Harry arrived at the office in the morning to find Hermione waiting for him beside his desk with a mug of steaming liquid in her hands. Harry looked around in surprise. “What? You beat Ron here?” he asked rhetorically as he set his own steaming mug down on his desk.
“Not exactly. He’s down in the café, getting the good coffee. I settled for this because I wanted to talk to you before he arrived,” Hermione said. “You know what that crystal was, don’t you?” she asked.
“It would be more accurate to say I know what it was made from,” Harry countered. “I’m fairly certain that crystal is an example of ancient, manufactured, magical glass. My guess is, that its composition is somewhat different from the modern variety, but I think that’s what it is.”
Hermione nodded. “Have you ever seen a recipe for it? Magical glass I mean?”
“Yeah I have.”
Harry turned from his desk to a back drawer he kept locked, opened it and withdrew a small volume. He flipped through it looking for a certain page only to find it was one he had previously marked. He sat back remembering, just for a moment, the day he had folded down that particular page; that day with Laura on the train. Harry’s eyes slid out of focus as he thought back to their conversation about horcruxes and scars, about the magical manipulation of souls, the power of it…and the cost. Just for a moment his mind flickered back to his moment of weakness on the train and inwardly he cringed, dismissing the thought immediately. It was their lessons on Light Magic that were much more important at the moment rather than what he’d learned about himself personally on that trip.
“Are you alright?” Hermione asked in a low tone as she slid into the empty chair across the desk from him watching the expression on his face as she did so.
“Yeah, I’m fine Hermione,” Harry answered as his attention snapped back to the present. He handed her the book and Hermione began to flip through it.
“This is from that class you took isn’t it? The one through the Persian Ministry…last summer?”
“Yeah it is. They touched on magical glass there…as a component used in most forms of Light Magic as they call it,” Harry explained. “I was just remembering a conversation I had afterwards…wondering where this bit fits in.”
“Harry,” Hermione whispered urgently. “You can’t talk about that here.”
“Yeah I know. Come to the conference room with me, okay?”
Hermione nodded. They both grabbed their mugs and headed for the seclusion and relative security of the conference room. As usual, Harry chose the one with Dumbledore’s portrait in it. It seemed relatively natural to him to include his headmaster in discussions such as this, even if the canvas was empty at the moment. Ignoring the fact, Harry pulled out a chair and sat down as did Hermione.
“So as I was saying,” Harry continued on. “There is some connection between Light Magic and magical glass. They use it to perform most of that type of magic.”
“Except for creating a horcrux,” Hermione read from the page Harry had turned down. “Harry, do you realize that this book says that there are different types of magical glass? Different magical additives that one would put in it depending on what it was to be used for?”
“Yeah I remember,” Harry told her. “We learned about it in class. That’s why I want to visit the glass specialist at the university. If we can find out more about it, about the type they are finding there, perhaps we can figure out what they’re using it for.”
Hermione nodded then frowned as she read more. “It says here that magical glass differs from ordinary glass in that it is produced under magical conditions. That the molten sand is processed using a magical fire…what…?”
But she didn’t finish. “Dragons,” Harry supplied.
Hermione’s eyes widened. “Is that what they are using them for? The magical fire they produce and not just for the protection?”
“I’m sure they are a huge deterrent too,” Harry assured her. “I mean what bloke in their right mind would try to get past a dragon?”
“We did,” Hermione reminded him, a bit of a mischievous smile twitching across her lips. “And you’ve done it twice.”
“Yeah, but that was only one dragon each time. They have two adults and a juvenile. That would be far worse.”
“Oh I suppose. Okay, so the Death Eaters have the magical fire to make the glass.”
“And the ancient wizards in that place apparently did too. Charlie says there is evidence that Welsh greens were indigenous to that coast originally.”
“Meaning the ancient wizards had access to them too,” Hermione realized.
“Yes, they did,” Harry agreed.
“Okay. Then the next magical ingredient is the raw glass itself,” she read.
“They have that too.”
Harry pulled a handful of tiny flattened glass beads from his pocket, of the same type as Dr. Summerby had shown her the previous evening.
“I still have to have these checked, but I think it’s the same as the raw material Yaxley was bringing in from Venice last fall,” Harry explained. “The same as we found in the harbor three weeks ago.”
“But you got those from the cave, didn’t you,” Hermione realized looking at the handful of glass beads. “You didn’t just track them to there, you got them there.”
“Yeah, I nicked these when we had to go around the perimeter of this chamber they’re using tfor storage,” Harry told her.
Hermione nodded. “That is what Dr. Summerby said. He told us he could tell from the sonar signals.”
“He could tell it was glass and not just rock?” Harry asked in surprise.
“That’s what he said,” Hermione repeated. “It has a different resonance frequency or something, I think he said.”
Harry nodded. “So anyways, they have that.”
Hermione turned her attention back to the page. “The last thing they need is either an herb…or a bit of a magical creature like a nail or a hair …”
“Or blood,” Harry suggested.
Hermione nodded absently, “…depending on how they intend to use it. Combining it into the glass or else making it something the glass contains can either boost or dampen the magic, depending on how it’s manufactured and how it’s being used. So that’s how you knew to turn the crystal around!” she exclaimed.
“Yeah. I always wondered how that part worked,” Harry told her. “It wasn’t until I saw the shape of those that I was able to figure it out.”
“But it says here that the selection of the additive they put in it at manufacture is usually associated with its intended purpose,” she read, frowning as her mind caught up with what Harry had said. “What do you mean blood?”
“Blood Hermione. Blood can be used in potions…or in glass making according to that book. It talks about it on the next page,” Harry told her.
Hermione turned the page and she gasped. “It’s the same principle Voldemort used when he came back!”
“Yeah it is,” Harry said darkly.
“What is?” Ron asked as he entered the room, coffee from the café and a gray dove-mail paper airplane in his hand.
“Shut the door Ron,” Harry directed.
Ron pushed the door and it swung shut behind him. “So what’s this about Voldemort and how he came back? What did he do?”
“He figured out how to use blood magic to augment his own power,” Hermione answered.
“He used my blood as a form of protection Hermione, the blood magic tied to my blood. That’s usually what Light Magic is used for … to protect one’s soul from various damaging forces,” Harry told them. “Usually that’s what the glass is used for too when it’s not used to magnify magical power; but Voldemort used my blood to protect his life.”
Hermione frowned. ”But it says here that magical glass can be used to manipulate magical power.”
“Exactly. Voldemort used my blood that had come in direct contact with glass prior to being used in a potion…it must have been magical glass in those vials only I didn’t realize it, but they were part of what made the transfer of magic possible,” Harry realized.
“And we’ve seen it used in another, less extreme situation too Harry,” Hermione went on. “That’s exactly what that artifact Dr. Summerby had did last night.”
“That’s right. Vials and crystals are made from different sorts of magical glass and they’re used differently too,” Harry agreed.
Hermione nodded still continuing her train of thought. “Yes, but did you know…from what Dr. Summerby says, those tiny crystals were found in the burial as part of the deceased’s clothes. I think they were a form of magical protection, possibly from attack.”
Harry did a double take as his mind shifted finally from vials to crystals and the role they might play. Something about the bead like crystals being part of the clothing of those ancient wizards sounded agonizingly familiar…but he couldn’t wrap his thoughts around it at the present and refocused his attention on Hermione.
“Possibly. Those little ones definitely could have been that, but that’s not its only use,” Harry argued.
“Are you sure?” Hermione asked worriedly.
“It’s right there in that book,” Harry pointed out.
“Oh yes…I suppose. But Harry, isn’t the blood of magical creatures only used rarely in potions?” she asked. “I mean the only ones I know of are Re’em or salamander blood used in strengthening solutions.”
“Well, like I was saying, Voldemort used my blood in the potion he made when he came back,” Harry reminded her.
“And unicorn blood can save a life,” Ron offered.
“It produces a cursed life, but yeah the principle is the same,” Harry agreed. “So it’s not as unprecedented as you make out Hermione.”
“No I suppose not. So if you did combine blood as an ingredient of magical glass … what would you get? Glass like was in those other crystals like what Dr. Summerby has?” Hermione asked.
“I don’t know,” Harry told her honestly. “I think we are getting closer with this Hermione. I mean I think the ability of those crystals to focus or dilute magic is really, really significant. In fact I’ve been wondering if we couldn’t use them to help protect Dudley and his lot in some way…but the rest of this…what it does when you add blood from a magical creature to that kind of glass…”
Hermione frowned. “Maybe if I go to the library, I could find something on it there.”
“Maybe,” Harry agreed. “But we might find out just as much by visiting that glass specialist.”
“Think this must be the contact information here Harry,” Ron said handing him the dove-mail memo. “Wendy asked me to bring it in to you.”
Harry looked at Ron in surprise as he opened it and read the memo from Dudley. “I wonder why she didn’t bring it in her herself?”
Ron shrugged. “She seems a little jumpy since Smith called Kingsley on you the other day.”
“Yeah well…Kingsley and I have an understanding. I suppose I should talk to Wendy though, just to let her know its okay,” Harry said with a frown.
“Oh and Harry?” Ron said as it began to look like they were getting ready to leave.
“I saw another memo on your desk…something about Laura coming back too?”
“Good,” Harry commented with a glance at his book that was still in Hermione’s hand.
“Good?” Ron asked with an arched brow.
“Yeah well, we’re obviously missing something here, and she did take that class with me last summer Ron. I expect it would be helpful to have her back on the team to be honest,” Harry answered.
“Uh huh. And are you going to tell Ginny?” Ron asked.
“Right away. As soon as I know for certain when Laura will be back,” Harry assured him.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at the two as she got up from her chair, but all she said was,
“Can I borrow your book for a while Harry?”
“Sure Hermione. I expect we’ll be out the rest of the day,” Harry said as he got up too.
Hermione nodded. “I’ll let you know what I find.”
“Thanks,” Harry said and he preceded the other two from the room.
Dinner in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place was relatively subdued that night. The rest of the day had been relatively normal in every way, talking to their muggle leads, trying to collect muggle information that could turn into a magical clue. That effort along with Laura’s impending return to his team and Ginny’s upcoming return to the Harpies weighed heavily on Harry’s mind, causing him to become unusually quite during dinner.
Ginny watched him thoughtfully, trying to decide if he was tired or if there was something else on his mind.
“A knut for your thoughts Harry,” she said finally.
Harry smiled somewhat guiltily. “Sorry Gin. I didn’t mean to be ignoring you. In fact I was just sitting here thinking about how we only have a few more days left together and I’m still hardly going to be here. I keep trying to figure out if there is a way around that.”
“There isn’t,” she assured him in an understanding tone.
Harry looked at her in surprise. Clearly he hadn’t expected her to be quite so understanding about it.
“There isn’t?” he queried tentatively.
“No there isn’t. I can see that now Harry…after the other night.” Ginny caught his eye with an expression she hadn’t worn in a very long time. “Thanks for taking me with you. I think I have a better appreciation now for what it is you’ve been doing…how important it is, how much they rely on you, all that.”
Harry smiled. “You’re welcome…I’m glad you do Gin. Though don’t expect me to be doing that again anytime soon,” he said firmly.
“Why? Am I too much of a distraction?” she asked in a tone that genuinely suggested she thought that might be the case.
“That and…Ginny, you’re not trained. I don’t mean you can’t defend yourself, because I know you can. I saw you do it in the Hogwarts battle and in the DA. It’s just that there is so much more to what we are doing out there than the actual fighting,” he explained.
“I know that now though. I suppose I just hadn’t given much thought to how much stealth and information gathering is a part of your job, how you have to think about how everything you do, every decision you make may affect those around you…and by my being there, I’ve just given you one more thing to think about. I get that after last night, I really do,” she assured him.
Harry relaxed some and smiled. “That’s good. I’m glad you understand. I just wish I’d done a better job of explaining it to you before.”
“It’s not just you, it’s me…and I know that because Hermione tried explaining it to me too, but I just didn’t get it until I saw it for myself. I suppose I’m just stubborn that way.”
“And sometimes, your tenacity is a good thing,” Harry assured her.
“Oh really?” she asked with an arched brow. “And just what is it that makes you say that?”
“You were still waiting for me after the war.”
Ginny smiled. “You were worth the wait Harry. You still are, but I’m so much happier since you’ve started to let me into your life.”
Harry looked at her feeling startled.
“You’ve been telling me things, you included me in your meeting here the other night, you let me come along…all of that gives me a much better sense of what is going on for you.” Ginny regarded him tentatively. “You haven’t said much about the case tonight though …is it bothering you?”
“Not the case per se…but…well, I’ll just tell you now. Laura is going to be working with us again…She hasn’t been here since the first year trainees have been in with us in the field, but she will be once some of them go off for more training next month,” Harry said. “We’ll be asking the French for more help again while they’re away. As a matter of fact, I was just sitting here trying to figure out how to tell you that. I wanted you to know Gin. Laura will definitely be helping with the investigation.”
“And Hermione too?” Ginny asked tentatively as hesitation and worry touched her face.
“Yeah, absolutely. She’s doing some of the research on the magical glass,” Harry explained. “So it won’t be just Laura and me.”
Ginny nodded. “Good,” she said in an emphatic, more confident sounding tone though the shadow of concern still touched her face, lingering most clearly at the corner of her eyes.
“Please Gin, don’t you trust me?” he asked worriedly.
“I want to Harry…but after last December…” Ginny’s eyes caught his and he could see the internal struggle within the depths of her chocolate brown eyes.
“I know…it’s going to take time,” Harry acknowledged, pulling her around the table to come sit in his lap. “You know that I love you though right? And that I really don’t want anyone else?”
“Yes I do,” she said. “But Harry, I also know that after I go back to the Harpies next week, you’ll be here alone, just like you were before. I can’t be back here again full time until August.”
“But it won’t be like it was before,” Harry assured her. “We have the doves now and the two-way mirrors you bought, and now we have the tapestry covers you and Hermione worked out. It won’t be as good as having you here in person of course, but it should keep us from feeling quite so isolated from one another like we were before. And if we can avoid that, it won’t matter that your not here or that I can’t be in Holyhead with you.”
“I hope so,” she said in a tone that sounded confident but her face still looked worried.
Harry kissed her, hoping to sooth her worries away. It helped a little, but even he had to acknowledge it was going to take time for them to regain the old confidence in their relationship.
“So what have you and Hermione been doing all those days and evenings she had off while Ron and I had to work?” he asked trying to change the subject to something more positive.
“Oh well I’ve been helping her with their wedding plans. I figured its good practice for us, you know?”
“Yeah probably,” Harry agreed. “What exactly have you been doing, besides looking at wedding robes I mean.”
“Wedding dresses Harry. Hermione’s decided not to get married in wedding robes, not that I blame her. Some of the dresses we’ve looked at together are really beautiful, but she’s decided to wear her mum’s dress after all. They’re having it altered and updated some, but Mrs. Granger is really pleased about it and I think that makes Hermione happy,” Ginny said with a smile.
“What about you Gin? Does your mum have robes you’d like to wear?”
“No. Mum and Dad got married just as the first war was starting. They didn’t put much fuss into it. Grandma Pruitt does though. They’re really old so I’m not sure they’d be fit to wear but they are beautiful. I’m not sure what I’m going to do to be honest,” Ginny explained. “But Hermione’s having her bridesmaids dresses made so I’ve been going for fittings for that and picking out shoes. And we shopped for flowers, both magical and muggle varieties. Then there’s the cake…there is so much to think about with that! Flavors, icing, layers, what she and Ron like, what the guests would like, how to decorate it. Then there’s the food for the banquet afterwards.”
“I’d think Ron would be handling that,” Harry commented.
“Well he would be, but when Hermione told him their choices he just said to order it all. But that’s too much food Harry, so she’s had to cut down some from what Ron wanted. It will be so much easier for us with Mum handling the food.”
“Are you going to let her do that?” Harry asked in surprise.
“Yes. Mum and I have been talking. She wants to be involved of course, and she’s really excited to be doing it, so we’ve come to an agreement. You and I will choose the place; I’ll decide what to wear on my own. We’ll do the decorations and the flower choices together, but Mum gets to do the food for the reception. She is absolutely thrilled about it really. Haven’t you been noticing that every time we go over there she has a new recipe or two for us to try?” Ginny asked.
Actually Harry had noticed, but given how much Mrs. Weasley liked to cook, he hadn’t thought anything of it. Now however he was seeing his future mother-in-law’s actions in a whole new light.
“So where are we going to get married Gin? The Burrow?” Harry asked tentatively.
“Would you like to get married there?” Ginny asked.
“Maybe,” Harry told her. “I hadn’t really thought about it to be honest.”
Ginny nodded. “I know. Me either. I mean the Burrow would be nice…Bill and Fleur’s wedding was lovely, but the garden at Shell Cottage would be too and it’s right on the coast.”
“But in April?” Harry asked. “Isn’t the weather on the coast then bound to be bad?”
“Oh probably. But the Burrow feels so ordinary,” she exclaimed.
“Really?” Harry asked. “Do you know, the first time I saw it, I thought it was the most magical place in the world. Seeing it was even more incredible than the first time I saw the Hogwarts castle.”
“Really?” Ginny asked in amazement. “Why? It’s just a house.”
“It’s not just a house Ginny, it’s a home. A wonderful place filled with laughter and love. I’d never known a place like that before I came to visit there. The house I used to live in was never like that,” Harry recalled.
“Then to you, the Burrow really is special, isn’t it?” she asked.
“Yeah, it is. Isn’t it to you as well?”
“Well its home Harry, the place I lived all my life until I went to Hogwarts. I’d never known anything else, so I can’t be all that objective about it. But yes to me it is special. I don’t know about getting married there though. The house is too small inside, and putting a tent up in the garden like Bill and Fleur did would make it feel like someone’s birthday party. But there is the orchard…”
“And the pond?” Harry suggested uncertainly. That first summer after the war, he and Ginny had spent a number of memorable hours around that pond. It was one of his favorite places at the Burrow actually.
“The pond?” Ginny answered with a sense of wonder in her eyes. “Maybe Harry. I think I need to pay more attention to what it’s like there in April…we usually ignore it until May at least, but maybe.”
Harry grinned. Talking with Ginny about all the things it took to make up a wedding…not just any wedding, but their wedding, made it feel more like a real possibility, someday. Of course it was still more than a year a way so it did still feel like someday instead of something imminent, but it was still a very good feeling.
“I tell you what Gin, you’ll be getting every other weekend off during the regular season right?”
“Only until May Harry, then we have games three times a week; a week day afternoon, a weekday evening, and every Saturday. And we have practices in between,” Ginny reminded him.
“Okay so by May you’ll be really busy. But in April…of this year, not next, you should have at least one Saturday off?” he asked.
“Yes. I get every third Saturday off completely from the time we start until May. The first one I’m happy to report, is on Valentines Day.”
“Really?” Harry said with a smile.
Harry’s grin only got broader. “Then we’ll definitely have to plan something for that day. But in April, for what ever weekend you have off, I want to take you for a picnic…just you and me…down by the pond.”
“For a picnic? In April? Harry, won’t it be too cold then?”
“That’s what I want to see,” he explained. “A wedding by the pond sounds perfect to me, but you’re right I don’t really know what it’s like then. So I though if we went for a picnic, we could find out.”
Ginny’s smile took on a happy glow. “Wow, a picnic in April…what a wonderful idea. And I suppose if it is cold, we could conjure a fire or some other way to keep warm?”
“That’s the general idea,” Harry confirmed.
Ginny slid from his lap walking around the room with an expression of happiness illuminating her face, making Harry feel ready to burst with pride and joy. It had been a long while since he’d last felt like that, and he knew he wanted to do everything in his power to make that the feeling last.
Harry and Ginny spent every remaining minute they had together at home talking about the future…how they would spend each of the anticipated weekends together that Ginny would have off, which games Harry hoped to attend, and every now and then, one of them would say something more about their wedding plans. They said very little about it to anybody else, but in their own minds, the plans for their wedding were beginning to be formed.
The next Monday morning was the first Monday in February and Harry got up even earlier than usual. The hour was so far ahead of the dawn that Hermys asked if Master was sure it really was time to get up. But Harry was certain. He had a lot to do that morning and he didn’t want to miss any of it.
First he took Ginny back to the Harpies training facility at Holyhead. In some ways it was much like it had been the summer before leaving her at the gate like that, except this time when they parted they had talked. They had a plan. Harry knew which evenings Ginny was likely to be free and he’d promised both her and himself that he would be there at her flat on each of those evenings. And so Harry watched as Ginny hurried down the icy path on her way to her first breakfast back with her team.
Second, Harry wanted to be on hand to send the first trainee class directly under his management off for their training in France, to ensure their training packets included the exercises he’d found so helpful for himself before they left. They were all there, all seven from his own class and the three from his team. In fact the entire complement for the class was coming from this group from the British Ministry. Harry saw them off, reminding Ron of the plans they’d made for the second weekend after the class began.
Lastly, Harry had finally secured an appointment for that first Monday in February for he and Wendy to visit with the glass specialist in London. It had been tempting to use memory management techniques to gain entry sooner, but given that the muggle specialists had been cooperating with him so thoroughly, he’d graciously accepted when Dr. Summerby had set up the appointment for him…insisting that he take that curious girl Miss Granger along too. And so most unusually, it would be he and Wendy and Hermione who went to interview the muggle scientist, an arrangement that had set his former partner and current team member on edge, just a little bit.
“Are you ready Harry?” Wendy inquired anxiously as she greeted him, coffee cup in hand, standing by his cube the moment he walked in.
“In a little bit,” Harry assured her.
“And Miss Granger knows to be here?” Wendy asked.
“She does and she will be,” Harry said confidently. “Our appointment isn’t until eleven Wendy. We still have the staff meeting and the field team briefing before then.”
Wendy sighed in an agitated fashion.
“What’s gotten into you anyway?” Harry queried. “Rough weekend?”
“You could say that.”
Harry regarded her with a raised brown.
“Sometimes work is better,” she continued.
“Really…and don’t ask,” she advised.
“I won’t,” Harry assured her. He’d heard that Charlie had been spending more time in Romania lately. Harry grabbed his own cup of coffee and followed her into the largest conference room for the morning meeting.
Though he was eager for the meeting to be over, Harry was gratified to hear what Robards and Kingsley had to say as they reviewed with the staff the state of the department and the status of the work they’d been doing over the past month. Both spoke specifically about the effectiveness of the department’s new structure, and Robards added his own comments on the team method they’d been using for assigning the new recruits to the field, especially the resultant efficiency of using only five to six teams to monitor their ongoing Death Eater case instead of the whole squad. Both had been Harry’s ideas, and though the director didn’t actually say it, Harry could tell Robards was surprised but pleased. That had left over half the department to deal with other things, something they hadn’t been able to do adequately since before Harry had joined the force.
Two hours later when all their internal housekeeping had been taken care of, Harry left the meeting with Wendy feeling encouraged and pleased. He and Wendy were still talking about it when they arrived at Harry’s desk to find Hermione waiting for them.
“Are you ready?” Harry asked.
“Yes,” Hermione assured him with an anxious smile. She was dressed in appropriate muggle clothes and Harry was sure she’d do fine, but he could tell she was nervous.
“Relax,” he said in al low tone. “We’re just going to talk to the bloke.”
“I know. But I’ve never done anything like this before,” Hermione answered in a low voice back. “Questioned anybody on official Ministry business I mean.”
Harry smiled. “You’ll get used to it,” he assured her.
He turned back to Wendy who rolled her eyes.
“She’ll be fine,” Harry assured his partner.
“Whatever you say Potter. Shall we go?”
Harry grabbed his muggle jacket from the back of his chair and they set out.
They popped into existence at the university, in a niche beside a small breeze way and stepped out into the flow of students and staff moving amongst the buildings. Harry had the room number they were looking for on a slip of paper, but as they walked the halls looking for it, he was surprised to find they weren’t the only ones looking for that room. Rupert and Marcus from the local constable’s office were also there, walking just ahead of them down the hall. Apparently Dr. Summerby had invited them all. Wendy frowned when she saw them, but Harry just ignored her and pushed ahead.
“Rupert! Marcus? Hi there,” Harry called.
The red-headed constable whirled about. “Harry? You got an invitation to visit Jim Johnson too?”
“Yes. Apparently they’ve invited all of us.”
Rupert nodded as he stopped walking and pulled Harry aside.
“How do you want to do this Harry?”
Harry shrugged. “Just do what you normally do, and we will too. We can compare notes afterwards.”
Rupert regarded him thoughtfully. “I have to remember this interview Harry.”
“I know you do. You will. Mr. Johnson may not remember parts of it though,” Harry advised.
“Right. Good to know. Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it,” Harry answered and from his face he could tell that Rupert knew he was absolutely serious. There would be no mention of the presence of the Auror team in any of the constable’s reports. It was part of the fine line they were all walking in learning to work together.
Hermione had already knocked on the scientist’s office door when they rejoined the others, and they were all being invited in. Mr. Johnson had been expecting them, and following introductions, he escorted him straight through his tiny office, directly into an adjoining lab where he had a wooden tray laying on the laboratory work bench covered with a cloth.
“Come in, come in,” he invited, pulling together a mismatched collection of tall, metal, backless laboratory stools for his guests. “Charles told me you were interested in this unusual glass he’s found. I really can’t say I blame you. It’s really quite fascinating. In fact, I can’t say as I’ve ever seen glass quite like it.”
“Why is it so unusual?” Hermione asked. “Is it because of its age?”
“No, not at all young lady. In fact glass artifacts are relatively common from ancient archeological sites, since glass along with clay and wood are among the materials mankind learned to manipulate relatively early. No, rather it is the properties of this particular glass that make it unusual. It’s the first example of polarized glass we’ve seen from a site so early,” he explained.
“Polarized glass?” Harry asked curiously.
“Glass that only allows light traveling in a specific direction to pass through it Harry,” Rupert explained.
“That’s right,” Mr. Johnson said. “Here at university we explain it this way.” And the instructor began to draw two rectangles on the board, one was empty and the other with many horizontal parallel lines in it.
“Say this rectangle was a piece of glass,” he said pointing to the first one. “With ordinary glass, light passes through it at all different angles.”
He drew lines representing the various angles. “All pass easily through the glass. But this piece of glass represents glass that has been polarized. Only light parallel to the lines it contains can go through it, cutting down on the amount of light received on the other side. It’s a common concept used in sunglasses, only this piece of glass doesn’t seem to be polarized in the usual way. Ordinary room light passes right through it, no problem at any angle. However, if we try other wavelengths from the electro-magnetic spectrum, some do and some don’t.”
“So this glass only shows up as being polarized with non-visible light,” Rupert said.
“Exactly,” Mr. Johnson told him.
“How do you know that?” Wendy asked.
“We can discover what it does with an experiment like this.”
Mr. Johnson carried the tray to set of equipment farther down the bench and set it down, uncovering it for the first time so that Harry could see the glass pieces within. To his untrained eye, they looked very much like the glass he’d examined in Dr. Summerby’s lab.
“Here we have a regulated light source,” Mr. Johnson explained as he began to show them the equipment. “And down here we have a calibrated detector. Using this equipment, we can pass light of specific wavelengths through the glass in specific patterns and detect what comes out of it on the other side. We see the results on this screen, or alternately on this strip of light sensitive paper.”
Mr. Johnson’s explanation went on as he used the equipment to demonstrate the properties of each piece he had on the tray. As Harry had expected both Hermione and Rupert were fascinated and seemed to follow both the experiment and the explanation readily. He did his best to follow what it was they were talking about, but he was fairly certain his partner had become lost by the technical details in the discussion early on, though instead of becoming bored, she was instead conducting a discrete analysis of her own on the various pieces of glass on the tray as they talked. There were nine separate pieces Harry noted, and they seemed to be of three specific types. Though Mr. Johnson described them all as being polarized, visually at least Harry couldn’t see the difference on how light passed through them. What he did notice however was how Wendy’s revelo spells seemed to bounce off them unless the tray was turned around. It was a similar effect to what he’d seen in the Digg Hut on the Isle of Mann.
“The other feature that has fascinated me about these is that these three…” Mr. Johnson was saying as Harry turned his attention back to him.
Here Mr. Johnson picked up three of the artifacts which instead of being single pieces of convex faceted glass were made of seven pieces fused together with their convex sides pointed out, obviously to form a container. The inside of each of the containers had a strange, pearlescent sheen.
“…have magnetic properties,” he went on to say. “Which can be easily seen if we do this.” He passed each of the objects over a container of iron shavings. “That seemed rather an odd property to give to a container like this to me, as the only material it is likely to affect is iron, and yet this container is obviously intended for liquids…until I considered which liquids would commonly be available to early peoples and also contained iron…”
“Blood,” Hermione breathed. “These containers were made to hold blood.”
“Yes. Most likely these were used as ceremonial vessels used in a blood letting of some type. So we tried filling it with blood, just to see how that would affect any light it came in contact with. We didn’t expect to see any of course, but I would like to show you the one effect we did see. Just in case you were curious, this is Charles Summerby’s blood we are using here. We first did this experiment a few days ago when he was here.”
Harry watched nervously as the scientist took a vial of blood from a nearby refrigerator, warmed it and mixed it slightly before he uncorked it and poured it into one of the containers. Next he placed the faceted container of blood into position as before so that the measured wavelengths of light were being passed through it. With the blood added to the container, most wavelengths of the light that passed though the glass dampened in intensity and shifted wavelengths as they passed through the sample, emitting enough light out the other side to be picked up by the detector. All of them that is except for one. The scientist set the beam so that a specific wavelength of green light was emitted. The green light bounced back off the blood unabsorbed and unchanged, while the light detector verified the green light did not pass through, proving that the blood had shielded it…protected it from the effects of the light. Harry staggered visibly at the revelation.
“Harry? Are you alright?” Wendy asked.
“Yeah, I will be. Just give me a minute,” he assured her.
Hermione glanced at the light of a specific and memorable green shade then back at her friend’s face. Harry stood up unsteadily from his stool, as a wave of nausea touched his face. Just for a moment, he looked equally as green.
“I’m going to step out for a moment to get some fresh air. I’ll be right back,” he told them.
Wendy nodded and went back to her observations but Hermione followed her friend outside.
“Harry?” she questioned him as they stepped out into the breezeway where they’d first appeared between the buildings. Harry leaned unsteadily against the wall still looking ill.
“I’m fine Hermione. Go back in or we’re liable to miss something,” Harry told her, straightening as his color began to improve.
“I’m sure you are. But you know something…I could see it in your eyes. You recognized that effect…you know what it is…” Hermione stared at him, her mind working feverishly as Harry watched. He knew it wouldn’t take her all that long to put it together.
“Harry…no!” she whispered. “It can’t be! It just couldn’t!”
Harry nodded when he could see that she too knew. “I think it is Hermione. These are Death Eaters we are dealing with, remember? They would do that. Voldemort was desperate to do that.”
“But capturing blood magic?! Trying to bottle it…why would they do that?”
“To expand its protection to others,” Harry answered.
Hermione looked at him aghast. “Harry, you can’t mean that!”
“Why not? That’s what Voldemort did, like I told you. He took my blood. He learned to use it to make himself stronger. There is evidence that blood magic like that runs strong wizarding families like mine…”
“Those that come from the Isle of Mann,” Hermione realized.
“Yes. That’s what all those muggles have in common Hermione. They’re like me…and like you probably. Not only do they have wizarding blood in their families, they have this. They are all strong in blood magic and the Death Eaters have come to crave that. They are collecting the blood from those in whom it would be the strongest,” Harry said.
“The women and the children,” Hermione said looking a bit pale herself.
“Harry, we have to stop this. Seriously, it has to stop!”
“That’s what I’ve been saying for nearly a year now Hermione, do you remember? Back when I came to Hogwarts and had you pulled out of class?”
“But you said that had something to do with horcruxes or cruciocruxes or that sort of magic…” she lamented.
“And what happens to the bodies of muggles when they use that sort of magic on them?” Harry asked.
Hermione stared at him, her revulsion at the idea clear on her face.
“Harry…no!” she pleaded. “Tell me it isn’t so? That there aren’t wizards that corrupt, that morally deviant who would do something like that?”
Harry stared back at her.
“But to torture women and children like that!”
“Is that any worse than killing them?” Harry asked rhetorically. “At least these we have a chance to save.”
“You don’t think it will hurt them then, to take their blood from them like that?”
“It will hurt…I’m sure it does hurt, but at least if they want their blood, there is a reason for the Death Eaters to be keeping them alive…unlike the men, they couldn’t just use them and discard them like the bodies we’ve seen. It gives me hope Hermione. As horrible as it seems, I was afraid it would be worse.”
Hermione nodded as she seemed to come back to herself. It had been so tempting to put all the horrible things behind them, to believe the evil would never come back, but as Dumbledore had said, the best they could do was to keep it at bay, to do what they could to keep it from getting the upper hand.
“What do you want me to do?” she asked.
“Go with me and Wendy when we go back. Find a way to copy Dr. Summerby’s map of that cave. Then, since he can tell the difference between rock and glass, we need to locate where it is…all of it, even the blood filled ones,” Harry said soberly.
“Okay Harry. Actually I think those normal crystals may have given me a way to do that. That big one let me get really close to the monitor before the display went bad. I think there may be something in that. Do you think it would be okay to use one of them though?”
“Using the Death Eaters weapons against them? Yeah I think it is. In fact, that gives me an idea for how to protect the muggles when we send them in,” Harry told her straightening himself.
“I’ll tell you back in the office,” Harry promised. “Come on, we’ve been gone a while. We should probably get back just to make sure we don’t miss whatever Mr. Johnson can tell us.”
By the time they returned, Mr. Johnson’s discussion had moved beyond that of the blood filled glass to the glass of the third type. This type seemed to be a hybrid between the other two in that they were also made from the rectangular faceted, convex pieces, only these were formed with only two of the convex pieces put together.
“These may have been earlier attempts to produce the containers,” Mr. Johnson was saying, “as the glass itself seems to be filled with occlusions…foreign substances trapped within it’s matrix, which appear as bubbles, giving the glass itself a slightly cloudy appearance…”
Harry never absorbed the rest of what Mr. Johnson was saying. He knew what they were for. He’d seen drawings of these exact things both in his textbook from the Persian ministry and in that book Secrets of the Darkest Arts. These were the containers used to house muggle souls. Their appearance here confirmed his suspicions and his fears. He glanced at Hermione and knew that she recognized them too, for unlike the ordinary objects that could be used to contain a wizards’ soul, the containers for muggles had to be very specifically made.
An hour later they had returned to the ministry and were reporting back to their newly reformed team.