The Sugar Quill
Author: Seldes Katne (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: In the Presence of Angels  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Rebecca lit the first candle, then slowly and carefully touched its light to the wicks of five of the candles sitting in the menorah. As she finished and placed the first candle back in its holder, her grandmother leaned forward and placed three metal objects on the table: a silver half-moon, a dark brown octagon, and a golden rectangle. Rebecca's grandmother called them "angel gifts", although she never said why, and every year she laid them on the table on the fifth night of Hanukkah.

This year, as she had each Hanukkah for most of her thirteen years, Rebecca asked, "Grandma, why do you call those things 'angel gifts'? They don't look like anything to do with angels."

Her grandmother smiled. "It's because they were gifts from an angel to our family, when I was a little girl."

"An angel gave you those?" This was the first time her grandmother had offered any information about the items, and Rebecca pursued it eagerly.

"He gave them, and more like them, to us when I was seven. These are the only ones we have left, but I've kept them as a remembrance."

Rebecca knew many of the Biblical stories of angels, and, like most people, had seen depictions of angels and cherubs on cards and shirts and decorations. "Did he have wings and a halo?"

Her grandmother laughed. "No, no wings or halo. He looked like a middle-aged man -- or at least he did after my mother cleaned him up...."

***

A dull, throbbing pain in the back of his head was the first sensation that told Alastor Moody that he was awake -- and alive. It was closely followed by the pain in his shoulders, back, arms and most of the rest of his body. He moved, dimly surprised by the lack of weight. A pair of hands caught his shoulders and pushed him firmly down. "No, you should lie still," came a voice speaking in German. "We've just gotten you out, you're hurt."

Hurt. Definitely hurt. Moody rested his head on the pavement under him. Yes. The building had collapsed. The Impediment Curse, deflected by a quick Warding Charm, had brought the roof and upper floor down on both of them.

Brecht. Teodore Brecht. Wanted for questioning in regards to the disappearances of both Muggle and wizarding neighbors, especially after the Aurors had searched his house and found a number of illegal substances and equipment. Moody had followed the man across half of Europe to this middle-sized German town before cornering him in this building, square in the middle of a Muggle neighborhood. Thankfully it had been a fairly simple matter to Transfigure his robes into Muggle clothing, one of a number of tricks Moody had learned in a lifetime of pursuing Dark mages. Fugitives weren't always selective in their choice of hiding places.

He managed to open his eyes and look at the wreckage of what had been a two-story building -- how long ago had it been? A few minutes, hours....? Taking a deep breath to offset the pain, he turned his head to find the man who had spoken to him. "There -- there was --another man --"

His rescuer, a fairly young man dressed in somber Muggle clothes, nodded reluctantly. "We just pulled him out of the wreckage a few minutes ago." He paused. "I'm sorry, but your friend is dead."

With a sigh, Moody let his head settle back on the ground. Brecht was certainly not a friend, and the only regret Moody had about his death was the fact that the man couldn't be dragged back to authorities and punished properly. Well, it couldn't be helped.

"How do you feel?" the man was asking.

Carefully, one at a time, Moody tested his arms and legs, stretched and turned his neck. His upper arms and shoulders, which had taken the brunt of the weight when the ceiling debris came down, felt bruised and stiff, but not broken. Everything else hurt, but it all seemed to be in working order

"I've been better," he muttered; the man stared at him with raised eyebrows.

"You should be seen by a doctor."

Moody gave a grunt of amusement. There was no way he'd let a Muggle doctor examine him. "I'll live." He pushed carefully against the pavement and managed to raise himself into a sitting position.

The man moved to kneel in front of him, peering into his face. "At the very least, you will come stay with my family tonight," he said firmly. "I won't let you lie out here in the street." He rose and held out a hand to help Moody to his feet, then draped Moody's arm over his shoulder to help him walk.

They were actually several paces down the street before Moody remembered to look for his wand. A quick patting of his pockets revealed it to be missing -- not surprisingly, since it had been in his hand, not his pocket, when the building had caved in. He stopped, and so did his rescuer.

"What's wrong?"

"I -- seem to be missing something," Moody said carefully. There was no way he was going to try to explain his missing wand to a Muggle.

The other man shook his head. "It's getting dark. Even if we went back, I doubt you could find anything. In the morning, if you like, we can come back and you can look for whatever it is you've lost. We can also find out where they've sent your friend's body." The man led him firmly down the street.

"Can you at least tell me what happened?"

"I had closed up my store and was on my way home." The man smiled tightly. "I'm told it's not safe on the streets after dark." He shook his head and continued. "A couple of my neighbors and I saw lights and heard shouting from the building. As we walked toward it, it fell in. Once we decided it was safe to approach, we started to dig for you." They continued their way up the street and turned a corner.

"Was anyone else in that building?"

"No. It was a warehouse, and the workers had left for the night."

So no one else had been hurt. Moody nodded. "Allow me to thank you, Mr.....?"

"Aaron Levitson. I own the grocery two streets over."

The Levitson home was a brick and wood dwelling on a narrow street. The two travelers were met at the door by a woman and a little girl of about six. The girl pulled the door open and began in a rush of words, "Papa, where have you been? We've been waiting for you so we could light the candles...." Seeing not one but two men in the doorway, she stopped short. The woman took her by the shoulders and drew her back into the room.

"Ilse, Sarah, this is...." Levitson paused. "I'm sorry, I didn't ask your name."

Moody managed to stand more or less upright and smile (reassuringly, he hoped) at the woman. "My name is Alastor Moody. Mr. Levitson," he had no idea if this woman was Levitson's wife or sister, "was kind enough to rescue me."

"He had a building fall on him," Levitson added. "This is Ilse, my wife, and my daughter Sarah." At once the woman's face took on a sympathetic expression, and she took Moody's other arm to lead him through the first room and into a bedroom. The girl stood staring at them from the doorway.

Mrs. Levitson turned to the girl. "Go get me a couple of fresh towels." She turned back to Moody. "I'll get some water heated so we can clean you up." The family scattered, leaving Moody to sit on the bed and think.

He was definitely going to have to return to the building site tomorrow and find his wand. A wand allowed a witch or wizard to focus a spell; without it, the magic tended to dissipate, or, in some cases, affect the wrong objects. At least (here he searched his pockets again) he still had his travel papers (both Ministry and Muggle) and money (mostly in wizarding currency). There had to be a branch of Gringotts here in Germany; once he had everything else taken care of, he could exchange money and offer the Levitsons something for their hospitality.

Sarah's voice interrupted his thoughts. "Does this mean we won't light the candles tonight?" She sounded upset.

"No, dear, it just means we're going to have to wait awhile. Seeing to our guest's needs is more important right now." Mrs. Levitson pushed the bedroom door open; she was carrying a basin of water and had some towels draped over her arm. "I've sent Aaron to ask one of the neighbors for some clothing you can wear. I'm afraid we've nothing here that will fit you." She began carefully dabbing a wet cloth at a cut over his left ear.

Moody grimaced, partly from the stinging and partly at her statement. Muggle clothing tended to be uncomfortable and restrictive (including the outfit he had on right now); still, it was a kind gesture on the part of his hosts. "Thank you. I'm sorry to have interrupted your evening." He caught a glimpse of the daughter watching him from the door. "Your daughter mentioned candles. Was someone celebrating a birthday?"

Mrs. Levitson smiled. "No. It's the fourth night of Hanukkah." Seeing the blank look on his face, she added, "It's a holiday of the Jewish faith."

"You don't know what Hanukkah is?" came Sarah's disbelieving voice. She edged around the door.

"Sarah!" her mother scolded. "You don't speak that way to anyone, least of all a guest! Now, go let your father in." The girl disappeared, and Mrs. Levitson turned back to Moody. "I apologize for my daughter's lack of manners." She eyed Moody's face, and he knew perfectly well what she was seeing. "You didn't get those scars from the accident just now, did you?"

"No. I've had most of it a while." The oldest of the facial scars was nearly half a century old, the result of youthful overconfidence in facing a Dark wizard. Moody had at least survived the experience.

Mrs. Levitson pressed a rough pad against the side of his head and began winding a bandage around it to keep it in place. "Well, we'll just make certain this is taken care of, and then you can change clothes." A few minutes later she had finished her ministrations and left him to dress.

It was one thing to Transfigure robes into shirts, trousers, and other Muggle items; it was quite another to try dressing in the unfamiliar clothing one piece at a time. Moody was cursing under his breath by the time he finally began to button the sleeves of his shirt. He broke off with an exasperated growl.

After a moment he could make out voices on the other side of the bedroom door. Still struggling to button his right sleeve with his left hand, he tilted his head, trying to catch the words. Whatever they were speaking, it wasn't German.

Abandoning his fight with the button, Moody carefully turned the doorknob and eased the door soundlessly open. He could see the Levitsons, their backs to him, lighting candles -- or at least the girl Sarah was lighting them; her parents were chanting the strange words softly as the light in the girl's hand went from taper to taper. After the fourth candle was lit, the girl drew back and placed the candle in her hand in a holder. Her father reached past her to pick up what appeared to be a candelabra and place it in front of a window. As he straightened, his wife gave him a frightened look. "Maybe we should place it in the window in Sarah's room."

"No. Leave it where it is. Our neighbors know all about it." Levitson's gaze shifted and he caught sight of Moody watching from the bedroom. Aaron Levitson smiled; Moody noticed that when Mrs. Levitson's eyes followed her husband's gaze, she still looked frightened for a moment before forcing a smile.

"Well!" Levitson moved toward his family's guest. "The clothes -- they fit properly?"

The shirt was a little tight through the shoulders, but at least the rest of the clothes seemed the right size. "Yes. Thank you." Suddenly aware of the left sleeve still unbuttoned, Moody added, "I'm, ah, having a bit of a problem with this one...."

"Here." Ilse Levitson moved past her husband and buttoned the sleeve for him, careful to touch only the fabric. "There." She stepped back. "How do you feel? Are you hungry?" Before he could reply, she answered her own question. "Of course you are. Sit down, sit down." A few minutes later he was sitting at the small table amidst a flurry of activity, during which a plate, eating utensils, and a cup were whisked out of cupboards and onto the table in front of him.

The kitchen and dining room were actually one and the same. Mrs. Levitson pulled something out the icebox and began slicing whatever it was into small pieces. She did the same with what looked like vegetables. Over her shoulder she said, "I'm afraid it's only a little stew."

"Mrs. Levitson," Moody replied honestly, "right now I'd be happy with a crust of bread and a glass of water."

Levitson chuckled. "I will see if I can't find something with a little more body than water." With that he pulled open a door and disappeared into what seemed to be the basement. With Levitson gone and his wife busy, Moody found himself at the table with Sarah.

"I see you got to light your candles," he remarked to the girl. She nodded and stared at him wordlessly. He could hardly blame her; he was a stranger, his German was spoken with a foreign accent, and she'd probably never seen anyone like him before. He looked away from her to the candelabra. "Where are the rest of candles?"

"There aren't any more for tonight," she answered.

"Then why are there nine holders?" he asked, pointing to the empty cups.

Sarah looked at her mother, who nodded for her to continue. She turned back to Moody. "Those are for the other four nights of Hanukkah."

"So what's that?"

"It's from a story in the Torah," she explained. "A long time ago the Israelites fought a war because the Syrians said the Israelites had to worship the Syrians' gods. Finally the Israelites won and went back to their temple in Jerusalem. But when they went to light the temple lamp, they found out there was only enough oil to burn for one day, and it would take eight days to make more oil. Finally they lit the lamp, and it burned for eight whole days."

"I see." There were, of course, ways to turn other materials into oil. But he wasn't going to try explaining Transfiguration techniques to a Muggle, particularly a child.

"That's part of the story, anyway." Aaron Levitson had emerged from the cellar and was carrying a couple of bottles to the table. "Hanukkah is really about the right to practice our faith. The Israelites, led by members of the Macabee family, fought for many years to be allowed to retain our beliefs. They finally triumphed and went on to win freedom for Israel. The holiday's popularity comes and goes. Right now we are celebrating Hanukkah to remind ourselves of courage in the face of persecution."

Ilse Levitson brought a plate of hot stew to the table and set it in front of Moody. "Aaron, don't burden our guest with such talk."

"Thank you." Moody took a mouthful of stew. "So. Courage in the face of prosecution. I take it that you've experienced this prosecution?"

"Many members of the Jewish community have. Our businesses are being boycotted. My daughter, and other Jewish children, are being encouraged not to attend school. For many, it's difficult to find work. And it all seems to be because of our faith."

Moody indicated the yellow, six-pointed star on Levitson's coat. "Is that part of your faith, too?"

A look of anger passed over Levitson's face. "No. That is one of our country's new regulations. All Jews are to wear them on our clothing when we are out in public."

"That means we're good Jews," Sarah added helpfully.

Moody glanced from the girl to her father. "As opposed to bad Jews?"

"As opposed to non-Jews," Levitson replied.

"How convenient."

"Aaron," Mrs. Levitson protested, "let the man eat. And stop talking about our problems. I'm sure he doesn't want to sit all night and listen to you complain."

Levitson smiled. "Of course not. I'm sorry."

"Actually, I wouldn't mind hearing about some of them," Moody remarked. "I came to Germany on, ah, business. Knowing what the social climate is here would be of great help."

"Sarah," said her mother, "why don't we go in the other room and practice our spelling, since you won't go to school tomorrow." Sarah nodded and allowed herself to be escorted from the room, leaving Moody and Levitson to their conversation.

Anti-Semitism (feelings against people of Jewish faith and descent) had been present in Germany for years, Levitson explained. When he himself had been growing up here, there had been a few people who had refused to do business with his family, or had treated the children unfairly, or had shown some form of discrimination. People like that existed in all countries, he said, and had been around as long as the Jews themselves.

But within the last few years, the anti-Semitism had grown more open and widespread, helped in part by government rules and the behavior of some of the people in law enforcement. The most noticeable of them were the Secret Service; these men wore black uniforms, with armbands bearing symbols of what appeared to be broken crosses. A number of their members were rumored to have arrested Jewish citizens, confiscated their property, and deported them, supposedly with little or no provocation.

Moody spent most of his time listening and nodded. What Levitson was telling him fit with events in the magical community as well. Dark rumors were beginning to circulate in England, and, more openly, in France. There were increases in reported Dark Magic activities. Witches and wizards in a few places had gone missing. Talk in less reputable places, such as Knockturn Alley, said that new curses, potions, and magical objects were appearing in Europe, many coming from sinister and mysterious sources.

Unlike a number of his contemporaries, Alastor Moody knew that the magical and Muggle communities weren't as separate as some people would like to believe. Events and trends in one society were often mirrored in the other. Usually the magical community had a more noticeable impact on the Muggle community; witches and wizards knew of the existence of Muggles and could, if they chose, move about in Muggle society. The opposite was seldom true.

Mrs. Levitson's voice drifted in from the other room. Apparently she and Sarah had finished working on spelling, and were now reading. "…And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, 'Let me go, for the day breaketh.' And he said, 'I will not let thee go, except thou bless me'."

Levitson smiled fondly at the sound of his wife's voice. Then he caught Moody's eye. "You must be tired after what's happened this afternoon. I'll let you go to bed and get some sleep."

After thanking the Levitsons for their hospitality, Moody was left alone in the bedroom in which Mrs. Levitson had tended his injuries. He was finally able to strip off the Muggle clothing and put on a nightshirt, which was much more comfortable. He also had time to think about what had brought him to Germany in the first place.

Teodore Brecht was apparently a contact between a group of German wizards and some of the less savory members of the magical community in England. There had always been a certain amount of trade on the magical Black Market, but lately the transactions were becoming more noticeable. Moody suspected that Brecht had fled to Germany in the hopes of losing his pursuers, then disappearing into the Black Forest. The place had a bad reputation, even among Muggles.

It was possible that someone from the German organization would come looking for Brecht when they noticed he was missing. Tomorrow, Moody decided as he settled onto the bed and reached for the blanket, he would need to search the warehouse wreckage for his wand. If he found it, he could bid the Levitsons farewell and continue his mission. If the wand was indeed gone, he would need to contact the German Ministry of Magic in Berlin, and get some assistance. He settled back and closed his eyes.

It was not the most comfortable bed, but he'd been in considerably worse. This room was at least warm, clean and dry, which was more than could be said of some of the places he'd been forced to use as shelter. He'd long ago learned to appreciate whatever comfort he could find, and after a few moments he was asleep. He awoke several times during the night, usually because the house creaked or someone moved in the other rooms. A few moments of listening was enough to convince his subconscious that he was in no danger, and then he drifted off again.

The next morning Moody woke to find himself stiff and sore from the bruising he'd taken the day before, but a few good stretches allowed him to move more freely. After breakfast, Levitson prepared to go to his store, while his wife and daughter remained at home.

After bidding Mrs. Levitson and Sarah a good morning, Moody followed Aaron Levitson out the door. The two men paused on the front steps.

"Mr. Levitson, I need to go back to the warehouse to look for something I'm missing. I'd like to return later and give you something for you and your family's help."

Levitson shook his head. "Your thanks is enough. Helping someone in need is part of our faith -- and it's the right thing to do."

"Nevertheless, I want to stop back and see you before I leave for good."

"You are welcome back any time." Levitson held out a hand and Moody accepted it. "I will see you later." They parted company; Levitson turned in the direction of his store, and Moody in the direction of the collapsed building.

He found a number of men digging through the wreckage, accompanied by several men in dark uniform-like clothing who seemed to be making everyone else extremely nervous. A few observers were watching from windows or the sidewalk, including one red-haired woman who was standing next to a soldier; the guard, Moody noted wryly, was focused on the woman, rather than the cleanup operation. Moody carefully eased behind a staircase, where the uniformed men couldn't see him, and considered his situation.

If he openly walked into the site of the collapsed building, someone might well recognize him. At the very least, his bruises and injuries would likely attract unwanted attention.

On the other hand, there was one thing he could try. A Summoning Spell would, of course, work much better with a wand in hand, but, he mused grimly, if he had his wand in hand he wouldn't need to be doing a Summoning Spell....

Moody closed his eyes, took a couple of deep breaths, and extended his right hand in the direction of the wreckage. If the spell worked, his wand would come to him. Of course, with all the Muggles around the site, someone was bound to notice. However, once he had the wand back, a wide-range Memory Charm would erase everyone's recollection of the incident and leave him free to continue his mission. And if the spell didn't work, there wouldn't be anything for anyone else to notice.

Calling up his memories of not only the wand's appearance, but also its feel of it in his hand, he murmured, "Accio."

Two things happened at once: a complete absence of the Summoned object told Moody his wand was no longer on the site. At the same moment, the guard who had been speaking to the red-haired woman abruptly turned toward Moody's hiding place; he said something to the woman and began walking purposefully in Moody's direction. Midway to Moody's location, the guard reached into the coat of his uniform and drew out, not a gun, but a wand.

Moody took one look at the wand and bolted. Given what he'd heard of this Secret Police's activities, he doubted than anyone from the German Ministry of Magic would have been disguised as one. But there might be one way to find out.

The soldier's pace quickened and he shouted after Moody to halt. The Auror ducked around the corner and found himself in a narrow lane. He scrambled around the corner of a building midway down the lane, and waited.

The wizard came carefully around the corner, wand ready. Once out of sight of anyone at the wreckage site, he stood eyeing the apparently empty lane. Then he began moving cautiously forward, watching for movement. Moody waited, tensed to spring. His plan was simple; ambush the wizard and get him to reveal whatever identification he had. If the wizard was legitimate, all well and good -- Moody would then have an ally. If not, then the Dark wizard would, at the very least, be donating his wand to Moody for the duration of the emergency. The Auror smiled in grim amusement; he doubted that the other man would find it funny.

Just as he reached the corner of the building behind which Moody was hiding, the man paused and looked up at the other end of the lane. The red-haired woman was coming along the row of buildings and she, too, had a wand. Unfortunately, she also had a clear view of Moody as he crouched next to the house.

Her wand came up. "Imperio!"

Moody was already moving. He sprang at the other wizard, seized him by the outstretched arm, and flung him into the path of the witch's spell. The man cried out and staggered, then righted himself and stood stock still, eyes staring straight ahead and a smile on his face. The smile caused a chill to run down Moody's spine as he backed away; he'd never seen a spell cause this kind of behavior before, and under the circumstances, the man's expression was horribly out of place.

Moody heard the witch give an exasperated, "Uh!" Then she snapped, "Don't just stand there, you idiot, blast him -- use the Impediment Curse!"

The wizard, still smiling, eyes unfocused, turned to Moody and pointed the wand at him.

Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, Moody fled, ducking and weaving to avoid the spell.

The curse struck a building beside him as he ran, but he could only hear one set of footsteps, coming from further up the lane -- only the witch was moving. He heard her voice snarl, "Finite incantatum!", then "After him, fool!" and two people were pounding after him.

Moody kept burst out into the street, turned away from the wreckage of the former warehouse, and kept running. He knew enough of the neighborhood to finally put several blocks between himself and his pursuers. Gasping, he slid to one knee in the shelter of a recessed stairway, and stopped to catch his breath.

The spell that the witch had used, with its command of "Imperio!" -- he'd never heard of that one before. And the effect that it had had on her wizard companion, as though it had taken over his mind; Moody closed his eyes and he shuddered. This was something that needed to be reported to both German and British authorities -- and fast.

His best plan now was to get to Berlin as quickly as possible, report to the Ministry of Magic, and get a replacement wand. Once that was done, he could return here with backup and do some damage control. At the very least, the witch and wizard he'd encountered needed to be found and questioned. On the other hand, he didn't want the Levitsons getting into trouble with Muggle authorities because they had been kind enough to offer him help and hospitality.

It was going to take a few days to accomplish his tasks. As much as he felt the need to get to Berlin as quickly as possible, he owed his benefactors the courtesy of warning them that the local law enforcement officials might be around to ask them questions. If all went smoothly, he could make it to Berlin and back quickly enough to head off most of the unpleasantness. Once he had his wand and a reliable broom, a few Memory Charms would give the Muggle police a plausible reason for the collapse of the building, reasons that didn't include Moody or the Levitson family.

He needed to hurry. Aaron Levitson would probably know the quickest way to Berlin, and might be able to recommend someone to give Moody a lift in that direction. Glancing around at the street to make certain his pursuers were gone, Moody eased out of hiding and on his way.

He was gaining new understanding of the Jews' plight, he mused grimly as he peered around the corner at the uniformed patrol that had just passed him two blocks later. Not knowing how many other Dark witches and wizards were also disguised as Secret Police, he was forced to avoid all the patrols. As he worked his way back to the Levitson home, he was seeing other signs that all was not well.

Three ominous clouds of smoke were billowing over the town. In the distance, but becoming louder, were the sounds of shouting and the shattering of glass. Down other streets he caught glimpses of small groups of people, many of them youths, clustered around buildings, pelting the windows with stones. He watched them grimly for a few moments before he moved on.

The town was, fortunately, small enough that most people knew where stores were located. An old man gave Moody directions to Aaron Levitson's grocery store. As Moody neared the address, he noticed uneasily that one of the plumes of smoke was coming from this particular street.

The neighborhood atmosphere had vanished; the area now looked as though a war were being fought in the streets. Windows had been smashed in many of the houses. In several places the youths who had thrown the stones were still at work. A couple of dwellings were on fire. Two of the blazes had neighbors rushing back and forth with buckets and containers of water, but at one house, people merely stood and watched the building burn while someone, presumably the owner, was shouting at them to help him. As Moody neared the building, another man, dressed in the prevalent dark uniform, ran toward the crowd and began shouting directions. For a moment the men stared at him with expressions of confusion; then they dispersed, some returning with water to begin extinguishing the flames. The man in uniform turned to the rest of the crowd and ordered them off the streets. Moody ducked his head and did his best to blend into the mass of humanity as it moved away from the fire. Once he was out of sight of the man in uniform, he worked his way to the edge of the crowd and turned down the street that led to Levitson's store.

The picture window in the front of the store lay in shattered pieces on the sidewalk. People were throwing some of the food to each other, while others were systematically overturning tables and kicking shelves loose from their backing. Near the front of the store was a small mob shoving a man back and forth. Moody recognized Aaron Levitson and charged into the building.

One of the men turned to Moody, laughing. "Come in, join the fun!"

In addition to a sizable number of curses, jinxes and hexes, Alastor Moody had learned a few forms of Muggle self-defense. Just as it was always a good idea to carry Muggle currency and papers, any Auror with any sense also learned some Muggle hand-to-hand combat techniques. Moody hesitated a moment, considering; then he seized the man by the front of his shirt and slammed a fist into his face. The man slumped, and his closest companion stopped to see what was happening. Moody picked his opponent up with both hands. A moment later he flung the unconscious man bodily into the mob. People sprawled, cursing, and Moody snagged Levitson's sleeve. "Let's go! We're getting out of here!"

"My store -- !" Levitson began. Moody interrupted.

"Forget it! It's too late! Go!" He shoved Levitson toward the door. Someone swung a board at Moody's head, and he caught the man's elbow as the wood whistled past. A good twist dislocated the attacker's shoulder, and Moody shoved him headfirst into the nearest wall, then let him slide to the floor. That seemed to discourage most of the mob, at least long enough for both Moody and Levitson to get out of the store.

Levitson had one arm up to protect his head from a hail of vegetables and small stones. With his wand, Moody could have stunned the lot of them; as it was, all he could do was catch Levitson's arm and flee with him up the street. Some of the looters followed, but most seemed more interested in whatever they could snatch from the ruined store. Moody caught a glimpse of several dark uniforms amidst the crowd. None of the uniformed men seemed inclined to stop the looting.

Several streets later, the two men had lost the last of their pursuers. By now both Moody and Levitson were gasping from the exertion, and stopped for a moment to catch their breath in the entrance to a cellar. Below the level of the street, they could still hear people shouting and glass breaking. Apparently, Levitson's store wasn't the only building under siege.

Levitson sank onto one of the steps. He was holding one arm against his body. As Moody turned to watch the street, Levitson murmured, "Some of those people, at my store -- I knew them. They were my customers. Some of them were my neighbors." He was staring at Moody with bewildered eyes. "I know there has been violence against some Jewish businesses, but these people -- they knew me! How could them do this?"

Moody shrugged, still scanning the street. "Sometimes when people become part of a group, they just follow whatever the group does. They don't think like individuals any more. Basically, they don't think at all. It's called mob mentality." He didn't bother to add how many times he'd seen it happen, among both Muggles and the wizarding community.

Levitson sat up and stumbled to his feet. "Ilse and Sarah!" A moment later they were out of the cellar doorway and heading for Levitson's home.

A group of people was milling around on the sidewalk on the block containing the Levitsons' house. Here and there Moody could see the yellow Star of David on the clothing of some of the group members. The men nodded to Levitson and eyed Moody curiously; Levitson spoke to one of them, an older man who wore a grim expression, and the group let them pass.

"Mr. Biedermann," Levitson murmured. "He's been one of our neighbors for many years."

The Levitsons' front window was broken, and there was noticeable damage to the door. The inside of the home was in shambles; furniture smashed, clothing strewn around the rooms, and the menorah, lying in the middle of the floor, had been twisted out of shape.

Levitson ran from room to room, calling for his wife and daughter. There was no sign of Mrs. Levitson or Sarah.

At last they left the house and went in search of someone who could tell them what had happened. The old man across the street, who could barely be coaxed into answering his door, said that the mother and daughter had left earlier that afternoon and not returned. He closed the door on Levitson's thanks.

"They may be working their way home," Moody suggested. "Let's check around the block, then start circling the neighborhood." A search of the block yielded nothing; at random, Moody chose to continue their search along the next block up the street.

Keeping close to the buildings, the two men moved quickly, alternating between watching the shadows and looking for any signs of the woman or her daughter. Once they had to duck into an alley to avoid a knot of men coming down the street. None of the men wore a Star of David. Waiting until the group had passed, Moody and Levitson eased back out into the street. A voice almost caused them to duck back into the alley.

"Over here!" came the hoarse call; a woman was beckoning them from a half-open door. "Hurry!"

Glancing up and down the block, Moody led his companion in a crouching run across the street and up the house steps. The woman hastily eased the door shut behind them.

"You're very lucky," she began, but was interrupted by Ilse's voice crying, "Aaron!" as she threw herself into her husband's arms.

The woman who had let them in hissed, "Please! Come away from the windows!" She pulled all of them to a door that led to the house's cellar. "Down here!"

A few minutes later Moody, the Levitsons, and the woman, who had introduced herself as Mrs. Weiss, were crouching amidst boxes and old furniture in the basement. Mrs. Weiss produced a small candle and lit it.

"There's only the one window, and that faces our back yard," she explained. "I'm sorry, but you need to stay hidden. It's dangerous out there."

"Please," Levitson began, "my daughter Sarah -- is she here?"

At that tears began to run down Ilse Levitson's face. "Oh, Aaron -- I don't know where she is! We dropped off mended clothing at the Zeiglers and were coming home when a group of young men began following us. At first there were only a handful, but then more and more joined them, until there was a mob of them. They surrounded us. They were shouting insults and pushing us back and forth among them. Two of them pulled Sarah away from me and -- and I don't know what's happened to her!" She was weeping openly now. "I was crying for them to let us to, to give me Sarah back, for Sarah to run home, and then suddenly there were policemen everywhere. I managed to break away from the mob and ran looking for Sarah, but some of the young men saw which way I was going and followed me."

Mrs. Weiss picked up the story as Levitson held his wife close to him. "I heard the noise and saw some of the mob near the end of the street. When your wife ran in front of the house, I called to her out the window and sent her around to the back, where I could let her in safely. She's been here ever since." She shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I haven't seen your daughter and -- and I've been too frightened to go out looking for her."

From where he knelt on the cellar floor, Levitson said, "You gave my wife a safe place to go, Mrs. Weiss. Thank you. You've done more than enough." He squeezed Ilse's shoulder reassuringly, but continued looking at Mrs. Weiss. "Would you let her stay here while I look for our daughter?"

"Of course, but --"

"No."

All three of them turned to stare at Moody, who was shaking his head. "No. No one else is going anywhere. I'll go look for your daughter, but you and your wife need to stay here." Levitson opened his mouth to protest, but Moody continued. "You're hurt. Now that you're both together, you need to stay with your wife. And I'm sorry, but you're not safe on the streets right now." He nodded to the yellow Star of David on Levitson's coat. "I can at least walk the streets in relative safety. The sooner I leave, the more likely it is that I can find your daughter -- she can't be far. I can talk to the neighbors, or the police. Even if they won't help me, I have papers that will convince people to leave me in peace." All right, that was an outright lie, but.... "Don't argue. I need to leave -- now."

Whether it was his commanding tone of voice, or whether he still had enough magical focus to work at least a minor spell, the Levitsons agreed to stay and let him search.

***

Sarah Levitson lay shivering behind several overturned garbage cans in the darkening evening light of an alley. At her back was the alley wall; scattered around her was a layer of refuse, including old clothes, boxes, and other objects that offered at least minimal protection from unfriendly eyes.

She was curled up in as small a huddle as possible. People were still shouting in the distance, and occasionally she could hear glass shattering as windows somewhere were smashed. Her mother was gone. Sarah had no idea which way was home.

Now footsteps crunched on the gravel as someone came walking carefully down the alley. Sarah held her breath and squeezed her eyes closed, trying to maker herself even smaller.

The footsteps stopped. "Well," came a man's voice. "And what is this?"

Sarah lay still.

"You, girl!" the voice snapped. "What are you doing here?"

Sarah opened one eye and slowly pulled herself into a sitting position, keeping the wall at her back. The man staring down at her wore one of the dark uniforms and an armband -- the kind of uniform that her papa and mama spoke of with fear in their voices. The man himself had dark blond hair and cool grey eyes. Sarah stared back at him.

"What's your name?" the man demanded.

Her voice was a whisper. "S-Sarah."

"And what are you doing here, in this alley?"

"I -- I lost my mama. And I don't know how to get home."

The man in the uniform crouched down to get a better look at her. He reached forward to take hold of her jacket, his fingers pinching the fabric just below the yellow star her mother had sewn there not long ago. Sarah would have backed away from him, but there was nowhere for her to go.

"So. That's the way of it." The man let go of her jacket and stood up. He held out a hand to her. "Come with me." When Sarah hesitated, he repeated, "Come with me. It's not safe for you to be out here alone."

Finally Sarah managed to get her feet under her. "I -- I want to go home."

The man in the uniform hesitated for a moment. Then he told her, "I'm afraid, my dear, that you've seen your home for the last time."

***

Moody had spent the better part of an hour searching for Sarah Levitson. When he could find people who seemed sympathetic, he asked if they had seen a little girl. When he caught sight of any soldiers in dark uniforms, he hid in alleys or behind stairways until they had passed. Now he crouched in the shadows of an alley, staring in amazement up the street.

Under normal circumstances, Alastor Moody prided himself on leaving as little to chance as possible. He didn't believe in luck, nor did he rely on it. When he saw the man in the dark uniform leading Sarah Levitson along the street, heading in his direction, he had to look twice to convince himself that what he was seeing was true. Moody considered his next move. If he waited until they were past him, he decided, he might have a chance of surprising the guard from behind and --

The soldier stopped a few feet short of where Moody crouched. From up the street came the sounds of other men; a moment later three more soldiers walked up to where the first man and the girl had halted.

"This is quite a prize," on of the newcomers explained, stooping slightly to peer at Sarah. "She looks a bit young, but --" He reached out to stroke the girl's hair. Sarah shrank back against her escort. Still hidden, Moody tensed, ready to spring.

"I found her. She belongs to me," the blond soldier said in a mild tone.

"Leave her alone. She's only a girl," one of the other men remarked to his comrades. He turned to Sarah's guardian and studied him carefully. "I don't remember you," he said thoughtfully. "Are you with the new troops that have been transferred?"

The blond man shook his head. "No. I've been in this area for a very long time. But I don't think you and I have met before. Still, I think we all have more important things to do than stand around talking on street corners, especially since we're all still on duty."

The other soldier nodded. "Perhaps we'll see you later."

"Perhaps," the blond man replied. The four of them exchanged salutes and the other three strode off. Sarah watched them go with frightened eyes.

"Wh-Where are we going?" she asked finally.

"We are not going anywhere. This is as far as you and I will go together," the soldier replied. He turned his head and flexed his shoulders as he opened his coat and reached inside for something. Fully expecting the man to draw a weapon, Moody launched himself out of the alley and across the sidewalk.

Sarah Levitson cried out. Moody and the soldier went down in a heap together. The man landed on his side, twisted, and struck out at his attacker. His elbow cracked Moody's jaw, and the soldier scrambled out from under him. Moody made a grab for the man's arm, trying to keep his hands away from whatever weapons he might have.

He had no idea how long the struggle went on, with neither gaining the upper hand. The battle was a blur of punches, tackles, and twisted limbs. The soldier was actually smaller than Moody, but seemed to have more strength. They wrestled one another against the wall of the building, both scrambling for the grip or punch that would end the struggle.

Finally deciding that if strength wouldn't decide the contest, guile might, Moody let himself be thrown to the sidewalk, where he lay with one leg drawn partly up under him. He intended to wait until the soldier moved closer to see if he were indeed injured. But instead of attacking, or drawing a weapon, the soldier stood back. To Moody's astonishment, the man wasn't even breathing hard.

"Why are you defending this child?" the soldier demanded. "She's not even your daughter." Moody carefully eased onto his side so he could look up at the man. The soldier was bent forward slightly, hands resting on his knees. To his surprise, Moody realized the man suddenly looked familiar. This was the same soldier that had organized the residents to extinguish the fire earlier that day.

"What makes you think I'm not her father?" Moody managed between gasps.

The man smiled. "I know this area, and the girl's parents. You aren't even from this part of Europe. You are running a great risk, searching for her while an enemy searches for you. Come." The soldier offered Moody his hand; for a moment the wizard eyed him suspiciously. "Come!" the soldier repeated. "We don't have much time left!" and helped him rise.

Moody's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"

"I know there's something evil coming. There is a man, one like you, who is part of it. You each know that the other is on the opposite side. He'll kill you if he gets the chance. Yet here you are, looking for this girl, without the aid of your weapon."

"If you know the girl's parents, it would be better for you to take her to them." Moody knew that the longer he stood on the street, in one place, the more likely it would be that the Dark wizard or one of his allies would find him. The last thing he needed was for the little girl to get hurt or killed because of him. If he could convince the other man to take the girl to the Weiss home, Moody could draw the wizard away.

"I'm sorry, but I can't go any further with you -- my part in this is over. There are others who will need my help tonight," the man said. "But I can give you this." He reached into an inside pocket of his coat, and Moody tensed, ready to rush him again. But the man merely withdrew a long, narrow piece of wood -- Moody's wand.

The wizard stared at it. "How do you know that belongs to me?" His gaze went to the soldier's face. "Are you -- one of us?"

The man shook his head. "No, I'm not 'one of you'. But I know what this is, and what you are." He held the wand out, and Moody accepted it, murmured a phrase, and watched a shower of sparks shot out of the wand's tip. It was in perfect working order.

Moody glanced around to find Sarah Levitson huddled in the mouth of the alley, eyes tightly closed and hands over her ears.

"She won't remember most of this," the man told him.

"Who are you?"

"You can call me Captain Engelmayer. I'm --," here he paused, as though searching for the correct word, "-- assigned to this area."

"Do you mean to tell me that you were actually taking this girl home?" Moody suddenly felt rather foolish for assaulting a local law enforcement official.

The man shook his head. "It would do no good. The Levitsons aren't home, as you know. You must take the girl from here, and reunite her with her parents. I have other business to attend to. But I can do one more thing for you." He reached forward and put a hand on Moody's shoulder. "Until you have delivered the girl safely to her parents, your enemy will not notice you."

"Just like that? How could you possibly know?"

Captain Engelmayer smiled. "I have an ability, admittedly limited, to help those in need. You are doing a kindness tonight; the least I can do is help, a little." He turned to the girl. "Sarah." Sarah Levitson suddenly took her hands away from her ears, opened her eyes, and slowly stood up. "Sarah, do you remember this man?" Sarah nodded. "He'll take you to your parents. Come along." Sarah walked forward to stand next to Moody, and cautiously reached up to take his hand. The soldier smiled and placed his hand on her head. "Travel safely." He nodded to Moody. "Travel safely." Then he turned away and set off down the street.

Sarah was shivering, staring after the man with wide eyes. "I want my mamma. And my father."

"Come on." Moody led her away down the street. He glanced back once, but Captain Englemayer had disappeared. There was also no sign of the Dark wizard.

For whatever reason -- luck, the Captain's so-called 'help', or something else -- Moody and Sarah arrived back at the Weiss home without incident, despite passing several groups of citizens in the streets. They were let into the basement through the back door, and Moody hung back for a few minutes to let the Levitsons hug and cry and fuss over their daughter. The wizard stood in the darkness of the cellar doorway, gazing out at the dark neighborhood. Somewhere out there was the woman, and she was waiting. His mouth hardened. She undoubtedly knew about the group of which Brecht had been part, and now that his wand was back at hand, it would be his turn to go looking for her. But in the meantime, he, like the Captain, had some unfinished business.

After he had been greeted by the Levitsons and had provided a somewhat edited version of events, he reached into his pockets and withdrew a leather pouch.

"Come here, Miss Levitson," Moody said. Sarah stood before him, twisting her hands together in front of him. "I have something for you," he continued, "but you must promise to share it with your parents."

Sarah nodded.

"Hold both your hands out, please." Moody opened the pouch, then cupped one of his hands under the girl's and turned the pouch over. Pieces of gold, silver and bronze cascaded from the pouch and piled into Sarah's hands, a few spilling over onto the floor with cheerful jingles. Sarah and her parents gaped at the metal shapes.

"It's not much, really," Moody told them, "but the yellow ones are gold, the silver ones are real silver, and the brown ones are bronze. I don't know what bronze is worth these days, but you might be able to get something for them, if only for curiosity value."

Aaron Levitson stepped forward, the stunned expression still on his face. "This -- this is real? These are real gold and silver?" He lifted one of the silver crescents from Sarah's hands and turned it over; it flashed in the candlelight. "This is some form of, what, money?"

"If you like." Moody held the pouch out to them. "Here. Put it in this, and hide it. Even if it's not a form of money, it's still valuable, and the last thing you want is someone stealing it." He looked from Levitson to his wife and back. "I think, if you're careful, you can sell or barter this for food or transportation."

"Food?" whispered Mrs. Levitson. "Transportation?"

"Mrs. Levitson, you and your family should leave this place now -- tonight if you can, tomorrow if not." Moody's face darkened. "It's a bad situation here, and I don't think it's going to get any better. In fact, I know it's not going to get better, not for a long time. And it won't be long before it's not just Jews in danger, it'll be everyone. Please, go. Head west. France is still safe; England, too. It's not just your government, either -- there are other people involved. The situation is going straight to hell, and you don't want to be here when it explodes."

Levitson stammered, "B-but we can't take this. This is yours --"

"Please." Moody held up a hand to forestall Levitson's protests. "I don't need it. But you will. Take your daughter, and your wife, and go someplace safe." His eyes softened. "Consider it repayment for your hospitality."

Levitson looked at his wife, then at his daughter. Finally he opened the pouch and held it up so that Sarah could tip her hands-full of coins into it.

"I have to go. I have work to do." He shook hands with Levitson, bowed to his wife, and nodded at Sarah, who stood clutching the pouch of coins. He was midway up the cellar steps when Levitson called after him, "A safe journey to you, Alastor Moody."

Moody turned on the stairs. "And to you. All of you." Then he opened the cellar door and stepped outside in the yard. A few moments later the Levitsons saw light beginning to glow in the yard. Through the window they caught a glimpse of Moody with his left hand extended, almost like a blessing, and holding something glowing in his right hand. The light grew brighter and brighter, until it was almost blinding. All three of the Levitsons put their hands up to shield their eyes.

When the glow had faded, they stood blinking for several moments, then looked out into the back yard. Alastor Moody had vanished.

***

Nearly a month later, Albus Dumbledore found his friend gazing out a window in a deserted stretch of hallway on the Ministry of Magic's fourth floor.

"That was a most intriguing post I received from your recent trip to Germany. When I talked to your supervisor just now, he seemed both pleased and sobered by the report you turned in," he remarked, settling his elbows on the sill next to Moody's. "I gather your trip was eventful."

Moody grunted noncommittally.

Dumbledore let the silence stretch for a few moment. "I was hoping you could tell me about what didn't show up in the report." He watched Moody out of the corner of his eye. "How bad is it, really?"

"It's bad, Albus." Moody sighed. "Bad, and certain to get worse. I stumbled across a whole nest of Dark Wizards. Some of the German Aurors and I flushed a few of them out. We took about a half-dozen into custody. According to the ones we caught, there're another twenty-five or so still loose. They've gone to ground for now, but they'll be back, you mark me. But then, the Black Forest has always had that reputation, hasn't it? Close enough to civilization to provide materials, but far enough away to offer sanctuary." He shook his head. "I saw a witch use a spell I've never seen the likes of before. We need to get more Aurors there, and soon, to find out exactly what this evil is and stop it before it spreads much further."

Both men fell silent. "On a lighter note," Dumbledore remarked, ignoring the sharp look Moody gave him, "I recently met some friends of yours, traveling through to America; a man and a woman and their most delightful daughter."

"The Levitsons?"

"The very same," Dumbledore replied, and was rewarded by a smile from his companion. "They are alive and well and on their way to the United States even as we speak. I saw them aboard the ship myself."

Moody nodded, still smiling. "I'm glad to hear it. They deserve better than what they would have gotten in Germany." He sobered, and, glancing around, lowered his voice. "I really broke the rules on that one, Albus. I stayed in their home, I used magic to help them get out of the country; hell, I even gave them money -- wizarding currency. There wasn't time to change it; the nearest branch of Gringotts was too far to make in the time I had."

Dumbledore clucked his tongue in mock disapproval. "My, my, what a terrible lapse of judgment on your part. Shameful." He chuckled softly. "I fear I was so stunned that I actually matched it with a lack of judgment of my own." Moody turned to stare at him. Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "I sent a few owls to friends and colleagues in the areas through which I thought the Levitsons might pass. When I spoke to them, your friends informed me that they had had some rather unusual people helping them on their journey." He nodded thoughtfully. "It seemed to be an effective network. Perhaps we should consider keeping it going; it sounds as though a series of safe havens leading through France and Switzerland to England might be very useful, especially if the situation in Germany is as bad as you indicated it is." He gestured down the corridor. "Let's find a quiet place for a meal and you can tell me the rest."

There were a number of things that had been left out of his report, Moody reflected as the two of them descended the stairs to the first floor: the fact that when he'd gone to the local law enforcement offices to thank Captain Engelmayer, the duty officer had sworn that no one by that name and description had ever served in the area; the disquieting discovery several hours later that Mrs. Weiss was no longer in the house in which he and the Levitsons had found shelter that night, and had apparently disappeared along with her belongings. But then, mysterious disappearances were becoming commonplace in parts of Germany, he'd discovered in the last month.

Later, their meal long since finished and his story nearly told, Moody remarked, "Between the events during my stay and the unusual 'helpers' they found on their travels, I can't help but wonder what the Levitsons will eventually make of all this."

Dumbledore smiled. "Yes, that would be interesting to know, wouldn't it?"

***

Rebecca's grandmother smiled and leaned forward to give her words emphasis. "To this day, I don't know what the angel did, but we didn't have any more trouble with the Secret Service. Papa went back to salvage what he could from our home. Once we were out of Germany, we began to find people willing to help us. Some of them were simple, regular people -- factory workers or farmers or shopkeepers. But some of them..." She stopped smiling and shook her head.

"There was one old woman -- I was afraid of her, even though all she did was give us a hot meal and a safe place to sleep. She looked ancient, and she leaned on a cane, and for some reason there were a lot of toads around her house. And one man, I didn't like at all; he was very short-tempered and brusque. But of course, I have no business criticizing those people. They all helped us, as much or as little as they could, and may God bless them for it."

Rebecca watched her grandmother's face take on a thoughtful look. "And then there were a few others. They looked all right, but there was something strange about them. Their houses would have rooms that wouldn't let us in, or odd plants in the windows, or shelves full of old books.... Of course, I was very young when all this happened, so perhaps it's just my imagination playing tricks. But some of the people would take the angel gifts Father offered them, and would later give him money, in the currency of whatever place we were in. Father said they took very little of the money themselves, even when he insisted."

Rebecca knew her great-grandparents had come to the United States with almost nothing, but this was a part of the story she had never heard before. "Then what did you buy with the money?"

"We spent it with other people who gave us shelter, or in buying food, or to arrange a ride from one place to another, whenever we could," her grandmother replied. "At last we came to England, and there we met another of the strange people. He was an older man, but I liked him immediately." The grandmother laughed. "He was very kind, and he told me jokes -- in German! -- to make me laugh. He had the nicest blue eyes, and a beard.... He was the one who suggested that we come to America, and he helped us find passage on a ship. But he wouldn't take money, either. When I was older, Mother told me that we had just enough money left to afford a place to stay until Father found work." She paused for a moment. "I wish I knew who those people were -- I've wanted to thank them, but I suppose most of them are dead by now."

"Except the angel," Rebecca suggested.

"Yes," agreed her grandmother. "Except the angel. I'm sure his work is continuing, even now."

________

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby have some entertained angels unawares."

Hebrews 13:2

_______

Note to readers: as I write these two final paragraphs, it is the Saturday after the terrible tragedy at the World Trade Center. I apologize for the timing in the publishing of this story -- I actually wrote the piece during the spring of 2001, long before the events of this past week. My intention is not to play off what happened in New York, nor to show disrespect to those people who lost loved ones and colleagues in the attack. I wanted to draw attention to the small acts of kindness that happen every day, and that often have profound effects on people we don't even know. I also wanted to suggest that in spite of all the horror and fear we may face in this world, help and comfort may be as close as the person standing next to us, and that agents of God still work among us, ready to assist even wizards in times of
difficulty.

I was touched this past week by a brief film clip of the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, when citizens of the United Kingdom showed support for the United States by playing and singing our national
anthem, by laying out mounds of flowers, by waving US flags, and by turning out to do all of this in midst of a pouring rain. They were among the many people all over the world who have, in some form or another, reminded me that we in the United States are not alone. Let me express my sympathy and condolences to everyone, anywhere, who has lost a loved one in this terrible tragedy. May we all serve as angels to one another.
***

 

Author's note: Alastor Moody, Albus Dumbledore and the Ministry of Magic belong to author J.K. Rowling.

The quote that Sarah's mother Ilse reads while Moody and Aaron Levitson listen is from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 32, which is part of the Old Testament of the Bible. I actually used a fairly modern version of it here: it's from a King James Version published in 1993, although the original copyright actually runs back to 1936. As I'm aware of the anti-Harry Potter sentiment from many so-called Christians, I found the writing of a Harry Potter story complete with Bible quotes to be amusing, to say the least.

For me, one of the most intriguing characters to come out of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has been Alastor ("Mad-eye") Moody -- the real one, not the impostor. For this story, I've made some assumptions, based on the bits of factual information put forth in the book. From the scene of Karkaroff's trial in the Pensieve, we know that Moody didn't have the magical eye until fairly recently, probably in the last dozen years or so. "In the Presence of Angels" is set in 1938, well before Moody would have lost his eye and received the magical replacement. I'm just supposing that the wooden leg mentioned in the GoF is also fairly recent; there's no mention of when he received it in the book.

I've also made some suppositions about Moody's age. According to Rowling, Albus Dumbledore is about 150 years old in GoF, and Minerva McGonagall is around 70. I would place Moody's age somewhere around 130 or 140 (assuming they are all living a normal life span for witches and wizards). Rowling's description of Moody in GoF makes him sound younger than Dumbledore, even though he's retired from his job as an Auror. I therefore thought it likely that Moody would be doing fieldwork in 1938. Given that Dumbledore defeated the Dark Wizard Grindelwald in 1945, it sounds as though the magical community in Europe was going through its own version of World War II. Rowling has indicated that we may well learn more about this in future books.

I've also made a couple of assumptions about magic. For one thing, no one Apparates in this story. I suspect that Apparating is a fairly modern spell, possibly perfected within a few years of the events in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I've seen messages on various Harry Potter fan sites asking why, when Voldemort attacked Harry's parents, James and Lily didn't just Apparate to safety. One possibility is that one cannot Apparate and take another person, and James and Lily certainly wouldn't abandon their infant son. But another possibility is that the Apparation spell just hadn't been discovered or developed.

I'm also hypothesizing that the Unforgivable Curses or their forerunners might well have come out of the World War II/Grindlewald era. Not all the evil done in history can be blamed on Voldemort.

There is absolutely no indication in the books what kind of language instruction anyone has. We know that Bartemius Crouch, Senior, speaks several languages; Albus Dumbledore can speak Mermish; the Bulgarian Minister of Magic and Madame Maxime, as well as various students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, can speak English in addition to their own native languages. So, for the purposes of this story, both Moody and Dumbledore can speak German. (And presumably they learned it the old-fashioned way; there doesn't seem to be a "universal translator" spell, or I would assume that Cornelius Fudge would have used it in Goblet of Fire when he was attempting to talk to the Bulgarian Minister of Magic.)

 

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