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Chapter 11 : Grim Discoveries
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Gawain watched Arthur disappear from his office. Then he turned his attention back to his desk. He quickly wrote out his first note to Thaddeus Beck who was the Head for the Magical Reversal Squads. Their help would be needed to set Privet Drive back to its former state. He quickly signed the note and tapped it with his wand.
After Thaddeus’ note disappeared into thin air, he flicked his wand at the cup of quills on his desk and watched impassively as several of them rose into the air and floated to the ink well before starting to quickly write out his message on empty parchment. Each note was brief and to the point. As each note finished, he quickly read through it before tapping it with his wand to send it to one of his Aurors or his Hit Wizards. Then he turned his attention to the next note that was ready to be sent.
Gawain didn’t have to wait too long for a response to his notes.
Thaddeus was the first to arrive. “What’s going on?” he demanded.
“The short of it is that there was a Death Eater attack at Privet Drive today.” Gawain explained quickly as he held the report out for Thaddeus to study.
Thaddeus raised his eyebrow, but took the report. His face drained of color as he glanced through the entire report. “Excuse me for a moment,” he muttered as he dropped the report on Gawain’s desk and left the office.
Gawain stayed where he was. Minutes after Thaddeus had left for his own office, he heard the sounds of his Aurors and Hit Wizards appearing in their special Apparating circles. Their voices became a cacophony of sound as they tried to figure out why they had been called back in with such a terse message so late in the day. Many of them had just gotten home when the note appeared in front of them.
He waited until their volume had reached a fevered pitch before tapping his wand against his throat and demanding that everyone enter his office immediately instead of wasting one more iota of his time. No one was very surprised when the large team seemingly fit into the Head Auror’s office while they nervously waited for their leader to explain his unusual summons.
He looked at each one of his people to make sure that they were listening to him before he continued with his grim news. He placed his hand on top of the report. “I have received reliable intelligence that there was a Death Eater attack earlier today in Little Whinging.”
Each one of the Aurors and Hit Wizards stared at him with horror as every one of them knew that was where Harry Potter lived.
Gawain was the first wizard to arrive at Privet Drive. He looked around with astonishment at the destruction that had taken place in just minutes. His nose wrinkled at the stench of burnt wood and melted plastic. He wasn’t surprised that the street was deserted or that he didn’t see any Muggles. He suspected that the Muggles who had stayed were hiding in their houses as they tried to figure out what happened. He briefly wondered what explanation the Muggles had created for the events earlier that day.
He was dismayed that it had taken so long for the Ministry to be notified about the incident. Then it had taken time to brief the Aurors and the Hit Wizards on the situation. There was no information as to whether there were Death Eaters in the area. So now it was very late in the day before anyone had been able to arrive on the scene.
There were several faint pops behind him as his people appeared. Each one of them gasped in shock as they saw their first view of the ruined neighborhood.
He lit up the area with a bright flare from his wand. After what these Muggles had been through, there was no reason to hide the use of magic until everything had been set right again. Several other balls of light hung in the air to light up the night sky so that it was nearly as bright as day. Thankfully, the spell only directly affected a small area so that the streets around Privet Drive wouldn’t know what was taking place on Privet Drive.
He looked around the neighborhood while he waited for Thaddeus and his squads to arrive. He could see spell scorch marks on nearly every house. Several of the burned out homes could also be attributed to magic. There were many more strange things that could have only been achieved through magical means. Trees had been uprooted and were standing upside down. Several of the mailboxes were perched on top of the house roofs. Not even the grass had been spared as it was no longer vibrant shades of green but was instead violently garish shades of blues and oranges.
“Auror Robards?” Thaddeus asked as he looked around the scene. He was quickly deciding what needed to be done for the neighborhood so that it looked like any other Muggle street. He had believed that five Magical Reversal squads would be enough after seeing the sheer number of spells listed in the report Gawain had shown him. However, now that he saw the results of those spells, it was starting to look as if he should have called in a few more teams.
Gawain looked over at him. He could easily see the disbelief in Thaddeus’ eyes. After everything they’d seen in their line of work, it would take a lot to shake them and it appeared that their surroundings had managed to do just that. “You know what needs to be done,” he replied heavily. “Just make sure that we get all of the information from the Muggles before erasing their memories of this incident.” He waved his hand at the ruined area.
Thaddeus nodded his agreement before he turned to his shocked squads to give them their orders.
Gawain watched as the squads quickly split up into pairs and they were joined by either a pair of Aurors or a pair of Hit Wizards. The small groups started to spread out to cover the damaged area. He was very relieved when the trees were standing upright once again and the strange machines that the Muggles drove no longer rested in weird ways.
Thaddeus caught his attention. “I thought that you and I should speak with Mr. Potter’s relatives.” He nodded towards Number Four where the windows had their curtains pulled tightly closed.
Gawain knew that the house might not appear to be obviously damaged like the other houses on the street. However, the family that lived there would be dealing with the heartbreak of losing a relative to He Who Must Not Be Named. He expected that Mr. Potter’s relatives would be very grief-stricken. “Why do you think that they left the house alone?” he wondered out loud.
Thaddeus considered his question even though he thought it was an odd one given that Mr. Potter had been killed. At the same time, it was a fair question to be asked since every other house on the street was broken in various ways. “Perhaps the wards protected it. We know that Professor Dumbledore put some of his own wards on the house even if we don’t know which ones he used.”
Gawain nodded his head slowly. “That makes sense. Very well, we’d best get a move on then.”
They carefully made their way through the debris to the front door of Number Four. They knocked politely and waited until a woman opened the door a crack to eye them warily.
“Mrs. Dursley?” Gawain asked evenly.
“What do you want?” she demanded harshly. She didn’t miss that they were carrying their wands in plain view. There was a flicker of pain in her eyes before she glared at them.
“We’d like to speak with you about what happened here today.” Gawain held up his hand when she started to shut the door. “We can make it so that your neighbors don’t remember what happened today.”
She was silent for a long moment as she eyed them distrustfully. “What about us?” she finally demanded in a bleak voice.
The two wizards exchanged a troubled look. “We can also arrange it so that your family won’t remember what happened here today as well.”
Her lips grew thin as she lost patience with them. “I meant that my family doesn’t want to know about him or his freakishness.”
They nearly stepped back at the vehemence in her voice. “You don’t want to know about magic?” Thaddeus asked. He blinked in shock and surprise at her request. It was difficult for him to understand why anyone wouldn’t want to know about magic.
Petunia shook her head sharply so they missed the tears that started to gather. “What has it brought me?” She turned to glare at Gawain. “I’ll tell you what it’s brought me.” She didn’t wait for either of them to reply before she continued her bitter statement. “I’ve lost my sister to it and now I’ve lost her son!” She motioned pointedly at the destruction that surrounded the house. Her eyes flashed with pain. “I think that I can safely say that my family doesn’t want to know about that boy or any of his freakishness.”
Gawain nodded slowly. It was unfortunate, but he understood her point of view. “Very well, we can also arrange for that. However, before we do so, could we discuss the incident?”
She reluctantly opened the door for them to enter her house.
Gawain waited to speak until after she had taken a seat in one of the comfortable looking chairs in the very dusty living room. He cleared his throat importantly. “If you will tell us everything that happened here earlier today, then we can arrange for you to remember your nephew only as the son of your sister without any knowledge concerning his talents.” He purposely refrained from using the words “magic” and “wizardry” given the way that she had reacted to them when she had answered the front door.
“You’re certain about that?” she demanded. It was very clear that she didn’t believe them. Yet the look on her face told a very different story. She was torn between not wanting to speak about the events that had happened and the idea that she wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with magic in her home again. They didn’t know about her thoughts during those long hours as she had worried about her husband and her son. She had lost her sister to magic long before her death. She had accepted the responsibility to raise her nephew all those years ago, but had failed to protect him in the end. He had protected them and now he was gone. How could she explain this to Lily?
Gawain nodded grimly. “I’m very sure. Mr. Beck is a very accomplished Obliviator.” He saw her face twist into a look of terror and quickly hurried to reassure her, “Which means that he can chance what you remember concerning Mr. Potter.” He held a small notepad in his hand and one of the Muggle quills that didn’t require constantly being dipped in ink.
“Alright,” she finally decided when the lure proved too much for her to remain quiet. She quickly told them about the several loud explosions that had rocked the house and what happened in the back yard. “Not one of them lifted a finger to stop any of that freakishness,” she concluded her narration sourly.
“So there were several explosions?” Thaddeus asked, trying to see the events as they happened. He was taking notes in the Muggle fashion in what appeared to be a small notepad.
“Yes,” she looked aggrieved. “Not that they were any help when it came down to it.”
“Did they draw their wands at any point?” Gawain asked. He wanted to understand what the Trio was intending to do instead of relying completely on Mrs. Dursley’s declarations, especially since she wanted nothing to do with magic. She remained silent instead of answering them. He knew what the answer would be, but he needed to hear it from her directly. “Remember out agreement, Mrs. Dursley.”
With an exasperated sigh, she nodded tersely. “Yes, they had their sticks out as they ran to the door, but they only did that after Vernon yelled at them.”
“Your husband yelled at them?” Thaddeus frowned. He was curious to know what she meant by that phrase. “Was he yelling at them to hurry up? Or was he yelling at them for some other reason?”
“No,” she looked at the ground instead of them. “He was telling them to stop doing magic.” She wrinkled her nose at having to use a word that she detested.
Gawain couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “So your husband told them to stop using magic? Yet they were running outside with their wands drawn and…” He trailed off at the look of misery on her face. He felt Thaddeus place his hand on his arm silently telling him to stop. There was definitely more to the situation than one visit could explain. The only problem they had was that this would be their only visit. There wouldn’t be a second trip to this house to verify any of the information or to gain clarification if they ran into a confusing statement.
Thaddeus asked the next question. “What happened when they went outside?”
Her lip pressed tightly together. It was very obvious that she found what happened next as untenable, but she managed to answer them without further encouragement or reminding about their agreement. “They froze them…” she didn’t finish her statement.
No, she didn’t want to remember magic. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to forget the look that her nephew had given her before the man who had killed her sister sent the green light rushing at him with a flick of his wand. Neither Vernon nor Dudley watched Harry stand tall before death. Where had he found the courage to face his death that was only moments away? He had to have known what was going to happen. It hurt that even after the way that they had treated him since he had been left on their doorstep, he had still protected them.
She made herself finish her answer as loud as she could. “He waved his stick around and then there was a green light that hit Harry…” This time her soft whisper trailed off and she couldn’t make herself say the final words.
Both Gawain and Thaddeus were troubled by her account. The most disturbing was that she had seen Harry being hit with a spell of green light. “Do you happen to remember if he said any words?”
It was very clear that she didn’t want to answer, but the memory of her nephew standing there shamed her tremendously. “He said something that sounded like “Avowing Era” and then the green light hit Harry… He just stood there…”
“Why didn’t he do anything?” Gawain asked softly. He didn’t want to startle her out of her memory. It was disconcerting to hear that the Killing Curse had been used, just like he had read in the report. He didn’t know what would have caused Harry to disappear within minutes, but there was still so much to learn about magic. It would be beyond irresponsible to say that they knew everything about it.
She hid her face in her hands. “So that we wouldn’t get hurt,” her soft words echoed in the quiet room.
“Will you show us where this took place?” Thaddeus asked her very gently.
She led them to the back yard where she pointed out where everyone had been standing. Then she retold her story about the events from earlier that day under the artificial light of magic.
Thaddeus marked off from the tree to where she told them that the frightening man in the robes had been standing. He was startled at her description of the intruder. “You Know Who!” he exclaimed with horror. “He was here?” He looked over to Gawain who looked just as horrified.
“As well as a bunch of other robed people,” she nodded bitterly. “Nasty people I wouldn’t trust to wipe their shoes when coming into my house.”
Gawain shook his head in amazement at what she considered to be important. Her nephew had been killed in front of her and she was worried about his killers wiping their shoes. He touched the tree which was quite dead now. Then he carefully looked at the spot where Mr. Potter had last been seen after being hit by the Killing Curse. “Mr. Beck? I believe we have enough information.” He stayed where he was while Thaddeus skillfully altered Mrs. Dursley’s memories concerning Mr. Potter and the existence of magic. He knelt down and he touched what could very well be the last spot where Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, had stood.
“Done,” Thaddeus said hollowly as he rejoined Gawain. “She told me that her husband and her son are at the hospital. I’ll head straight there and take care of their memories as well.” It still hurt when Muggle relatives decided to turn their back on their wizarding relatives, but she had been adamant. “I wonder why they don’t want to have anything to do with him.” He turned to study the spot where Harry Potter had last stood, looking as if he was committing it to his memory.
Gawain had his own suspicions as to why Mrs. Dursley wanted her memory concerning her nephew changed, but it wouldn’t change anything in his report. He cleared his throat uneasily. “I doubt we’ll know for sure.” He nodded his head towards the area where the squads were reforming. There was still more work to be done at Privet Drive.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter. Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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