Chapter 5 : Shocking the Ministry
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Unknown to Ginny, Ron and Hermione, Arthur left for the Ministry soon after Ron and Hermione told their dreadful news and had been seen sneaking out the back door. He was sickened at the thought that three seventh years had had to face You-Know-Who and numerous Death Eaters by themselves. Why hadn’t the Ministry responded? From what he knew and from what Harry had told him, there were many Death Eaters holding high positions at the Ministry. Could one of them have kept this attack from being noticed? Another question would be how they accomplished it considering that Harry was, or he had been, under-aged. The trace was still on his wand, if only for one more day. How had they kept the Ministry from registering his use of magic?
He stood in the lobby of the Ministry facing the fountain that had been broken apart by both Professor Dumbledore and You-Know-Who. It had been fixed the very next day (though he suspected it had been replaced completely given the dark curses You-Know-Who would have used). His thoughts had been swirling in his head. He needed to calm them so he could present what he had learned coherently. He moved away from the area designated for Apparation. He waited somewhat impatiently as the security guard checked his wand and handed it back to him, greeting him half-heartedly. The security guard watched, puzzled, as Arthur hurried away. Arthur wasn’t acting like himself. The security guard pushed a hidden red button that lit up in the Head Auror’s office.
Arthur made his way to the lifts, getting off at the floor where his office was. He hurried past Kingsley’s office where pictures of Sirius covered his walls. He continued past his own office with only a small glance. He eschewed looking over his collection of odd Muggle things as he hurried to the one person who could unravel much of what happened earlier that day – Gawain Robards. Gawain would need to know about the situation at Privet Drive and quickly. He hurried down the hall, past more offices where pictures of known Death Eaters glared from pictures or boards with pictures of the victims, both Muggle and wizarding, were posted. With everything that had been happening, not one of the offices was clean. Each desk was covered in paperwork that should have been completed before the Auror had received it. Gawain’s office was at the end of the hall. Arthur was surprised that his door was open.
As luck would have it, Gawain was already in his office poring over more paperwork that already had blinking red stamps. “Gawain!” Arthur called out more loudly than he intended, grimacing when his voice echoed in the office. He stood at the door waiting to be invited in, glancing repeatedly over his shoulder nervously.
Gawain looked up, pretending to be startled. He placed the papers on his desk as he studied Arthur who was breathing hard. He had watched Arthur’s progress since stepping off the lift and knew something was wrong. “Arthur! Good to see you… What’s wrong?” He stood up, placing his hands on his desk, his wand not far from his wand hand. The top of his desk was cluttered with paperwork and odd bits.
Arthur shook his head, waving his hands to stop Gawain from talking. “Something rather bad just happened. It’s very horrible news. Might I come in?” He still glanced over his shoulder as if he expected to see someone standing behind him.
“Of course,” Gawain started feeling the first stirrings of alarm. Whatever had happened, it was bad. Arthur wasn’t generally this excitable except over his Muggle oddities. “Your family is alright, aren’t they?”
Arthur paused as he shut the door. His look of worry changed to a grimace. “My family is in shock, but they are fine otherwise,” he admitted as he firmly shut the door before waving his wand to lock it. Another wave of his wand Sealed the door.
Gawain frowned with growing sense of foreboding. Arthur certainly didn’t want anyone to know what he was about to say except for one person. “Please, tell me what’s happened. Why is your family in shock?” He waved to one of his chairs for Arthur to sit down. Gawain settled back into his chair, leaning forward on his desk, giving Arthur his undivided attention.
Arthur didn’t take the chair Gawain had offered him. Instead, he began pacing as he told Gawain the news that Ron and Hermione had told the family.
“We’re talking about the same Harry Potter that lives in Little Whinging?” Gawain asked, not wanting to believe the horrifying news.
Arthur nodded slowly. “My son is, I mean was, best mates with him. As I’m sure you already knew. Molly dotes, doted, on him and treat… ed him like he were one of our own.” Arthur rubbed his face trying to alleviate the headache that was beginning to blossom. “This is so hard,” he took a deep breath and talked slower, thinking about each word before speaking. “Molly doted on him and treated him like he was one of our own children. He didn’t appear to get much care from his relatives. Our sons and Ginny didn’t seem to mind that Molly tried to spoil him when he visited.” Arthur finally sank into the offered chair and once more ran his hands over his face wearily.
Gawain spent time questioning Arthur on points he needed clarified concerning Ron and Hermione’s testimony. His charmed quill took notes as they talked. He had automatically flicked his wand to it when Arthur had started telling his horrifying tale. They discussed the point that Ron and Hermione had to leave Harry Potter behind with the Muggles. Gawain would need to have someone bring him back so they could bury him with his parents. Another point they both found disturbing was that not one Auror or Hit Wizard had appeared during the attack.
“We haven’t had any word on any attacks in that area. No odd sightings… Hmm…” Gawain trailed off as he thought back over the day’s events. He looked out his charmed window at the darkening sky, thinking it very appropriately portrayed the state of the wizarding world. If Harry Potter was the Chosen One then the wizarding world was doomed to darkness.
“Ron and Hermione reported to us that there had been a major Death Eater attack at Privet Drive,” Arthur picked up one of the globes from the desk just to have something to hold, “even though they only encountered Death Eaters near the back door, one of my sons pointed out that it was likely there were also Death Eaters near the front door, just in case they tried to leave the house that way.”
“You are certain they haven’t blown this out of proportion?” Gawain glanced at his charmed quill to check its progress. His head was beginning to ache abominably.
Arthur raised his eyebrow. “We are speaking of Hermione Granger.”
Gawain sighed, his last hope it was only a nasty joke disappeared. From every report that had crossed his desk on the trio, Miss Granger never stretched anything out of proportion. “It isn’t that I don’t believe you,” he hurriedly assured Arthur, “I’m just thinking out loud.” He slammed his hands down on his desk, ruffling papers and causing the globes to roll slightly in place. “I know - we’ll go see if Harry tried to defend those Muggles or himself.”
“Ron and Hermione said that Harry didn’t use his wand,” Arthur put the globe he held back on the desk.
“It won’t hurt to take a look,” Gawain replied, “it might have gotten overlooked or maybe he used wandless magic. There was a rather touchy situation earlier today.” He scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Perhaps that was a cover for this attack?” He frowned as he thought quickly.
They quickly walked down another corridor to the Magical Law Enforcement office. Arthur still didn’t know what color their walls were – there were so many posters on too many topics covering every inch of available space. The yellow tile floor squeaked as they walked on it. Pale green cubicle walls created a small maze as they wound their way through to the Under-Aged Magic Department. “That direction is the Improper Use of Magic area,” Gawain pointed off to the left before they turned right. Gawain stopped before a puce-colored door. Both Arthur and Gawain’s faces contorted in an expression of revulsion. Gawain opened the door and strode directly to the area where during the day several wizards and witches watched specifically for under-aged magic. With most children asleep, there were only three people watching their screens. “Piers, would you look up something for me?” Gawain asked.
Piers looked up, knocking his glass over in surprise to see the Head Auror. As he hurriedly tried to mop up the mess, he paused. “What do you need, sir?”
“Look up any reference to under-aged magic done since Hogwarts let out this summer at Privet Drive, Little Whinging,” Gawain detailed, casually waved his wand at the mess clearing it instantly.
Piers looked startled. “Mr. Potter? I thought he’d have learned his lesson from the last time,” he snickered, “some people just don’t learn, do they?”
Arthur blanched at the amusement Piers had for Harry doing magic outside of school. Gawain raised an eyebrow. “I don’t remember asking your opinion if Mr. Potter did magic or if Mr. Potter learned any lessons concerning using magic outside of school,” he stated coldly, “I asked for a report if there was any under-aged magic done at Privet Drive this summer.” He repeated his request in clipped tones.
Piers turned bright red before turning back to his screen. He tapped it and waited as words began appearing on a piece of parchment. “No, sir, there was no under-aged magic done at that location or in Little Whinging.”
Gawain picked up the parchment and sighed. “Very well, what about a list of any magic done in the area for this past week?”
Piers again tapped at the screen. Words scrolled onto another piece of parchment. Piers stared at the parchment and swallowed. “Well, I see that there’s a lot of packing spells and banishment spells. Probably sending luggage ahead of them, right?” Piers looked up at Gawain to see his expression, “But then… blimey! How did we miss that?”
Gawain didn’t wait for Piers to explain. He snatched the parchment out of Piers’ hands for them to look at. They looked at each other with dread. It was more than evident that there had been an uneven battle on Privet Drive. Several Unforgivables were used. The last spell registered was a Killing Curse. One Apparation registered to Hermione Granger happened afterwards. There was a note that she had transported a single wizard with her. Gawain looked sternly at Piers. “You will remain quiet about this?”
Piers nodded quickly. He had a sinking feeling that he would be talking with his boss fairly soon. Even he could tell that he had messed up in a major way.
Gawain brought the parchment with him. They walked back to Gawain’s office where he Sealed the door and Silenced the room. He shook the parchment. “You realize that Mr. Potter is likely dead from this report?”
Arthur looked grayer. “Given what Ron and Hermione witnessed, I know he is. I don’t understand why he disappeared afterwards.”
Gawain ran his finger over the sheet number of curses and hexes and dark spells done. “It looks like it included the whole of Privet Drive, but there’s no record of a Dark Mark being cast.”
“Wouldn’t setting off the Dark Mark automatically catch your attention?” Arthur asked tiredly.
Gawain paused then nodded. “Perhaps he didn’t want anyone to know?” He sighed and put the parchment on his desk. “I can assure you that not only will I look into what happened to Mr. Potter, but I will be looking into why an attack of this magnitude wasn’t reported. There’s at least a several dozen Unforgivables that I see right off the bat without counting them. That in of itself should have triggered some kind of alarm at the very least.”
“All those Muggles,” Arthur shook his head.
Gawain sighed deeply. “I’d best take a couple teams from the Magical Reversal Squad to clean this up. Though I don’t think we’ll ever catch every Muggle that knows what happened, not now at least.”
“I’d better go home and explain this to my family,” Arthur replied heavily.
Gawain shook his head. “I don’t envy you that task,” he grimaced. “Go on. You can Disapparate from here.” He pointed to an area near a charmed window where golden threads in the carpet outlined a circle.
Arthur gave him a grateful look before disappearing.
Gawain flicked his wand and watched several quills start writing quickly. Once the notes were done, Gawain tapped each note, waiting for it to disappear before moving to the next note. He didn’t have to wait long. He heard sounds of his people appearing in their special Apparating area, their voices becoming a cacophony of sound as they tried to figure out why each had been called in at this time of night.
He waited until the volume had reached a fevered pitch before tapping his throat and demanding every one of them get into his office immediately instead of wasting one more iota of his time. No one was surprised when the large team seemingly fit into Gawain’s office as they waited nervously for their leader to explain his summons. Gawain looked at each one before continuing. “I have received intelligence concerning an attack in Little Whinging.”
Each Auror, Hit Wizard and Magical Reversal person standing in his office returned his look of horror.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter.
Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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