(1938-08-27) A Cloud of Secrets
Details for A Cloud of Secrets
Summary: Walter St. Cloud reveals highly sensitive Ministry secrets to Auror Graham Cohen to help with his case.
Date: August 27, 1938
Location: {$location}
Related: Forgotten Shadows

Many weeks have passed since Auror Graham Cohen discovered the mysterious jar at Number Four, Umber Alley. But it isn't so surprising, given that the jar was handed over to the Department of Mysteries. The Unspeakables are notorious for doing things at their own pace, and they aren't exactly forthcoming when they do learn something. But at long last, a memorandum arrived at Graham's desk this afternoon, instructing him to meet with the Chief of Mysteries himself.

The Department of Mysteries can be difficult to navigate, at best. Locating the office of the Chief of Mysteries is a mind-teaser, unto itself. The right doors must be opened at the right time in the right order. Whether this was intentional, or the result of the magic strange forms of magic saturating the department is a matter of debate. But it seems to suit most of the Chiefs of Mysteries, including the current Chief, Walter St. Cloud. But at last, after seemingly turning Graham around a half dozen times, the labyrinthine halls apparently decide they've had their fun, and deposit him in front of an office door. The door would seem very plain, if not for the pane of mist rather than the usual mottled glass, and instead of a name painted on what should be glass, there are several flaming runes, hovering in the mist.

Graham has moved through the halls at a slow pace trying to remember which way he'd been on the last turn, given the last time he was led by an unspeakable. It's much tougher for her to find his bearing this time but finally he finds the door. He reaches out to knock lightly on the door stepping back incase there are intruder charms or something odd which would need to be deactivated.

Within the mist, several pairs of glowing eyes open, peering out at Graham. It lasts only a few seconds, then they close again. With a sudden puffing sound, Graham is showered with brightly coloured confetti exploding out from the mist. There is a sound of footsteps, and suddenly the door opens, revealing a somewhat short man in a pinstriped suit and a bright yellow tie with pink polka-dots. The smile-lines around his eyes and his wild mane of gray hair speak of both his age and his cheerful demeanor. "Goodness," he intones with a slight lisp. "That wasn't supposed to go off until Friday. Terribly sorry. Can I help you?"

The auror steps back as the door's window changes a bit but not before he can be showered in confetti. "Hello, sir I am auror Cohen I was summoned in regards to the jar of memories which I found on my investigation." the others outfit might be comical if it was outside of this odd place and this situation but if he thinks it's funny he doesn't have that look about him. The young man is silent to see what the response will be.

The funny little man's face lights up with a beaming smile, and he gives an excited hop. "Ah, Auror Cohen! Excellent. I'm Walter. Please come in and have a seat. We have things to discuss." He steps back into the office, gesturing invitingly.

Graham is silent nervous might be the wrong word but uneasy at the location and the head of this team of people at that. He watches as he smiles and than hops which breaks the tension. The auror nods at the invitation "Thank you sir of course." he says as he passes finding a seat which he pulls out and sits lightly. He can only wait for the other to join once he does this.

"You must have many questions, Auror." St. Cloud takes his seat behind a strange desk, which rather resembles an enormous puzzle box, with drawers and cabinets that sometimes require reconfiguring a section of the desk to access. Upon the desk are a number of oddities — nick-knacks and strange magical devices, including a billiards 8-ball which Walter accidentally knocks and sends rolling to the floor at Graham's feet. But at the center of his desktop is something familiar: a simple, sealed jar with white wisps floating about inside it.

The young man looks back from checking out the room as he's spoken to. "Yes, sir well really I am hoping that the jars contents advance me further on my case it seems like it's been on going for years rather than months. Not to mention the importance of course." he gives a rueful chuckle at this but continues on. "I will complete the mission all the same." he says with more confidence in his voice as he's sure of this.

St. Cloud clasps his hands and nods firmly. "I have every confidence in you." He picks up the jar, tapping one finger against its glass surface. "As for this receptacle, I have little doubt that it contains many answers. You surmised quite correctly that it contains memories. However, I suspect learning what it has to teach us will be more problematic than simply placing these memories in a pensieve to be viewed. We've concluded that the enchantments upon this jar will only contain them as long as it is sealed. Were we to open it, the memories would seek out their original owners."

Graham behind his professional mask the auror's mind falls at the others news, but he'll continue on all the same. "Thank you I will do my best of course." he ponders a moment this problem not coming up immediately anything. "I know this may seem like an odd question, but it's not really my field of study but i've begun study into the opposite. Would a skilled legilamens be able to read them from the jar?" it is a long shot. "I suppose I should ask if there was a possible answer you've come up with some of the best in the ministry here i'd imagine."

St. Cloud sighs sadly, shaking his head. "A legilimens does not merely 'read' thoughts. Legilimency is so much more complex. Such a wizard explores the mind. It is a journey, not a book." The Chief Unspeakable leans back in his chair, steepling his fingers. "But there is hope yet. You see, these memories are much denser than what one might usually see. I believe that, unlike the memories one might extract for use in a pensieve, these memories were plucked whole from their original mind. That is to say, the person or persons that first thunk these thoughts…thought these thinks… Ahem. Whomever these memories came from can no longer remember them. If we release them, the subject or subjects should regain what was removed."

"I didnt think so, but had to ask." he confirms with the others answer to his question about mind magic. Graham continues listening to the others words, but while he seems to think this is good news the auror is unable to help but wince. "Is there a way to know who they go to? I assume it wont be possible to follow them like a shadow." he asks again not really thinking that this will work, but he continues a follow up question. "I guess if that's not possible there will be symptoms strange behavior confusion and the like?"

St. Clouds lifts his hands in a shrug. "I wish I could answer definitively. I've never observed something like this. I imagine the memories will move fairly quickly, and find physical barriers to be very little hindrance. They could be followed, if you're very fast and quick of wit. How are you at Apparition, Auror Cohen?"

Graham considers the problem, but doesn't come up with anything else so instead answers the question. "It's my preferred choice of transportation, i'd like to think it's a strong skill of mine." he says nodding in appreciation. "I guess it would be worth a try if nothing else maybe can get a general area location to lower the chances that we'll miss the owners." he is silent giving a sigh "It's a bit daunting that we both keep running into this new or perhaps experimental types of magic."

St. Cloud chuckles, nodding gleefully. "Wonderful, isn't it? Now then, you can certainly try to follow the memories. Though I expect there may be multiple owners. But it stands to reason that the majority of them belong to the former occupant of Number Four, Umber Alley. One of my agents was able to find runes carved inside the wall, forming a circle around the hidden space where you found the jar. The magic used showed a true mastery of memory charms, beyond anything I've ever seen. The Mind Division is hard at work trying to decipher it all. But so far, we believe that the spell was selectively removing memories from anyone nearby. So, following the largest collection of memories should reasonably lead you to where you need to be."

The young man gives a smile. "I suppose it's my best choice that I have." Graham listens about the place where he found the jar nodding in understanding "Hm I wonder if that in itself is a clue, I mean would private study be enough to reach this level, or would it take a more structured way like one might receive at the ministry and the like." he says speaking outloud but hard to tell if he's just going over ideas.

"My opinion?" St. Cloud strokes his chin. "Any wizard of sufficient talent, dedication, and resources can equal or exceed what we can do here at the Ministry. It is conceit to assume otherwise. That said, spells of this complexity and power are typically the result of years…no, generations of refinement and research."

Graham thinks about the others words before nodding "You are correct, but the trick is staying one step ahead of course." he gives a small smirk "Dont get me wrong, i'm not crazy enough to believe that there are not better wizards out there. Just speaking in generality's, though that does sound like our Vengals but also like many of the long running families it could be."

Walter St. Cloud's bright expression dims a shade at the mention of the Vengals. "Mmm…indeed. The Vengals have shown a talent for remaining hidden. Mastery of memory magic would be vital for keeping an entire clan of wizards unknown." The Chief of Mysteries lowers his gaze to the jar of memories, his smile fading entirely. Solemnly, he finally speaks again. "Auror Cohen, I think you have more than proven your dedication and ability in this case. It is time that I share something with you that may be of some assistance in your investigation. This information is classified top secret. Therefore, before I share it with you, I require absolute discretion. I would require an Unbreakable Vow."

The auror watches the other nodding at the mention of hiding a family clan of wizards which he's only run into during this case. Graham has learned alot from his investigation but he' drawn back from his thoughts at the more serious tone of the other looking concerned yet still resolved at the end of the proposition he is silent knowing well the consequences of this action. "I will make that vow." he says after he considers needing additional information.

It is only a few minutes before another Unspeakable arrives to serve as the Binder. She stands by, wand in hand, waiting for the other two participants to clasp hands. Walter comes around the desk, offering his hand to Graham. "I wouldn't ask this if it wasn't important. I apologize for the necessity."

Graham sits quietly though he can really only speculate on what he will be told that will require such a dire thing as an unbreakable vow. "I understand the need for secrecy and I will take any information which could allow me to stop others getting hurt." he is sure of his decision and watches as the other unspeakable enters he stands to meet the chief on the other side and does take the offered hand and waits for the binder to speak.

The Binder steps forward, touching her wand tip to their gripped hands. St. Cloud takes a deep breath. "Do you swear that you will not reveal the information I am about to give to you to without my explicit permission?"

The auror looks to the binder as they step forward and place the wand on the pair. Graham listens to the vow as she speaks it his focus returns to the gripped hands but it's the moment of truth and he doesn't hesitate this time. "I swear." he answers the question simply but knowing it's more binding that anything he's learned as of yet.

A fiery ribbon emits from the tip of the Binder's wand, wrapping around the clasped hands to form a bond. St. Cloud nods, "That is all I need. Thank you, Andrea." The Binder nods in return, and excuses herself. Releasing Graham's hand, Walter moves back to his own seat. "Again, I apologize for that. I hope you'll understand when I say what I have to tell you.

As I'm sure you have suspected, the cargo that the Vengals stole from your escort party that fateful night was the artefact known as the 'Heart of Gold.' As you have also viewed the memory once bound into Gabrielle Evans' wand, you are also aware that this was not the first attempt the Vengals made to acquire the Heart."

Graham nods at the others words "I have noticed yes, they seem rather fixated on the object. Not to mention to risk their family coming to light over it with such a public move." the auror says about the abmush in which the heart was stolen. He looks questioningly but is silent to allow the other to speak figuring that the information will come out soon.

St. Cloud picks up one of his many doodads, staring distantly at it, a haunted look passing over his face. "I prayed they would not return. Perhaps I should have been more vigilant. It was 1925 when I first met Jennifer Evans, Gabrielle's mother. She began frequenting my favourite cafe. Of course, I couldn't know at the time that she was assigned to meet me. As you may know, she is a cousin to the Vengals. It seems she had fallen in with them, and been seduced by their promises of ancient power and mysterious secrets. They had learned about the Heart of Gold decades ago, when one of their own became an Unspeakable. He was sacked and Obliviated, of course. But apparently not before he could tell his family about the Heart. Jennifer was their next attempt. She was to get close enough to me to cast a memory charm on me. As you know, Gabrielle's wand once belonged to Jennifer. The memory charm would have implanted the memory in my mind, as sort of a 'hitch-hiker' on the spell. You see, the Muggle woman in the memory that the Vengals had kidnapped…was my sister."

The auror watches the other silently knowing if it's this important it probably is hard to dredge up memories. Graham nods as he begins to speak "Yes Miss Evans wished for me to try and help with the mystery of her mother, but i'm afraid the information she did find wasn't what she hoped." he says with a sigh letting the other speak more. "So that was the tasked she turned against them for?" he asks the last part gets a concerned look. "I am sorry to hear that." he says at last his mouth turning down in frown.

The Chief of Mysteries nods solemnly, his usual vim and cheerfulness masked under a shadow of muted grief. "I wasn't the Chief of Mysteries then, but I was fairly well placed in the Love Division, so I had access to the Heart. That was Jennifer's mission, to get close enough to me to subtly impart the Vengals' message to me. But Jennifer sensed something was very wrong, and viewed the memory for herself. Bless her, she came to warn me, and begged me to play along until the M.L.E. could locate my sister. But obviously, the Vengals realized she had betrayed them. I have no doubt that the fire that killed Gabrielle's parents was caused by them. They must have also believed that Jennifer's wand was destroyed. How they discovered that it still exists, I do not know. By some miracle, they left my sister alive, though Obliviated to cover their tracks. After that, they simply vanished. Over the last thirteen years, all traces of them have simply evaporated. They have so completely erased themselves from history that they may as well not exist as far as most of the wizarding world is concerned."

Graham sighs once more and nods "I have run into that as well they are buried, besides the one who threatened Miss Evans, i've only been able to find one other from the clan." he nods at the information "I've long suspected them for the fire as well, but they must have done it in such a way which couldn't be traced." he says though he's silent thinking a moment "I must ask you something I would keep my word of silence vow or not, but is there any of this which I may explain to Miss Evans maybe help her get passed her past?" he pauses "The Vengals seem to know a lot which they shouldnt such as when the heart was being moved. I am still looking into how they knew."

"They've had a plant in the Ministry before. Surely they could do it again, especially given how few of us even know of their existence." Walter takes a slow breath, his thoughts nearly visible on his face. "You may tell Gabrielle Evans what her mother did. Jennifer Evans died a hero. My sister is alive because of her. Whatever lines she may have teetered on in her time with the Vengals, she never crossed into true villainy. Gabrielle should know that. Do not reveal my sister's identity, however. I have worked for thirteen years to shield her from any further trauma. It is best that she remain unaware of her own connection to these events, and therefore everyone else should remain ignorant of it, too."

"That should be enough to ease her thoughts I hope, i've never met anyone student or adult who worries and carries so much needlessly on her shoulders than that one." Graham says able to give a faint smile but it's not really a moment for it. "I agree discression is important here, can I ask last time how was the mole caught?" he may be able to sue this in his present quest to find them out.

"He apparently tried to steal something. Not the Heart of Gold, but I suspect what he did try to take would have been part of a plot to acquire the Heart." St. Cloud takes a deep breath, shutting his eye for a moment and allowing his smile to return. Reinvigorated, he opens his eyes and rat-a-tat-tats on the desk with is fingertips. "I wish we knew what they wanted it for. I'm sure it can't be good. But I'm guessing that whatever it is, their plan isn't quite complete, or we'd have heard something new by now. It is imperative that we locate and retrieve the Heart as soon as possible."

Graham nods "I agree no good can come of their plans." the auror says shaking his head at the thought of what they may have in store. He can only hope that if the person who's in on it this time slips up and is caught again. "I will do my best to bring an end to this, I suppose if there is nothing else you think I might need I should try to follow those memories and see where i'm led to." it seems like a hard task.

St. Cloud rises from his seat. "We should do exactly that. This is, of course, potentially problematic. If the memories should pass through Muggle territory, you will have a much more difficult time Apparating without being seen. I suggest we should release them outdoors, preferable someplace away from Muggle eyes. Perhaps Diagon Alley."

"I agree, and the night will help a little bit so sooner the better." Graham says thinking of the potential problems included with this idea but if it's all they have than it's what must be done. "Thank you for your help and I hopefully this is the beginning of the end for this matter once and for all."


The hour is late, though there are still a few stragglers along Diagon Alley. Walter St. Cloud stands in the middle of the street, holding a jar filled with faintly glowing white wisps. He glances over to the young man with him. "Are you ready? They may move very fast."

Graham is able to give a smirk now as they are actually standing in the night air and he is thinking about what he's going to try to do. He reaches to his sleeve producing his wand, it's hard to tell if he'll need it for anything else while chasing down the memories. "Ready as I belive one can be for such a thing i'm afraid." he says "Since i'll have to move quickly, thank you again for meeting with me." he offers the other.

St. Cloud nods and gives Graham an exaggerated salute. "Godspeed, my good man." With that, he draws his own wand, pointing it at the jar. "Incendio," he incants, skillfully summoning a small flame to melt the wax sealing the jar's lid. A simple twist, and the lid comes off with a POP!

Like a swarm of fireflies, the wispy white memories in the jar explode out into the night air. For a moment, they swirl into a whirlwind overhead, and then suddenly disperse. The Auror has just enough time to see a great mass of them heading due southwest along the street, before one of the memories breaks off, and dives right at him.

Graham is taken back by the memory which flies right at him. He is trying to judge where the others are going and how fast this one is moving. It's a split second decision where he's struck by the memory and than takes motion turning on the spot to see if he can catch up to the other memories down the alley way.

With a loud CRACK, Graham disapparates, reapparing far down the street. But with his sudden appearance, his head is suddenly swimming. He can vague make out the massive wave of memories as they pass through the brick wall that separates Diagon Alley from the Leaky Cauldron, but then his world is a blur.

Events of the past swim through Graham's mind. He is back in Number Four, Umber Alley. But the home is furnished this time…well, more furnished. It's still not exactly a honeymoon suite. He is moving through the house, investigating the rooms systematically, as he was trained. But then he hears muffled voices. Tracking the source, they seem to be coming from upstairs. Carefully, he creeps up the steps, wand at the ready. As he climbs, the voices become more distinct, a man and a woman.

MAN: "It's still here, and the circle is intact."

WOMAN: "So…what does that mean?"

MAN (sounding annoyed): "It means that Mr. Gastley's memories of us are safely entrapped within."

WOMAN:"Okay…so why don't we take it with us and keep it safe?"

MAN (sighing): "As long as Gastley lives here, removing it would break the spell, and he'd remember everything he ever saw us -…someone's here!"

Before Graham had a chance to act, an Ascending Charm lifting him into view, and a magical battle began. Graham is certainly no slouch, but one against two is hardly fair, and the man was clearly an accomplished duelist.

Soon Graham was staggering on the floor, partially stunned. Realizing they'd likely use whatever memory magic they'd used on Gastley on him, he popped off his button and flicked it under a torn up piece of paper on the floor — a clue to himself. His last ditch Shield Charm may have slowed the hex from the man in the dark, tattered robe, but it couldn't stop it entirely.

After that, the memory fades back into the recesses of Graham's mind, back home where it belongs like any other memory.

Graham spins and feels the sensation he's grown accustomed to of being smashed through a straw before he pops into existence further down the alley way. He looks up to see the memory pass through the bricks towards the Leaky Cauldron. He's about to rush forward but doesn't get the chance. The vision hits him and it takes all he has just not to fall over though likely he is almost sleep walking as he relives his memory. He knows now who's memories they are, but not where that person is. He gathers his feet and prepares to at least follow till he runs out of clues.

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