Author's note: Sorry for the delay in updating and I own nothing.
She was way too early.
This is what Hermione thought as she paced the floor of her office; coffee cooling on her table, a half-eaten sandwich tossed carelessly onto her stack of files. She knew in the rational part of her mind that her pacing would achieve nothing except her being winded and her hair looking more and more like a wild animal had slept in it. She had tossed her curly brown locks into a messy bun in the morning with every intention of making it presentable by 9am but she rather thought that might be impossible now considering that she had spent the past two hours pulling at it and then pushing it back into the bun.
Why am I thinking about my hair? She wondered, pacing again. Her biggest fear at the moment was that her plan of action would be rejected by the council as too outlandish and that she would have to let the French authorities handle the case as an isolated incident when she was sure the murders in Nice were linked to the previous ones. She also knew in her gut that her theory about Pandora carried some truth although the council might need a little stretch of imagination to accept it. And what about Malfoy? would he accept? Or would he laugh off her ideas and walk away? At the moment, Hermione didn't know to what extent they would need Malfoy's help, but she did know that in certain possible scenarios, Malfoy's presence would be essential.
It was still 8am. They boys were probably still asleep. Hell, everyone was probably asleep except security, who had nodded at her politely while she strode in through the main atrium of the ministry.
Hermione sat down and went through the team list she had compiled and requested, for what seemed like the millionth time. She had gone over the names with Ron and, so she knew that they list was good. Of the aurors, she had asked for Ron and Harry, Mandy Brocklehurst, Seamus Finnegan, Stewart Ackerly and Euan Abercrombie. She had worked with all of them personally on separate occasions and she liked them all. They were resourceful, and she could trust each one of them with her life. She was about to pull out the names of the specialised consultants she had requested when there was a sharp rap on her door.
"yes?" she called out. The door opened, and Harry walked in, halfway through a yawn. "why are you up so early?" Hermione asked, eying her best friend. "s' almost 8.30, shouldn't we get going?" Harry asked. Hermione sighed and pointed her wand at her hair. One of the few glamour charms she knew worked her hair into a presentable bun at the nape of her neck. She stood up and brushed off her robes. "fine. Let's go". She picked up her files and led Harry out of her office and down the corridor, this time to the biggest conference room in the ministry.
The large oval shaped room had chairs in a circle, three rows deep. Hermione knew from her meeting with Shaklebolt on Friday, that she had to sit on one side, facing the council members and Shaklebolt on the other. When she strode in, Seamus, Mandy and Euan had already found themselves seats behind her and were talking silently. They each gave her and Harry welcoming smiles as they settled down. A few minutes later, Ron walked in eating a donut and fell into the chair on her right. He passed another donut to Harry on her left while offering her half of the one she assumed he had just eaten. "Sorry 'mione, I ate half of yours. I thought you would have already eaten and I was so hungry" he looked at her pleadingly. "it's alright Ron" she muttered back distractedly, noticing that there was less than ten minutes left. She fell back into her research material while she felt the chairs filling up on either side of her.
At precisely five minutes to 9, the door opened to admit Shaklebolt, Percy and Shaklebolts personal secretary, a motherly woman whose name eluded Hermione. As they settled into chairs opposite her, the door opened once more to admit the ten council members who all walked in together. They were mostly old ministry officials who presided over cases that required liaising with foreign ministries and that dealt with the more serious crimes such as murders. Hermione didn't look too closely at them but instead focused on the large clock behind Shaklebolt. As the hand came towards 9 o'clock, she took a deep breath and stood up. Before she could begin however, there was a steady knock and Malfoy walked in followed by Theodore Nott and Tracey Davies.
Malfoy was in his usual black robes, hair slicked back and eyes emotionless as always. With curt nods to Shaklebolt and Harry, Malfoy strode over to the far left of the room and sat with Nott on his right and Davies just behind him. Nott was still thin and tall, with an air of intelligence about him that Hermione didn't quite remember him having at school. His eyes though were much softer than Malfoy's she noticed as he gave her the briefest smile. Hermione couldn't really remember what Tracey had looked like in school, but today she was stunningly beautiful. With an athletic build, dark eyes and shining black hair in a long plait down to her waist, Hermione wondered again how she had forgotten the Slytherin girl. She came back to the present however, as Tracey flashed a brilliant smile at Ron before leaning in to whisper in Malfoy's ear.
"Ms. Granger" Shaklebolt began. "Everyone in this room including the council members have been brought up to date on the details of the case so far. All we require now is your proposal on how to handle it. Now, I understand that you have a theory of sorts on how all of this is connected and we would be grateful if you could be concise in your explanation of it".
Hermione took another breath, steeled herself and began.
"When the attacks on muggles began, the obvious connection that we found between them was that the victims were all specialists in ancient Greek history. All three professors murdered in Greece, the British professor, and three of the fifteen people killed in Egypt were all scholars studying ancient Greek history or Greek mythology. They had all done research on various areas of Greek history and were published academics. At first glance this seemed to be the only connection. It took me a while to realise that there was another one. All of the muggles who had been killed had, at some point in their careers, done research on Pandora and Pandora's box. One of the young professors killed in Egypt had even put forward a theory on where Pandora's box might be found". Hermione took another breath and spared a quick glance around the room. Almost all the purebloods faces were in varying degrees of confusion whereas the muggle-borns of the lot merely looked surprised.
"I understand that most of you, do not know who Pandora is or what her box may be, so I will explain briefly. In Greek mythology, it is said that there was once an extraordinarily beautiful woman by the name of Pandora whom the Greek Gods created as a spouse to Epimetheus, who was a titan. Epimetheus and his brother Prometheus are considered to be the entities that created mankind. But Zeus, who is a Greek God wanted to punish the brothers for giving humans the gift of fire, which he believed they did not need. So after creating Pandora, Zeus also created a box in to which he put all the evils of the world, like disease, pain, betrayal. He gave this box to Pandora and commanded her not to open it. But Pandora was a very curious woman who couldn't help but open the box to look inside. When she did so, all the evils of the world came out and dispersed, leaving only hope. Ancient Greeks used this story to explain the reason for all the misery in the world".
Hermione paused here, trying to figure out how to continue. Shaklebolt cleared his throat. "Can you explain to us how this story affects our case?". Hermione took a moment to organize her thoughts. This is where fact led slowly into speculation, so she wanted to tread lightly.
"I know many of you have heard of Falcon Aesalon, the wizard who first discovered how to turn himself into an Animagus. But most people don't know much about his wife. While Falcon was supposed to be an immensely powerful wizard, it is said that his magic paled in comparison to that of his wife. However, while Falcon was a benevolent man who spent his time amongst animals mostly, his wife was feared within the wizarding community for her penchant for dark magic. My research shows that she was the one who created several dark spells including many of the spells used in blood magic. She was also supposed to be good at making potions and apparently used those potions to harm people. It is also rumoured that she may have been the one to create and perfect the crutiatus curse". Hermione continued, finally looking up and directly at the panel. "In two wizarding history books, I have found reference to some evil device that Falcon Aesalon's wife created that is said to have struck fear into the hearts of all who heard of it. It was even written that the main reason Falcon worked so hard to turn himself into a falcon was to escape his wife and the dark artefacts she was creating. After combing through all the data I found, I believe that it's quite possible she created some sort of evil device or spell or potion that could cause great harm. And this is why muggle professors who have studied the Pandora myth are being hunted. It is possible someone is using legilimency on them to get their information, as we have had no evidence of veritaserum or torture". Hermione finished and looked around the room once more. Almost everyone seemed to be lost in thought.
"But dear" a lady from the council leaned forward. "I don't see how you connected the stories about Falcon Aesalon's wife to your muggle myth".
"This part has some speculation I admit" Hermione looked down and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I'm not saying there is an actual Pandora's box. But we all know through experience that almost all muggle myths find their origins in the wizarding world. With that in mind, it is entirely possible that Falcon's wife created something evil that could be paralleled to all the evil in Pandora's box. The story always has some basis in fact".
"Ok but Miss, why do you feel that Falcon's wife and the lady in the muggle myth are the same?" An elderly gentleman from the back asked.
"Because" Hermione tore her eyes away from her file to look at the council. "Falcon Aesalon's wife's name was Pandora".