Chapter 7 : Case Closed
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Hermione climbed the stairs to the room she was sharing with Ginny. Ron followed close behind her on his way to his own room. She paused, watching Ron continue to his room, noting the dejected slump to his shoulders. Harry’s death had hit Ron especially hard. Ron had been Harry’s very first friend.
Even though she felt horrid, she couldn’t even begin to imagine how Ginny must be feeling. Ginny loved Harry not as The-Boy-Who-Lived, but as Harry Potter, even if he had broken up with her at Professor Dumbledore’s funeral for her own safety. She understood his reasoning as did Ginny. Ginny had told her privately that she would wait until Harry was ready. She had already waited for him this long.
She shut the door softly behind her, but didn’t bother lighting a candle or her wand as she made her way to Ginny’s bed. She sat down carefully, not wanting to wake Ginny if she was asleep, but she had a feeling that Ginny wasn’t sleeping right now. “Ginny? I just wanted to let you know that I can understand how you’re feeling. I miss him too. Of course, it’s more because he’s my friend than my boyfriend, but… Ginny?” She reached over to shake Ginny’s shoulder when she didn’t answer, not even with a “bugger off” that she would have welcomed even then.
Instead of finding her curled up on the bed, the sheets were flat. “Ginny? Lumos!” Her wand tip flared with light, brightly illuminating the entire room. She blinked in surprise. Ginny’s bed was empty. She quickly scanned the rest of the room. She checked under both the beds. She frowned as she considered what to do next. There was nowhere else for Ginny to hide in the room. Her eyes widened with shock. Ginny was there when they had arrived from Privet Drive, but where was she now? And she couldn’t remember if she had seen Ginny since.
She threw open the door and rushed down the stairs where others were still talking. She looked around to see if Ginny was sitting with her family.
“Hermione, dear?” Mrs. Weasley had glanced up when Hermione had stopped suddenly at the foot of the stairs and looked around quickly. “What is the matter?” Concern etched her face.
“Ginny… she’s… gone…” Hermione sobbed as she covered her mouth with her hand.
“Gone?” Mrs. Weasley paled.
The room fell silent instantly. Everyone’s attention was focused on Hermione.
“Gone how?” Fred asked, his frown matching the one of George’s face.
“She isn’t in her room,” Hermione was nearly babbling, shaking her head, “I thought that since I hadn’t seen her down here that she’d be there, but she’s not.”
“When was the last time anyone saw Ginny?” Bill asked, glancing around at everyone.
Everyone started to talk at the same time, trying to talk over the others. A loud clap stopped the cacophony. They all turned to look at Mr. Weasley in disbelief. “Better,” Mr. Weasley said, “now, let’s hear it one at a time. Hermione, you go first.”
“The last I saw her was when Ron and I told everyone about what happened at Privet Drive and Harry’s death.” Hermione’s eyes began filling with tears.
Mr. Weasley pointed to Fred who quickly answered his agreement with Hermione. George nodded his agreement before Mr. Weasley could point to him. His wand moved to Bill who frowned as he thought, but finally agreed with Hermione.
Fleur also thought for a bit when Mr. Weasley pointed to her. “I theenk ze last time I saw ‘er was when Ron and ‘Ermione arrived,” she considered a moment. “Zat was ze last time I saw ‘er.”
Mr. Weasley realized Ron wasn’t there. “Where’s Ron?”
“He went up to his room,” Hermione said in a wobbly voice. “He walked past me when I went to Ginny’s room.”
“Very well,” Arthur looked at Fred, “would you get him, please?”
Fred nodded grimly and disappeared with a crack. He reappeared with another crack and a less than amused Ron who was glaring at him.
“Alright,” Arthur stopped the brewing fight. “Ron? When was the last time you saw Ginny?”
Ron looked at his Dad, wide-eyed. “I guess it was when we got here. Why?”
Arthur rubbed his forehead. “Is anyone aware of special places that Ginny likes to visit around here?”
Ron continued staring at his dad with surprise. “There’s a spot she goes to dream about Harry… Why?”
“Ginny’s missing,” George said sourly, “the last time anyone saw her was just after you both came here with the news.”
Ron gaped at him. “But, she was there!”
“Have you seen her afterwards?” Bill asked. “Even after Dad got home with the news from the Ministry?”
Ron shook his head slowly.
“Then we’ll split up and search around here,” Arthur said. “Ron, Hermione? Check the attic. Molly, Fleur? Check the house. The boys and I will check the grounds outside.”
Ron didn’t look pleased about checking the attic while his brothers were all searching outside for Ginny. “Why can’t I help with the search outside?”
“Because you know the attic,” Arthur pointed out, “Hermione doesn’t.”
Ron grimaced. “Alright,” he nodded towards the stairs. “Let’s get going. If Ginny’s hiding there, she’s going to get it.” He stormed over to the stairs and began stomping up them. Hermione followed him quickly, not wanting to be left behind.
It seemed to take forever for everyone to gather again in the living room and finally admit to themselves and to each other that Ginny wasn’t in the house and she wasn’t anywhere around the house either. Arthur slowly opened the back door. They would be searching in the waning light in the forest. She had to be there, just lost in thought.
George found her in the clearing. A first glance suggested she had fallen asleep, though when he knelt next to her, he feared the worst. She looked too still. He forced himself to feel for her pulse. His throat constricted. There would be no help for her. He turned around with a heavy heart just as the others came into view.
“Ginny? Is she…” Molly broke off as she caught sight of George’s face.
The others closed their eyes, letting the pain wash over them as George slowly shook his head. Hermione clapped her hands over her face as she fell to her knees. Molly started to sink to the ground, only to be held up by Arthur who pulled her close to him. Arthur was the only one able to find his voice. “What happened? Do you know? Can you tell?”
George shook his head grimly again. “I just found her.” He picked her up, holding her delicately. He started walking towards the house. The others followed him, Molly still being held close by Arthur. All except Ron and Hermione who still looked where Ginny had been. Hermione frowned as she looked around the clearing.
Bill paused at the edge of the clearing. “What’s wrong, Hermione?”
Hermione pointed to where Ginny had been. “What don’t you see?”
Bill and Ron exchanged a look before looking the area over without understanding what Hermione was expecting to see. “What?” Ron asked.
Hermione rolled her eyes impatiently. “Her wand, it isn’t here.”
Bill shook his head, but remained where he was. “It could have been destroyed by whoever or whatever happened here.” He took a deep breath. “We’d better catch up with everyone else. Come on.” He started walking back to the house without waiting to see if they would follow.
Ron and Hermione stayed a moment longer. “But her wand isn’t here.”
“Bill’s right,” Ron said, “it’s not unheard of for the winner to take the wand or destroy it. Even as much as I’d really like this all to be a joke, I can’t see Ginny playing a trick like this on us. Do you?”
Hermione didn’t move. She looked around the clearing, trying to imagine what had been running through Ginny’s mind. She could see why Ginny liked this clearing. A small stream ran through it and there was a magical, other-worldly feel to it. Like a peace or where time didn’t have meaning. She jumped slightly when Ron put his hand on her shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Ron.”
“I know,” Ron clenched his teeth. He was overwhelmed at the moment. Seeing Harry killed then seeing Ginny dead was never something he had considered. Even with the Second Wizarding War happening. He tried his hardest not to think about his family and friends possibly dying. Too many people had died in this war. “We’d best get inside before Mum has kittens.”
They started walking to the house. They got there in time to see Fleur hand a cup to Molly. Arthur was standing near her still and caught her when she fell. Fred caught the cup with a flick of his wand. “Dreamless Sleep potion,” George said heavily, “expect I’ll be using a bit myself tonight.”
Back at his office, Gawain looked through the last of the reports. He was now working on his thoughts on what had happened. He had already written out everything, but now he was rereading and making corrections to his report. Suddenly, he pushed the papers away from him and covered his face with his hands, his head bowed. His shoulders shuddered as he shook his head slowly. How could everything have gone so wrong?
He stared unseeing at a large map that hung on his wall. Pins poked from it where suspected Death Eater activity had taken place. Other pins poked where people had claimed to have seen He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. There were very few pins outside of England.
Mr. Potter had been nearly killed as a toddler by You-Know-Who. How he had managed to survive was anyone’s guess. Though he had a suspicion that Professor Dumbledore had known exactly why Mr. Potter had survived the Killing Curse. Each person seemed to have a different idea as to how he had managed to survive with no one else had. It had actually been a clever idea to have him grow up away from the rumors until he could defend himself.
He drew another shaky breath. The reports he’d heard whispered about concerning Mr. Potter once he rejoined the wizarding world was more than he could believe. He hadn’t agreed with how Mr. Potter had been treated in his fifth year. The simple fact that he had managed to save his cousin, whom he was reported to have disliked, should have earned at least an Order of Merlin, Third Class. Instead he had been expelled until Professor Dumbledore had convinced then-Minister Fudge that only the Headmaster of Hogwarts could expel a student. Then-Minister Fudge had then suspended Mr. Potter and set up a disciplinary hearing that had been changed to Mr. Potter defending his actions to the full court.
He swallowed. How could he forget Professor Dumbledore telling repeatedly that You-Know-Who was back? How Mr. Potter had insisted that very same thing? Then-Minister Fudge had told him the story that Mr. Potter had told him. Privately, he agreed with Professor Dumbledore and Mr. Potter, especially since Mr. Potter had seen You-Know-Who regain his life with a very dark potion. A rare potion not in the general knowledge and certainly wouldn’t have been learned by a fourth year. He had had to search for several months before finding the particular potion Mr. Potter had described and it was in a book he was positive would not have been available to Mr. Potter.
Also, the way that both Professor Dumbledore and Mr. Potter had been treated as if they didn’t know a single thing because of that? And in the end, it turned out they were telling the truth. Dolores had largely babbled once she had returned to work with the Ministry. He had listened with half an ear. She was spiteful in particular to Mr. Potter and his close friends, Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger, Miss Weasley and Mr. Longbottom.
It still rankled that six children had managed to enter the Ministry and find their way into the Department of Mysteries. He glared at the strewn papers on his desk. That was bad enough. What made the entire situation completely unpalatable was how a dozen Death Eaters had managed to sneak inside. It was surprising that the children had held off the Death Eaters. Another twist was even more people appeared to save the children and went unnoticed by security. What was the point of having security if they didn’t know that over two dozen people were running around highly secured areas without permission? The pinnacle of the debacle was seeing Voldemort standing in the lobby by the ruined fountain. He smiled grimly. It was that particular moment that had cost then-Minister Fudge his job.
He had quietly gathered intelligence on the six students who had been at the Ministry. He didn’t intend for anyone else to see those files. Depending on the remainder of their scholastic career, any one of them would make a good addition to the Auror department. His hopes to add Mr. Potter to their ranks would not be realized.
He gave a slight half-chuckle at the thought of Mr. Longbottom. The reports he had gathered had indicated that he hadn’t started off his school career very well, but had certainly made tremendous progress given the events in the Department of Mysteries. He was growing to be very much like his dad and mum. Had they not been attacked and driven insane, he had the distinct feeling that they would have been very proud of their only son. He made a mental note to watch for Mr. Longbottom’s N.E.W.T’s. If he continued improving, he would make an asset to the Auror department.
He sighed wearily. He wanted to go home, but this particular report couldn’t wait. He finally held out his hand. The papers he had pushed away jumped back to him. He picked up his quill again, dipping it slowly into the ink. His eyes were still bright with unshed tears as he began writing once more. It was early in the morning when he finally began writing out the very last lines in the case. These lines were the hardest for him to write. For with them, no one would continue their search. They would put away every hope.
“Following the attack on Privet Drive and Mr. Potter’s home, his aunt, Mrs. Petunia Evans Dursley noted that Mr. Potter had been hit by the Killing Curse and lay dead on the ground. There is no evidence supporting any hope of Mr. Potter’s survival.”
Gawain laid down the quill as he waited for the ink to dry. A splotch appeared, blurring a few words. He got up from his desk, no longer able to sit. He waved his wand at the report. Another one appeared on his desk and neatly flew into an envelope which sealed itself. Another wave of his wand caused an important-looking seal to appear. One that only Minister Scrimgeour would be able to open. He flicked his wand and it disappeared. He didn’t need to see that it had appeared squarely in the middle of Minister Scrimgeour’s desk.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter.
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