Albus Dumbledore is willing to sacrifice everything to warn us then I'm not going to just ignore him. Do you not agree?"
"Oh, no, I agree completely. I agree completely..." She looked hesitant for a second. "Say, Phoebe... if you really think he's back then why don't you do something about it?" Her voice had dropped a little.
"I'm trying! I joined the aurors, didn't I? But if you have something else I can do that isn't so dependant on politics and public opinion and all that crap then, please, just let me know."
"Well actually," Tonks moved closer to me and her voice dropped even further. "How much do you know about the Order of the Phoenix?"
I knew what it was, of course. Anyone who knew anything about the War knew a little about the mysterious group that fought against Voldemort separately from the official offensive led by the Ministry. But I didn't know any details and I told her as much.
"If you want to fight against You Know Who for real, then come to Grimmauld Place, London tomorrow evening at 8 o'clock." Then she said goodbye to me in her normal, cheery tone and walked away with her tea.
I was completely and utterly drawn in. If the Order of the Phoenix still existed and they were working to fight Voldy right now then of course I wanted to be part of it. That wasn't even a question, really.
It took all my control not to run back to my desk with my tea. I kept repeating the words 'Grimmauld Place, London' inside my head incase I forgot them and as soon as I could lay my hands on a quill I wrote it down on a piece of parchment and put it in my pocket.
I spent the rest of the day fantasising about The Order of the Phoenix as I blindly copied documents.