The Quibbler: 4 February 2008
You-Know-Who, also known as the Dark Lord, was sighted working in a muggle establishment called "McDonalds" in Essex. Attempts to interview him were unsuccessful. This is the fifth time in as many years that Voldemort has been sighted, prompting some experts to propose that the spike in sightings could be related to some surge in dark magic in Great Britain.
The Quibbler was able to speak with Charissa Mudgley, who reported the sighting. “I saw him plain as day,” she said. “The lack of a nose was pretty unmistakable, although the McDonalds uniform threw me off at first. It’s just the last place you would expect him, you know? He was pretty famous for not liking Muggles, and here he is, making food for them.”
It is unclear whether You-Know-Who’s choice of employment is an indication of a change of heart for the previously violently Wizard-supremacist Dark Lord, but it could mean a brighter future for us all.
Have you seen You-Know-Who? Send in your sightings to The Quibbler.
As usual, Anthony's pile of chips was significantly smaller once everyone else had pillaged it while he was eating his fish. Despite how exhausted he was and how his friends always stole his chips instead of buying their own, he was glad he'd come to the Polished Wand. The Floo Fighters were playing over the speakers, but not too loudly that he couldn't comfortably hear the conversations happening around their large table. He could hear them, but he wasn't terribly interested in contributing, since his brain still felt wrung out and empty of words.
“Anthony, you've been quiet, you alright?” Neville said. Here, now, in a queer pub, ten years since the War, they no longer felt like Neville the DA Leader. Nor did they feel like Professor Longbottom the Herbology teacher. They were just a mate asking over a pint. It helped the war feel less immediate than it had done that morning.
“Yeah, I've just had a rough day, I made a fool of myself and—” He stopped, unwilling to bring everyone back to the war. They’d won, they were free, they were sitting in a pub and they all had jobs and some of them had healthy steady relationships and everyone had moved on. Except that there was a neo-Death Eater group using Imperius and ten years seemed like no time at all.
Neville frowned and said, “I’m sorry, I know making a fool of yourself feels awful — I’ve done it plenty, and when I do it, it’s in front of twenty children, but at least they move on at the end of the year, so I can’t imagine what it’s like knowing the people who witnessed it are still around after June, I— this isn’t the right thing to say, is it.”
Anthony glanced around them — at their friends who, mercifully, weren’t paying too much attention to them; at the patrons, laughing over drinks without the constant guarded expressions you couldn’t escape during the war; at the pub itself, looking like they hadn’t even had to rebuild it after that attack in ‘96. “No, it’s — it’s not even the making a fool of myself, it’s — I got a case today where a witch was put under the Imperius Curse.”
“Oh God, I didn’t even realise that still happened, weren’t they all cleared up years ago?”
“No, no, it’s a new case. She contacted the MLE within hours of the curse being lifted, says she was only under it for a day or so, and they caught the guy that did it but...well, she’s in a safehouse now, I think, with an Auror guard.”
“Aurors? Why are they involved?” Neville had sat up a little straighter, leant forward a little, and Anthony glanced around again nervously. There were no rules about talking about current cases for him (not like there were for Aurors), but he felt an itchiness under his skin that reminded him of Seventh Year. Neville frowned for a moment and copied Anthony’s glances before whispering, “Muffliato.”
“Thanks,” Anthony said. “I know it’s silly, but I just — anyway, there are Aurors involved because there are neo-Death Eaters involved.” Neville’s eyes widened, but Anthony could see them falling into old patterns of not showing how much they were panicking so that others wouldn’t follow. Unfortunately for them both, he supposed, it wouldn’t help here.
“Did she hurt anyone?” Neville asked. Despite the Muffliato, they had leant further across the table.
“No,” Anthony replied, shaking his head. “The Imperius was because she wasn’t as committed to the cause as her boyfriend, and while she was under they gave her a Dark Mark tattoo — not a real Dark Mark, obviously, it doesn’t even look identical, but...”
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Not panicking and not stewing in this were both failing spectacularly. “But I think this is the first time a Death Eater-aligned Imperius case has happened since the Death Eater Trials wrapped up. The Aurors are taking it seriously, of course, but I’ve been looking into the archives and — God, I don’t even know, the thought of people using the Imperius Curse is just so...it’s terrifying and everyone else seems to be totally calm about it. And even if this is just some edgy dickhead abusing his girlfriend, I’ve got to prosecute this, which is going to be awful.”
He took a large gulp of beer to try to chase away the cold tightness in his chest as he thought of Seventh Year detentions, being under the Imperius Curse and forced to hurt your friends. He had felt almost like he was watching someone else do it, horrified but unable to stop himself.
Neville nodded sympathetically. “If you need anything, let me know? Obviously I won’t always be able to see you in person, but you can owl me any time. I’ll send you the list of standard spells we used to use, just in case, and I’ll have a look for any other you might find useful, maybe I’ll ask Dennis if he can think of anything.”
“Thanks, Nev. Hopefully it’s all overkill, but I won’t lie, I’d sleep better, you know? It’s weird to hear you talk about Dennis though. Professor Creevey. Makes me feel old.”
“I know what you mean, but imagine how McGonagall must feel. Though she must be used to it by now — Professor Lupin was one of her students too.”
“True, I wouldn’t want to be her, either.”
Before Anthony could say anything else, a napkin floated between them, cut to form the word “OI”. Neville looked in the direction the napkin had come from and hastily waved their wand to end the Muffliato.
“Sorry,” they said to the rest of the table, which Anthony echoed.
“Talk about antisocial,” said Ernie, shaking his head and taking the opportunity to steal Anthony’s last chip.
"You don’t call, you don’t write, and then the first time I see you in three months you spend the entire time talking dirty to Longbottom? I’ve heard both of your attempts at dirty talk and let me tell you, not worth putting Muffliato on for."
Anthony blushed even though Justin was blatantly wrong on all counts — it had only been a month, for one, and he’d written to Justin twice in that time (both Ministry memos that only contained Celestina Warbeck lyrics), and most importantly to the best of his knowledge, Justin had heard neither his nor Neville’s attempts at dirty talk.
“Fuck off,” he said, but he was aware it looked unconvincing with his red face. He glanced at Neville, who shook their head slightly. Anthony could save face by telling them what they had actually been discussing but he agreed with Neville — he didn’t want to tell them. Not because he didn’t trust them, but because….well, because they had forgotten how to be afraid, and he didn’t want to remind them. They had all been children forged in war, but now when Neville fell back on old DA habits, they assumed it was for lewd purposes. Anthony didn’t like being the butt of the joke, but he liked that the joke was being made because it meant that only his world was falling apart, not everyone else’s.
Instead of ruining that, Anthony joined in talking shit for two more beers before people began making noises about going home, given it was a work day tomorrow. As they were gathering their things, Neville put their hand on Anthony's arm and said, “Anth, do you want me to see if Harry wants to help?”
“Harry? Why would I want Harry?”
“Because...he was, you know, he was the DA leader, and he defeated Voldemort?” Neville said, as if they hadn’t played an instrumental part by destroying the last Horcrux. (Anthony had always thought the media hadn’t paid enough attention to that, and barely mentioned the DA, but Neville had brushed it off and claimed they didn’t want the attention anyway. Justin had said something about the ‘media narrative’ being simpler without Neville and the DA and Anthony had thrown a napkin at his head before admitting he was probably right. But that was years ago, now, and there had been the odd piece about the DA in magazines like Wizarding Britain. Anthony was never mentioned by name, of course, but he kept them in a box anyway.)
“Nev, I know he was off doing important stuff in Seventh Year, but you were our DA leader. You were in the shit with us and you kept us together and I reckon you might have more expertise anyway. Besides, he doesn’t even come to DA meetings anymore, I don’t want to drag him back.” Neville was pink by the time Anthony had finished, and he hadn’t intended to embarrass them, only tell the truth, so he gave them a hug instead of waiting for an answer and Apparated back to his flat. If the war hadn’t receded any, at least he had Neville by his side again.
The next day, Anthony got a coffee and a pastry from Kowalski’s Muggle Style Baked Goods to thank Kaur, and made a beeline for her desk as soon as he came in.
“Thanks for yesterday,” he said, presenting her with the coffee. “I know that you'd probably rather be doing paid labour instead of emotional labour, so you know, I got you a coffee to make up for it? And a Kowalski’s pastry, because we could all use more Kowalski’s.”
Kaur smiled and shook her head. “Goldstein, it really wasn’t a big deal. Obviously doing the emotional labour while Sassoon stands there like a wet fish isn’t ideal, but half the time when one of us is falling apart, you’re the one who does the comforting. It’s not like Bellend-ger’s going to do it.”
Anthony reflexively looked around at the use of the name, but they were safe. “He’d have to have a heart for that.”
“True,” Kaur said and took a long sip of coffee. “Thanks, Goldstein. Take care of yourself, don’t do anything stupid to prove yourself to him, okay?”
“I will,” Anthony said and went back to his desk. He wasn’t looking forward to starting the day: as well as the Dark Mark case, he had several dreary cases that all hinged on technicalities that he was not looking forward to arguing before the Wizengamot. How they’d made it as far as his desk he had no idea, but they were his problem now.
As he sat down to his desk, Sassoon came over and, hands in his pockets and looking anywhere but Anthony’s face, said, “Do you need me to take the tattoo case, or are you right? Bellinger was a dickhead yesterday not to warn you about it.”
Anthony had never seen this level of human decency from Sassoon, and he just blinked for a moment before saying, “No, thank you though, but I’m good. Now that I’ve been warned about it I’m alright, I think.”
“Good.” Sassoon made to go back to his desk but turned and said, “I don’t know if you’ve seen the paper today but there’s a photo of the Carrows on page six. Just, uh, if you needed to know.” He sat down at his desk and went to work without waiting for a reply, and Anthony wondered if he’d stepped into some kind of alternate dimension. What was that?
He forced himself to work on his backlog of minor cases before even looking at the Dark Mark file again: a third offence for misuse of Muggle artefacts that had been sent to Prosecutions because it was no longer in the realm of minor fines, instead escalating to prison time; a possible breach of the Statute of Secrecy (though the witnesses had been Obliviated); an unlicensed Runespoor breeder.
Organising the hearing times and sending out notices took all morning and it was only after lunch that he could sit down and go through the cases he had found in the stacks the day before. He didn’t find anything useful — except for the consent thing, he couldn’t find any connections, and before long he gave up and went back to the case he was actually supposed to be prosecuting.
He was partway through rereading the MLE report when an interdepartmental memo fluttered onto his desk, coming to a stop right over the page he had been looking at. Unlike normal purple interdepartmental memos, it was orange, signifying it was from the Ministry Post Office. When he unfolded the paper aeroplane, it said:
incoming external post for anthony goldstein: 1 letter(s), 1 package(s). please collect at post office on level one.
Enclosed is our old list of standard defensive spells, wards and procedures. I’ve also sent you some potions ingredients and recipes to strengthen the wards — they’re not complicated potions, even I can do them, but they’ll give an extra layer of security. I’d recommend doing your flat and maybe think about where else you spend your time. If you stay over at someone else’s on a regular basis, think about doing theirs too.
Hopefully this is all overkill, but once someone knows you’re involved in this case, you might be targeted. Is it still standard procedure for Aurors to guard the prosecutors involved in Death Eater cases or did that end when the Death Eater Trials did?
Dennis doesn’t have anything to add to the list but he does say hi.
I’m sorry we’re going to be restricted to owls for the next month or so at least — exams are coming up, and students are anxious, so I don’t want to leave in case they need me, you know? Most of them don’t have anything to worry about though, my OWL class in particular is turning out some really spectacular work, I’m so proud of them.
I’ve given a few of my more anxious Firsties little cuttings of driftmint plants to keep by their beds. The scent calms them down and I’ve found some of them enjoy the accomplishment of keeping something alive. The Fifth and Seventh Years are a little less predictable in their plant care but there’s a flutterby bush outside the greenhouses that they can go to any time, so I just tell them to do that.
Let me know if anything changes or if you make progress — only a month and a bit and then it’s summer holidays, so once exams are over I’ll happily be your sounding board.
Be safe — if you need help, I’m sure Hermione could give you a hand with the wards.
He was not looking forward to the conversation he would have to have with Zacharias about the new wards. The only thing Zacharias hated more than living through the war was talking about the war — at least, talking about it with Anthony.
Putting the package in his bag, he went back to the MLE report he was halfway through reading.
AUROR HUDNALL: Has Roger ever used the Imperius Curse on you before, to your knowledge?
NETTLE: Not like that before, no.
AUROR HUDNALL: Not like that? What do you mean?
AUROR HUDNALL: Sorry, could you repeat that?
NETTLE: Well, he — sometimes I would let him cast Imperius on me
AUROR HUDNALL: Why?
NETTLE: Because — have you ever been under the Imperius Curse?
AUROR HUDNALL: No.
NETTLE: It’s — you feel really happy, really calm, like nothing can worry you, you know? It’s impossible to worry about anything. And following directions when you’re under it — it’s just like it’s second nature, like you’ve already done it before you have a chance to think about it.
AUROR HUDNALL: What did he make you do under the Imperius Curse?
NETTLE: Oh, nothing big — silly things, like doing a cartwheel or singing “Do the Hippogriff” or something.
AUROR HUDNALL: Were you aware, afterwards, of what you had done under the Curse?
NETTLE: I think so? The memories feel kind of hazy, like a dream, but I never did anything I couldn’t remember. Or I mean, there was no evidence I did?
AUROR HUDNALL: How many times did Roger cast the Imperius Curse on you?
NETTLE: I’m not sure — maybe a dozen times?
AUROR HUDNALL: And you’re aware that casting the Imperius Curse for any reason is grounds for life imprisonment in Azkaban?
NETTLE: Yes, but I mean — it wasn’t hurting anyone! It wasn’t malicious, he asked first. I mean, not this time, with the tattoo, but all the other times he did.
AUROR HUDNALL: Did you ever cast the Imperius Curse on anyone?
AUROR HUDNALL: Not even on Roger?
NETTLE: No, he — he said I wasn’t powerful enough, that there was no point in trying. It’s a powerful spell, you’ve got to — if you don’t do it right, you can send a person mad. At least, that’s what he said. Like — wasn’t there some bloke who went mad from it?
AUROR HUDNALL: How did he know he could do it correctly? Do you know of anyone else he cast it on?
NETTLE: No, I — I never asked. He might have? I’m sorry, I just — I never thought to ask.
“Could I speak to Auror Hudnall?” he asked the frowning man who opened the door.
“Third cubicle on the left,” he said, and he thanked him as he walked over, ducking to avoid the memos flying across the enormous room.
Hudnall’s cubicle had the usual personal effects — a family photo taken at some tropical beach, a child’s drawing of a man holding a wand (presumably Hudnall?) and a Thundelarra Thunderers poster — as well as various news articles and notes pinned to the walls of the cubicle. The man in question was a stocky man with an enormous bald patch and a weathered face, though Anthony would have estimated he couldn’t be over forty.
“What can I do for you?” Hudnall said in a broad Australian accent as Anthony placed his stack of files on the corner of Hudnall’s desk.
“I’m Anthony Goldstein from the Prosecution Service — I’ve got the Braithwaite case.”
Hudnall frowned. “Any problems? I would have thought the charges were fairly straightforward, given the wand evidence.”
“No, it’s actually about something Althea Nettle said in an interview — she said she voluntarily let herself be placed under the Imperius Curse, and I’ve been looking through some past cases and I think there’s...it doesn’t make sense. I couldn’t find a single case before 1981, but there are at least half a dozen in the last decade that involve people supposedly consenting to Imperius, and I’d never heard of it before I went looking. Was there ever an inquiry?”
“Into what? The law doesn’t say anything about consent, it’s the Imperius Curse itself that’s a crime.”
“I know, but — where are they getting the idea? Do we need to implement better public awareness campaigns of the dangers?”
“Has anyone been killed?”
“Has anyone been grievously injured?”
“Not...that I know of, no.”
“Did we imprison the casters of the Curse?”
“I’m afraid I don’t see what your problem is. We can’t look into every little thing.”
Anthony opened his mouth to protest, to articulate why it was so horrifying that the Imperius Curse was being used for recreation, but he didn’t know what to say, so he closed it. From his cubicle and his accent, Anthony would guess that Hudnall was part of the post-War recruitment drive that brought foreign Aurors into the Ministry to deal with the severe shortages caused by most of the Auror Division being corrupt or dead.
Some had left once the Death Eater Trials had finished or new recruits had qualified, but others, like Hudnall, had stayed on. While they had done important work in rebuilding Wizarding Britain, they hadn’t experienced the horrors of the War firsthand — and they didn’t understand it, not in the same way. Anthony didn’t recognise Hudnall’s name from any of the coverage of the Death Eater Trials, so he wasn’t sure he had even been involved in the immediate aftermath.
How could he explain the feeling that they had failed in some way if it had only been a decade since Anthony himself had been victim to the Imperius Curse, yet there were people mucking around with it for fun? How could he explain the terror of knowing you were utterly powerless?
But...perhaps Hudnall was right. It wasn’t even the point of the case. He couldn’t ask for an inquiry into every single thing that made his skin crawl.