The Department of Magic
From the Jabberwocky Fanfiction Company
Chapter One: The Summer of 95
1994 had been a rough year for the United States Department of Magic. About fifty layoffs in all its bureaus, major reshuffling of employees, and, worst of all in Auror Alonso Person's opinion, there was a Democrat sitting in the Oval Office. The Department had always had difficulty convincing Democrats to keep the existence of the wizarding community a secret. According to Secretary of Magic Jeremiah Darkh, Clinton had taken half an hour simply to accept the fact that witches and wizards existed.
1995 was a new year, but to Alonso it seemed like very little, if anything, was getting better. A sense of darkness hung over everything these days. It was as if the whole of the wizarding world was headed into a dark new era.
Alonso was a greenhorn in the Auror offices of the Department. At the moment, he was sitting in the office of his partner, Albert Fitsimmons. Albert was head of the Auror offices, and Under-Secretary to Jeremiah Darkh. In some ways, it was like Alonso was Albert's apprentice - almost everything Alonso had learned since joining the force, Albert had taught him.
Alonso was somewhat short, with pale skin, red, hair, and a mess of freckles splattered across his face. His mouth was often puckered up in contemplation. He wore tweed suits that were complemented by different ties depending on the days of the week. People were often surprised to discover that Alonso was only 19, fresh out of school.
Alonso fiddled with his wand. It was elegantly carved and regal-looking - mountain juniper wood, ten inches, with a core of dragon heartstring. Rune-like patterns were etched into the wand, making it look ancient.
Alonso and Albert were watching the opening game of the regular US Quidditch season, which was playing on the small television Albert kept on his desk. The match was between the Sweetwater All-Stars from Albert's home state of Texas and the Cape Cod Crayfish from Massachusetts.
"Fascinating invention, television," Albert murmured. On the screen, the Crayfish Seeker Martin Habitual plucked the elusive and fast-flying Golden Snitch from midair, earning his team 150 points and ending the game; the final score was 180-80. The Crayfish had, for lack of a better word, creamed the competition.
Albert waved his wand - elm with wendigo bone, 11 inches - and the television switched off. "You have to admire Muggles," Albert noted, using a term that referred to people who did not possess magical blood - "ordinary" humans. "Able to not only invent an equivalent of our photography technology, but refine it as well, adding sound... their capacity for innovation knows no bounds."
"I suppose," Alonso shrugged. He'd never much thought about Muggles, being a pure-blood wizard. He'd lived his entire life within the wizarding world, unlike Albert, who was a half-blood - with a Muggle parent and a magical one.
"Anyway," Albert continued, "excellent match, eh?" He smiled. "The season's off to a good start. Who are you pulling for this year, Alonso?"
"Hometown pride," Alonso said with a chuckle. "Boston Silversmiths, all the way."
Albert nodded. "If you ask me," he said, "the teams to watch this season are the Austin Oddballs and Flagstaff Fireballs. The Oddballs got some great players with the draft, and the Fireballs have a new coach, Sylvester McCoy. He's a big name in the Quidditch scene. The British Quidditch scene." He gave Alonso one of his famous coy grins. Albert was a lanky man with shaggy, unkempt brown hair and gleaming blue eyes. Like Alonso, he was fond of ties, but he rarely if ever wore suits. He claimed that they were itchy and uncomfortable.
Alonso was about to respond when fellow Auror Piper Valour poked her head into the office.
"Piper!" Albert said with a smile. "What can I do for you?"
"Secretary Darkh is looking for you, Al," Piper said. "Says it's urgent."
Albert nodded. "Right. Better come with me, Junior."
Albert always called Alonso "Junior." It annoyed Alonso, but Albert wouldn't stop doing it, no matter how much he asked the older wizard to do so.
Jeremiah Darkh's office was located at the top floor of the Department of Magic headquarter building in New York City. The Auror offices were located on the fourth. To reach Darkh's office, Alonso and Albert had to take a high-speed elevator. A tinny Muzak version of some song by Snapped Wand wafted out of the elevator's speakers as it rocketed upwards.
Finally, there was a small ding, and the elevator doors swung open. Alonso and Albert stepped out, and entered Darkh's office.
Darkh looked like a grizzled war veteran. He had shaved his head, so that it was bald and shiny. His face was covered in scars and wrinkles, making him look older than he was. He seemed to always wear a frown, no matter the occasion.
Today, his frown was particularly pronounced, so Alonso knew something very bad had happened.
"What is it, Jerry?" Albert asked, using a nickname Darkh allowed only him to use.
"I've gotten word from Albus, Albert," Darkh said grimly. Albert's grin faded.
"Albus?" Alonso inquired. "Albus who?"
"Dumbledore," Albert replied.
Alonso's eyes widened. There wasn't a witch or wizard alive who hadn't heard of Albus Dumbledore, who defeated the Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in 1945 and served as headmaster of Hogwarts, the preeminent British wizarding school. He was perhaps the world's most famous wizard.
"What did he say?" Albert asked the Secretary.
Darkh took a deep breath. "It's happened, he finally said. "Voldemort has returned."
Alonso gulped. Voldemort, or as the British superstitiously referred to him, "You-Know-Who," was the most powerful Dark wizard who had ever lived. He had disappeared almost fifteen years ago, but now, it seemed, he was back.
"Have you gotten in touch with the Ministry?" Albert asked, referring to the Department's British equivalent.
Darkh nodded. "I just had a chat with the Minister, Fudge. His advice is to completely ignore everything Dumbledore said."
Albert nodded. "Right. So, we're assuming he's telling the truth, then."
Alonso was confused. "Why's that?" he asked.
"If I had to choose between trusting Fudge and trusting Dumbledore," Darkh said, "I'd choose Dumbledore. Fudge is the single most incompetent man I've ever seen. He's all about appearances, that man."
Darkh coughed. "Albus also said," he added, "that he was putting the Order back together."
"The Order?" Alonso repeated. "The Order of the Phoenix?"
The Order of the Phoenix was an organization dedicated to combating Voldemort. They had been crucial the last time Voldemort had been in power.
"The same," Albert nodded. "Jerry and I traveled overseas to lend a hand to them last time. Dumbledore doesn't expect us to come back to the Order, does he?"
Darkh shook his head. "No, but he reccomends setting up a task force to keep America safe from Death Eater invasion. I'm putting one together right now, and I'd like you to head it."
"I'll do it," Albert replied immediately. "But... only if Junior here can be on the team."
Alonso was startled. "But... sir, I'm just a new recruit. I'm not experienced enough for-"
"I think you're good enough for the team," Albert interrupted, "so I want you on it."
"I'll allow it," Darkh said. "I'll send the full roster to you by owl in the next few days, along with some recommendations for your first course of action."
Albert gave Darkh a salute. "Yes sir, chief," he said. He turned to Alonso. "Come on, Junior. We have work to do."
Alonso nodded and followed his partner. One thing was sure: a new era had begun in the wizarding world. Only time would tell how it would play out.