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After the Horcrux by Manwe Valarian
Chapter 30 : Bludgers and Lies
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 23


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Harry lay in bed and stared at the tent above him. The smell of coffee filled the cold morning air. He listened to hear who might be awake. He is a little unsure what he should say to Monique now. She needed someone to comfort and reassure her last night, when the grief of taking someone’s life consumed her. He couldn’t do it. He tried, but he felt so inadequate. He held her as she cried and even patted her back and told her “everything would be fine”. It didn’t feel as if he had done anything at all, but go through the motions.

Pulling the cover back he stood up and decided to face whoever was awake. He was a Gryffindor, and he has faced the most feared dark wizard in battle so he shouldn’t be afraid to face Monique. He pulled back the flap that separated his sleeping area from the main tent, and saw Rostis staring at a coffee pot that was brewing on the stove with his empty cup in his hand. The tent was otherwise empty.

Harry walked over to him. As he got closer to the stove, the warmth of the tent increased. Rostis looked rather disheveled as he stared at the brewing pot. What Blythe said must be true, that this poor man is lost without his morning cuppa.

Looking down at the stove, Harry was surprised. It consisted of six round red stone discs about the size of a Quaffle. Waves of heat were radiating off these discs. The coffee pot was sitting on one of them brewing.

“Basque magic, Harry,” spoke Rostis. His voice was scratchy and sounded like it was a strain to talk. “Monique and a couple of her relatives brought them in here when we had arrived. I guess the caves are full of these things. They also have discs that emit light, but we have candles that work well enough.”

“She said they were exceptionally good at making enchanted items,” responded Harry, “I wonder what else those caves have. It is too bad that we can’t go through them. Getting out of here would be a snap.”

Rostis glared at him then removed the pot from the heating disc. He poured himself a steaming cup of coffee and walked to the center table. Harry stood there debating if he wanted a cup. He actually preferred tea, but since the coffee is made and hot, he might try a cup. Grabbing a heavy white mug, he poured the coffee into it. He looked into the cup and couldn’t see through the thick dark liquid, because it was so strong. Blowing on it to cool it, he tried a sip. It was strong and bitter, but the warmth of it felt good. Looking around the kitchen he found a bowl with sugar in it and started scooping teaspoon after teaspoon of sugar into the cup. He would stop and taste it until it was sweet enough that he could drink it. Sensing someone behind him he turned and saw Monique smiling at him.

“I think you might be able to dissolve another teaspoon or two in the coffee, Harry,” she laughed at him. Teasing him with the line he used on her in a London café.

He smiled at her comment, but felt nervous standing there. He couldn’t move around her, because she was blocking the path to the main area of the tent. He did the only thing he could think of and took a sip of coffee.

“Thank you! For being there last night Harry,” she said smiling at him. “It meant the world to me to have you listen and – and be a friend.”

Harry felt even more nervous now. He didn’t do anything exceptional; he held her and let her cry on his shoulder. He didn’t give her any words of wisdom or do anything else for her.

“Growing up in France and being a Basque I couldn’t make close friends. It would have been too awkward. If nothing else ever comes from all of this, I have finally known what it is like to have good friends,” she told him smiling from ear to ear. “Let’s not forget about Neville. I can’t believe I have finally found a boyfriend.” She suddenly became serious and looked at Harry. “You don’t think he would be angry with me when I tell him the truth, do you?”

Harry thought about this question, for a few seconds. Neville might be upset, but he would certainly forgive her. “He might be at first, but I am sure it won’t last.” When she smiled again at his comment, he felt better about himself. He had been a friend to her, much as he had been to Hermione over the years. He still had troubles responding to people’s emotions, but he must be getting better.

“Thank you, I hope he understands,” she sighed. She stepped into Harry and hugged him.

He gave her a one arm hug, because his cup of coffee was in the other hand. It was similar to what he would give Ron or some other bloke, except – well – Monique had rather large breasts that pressed into his chest. He quickly pulled away feeling awkward again and walked to the table to join Rostis.

Rostis sat there with his close set eyes staring forward, his face was taught and dark and his brow creased with deep furrows. His sullen mood hadn’t improved with his morning cup of coffee. Harry looked at him and tried to determine what had him so upset.

“How did you do it?” he asked without looking at Harry.

“Do what?”

“How did you manage last year knowing so many people were looking for you? I am sitting here a nervous wreck and it has only been five days.”

Sipping his coffee Harry thought about an answer. “I was sick with worry almost the entire time. Not only was I worrying about myself, but mostly about my friends and them putting themselves into danger for me. I had no choice. No, we had no choice so we didn’t give up and eventually we prevailed.”

Monique had joined them during Harry’s explanation. They all sat there in silence listening to Blythe snore. He realized what was bothering Rostis now. It was the feeling of being trapped, but there was nothing to do, but keep thinking of ways to get out.

“Merlin, he is loud,” exclaimed Rostis.

“Not as loud as Ron,” laughed Harry.

“Oh! Ron inherited his father’s snoring?” asked an amused Rostis. Harry looked at him strangely when he said that. “I was in the same year as Arthur at Hogwarts.” Rostis smiled to himself, and his eyes became bright with humor. “Arthur and Molly were quite the pair. Trouble makers from the day they were sorted. They could have been Head Boy and Girl if they hadn’t been in so much trouble throughout school.

“Arthur was the master of Charms. He could Charm things to do stuff that were absolutely hilarious. His two best pranks were the bottom burping bench and the spitting goblet.”Rostis stopped and laughed again. “He could charm a bench that after someone sat on it, every time a person passed by it would emit a sound like a bottom burp. After a while, no one wanted to sit on any of the benches around the school.

“ Oh my! I just remembered when he charmed Molly’s goblet in their sixth year. Molly and he had been kind of an item. Arthur was a little noncommittal about the relationship. Well, Molly decided to give him a push and started flirting with this other bloke one morning at breakfast. It was a Saturday and Arthur, Molly, and several of us would always spend it studying or some other way. Well Arthur gets all jealous at seeing Molly playing up to this bloke. He tried to cast a Charm on that bloke’s goblet. He had created this Charm that when you picked up your goblet and it gets close to your face; it spits all of its contents in your face. What Arthur didn’t realize was he had Charmed Molly’s goblet. She picks it up and it spits an entire goblet full of Pumpkin Juice in her face. Of course she knows who it is, and she grabs her wand and chases Arthur out of the great hall with Pumpkin juice dripping off her face and out of her hair.

“Well, we didn’t see those two again until the next morning. Molly was in the common room trying to heal Arthur’s back. It seems that the groundskeeper, Og, beat them, when he caught them. How was that worded? Oh yes, disturbing the sleeping patterns of the Giant Squid.”

By this time Harry was holding his side thinking about the elder Weasley’s acting like this. It explains where George and Fred got their mischievous side. His laughter had awakened Blythe who was groggily standing by his sleeping area staring at them howling with laughter. “I don’t believe it. Stone Faced Rostis laughing and telling jokes,” mused Blythe.

Everyone stopped laughing, at Blythe’s comment. Rostis smiled at the jibe, but didn’t let it bother him. “Get some coffee and we need to talk about getting out of here,” ordered the senior Auror. Even though it was an order, it wasn’t spoken with a harsh voice, but a friendly one. Blythe saluted him and proceeded to go to the kitchen area and pour himself a cup of coffee.

He was walking back to the table when he took a sip, and stopped dead in his tracks and shook his head. While everyone else was laughing at his reaction, he returned to the kitchen and poured sugar into the coffee to make it drinkable.

“I can tell Rostis made this,” commented Blythe. “It is strong enough to dissolve steel.” He sat down at the table and looked at everyone. “Well, I am ready for a skulling session. We’d better hurry up, before this stuff kicks in and I am bouncing off the walls.”

“I have been thinking of a plan,” stated Rostis. “There are railroad tracks through the mountains. They are located down in the valleys, and the wards might not reach down to them. If we fly out following the tracks, we might be able to sneak out under their noses. The only problems I can see are the tunnels. If we meet a train, well it could be a disaster.”

He finished talking and everyone sat there silent for several minutes. Harry was thinking that it could work, but the idea of meeting a train in a tunnel on a carpet loaded with people sounded very risky.

“What would happen if they are watching the tracks?” asked Blythe.

“Could we maneuver the carpets in a tunnel, and what if the wards are that low?” asked Monique.

“We would have to be flying invisible. This will present problems with us seeing each other and running into each other, the guidance systems on the carpets are not that sensitive to follow a set of train tracks. We will be flying invisible through the tunnels. If the first carpet stops and the next one don’t we will have people all over the tracks.” Rostis looked at everyone’s long faces. “I know it is a dangerous thing to do, but it will be less dangerous than flying through the wards.”

“Can’t we trick the wards or use a diversion?” asked Harry. He had been wondering that since the mention of wards had begun.

Monique answered this question. “If it is the normal type of Wards that are taught at school, then anything magical will activate them. The only way through them would be to leave all your magical items behind. That means going without your wands, you couldn’t fly because the carpets are magical also.”

“Why can’t we fire spells into these Wards, getting the sorcerers on the other side so confused chasing after false alarms that we could fly though another Ward without them noticing?” asked Harry, voicing more of his thoughts since Rostis had told him about what he and Blythe had been doing.

“That might work, but it would still be dangerous,” mumbled Rostis. His eyebrows pinched together in deep concentration. “The problem is the Wards light up when they are breached. When we fly through them, they will light up again. If the French are flying around on the other side like a hive of angry bees, it would make it extremely difficult to get away safely.”

“What about Bludgers, and doing this for several days,” chirped Blythe. He was almost bouncing in his chair. Harry couldn’t be sure if it was excitement about a plan or Rostis’ coffee.

“Bludgers?” everyone else asked at the same time.

“Yeah, they are magical items. If we would send a Bludger through a ward, it would light it up. If we do this for two or three nights, the French might get tired of chasing after false alarms. The next night we do the same thing, but we go through one of the wards instead of the Bludger.”

“Do you have several dozen Bludgers in your pocket?” asked Harry.

“No, but I can make them,” replied Blythe with the largest smile Harry had ever seen from him. “My best friend’s father owns Quality Quidditch Supplies. I used to work there, and I learned the Charm for making Bludgers. It could be adapted a little. All we would need to do is charm them to fly north for say one kilometer then fall. We could use rocks. It doesn’t have to be an iron ball.”

Harry looked at Rostis and then at Monique. He liked the idea, and he could tell that they did too. Suddenly, Rostis sighed and his shoulders slumped as if the weight of the world was upon them. “If we cast that many Charms, then the Spanish might zero in on our location.”

“Teach me!”shouted an excited Monique. “I’ll charm them in the caves. No one will be able to detect the Charms. I could even move from cave to cave to confuse them if they could detect the Charms being cast.” She stopped talking and then became even more excited. “I need to check the caves. Maybe I can launch the Bludgers from the caves at the wards. If we do this, we can also help remain undetected by flying through the Wards at the same time as the Bludgers. If they see one of them pass through when the Ward activates then they might not even pursue or check to see what happened.”

Rostis jumped up from his chair nearly knocking the table over. “Bloody Hell, that sounds like it could work!”

Blythe leaned back in his chair and laughed at him. “Mate, you need to drink less caffeine.”

Blythe wrote down the incantations to make a Bludger. He demonstrated for Monique the wand movements and talked about the frame of mind one must have to cast the Charm. Harry watched intently as this went on. Blythe had always been one to joke around, but now that there is serious work to do he has been behaving himself. Harry thought he might even be able to make a Bludger, but that will be for another day. After about a half an hour of instructions, Monique left for the caves.

“We need to get you trained on the carpet Harry,” stated Rostis.

They moved the table to make enough room to roll out a carpet. Rostis had Harry sit down and showed him the controls for the carpet. After thirty minutes Rostis asked Harry to repeat everything he had been told about the carpets. Harry had been able to repeat most of it. He missed a couple of things about setting the direction and speed controls. This pattern continued until Harry could easy repeat everything that Rostis had told him.

After two hours, Monique still hadn’t returned from the caves. Harry was getting a little worried, but hopefully she was still safe. He was also starting to get a little hungry, because no one had breakfast in the tent. He got up and started looking around the kitchen for something to eat. He hadn’t realized that Rostis was standing behind him until he stood up from looking in a low cupboard.

“There is no food, Harry,” Rostis informed him. “I want to talk to you about a few things,” he continued his conversation without waiting for Harry’s approval. “When we get back to England, I am going to recommend that you and Monique are put on full time Auror training. You two don’t need to return to Hogwarts. We need people like you two in the field.”

Harry’s mind was racing out of control. He wanted to return to Hogwarts and spend the rest of the year with Ginny. “But – but – but...” stammered Harry.

“I know you want to spend time with Ginny,” consoled Rostis. “I am sure we can get you some time off, but we need people like the two of you.”

Harry didn’t answer straight away. He wanted to get back to Ginny and spend time with her. He wouldn’t be able to do that if he was working in London, or worse, much, much worse guard duty at Azkaban.

“When we get you back to England, I want you to be working on counter curses,” stated Rostis. “I know you have powerful shields that can stop anything except Unforgivables, but they are what probably drained you in that battle on the mountain. Every second you hold a shield uses as much magical energy as casting a spell. You can work on those in your home, along with your other studies while preparing for NEWTs.”

“Are you sure I’m ready for that step? questioned Harry. He wanted to be with Ginny as much as possible.

“Harry, you are more experienced in many things than most fully qualified Aurors. What you have been through in you eighteen years is more than I’ve been through in thirty years of work.” Rostis looked away for a second, before looking back at him. “That was the first time I’ve ever been hit with an Unforgivable. I’ve always been able to avoid them in the past. I can’t believe that you were able to put up a fight like you did, Harry.”

Harry looked at the senior Auror’s face and noticed it was a little pink from embarrassment. “Being cursed doesn’t qualify me as being an Auror, I always thought it was wise to avoid them,” Harry said reassuringly.

Rostis smiled at him. “Harry...”

Rostis never finished his sentence as Monique rushed into the tent. “I did it!” she exclaimed while holding a rattling box in her hands. The wooden box was a quarter metre square with a lid that opened in the middle. It was held closed by a hasp with a strange thing stuck though it keeping it from opening. Monique set the box on the table for everyone to look at. She stood there excited until the other three stood around her waiting for her explanation.

“I charmed a rock to be a bludger. I Transfigured a piece of wood to make the box. This”, she said pointing at the hasp and the peculiar item holding closed, “is a timer. When the sand runs out in the timer the hasp opens and the Bludger flies out heading due north for one kilometer.”

Harry looked at the item holding the hasp closed. It was a small hourglass, and the sand was flowing through it even when it wasn’t sitting at the right angle for gravity to help it. “How long before this one breaks?” he asked her.

“Fifteen minutes, so grab your clothes and carpets and meet me.” She stopped talking and looked at the map. “Here!” She pointed out a spot on the map.

Rostis, Blythe and Harry ran around the tent gathering up warm clothes and then grabbing the carpet that was still lying on the floor of the tent. They pulled it outside in the bitter cold wind, and all three of them hopped on it.

The sensation of flying again felt good to Harry. He had only been cooped up for a few days, but it seemed like forever to him. The icy wind attacked his cheeks and fingers making them feel as though they were being burnt. The carpet slowed and started to descend. Once they were on the ground, Rostis deactivated the indivisibility device. They were behind an outcropping of rock, so they wouldn’t be visible to the French, if they were watching.

He opened a map and checked his location to the one that Monique had given them. After about a minute he determined that they were in the right place. He had Harry try to read the map and find their present location.

While Harry was looking at the map and the compass on the carpet, the side of the mountain seemed to open up suddenly and Monique stepped out. As soon as she stepped out of the cave opening, it closed back up so that Harry couldn’t see it again.

She was carrying the box with the Bludger. It was rattling as she held it. The hourglass timer was almost spent. Without talking she walked to an opening and sat the box down on the ground. They all hopped on the carpet and activated the invisibility function, before taking off. They sat just above the box waiting for the timer to activate.

After about a minute of waiting, a snap could be heard as the hourglass broke allowing the doors to be flung open and the Bludger to fly out at top speed. It flew due north and contacted the Ward. Upon contact it sent a luminescent spider web effect out across the Ward that caused the ward to flash bright white. Within a minute of the ward activating, at least ten, maybe fifteen, sorcerers were flying on the other side. Even from the distance, they looked confused. Harry heard everyone on the carpet give a quiet shout of joy.

Monique wanted to land so she could get the box and get back into the cave to start making more Bludgers. They let her off and watched once more as the cave appeared for a second as she passed through its opening, before becoming invisible a gain.

Upon returning to the tent, Rostis laid out the maps and started to plot which wards they should attack, and which ones would be the easiest ones to attack. As he pored over these maps, a plan occurred to him. They would each take a different path back to England. It would increase the chance of one of them getting back. They would split up Monique’s relatives, because they all needed to sign the bill of sale to make it legal in a Muggle court. If only one carpet makes it back them they would have won, because then the property couldn’t be sold to the Muggle developer.

By late evening, Monique had been back and informed them that the Bludgers were set to go off at eight o’clock that night. She set them so they all activated at the same time. She and Rostis talked for some time about plans for which Wards to attack. Harry and Blythe listened and also added their opinion about the pans to escape and return home.

It was finally decided that they would attack with six Bludgers each the next two nights. They would then escape the third night. They would place these boxes at different locations the next two nights. The third night they would use three locations from the first night and three from the second night and each Auror would take a different path back to England.

Harry flew his carpet with the Bludger box to his first location. Under the cover of the carpets invisibility function, he landed and placed the box in the snow facing north. He flew back up and waited, as the time ticked by slowly.

Even though he was a good ten metres away from the box he could hear the doors pop open. The Bludger was a rock about half the size of a normal Bludger. Harry watched as it flew into the Ward causing it to flash a brilliant white, illuminating the mountains around him. As the light faded he saw sorcerers on brooms flying from the mountains surrounding the pass. He slowly moved his carpet towards them to get a better look. He was able to see them in the pale moonlight. They were conducting a search of the area on brooms. He listened for a few seconds to hear if any of them had cast a Homenum Revelio spell. If they had done that, they could detect someone invisible on a fast moving carpet.

Maneuvering the carpet back to the mountain side, he landed and retrieved the box. He took off again for the tent. As he flew he marveled at the carpet. Even though it was invisible he was able to make out the controls. They appeared as golden scrolling in thin air. He could tell what direction he was flying and how fast.

When he walked into the tent, he could tell that everything went well by the excited look in everyone’s eyes. He walked over and hugged Monique. “Thank you! The Bludgers worked brilliantly. In three days we can all be home!” Harry shouted, and everyone else cheered.

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

Harry was lying flat on the carpet with four other people in the fading light of dusk. He had two of Monique’s Aunts and two Uncles with him. Rostis took four also. Blythe had three and Monique only two, but she also had two trunks of books with her, which made the weight of two people. They were hovering watching to see the Bludger as it breaks free of its box. If Harry times this correctly, he should be able to hit the Ward at the same time as the Bludger.

Harry noticed an object flying fast towards them. He prodded the controls of the carpet to start flying at full speed. He had already programmed the direction they were to fly, unless he needed to take evasive action. He wanted to fly as fast and far as possible before slowing down. He just hoped his passengers don’t start screaming. Monique had warned them to stay quiet and they were informed how to hold onto the carpet. He could tell that they were nervous. He could feel their shaking vibrate through the carpet as it hovered in the air.

The carpet shuddered as it tried to reach maximum speed against the weight of five adults. They were traveling straight toward the Ward. The bitter cold air made Harry’s eyes water. A second before they contacted the Ward with the carpet. The ward flashed a brilliant white, and then they collide with it. The original flash had started to die down before it lit up again.

Harry looked around him as no less than twenty sorcerers were now flying around in the pass. His stomach tightened as he worried that they noticed the second flash of the Ward. The pass between the mountain peaks was quickly moving past them. Harry looked back to see if anyone was following them. He heard what he had been dreading.

Homenum Revelio!” someone shouted.

Harry saw a red wave grow from a point behind him, and it was moving fast. Trying to avoid the spell he overrode the preset controls. He immediately took the carpet on a quick descent. It wasn’t nearly as steep as dives he has done on brooms, but he could hear murmurs of fear from behind him. He felt someone painfully grip his leg.

Seeing a wizard hovering in front of him, he directed the carpet under and behind him, hoping that he would stop the spell. The wave of red hit the wizard and sent a signal back to the caster, but the spell was still coming. His carpet loaded with people was too large for the small hole that the wizard made in it.

Harry turned the carpet hard left and flew straight towards the mountain. He saw what he was looking for. A ravine that he might be able to hide in until the spell passes him by. Watching over his shoulder, he kept his distance from the spell, as it expanded towards him. The murmuring changed to pleading and praying and several of them nearly squealed from fear as Harry continued his steep descent.

He reached the Ravine seconds before the spell reached him. He sat the carpet down and waited as the spell passed by the opening in the ravine. He listened and waited for several minutes trying to determine if it was safe for them to return home.

Slowly and cautiously, he flew the carpet up out of the ravine. Several witches and wizards were flying around the valley looking for something. Harry maneuvered the carpet up and out of the ravine. When his passengers had settled, Harry touched the auto pilot controls and the carpet took off to the northeast.

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

The icy cold waters of English Channel passed below them as they flew a few metres above it. Harry kept looking for boats, but they all seemed to be someplace else. This was the second day of traveling, unlike the trip into France he had stopped and waited out the daylight hours. They traveled all night long when they made their escape from the Pyrenees Mountains, stopping as dawn broke. They had almost reached the German border with France. Harry had flown the most indirect route, flying northeast away from England. Rostis had plotted out four divergent routes to help decrease the possibility of them all being caught.

Rostis was flying the most direct route, but was planning on taking a zigzagging course to England traveling four hours one direction then turning ninety degrees another. Blythe was flying west and was planning to go out over the ocean, but leaving French soil further north than Bayonne. Monique also was traveling west, but not as far as Harry. They were all supposed to stop in France somewhere and wait out the day, before crossing the border and flying to Porthleven England.

Harry was wondering how the others had fared. Hopefully everyone was on their way to Porthleven, and no one was injured. He remembered his narrow escape from the Pyrenees. It was lucky for him to see that ravine. There would have been no way he could have escaped the sorcerers on brooms with this carpet. The brooms are faster, and more maneuverable. He can’t make quick turns and rolls with the carpet because everyone would fall off.

A smile stretched across his face as he saw the coastline of England appear. He was home again. He never realized how much he missed this country. When he had gone to Australia, he returned and was concerned about the state of the country so soon after the war. Now, however, he just wanted to get home and this assignment completed so he can see Ginny again.

Watching for landmarks, he slowed the carpet down and cautiously moved towards his final destination. He saw the abandoned building in the growing dawn light. Landing the carpet outside of the building, Harry looked around to try to determine if it was safe to turn off the invisibility device. He saw the friendly face of Blythe peering out one of the windows of the building.

Harry deactivated the invisibility device and Blythe saw him and shouted back into the building. Before Harry could stretch out all of his stiff muscles Monique, Rostis, and Blythe were congratulating him on making it back. The rest of Monique’s family was also out there welcoming them. They all recounted their trips. Harry had the closest call of being detected. Rostis only saw three witches on brooms when he went through the Wards.

After everyone recounted their adventures, they stored the carpets, and started to Apparate Monique’s family to the building that has the Floo network. The building was an abandoned pub on a back road with no other building in sight. The roof was good and the windows were all intact so it was relatively warm and dry. Blythe started a fire on the fireplace.

Rostis taped his wand on several of the field stones that made the walls. He finally hit the right one as it opened to a piece of blue parchment, quill, ink bottle, and a pot of Floo powder. He wrote a quick note on the blue parchment, before folding it, and throwing into the green flames of the Floo network, as he called out, “Minister of Magic.”

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

Kingsley took a sip of tea as he studied his guests. It was nine o’clock in the morning and he had a meeting with the Head of France’s Department of International Cooperation and a representative from the International Confederation of Wizards. They were sitting in three high backed leather chairs with a table that had his tea set on it. The three chairs sat at such an angle that they could easily look at each other as they spoke. Kingsley was trying to keep himself calm, because he knew that this meeting was about the mission that he had sent Harry on, and since they were already several days late, it must have had a problem.

“Your tea is delicious Minister Shacklebolt, but the issue that I need to discuss with you does not pertain to the proper way to serve tea,” pompously stated Jean Dupree, the Frenchman. He was a large man, not tall but large and round. He always seemed to be sweating as perspiration was evident on his brow, even though it was cool in the office. He had a large round belly and short arms and legs. His arms were so short that Kingsley doubted he could clasp his hands in front of his large belly. His face was round and his beefy neck looked pinched in the collar of his elegant robes. He had thinning hair and the largest comb over that Kingsley has ever seen. It started just above his ear on the right and extended all the way over his head to the top of the left ear.

“Indeed, I doubted you traveled all the way from France to drink tea with me,” replied Kinglsey in a measured tone. “Why then did you request this meeting, and bring along a representative from the International?”

“It is to discuss the activities of one of your employee’s, Minister. Harry Potter!” Jean said Harry’s name with venom.

“What would you want with Harry?”

“We, I mean France, want Harry Potter and his three accomplices for the murder of six Aurors. I expect you to produce him, his accomplice Carmen Del La Rosa, and the other two people who were with him to the French Ministry immediately. Any delay or refusal shall be deemed a crime against the Ministry and the magical people of France.”

Kingsley kept his composure, at least he hoped he had, and silently thanked himself for preparing a cover story for this mission. “I do not know where Harry Potter is at this time.”

“I hardly believe that,” spat the Frenchman. “He is an employee of your Ministry, an Auror I believe. So is this Carmen Del La Rosa, who is a French citizen. I must add.” He looked over to the Representative from the International. “A very unusual way of keeping proper diplomacy, between two countries, don’t you think Mr. Sabatini?”

Alberto Sabatini was a senior member of the Dispute Resolution Department at the International Confederation’s headquarters. He was an elderly distinguished looking Italian. He was short with silver hair and olive skin. He had a silver white pencil thin moustache that combined with his dark brown eyes and silver eyebrows to give him an air of sophistication. He looked at Jean Dupree and nodded without saying anything.

“Harry is on Christmas vacation at the present time. I do not track him, so I cannot say where he is at the moment. However, I find it extremely difficult to believe that Harry could or would kill someone, or even attack someone without just cause.” Kingsley sat his tea cup down to think what he was going to say.

“Are you calling me a liar?” sniffed the haughty Frenchman.

“No. I am saying that I find it hard to believe that Harry would attack anyone without proper justification. Certainly you have the wrong man,’ suggested Kingsley.

“We are quite sure that it is none other than Harry Potter, Minister. His scar is quit recognizable.”

“Ambassador Dupree, I will try to find Harry Potter, but I will not guarantee that I will hand him over to you,” stated Kingsley. He wanted to make as many conditions as possible to slow this process down. He needed to know what Harry and company had done, if they had actually killed someone.

“That is unacceptable, he is a murderer…” shouted the Frenchman.

“Not if he was attacked first. If it was self defense then he was only defending himself, regardless of whom he killed or where it occurred. You seem to have already tried and convicted him of the crime, so I doubt if he would get a fair trial,” countered Kingsley.

“He attacked a group of fifteen Aurors, who were training, killing six of them and cursing and injuring many more. We have many witnesses to these crimes,” Jean stated pompously. “So you see there is little doubt about his guilt, and this is a crime committed in France, not England and what you think would be of little importance.”

“He and how many others?” asked Kingsley.

“Three,” answered Jean.

“A total of four attacked a larger group, then how did they get away, without being tracked. If you had proof that they Portkeyed back to England, then where is it. How did they enter France? You have no proof of that either, and as far as the obvious guilt of the situation by recognizing Harry’s famous scar there is always Poly-juice Potion. So you see, I don’t think your proof is valid, Monsieur.” Kingsley enjoyed the sight of this unpleasant man turning red from anger. It seemed to reach all the way up under his horrid comb-over. “I would also like to ask you about the Auror of yours that was found spying on a local family. He was here without our government’s permission, and the people he was spying on were protected by a new law to protect all the fighters against Voldemort. So you see, Monsieur, you seem to breaching protocols yourself.”

The French diplomat shifted in his chair, as though he was trying to make himself taller and more important. “He was sent here to find, Mr. Potter. It is obvious that your government is the one that has breached the protocols of governmental cooperation by first training a French citizen without asking our permission. Is this all some sort of plan of yours to overthrow our government? You are using this Carmen Del La Rosa as a guide for your raids into our peaceful government.”

Kingsley went to open his mouth to reply, but was cut off when a blue piece of parchment shot out of the Floo and flew straight to him. He grabbed it, opened it, and read it, before stuffing it in his pocket. “I only agreed to train Ms. Del La Rosa, because of an incident that happened in your peaceful country. It seems that some of her Muggle friends had been attacked by wizards resulting in two deaths. Your government refused to investigate these attacks even though they had been witnessed by other nonmagical people and even reported in a local paper. The paper described the attacks as a mystery, because the people appeared to have nothing wrong with them, when they died. They also described the attacker as someone wearing robes and pointing what appeared to be a stick. She reported this to your government and they did nothing. Why is that Jean? Were members of your government involved? Is that why you didn’t launch an investigation?”

The Frenchman jumped out of his chair and started to yell at Kingsley in French, before switching back to English. “I will not sit here and be accused of such things. It is strictly forbidden for such things to happen and not be investigated. How dare you accuse my country’s government of performing such acts? We are not British. Was it not last year that your government did the exact same thing, Minister Shacklebolt?” He said this last statement with venom.

“A Dark Wizard took control of our government, by force, and he was removed by the people of Britain, by force. You know that Monsieur Dupree. What happened last year was wrong, but that was last year and a different government,” Kingsley shouted at him. “This government is dedicated to the protection of all people, both magical and nonmagical.”

“I am finished talking,” shouted Jean Dupree. “Come on Monsieur Sabatini, I am finished here. As you can see this government is no different than the last. This Minister wants to cover up his and his country’s crimes by accusing France of wrong doing. Anyone wizard can purchase scarlet robes, and attack citizens. It might have even been this Carmen Del La Rosa herself and accused my fine government to cover it up.”

“The paper stated it was a man, and, Monsieur, I never mentioned that the attacker wore scarlet robes even though the paper did mention it,” Kingsley pointed out. He had a hard time containing his smile.

“I am through here,” yelled the incensed Frenchman. “I will guarantee you one thing Minister Shacklebolt. When we find Mr. Potter, we will deal with him to the fullest extent of the law.”

Jean Dupree turned to leave, but found the door locked. “You will not be leaving without an escort, Monsieur,” stated Kingsley calmly. He walked to the door, and passed his wand over it. Opening it he yelled for Percy to escort the Frenchman and the Italian out of the building.

What Kinglsey hadn’t realized is the Italian diplomat hadn’t stood up from his chair. When Percy appeared at the door, Jean Dupree turned to Alberto Sabatini. “Come we must leave.”

“I am not leaving yet, Mr. Dupree. I want to talk to Minister Shacklebolt alone,” Alberto stressed.

“Hummp! Very well, lead the way,” the disgruntled Frenchman ordered Percy. They turned and left the office.

Kingsley turned and looked at Alberto Sabatini. He had a reputation of being a tough but fair negotiator. His many years of service had brought a well earned respect in the Magical community. For different reasons he was almost as respected as Albus Dumbledore had been. “You wanted to talk to me, Mr. Sabatini?”

“Yes, have a seat, please,” he calmly suggested to the Minister, and gestured to the chair.

After Kingsley had settled into his chair, the mediator shifted in his chair and cleared his throat. “In my many years of service to the magical community, I have developed an ability to tell when someone is lying, Minister. I must say that if lies were rain. We would have been swimming in this room.”

“Mr. Sabatini, I assure…”

He held up his hand to stop Kingsley. “Between the two of you told the least amount. I believe most of what you said. However, you need to know about the French. Over the past ten years there have been more than twenty incidents of Muggles being tortured and killed had been reported to the International, but none were ever confirmed. It seems that when we would investigate, either everyone had been Obliviated or missing. If you know where Mr. Potter is, then make sure he is safe, and if there are witnesses to these events, then make sure you have statements and they are protected. Do not underestimate the French, Minister. I must leave now. Thank you for the tea, and I wish you luck.”

The Italian diplomat stood up and walked to the door, until another under-secretary came to escort him out of the Ministry. Kingsley watched him leave then lowered his head into his hands. He was sure that the French know he is lying about not knowing about the mission, but they can’t prove it. He was afraid of the involvement of Alberto Sabatini, but now he thinks he may actually be helpful. What started out six months ago as a simple job of protecting some Muggles has expanded into an international incident. If all goes wrong he could be leading Britain into a war with France and other countries. If things work out and they have enough proof to show that the French government was involved, then it would be Britain and the rest of the world against France. When he took this job, he thought his biggest problems would be rebuilding his own country, now he must contend with all the others.

Pulling out a special piece of parchment, he wrote a message to the head of the Floo department. Sealing it with wax and a spell, he opened his door and let it fly to the department. It is sealed so no one else can open the letter, and even if they did, it would be a coded message that only the Head of the department would understand. He must wait until he receives confirmation that the Floos have been isolated properly, before telling Rostis to start transporting everyone directly to Harry’s house.

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

Harry sat in a corner of the abandoned pub waiting. It seemed as if hours had passed since Rostis had Flooed Kingsley. He can’t imagine what is taking him so long to give the go ahead to transport everyone to his home. He supposed that until everything is secure this abandoned pub is as safe as anywhere in England.

Looking around the room, he observed a tired Blythe leaning in one corner watching outside. Monique is quietly talking to her relatives, who are looking around the building scared and confused. He could only wonder what they must be thinking. One year ago they probably didn’t even realize that magic existed.

Feeling his legs cramping, Harry stood up and looked outside pretending to be watching for danger. He was actually wondering which direction the Burrow was from here. He was wondering about Ginny. He hates to admit it, but with everything that he has been through the past week, he hasn’t been thinking about her as often as he should. Now that he is back in England the thoughts of her are ever present. As much as he wants to be with her, he would just settle for knowing that she is alright, and that she doesn’t hate him too much.

The fireplace flared up with green flames causing Monique’s relatives to jump. A piece of parchment flew out and to Rostis. He placed his wand on the wax seal and opened the note. With a smile, he looked at Harry. “Harry, we are going to your house. You lead the way.”

After fifteen minutes and many two person Floos, everyone was in Number Twelve Grimmauld place. “Monique, let’s go up and try to decide where everyone is going to sleep. They should be safe here, don’t you think?”

She smiled at his question. “I think there are safer here than anywhere else for the past six months.” She grabbed her clothes and personal effects that they had left in the kitchen before leaving for France, and walked to the stairs.

Harry started up the stairs. He was discussing the possibility of turning the library and study into bedrooms, when something on the stairs caught his eye. He was looking down at the picture he had wanted to take along. The picture of he and Ginny asleep in a hammock in Australia was lying on the steps in front of him with the glass broken. It looked like someone had dropped it there. Harry stood frozen in place thinking how this could have happened. Bending down to pick up the broken picture, he noticed a glint of gold in the corner of the step. Reaching out he picked up the gold heart necklace that he had given Ginny.

Turning around he looked down the steps from where the picture and necklace lay. The memories of the night they left came rushing back to him. From this spot someone could have watched Monique and he talk at the bottom of the steps, but it would be too dark to see anyone standing up here. Realization of what had happened sickened him as he croaked, “Bugger, Ginny saw us?”


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