Chapter 4 : The Department of Magical Records
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“But-but sir, I beseech you, you must do something! The situation has not gone as planned, we’ve lost track of her.”
“WHAT! How could you do that?” the man asked, his hand shooting out from under his desk. He grabbed the neck of his secretary and squeezed menacingly. “What the hell kind of moron are you, that you would lose a frightened woman!”
“Sir, sir, please, she is much smarter than we originally-“
“OF COURSE SHE IS! She is Hermione Granger, she is one of the smartest witches ever to be born. Who the hell did you think we were dealing with? Now FIND her. Of course, if I have any insight at all, she’ll be here before dawn. Now get out of here!” Kearns bowed and turned respectively. His heart was pounding in his chest, knowing that if he screwed up this time, the punishment would be horrid. He swallowed hard as he made his way back to his office and sat down in an easy chair. And to think, when this job originally surfaced, he’d been so pleased to be hired. Never mind that now, there was work to be done if he ever wanted to live to see his grandchildren.
Hermione’s muscles ached. The lactic acid had been building up for hours, but still she pressed on. London couldn’t be more than thirty miles away- The Longbottoms didn’t live far from there, and Hermione felt it best to stop apparating. It was known that the ministry kept an eye on the Earth’s atmospheric energy, which shifted ever so slightly when a wizard used apparation. So, Hermione decided to go the old fashioned way. The task, however, was proving to be even more difficult as she ran. Exhaustion truly was taking over her body, and she didn’t know how long her endurance would last before she passed out from pure exhaustion. The rain had finally stopped, but Hermione’s clothes and face were tainted with mud. She was shivering; even though it was nearly August, the night temperature could reach into the low sixties, making it quite uncomfortable outside. Hermione guessed that it was about one o’clock in the morning, and the clouds were beginning to break to show the iridescent, pregnant moon. Hermione’s thoughts briefly drifted to her friend, Remus Lupin, who was probably hovering in a cave somewhere at this point. He’d been in hiding after the war, trying to deal with his losses and happy to have a new lease on life. Hermione hadn’t seen him in at least two years, but she knew he was there, and that he was taking care of himself. After moving for what seemed like hours, Hermione decided to stop and rest for just a few minutes. She could see the glow of London reflected in the night sky. Soon, she’d be there. Soon, she would have the answers she needed to prove that she was not insane. She signed and reached into the inside pocket of her robes. She had little money on her; however, thanks to her parents’ suggestion, she still had a muggle credit card. When she got into London, she’d buy some appropriate muggle clothing and try to blend in. Just as she found the strength within herself to start moving again, she heard a noise. Her heart began to pound again as though she were running at full speed. Cautiously she looked around at her surroundings, trying to deduce whether the sound was made by animal, wind, or man. Finally, a blinding white light shined into her eyes.
“Don’t move! What are you doing out at a time like this? Don’t you know it’s nearly three o’clock in the morning?” A voice came. Hermione stood up and looked into the eyes of a muggle policeman.
“Sir, I’m sorry, I was just on my way home from a friend’s house. It’s a few miles from here, maybe only twenty minutes on foot.”
“Right, well, perhaps I can escort you to your home. Don’t you know it’s dangerous to a lady out at night? No telling what kind of maniacs are out there. Now come with me, my car is just a few yards away.”
“Sir, really, if you’ll just let me continue, I’m sure I’ll be perfectly fine.” Hermione began to grow irritated with the well meaning officer. She briefly considered stunning the man, but then the Accidental Magical Reversal squad would be called, and everyone at the ministry would know where she was.
“Nonsense. Now, follow me, the car’s just up the way a bit. Quite a chilly night for August, don’t you think? And all this rain too!” The man began to make small talk, and Hermione cursed under her breath as she began to follow the man to his car.
“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” she said half heartedly, staring at the ground. The grass around her needed a good mowing, and the trees were beginning to become more scarce the further out they moved.
“There it is, see? Right up over that hill! Thank God I found you, you look awful! Is there anything I can do for you?”
“No, No, I’m fine. I’d just like to get home, if that’s alright.”
“Of course.” The man finally stopped talking, and Hermione got into the police car. At least she would get into London faster than she had originally anticipated.
“So you say that you live a few miles from here? Would that be anywhere near Songview drive?” the policeman asked, smiling at Hermione.
“Uhm, yes, yes, it’s on Songview drive! You sure do know the area, sir.” Hermione decided that she’d pick a random house and just go inside to appease the man.
“Ah, well, my sister lives on songview. Three five seven. Anywhere close to you?”
“Well, I live a little farther down the road. Three sixty five.” Hermione prayed that there actually was a three sixty five. The car was speeding quickly passed the trees and toward London. After about five minutes, the officer turned. The road was empty at first, but after a minute or so, houses lined the streets. The neighborhood was quaint, and the houses stood structurally similar to Hermione and Ron’s house. Ron…..her thoughts wandered to his smile. Ever since fourth year that smile could melt her heart. He always knew the way to make her weak in the knees, even if he was a bit daft at times.
“Three sixty five, ma’am.” The car had stopped in front of a house that looked like all the rest. Darkness rested around the house and Hermione observed that the owner had very nice landscaping.
“Thank you so much, sir. I really appreciate your kindness in this matter.”
“Of course. Have a good evening ms…”
“Ms. Graweasley.” Hermione smiled to herself and shut the door, walking up the driveway to the front sidewalk. She was still a newly wed, and she wasn't sure she'd ever get used to calling herself "Weasley." Upon the front stoop, she turned around and waved to the officer. As anticipated, he was sitting there waiting for her to safely enter the house. Hermione drew her wand and alohomora. The door unlocked and Hermione slipped inside. She heard the car speed away outside, and she took the opportunity to catch her breath. The inside of the house was very formal. The floors were hard wood, the fireplace was decorated with baskets and crystal, and the furniture was very pricey upon first look. Hermione sighed and turned to leave when she heard an ominous noise. She slowly turned and came face to face with a large dog, maybe a Doberman or something of the sort. Large trails of spit hung from its mouth as it bared its vicious teeth.
“N-nice doggie. Good doggie…” The dog began to bark loudly. So loudly in fact that Hermione heard the people upstairs stir immediately. Not knowing what else to do, she disapparated from the house and apparated outside the ministry of magic. She figured that if she had to use apparition she might as well use it to get to her destination. She apparated straight into Arthur Weasley’s office. The room was dark, and even though he’d been promoted years ago to head of the Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects, his office was still littered about with things like radios, lamps, copper wiring, and a large mailbox. Hermione smiled despite the situation, and she began to move slowly through the office toward the exit. Before she made her way to the long hallways of the ministry, she cast a disillusionment charm on herself so that, hopefully, no one could see her from a distance. However, if one became too close her outline would become apparent. She moved into the hallways with ease, stepping softly so as not to make a sound. There appeared to be no protection anywhere.
She knew it was too easy. She was able to successfully apparate into Arthur’s office and parade around the corridors. Of course, the ministry was seemingly empty, but no fool would assume this as truth. There was security lurking in every corner, and since she was apparently now a fugitive, she had no doubts that if she was spotted, security would take the liberty of apprehending her and sending her straight to Azkaban. She moved through the shadows under a disillusionment charm, trying to avoid any wandering eyes. Through the corridors she swept, down the stairs to the Department of Magical Records, which was nestled in a dank corner of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The department was well known to keep all the birth records, death records, and all the wizarding records in between. If anyone in Hermione’s past could see her now they might scream things like “You bloody idiot! You’re walking right into the hands of the pursuer!” But Hermione was determined to prove her innocence. There was no way she could have killed Harry no way at all- not today nor five years ago. She walked to the door of the department and whispered a quick alohomora.The door creaked open and Hermione slipped inside undetected. There, at her viewing pleasure, was all the records of all the wizards ever born. Magical filing cabinets filled the room, every wall was filled. The room stretched maybe ten football fields, and it clearly was enhanced with an enlargement charm. Hermione looked in awe at all the drawers- had she come in different circumstances, she could spend all day looking at various records at her leisure. But, this was not different circumstances, and Hermione began to look desperately for a needle in a haystack. The front of the room housed the most recent records, which would indicate that Harry’s records should be somewhere near the front. As she began to scan the labels on the drawers, off to the side she saw a special filing cabinet. It seemed to stick out from all the others; it was red instead of the standard gray, and it looked as though it hadn’t been touched in at least a year. She walked to it and stood in front of it, mouth agape. It had indeed been too easy once again. There, in the filing cabinet, was a record of everyone Voldemort had ever killed, which would include every one in the final battle. Hermione had a gut feeling that Harry’s records would be inside, since ever step Harry ever took was married to Voldemort. Hermione delicately reached for the top drawer and pulled. Inside were the oldest of his deaths- those killed in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Stuck at an odd angle was the file of James Potter.
“Odd,” Hermione thought. “Who would be digging up old records on Harry’s father?” She dug a little deeper and noticed that his mother’s file was missing all together. “Shit!” Hermione cursed under her breath. Could that mean that Harry’s file might also be gone? Frantically, Hermione began to pull out the other drawers looking for his file. Finally, down in the bottom drawer, she found the deaths from the final battle. There was Minerva McGonagall’s file, Charlie Weasley’s file, Nymphadora Tonks, Lucius Malfoy, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Peter Pettigrew, Bellatrix Lestrange…the list went on and on. All of them, life wasted because of one man’s greed. Voldemort’s file was the last file in the cabinet. Tom Marvolo Riddle, Lord Voldemort. Hermione gasped and reached for it. She opened the folder and there was his birth certificate, his death certificate, all his school information, his grades and everything that had ever officially been released by the ministry. It was a thick brown folder full of death, hurt, and suffering. Hermione replaced it and looked through the drawer again until she pulled Harry’s folder out of the drawer. She felt tears began to sting her eyes, but she refused to let them spill. Too many tears had been shed by her on this night, too many sobs had echo from the depths of her being. It was time to stop crying and start solving this mystery. She opened the file and stared at his death certificate.
“This certificate is to certify that Mr. Harry James Potter passed away on the eighteenth of July in the year one thousand nine hundred and ninety-eight. Time and place: 5:52 PM at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Britain. Cause of death: Suicide. Signed Rawls Benya, July 19, 1998.”
Hermione sighed, relief flooding her senses. Here was proof that she wasn’t going crazy. Here, written by a ministry official, it acknowledged that he had died that horrible night by his own wand and his own words. The tears finally fell, but they were tears of happiness. Whatever weird alternate universe she was in, at least this fact still stood unchanged. Hermione smiled for the first time that night and decided to pocket the folder. She stuck it in her robes and then shut the file. As she turned to leave, she saw glowing wand tips outside the door. Startled, she slowly moved backward until the door popped open, and then she took off running to the back of the room as quietly as she could.
“I can’t imagine why anyone would want to use chicken broth in a potion; it’s highly unstable when mixed with certain ingredients!”
“How would you know? You almost failed potions in school! How is it possible that you are lecturing me?”
“Quite simple. Have you ever tasted my wife’s food?” Two men started laughing loudly as the swept the floor.
“I don’t know why we even bother to come in here, it’s not like there’s anyone in here. It’s impossible to penetrate the lock on this place.”
“Yeah, and I’m hungry anyway, lets go catch a bite before chief comes back!” The two men laughed heartily and left the room. Hermione stood only feet away from their last position, holding her breath. The locks couldn’t be opened? Then how in the world could she get into the room so easily. Even she was amazed at the ease with which she broke into the department. After waiting a good five minutes she decided to leave the department and make her way back out to muggle London. As she passed through the different offices within the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, she saw a large bulletin with the names, addresses, and particular information on all the surviving death eaters who were not convicted and sent to Azkaban. Right in the center was Draco Malfoy, who appeared sunken and frail in the picture. Hermione noted that he lived just outside of London, just in case she ran out of options. She memorized his address and then made her way out of ministry unscathed.
“Sir, I just don’t understand the logic behind this. Why did we unlock that door for her? She is here. She is right under our noses! Why do we not strike for the kill, now when it is easiest!”
“Because I want her to feel secure. It’s just a fun little game. I want to know why she made such a stupid and reckless decision to come to the ministry. There must be a good reason. Her intelligence is unmatched, I tell you. There must be a good reason for her to give up so much. I want this woman to feel secure about tricking us- it gives her confidence. Don’t worry though, Kearns, we’ll get her soon. After all, she killed Harry Potter, did she not?” Kearns nodded at his boss and walked out of the room. Apparently, things were now going to plan.
With Harry’s file in tow, Hermione made her way into muggle London. Morning was beginning to turn now, and she knew she had to eat soon. She was going to go to a muggle store and use her credit card to buy appropriate clothing and shelter. It was important to take care of herself. Hermione cursed to herself as she thought about her secret. It was supposed to have been spilled last night, but of course, the recent events had gotten in the way. Still, through her terror and all her tears, it was quite true that her secret was one of the things keeping her going. After all, if she couldn’t provide for herself in a time of adversity, how was she supposed to care for Ron’s unborn child?
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