"Oh, I don't give a rat's ass about The Department," Odhrán said with a bitter laugh. "We're not friends. You know why."
His eyes narrowed for a moment, and then he sighed. It was obvious that he was uncomfortable and trying to decide just how much of his hand he was willing to reveal. Would he be all in? There was hesitation in his eyes, but eventually he made himself press on.
"Or maybe you don't. We've never really talked about it, have we? I just assumed that you knew, but assumptions are a funny thing. They're often not true."
He paused again. Odhrán was sure that Pyxis had read his family's file, but who was to say that these records actually contained the truth. History was written by the victors, and it was only logical that they would have recorded the incident in a way that corroborated their version of events. He really should set the record straight.
"Do you know about the cabal yet?"
His stomach somersaulted. Why was he telling Pyxis? He took another sip from his punch. Maybe this was a conversation he should be having with Deitha. She'd be all flaming indignation and vigilante justice about it. There was no uncertainty with her as to how far their believes aligned. They had each other's backs. That moment they'd shared in Azkaban had sealed it.
No, he told himself, Pyxis was a good man. He had been there when it mattered and even outed himself as a legillimens. Pyxis had taken a leap of faith for him. He could do the same. All it. He was all in. He repeated the mantra in his head. All in.
"So, the cabal. There is this secret club in the ministry of civil servants who don't serve the general public, but only themselves. They're not political like, well you know. They only trade in one currency, power and they don't care much where it comes from. A few of these guys used to be invested in 'the greater good' if you catch my drift but changed their loyalties when it was no longer fashionable to be an acolyte."
No doubt some of them went by another title now. He didn't like to think about it, but it was only logical that some of them would try to profiteer from the latest political conflicts. The house always wins.
"Anyway, the cabal has a few strange goals, like abolishing the Statute of Secrecy. After all you can't rule over an inferior race if they are unaware of your existence. My father was a problem for them. He knew about them, held power, and didn't join. So they had to take care of him. However, they figured out that killing him would arouse too much suspicion, so fabricating scandal was a better option. Inflicting lifelong damage on my underage sister in the process was of no concern for them."
He paused yet again, affording Pyxis a moment to sort out his thoughts on the matter. So what if his delivery was stilted, he was doing the best he could given the gravity of it all.
"I'll spare you the detail, but it was pretty gruesome. I don't actually know what it says in our file, but I assume some variant of my father taking an artefact home, not securing it properly and my sister getting hurt in an accident involving a spell fired at the item. But how likely do you think it is that a thirteen year old girl taking remedial duelling lessons with her older brother would have the magical power to blow up a powerful artefact with a poorly aimed expulso curse? You know, the same artefact that two Unspeakables couldn't manage to destroy or disarm with a battery of spells. That's the reason my father took it home, to see if he could disenchant it in the thin place around the corner from the house."
He could almost sense the question that had to be forming in Pyxis mind. A small smile spread across his features. They didn't learn about these things at Hogwarts, did they? The school was notoriously poor at keeping alive the traditions of the Gaelic-speaking wizarding world.
"Oh, thin place. Up here on the islands we believe that all magic originated from another realm and came into this world the same way the leprechauns did - through a space where the barrier between the worlds is faint and easy to cross. I don't remember the actual arithmantic equation behind how these thin places work, but what I can tell you for sure is that there are a few of them here on Árainn Mhór. You can feel it in your bones when you go there and it draws your power to the surface, amplifies well beyond your normal reach."
He ran his fingers through his hair. "Well, let's not get sidetracked. I think you get the idea how ruining the cabal's day is a favourite pastime of mine. Winthrop's cabal adjacent. Could be fun to turn him. Unfortunately, I don't have an angle. I thought you might. Doesn't seem like it would take much to make him spill what he knows and that of course opens the door on some other people. Fernsby and Decker in the wizengamot, maybe even Flint and I can never decide if I think Rookwood is in on it or not. Might be the only opportunity we get to do something about these guys, and it would be in your interest to get them out of your way if you want your family to hang your portrait in your estate's entrance hall. Head of The Department has been a cabal seat for a while."
Yes, he'd noticed the look Pyxis had given his ancestor's portrait earlier. Even when he was not dipping into people's thoughts Odhrán could be quite observant.