(1939-07-12) Suspension
Details for Suspension
Summary: Worthington calls Rena into his office after the Army of Truth fiasco to have a stern word.
Date: 1939-07-12
Location: Law Enforcement
Related: Army of Truth Q & A

There has been a palpable tension in the Auror Office since Gordon Worthington returned from a few days away on some confidential business. The normally easy-going Chief Auror has been more rigid and reclusive than usual, and the impact is definitely felt among his subordinates.

It is only moments after Auror Lee steps into the office this morning that Worthington's door opens. The Chief's eyes lock with Rena's, and his hand come up in a terse, silent beckoning gesture before he disappears back into his office.

It's worse than being called to the front of the stage by an angry director who's told you what your dance steps and song lines are for the fifteenth time. It's worse than being motioned to the front of the room by an angry teacher who caught you passing notes in potions class. In some ways, it feels even worse than being summoned by one's parent to a back room after having been caught in some infraction of the rules… Little wonder several other Aurors in the vicinity cast glances in Rena's direction that seem to say: "Now you're going to catch it, Lee."
As for the woman herself, the small redhead just stands there, wide-eyed and expressionless like a dummy. It takes several seconds for her feet to begin to move and carry her to the chief's door - but it's plain that her heart isn't in it.
Upon arrival, Rena swallows just once after slipping past the entry, and she asks in a very small voice: "You wanted to see me, sir?"

Worthington sits behind his desk, his forehead pressed to the heels of his hands, eyes closed. "Shut the door," he commands, "and sit." He lowers his hands, opening his eyes to set his piercing gaze upon her. His normally even, calm expression is replaced by a cool, almost icy stare. "I assume you have inkling as to why I called you in here."

Again, for just a moment, Rena remains quite frozen in place. She has the distinct attitude of a schoolgirl who's been told to stand with her toes perfectly lined up with a crack in the floor, hands folded demure before and her posture perfect. The chief's obvious irritation is frightening, and she realizes that she is scarcely breathing.
Very quietly, she closes the door as ordered; and just as silently, she moves to the chair in front of his desk. Slowly taking the seat, she considers his question with all due caution. He might be angry at the commotion she caused by being stabbed in Umber Alley in the presence of a Werewolf… but, that's probably wishful thinking on her part.
"Be-because… of the Army of Truth, rally, sir?" Rena asks, keeping her eyes directed at Worthington. It takes some effort to force her gaze to remain in place; but, she knows that she is obligated to do so - if only out of respect.

"Because…of the Army of Truth…rally," he says slowly. "Lee, I have been patient with you. I have overlooked a great many questionable actions on your part. I have trusted you to know what you're doing, and to learn from your mistakes. You have great potential as an Auror. But there is only so much that I can shield you from the consequences of your actions before it becomes detrimental to do so." He scratches his eyebrow pensively. "I had a meeting this morning with Commissioner Ogden. He is, suffice to say, not pleased."

Rena can only listen to Worthington in silence. She doesn't dare speak out of turn or interrupt her superior. She just sits there with a solemn expression, fighting against the urge to hang her head in shame… a battle that she rapidly loses by the time that the chief finishes speaking. It's bad enough when your boss is angry with you - but far worse when your boss's boss is angry, too.
Her shoulders droop, and her gaze finally drops away from his pointedly. Unlike some who might become angry and rise to their own defense, she offers nothing but a contrite little nod of acknowledgement. She isn't going to say anything to defend her actions unless given permission to do so. However, cutting through the heavy silence, she does deem it necessary to ask: "Shall I hand in my badge, sir?" It must be serious if Rena is pronouncing her H's correctly.

Worthington sighs heavily. "For the love of Merlin, Lee. No. I'm not letting you hand in your badge. You are, however, suspended for a week. And this Army of Truth business must end. You will issue a public statement, explaining that you were caught off your guard by Moody's little sideshow. Ogden will be issuing a ban on any M.L.E. personnel associating with the Army. Lee…you have to understand, Ogden has labelled this group a terror organisation. Do not forget that these are the people behind the Diagon Alley riot. They have called for, and inflicted violence against innocent people. They live by Gellert Grindelwald's manifesto, for Hades sake. You're Muggle-born. They hate you, Rena."

Still scarcely able to make herself breathe, Worthington's further chiding causes the young woman to cringe faintly like someone who is expecting a slap on the face. Of course, no slap ever comes, and she begins to ease back into looking at the man across from her with a calm, but sad expression.
"I… I had my reasons, sir," she tries to explain. She isn't good at trying to account for some of her more seemingly idiotic actions. They seem like good ideas in her head, but so often, they just become moronic whenever she tries to put them into words. "I wanted to help… because they are d-dangerous," she stammers. Oh, how she wishes she wouldn't stammer her words when she gets upset. "I-if we don't have any means of keeping an eye on what they're doing from the inside, th-then they might do something dreadful and we'd find out when it's too late to something to prevent it."
Rena realizes that she is now openly trembling, and she clasps one hand over the other in her lap tightly in a poor attempt at concealing the tremors. "I w-was caught off guard. And I t-tried to think on my feet. Otherwise I would have come to you, first, as it has been on my mind for a while."

Worthington is not a callous man, and Rena's reaction softens his stern frown. "I know exactly what you were trying to do. Infiltration. It wouldn't be the first time we've placed an Auror undercover. But that's part of the problem. This isn't undercover. It is a bold, public statement declaring an Auror's allegiance to a group that wants to conquer Mugglekind. Besides which — and I mean no offence by this — but you're not suited for that kind of mission, Lee. Subtlety…well, let's just say that you have other strengths."

Rena isn't offended by Worthington's remark about her lack of subtlety. Anyone who knows the girl knows that she's about as subtle as a brick to the face. Maybe it all goes back to spending time as a chorus girl and being on stage. One has to sing out and be as bold as possible, or nobody notices you… even if you happen to be a redhead.
"I know, sir…" She begins, swallowing down the urgent desire to cry. It's hard for her to let go of the idea of what she was trying to do, when she was so sure it /might/ just work and do some good in all this mess. "But… isn't it better to use someone who seems completely and utterly bold and foolish? If they think I'm as stupid as I seem, they're less likely to suspect me than someone who's meant to act the part of one of them wholeheartedly?" It's rather shocking that Rena openly admits that she probably seems very stupid to people on the outside looking in. "If someone subtle went in with an attitude of a die-hard supporter instead of an idiot who's put their neck in a noose… wouldn't it be more suspicious?"

"First of all, anyone that knows you knows that you're anything but stupid. So let's have no more of that rubbish." Without a word, the Chief Auror takes a handkerchief from his robe pocket, and sets it on the far side of his desk, near Rena. "Second, while I understand your thinking, I don't agree with it. These people are fanatics. Die-hard supporters are exactly what they are looking for. Moody knows fully that you are not one of his purist soldiers. He is using you to gain legitimacy, and that isn't something we can let him have easily. Nor can the department afford the black eye that comes with one of its own being attached to these gangsters."

It's like admitting that she's lost the battle, but Rena finally reaches out to take the handkerchief placed on the desk for her to use. She still tries very hard not to let any tears break through, but she can't help saying: "I know what you say is true, sir - but… but I thought that…"
Failing and fading fast, Rena's gaze drops away from Worthington completely. "I only wanted to do some genuine good in this mess. Moody wants to use me. I thought it'd be best to let him think that he could, and that way the Ministry would have someone inside to tell them exactly what's going on. I know the risk is terrible, but I thought that…" Oh, what does it matter what she thought or thinks?
"Nobody listens to me, sir," Rena says suddenly. "Our country can't fight two wars. I'm muggleborn, and I see things that most halfbloods and purebloods don't even pay attention to. I'm scared - I'm bloody scared of what Grindelwald is going to do if our country is cut into pieces with Wizards and Witches who can do some /real/ good if things come to war hiding behind their damn precious veil of secrecy. What if Mister Hitler and Grindelwald are already like that?" She asks, crossing one finger over the other with an angry glint in her eyes. "We're already too late. And nobody seems to be able to come to any kind of agreement. We're just as stuck in the mud with the Unity Party, the Ministry and the Army of Truth as ever we were. If the Truthers decide to cause more chaos and in-fighting…"

What's the use? Rena knows she's speaking completely out of line, and she falls back, quickly resuming an appolgetic attitude. "I'm sorry, sir. I shouldn't 'ave said all that."

Worthington sighs with mild exasperation. "Lee, you're an Auror, not a politician. Your duty is to protect the people from those like the Army of Truth. Lest I remind you that there is credible evidence to link them and Grindelwald to the Dark Arts. I do want you investigating them. But this isn't the way. They won't let you anywhere near their secrets. They even shuffled you off to that subdivision…what was it? The something List? They are playing you, Lee. I know you wanted to do some good, and you can. As an Auror. At least…once your suspension is up," he adds apologetically.

"You 'ave bigger problems, closer to 'ome than you think," Rena says with some irritation as she hastily dabs away any signs of tears making their escape. "I hesitated to say anything about this because nobody's supposed to touch Hogwarts with a twenty-nine-and-a-half foot pole. But what've I got to lose now, since I'll be gone a week and I'm on thin ice anyway?"
Lowering the crumpled handkerchief, Rena draws herself up and pointedly says: "There is something very bad happening at that school. Magijuggend students are marking their wands with an iron ring - which you know damn good and well is dangerous to begin with. No other students are doing it - so it isn't a fad. Unfortunately, I 'ave no way of proving or disproving the other information because I'm not allowed to investigate anything school-related. But the information I've been given states that these students are made to sign magical contracts with Professor Flint which bind these rings to their wands. And furthermore, the rings will cause the wands to break if the child disobeys the rules of the contract."
Falling silent for a moment, Rena begins to un-crumple and fold up the handkerchief neatly in her lap. "I've said what I said, and you can lambaste me for that too, if you must. Since nobody is allowed to look into it officially, nobody will ever know until it's too late. If by some chance I can't come back to the office when all's said and done, at least /you/ know about it now."

Worthington doesn't look entirely surprised when she mentions Hogwarts. But as she goes on to explain her meaning, his brow crinkled deeper and deeper with growing concern. When she is finished, he sits silently for a time, considering. "This information you've been given…it's from a reliable source?" He refrains from inquiring about the source itself, as of yet. He understands all too well that an Auror must sometimes protect their informants.

"The proof of the validity of the claim about the bands being placed ONLY on Magijuggend students is absolutely reliable, sir," Rena replies without a hint of hesitation. She does not, however, mention the fact that she recruited a child to observe these things for her from the inside of the school. That was a hard thing to do, and it went deeply against her principles of keeping children out of adult affairs.
"As to the letter, sir… I wish I knew. I found it on my desk several months ago, waiting for me, here. I don't know how it got here, I don't know who delivered it… or how they got into the office to deliver it so quietly and go unnoticed. I've not mentioned it because I didn't want to cause controversy. But, it seems I can't draw breath without doing that anyway."

Worthington strokes his chin thoughtfully. "I'm glad you came to me with this. You're right, we can't investigate Hogwarts. Not without the permission of the Headmaster or the Governors, and something tells me we're not likely to get that. Of course, right now all of those Magijugend students are outside of Hogwarts, and there is no regulation against questioning them now."

"Yes, sir. Arthur… Mister Nightengale," Rena corrects herself quickly with a faint blush, "He said that I just needed to be patient for school to be let out so that the students might be approached outside of Hogwarts." Shifting a little in her chair, the young woman continues: "I wanted to be sure it wasn't all just a farce or a lie to begin with before I told you about it, because it could've all just been rumors."
Pausing again, Rena's expression changes to one of realizing that she's an idiot, and she quickly unclasps the small handbag she always seems to keep with her at all times. Some witches can't be without their wands. Rena can't be without her purse. "This is the letter, sir." She says, quickly withdrawing a slightly rumpled envelope. "Picture included. It's the current Dark Defense teacher's little boy you see there."

Worthington reaches across the desk to take the envelope, examining the contents. "So this is Oberon Lestrange. If he's anything like his father, he'll be a formiddable wizard one day. I would probably not advise questioning this one. Lestrange is close to Sirius Black, who is close to Gervaise Flint. Look for fringe members of the Magijugend. Preferably those not from one of these purest-of-the-pure-blood families, if they exist." He snaps his fingers, pointing at Rena in an a-ha moment. "You said they sign a contract. If we can get our hands on one of those documents, it would be investigative gold."

Rena's expression shifts quickly from hopeful… back to something more akin to hopeless. Sinking back in her chair a little, the young woman bites her lower lip nervously before replying: "It would, sir - but the contracts are in the possession of Professor Flint." Despite her audacity and complete lack of care about personal safety, that prospect throws the light of terror into Rena's eyes like nothing else has in a good long while. "And it'd be easy getting one away from him. Easy, like peeling a turtle." Ah, sarcasm…
"Also, there's the problem of me 'aving to question pure-bloods." Rena continues hesitantly thereafter, "I won't deny it wasn't in the back of my mind that being involved with the Army of Truth mighn't lend me a little credibility. Of course, I see now that it wouldn't. Even if I wasn't being made to withdraw."

"And Flint will probably have them locked away at Hogwarts. Damn it." Worthington sits back in his chair, gazing distantly as he thinks. "There is one way to bypass the Board of Governors and grant us access to Hogwarts. It would require a warrant approved by the Wizengamot. But we'll have to present them with very compelling evidence for them to approve such a thing. It hasn't been done is probably a century or more." His eyes fix on Rena. "Bring me something, Lee. Whatever it takes. These are children being dragged into a war. Do what you have to do, but get me something that will sway the Wizengamot."

"Well, I 'ave a whole week to think on it." Rena says with an utter lack of malice or dissatisfaction. In fact, she even manages a little smile.
Always one to try and look at the bright side of a bad situation, she is forever searching for that silver lining in the clouds. To tell the truth, she seems to see it as a good thing now that she's been kicked out of the office for a full seven days. "In that amount of time, I should be able to dredge something up in a brainstorm… I've got to."
Now that her mind is becoming quickly occupied with other things, she begins to from the seat to leave without thinking. Then, remembering that she's being rude, she stops herself and apologizes: "I'm sorry, sir. I forgot you 'adn't dismissed me, yet." This is followed by a cringe, and she adds: "Oh 'ell, I also forgot I 'ave to make that statement."

Worthington cannot help a little chuckle. "It's fine. Dismissed. As for the statement, a letter will do. Send it my way for approval, and we'll send one copy to Mr. Moody, and one to the Daily Prophet. Oh, and Lee?"

Rena rises from her chair as soon as the chief says "dismissed." She is relieved to know that she doesn't have to do a public speech (for once) on this matter. Even she can reach a limit where her embarrassment is concerned.
Hearing her name again, the young woman pauses with her hand resting lightly on the doorknob. "Yes, sir?" She asks, slightly anxious as she turns to look back at Worthington.

Worthington smiles, his usual calm, companionable demeanor shining through. "Take at least a couple of days to just relax. Alright?"

Well, she wasn't expecting that…

Recovering from her anxiety takes a moment or two; however, Rena responds at last with a warm and genuine smile: "Thank you, sir. I will." It won't be easy, but, for her sanity's sake, she had better take Worthington's advice to heart. If she doesn't, someone is going to have her committed to the mental ward at St. Mungo's - and soon.

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