The Snitch of Secrets Three

Ten Aurors

As the train arrived at Hogsmeade station, the weather was horrible. It was raining heavily and there was an icy wind that left the students shivering. They quickly got into carriages, trying their best not to get too wet. James sat in the carriage with the other marauders. They were talking happily but James was looking out the window at the forest. He could see the dementors. There were more than before. They were hovering on the edge of the boundary of the forest. Peter was complaining about his new diet, "seriously – half a grapefruit for breakfast. I don't even like grapefruit!"

Sirius noticed the direction of James' gaze, "What are you… bloody hell!"

Remus saw what they were looking at, "how many do you think there are?"

"Too many," James replied. "Maybe fifty… maybe more."

"Is it just me or are they getting closer?" Peter squeaked nervously.

James nodded, "I think so."

Dinner was quick that night but before the students could go to bed, Professor Dumbledore stood to make a speech, "I have a few announcements to make. As many of you will have noticed – the dementors that have chosen to encamp in our forest have been breeding over the holiday. There are now twice as many of them as there were before the holiday. Both myself and the rest of the staff have decided that for the foreseeable future students will not be allowed outside of the castle without a teacher. If you have a lesson in the grounds – you will wait in the entrance hall for your teacher to collect you. I understand that it will be an inconvenience for you all but it is for your own safety. If any of you wish to spend time in the grounds – there will be designated times of the day when several teachers will be willing to supervise extra-curricular activity outside. There will be a list of times on the notice boards in the common rooms. As for Quidditch – we did consider cancelling this year's tournament, however, it was decided that as long as a teacher or Madam Hooch is present at every practice and practices are not held in the dark then the tournament may continue."

Several students sighed in relief. "As for Hogsmeades trips… The next trip will be cancelled but I cannot say what will happen to the other trips. I hope that this situation will be dealt with quickly so that you can all return to your normal routines. Until then we will be playing host to several friends of mine from the ministry." He pointed towards five people who were sat at the end of the table. They looked particularly serious. James recognised them automatically. They were aurors. They worked for James' father. "Alastor Moody and his team of aurors will be with us for as long as necessary. There are ten of them in total, Professor McGonagall, could you fetch the rest – I believe they are outside."

"Let's introduce our visiting aurors. First there is Alastor Moody," the students watched as the first auror got to his feet. He was slightly older than the other aurors sat at the teachers' table. He had a glass eye and his skin was covered in scars. James recognised him from the many times he had visited his father at the ministry. He was one of Charlus' most trusted employees. "Second, Andrew Sharpe." Sharpe was a friendly looking young man. James knew that he'd only recently finished his auror training. Charlus had had the latest auror graduates over for dinner during the summer and James had had the chance to meet Sharpe. "Third, Alisha Wilson." Alisha was a pretty girl with big brown eyes. She looked very serious. She couldn't be older than twenty-five. "Eduarda Sousa," Eduarda was a Brazilian witch. She smiled happily at the students. James thought she must have been about forty. "Lavinia Greengrass."

"Lavinia Greengrass? Aren't the Greengrass family pure-bloods?" Remus asked.

"Yeah – but according to dad, Lavinia is pretty cool," James told his friends. "She's engaged to the guy next to her – John Macmillian."

"John Macmillian," Dumbledore continued. "Robert McKenna, Alma Malpass, Ivette Watson and Eugene Creel."

"You will treat our visiting aurors with the same level of respect that you show your teachers. You will use their surnames when addressing them. If they ask you to do something you will obey them. I have given them the authority to remove points and give detention to any pupil they see breaking school rules or who disobeys a direct order from them. That is all – you are excused."

The Gryffindors began to stand up and prepare to leave the Great Hall when Professor McGonagall came towards them, "Mr Pettigrew!" Peter sighed when he heard his name. "Your mother wrote to me about your new dietary requirements. I have arranged everything with the house-elves so that you can eat with your friends without breaking your diet."

Peter groaned, "thank you professor."

The third year Gryffindors sat up talking well into the night. They couldn't believe the new safety precautions. They understood that they were necessary but it would be rubbish not being allowed into the grounds without a teacher supervising. "They didn't half look a boring, miserable bunch," Alice complained.

Sirius nodded in agreement. Lily frowned, "surely that's just part of the job – to look slightly aloof?"

James nodded, "yeah – they're meant to be slightly scary. They are the top level of magical law enforcement in the U.K."

"What do you think they will do?" Marlene asked.

"Well – they will probably break into two groups of five," James began to explain. "Each group will do two six hour shifts each day. Two of them will sweep the corridors – not unlike the teachers and prefects – whilst the other three will be outside checking the grounds and maintaining the boarders."

"How do you know this?" Lily asked.

James turned slightly red – but not enough for anyone to notice – and ran a hand through his hair nervously, "when I was little I was terrified that something bad would happen to my dad so every time he went away he'd tell me what the aurors' normal protocol was so that I'd know what he was doing – even if I couldn't know the details of the case."

Lily nodded.

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