Everyone knows that Edinburgh is a city. Not everyone knows that it is also two towns.
The castle sits atop the rocky crag called, with typical pragmatism, Castle Rock. It perches atop the highest point of the crag and looks down on everything. Adjacent to it, tumbling down the spine of the crag towards the sprawling plain below, is the Old Town. The maze of tall stone buildings follow a medieval street pattern and all thrust their way skyward; each attempting to achieve primacy over their neighbours. But no matter how hard they try, these buildings lie subservient to the castle. The Georgian splendour of the New Town, little more than two centuries old, lies on the plain at the base of the crag. Although it is looked down on by its imposing old neighbours, the New Town’s stylish splendour cannot be ignored.
Not far from the base of the Castle Rock lies a small alley which Muggles do not notice. The alley lies on an uneasy border, not quite within the Old Town nor entirely comfortable in the New. At the end of this alley stands a gate which only magical folk can see. Beyond the gate lies Side Way, a long cobbled street containing an inn (The Wand and Thistle) and shops by the dozen. Halfway along this street—which despite its apparent size does not appear on any Muggle maps of the city—stands an austere granite building. The sign and crest above the door to this imposing stone structure combine to inform ignorant visitors that they have found the location of ‘The Ministry of Magic: Scottish Office’.
In a windowless, white-walled basement room of the Scottish Office a young man lay prone on the floor. He was lean and lanky, but otherwise rather nondescript. His hair was an ordinary dark-brown colour and his eyes were an average sort of brown, too. Usually, he was remarkably unremarkable, in both appearance and behaviour. Now, however, his actions were far from normal.
The young man, Under-Bailiff Mark Moon, was making involuntary flailing movements. His muscles were twitching uncontrollably; it was as if they believed that they could flee the pain coursing through them simply by moving rapidly. They could not.
Mark’s bones were on fire. As the pain in his limbs gradually crept away from intolerable and cautiously edged towards excruciating, the Sheriff’s recent words rang in his ears, as did his own optimistic, and wholly inaccurate, response.
“They have specifically asked for you first, Bailiff Moon, because you’re the youngest. No one will blame you if you leave and go into hiding.”
“I’ll be fine, Sir. After all, they aren’t going to subject me to an Unforgivable Curse inside a Ministry building, are they?”
The pain receded further, and Mark prepared himself for more questions from his interrogator. As he did so several much more mundane sensations slowly returned to his body. He discovered that his mouth was filled with the sharp metallic taste of blood. His tongue was bloated, bruised and torn; he must have bitten it. The last Cruciatus Curse had been longer and more powerful than the others. He’d been crying, too.
‘I will ask you again,’ snarled Jugson, his ruddy face contorted in hate. ‘Why has the Scottish Office failed to arrest any of those Mudblood thieves of magic? Madam Umbridge demands answers!’
‘Ah dinnae ken,’ mumbled Mark, trying to hide his lie within a thickened accent.
‘You don’t know? You don’t know how thirty-eight people at addresses across Scotland escaped, or fled before your office arrived? You couldn’t arrest any of them?’ Jugson sneered. ‘That’s not simply incompetence! That is collusion with the enemy, sedition, and you’ll pay for it.’
‘We caught one,’ Mark murmured.
‘One!’ screamed Jugson, spittle flying from his mouth as his anger approached apoplexy. ‘And that was the day after I arrived here to investigate! Tell me the truth! This office is corrupt, isn’t it? The entire Scottish Law Office is actively working against the Minister in London, ignoring official Ministerial decrees and orders. You’re just like those Welsh scum. We’ll close you down, just like Wales! Who is responsible for this treason? Who is your master?’ He raised his wand again.
Through his tears and pain, Mark noticed that the door to the interrogation room had been opened. He knew then that he would not be suffering for much longer.
God had entered the room, and he’d brought the Fiscal with him.
‘I am in charge, Mr Jugson,’ God spoke in slow, deliberate tones. ‘I am the High Advocate for Scotland. My name is Godfrey Griffon.’
Tall, grey bearded and white robed, the High Advocate, Godfrey “God” Griffon spoke softly, but with commanding force. ‘This is the Procurator Fiscal, Madam Quarrell.’ He nodded to the small, round, elderly lady standing at his side.
‘You are interfering with an official Ministry interrogation!’ Jugson spat contemptuously. ‘Get out, or you’ll be next!’
‘I don’t think so, Mr Jugson. We have just witnessed you using an Unforgiveable Curse, which is an offence contrary to the Common Law of Scotland,’ the Fiscal said quietly. She spoke very precisely and used the formal words preceding an arrest. Although the Fiscal, Edna Quarrell, was a tiny, plump and rosy-cheeked woman who looked like everyone’s favourite Granny, every Law Officer in Scotland was utterly terrified of her.
‘What?’ Jugson screamed in disbelief. ‘I…’
He was suddenly silenced as he hastily pulled up the sleeve of his robes, revealing his burning Dark Mark.
‘Och, I forgot to tell you,’ said God, his insincere apology dripped with sarcasm as he stared at the Death Eater’s forearm. ‘Potterwatch has been broadcasting the news for a wee while now. Apparently Harry Potter is at Hogwarts. The High Sheriff, the Sheriffs and Bailiffs of Scotland are assembling upstairs, ready to leave for the school. It lies within our jurisdiction after all. There are likely to be a lot of people there who escaped from Azkaban, which is also in our jurisdiction. We intend to re-arrest them.’
Jugson finally realised what was happening, but he did not get the chance to raise his wand. The High Advocate and the Fiscal both silently fired Stunning Spells and the Death Eater was slammed, unconscious, against the opposite wall.
Mark Moon watched the events with vindictive pleasure. He attempted to stand, but failed. His still burning bones and twitching limbs would not obey him.
‘I’m sorry, Bailiff Moon,’ the Fiscal said gently. ‘We would have intervened sooner, but the Sheriff of Alba heard the broadcast and contacted us. We had to organise quickly. Jugson’s two companions are already in the cells.’
The Fiscal turned towards the door and called, ‘Gaoler, remove the prisoner. He’s under arrest for using an Unforgivable Curse.’
The Gaoler, a witch almost as wide as she was tall, strolled in, grabbed Jugson by one ankle and began to pull him unceremoniously from the room.
‘Levitate him, Aileen. You cannot drag him to the cells like that! Not all the way along the corridor and down two flights of stairs!’ the Fiscal reprimanded the Gaoler.
‘I think ye’ll find that I can, Fiscal. He’s no’ that heavy. We can argue about whether or not I should do it later,’ Aileen replied, gazing concernedly down at Mark. The Fiscal, who always did everything strictly by the book, raised an eyebrow but, astonishingly, said nothing more.
‘If you’ll excuse us, Bailiff, the Healer is here. We’ll leave her to look after you. We must get to Hogwarts and you need to rest and recover,’ said God.
‘My … sister … at … Hogwarts,’ gasped Mark urgently as a frowsy-haired middle-aged witch in green robes strode into the interrogation room.
The Fiscal looked at him sympathetically. ‘You cannot even stand, Mark. You’re no good to her like this. We’ll try to find her for you.’
‘Drink this; it will make you feel better.’ The Healer carefully poured a potion into his mouth. Mark drank it eagerly, hoping that he could recover enough strength to follow his colleagues. Instead, he began to feel drowsy. It was a Sleeping Draft, he realised, and as the High Advocate and the Procurator Fiscal strode from the room to organise for battle, Mark fell into a restful sleep.
It was nearing dawn when Mark woke. His limbs were still trembling and he could barely hold his wand but, ignoring the vociferous protests of the Healer, he staggered out of the Ministry, into Side Way, and somehow managed to Apparate to the village of Hogsmeade without Splinching himself. He made his way to the Hogwarts gates as quickly as he could. There were well over a hundred people standing outside the school, all trying to gain access.
‘What’s going on?’ asked Mark slowly and carefully. His tongue was still thick and sore inside his mouth. He addressed the question to the first person he met, a burly middle-aged man with striking, almost violet, blue eyes.
‘The school is sealed,’ the man told Mark. He jerked a thumb at a grossly overweight man in a purple silk dressing-gown at the Hogwarts gates. ‘He’s one of the Professors and he’s been trying to get in for hours. He reckons that You-Know-Who has sealed the gate to stop anyone getting in to help Potter.’
‘But … my sister’s in there!’ said Mark.
‘So is our daughter,’ the curvy, curly haired woman standing next to the burly man, told Mark.
‘The younger students got out hours ago, son. They’ve all been taken home,’ the man said reassuringly. ‘The only ones left inside are of age; perhaps your parents collected your sister?’
‘Dad’s dead, Mum’s a Muggle,’ Mark told them, shaking his head despairingly. ‘And she’s a seventh-year.’
‘So is our daught…’ the man began, but he was interrupted by a roar from the front of the crowd. The school gates had opened. The fat man’s voice boomed out over the crowd.
‘It seems that the Dark Lord’s spell has failed.’ He sounded astonished by his own words. ‘He may be dead, or this may be a trap. I suggest that we proceed with caution.’
A burly young red-haired man standing alongside the fat man dodged past him and ran into the grounds. The crowd surged forwards and the fat man unwittingly found himself leading a charge. Mark followed, running among masses of parents and shopkeepers, dodging through the multitude as he made his way toward the school. In his desperation, he pushed forwards, managing to get near the front of the motley army despite the agonising fire which still smouldered in his bones.
As the first light of dawn appeared faintly on the horizon, they crested the hill and charged towards the castle. The ancient school had taken heavy damage, but scores of defenders stood outside, defiantly confronting a similar number of Death Eaters.
Then confusion reigned. Mark saw a flash of silver as someone raised a sword. As if it were a signal, arrows rained down on the Death Eaters. A herd of Centaur archers, already nocking a second volley, poured from the forest, Hippogriffs swooped down from the sky, and battle was joined.
The surviving Death Eaters desperately attempted to defend themselves from new opponents coming from three directions; grounds, forest, and sky. They tried to fight their way into the castle.
As he ran forwards, Mark saw an injured Death Eater removing both cloak and mask. She was trying to hide in the crowd. Mark stunned her. He only just managed to shout ‘Incarcerous,’ and bind her before he was swept along by the mob.
By the time he entered the Great Hall the combat was almost over. Inside a shimmering shield spell, “The Chosen One” was facing “The Dark Lord”.
They circled each other cautiously, talking quietly to each other. Everyone else simply stood and watched, waiting for the inevitable. At the moment the sun crested the horizon, the two combatants moved simultaneously. It was over in an instant; one spell and the Dark Lord fell. A new day dawned, both literally and metaphorically.
Mark ignored the celebrations; instead he began looking quickly through the rejoicing crowds. Everywhere he looked people were hugging and kissing. But he saw no sign of his sister. He was not alone in his anxiety. Worried parents were running wildly around the room.
He saw the couple he’d spoken to at the gate; they were talking to a slender and pretty dark-skinned girl whose thick black hair was bound into a pony-tail. The man was in tears.
‘She’s still alive, Don,’ he heard the woman say to her husband. ‘And she’s strong, you know that.’
‘I’ll take you to the hospital wing,’ the girl told them.
The Hospital Wing! Mark was about to follow when he saw a fellow Bailiff, Heather Huddleston, in the crowd. He looked into her eyes, but did not even have the chance to ask the question. He saw her horror, saw the word “sorry” forming on her lips and he collapsed to the floor in agony.
Suddenly, the Cruciatus Curse did not seem so bad.