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Chapter 55: Dr. Summerby, Two Large Rocks and Some Scones
“Ginny, are you here?” Harry called as he stepped through the front door of Number 12 Grimmauld Place.
Ginny came running down the hall to meet him. “You’re here! What have you been doing all day?”
“That bloody wall! Come look …. See what you’ve put me through!” she dragged him behind her to the drawing room pointing to first his name then Ron’s on the wall. “You see? Do you see that!” she exclaimed. “Why is it doing that Harry? What are you doing to Ron?”
“He’s taken the next shift, along with Smith. Smith is an experienced Auror by the way. They’ll be fine Ginny, I promise.”
“But Harry look!” Ginny insisted.
Harry looked first at his own then at Ron’s name. The symbol beside his own name was home, but the symbol beside Ron’s was blinking between a black and a green dark mark. It grew steadily green for a few seconds then began blinking again.
“Was mine doing that?” Harry asked.
“Yes, all day. Eventually it goes back to gray, but it never goes away,” Ginny confirmed.
Harry nodded as immediately the significance of the color change dawned on him. He checked his watch, withdrawing a parchment from his robes.
“Six-thirty-eight, precisely. “ He continued to monitor the wall. “Now they’re gone. I wonder if that’s coming or going?” he muttered to himself as the dark mark turned steadily gray. “Should be going.”
“Harry! What are you talking about?”
“I never realized we could monitor the coming and going of the Death Eaters from the cavern on this wall…so as long as one of us was inside the cave…That’s really good to know,” Harry said.
“What do you mean,” Ginny said in a low tone.
“It’s like this Ginny. We’ve found the entrance to where the Death Eaters are working with the muggles they’ve kidnapped on the Isle of Mann. It’s a two chambered opening in this really narrow cove with almost no beach. One opening goes back only a hundred feet or so directly from the beach, but the other is a proper cave and it’s located directly above the cavern on the beach. They’re connected though…there’s this crack running between them,” and Harry explained to her about the cave, the tunnel and the surveillance they’d set up in order to learn about the Death Eaters routine operations in preparation for penetrating the site.
“And that’s what Ron is doing? Watching them?”
“Yeah he is. We’ll watch them twenty-four hours a day for a week, so we can establish their normal pattern of operation. Then we can begin to work out how to infiltrate their worksite, get the layout, and we’ll be able to tell when something out of the ordinary’s happening so we’ll have some warning just in case they become aware of us. Right now they have no idea we’re even there.”
Harry went back to watching Ron’s name. “This could be really, really useful. I wonder though if there was a way to use this to communicate?”
“What do you mean, to communicate?” Ginny asked.
“Well wouldn’t it be cool if somehow the tapestry could be used to send messages?” Harry mused.
“And how would it do that?” Ginny asked. “Mum’s clock doesn’t even do that!”
“Oh I know that Ginny, but suppose…just suppose…what if one or more of us could have one, then we could find a way to monitor the symbol…maybe even change it to tell each other things like a double check on their status or something,” Harry mused. “Something silent like that would be perfect. We’d know that the danger was there but that we were okay…”
Ginny stared at him. “Harry, this tapestry is based on old magic. I don’t think old magic can do that, but a set of mirrors like ours could.”
Harry’s head snapped in the direction of his fiancée. “What do you mean a set?”
“Like the ones I got us for Christmas. George told me they come in two-way, three-way…up to six-way. Even more if you special order them,” Ginny explained. “I thought Ron was going to tell you about them?”
Harry nodded as he considered the idea. “He might have, but I didn’t make the connection. I suppose the mirrors could be useful, because it is possible to just use them visually, but the thing about the tapestry is that it’s silent. If we had the equivalent of that out on surveillance, then I wouldn’t have to worry about being overheard.”
Ginny nodded thinking hard as Harry turned his attention back to the tapestry.
Harry furrowed his brow slightly in concentration as he studied its information, frowning slightly when he came to Dudley’s name. “Gin did you notice this? There’s a dark mark next to Dudley’s name as well!”
“It’s only a white one though. Nothing dark or magical involved,” Ginny said. “He’s a police officer isn’t he? Is it all that surprising that he might be doing something dangerous?”
But Harry’s frown deepened. “I didn’t think he was working this week. I’ve been trying to set up a meeting between him, me, Rupert, Justin and Ron, but Rupert’s sent me a dove saying Dudley’s away. I wonder where he is?”
“I don’t know Harry, but it’s time for supper.”
“Okay. Let me send a dove first, just to see if he’s alright. I’ll be right down,” Harry promised.
The rest of the evening passed with supper for the two of them, then afterwards with Harry back in the drawing room watching the wall instead of the telly. That was on too, but he spent much more time watching for the marks beside either Dudley or Ron’s names to change than he did paying attention to the show Ginny had on. An hour after they finished supper when Harry still hadn’t received a dove back from his cousin and Dudley’s mark turned from white to grey, Harry got even more agitated.
“I wonder where he could be?”
“Harry, I’m sure Dudley can take care of himself. I don’t see why you’re so worried.”
“You don’t get it Gin. The Death Eaters are targeting people like Dudley … and my aunt too actually. They’d love to get their hands on them if only because they’re connected to me. But how can I protect them if I don’t even know where they are?”
“Well how about if you send an owl to your aunt?” Ginny suggested. “You know, just to check up on her, see if she’s okay and ask about Dudley at the same time. Maybe you’ll feel better.”
“I don’t know about an owl, but I suppose I could call her. There’s a phone at the corner store. Actually, that’s a really good idea. Thanks.”
Harry kissed her full on the mouth with such enthusiasm that Ginny gasped. He grabbed his jacket as soon as he released her and left the house, jogging to the corner convenience store to place the call. Uncle Vernon answered though, and try as he might, he wasn’t able to get any information at all about Dudley’s whereabouts or what he might be doing. But Uncle Vernon had managed to bluster that both Dudley and his aunt would be safe as long as they steered clear of him. Harry hung up feeling that those words had never been more true. He had no other choice that to wait for Dudley’s dove to return and to hope it came soon.
Harry was waiting at the top of the bluff at midnight as Ron’s shift came to its conclusion for the night. He and Justin would be taking the next one, making sure one relatively experienced Auror was on duty with the inexperienced first year trainee, at least until they were more fully trained. Wendy would take the shift with Dean in the morning then they would rotate again. Justin and Smith would take the evening, while Harry and Ron did the midnight shift again, giving them all the opportunity to work with one another in different combinations.
Once more Harry silently watched from the back of the chamber after he and Ron had traded places, noting times and numbers as the wizards and their muggle charges came and went. This time however he had come equipped with a low light muggle camera and began snapping photos of as many of the muggle faces as he could manage.
“What are you going to do with the pictures Harry?” Justin asked curiously near the end of their shift once the chamber was clear and the first hint of daylight could be seen beyond the mouth of the chamber and the cave. Their replacements would be there in an hour, but no more arrivals seemed to be on the schedule so they had little to do besides wait.
“Get them developed,” Harry offered.
“Of course. After I mean.”
“Duplicate them and send copies to Rupert and Dudley,” Harry said with a bit of a frown as he said Dudley’s name. “I want them to correlate the photos with those missing persons cases they‘ve been working. At the very least I’d like to know their names,” Harry explained. “The more we know about them the better actually. It might help us to tie in the information we already have about them from before. I just hope Dudley’s okay.”
“What do you mean you hope he’s okay?”
“He’s been out of touch. Rupert said he took time off from work so I sent him a dove, but I haven’t heard back.”
No sooner had Harry said that when a charcoal grey dove flew into the chamber from outside. It flew right through his concealment charm and landed on Harry’s shoulder. Harry took the bird onto his finger and looked him over.
“Boy, am I glad to see you,” he told the bird when the creature appeared unharmed. “Here, let’s see if you have a message for me.”
He took a strip of paper from the dove’s leg, read it, scribbled a reply on a bit of parchment and sent it back.
“Is Dudley okay?”
“Yeah. He’s been visiting with a friend. I’m going to see him as soon as I get off shift,” Harry commented just as a figure appeared scrabbling over the rocks coming towards them.
It was Wendy coming down with Dean. Harry did a quick debrief and the teams promptly traded places, with Justin promising to return with Smith that evening. Harry and Ron would take the next midnight shift.
“You know, I think we need another squad to do this,” Harry commented as they made their way back up the bluff. “We need more time between shifts to do it properly.”
Justin grinned as they reached the top. “This is so much better than school though. I really think we did the right thing joining up.”
Harry smiled at his enthusiasm. “I hope you still think so once we get this sorted out. I’m going to meet with Dudley then I’ll see you at next change of shift Justin,” he commented and apparated away.
Harry materialized on the edge of the largest town of any size on the island. In his mind the place was hardly big enough to be considered a city, but its inhabitants considered it as such. Referring to the scrap of paper in his hand, Harry made his way on foot towards the center of the town, then through the garden gate of a small inn where he went up the front steps and let himself in.
“Can I help you?” asked the middle-aged woman sitting at a small desk.
“I hope so. I had a note from my cousin this morning. He asked me to meet him here for breakfast,” Harry said.
“And your cousin’s name is?”
“Dudley Dursley,” Harry told the receptionist.
The woman looked down at a register on her desk.
“Ah yes. I have a Mr. and Mrs. Dursley registered, and I believe they are at breakfast. Right this way please.”
Harry felt a slight sense of panic as he thought for a moment that it was his aunt and uncle who’d been staying there and that somehow he’d misunderstood; until the woman led him into the small dining room and he saw his cousin’s broad back from the entrance to the room. With him was the young woman Harry had met ever so briefly at Christmas.
“Mr. Dursley? There is a Mister … I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” the hostess said as they crossed the room.
“Potter,” Harry supplied.
“Yes, a Mr. Potter to see you?” the hostess finished as Dudley got up from his chair and turned around.
“Harry!” Dudley said. “You made it!”
“Hi Dud,” Harry answered shaking his hand.
“You were expecting him then?” the hostess double checked.
“I invited him yeah. I wasn’t sure he could get here,” Dudley assured her.
“Very good Sir. Can I get you or Mrs. Dursley anything else? More coffee perhaps?” “I’d like a refill,” the lady at the table said.
“And for you Mr. Potter? Some breakfast?”
“Please,” Harry answered as he pulled out a chair and they all sat down together. Harry arched a questioning brow at his cousin as the hostess left and they settled themselves. “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley? Dudley, you almost gave me a heart attack. I thought for a moment your mum was here.”
“Yeah, sorry Harry. Esme, you remember Harry? I think you met at Christmas?”
“Oh yes. Good to see you again Harry. Sorry for the deception. It was the only way we could be sure they’d let us register together.”
“Ah,” Harry said as he began to understand. “So you’re not ah…”
“Not yet,” Dudley said with a smile on his lips, “though we would be soon if I could only convince Esme to listen to me.”
“Now Dudley, we’ve been through all this. You want to make detective within a year and that means lots of overtime, and I want to finish my degree, which means spending time at the dig so I have enough original material to write my thesis,” Esme said firmly. “Then we can get married. Next year, okay?”
Dudley grinned. “I keep asking her, but she keeps saying things like that,” he said as he looked affectionately at Esme.
Harry grinned too. “Does Aunt Petunia know?”
“Not yet, and don’t you dare tell her,” Dudley warned looking back at Harry again.
“Don’t worry Dud, I won’t,” Harry assured him, still smiling at the pair.
The hostess brought a fresh basket of scones, a jar of clotted cream and another of jam, along with a place setting and a cup of coffee for Harry. Dudley and Esme were already halfway through their breakfasts and they spent a few minutes passing things to Harry to allow him to catch up.
“So you wanted to see me Harry?” Dudley asked. “It sounded urgent from your note.”
“I did actually. Dudley, I know this might sound strange, but have you been doing anything…er…particularly dangerous lately?” Harry asked.
Dudley grinned lopsidedly at Esme who giggled as Harry watched the two of them.
“What?” Harry asked.
“I haven’t been… “
“Unless you’re superstitious,” Esme giggled more strongly still.
“Or you happen to believe the legends about the place where she’s been digging,” Dudley said with a sappy sort of smile. “Esme’s been taking me up to the place where they’re doing the excavations. She showed me the inside of one of the burial mounds last evening,” Dudley explained.
“Why would that be dangerous?” Harry asked. “If you believed the legend I mean.”
“Well the magician’s burial mound is said to be guarded by magic and pose a danger to non-magical folk who enter there,” Esme said with a light tinkling sort of laugh. “I mean really! Who’s ever heard of such a thing! Those are fairy tales, really. Nothing to it, nothing at all.”
Harry smiled at her amusement, but his eyes looked worried.
“How much does she remember about year before last?” Harry asked Dudley under his breath, leaning towards his cousin when Dudley looked at him questioningly.
“Not much,” Dudley admitted. “Not even as much as Rupert.”
Harry nodded. “Esme, can you tell me about when you first met Dudley?” Harry asked setting his fork down gently and moving his hands as if to smooth the napkin in his lap beneath the table. He leaned forward, watching her intently.
“Oh let’s see. We were visiting an old abbey on the coast,” Esme said furrowing her brow with the effort of trying to remember. “It was really interesting. I made my first study of an ancient site there. I used it to get into graduate school. I don’t remember why we were there so long, but my parents really wanted to stay and I was busy so…”
Harry gently flicked his wrist under the table and Esme’s face grew momentarily slack then her furrowed brow became a frown which steadily deepened. He glanced at Dudley who was frowning too.
“What are you doing Harry?” he whispered.
“I want her to realize that magic is real.”
“There may be something to those old myths Dud. She needs to be careful.”
Esme’s eyes widened as he said that.
“I do remember that Harry,” Esme assured him. “If you’re Dudley’s cousin then are you the one that’s…. “ Her sentence trailed off as comprehension dawned on her face.
“I went to school with Justin, yes,” Harry said evenly wondering if she was beginning to put two and two together.
Esme narrowed her eyes thinking about what she was remembering. “Justin said you and he…you started that organization…what was it called?” she queried.
“The DA?” Harry offered.
Esme nodded. “Then Rupert and Dudley… “ Her eyes widened once more as it all seemed to come back to her. She stared at Harry. “You want me to remember?”
“Yes. I want you to be careful,” Harry told her earnestly. “Dudley says that muggles…people like you, have been disappearing from that dig site. I just don’t want that to happen to you. I hate it when people I know disappear. You too Dud. You be careful while you’re tramping around up there.”
“Have you been there Harry?” Dudley asked curiously.
“A couple of weeks ago,” Harry admitted.
“Did it look dangerous to you?”
“Not particularly, at least from the outside…but I think it may be,” Harry cautioned the pair. “According to sources at the university, they just began to open up that mound at the beginning of the war, just before muggles began to disappear.” He looked pointedly at Dudley who frowned again.
“You know something,” Dudley stated.
“Not for sure. I only have suspicions,” Harry insisted.
“Suspicions that have something to do with what we were talking about at Christmas?” Dudley asked.
“Maybe,” Harry hedged.
“I get it Harry. It’s part of an investigation. But would they be more than suspicions if you got the chance to look around?” Dudley asked.
“I would like to try,” Harry said earnestly.
Dudley looked at his girlfriend. “Can we take him Esme? Let him look?”
Esme frowned. “We’re not supposed to Dudley. No unauthorized personnel, remember? They won’t even let reporters get too close.”
“I noticed,” Harry commented.
“You posed as a reporter when you went there,” Dudley realized. ”It is part of a case.”
“It may be. That’s what I’m trying to figure out to be honest,” Harry said. He regarded the muggle couple evenly for a moment. “Look Dudley, I’m going to cut out the crap, just for a second. The tapestry showed that you were in danger yesterday evening at about supper time, and for a few moments you got really close to something both dangerous and magical. I didn’t know where you were and I’m pretty sure…they’re hunting you. They’re trying to get back at me see…so,” Harry said in a low tone as though anxious not to be overheard.
“You’re here checking up on me,” Dudley said. “Thanks Harry.”
Harry nodded. “But you can see…? Can’t you?”
The two young men exchanged a look. “Yeah I can.” He turned back to his girlfriend. “We need to take Harry up there. I have a feeling he could tell us what’s been going on.”
“How do you mean?” Harry asked.
“It isn’t a coincidence that I’m here Harry. Esme called me when some more artifacts, tools, and then two days ago, a person disappeared. She asked me to investigate, but I’m stumped.” Dudley turned towards Esme as he went on. “Harry’s in law enforcement too, only his squad’s got methods available to them that mine doesn’t and vice versa.”
“Why would he?” Esme asked suspiciously.
“I’m part of the AMASS,” Harry said confidently. “It’s designed that way.”
Esme looked at him thoughtfully. “Okay. We can go after breakfast if you’d like.”
Dudley looked at Harry in confusion but didn’t argue. After breakfast as the two men followed Esme from the dinning room he leaned in Harry’s direction and asked. “What is that crap? The AMASS?”
“The Anonymous Mission Alliance Support Squad or whatever the hell you want to call us blokes that gather your mud and get you photos of kidnap victims you can’t account for. We’ve been calling you lot the Ancillary Muggle Auror Support Squad,” Harry explained. “Justin was trying to come up with some acronym that would work from both ends.”
“Like the Muggle Resistance Squad, you mean,” Dudley realized.
“Yeah, but this is more formal Dud. I’ve got permission to actually coordinate a bit with you blokes when it seems to make sense. It’s on a trial basis, but it’s a start…so we had to have something to call our combined forces,” Harry explained with a shrug.
Dudley smiled. “I like that, the AMASS. It sounds official.”
Harry grinned as Esme led them both out to a tiny car. He climbed in the back while Dudley climbed in front next to Esme who was driving. It took them much longer to reach the burial mound using the muggle car, but it gave Harry the opportunity to see the island in a way he hadn’t before. When they’d finally come as close as they could by car, they hiked on foot the rest of the way. Harry took in the lay of the land, trying to appreciate exactly where they were in relationship to the town, the airport and the cave they’d been monitoring.
Esme led them to an unremarkable hillock where the archeologists had been working. Most of the area had been laid out in a grid made of string which butted up against a narrow triangle opening between where two enormous blocks of stone leaned together. It was still early so most of the scientists hadn’t arrived yet, allowing them time to look around.
“What is that?” Harry asked pointing to the triangle space formed by the stones.
“That’s it, the entrance to the burial mound. There really isn’t much to the interior … it only looks mysterious because of the stones, but the effect is magical, don’t you think?” Esme commented.
Harry did a double take at her choice of words before exchanging a look with his cousin.
“Have you been here before Harry?” Dudley asked.
“Yeah, but we weren’t able to get this close. Is it alright if I walk around a bit?” he asked their guide.
“Yes, just be careful though. Some of the surface of the mound has become unstable since we’ve been digging. If you go too high up on the slope, it may cave in,” she warned.
“I’ll be careful,” Harry promised and he began his own magical survey of the site.
Dudley watched his cousin intently; curious to know precisely what methods a wizard investigator used to explore a potential crime scene. He could tell that Harry was doing something from the way he held his hands with his fingers splayed, but it was difficult to tell what.
“Anything?” Dudley asked when Harry returned to his side after walking around the mound.
“Difficult to determine actually. This site is really, really old, which I suppose is the point.”
“Yeah it is,” Dudley agreed. “What about inside? That’s where the bloke was when he disappeared.”
“Can we get inside?” Harry asked eagerly.
“Yeah I think so. Esme took me in there last evening. Esme!”
Dudley walked over to have a word then motioned to Harry to join them.
“Just watch where you walk,” Esme cautioned. “The burials are to the sides.”
Harry nodded then ducked down as he walked beneath and between the stones. There was something about the stones and the opening between them that reminded him strongly of the archway in the Ministry of Magic that held the veil, the one Sirius had fallen through during the battle at the ministry three years before. He supposed it was just their age, but still the hairs on the back of his neck prickled and stood erect as he walked through it.
The floor inside the burial mound formed a path that sloped slightly downward, so that though cramped from side to side, the chamber inside the mound was actually quite tall and Harry was able to stand upright again. Esme lit a handheld torch directing the beam of light along the walls, ceiling and floor of the tunnel so Harry and Dudley could see the details of the space. Harry could see niches along the floor where the remains from the ancient burials lay.
“Who were they?” Harry asked curiously.
“No one knows for sure, though there are at least a dozen local myths claiming to identify them,” Esme replied. “The only thing we know for certain is they lived here a long time ago, long before the Irish or the Norse or even those who spoke Gaelic invaded the island. We think they may have been the original inhabitants of the Isle of Mann.”
Harry nodded as he studied the tight space. He shivered slightly and wondered why, for although damp, it wasn’t particularly cold.
“What’s back there?” he asked pointing to what seemed to be another portal ahead.
“The back wall of the cairn. See?” she patted it with her hand as she looked back at Harry. It sounded solid, but Harry was almost certain he could see her hand pass through it.
“May I?” Harry asked.
She allowed him to squeeze past to examine the space. It looked solid to the naked eye, but when he stretched out his hand and closed his eyes to eliminate the doubt the illusion of the solid surface created in his mind, there was nothing there.
“Fascinating,” Harry murmured. “Esme. Where was the scientist working when he disappeared?”
“Up against that back wall, why?”
“I wonder if he simply fell through,” Harry mused.
“Fell through?” Dudley asked. “Fell through what Harry? That’s a solid earthen wall.”
Voices from outside called to Esme and she momentarily stepped away, leaving the cousins to discuss the mystery of the missing man.
“Come here Dud,” Harry instructed. “Give me your hand and close your eyes.”
“Why Harry?” He asked with some amusement. “It’s nearly pitch black in here. Why would that matter?”
‘I want to try something,” Harry explained. “Trust me, okay?”
“Sure Harry,” Dudley said.
Harry took his cousin’s wrist and repeated the motion of stretching out his hand. This time they encountered resistance, as though the darkness in the space was indeed solid.
“It knows you’re a muggle,” Harry murmured. “But if it knows that, why did Esme’s hand go through and why did the scientist fall through?”
“What are you talking about Harry?” Dudley asked.
Harry looked around. “Where’s Esme?”
“Just outside, why?”
“This leads somewhere Dudley, only you can’t see it. I want to know where it goes. Your missing scientist might be there.”
“It’s solid Harry. You just proved that with my hand.”
“I know, but watch this. Point your torch at me.”
Dudley did as Harry said. Harry repeated the motion of stretching out his hand, and his whole hand disappeared, up to his elbow. From Dudley’s point of view it seemed to be swallowed by the wall, but to Harry it felt like an open doorway. Dudley’s mouth fell open.
“How are you doing that?”
“It knows I’m a wizard and you’re not, apparently the portal’s selective,” Harry explained.
“Can you go through the whole thing?”
“I would but I don’t want to risk getting caught,” Harry said. “It doesn’t seem wise without a backup. I wonder if you could though if you borrowed my cloak.”
“Your what?” Dudley said.
“This.” Harry pulled his cloak from beneath his jacket.
“I’ve seen this before. It was in your trunk under the stairs,” Dudley recalled.
“Yeah, I used to keep it there. The cloak is magical Dud. Put it over yourself, let’s see if it makes a difference.”
Dudley did as Harry said then reached out with his hand.
“Can you see Harry?” Dudley asked.
“No. It’s an invisibility cloak. What are you doing?”
“I’m reaching through the portal. And I think I can feel something there.”
“Don’t go through it,” Harry cautioned.
“But I feel him Harry. There is someone in there…I think it must be the scientist.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that Dud. Come back.”
Harry pulled the cloak from his cousin and pulled on him. They encountered some resistance and Dudley’s eyes widened. Suddenly his arm came free of the wall with a pop and the two very nearly toppled backwards.
“What are you doing?” Esme scolded as she came back in. “No messing around in here Dudley! This is a very fragile, pre-historic site. I’m surprised at you!”
“Sorry,” Dudley said as he hung his head while Harry stuffed the cloak under his jacket again. “You ready to go Harry?”
“Yeah. Thanks for showing us,” he said to Esme. “I hope we didn’t damage anything.”
“I just hope you didn’t get me into trouble,” she said worriedly. “You know I’m not supposed to have guests.”
The three backed out and Harry went to wait by the car while Dudley had a word with his girlfriend a short distance away. They spoke in low worried tones before finally Dudley kissed her and left her to her work while he rejoined Harry again.
“Do you need me to drive you back?” Esme called.
“No, I’ll walk,” Dudley assured her. “It’s not that far back to where I can catch the tourist bus. Be careful Esme.”
“I will,” she assured him. “I’m working outside today.”
Dudley breathed a sigh of relief and the two cousins turned to walk until they were hidden by the lea of the hill.
“What do you think Harry?” Dudley asked anxiously. “What is that place…beyond the portal I mean?”
“I don’t know. I’d love to take a better look, but like I said I don’t dare, not without magical backup,” Harry said.
“But you see how carefully they guard that place. It’s not like we can bring a bunch of people all tramping around up here,” Dudley answered.
“I know. It’s got to be handled properly, but I think it’s important. Very important actually. So Dudley, what exactly did you feel when you reached through there?”
“A hand. Someone was pulling on my hand,” Dudley said. “I thought it must be the lost scientist.”
“A hand? Are you sure?” Harry asked.
“Yes, I’m sure. Someone gripped my forearm and tried to pull on me. Look.”
Dudley pushed up a sleeve and Harry could see a hand-shaped bruise starting to form on his cousin’s forearm.
Harry frowned. “I wonder if that scientist has a wizard in his family.”
Dudley shrugged. “Maybe. I wonder though if we got in there again, if you or I could push him some things through the wall. Supplies you know? Food, maybe a light. It must be dark in there.”
Harry looked thoughtfully at his cousin. Dudley was obviously thinking of rescue for the poor man he envisioned behind the hidden space, but Harry wasn’t so sure. His mind was full of Death Eaters and missing muggles, though this was miles from the cave in the cove. Surely the two couldn’t be connected…could they?
Despite having been up all night, Harry couldn’t imagine a more informative place to be than spending the morning with his cousin, listening to him discuss his ideas on the case. They rode the muggle bus back to town together, with Dudley talking nearly the whole way.
“Look Dudley, I have an idea,” Harry said as the bus pulled up in front of the inn and they got off. “Give me a couple of days then I should be able to pull together a team to properly investigate that place beyond the portal.”
“A couple of days? Harry, we can’t abandon that bloke until then. How about you and I go back tonight, just to see if you can push some supplies through the wall?”
“When?” Harry asked.
“Just before midnight?” Dudley asked hopefully.
“I can come just before my shift,” Harry offered. “I’m due to take my turn with a stake out just after eleven.”
“Okay then. I’ll gather some stuff, and I’ll meet you just outside the inn, at ten thirty. Will that work?”
“It should. I’ll see you then Dud,” Harry promised.
Dudley grinned, watching as Harry set off for the edge of the village. He turned a corner into a blind alley, but when Dudley went to investigate, Harry had disappeared.
Harry popped into existence on his own front doorstep, stepped inside to greet Ginny and immediately ran down into the kitchen to call Ron.
“Can you come over?” Harry invited.
“Yeah sure Harry. Is it about the case?”
“I think so. I need to talk to you though. There’s something we need to do tonight.”
“I’ll be right there.”
Harry turned to see Hermys waiting in the shadows.
“Harry, what’s going on?” Ginny asked. “I expected you back hours ago.”
“I went to see Dudley, Gin. I’ll tell you all about it when Ron gets here, I promise,” Harry told her. “Hermys, could you send Ron up to the drawing room when he arrives?”
“Certainly Master, Hermys will,” the house elf promised.
“Thanks,” Harry said.
He trotted up the stairs to the drawing room with Ginny in his wake. Harry walked immediately to the wall that held his own and Dudley’s names, looking closely at the spaces beside them. His own name was already firmly tied to Ginny’s, but as Harry watched, the tapestry around Dudley’s name began to shift. Space was created and a faint name began to appear. Harry placed his hand firmly against the wall, closed his eyes and concentrated with all his might on the ancient magic which had created the tapestry in the first place. When he pulled his hand away the name of Esme Fletchley though faint could now be read attached to Dudley’s name. More importantly a symbol showing ‘working’ appeared beside her name. Harry breathed a sign of relief. Now the tapestry would also tell them if Esme was safe. He knew it wouldn’t be long though before the Death Eaters would connect her through Dudley to himself.
“Harry, what’s happened?” Ginny gasped in astonishment.
“Dudley’s asked Esme to marry him,” Harry explained.
“Dudley is going to marry Justin’s cousin?” Ginny exclaimed. “Really? Harry do you know what the odds are of two muggles with wizarding cousins marrying and producing a wizard?”
“It’s fairly high actually,” Hermione answered for him from the doorway to the drawing room. “Who is getting married?”
“No one yet, but Dudley’s asked Esme Fletchley to marry him. I just found out. I had breakfast with them today,” Harry explained.
“Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?” Ron asked.
“Yes and no. You remember Rupert Fletchley don’t you?”
“Dudley’s roommate. Of course,” Ron said.
“Well Esme’s his sister. Ginny and I met her at the Dursleys, at Christmas. She’s an archeologist, studying for her doctorate,” Harry explained. “And she’s working on a dig on the Isle of Mann. She took Dudley and me to visit the site after we breakfasted this morning.”
And Harry began to explain about seeing the danger mark near Dudley’s name the evening before, his meeting with his cousin and his discovery inside the burial mound.
“How horrible!” Hermione exclaimed. “That poor, poor man!”
“Then you really think it is the scientist who’s in there?” Harry asked.
“Who else would it be?” Ron asked.
Harry shrugged. “I dunno Ron. That place gives me the creeps though.”
“I expect it would, being inside a burial mound,” Ron said reasonably.
“So will you go with me Ron? Tonight to check it out?” Harry asked. “I just don’t want to get in there and not be able to get out again without someone knowing about it.”
“Sure Harry I’ll go,” Ron agreed.
“Harry, I thought you said you wouldn’t have to work nights so often after the first of the year,” Ginny objected. “That you have more people helping you now.”
“I do Gin,” Harry assured her. “And I won’t be doing it all the time, only there are some things I still have to do.”
“You could get more teams trained to watch the Death Eaters and the rugs though,” Ron pointed out.
“I will Ron. I’m requesting more help this afternoon when I go into the office. But for time being, we’re it,” Harry said.
“But you just got back!” Ginny objected.
Harry groaned. “Ginny … “
“I’m only saying… “
“I know Gin,” Harry assured her taking her by the hand. “I wish I had more time to spend with you too before your practices start up again, but it’s my job you know? And we’re getting somewhere …finally!”
Ginny made a face at him and for a moment Harry thought she was going to argue with him about it again, but then she smiled with a look of amusement on her face.
“What?” Harry asked curiously at the abrupt change in her expression.
“Well the thing about it is Harry, that knowing how things are between the Death Eaters and you, you’d be doing it even if it weren’t your job,” she said in a teasing tone.
“Ginny, it’s not like I enjoy doing this!” Harry objected.
“Oh we know. You just catch Death Eaters for a living because you have to,” Hermione joined Ginny in teasing him.
Harry stared at the two women. “You know I do it because somebody has to!” Harry insisted.
“Harry, you took down Voldemort because you had to,” Ginny told him. “You don’t have to do this. It’s not in the same category at all!”
“Well no,” Harry agreed. “But it’s the right thing to do…really, it is!” he protested as the two started giggling at him. “Ron, help me here!” he pleaded.
But Ron only grinned. “They’re right mate. You do it because you’re passionate about it. You care. You’d do it whether they paid you or not!”
“Well yeah,” Harry agreed sheepishly.
“So you’re admitting we’re right?” Ginny asked him between peals of laughter.
“Of course you’re right,” Harry conceded, and to his consternation, Ron broke down laughing at him too. “What?” he demanded.
“Harry…you’re terrible at arguing, do you know that?” Ron asked as he struggled to catch his breath. “If you argue like that with my sister, you’re going to loose, every time mate!”
Harry scowled at his friend for taking the two women’s side, but Ginny just reached up and kissed his cheek. “That’s alright honey. Sometimes the right thing to do is to lose.”
But Harry pushed her away shaking his head at them. “Go ahead and laugh all you want. I’ve still got a job to do. I’m going to ask Robards for more help now instead of this afternoon. I should be back by noon, Ginny. I’ll see you tonight Ron,” he told them and he grabbed his cloak on his way to the floo, determined to finish up his business for today once and for all.
Harry met with Ron once again at the appointed hour and the two Aurors apparated together to meet Dudley at the front of the inn. Harry took his cousin and together the three of them apparated to the site where Esme’s team had been digging. Dudley brought along the supplies he’d gathered, and he followed Ron and Harry inside the mound between the two blocks of stone. Both wizards had their wands lit and Dudley carried a torch.
“Did you bring the canister Ron?” Harry asked.
“Sure Harry, but what are you going to use it for?”
“To try to see in without going in. Hold on,” Harry said as he got ready to pull the pin.
“Hold on Harry! What are you going to do?” Dudley asked.
“I’m going to throw this through the portal. Then maybe we can see what’s going on inside. I don’t want to be walking into a trap, you know?” Harry explained.
“That canister’s going to get phenol all over everything. It’s going to contaminate the site and Esme’s going to kill me,” Dudley protested.
“Better Esme than some of the Death Eaters Dud,” Harry said and he pulled the pin, thrust his arm through the portal and tossed the canister in.
“Now,” he shouted at Ron and instantly both wizards switched to the lumos negro spell. As Harry had hoped, though the portal seemed to be impervious to most visible light, it was not impervious to the black light and the ghostly image of a man and the chamber beyond glowed where he had been spattered with the dye. The man was thrusting his arms up in front of his face less than ten feet, trying to protect himself from the spray as he backed away. The chamber itself was exceedingly small, and appeared to have another solid back wall, though very little of the dye seemed to be sticking to it. Feeling a bit reassured, Harry told Ron to cover him and stepped through.
“Who are you?” the frantic man shouted at him as Harry joined him.
“My name is Harry. We’ve been trying to figure out a way of rescuing you since we figured out where you went. Here. Hold my arm; I’ll pull you back through.”
The man grabbed Harry’s offered forearm and Harry stepped back through the portal as though it wasn’t there, pulling on the man behind him, aware as he did of the resistance he encountered when the man’s body encountered the barrier.
“Ron, grab his arm,” Harry urged as the man’s arm came through still holding his, then Harry went round behind him and pushed him from behind. “Close your eyes,” he told the man.
He did and immediately the muggle scientist was pulled through.
“Thank you, thank you so much young man! How did you know how to do that?” the scientist asked.
“Special training,” Harry answered vaguely. “Come on let’s get you out of here.”
The four men came spilling out from the burial mound, nearly tripping over the rope grid that defined the scientists’ work area. Dudley guided them to a set of portable buildings being used as the office for the dig. A student made sign above the door read ‘The Digg Hut’. Dudley pushed the door open, sat the man in a chair and began to check him out.
“How do you know how to do that?” Harry asked Dudley as he watched his cousin take the man’s pulse, respiration and look into his eyes with his torch while Harry was getting a good look at the man they’d rescued for the first time. He was short in stature and lean, with a close cropped hair and beard which was once brown but was now liberally streaked with gray.
“Paramedic training. I only got the basic course as part of my constable training, but it’s come in handy,” Dudley explained. “Other than being hungry, he doesn’t seem to be hurt. Are you?” he asked the man.
“No, but I am famished. Have you got anything to eat?”
Dudley grinned as he opened his pack of provisions and set about feeding the man.
“You’ll be alright then?” Harry asked.
“Yes I should be. I don’t know how it was I got into that room then couldn’t get out again,” the man said. “My name is Summerby by the way. Charles Summerby.”
Harry stared at him. “Are you Dr. Summerby?”
“Yes. Have you heard of me?” the man asked curiously.
“Yeah I have. My name is Harry, Harry Potter. This is my cousin Dudley Dursley. He’ll be seeing you back to town.”
“Are you leaving Harry?” Dudley asked.
“We should probably take a better look at that chamber, make sure that’s the only explanation for those people who’ve disappeared, though Dr. Summerby did seem to be the only one in there,” Harry remarked.
“I was…though I’m not sure I was the first. I thought I could hear someone moving beyond that back wall,” Dr. Summerby reported. “I thought for a bit I’d gotten turned around, you know pointed in the wrong direction, but there are carvings above the portal you pulled me through that I could feel from inside. There aren’t any on the back.”
“But you definitely heard someone?” Ron asked.
“Yes Sir I did. Twice,” Dr. Summerby told him.
Harry glanced at his cousin. “Do you need us?”
“You’re planning to check it out?” Dudley confirmed.
Harry looked at his watch. “We have time so yeah I thought I would, see if there is any possible way he could be hearing anything. It should only take a few minutes.”
Dudley exchanged a look with his cousin and with a slight nod of his head, Harry turned and left. Together he and Ron reentered the burial mound walking directly to the back. With their wands lit and raised they both walked through the portal at the back, and into the second chamber which looked amazingly similar to the first; low rock walls, burial niches along the floor and another, blank looking wall at the back, the one none of the phenol had seemed to stick to.
“Do you suppose it’s another portal Harry?” Ron asked.
Harry placed his hand against the wall and as before it went through.
“Yeah, I think it is. What do you think?” Harry asked. “Go through or go back?”
“Do you think it’s more of the same?” Ron asked.
“No idea. Could be, there is something magical about this chamber. Do you feel it?” Harry asked. “A sort of prickling sensation around the ears and neck?”
“Is that what it is? I thought this place was just creepy,” Ron answered.
“It’s like Riddle’s cave,” Harry muttered under his breath. “Creepy and magical all at the same time. Let’s go Ron.”
The two wizards braced themselves and pressed on. This time the portal was much less clearly formed and showed signs of a partial cave in on the other side. Using their wands to provide themselves with light, Harry and Ron shifted some of the debris aside to reveal steps that went down deeper inside the earthen mound.
“What do you reckon?” Harry asked.
Ron shone his light on the steps. “It’s only about three or four steps to get clear of this. I say we go down. The Chamber of Secrets was much creepier than this.”
“Right. But we didn’t already know what was waiting for us down there,” Harry pointed out. “Only suspicions.”
“And we do here?”
“We know there are Death Eaters, dragons, and nearly a hundred muggles hidden somewhere inside this mountain.”
“Yeah but what’s the likelihood that this burial mound is actually connected to that down there?” Ron asked rhetorically.
“Ron this is a wizard burial. What do you think the chances are that it’s not connected?” Harry asked as soil from above rained down on them.
“Well what ever you do, let’s not stand here,” Ron said sputtering as he wiped the dirt from his face.
“Right, we go on. At least a bit more from here,” Harry agreed and he went down the four steps that had been carved into the earth beneath their feet.
From there the passageway narrowed considerably and was just barely wide enough for them to pass single file. The floor sloped down, curved once to the left and sloped down some more. Harry stopped when it leveled out again and widened slightly, shining his light around.
“Ron listen,” Harry said as he extinguished his light.
“What Harry?” Ron asked as he did likewise. “The only thing I hear is dripping. You know, like in a cave?”
“Exactly. I think this leads to a natural cavern of some sort. But I also hear a scraping sound coming from below.”
The two young men listened harder. Sure enough the sound of stone scraping against stone could be heard from not all that far away. Harry lit his wand again and shone it into the passage ahead. It was growing wider and the floor they were standing on was no longer made of packed earth, but of ancient cut stone. He shone his light on the walls. On the right was still packed earth, but the left was reinforced with stone. There were gaps, but it was obvious that this tunnel had been worked. As he shone his light up ahead, they saw evidence that some of the work was relatively recent.
“What do you say? Go back or go on?” Harry asked Ron.
“Do you have any idea where this goes?” Ron asked.
“I’m hoping it leads to those caverns the Death Eaters are working in,” Harry told him. “I hope it’s another way in.”
“Well what if it is?” Ron asked. “Aren’t we bound to run into them?”
“Eventually, if we go far enough,” Harry said. “Come on, let’s go further.”
“You want to run into them?” Ron asked wide eyed.
“I want to be sure,” Harry told him. “I’m going to have to put this in a report to get the okay for resources to check it out more thoroughly. This can’t be a guess Ron, I have to know.”
Ron nodded. “Right. We go on a bit further then? Just until we’re sure?”
“Yeah,” Harry said.
The two young wizards glanced at one another, exchanging looks of reassurance and went on slowly, wands lit and held at the ready. Soon the passageway was wide enough for the two to walk abreast and the walls on both sides were reinforced with the cut stone. The floor showed more signs of having recently been worked to scrape loose dirt away, suggesting that sometime in the not too distant past, a cave in had occurred. Harry shone his wand overhead and saw a section of the tunnel that was higher than the rest and showed evidence of having recently given way. Stone archways had been built on either side of it, re-enforcing the ceiling. They went on as the ceiling of the tunnel also became made of cut stone, until they reached a level that seemed to be part of a cave. Here the path leveled out, becoming a ledge above a cavern. When Harry became aware that faint light from torches set into the walls leading away from the cavern on the other side was reaching them he extinguished his light and nodded for Ron to do the same. It anyone was to look up here, the light from their wands would give them away.
Foot steps echoed from somewhere beyond and faint light reached them from a multitude of directions, suggesting openings leading in several directions in the cavern below.
“I say we go back Harry,” Ron said in a low tone.
“Yeah, I think you’re right,” Harry agreed. “Let’s see what that bloke heard while he was trapped down here. That might give us an idea if they come up this way very often.”
They made their way back to the top, cleaned off their clothes and went to check on Dudley and Dr. Summerby.
“How are you doing?” Harry asked as they stepped in.
“Good. Did you find anything?”
“A bit,” Harry admitted. “Dr. Summerby, Dudley says that you’re one of the scientists who work here. Is that right?”
“Yes Sir it is. I’m the archeologist representing the local authorities on this project for the university. I’m responsible for any of the antiquities we discover here,” he explained.
“Then what did you make of that place where you were?” Harry asked curiously.
“We’d theorized for years that there must be more to that burial mound than what we’d uncovered. The legends say in fact that was connected at one time to an underground palace,” Dr. Summerby told them.
“A palace? Really?” Dudley asked as he dressed the man’s scrapes and bruises, though Harry and Ron just exchanged a look.
“Things do tend to get exaggerated when they become legend. However I do believe there may be an element of truth in those stories, especially after this. Sonar scans we’ve done of the ground below us suggests a vast network of underground caverns, stretching below the levels that can be reached by our instruments. I thought at first that I’d fallen into them,” Summerby explained. “I suspect that the ancient peoples who lived here knew about those caves and the legends grew up around them.”
“That could be it,” Harry said agreeably glancing at Ron. “My partner and I would like to ask you some more questions about this and your experience in the inner chamber when you are rested and feeling better.”
“Anything I can do to help. I have the feeling I owe my life to you boys,” he said.
Harry smiled. “Thank you. We’ll arrange something then. Dudley, a word?” Harry asked as he nodded towards the door.
“Do you need to leave?” Dudley asked as they stepped out. “I called Esme and she’s coming to get us Harry. I’m not sure we’ll all fit her car though, it’s pretty small.”
“No problem Dud. Ron and I need to get going anyway. We really do need to question Dr. Summerby further though. Can you arrange something?”
“How about breakfast at the inn again in the morning,” Dudley suggested. “After your shift?”
“Would that work?” Harry asked Ron.
“Yeah sure. I’d need to let Hermione know though.”
“I’ll send Ginny a dove. I’ll ask her to tell Hermione as well,” Harry assured him. “We’ll be there,” he told Dudley. “Can I borrow a pen?”
“Sure Harry,” Dudley said.
Dudley watched as Harry scribbled a note to Ginny with instructions to tell Hermione not to expect them before noon the next day, withdrew Rosie from beneath his jacket, tied the note to her leg, and watched her fly away.
“See you in the morning Dudley,” Harry said as Dr. Summerby stepped out of the hut. “Good bye Dr. Summerby. We’ll see you in the morning.”
“Good bye boys, and thanks!”
The two wizards smiled as they stepped away from the shelter with Dudley and walked the short distance to the far side of the two enormous stones.
“Care to tell me what you found?” Dudley asked curiously.
“I will,” Harry promised, “but not just now. I think it’s time we actually had a meeting of the AMASS. Contact Rupert, Dud. Try to set something up, and I’ll see you in the morning.”
With that, the two young wizards stepped behind one of the large cut stones that littered the dig site. Dudley watched from the shadows as Harry and Ron spun in place and disappeared.