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The Other British Government

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Amelia had been gone for five days. She had not indicated that she planned on being absent, and she hadn't phoned in sick. Mycroft was worried about her. He tried to tell himself that it was strictly for business reasons: it would take an unpleasant amount of time to train a new assistant and Amelia had information that could not get out at any cost. Even some of the more minor pieces of information could cause disasters in the hands of the wrong person. Besides that, she was the most efficient assistant he had ever had. The amount of work done in the past few days was much less than the usual amount, even taking into account that all of his best people, including himself, were busy looking for her. The fact that he was personally part of the search said something about how important she was to him; had it been any other member of his staff, he would have been happy delegating.

She had been his assistant for a year and a half. When she applied for the job, she had shown her skill in all the various fields that he required, such as diplomacy, scheduling, and self-defense. Her apparent lack of personal connections and her wish not to use her own name were somewhat unusual, but not worrying. It was an advantage to not have many close personal relationships in his line of work; although being friendly with powerful political figures was important, the long hours and delicate nature of the information they handled made relationships complicated. As for the name, aliases weren't exactly unheard of among people in the information business, so having an assistant who didn't go by her real name very often wasn't really an issue. He knew her real name, of course, and called her by it.

"Amelia Green." It was a fairly average name. Perhaps that was why she disliked it; Mycroft had never felt the need to ask. The only consistent thing about the aliases she used was that they all started with "A." Ariana, Athena, Anthea, Ashleigh, Artemis, Andromeda.

There was definitely something wrong, though. It wasn't like her to just disappear.

Amelia was a reliable employee. She rarely needed sick days, she refused to take vacation days, and she seemed quite happy working unplanned overtime. Not that there was really a specific time that her job ended each evening, but staying until two thirty in the morning was definitely overtime. She hadn't made any plans to go anywhere; she would have let Mycroft know. Even if it had been an emergency, she would have contacted Mycroft on her way to wherever she was going. She hadn't called in sick either, and there hadn't been any unknown people admitted to the hospital matching her description.

According to the security cameras in her flat (which were in every room except her bedroom and bathroom), she had entered her bedroom after work and hadn't left. The room was empty when Mycroft sent someone to check on her the first day of her absence.

Closer examination of the room showed that Anthea had changed out of her work clothes and into pyjamas. Later, she had hurriedly changed out of her pyjamas and into something else. She hadn't slept in the bed. It seemed that she had listened to the radio shortly before she left, as the radio was still sitting on her nightstand instead of where she usually kept it below the nightstand. The window hadn't been touched, and she hadn't returned to the rest of her house. Even Mycroft couldn't figure out how she had left the room.

Even more sinister than her inexplicable exit was that she had left her Blackberry. That was what made it almost impossible that she had left of her own accord.

It was likely that a political enemy of his had captured her, though they would have had to avoid the cameras and somehow restrain her without a struggle. If this was the case, then she was probably being tortured for information, as a ransom demand would have already been delivered had that been the kidnappers' intent. Mycroft hoped that this wasn't the case.

However, it was highly unlikely that she had left of her own accord. Even ignoring the facts that her Blackberry was still in her room and that there was no way she could have left her room, the problem still remained that she didn't have anywhere to go. She was too emotionally stable to randomly disappear. He had only ever seen her upset once.

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Mycroft had found Amelia in tears one day in September. This surprised Mycroft greatly, as Amelia had never been prone to emotional displays before. He wasn't used to dealing with people in her state; he wasn't usually considered the type of person who someone would look to for comfort. Still, he did his best to seem comforting, awkwardly patting her on the shoulder. She seemed somewhat soothed by his actions. When she was calm enough that Mycroft felt that it was proper to ask her, he inquired about the cause of her outburst. She had politely, but firmly, refused to answer.

Mycroft's investigation into the cause of the incident was unsuccessful. Nothing unusual had happened to her recently. She seemed to have gone to bed happy and woken up in this state. It was possible that a nightmare had bothered her, but Amelia had no history of having issues with nightmares and it was highly unlikely. A look into her records did not show any significant events that the date might have reminded her of. It was a mystery. Mycroft determined that it would do no good to ask her about the matter or investigate further. He noticed that Amelia still looked upset for several weeks after the incident, though.

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At eleven fifty-five in the morning of the fifth day of Amelia's absence, Mycroft received a text message to his private phone number. Very few people possessed it: extremely high-ranking officials of various countries, a select few of his staff, and members of his immediate family. Because of this, it was surprising and worrisome that the sender of the message was not a number that he recognized. Mycroft opened the message, mentally considering who could have gotten his number and how to prevent it from happening again.

The message said: "Sorry for absence. Had to deal with personal emergency and was injured. Am fine. Will be back in work tomorrow. Am borrowing friend's phone to send this. Won't be able to receive reply.-Amelia Green."

Mycroft immediately traced the number. It could not be located by GPS. The number was registered to a woman named Cho Chang. Cho Chang was British and had never left the country before. The picture was one of a woman of Chinese descent who was nineteen years old, which fit with the information in her file. She had gone to the same private school as Amelia had, although their age difference made a close relationship during school unlikely. There was no sign that the two women had communicated after Amelia left the school. Cho's address could not be found, even using several government resources. She did not have any living relatives, either. Mycroft finally had to accept that there was nothing left to do except wait for the next day.

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Amelia was already at her desk, working, when Mycroft arrived the next morning. Mycroft was relieved that she was fine. She didn't seem to have any physical injuries, and she was practically beaming. She did seem exhausted, though.

Mycroft greeted her and asked where she had been.

Amelia sighed and said, "I had a personal situation that I had to deal with. Everything went well, but I was injured and didn't regain consciousness until yesterday. I'm sorry for any inconvenience I caused; I should have let you know that something had come up before leaving, but it was extremely urgent. I'm sorry, but I can't tell you more."

"Can't or won't?"

"Can't. It isn't possible to tell you now, although it might be in the future."

Mycroft knew that questioning her further would be futile. He turned away from her desk, but she said, "Wait."

He looked back at her.

She said, "I got a job offer and I'm going to take it. This is my two weeks' notice. And to answer your questions: No, I am not going to change my mind. No, I am not being forced to leave. No, this does not have anything to do with you; I've enjoyed working here. No, I am not going to tell you who has hired me. I will tell you that it isn't anyone who is in any way a threat to you. And yes, I was offered this job while I was injured. Yes, I was really injured; I didn't just fake it to go on a job interview. I have no way of proving that, though, so you'll have to trust me. I was offered the job in the hospital yesterday. I think that just about covers it."

Mycroft was extremely surprised. He composed himself and said, "Okay. Do you have any thoughts about your replacement?"

Amelia replied, "I have a few ideas. I'll talk to you about that later, though; I want to confirm a few things first before seriously considering any of the candidates."

Mycroft just nodded and went inside his office, closing the door as he went. He was still processing Amelia's announcement. He was going to miss her. He had learned from her absence the past few days that he needed her. He hoped that his new assistant would be even half as efficient as she was.

Even if the new assistant was as good at the job as Amelia was, though, he was certain that he would miss Amelia. Even Mycroft Holmes wasn't free of all sentiment.

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It was Amelia's last day of work. Mycroft had decided to trust Amelia's judgement on the matter of her replacement, and he hired Cho Chang, the woman whose mobile Amelia had borrowed, even though she hadn't gone to college and had hardly any experience. She had graduated from high school last year and had worked for Reginald Prewett ever since. He was very important in the world of corporate finance. Mycroft had talked with him, and Reginald Prewett had nothing but praise for Cho. Cho had done well in her interview, too. She had spent the past week training under Amelia. She seemed competent.

Amelia finished packing her few personal possessions and prepared to leave. She looked like she was searching for something to say. She finally said, "Well, I'll be off now. Keep in touch, okay? If you want to, that is. I'm not going to have a mobile, though, so e-mail me? I'll let you know how I'm doing, although I'll be really busy at first with the new job. Also, it's a waste of resources to try to find out where I'm living or where I'll be working. It's not going to work."

Mycroft knew she was probably right, but it still annoyed him that someone who was apparently more powerful than him was preventing him from making sure that Amelia was safe.

"So, bye, then," Amelia said before Mycroft could respond. She sounded like she was having trouble figuring out what to say. Mycroft could relate.

"Goodbye. It was a pleasure working with you," he said stiffly.

He held out his hand, but Amelia pulled him into a hug instead of shaking it. Mycroft stiffly put his arms around her, surprised.

Amelia released him and picked up the box that she had packed. She walked away, calling out, "I'll miss you! Write me!"

She entered the lift before Mycroft was able to respond to her.

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Eight days had passed since Amelia had left. Cho had done very well as her replacement (although she hadn't met Sherlock yet), but Mycroft still missed Amelia. He had received a brief e-mail from her two days ago, but it wasn't the same as actually being with her. Especially since it came in the middle of the night and said, "I'm very busy. Got off work early so had time to write thus. I'm happy but miss you. Sleep now, talk more later. Bye."

The uncharacteristic spelling error (Amelia was a skilled typist) and general choppiness of the letter worried Mycroft. It seemed like she had overworked herself. He still hadn't learned anything about her new life. She had moved out of her apartment (somehow managing evade the cameras trained on her after driving for a few streets), so he didn't even know where she lived. Her credit cards hadn't been used since she had left his office either. His attempts to trace the e-mail she sent were useless, too. They couldn't retrieve the IP address or location of the computer she had used to send it.

Cho interrupted his thoughts by knocking on Mycroft's office door and calling, "There are a few people here for a meeting. Should I send them in?" Mycroft noticed that Cho seemed rather happier than she usually did.

Mycroft knew for a fact that there hadn't been a meeting scheduled for this time slot before, but there were still several possibilities as to who was here unannounced. Cho could have forgotten to tell him about this meeting, but she wasn't prone to making simple mistakes like this. It could be an important government figure who was dealing with an emergency and didn't have time to schedule a meeting ahead of time. The problem with both of these possibilities, of course, was that he preferred to avoid conducting business at this office. Thus, it was unlikely that anyone would come here to meet with him. Except, of course, for people who wished to harm him. Of course, it was improbable that Cho would look so happy about someone with bad intentions toward him. Unless, of course, Cho was in on a plot against him. He prided himself on being too good a judge of character to miss that, though. The only remaining possibility that was even remotely likely was that Sherlock and Dr. Watson had come to his office.

Mycroft really hoped that Cho's happiness didn't have anything to do with her having a crush on either of the men. They were both much older than her. Plus, Sherlock was... well, Sherlock.

Mycroft said that she could send them in; if he didn't, Sherlock would come in anyways.

To his surprise, his visitors were not Sherlock and John. The first person to enter was the Prime Minister's old secretary, Kingsley Shacklebolt; he had disappeared last summer after a year of working for the PM. Mycroft's investigation into his disappearance had been useless, and Sherlock had refused to help. The Prime Minister hadn't seemed surprised that Kingsley hadn't been found.

Kingsley hadn't changed much in the past year. He was still calm and confident. He still was in the habit of scanning every room he entered for threats. (This was suspicious in a secretary, but computer records indicated that his father had been in the military. Kingsley had probably picked up the habit from him.) He did seem both happier and more exhausted than he had been last year.

Through the door, Mycroft could see three people who he immediately identified as bodyguards. They were talking to Cho. Mycroft could see that Cho was familiar with them and seemed happy to see them. Mycroft would have to ask Cho what she knew about them later.

Another person had entered the office. It was Amelia. She looked tired and happy, like Kingsley. Mycroft apparently had his answers to several questions, such as who Amelia was working for and whether Kingsley was dead.

Mycroft said, "Please, sit down. To what do I owe this pleasure, Mr. Shacklebolt, Amelia?"

The pair sat down in the seats indicated. Amelia smiled and said, "Hi, Mycroft. We have a lot to tell you."

Kingsley Shacklebolt added, "Please, call me Kingsley." Mycroft agreed and told Kingsley to call him Mycroft.

"And, on the topic of names, I should tell you that my real name isn't Amelia Green. The birth certificate and other papers were forged- expertly, I might add. My real name is Audrey Alderton. I'm sorry I had to lie to you, but it was necessary, given certain circumstances that would have made it dangerous for anyone to be aware of my given name, no matter how trustworthy they are," Amelia/Audrey claimed.

The pair went on to explain how there was a community of magical people who most of the world didn't know about. Mycroft, being the logical, sane person that he was, didn't believe them, of course. He was sure that they had gone insane.

Then, Audrey transformed his desk into a Saint Bernard. The drool coming from his desk made him reconsider his assumption. He decided that he had been drugged instead, but that hypothesis failed when he didn't show any signs of being drugged other than hallucinations.

Finally, he had to believe that magic was real. There was no alternate explanation that made more sense, and the existence of magic would explain several mysteries.

Audrey went on to explain that the had been a war going on. A group of wizards who hated anyone who didn't have a long magical lineage with a leader who was insane and immortal had risen up again three years ago after having been defeated sixteen years ago. Kingsley had taken a job working for the "muggle" (nonmagical) Prime Minister to protect him. Kingsley had been an auror (something like being a Detective Inspector). Once he realized that Mycroft was the driving force behind a lot of the government, he decided that it was important to protect Mycroft, too. It was unlikely that Voldemort (the leader) knew of Mycroft's importance, but if Voldemort decided to destroy the muggle government after he finished with the wizard one, it was important that Mycroft was protected.

That was where Audrey came in. She was working for the Muggle Liaison Office of the Ministry of Magic (the wizarding government) when Kingsley had approached her and recruited her to a resistance group, the Order of the Phoenix. Her job was to protect Mycroft.

Kingsley had disappeared when the Death Eaters (Voldemort's poorly named subordinates) had seized control of the Ministry of Magic. His replacement, Patricia Stull, was a witch named Penelope Clearwater. Audrey had been friends with her during school. They were in different grades, but they were in the same house at Hogwarts (their wizarding school).

Audrey became a wanted criminal around the time that Kingsley disappeared because she hadn't submitted to the Ministry's summons to court. They would have snapped her wand and put her in prison for the crime of not having wizarding parents. Both of her parents, who had died in a car accident a couple of years ago, had been muggles. She hadn't been able to save her brother, Aaron, earlier this year when he was to jail. Wizarding prison wasn't like normal prison, and he had died before the war could end.

Working for Mycroft had been a good way to hide while still working against Voldemort. At the beginning of May, a major battle had happened, and her side had defeated the dark wizards and killed the leader. Audrey had been missing from work because she had been injured in the battle. Kingsley was declared acting Minister of Magic, which had become permanent in an election a few days later, and Audrey had been declared his senior undersecretary.

Her replacement, Cho, was also a witch. She had started working in the muggle world this year as a way of hiding from Voldemort; she had fought in the final battle, but she didn't wish to return to the wizarding world.

Now that the war was over, they were able to tell Mycroft about the wizarding world. If the wizarding government that was in charge before the war had been more knowledgable about the muggle government, Mycroft would have known years ago.

The only other person in the British government who knew was the Prime Minister. Kingsley thought it would be better if the PM didn't know that Mycroft knew. Mycroft agreed. It would make the Prime Minister worry that Mycroft had too much power.

Mycroft wasn't allowed to do anything that could directly or indirectly lead to anyone (especially Sherlock) discovering that magic or the wizarding world existed. Nobody would believe him, anyways.

"What else do we need to tell you... Oh, your umbrella. In addition to the muggle poisonous darts that it shoots, there is a shield charm on it. It will protect you from a lot of the less powerful spells, although it won't help against an unforgivable- the spells that kill, torture, and control people's minds," Audrey said.

"That's a good idea. Like the Weasley twins' Shield Hats and Shirts," Kingsley interjected. Mycroft noticed that both Kingsley and Audrey looked sad for a moment when he mentioned the Weasley twins.

"I also stored a spare wand in the pole of the umbrella. And some Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder in the handle. I told Cho about the protections on it, and she agreed that it was a good idea to leave them. Even though you can't use the wand, Cho can if she's with you. If you're ever attacked by wizards- and it could happen, you know- the shield charm will be good to have. As for the Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, if you unscrew the handle and throw a bit of the powder into the air, the room that you're in will become pitch black. Of course, you will be just as blind as your enemy, but it might still come in handy."

"Agreed," Mycroft said.

"So," Audrey said, "Any questions?"