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Harry Potter and the Winters After the War by Mrs_Granger
Chapter 59 : Harry's Explanation
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 21


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Early the next morning following the AMASS meeting, Ron descended on Harry’s desk in the Auror Department with a violet interoffice memo clutched in his hand.



“What do you think you’re doing Harry!” he exclaimed.



“I don’t know what you mean Ron,” Harry answered mildly, though in truth he thought he probably did.



“Sending me away for training right away. I mean really, after that meeting last night I thought you’d want me around!”



“Me too Harry,” Dean said as he appeared beside Ron. Harry looked up and sure enough Justin was there too, right behind him and all three had their violet inter-office memos with their travel instructions in their hands.



“Come on, all three of you, in the small conference room. Now!” Harry ordered.



He led them without preamble, closing the door with a snap after that last of the Auror trainees entered, starting in with his explanation before any of them even sat down.



“Alright, to begin with and as I said last night, officially the meeting last night never happened. We’re all running surveillance same as always. Nothing new has happened. Second, that’s why I’m sending all three of you to France for memory training now. You’re all key members of the AMASS, and as such it will be up to us to help balance what the muggles know with what is allowed. Memory management is key to that, not only in eliminating or modifying memories of things we don’t want them to know, but also in bringing back any we do. We’re going to be spending the next month at least setting those sensors. Smith, Wendy, and I are teaming up with the muggles Dudley and Rupert recruit to do it, just like we practiced, with a new position for the sensors every three days,” Harry began.



“But we thought you wanted us to help with that,” Ron said.



“I do Ron. I want you to go with me to set the first one tonight. We need a better idea of what we’re doing before we make arrangements to send the rest of the teams in. As for helping beyond that, I’ll leave that up to you three. We have to move the sensors every three days, and we’ll probably be doing some of them on the weekends to accommodate the muggles, so you can help then. But if you don’t, Wendy, Smith and I can handle it. That’s a minimal amount of overtime for the amount of information we’re going to get out of it, and the three of us can do it. But it’s also going to take us weeks to get that cavern plotted, and I for one want to know where I’m going before I send people in there,” Harry told them.



“But all that data is electronic Harry. How are we going to make use of that?” Dean asked.



“Rupert’s working with Hermione on that particular problem. If you have any ideas, I’m sure they’d welcome the help. They’re trying to come up with a way to make the three-dimensional data plots produced by the sensory equipment accessible to us, since any computer we get near seems to go haywire if there’s more than one of us. So they’re trying to figure out another way. With any luck they’ll be able to do it and we’ll be able to get a usable plot of nearly the whole thing, but that’s also likely to take them a month to do.”



“And by then all three of us will be trained,” Justin commented as the realization hit him. “We’ll be able to help manage the muggles.”



“You’ll have the plots and the data both by then,” Dean added.



“Yes. We don’t start posting the muggles until you lot get back. So learn what you can, and good luck. Any further questions?” Harry asked.



Ron’s irate expression faded to understanding along with the other two. Harry was preparing the three of them for what lay ahead. He was making sure he received the training he’d already seen Harry use repeatedly, and even earlier in the course of his career than Harry himself had received it.



“Sorry mate. I should have realized you had a good reason for doing it.”



“That’s alright Ron. But just so you know, it isn’t favoritism that’s going on here, but the need for you three in particular to be able to do this job,” Harry explained.



“We’re with you Harry,” Justin assured him. “And thanks.”



“Yeah thanks Harry. I had no idea it would be like this when you first came to our DA meetings last spring. If I had, I never would have hesitated,” Dean told him. “You don’t spoon feed us, but you do take care of us. I just wanted you to know I appreciate that.”



“Thanks Dean,” Harry said in a self conscious sort of way. “So will you lot be ready to leave by Monday?”



“That’s the first of February, isn’t it?” Ron asked.



“Yeah it is,” Harry agreed. “Classes go all month. You’ll be assigned a flat to stay in when you get there.”



“We’ll be ready Harry,” Dean assured him. “I think we’re in the office today though.”



“Yeah you are. I need field reports on my desk for every field assignment you’ve participated on this month before you leave.” Harry smiled as the three of them groaned. “Now unless you have more questions, this meeting is dismissed.”



The three first year trainees filed out just as Wendy and Smith filed in.



“What was that all about?” Wendy asked.



“They got their foreign training notices this morning,” Harry explained.



“And you’ve got us three in the office as well?” Smith asked.



“For today. Ron and I are going tonight to set the first of the sensors as we discussed and we have other teams monitoring the Death Eater’s transports, so I thought the best use of our time was to go over any of the leads we have overlooked. So for a few days I have us stationed in the office working the other angles we’ve been too busy to investigate,” Harry explained.



“Did you have any angle in particular in mind?” Smith asked.



“I thought I heard you talking to Beth last night about illegal imports. It sounds like there’s a new angle to work in getting resale along with imports banned on those rugs,” Harry suggested.



“Right. I was going to check with the International office about that,” Smith said.



“Do it,” Harry said.



“What about me Harry?” Wendy asked.



“We’re training teams to take our place Wendy. You and I are setting up a monitoring schedule, rotating them in and out just like we have been. I want three additional squads trained on how to get in and out and how to maneuver in those tight spaces, cast the right concealment charms. It will need to be in place with the training completed, before the end of the week. Then starting next week, you and I will be following up on some of those leads that got dropped while we were trying to do this,” Harry explained.



“The glass specialist?” Smith asked.



“And the muggle geologist that was seen at that pub?” Wendy suggested.



“The exhibit of artifacts on display at the university,” Smith suggested.



“Yep, all that,” Harry assured them. “Having a map will be great, and being able to infiltrate that fortress is going to be a huge help. But we still need to know more about what sorts of magic we’ll be facing once we get in.”



Smith nodded. “Harry…have you given any thought to the fact that though there were women and children amongst the muggles that got taken before we were able to slow them down, that except for that one woman’s body you’ve examined, all the rest we’ve encounter have been men?”



“Yeah I have Edward,” Harry said soberly. “I have a feeling I know why…but that’s one of the reasons we need those surveillance teams to go in. We need to know where they are and have a plan for getting them out…how they’re protected…”



He was about to say more when the door to the conference room opened and Kingsley Shacklebolt walked in.



“Harry? Am I interrupting?” he asked looking pointedly at the three of them.



Harry looked at the Minister of Magic in surprise then on a hunch looked warily over at Smith. There was a slightly guilty look about Smith’s eyes though his actual expression was surprisingly supportive towards Harry…in distinct contrast to his apparent actions. Harry furrowed is brow slightly trying to puzzle out how badly he’d been betrayed…or if he had. Kingsley generally had been supportive of his actions. Perhaps Smith was simply taking steps to keep the minister on their side? Harry arched is brow in query towards Smith.



“Sorry Harry, but I thought he should know,” Smith told him with a guilty shrug. It was clear that though he felt bad about betraying Harry he didn’t regret what he’d done.



“Edward told me about the meeting you held last night,” Kingsley supplied evenly. “I’d like a word Harry, before you go any farther with whatever you’re about here.” His tone was carefully neutral and though Harry read concern on the minister’s face, he also saw a fair amount of curiosity and…was that trust he saw there? Clearly the minister wanted to be supportive, but he had a job to do too.  



“Yes Sir. Of course,” Harry answered immediately. “Err … everything?” he looked questioningly between Smith and Kingsley.



“Shall we stay?” Smith offered in a supportive sort of tone.



Kingsley looked at his former colleague. “Leave us for a moment Edward. Proceed as you were on Harry’s orders until you hear otherwise and we’ll call you back in after awhile.”



Smith nodded. “Right. In the meantime I’ll see what I can find out in the International import office,” he offered to Harry.



Harry nodded nervously, barely concealing his anxiousness upon being asked for a one on one conference with the minister. “Thanks.”



“I’ll pull those field reports you mentioned,” Wendy offered as she too left the room.



Harry nodded mutely, his mouth suddenly dry. He’d been going out on a limb here getting the muggles so openly involved and he knew it.



Kingsley regarded Harry evenly once they were alone in the conference room before his eyes slid to the portrait that hung behind him on the wall.



“You know, Dumbledore told me once that we should trust your instincts Harry. I’m inclined to believe that, however the story Edward Smith came to me with this morning has caused me to want a word with you at the very least,” Kingsley began in a friendly tone.



“Yes Sir,” Harry replied. “Are you asking for an explanation?”



“First, I want to confirm what I heard. Auror Smith told me that you held a meeting last night of something called the AMASS.”



“Yes Sir, I did,” Harry confirmed, swallowing hard as he thought about what was coming…and what it sounded like he’d be called upon to explain. He was confident in what he was doing. He knew it was the right thing to do…but how was he going to explain this to the minister?



“And the AMASS is?” Kingsley prompted.



“An unofficial associate of muggle law enforcement officers and wizarding Aurors who are working together on a case, the jurisdictions for which overlap,” Harry explained.



“These muggles you were talking with, they are all trained then?” Kingsley asked.



“Yes Sir. Most are with the London constable’s office, though I understand two work from offices out of the area and one is a detective on the side. They are all working on missing persons cases which overlap with the muggle captives we have been following. Individually, each of them has a witch or wizard in their family, was placed into hiding during the war by our ministry, and worked with the muggle-born branch of the DA during the war, so their knowledge of our world and our ministry while limited, is already there,” Harry explained. “Working with them has involved no further breach of the Secrecy Law, but it has gained us the insight and access to their tools that we alone wouldn’t have.”



Kingsley nodded and after a brief pause spoke. “And I already agreed to your using their data to help us track down the location of Death Eater Cove. I would be and am the first to support you for not only the novelty but also the effectiveness of your approach on that occasion. But this open collaboration…Harry, it flies in the face of our most cherished values and laws. I’m not certain I can allow it. I’m not even sure I can personally support such a decision on the part of a ministry official, which professionally speaking you are, without a better explanation than that.”



“Yes Sir, I understand,” Harry assured him. “And under most circumstances, I would completely agree. But this particular case…Minister, it hinges on muggles. The Death Eaters are using them to do their dirty work, they are using them as slave labor, abusing them bodily and probably worse. What’s more, they don’t think the muggles can do anything about it, and they are right. By themselves, the muggle police officers are as stumped on this case as we are. But together, I believe we can put an end to it.”



For the second time since entering the room Kingsley Shacklebolt turned to study the portrait of Dumbledore that hung in the room. The painted image of Professor Dumbledore sat in his chair, face composed and hands folded, listening intently, but he made no attempt to speak to the Minister as he looked at him.  



“You are not simply trying to blur the lines between our two worlds?” Kingsley asked.



“No Sir. Those lines were blurred for us by the Death Eaters behind this case,” Harry assured him in a serious tone. “They are targeting the muggle relatives of witches and wizards, the exact sort of people who I’ve been collaborating with. These particular individuals are trained in muggle investigative research techniques. They are professionals in the field already, from the muggle point of view. They know what is at stake, and they are willing to work with us to put a stop to it.“



Kingsley turned way from the portrait, pulled out a chair and sat down. “Explain it to me Harry. Tell me what you have in mind, how this is going to work, and what makes you think it is the best way to take them down.”



“Sir…I can’t prove it yet, but I have the feeling that it may be the only way to take them down,” Harry told him and he launched into the description for how he planned to work with the muggles to gain a full map of the underground fortress being occupied, reinforced and controlled by the Death Eaters. Next, he explained in detail their plan for swapping out trained muggle officers with some form of spell protection on them for those currently under Death Eater control to gain inside information, about how the wizarding team would then use the muggle officer’s memories to add to what they already knew. Then ultimately, how he hoped that would provide them with the beginnings of a plan for how to take them on.



Kingsley sat with his hands folded, his face unmoving as Harry talked, taking in the passion and the animation and the seriousness of this young wizard.



He truly believes what he’s saying, the minister thought as he listed.  And already he is taking steps for dealing with it afterwards. Harry sending Ron, Dean, Justin…and several other former members of the DA to get trained in memory management, with the full knowledge of the entire team that those skills will be used on their muggle counterparts when they were through.



The minister listened intently as Harry continued, telling them how they’d been learning which muggle officers had some susceptibility to magic, suggesting that though they could infiltrate the facility as Harry suggested, some magical protection could be provided for them in the form of potions or charms or devices…anything that would escape the detection of the Death Eaters and leave their muggle colleagues in their right mind.



And he already has plans to ask Hermione with that, the minister mused.  Harry has been carefully and systematically building his case…and his rationale for engaging the muggles directly. And I certainly can’t fault him for his honesty, Kingsley thought.



Harry was being open and honest, with everyone, sharing with himself as well as their muggle counterparts all the facts in the case, and the risks of their involvement as they knew them. They were working together to find ways of protecting one another, but there was no denying, that there was a risk in invading the Death Eater stronghold to everyone. Due to the work already done by those Harry had assigned to the case, they already had confirmation that approximately one hundred twenty muggles were involved … and less than twenty wizards in the form of Death Eaters on site. Harry was right: this particular case was as much a concern and a drain on muggle law enforcement organizations as it was to their own Auror Department. Despite his knee jerk reaction that coordinating openly with any muggle other than the muggle prime minister was wrong, there was no denying that in this case it made sense. Indeed, Harry might very well be right; it might be the only way to bring this situation to a close.



Kingsley sat silently, digesting all that had been said for a full minute after Harry finished speaking. Harry sat nervously watching his superior, until he realized that Dumbledore’s portrait was also staring at Kingsley. Harry glanced at it repeatedly until soon his attention was nearly equally divided between the Minister and the image of his old head master. Kingsley Shacklebolt turned to look over his shoulder as he wondered what Harry was looking at and came face to face with the painted face of Albus Dumbledore.



“Well?” the portrait asked with a raised brow.



“I beg your pardon?” the Minister answered.



“Harry’s supposition is well founded Minister. We are stronger united than we are divided. Even in the case of muggles, this is true. Normally we hide ourselves from them for their own protection, but in this case I believe it is our silence that has worked against them. Harry has a plan to remedy that…and to put a stop to it, if you will allow it. And so I ask again…well? What will you do?” the wizard in the portrait asked.



Kingsley sighed. “You always have been soft on muggle relations Albus. You know what the Wizengamot would say about this.”



“Then don’t tell them,” Dumbledore replied. “Not all the secrets and tactical methods employed by the Auror department are subject to law maker approval Kingsley. If they were, your hands would have been tied long before now.”



“True, true,” the Minister agreed. “But this is a very serious departure from the policies of not only the Auror department, but from ministry law as well. To sanction Harry’s plan would be to give cart-blanche approval to the breaking of at least a half dozen of our most cherished wizarding laws. If we allow our representatives this sort of amnesty from the law, haven’t we become as bad as those law breakers we are seeking to control?”



“The laws Harry will be taking liberties with are both limited and specifically defined with a particular purpose in mind: the preservation and restoration of over a hundred human lives…and quite probably, their souls as well Minister. Surely that is worth more than the sheaves of parchment necessary to ensure he has that freedom, especially as he is taking steps in advance to rectify the situation afterwards,” Dumbledore argued.



“I don’t deny that,” the Minister agreed. “However if I allow this, aren’t we setting a precedent for the future?”



“A precedent to do what it takes to protect and serve not only wizards, but all human kind? If it is, then what more honorable a stance would you have your department take?” the painting asked. “What else is there that is more important?”



Kingsley sighed. “You have always been in a league of your own when it comes to muggles Professor, however I can’t deny that it’s not only the muggles who would benefit, but the wizarding world would as well.“



The Minister of Magic turned away from the portrait on the wall to face the junior grade Auror in the room.



“Harry…I can’t say that this openness with the muggles is something I would sanction in most situations, however your field reports and those of your assigned teams do speak for themselves. This is not most situations. It is not the usual type of case we at the ministry handle and the threat is certainly not of the usual sort. For all these reasons, for this situation only, I will grant you clearance to continue on as you have planned and will sanction your activities, up to a point. However, when the time comes when you think you are ready to go in, I must insist that you speak with me again. Is that clear?” Kingsley asked.



Harry grinned. “Yes Sir. Thank you Sir.”



Kingsley nodded as they both stood again and he reached forward to shake Harry’s hand. “Good luck Harry. I look forward to our next meeting.”



Harry watched as the Minister left the conference room, feeling a strange combination of lightness from the freedom he was being allowed, followed quickly by the weight of the responsibility that came with it. His eyes straying back to Professor Dumbledore’s portrait again as the relief offered by Kingsley’s support flooded through him.



“Thank you Sir,” he told it when Kingsley had gone.



“Thank you for what Harry?” the painting asked. “You did all the work. I simply re-iterated what the Minister already knew to be true. It is my thanks that should be going to you.”



“To me Sir?” Harry asked looking startled.



“To you Harry. You whose instincts, passions and values surpass even my own. I thank you,” the portrait praised him with a slight bow, and with that he closed his eyes feigning sleep so as to prevent any further conversation until well after Harry had left the room.



---------------------------------



Aside from a conversation with Smith which confirmed his motives for Harry, the rest of the day passed uneventfully for Harry, and so mindful of the planned evening mission and the rapidly decreasing time he had left to spend with Ginny, Harry left the office early to join her for dinner.



“Harry! What are you doing here?” Ginny asked him with a delighted grin when he stepped through the front door of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.



“Didn’t you get my owl?” Harry asked in surprise as he hung up his cloak.



“That you were coming home early for dinner and that Ron and Hermione are coming too? Yes I got it, but why?” she asked.



“And Dudley and Rupert too?” Harry inquired.



“Yes them too. Are you having another meeting?”



“No Gin. Remember last night we said we were going to place those sensors?” Harry reminded her as they walked together to the drawing room.



“Is that tonight?” Ginny asked anxiously.



“Yeah it is. Ron and Hermione are going with me. Ron’s going to help me get Dudley and Rupert into the tunnels. We’re going to introduce Hermione to Dr. Summerby so they can work out how to pick up the signals. Dean also has some ideas about that, but we want to make sure we’re doing it right before we assign other teams to help,” Harry explained.



Ginny studied her fiancé intently. “These are sort of like those special missions you were flying last fall, aren’t they?”



“Yes,” Harry confirmed.



“Are they safer?” Ginny asked.



“Those weren’t particularly risky Gin, flying out to the coast and back every night,” Harry told her.



“But these are, sneaking into a Death Eater lair through a gap in their wards from the top…I think this is,” Ginny said. She waited, but when Harry didn’t deny it, she added. “I want to go with you.”



“Ginny you can’t. You haven’t been trained, you haven’t…” the rest of Harry’s argument was lost to the sound of voices coming through the front door as Kreacher admitted two of their guests.



“Are you ready Harry?” Dudley asked.



“Yeah, right after supper,” Harry confirmed. “Ron and Hermione should be here shortly.”



He had no sooner said that when voices could be heard coming from the kitchen and Hermys led Ron and Hermione upstairs to join them.



“Is Master ready for dinner?” Hermys asks.



Harry looked around. “Yeah, everybody’s here…I think we are Hermys.”



The little elf nodded and scurried back down the stairs as the rest of them found their way to the table.



“So when we get there, where do we go Harry? Do you know?” Hermione was asking.



“It’s like I told you Hermione, there’s this little shack called the Digg Hut…” Ron was telling her but Hermione was focused on Harry.



“It’s a portable office they have set up Hermione. The scientists use it to do the support work for the archeological dig they’re doing there,” Harry explained as he mentioned the name of the dig.



“I’ve heard of that!” Hermione commented in surprise as she named the site. “There was an article about it in this scientific journal my parents get last month. There were pictures and everything. That’s the same place, right?”



“Yeah it is,” Harry confirmed. “The muggles open the surrounding area up to the public … sometimes, but that’s what the Digg Hut is for, to separate the scientists work from where the public can go.”



“And this scientist, he knows to meet us there?” Hermione queried.



“Yeah he does. Esme’s bringing him with her,” Dudley told her.



“Esme is going to be there too?” Ginny asked. “Harry, I want to go. I think you should let me!”



“It’s official Auror business Gin. You know I can’t,” Harry continued the argument they’d been having when Dudley and Rupert arrived.



“That’s right,” Ron agreed. “Harry can’t take you Ginny.”



Ginny frowned. “I thought you said this place is open to the public…at least at the top. Is it?” she asked turning to Dudley.



“Actually it is,” Dudley confirmed. “Harry,” he said tentatively. “If she wants to visit the public area while we’re there …why can’t she? What we’ll be doing will be a long ways from the office they’ll be monitoring the sensors from. Why can’t she come and wait there with Hermione and Esme if she wants to?”
            Harry frowned. “Dudley…would you take your fiancé along on official police business?”



“Usually no,” Dudley agreed. “But this time ….” he signed “It’s hard to keep them away from Historical Trust sites. And if she was there, maybe she and Esme could you know…sort of look out for each other? Keep each other busy while they are waiting for us?”



“Are you sure it would be safe?” Harry questioned.



“I think it would be,” Rupert said. “From what I understand, both Ginny and Hermione could defend themselves fairly well if they had too. At least that is what Justin has always said.”



“Well yeah, of course they could,” Harry conceded. “And Hermione at least is with the ministry. I can condone that, but Ginny…”



“Is a private citizen who just happened to come along,” Rupert said. “I don’t think you can prevent it Harry. Besides … it might be safer for Esme if she was there.”



“Hermione will be there,” Ron pointed out. “Ginny doesn’t have to go.”



“True, but Hermione will be busy from what you said last night,” Rupert reminded him. “I know she’s your sister Ron, but Esme is mine…I would appreciate it if you would let her go.”



Harry did a double take at the expression on Rupert and Dudley’s faces. Both were clearly nervous about leaving Esme…a muggle civilian… unprotected while they were in the vicinity on wizarding Auror business. They saw Ginny’s presence as an extra measure of security. Perhaps they were right. Perhaps for this first mission at least, Ginny should go. Still Harry resisted.



“I can prevent her from coming if I don’t tell her where we are going,” Harry insisted.



The argument continued more or less through dinner. By the end Harry had conceded that he couldn’t prevent Ginny from coming, but convinced her if she did, to stay with Esme and Hermione in the scientist’s office. To his chagrin both Rupert and Dudley seemed more relaxed with this arrangement than they had initially. A short time later, the six young people had appeared in the lea of two enormous boulders which dominated the archeological site on the Isle of Mann. Dudley and Rupert had been advised to hang on and close their eyes for the journey, and both were unsteady on their feet for a few moments after they landed.



“Can we open our eyes Harry?” Dudley asked.



“Yeah Dud, go ahead,” Harry told him as the wind blew around them.



The two muggles did, looking around themselves in awe while a short distance away, Hermione stood shaking her head.



“You are going to be in so much trouble,” she told her friend.



“No I’m not Hermione. I’ve got clearance to be doing this,” Harry assured her.



“That’s what you were talking to Kingsley about, weren’t you?” Ron asked.



“You guessed?”



“Smith said. After Kingsley went in after us. It’s really alright then?”



“For now,” Harry conceded. “Dudley, I may have to cause you to forget this eventually, but for now…”



“We understand Harry,” Rupert answered for them. “Frankly I suspect there will be a lot of this that I’ll be happy to forget, and this nauseating spinning sensation is certainly one of them.” The young red-headed muggle held his head in his hands while he waited for the sensation to leave him.



“It will pass,” Harry assured him. “You can even get used to it after a while.”



“Yeah, it was much better this time,” Dudley agreed. “Far better sober than it is drunk.”



Harry sniggered as he recalled the first occasion when he’d apparated his cousin anywhere, after Dudley’s eighteenth birthday party in London. It felt like another lifetime ago.



“Okay,” Rupert said a moment later, straightening slightly. “I’m okay. Where do we go Dudley?”



Harry’s cousin led the way over to the portable buildings being used by the university officials in overseeing the work being done at the site. Esme’s car was parked nearby and apparently she’d been waiting for them because the door flew open as soon as they approached. Introductions were made and Dr. Summerby greeted all four of the magical young people and the two young constables cheerfully. Dr. Summerby was even more enthusiastic after Harry explained how he wanted the doctor and Hermione to proceed.



“I’d be honored Mr. Potter,” Dr. Summerby agreed.



“And Ginny can stay with you? She won’t be in the way?” Harry asked the man before turning to Ginny and saying “you’ll be staying here, understood?” Ginny nodded contritely, knowing she wasn’t supposed to be present to begin with.



“Not at all. Esme will be with me too,” Dr. Summerby assured him. “We’ll be able to watch your progress electronically from here.”



“How do you mean?” Hermione asked.



“Here my dear,” Dr. Summerby said.



He activated a screen which displayed a representation of the cave and tunnel system as it was already known thus far. There were two glowing points on the screen, both hovering above the graphical representation of the ground on the display; inside what appeared to be the building they were in.



“These points are the two sensors Mr. Potter and Mr. Dursley are holding. We’ll be able to follow them as they move underground,” he explained.



“That’s amazing,” Harry remarked.



“Really, really useful though,” Ron said thoughtfully as he studied the bit of the map they already had. “Hermione, can you capture this? Somehow?”



“I’m trying to Ron,” Hermione assured him. “I just haven’t figured out how...yet.”



“We want the sensors set here and here, right?” Dudley said as he pointed to two separate underground locations on the screen.



“That’s right,” Dr. Summerby said. “If you can establish the sensors in those specific locations, we should be able to extend the range of this map another two hundred feet in every direction.”



Harry studied the positions on the map the scientist was pointing to.



“That’s beyond that first cavern we came to Ron,” Harry observed.



“I’d thought of that. You brought your cloak, didn’t you?” Ron asked.



“Yeah, it’s the only way we’ll be able to get these two through.” Harry nodded towards Rupert and Dudley.



“But you can conceal yourselves, right?” Hermione asked worriedly.



“We can throw up the same concealment charms the Death Eaters use without being detected, but those are location specific,” Harry reminded her.



“What about disillusionment charms?” Ron suggested. “That should be harder for them to detect than full out concealment charms and at least we would be camouflaged that way while we move.”



“So if there are Death Eaters about, they’d be less likely to see us,” Harry agreed. “Yeah, I think that’s the best we can do.”



“What about the muggles Harry?” Ginny asked.



“They’ll have to make due with my cloak,” Harry said. “It won’t cover both of them completely, but the paths are up on ledges, so I think all it needs to cover is their heads. We just need to prevent our shadows from giving us away.”



Both Rupert and Dudley were listening carefully though it was clear they weren’t following this conversation completely.



“Do you think it’s likely we’re going to run into someone Harry?” Dudley asked.



“I’m not sure to be honest. Ron and I didn’t go that far in before when we were here, but we could hear someone up ahead. That’s another thing we’re going to have to be careful of. The sound really carries down there,” Harry explained.



“I can put dampening charms on all of you for that,” Hermione offered.



Harry nodded as they continued to talk, coming up with ideas. Once their strategy had been agreed upon and the appropriate charms in place, Harry, Ron, Rupert, and Dudley made their way from the offices to the entrance of the burial mound guided by Esme.



“I still don’t see how you are going to get in Dudley,” she told her fiancée with a frown as the five of them crowded into the tiny space offered by the walkway inside the mound.



“Harry’s got a way,” Dudley assured her.



“Have you got a torch?” Harry asked.



“Yeah, right here,” Dudley said as he pulled the device from his pocket and turned it on.



Harry nodded. “Okay. Ron, Dudley and I will go first. We’ll wait for you and Rupert in the antechamber and I’ll pass you back the cloak. Esme, I’d appreciate it if you’d go wait with Dr. Summerby,” Harry told her.



Esme frowned. “Oh alright, but don’t trample anything. And watch where you step, okay?”



“We’ll be careful,” Rupert assured her.



The four men waited for her to leave and Harry expelled a breath he hadn’t been aware of holding. “Good. That is one less we will have to do,” he commented. “Here Dud. Throw this over you and take my arm.”



His cousin did as instructed and Harry led him easily through the portal at the back. Once they were through, they passed back the cloak and Ron repeated the same process with Rupert.



“Oh Dudley?” they heard Esme’s voice calling for them after they were all through.



“Go back and wait where Harry said Esme!” Dudley called back.



“Where did you go?”



“Watch the monitor Esme,” Rupert told his sister. “Follow instructions…please? For once in your life, do as we say?”



“Rup?” she called. “Are you alright?”



“We’re fine. Now go back,” both men said firmly.



Esme stood in the burial chamber looking at the apparently solid back wall through which she could hear both her brother’s and Dudley’s voices. She didn’t leave, but decided to wait quietly instead, listening to what was going on.



“You first again Harry?” Ron asked.



“Yeah. Just like before Dud, only this time you’ll encounter a bit of a cave in on the other side. We’ll hand back the cloak then wait beyond it for Ron and Rupert,” Harry explained.



Esme listened as the sounds grew more muffled then fell silent, concluding for herself that they had indeed moved on.



-------------



Back in the portable, Dr. Summerby eagerly watched the movement of the points of light on his screen.



“They’re in,” he told the two young women who were with him. “They’re past the burial mound. I don’t know how your young man did that Miss Weasley, but he’s solved the mystery for how to enter the tunnels beyond.”



“He does manage to do things like that,” Ginny replied.



“Harry is very talented that way,” Hermione agreed.



“Do you know him too Miss Granger?” he asked.



“Yes. He, Ron and I have been best friends for the longest time, since our school days in fact…” Her voice broke off as the points of light took a sudden dip down into the caverns that were beneath the hill then moved in a straight line somewhat to the east. She pulled a parchment map of the surface of the isle from her handbag and began to compare it to what was on the screen.



“Harry was right,” Hermione breathed. “It does look as though these tunnels head towards the coast. I wonder if they really are connected.”



“How do you mean?” Ginny asked.



“Look.”



Hermione laid the map flat. Ginny caught her breath as she realized what the dots on the screen might mean.



“They are moving directly towards the cave at the shore,” Ginny murmured.



“Yes, they are,” Hermione agreed just as the dots abruptly seemed to stop. Hermione looked worriedly at the screen, wondering what that might mean.



“Not to worry Miss Granger. They haven’t stopped, it’s only that we can’t see their movement from this angle. But if we do this,” he rotated the image on the screen ninety degrees so that their perspective changed completely. Now they could see the dots that had appeared still, were actually moving directly away from them.



“That point where they seemed to stop was a corner in the passage way,” Hermione realized.



They watched until the dots seemed to stop again. Once again Dr. Summerby rotated the image and the dots continued on back to the west again.



“They are walking in a square!” Ginny exclaimed.



“It’s like they’ve walked around something,” Esme observed. “Charles, what is in that space?”



“Glass my dear. Lots and lots of it,” Charles Summerby told her.



Esme frowned.



“What sort of glass?” Hermione asked.



“These.”



Dr. Summerby handed her several lumps of strange looking glass. At first glance Hermione thought they were beads because all seemed to be of a specific shape, but they had no bore suggesting they had not been strung but used in some manner as they were.



“What are they for?” Hermione asked.



“I wish we knew,” Esme told her. “We have theories of course, but they are mostly just guesses. We don’t really know what they were. My guess is that the space they just walked around is a storage space for this particular material, and that they were kept there before being made into something else.”



“What sort of something else?” Ginny asked curiously.



“Probably something like this.”  Dr. Summerby lifted a cloth from a tray of artifacts that lay nearby. There were sticks of various sorts, some which had been broken, but all had been shaped in a particular way and had a hollow core. In addition to the sticks were a collection of strange convex crystals made of the glass, some of which were very tiny, while others were quite large.



Hermione regarded the objects curiously. While it was clear that the sticks were primitive wands, she was not immediately sure what the glass objects were. “May I touch one?” she asked momentarily distracted.



“Hermione look! They’ve stopped again,” Ginny drew her attention back to the screen. Sure enough the two points of light seemed to have stopped again. Again the scientist modified the angle and this time the points were moving down, east again then one stopped completely.



“Good,” Dr. Summerby commented. “They have the first one set. Now let me send a pulse. Let’s see if it’s working.”



He manipulated some of the equipment with the girls looking on, careful not to get too close. Hermione couldn’t help but be fascinated however by what it was he was doing and soon found that she could stand much closer to the screen without causing the usual electronic distortion and snow on the screen, if she stood in a certain part of the room. The effect was simply a curiosity at first, until the sonar pulse waves began to come back. The patterns produced on the screen showed a band of interference in front of the sensor that cleared for the most part as soon as the second point began to move again, all but a narrow line of static that held stationary directly in front of the sensor.



“That is odd,” Dr. Summerby said with a frown. “They were working fine when I tested them earlier. I wonder what is causing it?”



“But the interference is getting better isn’t it, as they are moving away?” Hermione asked, wondering if it was the magical interference from Harry and Ron the sensor was detecting.



“It has, all except for this narrow band.”



Dr. Summerby pointed to the screen and Hermione leaned closer to inspect it again. Once again the static on the screen increased at her approach…that is until she once again put the tray of artifacts in front of her. Hermione frowned, thinking at first it was coincidence until she began to experiment with her position relative to the tray of crystals deliberately. Ginny watched her with piqued interest, trying to figure out what her friend was doing.



Soon the second point had stopped too. They watched as the sensor was apparently activated, a pulse was received through a field of electrical snow which gradually cleared, settling as the other one had into a narrow band less than an inch thick, about one foot in front of the sensor. Other than that one source of interference, the signal was clear.



“Can you tell where they are?” Ginny asked.



“On their way back I would presume,” Dr. Summerby told them. “We were only able to track the sensors, not the people. Now that they are in place, we can’t know for certain where they are.”



Hermione nodded, settling herself in a chair across the room to wait, watching as the direction of the pulses being sent and received by the sensors continued change, continually feeding new data into the computer. Gradually as she watched, the waves of pulses caused new openings in the solid rock around the sensors to appear. It was amazing really, how such seemingly simple muggle technology could create a three dimensional map from nothing at all.



Thirty minutes later the four men stumbled back into the portable shelter. “How did it go?” Hermione asked anxiously as Rupert pulled the door closed behind him.



“Fine. Good,” Harry answered for all the group at large.



“No problems at all,” Rupert agreed, “once we got these two to back away from those sensors. I was right, we have to do it for them. They can get us in and camouflage the sensors to keep them hidden, but we have to set them up.”



“Yeah they do,” Ron agreed. “We could go through the motions, but neither Harry nor I could get either one of them to work.”



Hermione nodded. “It’s the same thing you see with nearly any electrical device really, only these seem more directionally sensitive,” she told them.



“How do you mean?” Harry asked.



“Look at this.”



Hermione pointed to the thin lines of interference directly in front of the sensors that still showed on the screen. Harry stared at it in non-comprehension.



“This shows a field of interference one inch thick, set exactly one foot away from and directly in front of the sensor,” Hermione told him.



Harry arched his brow. “Our shield?” he asked. “You can detect our camouflage shield with a muggle sensor?”



“Apparently,” Hermione showed him. “But look at this.”



She repeated what she’d done earlier with her position relative to the computer and the artifact tray. Harry arched his brow as he examined the items on the tray.



“What are these?” he asked.



“We found them in the burial,” Esme explained. “The tiny ones were found on what was left of the deceased’s clothes. We think they may have been used for decoration or something similar. The large ones were embedded along the sides, top and bottom of the back wall … the one Charles fell through the other day.”



“You found these…in the wall?” Harry asked looking at the larger objects on the tray.



“In what was probably the frame for the portal,” Dr. Summerby explained.



“Yes,” Esme agreed with her colleague.



“And Harry, look what they do,” Hermione said. She placed the tray between herself and the monitor, then turned the orientation of the tray one hundred eighty degrees. All of the crystals Harry noticed were oriented the same way, and apparently that was significant.



“May I pick these up?” Harry asked. “I’ll be careful,” he promised the scientist who looked at him warily.



“Yes, I suppose it won’t hurt anything. After all, the service you have given us is very much appreciated,” Dr. Summerby answered.



Harry nodded. “Thanks.”



Gingerly he picked up the largest of the objects on the tray, then had Esme move the tray itself away. Harry looked at the faceted item carefully. It was roughly the size of the palm of his hand and approximately an inch thick. It was rectangular in shape, though it’s corners were cut and beveled like a gemstone. Instead of being relatively flat however as most gemstones were, both surfaces were curved. One side was faceted and concave while the opposite side was faceted and convex.



“It’s like a lense and a prism, all in one,” Hermione commented.



“I see that,” Harry replied. “It’s relatively flat along the edges. Let’s set it up on its side between you and the computer Hermione. Then let’s see what it does.”



Harry set the crystal so that the surface bowed out in the direction of the screen, backed away then beckoned Hermione to approach. Harry made a note of when the interference on the screen began to appear.



“Okay, back away again. Let me turn it around.”



They repeated the experiment. This time Hermione was a comfortable distance to be reading the screen before the interference appeared.



“Fascinating,” Harry commented. “Now let’s try it without,” and he took the crystal away.



Hermione gasped in surprise. “Harry!?”



“I see it. If it’s pointed towards the computer, you have to be twice as far away for the screen to be clear as you do when it’s not there. But if it’s pointed at you, you can sit right in front of it…no problem at all,” Harry said.



Hermione nodded looking perplexed. “What does that mean Harry?”



“It means we have another mystery on our hands Hermione. Dr. Summerby, are these the same glass crystals you mentioned to Ron and I the other day?” Harry asked. “Like the ones you sent to the glass specialist in London?”



“Actually the ones I sent Jim are in even better condition than this,” Dr. Summerby told him. “But yes, they are same.”



“And are they all shaped like this?” Harry asked.



“Most are. There are some that are markedly different, but most are like this. Though this one is the largest and they seem to come in all different sizes, most are actually quite small. Quite a lot of the ones we found are broken of course, and others still seem to have been melted. And there have been five that are completely different, but yes most are like this. Why?”



“I’d like to have a word with your glass specialist,” Harry told him. “Do you have any contact information for him?”



“We do back at the inn Harry,” Esme told him. “Do you think that could help?”



“Yeah, I think it could,” Harry said seriously.



“I can send it to Dudley tomorrow,” Esme promised. “Can he get it to you?”



“Yeah I can,” Dudley promised.



Harry nodded looking satisfied. “Thank you Dr. Summerby. The next time we can come back will be on Saturday. Will that work?”



“That should be fine young man. And thank you again,” Dr. Summerby said. “Shall I see you out?”



“Esme can,” Dudley told him and the young people excused themselves as they left the muggle scientist on his own.



Harry waited for Dudley to say his goodbyes, and then the six of them walked back around behind the stones. Harry waited for the two muggles to grab his arms and they all apparated away.



“What was that all about with those crystals Harry?” Ron asked as soon as they stopped spinning in the middle of the square in front of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.



Harry glanced at his cousin and shrugged. “No idea Ron. We won’t know until we have a chance to visit that bloke.”



“But you think you know, don’t you Harry?” Ginny commented as she watched his face.



“Yeah you do Harry,” Dudley agreed with her.



Harry grimaced slightly. “Come on you lot. Let’s go in the house.”



They filed in, with all of them except Hermione looking at him expectantly.



“Do you think it’s significant?” Ron asked.



“Probably,” Harry admitted.



“Then tell me!” Ginny pleaded.



“Gin…I can’t,” Harry sighed. “You too Dudley, so don’t ask. I will if I figure it out completely and you need to know. But if I tell you and you don’t…”



“I understand,” Dudley assured him. “I’d do the same thing in your position.”



“What?” Ginny asked.



“It’s classified Ginny,” Hermione explained. “Some things only those who need to know get to find out, right Harry?”



“Something like that,” Harry admitted. “So, for right now…“



“For right now, we’ve been successful,” Rupert interrupted. “The sensors are set, they are hidden so your lot won’t find them, and they are working reasonably well. I say we call it a night. Anything more we can deal with the next time.”



“Right,” Harry told them all. “Dudley shall I walk you back out?” Harry offered.



“Sure Harry,” Dudley said.



“Are you going by floo?” he asked Ron and Hermione as they turned to go down to the kitchen.



“Yeah. We’ll see you tomorrow Harry,” Ron commented. “Bye.”



Ginny walked with Ron and Hermione to the kitchen while Harry walked Dudley and Rupert to the door. By the time Harry turned back to the drawing room, Ginny was waiting for him.



Now will you tell me?” she begged.



“Ginny…” Harry said in a warning tone. “I’m serious here. I really, really can’t tell you.”



“Why? Because you know? Or because you don’t know?”



“A little of both,” Harry said as he collapsed onto the sofa pulling her down on top of him. “I can guess, and I’d probably be right…but you can too … even though you’re not supposed to because you shouldn’t have been there. But you were, so you saw what that big one did,” he prompted.



“It diffused Hermione’s magic,” Ginny said with a frown. “She could get closer before the electronics went berserk.”



“It did if it was pointed towards her,” Harry agreed. “But what if it was pointed away?”



Ginny considered him thoughtfully. “Are you thinking it made her magic stronger?”



“I’m not sure about it actually being stronger, but I do think it focused it somehow. She was able to affect the computer from much farther away,” Harry explained.



Ginny studied his face intently. “Do you know how it did that?”



“Not exactly Gin. I think I know what it’s made of…and I can venture a guess what it’s for, but not exactly what use those ancient people might have put it to though,” Harry said.



“But you do think it’s old? That it wasn’t something the Death Eaters put there somehow?” Ginny asked.



“The ones Dr. Summerby had were old, but we saw loads of the pellets they make them from inside that cave,” Harry said. “And we’ve known since Halloween that they’ve been making something out of glass on that beach. I don’t have a full explanation for it yet Gin, but I do think it’s a pretty good bet that those rectangle crystals are what they’ve been making.”



 



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