“Junior citizens are not permitted to go further than this point,” explained Hermione. “However, you are a stranger, and so may come into his lordship’s audience chambers.” That sounded ominous. The corridor seemed to stretch on for ever and ever.
Finally, they reached a door that was not black, but white. It had no visible handle, but Hermione laid a hand on a panel beside it and it slid open to admit the two of them. As soon as they had passed through, it shut silently behind them.
“This is the girl, sir,” said Hermione, suddenly humble. Anna looked at the man sitting on a large black chair at one end of the room, and saw immediately the reason for this change of attitude.
The man was surrounded by nine men, dressed entirely in grey. They were obviously a bodyguard, and not one you would want to mess with. His chair crackled with electricity, and sparked at the lightest touch.
The leader himself was not unremarkable to look at. He had piercing grey eyes and jet-black hair, despite a line, tired face. His skin was pale, but it seemed to be more from exhaustion than from nature.
“Come here,” he said to Anna. She took a slow step forward, cautious. “I won’t hurt you, child. Come here!” Anna walked a few more steps, and stopped just before the throne-like chair. She fell onto her knees, humble before such a powerful man.
“Sir,” she said.
“Get up, child,” he said kindly, and she saw that his piercing eyes had a warm twinkle in them, despite his bodyguard. “You may leave,” he told the imposing grey figures.
“But sir,” one of them protested.
“Oh, for goodness sake, Cadbury, I hardly feel that one young girl could do me much damage, even if she did choose to attack me,” said the man irritably. “It’s good that you take your job seriously, but you wouldn’t want to take it too far, would you?” The rest of the bodyguard left without a word. Hermione stayed.
“Sir, do you require anything?” she said.
“No, you may go.” She lingered by the door, but left eventually. Anna found herself alone in the room with this strange, strange man.
“So,” he began. “Tell me everything.”