DISCLAIMER: The Harry Potter series of books was created by Joanne K. Rowling. I'm just playing in her precious and delightful garden, and I solemnly swear to leave it as neatly in order as I found it. If you haven't read these books yet, go and do it now. Then, if you still want more of the same, come back here. Everything you recognize is obviously not my creation, and I don't claim it.
During many years in the Improper Use of Magic Office, Mafalda Hopkirk had seen nearly everything, from magical accidents through thoughtless play to deliberate attempts to fool the Ministry. But this one was new and unexpected. Mafalda glared at the Trace's printout, blinked and glared again, but it did not vanish or change.
Summoning Charm performed in the Hall of Prophecy, Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic.
Shield Charm performed in the Hall of Prophecy, Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic.
Mafalda Hopkirk reached for a piece of pale, violet coloured paper and her quill, and wrote carefully:
There are some children in the Department of Mysteries. This should be impossible even if they could get past you. Please go down, check whether the door is secured, and report back by memo. I am aware that you are not allowed to enter on your own; I will send an Unspeakable to you.
Hoping you are well,
Improper Use of Magic Office
Mafalda folded the memo and let it go. The paper aeroplane flapped its wings and flew out of the door into the corridor. Mafalda knew that the next regularly scheduled elevator would take it down to the Atrium, where it would land on the watchwizard's security desk. Having dealt with this, the witch glanced at the list pinned to the wall above her desk. Mr. Croaker was on call tonight. She considered Floo powder, but she did not know the design of Croaker's house. Would he hear her shouting from a fireplace in the sitting room if he slept, say, on the second floor? In this warm summer night, an owl getting into the house through an open window and picking on Croaker until he woke up might be a better bet.
Dear Mr. Croaker,
Some children intruded into the Department of Mysteries. Please come here and take them out. A security guard is waiting for you at the entrance to the DOM.
Have a nice night,
Improper Use of Magic Office
Ministry of Magic
Mafalda sent the paper plane memo off to the Owlery, where it would be taken care of. While she did so, the Trace, sitting on an extra table at the side of the desk, rattled again. Apparently, five Reductor curses had been cast at exactly the same time. How many of them were there? Who were they and why were they so destructive? If something happened in Little Whinging, it was easy to guess that the Potter brat was responsible, but sometimes it was quite inconvenient that the Trace didn't tell names. Mafalda scribbled another note. This one would go to the Department of Magical Transportation.
Dear Madam Edgecombe,
The Trace shows that we have intruders in the Department of Mysteries. We still do not know how they could get in. Please check for a security breach in the Floo network.
With best wishes,
Improper Use of Magic Office
Stunning spell performed in the Hall of Prophecy, Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic.
Were they fighting now?
Doorlocker charm performed in Room No. 3, Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic.
Obviously this room's purpose was so top secret that it could not be revealed on the Trace's printout. There was still no response from Croaker, or from the security desk. Short after announcing an Alohomora, the Trace listed a series of stunning spells, mixed with a disarming and followed by another summoning spell, all from Room No. 3. Mafalda Hopkirk looked at the list on the wall again. Dawlish was on duty tonight. But certainly some children playing Auror and Death Eater, even in the Department of Mysteries, wouldn't justify bringing in a real Auror. And anyway, even Aurors were not allowed to enter the DOM unsupervised; she still needed Croaker or another Unspeakable. Mafalda bent down to the fireplace and threw half a teaspoon's equivalent of Floo powder into the flames.
“Magical Law Enforcement Patrol,” she called.
A woman's head appeared in the fire. “Madam Hopkirk? What can we do for you?”
“Who is with you tonight?”
“Lance McGuffin, madam.”
Mafalda considered this for a moment. Lancelot McGuffin was not the brightest guy, but a fierce fighter. He might be more valuable in the Ministry than running an errand.
“Constable Bulstrode,” said Mafalda, “the Trace tells me that at least five underage wizards are causing havoc in the Department of Mysteries. I've sent the watchwizard down to the entrance. He didn't report back to me yet, and Mr. Croaker doesn't answer to my owl. Please go down to the Atrium and then to Mr. Croaker’s house. We need somebody who can handle this situation.”
“Ay, Madam. Lance, hold the fort!” With this, Mrs Bulstrode vanished.
Reductor curse performed in Room No. 5, Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic.
Mafalda looked over the list of spells from Room No. 5 the Trace had typed out recently. One was so unfamiliar that she had to look it up. A confunding spell that made the victim deem everything oh so funny. Would children really know how to do this? Still, fashions in magical pranks came and went, so it could just be something that had resurfaced recently and was popular with younger wizards.
A memo aeroplane flapped in from the corridor and landed on Mafalda's desk. Finally!
Dear Madam Hopkirk,
As you are well aware, there are no fireplaces in the Department of Mysteries. Even if there were, they, like all fireplaces in the Ministry proper, would not be connected for transportation to the Atrium or any place outside the Ministry. (Communication, of course, is another matter.) Did you double-check with Portkey authorisation? Are you sure that the anti-Apparation charms are in place?
Always willing to help...
Mafalda ignored the rest of the signature and crumpled the paper angrily. How would under-aged wizards be able to Apparate or to use an unauthorized Portkey, or make the Portkey Office authorize an obviously illegal Portkey? But then, the Trace rattled out another list of spells, this time from Room No. 32. Two Impediments, a Silencing Charm, two full Body-Binds, and in between, another spell Mafalda did not recognize. Maybe Mrs. Edgecombe had a point there.
Constable Bulstrode's head appeared in the fireplace. “Madam, I'm in the Atrium now. Eric is not at his desk, and he left your memo there. Should I go down to Level Nine and investigate?”
“No, getting some Unspeakables and any reinforcements they deem necessary is more important. I'm no longer sure that we only deal with youths here.”
“I'll Apparate to Mr. Croaker's house then.”
Mafalda waited until Mrs. Bulstrode's head had vanished from the fire. Then she threw reluctantly another measure of Floo powder into the flames, and called, “Mr. Dawlish, will you please come to the Trace? We may have a serious problem.”
Meanwhile, the Trace had listed three more stunning spells from a so-called junction, and a whole series of Doorlockers from Room No. 4. Apparently, somebody tried fervently to escape, but they didn't succeed. Something was banished, something was summoned, and something was split.
A tough-looking wizard with very short grey hair stormed into the Trace room, wand in fist, ready to attack. Mafalda shook her head. “Not here, Mr. Dawlish. It's down in the Department of Mysteries, and I need your opinion. Here is what the Trace tells us about what's going on there.”
Dawlish looked over the ever-increasing list of spells performed by or near under-aged wizards who should certainly not be in the Ministry of Magic at night.
“I see why you didn't summon me earlier,” he said thoughtfully. “It looked quite harmless when it started, but this here may cause serious internal damage without visible wounds, and these can punch holes through walls. Kids shouldn't know how to do this.” He hesitated. “I don't understand why adult intruders would bring children who make them traceable. It may be a distraction to occupy us while the real attack happens elsewhere. Anyway, it's clearly Auror business. Did you already arrange for an Unspeakable to bring us in?”
Before Mafalda could explain what she had done so far, the Trace “bing”-ed loudly and switched to CAPSLOCK rage:
UNFORGIVABLE CRUCIATUS CURSE performed in Room No. 2, Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic.
Dawlish, his face distorted by fury, grabbed for the Floo powder and bent down to the fireplace. “Group call,” he barked. “All Security Staff and Magical Law Enforcement!”
“Connecting all Security and Magical Law Enforcement Staff,” sang a melodious female voice. “Please hold the line.”
The Trace began to clatter again, listing all sorts of spells that certainly should not be known by under-aged witches and wizards. Dawlish tapped his wand impatiently, making red and green sparks flow out of its tip. Calling every fireplace all over Britain that might be close to the current location of a person who worked in Security or Magical Law Enforcement was a tedious task.
“All Security and Magical Law Enforcement Staff are connected. You may speak now,” sang the melodious voice.
“EMERGENCY! The Ministry is invaded by Dark wizards,” shouted Dawlish. “All staff report to their superiors immediately!”
This early in the morning, most of the addressees would still be asleep, and half of them would probably not hear Dawlish's voice, but whoever got the message would try to fetch others, and after a short period of chaos a counter-attack would be launched.
“I'm afraid I have to report to Rufus Scrimgeour, telling him what we know so far,” said the Auror. “Madam Hopkirk.” He bowed, and left.
Mafalda stared sheepishly at the Trace. What was she expected to do now? Leave the Ministry to report to the head of the Improper Use of Magic Office, and then return with the slowly forming army? Stay and monitor the spells unknown wizards rained upon each other, in case somebody might ask for this information?
UNFORGIVABLE KILLING CURSE performed in Room No. 2, Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic.
This, decided Mafalda, was Destiny taking the choice away from her and leaving only one way. She applied a last measure of Floo Powder to the fireplace.
“Lance? Are you still here? Madame Edgecombe? Did you listen? All Ministry night shift staff who can hear me! Dark wizards invaded the DOM. They cast killing curses, possibly on CHILDREN! If you won't tolerate this, report to the elevators, Level Seven.”
The old witch turned around and strode out of the room. Behind her, the Trace could not keep up any longer and exploded. Mafalda Hopkirk did not look back. She walked down the corridor to the elevators with a stern and determined expression on her face. As far as she cared, tonight every child in Britain could perform under-age magic and get away unnoticed. There was a battle to be fought.
A/N: Thanks to my beta readers, SMF and Scapegrace.
This vignette was inspired by gehayi's impressive list of mostly murderous spells the Death Eaters could (and should?) have used in the infamous Battle of the DOM. Since I don't believe that JKR is stupid, there must be a reason why they didn't (and probably shouldn't). Of course I cannot know what Jo imagined. My take on it is that the Death Eaters stealthy plan had been to overwhelm Harry by sheer numbers, and then escape without using any magic that might be detected.
If Eric, or whoever was the watchwizard during this night, was on their side and planned to return to his desk when they had left with Harry and the Prophecy, nobody would even know that something irregular had happened. If they had taken Eric out (while still no youths were around, so that this would go untraced) there was still a good chance that nobody noticed the Prophecy missing from its shelf. In the worst case, Harry would be blamed for stealing the Prophecy. Who else would be interested in a Prophecy about Harry and the Dark Lord who was not around?
In any case, Voldemort would have had all the time he needed to analyse the Prophecy and make plans based on it while still nobody realised that he was back. The plan fell apart when Harry brought too many friends to the party and they were only outnumbered one by two.
Now, some of the Death Eaters may have been too stupid to think of spells they hadn't planned to use in advance, while the smarter ones still tried to keep a low profile, so that Mafalda Hopkirk or whoever was on duty at the Trace wouldn't call for the Aurors immediately. Obviously some Death Eaters were not sufficiently disciplined (looking at you, Bellatrix), but I assume that spells that are interrupted and don't do anything are not traced. Thus, I ended this on the first "jets of green light" that may have been a fully spelled out Avada Kedavra.
What, you believed that all the people who arrived in the Atrium at the end had been alarmed by the two statues Dumbledore had sent to drag Cornelius Fudge in? And that they just jumped in, not doing any planning in advance?