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Chapter 42: Boom! Boom! Boom!
Harry had apparated to the front of the castle’s gate. Mr. Filch opened it, from inside, for him. “Hello, Argus. Did you have a good summer?” Harry asked him as he stepped by.
“Ay, it was quiet. Didn’t have any of the brats running around messing up my corridors and classrooms,” he told Harry.
“I hope you have a good year. I hear the new group is a handful,” Harry told him.
“I’ve already sent seven of them up to the Head Mistress’s office. I fear it’s going to be a long year,” the old man said as he turned and followed Harry up to the main doors.
“How have things gone so far?” Harry asked the Head Mistress of the school. He had gone up to visit with her before the first class of the day was to start.
“Let’s just say that it could have started better. Hagrid followed your directive and attacked a first year on the train platform. It seems that all of the students have heard about your idea to have them protect the younger students, as well as themselves. Poor Hagrid was hit by over forty spells and defensive jinxes. He’s all right but anyone else would have been sent to the infirmary,” Minerva told him as she poured a cup of tea for him.
Harry took the cup and sat back in the chair that he was in, in front of McGonagall’s desk. “I’ll warn the others to only attack a first year if there is only one or two older students around. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. This is only a training exercise,” he told his old Professor.
“Yes, that would be preferable to sending students up to the infirmary on a daily basis. Will we be seeing much of you this year?” she asked, as she sat down behind her desk.
“I don’t know. I’ll try to get here as much as I can but I’m working on the exploding statues case and we have a lot of investigations to carry out. I’ll try to pop by as often as I can,” Harry told her.
“Do you have any ideas on how it’s happening?” his old Professor asked him.
“To be honest with you; we don’t have a clue. There doesn’t seem to be a timer or any form of detonator. I don’t understand how they can sit there for weeks or months and then just suddenly blow up,” Harry confessed to her.
The two talked for awhile more and then made their way down to the great hall. When Harry walked in, Bonnie ran over to him and gave him a hug in front of the rest of the school. Since he wasn’t in the position of Professorship this year he didn’t mind, this time.
When Harry had made it halfway to the front of the Great Hall he drew his wand and pointed it a one of the first year girls sitting at the Ravenclaw table. He threw a light stupefy spell at her. His intent was that the fourth year boy next to her would put up a shield to defend her.
Before the boy could do anything, two other first year students jumped up and blocked Harry’s spell. One of them threw a stunning spell back at Harry. He was able to deflect it easily enough but the spell had quite a bit of power behind it. Harry was stunned by what these two first year students were able to do.
“Excellent!! Where did you learn to do that?” Harry wanted to know.
The two boys stood there not knowing what to say. The girl that Harry had attacked almost whispered an answer to him. When he told her he couldn’t hear her, she straightened out and told him in a more self-controlled voice, “Bonnie and Daniel have been showing us how to defend ourselves. I was attacked on the platform by Professor Hagrid and, although, some of the other older students protected me, we all felt that it would be a good idea if we knew how to defend ourselves incase that there were no other older students around,” the girl told him.
“What’s your name?” Harry wanted to know.
“I’m Jennifer Wingate, this is Thomas Adams, and Frank Bests,” she introduced them to Harry.
“You did very well. If I was still a Professor here, I’d give each of you ten points for your great response to my threat,” Harry heard clinking as thirty jewels dropped into the Ravenclaw’s tabulation chamber.
The three of them, turned to see that they had earned the first awards for their house this year. They turned back with smiles on their faces at being given this honor by the Boy Who Lived. “Thank you Professor,” Frank said as the two boys turned and rejoined their friend at the table.
Harry turned and looked at his two young friends. “So you’re teaching them how to defend themselves?” He wanted to know.
“We figured that they’d be in the same position that we were in last year. Bonnie felt that if we could teach them how to block and throw a few spells back at the attacker it would be easier for them this year,” Daniel explained to Harry why they had taken that step.
“You did very well. It shows in the way that they responded to what I did. Keep it up. Sometimes having someone closer to your age teaching you, makes it easier. I’m very impressed,” Harry admitted to them.
It had been a quiet Tuesday morning in Brussels. Office workers were on their way to work. Traffic was congested; as usual. People walked by the “Mannekin Pis,” without paying any attention to it. It had been there for so many years that no one gave it much thought.
The city council met in the council chambers once a month to plan out what would be done to continue the improvements to their fair city. They had started to repair and clean the old statues and gothic buildings in and around the center of the city. They had just finished an extensive repair of several statues of which the “Mannekin Pis,” was the most important.
This was the most famous statue in Brussels. It had been erected on the spot where a rich merchant had found his two year old son after the boy had wandered off. The merchant had been so relieved that he had a statue of his son placed on the spot to commemorate his safe return.
It was now a busy intersection between the Stoofstraat/ Rue de L’étuve and Eikstraat/ Rue de Chène. Members of the city government as well as several major companies drove or strolled past the statue of the little boy on a daily basis. Very few paid close attention to it or the workers who had spent several days returning it to its rightful place after it had been cleaned and repaired of the dirt and damage it had suffered after several centuries of exposure.
The explosion was so forceful that the windows of the buildings in a five block radius were blown in and hundreds of office workers were either, killed, maimed, or severely cut from the flying glass. The buildings that surrounded the statue were leveled by the incredible power of the blast.
Harry was awakened just before seven that morning by a loud rapping on the downstairs door. He went flying down the stairs with his wand in hand. Ginny opened the door just as he got there. Mr. Proudfoot was standing in the doorway with a strained look on his face. “Oh! Kitchi, I didn’t expect to see you this morning,” Harry told him as he realized that he was standing there only in his shorts.
“Sorry to disturb you Harry, but there’s been another explosion. The reports that we’re getting indicate that two city blocks of Brussels are completely gone. The death toll could reach a couple of thousand. This is getting serious, Harry. If we can’t stop these attacks, everyone will be at great risk,” Kitchi told him.
Harry and Kitchi had a quick breakfast before heading out to the site of the explosion. Ginny walked him to the front door, gave him a kiss and watched as her husband and his boss disapparated away to the scene of the explosion.
Harry stepped into a scene of chaos from hell. Fires were roaring everywhere and chunks of buildings and burning cars mixed themselves together in such a way that at some points one couldn’t tell where one part started and another ended. He and Kitchi had to step over bricks, granite blocks, glass, and assorted chunks of metal from the destroyed buildings. A fine covering of white powder covered everything as far as the eye could see.
Several water mains had ruptured from the force of the explosion and the two men had to dodge several impromptu geysers. The roads had been broken and buckled from the force of the blast and the surrounding steel street light poles had been bent in half or blown completely off of the sidewalks.
“Harry this explosion was far more powerful then anything we’ve seen yet. They must have improved on the formula that they’ve been using,” Kitchi told his new Auror.
“Look at the point of the blast. The walls that had been behind the statue focused the blast out into the street before they were leveled, themselves,” Harry pointed out the specifics of the damage that he was looking at, to his boss.
A scream from the nearby rubble caught the men’s attention. Harry and Kitchi made their way over to a large pile of brick. Once there, they could clearly hear someone screaming for help from under several tons of building materials.
They started to pull the debris off and throw it into a pile to the side. After several minutes of hard shifting, Harry found a bloody hand sticking out from under the crumbled brick. He continued moving the brick away more carefully until the head and shoulders, of an older woman was uncovered. The way that the building collapsed had put her into a pocket of space just large enough for her to not be crushed by the debris. A lintel of one of the building’s doors had fallen over her head and chest and the rest of the bricks and wood came to rest on the lintel instead of crashing down on the woman’s body.
Once Harry removed most of the brick and mortar away from the woman’s face and chest she was able to sit up but couldn’t move since her leg had been pierced by a rebar from the walls of the building she had been in.
Harry stayed with her until the emergency personal in the area could come to her aid. When he was sure that she would be taken care of, he stepped aside with his fellow investigator and slipped away before anyone could ask what they were doing there.
The two men made their way back to Grimmauld Place. After a lunch of sandwiches, Kitchi brought the other men up to speed as to what had happened and what they found while they were there. The fact that the explosions were increasing in power had everyone tense.
The Auror department worked nonstop the rest of the week in hopes of finding any information that could be of some use in identifying who was behind the attacks. The kitchen in Grimmauld Place had been transformed into what looked like a war room. Maps, photographs, reports, and dozens of coffee and tea cups were left hanging around.
Winky was beside herself with work. She was trying to cook, clean and keep the room in some semblance of order. By the third day she almost had a melt down when one of Harry’s fellow Aurors threw his paper cup at the trashcan and missed. The residual coffee splashed on the wall. Harry caught Winky around the waist as she went after the man with the kitchen knife she had in her hand.
“Winky, I want you to take the day off. Would you go and set up a nice meal for Ginny and me for tonight. It’s our second month’s anniversary and I was hoping to make something nice for her, but I’ll be tied up here until much later. Would you do that for me?” Harry asked her. She stood there looking at her Master for a few minutes, bowed her head and disappeared.
“I think that it would be a good idea if we cleaned up a bit before she comes back. The last thing I want is an irate house elf going after us,” he told the other men. They all looked at each other and without a word spoken, spent the next ten minutes tidying up the kitchen and their sleeping accommodations. They all remembered how savage the house elves had been at the battle of Hogwarts. They didn’t want to have that type of rage aimed in their direction.
Six thirty that night found Harry and Ginny sitting at their new table with a wonderful chicken cordon bleu. Winky had put her anger into her cooking and had come up with the best meal that the two newlyweds had eaten since they occupied their new home. When the meal was done, Ginny went to take Harry’s and her plate back to the sink to clean them. Winky stepped in and took the plates out of her hands and walked away. The look that she gave Ginny clearly conveyed that it was her job and Ginny should leave things alone.
“If Mistress and Master wish to relax, Winky will take care of the dinner table. Is there anything else that you need Winky to do for you tonight?” she wanted to know as she climbed the small step stool so that she could put the dishes in the sink.
“Thank you Winky, but we’re all set. Harry and I will be in the parlour for a while,” Ginny said as she took him by the hand and led him into the other room. “I want to spend some time with the only man that I love,” she whispered into Harry’s ear.
The two sat on the couch for a while talking about what had been happening. The explosions had set Harry on edge again and Ginny was trying to help him calm down so that he wouldn’t suffer from another bout with WWSS.
“I can’t help feeling that I’m missing something,” Harry told her after he had sat there for a few minutes thinking about what had happened.
“You’ve been thinking about this to much. Just relax for awhile. We can go to bed and you can start on the problem, fresh, tomorrow,” she suggested to him.
“It’s just that I can’t see what the connection is between all of the statues except that they exploded,” Harry confessed to his wife.
“Do they have anything else in common?” she wanted to know.
“They’ve all been cleaned, repaired, or made in the last few months. How could that set them up to explode?” he wanted to know.
“Where were they taken to be repaired?” Ginny asked.
Harry turned and looked at his wife as if she had just told him that she was going to be made Queen of England. “That’s the common thread!” he yelled.
He went over to the hearth and threw in a handful of floo powder. Seconds later he was talking with Kitchi. If his hunch was correct they should be able to trace the statues back to where they had been built or repaired in the last year.
Harry stepped out of the hearth some twenty minutes later. His discussion with Kitchi had gone a long way to remove some of the frustration of not knowing the common thread. He came back to his wife and dropped down next to her.
“How was I so lucky to get you for my wife? You’re beautiful, smart, sexy, and as pregnant as pregnant can be. I love you more than anything,” Harry told her as he gave her a soft kiss.
“Hmmm, would my husband like to show me how much?” Ginny asked him with a devilish smile on her face.
“You just ask!” he told her.
“Would you rub my feet? They’re killing me. This being with child, does weird things to a body. My feet have never bothered me before but I now find that they hurt around this time, each night,” Ginny admitted to him.
Harry kissed her and slid onto the floor in front of their couch. He slipped her slippers off of her feet and started to gently but firmly message her feet for her. He was amazed by how small her feet were in his hands. Every so often, he would run his little finger up from her heal to the tip of her middle toe. She would jump in a spasm of ticklish delight.
They spent their night sitting quietly together. They didn’t talk much but they communicated in a way that all newlyweds learn to. Ginny rested her head back on the couches padding as her husband worked her feet to ease the cramps and pain in them. After some twenty minutes of work, Harry had helped her relax to the point that she was almost asleep. He took her foot and kissed the tip of her big toe. She squeaked as he did this since she hadn’t expected him to do anything like that.
“Come to bed dear. It’s been a long day. I’ll give you a back rub before you go to sleep,” he whispered to her. She nodded her head and stood up with his help.
Once the two of them had slid into their bed, Ginny wiggled over to her husband and wrapped his arm around her waist. “Harry, do you think that we could go into the village tomorrow? I need to get a few things from the market and I haven’t been to the common yet,” she explained.
“When I come back from work tomorrow, we’ll take a walk and see what the rest of town looks like. The only time that I was really here was when Hermione and I had come that night, I was looking for Voldermort’s Horcrux.
When Ginny awoke the next morning, she found a note on Harry’s pillow.
I received a Patronus from Kitchi early this morning. I felt that you needed your rest so I didn’t awake you. I don’t know what time I’ll be home but we’ll go into town when I get back. You are forever in my mind and heart.
All my love,
She read it several times. There was no reason to, but she felt that it was special. She knew that Harry usually didn’t write letters to anyone. The fact that he wrote one to her and that it was so normal gave her a warm, wonderful, feeling in the pit of her belly. Her hand came up to her umbilicus just as a flutter tickled her from within.
She laid there wondering if it was just gas or did she feel the first introduction to the life she held in her most sacred of places. Ginny stayed there, quite in bed, thinking about the life she carried and wondered if this is how her mother had felt when she was carrying her.
Harry had apparated into the kitchen at Grimmauld Place shortly after he had received the message from his boss. Most of the team was there, around the main table. Dawlish looked up and waved Harry over to the center of the men to show him what they had found.
“Harry, your idea about the repair company seemed to have hit close to home. When we crossed referenced the statues that exploded with the companies that either built or repaired them, we came up with a common point. All of the statues, so far, have been made or repaired by a single statuary company. I’ve sent three men out to check on the company and we should know if we’re right in the next few minutes. The companies name is, Watson and Harris! It’s one of the oldest companies of its type still in operation,” Dawlish told him and the other Aurors around the table.
The Aurors returned just before lunch with the news that they didn’t find anything amiss and the owners were very happy to help out. It didn’t seem that they were trying to hide anything. Harry thought about the new information and asked if he could go back after lunch to check for himself.
“Three of our Aurors have already gone and checked the place out. I don’t think we need anyone else there at this time,” Dawlish told him. Harry was going to argue the point with him but stopped when Kitchi caught his eye and waved him off.
A thoroughly dejected Harry returned to Potter’s Pride that night. It had not gone well for the Auror’s department that day and Harry was feeling that they were missing something.
He and Ginny had a quiet supper, and while Winky washed the dishes, went for a walk to the village common. Ginny held Harry’s right arm and walked down the sidewalk from their home to the center of town with the statue to Harry and his parents. The walk was slow and quiet, they talked about what Harry had been doing that day and how quaint the village, that they had chosen to live in, was.
They stopped and looked at the center piece of the common. It was of a male wizard and his wife holding their little boy. Ginny watched her husband to see if he would be all right. Harry stood there looking at the statue that had been erected in honor of his family and what they had done for the Wizarding world. To any muggle it appeared as a war memorial for the soldiers of the town.
“We can take our children here someday and show them what their grandparents did and how important their father has been to the Wizarding world,” she told him as they walked across the common to the little convenience store that was on the opposite corner.
Ginny and Harry walked around the Grandspen store for a few minutes. They purchased a few things they needed for their kitchen and walked back across the common.
That night Harry layed in bed but couldn’t sleep. He had a strong feeling that the Aurors were missing something but couldn’t put his finger on it. When the clock, on the mantle downstairs, struck three he decided to get up. He went down stairs and poured a glass of milk for himself. While he was standing at the island, an idea occurred to him.
He went back upstairs and dressed in his black slacks and a black sweater that he had gotten for his wardrobe when they had returned from their honeymoon. He stepped over and knelt by his sleeping wife. He watched her sleep for a few minutes and then stepped away. Without making any noise, Harry disapparated away to the kitchen at Grimmauld Place.
It took Harry a few minutes to find the address for Watson and Harris, he then disapparated away before any of the Auror’s staying there, even knew that he had been there.
A few minutes later, Harry apparated into a building that could only be described, as an old, over worked, large warehouse. He walked quietly along the row of offices until he reached a door that had “research” printed in bold letters on it.
Harry stepped forward and apparated onto the other side of the door. The office was cluttered with files and cabinets. He went over to the filing cabinets, “Luminous,” he intoned.
He spent the next hour, going through the drawers to see if there was anything that would seem amiss. Except for the fact that the company seemed to purchase a lot of statue sealant called, ‘weather guard’ there was nothing else amiss.
As Harry went to leave, he noticed a job completion report on the center of the desk. The company had just finished six months of restoration work on, “The Quadriga Statue,” on top of the Brandenburg Gate. Harry stood and considered what he should do next. He realized that if this company was to blame for the explosions then the statue that had just been completed would also explode in the near future.
“Kitchi! Kitchi! Wake up!” Harry whispered loudly as he poked his fellow Auror.
“Hum? What?” Kitchi said as he opened his eyes. He sat bolt upright in his bed when he realized who was standing next to him.
“Harry what the bloody hell are you doing here at this time of the night?” he whispered as he tried to rub the sleep from his face.
“I just found out that, Watson and Harris just finished refurbishing, “The Quadriga Statue,” Harry told him.
“Yeah, so!” Kitchi wanted to know.
“If Watson and Harris have done something to the statue to explode it hasn’t yet,” Harry explained.
Mr. Proudfoot sat there in his bed for the next ten seconds as his mind wrapped itself around the idea that Harry had just planted there.
“I think we need to get to Germany as quickly as we can. What time is it anyway?” he asked Harry.
“It’s almost 3:45; we have another two hours of darkness left. I think we need to visit this statue as soon as we can,” Harry told his senior partner.
Five minutes later, the two of them disapparated away from the kitchen and landed at the base of the gate, itself. The two of them held a short discussion about how they were going to do this and both agreed that they had to get up on the statue if they were to find any evidence of an explosive.
Kitchi and Harry were sitting astride the two center horses. They checked the surface of the metal that it was composed of and found only metal coated with the sealant that Harry had read about back in the office.
When they had been on the statue for over an hour, fog started to move in and a cold clamminess coiled itself around them and the metal of the statue started to acquire a coating of moisture.
Harry noticed that where ever the beads of water were, the metal seemed to twinkle and shine. In some spots wisps of vapor were lifting off of the statue. The method of detonation became clear to Kitchi. “Harry! It’s the moisture! The statue must have some form of inert explosive until it gets wet. That’s the trigger!” he concluded.
As the two men sat there the statue started to steam and sparkle. Harry realized that it was going to explode and there was nothing they could do to stop it. He kicked a small segment of the reins with his foot until it snapped off. He grabbed the piece of metal and jumped off of the horse with Kitchi.
The two wizards saw that the statue had started to sparkle and vibrate under their feet. Harry looked at Kitchi and, realizing that the statue was about to explode, levitated the statue off of the gate and sent it flying across the city and into the pond in the Tiergarten.
The explosion was so forceful that most of the water in the pond was vaporized and most of the trees were ripped up and thrown over a large area. The water of the pond had the desired effect in that it absorbed enough energy from the blast that none of the buildings in the area were damaged.
Over the next few weeks, reports of the impact of a meteor with the top of the Brandenburg Gate would circle the globe several times. No one would ever know that it had been two wizards that had saved most of the city of Berlin.
The only strange report was that a vice president of Watson and Harris was found dead in the driveway of his modest home. The strangest thing about the death was that his larynx had been crushed and he had been garroted. It had been strange enough that several muggle papers in Germany carried it on their front page and the police of the city didn’t have a clue as to what had happened. What was not reported was that the method of death resembled what would have been done by the Thuggie two hundred years before in the passes of India.
Harry was busy for the next five weeks as he and his team of Aurors investigated Watson and Harris but couldn’t find anything that was different in the coatings or sealants used on the statues. They were able to get one of the Aurors inside the company as an employee to see if he could find anything else out.
Harry would walk Ginny to the market and spend time on the common in the evenings. The leaves on the trees were starting to turn and the air was developing, a crispness, to it.
One evening Harry noticed that there was a small pile of candy wrappers at the base of one of the trees near the house. It angered him that anyone would just leave their junk on the street and not pick it up. He made it a point of throwing away any trash he found on the sidewalk around his house.
The investigation into the piece of metal that Harry had brought back from Germany had proved negative for any type of explosive. The best wizards couldn’t figure out how the statues exploded. It was too late anyway.
Two weeks had passed. Harry had just come home when an explosion shattered all of the windows in the house and knocked him to the floor. Although he hadn’t been hit by any broken glass he felt the sharp fragment pierce his abdomen.
“Ginny!!” he yelled as he stood up and disapparated away, as quickly as he could.