(1939-04-09) A Super Secret Spy
Details for A Super Secret Spy
Summary: With Madeline's parents' permission, Rena enlists the help of her young friend for some off-the-record spy work.
Date: 1939/04/09
Location: The Evans Family Farm, Buckinghamshire
Related: The Power of A Pen

The farm in Buckinghamshire is not large - but it's well maintained. Large rows of vegetable sprouts have started to come up in the fields, and closer to the house are the family's animals - chickens running about the yard, a stable with a pair of horses, and a pen containing a few pigs. Madeline is busy scooping soiled bedding from one of the stalls into a wheelbarrow, while nearby Perry chat with a man several years older than him, who bears a rather striking resemblance. Together, they're working at polishing and inspecting the horses' harnesses.

Farm and country life are things to which Rena Lee is not accustomed. In truth, she came from the lowest, seediest part of the London Waterfront as a child; where fresh air and blue skies seem to be non-existent. And, despite her time living in Hogsmeade, the young woman still has a wondering touristy look about her as she enters the farm on foot. She is absolutely NOT dressed for being on a farm and probably ought to have worn boots… Ah well.
Watching her feet a bit and treading carefully, the redhead makes her way toward the barn. Dodging past a particularly irritable looking rooster, Rena smiles and waves her thin handbag cheerfully: "'Hullo!"

"Miss Lee!" Madeline greets Rena brightly. She abandons her pitchfork happily, peeling off her gloves and dashing out to greet the woman - though she stops short, looking embarrassed. "Oh, I must be a mess, fresh from mucking…" she complains, peering down at her work clothes to see how unsightly they must be. They are a bit… used.
The men, meanwhile, both rise from their work and approach at a more sedate pace, Perry greeting Rena with a smile. "Auror Lee. This is my brother, Cecil Evans," he offers, gesturing to the older man who walks with a limp.

"That's alright, Maddie," Rena replies with an easy smile. "Soap is cheap and water is plentiful - as my dad used to say. And most grime comes off that way without a fuss." She doesn't seem to be too terribly concerned about the dirt. There's something good deal more honest and wholesome about farm dirt when compared to London soot and ditch water.
Sobering down slightly as the men approach, Rena's smile remains and her demeanor is extremely polite. Holding out her hand to Cecil, she says quite seriously: "Pleasure to meet you, Mister Evans. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and allowing me to visit 'ere."

"Of course. From what I have heard it's quite serious. And that in the long run it may help…" Cecil glances aside at his daughter, then back to Rena, "/improve/ things?" He shakes her hand first, followed by Perry, while Madeline rocks back and forth from toe to heel, with her hands behind her back.

"It just may, sir," Rena replies quietly. "If - as I explained to your brother - this turns out to be more than a rumor." Again, she is quite cautious to be mindful of the fact that none of this may be true. But, the implications of the situation /if/ true could be monumental.
Turning to Maddie, the young Auror smiles warmly and says: "Maddie, I actually came out 'ere to speak with you, today. Because, you see, I need a favor…" Pausing for thought, she shakes her head and corrects herself: "No, actually, the long and short of it is that I need your 'elp."

That's right… an Auror is asking help from a twelve year old child - strictly off the record and strictly unofficially. But still, what is this world coming to?

"Yes, as we'd discussed." Cecil looks from Rena, towards Madeline with a faint frown as the Auror addresses the girl. Maddie is his only child - the thought that anything could come of her because of this is frightening. But surely no one would be so bold as to harm a child at school…?
"/My/ help?" Madeline asks, sounding surprised, and looking to her father and uncle. "And you've been talking about it? Mum knows too?" she seems truly baffled, as her father nods in confirmation.

Rena nods, still casting a furtive glance at Perry and Cecil. If they object to anything at any point, all they need do is say the word and she ends it right there.
Looking about herself thoughtfully then, she catches sight of some nice clean straw bales stacked nearby and yet to be opened. She moves over to them, motioning Maddie to follow along. Taking a seat on one bale, she waits for Maddie to follow suit and use the other for her "chair" before asking: "What do you know about Rumours, Maddie? I mean, what 'ave your parents taught you about rumours and gossip and the like?"

Madeline follows Rena, plopping onto one of the bales herself, and watching the auror with eager curiosity. "Rumors?" she asks. "Lots of 'em are mean and you shouldn't go repeating stuff like that because it hurts folks," she responds. "Why?" Why would an auror care what /she/ knows about rumors?

"Just so," Rena says, tapping her hand on her knee as she looks on at Maddie quite seriously. "Rumours and gossip aren't just used by kids to be mean to one another. Believe it or not, grownups do it too, sometimes." She attempts to explain without sounding condescending or off-point. "And when grownups do it, it can mean much more serious things than 'urt feelings."
Halting a second, the young woman unclasps her purse and begins to fish something out of it. It appears to be a photograph, but she keeps it to herself for the moment, still: "Your parents probably told you that sometimes… rumours can be spread about people you /don't/ like. But, even when that's the case, they are still gossip and mustn't be taken as truth without proof. You understand me, yea?"

Madeline turns this statement over in her head before nodding her understanding. "Like… like I can't hate Slytherins just because they're Slytherins. Or if someone tells me Alphard Black eats kittens, I shouldn't believe it unless I see it?"
Cecil lets out a sigh, but Perry is trying to stifle a laugh - not entirely successfully.

Rena also has difficulty maintaining her straight-faced expression after the last remark from Madeline. But she masks it well by quickly ducking her head and rubbing the bridge of her nose.
"Exactly," she says at length, once she has recovered. Then, turning the photograph around for Madeline to see, she hands it to the girl. "I got a letter, you see. It 'ad that picture inside, and the letter told me that the ring you see there on the wand belongs to the Magijugend club - like the eye of truth. The letter says that students must 'ave that ring placed on their wands to mark them as members… and that the ring will break the wand of any student who quits the club as punishment."
Pausing again to allow her words to sink in, Rena gives Madeline a moment before continuing: "As terrible as that may sound, it is /just/ a rumour. But, it's very serious, Maddie. And I need to prove one way or the other if it's true or false. I can't do that without 'elp."

Madeline takes the picture, studying it for a moment. She parts her lips to speak - but then Rena is telling her about the rings, her eyes widen. "Breaks your /wand/?" she exclaims. "But- but every witch and wizard has a right to a wand! They told us that on day one, practically! How could they- I mean. Because of a /club/? I knew it was a stupid club!"

Reaching out to touch a hand to Madeline's arm, Rena keeps her demeanor very calm, collected and poised: "Remember that we're talking about rumours." She urges. "This may be nothing but meddlesome gossip that somebody dreamed up because they 'ate 'eadmaster Flint. And we mustn't take it at face value."
Stopping a moment to hopefully let the girl settle and draw a calming breath, Rena watches her carefully before asking: "I don't suppose off'and you know who the boy is in the picture?"

"Oh. Right. Alphard Black eats kittens," Madeline repeats - then suddenly can't help but giggle. "I'm not allowed to start my own rumor when I get back to school, am I?"
"Madeline, this is serious," her father scolds her sternly. "And you are /not/ to start rumors. What would your mother say?"
The girl works to stifle her amusement and put a serious expression back on, as she looks down at the photo in her hand. "It's Lestrange," she explains. "He's Slytherin. He's Professor Lestrange's son - the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?"

Rena chuckles, glancing over at Cecil appreciatively as he admonishes his daughter. All in all, the whole thing is going fairly well… really, it is.
Madeline pegs the identity of the student concisely, and Rena only reacts by nodding. To show emotion or react in any other way might make the situation more tense. "Thank you," is all that she says in reply.
"This is where I need your 'elp. I need a pair of trustworthy eyes /inside/ of the school. Someone I can count on and depend on," Rena says quite seriously, resting her elbows on her knees. "I need /you/ to go where I can't and see what I can't see. If I give you very specific instructions about what I need you to do… can you promise to follow?"

"Yeah?" Madeline asks, her eyes widening as Rena talks about needing her help. She is clearly and immediately enchanted by this plea, and she nods her head eagerly. "Yeah! I mean, yes, of course! I'll help. Promise!"

Rena smiles warmly: "There's lovely, then!" She exclaims, obviously quite pleased, given how she claps her hands together once to show appreciation.
"Now, listen closely…" the Auror says, leaning in to speak in a low tone: "I want you to observe. I want you to keep your eyes out for those rings on the wands of Magijugend members. /If/ you see them, don't ask questions. Don't draw attention to them, and for Merlin's sake, don't say /anything/ about them to anyone. Just be sure that you see them." Stopping for breath, Rena continues carefully: "If it is true and Magijugend members now sport rings on their wands, I want you to write a letter to your Uncle Perry and draw a flower on the paper. However, if it is NOT true, draw a frog. I know that may sound strange, but that way, we will know your answer without you 'aving to say a word that could be read by anyone else."

Madeline looks to her uncle Perry, then back to Rena as the the Auror solemnly lays out the task. "Just watch for them?" she repeats. "I've seen some kids with bands on their wands. I see them in classes, or clubs, or the like," she explains. "I haven't kept track of who, though. Or if they're Magijugend or not - but I've seen them, for sure."

"'Ave you, now… That may change things, a little." Rena murmurs to herself, narrowing her dark eyes slightly and glancing to the side as she thinks. She asked permission to request Madeline do only one thing for her. Does she dare push a little further and alter her request? Anything more than passive observation could garner more danger, and she had honestly hoped to avoid that…
"Maddie," Rena says after some time, "You're a very clever girl. I wouldn't 'ave come to talk to you if you weren't. I'm wondering if we might alter things a bit in the plan. Part of being an Auror means thinking on your toes and changing plans as things 'appen." Furtively, she glances toward Perry and Cecil before going on: "I need to know for certain if ONLY Magijugend members are sporting these bands on their wands. So, my instructions remain the same. If only Magijugend members 'ave the bands - a flower. If not, a frog."

Alter the plan? Cecil frowns, watching Rena sternly - though once she voices the altered plan, he relaxes again. Good. Not much of a change at all.
"Being an auror?" Madeline asks eagerly. "Am I being an auror, then? Do I get a /badge/? Do aurors /have/ badges?" she asks. She's bouncing in her seat, and beaming between the three adults present. "Okay. If I find /any/ wands for someone who don't belong to Magijugend with a band on it - then I send you- I mean uncle Perry - a frog." A frog juggling fire, or walking across a bed of spikes, or something equally ridiculous, she's already decided.

"Yea, Aurors 'ave badges." Rena replies with a wry little smile. "Unfortunately, I'm not acting officially as an Auror right now. I 'ave to prove that these rumors are true before I can do that. But…" she pauses importantly, "I will see what I can do about a badge when all's said and done. After all, you are doing a /very/ important job. And, if it does become an Auror case, that would make you an Honorary Auror." Now there's a grand sounding title for a twelve year old with stars in her eyes.

Honorary Auror? Madeline's eyes go wide with excitement. "That would be great!" she says brightly. "Okay, so, flowers if only the Magijugend have bands. And frogs if other kids do, too." She gets a thoughtful look. "I think I'll put one frog for every kid who's not Magijugend. Because - I mean - what if I find 20 kids in the Magijugend with it, and only /one/ kid who's /not/ in the Magijugend with it? Or!" Here she beams with excitement. "I could put one flower for every kid in Magijugend with it, and one frog for every kid not in the Magijugend with it - and send you a whole tally! I could borrow art supplies from some of my friends in the art club and send uncle Perry a whole picture I made in his letter. You see?"

"Even better!" Rena says, agreeing with Maddie's suggestion. Making a picture out of the whole thing will be far less suspicious than simply doodling inside the margins of a letter home. Then, it will seem as though the girl is merely expressing herself artistically and sending the picture home to her family to enjoy. "That's a clever idea, that is! I knew I could count on you. Just remember… Don't ask questions, don't draw attention to yourself or the wands, and only send word to us with the pictures."
It can't possibly hurt to go over the instructions just one more time before taking her leave of the Perry family.

Madeline nods - and then lets out a giggle. "If I end up sending more than one home - and someone's looking at my mail - they're gonna wonder why I'm so obsessed with flowers and frogs!" She beams at the adults and then looks back to Rena, looking a little dubious before she adds, "I suppose… I can't even tell Adam. Can I?"

Rena rises to her feet and begins dusting the straw off of her clothing. Working busily to straighten herself out, she says calmly: "No, I'm afraid not. Secrecy is the key 'ere. It's not for /my/ sake, but for yours, Maddie. I don't want you to worry about this, but you must understand that telling anyone that you're doing spy work is very, very dangerous. Besides, you're no longer a super-secret spy once your cover is blown."
Rena fixes her gaze on Madeline now, looking quite serious and trying to guage the girl's reaction to the news that she can't tell anyone what she's doing. Not just yet, anyway.

Perry snickers quietly - super-secret spy. He doubts Rena could have picked better words, and this is reflected in the way Madeline suddenly beams. "A super-secret honorary auror spy!" she declares brightly, before getting more serious. "I won't tell anyone," she promises, as she rises to her feet, and starts brushing off her clothes. She stops suddenly. "Oh! What should I draw if I find someone in the Magijugend who /doesn't/ have a band on their wand? Umm… a spider? Flowers for Magijugend that do have it, spiders for Magijugend that don't, and frogs for kids /not/ in Magijugend that have it. That's everything, right?"

Rena finishes setting herself right by straightening her pert little hat and ensuring that it's in place. "Spiders will do nicely. Thank you, Madeline," she then says formally, offering the girl her hand to shake. Just like a grownup… after all, this is grownup business, unfortunately. "I know I can depend on you."
Moving back over to say her farewells to Perry and Cecil, she offers them both a warm, genuine smile: "Please, gentlemen, remember that if you don't want Madeline involved in this, all you need do is say the word and we withdraw it all. Otherwise, thank you for your time, patience and indulgence. We need to find the truth in this situation before something bad 'appens - even if it means being able to say Flint is innocent as the day is long. Truth is what we're after."

Madeline shakes Rena's hand, excited to get back to school and start her /secret mission/. "You'll hold onto the drawing for me?" she asks. "I think I might like to keep it!" A souvenir of her /very first/ spy mission. She beams at Rena excitedly.
Cecil and Perry both shake Rena's hand - and exchange a look. If she thinks there's any stopping Madeline /now/… well.
"Of course," Cecil agrees. "We wouldn't want anything but the truth."
"Hey, speak for yourself," Perry quips, prompting a giggle from Madeline.

Rena grins and replies without hesitation: "I'll keep it, I promise. The office is crowded with wanted posters and notices, but my desk is my own." Here, she gives Madeline a conspiratorial wink. "I've got to be getting back into town, 'owever. Once the badge goes on and I enter the ministry, I'm on duty. Out 'ere… Just a visitor out to see friends."
Flashing a warm smile, she waves her hand lightly and begins heading across the barnyard. "Be seeing you soon. And thanks again!" Rena calls out.

"Bye!" Madeline says brightly. She would walk with Rena as far as the gate, before dashing back to the stable to finish her work. She's a super-secret honorary auror spy! How can it get any better?!

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