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Chapter 4: Auror Headquarters
Harry was awoken on September 1st by the new Snitch alarm clock, which had been given to him by George as a birthday present. He stretched out his arm, caught the clock- which was zooming around the room and turned it off. He put on the new underwear Kreacher had put out for him and pulled his favorite grey T-shirt, Ginny had bought for him recently, over his head. She'd said that new clothes brought good luck.
It took him more time to find his socks, which were hidden under the T-shirt. Then he shoved the palmtop mirror into the moleskin pouch Hagrid gave him, and put the old golden watch on his right wrist. He dressed in a dark red robe the Ministry had sent him and pinned the trainee Auror badge on the left side of his chest. Then he went downstairs into the kitchen. When he entered, the smell of bacon made him hungry. Kreacher was busy serving a full English breakfast. Andromeda was holding Teddy in her arms and feeding him milk. "Good morning, Harry," she greeted. "You look handsome in your Auror robes, but you'd better comb your hair before leaving." she put the baby bottle down on the table.
"Yeah, I'll do that." He touched the top of his head and sat opposite Andromeda. He turned his gaze upon the Daily prophet and took it and read the head line:
AUROR HEADQUARTERS NEW RECRUITS
Group includes the Boy Who Saved the Wizarding World and eleven other trainees (see page 4)
The picture on the front page was Harry's face. Harry in the picture frowned at him again and again. He wondered when they took his picture. He flipped to page 4. There was a list of all trainee Aurors with their pictures and the information about their houses of Hogwarts. Harry was very glad to find familiar names.
Hannah Abbott - Hufflepuff
Susan Bones - Hufflepuff
Terry Boot- Ravenclaw
Michael Corner - Ravenclaw
Seamus Finnigan - Gryffindor
Justin Finch-Fletchley Hufflepuff
Anthony Goldstein- Ravenclaw
Harry Potter- Gryffindor
Dean Thomas- Gryffindor
Romilda Vane- Gryffindor
Ronald Weasley- Gryffindor
Blaise Zabini- Slytherin
Most of the people on the list had been in the Dumbledore's Army - except Blaise Zabini and Romilda Vane.
Was she in the D.A.? Harry wondered. And Zabini. He was obsessed with Pure-blood status, wasn't he?
"Big news?" Andromeda asked, holding Teddy and patting his back gently to burp him.
"Yeah." Harry put aside the newspaper, and buttered his toast. He ate his bacon, eggs and tomatoes, gulped down a cup of tea, and got to his feet. "Well, see you then."
"Oh, please wait." Andromeda got to her feet, still holding Teddy. She took out her wand, swished it, and summoned a comb, which she caught. "Sit down, please, Harry."
"Oh, O.K.." Harry sat down on the chair again.
He realized that Andromeda was combing his hair, pressing hard on the top of his head. "It won't lay flat," sighed Andromeda. In her other arm, Teddy started to cry. His hair was changing from bright brown to vivid turquoise.
"Oh, I have a smoothing liquid," said Harry. He pointed his wand to the entrance of the kitchen and summoned the bottle.
The slim bottle Ron had given Harry for his birthday hurtled into his hand. He opened the cap and sprinkled the liquid on the top of his head. Pressing his hair flat, he asked, "How do I look?"
"Oh, it worked. It lies flat." Andromeda beamed at Harry.
"Good! Well, I have to go. See you later. Bye, Teddy."
He went upstairs into the entrance hall and Apparated into the Atrium of the Ministry. He unrolled the parchment and checked to see where he was supposed to go.
At Gathering Hall: Level two
9 a.m. September 1
He focused on the destination and tried apparating, but he couldn't. He looked around the hallway, expecting to be jostled by the crowd, but the Atrium was almost deserted. A group of golden statues was under construction, but the fountain was still there just as it had been before the war started. Harry took out one Galleon and put it in the pool which would go to 's, praying for luck on his first day. Then Harry walked through the golden gates into the hall where lifts stood.
"Oi, Potter!" Michael Corner, marched up behind Harry, his dark red robes fluttering.
Harry turned. "Good morning, Michael."
"Morning, Harry. Cho sends you her best regards," Michael said.
"Oh, you two still..?"
Yeah, I'm still going out with her."
The golden grille slid back and Harry and Michael stepped into the lift. Ron dashed in. He panted, "Morning, mate. Morning, Mike."
He whispered to Harry, "I got up late. George and me stayed up late drinking Firewhiskey. Gosh, I have a headache.
The grilles slid shut with a crash and the lift ascended slowly.
"Have you taken a hang-over potion?" Harry asked.
"No. George was still sleeping. I had no time to find it. Do you have one?" asked Ron.
"No. Why did you drink Firewhiskey the day before the enrollment ceremony?" said Harry.
"Oh, just a kind of celebration," said Ron defensively.
"Pathetic," Harry said jokingly, shaking his head.
The grilles didn't open until the lift reached level five.
"Department of International Magical Co-operation, Incorporating the International Magical Trading Standards Body, the International Magical Office of Law and the International Confederation of Wizards, British Seats." said a familiar female voice.
"Is that..?," Ron and Harry said at the same time.
"Lavender Brown," said Michael. Just then the grilles opened, a tall wizard and a fat witch got in, and several paper aeroplanes swooped in after them. The grilles slid shut with a crash.
"She got out of St. Mungo's last month. I heard it from Cho. Cho is working there as a trainee healer," said Michael. Harry remembered the feebly stirring body of Lavender Brown during the battle of Hogwarts. So she'd recovered. Harry and Ron exchanged relieved looks and smiled.
"Level Two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters and Winzengamot Administration Services,"
Lavender's voice made her announcement, then the doors opened. Harry, Ron and Michael followed the tall wizard and the fat witch as they left the lift. They walked into a corridor lined with doors. They walked through the door labelled "Gathering Hall". They were the last three trainees to enter. Several familiar faces were looking back at them. Harry glanced at the golden watch on his right wrist. It was just nine o'clock. Then Kingsley , Sturgis Podmore and John Dawlish came in. They marched from the door and mounted the platform. Harry wondered how Podmore and Dawlish got back to their normal conditions after being put under spells during the second Wizarding War.
"Good morning everyone. I declare the enrollment ceremony open. Now the Minister will give a speech," said Dawlish.
Kingsley made a short speech to them in his familiar baritone voice.
"Welcome to Auror Headquarters. Taking all of you as trainees is our greatest pleasure. Our Wizarding World is getting back to normal but I'm sorry to say there're still some Death Eaters on the run. To capture them and to send them into Azkaban is an urgent need. I hope you will succeed and accomplish the task," Kingsley finished his speech.
"Now I'll tell you about pairing and Sturgis will show you your cubicles," said Dawlish briskly.
"Partnerships are as follows. Hannah Abbot and Susan Bones."
Hanna and Susan cheered.
"Terry Boot and Michael Corner."
Terry and Michael high-fived each other.
"Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas."
Seamus shouted "Yes!" , and Dean grinned widely.
"Justin Finch-Fletchley and Anthony Goldstein."
Justin and Anthony shook hands.
"Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley."
Ron heaved a sigh of relief. Harry beamed at him.
"Romilda Vane and Blaise Zabini."
Romilda Vane was batting her eyelashes. Blaise Zabini kept his poker face.
"Can we trust him?" Ron whispered, flicking his eyes towards Zabini.
"Dunno," Harry said, observing Zabini. Zabini noticed their staring and raised his eyebrows.
"And Romilda Vane. I reckon she just wants to work with the boy who saved the Wizarding World," Ron said. Then he fixed his gaze at the top of Harry's head.
"Your hair is sleek. Did you try George's liquid?" said Ron.
"Oh, yeah. It worked. Thanks, "said Harry.
Romilda was now staring at Harry intensely. She was batting her eyelashes unnecessarily.
"This way, please." Sturgis led the way out of the gathering hall.
The trainee Aurors followed him. He opened a pair of heavy oak doors. A new brass plaque on the nearest cubicle read : Auror Headquarters.
Ron traced the plaque with his right hand and said, "Wow. We're in the real Auror Headquarters."
Just then a middle-aged wizard with short-hair and sharp eyes walked up to them. He shook hands with Kingsley and said, "Welcome to Auror Headquarters. I am Head Auror, Gawin Robards," he grinned.
"He is my old colleague. He had slipped through the conspiracy by the Death Eaters many times last year. He will always stand by you. Please consult him for advice about anything," said Kingsley. "Now I have to go. Excuse me." Kingsley smiled to Harry and left.
"Well, the most urgent task for you is to capture the Death Eaters who are on the run. Be sure to remember their faces, their profiles," said Robards. Dawlish and Sturgis handed out sheaves of parchment.
"Sorry they're not in alphabetical order, we were short of hands. Hestia and Dedalus are on duty guarding Hogwarts now. I'll introduce Proudfoot, Williamson and Savage tomorrow. And Aberforth, he isn't here yet," said Gawin.
"Excuse me, sir. You mean Aberforth Dumbledore?" asked Harry in surprise.
"Yes. He was a secret Hit Wizard before his retirement. He decided to come back for you, trainees," Robards smiled. Dean Thomas whistled. Seamus Finnigan gave a shout of joy.
"Now find your cubicle- they have name plates- and start memorizing the profiles of the fugitives. Drill this information into your brains until you all know it by heart."
All the trainees found their cubicles and sat at their desks. Harry skimmed through the parchments he'd been handed. There were twelve Death Eaters: Crabbe's father, Goyle's father, Mulciber, Nott, Rosier, Rowle, Selwynn, Travers, Rookwood, Macnair, Rodolphus & Rabastan Lestrange. And four Death Eaters Allies: Pius Thicknesse, Albert Runcorn, Mafalda Hopkirk and Dolores Umbridge.
"Bloody Hell, twelve Death Eaters haven't been captured yet?" said Ron.
"And four Death Eaters Allies. Why isn't Lucius Malfoy included?"
"Cause his wife saved my life," Harry answered.
"I can't accept that. He should be sent to Azkaban. And Draco Malfoy, he tried to bring you to Voldemort!" grumbled Ron.
Dean Thomas and Justin came to them.
"I want to capture Umbridge soon. Many Muggle-born wizards and witches suffered because of her," said Dean firmly looking up from his parchment.
"Right, Umbridge should be sent to Azkaban," said Justin biting his lip.
"Hey, girls, why did you choose to be Aurors?" Terry Boots said to Hannah and Susan.
Both of them were silent for a moment. Then Susan began to speak quietly, "My grandparents, uncle, aunts, and my cousins were murdered by Voldemort. He killed Hannah's mother, too." Susan stared directly at Terry Boots as she spoke.
"Oh, sorry for that," said Terry awkwardly.
Silence fell upon the whole group. Seamus broke it.
"Zabini, why are you here?"
Zabini became the center of attention. Harry watched him closely, not wanting to miss any suspicious movements. Blaise Zabini maintained his poker face. Just then Robards stood up from his desk and took a step towards them.
"Mr Zabini's mother helped me last year. Without her information, I wouldn't be here now. Trust him." Robards smiled but it didn't reach his eyes.
The other trainees stared at Zabini. Zabini noticed Harry's intense stare and stared back. Just then a man with a long, stringy, wire-grey hair and beard came in, accompanied by Cormac McLaggen.
"Aberforth." Robards hugged Aberforth and said to the trainees. "Allow me to introduce Mr. Dumbledore to you. He was a prominent Hit Wizard. He worked until the end of the first Wizarding War."
"He was an original member of Order of the Phoenix," Harry whispered to Ron.
"Brilliant! But why is that git Cormac here?" Ron whispered back.
Harry observed Cormac, whose body was the size of a troll, standing by Aberforth. He'd been one year above Harry and Ron at Hogwarts. He was Ron's rival for a position on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. And yes, he was a git in Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts. But Harry couldn't see the conceited attitude he had showed at Hogwarts in McLaggen's tense face.
Aberforth spoke. "Nice to see you again, all of you. Gawin dragged me out of my retirement. Dunno how much I can help him, I'll do my best. This is Cormac McLaggen. He is a trainee Hit Wizard."
Ron and Harry exchanged surprised looks. Cormac stood there quietly. He just nodded to Harry when he noticed him staring. He looked like quite a different man. What had made him change? Harry wondered.
"Now it's lunch time. Please be back here at one o'clock." Robards dismissed the meeting.
"Where will we eat?" Ron asked.
"Erm, Leaky Cauldron?" said Harry.
Susan piped up, "The Ministry has a tea room on level five. Shall we go downstairs?"
Harry, Ron, Susan and Hannah got in the lift. The lift started to descend with clattering sounds.
Then Lavender's voice announced. "Level three. Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, including the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, Obliviator Headquarters and Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee."
Three middle-aged wizards and two young witches stepped into the lift with several memos zooming in. They noticed the trainee Aurors' dark red robes and looked at them curiously. They whispered Harry's name to each other, their murmurs like Parselmouth around him. Harry looked at the floor with his face down. He regretted that he had agreed to go to a tea room inside the Ministry.
Lavender's voice announced level five, Harry, Ron, Hannah and Susan stepped out of the lift jostled by other wizards and witches. They walked to the end of the corridor.
"I only saw two other officials this morning. The Atrium was deserted," said Harry.
"'Cause the enrollment ceremony was held at nine. Work usually starts at ten," said Susan.
"Oh, I see," said Harry. He thought he couldn't use the lift any more. He couldn't bear being stared at and having his name whispered.
"Can we Apparate inside the Ministry?" Harry asked Susan.
"No, you can't. I heard from my aunt that the Ministry adopted Professor Dumbledore's tactic to prevent fugitives from Disapparating away since he cast non anti-Apparition charms at the Department of Mysteries three years ago. You must use the lift or Floo powder. I'm sorry for asking you to go to the tea room. We should have gone outside of the Ministry," said Susan apologetically.
"I don't think going out for lunch is a good idea. You are a celebrity, Harry. You'll be surrounded by wizards and witches in Diagon Alley," said Ron.
"You are a celebrity too, Ron," said Hannah.
"Well then, we'll go out for lunch in a Muggle town next time," said Harry.
In the tea room they ordered a plate of sandwiches and a pot of tea. Wizards and witches at the other tables were staring at Harry and Ron. Some of them were beaming at them. Others were whispering to each other. Harry felt so uneasy that he could barely taste his sandwiches. He felt like he was chewing carpets. Ron finished his sandwiches quickly and ordered a plate of scones.
"Get used to being a celebrity, mate. This is where you work every day," said Ron.
After lunch Robards announced their training schedules and duty. They would have three days training at the Ministry and Harry and Ron were assigned to guard Hogwarts at the weekends. They were happy to know that they could spend their weekends at Hogwarts with Ginny and Hermione.
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Author's Note: Many thanks to my beta readers, krazybotharryginny and chinaglaze.