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Chapter 13 : Bitter Hopes
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The clock had also passed by midnight by the time Gawain was able to get back to his office. Once there, he started reading through all of the reports that his Aurors and Hit Wizards turned in. He had even read through the reports that Thaddeus had sent him from the Magical Reversal Department.
He placed the last report from their newest member, Auror Jacob Taylor, onto his desk in the six inch stack of the other reports concerning the Incident. He tried to piece together what likely happened. He had already written his own statement concerning the events. That only included what he saw for himself and his interview with Mrs. Petunia Dursley. Now he needed to add in the additional information from those who had also been there, talking to the various neighbors as well as fixing what the Death Eaters had destroyed.
He suddenly pushed all of the papers away from him. He watched as they cascaded off of his desk. He covered his face with his hands and bowed his head. His shoulders shuddered as he shook his head slowly. How could everything have gone so wrong? He looked up to stare at a large map hanging on his wall without really seeing it.
Glowing red pins poked out from it where there were suspected Death Eater activities that had taken place. There were bright yellow pins poking out from it where people claimed to have seen He Who Must Not Be Named. A wave of his wand would show him the same type of information from the First Wizarding War. It had always interested him that there were very few pins outside of England in either case.
Mr. Potter had nearly been killed as a toddler by You Know Who. How he had managed to survive was anyone’s guess. Even today it was still a mystery. He suspected that Professor Dumbledore had known how Mr. Potter managed to survive the Killing Curse, but those pointed questions had remained unanswered. Now those answers were lost to him.
Other than the only person to remain silent on the topic, everyone else seemed to have a different idea as to how a toddler had survived a curse that had no defense. Now that he was looking at the situation, it has been a clever idea having Mr. Potter to grow up away from all of the rumors until he could handle them.
He drew another shaky breath. The stories that he had heard whispered about concerning Mr. Potter after he had rejoined the wizarding world was actually more than he could believe.
Of course, he had disagreed with how the then Minister Fudge had treated Mr. Potter before and during his very important Fifth Year at Hogwarts. The simple fact that he had managed to save his cousin who he was reported to not like should have earned him at least an Order of Merlin, Third Class. Instead Mr. Potter had been expelled until Professor Dumbledore had convinced the Ministry that only the Headmaster of Hogwarts could expel a student. Instead of properly listening to the story and then allowing Professor Dumbledore to handle the situation, then Minister Fudge had suspended Mr. Potter. Then he had set up a disciplinary hearing that had ended up with Mr. Potter defending his actions to the entire court!
He swallowed with some difficulty. How could he forget how Professor Dumbledore was constantly telling them that You Know Who was back? How could he not remember how Mr. Potter had insisted the very same thing?
Then Minister Fudge had told him the story that Mr. Potter had declared at the conclusion of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. He privately believed Professor Dumbledore and Mr. Potter’s account since the Fourth Year had seen You Know Who regain his life with a very dark potion. This particularly rare potion wouldn’t typically be known by the average wizard or witch. Most certainly, a Fourth Year wouldn’t have learned how to brew it.
He had to search for several weeks before he was able to find the particular potion that Mr. Potter had described. It would have taken longer except for the fact that he had set the parameters on his searching spell to include his collection of books. The book that the dark potion had been found in was the Compendium for Identifying Dark Potions, a book that he was very positive wouldn’t have been available to a student at Hogwarts.
Their belief that You Know Who was back was the reason why both Professor Dumbledore and Mr. Potter had been treated as if neither of them knew a single thing.
In the end, it turned out that they were telling the truth. Dolores had largely babbled once she reclaimed her position at the Ministry. He had to admit that he had only half listened to her. It was only too clear that she was spiteful towards Hogwarts and nasty towards the six children who managed to infiltrate the Ministry: Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger, Miss Weasley, Mr. Longbottom and Miss Lovegood.
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 papers strewn about on his desk. That in of itself was bad enough. What made the situation even worse was that a dozen Death Eaters had also managed to sneak inside. He was very surprised that these six children were able to hold off the Death Eaters in the skirmish that took place.
There was still another twist to the entire embarrassing story. A variety of other people had also made their appearance in the Ministry in order to save the children.
Not one of these people was noticed by security. What was the point of having security if they didn’t even know that at least four dozen people were running around in a highly secured area without permission?
Yet that wasn’t even the icing on the pie.
The pinnacle of that entire debacle was seeing You Know Who standing in the lobby by the ruined fountain.
He smiled grimly with that particular memory. It was that precise moment that had cost then Minister Fudge his position.
It was also at that point that he had started to quietly gather intelligence on the six children who had been at the Ministry. Not that those files would be seen by anyone else but him. From what he had learned and depending on the remainder of their scholastic career, any one of the six students would make an excellent addition to the Auror Department.
However, his hopes to add Mr. Potter to his ranks would not be realized.
He considered Mr. Longbottom for a moment before letting out a nervous half-chuckle. By all reports, he hadn’t started his school career very well, but he had certainly made tremendous progress given his participation in the events that took place in the Department of Mysteries. He was growing up to be very much like his parents. If they hadn’t been attacked and driven insane, he had the distinct feeling that they would have been very proud of their only son.
He waved his wand and Mr. Longbottom’s folder floated over to him. He added a small note in it to watch for the results of his N.E.W.T.’s. It was very clear that if he continued to improve then he would make an outstanding asset for the Auror Department.
He sighed wearily as he waved the newly notated folder back into its place. He wanted to go home, but he couldn’t delay this particular report any longer. He reluctantly held out his hand and the papers that he had pushed away from him jumped back to him. He picked up his quill again and dipped it slowly in the ink pot. His eyes started to shine with unshed tears as he began writing again.
It was around breakfast time when he finally wrote out the very last lines in the report for the Incident. These words were the hardest for him to write. Once he wrote them, no one would continue their search for Mr. Potter and the wizarding world would put away their every hope.
“Following the attack on Privet Drive and Mr. Potter’s home, Mrs. Petunia Dursley noted that her nephew had been hit by the Killing Curse and lay on the ground without any movement. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Potter survived the attack.”
He put his quill back into its holder as he waited for the ink to dry. A splotch appeared and blurred a few of the words. He got up from his desk because he wasn’t able to sit any longer. He waved his wand at the finished report. A copy of it appeared above his desk before it neatly flew into an envelope and sealed itself. Another flourish of his wand caused an important looking seal to appear on the envelope: a seal that only Minister Scrimgeour would be able to open. He flicked his wand and the envelope disappeared. He didn’t need to see it to know that it had appeared squarely in the middle of Minister Scrimgeour’s desk.
It was going to be a very long day.
Minister Scrimgeour held his cup of hot coffee in his hand as he whistled tunelessly on his way down the hall to his office. Today looked to be full of promise. He nodded absently to the other early Ministry employees as he passed by them. He paused outside of his door and spoke in a near whisper.
The door opened itself.
He entered his office and closed the door behind him with another nearly whispered word.
He flicked his wand at the blinds and smiled as they flew upwards to show him a stunning view. He had been able to choose one panoramic view out of several and he had liked the view that looked out from a height onto a rugged coastline. The sun was just starting its trek above the horizon. There were a few stray clouds today, but otherwise the sky was clear and bright. It was just the kind of day that made a person want to spend the day outside instead of in the office tending to business.
He wondered when he could visit the Burrow again. He wanted to speak at length with Mr. Potter to see if he had changed his mind and his attitude towards the Ministry even the smallest bit. Which reminded him: wasn’t today Mr. Potter’s birthday? Perhaps it would be helpful if he sent a birthday note?
He walked around his desk to sit in his chair. He placed his coffee cup on one of the coasters that his niece had made for him. The sealed envelope caught his attention as he settled himself at his desk. The special seal attached to it was glowing red, warning him that it was past time to look at the documentation that was being held inside. He watched it blink imperatively as he tried to think why Gawain would feel that it was necessary to seal the envelope with a timed warning on it.
After all, there was nothing of shocking importance that was happening in the wizarding world since the astonishing appearance of You Know Who.
That particular event was worthy of the Timed Seal.
He was in touch with the grapevine and there wasn’t one whisper about anything that would warrant this urgency.
The glow of the Timed Seal steadily brightened as if it knew that he was sitting there looking at it. On second thought, that was a distinct possibility.
Before he opened the envelope, he wanted to write out those birthday greetings to Mr. Potter first. He didn’t want to be so caught up with business that he forgot to send them. He set his purple Quick Quotes Quill onto a new piece of parchment and waited for it to finish the fancy scrollwork to decorate the birthday note.
After all, there were Ministry standards that must be maintained even in these trying times.
He taped his chin as he started dictating his birthday wishes. He paused at the end as he debated with himself about whether he should add a small note about wanting to meet with him at a later date. However, he decided that he might have better luck if Mr. Potter didn’t know that he was going to visit. He finished off the birthday note by signing his name and letting the quill finish the expected flair at the bottom. Finally, he tied the note with a red and gold ribbon, a calculated decision to further him and the Ministry into Mr. Potter’s good graces.
He snapped his fingers for an owl.
When the owl appeared, he gave the birthday note to the owl and told it “Mr. Harry Potter.” The owl hooted in response and flew through the closed window.
He now turned his attention to the brightly glowing envelope. The Timed Seal was now blinking red and orange. He quickly tapped the seal with his wand and whispered the words that would crack the seal down the middle. The blinking light immediately disappeared and the seal turned black.
He pulled out the documents and straightened them for a bit before he started reading them. If Gawain felt that this report was all that important then he didn’t want to be fumbling around for pages once he started reading. He tapped the papers again to straighten them a second time. For some reason, he wanted to delay reading the information held within this report.
He looked around his desk to see if there were any other notices that needed his attention.
Nothing caught his attention.
With a long-suffering sigh, he started to read the report with the expectation that it was about a very dull situation. Within the first sentence, he was reading the words with increasing dread and horror. He grimaced when he reached the end of the report. He stared at it for a long moment afterwards.
How could things have gotten to this point? How had they managed to miss a Death Eater attack of that magnitude? It didn’t seem possible. How could the wizarding world have gotten to such a point where The Boy Who Lived was gone before he got a chance to live?
What would this mean for the Ministry?
People knew that he had talked with Mr. Potter several times. Numerous people had even overheard their conversation at Professor Dumbledore’s funeral when Mr. Potter had refused to speak with him at all.
A chill reminded him of the birthday wishes that he had just sent by owl to Mr. Potter. Given what he had just learned, he was grateful that he had decided to not include business.
He shook his head sadly. Then he looked out of his window to see the brightly shining sun. He felt the view should have been the deepest of winter with snow several feet deep. Ice should cover the branches with the icicles glinting in the cold air. Even the sun itself should feel as if it were so very far away. No, it shouldn’t be shining warmly outside at all.
Wasn’t it odd at how one’s perspective could change in the blink of an eye?
He had been anticipating a rather easy day. He didn’t have very many meetings or debates scheduled for today. Now instead of spending that free time catching up on several files, he needed to call his council together to discuss the Incident. They would also need to decide what needed to be done to keep the wizarding world from panicking at the news of The Boy Who Lived’s passing.
With an overwhelming feeling of doom, he reached for the Floo Powder.
It was going to be a very long day.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter. Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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