Harry stood up, looking around. There was a spot by the door that looked cozy and indicated to Ron with a jerk of his head to join him there. They each began setting the Muffliato Charm around them and beneath them, before Ron raised his wand over his head with a flourish, making the sphere complete. Although they’d always created a dome in the forest, Harry had wondered if perhaps people below them might have been able to hear them when they were hidden in Kingsley’s office. With Hermione’s help they had modified that spell so that it encompassed them completely.
“He’s the one that had the Elder Wand before Grindelwald, wasn’t he?” Ron asked without preamble. Ron seemed to think for a minute and then said, “But isn’t Gregorovitch dead?”
Harry was trying to think, but his brain seemed to have been shut off. He looked around the office as though contemplating Ron’s question. All of their teammates had stopped to watch them with looks of utter confusion, while many others looked on curiously.
“I think so,” replied Harry, but the memory had become blurred. It had seemed like a burst of green light, or was it the time that Voldemort killed Grindelwald that he was remembering? He said, “I wish I could be certain. I remember the flash of green light, which was probably a killing curse.”
“I wonder exactly why they’re looking for him to begin with,” Ron said, clearly hoping that this would help them solve the problem.
Harry summoned the file that Eleanor had put on his desk for him and handed Ron half of the papers within it. They flipped through them for a few minutes before Harry said, “Here it is. He hasn’t been seen since someone went visiting him in his home last September. Apparently everything had been pretty badly vandalized as well. That was definitely when I had that vision because it was just after we’d escaped from the Ministry and Voldemort seemed to have hunted Gregorovitch to his house because he’d retired a few years before.”
“But we can’t say anything because of the reason that he killed Gregorovitch,” Ron said definitively.
“But we can’t keep up on a search for a man that’s never going to be found either,” Harry finally said. “I’ll have to tell them.”
Ron looked horrified and said, “Are you mad? Harry, people have killed for that wand! We can’t take that chance!”
Harry shook his head as though to get it to work properly again and said, “Let’s see what Hermione and Kingsley have to say. I don’t wish to make this decision without their guidance.”
Harry was at an impasse. He had never failed to make a decision on his own, but this was different somehow. His life under the curse of Voldemort’s existence had always been limited and he had accepted that. But with Voldemort gone, all he wanted to do was live his life. Harry would do his best to see that he got that chance. Every dark wizard and even some decent ones would flock to kill him if they thought they could get a hand on his wand. Ron seemed to hold his back a bit straighter as they walked back to their desks.
Ron began to pick up a memo and said, “What exactly should we ask them?”
Harry looked at the memo with disgust. “Have you learned nothing?” he asked angrily. “You can’t use a memo for this. What if it was intercepted?”
Ron smirked at that and began to laugh as he asked, “Are you going to turn me into a ferret for even suggesting such a thing?”
It took a moment before Harry got the joke, but he found himself laughing as well and said, “What, are you expecting me to start spouting things like ‘CONSTANT VIGILANCE’ all the time now?”
There were many appreciative sniggers from the Aurors, clearly remembering Moody as well. Ron looked chagrined then as he finally stopped laughing and asked what else they could do. Harry called Fawkes, who landed neatly on his shoulder. There were a few gasps in the room at the new arrival, and Harry realized that no one had stopped watching him and Ron since their silent conversation near the door. “Just tell them what’s going on. You tell Hermione and I’ll explain in more detail to Kingsley.”
Harry began to walk over to his own desk, but Ron suddenly stood up and Harry turned around. Ron’s face was set and he said quietly, “You should talk to Dumbledore, Harry. This involves him too, after all.”
Harry couldn’t believe that he hadn’t thought of that first. Harry was about to ask Fawkes to deliver the notes when he changed his mind completely. He shook his at Ron then and said, “No, I need to be sure. What if I’m wrong? What if there is a possibility that he can be found?”
Ron rolled his eyes and said, “Think about it, Harry. We’re fighting a losing battle here.”
“No, Ron, we can’t take the chance,” Harry replied. He grabbed a spare piece of parchment off of Ron’s stack and wrote a quick note.
Harry turned to Fawkes and said, “Can you take that to Minerva for me?”
Fawkes let out a long high note before evaporating amidst a burst of flame. Ron was blinking stupidly. “Couldn’t you just have gone to talk to Dumbledore downstairs?”
“Are you two having a problem?” Latimer asked from Ron’s left, looking at them with concern.
“Uh, just a bit,” said Ron uncomfortably. “Something’s sort of come up, and I’m not even sure what Harry’s doing, to be honest.”
“Look, I may have some inside information on the case with Gregorovitch, but I need to be sure about a few things,” Harry explained. Fawkes reappeared once again on Harry’s shoulder, ruffling his feathers importantly. Harry patted him on the head briefly before taking the note from his beak and reading it. Harry turned to Latimer once more and said, “Is it okay if I leave for a little while? It shouldn’t take too long, but I need to double-check my facts for you.”
“No one is supposed to go on a mission alone, Harry, not even you,” Latimer said uneasily.
Harry grunted and said, “I’m only going to Hogwarts, sir. I need to use something in the Headmistress’s office and she just gave me permission to visit her for that purpose. She’s also given me leave to use the Floo, so it won’t take long at all.”
Latimer still looked unsure of the situation but nodded.
Harry spoke to Fawkes as he walked out of the room. “You can go home, my friend,” Harry said, putting a finger up for Fawkes to nip. Harry pushed the button on the lift three times in an attempt to get it to move faster to the Atrium. He found an empty fireplace and called, “Hogwarts, Headmistress’s Office,” into the flames.
He fell out onto the hearth to find the office in far greater disarray than he had ever seen it, including the time he’d broken all of Dumbledore’s instruments. He looked around for Minerva to find her nearly buried beneath stacks of parchment, apparently sitting at her desk. She looked up as Harry approached. Noting the questioning look on his face she said, “It was about time this office was cleaned out. Albus liked to keep just about everything.”
She jerked her head towards the painting behind her. “As for Snape, well, I don’t suppose he really cared whether or not the study was neat and tidy. I’ve decided, however, that I need to have it cleaned out before the school year starts. Anyhow, what brings you here? Kingsley told me the other day that you had started your new job as an Auror.”
She leaned towards Harry somewhat when he nodded and nearly smiled as she said, “I must say that I’m quite proud of all three of you.”
Harry knew he had a huge smile on his own face, since that was high praise indeed from Minerva. “Thanks,” he said quite sincerely. “You really don’t mind if I borrow the Pensieve for a few minutes?”
“Not at all; I assume you know where it is,” she said. “It’s empty, so you shouldn’t have any trouble.”
Harry nodded and turned to the cabinet where it was kept. He opened the door to find two sitting there. He turned around to ask Minerva about it, but she seemed to anticipate him. She said, “The one on the right is mine, Harry. They’re both empty, but perhaps you would feel more comfortable with Albus’s.”
Harry faced the Pensieve once more before he realized that although he’d seen it done numerous times, he didn’t really know how to extract a memory. “Uh, Minerva, how exactly do I get the memory I want out of my head?”
She looked up from her parchment again and cleared her throat. Harry knew this to mean that she had almost laughed. He was doing very well with her today indeed. “Just put your wand to your temple, think of the memory that you wish to see and pull your wand away.”
He did as he was instructed and pulled the short strand away from his head, throwing it into Albus’s basin. It swirled slightly before Harry dove in head first, certainly needing no instruction for this part. He stepped into his own memory, looking at Gregorovitch suspended before him. He turned around, expecting to see Voldemort standing from the vantage point that he Harry had seen the vision. He was a bit shocked to see himself there. Then he remembered that this had been one of the times when he had actually been Voldemort and felt his own mouth move. As Harry wondered whether or not he would be able to see his memory of the images that Voldemort had extracted from Gregorovitch, he saw his mouth move but Voldemort’s voice say, “He knows….He always knows.”
He once again watched the scene that Gregorovitch was forced to show Voldemort of Grindelwald stealing the Elder Wand. As that part dissolved, he returned to the site of Voldemort and Gregorovitch, looking up at Gregorovitch. Harry whirled around to face himself, hoping that Voldemort would have perhaps muttered the words under his breath. Harry wasn’t disappointed. Although no sound came, he could see the mouth move. It unmistakably said, “Avada Kedavra!”
Harry waited a moment to make sure that the jet of green light hit Gregorovitch before leaping back out of the Pensieve. He landed in a heap on the floor beside the cabinet. He couldn’t help feeling a bit embarrassed. But he supposed that this was yet another thing to get used to. He’d always been pulled out of a Pensieve, never choosing to leave it of his own accord. He looked up to see that Minerva didn’t seem disturbed in any way. He tentatively asked, “Would it be okay if I walked around for a bit?”
She looked up in surprise and said, “Don’t you need to get back to work?”
“Yes, but I rather need to think first, if you know what I mean,” Harry explained, lamely in his opinion. He looked up at the portrait of Albus who nodded his understanding to meet Harry in the D.A. classroom.
She looked at him knowingly and said, “You’re always welcome at this castle. Feel free to roam if you need to. The password is MacTavish, if you need to get back in here.”
“Thanks,” said Harry. He looked at the mess surrounding her and added, “Good luck with your clean up job.”
The door had already closed and Harry was standing on the escalating staircase when he heard laughter. As he thought about it he realized that it was the first time he’d ever heard her laugh. Perhaps he could get her to laugh more often, he thought, as he made his way down to the D.A. room. The password wouldn’t change until Ginny made it so, and she would give that information to the Order once it had, so he knew that he would be able to access the room without a problem.
Albus sat beside his sister already waiting for Harry when he arrived. Albus stood immediately. “What’s wrong, Harry?” he said, somewhat urgently. Albus looked at him expectantly and so Harry explained the situation.
“You could possibly use the tale of the twin cores as the excuse,” Albus suggested, as he took in the information provided by Harry. “That was, after all, the entire reason why he sought the Elder Wand in the first place.”
“But why didn’t he kill Ollivander then?” Harry asked.
“He might not have been that fussed about Ollivander. Besides, if he killed Ollivander then what would his Death Eaters do for wands if they needed them? That would be a good explanation. Besides, do they know that Voldemort specifically held Ollivander?” Albus asked back.
Harry shook his head. “I don’t know, but it couldn’t be that difficult to figure out, could it?”
Dumbledore inclined his head slightly and said, “Perhaps or perhaps not. It would depend, I suppose, on Ollivander’s cooperation.”
Harry thought about that for a few moments. Ollivander had certainly seemed very enthusiastic in helping Harry. On the other hand, if he asked Ollivander to do this, the man would probably want to know why. Harry had already interrogated him about the Elder Wand. What if the man put the two together? There was no doubt that a wandmaker would have to be extremely intelligent as well as very perceptive.
Harry decided not to involve Ollivander at all, unless it became absolutely necessary. He stood to leave, smiled up at Albus and said, “Thanks.”
Albus folded his arms across his chest, smiled broadly and said, with distinct pride, “I take it you’ve already figured out exactly what you want to do? You didn’t really need me.”
“No, sir, I had actually forgotten about the twin cores with my fears about the Elder Wand,” Harry said, giving Albus a friendly salute before leaving the room. He ran lightly up to Minerva’s office. She called out after him as he departed, “Tell everyone I said ‘hello,’ and tell Mr. Weasley…er, Ron, that I was quite impressed with his Transfiguration mark.”
He waved cheerfully at her before walking back into the Auror Department a few minutes later. He knelt down between Ron and Latimer, nearly making Ron jump out of his skin. “Don’t do that!” Ron shouted. Then he looked curious and asked, “So?”
“Sorry about that, Ron. We were right; he’s definitely dead,” Harry replied. Ron gave a smug smile. Harry turned to Latimer then and said, “We can close the Gregorovitch case. How do I go about that?”
“I’ll have Eleanor show you how to do that, but this is really something we’ll need to discuss with John and Team Leader Brocklehurst first,” said Latimer, standing up and indicating a hand toward Senior Auror Dawlish’s door. He leaned down to Constance, whose desk faced his and she too rose from her seat. Harry followed them into Dawlish’s office. It was plain and non-descript with one window. The shelves were lined with books, although there seemed to be very few personal effects around.
Dawlish looked up expectantly upon their entrance. He indicated for them to sit. There were two chairs in front of Dawlish’s desk, so Constance conjured a third for Harry. Latimer waved a hand at Harry and said, “You told Ron that someone was dead. Were you referring to the person who kidnapped Gregorovitch or Gregorovitch?”
“Oh, well, they’re both dead really. Gregorovitch was never kidnapped, but Voldemort did kill him,” Harry explained.
Dawlish sat up straighter at his desk and peered at Harry with ill-disguised contempt. “May I ask how you have come to know this?” he asked.
“I know because I saw it. I shared Voldemort’s mind during the interview,” said Harry.
“But you said that you wanted to be sure. How did going to Hogwarts help?” Latimer asked interestedly.
“I wanted to use the Pensieve, because I wasn’t sure if it was Gregorovitch’s murder or Gr…another that I was remembering,” Harry said. He’d nearly said Grindelwald which really wouldn’t have helped matters.
“What other murder?” Dawlish asked suspiciously.
“It isn’t important,” Harry said quickly.
“On the contrary; if you’re aware of another murder then we should know about it, shouldn’t we?”
Harry’s heart began to beat rapidly and he tried to think fast. He closed his mind firmly to any invasion in the event that Dawlish, though incapable of fighting a simple Confundus Charm, might be able to perform Legilmency. Harry kept his face impassive as he said, “Voldemort’s good and dead. It’s not as though we need any evidence to convict him in a trial. There’s no reason that the other murder is of any importance.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” Dawlish said fiercely.
“No,” Harry said firmly, “if the need arises I will confide in the Minister of Magic and he can decide what to do with the information. Until then, it shall remain a secret. I’m sorry I can’t assuage your curiosity.”
Dawlish rolled his eyes and said, “Okay, so you think that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named killed Gregorovitch, but why would he even care about some wandmaker?”
“He cared because ever since Voldemort regained his human form his only goal was to kill me. He tried that first night, but I won that duel because our wands contained twin cores. During the Sky Battle Voldemort borrowed Lucius Malfoy’s wand, but my wand broke his. So, when Gregorovitch couldn’t help him, he decided to kill him.”
“So what happened to Gregorovitch’s body then?” Constance asked curiously.
Harry gave her an apologetic look and said, “I’m sorry, but the last bit I saw was the killing curse hitting Gregorovitch. Hermione woke me up then because I shouted out. So, I don’t know what Voldemort might have done with the body, but there isn’t much sense in continuing to search for a man who is certainly dead.”
Latimer and Constance were both nodding their heads as though in agreement. Dawlish, on the other hand, looked simply furious. He stood up and glared at Harry. “So, because of some dream you had you think we should stop an investigation we’ve been working on for two months!” he roared.
Harry took a deep breath and was very careful to keep his voice even and calm as he said, “I may have been asleep when it happened, as I often was when I shared Voldemort’s mind, but it wasn’t a dream. They were never dreams.” Harry went on to explain the connection between him and Voldemort in the broadest sense.
“It makes sense, sir,” said Constance tentatively. “It would definitely explain why we haven’t got very far in our investigation. The man was gone without a trace because there was no trace to follow.”
Dawlish let out a low, quiet guttural sound and said, “Very well, show him how to close a case then, Latimer.”
Just as Harry, Latimer and Constance began to rise from their seats a Patronus cantered up to Harry. He looked at it in surprise for a moment before Ginny’s voice said, “We got home okay, Harry.”
He’d seen this Patronus only twice, but had never expected to do so again. As he gazed at it, he realized that it was slightly different from the other one. Nevertheless he was astonished and filled with sudden warmth. He reached up a hand to the Patronus’s head just as it disappeared.
Harry felt numb as he let Latimer lead him out of the room. “That was your girlfriend’s Patronus, right? So, she got home okay. You don’t have to worry,” Latimer said kindly.
Harry just nodded as he began to walk towards his desk. Ron looked up at him and said, “Hey, are you okay, mate? What happened?”
Harry was lost in a bit of a daze and seemed unable to respond. Ron looked angry then and stood up from his desk, “Don’t tell me they didn’t believe you?!! I’ll show them!”
Harry shook his head emphatically and managed to find his voice. “No, it’s nothing like that.” Ron continued to look at him questioningly. Harry struggled for words, a smile creeping up on his face as he did so, and finally asked, “When was the last time you saw your sister produce a Patronus?”
Ron furrowed his brow and seemed to think before saying, “I dunno, I think at the last D.A. meeting; ya know, before we got caught by Umbridge. It was a horse or something, wasn’t it?”
Harry felt his smile widen as he said, “I’m quite certain it was a mare, cause I was with her when it finally took shape. But she sent me a Patronus just now, and it definitely wasn’t a mare.”
Ron looked alarmed for a moment before Harry shook his head to indicate that she and Luna were fine. Then a look of dawning appeared on Ron’s face and he said, “You don’t mean to say that her Patronus is your mother’s…and Snape’s!”
“Not quite; I mean, I don’t know what my mother’s Patronus might have looked like because I’ve never seen it. We do know what Snape’s looked like though. I can assume from what he and Albus said that it was the exact same as my mother’s, especially since Patronuses generally take on the gender of their creators. I did look that up in one of those charm books I got for Hermione. I mean, ordinarily he should have produced a stag, right? But he was so obsessively in love with her that it actually became her Patronus I suppose,” Harry said.
“Makes sense; so, I take it to mean that Ginny’s new Patronus is a doe, but not the same one as Snape’s?” Ron asked, taking a gander.
Harry nodded, the dreamy grin spreading across his face once again. “Yeah,” Harry said, almost breathlessly.
“Wow!” Ron expressed. “That doesn’t happen all that often. Usually once a wizard’s Patronus is set it stays that way….I know that To-Dora’s was an exception, but all the same. I mean, look at Mum and Dad.”
“Did their Patronuses change?” Harry asked, instantly curious.
“Not really, I suppose,” Ron said. He smiled mischievously and said, “Mum loves to tell the story. Mum was the first of them to do it and hers was a weasel cause she was already in love with Dad. Naturally Dad’s was a weasel once he mastered the charm, so…it just sort of worked out for them. But like I said, it’s weird for it to change.”
Unbidden, the words of Remus Lupin came back to Harry, a great shock…an emotional upheaval. Harry suddenly felt ill. He must have looked it as Ron stood, forcing Harry into his own seat. Harry looked up at Ron and asked quietly, “Do you think she’s mad at me? I mean…to have your Patronus change…”
Ron let out a little sniff of laughter and said, “You must be joking? I mean, it might have been a shock at first, but I’m sure she was thrilled. It’s like you were meant to be, right?”
“But when it happened to Dora it was because Remus refused to accept her love, right? When it happened to Snape it was because my mother had rejected him and he still loved her. I have to think that it must have been when I broke her heart, when I abandoned her. Do you know of any other times a Patronus has changed?” Harry said desperately.
Ron shook his head almost carefully and said bracingly, “But she’s already forgiven you, Harry. She’s intelligent enough to understand everything.”
Harry agreed and stood easily from Ron’s desk, heading for his own in silence. He watched Ron sit back down and with a force of will turned his mind back to what he needed to be doing. Eleanor wasn’t at her seat, so Harry asked Raleigh to help him with the necessary form.
Harry pulled his drawer open, extracting a crisp piece of parchment from the appropriate file folder. He looked at Raleigh expectantly as he poised a quill. “This is for the Gregorovitch case, is it?” Raleigh grunted. “Well, first, you need to describe what happened.”
He pointed at the Summary section and Harry wrote out what he recollected from the memory, leaving out Grindelwald and the Elder Wand. Raleigh seemed to have gone back to whatever it was he’d been doing by the time Harry had finished, so Harry decided to see if he could just figure out the rest by himself.
He filled in some more of the spaces, but found a bit of a dilemma as he looked at the one that said Source. In the end, he wrote Voldemort. He then nudged Raleigh in the arm to gain his attention. The man looked over to Harry, as though almost surprised to see him. He read through Harry’s report and said, “What do you mean by ‘Voldemort’?”
Harry told Raleigh about the connection and asked him if perhaps there was a better way to write it down. Raleigh looked thoughtful for a moment and instead of the gruff voice he’d used with Harry most of the day, he said softly, “I think you should just put Anonymous for Source. It might not be the best idea to let everyone know about this connection of yours. I assume that was why you and Weasley went off to talk before divulging the information?”
Harry nodded and pulled out his wand. He removed what he had originally written and took Raleigh’s advice. Raleigh approved it and told him to triple the document. One should go into the folder for the case, one in Harry’s completed file and one should be sent to Gawain. As he did so, he could vaguely hear some of the Aurors on the other side of the divider in front of him talking to Constance, who was their Team Leader, about the abrupt end to the Gregorovitch case.
“So, that’s the only case that Eleanor gave me,” Harry said to Raleigh. “What should I do now?”
Raleigh handed him another file and said, “Well, we’re supposed to be doing some research on Rabastan Lestrange and Antonin Dolohov. We weren’t able to get any information out of Rodolphus Lestrange, so that’s why we’re trying to see what we can do with it.”
Harry nodded. Kingsley had told them that they hadn’t had any luck with the Death Eaters they’d caught over the summer. There had been some questions on the written exam that had stumped Harry and Ron regarding both of them.
“But there are problems in these files,” Harry told Raleigh. He pointed to where it detailed Rabastan’s relationship to Rodolphus and Bellatrix. “See, like here; Rabastan is Rodolphus’s brother, not his uncle.”
Then he pointed out that Rabastan had been imprisoned after the first war and escaped with the other nine prisoners when Azkaban had first been attacked when the Ministry was still denying Voldemort’s return.
“Is that all?” Raleigh asked disparagingly.
“Nope, there’s more. It doesn’t even mention in Dolohov’s file that he was involved in the fight down in the Department of Mysteries nor,” Harry stopped to take a deep breath, before growling, “his role in the Battle of Hogwarts.”
“We have some inside information on both of them that we weren’t surprised to find missing and we have a few ideas about both of them, but nothing concrete,” Harry added, opening the file now before him.
“Harry, have you got those compurter printouts on you?” Ron called over.
“Ugh, no, I take it you haven’t got them either?” Harry replied. “The last time I saw them they were on the desk in the library.”
“I completely forgot about them,” Ron said sheepishly. “Do you want me to run home and get them?”
Harry thought back to their time in the library that morning, trying to remember exactly what they’d done. “Uh, Ron, don’t you remember who took care of altering your robes and packing them this morning?” Harry said with a grin. “Maybe Hermione remembered and stuck them in your documents pocket.”
“Right-o, Harry, I’ll check,” Ron said. Harry watched through the three people between him and Ron to see if Ron was successful. Ron was pulling all sorts of things out of his robes and putting them back into their respective pockets. “You know, Harry, I’m not sure all of these pockets were such a great idea. I have no idea which one she might have put papers into.”
Harry thought about that for a moment and replied, “We’ll have to practice this weekend; getting items easily.”
Finally Ron extracted a handful of very crumpled papers. They had spent the last month or so in Hermione’s handbag until they’d gotten home where they’d been unceremoniously tossed onto the desk and nearly forgotten. There were notes scribbled all over them as they’d spoken with Draco about possible connections. Ron handed them over to Harry, who pulled out the two that they had thought might have something to do with Dolohov.
Harry looked at Raleigh and said, “Here, we have a few possibilities regarding Dolohov. We know his style, most of us having fought him at one point or another. Plus, our friend had some more detailed contact with him.”
Raleigh looked at the two photographs that Harry had extracted from the pile, one of Sanguini the vampire and the other of a house that had been destroyed in Surrey not too far from where Harry’s aunt and uncle lived. “What makes you think either of these has to do with Dolohov?”
“Well, we obviously can’t be sure, but the house looks as though it was destroyed by dark magic. If you look at the article that accompanies it, you’ll see that the muggle policemen were completely confused as to what caused the explosion. This happened shortly after Voldemort died and is so close to my relatives’ house as to be suspicious. There was likely too much going on here at the Ministry at the time for them to be concerned with it. It may not be Dolohov at all, but I would guess it’s someone involved. It’s hard to tell,” Harry told him, giving him the gist of what they’d surmised.
He was about to begin explaining some of their other theories when Gawain walked into the office and said, “Harry, Ron, I’d like a word if I could.”
Gawain just beckoned them with a finger and they both got up, standing before him in front of their team’s desks.
“What are you two working on right now?” Gawain asked.
“Well, Harry just finished the Gregorovitch case and we were just told to get started on Dolohov and Lestrange,” Ron explained.
Gawain looked a bit taken aback for a moment. He recovered himself quickly.
“Finished a case already, eh? That’s excellent. At the moment the Minister is more concerned with the state of the files in this department. It would seem that he’s been aware for a long time about the number of errors in them, but deemed it best to leave them be during Voldemort’s reign,” Gawain said, his jaw twitching. Harry and Ron shared a look; this was the first time that they’d seen Gawain truly irritated. He continued, “So, you two are to have them fixed by the end of the week.”
“But, that gives us like two days to try to right everything, and we don’t necessarily know if some of the things in them are mistakes or not,” Harry said incredulously.
Gawain lowered his voice and leaned in to Harry and Ron, saying, “You can have whatever help you need, including that outside of this department.”
He winked at them, clearly indicating that they could use their friends and family for assistance.
Harry asked, “Could we have some help within the department as well? I’d rather not spend all of my nights on this if it can be avoided. Surely there are some people in here that have had contact and/or combat experience with these suspects.”
“I won’t even be here after today,” Ron reminded Gawain as it was already Wednesday signifying that he wouldn’t return to the department until Monday.
“I’ll assign a special task-force to get this completed. They will defer to you for anything they aren’t sure of,” Gawain said. “Harry, I’m going to ask you to be in charge of this.”
Harry tried to keep a look of horror from showing on his face and nodded mutely. Ron smirked until Harry glared at him and he schooled his expression.
“Why don’t you both grab a bunch of the files that you already know have errors and take advantage of the empty office next to Dawlish’s,” Gawain suggested, waving his hand at Kingsley’s old office. “I’ll send in the people that I think may be the most helpful to you once I have them rounded up.”
He didn’t give them a chance to respond but just left the two young men standing there with their mouths open. Harry and Ron shrugged at each other before going back to their desks to collect a few things.
Eleanor walked back up to her desk and looked at Harry in confusion. “Are you going somewhere?” she asked.
“Yeah, Kingsley’s old office for now so that we can try to fix some of the files,” Harry explained.
“Oh, do you need help?” she asked solicitously.
Harry wasn’t sure if he could assign people to this team and would rather let Gawain make the decision in that regard. “Yeah, but supposedly Robards is going to give us some people to help out,” Harry said. He picked up the stack of parchment that he and Ron had been working on while they’d been in hiding and handed them to Ron.
“Why don’t you go ahead and get started on Dolohov, making any necessary changes to his file? I’ll get the other files,” Harry said. He made his way over to the file room and began extracting every file that involved someone that they’d dealt with or that they’d known. Shrinking them all down to a manageable package, he walked over to the vacant office. Ron was sitting behind the desk, scribbling away on a piece of parchment for Dolohov’s file, verifying things with the notes that they’d made previously.
Harry sat down on one of the short sides of the desk and began to do the same with Rabastan Lestrange’s file. “We may as well start with the ones we’re supposed to be investigating anyway,” Ron said, noticing which file Harry had chosen.
Harry thought for a moment before looking up from his file. He conjured a large blackboard and stuck it to the wall behind the desk. He began copying the list that he and Ron had made of files that needed fixing onto the blackboard with his wand.
Harry turned back to Rabastan’s file in front of him. A short while later the door opened to reveal both Latimer’s team as well as Constance’s team standing there, minus Latimer and Constance, and a handful of other Aurors. Many of them seemed extremely disgruntled. Harry and Ron both looked up in surprise at the number of people, well over a dozen of them, that had been selected to help them.
“I think we’re going to need some more room in here,” Ron finally said weakly.
Harry knew a spell to enlarge the room, but was quite certain it wouldn’t work inside the Ministry. He wrote out a brief note to Gawain for permission. He also asked if he could enforce secrecy upon these Aurors. The reply returned almost immediately telling Harry that he had nearly full access to any spell he needed to perform within the building and that as long as the spell Harry used to guarantee loyalty wasn’t cruel in any way that he would allow it. Harry couldn’t help but feel surprised at the fact that he had this much liberty, but recognized that such latitude likely came from Kingsley himself. Harry pulled out his wand, expanding the space in the room to accommodate the crowd and producing a number of desks and chairs like those at Hogwarts meant for two people. Once the room was a decent size, Ron began working on charms to prevent anyone from overhearing them. Then he jabbed his wand twice at the door, which gave a squelching noise and glowed red for a moment before looking normal again.
“Did you Imperturb it?” Harry asked and Ron nodded, resuming his seat.
Indicating for everyone to be seated, Harry rose and asked them, “Has Gawain explained what we’re going to be doing here?”
Everyone shook their heads. “Well, we’re going to be fixing the files for the Death Eaters. Although some of them may not seem important, as they are dead, we believe that some information may be essential to finding those that are still alive. The Minister has asked us to do this so that we can better track down our escaped Death Eaters,” Harry said. “Are there any questions about that?”
No hands went into the air, but one man said, “Okay, we all know there are some mistakes here and there, but will it really make that much of a difference?”
“A simple mistake, a slight miscalculation or a lapse in judgment can cause not only a plan to fail or a mission to go wrong, but it can cause injury and even death. It is not something to take lightly. Aside from that, if we are to hunt Death Eaters then we need all of the facts, not just a rough picture, and we need them to be accurate,” Harry said coldly. “If there is anyone here who thinks that this isn’t important, then I must ask you to leave. I’ll ask Gawain to send us a replacement. Are there any more questions about that?”
The room was deathly quiet as they all sat looking at Harry dumbly. So Harry said, “Now, if you do not feel as though you can be quiet about the things that we discuss in this room then I will also have to ask you to leave. Does anyone feel that way?”
Harry looked around the room very carefully at his peers to see if he could detect any sign of disloyalty. He pulled out the parchment that had the list of personnel that might be suspect and began perusing it as a woman said, “You mean because we have traitors amongst us?”
Harry’s head snapped up abruptly and looked at her sharply. She was in her late forties with dirty blond hair and deep blue eyes. He said, “Do you wish to tell me that you suspect someone in this room?”
She reddened and looked around at everyone. “Well, no one in here, sir, but certainly we have traitors within the department. I thought everyone knew that,” she said weakly.
Harry refused to acknowledge that statement, then cleared his throat and said, “I would like everyone to sign this contract so that we’ll know for certain.”
Nearly everyone in the room shared skeptical looks. “What’ll it do to us?” Dominic asked, eyeing the parchment fearfully.
“It’ll tell us for certain if someone has betrayed us,” Harry said. Noting the continued reluctance, Harry added, “It won’t hurt in any way, but it will be obvious.”
To allay any additional fears Harry signed the parchment and handed it to Ron. Ron gave a snort of laughter and said, “Really original, Harry…The File Task-Force?”
Below this it read:
I promise not to talk or in any way communicate to any person or creature not on this list regarding anything that happens in this room.
“Does it really matter? It’s only for a few days anyhow,” Harry said. Ron shrugged and levitated the parchment to the closest person.
Although some still seemed a bit hesitant, eventually the parchment made its way back to Harry, who double-checked to make sure the names matched those who had signed.
“Okay, so now that we have security taken care of, why don’t we get down to business,” Harry said, standing and pointing at the blackboard. “I have to assume that since Gawain asked you to help us that you either have some experience with these wizards or a particular interest in them.”
There were a few nods at this so Harry continued. He went down the list and asked if he had anyone who had been involved with each name, handing out files to the appropriate people. Some of them moved around as groups were formed. One man, who said he was a distant cousin of Antonin Dolohov, sat beside Ron facing Harry.
“We’re working on the assumption that everything in these files is wrong. I thought it might be easiest to mark the information that we’re not sure about with red ink and to write what we know is fact in black. Are there any questions?” said Harry. He grabbed the heaping pile of parchment that he and Ron had made their corrections on and said, “I’ll come around to each of you to chat before we get started. Then I’ll speak with those of you who haven’t been assigned to a particular person yet to see if we can find the best fit.”
One by one, Harry got them all started on the daunting task before them. Some of Harry’s own team members and those of Constance’s were those who hadn’t had much experience with any of the Death Eaters. Harry assigned them to groups that he thought might be most beneficial to them as a learning experience. The youngest and newest Auror he sent to join Ron and Oscar Hadwin from Constance’s team.
It seemed to be a long time later that Harry finally resumed his seat. He hadn’t assigned himself to any of the teams and instead thought he ought to start going through some of the other files that he and Ron hadn’t even touched the other day. He didn’t think that Kingsley would accept any sort of excuse if the first major task Harry and Ron were given wasn’t completed on time. He seriously hoped that he would be allowed to take the files home with him to enlist the aid of the family and perhaps even the rest of the Order. Harry continually interrupted Ron’s work, asking him questions about times when they’d been separated. Harry became immersed in Bellatrix’s file which was riddled with mistakes and some truly horrific acts in line with those he knew her quite capable of committing but he had been unaware of them.
A voice quietly said, “Auror Potter?”
It took a moment for Harry to register what she had just said. He looked up curiously and said, “Oh, I guess that’s me, huh? You can just call me Harry though. What can I help you with?”
Euphemia Quinn just smiled indulgently as Harry stood to speak with her. She had to be in her fifties at the very least. She had long brown hair that was so dark it might have been black but liberally lined with streaks of white. She was so short that she barely reached Harry’s shoulder. If Harry remembered correctly he had assigned her to the Rabastan case. “I’m confused by this. You say here that as far as you’re aware Rabastan wasn’t seen at all last year.” she said.
Harry conjured a chair and indicated that they sit. “Well, none of us saw him last year. He was involved in neither the Sky Battle nor the Battle of Hogwarts. Additionally none of the Death Eaters saw him since the meeting just before my birthday last summer; at least not at their headquarters,” Harry explained, including the information that Malfoy had given them. “I apologize; I forgot that we hadn’t quite finished our notes on that file.”
“It’s not that; it seemed pretty clear. I just wanted to tell you that, looking at the photo, I believe I did see him last year,” she said timidly.
Ron stopped what he was doing to gape at her. Harry sat there in stunned silence for a moment. He called out, “Dominic, Beulah, could you please come over here for a moment? If there is anyone here who knows anything at all about Rabastan Lestrange in regards to this past year I would like to speak with you as well.”
Only Dominic and Beulah joined them. They each conjured a seat for themselves. “Okay, I would like you to explain exactly what you saw please, Auror Quinn,” Harry said politely, looking her straight in the eye. He felt that this would be a good time to practice using Legilmency without his wand or an incantation. Albus had said that if he used it enough that he should be able to detect a falsehood without actually performing the spell. Although Kingsley had given him a great deal of freedom with what he could and couldn’t do within the Ministry of Magic he had the feeling that he wouldn’t be too happy if Harry was using Legilmency on his own coworkers.
She didn’t flinch or look away but held his gaze as she said, “You’re welcome to call me Euphemia, Harry. Anyway, there isn’t much to tell. I was working with a bloke from Magical Creatures all last year. We came across a pack of werewolves and I’m quite certain that one of them was this Rabastan Lestrange. I fought him a few times during the first war after all.”
“Was he a werewolf? Where were they? Was Greyback with them?” Ron asked, leaning across the desk and staring intently at her.
“They were down in Dorset, perhaps 20 of them. I don’t remember seeing Greyback among them and it wasn’t full moon so there was no way of knowing whether or not Lestrange was a werewolf. But when they saw us, some of them grabbed hands of some the others and Disapparated,” she replied.
“When was this?” Harry said, the possible implications of this information hitting him.
“I don’t know, maybe around November?”
“It sounds as though some of those werewolves were being taken be side-along apparition. Is that right?”
“I think so; perhaps some of them were muggles turned werewolf?” she suggested. Harry thought that certainly seemed probable.
Ron looked at Harry and asked, “Harry?”
Harry knew that Ron was asking whether or not Harry believed she was telling the truth. When Harry nodded Ron said, “So, do you think Voldemort sent him to actually join the werewolves or just to…I don’t know…keep them in line?”
Harry wasn’t sure of the answer to either question and closed his eyes to block everything else out. Perhaps he could piece everything together. Thinking aloud he said, “Voldemort had no more respect for werewolves than the majority of the Wizarding World. He wouldn’t give Greyback full Death Eater status. He just liked to use them to put fear in everyone. So, I would have to assume that he sent Rabastan to simply keep them under control.
But I suppose that brings up two more questions. Was Rabastan bitten? If he was, does that mean that Voldemort overestimated him or was it punishment for some failing? He did get himself injured during the Department of Mysteries Skirmish. Then again Voldemort rarely ever overestimated anyone. Everyone was scum next to him and he was just plain scared of Albus. I suppose he was a bit fearful of me as well, in a way.
I just can’t see him placing any particular faith in Rabastan. I can’t see him taking it for granted that his Death Eaters could perform any particular task, especially after everything that Lucius and Bellatrix had messed up. I’m not sure what to do with that part right now.
Is Rabastan in league with Greyback or is he off on his own? I’d have to say he’s on his own. Greyback was in the thick of the fighting all along for the last year. So, that still brings us back to the dilemma of whether or not he’s even aware that the war has ended.”
Harry opened his eyes and looked at the wizards and witches sitting around the desk. “Does anyone have any other ideas?” he asked, hoping for some valuable input.
They all shook their heads, but Dominic, in a soft and awed voice, said, “Wow, you really know how You-Know-Who’s mind worked and everything.”
Harry nearly laughed and replied, “Of course I did; how else could I have defeated him? You have to know everything you possibly can about your enemy and be able to understand how his mind works. That’s very important to remember, Dominic. That’s why these files need to be fixed and why we’re including information about how these dark wizards fought. A person reveals a great deal about himself when he duels.”
No one said anything for a moment as they digested this. “Well, if there’s no further discussion, why don’t you three go and add the new information to Rabastan’s file as well as our suspicions,” Harry said.
They slouched back off to their table looking disappointed, clearly having hoped to hear more of Harry’s theories.
When there was a knock on the door, it could barely be heard over the din. Harry stood and said, “Everyone will want to be quiet while I open the door so that they don’t get jinxed.”
Harry took the locking spell and Imperturbable Charm off of the door and pulled it open to find Gawain standing there. He had a wry smile on his face and asked, “You locked yourselves in?”
“Yeah, and made sure that no Extendable Ears could get beneath the door. Come on in,” Harry said, stepping back to give the Head Auror room to enter.
Harry walked over to the desk and handed Gawain the parchment to sign so that he would be included in the group. “What will happen if we blab?” Gawain asked, adding his name to list without any hesitation.
“Uh, I think it’s best if people aren’t aware. Suffice it to say that it will be very obvious, and I’ve set the jinx to last for a week. The last time, Hermione made it permanent. I thought that might fall under the concept of cruel, so I gave it a time limit,” Harry said.
Gawain nodded appreciatively and said, “So how’s everything going in here?”
“Well, we’ve got an idea of who Rabastan’s with, not that it gets us any nearer to catching him. But at least it’s something of a lead,” Ron offered.
“Excellent, hopefully it’ll get us somewhere. I pulled the rest of the department off of tracking the Death Eaters, since all of the information in the files will be changing continually right now. I sent them all down the hall to help Magical Law Enforcement with finding the wizards who are still in hiding,” Gawain told them.
“You had said that we could enlist outside help. Does that mean we can take some of these files home so that the Order can work on them?” Harry asked.
“Absolutely, I think it would probably be beneficial to get their input on these matters. They always did have inside information,” Gawain said.
“Well, most of the Order is…well…gone, but I’m sure that those that are left will be happy to help,” Ron said quietly.
“Excellent, well, I’ll leave you to it then,” Gawain said, taking his leave. Harry pointed his wand at the door once it had closed, reinstating the spells to ensure their privacy.
“Just so that everyone knows; Gawain, the Minister, Arthur Weasley, Percy Weasley and Hermione Granger will also be on the list of people you may discuss this information with,” Harry informed the group as they all went back to work.
It was a quite a long time later when there was yet another knock on the door. Harry once again rose to answer it. He was quite surprised to find Hermione on the other side of the door.
“What are you doing here?” Harry asked her.
“Looking for you; do you two plan on coming home tonight or not?” she said with eyebrows raised. “I’ve been all over England trying to find you before I went up to Kingsley’s office to see if he knew where you were.”
Automatically Harry’s eyes flicked to his wrist to find himself somewhat surprised that it was already 6:30.
“I think that’s enough for today, everyone,” Harry said. “We’ve run a bit over.”
“Well, if you’re in charge, that’s no big surprise, is it?” Hermione teased, obviously remembering the number of D.A. meetings that had gone longer than intended.
Everyone hurriedly packed up their things, handed their work to Harry or Ron and practically ran for the door. Harry, Ron and Hermione followed them to the lifts at the end of the hall. The Ministry being practically empty at that time, they all made it into lifts on the first try.
“So, is Kingsley coming to dinner tonight?” Ron asked Hermione. She shrugged, indicating that she hadn’t asked.
“I hope he is, personally. I’d dearly love to give him a piece of my mind; two days to sort out the entire department! He’s gone mental, he has,” Harry said, slightly disgruntled.
Then Harry became alarmed and asked, “Is Ginny really upset that we’re late coming home?”
Hermione grimaced and scrunched up her shoulders. “A little bit, but I’m sure she’ll understand once you explain.”
Harry grunted, “If she gives me a chance to explain, you mean.”
Almost as an afterthought he asked, to no one in particular, “Does the Bat-Bogey Hex hurt?”
Everyone in the lift exploded in laughter.
A/N: There were a few clues as to what will happen in the subsequent chapters and there will be quite a few more in the next one.
A/N: By the way, I agree with reviewers who are concerned about Harry and Ron's behavior. We'll see how this affects things down the road. Don't worry, folks, I know what I'm doing...I hope...lol!
Write a Review A Time to Live: Chapter 20: The File Task-Force