Chapter 10 : Shocking the Ministry
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Mr. Weasley quietly watched as Ron and Hermione snuck through the back door. He didn’t see Ginny anywhere, but he was fairly certain that she had already found a place to hide.
“Leave them be,” Mrs. Weasley said sternly when the twins moved towards the back door.
“Aren’t you going to bring them back?” Fred asked with surprise.
Mrs. Weasley shook her head. “Not yet. After everything they went through today, they’ll need some time to themselves.”
Mr. Weasley cleared his throat. “I’m going to the Ministry to see if they know about the incident.” He was sickened at the thought that three Seventh Years had to face You Know Who and an unknown number of Death Eaters by themselves. Why hadn’t the Ministry responded? Could the Death Eaters have somehow kept this attack from being noticed?
“I’ll go with you, Dad,” Bill stood up from the couch where he had taken a seat after checking all of the boundary wards.
Fleur nodded her agreement with her soon to be husband’s decision.
“Mr. Weasley shook his head. “No, I want you to stay here and make sure that the family is safe while I’m away.”
“Do you really think that he’ll come here?” George scoffed at the idea. He ignored the fact that they had spent the afternoon verifying their protective spells.
Mr. Weasley gave his son a grave look. “Of course there’s a chance. It would depend on what his plans were when he went to Privet Drive.”
Fred and George’s indignant expressions fell from their faces and were replaced with looks of determination. They exchanged a single look before heading up the stairs to their room without another word.
Mr. Weasley turned to his wife. “I’ll be back when I can. The wards should be fine now.” With a near silent pop, he disappeared into thin air.
Mr. Weasley stood in the lobby of the Ministry. He faced 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 had a suspicion that the entire fountain had been completely replaced given the number of dark curses that You Know Who had used during their battle.
He couldn’t help thinking how the Death Eaters could have managed to keep the attack a secret since Harry was, or had been under-aged. The trace was still on Harry’s wand even if it was only for one more day. How had they managed to keep the Ministry from registering his use of magic?
He had to calm the thoughts that were swirling in his head.
He had to present what he had learned coherently or else his grave news would be discounted.
He finally moved away from the area designated for Apparation. He impatiently waited as the security guard checked his wand and handed it back to him with a half-hearted greeting.
The security guard watched Mr. Weasley with a very puzzled look as he quickly went on his way with barely a word. He pushed the hidden red button that lit up in the Head Auror’s office. Let someone else worry about why Mr. Weasley wasn’t acting like himself.
Mr. Weasley made his way to the lifts and stepped off on the floor where his office was located. He hurried past Kingsley’s office where there were still pictures of Sirius covering his walls. Then he hurried past his own office with barely the smallest glance. He decided against spending any time looking over his collection of odd Muggle artifacts as he hurried onwards to the one person who could unravel much of what happened earlier that day: Head Auror Gawain Robards.
Gawain would need to know about the situation at Privet Drive. He hurried down the hall past even more offices where the pictures of known Death Eaters glared from various boards that noted their status as wanted people. He also quickly passed by the boards where the Aurors had posted pictures of their victims. With everything that had been happening, none of the offices were 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.
Mr. Weasley was very surprised to find out that his door was already open. Almost as if Gawain was expecting him.
Gawain was in his office. He was sitting at his desk and studying several papers that had blinking red stamps on them.
“Robards, there’s been an incident!” Mr. Weasley called out more loudly than he intended and he grimaced when his voice echoed in the large office. He nervously stood at the door waiting to be invited inside while he glanced repeatedly over his shoulder.
Gawain looked up as he pretended to be startled. He carefully placed the flashing papers on his desk while he studied Mr. Weasley intently. The only difference that he could see was that Mr. Weasley was breathing hard and looking very grave. He had watched Mr. Weasley’s progress to his office since he had stepped off of the lift and he knew that something was very wrong. “Arthur! It’s good to see you… What’s wrong?” He stood up and placed his hands on his desk. As he did so, he made sure that his wand wasn’t very far from his grasp. He was fairly certain that Mr. Weasley wouldn’t notice his precaution because the top of his desk was cluttered with papers and odd bits.
Mr. Weasley shook his head and waved his hands to stop Gawain from talking. “Something rather bad happened earlier today. It’s very horrible news. Might I come in?” He glanced over his shoulder again as if he expected to see someone standing behind him.
“Of course,” Gawain started to feel the first stirrings of alarm. Whatever had happened, it had to have been bad. Mr. Weasley wasn’t usually this excited except maybe over his Muggle artifacts. “Your family is alright, aren’t they?”
Mr. Weasley stopped for a moment as he shut the door and his look of worry turned into a grimace. “My family is in shock, but otherwise they’re fine.” He stated before he firmly shut the door and then waved his wand to lock it. Another wave of his wand sealed the door.
Gawain frowned with an ever growing sense of foreboding. It was clear that Mr. Weasley didn’t want anyone to know what he was about to say except for one person. “Please, Arthur, tell me what’s happened. Why is your family in shock?” He waved to one of his chairs for him to sit down. He settled back into his own chair and leaned forward, placing his elbows on his desk in order to give Mr. Weasley his undivided attention.
Mr. Weasley didn’t take the chair that Gawain offered to him. Instead he started to pace as he told Gawain about the news that Ron and Hermione had brought to them.
“We’re talking about the same Harry Potter that lives in the town of Little Whinging?” Gawain asked with a deeper frown. He didn’t want to believe the horrifying information.
Mr. Weasley slowly nodded. “My son is, I mean was, best mates with him. I’m certain thought that you already knew that. Molly dotes, er… doted on him and treats… treated him like he was one of our own.” He rubbed his face in an attempt to alleviate the headache that was beginning to form. “This is so hard,” he finally said as he took a deep breath. He started to think about each word that he wanted to say before speaking which made him talk slower.
“Take your time,” Gawain was also beginning to feel the start of a headache.
“Well, as I was saying, 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 maternal relatives. None of our sons or Ginny seemed to mind that Molly was trying to spoil him whenever he visited.” Mr. Weasley finally sank into the offered chair and ran his hands over his face wearily.
There were some aspects of his job that Gawain didn’t like and one of those just happened to be questioning grieving people. He discretely flicked his wand at his quill to take notes for him while he asked Arthur the questions that he needed to clarify the report from Ron and Hermione. He really wished that he would have thought about charming his quill when Arthur began his horrifying tale, but he couldn’t ask the man in front of him to repeat that part of the story so soon after his first telling of it. He had to be satisfied with asking questions about the incident. He had a passing thought that he might be able to save his memory about the report so that it could be reviewed again in a Pensieve.
He listened as Arthur explained again how both Ron and Hermione had to leave Harry Potter behind with his Muggle relatives. He had a sinking feeling that they would need to bring Mr. Potter back so that they could bury him with his parents. He was also very troubled with Arthur’s report that no Aurors or Hit Wizards had appeared during the Death Eater attack.
“We haven’t had any word about any attacks in that area and there were no odd sightings… Hmm…” Gawain trailed off as he thought back over the day’s events. He turned to look out of his charmed window at the darkening sky. He thought that it was very appropriate in its portrayal to the state of the wizarding world. If Harry Potter really was the Chosen One, then the wizarding world was doomed to darkness.
“Ron and Hermione told us that there was a major Death Eater attack at Privet Drive.” Mr. Weasley pointed out as he picked up one of the globes from the desk just so that he had something to hold in his hands. “Even though they only encountered Death Eaters near the back door, one of my other sons rightly pointed out that there were likely Death Eaters by the front door just in case they had tried to leave the house that way.”
“You’re certain that they haven’t blown this all out of proportion?” Gawain quickly glanced at his charmed quill to make sure that it was still working properly as well as so that he could check on its progress. His head was starting to pound abominably.
Mr. Weasley raised his eyebrow questioningly. “We are speaking about Miss Hermione Granger.”
Gawain sighed with defeat. His last hope that this was just a nasty joke disappeared. From every report that had crossed his desk concerning the Trio, Miss Granger had never stretched anything out of proportion. “It isn’t that I don’t believe you…” he hurriedly assured Mr. Weasley. “I’m just thinking out loud.” He slammed his hands down onto his desk, ruffling his papers and causing the globes to roll about slightly in place. “I know. We’ll go see if Mr. Potter tried to defend the Muggles or himself with magic!”
Mr. Weasley frowned before shaking his head. “Both Ron and Hermione said that Harry didn’t use his wand at all,” he reminded Gawain. He placed the globe that he was holding back onto the desk.
“It won’t hurt for us to take a look though,” Gawain replied easily. “It might have gotten overlooked or he might have used some wandless magic.” He frowned as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully and he quickly put several thoughts together. “You know, there was a rather touchy situation earlier today. Perhaps that was a cover for the attack?”
Both of them rose from their chairs and they walked down another corridor to where the Magical Law Enforcement office was located. Mr. Weasley looked at their walls with confusion. He couldn’t tell what color their walls were because there were too many posters on far too many topics covering every inch of available space. The yellow tiled floor squeaked as they walked on it. Pale pea-green cubicle walls created a small maze as they wound their way through to the Under-Aged Magic Department.
The Improper Use of Magic area is over in that direction,” Gawain pointed off to the left before they turned to the right. They stopped in front of a puce colored door. Both of their face twisted into an expression of complete revulsion.
Gawain opened the door and he walked directly to the area where during the day there were several wizards and witches specifically watching for under-aged magic. With most children heading to sleep, there were only three people watching the glowing screens.
“Piers, would you look up something for me?” Gawain asked nicely as if there wasn’t a dire problem.
The tired wizard looked up and knocked his glass of pumpkin juice over in his surprise of seeing the Head Auror standing in front of him. He quickly tried to mop up the mess but he suddenly stopped. “What do you need, sir?” He could feel his two coworkers watching with curiosity.
“Would you look up any references for under-aged magic done in Little Whinging since Hogwarts let out this summer?” Gawain casually waved his wand at the soggy mess to clear it away instantly.
The technician blinked at the Head Auror in complete surprise. “Mr. Potter? I’d have thought that he’d have learned his lesson from the last time he used magic during the summer.” He didn’t look shocked now. He was looking amused as he snickered. “Some people just don’t learn, do they?”
Mr. Weasley blanched at the merriment that Piers had for Harry doing magic outside of school. Not only that, but the other two were quietly laughing as well.
Gawain only raised his eyebrow. “I don’t remember asking for your opinion about whether Mr. Potter did magic or if Mr. Potter learned any lessons concerning the use of magic outside of school.” His voice held no laughter as he coldly frowned at the technician. “I asked for a report as to whether there was any under-aged magic done in the town of Little Whinging this summer.” The request was repeated in clipped tones that made Mr. Weasley want to shiver.
Piers turned a bright red before turning to stare at his screen. He tried to ignore his coworker’s mirth. He tapped his screen with his wand and waited as words started to appear on a piece of parchment sitting to the side of the screen. “No, sir, there wasn’t any under-aged magic done in the town of Little Whinging.”
Gawain picked up the parchment and carefully considered his next question. “Very well, I’d like a list of any magic done in the area for this past week.”
Piers nervously tapped his screen again. This time the words blossomed onto the next clean piece of parchment in the small stack. He stared at the results, blinking in disbelief at the parchment before swallowing hard. “Well, sir, I see that there’s a lot of packing spells and several banishment spells… That was likely someone sending luggage ahead for him, yes?” He glanced up to see the Head Auror watching him sternly. “But then… Blimey! How did we miss that?”
Gawain didn’t wait for the technician to explain. He snatched the parchment from his hands and held it so that Mr. Weasley could also read the results. They looked at each other with dread. It was more than evident that there had been a very uneven battle at the whole of Privet Drive. There were numerous Unforgiveable Curses that had been used as well as a Killing Curse just before several untagged Apparations. The next Apparation was registered to Hermione Granger with a note attached to her Apparation stating that she was transporting a single wizard with her.
Gawain turned to give Piers a formidable look. “I expect that you will remain quiet concerning this?”
Piers nodded very quickly. He had a horrible sinking feeling that he would soon be talking with his supervisor. Even he could tell that he had messed up horrendously.
Gawain motioned for Mr. Weasley to precede him through the door. He took the parchments with the results of his two questions with him.
The two of them walked back to Gawain’s office in silence. Once they closed the door behind them, Gawain sealed the door himself and cast a silence spell on his office. He shook the rolled up parchments slightly before placing them with the utmost care on his desk where they unrolled. “Arthur, you do realize that Mr. Potter is likely deceased given this information?”
Mr. Weasley looked grayer than he had when he first arrived. “I know that he has to be given what Ron and Hermione witnessed.”
Gawain ran his finger over the sheer number of curses, hexes and dark spells that had been listed in red ink. “It looks like the incident included the entire neighborhood of Privet Drive. Yet there isn’t a record of a Dark Mark being cast in the vicinity.”
“Wouldn’t casting the Dark Mark automatically catch your attention?” Mr. Weasley asked wearily as he motioned to the globes that were now hovering inches above the desk.
Gawain considered his question before finally nodding. “Perhaps he didn’t want anyone to know that he was there?” He sighed as he sank into his chair. He rubbed his forehead before giving Mr. Weasley a solemn look. “I can assure you that not only will I look into what happened to Mr. Potter, but I will also be looking into why an attack of this magnitude wasn’t reported.” He tapped the parchment. “There’s at least a several dozen Unforgiveable Curses that I can see without having to count them. That in of itself should have triggered some kind of alarm.”
“All of those potter Muggles,” Mr. Weasley shook his head sadly.
Gawain sighed deeply. “I’ll be taking a few teams from the Magical Reversal Department to clean this up. Given the delay in the report, I don’t think that we’ll ever find every Muggle who knows was really happened.” He held up a hand to forestall Mr. Weasley’s protest. “I’m not faulting you in the least, Arthur. You came as soon as you learned of it.”
Mr. Weasley looked a little guilty. “Actually, we updated our wards before I came here. We didn’t know if Ron and Hermione had been followed or not.”
Gawain still waived off the delay. “That was the right thing for you to do, especially since Mr. Ron Weasley and Miss Granger had come directly from a Death Eater attack.”
“In that case, it’s best if I go home and try to explain all of this to my family,” he replied heavily.
Gawain shook his head with a grimace. “I don’t envy you that task at all.” He pointed to an area near the charmed windows where there were golden threads outlining a circle in the carpet. “You can Apparate from there.”
Mr. Weasley gave him a grateful look before disappearing with the tiniest pop.
Mr. Weasley appeared in almost complete silence outside the wards for the Burrow. He stood outside and looked at his house with its welcoming light shining in the darkness that surrounded him. He wasn’t relishing the idea of explaining what he had learned at the Ministry. He knew that there would be many questions about what the Head Auror had to say and what the Ministry was going to do. There was also going to be several questions about what he had learned with Gawain at the Under-Aged Magic Department. He grimaced as he remembered what he read in the reports. He could only hope that he didn’t have to answer those questions right away. He wanted some time to think about what he’d learned as well as to figure out how to tell that sad story without making a muddle of it.
His slight hope of delaying the inevitable was dashed as soon as he stepped into the house.
“Dad, what happened at the Ministry?” Ron demanded before the front door had even been shut behind him.
“Something happened,” Hermione pointed out. “That’s quite obvious.”
Mr. Weasley sighed mostly for himself as everyone in the family came into the living room where they waited impatiently for him to tell them what had happened while he was at the Ministry. “I spoke with Gawain Robards….”
“The Head Auror,” Hermione said in an audible whisper to Ron who was looking a little confused.
Ron nodded his head without taking his eyes off of his father as he suddenly remembered exactly who Gawain was.
“How would you… I see…” Mr. Weasley remembered the various talks that Minister Scrimgeour had with Harry and his friends the previous year. “Yes, I spoke with the Head Auror. I felt that he should know what you both told me.”
“You told him that they weren’t able to bring Harry with them?” Mrs. Weasley demanded.
“Of course, dear,” he replied as he sank into his chair. “I also told him about the attack on Privet Drive. Gawain was rather surprised to learn of my, or rather our, suspicions. Then we went to the Under-Aged Magic Department…”
“But he didn’t do any magic!” Hermione protested. “We were there and he definitely didn’t do any magic!”
“Where we learned that there had been no under-aged magic registered at that location all summer,” Mr. Weasley ignored Hermione’s interruption. He looked at the ceiling as he considered his next words carefully while his family waited in silence. Once he had collected his thoughts, he looked at everyone who had gathered around him and were watching him with varying levels of impatience. “Gawain noticed that there were several dozen Unforgiveable Curses performed throughout the neighborhood. There was a Killing Curse that was followed by several Apparations. After that, there was no magic noted in the area except for Hermione’s Apparation minutes later.”
“What else did Mr. Robards have to say?” Bill asked.
“For one, Gawain will be looking into this situation personally,” Mr. Weasley replied gravely. “He will be going to Privet Drive with the Magical Reversal squads to find out what happened for himself. I’m certain that he’ll tell us about his findings when he’s able to do so.”
Mrs. Weasley sank into her rocking chair and covered her face with her hands. Her sobs were punctuated by Hermione’s weeping. Ron looked as if he was about to cry himself but was spending every ounce of strength he had left to save face. Fred and George glared at everyone before storming outside. Mr. Weasley got up from his chair and pulled his wife towards him without saying another word.
There had been enough words said in the house that day: words that never should have to be used.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter. Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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