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Chapter 14 : The Culprit Revealed
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Chapter 14: The Culprit Revealed
*** Ministry of Magic, Auror Department ***
He slipped around the corner as silently as possible, the soft beige carpet muffling his footsteps. The ebony cloak was pulled over his head, allowing him to all but fade into the dark background of the hallway.
He has likely figured it out. I have a feeling. I need to get out of here. Now.
One more step and he would reach the lift. One more step and he would be on his way to the small flat in Italy that he had furnished for himself a few years back, when he thought he was close to being discovered. One more step…
Right past his office.
He flattened himself against the wall in hopes of not being seen as the door to the office slowly opened. The man himself stepped across the threshold, his emerald eyes immediately moving down the hall taking note of his surroundings. “Constant vigilance!,” the Head Auror was famous for barking at fledgling recruits. He made certain that Old Mad Eye’s legacy was never truly forgotten.
“Ah. There you are, Dean. I was looking for the Malfoy files, they appear to have vanished in the mess I call my office. Maybe you could help me. I gave Ron the day off, you know, because pregnancy and Pansy do not seem to mix very well, poor sod... Going somewhere?” Harry locked eyes with him.
“Actually, Harry, I was planning to head home early today. Lavender was hoping I could meet her at the Prophet for tea. Long night of patrols, you know; very bad on new relationships. You will be the first to know if I uncover anything useful in connection to the Malfoy case, of course.”
As Dean moved to rush past him with his head down, toward the safety of the lift, he heard the tone in Potter’s voice change. Potter sighed. It was a sound of realization. In that moment, Dean knew for certain that the Head Auror had uncovered his darkest secret.
“Expelliarmus.” Spoken so softly that Dean was certain no one else in the department heard, Harry soon grasped two wands in his hands. Dean turned. Harry beckoned his old friend into the nearest interrogation room.
“I’m sorry, Harry,” Dean said with resignation in his voice as he entered the room.
"So am I, Dean," the Head Auror stated before whispering, "Incarcerous."
Appearing all around Dean were variously-colored magical ropes, which tightened around him instantly as instinct caused Dean to attempt to escape. Blimey! Harry is my friend, I cannot believe he would do this, that he would treat me like any other lowly Death Eater scum! Dean found himself growing angrier as he heard Harry mutter his signature wards to seal the door behind them.
Harry turned from the heavy door and conjured two uncomfortable-looking chairs. He pointed his wand at the heavily-bound Dean, who found himself suddenly sitting across from a furious looking Head Auror.
Dean stared into his once-roomate’s emerald eyes, his own brown orbs suddenly ablaze with defiance. So what if I did go after Malfoy. He is a sodding Death Eater! Potter should be congratulating me for my attempt, even though the bloody blonde git is now supposedly our ‘friend.’ Pureblooded scum, more like it. He cannot pull the wool over my eyes.
Harry found himself unsettled by the look of hatred in the eyes of a man he had long considered a close friend, a highly-decorated Auror whom he had trusted with his own life many times throughout the years. He said nothing, merely began his standard investigative procedure.
First, he would see how deep his friend’s hatred truly ran.
As soon as his mind began its probe, he felt a dull pain. Harry willed himself to press further despite the discomfort. There were a few fleeting images of daffodil-ridden fields, a small Muggle home in the country, a woman with a kind smile…
And then suddenly the pain of contact became unbearable. Harry nearly panicked, his mind willing him to break his concentration and withdraw. How can he be this powerful? I taught him occlumency myself; never did Dean display such talent for blocking intruders from his mind.
Fighting his own will, Harry determinedly pressed forward, toward a rather visible large brick-like wall. He halted. He felt something foreign in his own mind… is that possible? Can he be performing legilimency while keeping his defenses this intact?
Fighting against his own darkest memories coming to the forefront of his mind, Harry had no choice but to break contact with Dean and slowly sever the connection. His body slumped in his seat, exhausted from the effort. When his mind had almost withdrawn completely, Harry felt Dean’s own mind relax. Harry sat up straight. He had caught a glimpse of what looked like Jane, and suddenly the connection was broken.
Dean spoke for the first time. “Had enough yet, Potter? Like my little wall? Bet you would never guess where I learned that trick from. Took a bit of advice from old Shacklebolt and got to know my enemy.”
As realization dawned on Harry’s features, Dean gave a weary smirk. “Yes, that’s right. Took a page out of Malfoy’s book on Mental Combat of the Darkest Arts. Interesting read, that was. Highly useful."
Harry was suddenly furious to know one of his most trusted Aurors was practicing Dark Magic. Without warning, he braced himself and threw all of his concentration at the darker man’s now-relaxed mind. Before Dean could restore his defenses, Harry swam through a sea of deeply troubling images. Dean quickly calmed his mind and rebuilt his mental barriers… but not before Harry had grasped at a fleeting remark: “You will never stop us, we’re too powerful. We will have justice.”
As the connection once again closed, Harry gave himself a millisecond to breathe before leaping out of his chair and thrusting the tip of his wand at Dean’s jugular. “Who is behind this, Thomas? Who is ‘us?’ Who do you work for? TELL ME!”
Realizing that the Head Auror had glimpsed far too much, Dean willed away the feeling of defeat and merely smirked. “What’s done is done, and not even you can prevent this plan from unfolding. It did not have to be like this, Harry; now, I think it would be best if you would just accept the fact that she will die.”
Harry would not listen to any more of this. His fist, acting seemingly of its own free will, lunged at the black man’s jawbone.
Right before the room spun in darkness, Dean’s own fist clenched around a galleon. He hoped that the protean charm he had cast so long ago still held. He closed his eyes and willed the words to appear to the only one who could save him now.
** A Dark Corridor, Knockturn Alley **
A man in a heavy, dark robe sat against a filthy wall on the sodden ground. He was picking at a dirty loaf of bread and absentmindedly popping piece after piece into his mouth.
Damn that Potter, making it impossible for me to go out and get a decent meal without having to hide myself behind that ridiculous face. Can’t even walk the blasted streets in Muggle London without the disguise, he has those bloody Aurors everywhere.
Suddenly he felt a warmth come from his left pocket. His hand instinctively reached inside. What in the… odd. He pulled out his hand, and along with it came a long-forgotten coin. Dropping his stolen meal, he thrust the coin closer to his right eye (the one that had not suffered a blasted Quidditch injury) and stared hard at the words forming on the surface.
I remove myself. Carry out the plan as discussed.
He shut his eyes. It now came down to him. He would need the help of the others, of course, but he would finally be able to realize his revenge.
A malicious smile spread on the man’s unwashed face. He had waited much of his adult life for this moment.
Finally. Let it begin.
A/N: I know, I know, I know. You have already READ chapter 14! But... as you can hopefully see, this chapter has been heavily edited. I was simply not too pleased with how the other ended, and someone close to me pointed out that it was a bit anti-climatic... so viola! I re-present chapter 14 for your approval. :) Sorry of course for the long delay, but I promise I have good reason for being unable to write much as of late. Your reviews are, as ever, much appreciated. I do wish you, of course, happy reading. Chapter 15 should be along shortly.
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