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Disclaimer: What you recognize, it belongs to J. K. Rowling. What you do not recognize, it belongs to me.
Author's Note: You'll see a song with every chapter. That song, of course, does not belong to me but since I have a movie soundtrack obsession, I figured I could bring that here to help set the mood. If you happen to have the song that I point out, listen to it while reading this. If you don't, then it's alright! I'm sure you can enjoy this story regardless.
Author's Note #2: Jami was awesome enough to not only provide with the title to this fic but also the medical/science help! Thank you! And for that I say that you must check out her Marauder's Fic: Before They Fall (M). Also! CambAngst was awesome enough to once again beta for me. So please! Check out his stories such as Marked (M) or Conspiracy of Blood (M). You're missing out if you're not!
Her hot pink heels clucked against the laboratory’s pristine floor with every rapid step she took towards the director’s office. She weaved through the numerous hallways and several security doors thinking of what had just happened. And most importantly, what they needed to change in order to prevent the horrible outcome from happening again.
The experiment had failed despite the high probability of success. They had transferred the same virus strand that had worked flawlessly with the lab rats into the subjects, but instead of reaching the desired outcome, the subjects died. She had watched from behind the glass window as the subjects’ bodies began to show signs of failure; their antibodies had begun a battle against the virus and in the end had lost.Their temperature had increased dramatically to the point of developing second to third degree burns. It looked as if they had literally caught on fire from within. The doctors had done everything possible to help them but in the end all three subjects had died due to their body’s inability to sustain the virus and the burns it had caused. She never bothered to learn their names; they were test subjects not people she was going to have over for tea. She did, nonetheless, appreciate their sacrifice, for they had died for the sake of science. Something she could only hope for in the end of her own life.
After minutes of walking she finally arrived at her destination feeling rather nervous about her meeting; it needed to get done no matter how much she was dreading it. Before daring to knock, she straightened the name badge on her left lapel, made sure that no strands of her dark hair were loose and checked to see that her clothes were wrinkle free. There was nothing she could do about the blood stains on her lab coat, much to her dislike. She always took pride in matching her own appearance to that of the immaculate lab. As her grandmamma always used to say ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. The only thing she could do from now on was to learn from this mistake and keep a spare coat in her locker just in case. This ritual of hers wasn’t something she did because she was attracted to the man. In fact she was terrified of him. She had witnessed the director’s volatile mood many times and its terrible outcome. The last thing she wanted to do was to give him more reasons to be mad at her.
She took a deep breath, knocked once and waited; her clipboard was becoming heavier with each passing moment. She knocked again and prayed that he wasn’t in for the day. That way she could just let herself in, place the files on his desk and leave without having to face him. She knocked one last time with no answer; a small, victorious smile crept up her face. She was about to unlock the door with her key when the lock clicked and the door opened by itself. Moments like these were the ones that both terrified and fascinated her. They went against everything science stood for but it was real. The director’s magic was real.
She poked her head in and found him sitting behind his desk typing away on his laptop. If it weren’t for the natural light coming in from the large windows behind him, she would’ve found him in total darkness save for the light coming off his computer’s screen. She hesitated for a moment at the threshold, wondering if she should just leave him to whatever he was doing. “If you wish, I could come back later,” she said. Internally she was proud that she had managed to keep the fright away from her voice.
“No, come on in,” he said. “I’m glad you’re here, to be honest. I’m just about done with this file, so I need you to take it to Murphy after you’re done reading through them. Now tell me, what can I do for you, Cassandra?” he asked as the printer’s power button started flashing and printing the paperwork he’d just finished spat out onto the tray in precious quick movement.The file piqued her curious mind but she needed to deliver the bad news first before dwelling in other matters.
“Experiment 0253 failed, sir,” she explained as she handed him the files. “All three subjects died of the result of extremely high temperatures. When we tried to lift them onto a trolley, everywhere we touched them, their pores began to seep with blood. There was nothing we could’ve done to save them, sir.” She cringed internally as he began to flip through the files. He was a man in his late forties, with brown hair trimmed in the military fashion and stern brown eyes.
“Perhaps we need to go back to the first virus we were successful with and modify it,” he said. “Are the subjects from experiment 038 still leading a normal life?”
Cassandra pulled out what appeared to be a rectangular compact mirror but in in fact it was both her mobile and personal holographic tablet. “Yes, sir," she said as she pulled up the files. "Mr. Alex Pettridge-subject four of that particular experiment- has been married for a while and his wife just delivered a healthy child. The baby girl is six months old and is already showing signs that the virus has been passed on to her as well. Apparently, according to the update we received from Mr. Pettridge, she has managed to levitate her own soft toy towards her. And I’m sure you’re well aware of the activities the first successful offspring?
“Aye, leading a political career in London. Can’t say that I agree but it is his life to lead, not mine.” She knew that the director bore no love for politicians of any kind. Then again, she didn’t know if he loved anything save for the laboratories he had created along with his old friend. Cassandra had been his assistant for over five years, yet she didn’t know much about the man before her. Thanks to the picture he kept on his desk, all she knew is that he was once a happy child from a happy family. Aside from that, she couldn’t recall any detail about him that would stand out of the ordinary. “Tell Anderson to re-evaluate the virus strand from our very first successful test subject.”
“And the bodies of the last three subjects?”
“They’re being examined by Meadors sir, but it is merely a standard procedure.”
“Did they sign the waivers before they agreed to do the study?”
“Yes sir and their families will be compensated for their loss. I’ve contacted our team of lawyers, just in case the families decide to sue us.”
“Good,” he grinned at her, sending her chills all over her body. “I’m glad you’ve thought of everything, Cassandra, and that you’ve already taken care of it. This way, you will have time to look through these papers next, instead of fussing over small details.” From a cabinet, he took the long piece of wood that always sparked fascination in her. Her scientist mind wanted to take it from him, cut it in half and examine it, but Cassandra knew better than to act on those impulses. Instead she watched with allure as he flicked his wrist and the papers flew towards her and landed in front of her in neat pile. She scanned through the ten page information report on a person she had never heard of. “Harry Potter. Who is he, sir? If I may ask.”
The director stood from his chair and limped towards the window. She could tell that he was tense and hurting just by his posture as he leaned on his cane. “He’s the man who took everything I loved from me, Cassandra, and in return I’m going to take what is important to him: his magic.”
Well, what do you think about this prologue? I know it doesn't say much but that's the point of a prologue! Any comments and/or critiques, let me know! Don't forget to review!
Special Thanks To: CambAngst aka Dan, aka JK Rowling in disguise. He was awesome enough to Beta-Read this for me. Please do yourself a favor and read anything by him. Whatever you chose, it'll blow your socks off. You're seriously missing out if you haven't read any of his stories.
Disclaimer: What you recognize belongs to JKR. Anything else, they belong to me. Thank you!
Song: In the Morning Light by Yanni
Album: In the Mirror (1997)
“Would you just think about it, Ronald?” When Ron Weasley looked into his wife’s brown eyes and saw the determination they held, he knew that he wasn’t going to get away that easily. He had known her for as long as he could remember and knew perfectly well that once she had set her mind on something, there was no way she would let go of it anytime soon. Ron could already see the steps she would take in his mind. First she would get mad at him for refusing, followed by the reasoning behind her idea before taking the final step: silent treatment. That was the step he was dreading the most. The last time she’d given him the silent treatment, it had lasted well over a month. You never realize how much you can miss something until it's taken away from you.
“Why are you so obsessed about this, ’Mione?” he asked as he tapped his mug to fill it with more orange juice before he settled himself once again on his chair. “I’ve only been in the force for about thirty years. When I first started, there were blokes who had survived the war and were there for over fifty years before they even started to think about retirement. I’m still young!” And in brilliant shape at that, he thought.
She walked up behind his chair before giving him a peck on the cheek, her arms gently wrapping over his shoulders in a hug; a comforting gesture that always relaxed him when he was stressed out. “I know that, Ron. But you-and Harry for that matter-started fighting dark wizards when we were eleven years olds. The other blokes you worked with had a much more peaceful childhood. We didn’t. And I just think that we ought to be able to relax and enjoy ourselves for once. Go travel, do things we want to do instead of raising children and work."
“I wouldn’t think of Quirrell as a dark wizard per se,” Ron argued as he got a whiff of Hermione’s scent; he could smell the freshness of her garden along with a hint of the coconut shampoo she always used as her long graying tresses tickled his face. She always fussed about her graying hair, and the suddenly appearing wrinkles. Although to Ron, she was just as beautiful as the day they admitted their love for one another. Hermione kissed him again on the other cheek. “Please think about it?” Another kiss on the lips, just to give him a taste of what might come...if she got her way. In a teasing tone she added, “please?”
Ron tried his best to not start giggling like a silly school girl as his wife sat on his lap and continued to kiss him, showing just how much she wanted him to think long and hard about his retirement. She had apparently been working on a new tactic to convince him and right now, as far as Ron knew, it was working. “Fine. Alright," he finally relented, "I’ll think it over, but don’t be angry if I reach a conclusion you don’t like.” Hermione smiled at him with that giddy smile that he liked so much, and always had a way of exciting him. He wrapped his arms around his wife's waist, giving her a firm caress making it clear of what he wanted, and gave her a passionate kiss.
“Oh bloody hell, stop it! Gross!” Hermione broke away from Ron, startled, to find to find their youngest son, Hugo, standing in the kitchen’s entrance. Thanks to Charlie’s influence, Hugo had started to grow his hair out and now, at twenty-two, it was every girl’s dream; according to Ron's many nieces, long, wavy hair was the ‘in’ thing young witches wanted.
“Does no one say good morning in this house?” Ron asked as Hermione regretfully slid off his lap. Silently, he cursed his son’s early rise. He had already fancied himself getting lucky before work, and the look Hermione was giving him said he might have been right.
“I’m sorry Dad; my morning greeting disappeared along with my appetite as soon as I spotted my parents snogging in the kitchen. The place people eat, you know. Don’t you people do that in private to begin with?”
“You’re up early, sweetheart, I thought you were off today and going to sleep in.” Hermione’s cheeks were still red but she managed to move on from the incident as if she hadn’t been caught red-handed.
"Lorcan wants to meet up with me today. ‘Bloke's day’ he called it."
“Will you be meeting us for Nana Diana’s dinner?”
“I believe so,” he said as he fetched his blue scarf from the chair and wrapped it around his neck. After one quick sweep into the fridge, one of the few muggle things Hermione couldn’t let go, he gave his mother a kiss on the cheek. “I really hope she’s making her meatloaf tonight. In the meantime, I ought to get going now. Lorcan must be waiting for me,” he said as he shoved Ron’s last piece of bacon in his mouth. Ron sighed and looked at his plate with sad eyes; his eggs and toast looked rather naked without his favorite morning food. His son had a lot of cheek.
“Alright, be careful, Hugo.”
“Don’t worry Mum,” said Hugo with a dismissive wave of his hand and a smile. “Just hanging out with Lorcan. I'll see everybody at Nana’s.”
“Alright, just don’t be late!” Ron called out as their son walked out of the room.“You know how Nana Granger can be when it comes to time.”
“I won’t, Dad!” he shouted before he disapparated with a loud pop.
Ron groaned as he looked at his watch. “Speaking of leaving…I must get going as well, sweetheart.” With a few surgical swipes of his spoon, Ron finished off his breakfast before downing the entire mug of orange juice. Something he immediately regretted as it went down the wrong way.
After the alarming coughing fit, he straightened his robes and bid his wife a good day. “So you promise me that you’ll think about it?”
“Yes, ‘Mione, I’ll think it through.” He thought of carrying his wife to the bedroom and enjoy some personal time with her now that the house was empty. As tempting as that thought was, however, he was running late and his boss didn’t appreciate tardiness. Things would have to wait until after dinner with the Granger family and this time he’d hex his son if he dared to interrupt them.
With one last kiss, Ron left the house and with a blink of an eye, and a lot of concentration, he found himself on one of the designated apparition points within the Ministry’s atrium.
Right after the war, the Ministry of Magic did a complete about face, both in terms of the way things were run and the building itself. The most obvious change was the removal of the Magic is Might sculpture, Voldemort’s offensive replacement for the Fountain of Magical Brethren. In their stead was a large black monument honoring those who had died fighting or had been victims. Every time Ron found himself staring at the monument he would find the familiar names. Specially the one that still hurt no matter how much time passed.
Greeting everyone he knew as he walked towards the lift that would take him to his office on Level Two, Ron mulled over his conversation with Hermione. The idea of not having to wake up early to come to work, to travel the world with his wife and to live a quiet life after many years of chaos was indeed tempting. He knew that if things got boring, he could always help out his brother in one of the many Wizard Wheezes stores. He still felt young, however, and well capable of hunting dark wizards for many years to come if Hermione would stop thinking about retirement.
As he stepped out of the lift, Ron bumped into a young recruit whose name he couldn’t remember, let alone recall the last time he’d seen him. He was a scrawny boy, apparently fresh out of the training academy, with hazel eyes and brown hair. Ron tried, with all his might, to picture the young lad in front of him dueling against a Neo-Death Eater and winning. But after much thought he couldn’t believe the kid in front of him could even be capable of surviving the first minute of a duel. For the sake of peace and tranquility in their world, perhaps retirement wasn’t a good idea.
“Good morning, lad.”
“Sir, the Head of Office wishes to talk to you as soon as possible. He sent me to fetch you just in case you were in your office already.” As the young man talked, Ron wondered if he was ever like that when he first joined-too annoyingly perky in the morning.
“Is he in his office?”
“Yes, sir,” he answered with a single head nod and a beaming smile.
“Better not make him wait, then. Thank you, lad!”
“It’s Hunter, sir.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“My name.” Hunter explained with a sly grin across his face. “Just in case you forgot.”
Cheeky bastard, Ron thought, as a lie formed in his head. “No, no, of course not. Just, you know, I like calling everyone ‘lad’. Well, better get going; don’t wish to make the boss wait any longer.”
“Right. Have a good day, sir!”
Without bothering to respond, Ron made his way to the Head of Office wondering how he was going to approach the whole retirement idea with him. Would he take it kindly? Wholeheartedly agree? Ron had no idea but when he knocked on the door he knew that he needed to talk to him. Or at least to get a second opinion on the matter. “You called for me, Harry?”
“Morning, Ron.” Harry Potter, his Head of Office (and his best friend) greeted Ron without bothering to look up from whatever paperwork he was doing. “Come on in; I want to talk to you about something.” His office was small compared to the other Heads of Office. The only thing that kept the lack of space from driving Harry mad was the enchantment placed on the windows that mimicked the weather outside and the filing cabinets with an Extension Charm. Ron took a quick look around the office and it dawned on him that the place hadn’t changed at all since the first day they had set foot in it as Aurors in Training.
“Yeah, I just wanted to talk to you about a few things without being interrupted,” he said as he scribbled rapidly on a piece of parchment. “The Minister wants me to update everyone’s personal profile, just to make sure everything’s up to date. Did you know that Ravastan has been married five times?”
“No…but now I do.”
“Anyway, I wanted to ask you something.” He took his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose. His hair was still as messy as it was when Ron had first met him, however, the jet black was slowly turning white and the wrinkles around his eyes started to show his friend’s age. Perhaps Hermione was right, he thought as he started to ponder on his own looks. His ginger hair had lost its vibrant color and it was not only turning white but also thinning on the top. His wife thought it cute, that it made him resemble his father, but it only made him feel old. It wasn’t the first time he’d wondered what had happened to him. “Would you be capable of taking care of the department for me?”
Ron blinked. “What do you mean? Is everything alright with you?”
“Yes, nothing to worry about,” Harry reassured Ron. “I only ask because Ginny is talking about me retiring and well…the idea doesn't sound too bad, really."
Ron narrowed his eyes. “Has she said something about you battling evil wizards since the tenderage of eleven and that she wants to see the world with you?”
“Yes,” Harry replied slowly.
“Hermione said the same thing to me! I think those two witches are conspiring together.”
“You think they’ve been talking?”
“Of course I think so.” Ron replied. “They want us to retire while the young ones take care of the threats.”
After a few seconds of pondering, Harry asked. “So what do you think?”
“To be honest, part of me is tired of waking up early and come to work. I can still handle it, mind you, and I can take a few dark wizards with my eyes closed if necessary.” He paused for a moment and a small smile crept up his face. “Do you remember those days right after the war?”
“Which ones?” Harry asked with a snort. “The ones where I was hiding from every witch and wizard who wanted to take a picture, shake my hand, or marry me? Or the ones where we rarely got any sleep due to small skirmishes from the Death Eaters that managed to get away?”
Ron shook his head. “No mate, the wanna be Death Eaters!”
Harry tried to hide his laugh with a cough. “Remember when we chased Arshan through an alley and he tried to jump a fence?”
Ron started laughing at the memory. “Bloody idiot got his robes caught on the fence and ended up face planting the flagstone.”
“I still wonder why he didn’t just Disapparate!” Both men continued to laugh at the memory of days gone by and it was a few minutes before they managed to regain their composure. “Those were the days.”
“Aye,” Ron agreed. “I hate to say this but part of me still misses it. The adrenaline. The thrill of knowing we made a difference. Do you honestly think the next generation of Aurors can handle this if we just leave?”
Harry sighed. “We are not leaving tomorrow, Ron. It’ll take some training and preparation before we can even bring this idea to the Minister. Also, Shacklebolt’s daughter just began her training. She’s good and with proper training she’ll be one of the best, just like her father.”
Ron sighed and nodded in agreement. He had seen Regina Shacklebolt’s performance during evaluation and had not been surprised by her talent. With Kinglsey as her father and Portia, a retired Quidditch player, it was no wonder she had aced all the preliminary tests of skill and agility. “The good thing is that with all the work we’ve put in, the worst of the country’s dark wizards were sent to Azkaban years ago or are dead. The ones that are still out there are nowhere near as powerful or dangerous as Voldemort and his minions.”
“Definitely not.” Harry agreed, the memories of the war started to creep into his mind. “Eh...tell you what, mate. I’ll speak with the Minister about the possible idea of us retiring. Maybe you and I can sit down with him and come up with a plan. As much as I would love to just hang my cloak and travel with Ginny, I think there’s more you and I can do. Imagine if we take Regina Shacklebolt and other recruits that are strong as she is and mold them into the perfect Auror department? We can’t walk away just yet...However, I do agree...you and I are not getting any younger. I just hope the Minister will take the news kindly.” Harry paused for a moment and sighed. “Speaking of Hughes, Ron, he’s been asking about that report about Runkin for about a couple of days.”
Montgomery Runkin was a middle aged wizard who, after losing a bet at a pub in Liverpool, had decided to seek revenge on the man who had ‘stolen’ his hard earn gold, Tristan Carlyle. Runkin broke into Carlyle’s home and had beaten the victim to death. The body had been found by his now widow, Elaine Carlyle, when she arrived home from holiday. Ron had been the primary investigator for the case along with two young Aurors who lost their lunch the minute they saw the body. It had taken some time but in the end, Ron had solved the case, giving Mrs. Carlyle the peace of mind of knowing that her husband’s killer was now serving life in Azkaban.
“Right then, must get going now.” Ron felt abashed. Here he was going on about young Aurors who might be be able to hand the job, when he himself hadn’t even started on the paperwork. “Those reports about Runkin are not going to write themselves.”
“When did he find out?” Brigadier Lance Mortlock asked as he set a file down on his desk.
“Hard to say when exactly,” Major Marion Johnson answered as she took a tablet out of her satchel to pull up the same file the Brigadier had to add the most recent information regarding the tutor. “But he didn’t take too kindly of what we were doing with the children. You would think that he would like that, the integration of humans and wizards after boasting about his Mum being part of the so-called Second Wizarding War, but he clearly didn’t. He told Magdalena that he was going to tell everyone who would listen to him about us and hopefully put a stop to our work. By regulation, they cannot come and harm us, “poor, defenseless muggles”, but I am afraid of the possible weight they may have with some of our high ranking officials or our Prime Minister.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much about the Minister, Johnson,” Mortlock said with a simple hand wave. “What we need to worry about is him telling the wrong people what we’re doing. The children must continue their education within the Infinity Academy and their families must continue to reside within its vicinity. Get our best trackers, Johnson, and give them this assignment. He must be stopped from telling anyone of what we’re doing by any means necessary.”
“Yes, sir. Immediately, sir.”
Mortlock watched as the Major walked out of his office at full speed before starting his video conference. Most of the tutors working for the Academy were unaware of what exactly what they were doing. All they knew was that they were helping young muggle-born children begin their magical training earlier than what was expected. A primary school for human children with very special needs, Mortlock had always said. However, someone had breached their contract by telling a wizard the truth about the Academy.
He dialed Sergeant Connor and told him of the breach and how it needed to be taken care of considering that the wizard had been working in his unit. Connor, a stern man in his late forties, agreed and said he had a suspicion of who it had been.
After they ended the call with simple parting words, Brigadier Mortlock opened the wizard’s file and memorized his face. He always did that when it came to ordering necessary executions.
For King and Country. That’s why he was doing all of this.
For King and Country.
After an uneventful day at work, Ron bid Harry a good night and left the office to deliver the report that Minister Hughes wanted. He said his goodbyes to those colleagues that still remained in the Ministry and apparated home to find himself being rushed about by his wife, who demanded him to be in proper clothes within thirty minutes; twenty if possible.
He managed to shower, shave and be ready within Hermione’s expectations and felt proud of himself when he ready to go before Hermione, who was doing last minute touch-ups of her make up. Once Hermione was ready, she descended the stairs and looked wildly around, clearly not bothering to acknowledge the fact that he had been ready long before her.
“Hugo is not back, is he now?” she asked as she began to ring him with her mobile without waiting to hear Ron’s answer. Ron didn’t quite understand why she had one, considering that she never really used it except to get in touch with the kids.
“It’s a lot faster this way, Ronald,” she had said when they bought the kids their first mobile phones for Christmas. “We can ring them while they’re out with their muggle friends. Can’t be very convenient to send an owl, now can it?”
Ron waited silently and watched as his wife began to look more crossed with each passing ring. “Went straight to voicemail,” she said with a stern tone. "Right, well we can’t very well wait for him all night. We best get going, Rosie is already with Mum.”
“Right,” said Ron. After so many years of marriage, he knew better than to contradict Hermione in any way, shape or form when she was irritated. Therefore, he gave her a reassuring smile, held his arm out for his wife to take, and together they disapparated to Nana Granger’s house.
He could feel his mobile vibrating from his pocket but he couldn’t quite reach it. His Mum was probably ringing him right now to ask where he was and why he wasn’t at Nana Granger’s house.
‘Well Mum, I’m in a bit of a fix,’ he thought as he struggled against the bindings. His wand had been taken away from him so even if he managed to untie himself he was at a loss of what to do after. He was locked in the boot of a car as if he were common luggage, and driving full speed down a busy motorway.
Lorcan’s owl had arrived at the crack of dawn carrying a letter that had asked-almost begged it seemed- to meet for breakfast; but to be discreet if anyone asked where he was going. Hugo was confused about the secrecy, even a bit alarmed, but he did what he was told so by pure loyalty. He had met Lorcan in a seedy muggle inn where he had breakfast while Lorcan told him how muggles were taking young muggle-borns into their "school" and brainwashing them. He had been hired by Headmaster Connor, a muggle-born himself, to help young muggle kids understand how magic worked. “An introduction to magic,” he had called it.
At first Lorcan had been excited to have such a job right after Hogwarts. To be able to teach young muggle-borns how to handle magic before they came to Hogwarts was a great responsibility. However, a few months back, he had spoken with Headmistress McGonagall and she had told him, as far as she knew no such school existed. At least not under the Ministry of Magic. That left Lorcan a bit suspicious and he had asked Magdalena, the girl that had helped him get the job and a fellow Ravenclaw house mate, about the truth behind the Infinity Academy.
It was then Lorcan had found the truth.
His mobile was ringing again. It was probably Rosie ready to chew him out for not coming to Nana’s and being the reason for Mum’s anger.
He screamed as loudly as he could but thanks to the clothing and tape over his mouth it only came as a weak, muffled moan. He had no idea who these people were. All he knew was they were strong, and most importantly dangerous; the surprise attack and his pounding head were enough of a testimony to let him know that he needed to cooperate with them no matter what.
As the tears started to sting his eyes, he had to admit he was rather scared. He wanted nothing more than to be home with his Mum and Dad, having dinner with Nana, making fun of his sister and of her dear Scorpio as he usually did when he saw her.
But now...he was in the boot of a car with Lorcan and with no idea if he was going to see him family ever again.
“It’s very odd of Huey to not answer his mobile, Dad, I’m worried about him,” Rose Weasley whispered to her father as they apparated back into her parents' house. Nana Granger, despite her age, was a fantastic cook and had lamented that Hugo had not been able to make dinner due to work. Or at least that’s what her mother had said to keep Nana Granger from worrying about her youngest grandchild. “You know very well how he is, Dad. If he could get away with it, he would use a Sticking Charm to securely keep his mobile by his ear at all times.”
“I know, Rosie, but maybe he’s just being a prat and decided to not show up for dinner. Instead of being a decent human being and letting us know, he decided not to answer it or even show up for tea. Don’t worry too much about it, sweetheart,” he said as he gave Rose a small kiss on the forehead. “I’m sure he’s fine. However, do us all a favor and do keep him in your thoughts…your Mum will not let him sly his way out of this one. I almost feel bad for him. Anyway, will you be staying over with us tonight?”
“Yeah, I’m just going to make myself a cup of tea, though.”
“Alright. Good night, Rosie.”
“Good night, Dad.”
Rose waited for the sound of their parents' bedroom door closing before she took her mobile out of her satchel. Scorpius wasn’t much of a fan when it came to muggle technology but Rose loved everything about them. They were magical in their own way and she had tried to explain that to her boyfriend but he would just look more confused with each passing moment. She rang her brother several times and knew, by now, that something was not right. He wouldn’t screen her calls. Mum’s, she could believe, but not his partner in crime.
She paced back and forth wondering what to do. She knew that her brother was meeting with Lorcan, one of his best mates from school, but anything beyond that was a mystery. Rose released a frustrated sigh and plopped herself on the couch. There was no way she could go to sleep knowing that her little brother was not home, safe and sound.
And Rose knew that no matter how her parents were behaving they were also worried about her brother’s whereabouts.
Sergeant Brandon Miller had arrived to the chaotic scene early in the morning. As he spotted his partner and superior, Detective Chief Inspector William Braxton, already hard at work, he wished he had arrived a bit earlier; his son and morning traffic had prevented him from beating Braxton and knew he wouldn’t hear the end of it.
“This one is messy.” Miller overheard Scott, the coroner in charge, say to DI Braxton as he joined the group. Braxton nodded to Miller in acknowledgement and asked Camille Scott to continue. “He was beaten to a bloody pulp, has a cracked cranium and several broken ribs. No gun wound as far as we can tell.” They walked up to the crime scene and body, covered in a white tarp, and looked around to see what they could collect for evidence without touching anything to prevent contamination.
Braxton pulled his small, black pocketbook and began to jot down some quick notes.. “A dark alley, it’s almost the perfect crime scene. No one can see anything from here and I bet you if we ask around, no one heard a bloody thing.”
“Your victim didn’t die here," stated Camille as she put a fresh pair of gloves on. She pulled the white tarp back and started to point in different parts of the body. "Your victim has a bloody nose and jaw but there's no blood on the pavement. Also, see how his hair is matted with blood?” She pointed to the head; the victim’s natural hair color was hard to see from all the dried blood. “Head wounds are always very dramatic. Even if you were to gash yourself on a cabinet door, you’ll bleed so much you’ll think you have to go see a medic. There’s no puddle of blood big enough to tell me that your victim died here. My guess is that he died elsewhere and dropped off here."
Braxton jotted everything the examiner was saying to keep a personal record of the scene. "Have tests done on him for drugs in his system," he ordered. "This could be gang related just like last week’s case." Camille nodded in agreement as she covered the body once more and proceeded get the ambulance medic to take it away to the morgue.
Once she was out of sight, Braxton uncovered the body and very gently lifted an arm to get what he had seen peeking from underneath the victim's body. "Miller do you have a handkerchief with you?"
Miller dug through his pockets and found a wad of napkins he had mindlessly stuffed in his trousers when he was helping his son. "No, no handkerchief. Would a napkin work, sir?"
"That would work just fine, Miller. Thank you." Miller gave Braxton several napkins and watched as the detective began to pull something from underneath the body. To a regular detective, the stick was worthless, not even worth of bagging as part of the investigation. To Miller and Braxton, that stick, with its intricate design and shape, meant a lot.
"Is that what I think it is, sir?"
"You're thinking right Miller, this is a wand." The older detective sighted as he straightened up, his joints hurting with each second. "And now I'm beginning to think that this is more than a gang related crime."
“Last time we dealt with that division was when they had a killer on the loose and he ended up killing a lot of our people.”
“And now they’re the ones who are ending up in our streets.” Braxton covered the wand with a few more napkins to preserve any fingerprints it may have and tucked it gently in his inner coat pocket. “Let’s go back to the office, we have to get in touch with Potter and Weasley right away and see if they can identify the body.”
Ah! I've finally updated!! This chapter has been completed for a while but decided to go ahead and post it. Got comments? Please, tell me what you think!! I'll take any good CC. Thank you!
Disclaimer: What you recognize belongs to JKR. Anything else, such as characters, it belong to me. Thank you for reading! Enjoy!
Song:Opening by Nicholas Hooper
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince OST 2009
Harry arrived to his office half an hour early. His plan was to finish some paperwork he had procrastinated doing for a few weeks. However, as he approached his office he was appalled to find the door slightly ajar. For Harry, it was a ritual to properly lock his door and add a few spells to make sure his space was protected every night after leaving. The distrust he had towards the Ministry was not something he could shake away after a few years of working for them. It was a distrust that lasted a lifetime. If they were capable of abusing their power to slander a teenage boy and make false arrests, just to look as though they were doing their job, what could possibly stop the people higher up from going through Harry’s office?
He listened carefully for any sounds coming from inside, like the shuffling of feet or the rummaging of his filing cabinet. The only sound he could hear, however, was something that closely resembled an angry bear. Harry racked his brain for any possible creatures that could have made it past security or any enemy he might’ve angered off recently; he had too many of them to keep track.
He went for the spare wand he kept strapped on his right thigh and swiftly opened the door; he was not going to give whatever or whoever was there any chances to escape or attack. As ready Harry was to fight his intruder, nothing prepared him to find Ronald Weasley snoring away on the sofa Ginny had given him when he had been promoted. For a second, Harry aimed his wand at Ron but resisted the urge to hex him into St. Mungo’s. Instead he focused on taking several slow breaths to calm his nerves and rushing adrenaline.
Once his heartbeat had gone back to normal, Harry went back to the entrance to fetch for the briefcase he had left behind. He proceeded to walk to his desk and from his briefcase he extracted his quill, blank parchment paper and reports he still needed to read over and approve.
As Harry settled in to work he contemplated on how boring and slow his day would be. Then an idea struck him and a small smirk form on his face. He went to his small bookcase and picked the heaviest leather bound book Hermione had given him-what it was about, he wasn’t sure. Using his wand, he levitated the book to the coffee table by the sofa Ron was snoring from. Once Harry made sure that the book would land on the center, he levitated the book as high as the ceiling would let him and without thinking twice, he brought it down with force.
The ear splitting bang caused Ron to choke during mid-snore and spin so fast out of the sofa that he fell face first. It also resulted in a colleague sending Harry a somewhat snarky message later in the day about how he was disrupting other people and their very important work.
“Whazzat?” Ron asked as he scrambled to his feet, too groggy to fully function or know what was going on. Harry couldn’t contain himself and busted out laughing. For him, this was the perfect payback for last month when he had been the victim of a new line of Wizard Wheezes products. Ron and George had been sure to give some to Lily, James, Teddy and Albus with the promise to get a ninety percent discount on their next visit if they tried it out the new product on Harry. “What in the bloody hell was that for, Potter?!” Ron snarled as he straightened his robes.
“I’m sorry mate!” Harry said in between laughs. “No, wait. I’m not sorry. This was just too bloody easy to not do it. Besides, you gave me quite a fright just a few minutes ago. I really thought someone had broken into my office to rummage through my files. You know I don’t trust this place entirely, no matter how they keep saying that they’ve changed.”
Ron gave Harry a nasty glare before apologizing for coming into his office to sleep without sending an owl first. “You and Hermione have another row?”
Ron shook his head and settled on the sofa again. “Not really. Hermione was just a bit worried about Hugo and kept tossing about in bed and kept me up. He didn’t bother to show up to his grandmother's dinner last night even though he said he would. Speaking of my children, Rosie is finally finishing her internship in St. Mungo’s and should be well on her way to be a Mediwitch by the end of the year. Told us that there are a few Quidditch teams that want her as part of their team.”
“You must be proud!” Harry said. “However, aren’t you worried about Hugo?”
“Nah,” said Ron with a mid-yawn. “This isn’t the first time he’s done this. Remember how he disappeared one weekend after the classic match between the Armenian Junior Nationals and English Under-17.”
Harry remembered that weekend well for Teddy, James and Charlie, the ‘responsible’ adult in the group, had been with Hugo when they had disappeared. When they didn’t come back from the match, or the day after, Ginny was ready to send a whole platoon of Aurors on Harry’s behalf to find their son, godson and nephew. When they had turned up late that Sunday night, their smiles and laughs quickly disappeared the moment they saw Ginny, Molly and Hermione waiting for them at the door. “I honestly think that he had one too many, met a girl and lost his muggle mobile. Again. And those bloody devices are not cheap. He might also be afraid of coming home to face Hermione’s wrath.”
“Sounds possible,” Harry nodded. “I seem to recall that his father did that once or twice and was also afraid of his fiancé’s wrath.”
Before Ron could utter a word of defense the small portrait of a medieval knight Harry kept above the sofa gave them an overstated cough. Harry found this quite unusual as Sir Podmore was never in his portrait. He spent most of his time visiting other portraits because he found Harry quite dull. And his second portrait was rather unpleasant and restricting, or so Podmore had said. “Ah, Sir Podmore, how wonderful to see you back. Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Just so you know, Mr. Potter, earlier today I found myself busy playing cards with Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them but they’re rather important Knights of the Round Table.” Sir Podmore gave Harry a nasty look and continued. “I had a winning hand but all of the sudden I was whisked away by a silly muggle who asked to deliver a message as if I were a common owl. Now let me ask you this, Master Potter, do I look like an owl?”
Harry rolled his eyes and ignored the question. “What’s the message, Sir Podmore?”
“That muggle man wishes to meet with you and Weasley in Nottingham University Hospital as soon as you can.”
“Isn’t that where we met with Braxton last time?” Ron asked.
“Yes, it was to take a look at the tourist’s body. Alright, tell Braxton that we’ll be there err…” Harry had to stop and think. Ron and Harry could just apparate by the building and make it there within a few minutes but if Podmore was delivering the message that meant that Braxton was in his office. “Tell him that we’ll meet him at half past eight in front of the building.”
“After that message, am I allowed to go back to play cards with Sir Gawain and Lancelot or am I going to be treated like an owl all day?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Fine, whatever. Just make sure you deliver that message to Braxton before you do anything else.”
Podmore gave them a very dramatic bow before disappearing past the frame.
A few years ago Harry had met and helped out William Braxton, one of London’s Detective Chief Inspectors. The case had been brutal on both their parts. One of the first tasks Harry and Ron had after graduating from the Training Academy was to capture any Death Eaters that had avoided punishment. It was then the two young Aurors began their hunt for one particular Death Eater: Antonin Dolohov. He had been one of the many Death Eaters who had managed to escape after the Battle of Hogwarts, and it had been Harry’s obsession to bring him to justice. He felt like he owed that much to his Godson, Teddy, and to finally bring some peace of mind to Andromeda.
After a few years of careful investigation, and many captured Death Eaters, Harry was finally able to bring Dolohov in front of the Wizengamot. A lifetime in Azkaban, however, didn’t seem enough for Harry for the damage the man had caused. The prison was not what it used to be when the Dementors had been in charge. They had a bed, three daily meals and no Dementor to suck the happiness out of the convicts. How was that man’s so called suffering compared to Andromeda’s or anyone who had been his victim?
Despite the lack of Dementors and the low numbers of Aurors working in Azkaban, the place did tend to have its share of problems such as beatings, murders, the constant riots, and once in awhile the breakouts. That’s how Antonin Dolohov and a few others had escaped; how they had survived the raging waters Harry didn’t know. The group had split up and while the others had been caught after a few months of freedom, Dolohov had stayed on the loose for almost a year.
While visiting Dudley and his family for the Holidays, Harry was watching the telly with little Marigold when the news anchor mentioned how a business man from Germany had been found dead in an alleyway, completely stripped from his clothes and more bizarrely, his hair had been cut in awkward angles. This had been, according to the anchor, the tenth victim found this way over the last year. Harry’s initial suspicion was that Dolohov was behind all of these muggle deaths. He needed to make sure first, not jump into any conclusions; something he was very guilty of doing in the past. So after leaving Dudley’s home, he decided to meet with the person in charge of investigating the murders: William Braxton.
The meeting hadn’t gone the way Harry had planned. Braxton, who was a few years older than Harry, was a bit hesitant to believe anything about magic, thought Harry was a nutter, and eventually had him escorted out by two officers. Harry had left fuming, but told himself that if there was another murder with the same M.O. he would visit Braxton again and this time use magic to help his cause.
So for three months Harry collected every possible muggle newspaper he could get his hands on. Finally, one March morning, while reading one of his newspapers over some tea, he found what he was looking for: the report of another victim. This time it was a Swiss tourist that had first been reported missing by his girlfriend more than a week before. Not much had been done about his disappearance until his body had been found behind a Chinese takeaway, stripped from his clothes and with missing patches of hair.
A strong hunch told him that this had to be the way Dolohov had avoided capture. He was disguising himself as the people he hated the most. So Harry marched to Braxton’s office and told him, with wand pointed at the DCI’s face, that he hated the thought of using magic on muggles, but if he had to in order to capture a criminal then so be it. Braxton, who was now under a lot of pressure from the Borough Operational Command Unit, had reluctantly allowed Harry to help.
After two months of partnership, Harry, Ron, Braxton and his partner, detective Miller, were able to find Dolohov, under the guise of the missing Swiss tourist. Before thinking of approaching him, Harry placed strong anti-apparition spells but when they tried to arrest Dolohov, he became frantic and tried to fight his way out. In the end, Dolohov had been killed by either a rogue spell or bullet to the head; both had hit him almost instantaneously that it was hard to identify which had made impact first.
After all reports had been filled out on both sides, Harry had been instructed to erase Miller’s and Braxton’s memory of everything regarding the Wizarding World. Harry, instead, gave Braxton a portrait of Sir Merek Podmore as a gift, something Ron was glad to get out of his cubicle. He instructed Braxtong that if anything out of the ordinary started to happen, things that he couldn’t quite explain in a report, to just let Podmore know and Harry would come to help.
It had been five years since Harry had given Braxton that portrait and hadn’t heard anything from the DCI. Until now. Something churned in Harry’s stomach. Was he excited at the prospect of breaking away from the monotony of his job? He could always send a team of the newest members to give them some training, like Hansen or Mayer, with an apology note but even that sounded absurd in his head. If Braxton was getting in touch with him, it meant that this was important and it needed Harry’s attention.
“Wonder what’s going on with Braxton,” Ron pondered as he checked his watch. “It seems we have about half an hour to meet with the blokes, fancy a cuppa before we leave?”
Harry nodded, trying to calm the excitement building up inside him.
By the time Harry arrived with Ron to the hospital, both Braxton and Miller were already there waiting for them. Harry gave the muggle policemen a firm handshake and asked them what was going on.
“Well, we found a body earlier today and found this with it.” Braxton handed them a clear plastic bag with the word EVIDENCE clearly printed at the top and just underneath it a form filled out about the crime scene and body.
“This is a wand,” Harry said when Braxton gave him the bag. He didn’t need to dwell much on the evidence; the carvings, the shape and the weight was enough to tell him that the body they had found was that of a witch or wizard.
“Can you guys wave your wands and figure out who the owner is?” Miller asked.
Harry shook his head, refraining himself from telling the young inspector that there was more to ‘waving the wand’ than he thought. “No, we can’t. But we can take it to the man who sold it to your victim. Either Julian Ollivander or his father can identify what type of wand this is, the date it was purchased and the owner.”
“You guys have a system for that?” Miller asked. “Thought you blokes said you didn’t have computers.”
“Err…its more like a very good memory,” Ron explained as he took the evidence bag from Harry to take a closer look himself. “The Ollivanders are fantastic wand makers in our country, in our world for that matter. They go through years of training when it comes to wandlore. Garrick Ollivander, the man who sold us our wands, is old and has retired from the public eye. He was never the same after the war so his son took over the business. If your victim is young, and if Julian is anything like his father, he’ll remember the person associated to every wand that he’s sold.”
“Blimey, that’s very impressive,” said Miller. “However, I don’t see how just the great memory of this Julian can be reliable when it comes to concrete evidence.”
“Are we here to look at the body?” Harry asked Braxton before Ron and Miller had a chance to argue. It wasn’t that Miller disliked Ron; it was the fact that he considered Magic to be very unpredictable and sometimes nonsensical to have. Thankfully wasn’t as bad as Petunia and Vernon and their attempts to bash magic and hating everything about it.
“Yes. Collett Scott, the coroner, asked a pathologist to do an intensive inquiry on the body. He’s waiting for us right now.”
“Best not keep him waiting, then.”
Braxton lead Harry and Ron through the somewhat familiar hospital. The air was cold enough that Harry was glad that he was still wearing his Auror cloak and was pleased that none of the nurses seemed to pay much attention to his or Ron’s attire. Harry was sure that they were used to seeing bizarre things in their line of work. Despite being muggle nurses and doctors, there was hardly any difference between their jobs here and those of the healers in St. Mungo’s; stupidity had hardly any bounds.
After what felt like an endless walk through every hallway, Harry and the group arrived at the morgue. The room had two large tables full of muggle equipment Harry had only seen during his early years in a muggle primary school. The equipment here, however, looked far more advanced than a primary school’s and definitely far more expensive. The microscopes were hooked up to computers; beakers were full of chemicals Harry couldn’t even dream of their names. There were machines that he was sure his father-in-law would love to get his hands on. All of this around him was a different kind of magic that Harry wished he knew a little bit more. Perhaps, if he were to retire soon, he would pick a muggle subject and study it to his heart’s content.
“Hello?” Miller called out.
A door at the end of the room opened and in walked a man with a big smile on his face; working in the morgue had apparently desensitized him from his grim surroundings. “Ah, if it isn’t Potter and Weasel.”
“Weasley,” Ron corrected Tobias Allen. Tobias was a young man to Harry’s standards. He had short mousy hair, big blue eyes and a nose too small for his face. He had been the pathologist’s assistant five years ago and had helped them out during the Dolohov investigation.
“Sorry, mate,” Tobias apologized. “It has been ages since I saw you two. I’m guessing Braxton brought you here for the body I got early this morning.”
“Indeed, that’s why we’re here,” said Harry.
“Follow me, gentlemen.” Tobias led them to the room he had just come from and gathered around a stainless steel table; a white sheet was covering the body from head to toe. “I was just finishing up with him the moment you walked in. Now, I’ll be keeping the body in positive temperature for a week, it’ll deteriorate but at a very slow rate. If after a week no one has come forth to claim the body, I’ll be putting him negative temperature until we can find his family.”
Everyone nodded in agreement.
“What can you tell us about the victim?” Braxton asked.
“Not much.” He uncovered the body and Harry was shocked to see how mangled, swollen and almost unrecognizable to a human face the poor guy had. “Male, early to mid-twenties. I ran a DNA and fingerprint inquire on him but nothing came up. Also did a toxic substance analysis report and it came back clean from any drugs. He died from multiple skull fractures and swelling of the brain. He might’ve survived if he had been brought to the hospital right away but even then his chances were slim.” Tobias sighed. “I feel bad for the poor sod. He must’ve angered someone real bad for them to do this ghastly number on him.
“Anyway, Will, I recommend running a missing persons report. See if anyone has reported a male who’s gone missing with long blond hair and blue eyes recently. If he hasn’t been missed by someone, they will pretty soon.”
“Any markings on him that it’ll make it easier?” asked Miller.
“Funny you should ask. Yes, he does. However it’s a weird one, perhaps a gang related tattoo.” He lifted the sheet from the other end and showed them the victim’s calves. He had a weird tattoo and could understand why muggles would think that it was gang related, only someone like Harry and Ron could recognized. It was a mark that their children had, a symbol they had created and linked them together. Harry wasn’t a big fan of that tattoo but their children were adults and far from him telling them what they can or can’t do. They explained that it stood as a symbol for those who fought and gave them a chance to live in better world. For Harry, however, was a painful reminder of those who had perished long ago and the burden he still carried with him.
“Reckon what that is,” Braxton mumbled as he inched closer to the right calf. “I have yet to encounter a gang with this bizarre design.”
“They’re runes,” answered Harry. He was met with blank stares and continued. “They’re numerical runes to be exact. The large rune above the small one is the number six while the smaller runes underneath represent a date: second of May, nineteen ninety eight. The tattoo just represents six people and a very important battle.” The tattoo was troubling, however, for only a handful of young people had it. He tried to remain calm but his brain was working double time to try and figure this out.
“What kind of battle was fought in the nineties?” Tobias asked.
“A very important one,” Harry answered but didn’t go into details. Harry looked up from the table and saw Ron, looking pale and frozen on the spot. “Ron, you alright mate?”
“This is Lorcan Scamander, mate. The blond hair, blue eyes, the tattoo...Only our kids, Neville’s and Luna’s have these tattoos and Lysander is away with Rolf.” Harry could feel Ron’s panic radiating from him. “Hugo said he was meeting up with him yesterday, but Hugo never came home.” Harry had to remain calm through Ron’s panic but his own mind continued to buzz. This was Luna’s boy, someone whom Harry had seen grow from an infant in his mother’s arms to an adult. He had given him presents, had babysat him. And Hugo…where was he?
Harry watched as Ron took a deep breath in and exhaled with what sounded like a sob. “If Lorcan is here, beaten to death, where is my boy, Harry?”
Major Marion Johnson had been woken up by an urgent call from Benjamin Hoffman and Samuel Frankford, the two trackers she had hired just yesterday to find the problem and eliminate it. According to Frankford, Scamander had found his way back to the Academy and was poking around when Hoffman had found him by mere chance and had knocked him out before Scamander realized that he had been spotted. Johnson couldn’t believe she had used a lot of the money to pay these fools when they had taken less than twenty-four hours to find him by mere chance.
Their instructions were clear: get rid of him. Frankford made sure that they had and that it wouldn’t be traced to anyone linked to the Academy, or so he said. The problem was that Scamander hadn’t been alone when he was at the Academy. Frankford had mention that if she wanted that problem to go away as well, she could pay them a little bit extra to get rid of the boy the same way as Scamander. Johnson had argued that with the money she paid them and how little ‘tracking’ they had done, she ought to get her money’s worth; a sick buy one get one free deal. Hoffman, who had been listening to the conversation, told her very tersely that the quota was for one boy. If she wanted the other one dead, then she ought to pay them a bit more.
She arrived at her destination and knocked on the door three times. She waited patiently and went over her speech inside her head. “Come in,” a voice inside the office said.
Johnson walked into Brigadier Mortlock going through some paperwork and without bothering to look up he said, “What do you want?”
“Sir, the problem has been eliminated.”
Mortlock looked up from his paperwork and gave her an inquisitive look. “Really? I have to say, I’m impressed Johnson.”
This was going to hurt her pride. The Brigadier was hard to impress and when he was, he rarely admitted to it. Now she had to tell him of the other problem they had and was sure that the small admiration the Brigadier had for her this instant was going to vanish.
“There is a small problem sir.” She had to rip this like a band aid. “Scamander wasn’t alone when they captured him; he was with a friend. Now Frankford and his mate want more money to get rid of him as well.
“Why are you coming to me for this, Johnson?” The admiration was gone and it had been replaced by annoyance.
“Because what they’re asking for is an outrageous amount, sir,” Johnson explained. “The money we paid those two was incredible to begin with and they didn’t put any effort behind it. The reason why I’m here sir is to ask you for your permission to send this young man to Cassandra.”
“What could Miss Cassandra want with this boy, Johnson?”
“Sir, Cassandra is in charge of something way beyond of what M.A.L is doing,” Johnson began to go over her practiced speech. “The Director is only focused on one thing only; Cassandra is the one that’s helping us achieve our goal. While the Director’s discoveries are always important, it’s Cassandra’s work that we have to support the most. With this boy she can test things on him, possibly find out what makes magical born children different from the synthetic ones we create.”
After a few moments of silence the Brigadier agreed to Johnson’s idea. However, with one condition, “Instruct Cassandra to make sure that the Director doesn’t catch whiff of that boy or of what we’re doing.”
“Her work is important, and if this boy is the key for us to achieve something greater as a human race and as nation, then so be it.”
Johnson felt the tension leave her body. And as soon as she was allowed to leave the Brigadier’s office, she took out her mobile and dialed.
“This is Cassandra,” a prim, all-business voice said on the other end of the line.
“I have a surprise for you.” A smirk form on Johnson’s lips and for the first time all day she felt like everything was going to be just fine.
Dun dun duuuuuuun!! At least Hugo is alive, right? However, the question is...what is going to happen to him? How is Luna going to react to the news? What's going to happen?! *evil laugh* I guess you're just gonna have to stick around for the next chapter! I hope to hear your thoughts about this! Any CC is welcomed. Thank you for reading.
Disclaimer: What you recognize belongs to JKR. Anything else, such as characters, it belong to me. Thank you for reading! Enjoy! And remember, if you have the song I posted in your music library or music device, play it while reading this chapter! This song really put me in the right track to finish this chapter.
Song: Hermione’s Parents
Album: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt1 2010
Composer: Alexandre Desplat
Alex followed the caravan through the sleepy town, making sure to stay far away as to not get caught, but close enough to keep them in sight. His father would most certainly disapprove of his little excursion but thankfully for Alex, his father was away on military duty and had to stay with his mother and grandmother for the next six months. So the chances of his father finding out were slim unless he let it slip accidentally like the previous time.
The travelers settled in the open field a little outside of town where they joined the other traveling families. A small smirk crossed his face. With the commotion of the new arrivals he was sure that he could mingle with the travelers without getting caught; perhaps he could make a friend or two he mused. It wasn’t because they hated the town’s people but he knew of the distrust between the travelers and the town; he didn’t want to cause any trouble on either side.
Coming out from his hiding spot, Alex walked through the settlement without much trouble. In fact, he quite enjoyed watching people and how different and jolly they were compared to some of the townspeople and even managed to catch their good humor as he strolled about the settlement. He saw men and women joking about, drinking, telling tales and families shouting at each other regarding dinner.
Alex had spotted a group of older kids goofing around and smoking some cigarettes but the moment they had seen him coming, they told him to sod off and play with the little kids. That, however, didn’t even deter him from continuing to look around.
As he continued his walk, he spotted an old man telling the most exaggerated story of a giant and a beanstalk to a group of children that stared at him with open mouths. He wanted to tell the man that most giants didn’t live above the clouds but in the mountains but he figured best not call any attention to himself.
It was an hour later that Alex had given up for the day; a bit dishearten at the lack of kids his age but had at least won out with some cookies from an older lady who had seen him walking all alone. As he trekked out of the field he came past a caravan that had too much uproar going on inside.
“I told you to stop doing that, you little shit!” A woman’s shrieks came from the other side of the door and were followed by something breaking. “Get out! Out!” The door opened and a boy not much older than Alex stumbled out of the caravan, landing hard on his back. A woman, with fiery red hair, stood by the door frame holding a cigarette in between her fingers and looking angrily at Alex. “Whatcha looking at, boy?”
“No-nothing!” Alex stammered, a bit scared that the lady was going to toss something at him.
The woman, luckily, said nothing but threw both boys a nasty glare before shutting the door behind her. Alex, feeling pity for the poor boy, helped him to his feet. It was then he noticed what the woman had been shouting about: the boy’s nose was in the shape of a cat, even had the whiskers to go with it.
Without missing a beat, Alex pointed at the boy’s face and exclaimed “that’s so cool!” He wasn’t afraid, had even read about it in the books the old man that lived a few houses from his grandmother had.
The boy, however, panicked, covered his face and bolted. “Oi,” Alex shouted after him. “Wait up!”
He followed the boy just outside the traveler’s field until his lungs couldn’t take it anymore. He doubled over, trying to catch the breath that never came. Keeping panic at bay, he reached for his inhaler, the bloody thing his father hated, and waited for the cooling effect of the medication to do is work. Minutes later, after the episode had passed and he knew he felt well enough to continue on, Alex got up and looked at his surroundings. From afar he spotted the boy and was honestly surprised that he had come back, why exactly, Alex didn’t know.
“Not dead?” The boy asked making sure he kept his distance. His cat features were gone and instead a normal nose had taken its place. He had olive skin, brown hair and green eyes. Alex also noted that the boy was lithe and was a few inches taller than him.
“Well, I’m clearly not dead. Thank you for asking,” Alex spat. “This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t run.”
The boy shrugged his shoulders. “People don’t usually take kindly of what I do. Nadya is a prime example of that as you can see.”
“Mad lady that threw you out?”
“Aye, also known as Step-Mum.”
Alex nodded, feeling awkward all of the sudden.
“So why aren’t you afraid of what you saw?” The boy asked, not meeting Alex’s eyes and shuffling his feet.
“Afraid? Why would I be afraid? You’re a metamorphmagus aren’t you?”
The boy looked quizzically at Alex. “Don’t you go to Hogwarts?”
The boy strolled a bit closer, kicking a rock out of the way as he approached Alec. “I’ve heard of it. An old man even came to talk to Nadya and me about it a few years back but she kicked him out. Called him the devil. Is it a fancy school like the ones I see on the telly?”
“Something better!” Alex exclaimed, a big smile across his pale face. “I should start next year. Maybe. Well…If I get my letter.” He let the uneasy feeling he had about receiving his letter go. He would worry about that another time, another day. “My Godfather told me a bit about it but he doesn’t like to talk much of that subject. Says it gives him bad memories. So can you do magic as well?”
The boy said nothing, just stared at Alex as if he had grown a second head.
“Well…have you ever done some weird things?”
“Well…” He scrunched up his face thoughtfully. “There was this one time when I was eight and Nadya was yelling at me for nothing. I just remember getting really angry at her because she was being unfair. Then, before I know how, the entire caravan began to shake. Lights flickered and some even exploded! We ran out, thinking it was an earthquake but our friends just gave us funny looks.”
Alex nodded while laughing. “I did something similar with Father. However it happened with my Godfather present so he was able to explain things to me.” He left out, however, that his Godfather and Father had gotten into an row when they thought he was out of earshot. Something about a break-in into his laboratories over ten years ago and how things made sense. It didn’t make sense to Alex but it had clearly upset his Godfather enough to pity Alex and mentor him about the Wizarding World.
“So what am I?”
“You’re a wizard and a metamorphmagus at that.”
“Is that bad?”
“Bad? It’s bloody amazing!” he stopped for a second and made a face. “Shame you didn’t go to Hogwarts. You could’ve been such a great wizard!”
“Maybe it was for the best; otherwise I would’ve turned Nadya into a bloody cow”
The boys laughed. “Me name’s Nicolas, Nico for short.”
“Alex,” the boys shook hands, not knowing that a strong friendship, a brotherhood, was born between the two boys.
Harry waited for any sort of reaction or emotion; something that told him that she had understood what he had just explained to her.
After Ron’s outburst at the morgue, Harry had to explain to Miller and Braxton who the boy on stainless steel table was and their connections to him. Tobias immediately took note and proceeded to change the name of Joe Bloggs to Lorcan. “Does he have a surname?” He asked as he balanced his tablet with one arm to edit the records.
“Scamander,” Harry muttered as he raked his fingers through his hair. He tried to make sense of what was going on. To find an easy answer that would tell him why Lorcan was dead and Hugo’s whereabouts.
“Rather peculiar family name, isn’t it?” Harry said nothing and paced. His eyes shifted towards the body but quickly drew them to the floor. He didn’t want to remember Lorcan in any other way except as the boy his little girl had fancied throughout most of her life at Hogwarts.
Miller, who wanted to get to the bottom of this, began to question Ron of Hugo and where exactly they had gone. The moment that Harry saw Ron’s arm twitch for his wand, Harry quickly casted the Confundus charm on Tobias and aimed his wand at Ron who in turn was aiming for Miller’s head. “Put it down, mate,” he hissed. “Miller is daft, doesn’t know what he’s talking about, Ron. However, as daft as he is, he’s trying to do his job. I don’t believe Hugo did this, not even for a bloody minute, but you’ve got to calm down and start to think things clearly.”
“I didn’t mean anything by it, Weasley,” said Miller, a slight tremble in his voice. “I’m just trying to do my job. It’s just that you said it yourself, your son was with him and now we have this Lorcan boy here and your son is missing.”
“They were mates,” Ron said with a strained voice. “Hugo would never do this. They went to school together. Learned to fly together, got in trouble together. He would never do this. My son is missing!” Ron tried to contain the tears welling up in his eyes. For the first time in a long time, he was scared. All he could think of was Hermione telling him that she was pregnant with their second child. The first time he held Hugo and the last time he had seen him. A gasp escaped him…“Bloody hell…how am I going to tell Hermione this? I just-I can’t-This cannot be happening.”
“Alright, let’s all calm down,” Braxton said. “We’re not going to accomplish anything if we argue among ourselves or start to panic. Potter, I have a question. If a person behind Lorcan’s death is magical, wouldn’t they have disposed of the body another way?”
Harry nodded as he recalled the body of Bartemius Crouch Sr. being transfigured into a bone and buried in Hagrid’s garden. “There are multiple ways of disposing of a body. Make him less recognizable would have been the first. There’s also transfiguration.”
“And what exactly is that?
Braxton had brought up a good point. Criminal witches and wizards usually disposed of the bodies in a different manner. At least those who were smart wouldn’t leave the evidence in an alleyway for people to easily find. The way Lorcan had died also pointed out to the lack of magic. Why beat the person to death when a simple curse would do? This was clearly done by people who had no access to magic. Had Hugo and Lorcan done magic accidentally in front of muggles that caused them to freak out?
“Do you think this was done by muggles, Harry?” Ron asked as he slumped on the nearest chair. Too many questions were floating in Harry’s mind and the only person who could answer them was missing.
“I don’t know, mate.”
“Perhaps the next step here is to alert the family,” Braxton said as his eyes shifted slightly to the confused Tobias. “Will he be alright?”
“He’s just slightly dazed. He’ll be fine in a little while,” Harry said, feeling slightly guilty for using magic on poor Tobias. “We need to tell Luna about this, Ron, and the whole family about Hugo. The young ones might have some of the answers we’re looking for; something they might confide amongst each other rather than tell us what is going on in their lives.”
“Will you tell us of any new information?” Braxton asked.
Harry hesitated but it was thanks to the two muggle investigators that they knew about Lorcan and Hugo. “We’ll let you know if we find something.”
Both Ron and Harry had arrived in Scamander Mannor’s property line not wanting to go through with their job. However, no matter how much he was dreading the moment, Harry knew that Luna deserved the news to come from friends rather than a detached Auror or a cold and confused muggle. Ron had almost bailed on him, stating that he couldn’t go through with it because his son was still missing. In a whirl of emotion, Ron had even partially blamed Lorcan for getting his son captured. Harry had snapped then. All the emotions he had been keeping at bay had all come out with Ron’s comment. After a few awkward seconds, Ron apologized saying he wasn’t thinking clearly with everything that had happened. And now, after a very long day and walk from the property line, both Ron and Harry were in the Scamander Mannor’s dining room delivering the bad news. With a heavy heart, Harry waited for Luna to react.
“Luna, dear, did you hear what I said?” Harry knew that he had heard her, but he needed to break some of the tension around them. He had to stay professional because he had no idea on how to behave. Never, in his Auror career, did Harry think he was going to deliver devastating news to someone he considered family; a sister.
He watched as Luna’s face scrunched up and tears began to roll down her cheeks. She covered her face with her palms as her sobs began to fill the room. Harry felt the lump in his throat, as he had that first moment he’d seen Lorcan’s body. He couldn’t let himself cry, not here or now. He had to be strong for Luna, to reassure her that Lorcan’s killer was his priority.
Ron, throwing professionalism out the window, went over to Luna and held her as he cried with her; his chin resting gently on her silvered head. “I’m so sorry, sweetheart,” Ron whispered as he rubbed her back. Tears, in the end, betrayed Harry as he thought of the boy who would pretend to be his twin brother. Who would ask him countless of questions of Harry’s “legendary” Quidditch days and of the boy who had been friends with his son and nephew. Lorcan and Lysander, Harry considered, were part of his family so his loss felt as if he had lost part of the family brood.
“What happened to my boy, Harry?” Luna asked; her voice coming muffled from behind her hands.
Harry swallowed the lump in his throat and told her, “we’re not entirely sure.” It was the truth, yet it hurt to see the pain his answer inflicted. Luna collapsed to the ground, shaking uncontrollably. Her sobs filled the room with agony and Harry knew that his answer had made everything worse. With his current line of duty and his young years at Hogwarts Harry was no stranger to death. Throughout the years, however, he had forgotten how it felt when death touched those he loved and cherished.
“Luna, we’ll find out what happened. Please trust us,” Harry whispered.
“Perhaps it isn’t him,” Luna whimpered as she lowered her hands; eyes red and swollen from crying. “You could have made a simple mistake. It’s typical in your line of duty, you must be tired Harry. ”
Harry shook his head. “I’m so sorry, Luna.”
She shook her head. “I need to see him, Harry. I just need to make sure you’re that you’re not wrong.”
Before Harry could tell Luna that she couldn’t just now, not with the body in its bloody state because it would only break her further, he heard voices from the living room.
“Luna, darling, we’re home,” Harry heard Rolf’s voice and his heart sank. He didn’t want to deliver the news twice. “Are you home, sweetheart?”
He came into the dining room and saw his sobbing wife. “Lu-what’s the matter?” Rolf rushed to his wife’s side and held her shaking, sobbing body. Luna immediately wrapped her arms around Rolf and continued to sob on his shoulder. Rolf on the other hand, looked up at Harry and Ron for some answers, anything that would explain why his wife was so upset.
“He’s dead,” Luna said in between sobs.
“Who is dead, darling?”
Harry sighed, he hated doing this to the people that meant so much to him. “I’m afraid I-we-have some bad news...”
“Mum…?” Harry looked past Rolf and Luna to find Lysander.
Harry looked at Ron for help. He couldn’t do this, not to Lysander. He had seen what a death of a twin did to the one that was left behind. He thought of George whose life was almost destroyed in the months that followed Fred’s death. And after all these years, Harry knew that George had still not healed from losing Fred. There were times he would catch George talking to himself in the shop or laughing at a joke only he understood or had heard. He looked at Lysander and wondered what was going to happen to this twin; what his life would look like after today.
“Quick, put him in here.” Hugo heard a woman say; her voice crisp with a trace of excitement. He had been dragged out of the car’s boot and ordered to walk but because he had been stuck inside the small, cramped space, his legs had refused to work properly. Before being blindfolded and dragged like a ragdoll, he managed to catch a glimpse of where the drive had taken him: the Academy Lorcan had brought him to see. Thinking of Lorcan made him feel sick to his stomach; he had heard his friend die. If he concentrated hard enough he could still hear the last breaths of his best friend.
He felt himself being hoisted onto a bed and much to his dismay, strapped to it. He was their prisoner and that both terrified and angered him. “I know where I am,” he said, “so let’s stop with this blindfold and face me, you bloody coward!”
“Remove it,” he heard the woman’s voice again.
“You’re not the boss of me, sweetheart,” one of his assailants said with a snort. “You have hands, you can do it yourself.”
“While you’re in my building and under Major Johnson’s pay, yes, I am most definitely your boss. Now do as I say before I call the Major and have her deal with you.” Hugo heard the nasty names he called her as he proceeded to take the blindfold off. “Anything else, sweetheart?” the man said through gritted teeth.
“Wait for me outside.”
His eyes adjusted slowly to the brightness of the room. He was not surprised to find himself alone with the woman, what he was surprised was how white and sterile the room was. Once his eyes stopped burning, Hugo saw the owner of the voice. She looked young, possibly late twenties or early thirties, with bright green eyes and blond hair tied back in a very tight bun. She wore a white robe on top of her black outfit; her clipboard held tightly across her chest.
“Who are you?” Hugo asked. His voice strained and throat parched. How long had it been since he had eaten something? Drunk water? He wanted water so badly.
“My name is Cassandra,” she said as she took a few steps closer; with one hand adjusting her black rimmed glasses. “I am the Director of the research team for the Academy.”
“What do you want with me?” His father’s advice flashed through his mind as though he were here: remain calm and don’t let your assailant know what you’re thinking or how truly scared you are.
“What’s your name?” Hugo gritted his teeth; of course he wasn’t going to answer her question. She, in turn, sighed at the lack of response. “It’s fine if you don’t answer me. I don’t usually like to know the subject’s names; makes it easy for me to continue my research. However, I figured if you were going to stay here for a while, I might as well get to know you.” She waved his pen dismissively as she returned her attention to the clipboard.
“I know what you did to Lorcan,” Hugo spat.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You had those goons kill him.” Lorcan’s raspy breathing came back to his mind but quickly dismissed it; the tears would’ve betrayed his fake bravery. “I have no plans of staying here for long. My father will come looking for me. Do you even know who my mother and grandmother are?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t even know your name let alone who your family is.”
“I am Hugo Weasley, son of Hermione and Ronald Weasley.” Hugo felt strange boasting about who his parents were. He grew up always denying his family’s name due to their involvement in the war. Had even gone through a strange phase of calling himself by other names, much to his professors’ dismay, when he changed it every other month after getting bored.
“Those names don’t mean anything to me, Mr. Weasley,” Cassandra said as she began to write on her clipboard.
“My uncle is Harry Potter.” He thought he was grasping at straws but he saw as Cassandra’s pen stop mid sentence and looked at him at the mention of his uncle. She said nothing of the matter and proceeded for the door.
“I’ll be back sometime later with my assistant,” she said. “We’ll start from the beginning and work our way up. Please, do make yourself comfortable Mr. Weasley. Just think about it, you may be the key to our success. All I need for you to do is cooperate.”
The door closed behind her, leaving Hugo alone and scared. A crazy thought popped into his head as he struggled against his bindings: that Lorcan was better off dead than be in the situation he was.
Yay!! I updated!! So! What do you think?! What are your questions? I'm dying to know what you think of this chapter! And if you're thinking, "Poor Hugo!" You're absolutely right...this is just the beginning for him! Anyway! You see that grey box down there? Please! Give me your feedback!
Hermione stared at her reflection, wondering if the person looking back was truly herself. Her eyes were bloodshot from crying so much and her hair was two birds short of becoming a full fledge nest. She peeled her eyes away from the troubling reflection to gaze at the pictures she had on her vanity. She had so many many of them. Then again, she had many nieces and nephews and children she considered part of the family. She avoided looking at the twins, Lorcan and Lysander. The pain of losing Lorcan was too great and couldn’t think of the pain Luna must be going through. Her eyes continued to move through the pictures until they rested on the two small antique frames.
The one on the left was of her Rosie age seven. Messy ginger hair, mud all over her pretty dress and a grin that went from ear to ear; she had three missing teeth which didn’t seem to bother her. Huey was on the right, about the same age as Rosie, with a beach towel tied around his neck and arms stretched out in front of him as if he were flying.
Superman, Hermione remembered as a small smile crept on her lips. Huey had liked the Muggle superhero; a character he had become acquainted thanks to the Granger side of the family. Absentmindedly, her fingers stroked the picture of Hugo, remembering the day she had last seen her son.
Ron hadn’t kept anything from her. With great difficulty he had announced Lorcan’s death and Hugo’s disappearance to the family. Hermione could still remember the eerie silence before the explosion of hysteria, all while she was trying to process the information and make sense of it.
It had been four days.
Four long days of not knowing if her son was safe, if he was eating or sleeping somewhere in a warm bed. Four agonizing days of not knowing if Hugo had met the same fate as Lorcan. She closed her eyes but no more tears came. She felt useless, very “Un-Hermione” and unable to do something to help Harry and Ron find her son. No books or library could help her now in this time of need.
No one had come forward either to help.
And of course they wouldn’t, she told herself over and over. They had murdered a child and abducted another. According to her Mum, the muggle investigators were treating this as a homicide and abduction. The coppers were asking for the public for any information that would lead to the capture of the people behind the crime.
Stupid people always called ready to give false hope to the families with fabricated information; if it was for fun or malice, Hermione didn’t know. Nor did she care. The only good lead Ron and Harry had so far had come from the pub owner where the boys had met after Hugo had left the house. He had called the muggle investigators that he had seen the two young men at his pub right after the breakfast rush. The victim looked nervous, shaken up about something and would grow quiet whenever someone approached their table. While the other, the owner had said, looked rather suspicious and quite relaxed. He had eaten a full English breakfast, tea and juice before departing with the poor boy. Most likely, the man had gone on, the other boy, the missing one, had murdered the boy before leaving the country.
By law, Hugo’s disappearance was suspicious. But Hermione knew better.
Ron had also mentioned how at the beginning of the investigation Hugo was the prime suspect over Lorcan’s death by the Muggle Police but quickly made things clear: Hugo was not the murderer. Hermione was glad because now both units, the muggle and magical were out there looking for the culprits rather than focusing their energy thinking that Hugo was the killer.
A knock startled her, “Mum.” It was Rosie. She poked her head through the small gap and looked around the gloomy room until she found her mother sitting on the vanity chair. Rose remembered those days she used to love coming into her mother’s room to play. She didn’t have many perfumes or make up like her other aunts had but she still like to play with them. Her favorite part of her mother’s room was the small library she had. Putting the happy thoughts away she came into the room.
“Mum, we’ve got to go.” Hermione turned to see her beautiful daughter dressed in the most depressing outfit: black tights, shoes and dress…all appropriate for a funeral. “Daddy’s sent an owl; he and Uncle Harry are running a bit late but they’ll meet us there.” A pause. “Mum, did you hear a word of what I just said?”
“Yes, sorry dear.” Rosie walked up to her and sat on the little stool just as she had done as a child and wanted her mother to read her a story.
“Mum, he’ll come back.” Rose placed a gentle hand on her mother’s leg and gave her a tiny smile. “You’ll see, Daddy and Uncle Harry will bring him back and he’ll be safe and everything will go back to normal.”
Her daughter was trying to be strong but Hermione had heard the sobs from her room every night. Rose had refused to go back to her own flat, saying that she wanted to give Hugo a piece of her mind the minute he walked in through the door. But Hermione knew that she was just worried for her little brother and wanted home’s comfort. Hermione also knew that Rose was beating herself over his disappearance. She had always told Rose to take care of Hugo; to look after her little brother and protect him when their parents weren’t around.
She placed a hand on top of Rose’s and squeezed, hoping her daughter would stop blaming herself for something that was clearly not her fault. People were evil and she had nothing to do with the tragedies. “I hope you’re right, sweetheart, I hope you’re right.
The day was a beautiful one; with its chirping birds and sunny skies it was almost as if the cosmos was mocking the Scamander family. Inside the chapel, Luna sat alone in a pew staring at her son’s casket and wishing the birds would just be quiet. She released a shaky sigh and stole a glance at her watch noting that the attendees would soon start arriving. The idea of having to interact with people made Luna fill with dread. She didn’t know what to do or say to the people coming to say goodbye to Lorcan. Luna knew they meant well, but that didn’t stop her from wishing they would leave her alone.
Luna felt people sitting on either side of her but knew, by their simple touch, that they weren’t here to talk, but to keep her company in her sorrow.
Lysander squeezed her mother’s hand and wondered what exactly his mother was thinking as she stared into Lorcan’s coffin. These last four days had been the most difficult for the entire family. His father had been strong throughout the whole ordeal and had managed to get every detail sorted out. He still cried but only did it whenever he thought no one was looking. His mother cried every time she saw him; it didn’t help that he had the face of her dead son.
Lysander felt angry.
He was angry at his brother for not confiding in him about his problems. Why did he have to go with Hugo? He had so many questions and the only person who could answer them was dead. It wasn’t fair, Lysander kept repeating in his head. He was alone now. He wasn’t meant to be alone in this life. He was supposed to have his brother by his side; a companion who understood everything without the need to talk.
Lorcan would understand that the main reason for his anger was because their mother was miserable. Their mother was never, ever miserable. In fact, Lysander couldn’t remember the last time she had been unhappy. Sure, she would get sad, especially at every memorial ceremony for the war but this Luna Scamander was not the same one Lysander knew as his mother.
He was also angry at Lorcan because he now had to endure other people giving him fake condolences. What did they know about losing someone that was essentially your other half? What did they know of the grief his family was going through and the guilt he felt for carrying around his brother’s face; his mother didn’t deserve that kind of pain every day, for the rest of her life.
The air was stifling him. He couldn’t stay here any longer, waiting for the fake people to arrive. So with one last squeeze to his mother’s hand, he left the chapel to get some fresh air. As he walked away from his grieving parents, Lysander made sure to keep his gaze down; the less he acknowledged the world, the better he felt. There was no nothing worth seeing now that Lorcan was gone.
He was so focused on his idle walk around the chapel’s grounds that he didn’t see the older man approach him. He jumped, surprised at the sudden sound. “George, you startled me!”
“Didn’t mean to, lad.” George gave him gave him a lopsided smile but kept his distance.
“Mum’s in the chapel already with dad, if you want to see them.” Inside his head he was chanting ‘go away, go away,’ hoping George would telepathically hear him.
George shook his head. “They can wait. I wanted to talk with you, first.”
Lysander sighed, annoyed that someone else wanted to give their unfelt sympathy. But then again, he thought, George could be the only one who could understand the pain he was going through. George was a twinless twin; Fred’s been dead for over thirty years and it made Lysander wonder if the pain ever went away.
“It’ll never be the same,” George said as he took a few steps towards Lysander, making to keep his distance. “Losing that other half makes you re-think life. Right after Fred died, all I could feel was this uncontrollable anger at myself for not being able to help him, for not being able to protect him. When we buried him it felt like they were burying me too; I think Charlie even had to stop me from throwing myself into that hole so I could be with my brother.
“I was then angry at my family because they were moving on. How dare they, I thought as I watched Ginny and Harry officialize their relationship and Bill talking to Mum about having children. My brother had died and these people were talking about the future. A few months later, I realized that I couldn’t live without him and I hated the thought of moving on without Freddie.”
“Did you try to-“
“Almost. I had gone as far as to write my family a note telling them that I didn’t want to be in this world without my brother.”
“Charlie, my older brother, came to tell me that supper was ready; apparently I didn’t hear Mum’s shouts over my own thoughts. I asked him in the most polite manner to sod off but after a small argument he got his grubby hands on my letter. He read it and immediately started to cry, told me that he couldn’t bear to lose another brother.
“Apparently they hadn’t moved on, but were trying their best to continue life for Fred’s sake. To make sure his death wasn’t for nothing.”
“My brother didn’t die in a war, he was murdered.”
“I know, lad,” George said. “And trust me when I say this: I sure as hell hope they find his killer.”
There was an awkward pause between the two of them. “Does it get any better?” Lysander asked, breaking the silence.
“No.” That was not the answer he wanted to hear. “But you learn to live with it. You’ll miss Lorcan, but one day you’ll realize that you still have a lot of life to live. I’ve got a son and a daughter that mean everything to me.”
Lysander nodded once, understanding what George meant, but not wanting to apply it to his life. It seemed difficult for him to move on; to start a new life without Lorcan. “I’m quite positive that right now you’re not ready to open up. Especially when you think that no one else can understand you. However, if you ever want to vent or going through a rough patch, I’ll be here for you if you want me. I didn’t have anyone that could understand what I was feeling but I think with my experience in the matter, I hope I can help you.”
The bells began to toll in the chapel indicating that the service was soon to begin. “Well, I better go find your Mum and Dad.”
Lorcan watched George walk away and debated on following him. His mother needed him but George was right…he wasn’t ready to open up. To talk to people who, in reality, meant no harm in giving him condolences. Perhaps one day he’ll move on but right now….Right now he wanted to be left alone so he could mourn in peace.
Cassandra ignored the kid’s constant abuse of language as she administered a dose of Influenza A into the injection port of the IV on his right arm. The dosage was the maximum she could give without damaging the kid’s organs. She did give him, however, a slightly more concentrated version than the one used for vaccination.
“Is there anything I can do, ma’am?”
Labeling the experiment as 001 on her tablet, she noted the time and date before making sure all the equipment was in working order-for the third time in the half hour she had been there. Her assistant, a young man in his early twenties, nervously waited for his instructions.
“Make sure that the cameras are working. I want to be able to record every bit of information we can get. From Hugo’s vitals to a visual of what happens in this room. I want to make sure that I can present my information and back it up with concrete evidence. I also wish to show that there was no outside influence in our results.”
She turned her attention back to Hugo and gave him a small reassuring pat on his arm. “I bet you’ll be fine. I’ll be back to check up on you later.”
“Sod off you evil bitch.”
Ignoring the kid’s outburst, she went for the door; her other project was waiting for her in the lab a few doors down. “Stephen, please ring me if something drastic happens. I’ll be in the lab.”
As she closed the door behind her, Cassandra felt slightly sorry for Stephen. Having to deal with that obnoxious child’s constant profanity-laced tirades made it difficult to concentrate on work. Cassandra hated the idea of abusing headache medication just to get her work done. Cassandra would’ve stayed behind with Stephen to keep an eye on Hugo, but there was another and quite more important matter she needed to attend first. Something more pleasing than sitting around and being insulted by the kid.
Her laboratory was a lot smaller than the others in the building. But It didn’t matter to her because this was her lab, and proudly kept it organized her way. Putting on her protective gloves and goggles, she walked up to the artifact that was sitting on a stand. A small squeal of pure exhilaration escaped her. She never thought she would be able to touch a wand, let alone have one in her possession, to finally be able to explore to her heart’s content.
She settled herself on her chair and for an instant, wondered how she was going to do this. The first thing she needed to do was to disinfect it, but as it was no ordinary piece of wood she had to think outside the box. She couldn’t use the harsh chemicals that were often used on lab equipment. Sighing to herself, Cassandra rapidly went to the janitor’s closet and took the least harmful chemical she could find.
Back in front of the wand, she cleaned the it and as a last step of precaution she dabbed it with alcohol. Once sure the wand was free of germs, bacteria, and viruses, Cassandra was ready to find the secrets that were inside this small, yet powerful, artifact.
With the wand sitting neatly on the stand, she took a picture with her tablet and added notes. From simple observations, she could tell that Hugo’s wand was different than the Director’s. While the Director’s wand was made of a dark wood, Hugo’s wand seemed lighter, perhaps even shorter. She used her scalpel and removed a small piece to put under a microscope.
As she gazed through the microscope’s lenses she thought back on the day she had first seen Magic. It had been in Brigadier Mortlock’s office a little over five years ago. Cassandra had been working with a firm that specialized in genetics and had been spotted by Major Johnson as a potential candidate.
Brought in under false pretenses, the Brigadier and Major told her of a new and secret laboratory that was called M.A.L. in need of an assistant to the Director in charge.
The Brigadier’s office was too cold for Cassandra’s taste but then again, she was wearing a lot less than two men and woman sitting across from her. With their fancy uniforms and layered clothing, it was logical for the office to be this cold, and she now wished she had worn her trouser suit rather than the skirt and jacket.
She was sitting with her back straight without leaning against the back of the chair, waiting for the Brigadier to finish reading her CV. Her hands were clammy, and would have been shaking if she didn’t have them firmly on top of her lap.
“Your job will be simple, Miss Cassandra,” the Brigadier finally had said as he gave her paperwork to the other man in the office. “You will do whatever the Director needs to be done, follow his orders and do whatever work your job entails. If he wants you to get his tea, you’ll do so.” Cassandra cringed at the idea. Her father had not paid for the best education money could buy,just so she could get tea for a man who was too bloody lazy to do it himself.
Before she could politely decline the offer, the Brigadier went on. “Whatever discovery he comes across, whatever new specimen works in the Director’s laboratories, you’ll report back to me with the information.” Cassandra couldn’t believe what she was hearing. They wanted her to be a spy on another scientist! That went against her core values and dreams.
Cassandra wanted to change people’s lives. She wanted to help those that that needed helping. Most importantly, she wanted her own work and name to go down through history, not help someone else achieve their dream. She wanted to not only make a change in a person’s life…but all humanity. And Cassandra knew that she couldn’t achieve that by being someone’s assistant and a spy to the government.
“Sir, I’m sorry. I really do appreciate the offer, but I just can’t-”
“Miss Cassandra, I don’t think you fully understand the opportunity we’re giving you here,” Johnson said. “You’ll be under one of the most successful scientists of our era; I had the pleasure of working with him before my promotion. He specializes in magic and genetics and how some children are born with magic while others do not. M.A.L is just the beginning of our new society and with your help we can achieve more than what the Director plans.”
Cassandra blinked a couple of times; waiting for them to laugh and tell her that it was a joke. There was no such thing as magic. However, they did not laughed. They continued to look at her with serious expressions, waiting for her answer.
A nervous chuckle escaped her lips. These people were absolutely mad. “I-I’m sorry,” she stammered with a quick glance at the door. She needed to get out of here. “I just don’t know-”
“Wingardium Leviosa.” The young man who had been silent throughout the meeting pointed a stick of wood at Cassandra. Before she could ask the Brigadier who the man was or what language he was speaking, Cassandra’s chair began to soar.
Her heart hammered hard against her ribcage as her feet dangled from the floor. Magic was not real. It wasn’t supposed to be real. The only magic there ever existed came from films or birthday parties where a man pulled a rabbit from his hat. Nope. Magic was not logical!
‘And yet there is nothing logical about being levitated, now is there?’ her subconscious asked her as Cassandra tried her best to not scream. Her hands were gripping the arms of her chair so fiercely that her fingers were turning white.
“Miss Cassandra,” the young man called for her. Cassandra stole a small glance below where the he continued to point the stick at her. Whichever direction he moved it, Cassandra and her floating chair followed suit. “As much love I have for my Godfather, he can be quite thick sometimes. He views magic as a nuisance. Evil. Something that can tear civilization and families apart. I on the other hand see it as an advantage. If we could find a way to give magic to not only children but adults also…well, imagine of the possibilities our nation could have!”
Cassandra didn’t need to. As much greater good science and technology could bring to society, someone always found a way to turn that good into something dirty. It always came down to politics and warfare.
“P-please. Put me down.” Her chair came down gently. Once she was safely on the ground, Cassandra bolted from the chair and stood defiantly against the Brigadier and his friends.
“I’m sorry Miss Cassandra; I didn’t mean to startle you,” the young man said with a slight chuckle. “It’s just that I wanted to show you that magic is real without being too showy. Please, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Alexander.” He stretched out his hand for Cassandra to shake but she ignored it; her anger still seething.
“Magic is not logical,” Cassandra snapped before he finished introducing himself. “Is there a pulley on this chair?” She waved her hands around the chair, feeling for the string that pulled her up. She felt silly for doing it but she just wanted to prove herself that magic was not real. There was, however, no pulley or string attached to the chair.
“Vera verto,” Alex mumbled as he tapped the tea cup with his wooden stick. She took a step back, alarmed as a bird took place of that cup and started flying towards her. Birds. Of all things to make the cup transform it had to be a disease infested flying rat.
“No…How is that…?”
“Magic, Miss Cassandra.”
“But Magic is not real!” She knew she was being stubborn. She had just been given two clear examples that magic was real. She had seen it with her eyes and yet she refused to believe.
“I thought that as well,” the Brigadier stated. “Many years ago I was approached by Alexander’s father, who told me about his son and how he was able to do magic. Well, the rest is history. Magic is indeed real and our great country is close to harnessing its powers. However in order to achieve our goal, we need you to join our cause.”
This was too much for Cassandra. Her scientist brain still couldn’t comprehend the idea of magic being real. Her curious mind, however, wanted to see how magic worked. Wondered if Alexander needed the stick to do his magic and what exactly the Director of M.A.L. was doing.
“If you’re worried about your reputation, Cassandra, then don’t be,” Johnson said. “We are a few weeks away from installing our own laboratories at our new Academy school and we want you to be its director.”
“While you’re playing the assistant role in M.A.L., we want you to be head of our own laboratories. To do any necessary experiments and drive for results we want.”
“You see, Miss Cassandra,” Alexander began. “My Godfather’s sole plan is to find out where magic comes from and eradicate it from our world; he has achieved only fifty percent of his plan. He accidentally has created a couple of dozen magical born children by pure experimentation on his adults test volunteers. And he plans on making those children the first in line to remove their magic. I, for one, have no plans of having my magic removed.”
“You were an experiment?” This was too much for Cassandra to wrap her mind around.
“I’m more like the product of my father’s impertinence.”
“Enough about Roger, Alex,” the Brigadier said with irritation. “Now, Miss Cassandra…what do you say?”
Cassandra sighed. Would it be stealing if she worked and improved someone’s research? Yes, her ethical side told her, anything that wasn’t her own work would be stealing. However the prospect of running a laboratory was certainly enticing. Cassandra still didn’t know what to think. Magic was not real but there was no logical way of explaining the levitation and the transformed cup.
She sat back on the chair, wrangled her hands together unable to fully understand what she was getting into. This, however, could be her chance to achieve her goal. They wanted to make a new society and Cassandra could technically be its mother. She knew that she had to make a decision on the spot and they weren’t going to easily let her go knowing about magic and their intentions if she were to decline.
“Should I send the Director my CV or am I automatically hired to be his assistant?” she asked, making up her mind and hoping she hadn’t made a mistake.
“Ma’am?” Stephen had rushed into her laboratory looking slightly distressed and taking Cassandra out of the past and into the present. “Ma’am, sorry to interrupt but you’ve got to come see this.”
Securing the sample wand piece and making sure to put everything in it’s proper place, Cassandra followed Stephen to Hugo’s room. She watched through the one way mirror as Hugo, still strapped to his bed, was singing off key a song that Cassandra had never heard.
“Nothing’s happening,” she said with irritation, wishing to go back to her project.
“I know,” Stephen said, “that’s why I brought you here. The dosage we gave him was strong enough to put even the healthiest man on the planet in bed for weeks with a slight chance of death. Unless Mr. Hugo here is the epitome of health, it seems as like his genetics prevented him from getting sick.”
A victorious smile crept across Cassandra’s face.
“All he did was sneeze once, ask for a tissue and that was it. Kept ranting about how he wanted to go home, how bored he was and how he, once he got out, was going to make us pay.”
This confirmed one of Cassandra’s suspicions: magical people had different genetics that allowed them to ward off a basic virus. She needed to run more tests on him before even daring to try giving him anything drastic but this was a good step forward for humanity.
“Run a blood sample, Stephen. I want to see for myself how his cells look before we give him something else.”
Stephen made a note of Cassandra’s instruction in his tablet. “Do you think he can ward off other viruses such as HIV and AIDS? What about Cancer?”
“I have no idea…but we’ll find out soon enough. Tell Trish to give him some food and water. I want him to be healthy for his upcoming tests, so providing ample nutrition is going to be one of our prime concerns.”
“How long are we going to keep him here?” There was a hint of pity in Stephen’s voice that Cassandra didn’t like.
Cassandra shrugged. “I don’t know, Stephen. A few months? A year? Perhaps he’ll never get to leave. He’s only one person, Stephen, and we can’t halt humanity’s progress for the sake of one person. If we achieve our goal, he’ll be seen as the key in the scientific community. You can’t feel sorry for him, Stephen.”
Stephen nodded, hopefully understanding what Cassandra had just said. She watched the young man leave, making a mental note to keep an eye on him. If things didn’t change with him, she would need to send Stephen to Marion to take care of him.
She sighed. The idea of interviewing for a new assistant sounded absolutely awful.