Harry felt Ginny’s hair sweep across his face, and he closed his eyes. The feeling of the silky hair and its flowery scent made him want to grab her and propose to her right now in the library. That wasn’t the plan, he needed to control himself. He had to control himself.
He opened his eyes and watched her walk away from him. It was as beautiful as watching the sun set. She smiled at him before she disappeared around the bookcase. He took a deep breath to compose himself. Leaning against the bookcase and opening the Moke skin bag around his neck, he pulled out the ring box and stared at it. He had to wait until tomorrow evening at Kings Cross station. It would be the perfect time and place to propose to her. Sighing he placed the ring box back into the bag.
He walked out around the bookcase and saw Carmen putting away parchments and closing books. Ginny had already left the Library. He walked up to her, and asked. “Quitting? I thought we were going to finish those assignments tonight?”
“We are going to a party tonight, Harry,” stated Carmen with finality.
“We are?” he questioned. “I thought you were going to the Professors Christmas party, and I was going home to sleep.”
“Change in plans, Harry. You are going too. Everyone wants you there,” she said as she stood up from the table.
Carmen chuckled quietly, as she walked towards the hall with Harry beside her. “I am sure Madam Zabini will leave once you enter. At least, that is what I am hoping for.”
Harry laughed aloud as he stepped out into the hall. “The only reason you want me to go is so I can chase out the undesirables.”
Carmen smiled at him. “What you have a problem with that?”
They walked side by side through the halls. Harry didn’t really care about going to the party, but it might be a little fun. As long as he can make it home to get ready for tomorrow. He needed to be sure everything is perfect when he proposes to Ginny tomorrow.
She already knows that he is planning it. She probably has even figured out where. She is so canny like that. If she already knows all these things than she will probably be saying yes, even before he goes down on one knee. Harry smiled as he pictured Ginny looking at him exasperated and telling him “just put the ring on Harry, you know the bloody answer.”
“What’s so funny?” asked Carmen who was walking beside him.
“I am just thinking about Ginny, that’s all.”
“That girl has you wrapped so tight around her finger that there is no way you will ever be free of her.”
Harry smiled at her as he walked. He didn’t immediately reply. “You talk like there is something wrong with that.”
They both laughed at his comment. When they finally reached the corridor outside of the Headmistress’ office, they saw Neville was waiting there for them. Harry waved to his friend, but Carmen did something that shocked Harry.
She walked up to Neville and kissed him. It was more than a friendly kiss as they lingered and held each other tight. After breaking the kiss, she took Neville’s hand and turned to smile at Harry. “Some of us can keep our relationships private,” she teased him. Neville’s face was flushed. Harry couldn’t tell if it was from embarrassment or the kiss he just received.
“Bloody hell, how long has this been going on?” asked a shocked Harry.
“Just over a month Harry, why do you ask?” Neville’s voice seemed a little defensive.
Harry looked at Neville holding Carmen’s hand, while he seemed to stand a little taller at Harry’s comment. “I meant no offense, Neville. I think it is wonderful that two of my friends are dating.” He walked over and clapped Neville on the shoulder. The tension that had manifested itself when Harry asked about their relationship had completely dissolved.
Neville and Carmen walked up the spiral staircase to the Professors’ party hand in hand. Harry was behind them smiling. He remembered Carmen talking about her father and how he had rough hands from working as a farmer. She also talked about how gentle they were. He stared down at Neville’s dirty calloused hand gently cradling Carmen’s hand, while her thumb stoked along the back of it.
They entered the Headmistress office to a loud and noisy party. Everyone was talking loudly, but when the three of them entered they all stopped talking and stared for a second before continuing on with the party.
Harry could feel Madam Zabini’s eyes on him. It felt like an icy wind from an open window was hitting him as she followed him across the room. Harry was walking to get away from her glare, when he ran into the Headmistress. She immediately enveloped him in a hug.
“Happy Christmas, Harry,” she jovially said to him.
Harry was a little taken back by this sudden show of affection from the normally stern and cold Professor. “Happy Christmas, Professor McGonagall.”
“Everyone your attention please.” Professor McGonagall announced, while grabbing Harry’s shoulder. When everyone finally quieted down, she raised her glass of mead and spoke again. “I would like to propose a toast to the person who truly made this possible, Harry Potter.” He looked shocked at her, and everyone started to drink, but she spoke again. “Not just yet, I would also like to say that for the past seven, no eight years I have had some of the most ‘interesting teaching experiences’ in my career, thanks again to Mr. Potter and all his friends. Happy Christmas to you Harry!” With the last statement, she took a drink of mead.
“Professor I didn’t make…”
“Yes, you did. You are not thick, Harry. You know what I was referring to.”
“I didn’t do it alone.”
“That’s right, Harry. You lead us by your defiance all those years and surviving all the attempts on your life. Everyone believed in you. That my young man is a truly great accomplishment in this world, but you are not here to listen to me talk. Why don’t you mingle a little and enjoy yourself.” Someone slammed the door, and the Headmistress looked up and smiled. “I see you were able to chase Madam Zabini away. Jolly good show, Harry.”
Harry walked away from the Headmistress shaking his head in disbelief. Picking up a glass of mead, he kept looking over at Neville and Carmen. He still couldn’t believe those two are a couple. He walked around the party chatting with the different Professors. He found many of these Professors actually were fun loving and enjoyable to talk to. They all admitted to putting on a stern face in class to keep the discipline. The entire time Harry was mingling he kept looking at the portraits hanging on the walls, particularly Professors Dumbledore and Snape.
As the party goers started to dwindle, Harry found himself sitting in a chair with his first drink still in his hand staring at Professor Snape’s portrait. He was still having problems understanding and accepting everything he had learned from his memories. Somewhere deep inside Harry, he still wanted to know what his mother felt about Snape. Did she ever love him like he loved her? He believes what Ginny told him at Godric’s Hollow, or he desperately wants to believe it. He wants that image back in his mind about his perfect happily married parents. That image had sustained him for years, and at times it still does. Was it the truth, though, or did his mother settle for his father. Would she have preferred Severus Snape.
A hand placed on Harry’s shoulder brought him out of his thoughts. “He has asked about you,” stated the Headmistress.
“Severus. He wanted to know if you would have made Lily proud.” She looked down at Harry. “I told him, yes, that you remind me so much of Lily Potter and her husband. Poor Severus sulked for two days after that, but it is true Harry. I see so much more of your parents in you than just you physical similarities.”
“Professor, My mother used to be best friends with Professor Snape.”
Professor McGonagall cut him off. “Yes, Harry, when they first came to Hogwarts, they were very close…”
The fireplace erupted with green flames and Gawain Robards stepped out. “Minerva, I need your help. It is urgent.”
The Headmistress walked away from Harry and addressed Gawain. “What is it?”
“I need everyone out of this room, now. It is top secret Ministry business.”
There were only about six people left and they all started towards the door. Harry stood up and started to leave, but Gawain shouted at him. “Harry and Carmen, before you leave, I need a word with you. Everyone else but the Headmistress can go.”
Harry walked over to the Head of the Aurors. He had an uneasy feeling in his stomach about this. After the room had emptied, Gawain looked at both of them, his stare was hard. “There is an emergency assignment for you two. You can tell no one about it. Carmen, go get all your personal effects packed and Floo to the Minister of Magic’s office from this fireplace only. Understand?”
“Yes, sir,” she automatically replied, and turned to leave.
“Harry, you can come now.”
“What? Why can’t you go?” demanded Gawain.
“I don’t have my wand with me, and then I’ll help get Carmen all sorted out.” Harry lied to him and tried to get out of the office.
“You can’t say anything, about going on assignment, Harry,” shouted Gawain. Then he turned to the Headmistress, “Not a word about the two of them going on assignment to anyone. It is critical.” He then turned and disappeared back into the flames.
Harry had heard Gawain telling Professor McGonagall to keep this a secret. He didn’t care. He needed to do something before he leaves and possibly never returns. He wants to propose to her. To hell with all his plans, before he goes on some dangerous mission for the Ministry, Ginny Weasley is going to know without a doubt that he is totally committed to her, when he asks her to marry him.
He pulled out the Marauders Map and looked for Ginny. She said she would be at the party in the Charms classroom. He located her in the classroom, and she wasn’t alone. Walden-bloody-wanker-Ridgebit was with her. He stared at their dots as he ran through the halls and down stairs. His anger increased as he saw their dots connect. He was a few metres from the door of the classroom when he thought he heard a muffled scream. He wasn’t sure if it was real or if he just felt it in his heart.
Panic and anger raged through him. Ginny was in trouble. Not even considering using the door knob, Harry shot a Blasting Curse at the door. With his emotions raging out of control, the curse crackled as it left his wand’s tip. When it collided with the door, the door exploded into splinters. He didn’t even break stride as he walked through the dust of the destroyed door.
As he emerged from the dust, Ginny was laying on a table. Her robes and clothes were ripped open and Walden was leaning over her grabbing at her wrists trying to control her as she fought him. He was staring at the door with a shocked look on his face as Harry stepped through it. Walden let go of Ginny and stood back from her.
“She wanted it…” Walden didn’t say anything more. Harry had lifted his wand without thinking of a curse. He wanted Walden away from her and he wanted to hurt the bloody bastard. A beam of silver erupted from his wand it was as large as a man’s leg. It hit Walden square in the chest driving him back away from Ginny. The beam traveled with such force that when it hit Walden, Harry felt the impact. The beam spanned out and covered Walden’s entire body. It threw the wanker against the far wall of the classroom with a sickening crunch. When Harry heard that sound he released the beam, but he didn’t lower his wand, as he marched towards Walden.
As he passed Ginny, he looked at her. She was incoherent as she lay on that table naked except her bra and knickers. It looked like she couldn’t even focus her eyes, and was unable to stand up. He turned his attention back to Walden. Walking up to him lying on the ground, Harry saw that there was blood smeared down the wall from where he slid. His arms and legs were twisted at odd angles, and more blood was pooling around his head. Harry stood there, with the image of Ginny lying on that table with her clothes ripped off, wanting to kill him. His knuckles were white as he gripped his wand. He knew he could do it, use the Avada Kedavra curse on him. An image of Ginny came to his mind. He knew that she wouldn’t want him to spend the rest of his life in Azkaban for this. Walden was incapacitated now. He didn’t need to die.
Harry went to turn and leave him, but he stopped and touched his wand to Walden’s head and uttered the healing spell. “Episkey.”
Harry heard a thunk from the tables. He looked and Ginny was lying on the floor now. He practically ran to her. She was babbling something that sounded like “get away” and “bitter Butterbeer”, while trying to clumsily push her ripped clothes back over her. Harry looked around and only saw two Butterbeer bottles. He picked one up and could smell some type of Potion in it.
He knelt down above Ginny. She had pushed herself up to a sitting position. He reached out to touch her and tell her it was going to be all right. When he touched her cheek, she drove her one leg up into his unprotected crotch. The pain shot through him making him want to hurl. He fell over in pain. While he was on the floor, Ginny had rolled onto her side and was trying to crawl away from him. The sight of her rendered so helpless made tears come to his eyes. He crawled up beside her and touched her gently on the shoulder.
“Ginny, it is all right now. You are safe, love,’ he reassured her. She seemed confused and pulled away from him, but he didn’t become discouraged. “Ginny, It’s Harry. I will take care of you.” He laid his hand on one of hers and again tried to touch her cheek. This time she didn’t pull away. She seemed to recognize his voice.
“Harrrery?” she slurred out. She tried to look at him, but her eyes wouldn’t focus.
He bent down and wrapped her torn robes and clothes back around her the best he could. He sat her up and gently picked her up. She leaned into him as though she was trying to hide. He had to try to fight back the urge to crush her in an embrace as he gently kissed her to reassure her. She was so helpless lying in his arms. He started walking to Madam Pomfrey’s holding Ginny. She would mumble his name and pull herself tighter to him. Her legs dangled as though they were made of rubber. He was walking as fast as he could, but it still seemed to take forever to reach the infirmary. He didn’t knock or use the handle, but kicked the doors open. Madam Pomfrey came rushing out of her office scolding him until she saw Ginny.
“What happened to her?”
“She has been drugged by Walden Ridgebit.” When the nurse looked at him in shock, he yelled at her. “He tried to rape her, in the Charms classroom. He is still there. Send the Headmistress to investigate.”
“I’ll do that Potter.” She pulled out her wand and shot a Patronus out through the doors of the infirmary. “Lay her down on this bed.”
Harry complied and placed Ginny gently down on the bed. When he started to pull away so Madam Pomfrey could exam her, Ginny grabbed onto him for dear life. He didn’t want to let go of her, so he knelt beside the bed, and tried to comfort her.
“What is going on here?” demanded the Headmistress, as she walked up to the bed. “Potter, I thought you had to be someplace else.”
“I am not going. I am staying here,” shouted Harry.
“You are required to go to the Ministry, right now. Gawain is waiting for you. Carmen has left already.”
“He can sod off. I am not leaving Ginny in this state,” retorted Harry. He was barely able to control his anger.
“Harry, you are required to go. YOU MUST GO!”
With Harry’s last shout, the Headmistress seemed to try to calm herself down. “Harry,” she said calmly. “You must report. If you tell them what happened they may take you off the mission. Merlin knows that you wouldn’t be in a right state thinking of Ginny all the time.”
Harry looked up at the Headmistress with teary eyes. Ginny needed him. He needed to be here for her, because that is what true lovers do for each other. They comfort and support each other in times of need. He hated being put in this position. He only decided to be an Auror to help people and protect them from dark wizards. Ginny needs protection, why can’t he be her protector. What would be wrong with him staying here and protecting the one he loved rather than chasing some delusional witch or wizard bent on taking over the world? He had made a commitment though. He was an Auror, even if he was only in training to be one.
He stood up, and Ginny kept as strong of a grip on his hand as possible. It took all his resolve to pull away from her weak grip. He turned and started to walk away from the bed. His heart was breaking because he could here Ginny calling out to him; begging him to stay and telling him she loved him.
[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
Harry emerged from the flames in the Minister’s office. He was practically blind to his surroundings as the only thing he could think about or see was Ginny lying in the hospital bed. He was fighting back tears of anger and of pain of leaving her there. He glanced around the office and saw Gawain, Kingsley, Carmen, Rostis, Blythe, and Madam Maxime.
“Where the hell have you been Potter,” screamed Gawain. “You lied to me...”
“Shut up, Gawain,” yelled Harry straight back at him. Being yelled at only increased his anger and resolves not to go. “I am not going on any bloody mission...”
“Yes, you are,” interjected Kingsley. “You are vital to the success of this mission.”
“I told you I am not going. I am going back to Hogwarts to take care of Ginny. She was attacked tonight.” He turned to return to the Floo when someone grabbed his shoulder to stop him. Without thinking Harry flung his arm at the person to push him away. He heard a crash, and then suddenly Gawain and Rostis were standing in front of him holding their wands on him. They both looked scared.
“You need to calm down, Harry,” said Gawain while holding his wand tightly in his grip. “I know you are fast with your wandless magic, but there are five wands on you now.” Harry stopped and looked at Gawain wondering if they are really going to curse him into submission. Gawain looked around Harry and asked someone behind him. “Is he all right?”
Harry turned and saw Kingsley crumpled at the bottom of a wall. He looked to be bleeding from an abrasion on the left side of his head. Harry realized that the crash he heard was the Minister of Magic being driven into the wall. “Did I do that?” he asked.
Kingsley stood up with the help of Blythe, and looked at him. “Yes, you have been crackling with magic since you stepped out of the Floo. You just blasted me away when I grabbed you.” Kingsley dabbed his head with a cloth, before speaking again. “What happened to Ginny?”
“She was snuck a Potion in a Butterbeer, and then the boy tried to rape her.” Everyone straightened up at the last statement, Carmen and Madam Maxime both gasped and covered their mouths. “I need to go back and take care of her,” he pleaded with them, much of his anger was gone and now he was trying not to cry in front of everyone.
“Where is she,” inquired Kingsley.
“In the infirmary, Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall are with her now.”
“And the attacker?”
“He is lying in the Charms classroom, unless they have moved him.”
“Who was it, Harry?” Kingsley asked questions with the expertise of a former Auror.
“Ridgebit, you say.” Kingsley said with surprise. “His father is in the Ministry. He is the head of the Unspeakables Department. Gawain, go to Hogwarts and sort this out.” The Head Auror immediately turned and stepped into the Floo. “Harry, Ginny is safe now. I will make sure that no one can touch her. I need you to go on this mission.”
“Why, why can’t you send someone else? Why is it so important? I am only a trainee,” pleaded Harry. “I need to be with Ginny when she wakes up. Please Minister,” he begged. Harry looked up at Kinglsey Shacklebolt, the Minister of Magic, a member of the Order of the Phoenix, a person who Harry thought of as a friend. He seemed to be shaken as he looked at Harry. This noble and proud man seemed to be slightly stooped as though the weight of the world was now on his shoulders.
Kingsley broke away from Harry’s gaze and walked back and forth in front of him with his hands behind his back. “Harry, I am the Minister of Magic. It is an office that has many responsibilities, and one that I have made my top priority is to fight dark magic and abuse of magic with everything this Ministry has.” The Minister stopped walking and looked Harry in the eyes. “I admire you for what you have been through. As Kingsley Shacklebolt, I would even feel privileged to call you a friend. However, as the Minister of Magic, I must look at you as a tool a weapon to fight injustice. Harry, I don’t expect you to appreciate or even like me for this, but use you as a weapon is what I must do. This mission is to save ten Muggles lives from dark wizards. You must be a part of it, if it has a chance to succeed. If we don’t go on this mission than those Muggles will probably die. Harry, I am profoundly sorry for what happened to Ginny, but she is safe now. Her family will be there to support her and help her. After this is over, I will do whatever I can to make amends to the Weasley family on your behalf. Harry, as the Minister of Magic, I am not giving you a choice. You will go on this mission.”
Harry watched Kingsley talk and saw a look in his eye that he had seen someplace else, in Professor Dumbledore’s eyes, when he was using Harry to destroy Tom Riddle. His anger was gone now, and it left a huge hole in him. He was tired and confused. He wanted desperately to be with Ginny. However, if Ginny found out he let innocent people die, because he refused to go, she would be angry with him. He would be angry with himself. He just couldn’t understand why it had to be him. He knew he was a decent trainee, but certainly there are better Auror’s out there. So why did it have to be him, unless there is more than what he has already heard.
“You are not telling me everything, are you?” he asked the Minister.
“This mission will involve you going to find these Muggles and guarding them in a secure location. I need your house Harry. It is already invisible to the world. No one will realize that there is new Fidelius charm on it.”
“Then take it. I will stay at the Burrow, or someplace else,” offered Harry.
“I wish it was that simple. Carmen needs to disappear also. We will need a cover story so it won’t be obvious that she is on an assignment,” said the Minister sadly while avoiding Harry’s eyes.
“Hold on, cover story? You are going to use Carmen and me as the cover story. What the hell are you planning telling the world that Carmen and I ran off together as lovers?” Harry didn’t need to hear the answer. He saw it in the Ministers body language. “No bloody way, will I agree to that! Absolutely not! You want to rip the heart out of Ginny. I will not do it. Let those Muggles die. I will not do something like that to her, not now.”
“Then you are condemning Carmen’s family to death. Harry!” stated the Minister.
Harry turned and looked at Carmen. She was standing crying being hugged by Madam Maxime.
“I’m so sorry Harry. I never wanted you to be dragged into my family’s troubles,” she cried to him.
“Why can’t your Ministry take care of the situation? I thought wizards attacking Muggles was forbidden internationally under some secrecy act?” questioned Harry.
“I can’t go to the French Ministry,” she explained. “If they knew about me, they would kill me.”
“What?” exclaimed Harry? He couldn’t believe this. “Are – are you wanted for some crime?”
Carmen laughed sardonically, and shook her head back and forth. “Yes and no, my crime is that I was born a Basque. Harry my name isn’t Carmen Del La Rosa. It is actually Monique Arana.”
“What is a Basque, Carmen – er – I mean Monique?” asked a confused Harry. He was trying to process what she was talking about. She had always been secretive about why she was here, but he never imagined something like this.
“We are an ancient people. We have lived in the area of the Pyrenees Mountains, since, well, some say since the mountains were formed. We have lived there since before the people that occupy both France and Spain lived in those lands. For centuries we have been at war with both countries for the land surrounding the mountains and our own autonomy. In the past fifty years, the Muggles, as you call them, have come to live peacefully as citizens of both countries, but before that the Basques have fought with both countries for its autonomy.
“The worst of the fighting was between 1480 and 1600, when both France and Spain was trying to grow by conquests. My ancestors fought both countries in a bloody war. Most of it was a guerilla type of small battles instead of large open warfare. We have always been outnumbered on both fronts. At that time the Basques also had sorcerers amongst them. They had learned magic of a different type than anywhere else at that time. They were powerful and fought ruthlessly for their independence. Many times they would fight alongside of the Muggles to ensure victory. The French and Spanish sorcerers outnumbered them by ten to one, but the battles were so deadly that nearly two-thirds of the others had died over the course of the rebellion.
“The ancient sorcerers had set up, for even the nonmagical Basques, hiding places in the mountains. Caves, where they could hide from the invading armies, they could lash out and attack them without ever being detected. These caves were magically charmed so that anyone who wasn’t a Basque would die if they entered them, if they could find them at all.
“During the last years of the rebellion the Spanish and French wizards and witches had moved into the Pyrenees in mass. For ten years they laid siege to the Basque magical community, even destroying their castle which served as their Ministry and school. The Basques realizing that they couldn’t possible win this conflict went on a suicide mission. They divided their forces into three, one stayed in the mountains and engaged the enemy, the other two went to each Ministry and attacked it with the hope that they could cause such destruction that the enemy would lose heart, and quite this attack. The French and Spanish Ministrys’ were virtually destroyed, but all of the Basques were killed in this offensive.
“The two countries were so angered at this that they both passed laws stating that any Basque who possessed magic would be killed on sight and so would their families. The two countries went through the Pyrenees and killed everyone to the second cousin who was related to those wizards and witches.”
“That was hundreds of years ago,” said a shocked Harry. “Certainly that law isn’t still practiced.”
“Harry, that is why I changed my name, so I could go to Beauxbatons,” stated Carmen. “The only people who know me by Monique are my family, Madam Maxime, and Minister Shacklebolt. I went to Madam Maxime when my family was attacked by Wizards, because I couldn’t go to my own Ministry. The French Ministry doesn’t even recognize the existence of the nonmagical Basques. She contacted Minster Shacklebolt, and he brought me here to England.”
“Why was your family attacked? Was it because they are Basques?”
“No, actually it was for our land. My mother’s family literally owns the mountain that we live on. For nonmagical people we are extremely old-fashioned. We still live the same way as we did a hundred years ago, making a living from farming and raising livestock. Five years ago a developer approached my father about selling the mountain so he could build a ski resort. His offer was rejected. He came back several times, each time increasing the offer and each time being rejected. The mountain is our home. We cannot sell it. It would be like selling a member of our family.
“In June, wizards came and talked to my father. He still refused to sell.” Carmen stopped talking and tried to control her emotions. Tears were now running down her cheeks, as she talked about her father. Madam Maxime walked to her and comforted her. “They tortured him. In front of our house, they tortured and killed him. When my brother ran to help, they killed him too.” She stopped talking to sob and wipe her eyes. “I went to my Headmistress for help. She set up a safe house for my mother, aunts, and uncles under the Fidelius Charm. You know the ironic thing is. My father isn’t part of the original family that has ownership of the mountain. He had the same last name, but he couldn’t even sell them the mountain.”
“If they are in the safe house then…” Harry’s question was cut short by Kingsley.
“Two days ago, the wizards returned to Monique’s family mountain and started killing people indiscriminately. When her aunts and uncles were placed in the safe house, a couple of family members were also told about their location. Her mother and everyone else left to go to their relatives funerals, and were again attacked.”
Carmen finished for Kingsley. “They are all now hiding in one of the magical caves. They have been in there for the past twenty-four hours. I do not know if they have any food in there and how long before they will have to come out.”
“Harry,” Kingsley took over the conversation again. “If we do not go and retrieve these people they will eventually be hunted down and forced to sign over their land and then killed to cover this extortion.”
Harry looked at Kingsley, Carmen, and Madam Maxime. He could tell that they were telling the truth. It explained all the questions he had ever had about Carmen, but he still needed to be here for Ginny. She might eventually understand why he had to go. The more he heard about this situation, the more he understood why Kingsley wanted to take on this case. The only questions he had now was what would the French Ministry do if they found this out, and how can he keep Ginny from hating him if they need to make a fake story about him and Carmen.
“What will the French Ministry do if they discovered this crime, and our involvement?” Harry questioned the Minister.
“While you are in France, you are on a dangerous mission. We are technically breaking international law by doing this. Once we get everyone back here and safe then I can start negotiations with the French. It will be a long time Harry until this matter is resolved. The delicacy of this situation makes it necessary that these witnesses can’t be found. What makes this situation even more tenuous is the possibility that the French Ministry might be involved.”
“Bloody hell, Kingsley, this sounds like a suicide mission!” exclaimed Harry. He couldn’t believe this.
“When you are in France, you must remain undetected. If you are discovered you could be arrested or killed. Sorry Harry,” said the Minister, in a consoling tone.
“You want Carmen and I to go into France and rescue ten Muggles out from under the nose of witches and wizards, and not get killed. Minister, that is a lot to ask of us,” stated Harry, his panic was evident in his voice. “It will take time to...”
“There will be four of you, Harry,” assured the Minister. “Rostis and Blythe will be going with you. Rostis will be the leader. We are in the process of finalizing the plans now. I will not let you take off blindly into France.”
“Will they have to disappear also?” asked Harry.
“No, they are technically still on guard duty at Azkaban.”
“Why can’t Blythe be Carmen’s date, instead of me?” questioned Harry. He saw a possibility of getting himself out of disappearing. “You can still use my house.”
Kingsley chuckled at Harry. “I am afraid that this is a situation where you are not a fully qualified Auror like Blythe. I need him other places more than I need you. Sorry Harry, it was a nice try.”
The fireplace erupted with Green flames and Gawain Robards stepped out holding a box. He looked and saw Kingsley and walked over to him. “It was Gordon Ridgebit’s son. I found these in a magically sealed compartment in his school trunk.” He held out the box which was filled with bottles of potion. “I want to take them to the Potion Masters and have them decide what is in them.” He then turned to Harry. “What did you curse him with? You nearly broke ever bone in his body?”
“I don’t know, sir?”
“What? How could you not know what curse you used?” asked a shocked Gawain.
“I didn’t think of any particular curse I just wanted to knock him away from Ginny,” stated Harry. He left out the fact that he wanted to seriously hurt him, and that he had considered killing him. “It was silver beam, and it knocked him into the wall. I stopped when I heard him hit.”
Gawain looked at Kingsley who returned a thoughtful stare. “It must have been one of your hybrid Shield Charms. I would like to have your wand to run a Prior Incantato spell on it? You will have it back in an hour or two. I need to find someone else to verify what spells are revealed.”
Harry looked around at everyone. He wasn’t sure about giving up his wand like this. However, he knows enough about investigative procedure to know that Gawain isn’t asking anything out of the ordinary. Pulling out his wand he placed it in Gawain’s hand. He suddenly felt naked and vulnerable without it.
“Harry, it is time we started planning this mission,” stated the Minister. He walked over to a doorway behind his desk, and opened it. Rostis and Blythe started walking towards it, while Monique turned and hugged Madam Maxime.
“Au revoir ma cher amie,” Monique said to Madam Maxime. They hugged and Madam Maxime bid everyone “goodbye and good luck” before squeezing herself into the Floo and going to the Hogs Head.
Stepping into the back room, Harry saw maps of France lying on tables and stuck up on the walls. Rostis and Blythe were bent over a map showing the Bayonne area of France on great detail. They seemed to be trying to pick out a place to set up a camp and what they will need to take with them. Monique and Kingsley also joined in the discussion about the plans.
They debated whether they should go over the country or over the ocean. Over land would be shorter and quicker, but the Ocean would be easier to go undetected. Monique had pointed a good place for a base camp. It was twenty kilometers south of Oloron-Ste-Marie, in a small densely wooded area. The mountain and her land was another twenty kilometers south.
The first thing that was determined was that it would be best to reach France at night and to travel over the ocean and the Bay of Bisque. The argument whether to fly over uninhabited area or to go directly over cities and town went on for an hour. They decided to fly over the city of Bayonne while invisible. If wizards are watching for them, they would most likely be watching the uninhabited areas.
They calculated the distance that the trip would cover at 1200 kilometres. Harry nearly choked when he heard this. That would be a very long and painful flight on a broom. After he stated his feelings Rostis and Kingsley laughed at him and told him not to worry, because they will be on flying carpets. These could travel at speeds around a hundred kph that would make the trip around 12 to thirteen hours long. They determined that they would need to leave before morning from England so they could pass over Bayonne in the early evening when the activities would make detecting a single Disillusioned Carpet most difficult. They could also get their camp set up and start moving towards the mountains before daybreak.
Monique wasn’t sure where exactly her mother and family would be, but she knew of one cave on their mountain. At this time of year, it would be above the snow line. Traveling to it would be difficult and take several hours. They were afraid to Apparate unless necessary because of various detection methods that might be used by the French.
Kingsley kept asking Monique if there is any possible way of determining how many wizards and witches could be watching from around the mountain. This discussion went around the table several times with everyone but Harry offering advice. Most of them were trying to think of a spell that would reveal where the enemy was without giving away the location of the caster. During this time, Harry worn out from the emotions of the night couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
“Why don’t you call your relatives on the telephone, Monique. If the French magical community is like the British, they would never be able to detect that.” He even chuckled at his cheeky comment. What he didn’t expect was that everyone stared at him and then Monique.
“The French are like the British. I could possibly call my cousin. He would know if strange people are around. The wizards and witches would have no clue unless they over heard the conversation.” Her voice became more excited as she spoke.
“What if they cast Imperious curses on some of you family members, or the ones you call accidently reveal that they have spoken to you, and you are coming to help,” said Kingsley, instantly sobering everyone’s excitement over this easy solution. “They would be alerted and waiting.”
A thought suddenly occurred to Harry. “Kingsley, excuse me. Minister, you said that Carmen and I will have to disappear so that the French won’t be able to track us down. It would give a cover story.”
“Yes, Harry, but let’s first get this part planned,” replied the tired Minister.
“I have a simple solution to both our problems. Send the two of us to Australia.” He gleefully announced.
“Why would that solve both of our problems?”
“Simple. The French don’t use technology. Brad Carl could email a message to Hermione’s parents. That way Hermione and the Weasley’s would know that it was a set up. Australia is such a large country that it would take months of searching to find someone there. It is perfect!” exclaimed a happy Harry.
Kingsley thought it over and looked at him with a grave expression. “Could you trust them to keep it a secret?”
Harry straightened up and stared the Minister. “You must be joking. You are talking about the Weasley’s and Hermione. I would trust. Correction, I have trusted them with secrets that I wouldn’t even trust with anyone in this room.” Harry’s voice had taken on an icy tone. He was almost insulted that Kingsley would even suggest that the Weasley’s weren’t trustworthy.
The Minister lowered his head and shook it back and forth. For a while Harry wasn’t sure why he was doing this until he could hear him laughing. “Thank you for reminding me of who I was talking about. To question their ability to keep secrets is rather gormless. If you think Australia would work out, so Ginny would realize that this is a ploy without giving it away to the world, then I am all for it.”
Harry was about to thank him, when Gawain entered the room. “Here is your wand, Harry,” he said while placing the wand back in his hand. “The Potion Masters have started to analyze those bottles. They said it should take another hour. I have two Hit-Wizards standing guard over Ridgebit. Minerva will contact me when Ginny wakes up. Minister you will need to get ready. Your office staff will be getting here within the half hour.”
Everyone looked at the clock and realized that it was seven-thirty in the morning. They had spent the night discussing their plans. “We won’t be able to leave until tomorrow morning then,” groaned Harry, who wanted this mission done so he could get back to Ginny.
Kingsley walked over to a stone basin in the corner of the room. When Harry first saw it, he thought it was a Pensieve. Kingsley bent over it and splashed water from it on his face. He stood up and let the water rest on his face for a few seconds. The water never moistened his robes and eventually it all disappeared. The Minister looked refreshed and renewed. The fatigue from the long night without sleep had vanished from his face. “This is the best thing about being Minister,” stated Kingsley, as he let the water soak into his skin. “This basin can refresh you for up to four hours. All I need is to come in here again at lunch and I’ll be able make through the day. I tried taking the water out of it and with me, but it loses it effects. Why don’t the rest of you get something to eat and them get a good kip. You will need to be rested up for the mission.” Kingsley finished saying this and left the room, to attend to his duties as the Minister of Magic.
Blythe looked around and asked. “How are going to get anything to eat unless…” He stopped speaking as a tray of sandwiches and pitchers of Pumpkin Juice appeared in the corner of the room. Everyone was so hungry that they didn‘t bother speaking, but tucked in and devoured sandwich after sandwich while finishing all the Pumpkin juice.
After eating, they each drew up their own bed out of the air. Harry mused how he used to admire Professor Dumbledore when he would do this, and now he has finally mastered this Transfiguration. While he was getting his bed prepared for a kip, Monique was looking at the stone basin of water. She had a strange smile on her face as she looked at the strange writing on the rim.
“It is written in an old form of Euskara. It says; wash away your aches and fight on. There is other writing that I don’t understand,” she said before walking away from it and sitting on her bed.
Harry was thinking about something that she had told them that night. “Monique, if all the Basque sorcerers were killed and have been dead for centuries, how did you learn so much about them?”
She smiled at him. “Good question, but an easy one to answer. History of Magic fourth year, the entire year was spent discussing the war. I also spent many hours in the library studying it. There are a great many French Magical historians that have researched it. The older ones were particularly biased in the views the most recent ones were more objective. They all pointed out how ruthless and vicious the magical Basques were though.” She stopped talking for a second and looked thoughtfully at the bowl. “The other thing that they all agreed on was the Basque’s were extremely good at creating enchanted items that didn’t lose their magical qualities, such as that bowl and the caves. It was a shame that their school was destroyed. All that knowledge was lost forever. Well, good night or should a say day to you Harry.” With that she lay down and closed her eyes.
Harry stared at her for a few seconds, before doing the same. Thoughts of what they were about to do kept creeping into his mind preventing him from go fast to sleep. Thoughts of Ginny also denied him his rest for some time. He was concerned what she must think of him, for abandoning her like that. He hopes that she will eventually forgive him, because he is having a difficult time forgiving himself.
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Harry woke up and ran his fingers through his hair. It felt like seven o’clock in the morning to him, but it was actually five in the evening. Monique was writing something on a piece of parchment and Blythe was looking at the maps while Rostis was still asleep.
Harry stood up and stretched as Gawain stepped through the door. Gawain looked as if he had gone home and slept and showered. “I need everyone awake,” stated Gawain.
Blythe walked over to Rostis’ camp bed and kicked it. “Time to get up old man, I know you need your beauty sleep, but you need to get up,” he laughed at his older partner.
Rostis sat up gingerly and looked around. He had a look as if he would curse the first person who spoke. Blythe conjured up a cup of coffee and stuck it in his hand, before walking away. Rostis took a sip and Harry could see a transformation in him from still being asleep to being wide awake.
“Poor man would be lost without his morning cuppa,” laughed Blythe.
Rostis glared up at him. “Oh shut up, trainee,” he said before smiling.
“All right I see everyone is awake and aware,” stated Gawain. “Here are some of the things we have finalized today. We leave tomorrow morning at four-thirty from outside of the town of Porthleven, in Devon. You will be using four magic carpets for transportation, but only one will be needed tomorrow. They will be equipped with an invisibility device and also a compass and navigation controls. We are predicting a miserable ride, because it will be either snowing or raining on you the entire distance. However, that will help his you since the temperature will also help create fog. You will need to be at the shack where the carpets are stored by three-thirty so you can be instructed on how to use them, and you can load them with provisions. At nine o’clock tomorrow morning, Harry, your house will have a new Fidelius charm placed on it, which will have Kingsley as the secret keeper. Harry, I would like a word with you, and you too Car – er – Monique.”
Gawain stepped off to onside of the room. Harry walked over to him and Monique stood beside them a second later. Gawain had some pieces of parchment in his hand. He went to speak, but Monique cut him off.
“Gawain, you can call me Carmen. I have lived so many years under that name that I answer to it also. The only people who know me as Monique are my family.”
“Fair enough,” he replied. “I wanted to ask the two of you, if you have a Will made out?”
Harry swallowed when he heard this question. He had never thought about filling out a Will. He began to wonder what would happen if he didn’t have one and he died, which for him is always a possibility.
“No,” Harry said meekly. “I never thought about it before.”
Gawain handed him a piece of parchment that was rolled up. “This is a basic Will. The first part is the legal way of saying that you are sane and knows what you are doing. You need to write, in your own hand, how you want your possessions distributed and to whom. Two of us in the room can witness it, as long as we aren’t one of your beneficiaries.” Gawain chuckled then added. “Of course I wouldn’t complain if you would leave me a couple of thousand Galleons.”
Harry laughed at his cheeky comment and sat down to write out his Will. He dipped his quill and went to start writing, but stopped with the quill hanging over the parchment. After a few minutes he quickly wrote down simple instructions that Ginny would receive half of everything he owed and Ron and Hermione would each get a quarter. He signed his name to it. He figured that they would sell his house and....
He jumped up as he realized that he needed to do something before he left. “Kreacher!” he shouted. Everyone in the room looked at him. “Kreacher, come here!”
The old House Elf appeared in front of him making everyone else jump. “Yes, Master.” He croaked as he bowed to Harry.
“I am going to be doing something.” Harry stopped talking and tried to think how to phrase this. “I will be bringing some people to my house to stay.” Kreacher looked at him with a curious expression. “I need you to stop calling Ginny, Mistress Ginny.”
“Why Master?” asked Kreacher. He looked at Harry with a disgusted look as though he was told to eat dragon dung.
“Never mind, just stop calling her that. It is important.” Harry was starting feel funny about this. He had enjoyed having Kreacher refer to Ginny as his Mistress.
“But Master, don’t you...” Kreacher never finished his statement.
“Don’t call her that. No one can hear you call her that,” he shouted at the Elf. Harry felt guilty at telling Kreacher this. He also felt like he was further abandoning Ginny in her time of need. “I would also like for you to check on her,” he said softer with more compassion. “I will not be able to see her. You can’t be seen taking care of her, but try to make sure she is all right. That is all Kreacher.” Harry was sure he heard the House Elf grumble something about mental masters before disappearing.
Everyone had been watching the scene play out in the room. No one spoke at first until Gawain broke the silence. “Harry, does your House Elf call Ginny his Mistress?”
“Because, that is what they call their Master’s wives. You and Ginny aren’t married are you?” Gawain asked almost half shocked.
Harry looked at him. The mention of marrying Ginny hurt him. He looked at the clock on the wall. It was six o’clock in the evening. The Hogwarts Express would be at King’s Cross Station right now. “No, but if this bloody mission hadn’t come up, I would be asking her to marry me right now.” He said with bitterness and anger. He went over to his camp bed and sat down not wanting to look at anyone or let anyone see he was trying to fight back tears.
Harry didn’t move from the bed for another hour. Monique had brought some food over for him to eat, but he just picked at it. He was too upset to eat right now. The anger he was feeling would only spoil the food in his stomach making him nauseous and miserable. Later, they went over all the plans for the mission. Each person knew what to do and what everyone else had to do. At ten o’clock, they all lay back down to get some more sleep; because when they would awake they might not be able to sleep for a day or two. Kingsley had agreed to let them have the enchanted basin to keep them refreshed.
Three o’clock came and everyone was already awake and waiting to leave. Rostis and Blythe were to Floo to a remote location that is abandoned; from there they would Apparate to the shack by Porthleven, where the flying carpets are stored.
Harry and Monique were to Floo to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place to set an Anti-Apparition Charm, before crossing the street to Apparate to the shack. They watched as Rostis and Blythe disappeared into the green flames. Harry stepped into the flames and was spun to his home. He stepped out of the fireplace in the kitchen a second before Monique stepped out.
“Just leave those bags here in the kitchen Monique, we can sort things out later,” ordered Harry. “If we get back,” he added, under his breath. “I need to get something from my room before we go.”
“Better hurry, they are waiting for us by now,” responded Monique.
Harry walked out of the kitchen. He wanted to get the picture of him and Ginny from Australia to take along. He hasn’t seen her for over a day, and he didn’t think he could go much longer without seeing her. He was starting up the stairs to his room when he noticed Kreacher walking down them looking nervous.
“Master,” he nervously spoke to Harry. “Mistress Ginny…”
“Don’t call her that, Kreacher! I have already told you that,” hissed Harry, angrier at himself than at the Elf.
The Elf looked at him with wide eyes. “Don’t you love your Mistress anymore?”
“Yes, of course I do, but…”
“Then why won’t you let me call her Mistress. You still want her to be Kreacher’s Mistress don’t you Master?” questioned Kreacher.
The last questioned reignited the anger in Harry. He hated having to hide his feelings about Ginny again. Before it was to protect her, he could live with that. Now it was for some bloody mission, and he was having a difficult time accepting that. “I told you not to call her that. I order you not to call her that. You must do as I told you, Kreacher. It is very important,” he shouted at the House Elf.
“Yes, Master,” grumbled the House Elf before he walked away to Harry’s bedroom.
The anger at his situation was boiling up inside of him, and he let it out on his poor confused servant. He turned and walked down the stairs. All thoughts of the picture had left him. He didn’t deserve to see her beautiful face. He doesn’t deserve her; after all he has put her through. He stood there hating himself for what he was doing, when Carmen called to him.
“Harry, are you all right?” asked Carmen. She walked from the kitchen and wrapped her arms around him. Harry stood there rigid. “Its Ginny isn’t it.” Harry nodded his head, while fighting back the tears that were forming in his eyes.
Carmen turned him to face her. She leaned her head to touch his forehead. “Harry,” she whispered softly. “Ginny will never give up on you. Everyone can see that she only has eyes for you. Neville said that she has always fancied you.”
Harry snorted. “I don’t deserve her,” he weakly responded.
“Most men don’t deserve their girlfriends,” she cheekily told him. Harry smiled and relaxed a little at her comment. “Harry,” she said a little stronger. “Her family will be here for her. She will be fine, Harry. You can’t be concerned with her, right now.”
Carmen kissed him on the forehead. “We need to get my family, and bring them back for Christmas.”
Harry straightened up and hugged her. “Thank you Monique, I just miss her so much and wanted to be there for her when she woke up today,” he whispered in her ear. “I guess the sooner we leave the sooner this will all be over.” He then took Carmen’s hand and walked out the front door.
They stood on the stoop, and Harry turned back to look at the door, as if he wanted to go back. “I forgot my picture,” he said.
“Do you need it, Harry? We are already late, and we still need to cast the charms,” stated Monique.
He hung his head and sighed. “I guess not.”
Harry lifted his wand to the door and cast a charm that will lock the door to everyone trying to get in, after that he lifted his wand over his head and cast another to prevent anyone from Apparating onto the property. After doing that, the two Auror trainees walked across the street to a dark place and Apparated away.
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